CWMA Band of the Year 2013 | Best of Utah Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

Music » Best of Utah Music

CWMA Band of the Year 2013

L'anarchiste & Utah's best bands



The phrase “dress for success” brings to mind power suits, not rock & roll panache. But imagine Elvis without blue suede shoes, Prince without a leotard or Freddie Mercury without a mustache.

For Salt Lake City-based sextet L’anarchiste, however, dressing for success means less flair and more professionalism: for instance, button-down collared shirts for their City Weekly Music Award performance at The State Room on April 27. The shift in style helped captivate the audience as they listened to the band’s brand of epic folktronica. “We dressed sharper than normal because we wanted to feel more professional, to have a more sophisticated image,” says bassist Alex Gilvarry.

An air of sophistication matches the aesthetic of L’anarchiste’s unique symphonic soundscapes, which draw upon a diverse assortment of instruments—from banjo to bass synths, from violin to kazoo, from trombone to hand claps. Any given song can go from quiet and thoughtful phrasings to a gigantic high tide of notes and emotion. This washing in and out makes sense when songwriter Rob LeCheminant talks about how he writes. “I visualize the motion of the music,” he says. “I love seeing the motion, and I try to capture that.” The “motion” is propelled by emotion—the core of LeCheminant’s songs.

L’anarchiste began as a basement-recording solo project of LeCheminant’s in 2011. The singer and multi-instrumentalist was once a university student in jazz composition with goals of penning symphonies, not indie-folk tunes. Things changed, but that deliberate, composed approach to writing remains.

“I’m more prone to being indulgent with songs now. Ones that are bigger, but can also get quieter, and with really interesting textures,” LeCheminant says.

A Sufjan Stevens concert in 2010 facilitated this ethos. “I realized I could write whatever I wanted to, because he had absolutely no fear of what people thought,” LeCheminant says.

LeCheminant recorded five songs for a self-titled EP, which was released Dec. 20, 2011. The album was a balance of concerted minimalism and took cues from various sources like Phillip Glass, Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire and Local Natives. Some songs are articulated over a seven-minute span—“Stony” and “Iron”—something not many bands would dare to do. Even with epically long, huge-sounding songs, L’anarchiste never loosens its grip on the listener as the working parts ebb and flow.

LeCheminant grew tired of the solo shtick, and L’anarchiste became a band around the time of the release, with its first show in February 2012.

Soon after L’anarchiste’s first show, the band was featured on and played a gig sponsored by the U.K.-based blog at South By Southwest. Choose My Music launched a record label in 2012, and L’anarchiste was one of two bands initially signed. In 2012, L’anarchiste was also featured on KUER’s RadioWest.

L’anarchiste will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund its first full-length album, to be recorded at June Audio in Provo with producer Nate Pyfer (The Moth & the Flame, Polytype, Mideau). The album is scheduled for a September release.

Giant, as the album is tentatively called, will certainly live up to its maximalistic name. For instance, one song, “For a Moment I Opened My Eyes,” is more than 10 minutes long and is composed of 79 tracks—layered percussion, reversed sounds, glockenspiel, synth pads, etc.

The album owes something to classical music, the themes and variations of one recurring melody popping up in most songs. Each track stands alone, yet “talks” to the others. The instrumentation is robust, and there’s a mojo in the production that will warrant repeated exploration. L’anarchiste’s Giant is fresh in its charm and attention to detail, and exciting in its depth and complexity. It’s something that we can feel.

“More than anything,” LeCheminant says, “I want the music to have a visceral energy.” 

L’anarchiste: Grant Miller (trombone, trumpet, melodica), Erich Newey (keys, vox), Rob LeCheminant (vox, banjo, guitar, trumpet, percussion), Alex Gilvarry (bass, keys, vox), Morgan Broadway (violin, keys, vox) and Jacob Hall (drums, synths).

Next page: 21 more CWMA bands

The City Weekly Music Awards have gone through many name changes—Showdown to South by Southwest became the SLAMMYs, which became the CWMAs—but the core mission has stayed the same: shining a light on the talented bands and musicians who call Utah home.

This year, we were excited to introduce a robust variety of genres and more new bands to the awards showcases than we have had in previous years. These 22 bands played across Salt Lake City and Provo at seven showcases from April 17 through April 27.

