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top 50 Local cd review


The annual SLAMMys roundup of choice music reviews and recaps: Not every local CD released within the past 12 months is included here, just the 50 that stood out in the stacks that Salt Lake area artists submitted to City Weekly (plus a few we tracked down on our own), neatly arranged A-Z. Included for your consumer shopping convenience is each CD’s Internet contact info.



Agape-Technology.comAgape’s one-man electro-scribbles are all white noise and funky bass notes and histrionic shrieks and fluttery percussion and crashing piano chords; nice, frothy toe-tapping seizures'but not for the fainthearted. (Randy Harward)


Sugar & Despair

AlmostUndone.comAlmost Undone’s dark blend of Tool technicalities (ominous, machine-Goth riffage) and neo-Euro-metal (female vocals more focused on singing than screaming) may not be feel-good fodder, but it does stand out in a mosh pit of sweaty dudes and their Hot Topic angst. (Bill Frost)


Repondez That devastating combo of heartbreaking alt-country earnestness and perfect pop-hook craftsmanship is elusive, which makes the victory all the sweeter when a band in your own back yard nails it. The Annuals are that band right now. (BF)


Call Off the Search hip-hop, dubbed ‘n’ funked live ‘n’ hard with a tight band and grooves as comfy as Converse for the feet; conscious lyrics and a message beyond (but certainly not excluding) the party right here and now. (BF)


Falling Stars

RyanBoud.comCan adult-contempo pop and earnest indie-rock coexist? As unlikely as it sounds, they do on Ryan Boud’s impressive debut CD, featuring 10 songs that layer slickly meticulous orchestration under a lo-fi songster ‘tude worthy of any indie-hipster’s iPod. (BF)


The Happiest Nuclear Winter

Brobecks.comThe Brobecks’ second basement epic kicks off like a Saturday-afternoon disaster flick, then cranks the indie-pop charm with chiming guitars, cheesy synths, nimble piano and sweet vocals; 12 primo cuts you’d be hearing on The O.C. with the right Cohen hook-up. (BF)


Heat density in favor of an in-your-face mix, hip-hop crew Broken Silence get the messages across by keeping it simple'Heat achieves an almost new-age Zen state. Crank the bass and volume, however, and mental relaxation isn’t an option. (BF)


Non-Chignon! Lake’s favorite female guitar/drums duo laid this four-cut EP down in a day, with immediate live energy (good) and raggedy-ass sound quality (not necessarily bad). Angie Eralie and Tracy Brewer’s intertwined vocal harmonies are unabashed, unpretentious halos of loveliness. (BF)


The F-Files: Mixtape Vol. 1

FactSkills.comFacts kicks off The F-Files tough with a hot title cut and maintains a steady resolve throughout, showing much love for his home on “Utah (the State That I Rep),” urging tolerance on “Walks of Life” and declaring rap supremacy everywhere else. (BF)


Mum’s the Word

GiftAnon.comLess shoe-gaze, more rock, with anxiously clanging guitars against the night and complex beats conjuring the occasional Kid A epiphany'above all, simply gorgeous songs delivered with far more passion than pretense. (BF)

GHOSTOWNEThis is the Place

Ghostowne.comSteven Wells finally ditches the Bret Michaels-isms and hyper-syllabic lyrics'a huge step on this somewhat inspired (compared to past records) effort. Not exactly the place, but pretty close. (RH)


The Captains of Industry’s debut runs from smart indie-’rawkward-ness’ to raw biker-bar doom rock, referencing everything from Television to Sonic Youth to Fugazi to Black Sabbath. The songs are dynamic and huge but bear distinct pop underpinnings and unstable intensity. (RH)


Meet the Happies

TheHappies.netWhat the Happies lack in rattle-yr-beercoaster grit, they more than make up for with sticky-sweet melodies and earnest lo-fi charm. Any of Meet’s 17 tracks (especially the majestic “Ginger & Lime”) could be slipped by college radio as coming from The Latest British Sensations and no one would be the unhappy wiser. (BF)



BrennHill.comEndangered kicks off with “Buckaroo Tattoo,” a rockin’ “young country” number that would also set fire to any ideas that Hill is a real cowboy, but the rest of the down-to-earth traditional country record proves he’s anything but a faceless hat act. (RH)



IAmElectric.comBrutal, soulful and tuneful all at once, I Am Electric more than live up to their name on Thrush, 11 beautifully-realized tracks of post-everything-core that jabs, rope-a-dopes and connects hard when least expected; impossible to ignore. (BF)


Blast Off Into Obscurity Ray balances sticks and screams, barking atonal lyrics atop Violet Ray’s spooky keys and Gamma Gamma Ray’s insistent bass. It’s a gas, man'especially if you dig obscure retro sci-fi via Ogden. (Jamie Gadette)


A New Breed of Rebellion

Katagory5.comKatagory V are so serious about their metal, they’re damned near European: Over-the-top vocals, squealing twin-guitar harmonies, ominous double-kick/bass rumbling, extra-long songs about pain, death and painful death'A New Breed of Rebellion has it all. (BF)

LAST RESPONSEHave You No Sense of Direction?

