2011 City Weekly Music Awards Showcasing Bands | Music Awards | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Music » Music Awards

2011 City Weekly Music Awards Showcasing Bands

The best original music being created here in Zion


Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel
  • Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel
City Weekly's ad hoc CWMA committee collectively nominated more than 100 Utah bands to be part of the live showcases. After much discussion, a few rounds of voting and some last-second emergency substitutions, we got that list down to the 25 acts participating this year. We think you'll agree they represent some of the best original music being created here in Zion.

>> Get the skinny Dan Nailen's How to CWMA article <<

Friday, Feb. 4, Avalon Theater

From the lyrical depth of his songs to his soon-to-be-released album’s title, Cory Mon is the most honest he’s ever been on his new project, Turn Coats, slated for release in March. “The more and more I write songs, the more and more honest it becomes,” Mon told City Weekly last fall. “This album approaches darkness more than I ever have, but it’s well expressed and balanced.” The resulting tunes are a glimpse into the psyche of this soulful singer, found in the Western-tinged roots-rock extravaganza that is Turn Coats—Mon’s best effort yet. The album’s raw energy is seasoned with experience, yet is youthfully experimental. Mon’s backed by the Starlight Gospel, but their name is deceiving; led by musical prodigy Eric Ellsworth, they’re desert-dwelling rockers, not a church choir. ReverbNation.com/CoryMon (Austen Diamond)

