Against the Grain
Self Destructo Records
Against the Grain = Motörhead + Thin Lizzy + Zeke + Black Sabbath
I can’t stop listening to this album. Seriously, I can’t stop. The boys in Against the Grain have taken the rock flag and are running full tilt with it. This is the album where nonstop touring, playing through adversity and learning to be brothers have tightened a band to the point where they can’t do anything but rock our asses off. I can hear the influences—throw in Iron Maiden, too—but the road has hammered this band down so tight that they have found their own voice, and that voice is fucking powerful! Whenever someone tells me “rock is dead,” I can throw a band like ATG at them and shut them down immediately. If you’re a fan of lightning-fast riffs, wicked leads, quick-handed drum acrobatics, whiskey-soaked vocals or just general badassery, get on this album now. It’s a fucking scorcher. –Jeremy Cardenas
Out for Blood
Beer City Skateboards & Records
Deathwish = Dayglo Abortions + D.R.I + GBH + Exploited
This album is a relentless punk rock storm, from a band out of Wisconsin of all places! The entire album is tight, angry and runs full-throttle from back to front. I can hear some hints of old-school influence, but these guys bring their own flavor to the dance and will have you banging your head and thrashing in no time. I loved the dynamic on the opening track, “Population Zero,” and have been using this as my skating soundtrack every day. If you’re looking for a soundtrack for kicking asses and drinking PBR under an overpass with your crusty friends, then here’s your album. Raise your middle finger and rock the fuck out! –Jeremy Cardenas
Fox and The Law
The Trouble With People
Fox and the Law = The Strokes + MC5 + White Stripes + Black Sabbath
This album will light a fire under your ass on first listen. Hailing from Seattle, they bring to the table some heavy, ’70s style riffing laid over howling psych/garage rock and bound together with a vocalist reminiscent of early Jack White. Their huge rhythm section allows the guitars and vocals to roam free and soar to ethereal heights. I love the guitar interplay, fuzzy overtones and dreamy songwriting. Just when you think they’re going to lull you to dream land, they’ll throw in a track like “Bad Motivator” at you and have you dancing around in your room just like you just heard The Hives and smoked weed for the first time. Check this album out if you’re into drinking cheap beer, dancing and getting froggy with loose women at the dive bar. –Jeremy Cardenas
Hard Action = Riverboat Gamblers + Hellacopters + Hot Snakes
Scandinavian and Finnish rock seems like it’s always on point. I don’t know if it’s the constant winter darkness or just pure genetics, but it seems that Swedes, Norwegians and Finns seem to appreciate American-rooted rawk on a grand scale. Sinister Vibes is no exception to this rule. Hailing from Finland, Hard Action are relatively new to the game but deal out riffs, slashing leads and pure, warm tones in spades. I loved the throaty, soulful delivery of Gyntsa (their vocalist/guitarist), and I love the overall tightness of the band. If you’re looking for sweet, straightforward rock n’ roll, then this will be your jam. –Jeremy Cardenas
Bright Silence of Night
Man Vs. Music Studios
The Weekenders = Wolfmother + Led Zeppelin + Jack White – fancy hats and clothing
On Bright Silence of Night, The Weekender’s follow up to 2012’s Don’t Plan On, the band has grown more into their own sound and has expanded it repertoire in terms of sonic exploration and dynamics. Without being too vague, I would dare say that they have ventured into a realm that is more cinematic and epic without missing the mark. The album sets its goals high, and at times, it seems like they’re attempting to hit Led Zeppelin standards when it comes to pure riffage, and singer Rob Reinfurt is capable of some amazing vocal stylings. His unique delivery and heartfelt lyrics conjure the bygone era of the frills and the belt craftsmanship that is missing from so much “rock” music being made today. Bright Silence of Night was produced by guitarist Mike Sasich at his Man vs. Music studio in Salt Lake City. The album is seamed together flawlessly and is a great listen at top volume or quiet, without losing range or dynamic in the songs. On this release, the band is firing on all cylinders. Tight drumming from Shaun Thomas and a beautiful groove from bassist Mike Torgerson leave a lot of room for dual guitar players Sasich and Reinfurt to be the driving force, while diving into an effects arsenal without getting boring or overplaying their hand. If you’re looking for bluesy-grooving, school-of-Zeppelin licks, this will be your album. There is rarely a short-and-sweet number on this one, but I’ll tell you what, it’s one hell of an enjoyable ride! –Jeremy Cardenas
Wire = T-Rex + Bob Mould + Joy Division
You know, just when I think there’s no hope for the world, something comes along and brings me back from the brink. This new album by Wire is that thing! Somewhere along the way, my favorite artists have suddenly figured out who they are, passed their midlife crises, and got on with the business at hand—making amazing art. I remember the first time I heard Pink Flag so many years ago. I was exploring the likes of Joy Division, Sex Pistols, The Damned and Siouxie and the Banshees, but the real standout to me was this album. To me, it was the Ramones go to art school. Raw, boisterous and stripped to the bone, it affected me all the way down to how I listened to music. Every song was rushed. Every word was oozing British detachment and sarcasm. I loved it. I hang on to that gem, but with each passing phase, I pick up the new Wire, and I’m rarely disappointed.
