Local Music Reviews
Ah, February. Spring is nowhere in sight, and there’s even an extra day this year to drag it on that much longer. Luckily, SLUG’s Local Music Singles Roundup is here to keep you warm. Whether you’re blasting City in Dust’s “Jobs or Jail” as you shovel snow or staving off seasonal depression with SoulFang’s pop-rock banger “Rollercoaster,” this month’s lineup will help you fight the winter blues.
Antela = (The Avalanches)^Dean Blunt
Antela’s latest single “I Know” sounds like something I’ve heard before, but I can’t quite pinpoint from where—not in the sense that it’s derivative, but rather that it feels nostalgic and fuzzy around the edges, like a discarded demo track from a bygone era. The gentle syncopated riffs followed by catchy, nasal vocals seem like standard indie-pop fare, but it slowly becomes something more jazz and difficult to pin down when the saxophone enters and the rhythm evolves. At over six minutes long, “I Know” takes its time to explore how the sax can tell a story, using it as a second vocalist that weaves in and out of the beat instead of limiting it to a brief, gratuitous solo, as many other bands tend to do. The lyrics are vague and carefree but never lazy—“I know this can’t be you / In my dreams I see / A world, but it can’t be.” –Asha Pruitt
Blithe & Blistered
Blithe & Blistered = Maggie Heath + Odie Leigh
Singer-songwriter Blithe & Blistered recently released their single “Owl,” a folk song about losing one’s faith. The track’s bright and hypnotic vocals are supplemented with a steady, head-nodding, narrative melody of guitar plucking that feels akin to an anthem for a fantastical protagonist learning about life’s intricacies on their grand hero’s journey. The pacing and upbeat tone allow listeners to smoothly bob along, while the lyrics provide playful and weighted allegories about curiosity and religion. Overall, the track is heavily reminiscent of the whimsical bubbling of words featured on Panic! At The Disco’s “Behind the Sea”—both songs offer powerful themes that nod and croon in the same tongue as a children’s limerick. I highly recommend listening to “Owl,” not only for the stunning vocals, but also because the track makes it easy to detach from the world and become the main character for a moment.
City in Dust
“Jobs or Jail”
City in Dust = Converge + Botch + Discordance Axis
On first listen, the third track of City in Dust’s debut self-titled EP feels like being aggressively shaken awake. There’s a panicked urgency in the opening riff, accompanied by blunt, painful lyrics about soul-crushing capitalism. The frantic playing continues into a breakdown that conjures images of broken noses and knocked-out teeth, maintaining ferocious speed and unnerving dissonance throughout the track. It’s hard to tell if the brutality of the screams comes from rage or despair, but the cries of “Jobs or jail? Work or war?” imply a combination of both. Solo artist BJ Barrett’s lyrics make painfully clear the self-defeating trap of living in a world defined by military aggression and corporate greed. City in Dust takes the elements of metalcore worth listening to, the expert riff-crafting of thrash and the fast-paced chaos of grindcore to create the perfect soundtrack for grieving a just society that never existed.
Kal Mara = BADLANDS-era Halsey + Dua Lipa tone
Kal Mara’s “STAR” brings the energy back to a dreary winter. Its cellophane sound crinkles with iridescent lightness as Mara’s husky voice murmurs throughout the song. With a rich depth of tone similar to—and made famous by—Dua Lipa, Mara pulls her emotion from the throat. Ethereal electronic beats float in and out as the lyrics slow down and match the pace of the melody. Nodding along, her message inspires power: “My energy is bright as a star / If you look outside yourself, you lose who you are.” This is a polished addition to the Salt Lake City–based artist’s discography, exploring layers of sound and pushing her voice to even lower notes. A clear progression from her earlier 2023 track, “Duality,” Mara’s latest single is evidence that she is carving a path toward elusive, all-original sound and pushing the boundaries of alternative rock. –Katie Hatzfeld
SoulFang = Little Big Town x Metallica
Somebody get this single on Guitar Hero and put that plastic Gibson Les Paul in my hands, stat. SoulFang has been creating genre-bending tunes since January 2022, and the four-piece’s latest offering, “Rollercoaster,” showcases the group’s iconic soul/rock mash-up perfectly. It’s funky! It shreds! Liz Seibert’s vocals are sexy, twangy and crystal-clear. “You want on my rollercoaster / Come on, take a ride,” she beckons. The well-produced music video similarly has it all: deadpan whacking in a neon room, the bright lights of amusement park rides and euphoria-inducing visuals. Between this and the brain-melting guitars in the song’s closer, I’m hyped—and I’m not the only one, as evidenced by the 55 Kickstarter campaign backers who pledged over $8,000 to get SoulFang’s debut LP, Passions, Potions, Wicked Lullabies, off the ground. Expect to dance, kiss and headbang to it this spring. –Mekenna Malan
STUNNV and RubyJone$
“Play it Safe”
STUNNV = 808 Mafia + Travis Scott
STUNNV is a prolifc artist, releasing over a dozen singles in 2023 alone, and “Play it Safe” is another in a long line of polished trap tracks. It sounds like it came straight out of the 808 Mafia production house and shares the same rolling snare and high-hat beat. STUNNV has written a phenomenally fun and catchy song, and while researching for this review I found myself repeating the chorus, “Wait, wait, I gotta go play it safe, safe.” It’s a dreamy track, with every element floating seamlessly from foreground to background, grounded by an uptempo beat. RubyJone$, whose lyrics come in the latter half, has a mesmerizing flow that blends so closely with the synth that at times they are indistinguishable from the backing chords. On the whole, it reminds me of “Hold That Heat” by Southside and Future feat. Travis Scott—perfect for a house party with your closest friends. –wphughes