TheLastResponse.comGuitarist Gregg Hale did time with British headphone rockers Spiritualized, which could explain the uncharacteristically spacey guitar atmospherics; the intertwining guitars and chiming vocal harmonies become more important than the songs themselves. (BF)


Legendary Porch Pounders

BadBradWheeler@yahoo.comDan Weldon and Bad Brad Wheeler’s earthy demo oozes with genuine soul. Wheeler blows his harp like Gabriel’s trumpet and Weldon likewise strums his Martin acoustic guitar and pounds the bejesus outta his porch board. This is good, gravelly soul-folk that sticks to your ribs. (RH)


Less People More Robots’s sexy, hook-and-dagger rock & roll is uncomplicated and tensely joyful'as serious as it is fun, tasty and addictive. Just try to keep your hand out of your pants during “Do Bad.” (RH)

GIGI LOVETurning to Gold

GigiLove.comOn her third album, Gigi Love’s impossibly mellifluous warble fairly melts one’s insides and sets us up so her breezy pop-Americana tunes can knock us down. Listen and be bewitched. (RH)



KateMacLeod.comMacLeod’s not-quite-solo album is less the bluegrass-y Celtic folk of her prior works, and more singer-songwriter Americana. Her sweet voice, smart lyrics and virtuosic fiddling are unchanged, but the songs are more vibrant, less ethereal. (RH)



CheriMagill.comSomewhere between the serene estro-pop of Sarah McLachlan, the angsty girl-woman guitar-rock of Michelle Branch and the hushed playfulness of the country diva of your choice (Shania, Faith, et al), Cheri Magill radiates natural warmth and connectivity. (BF)


She’s Just a Buzz

Magstatic.comArmed with 50 percent new members, Magstatic delivers 11 catchy power-pop numbers on their fourth album. The toothy anthem “Downtown Girlfriend,” brooding “Long Road” and tongue-in-cheek seether “Bitchin’ House” demonstrate the reason Magstatic are still one of SLC’s best bands. (RH)


Bottle Rockets of Emotion

MedicineCircus.comEasily the band’s most cohesive and realized album to date, Bottle Rockets further spelunks ’90s alt-rock, Brit-pop and the Zeppelin canon. The songs are rollicking, decidedly rawer, surging, pulsating, even thrilling. (RH)


Diary of a Sad Man/Attack!

JRHamhawk@netscape.netFrom Ogden, with lust: The Morlocks hit like the Stooges reborn to play Satan’s sock-hop, with a sexy-scary mix of sludgy guitars, sinister keys, tortured vox and a bottomless keg of female troubles proving that The SLC doesn’t have a lock on garage-tastic rock & roll. (BF)


Smile Through Anything

OnVibrato.comThe all-instrumental quartet’s debut ranges from sleepy to cacophonous, often in the same track, and engenders sublime visuals. Repeat listens conjure new visuals and moods and memories; it’s evergreen listening fodder, even without a catchy chorus. (RH)


Monster of Vision

SoundCoRecords.comOn his debut, Padley sings his twisted soul over plaintive acoustic guitar, moody piano, minimalist orchestration and unconventional embellishments hoping someone will hear and understand. That we do is scary and comforting. (RH)


Mors Ianva Vitæ Et Vita Ianva Mortis

PaganDead.comDeath-metal-inspired psychobilly with horrific lyrics, guttural vocals, snarling guitar, chugging double-bass and drums shouldn’t sound so sweet … and yet, it does. It’s fast, it’s brutal, it’s grotesquely awesome and awesomely grotesque. (RH)



AVanvranken.comPelpp & A.Vanvranken’s watery ambient/downtempo washes are amorphous and new-agey, making the occasional wake-up track like “Window” (with its jazzy bass swing) and “Western Jail” (with its dark, trippy undertones) stand out even more. (BF)


Ply & Reaper

RacelessRecords.comThis collection of re-recorded songs from their brilliant Bad Dreams and a handful of new tunes comes off lighter, but not fluffier. Over mostly live instrumentation, Ply and Reaper delve into their histories, personal relationships and societal mores and poke and prod'more like stab'with their words. (RH)



Purdymouth.comNo longer kicking out the usual hicked-out classic rock staples, Purdymouth bows with a set of original tunes that run from bluegrass to ska to alt-country to rock. Once you hear “Adria,” you’ll forget they ever threw down Van Halen tunes. (RH)


Fresh Bionic Moves

Rest30.comWhile passing through numerous Puri-Do carnations, Kyrbir found a reason to dance'and for us to follow suit. This full-length follow-up to a more lo-fi EP is doused in tasty gloss pop. “It’s more fun than I should be allowed!” (JG)


