You sent ’em, we listened. No, not every local CD released within the past year is included here, just the 50 that stood out in the stacks that local artists submitted to City Weekly. Each of these discs had a special something, that certain jene sais quoi that separates the pretty good from the damned fine—it was tougher this year than last, an encouraging sign. Included for your consumer shopping convenience is each CD’s corresponding Internet contact info.
Weaving intricate emo soundscapes with burning rawk guitars, schizo vocals and drums that nail it all to the floor, Alchemy’s debut disc spans the art of noise in six perfect cuts.
Brazilian singer and classical guitarist Georgia Barretto’s rich, sultry voice and stunning fingerstyle chops are matched by her Bossa Nova hooks and jazzy delivery—Sade who?
STACEY BOARD BAND
Recorded “live and in the raw,” Stacey Board and her still-new band reinterpret a handful of her excellent solo acoustic songs from two previous albums, with bonus showy jams.
Ex-Clover frontman Jamen Brooks’ solo debut is a polished pop diamond, full of the subtle trip-hop and overt Beatle-isms that make guys like Elliott Smith critics’ gods.
CINNAMON BROWN & THE ESKIMOS
Serious Strat-splattered hippie-jam grooves balanced with actual melodies and attention to the good foot, as James Brown would call it. Is that Bret Michaels of Poison singing?
Smart-aleck punks slamming out snotty rock & roll like it still means something—but not too seriously, and never without an eye on the exit. Extra points for affected Brit accents.
No Fakin,’ No Frontin’
Dr. Dre-tinged West Coast hip-hop from a Salt City gangsta’s perspective, with a skilled kick or two into the smooth R&B side. (Also check out Area 51: The Playaz Project.)
DAY OF LESS
Day of Less
Upbeat and hard-edged emo-core with walls of crashing guitars and stop-on-a-dime dynamics—and they really care, hence songs like “It Pains Us to See You This Way.”
Funked-up jazzy pop, saved from melting into generic dance-floor fodder by Melanie Van Orden’s angelic pipes and deft keyboard vamps, plus unapologetic disco asides.
Dealing in brooding, guitar-soaked reverb epics à la The Church and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ogden trio DulceSky sound like 3 a.m. feels: Blue and bottomless.
Everything and More
Breezy adult-contemporary radio pop, dressed up with emotive vocal spirals by singer Tristen Thomas Zito and tastes from Celtic to country—think the Corrs, minus the edge.
Packing a loopy sense of humor and a gift for storytelling, David Edwards’ layered, low-key folk comes across like James Taylor without the hang-ups and receding hairline.
Karaoke Echo No. 1
Elsewhere may gaze holes through their shoes, but the talent to make swirling seven-minute songs that seem like they last only three is priceless. Great for midnight drives.
Salt Lake City’s favorite art-rock sons topped our readers’ poll with this scalding document of melody and mayhem that explodes in your brain, not in your pants. OK, maybe in your pants, too, but a more perfect sonic exhibit ain’t to be found, period.
EYE FOR AN EYE
I 4 N I
A far tastier metal meal than the inevitable “Queensryche meets Meatloaf” description implies, this slick collection soars with killer musicianship and octave-defying vocals.
JOHN FLANDERS & DOUBLE HELIX
Stranded In Time
Aided and abetted by ace local players (as well as ex-Frank Zappa guitarist Ike Willis), saxman John Flanders lays down a winding jazz trip that rocks, soothes and wails.
The Sweetness and the Sarcasm
Ornate quit-to-less-quiet alternative pop of the mid-fi variety, veering between Sunny Day Real Estate and Radiohead moments but never settling into selfish introspection.
Piano-driven old-school rock & roll reminiscent of Ian Hunter and Bruce Springsteen, suited for stadiums but equally at home in a smoky club, with local guests galore.
No, not that Billy Jack—this one’s a club veteran of 20 years, just now releasing his Eagles-flavored acoustic debut. Booming voice, sentimental tunes, it’s all in there.
Who said Mormon folk-pop had to be boring? Shane Jackman’s lushly orchestrated third album is understated and quiet, but his cleverly positive wordplay speaks volumes.
JAY JOHNSON BAND *
Probably the most criminally overlooked singer-songwriter Utah has to offer, Jay Johnson released this beautiful, platinum-potential album last year to too little notice. The Jeff Buckley influences are evident, but JJ is an original. You should own this. Now.
Kaotic: Kan U See Me?
The SLC hip-hop scene was bound to produce a CD as fully realized and sleek as Kaos’ debut eventually—it’s now, but is local urban radio ready? Kaotic should be in play, FM.
A powerhouse rap-metal-emo package with a production density that puts most locals’ to shame, KyrosGP6’s first disc comes down like 311 with an imagination and balls—big ‘uns.
Like Gordon Lightfoot with an alt-country twist, neo-folkie Bernie LaForest sings mountain pop with a disarmingly deep voice that makes every song a campfire song.
MONIQUE LANIER *
Monique Lanier’s emotionally wrenching mindblower of a debut album moves from Tori Amos piano-whispers to tough-girl posturing to epic radio balladry and everywhere else in 11 songs—she is an actress, after all. An essential CD for any collection, local or not.
