Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MP3 Pick: Muscle Hawk: "Set Yourself On Fire"

The Staples

The Staples is a garage Rock band from Salt Lake City. This is not to be confused with the famous Staples Singer from late sixties and seventies soul i.e. Mavis Staples. Their sound is infused with early punk and a bit of Detroit rock sound. They have rawness similar to Artic Monkeys and the Strokes and would make great party music. Their songs are catchy and exhibit strong pop elements; Dancefloor is hands down their strongest track with syncopated rhythms and strong chorus.
The Staples do suffer in having a solid rhythm backbone throughout all the tracks. The Guitars, Drums, and Bass struggle to stay in time and would highly recommend taking another crack in the studio (although I sympathize with the expense). While rawness can breathe life and emotion into many DIY recordings too much and it becomes distracting. Also, I’d recommend a name change as petty as it sounds; it’s just too close to The Staple Singers who are legends. It would be like naming a band the Stones even though they are technically The Rolling Stones it’s just too close. Although, in The Staples defense, I just finished listening and loving Cults which could easily be confused with The Cults, so what I know.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Mighty Sequoyah

The Mighty Sequoyah is an up and coming local group which is getting some well-deserved attention. Their recent album "Relative" sounds like it has influences from Wilco, Band of Horse, and Fleet Foxes. The tracks range from sparse to full arrangement rock tunes. The craft and talent in these songs are amazing with many of the songs having 3 and 4 part harmonies. This like many of the new indie bands with heavy folk and country influences require the listener to work for it, but the payoff is well worth the effort. I believe part of this is due to the tracks with incredibly slow tempos that give Low a run for their money. Like much of this music, its best in moderation and is not for everyone.
I’ve had the opportunity of seeing several of the band members perform at local open mics by The Mighty Sequoyah playing some of their individual solo songs and Mighty Sequoyah tunes, demonstrating the depth of writing talent available throughout the group. The main singer has an endearing lisp and nasal quality which complements the songs, style and sells themes of loss of innocence and change. Mighty Sequoyah will be touring with Timber! Throughout the summer, so go check them out. My favorite tracks are Ghost, Don’t Wait for Me, and The Insider.
In Utah there really are two types of people: people who snowboard and people who ski, regardless of whether you do either. I kind of think the members of Mighty Sequoyah probably would snowboard, but deep down their music wants them to ski. Another great band for the Great Salt Lake or Herriman or Provo or wherever the crap they call home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Last Look

It’s 4 in the morning so forgive me for making this short. I’ve been needing something which could clear my pallet from the steady stream of wordy folk music coming out of Provo(I promise Provo and Indie folk will give some love next week).You have to check out this band. The Last look has shout out choruses, creative bridges, awesome changes, they musically function like a band, and they like The Replacements. Sweetie, you had me Shout out. Slug compared them to Country indie rock and I can’t exactly see it, but I haven’t seen them live. When I think Country indie rock I think Drive by Truckers and Ole 97s. Anyways, although not as trendy a title as “indie” I hear a lot of rock and emo. I hear some old Story of the Year, AFI, and Taking Back Sunday with more uplifting lyrics.
Oh by the way, Allison Martin from My Dead Ego is also in the band. Scha-wing!...to the music. So, if you’re counting. I’ve taking a playful jab at Provo, Indie folk music, Slug magazine, and made one slightly sexiest comment toward Allison. All of which I am deeply sorry, please know I can and will be better. Next week I will try and offend Moderates and 2% milk drinkers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MP3 Pick: Libbie Linton "Shackleton, I'm Solid"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Frame & Canvas

