A composite image of the single art for SLUG's December 2023 Local Music Singles Roundup

Local Music Singles Roundup: December 2023

Local Music Reviews

As fresh snow covers the Wasatch Mountains and the temperature starts to drop, it’s time for a chilly edition of SLUG’s Local Music Singles Roundup! This month’s hand-picked blend of dream pop, shoegaze and psychedelic rock pairs perfectly with the changing seasons. Gather around a fire, find a cozy blanket, make some hot chocolate and listen to the newest songs from Bad Luck Brigade, Damn Dirty Vultures and more! These new singles are un-brrr-lievable!

A Deeper Heaven

Street: 09.06
A Deeper Heaven = Thompson Twins + Slowdive

Dreamy and layered, “Fire” is one of those tracks that fills my head with snapshots of melancholy, snowed-in travel montages, like something out of FX’s “The Bear.” The spaced-out vocal performances from band members Marc Wheeler and Brock Pate, alongside Wheeler’s echoey and shining guitar work, effortlessly interlocks with the grounded rhythm section to create a sense of bittersweet motion. Lyrically, “Fire” is just as poignant. The stark contrast between the tone of the two verses illustrates the complicated feelings that can come from tying up a single person deep into the fabric of your emotional state. “Part of me lives in you / All the day, I feel you / Warming me like a flame,” Wheeler sings. “Then when you leave / It’s so lonely / Come comfort me / Feed the longing.” Nostalgic and complex, “Fire” is a song that I’ll keep close at hand, either for my chilly morning commutes or those nights where I’m fighting the urge to call my ex. –Lillith Pernichele 



Bad Luck Brigade

Whysound Records
Street: 10.10
Bad Luck Brigade = Injury Reserve + Anderson .Paak – Silk Sonic

Bad Luck Brigade is a little bit of everything and a whole lot of fun. You could call the five-man group grimy psychedelic-pop, alternative hip-hop, funky acid-jazz or their self-described genre “shroom bap,” and you’d be correct. “FLASK” is the second single off their sophomore EP EVERYTHING’S A FUCKING MESS, whose all-caps styling, reckless tempo changes and boy band energy begs BROCKHAMPTON comparisons. The chorus is simple, sung gently and sincerely the first time and repeated in punchy staccato the second time around: “You don’t hold me like / Grasp me, hold me tight / Keep me safe from strife / Flask uncap, let’s ride.” Groovy keyboard jamming and kick-snare drum beats contribute to the distinctly ’90s sound, calling back to the golden age of hip-hop (if A Tribe Called Quest was born in the Intermountain West). “FLASK” has less soul and electronica influences than other modern funk songs, but twice as much intensity and grit. –Asha Pruitt


“Elevator (going up)”

B’bun Records
Street: 09.19
Crewless = Habe + Julietta + Ultraviolence Lana Del Rey 

There’s something inescapably rock-and-roll about shitty elevators and turbulent relationships. Crewless embodies this connection in their debut indie-rock dance track “Elevator (going up).” The four-piece band dramatizes the experience of a relationship’s classic ups and downs by marrying grimy instrumentals with glistening vocals. Where the verses pulse with energy and angst, the chorus adopts a bedroom-pop tone, complete with a killer earworm: “You’re my elevator, I’ll fix you later.” “Elevator (going up)” is every part grunge as it is groovy, with wailing electric guitar riffs that mimic the metallic yanks of an elevator in disrepair. The track has a fraternal twin in “Elevator (going down),” a downtempo electronica recording of the same song. These companion singles in Crewless’ elevator-themed project reflect the band’s ethos: there are dualities in every relationship, there are periods of passion and of calm and, of course, there are two sides to every story. –Libby Leonard 




Damn Dirty Vultures
“Dirt God”

Damn Dirty Records
Street: 11.29
Damn Dirty Vultures = Metallica + Slayer

Sometimes you need a metal song to urge you to continue to fight for your life against the forces that be and remind you how riveting it feels to be alive every day. “Dirt God” by Damn Dirty Vultures is that track. The local thrash-metal band released the last single off their EP The Scavenger Part 2 on October 27. It’s a loud, high energy metal song with intense guitar and bass and furious drums. The vocals of the track switch back and forth between normal and violent scream-singing. “Dirt God” discusses an apocalyptic world where death is reaching out for you, but as the chorus suggests, you must run and fight for your life. It is dreamy in the sense that it conjures images of a fantasy world in which you are a warrior facing one last battle at the end of the world: orange skies, skeleton men with swords and burning trees. “Dirt God” is powerful and worthy of becoming the song that wakes you up in the morning. –Cherri Cheetah




Street: 08.04
KJ! = Childish Gambino + Kendrick Lamar

The syncopation and textures of “Scabs” give the same kind of energy as Lady Gaga in ’08—bold and punchy in much the same way. The rap though, is as if Drake or Kendrick Lamar vocalized on a Gaga hit. After a unique, tom-tom-riddled drum intro, KJ!’s vocals enter on top a buzzy bass-synth. “Scabs” is a breakup song, so the precursor line to the chorus rings: “Wasn’t tryna be a scab but the cuts still bumpin’ / FUCK!” When the chorus hits, the George of the Jungle-like drums cut out completely, and the synth softens. It’s as if the songwriter puts up a wall of manic anger and energy during the verses, like you do when you’ve first been dumped, until their vulnerability comes out for the chorus, as it eventually does after a break-up. The production and song construction make “Scabs” an easy one to keep on repeat. –Mary Culbertson





The Gontiks
“Today, Tonight”

Street: 10.13
The Gontiks = Launder + waveform*

“Today, Tonight” marks the start of a new era for The Gontiks. While their 2022 album _ _ . (stylized as Morse code) briefly tapped into shoegaze sensibilities, this single kicks off with a wall of droning instrumentation, blanketing the wistful lyrics of frontman Gibson Bracken. Though it’s a noisier step in the band’s sonic journey, Bracken’s vocals remain the heart of the track. “Today I learned that I’m a mirror, get what you give / But tonight, tonight, I’ll be what I want,” he opens. Day and night are juxtaposed throughout the song as Bracken laments the veneer he wears in the daytime—“It gets so damn claustrophobic / I hate when I can’t be myself”—though he promises to be genuine when night comes around. Though there’s no neat resolution to this inner turmoil, I’m hoping that as the days grow shorter, the facade will continue to crumble. I’m also hoping for more music from The Gontiks to warm my winter nights. –Rose Shimberg



Read more Local Music Singles Roundups here:
Local Music and Spirit Roundup: November 2023
Local Music Singles Roundup: September 2023