Local music fans, you set an all-time record for participation in City Weekly's Best of Utah Music 2016. You cast more votes than in any previous year. Thank you for choosing the best acts and artists—among our ever-growing crop of excellent local musicians—that stand out as the Best of Utah.
To further showcase Utah's musical prowess, the staff writers got into the act and came up with their own picks.
We'd also like to thank the BoUM 2016 nominating committee, which took the time to help us build and finalize the ballot: Adam Tye and Alana Boscan (Diabolical Records), Jeremy Cardenas (Thunderfist), Ransom Wydner (King Niko, Bass Mint Pros), Jarom Bischoff (Crucialfest, Exigent Records), Steve Williams (KCPW), Jeff Whiteley (Excellence in the Community), Corey Fox (Velour), producer and musician Mike Sasich, Court Mann (the Daily Herald), Bad Brad Wheeler (KRCL), Flash and Flare, Brian Kelm (Utah Blues Society), Al Cardenas (NightFreq), Taylor Richards (Royal Bliss, The Royal) and past BoUM winners Max Pain and the Groovies, DJ Matty Mo and Chaseone2. Your efforts and insights are greatly appreciated.
The time to reveal the results is nigh. Cue lame, competitive-reality-show,forced-suspense music ... scratched wax interjection—dramatic pause—and bass drop! Oops, it's time for a commercial break. (Sorry, everybody. This is the world in which we live.) Aaaaand ... we're back!
The results were printed on a small piece of paper in micro-point Comic Sans font, and kept in a hermetically sealed locket that was buried among secrets, empty beer cans and old bones in the backyard of a City Weekly employee who will remain nameless (Colby Frazier). And the winners are ...
—Randy Harward Music Editor
Band of the Year
The National Parks
Provo-based band The National Parks didn't even start making music under that name until 2013. The group, composed by BYU students John Hancock, Sydney Macfarlane, Brady Parks, Doug Patterson and Megan Taylor, found their brand of new folk music ear-catching in the Utah Valley music scene and beyond, as their initial LP, Young (self-released, 2013) ascended to No. 13 on iTunes' singer-songwriter charts. For their second album, last year's Until I Live, (Groundloop Records), they shifted gears, sliding into an indie-pop style that proved just as popular, as they moved up iTunes' pop chart and Billboard's Heatseekers.
Winning Band of the Year evokes an avalanche of emotions for them, as they say they are "Honored, humbled, excited, all of it," frontman Parks says. "There is so much musical talent in Utah that being named Band of the Year is really a big thing to us. We can't stop smiling."
Touring is a large part of their success. Parks says the band feels like they worked really hard in 2015, recording Until I Live and promoting it on and off the road. Touring, Parks knows, is key. "[We tried] to play in as many places as possible ... we just really wanted 2015 to be a year that we went all-in."
The National Parks have ambitious plans for the future, including more touring and stops at Austin's South by Southwest festival later this month as well as Canadian Music Week in Toronto. "Hopefully, we keep growing and reaching new fans," Parks says. "We plan to hit just about every region of the U.S. at some point during 2016. We also have a new music video coming out. We can't wait for people to see it." (BS)
Runner-up: Candy's River House
Album of the Year
Candy's River House, Another Night
Best Rock Artist
Candy's River House, CandysRiverHouse.com
After speaking with Jordan Young, singer-guitarist of popular Salt Lake City blues rock trio Candy's River House, it's apparent he doesn't know how the band's four Best of Utah Music nominations panned out. "There's a lot of talk about [BoUM]," Young says. "It's really opened up this year, with all the genres. People are excited."
Asked if he's been notified by City Weekly, Young says, "All I know is I'm supposed to keep March 11 open." Since we can't really discuss how he feels about the award without telling him, the bomb is dropped. Young, looking every bit the rock star in his mirrored shades—pulled down to facilitate eye contact—covers his eyes with both hands when he hears that Candy's River House won both Best Rock Artist and Album of the Year for their LP Another Night.
It's not what you think—he's not crying. He's stoked. To be nominated for four awards, including Best Blues Artist and Best Live Act, was an honor itself. "But to win two of them?" Young says, "that's huge. This is gonna be a big deal for us ... it'll follow us wherever we go. Whenever we book a gig, we'll be able to say we won these awards."
