We have a brand new site! Please go to to view our new site! Thanks!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pablo Blaqk - Sons & Daughters

I made a list of bands in Provo, currently at 115, and over 40 of those play some variation of acoustic indie folk. The reason that this sort of music is so prevalent in Provo is that many wish to imitate those who play it well. Pablo Blaqk is no imitator. His new album, Sons & Daughters, co-produced by Blaqk and Provo's premiere folk leader, Joshua James, is going to change the landscape of the genre here. It's much braver and more experimental than a casual listen might indicate.

I met Pablo was at Wild Apples' last show, and Ferocious Oaks were kind enough to let him play a song in the middle of their set. I had heard his name before, but never his music. While I can't say I was blown away by the solo performance, I did honestly enjoy it and was excited to hear more. Luckily, one of my roommates is a good friend of Pablo's and handed me an extra copy of the album a couple nights ago. I couldn't wait to give it a review.

From the first few measures of the album, where Pablo sings "Sons and daughters, where have the animals gone to?", I was already entranced. The piano and ambient white noises are out of this world. The faint echo of overdrive gives the short song a climax, and then the acoustic guitar of "Find Your Way" starts. Slide guitar and banjo accent the song in that cliche country folk way, but the sounds of crunchy guitars balance everything nicely. Watch the video and form your own opinion:

The rest of the album follows in a similar vein. Most of it is fairly melancholy and it all rings familiar. Though catchy songs like "Family Tree" and "Papa & the Sea" greatly elevate the mood, the majority is slower, more thoughtful. It's the kind of album I can imagine a broken-hearted girl crying to. (Though I wouldn't cry to it myself because crying isn't cool.) It sounds like it could be a soundtrack, like Badly Drawn Boy's music to About A Boy. I honestly hope that some folks out in Hollywood get a hold of this album and put some songs in their films and television shows.

The production is perfect. Many of the songs have at least one element that sets them apart from the rest. Whether it's the electric guitars of "Find Your Way" or the synthesizers in "Didn't Mean To", Blaqk and James found unique ways to give the album its own voice. While it is difficult to know how much direct influence Joshua James had on the album, you can hear his idiosyncrasies creeping into each track.

Blaqk's breathy voice is reminiscent of James himself or our beloved Cody Taylor (who I should mention is currently on iTunes' "New and Noteworthy" under Singer/Songwriters along with Sayde Price. Provo represent!) Blaqk separates himself from his contemporaries by being more of a baritone. If you find yourself tired of folk singers, then this album could be grating. At least Blaqk's much more resonant tone in "Annalee" had me checking the album's liner notes to make sure it wasn't a different vocalist. I would like to hear more of the album through that voice. But the man can sing very well and it perfectly compliments the music, no matter what he is doing.

"Dear Abbey" may be my favorite song on the album, but I'm a sucker for songs with slow buildups and big climaxes. The synth, horns, and piano all work together to wake up the listener. But they feel earned, never coming in too early. But the string arrangements of "Papa & the Sea" find themselves competing for my affection. Many different instruments are used to create a somewhat dreamy experience.

If I were the type of reviewer to give out ratings, Sons & Daughters would have quite a high ranking. Though it is kind of sad that those first two minutes of introduction may be the most inspiring thing on it.  The rest of the album is inspiring, emotional, and very real, but it falls firmly into that genre of "Provo Folk" ("Provolk?"). It's far from my favorite kind of music, but it's something I enjoy immensely when done right. I salute Mr. Blaqk, Mr. James, and everyone who contributed to this album, especially the musicians whose competency sculpted the many sounds found within. You can purchase Sons & Daughters on iTunes or from And there's going to be a big deal CD Release Party up in Salt Lake at Brewvie's Cinema Pub on Thursday, April 14.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Compound bringin' it old school: Tacocat, 90s Television, and Glowing Heads

The Compound, Provo's hidden venue, played the host to some fine rock/roll last night. The house was packed and my ears are still ringing.

Glowing Heads, photo by Alex Pow
Glowing Heads kicked off the show, playing some mini-indie-alt-rock (minimalist independent alternative rock and roll). My first thoughts veered towards Beat Happening. Everything was completely stripped down. The guitar was slightly overdriven and delayed. The vocals were quiet and muffled. The bass followed the guitar lines. The drum kit was nothing but a snare and floor tom. Influences of surf, punk, and the Velvet Underground were aplenty. When I think about being in a band, this is exactly it. Getting together with friends and making music together because it's just a really fun thing to do.

