Author: Connor Brady

Dusk Raps
All Is Fair
Self-Released
Streets: 03.06
Dusk Raps = El-P + Aesop Rock + YZE

Dusk Raps has been making moves recently—most notably, he just performed at his first SXSW and put out his seventh release, All Is Fair. The album has themes of rebuilding and inconsistency in relationships, all put over funky and unique beats. The album comes out strong and aggressive with “Leaving Now,” which talks of rebuilding, getting back at it, and a vision of Dusk Raps’ heaven, which sounds pretty appealing. “Make Up Your Mind,” which was produced by Dusk Raps himself, speaks of experiencing inconsistency in relationships whereas “Call Me” is the opposite, telling about always being there for someone. All Is Fair has good contrast—between the lyrics and the stories they tell, and the funky, sometimes calm beats paired with Dusk Raps’ raspy voice. –Connor Brady

Photos:

ReyPila

Rey Pila
The Future Sugar

Cult Records
Street: 07.15
Rey Pila = Tears for Fears + Crystal Castles + Joy Division

Five years after their debut self-titled album, Rey Pila have come out with their sophomore effort The Future Sugar, and it is well worth the wait. The Mexico City natives truly have a sound of their own, pairing dark synth driven melodies, ’80s goth-inspired instrumentals and vocals reminiscent of acts such as Tears for Fears and Simple Minds. The second track, entitled “White Night,” embodies this combination of sounds with a hypnotic beat paired with a distorted bass driven synth melody. The album’s excellence comes as no surprise, as former The Strokes front man Julian Casablanca and his label Cult Records helped bring The Future Sugar to life. The Future Sugar is an amazing dark and hypnotic collection of songs with and ’80s feel and modern appeal. –Connor Brady

•kordlhan
•Steez

Self-Released
Street: 04.07
•Kordlhan  = Flying Lotus + Yung Lean

Hailing from our very own Salty City is the aesthetically pleasing hip-hop by production artist •kordlhan. His most recent release, •steez, brings a unique and untapped sound that I have yet to hear from any other producer in the area. This album offers a mixed bag of sounds and influences to each track, ranging from hip-hop (“•pharaoh :: •tokyo”) to jazz (“•heart [as in feelings]”), all while maintaining the aesthetic feel of a vaporwave album. Accompanying the diverse sounds of each track is a changing mood. It starts with a darker trap beat and then flows into a calm track by following a more chillstep vibe. What I love about •steez is that typically, when it comes to instrumentally heavy albums, I often find myself asking, “How would these beats sound when accompanied by lyrics?” •steez stands apart from the rest by offering not only amazing instrumental beats, but by also having a few tracks that include lyrics (“Moodswings,” “Luxurii”). I have trouble picking just one a track to highlight when it comes to an album with such diverse tracks as this. Must-listen-to songs, though, would be “•going,” with its calming beat and soothing looped and edited vocals, and “•heart [as in feelings],” with its jazz-heavy samples that are reminiscent of Flying Lotus. After listening to this album multiple times and truly getting to take in everything it had to offer, I’m excited to find a local album with so much range that can showcase an artist’s talent in multiple modes of production. If you are a fan of spacey and atmospheric beats or just can’t get enough of songs that sound like they should be featured on [Adult Swim], I’d highly recommend •steez and the rest of •kordlhan’s discography from his Bandcamp at kordlhan.bandcamp.com. –Connor Brady

Soothbone | Infinity Pool | Self-Released

Soothbone
Infinity Pool

Self-Released
Street: 12.16.16
Soothbone = Tycho + Sufjan Stevens + Flying Lotus

Whirling in on the line of chaos and composure is SoothBone, a band with a one-of-a-kind mix of spacey auto effects, beats and a sprinkling of folky indie rock. The Ogden act bends genres, creating a unique atmosphere. Infinity Pool comes in slowly, with a simple drum machine accompanied by a light strumming of an acoustic guitar in a sound similar to that of the Gorillaz “Empire Ants.” The track is then met with eerie distorted lyrics and electric guitar, which take the track down a descent of madness. The album continues with hypnotic interludes that flow into the next song. Tracks like “Summoning Ritual” benefit from this atmosphere, which creeps in just as delightful plucking kicks the track off, allowing the percussion and smooth transition into the song. The band’s style on this album is a slow crawl into each song, which then picks up pace until there is a moment when the track becomes nothing but trippy chaos before it slows and drifts away. The entire album’s feel is very dreamlike, allowing the listener to get lost in the space it creates while simultaneously grounding you with distorted vocals or more down-to-earth songs like “Crocodile,” which maintains a more indie-rock approach with hushed lyrics and an acoustic sound. For something with a little more life, there is “Soothbone,” which includes my favorite build-up on the album and reminds me of Death Cab For Cutie’sI Will Posses Your Heart.” It’s very easy to lose yourself in this album, but with its relatively short runtime it’s a quick yet enjoyable listen. I would highly recommend Infinity Pool to anyone who is a fan of ambient electronic music, or just anyone who wants to get lost in an album and isn’t afraid of missing a lyric or interlude. –Connor Brady

Simian Mobile Disco
Murmurations

Wichita Records
Street: 05.18
Simian Mobile Disco = Digitalism + Boys Noize + Enigma

Far out, soothing and complex: This is how both watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on acid and Simian Mobile Disco’s sixth album could be described. After almost two years, the English duo is back with Murmurations, and they are not alone, as they have been accompanied by the haunting and hypnotic Deep Throat Choir, who provide vocals on the EP.

