- Johnny Betts
Fur Foxen Release Self-Titled Album
To start the new year out right, SLC duo Fur Foxen are bringing their music to new life with a self-titled follow-up to their debut album The Death Of. But there's no death here, only a slice of life. The duo of Steph Darland and Amber Pearson lean heavily into the "chamber" vibes between them on this newest, which released Jan. 1. Pearson's cello sings in a homely, reedy tenor alongside Darland's strong, steady leading vocals throughout the collection of meandering Americana tracks and modest ballads. Though the album starts out with indie-go-lucky tracks like "Daniel," for the most part Fur Foxen's self-tag of "whisky-drenched" is more apt from song to song. The follow-up "Where you are" introduces warm, vintage guitar that suits the dual vocals of Darland and Pearson, voices that sound cobbled together in what is perhaps a purposeful production move. A lot of the album, in fact, sounds cobbled together—not in a bad, messy way, but rather in what feels like an intentionally disheveled way, which comes out sounding like intimacy. Fur Foxen indeed feels like a trusted, easy-drinking whisky, the kind that warms you up without scorching your throat, and is easy to share with friends. They even have a "Whisky Waltz," which sways gently between melancholy and acceptance as Pearson and Darland harmonize about heartbreak. "Two. The Sea," meanwhile, bobs along with all the burbling energy of a live set on a stage just a few feet above a clustered audience. "How I got to Memphis" is a stab at the classic country love story, a romance complete with electric organ. And while these and all the other songs on the album have heart thanks to Pearson and Darland, they have their flesh in part thanks to the contributions of guests Carson Wolfe, Todd Johnson and Nolan Noska. Americana and folk are enduringly classic, but Fur Foxen prove with this release that they have a confident take of their own that stands out in the crowd. Stream it on Spotify, and visit furfoxen.com to keep up with the duo.
Hive Live Presents Badfeather
The locals-only musical showcase is going strong into the New Year, with Soundwell hosting local funkadelic outfit Badfeather. A visit to the past is a welcome reprieve from 2020, and Badfeather's take on glittery post-disco, funk and psychedelic rock will make sure that it's a groovy way to usher in 2021, too. Though their last release was back in 2016 with the full-length album Signal Path, the songs on that album have held up since then, because Badfeather specializes in the never-ending jam ("Beautiful Heart of Darkness," "Zero Full of Holes''). However, they also succeed on the never-ending meander front, with country-aligned tracks like "Babbling Riverside Blues." These, taken alongside the sensuality of classic rock tracks like "Moxia" or the '70s sensibilities of "Sweat," or even the absolutely funk-fueled "Flight Pattern" and "Brand New 2nd Hand Suit," show that Badfeather has a firm grasp on all parts of the '70s as an era that was rich in all rhythms, all blues and all other kinds of bombastic tunes. So if you also have a keen appreciation for all the genres mentioned here, trust Badfeather to fill your Thursday evening up with them. Unlike other Hive Live events, Badfeather are the only band playing on Jan. 7, so buckle up for everything they have to offer. Like all events at Soundwell, Hive Live will be a limited-capacity event, welcoming groups of up to six who will be seated together and distanced from other groups. Masks are required of all attendees, along with all staff at the event. Doors are at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $10 presale and $12 day of show. Head over to soundwellslc.com for more info and to purchase tickets.
