2009 City Weekly Music Awards | Best of Utah Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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2009 City Weekly Music Awards



Oops, we did it again—we switched up the SLAMMys, re-naming the musical showcase the City Weekly Music Awards and inviting friends, colleagues and fellow music fiends to weigh in on the always challenging nomination process. Record stores, record labels, recording engineers, journalists and other folks who live and breathe the Utah music scene helped select the CWMA Top 30 resulting in a wildly eclectic group of artists, from a 16-year-old Utah County wunderkind to salty downtown rock veterans and fashionably dressed electro-pop idols. The nominees, featured in the Jan. 29 City Weekly music section, demonstrated their prowess over two weeks’ worth of live showcases. We left the rest up to you, the reader/online user, as well as the chosen artists to rally their fans to the polls. In the end, four groups came out ahead: Top vote-getters included Neon Trees, followed by the Furs. Form of Rocket and Band of Annuals tied for third place, both of whom are unfortunately unable to play the final Feb. 13 CWMA concert at The Depot with headliner Ben Kweller, whose new album Changing Horses has the versatile artist returning to his country roots. Come down for an evening of eclectic music and cast your vote for the No. 1 CWMA performer. We know—it's hard to pick just one favorite. That's why we created our own list of things we're loving about local music right now, from bands to public radio and everything in between. Here's to another fabulous year of albums, concerts, podcasts and more. Contributors: Circus Brown, Bill Frost, Trevor Hale, Dominique LaJeunesse, Jon Paxton, Jenny Poplar, Brian Staker & Jacob Stringer


The Dude From Starmy? Seriously
Mike Sartain has long been known for rocking out with power-pop/rock band Starmy. Who knew there was a sensitive side beneath that ballsy exterior? Evidence to this side is all over The Camelot Sessions, with haunting songs like “My Flesh Sewn Picture Show.” In addition to the music, lyrical depth made it one of the best local releases of 2008. MySpace.com/MikeSartain (Brian Staker)

Think On It
Any band who excerpts a lengthy quote from Joseph Campbell on their MySpace must have an introspective bent. Belly Of The Whale’s music isn’t restive, however, but combines elements of ska, funk and straight-ahead rock in songs like “The Wire.” Thinking deep doesn’t have to be a pain in the brain. MySpace.com/TheBellyOfTheWhale. (Brian Staker)

Bringing Back Humpty Hump Nose Glasses
Poo Pee D is one of those local musicians you don’t hear about for a long while, but when he plays a show, it’s an event—a mad, drunken party. The heir to the eyewear rocked by a certain ’90s Digital Underground rapper earns his right to the throne every time he lays down a groove, in between run-ins with the law. MySpace.com/PooPeeD (Brian Staker)

Extra Sensory Player
Gentry Densley’s long-running Iceburn project was so experimental that it was more popular in New York City than it was here. Eagle Twin is recording with Randall Dunn of Earth and Sunn0)))))) in the Seattle studio where Kurt Cobain laid down tracks. Ghosts may be conjured. SouthernLord.com (Brian Staker)

Happiest Band In Utah
This Ogden-based duo incorporate a Moog synthesizer, Theremin, and a slew of other adorable noisemakers to bring you beautifully anomalous songs and sounds without rival. Not just your average band, After the Party hosts a yearly summer solstice Wizardfest in various Utah desert locations. Tom and Beth have been releasing annual holiday albums for Christmas and Halloween, have their own coloring book, produced several black and white movies and videos, and have never been seen in public with a frown. MySpace.com/AfterTheParty (Circus Brown)

They’ve Got Next
You’ve probably heard their new single “Celery Stick” on the radio, or your friend’s iPod, and whether you have known it or not, Mury is seeping into your subconscious. And if you haven’t heard a Mury song, when you do, it won’t get out of your head. Inexplicably good sing-along choruses hold the promise of better times and the occasional deep lyrical sentiment you catch will hit you in your chest, too. MySpace.com/MuryMusic (Jon Paxton)

Best Accidental Wizard of Floyd
Gander at the quaint dusty televisions next time you’re at Burt’s Tiki Lounge, and see if the live music is in sync with the video. This coincidental Dark Side of the Rainbow worked so well while enjoying INVDRS play to a 1940’s classic Superman cartoon. MySpace.com/Invadersdoom (Circus Brown)

We Hardly Knew Ye
Mom & Pop shop Red Light Books provided Utah with alternative books, magazines, comics, and art you can’t find at your average Steve King outlet. Aside from lit, they also provided a unique underground (literally) venue and record label for unknown and experimental artists. They closed down in 2008, and thankfully, RLB re-emerged as an e-business with much improved sales. RedLightSLC.com (Circus Brown)

