Author: James Bennett

Emperors of Wyoming
Self-Titled
Liaison Music
Street: 03.25
EOW = Tom Petty + The Byrds + George Jones

This is an interesting record. It is essentially a re-release of a record that came out in Europe a few years back. The American version adds a few more songs and remixes everything. People are paying attention because the band features Butch Vig, drummer for Garbage and famed producer of alt-rock records like Nirvana’s Nevermind. Musically, the 13 tracks on the album skirt the line between American roots music, old country and folk. It’s not a rock record per se, but it isn’t a country record either—it just is. And it sounds like it has always been. The music is gritty yet clean, and the lyrics nestle in somewhere between the Heartbreakers and rebel country greats. Songs like “Bittersweet Sound” and “Avalanche Girl” certainly pay homage to the experiences of the musicians playing here, but they also manage to hold their own and fight for inclusion in the pantheon of great American music. –James Bennett

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Deathfix
Self-titled
Discord
Street: 02.25
Deathfix = T-Rex + Slade + Noddy Comet
Let’s face it—no one’s favorite member of Fugazi is Brendan Canty. Hell, even the guy’s mother probably prefers Guy Picciotto. Yet here we are with the self-titled release by Canty’s glam band, Deathfix. And glam is the correct description, even if the music tends to deal with weightier subject matter than anything Slade ever put out. Lyrically, it is dense. It wades through topics of illness, breakups and the trappings of fame without sugar coating any of it. Musically, it’s firmly rooted in early 1970, when excessive studio tinkering started to upstage musical mastery. In all, it isn’t a bad listen. The first two tracks, “Better Than Bad” and “Low Lying Dreams,” both manage to lay down a heavy groove while bringing the listener along for the ride. Other songs don’t do quite as well (“Dali’s House” goes on for far too long). It hits the mark really well for a 1972 concept album. The thing is, it hasn’t been 1972 for over 40 years.

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il Sogno del Marinaio
Canto Secondo
Clenchedwrench
Street: 08.26
Il Sogno Del Marinaio = Minutemen + fIREHOSE + The Secondmen
Italian for “the sailor’s dream,” il Sogno del Marinaio is a post-punk trio featuring legendary bass player Mike Watt—celebrated for his work with the Minutemen and for his recent stint in the reformed Iggy Pop and the Stooges. This is the second record from the band. Watt originally met up with his two Italian bandmates while touring Europe on a solo record. It’s clear that this lineup reconnects Watt with some of his musical heritage, as much of it is reminiscent of the Minutemen/fIREHOSE sound—but with a more dream-like quality to it. “Animal Farm Tango” starts off with rudimentary marching drums overlaid with trancelike guitar and Watt’s gruff vocals before smoothing into the math/scientist rock you’d expect. The record floats from start to finish, taking the time for each track to find its footing. It’s a solid effort by an unbelievably good band. The best part? They’re playing the Urban Lounge on September 23. –James Bennett
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Man… or Astro-man?
Defcon 5…4…3…2…1
Chunklet/Communicating Vessels
Street: 05.21
MOAM? = Sun Ra + Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet + The Quadrajets
This album marks the first time since 1997’s Made From Technetium that Alabama’s favorite sci-fi/surf combo has put out a record with original guitarist Star Crunch. Crunch is joined by original members Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard, Birdstuff and new guitarist Avona Nova. The sound and feel of Defcon picks up right where Technetium left off, and pairs this heavy instrumental style with the vocal-heavy sound of the 1000x EP (also from 1997). Their veneration of ’60s surf music and irreverent, intergalactic chatter is in full swing. “Arc,” “Disintegrate” and “New Cocoon” each feature an incredibly solid lead vocal. “Antimatter Man” and “Communication Breakdown Pt. II” do what MOAM? is known for—pairing crushing rock chords with driving surf beats and solid bass work, peppered with an occasional sample. It’s a vintage-sounding MOAM? recording, but much more powerful, with less shtick and more balls. –James Bennett
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Kool Stuff Katie
Self-Titled
Self-Released
Street: 03.30
Kool Stuff Katie = The Dollyrots + OK Go + RamonesThis is a fun band. The minimalist musical duo from Portland, Ore., makes incredibly light and upbeat music that hemorrhages positivity. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it bubbly, but the brightly tinged pop punk sound fills a void that I didn’t even notice was there. Opening track “Hard Girl to Know” will have you singing along, regardless of your familiarity with the lyrics. Another track, “Cars,” longs for a location without cars, people or noise, while being charmingly noisy. At first glance, one would be tempted to compare this band with The White Stripes. Personnel-wise, you would be correct—a dude on guitar and vocals with a girl drummer. But the comparison stops there. The music manages to stay light and true even at its most aggressive. Who could ask for anything more? You need this! –James Bennett
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Richard Thompson – Still

Richard Thompson – Still

Richard Thompson
Still

Fantasy
Street: 06.23
Richard Thompson = Eric Clapton – ripping off American Bluesmen + Van Morrison

