Local Music Spotlight April 2024 | Music | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Local Music Spotlight April 2024

Blood Star, Standards and Substandards, Raspberry Protocol, LOAFA and Mars Highway


  • J. Donovan Malley
  • Blood Star

It's never a bad time to refresh your music library. Stop listening to those same 10 songs on repeat, and add these great songs from locals to your library—and maybe throw them on a few of your favorite playlists while you're at it.

Blood Star, First Sighting: I have a soft spot in my heart for fist-pumping, righteous metal, even though the music itself isn't soft. That's doubly true if there's a badass lady at helm, as is the case with Blood Star. If you're into that classic heavy metal sound and you haven't heard Blood Star, you need to spend some time listening to them. Their debut album First Sighting is chock full of heavy, melodic tunes that hearken back to the glory days of '80s metal, but sounds so crisp and clean, making it a perfect modern metal masterpiece. The sounds are great, but there's also fantastical imagery present in the lyrics; á la Dio, Blood Star sings of fearless priestesses, ice queens, Charon coming for your soul, and some heartbreak for good measure. Of course, you can also expect ripping guitar solos and heavy chugging throughout. Listening to Blood Star is an experience in itself, so don't sleep on these guys if you need a metal fix.
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Standards and Substandards, Videos of Us in Handcuffs: There's nothing quite like sinking into a live album, especially when it's a fun and delightful band like Standards and Substandards. This jazz quartet knows how to bring the party—and if you're unable to see them live, Videos of Us in Handcuffs is the next best thing. It opens with their twist on a classic, "Creep" by Radiohead. This version is slower, more sultry and adds that classic jazz vibe and feel to it. Vocalist Caryn Crowley absolutely nails the more carnal parts of the song with ease and power. This song has been reimagined countless times, but this version is an essential listen if you're a fan of the original. Even if you're not big into jazz, you'll have a fun time diving into this version—clean, powerful and easy to listen to on repeat. As you continue through the EP, you'll find more incredible covers like "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 and "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. If you're looking to get more into jazz and want to hear some great reimaginings, Videos of Us in Handcuffs is the perfect collection for you.
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Raspberry Protocol, "Maybe Tomorrow": This new entrancing track from Raspberry Protocol is so fulfilling. That's not a typical way to describe a song, but "Maybe Tomorrow" is hard to describe, in the best way possible. Immediately upon pressing play, you're greeted with a wall of sound. The song doesn't have a build-up; you're tossed right into the action, and it's so great. The song is incredibly well-produced and just feels full, if that makes sense. You might need to hurry and listen to it to see what I mean. Acoustic and electric guitars meld together perfectly, and the soft vocals lull you into a sense of relaxation. As you get to the chorus, it builds a bit, offering a great chance to sing as loud as you can along with the track. It's also a perfect anthem for anyone who has struggled with mental health issues. Sometimes it's hard to remember that there's a tomorrow, but you're not alone, and "Maybe Tomorrow" highlights that.
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LOAFA, Identity Crisis: Alternative punk rockers LOAFA have been releasing singles that have led to their latest release Identity Crisis, which is a romp from beginning to end. If you're in need of something energetic and exciting, look no further—LOAFA knows how to bring it. Throughout the album you'll find catchy choruses, loud guitar and even moments where things slow down. It all comes to an end with the pretty bow that is "Overdriven." The album takes you on a delightful alt/punk journey that culminates nicely in this last song; "Overdriven" is perfect for when you need to shout at the top of your lungs, or you want to do it with your friends on a night out. Any song from Identity Crisis is worthy of your music library though, so check it out.
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Mars Highway, Fire Inside: There's nothing quite like settling in to listen to a great bluegrass album, especially if you're huddled around a campfire with family and friends. The string instruments and storytelling lyrics always pair beautifully with the outdoors. Soon, we'll be out of the "fake spring" cycle, and you'll have the chance to spend some time outside, so you'll want to be sure to bring Fire Inside with you. Mars Highway is a five-piece bluegrass group who know their way around a great song. This EP contains so much, but still leaves you wanting more, which makes it easy to listen to it a few times in one go. The songs are beautifully crafted, leaving you with a feeling of peace and calmness. You can hear each instrument clearly, but they all come together in perfect harmony. If you need to get lost and relax for a while, Fire Inside is just the ticket.
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