Beards of Fury
It’s a rarity when you’re as knocked out (or more so) by the local opening act than a touring headliner, but woe unto any road band blessed/cursed with SLC doom-metalers/facial-hair enthusiasts Top Dead Celebrity on the undercard. In recent months, Jucifer, Weedeater and even Portland’s mighty Red Fang have been given a run for their amp wattage by TDC’s riff-heavy/hook-heavier opening set. As Outburn magazine says, Top Dead Celebrity is “gloriously fuzzed-out racket that kicks whole piles of ass.” MySpace.com/TopDeadCelebrity (Bill Frost)

Rise, Young Punks!
If punk’s dead, then the last 30 years has been like Weekend at Bernie’s. The only reason you can say “punk is dead” is if you are talking about the copycat bands that decided against evolving. Trebuchet (below) and Bombs and Beating Hearts have invented an actual unprecedented punk sound, built a faithful following, and, in the spirit of true punk music, they play lots of free shows down at Salt Lake City anarchist collective Boing! headquarters. MySpace.com/TrebuchetSLC and MySpace.com/GuerrillaFolkPunx (Circus Brown)

The Law Won— So Did We
Clubbers finally get to smell their favorite bars’ aroma thanks to the new smoking ban. This law hasn’t just cleaned up the atmosphere in clubs around the state but also brought smokers together. Instead of puffing silently alone indoors, tobacco enthusiasts easily strike up conversations on the pavement outside. Never before has sucking a butt made befriending so easy, thanks Huntsman! (Circus Brown)

The Next Generation
One of the most prominent bands in the local hardcore scene right now, xReflectx just released their first full length album, The Hourglass End. The intensity and emotion of the album evoke memories of game changing mid-’90s bands like Unbroken and 108. xReflectx can only get better from here. MySpace.com/xReflectx (Trevor Hale)

Dance Revolution
Musclehawk, the “all-star” local group, is making danceable music most wouldn’t expect to find in Utah, or Salt Lake City, either. Truly infectious, this dance delicacy should be consumed standing up with your thighs pumping. Their debut EP The Speed of Dark just dropped Jan. 30, and it is fantastic. MySpace.com/Musclehawk (Jon Paxton)

Sleepless in SLC
Lance Saunders and Will Sartain of S&S Presents are two of the busiest guys in town, working overtime to maintain their venue, record label and promotional juggernaut in between gigs where they also actually create and perform music. With such hectic schedules, you'd think they'd be uptight but S&S are the nicest musical mafia with offers too good to refuse. MySpace.com/SandSpresents (Jon Paxton)

Don’t Fence Me In
Marcus Bently risked alienating much of his fan base when he sidelined his Americana sound to pursue the type of electronic music favored by followers of Paul Oakenfold and Kaskade—the DJ who initially turned Bently on to the genre. The switch is paying off big time, though, with Bently’s new project, Location Location, landing a song on MTV’s The Hills and an invite to perform at this year’s South by Southwest. And his fans? They still sing along to every song. LocationLocationMusic.com (Jamie Gadette)

Go Daddy-o
KUER jazz director/host Steve Williams has one of the most recognizable voices in local radio, second only perhaps to station co-worker Doug Fabrizio. With his soothing voice and vast musical knowledge, he entertains and educates, interviews jazz greats and promotes their gigs around town. Off-air, Williams emcees events like the Salt Lake City International Jazz Festival and Excellence in Community concerts. Word on the street is, this hep cat is also somewhat of an unsung beat poet flexing his literary muscle at the occasional open-mic. KUER.org (Jamie Gadette)

Rock Art Basement
A cute little art gallery started by local printmaker Leia Bell and neatly tucked under record store Slowtrain, Signed and Numbered features Limited Edition concert posters, art prints and other crafts. Although a great spot to pick up all sorts of prints, including Matt Lloyd’s “Obamraham,” it’s the perfect (only?) place to get hold of that totally awesome gig poster you saw stapled to the corner lamppost—that is, if you want it without the torn corners. 221 E. Broadway, 801-596-2093, Signed-Numbered.com (Jacob Stringer)

Good Prospects
Do you ever lay awake in bed at night and wish that Burl Ives would serenade you with an acoustic guitar? If you answered a definitive “yes,” consider giving Grizzly Prospector! a listen. Young Parker Yates has a sweet voice that you will not soon forget. MySpace.com/GrizzlyProspector (Jenny Poplar)

Charmed, I’m Sure
If Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang ran a record label, it would probably be something like Eden’s Watchtower Records. Eden’s catalog—which features acts like gypsy songtress Eliza Wren, astral shoegazers DulceSky and alt-country all-stars Patsy, Ohio—will charm you faster than the Charlie Brown Christmas special. EdensWatchtower.com (Jenny Poplar)

