In the middle of gorging on food and fighting for game systems, I hope everyone made room for some local music, as we exit November and head into the last month of 2013 releases. ---
Fittingly, I'm going to start with The Lower Lights, the massive gospel-folk ensemble made up of more than 30 highly talented musicians from too many local bands and solo projects to keep track of. Much as they've done on previous projects with putting their own spin on beloved gospel songs and hymns, they've released a brand-new Christmas-themed album that features their own versions of holiday favorites. The Lower Lights Sing Noel includes tracks like “A Cradle in Bethlehem,” “Mary's Lullaby,” “Once In Royal David's City” and more, all performed with that certain local folk touch that makes it sound humbling and sweet. You can get it from their Bandcamp page, or in person in a couple of weeks when they perform four nights at the Salt Lake Masonic Temple.
Next up is the debut EP from Gates of Nocturne, a one-man project headed by producer and artist Ian Fordham. I can't really find much about him or his previous projects online, but the man sure lives his math rock in metal form. Awake is a pretty decent debut; the five-track EP shows promise for the future. It would be interesting to hear these songs performed live, but with no website or information beyond the Bandcamp page (where you can snag it for $4), there's no telling what the next step is for the project.
Flipping formats for a second, Stag Hare has just released a brand-new cassette EP. The solo experimental guitarist Garrick Biggs has been constantly putting out new singles and random bits of music over the past few years, the majority of it on his own, along with the occasional show in the dark where he'll play on the floor surrounded by pedals. But it appears he's upgraded and found a label in Space Slave, one of the few national indie labels finding success in cassette releases. That's where you'll find Stag Hare's latest EP, Angel Tech, in all its lengthy five-track glory. You can snag a copy for $6.50 off the label's Bandcamp page.
Switching over to hip-hop for a bit, November saw the release of the latest album from SLC emcee and producer Syqnys. Last time we heard a full album from the performer was back in November 2011 with his third album, Hypatia's Reign. Since then, he's kinda been under the radar, with few performances, but it looks like he spent that time working on his fourth full-length release, The Nausea. You can snag a copy for $8.88 off his Bandcamp page.
Meanwhile, this week also saw the latest single from Dusk Raps. Dusk has also been out of the spotlight for a bit, only doing occasional shows since his last full-length album, Throw Away The Key, came out in June 2012. In what appears to be an explosion of local collaborations, Dusk has returned with a brand-new single named “Coffin Lid,” which features Dave Payne (Red Bennies) providing much of the instrumentation, with production from Fisch Loops, all recorded by Andy Patterson. You can download it for a “name your price” tag off his Bandcamp page.
Changing over to electronic, Ben Best and Karl Jorgensen have teamed up again for another awesome EP, titled Ben Best & Karl Jorgensen 2. Jorgensen (OK Ikumi) has been rocking it lately with his own label, Hel Audio, putting out split albums and collaborations between artists over the past year, and giving Utah some of the best electronic and synth music it's seen in a long while. This digi/cassette release may be only six tracks, but with none of them under six minutes, you're getting your $5 worth. You can purchase a copy via the label's Bandcamp page.
Finally, getting to release shows, we have one this week, happening tonight, actually, with a brand-new album from Charles Ellsworth. The former lead name of The Dirty Thirty broke form and switched roles to Vincent Draper earlier this year and, while still remaining with the band, started working on his own solo works as a side project from the group, working on folk music with more of a taste for storytelling. The result is his debut release, A Love Story. This is one hell of a folk album, well-written and produced, and has the makings of being the best folk album of the year. You can get a copy tonight at Bar Deluxe, as Ellsworth (seen above, courtesy of his Facebook) plays his album-release show, along with Vincent Draper & the Dirty Thirty, Hectic Hobo, Matthew & the Hope and Shadow Puppet. Tickets are $8, and the show starts at 9.
Love music, head out, buy local.