Beach Death's Beach Death
In 2019, SLC band Beach Death was putting on a holiday show aptly called Beachmas—which obviously couldn't happen for Christmas 2020, though they'd intended to start an annual tradition. Instead, they, like every other band, had a quiet year, but one which still culminated with the Christmas release of their self-titled debut album that was two years in the making. One of their 2020 singles, "We Can Swim," previewed a fiery verve in the vein of Modest Mouse's wilier stuff, but with a punch of something modern and fresh—this isn't just a band hung up on the indie of the 2010s. The 10-track album turns out to be quite eclectic, with the other single, "Sleeping Season" recalling early indie rock in a more light-hearted way, balancing hammering guitar parts and frontman Ian Stewart's snarky voice with soft acoustic breaks. Acoustics open the album, too, with the angst-ridden "Washing Up," that builds with drums as Stewart practically murmurs to himself on themes of ghosts and coasts. The whole album, really, sticks to the broad themes of "beach" and "death," and it'd be hokey if the songs had even a hint of surf-rock jangle or grimy garage, but they don't. Instead, Beach Death is full of tight little indie numbers, catchy as hell and hooky thanks to Stewart's squirrely, smirking vocals. On songs like "Holy Ghost," he sings like he's navigating whitewater rapids as he details an encounter with a floating apparition, one that prompts ruminations on mortality that also send the song tumbling as though in existential crisis along with him. His tight-mouthed way of singing at times recalls alt-J, but with a mean, desperate glint to it that recedes entirely on the album's only instrumental title-track, a well-timed break for jamming. Beach Death concludes with "No One's Savior," a shifty track that wraps up the album nicely, if only because it's so much like the other songs—as in solid, catchy, fun. With songs like these, Beach Death won't be having a quiet year post-pandemic—I'd wager they'll find their way to beachier climes and ritzy stages as soon as they're able to tour this impressive debut album. Stream it wherever you stream, or buy at beachdeathband.bandcamp.com.
WhySound Reopens for Shows
After a tumultuous fall and winter of closure and uncertainty, Logan's chief indie-kid venue WhySound is back open for business—and they're doing anything they can to make the show accessible to those comfortable being indoors despite COVID, those who want to watch outside and those who don't want to or can't leave home. Shows kicked back off with a double-bill of local solo act Sorry Mom, supported by Just Nervous and Nicholas James on Jan. 22, and by Sweet Tangerine and Nora Barlow on Jan. 23. The next upcoming shows are also full of Northern Utah gems, starting with a set this Friday on Jan. 29 with the good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll Anderson Safre Trio, who will be supported by the similarly inclined Shua Taylor. Taylor's modest indie-guy vocals give his vintage riffs a charming modern update to balance out the jams of the trio. To follow that evening, a different Anderson will be on the lineup on Saturday, Jan. 30, this time by way of young local soloist Branson Anderson, who will be opening for The Painted Roses. For his part, Anderson has been making a sure name for himself in Northern Utah and SLC alike, catching up quickly to older folk staples in the city in the two-ish short years he's been active on the scene. His weary-cowboy aesthetic will contrast a bit with the more contemporary sound of The Painted Roses—a blend of dusty folk, '70s rock riffs and modern indie warmth. While closed, WhySound was heavily advertising their recording studio services, and if anyone needs evidence of the kind of product they put out, The Painted Roses' two 2020 singles—"Tired Eyes" and "Dirty Dreams"—were recorded there. WhySound is playing it safe, as mentioned above, by offering a livestream link to both shows, outdoor viewing options and limited indoor seating (it will be curious how they navigate letting people from outside see in). The show is $10, and tickets can be purchased via Venmo or PayPal with a note in the details about which show one wants to attend. Masks are required, and the show starts at 7 p.m. both nights. Visit @the.whysound on Instagram for more details and updates on future shows.