HARRY LEE & THE BACK ALLEY BLUES BAND
Long Time Comin’
One of Utah’s top blues acts for nearly 10 years, harpman and singer Harry Lee couldn’t have named his first album, a cookin’ set of straight-up/low-down originals, any better.
The daughters of Bikini Kill and Morphine? Lovesucker’s irresistibly odd and bottom-heavy EP has jazzy musical depth to match its sexy punk swagger—good luck finding it.
Feel the Earth Spin
The crimson-haired Celt-folk songstress releases her first solo album since 1997, an unassuming collection of stripped-down originals. Yes, it’s amazing—you expected less?
Wrist Rockets & Roller Coasters
Terrance DH’s blistering guitars, metallic-pop confections and up-there vocals are unmistakable; here it all seamlessly blurs together like the perfect NASCAR pile-up.
Mud In It
Heavy, heavy, heavy, good lord, heavy—maybe if the late Helmet had looked less like tennis pros, they could have thrown down like this. As tuneful as it is turgid … look it up.
My Best So Far: A Bob Moss Anthology
Who deserves a best-of collection more than this crazy Clearfield cat? Spooky and kooky, Moss’ eerie cow-folk is the soundtrack to the lost Saturday-morning Twin Peaks cartoon.
Nothing I Can Do
Not to be confused with crap-metal merchants Puddle of Mudd, Muddpuddle is a roots-rock outfit with a sense of humor and an offhanded knack for roughed-up hooks.
Flower In My Fist
Affable if sometimes aimless adult-contempo rock, livened up considerably by dazzling guitar work and trippy Floyd (Pink, not the barber) psychedelics in the final track’s outro.
Straight outta the ’70s in form (country-fried rock & roll) and format (vinyl!), New House’s eight-song Hard Land is a dusty good time, should you locate dad’s turntable.
Only a voice can distinguish one Tool/STP hard rock act from the next, and No Release’s Jeremy Stanley has the leather lungs to do it—the band is also dead-solid, which helps.
THE NUMBS *
Not merely one of the best local releases, but probably one of the best indie hip-hop discs to drop in 2001. Relentlessly funky, sonically inventive and party-approved, with a blazing three-pronged mic attack that’s old-school, new-school … just Numbs school.
Enjoy the View
Badly, badly named for a heavy rap-metal band, Pipe Dream’s second album nonetheless rocks heartily, with rumbling low-end grooves and airtight riffage. New name contest?
Under the Influence
The fingerstyle guitar wiz takes on wildly divergent covers, from J.S. Bach to Irish jigs to a stunningly fluid Mamas & Papas/Rolling Stones/Del Shannon medley that defies genre.
I’m Just a Man
And what a hunk o’ man he is. Actor-musician Stephen Rippey’s two-song CD single is so commercially solid and instantly grabbing, you’ve gotta wonder, where’s the album?
The guitars may be tuned lower than sea level, but Sand’s nü metal is as thoughtfully melodious as it is skull-crushingly heavy—almost pretty, if that’s cool to say. No?
Live at Harry O’s
A band who can play like hell but sidestep (too much) Deadhead noodling, SM’s high-octane blend of rock and bluegrass is equal to most touring acts—and they have songs!
SECOND HAND GRACE
Second Hand Grace
They ceased to exist, and then put out a gorgeous double-CD set—too bad, too good. SHG’s sexy-tough brand of Stonesy rock and slinky R&B lives on digitally, at least.
The brain (damaged) child of recording engineer-drummer Tony Korologos and pals, Spazz is blinding psycho-jazz fusion of the freezer-burned Zappa variety—and it’s free!
CAROL STEFFANS JAZZ QUARTET
Eight tracks of hot-cool instrumental trad-jazz, Who Dat? recalls the usual suspects (Miles, Coltrane, Bird) while creating something uniquely new and swingin.’ Dig.
Straight-up metal is never going away, not as long as bands bother to rethink it instead of just knuckling under to cliché. The Street is thinking, and playing, harder than the pack.
SUNFALL FESTIVAL *
“I Walked Away” landed them a still-in-the-works label deal through Garageband.com, and the rest of Monday 23 marks Sunfall Festival as a band worthy of the major leagues. Amy Greetham’s sunny vocals aside, Scott Wiley’s rainbow of guitars wraps the gift.
Making rock-hard funk that doesn’t turn to cheese ain’t easy, but Swank 5 manages to lay down taut pocket-grooves that don’t quit, led by Chad Herd’s seething gutbucket pipes.
THIRTEENTH AVE BAND
Other Side of Lonely
Mainstream radio rock is better when someone actually brings tunes to the table, and the tight 13th Ave Band has a dozen or so with this clean debut CD. Note: More harmonica!
Show Me Something
Strippers. Pabst. Marshall stacks. Thunderfist is about all that makes America great, plus what makes it kinda smell after a few days in the trunk. God bless stoopid rock & roll.
Shut up—Graham Russell lives here, Yours Truly was recorded locally, and Air Supply is currently touring the world with an all-Utahn band. The music? Yeah, well …