Author: Chris Proctor

Dawes
Stories Don’t End
HUB
Street: 04.09
Dawes = Jackson Browne + Willie Nelson + The Eagles

Perhaps the single factor that sets this album apart from Dawes’ first two releases is the level of production. Jacquire King, who has produced for artists like Tom Waits, Norah Jones and Kings of Leon, harnesses Dawes’ brand of vintage Americana into a sound very reminiscent of the clean and tight sounds of Mark Knopfler and Jackson Browne. The guitar licks on songs like “Just Beneath the Surface” and “Something In Common” are clear evidence of this. Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith sings with what sounds like a lack of emotion, but shines through with warm tones and flawless vocal control, allowing the lyrics to exude their own emotion. The ideas explored on the album are deep, detailed and specific. Most, if not all, listeners will find something to relate their life experience to. Goldsmith spends a good deal of the album dissecting complicated dynamics of everyday communication and human interaction. If you give this album a few listens, you’ll find that its stories will stay with you long after you stop listening. –Chris Proctor

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Reaper the Storyteller
Trilogy
Self-Released
Street: 05.11
Reaper the Storyteller = Outkast + The Roots + 2pac
 
The mantra that Reaper the Storyteller imposes on himself is no lie. His subject matter is the stuff of true substance. Oftentimes, hip hop focuses on inflating the ego, smoking dank weed and fucking mad bitches. The Reaper would rather delve deep into the conflicted and troubled mind. While Trilogy is no party, there are plenty of tracks that get your head nodding. “Try” is one of those tracks. It has the same bluesy feel of Dr. Dre’s “No Diggity,” and the melody in the chorus will make you want to put the track on repeat. The Reaper employs live instruments on his recordings and does it well. The thing that gives this album away as great music is the fact that the beats could stand alone as great blues, funk and jazz. –Chris Proctor
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Blitzen Trapper
VII
Vagrant
Street: 09.30
Blitzen Trapper = The Eagles + Pavement + Fleet Foxes
Blitzen Trapper have more or less traded in the Gibsons and Tube Screamers of American Goldwing for the 5-string banjo and pedal steel guitar of VII. Lyrically, Eric Earley takes the listener from the long stretches of American highway and roadside bars to the deep woods of Oregon. The album opens dark with “Feel the Chill”, a song depicting a rollover accident in which the driver’s lover is ejected from the truck. “Shine On” picks up with a similar groove, featuring soulful licks from the harmonica and electric guitar, as well as some great gospel-style background vocals on the chorus. On “Oregon Geography,” the three-finger style banjo, coupled with the rain in the background of the track and the simple drum kit, create a gloomy, bluesy feel while Earley sings of the sights and experiences of train hopping and wandering around Oregon. VII is not a redundant addition to Blitzen Trapper’s discography. They’ve put together a unique sound for the album while still managing to sound Blitzen Trapper. –Chris Proctor
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Johnny Utah
Johnny 3:16
Self-Released
Street: 12.15.12
Johnny Utah = Dipset + Kanye West
Johnny 3:16 is a massive collaborative effort with over 15 emcees and producers lending Johnny Utah a hand on the album, including well-known locals Linus Stubbs, Yoga Flame Kane and Brisk One. The wide variety of beats keeps your ears from glazing over after the third track. Linus Stubbs provides funky, head-nodding, boom-bap styles that sound right at home behind Johnny’s vocals as Mixter Mike and Yoga Flame Kane’s epic, swagger-fueled anthems. Johnny’s raps imply more talent than just the ability to rhyme on time—he uses clever zings and word play, coupled with a raspy, in-your-face delivery. What I appreciate most about this album is the fact that I can’t pick one single factor that I appreciate the most.

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Chivers Timbers

Freedom + Stability

Elmoyd Music

Street: 11.10.12

Chivers Timbers = Tom Petty + Royal Bliss + Pearl Jam

Chivers Timbers’ debut release is a 10-track ode to lo-fi rock n’ roll with a little reggae infusion. The album blends together sounds that were heard more prominently in the early ‘90s—the acoustic guitar taking the lead while the electric provides harmonics in the background. The rhythms found on Freedom + Stability are simple, and so the listeners ears are drawn to the vocals. Quinn Chivers sings the melody, while the band provides background harmonies, making their vocal makeup sound akin to the likes of Dispatch.  The vocal dynamic, showing through the most on the track “Box Elder Street,” is the band’s strength. Though Chivers and the band sing with plenty of soul, there is a general blandness about this album that I believe stems from the lack of diversity in their sound. The entire album is essentially the same tempo and rhythmic pattern, save for the last song, “Sydney Sage.” Freedom + Stability isn’t anything too impressive, but it is worth a listen. 

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Omeed the Nag
Status
Self-Released
Street: 08.17.12
Omeed the Nag = Swollen Members + Atmosphere + Brother Ali
Omeed the Nag has collaborated with a number of local hip hop artists, including Pat Maine , Malevolent MC and Burnell Washburn to release Status . The beats are heavily sample-based, and most are rather repetitive. “Thinker” features a nice keyboard synth, but the same four-beat measure is repeated throughout the entire song. “Still Leaving” has a real nice flow to it, along with some scratches in the background that give it that golden boom bap feel. Omeed’s rhyme schemes and lyrical flow are sub-par. Washburn’s part in “The Dopeness” and Pat Maine’s part in “Help” are, by far, the best parts of this album. Omeed has a nice Aesop Rock sort of gritty feel to his voice, but he does this half-rap-half-sing-song thing that sounds silly. Status isn’t a bad album, but it sounds no different and no better than the same cookie-cutter hip hop that we’re all so tired of. – Chris Proctor

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Like, Listen To
East of the Sun and West of the Moon

MetCom/Gotta Groove
Street: 02.08
Like, Listen To = Iron and Wine + Andrew Bird

Like, Listen To are the most recent of many projects involving Provo-based singer-songwriter Drew Danburry. This album, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, was written as acoustic-folk and accompanied by a string quartet consisting of Sydney Howard, Alyssa Pyper, Sara Bauman and Maia Cook. Each track on the album was recorded live to two-track on quarter-inch tape at MetCom Studios in Salt Lake City. During recording, Jesse Nicholas Quebbeman-Turley arranged and conducted the quartet while Danburry and Stuart Wheeler provided guitar and vocals.

Danburry’s warm, baritone vocals sound right at home over the acoustic guitar and are harmonized beautifully with Wheeler and the string quartet. When the beautiful tones are used to convey angst, depression or jaded veraciousness, they achieve a different sort of harmony. There is a beauty housed in the specific kind of hopeless sadness in some of the lyrics. That feeling magnifies over certain tones, such as the ones found in “Chagrin Falls,” when he sings, “There is a river flowing here / Connecting to someone out there / But somewhere in travel the words they unravel for fear / For when the ocean appears.”

“Take Back the Night” provides good commentary on the issues of sexual assault and misogyny, taking on victim-shaming and sexual bullying. “Ego” sounds like Danburry is chastising an overly egotistical man, but he could also be taking on the ego itself. The quartet plays well together, and their talents are featured in a number of places on the album, like the close to two-minute-long intro to “To Be Human” and again near the end of “The Sun in the Sky.”

The songwriting on this album does not stray too far from Danburry’s other music, but Quebbeman-Turley’s well-written quartet accompaniment, along with the deft performances by Howard, Pyper, Bauman and Cook, certainly makes this album a new and original collaborative project coming out of the Provo area.
Chris Proctor