Murmurations starts slow with a build that transitions often in pitch, allowing for the track “Boids” to take you out of itself momentarily while bouncing ear to ear. As “Boids” fades out, the thumping bass and accompanying synth of “Caught in a Wave” creeps in and the vocals of the Deep Throat Choir loom over in unison. The shaking percussion and distant chanting give the song an aged, almost primitive sound. The third track, “We Go,” opens with glass-like percussion that tinkers in as the synth and bass slowly progress, taking over and eventually becoming a funky mix of vocal layering, thumping bass and looping synth.

Simian Mobile Disco execute the use of so many different synths and effects that give the album a futuristic distortion. The vocals provide the soul, giving the album a deeply human tone. As the album progresses, the infectious chorus of “Hey Sister” seems to come out of the void as one of the few tracks with coherent lyrics, which breaks up much of the harmonizing and chanting featured on other tracks. “A Perfect Swarm” slowly pulses in as “Hey Sister” ends, creating a bridge to one of the more aggressive tracks in the albums with its more uptempo bass, snappy beat and raising frequency. This track opens the door for more trance-inspired songs like “Defender,” whose vocals ended up stealing the show on the album. Its mellow approach pairs beautifully with the track’s more traditional house sound.

The album ends on the tracks “V Formation” and “Murmuration.” The former settles things down just a bit—it maintains a house beat but goes back to soothing vocal pitches and a less aggressive synth usage. The latter brings the album around to where it started, slowly creeping back into the void with its dreamy synths that seem to deteriorate as the song comes to a close.

Simian Mobile Disco have done so many things right with Murmurations: The synths came in distorted and spacey, the bass was often thumping through tracks and the choice of the Deep Throat Choir for vocals on the album could not have been better (having them join them on tour is also a top decision). Murmurations stands out in its seeming simplicity, but subtle complexities lurk through each track, with small shifts to be discovered in the vocals or backing beats, all of which add a new element to each track with every listen. If you are a traditionalist in electronic or house music, this album is one you cannot afford to ignore. Ahead of this May release, check out Simian Mobile Disco’s other albums, including Welcome to Sideways, Unpatterns and Temporary Pleasure. –Connor Brady

MC Who
So Many Faces

Self-Released
Streets: 5.26.16
MC Who = Mac Lethal + Sadistik

MC Who is a Salt Lake City hip hop artist with a raw, old-school style that allows him to stand out in the current trap-heavy and producer-focused scene. Now, you may be wondering, “What makes MC Who so mysterious?” Well, while doing research for this review, I discovered that MC Who appears to have no Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I find this odd in a world where your brand seems to be everything— and showing up in SEO is some of the best marketing you can get.

So Many Faces as a title couldn’t describe this album more perfectly, as MC Who hits so many tempos and styles throughout these 13 songs. So Many Faces starts with “Won’t Go,” a slower-tempo track with a simple kick drum beat and piano backing. MC Who’s delivery on this track is one of the smoothest on the album, and the guitar picking during the chorus work well together. Further through the album is “Allegory,which just sounds like the vocals and beat are competing for my attention and it’s too busy. Between the four or so string samples, timing of the beat and the vocal delivery, there is way too much going on. A few songs later is “Eye Sockets,” which aside from the chorus, sounds like MC Who is trying out an Eminem impression. As I listen to So Many Faces, there are a few interludes/skits and I must say, I think they are the highlight for me, track wise. They breakup the album a bit and have some fun experimental bits in them that I could see MC Who building off of in the future.

At the end of the album, you have two great tracks: “Go Conky Go!” and “No Bullets.” “Go Conky Go!” has an oddly nostalgic beat to it, like something I’d hear in the main menu of a Sega Dreamcast game, and the intro’s faint Pee Wee Herman sample is amazing. MC Who turns up the energy on this track, and despite the beat’s slow feeling, the pacing of his rapping works nicely on this. “No Bullets” is an instrumental track, and one of my favorite on the album, as it gives me the feeling of listening to a beat from a 2010 DatPiff mixtape. MC Who has a raw sound that makes for a great foundation, but does need some timing and mixing tweaks to get there. Connor Brady

You can listen to So Many Faces and more by MC Who at https://mcwho.bandcamp.com/.

