Quiet as the Hour
Cathy Foy = Neutral Milk Hotel + Helium + Rilo Kiley
“I can carry my own weight, I can carry my own sins, away,” Cathy Foy delicately sings on “I Became a Flash” from her sophomore release, Quiet as the Hour. Most of us are accustomed to seeing Foy behind a drum set playing for scene makers such as Hang Time, Future of the Ghost, Bluebird Radio, The Awful Truth, The Downers and more. On Quiet, Foy showcases a newfound confidence in songwriting and performance. Each track is full of beauty, reflection and intimate lyrics, which unfold naturally in perfect synchrony. There’s something hauntingly deep within tracks like “Thousand Lines,” and in “I Won’t Say a Word (It Wasn’t Forever),” in which the piano echoes with so much emotion. “Long Time Winter Snow” offers a richness in instrumentation with an improvisational, shivering guitar solo midway through. Bravo, Ms. Foy––Quiet As The Hour is a compelling piece of work that deserves multiple listens.
Adam and Darcie
Village Ten Collective
Adam and Darcie = Earlimart + Winterpills
California Trail is a confident sophomore release for the Provo husband and wife duo. The album is full of intelligent lo-fi folky tunes, controlled production, clever lyrics and charming harmonies. “Hands/Mind” plays out like a long-lost Elliott Smith track sparkling with imagination and heart. The guitar slightly strums in “I Need To Let Go of What I Won’t Miss,” exposing a hint of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” Adam carefully sings “Take my wooden heart and burn it to the core / Open my cinder eyes / I have seen the dark before” on “All I Ever Do Is Fall,” exuding each syllable with soft emotion. Darcie’s voice always appears at the most opportune time to further heighten the gentleness of the album. We should feel privileged to have been invited along this journey to the California Trail—it’s a trip you’ll want to take soon.
Rob Alvord = Jack Johnson + G. Love + Willy Porter
Alvord’s debut album makes it obvious he has some guitar playing skills. Too bad his voice is like an awkward accessory—it’s nasally and reaches some highly uncomfortable pitches at times. His bio lists all the predictable influences: The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan. Funny, it doesn’t mention Jack Johnson, because the melody and structure of Alvord’s “La Dat Da Da” sure does sound like Johnson’s “Inaudible Melodies” from Brushfire Fairytales. Hell, just using La Dat Da Da sounds like a Jackism (the chorus of “Bubble Toes” sure does come to mind). The cover of Rob’s debut release shows him sitting on a front porch strumming a guitar and wearing an outfit pulled from the 70s when it should have had a background of a beach with him decked out in swim shorts, puka-shell necklace, bare feet and a surf board.
Drew Danburry = Conor Oberst + Will Sartain
Provo-based songwriter Drew Danburry can do no wrong. It’s been a few months since his release Goodnight Gary, and now we are blessed with its companion piece, Goodnight Dannii, an album recorded in five different cities: Provo, San Francisco, Chico, Fargo, and Huntington Beach. In the opener “Nirvana, by Kurt Cobain,” he sings of giving up in a whisper over gentle finger plucking and a faint kick drum. This track alone is reason enough for purchase. Danburry pulls out the pseudo doo-wop harmonies on “Optimus Prime is Dead,” while that ever-familiar Conor Oberst-esque yelp appears on “Hero Kensan.” The shuffle of “Kevin Costner Is The Barry Manilow Of Actors” hits, and I’m sold—Goodnight Dannii is damn good and you need to hear this. Show support for one of the hardest-working musicians out there and buy this.
Oh, Be Clever
Oh, Be Clever = Neon Trees + Vanessa Carlton + Linkin Park
Check out that formula up there. Interesting threesome, isn’t it? It sums up the Utah County duo that makes up Oh, Be Clever’s sound. I’m pretty sure vocalist Brittney is actually Vanessa Carlton trying to make a comeback, and that’s okay. I admit I enjoy a mainstream pop song from time to time. “I’m Not Welcome Here and You’re a Mess” is pure catchy pop at it’s best—it‘s a shame it clocks in at just over two minutes. The majority of the EP is jam-packed with power pop chords, heavy Killers-like electro keys and Chester Bennington-esque screams from Brittney. This isn’t really a genre I tend to gravitate toward, but I’m glad I spent some time listening to this debut EP. There’s no question Utah County has a neverending supply of talent and Oh, Be Clever is here to remind you of that.
