Another month, another six phenomenal singles from Salt Lake’s best local bands.

Local Music Singles Roundup: June 2024

Local Music Reviews

Another month, another six phenomenal singles from Salt Lake’s best local bands, from Elowyn’s debut solo crooning ballad “The Fool” to Zodiac Killer’s skull-crushing metal track “Torn In Two,” perfect for reading Berserk to. Come hang for a while.

Going Nowhere

Birchbrook Records
Street: 01.17
Cinders = The Front Bottoms + Grouplove

Do you ever feel pulled to pieces in the tug-of-war between optimism and realism? It’s a common anguish, but it’s rare to hear it articulated well. This is exactly what SLC trio Cinders have captured on their new single, though. The track “Going Nowhere” opens with somberly-plucked acoustic guitar while vocalist Montana Smith introduces the refrain: “I’m going nowhere / But one day, I’ll get there / No gas in this car / Can’t tell me that I won’t get far.” The track then steamrolls into a rowdy, acoustic-punk romp, complete with raucous drums, thumping bass lines and plenty of shouting. The juxtaposition of the track’s gloomy intro against the rollicking bop it becomes is a perfect fit for the lyrical theme of stubbornly (maybe even irrationally) holding onto hope, even when you feel becalmed by the mistakes you’ve made in an unloving world. –Joe Roberts

“The Fool”

Street: 04.05
Elowyn = Star Power + Bang Trim x bathroom bump (eight hour version)

After years of playing for other people’s bands, Elowyn has finally released a self-titled EP that shows she has been the star all along. Lead track “The Fool’’ is a country crooning, back-of-bar ballad about the kind of intimacy that follows vulnerability. “I find myself inside myself / Come on in, I have something to show you,” Elowyn sings in the first verse. The track opens with oohs and ahhs while the bass creates a soft bed in which the guitars can toss and turn and occasionally get twangy. “Here’s my heart,” she sings, “Here’s my mind/ My pride/ My joy.” The lyrics feel like you’re squeezing the air out of them, lingering on the pleading vowel syllables to create the track’s tacitly trusting texture: “Here’s the hurt / Here’s my guilt / Hold my heart with both hands / It’s delicate.” Trust is foolish, and that is the miracle, a magic trick that plays out so lovingly you must repeat it for the rest of your life. –Parker Scott Mortensen

Head Portals

Street: 03.29
Head Portals = Real Estate + Built To Spill

Head Portals’ EP1 opens with “Stab”—a downtrodden yet spirited rock song forged in the image of Built to Spill. The track shares its title with a quintessential BTS recording from 1994, and, titles aside, the two “Stabs” are undeniable sonic siblings. From its wah-heavy lead guitar, breathy vocals and melancholic lyrics, Head Portals aren’t trying to hide the source of inspiration behind “Stab.” Straight away, the track establishes satisfying tension between its heavy recurring guitar theme and soft spoken lyrical phrasing. A constant stream of aggressive energy from the drums counteracts and emphasizes moments of wallowing self-pity. That’s not a knock against the lyrics—the poetically rendered images here are both compelling and crafty. In its final minute, “Stab” ascends to its payoff, a cathartic cacophony of lingering emotions laid bare. Somewhere in Boise, Doug Martsch bobs his head in approval. –Austin Beck-Doss

The Magpipes
“Mustang Canoe”

Holsom Records
Street: 01.24
The Magpipes = 311 + ½ Sprung Monkey + Jim Croce

Fairly paramount to the local psychedelic scene, The Magpipes hash grind an herbal haze of multi-purposed genres. Influences of smoked-out reggae and the loose drawl theme I like to call “working class rock”—the type of bluesy stylings that can be heard in any Louisiana dive bar after your 9–5 day job—can be heavily absorbed. And for their new single “Mustang Canoe,” its chunky chords and stream-of-consciousness lyrics feel comfortably at home. The track is a mixed bag of goodies and surprises, received in the aftermath of a full-blown rager. Strums from guitarist Chase Kemp are elongated and clay-molded. William Sangster’s voice hits a ghostly, neo-jazz tone, like I just arrived in Santa Carla (“The Murder Capital of The World,” per The Lost Boys). It may not electrify you into catching-green-fairies dance moves, but it’ll definitely zone you out through jam night. –Alton Barnhart


Nicholas James
“Incredible Dust”

Street: 04.11
Nicholas James = Nathaniel Rateliff + Ed Sheeran + Death Cab for Cutie

From Nicholas James’ recent EP Just A Breeze, “Incredible Dust” is pensive, poignant and gentle in its pastoral melancholy. The EP as a whole has a certain sonic warmth—a slow, mythic grandeur made for mild swaying and summer picnics. James, an SLC native-turned-Portland-transplant, has a dexterous fingerpicking style and a talent for transcendental lyrics. “Breathe out,” James intones over a stripped rendition of the track’s catchy riff, “Breathe in if you must / Don’t fog up the mirror / Given time you will wither / Into incredible dust.” With images like quiet strangers, off-duty grammar police and forgotten pocket weed, James proves his poetic prowess throughout this indie folk tune. If indica = “in ‘da couch” (mellow, dreamlike and hazy) then “Incredible Dust” = “in ‘da cosmos.” It’s a song that feels a lot like what I imagine being high on the moon is like: bouncy and beautiful, everything else glimmering and far away. –Libby Leonard

Zodiac Killer
“Torn in Two”

Street: 04.20
Zodiac Killer = Gulch +
Altered State Era Sepultura

A medieval twist on a modern act of viscous brutality, Zodiac Killer’s newest release “Torn in Two” rides an armored steed through your living room window and drags you out the door and through the street while you’re left screaming all the way. The latest addition to the seasoned hardcore vets’ discography channels a more thematic approach than their previous releases have, making use of galloping dark-fantasy themes as opposed to straightforward Salt Lake hardcore. However, I can’t emphasize enough how masterfully they balance this new influence with their older sound. Zodiac Killer’s conscious decision to keep the feel of their music consistent with that of mainstream hardcore while adding their own spice into the mix is a testament to their musical prowess and ability to generate a creative sound within a traditionally sonically narrow genre, all while keeping the long-time fans happy. Give “Torn in Two” a listen if you’re craving a proper mental flogging. –CJ Hanck

Read more Local Music Singles Roundups:
Local Music Singles Roundup: May 2024
Local Music Singles Roundup: April 2024