The back-to-basics blues rock sound of Candy's River House started out as little more than an idea while Roosevelt-born Young spent his early 20s learning to play—and live—the blues in Tennessee. Candy's River House became the band it is now when Young returned to Utah and enlisted drummer Joey Davis and bassist Nathan Simpson to round out a powerful trio. Another Night, produced by Mike Sasich, is a thrilling, soulful 10-track dose of bluesy moans, beefy riffs, tight, towering rhythms and Young's masterful songwriting. It's a loud, proud record that appeals to fans of blues-based classic rock like Free and early ZZ Top, and relatively newer bands like Gov't Mule, The Black Crowes and The Black Keys. And, since it adheres to the old unspoken 10-tracks-per-platter rule, it's easy to enjoy in one sitting, with headphones unplugged and the volume cranked. (RH, KB)
Best Rock Artist Runner-up:
The Weekenders, TheWeekendersMusic.com
Album of the Year Runner-up:
The Lovestrange, I Liked It, No I Didn't
Best Live Act
Early Thunderfist shows were crazy. Around the turn of the millennium, frontman/guitarist Jeremy Cardenas wore bunny ears onstage. I know, right? If that wasn't crazy enough, when Cardenas got enough booze in him, he'd really bleed for his fans, cutting himself with, and rolling around in, broken glass. That's punk rock and fucking roll, right there—but who can sustain such heroic drinking and buffoonery? Especially when the music becomes more important, and you're evolving from a punk band of drunks into a rock & roll machine propelled by the influence of Motörhead, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and the Supersuckers (and possibly David Gray, if the framed poster in Cardenas' living room means something). As the band matured over the years, they routed their raucousness through music, resulting in a show where the only casualty is the beer that spills when you raise your fist and yell for T-fist. Cardenas explains the band's philosophy: "I want to deliver. I know the sacrifice people make to just go to a show. The babysitter and the time and spending of the money, and the drinks and dealing with the crowds and fuckin' parking and everything else—to walk in and let you do your art. Whether it be ridiculous, Ted Nugent-inspired art with a liberal twist, or whatever else someone comes up with." This ethos has led to Thunderfist being a consistently reliable source of rock & roll goodness going into their 19th year together. Here's to many more. (RH)
Runner-up: Baby Gurl
Best Reggae Artist
Afro Omega, Facebook.com/AfroOmega
Afro Omega ran away with the Best Reggae Artist category this year. Velvet bass lines, lofty vocals and a punchy rhythm characterize Afro Omega's sound. For this reggae trio, music is simply a groovy vehicle by which to spread good vibes and fight racism, classism, poverty and depression. A fixture of Salt Lake City music for nearly 15 years, Afro Omega serves a rare flavor of reggae. Backed by the harmonies of Elisa Sofia, Bronte James delivers powerful vocal melodies with a captivating hook of provocative language and sing-song rhythms. (WP)
Runner-up: The Tribe of I
Best Metal Artist
From a high mountaintop, armed with swords, armor and Magic: The Gathering trading cards, the five-piece metal godhead that is Visigoth had a badass year as one of Utah's most dominant metal acts. At the end of 2014, they released their full-length opus, The Revenant King (Metal Blade), and spent 2015 playing several high-profile concerts around the state with a variety of touring acts. Also, it didn't hurt getting a plug from comedian Brian Posehn's Nerd Poker podcast back in July for their incredibly nerdy lyrics and heavy sounds that make playing Dungeons & Dragons extra awesome. Here's another accolade for their pile of loot. (GS)
Runner-up: Baby Gurl
Best Punk Artist
Lasting five years in the Salt Lake City punk rock scene is alone worthy of an award but hardcore trio Handicapitalist earned the respect and adoration of fans for their sheer punk attitude. Their 2011 full-length release, Our Only Debts Are Warrants, is as hard as the title implies. And with a band member also in Folk Hogan, to boot! The band looks at this award with a bit of a jaundiced eye ... they say they voted for Discoid A. (BS)
Runner-up: Donner Partyhouse
Best Blues Artist
Tony Holiday & the Velvetones
This one was a landslide: Tony Holiday and the Velvetones are a self-described "dirtbag blues" band based on Holiday's harmonica and a crowd-pleasing mixture of funk and soul added to the base. The band has gained a lot of fans the old-fashioned way—by touring incessantly, not just locally but nationwide. They make plenty of time to fit a lot of local shows into their itinerary and, as Holiday is co-founder of the Utah Blues Society, he does a lot to support the musical genre locally. Also, Holiday's chops got props on Blues Harmonica Players, the biggest Facebook group for harp blowers, and he and the Velvetones are preparing a second album for 2016. (BS)
Runner-up: Candy's River House
Best Roots/Americana Artist
