Local Music Reviews
September is upon us once again with a greeting of swift winds, yellowing leaves and another fresh-baked SLUG Local Music Singles Roundup that’s as sweet as spiced apple pie. These six new tracks accompany all of the moods heading into the new season: a blanket burrito and a cup of tea, a brisk walk outside with a friend or a studious soundtrack to get the brain juices flowing for the new school year.
celadon.wav = Amos Roddy x Gewgawly – Andy G
“celadon.wav” reminds me most of wintertime: the way it starts as a simple melody of short notes—unassuming—portends the sudden solitude of a year’s first true winter morning. There is no more weather, only this static climate, here again on cue. The peaceful beginning breaks into a series of larger, languished synths that hum beneath the surface of the original melody, foregrounded as the track intensifies and enters its most mesmerizing moments. It invites the imagination as it builds. I feel solitude, the kind of loneliness you carve out for yourself when you’ve asked the people you love to leave you alone. I imagine walking through the snow and feeling it crunch under my feet. The quiet part of the song gets loud. I set this trajectory months ago, so it’s time to keep moving. –Parker Mortensen
Duncan Clawson = Ben Howard + Mumford & Sons
Is an acoustic guitar instrumental track inevitably categorized as folk music? Duncan Clawson’s latest release challenges this preconception because, incredibly, it sounds more like a singer-songwriter track than folk, but there are no lyrics. Something about slower-paced instrumental music is so relaxing, healing and rejuvenating, a feeling that Clawson definitely captures here. The structure of the song tells a hard-to-miss story based on the rhythms and strumming patterns of the guitar. The song starts off with a lovely, elated melody that grows into an overwhelming strumming pattern, grasping your attention and presenting emotions of ecstaticity by the end of the song. It feels deeply personal, like listening to a heartfelt memoir. The beauty of that, though, is that it can mean anything to anyone and still hold the same intimate meaning that the song was created for.
Far Out and Back Again = Rogue Cop + Royal Trux
On “The Gloves Are Off,” Far Out and Back Again is falling apart. The track’s instrumental lopes with a two-left-feet gait, the drums approaching a hackneyed swing as the guitars stutter out half-phrases as if they’re barely eeking through a noise gate. The track’s lyrics remain mostly obscured, but the pleading, pathetic tone of the anonymous vocalist’s full-bodied moans speaks where words cannot. In the final seconds, Far Out introduces a whirlpool of tremolo guitars that ascend toward a nonexistent peak as the artist screams out repetitions of a mini-mantra—“I can handle it, I can handle it,” they sing, the anxiety bubbling closer to a boiling point with each new utterance. Skyrocketing out of a track full of half-heard lyrics, unfinished melodies and musical false starts, these cyclic cries button “The Gloves Are Off” with a declarative finality, taking the emotional pain once suggested in murky itches toward a palpable ache. –Audrey Lockie
The Pho3nix Child = Digable Planets + Kali Uchis
Pho3nix Child’s rhymes are nothing to mess with, marked by lyrics full of vulnerability and in-your-face truths. Pho3nix opens “Questions” with soothing, angelic vocals, arriving at the chorus with a monotone lick, “What, when, when, how …” Across “Questions,” Pho3nix’s narrow vocal range bounces along the tempo with ease. This song brings back some nostalgic ’90s hip-hop-isms—heartbeat rhythms and insightful lyrics—with a slight twist offered from Pho3nix’s velvety, glowing hymns. After a few repeat listens, I wanted Pho3nix to show off more of their melodic flair to contrast their fierce lyrical side, adding more of the intro’s softer vocals to the rest of the track. This could have added depth to Pho3nix’s messages by giving the listener time to digest their verses. “Questions” proves that The Pho3nix Child can toe the line of poetic activist and pop sensation; it’s compelling to see which direction they decide to take their music. –Teddy Ray
The Sleeves = Hippo Campus + DIIV
SLC–based quartet The Sleeves released their catchy indie rock tune “Squire Boy” at the end of June. It’s a promising follow-up to their earlier debut single, “Song For Aika.” “Squire Boy” starts with a soft, pleasant intro that has a classic surf-rock, almost shoegaze-y sound. The band makes great use of catchy and repetitive guitar riffs that are bright and danceable, a strong contrast to the dark and brokenhearted lyrics that preach, “This is the end.” “Squire Boy” was a single released with two B-sides, “Today I Thought Of You,” a slow interlude, and “Victoria,” a faster-paced, punkish track. “Squire Boy” is a fun song that serves as a moment of joy when things are bad. It lets you find comfort in not being alone with your suffering. The Sleeves are sure to become a familiar, loved sight in your music library. –Cherri Cheetah
Who Killed Candace
Who Killed Candace = Mazzy Starr + Suki Waterhouse
I love songs that I can sink into as opposed to songs that grab me all at once. Who Killed Candace’s new song, “Skinny,” is one of those special songs—listening to it is like falling backward into warm water. “Skinny’’ is a slow rattle and echo pleaser in the same, drone-rock vein as Mazzy Starr with its light, strummed guitar that moves at its own pace and exquisitely raw and pained vocals delivered in controlled desperation. This description barely contains the haunting and heartache that vibrate all over this track. In future listening, I would like to hear more of the same vibe that consumes more slowly than it does all at once—I mentioned listening to “Skinny” made me feel like falling backward into water. I look forward to hearing more from Who Killed Candace so I can float around in their songs for a long while. –Russ Holsten