Local CD Reviews – June 2009

National Music Reviews

Active Aggressive


Better Youth Underground

Street: 2.20

Active Aggressive = F-Minus + Teen Idles + Government Issue

To my disadvantage, my first meeting with Active Aggressive was through this demo. This short, three-song political run is a rough one. I know the purpose of a demo, but it sounds like standing outside of a live show with earplugs in. It’s fast crusty punk.

Yes, there are a few moments of sweet riffs, but It is very abrasive, unclear in sound and makes me want to punch something (maybe that’s a good thing?). Active Aggressive have an ultra DIY vibe that can be appreciated, but I don’t see it necessary to put people through the torment of something that sounds like a homemade tape recording.  –Nicole Dumas


Against the Season

A New Beginning


Street: 04.29

Against the Season = Corporate Radio Station Favorites

I had a very hard time getting through this CD. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there waiting to hear female vocals delayed over generic “rock” guitar riffs, especially if they are played on the radio every half hour. I happen to enjoy hearing music that takes a step away from the 20 other bands repeated through a lazy DJ’s playlist.

If they were to mix in something outside of distortion and bass, I might be able to get through the CD without a need for a music break (yes, this is similar to a smoke break). Against the Season is generically talented, and ready for a “trendy music kid” to be brainwashed into liking them. –Jessica Davis



Double Heartbreak


Street: 03.01

ChadMP = High School Talent Show + Asher Roth – Lyrical Abilities

A localized emcee from Utah County, ChadMP brings an unintentional, off-tempo flow with heartfelt lyrics to the Salt Lake Valley. MP’s second album features mediocre beats that vary from 808 bounces to piano laced rhythms showing some production versatility. The album is based on heartbreak and every song shows a hint of that.

Songs like “Breathe” and “A Song for You are prime examples. With off-tempo lyrical disabilities, I had a hard time listening to this album. MP’s track “Till I Drop” just about did me in. MP might want to stick with rocking mics at local house parties. –Jrapp


Eric Openshaw Band

This Stage


Street: 03.31

Eric Openshaw Band = Hootie and The Blowfish

I know who I want to marry now: Eric Openshaw! He is such a dreamboat, and his music is so creative and original—definitely God’s gift to music and the world. Ever since I received his album, I have longingly stared at the beautiful, seductive glamour shot of him posing next to the dryers at the laundromat.

I tell you what, he can wash my drawers any day of the week—he is going to need to because every time I listen to his playfully romantic acoustic pop I get so excited that I can hardly keep from fainting with excitement. I just hope that I hook up with him before my mom hears his music and becomes hopelessly seduced too. Bogus! –Jon Robertson


Standing Solo

Take This Night


Street: 11.01.08

Standing Solo = AFI + 30 Foot Fall 

I immediately gravitated towards this album when I first played it. It had all the hallmarks of the music I liked in the late 90s: melodic “punk” with a bit of piss ‘n vinegar. I’ve changed and so has music and the demands I put on what makes an album truly great.

All the bands I really admired from that pop-punk era, Strung Out, Propagandhi and Good Riddance ended up putting out more solid and adult themed albums while some groups that I really loved, like AFI, fell into an abyss of poppy shit. So this may hit somebody’s sweet spot in their teens, but older fans may want something more meaty (not directed at you, Russ Rankin).  –JP


The Sweater Friends

Everyone We Know


Street: 01.15

The Sweater Friends =  Letters to Cleo + The Carpenters – Eating disorder (too squeaky for any disorder)

Your enjoyment of TSF depends on how much you like pop-acoustic duos, or enjoy feeling the pull on your heart strings this type of music elicits.  I should say this is good for what it is, which is acoustic rock (such a thing still exists), and an improvement over the majority of bands like this in the region. Though such vulnerability-producing music should not be consumed by those males whose testicles have dropped for fear of a desire to begin watching movies like (insert generic crap sob story movie) on purpose.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been too into this sort of over-earnest fluff, but I know I did listen to too much Carpenters music when I was young, so maybe that type of audio abuse makes me biased. I craved a little backbone during the listen and sometimes I think I’d do anything for a good rhythm section on this kind of music. Anything. A god damn tambourine even, for fuck’s sake. –JP


Vanzetti Crime


Salty Hobo Records

Street: 01.15

Vanzetti Crime = Against All Authority + Suicide Machines + Operation Ivy

Let’s face it: local punk and ska bands, as a general rule, are pretty shitty. Of course there are always exceptions, but more often than not, local punk bands tend to be drunken, untalented idiots, and local ska bands tend to be goofy kids whose religious upbringing keeps them from being drunken, untalented idiots. Vanzetti Crime, I’m happy to report, fall into neither camp.

They take some of the best parts of punk rock, namely the aggression and emphasis on unity, and filter it through bouncy ska rhythms for a formula that works surprisingly well. Sure, Vanzetti Crime borrows liberally from the Suicide Machines, but that’s a hell of a lot better than having a whole lot of Casualties or Reel Big Fish in your sound. Sadly, these guys have been broken up for a few months (their wacky Mormon guitarist Mike is currently serving a mission in Mexico), but this album is a sure sign that great local punk and ska can still exist in Utah. –Ricky Vigil


Various Artists

SHR Spring 09 Sampler

Spy Hop Records

Street: 3.30

Spy Hop Artists = The Future of The World + Good ol’ fashioned SLC creativity

Spy Hop, the local non-profit enterprise known for mentoring youth in a wide swath of media disciplines, is back at it with a sampler of their latest artists. The quality is shockingly good and diverse. The intro track to the collaboration is Malevolent Emcee’s “Charm Quark” and it sets the stage for the rest of the eclectic and charming disc.

This sampler is a future “who’s who” of the local music community, so pay attention artists, fans and labels. Fortunately, there is something for all local supporters of artists in the area, including selections from Christian Butler’s bluesy-rock to hip hop and folk-revivalism. This organization is a great asset to the community and should be supported. Go to spyhoprecords.com for the skinny. –JP