Local Music Singles Roundup: January 2022
Local Music Reviews
Here at SLUG, there is “No Bliss” without music. We would all be “LOST” in the silence, growing more and more disoriented, like standing in a “House of Mirrors” with no escape from ourselves—it’s just a “Time Bomb” waiting to go off. That said, we know a thing or two about music. If “you stay” for this month’s Local Music Singles Roundup, we’ll take you on another musical journey that will not disappoint.
Anaïs Chantal = Pale Spring + Tirzah
Contrasting the jazzy, neo-soul of her debut EP, Birdie, Anaïs Chantal’s first single in over two years sits in an ether of cosmic synthesizers; the analog-esque fuzz washes like waves sliding over each other in unordered bliss. This untethered instrumental gives the track a looseness as it moves between its verses and choruses, less defined by strict rhythmic and harmonic boundaries than it is natural flows of feeling. Atop this mix, Chantal intones lovelorn tensions in her search for security and understanding: “Am I damaged / Will I scare you away? / All my baggage / Watch their seams unwind and fray,” she sings, riding out the final syllable and sending her pondering thoughts into the void. Despite the production’s futuristic pull, Chantal’s velvety voice retains an old-world weariness in its jazz-inflected delivery—these may be the sounds of tomorrow, but they carry languages and emotions of yesterday. –Audrey Lockie
“House Of Mirrors”
English Budgies = Camper Van Beethoven + Warren Zevon
English Budgies bounce and flutter like a hyper parakeet in a comfortable cage. “House Of Mirrors” is a fantastic new track about reflecting last year’s trauma through a funhouse mirror: “My teeth all feel wrong in my mouth, and I’m scared of my own reflection / Spent hours on end worried about nothing in my golden age of neglection.” Joe Vickrey (guitars, vocals), Jen Vickrey (bass, backing vocals) and Jakob Dayton (drums) start the track simply with an old-time piano and quickly explode the song into an upbeat, power-pop treat. Joe’s existential lyrics stand confidently next to sweet, soaring choruses that make it impossible not to sing along. “How am I gonna get myself over it / In a house of mirrors / Pointing the blame.” This may be the beginning of a new lost generation, but English Budgies make being lost so much fun. –Russ Holsten
Iyes Keen = Clan of Xymox + HIDE
Iyes Keen takes the title of her latest single as a musical challenge—there’s little light to be found on the scowling “No Bliss.” The track’s core synth riff stutters and pulses like a malfunctioning lunar drill, underlying Keen’s vocals as she traverses harsh whispers and passages of belted choruses in a distant, alien coo. The vocal effects make Keen sound as if she’s filtered through jagged scrap metal and faulty wiring, sometimes leaving her singing slightly tinny and often unintelligible. In this light, “No Bliss” functions best as a hi-velocity mood piece. It has moments of climax (notably in the beat switch around 2:00) as well as cycles of ebb and flow, but each segment services the piece’s uniformly sludgy and dour demeanor. Shapes and colors appear in the distance; Iyes Keen offers the listener little more than these cloudy gestures. –Audrey Lockie
Mowth = The Runaways + Wolf Alice
Is there anything better than femme-fronted punk? In the case of the four-piece band Mowth, it’s what they describe as dance-punk. Not in the sense of DJ dance music or rave jams but just edgy punk that makes people move with a little added electronic embellishment. Mowth’s most recent single, “Time Bomb,” is an example of this phenomenon, but it’s also got a small hint of folk-rock twang in the lead guitar. It’s an interesting pull of genre mixture, but at the end of the day, it rocks—one of those tracks you wish you were watching live. Lead vocalist Rachel Clark gives a classic, punk-angry femininity. Mowth is percussive but not over the top, and the tone of Clark’s voice is clean and smooth. The bass has some cool retro effects tied to it that gives the track that early 2000s punk feel. –Mary Culbertson
Øutset and Saco
Øutset and Saco = Kodak Black + SahBabii
Bouncy and infectious with its melodies, the latest single from the duo of Øutset and Saco is a vibey addition to their catalog. Opening with an ear-catching synth melody that pulls the listener in, the track eventually expands with a mellow, 808-led beat and vocals soaked in reverb, “Fun!” is able to create a laid-back mood that lends itself to an incredibly catchy hip-hop track. The carefree, romantic lyricism pairs nicely with a spacey, optimistic beat, and the vocal delivery—be it both artists coming in at once for a hook or the way the beat drops off to allow more room for the vocals during the chorus—shows Øutset and Saco know how to pull ears when they want to. This is not a single to miss out on. –Connor Brady
Ruby the Cozy King
“LOST feat. GABR!ELLE”
Ruby the Cozy King = $uicideboy$ +Lil Peep
As winter approaches, local artist Ruby the Cozy King gives listeners a new punk-meets-hip-hop track made for hiding in warm cars during cold nights. “LOST feat. GABR!ELLE” holds a clippy hip hop beat while Ruby’s raspy voice delivers tortured lyrics. GABR!ELLE steadies the track with a feminine side, countering Ruby’s angsty vocal. It’s a two-toned single, each singer balancing out the other while maintaining the same punk sound. The lyrics are emotional despite the hard edge of Ruby’s voice, describing a familiar feeling of being lost, alone and panicked in an honest and vulnerable way. “Don’t know where I am, will you take my hand / Panicked again, will this ever end,” come through yearning speakers to reflect Ruby’s pain. This collaboration between Salt Lake artists reflects the darkness many experience but few can articulate. It provides an outlet, which we so often search for through musical expression. –Harper Haase
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