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Portia, Portia, Portia! 

Px3 on Uzi & Ari, Ayin and Dear Stranger

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Portia Early, X96 weekend DJ and host of Live & Local (Sundays, 8-10 p.m.), wants to tell you about three of her favorite Utah bands and songs:

Uzi & Ari, “MountainMolehill”
Uzi & Ari is essentially the solo project of local artist Ben Shepard. “MountainMolehill” is very much like The Postal Service, only Shepard’s voice is more of a baritone than Postal and Death Cab for Cutie leader Ben Gibbard’s. There is a guest female vocalist on this track and both of their voices are ethereal. Shepard seems to tour a lot. He’ll be cruising some Western states with Oregon-based band Johan the Angel in August, returning to Salt Lake City Aug. 22 for a Kilby Court show. He has a few CDs out, all of which I find to be great listening in my car with their ambient, electronic sounds and soothing vocals. It’s really good stuff, especially if you are a fan of The Postal Service, Radiohead or Sigur Ros. (MySpace.com/BenShepard)

Ayin, “Chemical Dependence”
The thing I like most about alternative-rock bands is their use of digital programming. Ayin, four-piece alt-rockers from Salt Lake City, use a Roland SPD-S sampling pad, and it sounds incredible. They also have dual keyboards. Then there’s the guitar, bass and drums. This is a really good band to see live. They’re enthusiastic, the songs are catchy and they are pretty original. They just had a CD release this spring, and at the end of “Chemical Dependence,” which has hypnotic sampling throughout the track, I thought the lyrics said, “Pull my finger.” Lead vocalist Skaught Parry is really singing, “Wrapped on my finger.” So now I’ve ruined that song for all of you. You’re welcome. Ayin is playing Liquid Joe’s on Friday, July 13, with local psych-rockers The Furs and Boise’s Abrupt Edge. (MySpace.com/Ayin)

Dear Stranger “Your Audience”
I can’t go on MySpace or see a poster or hear about a show lately without the name Dear Stranger being mentioned. They play a lot, which I encourage all bands to do. The quintet from Provo has a boatload of drive. Oh, yeah, and they sound good, too. They’re pretty tight, and frontman Guy Hayden’s vocals are strong and dramatic. “Your Audience,” off of their EP (ingeniously titled The EP) has a catchy guitar riff, tough drums and is just as good as any Hawthorne Heights or Hoobastank song. Go see them August 10 at Velour in Provo. If you miss it, I’m sure you can see them somewhere else the following week. (MySpace.com/DearStrangerMusic)

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