Shady Chapel = Band of Annuals + Johnathan Rice
Shady Chapel is led by Jordan Clark. Jordan is not only a talented songwriter and vocalist, but he also plays the guitar, harmonica and organ. The result is a country-folk-pop self-titled EP that would make the Band of Annuals proud. The pairing of Jordan’s voice with Hillery Hathaway’s on “Monster” creates the same magic as when you hear the beautifully harmonized vocals between BOA’s Jay Henderson and Jeremi Hanson. The pedal steel plays with your emotions on “Old Mexico”, while the harmonica-laced track “Happy Once” leaves you somber as Jordan’s voice cries out singing “I was sober once / for more than a couple of days / but this might be the week / I finally break it free / but it won’t be long before I spiral down”. The only minor drawback is the out-of-place high-tempo “Color.” It doesn’t belong here. Other than the one mishap, this is a topnotch release.
Hankie Frankie Music
The Platte = Calico + The Antlers + Bon Iver
After moving to Salt Lake in 2003, Andrew Shaw kept himself busy creating various musical outlets for local ears to take in: Chanticleer the Clever Cowboy, Calico, The Adonis, and Bluebird Radio. His latest moniker, The Platte, shares the name of the river that runs through his home state of Nebraska. The songs on Grus have been carefully crafted with quiet emotive lyrics, light percussion and a soft layer of haze. The delicate “Plaster Caster” greets you with minimal guitars and the echo of a Wurlitzer. Trumpets call for your attention on “Ten Years Older,” and “The Town Where You Was Born” sends you marching in search of someone. The strongest track is “Suture & Sing,” Shaw’s vocals flow slowly with simple words that mightily resonate, “My face just isn’t the same. I think the mirror forgot my name. It laughs and it cries, but it’s just a disguise.” Grus is truly a work of rare beauty, right down to the design of the packaging.
Spare Bedroom Records
The Weekenders = Chris Cornell
If you’re going to submit an album or EP to be reviewed, please don’t just burn a CD and throw it in a blank sleeve without a track listing. I have better things to do than look at your fucking MySpace page to match up the five songs you haphazardly sent in. After playing The Weekenders’ little puzzle and giving it a listen, I discovered a disc of songs that would fit perfectly in the 1992 film Singles. The biggest reason for the ’90s comparison is Rob Reinfurt’s pitch-perfect Chris Cornell-like vocals and meaty guitars. The jam band-ish “Lost Sight” leads the EP with jumpy drums, some sweet keys and even whistling! Next is the overbearing hard-edge guitar on “Alone,” and later, “Don’t Plan On” shows up, reminding me slightly of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Wicked Garden.” Is this a good thing? Dude, it’s up to you.
Sons & Daughters
Pablo Blaqk = Brett Dennen + Damien Rice + Ray LaMontagne
Born to Cuban parents, Pablo Blaqk picked up the guitar at 18 after his father declined his request for a gun. On his debut album, Sons & Daughters, he proves he made the right choice. Co-produced by Utah favorite Joshua James, each track reveals raw emotion and beautifully composed tracks. The two minute atmospheric title track opens with delicate keys and Pablo’s soulful voice. Rebecca Russel’s voice arrives midway on the country-tinged track “Find Your Way,” making a nice compliment as Pablo sings, “You are my light that always guides my way through / this black maze of flesh and pain.” “Family Tree” offers a lively pop moment, complete with an organ, banjo and mandolin combination. Where the album really progresses is toward the end during “Annalee” and “Ballerina”—Pablo’s voice grows confident, mature and adventurous, creating a blanket of comfort.