Strap in kids, we've got eight local releases to talk to you about today, including some with release shows, and we're going to start with a biggie that I learned about last week. --- Fictionist! Yes, the Utah County band now on the Atlantic Records label put out a release, clear back in November! It was really quietly done, and, in fact, it seems a lot of people had no indication that anything had come out yet. But last week the word got around from equally shocked indie-music bloggers who discovered the self-titled EP on iTunes, with a $5 pricetag and a two-month-old date on the side. Who knows why word didn't spread earlier, but hey, it's out now. Six tracks for $5 ain't a bad deal, and you can grab a physical copy off the band's Website for $7.
Next up is an album from Orem-based acoustic folk singer Ruthie Von. First, the cool part: She's got a really soft and soothing voice that fits the genre perfectly, not to mention a few skills on the acoustic guitar. Now the part that kinda sucks: All she's done is covers. And that's the premise for her debut album: Ruthie Covers. You can find an array of music from popular artists on here such as Violent Femmes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Amos Lee, Tom Waits, Tears For Fears and , yes, even Brittany Spears. The U.C. upbringing shines through on songs like “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger, where she's clearly replaced one of the more prominent lyrics with a cleaner version. Which is fine, if you're into that, but I'm sure people who love the song to death would have a few words. You can snag the whole album for free off her Bandcamp page.
While we're on the acoustic kick, we've got a new single from Bill Keffeler. Keffeler isn't exactly your traditional singer/songwriter, releasing material when he feels like it in quiet singles, basically putting out what he likes when he likes it. The formula doesn't work for everyone, but it works for him, and we'll give him kudos for trying it. His latest single, “Strange Beautiful World,” hit Bandcamp last week as a free download. If you're into the more peaceful material, this may be something to look at.
Moving on to alternative/avant garde, we have the latest from Paraquat Lung. We're not really sure who is behind this project as they've made no formal attempt to have a social presence beyond what they release online, so best guess is we're thinking this is a studio project from someone who wishes not to be on the stage. (Or can't do a live version, which is a little more likely.) They've released two prior EPs, Entropy and Cratered in June and October 2011, respectively. Now they've got a full -ength album out from last week, a nine-track experimental piece titled La Variole Marque. You can snag it off Bandcamp for free!
Switching to actual shows, tonight we'll see the debut release from Ashley Garbe Smith. Smith has been a prominent name around the Provo scene for the past few years, but has failed to take off like some of her Americana counterparts in the area. Which is kinda shocking since her music is almost tailor-made for the Velour/Muse Music crowds. Her vocals drift from high key to soul at a moment's notice, which fit perfectly into the country-esque pop she's created on her debut self-titled EP. You can pick up a copy tonight at Velour as she plays her album-release show, with Dustin Christensen and Lindefield. Tickets are just $6, and the show starts at 8 p.m.
While we're at Velour, tomorrow night it'll play host to the latest release for Ferocious Oaks. The five-piece ensemble (seen above) have been favorites for over a year now, nudging the crowds into sweet singalongs and low-light dancing on the floor with their melodic street-folk sounds. The group released the Polyamory EP in February 2011 to mixed reviews and occasional airplay on UtahFM and KRCL with the title track and “Cherie,” but failed to receive proper recognition for their work as a whole. The group will be releasing their first full-length album, It's Better This Way, tomorrow night to what's been almost complete secrecy. Audiences haven't heard anything from this album yet; they haven't even sent out copies of a single to the press, working on it until the final moment. You can find out what it sounds like tomorrow at Velour as the band will be playing with Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel, The Mighty Sequoyah and Lake Island. Tickets are $8 and albums are $10 at the venue; show starts at 8 p.m., but if you purchase them on 24Tix.com for $13, you'll automatically receive both a ticket and an album -- a $5 discount; not a bad deal.
Then on Saturday, it's not a release show but a release worth noting, from the band Bombs & Beating Hearts. Now before you get all weird on me, yep, they are broken up. They were one of the more angsty and high-energy punk bands in SLC, a favorite of Boing!, Red Light Books and Artopia (before the later two shut down), and gone within a couple of years of forming. I could dive into it more than that but that isn't the point. The band (or what remains of the band) will release a physical edition of an album called Too Little Too Late, a collection of recorded works and demos from the band around 2009 while they were going strong. You can already download a digital copy from their Bandcamp page for just $5. As a bonus, every bit of cash made from the album will go to one of many causes, including SupportJordan.com.
And, finally, this Tuesday we'll see the latest release from Royal Bliss. As a whole, the album is pretty much what you would expect from the band, classic-rock themes set to an acoustic guitar and wind-swept vocals meant to be chanted along-to in an arena rock show; to be blunt: the same old shit we've heard on the last three albums. It's sad to say, but it is true: Royal Bliss have become your everyday generic, vanilla band. There's nothing defining that separates this homegrown group from every other ballad-toting four-piece heard on Top 40 radio. But let's be honest, Royal Bliss were already a success before this album came out, because much like Twilight fans, anyone who is going to buy it already has the cash in hand and is waiting with bated breath for the thing to drop into their hands. I'm obligated to talk about Waiting Out The Storm because it's a local release, but I know that no matter what I have to say about the band or the music on this particular album, it's already a hit. And the worst part is, to some degree, the band knows this and played along yet again. It works for the audience who loves it, and they'd be stupid to turn back now, but it's depressing as a local-music fan to see a band that had true potential to innovate become bland. If you're truly into Royal Bliss, you can catch their pricey $15 show over at The Complex playing with Bobaflex, Burn The Gallows and Joel Pack, starting at 8 p.m.
Head out, love music, buy local!