- Amber Rose Dwyer
Division of Doubt
A specific pre-pandemic image comes to mind when listening to the two recently-dropped singles by SLC post-punk shoegazers Division of Doubt—blue light bracing against the drift of fog machine mist, three figures barely visible within the fog. This memory could come from any number of their past performances, whether it was at the last-minute Loading Dock gig in late 2019 opening for Ceremony, up high on the Metro Music Hall stage, or their opening for dark electronica legends The KVB. Division of Doubt has since their inception relied on aesthetic flair to build on their dour, dramatic music, some of which they are finally digitizing. Anyone who's been to one of their blue-hued shows would recognize the first of the two singles they released on Jan. 15, "Chalkine." Opening with a soft siren-like guitar part and the wolfish cries of vocalist Isaiah Michael, the track perfectly displays the band's penchant for mixing the angst of post-punk and goth with the pretty guitars of shoegaze music. Though originally mainly a three-piece filled out by Jordon Strang and Cobia Goddard, the band has recently added a rhythm guitarist in Sophie Day, which means perhaps that the February singles will find something new coming from DOD. But as for the singles we have so far, "Chalkine" and its fellow track "Trespasses" are both full of Michael's anguished vocals, a style likely perfected in his past work as half of the synth goth duo Civil Lust. But Division of Doubt's guitar-driven way of doing things is likely thanks to Strang's experience within the hardcore and shoegaze realms (Strang fronts SLC shoegaze band No Sun). Altogether, Division of Doubt paints stark, dark musical landscapes, and since seeing them play live anytime soon isn't an option, it's a good thing their music is now making its way onto the internet. Find "Chalkine" and "Trespasses" up on their Bandcamp (divisionofdoubt.bandcamp.com), and keep an eye out there and on their Instagram (@divisionofdoubt) for the February releases.
- Brady Perron
FLOW at Urban Lounge
JRC Events is bringing the hip hop flow to the Urban Lounge this Saturday, Jan. 30. As many recent JRC events have been lately, this local hip hop showcase will be hosted by the fabulous drag artist Kay Bye, who will be introducing the roster for the night. At the top of the list is Courtney Kelly, a local rap diva who will appeal to fans of the sugary spunk characteristic of artists like Doja Cat or Saweetie, and probably with tracks from TNDR, the album she put out against all of 2020's wild odds. That recent album finds Kelly shifting into a smoother, more mature direction than her earlier, more pop-oriented tracks from the 2019 EP Flirt. The opening track, "Violet Blue," is filled out by silky R&B backing beats and measured raps from Kelly—setting the tone for the rest of the vibey, noir album. She'll be joined on stage by powerhouse songstress Freida, another local who released work this past year by way of her debut EP Out of 7. The EP is mostly made up of dramatic, glitched-out and bass-heavy beats, which though they're bold, don't outdo Freida's surging vocals, whether on the troubled tracks "Supposed to Be" and "Karma" or on the brighter, jazzier takes, like "No Way." The drum-driven "Good Enough" shows Freida's strengths as an experimentalist within familiar themes like soul and R&B, and among the other tracks from the EP, ensures that seeing her live will surely be electrifying. Fellow solid rappers in the scene will join these two, including local-via-Cali Spit, "queer rap assassin" Icky Rogers, rapper and hula-hoop aficionado Phoenix Child, Mana (FKA Secret of Mana) of the local hip hop collective Hip Hop Organics and, last but not least, Lavi$h. Lavi$h spent 2020 releasing a handful of singles, most on the hard themes of romance, relationships and lost love ("Far From You," "One More Night" and the 2021-released "2 Long"). For only $10, this is one stacked night of local talent. This 21+ show has doors at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Visit theurbanloungeslc.com for ticket info and COVID protocols.
Sculpture Club Returns With Just One More
Sculpture Club is one of SLC's finest examples of a post-punk rock band, made up of members who have been making names for themselves across the music and culture spectrums in SLC and beyond for quite some time now. But it's also partially because of that success that Sculpture Club allowed themselves a short hiatus in recent years—one that ends this spring when the band will release their second full-length album, Worth, via Funeral Party Records. What have they been doing with their time off? Around the time original bassist Chris Copelin moved away, drummer Madison Donnelly took time off to pursue a (very successful thus far) sculpture career, and Chaz Costello toured extensively with one of his other bands, Choir Boy, where he plays bass. SC's 2016 release A Place to Stand was a bombastic album, guitar-driven and noisy, and now as Donnelly and Costello resume playing, they add two new members and a new measure of restraint that shifts Sculpture Club away from their garage-rock roots and closer to the silky smooth goth revival that seems to be ever-gaining speed in the indie world. Bret Meisenbach (of Baby Ghosts) and Halee Jean (of Hoofless) join the lineup with their own musical expertise and experience, which is on display all over the new album. But it isn't time for a review yet, though City Weekly's got the means. Rather, get a glimpse at the polished new Sculpture Club via their new video for "Just One More" when it comes out on Jan. 27 on the Sculpture Club YouTube page. It's a modest video, but one that highlights Costello's penchant for drama and romance and seems to introduce each member formally. The band will also be featured in a Queer Charity Live Stream in benefit of The Trevor Project and the Martha P. Johnson Institute on Jan. 31, so there's another chance to see this new lineup in action, surely with some of their new songs, too. Follow the band on Instagram @sculptureclub and visit their Bandcamp to check out the singles and covers they released in 2020 at sculptureclub.bandcamp.com