Frame & Canvas
Frame and Canvas took me by surprise. I’ve had little or no prior knowledge of this group from local shows or news (not that this always means anything), and was bracing myself the typical hard first listen. Thankfully Frame and Canvas have a wonderfully accessible pop rock sound similar to The Outsiders, Safety Suit, Lifehouse and The Fray. The songs are immediately catchy and thankfully, up-tempo unlike the Fray who tends to drag. The guitars and drums are so tasty and well crafted! It’s no surprise this is the genre of music I am more comfortable with, so I am strongly biased.
There are so many great songs on the album it’s like Coke vs. Pepsi. You may argue that one is better than the other, but they’re both good, consistent, and go down easy. My stand out tracks are: Honestly, Right Where you are and Come Back to Me.
Minor criticisms: Chad Hansen has a strong tendency to make lists or just repeat first lines to emphasize. This can be very effective when used intentionally, but I’d be cautious not to use this as a crutch. Also, I’m a sucker for witty punch lines and catch phrases which could be more prominent. Still, if you’re looking for top notch, radio friendly pop hooks; then Frame & Canvas are your new best friends.

Editors MP3 Pick: Isaac Russell - "Lighthouse"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Burnell Washburn

So, when people ask what were the first two CD’s I ever purchased? I tell them, “Def Lepard Retroactive and PM Dawn” (I bought the both on the same day). But, the first music I ever purchased was Public Enemy’s “It takes a Nation Millions to Hold us back” on Cassette sometime around 92’. I came from a family of 5 and my older brothers had begun listening to Ice T, Ice Cube, and Public Enemy like many of the white kids in rural communities. Now, the Beastie Boys were always played in our home, but not until the early 90’s was I exposed to any hardcore rap. Aside from that brief stint in the early 90’s, I’ve honestly haven’t listened to much hip hop and know very little about the disciplines of the art form. This is why I’m somewhat tentative in reviewing many of the local hip hop emcee’s. But, Burnell Washburn is one of those few gems whose talent is so transcending it requires you to recognize him.
I saw Burnell early summer last year at a local open mic where he was spitting rhymes while being backed by an impromptu band and a blues harp player. How I wish could have recorded or recreated that night. The sound was a unique blend of Jazz and blues, loosely akin to the Roots or Digable Planets. Yet, since it was more of a jam setting, the songs structures would blend and morph which broke the typically repetitive beats and samples used in hip hop (picture the harp solo from “You are the sunshine of my life” and mashing it with the Blues Brothers for 10 minutes). It was one of those nights where musical boundaries were being broken, new art form was emerging, and Burnell was at the head emceeing all of it. The night included several battle rounds with other local emcees and Burnell consistently coming out on top demonstrating the breadth of his talent. He gave me a copy of the White Dove Ep and I promptly devoured it during the following weeks. Recently, Burnell release his first album Food of Love; he is now touring the west coast in support of it.
I have not heard or seen anything quite like that night again in the collaboration on melding of music. The flow of Burnell’s rhymes is more true to traditional hip hop style and can be compared to maybe KRSone. For the most part, Burnell remains positive throughout and he doesn’t try to be something he’s not. Many of his rhymes are a heavy, abstract type of word poetry which may be influenced by the large Slam poetry scene which exists in SLC. It brings a smile to my face to hear him unabashedly promote Utah, but still be able to call out many of its hypocrisies. He is adamant in staying true to the style of hip hop and renounce indie and pop influences which have seeped into what is represented as hip hop in top 40 radio. My criticism for both White Dove and Food of Love is the minimal production elements. While I can respect his passion for traditionalism, and his desire to convey, “the message”. The repetitive beats and production act as filler and cannot stand equal alongside the rhymes nor elevate them. The music should be that extension which can interact with the artist. Granted deep down my feelings are likely biased because deep down I wish to recreate some of the magic when I first saw Burnell. In hind sight, what originally drew me to act like Public Enemy and other albums like Paul’s Boutique were the new boundaries which we being created with their groundbreaking use of samples combined with a the creativity of emcee’s like Chuck D and Beastie Boys. In my opinion, Burnell's talent cannot surpassed. He is the best and most creative emcee in Utah. It would very difficult to picture anything preventing Burnell from become a national sensation