This young quartet first came to my attention when they played the City Weekly Beer Festival, delivering a bluesy set that indicated a band steeped in some of blues-rock’s finest purveyors. At the shows I’ve seen since, their whiskey-fueled tales of heartbreak and hard times have only gotten sharper, while the Samuel Smith Band has proved itself a crew capable of some soulful flourishes in addition to their boot-stomping rave-ups. ReverbNation.com/SamuelSmithBand (Dan Nailen)
KING NIKO, 9 p.m.
King Niko has been subtly spicing things up in the greater Salt Lake City area for the past year with their memorable melodies and sassy lyrics. Salt Lake City has its fair share of metal, hardcore, alternative and pop-rock, but these guys classify themselves as “dance-rock,” and X96’s Corey O’Brien describes them as “The Cult meets Panic at the Disco.” These boys recently released their second EP, The French Accent, a short-but-sweet three-song set. And while it’s brief, those three songs are enough to have you singing along and tapping your feet to the beat. ReverbNation.com/KingNiko
(Julianna Clay)
Friday, Feb. 4, Burt’s Tiki Lounge
CAVEDOLL, 10 p.m.
Indie pop-rockers Cavedoll have had a long and illustrious career, and like wine, aging has just made them better with the passing time. After more than a decade playing in local venues and producing record after record, they are still very much alive and kicking. In fact, in addition to recording and playing gigs, leader Camden Chamberlain and Co. can also be found working the Web for all its worth to spread the Cavedoll word. There’s something slightly eccentric about their sound, but it’s entirely their own, and their dance beats are contagious and effective at filling a dancefloor. Cavedoll.com
(Julianna Clay)
FOX VAN CLEEF, 11 p.m.
By far one of the hardest working bands in 2010, Fox Van Cleef labored to redefine what it means to be involved with the Utah music community. Playing nearly every venue in the state from St. George to Logan, the five-piece psychedelic rockers from Ogden made a name for themselves with live-music fans long before their debut release (Cigarettes, Terrorism, Etc.) in 2009. They followed that release up with their 2010 EP Pleasure Junkies, which garnered them radio airplay, several festival gigs and a West Coast tour. FoxVanCleef.com (Gavin Sheehan)
Like many local bands, Plastic Furs have survived lineup and name changes. But with a steady new four-piece team and a new record in the works, 2011 is finally their year to shine. Comprised of power-couple Bryan Mink (vocals, guitar) and Stefanie Marlow (drums) and friends Justin Langford (bass) and Ian Moore (guitar, vocals), Plastic Furs play Brit-pop-influenced neo-psychedelica in the vein of Brain Jonestown Massacre, Big Pink and Spiritualized. Mink and Marlow are also active advocates of Salt Lake City’s music scene and are regularly spotted attending other Utah bands’ gigs. MySpace.com/SecondVerseSameAsTheFurs (Angela H. Brown)
Saturday, Feb. 5, Club Vegas
These boys may be from the flip-side of the Wasatch Front (Heber), and the lead singer may look like a baby-faced Bret Michaels, but don’t let that fool you: They can rock it with the best of their local counterparts. The band recently won Velour’s Winter Battle of the Bands, and they just released their self-titled debut album. Their sound is old-school rock ‘n’ roll with a Southern twist, and listening to them can make you feel like you stepped right into a time machine. Not only has Holy Water Buffalo revived vintage psychedelic-rock, but they have also added some of their own modern mojo. Yee-haw! HolyWaterBuffalo.com (Julianna Clay)
SHARK SPEED, 10:30 p.m.
Shark Speed are the very definition of a word-of-mouth wonder. They are probably one of the most frequently talked about groups that those talking have never actually listened to. But they should. Started by two brothers with the help of a of couple friends in the winter of 2008, the pop-rock four-piece quickly became a Utah County sensation with their 2009 full-length debut, Sea Sick Music. They followed up with this year’s Education EP and constant live show appearances, and the melodic rockers have earned a following that rivals some of the most popular local bands, and they can hold a stage with any of them. MySpace.com/SharkSpeedRawks (Gavin Sheehan)
BRONCO, 11:30 p.m.
I met Bronco as a three-piece about five years ago, before multiple lineup changes forced founder Tyler Anderson to take two steps forward, one step back, until I stopped counting. Of course, I never stopped caring, and with each new incarnation further admired their honest, tenacious approach to sound and, well, life, which sometimes just completely blows. No strangers to hardship and heartache, last spring they mourned the passing of drummer Mike Kubcza. Now a five-piece, Bronco seems to have finally hit their collective stride. If they stumble, they’ll roll with it. This is, after all, a band that once fielded song requests from members of a controversial polygamous sect during a Brown Bag concert in downtown Salt Lake City, rocking thousands of FLDS in the process. MySpace.com/BroncoTheBand (Jamie Gadette)
Saturday, Feb. 5, Velour