Our goal with the CWMAs is to expose City Weekly readers to a number of new bands and venues where they can revel in the live-concert experience. Many of these shows featured seemingly strange pairings, but, in the end, made for eclectic, memorable and engaging concerts filled with surprises during each set. The overall turnout for the 2013 showcases was excellent, so, thank you, fans and music lovers.

While the CWMAs are not a battle-of-the-bands competition, there is a winning band at the end of the two-week jamboree, chosen by a combination of online voting and in-person votes, the latter weighted significantly more. We’re excited to announce that L’anarchiste is this year’s Band of the Year, joining the ranks of previous winners Neon Trees, King Niko, Spell Talk and Max Pain & the Groovies and earning bragging rights for life and a cash prize to boot.

These ambient indie-rockers and the other 21 bands and 10 DJs we showcased should give you plenty of reasons to go see live local music throughout the year. Read in these pages what we liked about each performing artist or group. —Austen Diamond

Contributors: Benjamin Bombard, Niki Chan, Dom Darling, Austen Diamond, Andrew Fillmore, Nick Morgan, Meredith Newsome, Gavin Sheehan, Jordan Wallis, Colin Wolf

The 801 Agent
Concise Kilgore

Concise Kilgore has reaped more success in the rap industry than anyone currently residing in the 801. Kilgore started his career as a tour hype man for rapper Rasco (of Cali Agents). In November 2012, he dropped his second LP, Kobain (Soulspazm), with heavy support from local producer DJ Briskoner. It’s a gigantic effort loaded with a laundry list of rap’s biggest names—Evidence and DJ Babu (Dilated Peoples), Fashawn, Brand Nubian and Action Bronson—and has earned him national renown. (Colin Wolf)

Orgy for the Eyes
Juana Ghani

When 11-member Juana Ghani formed nearly three years ago, they didn’t intend to become an “underground gypsy cabaret,” but the description emerged organically from the eclectic cast, whose artistry cannot be expressed via music alone. A Juana Ghani concert—and they are a live band first and foremost—includes belly dancers, a magician and pole dancers accompanying the band’s signature poppy-polka and gypsy-rock sounds. Shall We Live Forever, the band’s 2012 debut, offers semi-nightmarish themes of violence, revenge, desire and struggle. To add context to the lyrics, band member Brian Bonell released a novella titled Kasojeni Bay. Juana Ghani’s creativity knows no bounds. (Austen Diamond)

Hard-Working Hippies

Marinade’s memorable live presence, with frontwoman Talia Keys passionately playing drums center stage, has kept the band on people’s minds. The five musicians gig a lot, at venues ranging from the Hog Wallow Pub to Desert Rocks Music Festival, and have become hometown hippie heroes—one of the few bands that makes a living with music alone. With the release of Marinade’s first professional album, Soak Your Meat in This, the band’s reggae-infused blues are finally available beyond the bar. (Jordan Wallis)

Hot Heat
Golden Sun

Andrew Goldring’s amazing guitar skills have been widely known for years, but when he matched them up with a trio of brothers to form this alt-indie powerhouse, success was almost a guarantee. Golden Sun’s self-titled 2012 EP paired Goldring’s vocals with the kind of truly synchronized rhythms and melodies you can only find in a band of brothers—Jantzen, Weston and Chase Meier. They may not be able to play 21-and-over bars yet, but they’re consistently selling out the all-ages venues. (Gavin Sheehan)

Yung Philospher

The spearhead of the Make Mind Collective, emcee DopeThought, hailing from Rose Park, is also one of Utah’s most promising up-and-comers. His style is a well-balanced blend of effortless battle rap and engaging storytelling. In January 2013, Dope released his debut LP, We Our Environment (Heaven Noise Recordings), produced by Jackson “Worth” Savage. The 17-track album is a collection of smart, socially conscious lyrics paired with Worth’s squeaky-clean, jazzy samples. (CW)

Te nacious Twang
The Bully

One of the major themes in the local scene this past year has been stalwart local musicians branching out into new terrain. With The Bully, Jake Fish (bassist for The Devil Whale) picked up a six-string to pluck out gritty alt-country gems. Backed by Jamie Timm, Brent Dreiling and a slew of SLC mainstay musicians, the live sets have been evolving from a hodgepodge of covers and originals to a more confident, unabashed expression of this new band and its frontman. (AD)

