City Weekly Music Awards | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Cover Story

City Weekly Music Awards

CWMA 2012 winners & more



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The 321s
Formed in March 2011, the female-fronted 321s play sugary-sweet retro pop music reminiscent of groups from the ’50s and ’60s. The songs are written about falling in love, looking for love or losing love, but even the saddest, most heartbroken tracks shimmer sweetly with Kris Fenn’s soulful voice and the infectious melodies inherent to the pop genre. The 321s are lighthearted, fun and provide something new in Salt Lake City’s music scene.

2011 was a big year for Salt Lake City’s country-fried, whiskey-soaked Bronco. It started with the winter release of their excellent second full-length, Painting Pictures of a Perfect Life, and ended with a fall tour of the Pacific Northwest, the band’s first such excursion, which included eight shows and 2,500 miles traveled. Painting Pictures was a huge leap forward from the rock-solid Constant Everything of 2007, with singer/songwriter Tyler Anderson delivering character sketches on songs like “Bishop’s Daughter” and “Brother’s Keeper” that sink into your soul and stay there.

Burnell Washburn

Washburn accomplished something special during his rise through the hip-hop scene in 2011. He released a full-length album, Food of Love; gained a major following among local audiences; and earned the respect of his peers, all before he was even old enough to play most of the venues in the state. Washburn turned 21 this past August, but he still managed to do more than some veteran MCs have done in five years, proving that talent and respect have no age limit.

The Chickens

When thinking about a funk band called The Chickens, it’s hard not to reminisce about Rufus Thomas’ 1970 Stax hit “Do the Funky Chicken.” But this brand-new septet, consisting of a mishmash of some of the finest local musicians, is anything but a silly dance. Maybe the classic funk album The Meters’ Struttin’ is more appropriate, although The Chickens also meld acid jazz and afrobeat into their cosmopolitan, if not worldly, sound, which is a well-received fresh egg in the local music scene.

David Williams

David Williams won some national kudos this year by having a video of his song “Sunday Morning” featured as the Jan. 4, 2012, video of the day on the indie-music-focused Website More notably, the tour to and from the festival is the focus of a documentary film, Intro, nominated for Best International Documentary in the Torino Film Festival. And while he’s currently busy creating the score to that documentary, it’s not his first venture into that creative department: He scored The Parade, which debuted at the Salt Lake City Film Festival in August 2011.

Dusk One

While Mindstate have been sitting in hiatus, Dusk One took the opportunity to further his solo career and make a bigger name for himself in the hip-hop scene. In early 2011, Dusk teamed up with the masterful producer Fisch Loops to release The Brady Effect EP, which sampled music and lines from the classic ’70s sitcom. But Dusk’s biggest contribution this year, if you ask around the scene, was supporting upcoming talent looking to break out.


Provo band Fictionist’s year was obviously highlighted by the group’s run to the final four in Rolling Stone’s contest to put a worthy unsigned band on its cover for the first time ever. Lost in the excitement and hoopla was Fictionist’s growth as a performing entity. Their sound—always tricky to stick with a simple label—continued to defy easy categorization. Sometimes it’s prog-rock, sometimes it’s delicate pop, and there’s more than a little classic-rock, jam-band vibe in there, too. Lead singer Stuart Maxfield’s confidence as a frontman also seemed to grow by leaps and bounds along the way. In the end, Fictionist didn’t end up the first unsigned band on the cover of Rolling Stone. They ended up signed to major label Atlantic Records.

The Folka Dots

The tender harmonies of the Folka Dots are fluffier than Appalachian biscuits on a Sunday morn, and the acoustic grooves are more sumptuous than a plate of bacon. The five-piece band draws upon unamplified stringed instruments and takes musical cues from the South, but their music is less humid and has a decidedly Western tinge. It’s a barefoot-in-the-grass sentimentality that lends itself perfectly to playing the many farmers markets across the valley during warmer months. There, they’ve cut their chops and have cooked up some delectable new tunes, which they are baking in the studio early 2012.

Holy Water Buffalo

At the very end of 2010, Heber City band Holy Water Buffalo released an incredibly assured self-titled debut album. While the guitar-oriented, classic-rock vibe wasn’t a surprise to anyone who had seen the young quartet play live, the set introduced the band to a bigger audience thanks to the likes of KRCL offering ample local airplay. A year later, and Holy Water Buffalo is arguably an even more potent force, having played virtually every venue in the state and expanding their attack to clubs outside of Utah. If you can find a harder working band in the state, let us know.

Grey Fiction

Salt Lake City’s alternative, experimental rockers Grey Fiction were recently crowned the victors of Velour’s semi-annual Battle of the Bands in mid-December. Since, the band of three brothers has been busy playing shows up and down the valley, and already has a slew of upcoming tour dates across the country planned for this year—including some in February, in which they drove back to Utah on their day off to play the CWMA showcase. The band members’ sheer talent, exceptional songwriting and incredible stage presence are backed by unforgettable, often wailing vocals—along with a little light show and some heavy fog—to create a Grey Fiction show that can only be described as epic.

Isaac Russell

Columbia Records signee Isaac Russell knows where it’s at: The troubadour just moved back to Provo from Los Angeles because the Wasatch Mountains and the Provo scene make for more fertile songwriting environs. The 20-year-old shows prowess beyond his years as he conjures up tunes in the vein of Elliot Smith and Ryan Adams, but with the fractured folk bent of his hometown. Now nestled home, he can focus on the follow-up to his 2010 self-titled debut EP on Columbia, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store.


Grab your glitter and some face paint because Laserfang has reunited! These Salt Lake City favorites broke up last winter after releasing their debut album, Mammoth, due to lead singer Shane Asbridge’s move to Rapid City, S.D. Asbridge returned to Salt Lake City in October to play a Halloween bash at The Urban Lounge, and the show proved that Laserfang’s music still matches the enormity of the album title. Their epic electro-infused apocalypse-style dance rock inspires excessive booty shaking.

The Mighty Sequoyah

Provo folk rockers The Mighty Sequoyah—who get their name from the Cherokee Indian who invented the Cherokee alphabet—released both their debut album, Relative, and a Christmas album in 2011, and the band is already gearing up to record their follow-up album this year. Frontman Caleb Darger sings with the spirit of folk legends like Bob Dylan on issues of faith, tolerance and love, backed by the rest of his band as they create some of the most beautiful harmonies around.