Mad Max & the Wild Ones
Next to the Osmonds, this rockabilly quartet is Utah's most famous family band. Since 2006, when singer Duke Maxwell was only 5 years old, Mad Max & the Wild Ones have blown away crowds with their spot-on, spitfire 'billy sound. In the ensuing decade, they've played countless festivals, car shows and even late-night talk shows—David Letterman's to be exact. Here at home, they've opened for the likes of Andre "Mr. Rhythm" Williams and Wayne "The Train" Hancock, while becoming one of Utah's most exciting live bands. (RH)
Runner-up: Crook & the Bluff
Best Country Group
Colt .46, Colt46.com
Colt .46 is here to remind you that there's a great, big country outside of Nashville, and it's worth listening to what it has to say. Formed by four guys who spent years in other bands before coming together in 2013, Colt .46 eschews the polish of the country radio machine in favor of a Western sound that doesn't mind a little dirt, if that means having a good time. If you think all country has to offer is sentimental twang and Bible Belt grandstanding, crack open some Colt .46 and let them show you how fun it can be. (KB)
Runner-up: Gina Jones
Best Folk Artist
Folk Hogan, FolkHogan.com
Live-show virtuosos Folk Hogan, which also happen to have one of the top band names you wish you had thought of first, have a reputation of its own without making the top of this list, but it's no less deserved after last year's great circus-themed concept album, The Show. They may not fit into a traditional folk mold—or any mold, really—but if you've ever seen this Salt Lake City six-piece live, you've experienced the otherworldly energy these hairy troubadours can summon. The show mixes that energy with ambition and a manic work ethic that belies their goofy personas. (KB)
Best Electronic Artist
This electro-thrash SLC duo was blowing people's minds and moving their feet throughout 2015 with their impressive performances. Greg Bower and Josh Holyoak killed it at the Utah Pride Festival this year with a mix of old and new tunes, combined with their light and high-energy stage show. Top that off with a Zodiac Empire remix over the summer, and it was a pretty cool year for them. Now, here's hoping to a new release in 2016. (GS)
Runner-up: Nate Lowpass
Best Hip-Hop/Rap Artist
Grits Green, ReverbNation.com/GritsGreen
This Ogden-based quintet plays a stripped down hip-hop sound laced with funk. The band evokes the reminiscent sound of the Beastie Boys while simultaneously refreshing audiences with a so-old-it's-new hip-hop set performed on live instruments. Grits Green is composed of MC's Rhagenetix and Porta D., Greggy Shaw, Bobby Gilgert and Jonny Knoder. Their sound is a simple guitar, bass and drum foundation and foregrounds each member's conversational vocals. Notable tracks include "4 Chairs," a hip-hop rendition of musical chairs, and "Give it Away," which features a horn section that would make George Clinton proud. (WP)
Best Pop Artist
The Aces, @TheAcesOfficial
Probably one of the youngest acts to ever make a mark on the Utah music scene, the all-women pop/rock foursome now known as The Aces (formerly The Blue Aces) dominated Provo in style before some of the members had even graduated high school. They remain a high-profile live act and closed out 2015 with a performance on the BYU program Audio-Files. We can only hope the group is working on new material to dazzle us with in the coming year and keep Utah County hopping. (GS)
Best DJ-Open Format
Sneeky Long holds this year's mantle of Best DJ-Open Format, with his variant samples and genre breadth. Sneeky Long is known for his love of vinyl in an ever-evolving age of digital music, and treats audiences to all-vinyl sets as often as he can. Inclined to healthy doses of punk, reggae, funk and hip-hop, Sneeky Long has continuously honed his ear for mixes and his eye for audiences. Sneeky Long can be found in several Salt Lake City venues including Twist, Bar X and Tinwell. (WP)
Best Jazz Artist
Joe McQueen Quartet
Joe McQueen has been one of the few of the authentic old-time jazzmen to make his home in the Beehive State, living in Ogden for over 70 years. As a part of Utah as well as jazz history, it's no surprise that readers picked the jazz legend as Best Jazz Artist by a huge margin. The 96-year old has played with most of the greats—from Count Basie to Duke Ellington to Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker—and April 18 is Joe McQueen Day in the state, established in 2002 by then-Gov. Mike Leavitt. If he wouldn't know good jazz, who would? (BS)
Runner-up: Alan Michael Band
The State Room, TheStateRoom.com
The State Room's cozy atmosphere gives it a reputation among big and small names alike who see this unique space as Salt Lake's perfect spot to perform intimate, unforgettable shows. The sound quality is superb, and the repurposed church pew seating hints that the 300-person venue is the perfect place for a discerning crowd who might as well consider good live music as their religion. (KB)
Runner-up:The Urban Lounge
Which Local Band Should Get Back Together?