The Siren of Sultry
Lady Murasaki

This SLC jazz-rock band turns heads—and not just because of its gorgeous, 6-foot-tall frontwoman, Amber Taniuchi, either; Lady Murasaki’s infectious melodies and catchy beats compel booties to shake on dance floors. Four of the band’s songs made their way onto a self-titled debut EP that brings to mind a surfier Nat King Cole, Adele, Norah Jones and Ella Fitzgerald. Lineup changes gave the sound a bit more crunch and college-radio feel. Taniuchi’s silky, bass-y vocals play over the swinging bass riffs and rhythms for a set of rock songs that relate an unrelenting pining for love. (GS)

Folk Hogan

How long does it take for whiskey to boil in hell? Only Folk Hogan knows. Well, they at least love the chest-pounding power of the brown drink, the spookiness of the macabre and are wont to sing, “We are gods/ In a band of mighty souls.” Their debut album, Band of Mighty Souls, offers up 12 tracks that pay homage to punk, gypsy rock and the fervency of newgrass in a Royal Rumble of notes, melody and rhythm. This five-piece is a raucous thing to behold, whether they’re busking on the streets or playing into the wee hours at a bar. (AD)

Doo-Wop Darlings
Bullets & Belles

The overall aesthetic of this minimalist three-piece is something like Billie Holiday meets doo-wop, Bing Crosby minus a swinging horn section, or classic pop meets indie contemporary songwriting. Bullets & Belles label themselves as “contemporary doo-wop” and “whimsical soul.” And when the two female voices come together in a scratchy harmony on top of piano, acoustic guitar and drums—like on the band’s brand-new 2013 LP, Be Glad—you might pull out a hankie and swoon. (AD)

Wolffalo Howls
Color Animal

After recording solo as The Platte, singer-songwriter Andrew Shaw’s dreams of rocking out again have come true with the help of Nick Neihart (guitar on album), Seth Howe (guitar in concert), Tyler Ford (drums) and Felicia Baca (bass, backup vocals). Color Animal started gigging in May 2012 and has now released a solid set of seven garage-rock tunes with Vision Lies, an album about “truth.” It’s not heavy, per se, rather a fun, no-frills album with an addictive, catchy, aggressive, poppy aesthetic at the core (think The Thermals, Surfer Blood or Ty Segall). Although the band’s logo is a wolffalo, its symbol could just as easily be an earworm. Truth! (AD)

Cryptic Reverb
Spirit Master

Spirit Master creates the perfect rock concoction that’s equal parts experimental music weirdo-ness, cryptic pseudo-religious imagery and shit-eatin’-grin persistence. Hear the four-piece’s experimentations on killer songs like “Kelly Clarkson,” which has nothing to do with the pop star, or “The Architect,” which teeters between metal and prog rock. The symbols and trippy imagery, like The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne’s face—a close-up from Christmas on Marson the back of the band’s recent EP are enigmatic, to say the least. And, finally, aside from steady club gigs, the band’s perseverance landed it an opening spot for The Flaming Lips in late 2011—a notable achievement no other local band can boast. (AD)

The Renaissance Man
Burnell Washburn

Arguably the hardest-working rapper in Salt Lake City, Burnell Washburn is the definition of an all-around hustling emcee. As co-owner of Wasatch Renaissance—a Sandy-based record label and collective for local musicians and artists—and promoter of the monthly Hip-Hop Roots shows, Washburn has been a major advocate for fostering SLC’s burgeoning hip-hop scene. Over the past year, Washburn has toured heavily alongside legendary Rhymesayers emcee Abstract Rude in support of his April 2012 EP, An Apple a Day. (CW)

Broody Baritones
Night Sweats

Though Night Sweats’ six members have been making this band’s brand of broody indie-dance music for only two years, they have been making music in various other Salt Lake City bands for more than 10 years. That cohesion shows in their effortless musical explorations that all, somehow, turn into gold—or Red, like the title of the band’s first EP, released this year. There’s a clever balance between catchy riffs, sweaty synths, ambient soundscapes and smooth baritone vocals that’s at once hip, exploratory, atmospheric and loose. (AD)

