Heart Pharmacy Natural Selection
nAli Sarijlou is Heart Pharmacy. Why perform under a pseudonym? Who cares. After listening to Sarijlou’s debut Natural Selection, we’re more concerned with the question, “Who broke his heart?” This album is a tone poem to love lost and love gained. The instrumentation is impressive given that it is all, excluding one song, entirely Sarijlou’s beast—right down to the ethereal orchestration on “Introducing.” The lyrics are also solid, if at times a bit saccharine, and ultimately pleasing. Sarijlou’s liner notes and form pay appropriate homage to Elliott Smith—though the underlying theme of Selection is hope in hopeless situations and hopeless times, something Smith ultimately never conveyed. It’s nice to see someone in Salt Lake City devoted to his craft and capable enough to produce a full-length without a band, which requires extreme dedication, vision and a huge investment of time and money. Sarijlou isn’t going anywhere but up.
Performing @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge, 726 S. State, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 10 p.m.n
Scenic Byway New Sounds for an Old World
nThis band of stoner-boarders dabbles in elements of trip-hop, electronica and jazz (courtesy Nick Romer’s trumpet, adding layers of much needed polish) on this fine release. Most of the tracks have competent choruses with good-enough singing. But these guys excel when they’re rocking the mic with rhymes not serenading it with sweet nothings. Byway do a stellar job of representing Utah on tracks like “This Is the Place,” where they rap “I love Utah, the right mentality state,” blending seamlessly with the guitar and the scenery.
Performing @ Liquid Joes, 1249 E. 3300 South, Friday, Feb. 13, 8 p.m.n
Mana Poly All-Stars Riddim Blues
nA huge untapped market (at least by most mainstream press outlets) of Polynesian artists resides in Utah and releases like Mana Poly All-Stars Riddim Blues aren’t given their full due. Hopefully, that will change sooner than later. Most reggae groups in Utah can’t cut it and have a Trustafarian (trust fund Rastafarian) attitude and nature. Mana Poly is legit and have the R&B to back up their traditional reggae roots. Lyrics on songs like “Gunshot” enforce this and encourage working with the realities of the little noticed underbelly of Utah’s streets by dealing with issues of small decisions that bleed into huge mistakes of life-and-death ramifications. Tight harmonies abound on this release and put the blues behind the riddim in this excellently produced work. Local vocals usually don’t have the true depth to complement this style of music but Mana Poly blessedly pull it off. This is perfect party music. Put it in and crank it up with the All-Stars.
Performing @ Star Bar, 268 Main, Park City, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 9 p.m.