- Patricia Campos
Marqueza Drops Surprise EP
Fans of one of SLC's finest pop players were probably excited when, just after Christmas, Marqueza suddenly released the EP White Elephant. At just three songs in length, the release features a surprising rock bent that really suits Marqueza's dramatic vocals, but which departs starkly from the way Marqueza usually does things—vocalizing over dreamy, synth- and beat-driven music, like they did on their 2020 release Salty. But before you go thinking that Marqueza is abandoning electronic music for rock 'n' roll, know that this "new" release is actually an old one. Before Marqueza became a synth maestro, they were in a rock band, just as so many young musicians are before finding their own way. Throughout high school and college, Marqueza worked with band members Jeff Andrus, Sean Roylance and Spencer Rich on the recordings that have now been released as White Elephant. Says Marqueza about the album's origins, "I only recently stumbled upon them again and realized that these were the beginning of my songwriting, so I got the support of the old band and put them out under my name. This is baby Marina when I started in rock!" The songs on the album don't sound too far off from the quality of work Marqueza's crafted as an adult musician, and songs like the middle track "Underwater" especially stand out as well-paced and balanced, from the instrumentation to Marqueza's voice, which always has a distinct flair. Would Marqueza ever revisit this style again? The answer is a definite yes, but, they also note, "I think my main thing is that every genre I've ever experimented in affects and influences my current sound. So even though I don't necessarily make rock these days, it definitely comes out when I'm making certain beats, or especially when I'm performing. I'm not totally bent on anything, I feel very genre-fluid and always experimenting!" While different from the music Marqueza makes now, White Elephant is still Marqueza all over. Listen for yourself on Spotify or buy at marqueza.bandcamp.com.
Sunfish and Courtney Lane at Kilby Court
Of the many up and coming bands in SLC, Sunfish feel like one with a lot to offer once they figure themselves out. The super-youthful four-piece spent the bulk of 2020 putting out singles, from the slow-building melodrama of their latest ("The World's So Small") to the pure rock 'n' roll energy of "New Mistake" and "Whatever"—tracks that threaten to spin out of control, though they don't quite. This is all a departure from their attempt at being a jam rock band with their 2019 EP Learning To Swim, and so any firm concept of what a live set from Sunfish could be like is an elusive one. However, the four boys have spunk, and will be well worth seeing when they take the stage at Kilby Court with fellow local Courtney Lane, who's been on the show circuit for longer, so has surer potential to be a stunner. Lane's voice and preferred piano are all soul, but 2020 singles like "Shadow Puppets" lend a ghostly moodiness to Lane's style that could perhaps be described as gothic soul. Lane's stage presence mirrors their musical style—with dramatic makeup, starkly pale hair and intimidating black outfits, Lane displays as all thorns even as their music reveals a fragile and soft vulnerability. Like the boys in Sunfish, Lane is a young member of the scene, with a lot to offer, and perhaps will play a role in what SLC music looks like in the coming years as their talent (and powerful voice) grows. Head over to Kilby Court on Friday, Jan. 8, where doors will be at 6 p.m. and tickets are $15. As is now the norm, all showgoers and performers must remain masked from the time they enter the show until they leave, and only six groups per show are allowed, with up to four people per group. Visit sartainandsaunders.com for tickets and more info.
- Natalie King
Cool Banana Returns to the Urban Lounge
Just in time for a new year full of hope, Cool Banana is bringing the party back to one SLC stage with an upcoming performance at the Urban Lounge. If you've never seen the band—who used to be staples at the venue and elsewhere around town before the pandemic hit—you don't know about their unforgettable hijinks. But you won't forget them if you go to this show, which will find them treating the audience to an exclusive performance of themselves and themselves only—an exclusivity that will lend itself finely to Cool Banana's penchant for executing playful intermissions between songs. Led by the creative—and wily—forces of a few local musical powerhouses by way the elusive local animator VHS Vic, Josh Brown (of 90s TV) and Jeremy Devine (of an unaccountably large number of local bands), Cool Banana offers shows that always feel more like a variety show than a musical set. Their signature synthesis of garage rock and jazzy piano makes them unique in the lineup of Utah bands, and whether those are your favorites kinds of music or not, Cool Banana knows how to charm an audience into their whimsical realm—usually with the help of campy props like their collection of plush toys, blankies, costumes, masks and basically anything else goofy, childish and fun. What better kind of break do we need from the most serious of years than a set like this one? Stop into the Urban Lounge on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. for the show, which is only $10. As with all indoor Urban Lounge shows in the past year, shows in the new year still include social distancing between groups, required masks and social distancing when away from one's table and credit card transactions only. Find tickets, more info and other future show listings for January at sartainandsaunders.com.