I’ll never understand how Richard Thompson isn’t a household name. From redefining folk rock as a young man with Fairport Convention to releasing scores of records as a solo artist or alongside his then-wife, Linda Thompson, Thompson’s storied guitar ballads are never anything short of masterpieces. This latest album was recorded in Chicago by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy appears in several spots on the record, fleshing out the otherwise sparse compositions. The end result is a smooth mixture of Thompson’s normal Celtic-driven story songs with minimal orchestral overdubs. In classic form, the fresh guitar work in the opening track, titled “She Never Could Resist a Winding Road,” provides the bedrock to a story about falling for a woman who refuses to be tied down. Another track, “Broken Doll,” deals with mental illness. Tweedy’s addition of haunting organ music adds to the general unease of the track. In all, Still shows us that, even as he advances in years, Thompson is nowhere near finished. –James Bennett

Peer Group
Rhetoric and Hands
Water Under the Bridge
Street: 07.01
Peer Group = Saccharine Trust + the Reactionaries + the Minutemen

The recent release of these Peer Group recordings was a long time coming. These songs were recorded in December of 1981 in southern California, making it contemporary to bands like Black Flag and Redd Kross. Stylistically, though, it flirts more with the sound made popular by the Minutemen—sharp, short guitar riffs and spiel thrown over a tight, complementary rhythm section. As it has more of an art school rough draft vibe to it, it’s clear that the band never completely gelled together. Still, these songs are an important testament of what was happening at the fringes of the larger fringe movement that was So-Cal punk rock. Rhetoric and Hands is the complete collection of Peer Group’s recorded output—a single 7” record with five tracks and four more available digitally. This charmingly raw record shows why music from this time and place continues to inspire people today. –James Bennett 

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Terrance Danger Hailstorm - No Danger b/w HurricaneTerrance Danger Hailstorm
No Danger b/w Hurricane

Self-Released
Street 05.07
Terrance DH = the Stench + Magstatic + a hipper, friendlier and less evil Danzig

Terrance Danger Hailstorm has been a staple on the SLC music scene for a number of years now, as a member of the Stench, Magstatic and the Bad Yodelers. For this latest single, Terrance’s guitar and vocal effort is rounded out by bassist Cache Tolman (Iceburn, SKULLFUZZ, Fearless Vampire Killers) and drummer Jamison Wilkins (J.W. Blackout). The two songs, written and recorded by DH, clock in at just under four minutes each, and are similar in both sound and composition to much of his past work. Present are many of the qualities that make anything Terrance DH does special, a skillful blend of loud power chords and pop enthusiasm, beautifully crafted music, and vivid lyrics delivered by a seasoned vocal pro. These sonic traits alone would be enough to inspire the listener to replay the single over and over again, but the tracks contain so much more. The rhythm section of Cache Tolman and Jamison Wilkins pound the sounds straight into your head with a solid prog-metal sincerity. With hard rock hooks aplenty, these two tracks would be worthy of a portion of your music buying budget, which brings me to best news of all, the single is available for free download at Terrance’s own website: terrancedh.com. A stellar deal for a fantastic couple of songs.

Sterile Jets

Liquor Store

Self-Released

Street: 10.24

Sterile Jets =
Future of the Left + Mclusky + Sonic Youth

On Liquor Store, the second record from Long Beach–based trio Sterile Jets, a serious attempt is made to reduce post-rock music to an asymmetric, thunderous howl. The band does a fairly good job toeing the line of heavily distorted, no-frills rock music while staying true to the drudgery of their artistic vision. The strangely melodic distortion, paired with cynical lyrics can wear a bit thin at times. The listener clearly gets the message that the band couldn’t care less if you listened to them. This mostly works to their advantage. Songs like “Olly Olly Oxen Free” and “I’m Glad You’re Crying, Cowboy” balance between harmony and feedback in a way that’s both refreshing and kind of annoying. In all, if you’re into bands that sound a little like Shellac, you should give this one a listen. –James Bennett
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Reatards – Grown Up, Fucked Up

Reatards
Grown Up, Fucked Up

Goner Records
Street: 08.21
Reatards = the Oblivians + The Rip Offs + The Wongs

God bless Goner Records for releasing this. If you’re like me, the scuzzy rock that was Jay Reatard’s record Teenage Hate slapped you right across the face when it came out. Within a few months the Reatards were the center of almost every music discussion I had. This record, Grown Up, Fucked Up, was recorded about a year later by an 18 year-old Jay Reatard and his band. At this point the music was a little harder and considerably meaner. The fuzzy guitar is loud and driven. The vocals skirt the line between howls and screams while remaining completely listenable. Tracks like “Blew My Mind” and “Sick When I See” document the anger and frustration of being dealt a bad hand in life but roughing your way through it. The music is urgent, full of real heart and sensitivity and completely fucking brutal—all the trappings of a masterpiece. James Bennett