Author: Alex Gilvarry

Bat Manors
Literally Weird
Self-Released
Street: 06.27
Bat Manors = Fleet Foxes + Grizzly Bear + Band of Annuals
 
Bat Manors are the latest in the growing tradition of indie whisper-core bands from Provo with punny names who manage to transcend their silly titles with some really great songs. This album is definitely of the acoustic-led singer/songwriter variety, but most of these tracks have a warbly quality that reminds me of Sigur Rós, if they were a little less ambitious. Each of the songs is based around singer and guitarist Adam Klopp, with various instruments and vocal harmonies coming in and out to help build his fragile compositions into something grand and beautiful. It’s a rare thing for a debut album to be this consistently great—with any luck, Bat Manors are going to be a prominent force in local music for a long time. They’re the band Utah deserves, but not the one it needs right now … or something. –Alex Gilvarry
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the kahless clone endless loop album cover

the kahless clone endless loop album coverThe Kahless Clone
An Endless Loop

Self-Released
Street: 03.17
The Kahless Clone = The Album Leaf + Mogwai

No amount of hyperbole could help me describe how much I like this EP. The Kahless Clone have released one of the best instrumental albums I’ve heard in years, and there are only four songs on it. Life is cruel. Often times, post-rock music has a hard time conveying emotion with the same weight that you can get from a singing human voice. Rare exceptions to this rule often find themselves in the position of great bands like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. Though they are a very new and mostly unknown band, I’d like to say that The Kahless Clone will probably find themselves a part of that privileged group if they can keep it up on future releases. With their mixture of electronic instrumentation, organic piano and distorted guitars, these guys have delivered an immediate and emotional debut. Go buy this album. It’s really good. –Alex Gilvarry

Vashti Bunyan
Heartleap
Fat Cat Records
Street: 10.07.14
Vashti Bunyan = Sung Tongs-era Animal Collective + Bon Iver + Joanna Newsom

Vashti Bunyan has been making music since the ’70s, but Heartleap is only her third, and probably last, album. It’s a bit of a shame that such a unique and valuable voice has had such a limited output, but what we do have is well worth the wait between albums. Heartleap sounds, in many respects, like a lot of acoustic-based music that has been made in the last two decades or so—but I’d like to think that’s mainly because Vashti Bunyan pioneered the “Freak Folk” genre with her album Just Another Diamond way back in 1970. Heartleap is possibly a step below her previous output, but it’s still a fantastic album from an influential artist who, I’m sad to hear, won’t be making music anymore. If you’re a fan of Neutral Milk Hotel, Devendra Banhart or most any modern indie-folk act, this is worth checking out. –Alex Gilvarry

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Jay William Henderson
Hymns To My Amnesia
Self-Released
Street: 07.15
Jay William Henderson = Iron & Wine + The Hollering Pines + Conor Oberst
On album opener “Marrow In The Morrow,” Jay William Henderson cries, “You fool, you fucking fool. You’ve created this torturous mess.” This is some sad-bastard music, and I mean that in the best possible way. Henderson has never really been one for joyous lyrics, even when he was playing slightly more upbeat material with the late Band of Annuals. Fortunately, the somber tone of Henderson’s words perfectly complements the heartbreaking beauty of his alt-country music. As one of the few consistently great artists out there, you can always count on Henderson to put out beautiful and emotional songs to fit a somber mood. Hymns To My Amnesia is no exception. This album contains some of Henderson’s best work to date, an impressive feat given the almost-decade since the first BoA album came out and considering his impressive body of work since. –Alex Gilvarry
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100 Mile cover

100 Mile cover

100 Mile House
Self-Titled

Self-Released
Street: 03.06
100 Mile House = American Football + Minus the Bear

On my first listen through this EP, I thought, “I bet these guys like Ameri- can Football and Minus the Bear.” Then I went to their Facebook page and saw that under “influences,” they list those two bands … and pizza. Glad we agree! 100 Mile House is a different take on the emo revival that’s been taking place in the last few years. Instead of following the more ambient path like Great Interstate, these guys are embracing the pop- pier side of emo and mixing it with a little bit of finger-tapping math rock. The production quality of this album occasionallyleavesmewanting,but overall, it’s a really solid introduction. Hopefully, these kids stick around and keep making solid tunes—Provo needs more good guitar rock. –Alex Gilvarry

