The Folka Dots
Folka Dots = The Wailin’ Jennys + (Nickel Creek – Chris Thile) + Alison Krauss
The face of folk is changing forever. Elements of rock, reggae, electronica, psychedelia and any other conceivable musical movement are successfully blending into traditional acoustic songwriting. With all the diverse folk sounds now available out there, fans of the genre will find it refreshing to revisit the roots of the movement with Salt Lake natives The Folka Dots’ debut album, Down Below. From the beautiful, three-part vocal harmonies adorned with a slight country twang to the subdued guitar strumming, everything on the album sounds straight from a turn-of-the-century rural country fair, but there’s something to be said for sticking to basics and doing it well.
The Pathless Sounds
In Dreaming = Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s Xenophanes + Godspeed You! Black Emperor + slam poetry
Having met the individual members of this band several times over the years, I can say with authority that In Dreaming are some of the hardest working and nicest dudes you’ll find in Provo. The Pathless Sounds, their debut full-length album, proves that they are also skilled at composing some of the most individualistic and difficult-to-categorize music around. Think of local progressive post rock favorites Theta Naught on their heavier, less Christmas-y days, then add non-stop two-part harmonies, and you’ll be pretty close. On each track, Brennan Allen lays the foundation with drum rhythms that are both reserved and complicated. Over that, the minimalist guitar dronings of Kirk Ward and frontman Trevor “Treefeathers” Smith drift in and out with magnificent dynamic range. Some of the most interesting moments on the album come when Smith drifts into atonal poetry recitation that has a near-sermon power behind it.
The Old World
The Old World = Josh Ritter + Pink Floyd
The Old World is an album that catches a group of skilled musicians halfway through a transition from a power pop band to a ballad-brandishing folk rock ensemble. Though each song on the album displays their prodigious aptitude for their instruments and is entertaining in its own right, as a collection, the album is a bit sporadic. Folk tracks like “Rollin’ Boulders” and “New Stripes” are perfect backdrops for the mandolin and fiddle skills of Austin Frodsham to come to the forefront, whereas tracks like “Save Me” and “Secret Sauce” lean closer to a progressive rock sound and allow for Casey Romney’s epic guitar solos. The Old World would be stronger if they got both of their feet on either side of the line, but whatever they do, they are bound to do it well.