Author: Benjamin Tilton

Modern Suits
Every Light
Sleep Retreat Records
Street: 11.11.14
Modern Suits = Chris Daughtry + Lifehouse + Sister Hazel

Modern Suits have released their second EP Every Light, after massive personnel retooling. Those adjustments unfortunately fall flat with this attempt—the band has a full-bodied arena rock sound that sheds no light on the genre’s heavily trodden path. The music is played well and has a solid execution, but you might as well be shopping in JC Penny because their sound has become so common that you can ignore it. Sadly, the only unique thing about the album is the lead singer’s uncanny, Kermit-the-Frog-like tone. The production of the album falls on the shoulders of Fred Mascherino (formerly of Taking Back Sunday), and each poppy tune rings in around the radio-friendly three to four minutes. Considering the talents and efforts behind this band Every Light is a huge miss.–Benjamin Tilton 

Photos:
I, a Man

Gravity Wins Again

We Simmers Records

Street: 04.11

I, a Man = Noah and the Whale + The Lonely Forrest + Bedroom

Gravity Wins Again is the first full-length album from I, a Man (named after the 1967 Andy Warhol film). The album is wonderfully self-produced, allowing the band to sound exactly as they like. This is evident in the song length as most songs clock in between 4-7 minutes, making them non-radio friendly. The album embraces a melodic disenchanted soul that grows on you in a very welcoming way. The album was designed for vinyl, so there is a definite flow between each song. Standing out are the tracks “In Time,” “Minivan” and “Cold Feet Warmed,” but “Lucky” is also about as charming as any instrumental gets. The only clear downside to the album is that there are only 10 tracks. Just as you really start to understand the album, it’s over, but I guess that’s what replay is for. Gravity Wins Again is an enjoyable first effort despite its brevity, and I hope they stick to their guns on the second album and keep the self-produced tunes coming. –Benjamin Tilton
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Former Tides – What We Are EP

Former Tides – What We Are EP

Former Tides
What We Are EP

Self-Released
Street: 10.09.15
Former Tides = Mudvayne + Breaking Benjamin – Three Days Grace

The Utah County rockers Former Tides are at it again with their new EP What We Are, and the results are loud, energetic and pretty kickass. The post-hardcore scene has been dwindling as of late, but these guys brought some serious crashing guitar riffs to the studio just in case you forgot. The title track gets the EP started and really displays the overall sound Former Tides are going for. It’s high energy, then soft and sweet, then high energy, then sweet and so on. This is what screaming with feelings is all about, and fans of Anberlin will rejoice with this new effort. The live versions of these tracks give the songs even more kickass-ness, so I highly encourage you to get out there and support these guys in our local scene. This album is an excellent effort all around. –Benjamin Tilton

Active Strand
Hot Lava EP
Bossa Nomad
Street: 12.04.14

Active Strand =
 Arctic Monkeys + Audioslave + Ben Harper

Energetic local act Active Strand have released their first EP Hot Lava this last winter. Having developed a healthy following from their bombastic live sets and funk-meets-rock tunes, the EP is dropped on us in hopes of furthering the excellent Provo rock scene. The short description of the band on Facebook reads, “power trio with a new sound,” which would be the case if the 2004 English rock scene never happened. The music is executed well and the lead singer hits his notes, but his creepy lounge singer swagger makes the album feel like your watching dance moves by Giovanni Ribisi. The album shows good range and never sits too long in any one place, but sometimes you have to learn one good trick before wandering any further. Keep trying, guys—the talent’s there. –Benjamin Tilton 

Photos:
Black Jupiter cover

Black Jupiter cover

Black Jupiter
Salvation in a Self-Destructive World EP

Self-Released
Street: 01.16
Black Jupiter = A Perfect Circle + Radiohead + Pink Floyd

It was so wonderful to listen to such a calm and gripping strut through the melodic wanderings of Black Jupiter’s EP, Salvation in a Self-Destructive World. The heavily instrumental album takes me back to nights sitting at lookout points, wondering where it all ends. With the entire world rushing to the next big catchy thing, it’s nice to see a band confident enough to just be … and this album dwells in itself to a wonderful extent. Very few times in my listening career have I actually felt relief and peace after taking in a rock album, so thank you, Black Jupiter, for relaxing shoulders and giving the mind a place to explore. Local bands often trip over themselves fighting for attention—it’s good to see some bands haven’t forgotten that they’re simply entertainers. –Benjamin Tilton

Atris
Dawn

Self Published
Street: 05.31. 15
Atris = Black Sabbath + Pink Floyd + Queens of the Stone Age

If I told you one of last year’s hidden local gems sounded as if Tool and jazz music had a baby, then you probably would be curious about this baby. Well, to put that confusion at rest, I’m happy to report this baby is healthy, kicking and full of grit.

With a local music scene imitating much of its recent successes, we get breaths of trendy reprieve only so often. Atris’ album Dawn seems inspired by dark towers, wandering creeks and things that go bump in the night. As you listen to Dawn, you feel like a evil voyeur, nefariously plotting the most sinister of schemes while nodding your head to notorious beats. Multitasking music aficionado Alex Anglesey presents drums, percussion and a synthesizer with vocals. Next to him sits the equally tasked Stephen Beck on lead vocals and Corey Collatz on keys and guitar, both of whom bring wonderful melody to the whole group. This type of patience in song presentation is a bold move—being these are long songs—and makes you wonder if Rush passed through Ogden decades ago and left offspring on our musical doorsteps. The song length alone means these songs weren’t written for the radio, and that’s the bravest I’ve heard in some time.