Gravenhurst
Flashlight Seasons / Black Holes in the Sand / Offerings
Warp Records
Street: 12.02.14
Gravenhurst = Dan Mangan + Fleet Foxes

Re-releasing an album after 10 years isn’t an uncommon move, especially if it’s an iconic album that has gained a lot of attention since its release. Less common is re-releasing an album by an artist that hasn’t managed to gain a particularly strong following. Flashlight Sessions falls into this latter category and luckily, this album rules. Gravenhurst is the work of singer-songwriter Nick Talbot, and Warp Records is right to try and share his music again with the world. This album is full of whispered acoustic songs that are layered with electronics in a way that is somewhat reminiscent of early Grizzly Bear—who happen to be on the same label—only it’s more effective than that band’s earliest output. With the popularity of artists like Elliott Smith in the period just before its initial release, it’s a wonder this album doesn’t have a larger following. –Alex Gilvarry

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Sights
Sonder
Self-Released
Street: 06.20
Sights = mewithoutYou + Steve Roggenbuck + Wearing Thin
Sonder is a great improvement on Sights’ still pretty great debut EP, Mammoth. From a pure songwriting perspective, I think these guys are catching up with Eons (R.I.P.) in the race for who can put out the best post-hardcore music in Salt Lake. I have no idea what they are singing, but the vocal delivery on this album fits perfectly with the intensity and grand scope of the music, especially on the mini-epic track, “II.” Here, the interplay between vocals and instruments reminds me of our great modern post-hardcore idols, La Dispute—praise I am loath to give out lightly. Sights have not yet arrived, but they are well on their way, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the future. If they continue with their upward trajectory, their next release should absolutely fucking kill it. –Alex Gilvarry
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Weed-Running-Back

Weed-Running-Back

Weed
Running Back

Lefse Records
Street: 04.07
Weed = Whirr + Best Coast

Despite their very on-the-nose name, I’m not sure I’d want to listen to the band Weed’s new album while under the influence of any kind of substance, though that is probably more of a testament to my delicate state of mind than any kind of judgment on the quality of this album. Far from being a bad album, Running Back is an excellent example of the shoegaze-y grunge rock that has been gaining popularity in the underground indie rock scene in the past half-decade or so. If you like noisy, washy guitars and vocals that are present enough to hear the melody but buried enough that you can’t understand them, then you should probably go listen to this on Bandcamp. –Alex Gilvarry

Pompeii
Loom
Red Eye Transit
Street: 10.14.14
Pompeii = Sigur Rós + Ben Gibbard

Pompeii sound like what would happen if an indie-pop band decided they wanted to make really atmospheric music, and it’s fantastic. I don’t think I’d be too out of place to call this post-rock, even though singer Dean Stafford is quite present throughout, in a way not generally found in post-rock. The bulk of this album is made up of atmospheric guitar/keys with driving drums underneath, backed up by the four piece Tosca Strong Quartet which, at least in theory, are extremely similar to post-rock giants Sigur Rós. Despite the similarities, Pompeii bring something new and compelling to the table with Loom. Any fan of huge, moving, atmospheric indie-rock should be able to find something to enjoy with this record. With any luck, these guys will come to Salt Lake sometime soon so we all can see this fantastic album in action. –Alex Gilvarry

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Massimo Falascone

Variazioni Mumacs 32 short mu-pieces about macs

Public Eyesore

Street: 03.25

Massimo Falascone = William Shatner + White Noise/Captain Beefheart

Sometimes art exists for people’s enjoyment, and sometimes art exists for the sake of art. I think Variazioni Mumacs falls into the latter camp. This album is made of 32 weird sound collages that sort of fit together, but don’t really strike the listener in any compelling way. Sounds from various instruments come in and out over the hour-plus run time, while voices in various languages say cryptic things that don’t seem to have much to do with the music. This seems like something you might admire from a distance in a world music course, or if you wanted to eat some mushrooms and freak yourself out. I bet this album was fun to make, and I’d probably be into making something like it as a musician, but I can’t imagine anyone would throw this on at the end of the day when they’re trying to relax.
–Alex Gilvarry

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