A composite image of the single art for SLUG's March 2024 Local Music Singles Roundup.

Local Music Singles Roundup: March 2024

Local Music Reviews

The weather is upside down and it’s not letting up anytime soon, but SLUG is here to supply dreamy alt-rock and pure raging punk. Distract yourself with this month’s selection of new songs by local artists.

Chris Hoffman

Three Toad Studio
Street: 11.17
Chris Hoffman = Mac DeMarco x Deerhunter

While listening to “Legs,” a few simple, sunny montages come to mind: laying on a shag rug, killing time at the antique market or squeezing the juice out of the last few minutes of a bluebird day on the slopes. The single comes on the heels of Sunbound, Hoffman’s first EP, which was released in August 2023. Hoffman’s passion for music is clear—in addition to churning out tunes for his solo project, he also plays guitar and sings in another local band, Folium, and managing Three Toad Studio. “Sometimes I feel it would be nice / Gripping vices, fixing pipe and measuring twice … Give me a minute to spin it in webs / These things I’m growing have legs,” Hoffman sings emphatically, almost goofily, with wavy psych guitars in “Legs.” His lyrics could allude to taking the risk of carving one’s creative path versus sticking to the status quo. To that I say, play on, Chris! We’re listening. –Mekenna Malan


“Be Here Now”

Magpie Studios
Street: 12.13
Clotele = Courtney Marie Andrews / Big Thief

The night is just getting started. Sweet air falls heavy on your skin and you have a crush. Both of you have stuffed your phones into pockets or bags—not just put away for a sec, but for the evening. It’s not just the phones, either. Distractions, anxieties and nerves also find dark corners to stuff themselves into until the only things left between you two are your half-full drink glasses and shared eye contact that makes you feel like the Easter bunny on acid. Clotele’s “Be Here Now” is a commandment to do just this. It’s warm and virtuosic. The passionate chorus, “Forget about your troubles, forget about your cares / Forget about everything for a minute and just be here,” is the formula for new love. Maybe it’s because I need the reminder or maybe it’s because I have a crush (!) myself. Navigating the aftereffects of multiple Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), Clotele uses songwriting as a form of therapy and attending to everyday moments of magic. This track reminds us of the practices of mindfulness and connection—be it with a lover, a friend, a stranger or yourself, Clotele tells us, “You are right where you are meant to be.” —Libby Leonard


Street: 01.05
frick. = FIDLAR in 2012 + Descendents in 2022

frick. is the kind of band that cries out to be heard in a sticky basement while crashing into sweaty strangers, and felt through the vibrations of the graffiti-covered walls. “zig-zag” is the first single from the garage punk trio’s debut full-length, self-titled album. The track is marked by heavy garage distortion and the kind of punchy, staccato riffs where you might expect to see comic book lightning bolts shoot from the guitar, like something out of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. For lyrics that describe an awkward encounter on the sidewalk—perhaps with an ex-lover or a cartoon nemesis—the vocals are loud and unapologetic: “We both sway, we both sway / So I go left, but you go left / Then I go right, but you go right / Looks like we’re dancing tonight.” With a mild pop-punk whine and lo-fi production. frick might just be the closest thing to Sex Bob-Omb that exists in the real world. –Asha Pruitt



Michael Louis Austin
Just Enough”

MLA Music
Street: 12.29
Michael Louis Austin = Jason Isbell x Ryan Adams

As an overtly non-religious person, I’ve found that a fair amount of twangy country tracks with faith-driven lyrics have recently stumbled into my daily shuffle. I normally feel like such underlying messages of feel-good, have-hope, uplifting-isms would have me quickly skipping to the next track, but I can still admire clear, resounding vocals and steady guitar accompaniment when I hear it—and damn if I don’t love a strings-heavy instrumental bridge. Michael Louis Austin’s latest single begins strong and smooth—not unlike a chilled drink I expect would pair nicely with its toe tappin’ melody. My expectations were again surprisingly diverted when Austin’s voice and rasp entered in a pleasantly higher vocal range than I would’ve anticipated, helping the track lean more alternative-country than Americana. “Just Enough” is a well-produced single with lyrics that universally resonate, and I found myself lightly singing the chorus and considering its message long after the first listen. –Jamie Christensen

Nick Passey and Aria Darling

Street: 01.10
Nick Passey and Aria Darling = Colin Meloy (of the Decemberists) + Emily Frantz (of Watchhouse)

“Laughing,” the title track from SLC folk duo Nick Passey and Aria Darling, offers universal wisdom in the form of its mantra-like chorus: “Laughing at things we should not / Sometimes you gotta let it all out.” The track opens with this central refrain over soft chords before Passey picks up the tempo and builds into the first verse. Combined with his rustic, unprocessed vocals, Passey’s acoustic guitar tone recalls The Avett Brothers’ “I and Love and You.” Juxtaposed with the universal truth of the chorus, the hyper specific images rendered in each verse provide insight into where Passey’s mind goes when he daydreams: “When you sent me that song about splitting up a record collection / That got me thinking a lot / In the wrong direction.” Love lost rears its head without warning. Sometimes you gotta let it all out. Darling’s backing vocals and tasteful mandolin plucking sweeten the otherwise raw recording. Her contribution is understated but essential—like Emily Frantz’s role in Watchhouse. It’s a fruitful equation from a duo to keep an eye on. –Austin Beck-Doss



Street: 12.15
transmitter = L.O.T.I.O.N. Multinational Corporation + Eyedress

“SARLAK PIT” is the dreamy background music that plays when you reminisce on that summer fling that ended tragically. It makes me feel nostalgic for emotions more so than experiences—feelings that I can’t put a finger on. Cutesy, indie melodicism is intertwined with post-punk synths as distorted fuzz looms over the track, making it the audio equivalent of watching an old, damaged VHS tape—one that makes you smile through tears. In the lyrics, “My optimism is retired with you / It can’t be me and you because / It’s me and you,” there is love, loneliness and exhaustion, yet there is also hope in the chimes of synths. The gloomy vocals are replaced by solo guitar in the last quarter of the track, but the emotion and melody carry through as if the instruments have feelings of their own. Perhaps transmitter is tearfully saying goodbye to the old while dreaming of what the future may bring. –Emma Anderson

Read more Local Music Singles Roundups here:
Local Music Singles Roundup: February 2024
Local Music Singles Roundup: January 2024