Nerd Power
Secret Abilities

Foodies looking to soundtrack a cocktail party should ignore Secret Abilities. If the band’s sound were edible, this would be the recipe: 2 bowls hot-dog-flecked mac & cheese, 1 handful candy corn and 1 cup Kool-Aid. The nerdy, fuzzed-out, goofball pop punk on Secret Abilities’ newest record conjures walking corpses and sci-fi monsters, and owes as much to the Modern Lovers as to the Groovie Ghoulies. Just check out lead singer Davin Abegg’s silver-sparkle and sunburst-yellow guitar: This is music for good, silly times. (Benjamin Bombard)

Big Kids
Hang Time

With his new venture, Hang Time, scenester and local music stalwart Will Sartain—along with Andrew Sato, longtime Future of the Ghost bandmate Cathy Foy and TJ Fitzgerald and Yoko Ono (the band’s fog machine and “chief decision maker”)—has gone from somber modern rock to bouncy house music for big kids. The power-pop tunes, replete with stardust synths, should jumpstart even the most morose hipster. The band’s self-titled debut has earned some national attention: It climbed to No. 56 on the CMJ Top 200 chart. Not too shabby. (BB)

Dynamilcaly Dense Duo
Eagle Twin

There are rock bands and there are sludgy bands, and then there are those bands that are just plain dense—in tone, in content and also in the members’ many skills. Eagle Twin shreds a mighty riff, which bursts forth from fully stacked amps, alongside the heady content that guitarist Gentry Densley sings—myth-based ideas about life cycles and such, aided by the pulsing, pounding rhythms of Tyler Smith. The duo dropped The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale in 2012 and even toured internationally, providing support for Russian Circles in Australia and New Zealand. (AD)

Dream Weavers
Book on Tape Worm

We’ve labeled Provo-based Book on Tape Worm’s music as “slumber-pop” previously, which is fitting for several reasons: A pillowcase (with lyrics to the end-of-the-world ballad “Defcon 5”) is a main merch item. The band headlined the sold-out Slumber Party show at Velour. The instrumentation is lush—beyond guitar, it draws upon piano, cello, upright bass, vibraphone, glockenspiel and assorted percussion, and the tempo of the songs is generally mellow. And the band’s debut was presented in the best possible physical album: a pop-up book. (AD)

Next Big Thing

This year’s best local release might be Provo buzz-band Polytype’s Basic//Complex. But unless you purchased it at the stellar release show at Velour on Feb. 1, you’ll have to wait for the contemporary electronic-indie (think The xx or Toro Y Moi) to drop nationally this summer—Polytype is holding out for a big push. And there’s good reason to think national ears will turn in the band’s direction: Album opener “Cyclone” is a near-perfect indie composition, “Needs” is soothing and emotive and “Devil’s Out” might be the song that lands Polytype on indie blogs nationwide—all three songs showcase the four-piece’s deliberately ambiguous lyrics and fresh approach to songwriting that’s novel, new and homespun. (AD)

Journey to the East

Nobody else in Utah plays music that sounds anything like Matteo’s, and that probably holds true for the other 49 states, too. Matteo’s melding of Chinese and American folk music won’t juice you up for a debaucherous Friday night, but the band’s sumptuous melodies and Eric Chipman’s inspired lyrics will whisk you to faraway lands. Matteo released a new album in late 2012, The Sichuan Project, recorded during the band members’ artists-in-residency period at Sichuan University in China months prior. (BB)

Bells & Whistles

Fans of local singer-songwriter Libbie Linton and Spencer Harrison (former Fictionist member) might be surprised by the experimental electronic folk the duo has created with this freshly formed band, Mideau (pronounced “mid-oh”). Linton’s lilting voice moves from bluesy to Disney princess in the band’s fresh, warm debut, to be released in August. All the bells and whistles—literally—that they could find with producer Nate Pyfer at June Audio can be heard on this uncompromising effort, funded by a $10,000 Kickstarter campaign. (AD)

Freestyle Champ
Emerson Kennedy

Emerson Kennedy’s style of rap, heard on his first polished collection of tunes, Denim, released in April, can only be classified as experimental hip-hop—think Theophilus London, Sting and, hell, maybe even Kavinsky. But even though the 29-year-old musician, producer and rapper’s music blends everything from indie-rock to rap, and he typically performs with a live band, Kennedy is a freestyle rapper at heart—an accomplished one, at that. Currently, he’s undefeated in battle-rap competitions like AHAT and Mic Masters. (CW)