- Jace Manning
The results are in. Local bands who vied for recognition in the City Weekly Music Awards competition have played their guts out.
The 2010 CWMA showcases started with 30 acts nominated by a committee of Utah music movers/shakers/tastemakers. Their nominees yielded some amazing displays of sonic glory before three bands claimed the title of “creme de la creme” — selected by readers, who voted on old-fashioned paper at the clubs, by text message and online.
This year’s top vote-getters are, in order, Paul Jacobsen & Madison Arm, Michael Gross & The Statuettes, and Bird Eater and The Naked Eyes (who tied for third). Don´t miss the Feb. 20 closing party featuring headliner The Helio Sequence and the finalists (except Michael Gross, who are unable to play), where you can cast your vote for the No. 1 CWMA performer.
In addition to showcase winners voted on by readers (highlighted in the Feb. 11 issue), the CW staff has selected its own picks of people, places and things that make the local music scene complete. We wrote about them on the following pages. (Let us know yours at by commenting below)
Contributors: Jamie Gadette, Trevor Hale, Randy Harward, Jon Paxton, Gavin Sheehan, Brian Staker and Jacob Stringer.
PSYCH WITH SOUL
Who would have guessed a psychedelic-rock quintet out of Ogden would become one of Utah’s best acts in 2009? Fox Van Cleef’s debut EP, Cigarettes, Terrorism, Etc., blew up on radio with the single “Lies,” winning over fans and critics alike. Of course, it didn’t hurt that they gave away the material for free. They’re definitely in this business to entertain rather than simply cash in. How refreshing! (Gavin Sheehan)
IT TAKES FIVER TO TANGO
For the past year or so, Quinteto Noir—“Not always a quintet, not always dark, always something surprising”—has been serenading gallery strollers at the Michael Berry Gallery. Founded as a collective to provide live music for the Wasatch Tango Club, Quinteto Noir has morphed into something far more dynamic. Consisting primarily of five musicians—Anne DeLong, Beatrice Upenicks, Sandy Meeks, Tom Goodwin and leader Brian Salisbury—the group uses Gallery Stroll nights for open-ended experimentation, always with a pure, raw intensity that will keep you yearning for the next third Friday. Michael Berry Gallery, 163 E. Broadway, 801-521-0243 (Jacob Stringer)
SET THE BAR & CLEAR IT
North Platte Records often comes up in relation to its roster’s biggest name, Joshua James, whose recent achievements include several dates opening for Ben Harper. James started the label with co-owner McKay Stevens, who released material by his band, The Vibrant Sound, on North Platte to rave reviews, as well as James’ highly anticipated follow-up Build Me This, which got national indie attention. With Desert Noises’ heavy U.S. touring and Issac “RuRu” Russell signing to Capitol, North Platte’s achievements mark the first time in a long time a Utah label has made such a swift, mainstream impact. (Gavin Sheehan)
By day, Andrew Shaw serves as assistant manager of community affairs for Salt Lake City´s Main Library. By night—OK, weekend days, too—he’s an active local musician, playing in Calico and performing solo as The Platte. It makes sense that he’d merge his two interests with Music @ Main, a free concert series at the library that champions musical intimacy—Salt Lake City’s own version of “MTV Unplugged.” Every third Wednesday of the month, musicians sit down to discuss their works and perform an acoustic set for an open audience, giving fans an opportunity to see another side of their favorite local artists. (Gavin Sheehan)
A haven for music in one of the most unlikely spots, Farmington’s Collective Loft is a must-visit venue for bands up north. While maintaining its focus as an open gallery for local artists, the talented individuals who run the space have opened it up to acoustic performances and impromptu gatherings, as well as made it home to two clothing lines—not too shabby for an upstairs room in the heart of Lagoon territory. (Gavin Sheehan)
After years spent playing in and touring with numerous Salt Lake City hardcore bands, including Day Two and Gaza, Matt Nanes branched out on his own with Swans of Never. He enlisted the help of fellow musicians to make his self-titled EP sound fuller, but the emphasis remains on his solo performance. Expect an acoustic follow-up with major heart to hit streets later this year. Nanes is just hitting his stride. MySpace.com/SwansofNever (Trevor Hale)
THE NORTHERN SHIFT
With DIY venues in Salt Lake City becoming few and far between, someone was bound to pick up the slack eventually. Jason Allen jumped at the chance and launched The Basement, an allages spot in downtown Ogden. Hosting shows of all kinds, from metal to indie to straight up rock, The Basement has become the place for DIY touring bands to continue charging DIY prices. It’s also the perfect place for locals to cut their teeth en route to the big time. It has the potential to be this generation’s Kilby Court of the north. TheBasementMusic.com (Trevor Hale)
ROTTEN IS AS ROTTEN DUZ
Rotten Musicians had a banner year in 2009, with a phenomenal sophomore album, Say You Love Her (MySpace.com/RottenMusicians) and a killer video for “ 20 Broadsword” that led to a soundtrack inclusion in a LARP (live action roleplaying game) documentary. They also composed the Wasatch Roller Derby theme song, all while showing endless hustle and creativity in their respective other projects, ensuring we’ll enjoy a bounteous hip-hop feast in 2010. On the menu so far are two EPs available on one vinyl LP from Numbs, and a solo joint from Mark Dago featuring fellow Rotten member Fisch. (Randy Harward)
2009 WINNERS NEON TREES
BISHOPS OF CHAOS
It’s not as though Utah lacks black metal the same way we lack Dunkin’ Donuts franchises. This blasphemous, portentous, tri-tonal music has lurked on our dark yet smooth underbelly for years. Its most visible presence was Ibex Throne, which achieved a modicum of notice between 1997 and 2007 before splintering into different groups. One more recent standout is Yaotl Mictlan, a band that incorporates Aztec mythology and traditional instrumentation into their tunes and add a righteous anger at the theft of their homeland, Aztlán, to their beef with Jesus. They just signed to Candlelight Records (Opeth, Zyklon, Gorgoroth). Another offshoot, Gravecode Nebula, explores the deeper caverns of black doom metal by applying the slow sludge of doom to the same Christianbaiting themes. And don’t forget The Pagan Dead’s psychobilly variation. So maybe we don’t have a full-on, death-masked group of churchburners here in SLC, but there’s a burgeoning, surprisingly diverse scene. Now all we need is a Mormon black-metal band to go with the so-called Christian ones. Deseret Atrophy, anyone? Hell Cumorah? Morinicus? Orson Scat Carved? (Randy Harward)
YOU CAN`T SAY THAT ON TELEVISION
Ya gotta wonder why SLC sometimes gets overlooked by touring bands. Did our strange liquor laws keep them at bay? Turns out it isn´t always because of our conservative repute—mainly, it concerns logistics. Bands generally trace the borders and coasts of the country, ducking into Denver or flying up to Phoenix when it makes sense. Utah is a nearly eight-hour detour from the Mile High City—which could entail skipping the verdant Pacific Northwest markets. At the time, local concert promotion consisted of a few big dogs, individual club bookers, and the efforts of upstart independents. Those indie guys, along with some new blood— Will Sartain, Ginger Kid, The Kollective, Postfontaine, etc.—have stepped up, bringing more and better shows to town while giving local bands a leg up with opening slots. Keep it up, y’all. (Randy Harward)