Band of Annuals
Originally, this category included a great list of potential reunions: Vile Blue Shades, Form of Rocket, The New Transit Direction and Band of Annuals. Although things get stabby when Vile's members get together, and Eli Morrison said a reunion is impossible/not gonna happen, we kept them on the ballot. 'Cause you never know, right? Well, the runaway winner here is Band of Annuals. It's no wonder: BoA's dusty, heartworn alt-country songs made them one of the most adored bands to ever grace SLC stages. When the band broke up, frontman/songwriter Jay William Henderson turned to audio engineering—in Nashville. Lured back into music in 2013, Henderson put out two acclaimed solo albums, showing the magic still resides within. So we wonder if he might be keen to get the band back together, even for one night. What do you say, Jay? (RH)
Runner-up: Vile Blue Shades
Best Album Cover/Poster Artist
Chris Bodily, HatRobot.com
Chris Bodily first came on the scene as a designer and artist represented by Hive Gallery in Layton, and got pegged to do murals for the Reddit HQ in Salt Lake City. His artwork is like a collision of the animals in the work of Leia Bell and the mad penstrokes of Ralph Steadman, but with more precision and control. He's done a lot of work for local bands, but the poster that got him the nod from readers was for BassMint Pros hip-hop collective—a Halloween-ish image that also conveys their infectious beats. (BS)
Runner-up: Sri Whipple
Best Friend of Local Music
Circus Brown, KRCL 90.9 FM's Not a Side Show
It's been a minute since Circus Brown has been recognized in our awards (2008 to be exact), but that doesn't mean he's been slacking off. In fact, Not a Side Show is the state's longest-running radio program to date that consistently highlights local music and features live performances from Utah-centric musicians. Chances are if you tune into his show at KRCL 90.9 FM every Friday from 8 to 10:30 p.m., you'll hear new local music from bands you never knew existed, and they just might become your new favorite. Do yourself a favor. Before you go out to see local music on Friday nights, make Circus Brown's Not a Side Show your opening act. (GS)
Runner-up: Corey O'Brien, X96's Live & Local
Best Local Producer
Mike Sasich not only twists the knobs on releases from local bands like Thunderfist, Night Sweats, The Weekenders, Joe McQueen, The Rubes, Starmy, SLAJO, Bronco, Laserfang, Folk Hogan, and last but not least, The Moths—but he also often lends a hand playing guitar on their recordings. He may not be the only musician in town who operates his own recording studio, but his joint is crammed with cool vintage gear, and Sasich arguably has the most discerning ear in town, for all genres of music. (BS)
Runner-up: Nate Pyfer
What Did We Forget?
Talia Keys, TaliaKeys.com
Each year, City Weekly endeavors to recognize the pinnacle of musical achievement in the local scene. Try though we may, however, we're gonna miss something. So we enlisted you, dear readers, to do what you were gonna do, anyway: Tell us where we effed it up.