Still Mourning Amythest Wristrocket?
Dry those tears, because the Elemental are the 21st century reincarnation of one of Utah’s finest and most memorable local bands. Imagine, in your mind’s ear, Jesus and Mary Chain-like instrumentation wedded to impressive vocals and top-notch songwriting. MySpace.com/ElementalTheMusic (Jenny Poplar)

A Joyful Noise
Palace Of Buddies features lots of drumming, lots of humming and plenty of maddening, smack-in-the-chest energy. They’re a two-man noise act for those who like a dash of melody and sonic direction mixed with audio chaos. MySpace.com/PalaceOfBuddies (Jenny Poplar)

He Makes It Look Easy
Michael Sasich is a triple threat—musician, recording engineer and sound man—who makes every show at Bar Deluxe into a main event rather than simply background noise for drinking. Considering the wide variety of artists that hit the stage, Sasich’s work definitely deserves some high praise. Also, if he is feeling really nice, some nights (when I’m working the door), I get to fidget with the little buttons that make things sound nice. I’m one lucky bastard. (Dominique LaJeunesse)

The Man Behind The Curtain
It’s often hard to find anything nice to say about Happy Valley, Utah County, except for perhaps this: No matter how stuffy and suffocating the air might get south of the point, the music scene always stays fresh and vibrant. Praise be to Corey Fox. Without his undying love of promoting the scene via the likes of Buffalo Fox and the venue Velour, Provo would have long ago found itself deaf to the intoxicating siren sounds of the outside world. 135 N University Ave., Provo, 801-818-BAND VelourLive.com (Jacob Stringer)

Extreme Bathroom Makeover
I really don’t want to disinfect myself when I get home from the bar. Restrooms play an integral role to the clubgoing experience, so kudos to The Urban Lounge for checking off one of my biggest fears of dying in their john by doing a complete bathroom overhaul on the facilities complete with toilets guards on which I’m proud to plant my ass. That’s right—The Urban Lounge: now with 90 percent less cooties. 241 S. 500 East; MySpace.com/TheUrbanLounge (Dominique LaJeunesse)

Best Way to Lose Your Hearing
Want to go deaf in style? Look no further than The Come Down whose hypnotic psychedelic noise inevitably has you shouting “What?” after the band is done playing. Their first show made my chest rattle, and other ones have rendered patrons unable to rudely talk over the band because they can’t get a word in edgewise. It’s worth checking out. Salt Lake City rarely offers sounds this uniquely ear-splitting. MySpace.com/ColourSoundMusic (Dominique LaJeunesse)

Summer Breeze, Makes Me Feel Fine
Outdoor venues are not an option during the cold, cruel winter months. So sieze the warm days (and nights) of summer at Red Butte Garden. You can pack up a picnic complete with wine and blankies and sit back amongst the beautiful scenery listening to Wilco, for example. No matter where you sit, the sound comes through with perfect clarity. Is it July yet? RedButteGarden.org (Dominique LaJeunesse)

Scratching The Surface
Skinned Elbow Records: Not since the heyday of Life Sentence has Salt Lake City had a local label committed to showcasing the best talent in Utah hardcore. With the recently released xReflectx album, an EP from Ogden’s One Clean Life and a forthcoming Dogwelder 7-inch (remember those?), Skinned Elbow is off to a great start. MySpace.com/SkinnedElbowRecords (Trevor Hale)

Reviver has been busy tearing up the highways since the release of their Exigent Records debut, Versificator, last year and shows no signs of slowing down. With plenty of Fat Wreck Chords riffs and Revelation Records style vocals, Reviver is a band with nothing to lose and everything to gain. MySpace.com/Reviverhc (Trevor Hale)

High Fidelity: Salt Lake City
Just walk into Positively 4th St. Music and you’ll probably overhear a conversation about some obscure piece of R&B vinyl that eventually gets deemed “The Holy Grail” or “The Missing Link” to one or another’s prized LP collection. And if you happen to have one or two pieces of vinyl in your collection that you feel no longer belong, the local record store is the place to go—you can trade old rusty gems for new rusty gems. 210 E. 400 South, 801-531-8181, MySpace.com/Positively4thStMusic (Jacob Stringer)

Make Us Proud
It’s been years since Salt Lake City has shown off a nationally recognized band—much less a metal band—but Gaza is out there making their hometown proud. Having just completed their second full length for Black Market Activities (a division of Metal Blade), 2009 is their chance to take it to the next level. MySpace.com/Gaza (Trevor Hale)

