Right Star, AudioTreats, James Junius 

Local CD Reviews: From Right Star, With Love; Vol. 02; moth, wing, dream,

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Right Star, From Right Star, With Love
The new EP from producer Adrian Morales, aka Right Star, might be a cobbled-together collection of unreleased tracks and songs from other projects, but it's still a cohesive release in its own right. Featuring appearances from several skilled local emcees—including Dine Krew, Atheist, B and Ruddy Carpel—From Right Star, With Love is eclectic, but Morales' smooth, jazzy Nujabes-reminiscent beats lace everything together into a tight EP that should be listened to at night for full effect. Three velvety instrumental tracks placed strategically at the beginning, middle and end set the mood to mellow and keep it there, even after B brings the energy on "Like Mic"—the bass and acoustic guitar is excellent, weaving deftly through the lyrics—and Ruddy Carpel confidently spits his verses on "Cool Hercules" over some classic boom-bap. The production is also well-matched to the emcee it's backing: Atheist's nostalgic words on "Memories" pair well with the track's significant piano presence, and the city-under-moonlight feel of "Simplicity" is the perfect background for some easy-going Dine Krew rhymes. Self-released, Aug. 11, RightStar.bandcamp.com

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AudioTreats, Vol. 02
Producer Haein Lee's follow-up to 2013's Vol. 01 is an EP of five chillstep/electronica/trap tracks that are brain-soothingly serene but also entertain the ear with complex arrangements of beats and tones. With its self-assured sophistication and cool elegance, the mostly instrumental Vol. 02 would be the perfect thing to listen to while pretending you're starring in a movie about stealing fast cars or hacking into high-security networks—or just unwinding after a hectic day. The album begins with the dual tracks "Farewell Part A." and "Farewell Part B."; the first starts with a glowing synthscape that's underlaid with an easygoing beat, and "Farewell Part B." picks the energy up with razor-sharp beats and slowly swelling climaxes. "Love" is as sexy as its title might imply, the relaxed soundtrack to an afternoon spent in bed with a certain someone. Although it continues the album's laid-back feel, "Glossy" seems to have a driving purpose to it, and "Token" shimmers with piano that's punctuated with bouncy beats, giving a gorgeous end to the EP. Self-released, Aug. 5, AudioTreats.bandcamp.com

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James Junius, moth, wing, dream,
Inspired by his travels throughout the West, the debut full-length album from Salt Lake City singer-songwriter James Junius is often as picturesque and peaceful as gazing out the window of a car, even though some parts of it are rough around the edges—perhaps because it was recorded in only three days. The 12 folk/pop tracks of moth, wing, dream, are ethereal and melancholy, with Junius' vocals and instrumentation often overlaid with nature sounds and other ambient effects, making for a meditative listening experience. Standout tracks include moody pop number "Lake Days" and a haunting, harmony-rich cover of the folk song "Down in the Valley," which adds to the lyrics "Hear the train blow" with sounds of a chugging train. However, the guitar isn't working in more than a few spots, especially on "Backlands," where it's off-rhythm, is so loud that it buries the vocals and doesn't meld with the melody. But overall, moth, wing, dream, is a preview of good things to come. Self-released, Aug. 12, JamesJunius.bandcamp.com

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