- Scooter Cooper
King Ronin Releases It's Whatever
It's Whatever, released Nov. 30, is quite the apathetic title for an EP that opens by yanking the listener into a fast-flowing cascade of anxieties, worries and the general nag on one's mind that comes when you care deeply for those around you. At least that seems to be what King Ronin Da Scholar is fixating on in the opening track "Intro," where he raps about the mutual frustrations of trying to get control of his own life while helping out his people, too. And while this track flows without much in the way of Ronin's never-wavering rhymes, in the next track, "M.A.N.I.A," a more chaotic side leaps out as he expresses something of the overconfident zeal that is a signature of actually suffering from—or rather riding the high of—mania. But the important thing is that in the song, Ronin uses it as an inspiration to spit his bars with an impressive viciousness. When gasping about the come-down, his squeaking wheezes suggest that maybe he never will, that maybe up high is where he belongs. And in "I Need It," he references a different kind of high—the soft buzz of validation—referencing again the effect those around him have on his own comfort. He places those elements on par with his own need to rap, which he swears "only me and God know how this is more than rap to me." "Got 'Em" is the blown-out banger of the EP, pivoting back to the electricity hinted at in "M.A.N.I.A.," which jolts right through to the closer "Cup Runnin' Over." There, Ronin leans right in to drink from the heady dream of wealth and success—which for him means spreading the love to the likes of his girl, for whom concern shows up all over the EP. While these louder, brassier tracks stand out more for their pure volume and grimy glee, the whole EP drips steadily with the same tight-chested stress, the kind that Ronin seems to shoulder with, if not ease, a familiarity that feels like a deep part of him. Find It's Whatever wherever you stream music.
Hive Live Returns
Soundwell has been one of the few local venues gently navigating the strange waters of reopening for shows even as the pandemic continues on its wicked way. That means the return of young traditions like Hive Live, a City Weekly-sponsored event that had its first few iterations early this year before everything shut down. Hive Live is a locals-focused showcase event that this time around will feature local rap star Zac Ivie, who was just voted Best of Utah in the Best Band or Group category (a good pick but also, readers, he is just one man, unless he contains many, many multitudes). Ivie will be joined by up-and-coming local rappers Tay Krew and Young Yankee, as well as the reggae-hip-hop fusion duo of Native Leaves for a night that's sure to get the toes tapping of anyone who's missed live music, especially stuff as good as these locals have got. However, for safety's sake, this event is operating at limited capacity, with Soundwell only filling at roughly 15% of its capacity, with socially-distanced and group-based seating and table service, and of course, the ask that all patrons keep masks on between eating and drinking. This event is not only sure to sell out quickly because of capacity limits, but tickets are only $10. The 21+ show starts earlier than it might usually with doors at 6:30 p.m. and the show at 7 p.m., likely to accommodate the fact that the show must end at 10 p.m. to follow state protocols (since, as we know, coronavirus apparently comes out only after 10 p.m.). Visit soundwellslc.com for links to purchase tickets and more info on the show.
A Season of the Tempest
It's hard to believe it's not officially winter until the solstice comes. In addition to the barren trees and the chill in the air, there's a wintry gloom that's been around since October this year, when going to outdoor shows became impossible and most of us huddled back indoors, often away from friends, family and entertainment. However, JRC Events and a slew of local artists and performers don't want this ringing in of the official start of the winter season to be a gloomy, chilly one—rather, they'd tempt you to enter the storm of their Tempest Winter Solstice Event. So, shake off the winter blues and head out for a night of diverse, spirit-lifting performances from local musicians and drag artists. Music will come in varied forms: Cera Gibson and her confidence on stage as a solo pop artist; Phoenix Child, with her inspired raps and tie-dyed personality; drag artists finishing the business of sweeping the audience up in a winter wonderland of their own making. Those artists will include Kay Bye, Marrlo Suzzanne, Madazon Can Can, Sarah Prollem and Ana Lee Kage—so it'll be a packed night of drama, drag and a pinch of musical accompaniment from JRC, just as anyone in the drag community has probably come to expect after a year of shows like this. This 21+ event opens at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m. As with all indoor events at Urban Lounge, attendees will be placed in seating six feet apart from other groups' tables, and are asked to keep their masks on throughout their stay at the venue, even between sips of beverages. Tickets are $15 and can be found at jrcslc.com along with more info on safety and event details.
Envelop SF Floats Holiday Fundraiser after SLC Closure
While businesses start to close temporarily or permanently in earnest now at the end of this awful year, we've already lost one very new addition to the SLC music community by way of the closure of Envelop SLC. The local outpost of the San Francisco-based immersive listening venue and non-profit closed this summer, after only a few months of lost revenue from shows, and now the mothership needs help keeping their main operation afloat, too, lest it fall to the same fate as the charming SLC spot that lived in Marmalade for only a year after its 2019 opening. Without being able to host shows in their intimate, surround-sound listening venue, what remains of Envelop has pivoted to live streams, but in ways that exceed the quality of any old average stream—falling in line with their use of high-tech audio and visual equipment that aid in their immersive live sets in the physical space. Over the past few months, they've hosted electronic music greats, including big names like Tycho, but also more shadowy legends like Suzanne Ciani, an early pioneer of modular synth music and effects, and the first woman to ever score a major Hollywood film in 1981's The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Performances like that of Ciani—which took place via Envelop's streaming platform in October—are also now offered in VR formatting, either through an Oculus device or with 180 view on YouTube. Snippets of this and other past streamed sets will be available during their Dec. 20 virtual fundraising event, which takes place at 4:45 p.m. and runs through 7: 45 p.m., with tickets costing $50 and going towards keeping Envelop SF open. Viewers can also become sustaining members of Envelop, which makes the event free and includes free access to all future events and streams. Visit envelop.us/stream for more info on the event, how to become a member, or for links to videos of past streams.
Divorce Court Releases Two Kids EP
When people talk about having two kids, it's usually as a cheeky complaint—oh the woes of parenthood, keeping you from doing xyz because, as the saying goes, "I have two kids!" That's the immediate charm behind the title of SLC-to-LA artist Divorce Court's newest EP, Two Kids, a name that comes from the fact that the cool, hip indie music-maker (Lynden Williams) does indeed have two kids. And it's clearly not a complaint for the artist. Two Kids is blissed-out, easygoing, sunny music that fosters a feeling of contentment across its six tracks. The EP, released Dec. 4, is a treat after several years of promising singles from the solo artist, whose dreamy synth-pop clearly references the likes of Washed Out, Baths or Toro Y Moi. The opener "Dreams Ending" and single "Desolc Tuo'' are both woozy and hazy, but brought back down to earth somewhat by the more upbeat title track that follows, and then by the spoken-word introspection of "Outsider" and its sense of place and time: "I'm 28 and I'll never get over this / I'm an outsider." Songs like the single "Brenna" are carried by a warm, vintage-sounding looping part that keeps it light even as the song shifts into its grooving crescendo. But as open as it all feels, whatever is at the heart of Two Kids still feels somewhat obscured by the general nature of this kind of pop music, which loses itself in the weeds of multi-layered synths as a matter of course. Still, emotion pours through Williams's delicate milieu of twisting vines, and it makes for a feel-good listen at a time when it's not always easy to feel super good. Stream the album on Spotify, or purchase it at divorcecourtt.com, and keep up with Williams on Instagram @divorcecourtt.