Some of you said we forgot nothing, or pointed out that we forgot our sainted mothers—you sweetie pies! A few of you made the perennial complaint that the whole shebang is a mockery, travesty, shame or total BS. See ya next year! A surprising number of you said we forgot bands that were already nominated, even in multiple categories. One guy voted for himself—daily, and from the same IP address. A for effort, F for ethics, buddy. Others among you voted for bands that appeared to be a legitimate exclusion, such as Cult Leader, The Moth & The Flame, and Eagle Twin. Well, the nominating committee felt certain bands—including SubRosa, had achieved a level of success (record deal, world tours) that elevated them above the readers' poll. Yes, they're local, but now they also belong to the world. That doesn't mean we can't include some them in our Staff Picks (as we have done with some of 'em), because their achievements do merit recognition.
So which artist bubbled up to claim our Reader's Choice Award? Well, several bands, individuals and venues had great representation—and the ultimate winner is someone we did inexplicably overlook. So thank you, readers, for ensuring that singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Talia Keys got her well-deserved due. She works hard, books tons of gigs in and out of town, sings her ass off, plays most of the instruments on her album Fool's Gold and puts on an incendiary live show. She's also an avid human-rights activist, so bonus points for that. She's on her way to being huge.
Coming in a close second is Corey Fox and his Provo venue, Velour, finishing only nine votes behind Keys. Attribute this to Fox's tireless efforts to book, promote and manage local acts, while providing them, and their fans, with one of the best all-ages stages in the state. (RH) CW
Now that the readers have spoken, the infallible tastemakers at City Weekly have their say with their own Best of Utah Music picks.
Best Use of Flugelhorn
Matt Starling, Dorian Reeds (for Brass)
Matt Starling founded the experimental group Salt Lake Electric Ensemble in 2009, and the unit had already tackled minimalist composer Terry Riley's groundbreaking work, In C. In search of yet another challenge, Starling, a music teacher at East Hollywood High in West Valley City, took on Riley's Dorian Reeds, a project for his master's of music technology degree from online Indiana University-Purdue. Recording in Brazil and producing at home, Starling used flugelhorn and audio-editing software instead of the original saxophone and tape machines, and his loop-jazz interpretation is hypnotic, like teaching the horn a whole new language. (BS)
Best Music Ambassadors and Most Anticipated Album
With the likes of Eagle Twin, Cult Leader, Neon Trees and The Moth & The Flame making national and international waves, the Salt Lake City music scene has never been better represented. Then there's SubRosa. Easily one of the most creative bands to come out of Salt Lake City, they're touring the world, blowing minds along the way with their sludgy, violin-laced doom metal. It doesn't hurt that Rebecca Vernon, who fronts the band (and even once worked as City Weekly's copy editor), is one of the sweetest people ever. You can't ask for a better ambassador. While we're at it, let's give them a nod for Most Anticipated Local Album of 2016. Local musicians and fans alike are already chattering about the currently untitled project, which the band is tracking at drummer/uber-producer Andy Patterson's South Salt Lake studio. Vernon says SubRosa's latest dose of hot shit is due this summer—July, to be more specific. (RH)
Best Not-So-New Band
Cult Leader is, without question, one of the biggest bands Salt Lake City has seen in a long time. The band can boast three releases on hardcore label Deathwish Inc. over the past two years, and they've taken a series of short tours halfway around the world. It'd be nice for us locals if they got more airplay—but it's not like the band give a damn about what local radio thinks of them. Not when they can tour the globe serving their crusty punk metal to more and more new fans. (GS)
Best Dearly Missed Music Presence
Last December marked four years since we lost folk musician and artist Bob Moss. There will always be a Bob-shaped void in the local music scene. A true one-of-a-kind, Moss was as big-hearted as he was creative. He left behind a body of work that stands as some of the most original music and folk art in the world, and one wonders if Utah will ever see another artist like him. Later this year—perhaps by mid-spring—we'll see the release of Bob Moss Tribute, Vol. I, featuring Moss covers performed by a group of local musicians that includes Mike Kirkland, Bad Brad Wheeler, Eli Morrison, Joe Judd, Josh Dickson, Greg Midgely, Dave Payne, Aldine Strychnine, Charles Schneider and more. (RH)