The album furiously progresses in its haunt then calms like Ozzy croaking, “Oh nooo,” in his song about dark Sundays. Toward the end of Dawn, the dusk has set in and its six parts have turned my nodding head into a full on proud ’80s head bang. Then the tempo jumps up again, and we get some beach guitar rock solos that oddly work. Anglesey’s drums set this process off while guitar work from Collatz and Beck clash wonderfully as you listen to them fight over genres.

With such a rich first effort, you have to wonder what schemes these dark and whimsical gentlemen are up to now. With a local scene needing much more experimentation in its music, Atris seems ripe for exposure. A moody concert with deep red curtains sounds about right. Toss in some candles and jello shots for flare and you’ve grasped the quirky, dark depth of Dawn. Mind you, downloads can be a bit more practical, but this band can be streamed for free at thetravelersatris.bandcamp.com/releases for proof of prior mentioned sentiment. I hope you enjoy Atris’ Dawn … or plan something evil at least. –Benjamin Tilton

Citizen Soldier
Caroline

Self-Released
Street Date: 10.28.17
Citizen Soldier = Fuel + Three Days Grace + Nickelback

Have you ever wondered why musicians create catchy songs about sadness? We can almost assume the manipulative bastards want us to suffer. For the artist it’s a bit of channeling, but the residual attracts a group of fans relating over their collective misery. So why do some of us love this music so dearly? Why as kids did we scream into pretend microphone hands and unleash a fury? The answer is simple, really—it’s a release. The EP Caroline by Citizen Soldier is just such a thing: a loud, thrashing exorcism of glorious mental vomit, and it’s the best thing I’ve heard from this genre in some time.

The video for Citizen Soldier’s “Buried Alive” features a young woman drowning in a bathtub while she experiences a series of crestfallen moments. The water/world is slowly creeping over her mouth just before she pushes up, echoing the lyrics of the song. It’s easy to map out the depressive themes that recur throughout the album, but there’s an underlying fight in the depicted characters that ultimately makes this project rewarding. She doesn’t let her world consume her, and challenges the monsters in her head.

In the song “Caroline,” perspective becomes the focus and we get a moral understanding in relation to circumstances and where our feet end up. “Caroline” embodies the distance between what we know and where we are. It’s beautiful, sad and a lot of fun to sing along to.

The EP continues with “Soldier,” where crashing guitars imitate the world around outsiders. The fighting theme is most evident in this song, and the self-acceptance feeds the ones marching on. “15 Minutes of Fame” is a ballad in self-awareness, a joyous cry that would sit comfortably in progressive church youth groups.

“Let It Burn” closes out the record and feels like a montage of all the themes addressed in the album, as though they are being set free or let go. The importance of moving on ends this album with a very welcome and hopeful note.

For a continued understanding of these emotional juggernauts, I suggest seeing Citizen Soldier live. With shows at the likes of Kilby and The Royal, there are plenty upcoming opportunities check them out. –Benjamin Tilton

Burn Atlas
Self-Titled
Self-Released

Street: 09.10.14
Burn Atlas = Soul Coughing + Mazzy Star + Gorillaz – Del the Funky Homosapien

As a critic, writing reviews can be painful. In the case of Burn Atlas, I feel I’ve wandered into a poppy field. This self-titled album shows brilliant, creative promise. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but its clever arrangement makes it fun and lyrically amusing. The initial track, “Trigger Finger,” is poppy and thoughtful while at the same time hinting at mid-’90s post-grunge the way Beck did it so long ago. The production could use some polishing, but few first-time EPs are perfect creatures. The album is consistent in its theme, and the young band already has a unique sound. With a following just under 100 fans on Facebook, this unfound treasure is a refreshing splash among the tired indie-rock scene. –Benjamin Tilton 

Photos:
kyler art

kyler art

Kyler Slater
The Winter EP

Self-Released
Street: 03.02
Kyler Slater = The Fray + First Aid Kit – Justin Townes Earle

The Winter is an appropriate title for this album. This is not a cheer- ful, upbeat kind of album—this is a rainy-day, stare-out-your-window-and- wonder-where-it-all-went-wrong kind of album. The Winter plays beautifully and brushes over your head the way your mom’s hand would when you were a child on the worst kind of bad days. The tracks “On My Own” and “Losing My Mind” are patient and intimate songs that are reminiscent of things you may have heard before but they serve more as a comfort than a redundancy. Kyler Slater show a maturity that is unique for bands just starting out, and they are one of the few bands that can successfully pull off melody without succumbing to a hook. The Winter is a solid first step from these local guys, and I’m honestly curious what they’ll come up with next. –Benjamin Tilton

Quiet Oaks
Put Your Dreams Where They Belong

Self-Released
Street: 09.18.15
Quiet Oaks = Hudson Taylor + Walk the Moon + Ivan & Alyosha

You can almost hear the quintet that makes up Quiet Oaks smiling on their debut EP, Put Your Dreams Where They Belong. The Salt Lake City natives are extremely passionate about their music and this is demonstrated by their enthusiastic live shows and dedicated following. The key was to capture that raw feeling on the album and that is certainly apparent on songs like “Guns” and the title track “Put Your Dreams Where They Belong.” The relaxed, fun and creative side of Quiet Oaks is also present here on “Paint The Forest,” making straightforward rock sound wonderfully carefree. The album has the presence of your favorite classic rock band while still finding enough of its own footing to not step on any old school toes. I whistled throughout the album which gives you a good understanding of the tunes therein. It’s fun, but also bluesy. It’s soft but you can still jump around to it. It’s just an excellent rock album, so everyone download it and support awesome local music! –Benjamin Tilton