Overlooked Local Albums From 2014 

10 albums you most likely don’t own, but should

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Well, 2014 is over, and like many music writers, I’ve created a list of my favorite albums released in the past year. My list focuses strictly on local music, which is a more daunting task than it seems to those who aren’t in the know. In 2014, nearly 350 local full-lengths and EPs were released, and that’s not counting the long list of singles that came out as well. Picking a Top 10 from that massive list is a challenge, especially when it covers so many diverse genres. And no matter what you put at No. 1, you’re going to see a slew of comments and e-mails telling you how stupid your choice was and why [insert band here] should be in that spot.

So, rather than say who I think is the best, this is a list of 10 local albums you should have checked out. More than likely, these bands aren’t in your Top 10 or even your Top 50, but they deserve your attention.

Night Sweats, Burgundy
Night Sweats were an exceptional Salt Lake City post-punk band, made up of experienced musicians David Payne, Stephen Chai, Mike Torretta, Scott Selfridge and Dick Diamond. The group had a phenomenal live presence and looked like they were on their way to doing great things before disbanding in late 2013. In the wake of their breakup, Payne released the band’s only full-length album, Burgundy, on his Rest 30 label. The moody album has elements of jazzy rock, new-wave and soul wrapped into a smooth post-punk atmosphere. Maybe Night Sweats will reunite one day, but for now, Burgundy is a great example of what could have been. Rest30Records.bandcamp.com/album/burgundy

Mkaio, The Devil Lived (EP)
Although Matthew Kammerer has primarily stayed behind the curtain when it comes to his music, 2014 was a breakout year for the electronic producer, as his musical persona Mkaio emerged as a live act and started captivating dance crowds. In May, he released his latest EP, The Devil Lived, showcasing growth in lyrical composition and bringing a dance element to genres like shoegaze and chillwave. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to hear these tracks become part of regular music rotations in many Salt Lake City clubs. Mkaio.com

Oxcross, Tree & Stone
Made up of rock heavyweights Andy Patterson, Jeff Anderson, Taylor Williams and Dave Jones, Oxcross is basically a doom-metal supergroup. The four men released Tree & Stone in April, creating the musical equivalent of a mud-covered truck filled with dynamite diving into a canyon filled with amps. The blending of stoner and doom metal work perfectly. Just holding the album in your hand will give you a ringing in your ears. Oxcross.bandcamp.com

New Shack, New Shack (EP)
Hailing from Provo, the duo of Eric Robertson and Catherine Leavy came together to make the alternative-pop project New Shack, and in the process created one of the sweetest EPs of the year. Their self-titled indie-electro venture feels like Phantogram, if Phantogram were stripped away all the pre-programmed elements and became a retro darkwave band. New Shack shifts from being a dance album to a lullaby on a dime but, commanded by Leavy’s vocal treatment, the tracks still sound like they belong together. NewShack.bandcamp.com

Foster Body, Landscapes
One of the best examples of the new-punk movement in Salt Lake City, Foster Body put together a fine post-punk album in March. The echoed vocals, the simplified drums, and the quickening within every guitar and bass line were all executed so fantastically you’d swear the band spent five years perfecting them. The album documents a year of changes for the band, including members joining and departing, which led to shifts in the band’s overall sound. It serves as one of the best examples of music from the punk scene this year, and a major mark for the “avant-hardcore” band. FosterBody.bandcamp.com

Tetris Fingers, 3 AM Rendezvous
Mixing elements of hip-hop, house beat, juke and electronica, Tetris Fingers is probably one of the furthest “out there” DJs in the Utah music community. At first glance, 3 AM Rendezvous sounds jarring and mildly abrasive, but once you get into the groove, you can hear the method to the madness. This may be one of the most structurally sound albums that never found an audience, and that’s a shame. TetrisFingers.bandcamp.com

The Salt, The Sea, And the Sun God, It’s All for You
Made up of musicians Dakota Miller, CJ Sweeten and Mitch Hawkins, this trio has become a standout in the Provo music scene as an experimental folk-pop group that’s not afraid to take risks. Those risks are reflected best in this debut album, where the band travel through every “easy-going” genre they can, from shoegaze to psychedelic to atmospheric. It’s All for You sounds like an early Pink Floyd album without all the unnecessary bells and whistles; it’s an art-rock album the masses can get behind. TheSaltTheSeaAndTheSunGod.bandcamp.com

90s Television, Bad 4 the Tooth (EP)
A late entry in the 2014 release list, this SLC indie-pop group have produced an EP showing fantastic promise for the future. Most of the band’s previous albums have been a cacophony of sound effects and lo-fi recording sessions with what sometimes felt like wayward planning. But Bad 4 the Tooth not only feels like a complete EP with a purpose, but also gives the listener a sense of what kind of band 90s Television is and where they’re headed. There’s still a mix of effects and genres that may put some off, but those willing to go on the journey may enjoy the ride. 90sTelevision.bandcamp.com

Valerie Rose Sterrett, Monsteria
A standout from Swoody Records’ catalog this year, Sterrett put together her debut solo album by mixing lo-fi alternative music with electronica/pop. The end result sounds like an indie opera, much in the vein of performers like Tori Amos or Kate Bush, where the album sounds like you’re going through a journey song by song. There’s a definitive gothic vibe that permeates the whole record, complete with a theremin and haunting organ adding to the atmosphere. But it doesn’t cheapen or devalue anything within; it only enhances the experience for those willing to give it a listen. SwoodyRecords.bandcamp.com/album/monsteria

Mooninite, Soda
A staple of Hel Audio’s lineup for the past two years, Andrew Aguilera has gone by the moniker Mooninite primarily as a project player, adding to other musicians’ work or splitting albums, as he did with RS2090 in 2012. Soda is Aguilera’s first full-length album, and combines sound effects from soda cans—hence the album’s theme—into various ambient and chillwave tracks. It serves as one of the best examples of what the local label has to offer those seeking electronica that isn’t centered around dubstep. HelAudio.bandcamp.com/album/soda

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