Best Effort to Keep Rock
& Roll Evil
As self-described "rock noir," the latest project from Eli Morrison (The Wolfs, Pink Lightning, Red Bennies, Puri-Do, etc.) and company is nothing less than a five-song incantation, a veritable rock malediction, from the "I Put a Spell On You"—like opener, "I'm Catching Up on You" to the bluesy sexual apocalypse of closing track "Yours To Kill." To ratchet up the wickedness, the CD release shows at Diabolical Records, Albatross Records and The Urban Lounge included a performance of the entire EP backward. Besides, what other local CD came with a special "yelling sack" to exorcise your personal demons at home? (BS)
Best Non-Miss of A Beat
When The North Valley broke up at the end of 2014, Quiet Oaks sprouted quickly in their place. They've gigged prolifically ever since, adding to their already considerable fanbase. The hard-hitting, whiskey spilling sound of Quiet Oaks is carried by frontman, Dane Sandberg, who fills the stage with his relentless energy and wide vocal range. The nascent musical stylings of the group continue to evolve, but are always rooted in "just rock," as they put it. Quiet Oaks' five-song EP, Put Your Dreams Where They Belong captures the group's simple yet gripping songwriting and gives listeners just a taste of the band's energetic live show. (WP)
Best Blend of Music and Winter Sports
Joseph Ballent's Ski-tars
Joseph Ballent of Burn Atlas and The Electric Sugar Bombs worships at the altar of '90s alternative rock and grunge. He's also an avid skier, which led him to combine his passions into two mighty axes he calls "ski-tars." Starting with blocks of mahogany, Ballent cuts a truncated Flying V-style body and sets skis 1-1/2 to 2 inches into the back. He then bolts on Fender Stratocaster necks and installs a single P-90 pickup near the neck for a fat, crunchy tone. He doesn't use the ski-tars in the studio, so you'll have to catch one of the bands live to see and hear the instruments for yourself. But that's kinda the point. (RH)
Best Resident Adviser
Positively Fourth Street
After Russ Schmit retired as manager of Positively Fourth Street music rehearsal space after 25 years, it was unclear who would take it over. Well, who better to run a communal practice facility than a musician? Mike Kirkland, owner of Soundco Records, former CBGB doorman and bassist for major-label heavy metal band Prong, isn't just any local musician—or manager. He immediately made changes, like paving the parking lot and adding a mural on the back of the building (painted by his brother James) reflecting the rich history of the building and local music. (BS)
Best Electronic Bastion
Hel Audio, HelAudio.org
Since its founding more than five years ago, Karl Jørgensen has paved the way for electronic music to not just have a footing in the local musical spotlight but also a solid platform for it to reach the masses. With a combination of local and international talent, the label has given acts like Mooninite, Angel Magic, RS2090, OK Ikumi, Ben Best and more a place to shine with online releases and exclusive cassette copies for the true collector. The only things left for them to do is launch their own music festival and branch into the national eye. (GS)
Best Source of Cool and Strange Music
Swoody Records, SwoodyRecords.Bandcamp.com
Davin Abegg was already making oddball sounds with local awk-rock band Secret Abilities, but perhaps it wasn't enough. In 2014, the Laytonite started Swoody Records, which through the magic of the Internet has put together several compilations of Homemade Holidays music, his own band's Music To Break Up By (K Records), as well as the comp, Let's Get Awkward: The Sounds of Off-Step Sincerity, and a number of other offerings. It's a weirdo-rock wet dream, for those whose ears used to be glued to the radio for Dr. Demento as well as lovers of lo-fi comps like Nuggets. (BS)
Best Survival Tactic
Jazz Jaguars' Lounge Night at Twilite
Sometimes local musicians have to get creative in order to find gigs. Usually, that means playing with other bands, or giving in to necessary evil and playing in cover bands. For just over a year at Twilite Lounge, Dave Payne and Jazz Jaguars (essentially current and former members of Red Bennies) have cranked down the amps and played lounged-up versions of songs by the Bennies and related projects (Coyote Hoods, Glinting Gems, Tolchock Trio, Lord British) as well as cool cover tunes. Covering yourself—what a concept! (RH)
Fisch Loops and Applegreen