One of the happiest moments of my past year was taking a couple of married-with-children buddies with impeccable, if outdated, taste in music to see Paul Jacobsen & The Madison Arm for the first time. What was a gabby group of friends throwing back beers turned into a respectfully silent trio as Jacobsen and Co. unfurled their languid brand of, hmm, folk-rock? Alt-country? Not sure what you’d label it, exactly; I just call it some of the best songwriting in these parts, delivered by masterfully skilled players. They were a finalist in the CWMAs last year, and it’s no accident they’re in the running again in 2011. MySpace.com/PaulJacobsenMusic (Dan Nailen)
In the last year, the Continentals have been busy releasing two records, Rhino, and more recently, In a Circle with Our Closest Friends. Across both records, the Continentals find near-moody perfection on songs like “Abandon Your Homes,” “Nero,” “Avalanche at Your Feet,” “Lighthouse,” “Ready,” and “Vitamins.” What’s most impressive about the Continentals’ work is actually what you don’t hear—the spaces that they’ve left unfilled. There’s patience; the sound is languid without being lazy. And when most young musicians want to fill all possible holes, this sense of reserve is really saying something. It’s a particularly impressive feat when you factor in the amount of instrumentation that the Continentals bring to the recording studio, from brass to xylophone and more, which somehow never feels extraneous or boastful. MySpace.com/TheContinentalsUT (David Morrissey)
A band that was actually voted into the CWMA finals last year, Michael Gros &The Statuettes have continually proven why they are one of Utah’s finest acts. Producing the Exports & Imports EP early in 2010. along with a fantastic follow-up summer full-length (Telepath), the group has sustained itself as a pop/rock mainstay in the SLC music scene. Even with the departure of drummer Matthew Glass, replaced by Andy Patterson, the group continually tours the West Coast, and even takes on side projects in an effort to continually fill their lives with a variety of music. MichaelGrossMusic.com
(Gavin Sheehan)
PARLOR HAWK, 10:45 p.m.
On first impression, Parlor Hawk’s 2010 release Hoarse & Roaring makes perfect background music for tea time or household chores. But somehow the mellow sonic landscapes sneakily trump priorities and, after 45 or so minutes, you realize you haven’t done anything else but listen to the album in full. Frontman Drew Capener’s pleading vibrato, steady-strummed acoustic guitar and Western-tinged picking on rough gems like “Home” and “Short Road” make for a captivating first effort from a band to watch. ParlorHawk.com (Austen Diamond)
Friday, Feb. 11, The Urban Lounge
Two years ago, The Future of the Ghost guitarist/singer Will Sartain told City Weekly, “We just wanna have a band that changes the world. That’s all.” Minor ambitions, to say the least, and they’re still pacing onward toward new sonic conquests, which includes their third album of pop-punk gold slated for release this year. Badass chick-drummer Cathy Foy leads the rhythm section for a live band not to be missed, at any of their numerous gigs around town. MySpace.com/TheFutureOfTheGhost (Austen Diamond)
Throw any sort of sports ball at the Whittaker brothers and they’ll curl in the fetal position, so they say. The womb they were birthed from was a musical one, for sure. And that’s fine by us. These nonsensical, rambling minstrels—read their mythological Myspace bio—shine on our town with high-energy, instrumental, tropicali-jazz-rock that’ll warm even the coldest winter night. Which might make you wonder, how do they keep winding up in your bed? Oh, just snuggle up and enjoy. MySpace.com/Birthquake
(Austen Diamond)
Made up of six versatile musicians who play key roles in more than a dozen different groups and projects, Night Sweats are the quintessential electronica house band for whatever occasion you may have. While the group itself has no formal albums or demos floating about the scene, word of mouth and individual reputations have carried the techno-rock-driven ensemble to major underground gigs and house parties. The most prominent of these in 2010 was the Pickle Factory Halloween party, closing down the packed art space to a standing ovation. Now if only we could convince the group to sit down and record an official debut. MySpace.com/NightSweatsTunes (Gavin Sheehan)
Friday, Feb. 11, Burt's Tiki Lounge
Bouncing between intricate thrash, classic-sounding metal and straightforward rock, Ravings of a Madman have been around for seven years, but 2010 was a significant one for the group, thanks to the release of 12 aggressive new tunes via their new album, In the Time It Takes to Hate. The ruckus these guys generate is all the more impressive given the fact Ravings of a Madman is a three-piece. And before you think they’re all thrash and no nuance, check out one of their Acoustic Madman shows, which tone down the sound but lose none of the band’s intensity. MySpace.com/RavingsofaMadman (Dan Nailen)
INVDRS, 11 p.m.
In a year where metal seemed on the wane, with several bands breaking up and others in studios recording new music, INVDRS stood alone as THE metal band to see. Striving to be one of the hardest-hitting and hearing-impairing metal acts in town, the group solidified their efforts by doing three simple things: Nailing down their sound, playing select shows and recording the finest metal album they could. Electric Church
could easily be argued as the best album of 2010. And under the grit and grime, the members actually give a damn about their fans. MySpace.com/InvadersDoom (Gavin Sheehan)
KILLBOT, 12 a.m.
