Local Music Singles Roundup: January 2024

Local Music Reviews

2024 has arrived, which can’t be right because 2023 just started, didn’t it? On the bright side, the January edition of SLUG’s Local Music Singles Roundup is here to ease the dread of time’s steady march. This lineup features everything from the hard-driving alt-country of Daniel Young to the grooving hip-hop of madebyok! It’s the perfect selection to hammer out those New Year’s resolutions or curl up on the couch and mourn your youth—whatever you’re in the mood for.

Bly Wallentine
“foreign mourner”

Street: 09.16
Bly Wallentine = (Father John Misty) + Sufjan Stevens

Bly Wallentine is a groovy, soulful, experimental singer-songwriter, but their alter ego Billy Williams is a PCP-smoking, Jesus-loving cowboy rocker. “foreign mourner” is the first track off Bly Wallentine’s EP Billy Williams’ Sweet Babylon. It’s almost baroque pop, definitely freak folk and very psychedelic—with heavy Americana influences. The lyrics are cryptic, but the existential themes and lonesome feelings are clear as day: “I wouldn’t waste away my years turning meadows of petunias into mirrors,” Wallentine croons, teetering on melancholia but ultimately landing in a place of peace. “foreign mourner” reminds me of Father John Misty’s “Mr. Tillman,” another rolling ballad that carries you along on a beautiful journey like a babe floating on a river. Billy Williams is the last man standing in a dive bar at 2:00 a.m., gulping down the dregs of an old-fashioned and singing off-key karaoke (or is he preaching?) to no one in particular. –Asha Pruitt



Daniel Young
“Help Us Get Along”

Street: 11.24
Daniel Young = Diamond Rugs + John Craigie

Daniel Young’s “Help Us Get Along” is raucous yet polished, like partying thirty-somethings who still know how to have a good time but keep the volume low in consideration of sleeping neighbors. Opening with a few bars of head-bobbing twang before jumping into a ska-inspired hook from the horns, this lead single is clean-cut and buoyant—purposely built to jump-start a rollicking live show. As Hiss Golden Messenger and Langhorne Slim have proved, it’s possible to blend music that charges wildly toward rock ‘n’ roll with lyrics that hang back to assess the scene. This single’s driving twin-guitar work screams go, go, go, but Young’s voice suggests patience and composure. It’s a novel combo that only boosts the track’s feel-good, soul-barring spirit. Like green lights and a clear forecast, “Help Us Get Along” bodes well for adventures to come and the rest of Young’s upcoming album. –Austin Beck-Doss




Graveljaw Keaton
“Idle Thoughts”

Street: 10.25
Graveljaw Keaton = Jerry Garcia + John Mayer + J. Mascis

“Idle Thoughts” by Graveljaw Keaton is a very Jerry Garcia-like psychedelic, funk mash-up that rolls at its own pace. The track is a rush to your head like a needed cigarette, or a late afternoon cup of coffee. Keaton’s guitar work is so pleasant, melodic and deliciously lo-fi that I would love “Idle Thoughts” to be put on a loop in my head as my all-day, walking-around-town music. It’s the soundtrack to a perfect day; it’s anxiety Kryptonite. Graveljaw Keaton is a side project of Keaton Stewart, a Provo-based guitarist for the fantastic roots-rock/blues band Poet Bones. Think of it this way: Poet Bones delivers thick, muddy, Southern-spiced barbecue sauce, while Graveljaw Keaton is pure honey. I would love to hear more from this guy. Russ Holsten 






Homestyle Dinner Rolls

Homestyle Records
Street: 11.17
Homestyle Dinner Rolls = Foo Fighters + The Offspring

On their new single, “Take,” Homestyle Dinner Rolls blends searing commentary with boogie-licious songcraft. From the track’s first moments when Danny Kawai’s groovy bass welcomes us to the party, “Take” asserts itself as a mosh-able, post-grunge romp. With lyrics like “My back is getting tired / My bills are getting higher / My eyes are getting drier than the Great Salt Lake,” the song reaches for more than just a good time; it also takes a keen, nihilistic look at a world that only ever seems to get worse. All the while, Jake Follette’s zesty guitar propels the song to ever-greater sonic heights. This culminates in a blistering solo, after which Kawai treats us to some guttural screaming reminiscent of Layne Staley. All this noise could easily devolve into garage-rock incoherence, but the track’s high production quality makes it a glossy, pop-punk bop instead. –Joe Roberts





Street: 11.20
Lapdog = Good Morning + Levitation Room

Lapdog’s music wanders between bossa nova and nostalgic Space Age pop, with improvisational sonic wanderings as a mainstay of their live performances. Their recent release “Marbles,” falls into the latter genre, opening with layered, dreamy strumming and radio chatter. Its upbeat melody defies its lonely, wistful lyrics, listing regrets and missed chances: “Did you fear a real connection? / Did you leave your love alone to die?” These questions betray an incessant inner monologue, cataloging every mistake from the mundane to the existential. There’s a pervasive discontent in the song, though singer Fisher Huish wishes more than anything that he could just “feel content and enjoy the ride.” Despite this overwhelming loss, there’s a love that remains in “Marbles.” It could be the soundtrack for the final spaceship ride off a dying earth, reminding us how beautiful it always was when we bothered to look. –Rose Shimberg




nexus ft blkswan

Street: 11.29
madebyok! = Madlib + Freddie Gibbs + Earl Sweatshirt

The first song off of madebyok!’s three-song EP 2sighs.1, “nexus,” is clean and short. It’s nostalgic within the first few seconds—a window into something hazy and long gone, like something you’d play in the car late at night when you’re in high school. It’s reminiscent of sample-heavy artists such as Madlib and J-Dilla but slowed down and drawn out, letting the listener sink into the beat. A soft, R&B sample echoes in background, mounting in an occasional harmony that blends beautifully with blkswan’s deep, clear lyrics. blkswan’s lyrical style reminds me of Freddie Gibbs when he gets up close to the mic or Earl Sweatshirt on the track “Mancala,” letting the words blend and focusing more on musicality than meaning. In the last 30 seconds of the track, the sample and blkswan swap their positions in the foreground and background. The lyrics become cloudy as the song slowly fades away, lost like a memory. wphughes 



Read more Local Music Singles Roundups here:
Local Music Singles Roundup: December 2023
Local Music Singles Roundup: October 2023