CWMA 2012: Meet the Bands | Best of Utah Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

CWMA 2012: Meet the Bands 

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The Trappers
The Trappers are nothing if not distinct—be it the different onstage personas of the five members or the rootsy brand of alt-country they play. Their sound is brought to life with rolling drums and the heartwarming twang of Fender Telecasters. Their self-titled 2010 release is still a golden-hued gem on a bleak winter day, and it goes down oh so nice with a smooth bourbon. These boys can be seen often playing out with their “sibling” band The Folka Dots, and the two make a mighty fine cocktail together. (AD)

2011 was a big year for Salt Lake City’s country-fried, whiskey-soaked Bronco. It started with the winter release of their excellent second full-length, Painting Pictures of a Perfect Life, and ended with a fall tour of the Pacific Northwest, the band’s first such excursion, which included eight shows and 2,500 miles traveled. Painting Pictures was a huge leap forward from the rock-solid Constant Everything from 2007, with singer/songwriter Tyler Anderson delivering character sketches on songs like “Bishop’s Daughter” and “Brother’s Keeper” that sink into your soul and stay there. (Dan Nailen)


Dusk One
While Mindstate have been sitting in hiatus, Dusk One took the opportunity to further his solo career and make a bigger name for himself in the hip-hop scene. In early 2011, Dusk teamed up with the masterful producer FischLoops to release The Brady Effect EP, which sampled music and lines from the classic ’70s sitcom. But Dusk’s biggest contribution this year, if you ask around the scene, was supporting upcoming talent looking to break out. (GS)

It may have taken pioneering Utah hip-hop group the Numbs four years between albums, but that just meant they had plenty to say with their 2011 release, Soulburn. It’s an inspired collection of the group’s playful wordplay, delivered courtesy of Mark Dago, Rooster and Gunnar McKell. With DJ Shanty back on board, and a major assist from collaborator/beatmaster Linus Stubbs as well, Numbs brought old-school funk and soul samples to the fore on songs like “Situations Critical” and “The Great Escape.” If the results are always this good, Numbs can feel free to take four years every time they want to make a new album, as long as they keep delivering frantic live shows in between. (DN)

Burnell Washburn
Washburn accomplished something special during his rise through the hip-hop scene in 2011. He released a full-length album, Food of Love, gained a major following among local audiences and earned the respect of his peers, all before he was even old enough to play most of the venues in the state. Washburn turned 21 this past August, but he still managed to do more than some veteran MCs have done in five years, proving talent and respect have no age limit. (GS)


Ryan Tanner
You might know the mild-mannered troubadour as part of The Lower Lights or Paul Jacobsen & the Madison Arm, but in 2011 Ryan Tanner’s solo songwriting took him in exciting new directions. He won the grand prize in American Songwriter magazine’s nationwide lyric contest in its November/December 2010 issue, which earned him a trip to Nashville in 2011 for a chance to write and record with one of his roots-music heroes, Jim Lauderdale. Later, he released an excellent solo EP, Seven Years, and followed that with a showcase at the Americana Music Association’s annual convention. With songs that soar and sear, Tanner is a true local treasure. (DN)

Holy Water Buffalo
At the very end of 2010, Heber City band Holy Water Buffalo released an incredibly assured self-titled debut album. While the guitar-oriented, classic-rock vibe wasn’t a surprise to anyone who had seen the young quartet play live, the set introduced the band to a bigger audience thanks to the likes of KRCL offering ample local airplay. A year later, and Holy Water Buffalo is arguably an even more potent force, having played virtually every venue in the state and expanding their attack to clubs outside of Utah. If you can find a harder working band in the state, let us know. (DN)

Provo band Fictionist’s year was obviously highlighted by the group’s run to the final four in Rolling Stone’s contest to put a worthy unsigned band on its cover for the first time ever. Lost in the excitement and hoopla was Fictionist’s growth as a performing entity. Their sound—always tricky to stick with a simple label—continued to defy easy categorization. Sometimes it’s prog-rock, sometimes it’s delicate pop, and there’s more than a little classic-rock, jam-band vibe in there, too. Lead singer Stuart Maxfield’s confidence as a frontman seemed to grow by leaps and bounds along the way, too. In the end, Fictionist didn’t end up the first unsigned band on the cover of Rolling Stone. They ended up signed to major label Atlantic Records. (DN)


The Folka Dots
The tender harmonies of the Folka Dots are fluffier than Appalachian biscuits on a Sunday morn, and the acoustic grooves are more sumptuous than a plate of bacon. The five-piece band draws upon unamplified stringed instruments and takes musical cues from the South, but their music is less humid and has a decidedly Western tinge. It’s a barefoot-in-the-grass sentimentality that lends itself perfectly to playing the many farmers markets across the valley during warmer months. There, they’ve cut their chops and have cooked up some delectable new tunes, which they are baking in the studio early 2012. (AD)

The Mighty Sequoyah
Provo folk rockers The Mighty Sequoyah—who get their name from the Cherokee Indian who invented the Cherokee alphabet—released both their debut album Relative and a Christmas album in 2011, and the band is already gearing up to record their follow-up album this year. Front man Caleb Darger sings with the spirit of folk legends like Bob Dylan on issues of faith, tolerance and love, backed by the rest of his band as they create some of the most beautiful harmonies around. (SF)

Isaac Russell
Columbia Records signee Isaac Russell knows where it’s at: The troubadour just moved back to Provo from Los Angeles because the Wasatch Mountains and the Provo scene make for more fertile songwriting environs. The 20-year-old shows prowess beyond his years as he conjures up tunes in the vein of Elliot Smith and Ryan Adams, but with the fractured folk bent of his hometown. Now nestled home, he can focus on the follow-up to his 2010 self-titled debut EP on Columbia, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store. (AD)

The Moth & the Flame
Paying dues at open-mic nights apparently pays off in Provo. At least, it did for this 2011 buzz band. The core of the group, Brandon Robbins and Mark Garbett, began their foray into indie hipsterdom by playing loose tunes to who knows who Tuesday nights at Velour. Producer (and now band member) Nate Pyfer saw gold, though. The three then churned out ambient-rich, lush tunes on the self-titled debut—nine songs that oscillate from dark and brooding to synthy, Radiohead-esque gems. And with that, they sold out two CD release shows at Velour in November. How’s that for a success story? (AD)

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