CWMA 2011: King Niko, Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel & The Lindsay Heath Orchestra | Music Awards | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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CWMA 2011: King Niko, Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel & The Lindsay Heath Orchestra

Highlights of 25 local bands, nine live showcases, three finalists and one winner: King Niko.



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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. The year 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. (Dan Nailen)

A band that was voted into the CWMA finals last year, Michael Gross & 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 continues to tour the West Coast and even takes on side projects in an effort to continually fill their lives with a variety of music. (Gavin Sheehan)

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 past year or so, Muscle Hawk has built up their fan base, and as a result, they’ve earned local recognition and played events like the Utah Arts Festival, becoming Salt Lake City’s go-to electronic group. (Julianna Clay)

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 yet to produce an album or demo, word of mouth and individual reputations have carried the techno-rock-driven ensemble to major underground gigs and house parties. Now, if only we could convince the group to sit down and record an official debut. (Gavin Sheehan)

Soothing, down-tempo, swirling electro meets rock to create something mind-blowing, celestial and otherworldly 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. (Jeanette D. Moses)

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 minutes or so, you realize you haven’t done anything but listen to the album in full. Frontman Drew Capener’s pleading vibrato, steady-strummed acoustic guitar and Western-style picking on rough gems like “Home” and “Short Road” make for a captivating first effort from a band on the rise. (Austen Diamond)

One of the happiest moments of the 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 in 2010, and it’s no accident they were in the running again in 2011. (Dan Nailen)

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-psychedelia in the vein of Brian 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. (Angela H. Brown)

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. (Dan Nailen)

This young quartet played the 2010 City Weekly Beer Festival, delivering a bluesy set that indicated a band steeped in some of blues-rock’s finest purveyors. At subsequent shows, 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. (Dan Nailen)

Shark Speed is the very definition of a word-of-mouth wonder. Started by two brothers with the help of a couple of 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 2011’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 definitely hold a stage with any of them. (Gavin Sheehan)

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 mustache-donning 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. 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 a member of SLUG Magazine’s marketing team) and saving her pennies to hit the road again. (Angela H. Brown)

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. Onstage, 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. (Jamie Gadette)%uFFFD

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