Make a Face immaculately layered and insidiously catchy hip-hop funhouse ride that kicks off with a hysterical shout-out montage, the Rotten Musicians’ debut is more than just a Numbs side project'it’s an instant local classic. Remember, they invented “Sissy Rap.” (BF)


After the Chaos

RoyalBliss.comThey’ve released a handful of CDs prior, but After the Chaos is more tightly focused than anything Royal Bliss have done before. The streamlined sonics are pure Rock Radio format, and SLC’s favorite bar band doesn’t sound like a bar band anymore. (BF)


Salt City Bandits

SaltCityBandits.comSixteen punk-rock (heavy on the rock) anthems soaked in Quaker State, Pabst and a whole lotta Zion pride'despite the damned liquor laws: “Swimmin’ in Booze,” “Whiskey Road” and more tunes about drinkin’ and carousin’ in Slick Town. (BF)



SLAJO.comSLAJO ditch the jazzed-up alt-rock covers in favor of a less gimmicky, but still playful mixture of originals and jazz covers (although they do have a go at “Smells Like Teen Spirit”). Not only do the originals outnumber the covers, they’re the standouts. (RH)


The Listening Booth Hot on the heels of a tremendous solo debut, The Listening Booth demonstrates lessons learned, from loves old, new, platonic and otherwise. Nine lush, piano-heavy tracks capture what it feels like to enjoy Eureka! moments, saving us from monotonous routine. (JG)


I’m Glad We Had This Conversation

SixSidedBox.comSonic trumpet and virtuoso guitar combine to form unique, spacey, song-oriented indie rock with proggy tendencies, and paradoxically unaffected Brit-pop affectations. Easily one of the most original bands in town. (RH)


Dream Big

Shupe.netOn their Capitol-Nashville debut Dream Big, local pickin’ vets Shupe and the Rubberband take their slick, wholesome pop-grass to the big leagues and knock it out of the park with good, hooky tunes and far-out musicianship. (RH)


Lovely & Lousy

StilettoRocks.comKicking against the constant “all-female band” qualifier by simply rocking like hell and pushing repositioned frontwoman Julie Styer to belt like a banshee, Stiletto’s second release demands your respect'and your still-beating heart on a platter. (BF)


The Street

TheStreetMusic.comAfter some softer experimentation on last year’s Evolution, The Street’s gritty metal is back with sharper melodic edges and renewed trendiness-be-damned attitude; tracks like “Thump” and “Nothing There” could make any biker bar sound like an arena. (BF)


Ready to Go Under

Exumbrella.comBlake Henderson’s densely layered instrumentals belie poetic quips and choruses dancing on heart-dropping soundscapes. Ready to Go Under is a series of waking-dream symphonies'the sort of songs Thom Yorke might fashion after taking a Xanax or two. (JG)


Through This Pen

ThreePercentHero.comIf there’s a sweeter emo-punk love song than “The Color of Your Eyes” (with strings!), it didn’t come out of South Jordan; Three Percent Hero’s heart-on-black-T-shirt-sleeve openness and sonic experimentalism sets ‘em apart from the mall-rock crowd. (BF)


The Tremula

Exumbrella.comIn case you hadn’t heard, Redd Tape is now The Tremula. They’ve also added new members and traded cute and winsome for noisy and visceral, as evidenced on their bracing debut as a Whole New Thing. The Tremula is now unstoppable. (BF)



VictrolaRock.netThe late Victrola’s art-trio indie-rock thrives on passionate minimalism; the clanging guitars and he/she vocals are college-radio classic. But, they wring newness from each of Foolproof’s seven cuts, a mini hit parade of found hooks, culminating with the sprawling, Led Zep-informed “Life is Easy When You’re Beautiful.” (BF)


Bottle of Pain EP Blue Shades fuel up on six-plus octane to speed through tracks soaked in primal urgency, reflecting the tribal bar band’s percussion-heavy sound. Keep an eye and at least three ears out for two upcoming full-length releases. (JG)


Trouver La Mort

Violet-Run.comSLC’s best (and now defunct) goth-rockers’ latest is melodramatic and vast like the dark festering abyss that is the soul. The quartet rock and sway and dry heave through five tunes that put singer-guitarist Randal Blandon’s demons on macabre musical display. (RH)


Johnny’s Caf

TraceWiren.comSalt Lake City’s six-string mama strikes again with a message or two for the baby beatsters, a kitchen sink of eclectic styles and enough sweet heartbreak and twang to top even her first album, the seemingly untoppable Damn These Plates. (BF)


Lights Out + 4 EP

PseudoRecordings.comLights Out is tight, but flexible like Gumby in drag. Five tracks hitch a ride with chance, traveling down a broad rock & roll spectrum, from straight-up soul-garage to snotty Oi!-punk and eerie echo-laden recordings plucked from Nick Cave’s basement. (JG)