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NOVA Witch Hunt

Whatever you label it—stoner metal, desert rock, burner punk, etc.—there just aren’t as many local bands cranking this sludge in the desert of Deseret as there seemingly should be. The way Nova’s five-song Witch Hunt EP explodes out of the gate like a rabid coyote with “Eskimullet,” closes with the bludgeoning intergalactic riffage of the title track, and still shows off tuneful melancholy shades in-between, proves they might be a viable in-yer-neighborhood answer to the Queens of the Stone Age (invoking Kyuss would be a stretch). And really, there is no such thing as too much wah-wah pedal. (

SUEK Amber Delight

Suek, the band-augmented expansion of hard-tourin’ Salt Lake blues-folkie Ben Suchy, could lazily be categorized with G. Love & Special Sauce. Thing is, Amber Delight is more fun than anything G. has recorded in years—which is nothing, technically, but still. Suchy’s slyly mercurial voice and ace slide-guitar and harmonica licks are punched up with dead-on bass and drum interplay, as well as wide-swinging instrumental colorings that surprise on every track, all as soothing as a ... cold beverage. (

HER CANDANE Could Be Nothing to Some

If and when the whole screamo-metalcore thing dies out, it won’t be for lack of inventive young bands who wring surprising heart and melody out of complex-for-complex-sake song structures and sustained adrenaline tension. Her Candane hammer away with the confident, vicious clarity of a band who’ve already arrived, waiting by the phone for an invite to Headbanger’s Ball—and it’s only their first release. Sonically, local engineer supreme-o Andy Patterson deserves as much credit as the kidz. (

EXPRESSION Parking Lot Distribution

“We do positive hip-hop—we’re from Salt Lake City, the 801, baby.” So begins Expression’s Parking Lot Distribution, a 16-cut CD of funky minimalist beds designed to push the smart lyrics and deft flows right up front, plus a trio of skits about, yes, parking lot distribution. Even when the EXPs peripherally cop the stylistic walk of D12 (“Just Me”) or even Nelly (“Playboy”), the crew stay true to themselves, navigating a spare landscape of straight beats spiced with jazzy soul flourishes. (

UNSOUND MIND Thicker Than Blood

Genuine anger and killer double-bass kick-work separate the pagans from the posers when it comes to metal, and Unsound Mind ain’t posers. Even the love song, “Elizabeth,” comes across like singer Jeremy Sundeaus would just as soon strangle her as let her go, which is sweet in its own twisted way. Segue to the visceral back-to-back society-sucks screeds “Godless” and “Overanalyzed,” and it’s clear there’s little this ferociously focused and old-school heavy happening elsewhere in The SLC. (

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