Freak Folk Merry-Go-Round
The six multi-instrumentalists that make up Oh! Wild Birds clearly have a freakin’ ball playing through epic songs that sound part Arcade Fire, part Faun Fables, part DeVotchKa. It’s entertaining to watch as each member puts down one instrument and deftly picks up another on song after song after song—not to mention the pipes on the oft-Sharpie-mustachioed lone female in the group. With a debut album due out later this spring, Oh! Wild Birds will continue spreading freak folk that’s not too overly freakish. Myspace.com/OhWildBirds (Jacob Stringer)

Keeping Music Newsworthy
The best thing about local public radio station KUER 90.1 FM’s RadioWest is the fact that no matter the subject, host Doug Fabrizio makes it interesting. While Utah’s music scene doesn’t need much help entertaining a listening audience, it never hurts to have a bit more exposure. Enter RadioWest and their recently launched local music series spotlighting artists like The Devil Whale and Band of Annuals. According to producer Elaine Clark, the point is to profile a band while simultaneously exploring a more specific aspect of the scene—like using trip-hoppers Cosm to discuss local record labels. KUER.org (Jacob Stringer)

Killer Music, Killer Patio
Sure, local musicians don’t necessarily have too few places to peddle their sonic wares, but as the scene grows larger and more people are inspired to pick up that guitar and belt out a tune, it’s always good to have a stage—or at least a patio. The Woodshed (formerly Club Halo) is a friendly bar with a great atmosphere that is doing everything in its powers to give local bands another great place to play and music lovers a comfortable space to listen. 60 E. 800 South, MySpace.com/TheWoodshedSLC (Jacob Stringer)

Recording Guru/ Jesus Lookalike
Andy Patterson: if you’ve ever purchased a local band’s new album, chances are you’ve already heard this guy’s work. For years, Patterson has been the go-to guy for Salt Lake City bands, having recorded Form of Rocket, Gaza, Hudson River School and literally hundreds of others. (Trevor Hale)

Root, Root, Root For the Home Team
Jeff Whiteley is running down a dream with Excellence in Community, his labor-of-love concert series highlighting some of Utah’s best and brightest musicians—artists who don’t necessarily hit up the traditional nightclub circuit. His tireless, enthusiastic efforts give a leg up to homegrown bands, and audiences who might otherwise miss the world-class talent that resides in their own back yard. Past headliners include Red Rock Rondo, Joe McQueen, Brian Booth and the Smith Bros Dirt Band. Next up: Calvary Baptist Choir on Feb. 27-28. ExcellenceConcerts.org (Jamie Gadette)

Who’s House?
“… because house is a feeling, not a fashion,” the DJs behind Haus Addix are doing their best to school the next generation of music lovers and clubgoers on a genre/culture that has apparently lost momentum since its late-’70s inception. Big City House throws its own weekly parties to help get the word out, often working with the Addix to further their shared vision. TheHausAddix.com; MySpace.com/BigCityHouse (Jamie Gadette)

No Excuses
Sometime it’s hard to find the courage/energy to check out that one new local band you keep hearing about but just haven’t seen live yet. Don’t fret, Slowtrain has your back (owners Chris & Anna Brozeck are pictured above). Nearly every Monday night at 7 p.m. is Local Night at your friendly neighborhood record store—and because it’s free of charge you can check out the new sounds without committing nary a cent. And you can always put the savings towards your next music purchase. 221 E. Broadway, 801-364-2611 SlowtrainMusic.com (Jacob Stringer)

Three’s Company
KRCL 90.9 FM got a lot of grief for switching up its format last year, but the addition of full-time DJs Ebay Jamil Hamilton, Dave Perschon and Bad Brad Wheeler has me tuning into the community radio station daily for its solid music programming. Highlights include live in-studio performances by touring and local bands and essential albums of the day/week. Where else on the dial can you turn to hear Massive Attack Vs. Mad Professor? KRCL.org (Jamie Gadette)

London Calling Back
Transplanted Brits Big Gun Baby recently returned from a, shall we say, governmentally-suggested “vacation” to their homeland somewhat paler but also spunkier than ever: Original members Jaycee (vocals, fab platform boots) and Graham (bass, sparkly shirts) still command a stage like no one’s business, but their new BGB cohorts hold up the musical end more brilliantly than previous incarnations. Catch ’em live (a must), or check out Big Gun Baby’s new five-song EP (replete with electro remixes—how English). MySpace.com/BigGunBaby (Bill Frost)

Rock & Ribs, Pork & Twangs
Pat’s Barbecue recently made a national splash on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, but Guy Fieri forgot to mention the music: Where else in town can you chow down on world-class BBQ, and catch a local blues or roots-rock band, and be out by 9 o’clock for a full (literally) night of clubbing? Pat’s has also paid as much attention to acoustics and sound-buffering as they have to sauce and smoking, making this joint the closest thing to a Texas roadhouse around. PatsBBQ.com (Bill Frost)

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