Silver/Lead is the 15th studio album from these musical pioneers. It will hit the streets on the 40th anniversary of their debut performance. However, in listening to the album, it is about as far from nostalgia as you can get. Wire have perfected their uniquely addictive 21st-century psychedelic post-punk. Colin Newman and Matt Simms’ guitar work is spatial, jagged and luminous, while bassist Graham Lewis’ ear-catching lyrics are vivid and oblique. Drummer Robert Grey provides a virtual master class in percussive minimalism. When you listen, you won’t hear the mechanics—you’ll hear the machine as a whole. The sound is simultaneously abrasive, visceral and moody in the vein of Bob Mould with full tonal guitar attacks backed by a percussive element that draws us back to reality. I enjoyed the fact that it seems that the musical spectrum was explored with Wire running the show Wizard of Oz style, pulling the knobs and hitting the heavy smoke machine.
Wire have always been hardworking and forward-thinking in their pursuits. Silver/Lead is no exception. They don’t dwell on past glories, they don’t hinder themselves with musical boundaries, and they don’t let down their fans. This is probably the reason that their music has been so influential over the years. The bands Oasis, Blur, Sonic Youth and REM have acknowledged their influence in interviews, and they have even had their riffs stolen and turned into ’90s proto-hits (cough … Elastica anybody?)
Check out Silver/Lead and give it a good shake with an open mind. The tracks buzz, chug, swing, pop and crackle out of the speakers. It’s an enjoyable listen with a momentous movement of styles and sonic relevance. This is an album that will stick with you for a long time. I’m excited to hear the next generation of bands that will be influenced by the Wire sound and what they’ll bring. Let this be an ode to the future and what it has in store—bid farewell to the past! –Jeremy Cardenas
Son of Deseret: A Bob Moss Tribute
Regional Underground Elevators
Bob Moss = Sea Shanty + Daniel Johnston + Deseret Alphabet
A collaboration between Mike Kirkland, Bad Brad Wheeler and a number of amazing local artists, Son of Deseret: A Bob Moss Tribute is an album that is as varied and special as the artist it celebrates: Bob Moss. Bob, a local legend in both the art and music world, touched many with his work. They could be found in many local venues, and his songs were known by not only their strange melodies and words but also by the unique voice that delivered them.
The album contains 24 tracks that are as eccentric as Bob’s personality. To listen to each is to journey through a vast catalog written by a man who was a traveler. His love of all things interesting and unexplored flow through his songs. Their interpretations here offer new perspectives, range and dynamic to the stark and simple tunes written most often on his prized banjo. The haunting opening track, “True Love is Hard to Find,” by Chubby Bunny, is a deceptively feel-good pop song with an undercurrent of darkness in the lyrics. “Killer’s Lament,” as played by Aldine Strychnine, and Wheeler’s rendition of “Road to Vegas” take their original songs and turn them toward Nick Cave-style murder ballads. And Timechimp (featuring Davey Parish)’s “You Have a Pretty Bummy” revels in its ridiculousness while being a catchy ear worm that you will end up singing for the rest of the day.
This is an album that celebrates the poetic and melodic talent of a man who was known mostly in his own city but had national fans as well. What started as a backyard jam session turned into a two-disc release that spans the entirety of the Bob Moss Discography. It’s a fitting tribute for a true Utah original. –Jeremy Cardenas
Kapix = Defenders of the Faith–era Judas Priest + Jack Daniels + Motörhead+That Smell When You Wear a Denim Vest for too Long Without a Shirt
I have a tear in my eye. It’s been so long since SLC has had a new, rough-and-tumble RAWK band that I had all but given up hope. Just when I had folded up all my sleeveless Iron Maiden shirts and put away my denim vest, here come Kapix! Prom Queen was recorded by Mike Sasich at Man vs. Music Studios, and the production couldn’t be more spot on. This record is dripping loud-ass guitars, big, beautiful low end, driving drums and songs about everything from your mom, Barcelona and hitting the road on a Harley—get some! Born in Salt Lake City in 2016, I think we’ve yet to hear the best this band has to offer. I’ve listened to this about 10 times and have yet to find a track I don’t like. I hear tremendous potential from each member. With pressure, time and some hardcore touring on this album, I think they could become a real rock standout not only in SLC, but all over the place. One standout, for me, is the Judas Priest–like “Barcelona.” The ’80s-style thrash metal riff coupled with singer Hagen Kearney’s lyrics about free cocaine and going off the rails will have you doing air guitar and rocking this mother out at top volume while driving a hundred miles an hour down Parley’s Canyon. The other tough-guy standout track is “Freeway.” This one could come straight off Priest’s Turbo album, but without the silly keyboards and theatrics. One thing rock can clearly do without is synthesizer noise, and I am beside myself with glee that Kapix didn’t put one keyboard noise on this slab of rock n’ roll mayhem. For this alone, I want to hug all of the band members! Keep flying through the tracks and you’re sure to find joy in the high flying big rawk beat thrown down by drummer Lance Emmer. He’s on the cusp of becoming a bulletproof rock drummer. I’ve watched him in action, and I think he’s grown tremendously from just putting this album together. That’s what it’s all about. I like to hear things get better and better. Singer/bass player/guitarist Avery Ghaderi is a super-talented man of rock Action—he sings on blasters “Iron Horse,” “Dixie Line” and title track “Prom Queen.” He and Hagen have a great dynamic and complementary voices that bring it hard both live and in studio. Like I said, I am pretty excited to hear rock n’ roll get its due in Salt Lake City—the projects are few and far between. These rockers are just coming out of the gate, but I think there is a ton of great music to come. I’ll give this album a solid two thumbs up. Here’s to the revival of rock in Salt Lake City! –Jeremy Cardenas