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 Moth & the Flame

Paying dues at open-mic nights apparently pays off in Provo. At least, it did for this 2011 buzz band. The core of the group, Brandon Robbins and Mark Garbett, began their foray into indie hipsterdom by playing loose tunes to who knows who on Tuesday nights at Velour. Producer (and now band member) Nate Pyfer saw gold, though. The three then churned out ambient-rich, lush tunes on the self-titled debut—nine songs that oscillate from dark and brooding to synthy, Radiohead-esque gems. And with that, they sold out two CD release shows at Velour in November. How’s that for a success story?

Night Sweats

Early in 2011, local concert-goers were introduced to Night Sweats. The band’s dark and detached, yet very musical, compositions represent an avenue of rock music that would otherwise go unrepresented in Salt Lake City. The group’s arrangements are a dense mix of intense synth keyboards, epic guitar, brooding vocals and drums reminiscent of The Faint’s early work. In 2012, fans can look forward to the release of their forthcoming full-length LP, which is currently in its final stages of production.

No-Nation Orchestra

To see the dozen or so members of No-Nation Orchestra onstage is a sight to behold, one that is completely enthralling beyond just the sheer number of musicians. The Stephen Chai-led outfit has an interesting synergy of the Talking Heads without the weirdness, Fela Kuti with an absolute hipster vibe and Prince minus the leotards. The debut EP, More More More, that Chai released in 2011 is a short-and-sweet canvas that’s painted with various musical brushes, but all the colors pop, just like the syncopated percussion in these indie/afrobeat gems. But with only five songs, it left us wanting more, more, more.

It may have taken pioneering Utah hip-hop group the Numbs four years between albums, but that just meant they had plenty to say with their 2011 release, Soulburn. It’s an inspired collection of the group’s playful wordplay, delivered courtesy of Mark Dago, Rooster and Gunnar McKell. With DJ Shanty back on board, and a major assist from collaborator/beatmaster Linus Stubbs, as well, Numbs brought old-school funk and soul samples to the fore on songs like “Situations Critical” and “The Great Escape.” If the results are always this good, Numbs can feel free to take four years every time they want to make a new album, as long as they keep delivering frantic live shows in between.

Palace of Buddies

The instrumental rock duo of Nick Foster and Tim Myers has ruled the venues this year as the ultimate go-to band for a guaranteed audience. And they capped off the year with their long-awaited second full-length album, Summertime. Their performances have grown from a simplistic two-man set to a vibrant display as both men switch out instruments to give you your money’s worth every

The Poorwills
The Poorwills are a band born of the CWMAs—not because of it, but for it. Singer-songwriter Glade Sowards invited a cast of friends/musicians to join him at The Woodshed to play the 2010 City Weekly Music Awards showcase, and it went swimmingly. Taking cues from the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Beach Boys, The Poorwills released their debut, Drinks on the Wing, in May 2011. It’s a rock-meets-barbershop sound that swings with twangy riffs, gentle acoustic strumming and simple beats, but what is most stunning are the four-part harmonies—veritable come-to-Jesus moments.

Ryan Tanner
You might know the mild-mannered troubadour as part of The Lower Lights or Paul Jacobsen & the Madison Arm, but in 2011, Ryan Tanner’s solo songwriting took him in exciting new directions. He won the grand prize in American Songwriter magazine’s nationwide lyric contest in its November/December 2010 issue, which earned him a trip to Nashville in 2011 for a chance to write and record with one of his roots-music heroes, Jim Lauderdale. Later, he released an excellent solo EP, Seven Years, and followed that with a showcase at the Americana Music Association’s annual convention. With songs that soar and sear, Tanner is a true local treasure.

The Suicycles
One of the most dominant bands of 2011, the Suicycles had three releases, two videos, an appearance at almost every major festival and a quick following that trumped frontman Camden Chamberlain’s previous band. It didn’t hurt that part of the success of the electro-rock quintet can be chalked up to making themselves high-profile in the public eye by creating their own radio show and cultivating a commanding presence online. All that’s left to do is tour.

The Trappers

The Trappers are nothing if not distinct—be it the different onstage personas of the five members or the rootsy brand of alt-country they play. Their sound is brought to life with rolling drums and the heartwarming twang of Fender Telecasters. Their self-titled 2010 release is still a golden-hued gem on a bleak winter day, and it goes down oh so nicely with a smooth bourbon. These boys can be seen often playing out with their “sibling” band The Folka Dots, and together the two make a mighty fine cocktail.

The first time the Young Yet Brilliant Sleuths lived up to their name was when they put out a teaser four-song EP. It was just enough to show off the honest, insightful lyrics of Tres Wilson, while giving a nice glimpse at some fresh, melodic and delightful indie rock. But the brilliance came in what they left off; the debut effort was not a disjointed effort just to have a bigger album for sale. Now, the barely legal foursome have been busy in the studio to investigate their sound and ascertain a cohesive collection that will drop sometime later this year. Brilliant!