This split-release of fancy beats and noise that finds two electronic musicians' styles dovetailing sublimely. On his side, Fisch Loops (Daniel Fischer) delved into world music and exotic rhythms, while Applegreen (Chase Estes) worked in mellower, ambient sounds. In addition to the pairing of Fischer and Estes, Jabuticaba's actual packaging is rather neat. It's a cassette, with a fantastic insert featuring an aqua/purple design pattern (created by Estes) that is actually pretty simplistic—but also hypnotic, if you stare at it too long. Which nicely fits the lucid dreamworld of Jabuticaba. (GS)
Best Collision of Music
& Visual Art
Each month at Metro Bar, rapper Burnell Washburn curates a mix of local hip-hop music and live art by graffiti muralist crew, NVS FAM. Inside on Metro's ample stage, rappers like Erasole James and Washburn himself spit and flow, DJs drop beats, B-boys bust moves—and the blingy light fixtures quake from so much bass. Out on the club's east patio, graffiti writers Sin, Just, Maso, Royce, Helm and Kaos add the hiss and rattle of their Montana II spray paint cans to the hip-hop thump, creating vivid visuals to complement the music. (RH)
Most Rewarding Lo-Fi
Red Velvet Devil Worship
After an eight-year hiatus, the Salt Lake City singer/songwriter known as Kyrbir Is-p managed to deliver the most surprisingly engaging local lo-fi recording of the year. He didn't even listen to music for several years, but when he was ready to return, he made an emphatic statement, creating—with collaborators Eli Morrison, David Payne and Leena-Maija Rinne—songs built out of cassette tape experiments. "The album revisits growing up gay and goth in Utah County in the 1980s," he revealed, and its release on Halloween 2015, was a vehicle for confronting demons, yet conveying a quest for a kind of unquantifiable spirituality. (BS)
Best Punk Band Reuniting to Release a 7-Inch EP
If you only picked up one 7-inch EP by any local band last year, the one to get was Dead Bod's eponymous EP. The old-school punk band, composed of bassist Natasha Sebring, drummer Shaun Sparks, guitarist Terrence Warburton and singer Dustin Yearby, formed in 2011 and played a handful of riveting shows based around Yearby's highly aggressive/sarcastic stage persona in the best punk-rock tradition, until their breakup in 2013. These four songs, recorded in 2012, are the entire recorded oeuvre of the band, and tracks like "Life's Out" and "Like Wow" get their point across with sarcastic flair. (BS)
Most Overlooked Album
Revolt of the Potatobug
Into The Orchard
It took more than two decades for Jason Bringard to record new material, but it was certainly worth the wait. Going under the moniker Revolt of the Potatobug, this 11-track album is a masterwork of instrumental rock, experimental indie and orchestral alternative, all wrapped up with one giant bow. These tracks are some of the most heart-warming, soothing, energy-mixing songs to be created in Utah during 2015. Give a listen to the title track, or "It Was Late in the Evening" in the car as you drive and allow yourself to become immersed in the experience. (GS)
BayLee Parks and Jimmy Parks
In November, 17-year-old BayLee Parks, daughter of longtime local concert promoter, Jimmy Parks, decided to stop chemotherapy after a long battle with brain cancer. A gifted painter, BayLee spent her remaining days immersed in her art in the company of her loved ones. She passed away on Dec. 4, but her father, who kept a brave face throughout the seven-year ordeal, is already back booking gigs at Club X and Area 51. Both BayLee and Jimmy are a reminder of what matters in life, and why creatives do what they do—and continue to do it: because art and music have a way of pulling us up when we've been brought low. (RH)
There are those who create, those who influence and those who promote. Andrew Goldring is a trifecta of talent, an influential musician who has only blossomed since his days at Spy Hop, helping other bands take off while launching his own projects. Aside from his solo work, Goldring is the leading force behind the band Great Interstate, and a third of the conceptual alternative band Your Meteor. But his day job as the founding engineer and producer of Sound Cave Productions has him helping a new wave of talent to create and record music. (GS)
Granary Row Facebook.com/GranaryRow
The past few years have seen a renaissance of various Salt Lake City neighborhoods, both as residential areas but also as places where people gather to shop, eat and enjoy special events. Due to its industrial background, Granary Row might seem the most unlikely of such places, yet it has become an arts district. In 2013, the Granary Row pop-up street festival was started by nonprofit urban-design group Kentlands Initiative. After a hiatus in 2014, the festival returned in 2015, and it's on its way to becoming a local summer favorite. Honorable mention: Muse Music, for staging a memorable comeback in September 2015. (BS) CW
Editor's note: Another Night by Candy's River House was produced by Mike Sasich. An earlier version of this story indicated a different producer.