- Alysse Gafkjen
Julien Baker at The Complex
Along with a bigger band in tow, Julien Baker is moving to a bigger stage at this SLC stop. She's brought her talents here before, including when she was touring as part of the super trio boy genius, featuring Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. Like her two contemporaries, the young Baker has made easy business of making a name for herself, thanks to her affective songwriting that's both uniquely pretty and devastating. Rife with crises of faith, struggles with mental health and, of course, the pain of love, Baker's music—especially the early, acoustic-driven stuff—sounds vulnerable at first blush, thanks to the delicacy and tender expressiveness of her voice, but the lyrics more often seem to come from a clenched jaw. On her newest album, Little Oblivions, she finds the benefit of a backing band, which carries the already crushing weight of blackout-themed songs like the opener "Hardline" to still more emotional heights. Though the instrumentation makes the album approachable and pleasurable, Baker's always cuttingly honest lyrics impart a feeling of grimness, dread and Baker's self-described spiraling, the next bender she seems to feel is always around the next corner. Several critics have described it as an uncomfortable listen close-up, and it is. But the songs point to her power, to translate the pain into big, beautiful art. Hear them when she comes to The Complex on Friday, Nov. 12 with opener DEHD. Doors are at 7 p.m., the show is all-ages and tickets are $25.
The Moth & The Flame Anniversary Show at Velour
One of Utah's most recognizable names in music is celebrating an important anniversary on Thursday, Nov. 11, and fans of the band should definitely be there if they're fans of classic material. The Moth & The Flame have come a long way since their first self-titled album—released Nov. 11 ten years ago—but it's that first one that put them on the map. However, fans who weren't around in 2011 may not have heard the songs from the album outside of past shows or on Soundcloud, because they only just put the album up on streamers, and printed vinyl records in 2019—which will, of course, be available for sale at the show. The band were part of an early 20-teens wave of dreamy indie infused with folk and rock, and at the same time they were also part of the Provo music boom, when bands like Neon Trees were becoming household names, and other bands like Fictionist (of Killers relation) were selling out shows, often alongside TM&TF. For this special night, they'll bring not just themselves onstage, but those who were deeply involved in the process of making the album: Nate Pyfer, their producer on the album; Scott Wiley of June audio, where they recorded; and the band's drummer during the time of the album's creation, Aaron Anderson. They'll find an opener in another band of Provo fame, Book on Tape Worm, plus Mason Porter. Tickets are sold out for the Velour show at press time, but follow the band at @themothandtheflame on Instagram for updates on more shows, and visit tmtfmusic.com to order vinyl of their self-titled record.
S2cool Album Release at Velour
Local artist S2cool (Stuart Maxfield) will be debuting his new album Cosmic Frog, this Friday, Nov. 12 at Velour and it's going to be the place Provoites and Salt Lakers alike should find themselves this weekend. According to an Instagram post he made about the upcoming album, it's "probably my most explorative in the S2cool blob of funk and disco." This is a shocker, because his 2020 album Shun The Yuck is stunningly packed with groove and funk—bombastically so. That album is infectious as hell, built for dancing, so if Cosmic Frog indeed goes further, it sounds like Maxfield will be breaking some actual cosmic boundaries, like time and space. Playing alongside him will be all other projects related to S2cool goings-on, including the duo Mr. Mental, which Maxfield plays in with Ronald Strauss. While debuting an album could be stressful enough, Maxfield is doubling down by having this show be the first that Mr. Mental has played—though it's a great fit, employing psychedelic bass lines with glittery, slithery synths for a sound that altogether recalls the gleam of a mirage in the desert. Fellow local acts and affiliates of S2cool Office Party and Home Phone will also perform. The show is all-ages, starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $10. Visit @velourlive on Instagram for more details and ticket links.
- Getty Images
JPEGMafia at The Complex
An experimental rapper of his time but definitely for himself, JPEGMafia stands out in any genre crowd, especially in rap—and it's not just because his influences vary among Throbbing Gristle, MF DOOM, The Backstreet Boys, Janelle Monaé and Arca. A millennial who clearly grew up online (he did a woozy 2013 cover of "Call Me Maybe") but who also experienced quintessential American things like Deep South racism and service in the military industrial complex, JPEGMafia's music both contributes to and draws from the wide tapestry of left-field Internet humor, culture and critique—see: Communist Slow Jams and black ben carson. Released on his birthday this year on Oct. 22, his newest and fourth album, LP! is as novel, hard-edged and cool as always, and is also still a channel for his anger as his music tends to be. One of the targets of that anger now is the major label machine with whom he released LP! as an "online" version on streamers, and an "offline" one, on YouTube and Bandcamp, where you can find tracks re-arranged and JPEG dishing in the liner notes. His "Round By Round Blow By Blow" tour is suitably framed as a ring-side fight—and you can rage along with him when he stops at The Complex on Monday, Nov. 15. The show is all-ages, doors are at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $24.50 at thecomplexslc.com.
- Thomas Neukum
Caribou at The Union
One of the last decade's distinctive voices in electronic music, Caribou's Dan Snaith is just refining his sound as time goes on. His newest album Suddenly, released in 2020, builds on his strengths while also showing a practice in restraint—it was constructed from five years' worth of experimentations that were surely as trippy and surprising as most of his work prior. Suddenly is as deep and undulating as a tide pool, and filled with beautiful, strange little details just the same. Besides his distinctive falsetto voice, the tone of his signature synths remains immediately identifiable as his, whether it's on the soothing "Sister," with its warm, humming patterns or the high-energy "Never Come Back" which would be at home played next to prior hits like "Can't Do Without You" or "Second Chance," off of 2014's Our Love. And while fans may hope to see Snaith playing some of the crunchier, wilder songs off of albums like 2010's Swim when he stops into The Union Event Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, Suddenly is an album worth hearing on its own. A meditation that has messy life changes like divorce and death in its peripheral vision at all times, the often-solemn vibes on the album (even when paired with R&B beats on "Like I Loved You") also make it deeply listenable back-to-back. He'll find support in Jessy Lanza, who fans will remember being featured on the catchy hit "Second Chance." Doors are at 6 p.m., the show is all-ages and tickets are $29 at theunioneventcenter.com.