Old-school thrash has returned in a big, bad way over the past few years, and no band embodies the spirit of the scene more than local thrashers Killbot. The band is comprised of long-haired dudes with names like Smelly and Deavy Metal who permanently sport tight, ripped jeans and seem to be perpetually wasted—but in a totally good way. These are the kinds of guys who wear their own band’s t-shirts, either out of a sense of pride or because it was the cleanest article of clothing readily available. When Killbot takes the stage, expect to see long hair swinging over sharply angled guitars, and blistering solos that stop just long enough for the guitarists to take a swig off the nearest alcoholic beverage. If the show doesn’t end with a major injury or an appearance by the police, you really aren’t getting the full Killbot experience. MySpace.com/KillbotMetal (Ricky Vigil)
Saturday, Feb. 12, Bar Deluxe
S.L.F.M., 10 p.m.
Sought out by Sonic Youth’s management and invited to be the band’s opener for their SLC date last year, S.L.F.M.’s Jessica Davis has simultaneously become the moustache-dotting darling of both the Salt Lake City and Provo music scenes. Her acclaim is the result of many hours spent busking on street corners, playing house parties, gigging at the usual Utah watering holes and one short West Coast tour. S.L.F.M.’s unique sound is made with an electric ukulele, played as fast as possible, and Davis’ witty lyrics, sung (sometimes screamed) through a vintage microphone. Davis recently accepted an invitation to play keys in Utah County’s Broken Spells. When Davis isn’t living and breathing music, making her own handmade merch or writing new songs, she’s working hard holding down three jobs (full disclosure: one is as member of SLUG Magazine’s marketing team) and saving her pennies to hit the road again. MySpace.com/MsLovelySLFM (Angela H. Brown)
Soothing, down-tempo, swirling electro meets rock to create something mind-blowing, celestial and other-worldly with Palace of Buddies. It’s astounding that music this layered comes from a group composed of only two members—Tim Myers playing guitar, keyboards and a sampler, and Nick Foster on drums, additional percussion and even more keyboards. On songs like “Noel,” their rock prowess shines with bouncy guitars that steer the track along, while “Casio Burger Meltdown” follows a more ethereal path with keyboards as the standout over a simple drumbeat. Palace of Buddies are one of the more diverse and talented two-pieces playing in Salt Lake City today. MySpace.com/PalaceofBuddies (Jeanette D. Moses)
MUSCLE HAWK, 12 a.m.
If you like dance beats with a futuristic and electronic-twist, look no further; Muscle Hawk is your band. Greg Bower and Josh Holyoak are unique and masterful mixers. They draw their inspiration from Prince, zombies and Yo Gabba Gabba! to create truly creative compositions. Wherever they play, sweaty dance parties ensue, and the beats they spin are contagious; before you know it, you’re busting moves you didn’t know you had. Over the course of the last year or so, Muscle Hawk has built up their fan base, and as a result, they’ve earned much recognition and played big festivals like the Utah Arts Festival and Cooler, becoming Salt Lake City’s go-to electronic group. MySpace.com/MuscleHawk (Julianna Clay)
Saturday, Feb. 12, The Woodshed
Expanding her musical expertise beyond the one-woman band, Lindsay Heath dropped her Kid Madusa moniker and most of her prior catalog in an effort to reinvent herself as a musician and performer. Putting together a rotating six-piece rock orchestra comprised of several well-versed musicians—while also composing lengthy ballads with soul-searching lyrics and dark tones—Heath and company have managed to find a sweet spot between underground angst and the avant garde. Her new approach has packed venues and earned the band a spot on the Utah Arts Festival’s main stage in 2010. MySpace.com/LindsayHeath.Orchestra (Gavin Sheehan)
On a recent Sunday, David Williams polished off his usual weekend brunch of frittata and extra-strength coffee, strapped on a guitar and took his place near the restaurant door to serenade bleary-eyed patrons. Williams spends much of the week entertaining diners at Eva and Tin Angel Café, whose clientele sees only the Clark Kent side of a super folk rocker. On stage, he’s a guitar god whose give and take with the instrument creates tremendous drama within each song. A love ballad begins slowly, quietly. It aches until the climax, when Williams busts out a fiery solo. When the dust settles, the crowd is slack-jawed, teary and grateful for the unexpected catharsis. Williams’ 2009 LP, Western Interior Seaway, captures the magic on record. No word yet on a follow-up, but judging by the man’s work ethic—dedicating weekday mornings to writing and practicing in his bedroom—he should have enough material to impress us once again. MySpace.com/DavidWilliams (Jamie Gadette)
LA FARSA, 12 p.m.
This crew is a singular force on the local scene, delivering a mesmerizing blend of hook-filled ear candy and complex time signatures, all buoyed by a layered vocal approach from the five multi-instrumentalists who came together to form La Farsa. 2010 featured the release of a new batch of winning songs, collected on their At The Circus album, as well as a West Coast tour. While their subtle, approaching-gypsy-folk sound makes for excellent home listening, the La Farsa live show—full of witty banter and impressive musicianship—is the best way to hear them in my book. MySpace.com/LaFarsaBand (Dan Nailen)