Aerial  
Put It This Way In Headlines
Oscarson
Streets: 03.16
Aerial = The Decemberists + Animal Collective + Sonic Youth
 
From Sandviken, Sweden, Aerial have released their third album, Put It This Way In Headlines, on vinyl (originally released in 2009 on No Method).  The band has a familiar and warm post/indie-rock sound that carries a lot of soothing vocals, calm instrumentals, and fantastically placed vocal and environmental samples. Aerial show off their mastery of synthesizers in their openings for “Canvas People” and their pairing with an acoustic guitar in “Zebra” and “In Our Wake.” The album has a positive sound, with most of the tracks being upbeat, while still remaining relaxing overall. Most notable on the album was the track “Quite a Few Homes Later.” The track, despite not having really any lyrics, holds up with the pairing of synth, piano, acoustic guitar and, most importantly, the mix of beautiful samples. For Aerial, the six-year wait of the re-release was more than worth it. –Connor Brady 
Photos:
Artificial Flower Company Africa

Artificial Flower Company Africa

The Artificial Flower Company
Africa

Self-Released
Street: 05.23
The Artificial Flower Company = Mac DeMarco + Beach Fossils

The Artificial Flower Company are constantly adding experimentation into the surf rock sound, and their album Africa shows how talented this band is. Africa is reminiscent of ’60s surf rock, with its distorted guitar riffs, calming and high-pitched vocals, and hypnotic drumbeats. The track “Salt Lake City Blues” summarizes the album’s sound perfectly: It opens with the sound of seagulls flying, which is accompanied by a mellow guitar melody and relaxed vocals. It is a unique experience to hear areas of Utah being referenced over California beach rock–inspired instrumentals. The Artificial Flower Company are always innovating and adding to their sound, with each release sounding a bit different from the last, and Africa shows off some of this band’s best work. You can download Africa at artificialflowercompany.bandcamp.com. –Connor Brady

Cinders
Self-titled

Self-Released
Street: 05.27
Cinders = The Head and the Heart + Blind Pilot

Just in time for summer, sun, camping, hiking and road trips comes Salt Lake City’s own folk/indie five-piece Cinders, who have recently released this 12-track, self-titled album. Cinders is constant, feel-good energy from start to finish. The album really gave me the feeling of wanting to stand up and dance, no matter how many times I listened through it.

After doing a bit more research on the band, it’s easy to tell that this good-vibes feel is not just a gimmick of their genre but is ingrained into everything these guys do. The album kicks off with the pure energy of heartbeat-pumping percussion and dance-inducing strumming harmonies on “Dog Heart” and closes out with “I Could Do Better,” which is a bit more soothing and calm compared to the rest of the album. It’s still a fun track that really sends the album off. Their fun-loving presence isn’t only exclusive to their music, either: Cinders have recently released their first music video, accompanying the release of the album, for the song “Like A Holiday.” The video, much like the song, is full of good vibes as different collections of people play in place of or alongside the band, jumping around and rocking out in a true, high-school talent show setting almost reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Tell Me Baby” video. The collaboration between each member’s unique music styles fuels the sound of Cinders.

All in all, I love the consistency of this album. Each song is happy and groovy, making it almost impossible to not smile while listening through. Cinders is the perfect album for adding that extra bit of sunlight to summer and for really generating that sense of home. Go ahead and check out Cinders on their website and get ready to get on your feet and groove to some truly great, feel-good, indie-folk vibes. –Connor Brady

Poet |Radical Thought | Self-Released

Poet
Radical Thought

Self-Released
Street: 01.29
Poet = Immortal Technique + Killer Mike + Atmosphere

Not long ago, I covered the DJ instructors of Bboy Federation, who are bringing back the roots of hip-hop and traditional scratching to Salt Lake City. Much like how these kinds of DJs teach through musical techniques, Utah rapper Poet is vying to teach a whole different message through his music. Bearing the name Radical Thought, I would say that this album is more “informed” than radical, especially in today’s political climate. Nonetheless, Poet takes pride in discussing the topics he feels strongly about, even if they may not align with those of the community around him.

This album thoroughly takes on the topics of refugees, immigration, gun control and the importance of hip-hop. Poet even delivers a lecture in a style similar to a spoken-word recitation in the track “22nd Century Patriot.The track defines what a patriot is while discussing the matter of church and state. Religion is a topic that hits close to Poet’s personal life, since he doesn’t conform to the popular local religion. This track starts beautifully with a George Carlin quote that dissects the phrase “God Bless America.”

For me, though, the album shines when Poet takes a step back from its major themes and tells of his come up in “I’m So Proud.” The track takes a step back and allows Poet to be grateful in his work and take pride in the way those around him give him positive reinforcement in his music and messages. The track also features an amazing sample of The Impressions “I’m So Proud,” creating an atmosphere that Poet is trying to express the feeling of. Radical Thought is not only technically sound with its more traditional-sounding beats and all-around delivery, but is also ambitious—and some may even say brave—in the passionate and strong views that Poet delivers through his lyrics. No matter where you may stand, Radical Thought is an album that should be on everyone’s radar, not only to hear well-educated lyrics but also to hear a genuinely well-put-together collection of music. –Connor Brady