90s Television, photo by Alex Pow
90s Television picked up where Glowing Heads left off. I knew I would like them just from their setup - a Fender Jazzmaster AND a Roland Juno-60 synthesizer? I thought I was the only person in Provo who owned one of those. 90sTV have a very spacey sound. The crunch of the Jazzmaster is contrasted by the twangy funk of a wah-driven SG. The vocals run through a very heavy delay, and my position right in front of the singer made the PA impossible to hear. This also made the synth inaudible for me, so I will have to hear the band another time to form an educated opinion. I loved what I heard though. Distorted guitars and Clayton Godby's drums are really all I need to have fun at a concert.

Tacocat, photo by Alex Pow
But the Compound exists to give touring bands somewhere to play (and sleep) in Provo. Last night's headliner were Seattle surf punk band Tacocat. Three parts girl and one part dude, Tacocat knows how to write a catchy, fun song then crank up the speed and volume. Singer Emily Nokes is a tiny, feisty little girl who constantly dances and shakes the tambourine during the performance. The whole band is fantastic though, having written some great music and playing it great together. Shows every single night help them to solidify their sound too. Provo would be very lucky to have them come through town again, and I really hope you can be there to see.

Photographer Trevor Christensen took some great pictures of the night and created this very cool slideshow to one of their songs (you can see me awkwardly standing in the right of many of the photos!):

This free advertisement for your work is a special thank you to Trevor for all the exposure he is giving my blog.

If you have yet to come to the show at the Compound, then you're missing out on a fundamental Provo experience. Their next show is Friday, April 8. I hope to see you there!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Thanks for all the support so far!

I honestly can't understand what people are expecting from a free blog run by a busy college student who also works. I'm not even a writer. I haven't gotten a good grade on a writing assignment since high school. I've even started every sentence so far with "I", if that tells you anything. I started this blog with absolutely zero expectations, initially using it as a place to rant about things that pissed me off. It was Muse's Battle of the Bands and I heard so much crap that week that I needed to tell people about it. I probably even dismissed some fairly good bands since we were all in competition with one another (but at least I discovered The Lunatic, who I'm listening to right now and are currently my favorite local band).

If it weren't for Blogger's wonderful Stats feature, I would have probably given this blog up already. The Facebook page only has a handful of fans, and less than half of those officially "follow this blog" on here. Each article generally gets 0-3 comments. But numbers tell me that people are actually reading this thing:

In March alone, it's already been viewed 1500+ times. People are actually reading this amateur imitation of journalism. Or at least, clicking on the links that get posted to Facebook. (As of now, 30 different people posted a link to my last post from Facebook. A record!) I'm also a bit confused as to why I've been linked from, but um, thanks? What I'm saying is, even though I became an art major to avoid my mediocre writing, I'm glad people out there think this blog is somewhat worthwhile, even if I can be incredibly pretentious.

I have quite a lot planned for this blog in the future. We are going to start a weekly video podcast soon. And now that I have a job, I plan on saving money to turn this into a proper website where we'll make a database of all the bands in Provo. This is a big scene, and it's very scattered and unorganized. I'd just like to bring some unity (even if it's people united against me).

But most importantly, I'm always looking for more contributors. I don't have the talent to do this blog alone like How to Provo, so I encourage any and all lovers of the scene to write something. I will post it.

And if you have any comments/complaints/threats, just come look for me at shows and angrily scream them at me. I'll be at the Compound tonight for this show w/ Tacocat, Glowing Heads, 90s Television, and Twins. It is going to blow your balls off.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Provo can rock. It can rock hard. (Concert Report: Velour, March 25 2011)

Chasing Kings' frontman Matt Schwartz told me last night that no other town in the United States has a music scene like Provo.

Music is my raison d'ĂȘtre. I listen to it as I walk to and from campus. I listen to it as I work on art projects. I sing along loudly in my car. I've been playing it since I was a child. I go to shows every single weekend. I write about music on the internet. I play in a band. I just love music.

And last night, Provo was catering to my tastes. 100 Block was rocking hard. Muse had some great new bands. The Deathstar was throwing a hard garage rock show. But I was at Velour, where I had one of my best local concert experiences yet. For your reading pleasure, here is a review of that show:

The Future of the Ghost

Future of the Ghost comes to us from Salt Lake City. They play some good old fashioned indie rock. Their songs are catchy and simple but carry a lot of punk influence. The guitars are just crunchy enough to dirty up the sound in all the right ways. And the light synth adds a whole other layer to the band that nicely fills out the soundscape. The band boasts two frontmen who trade off singer/guitar/bass duties, yet the sound stays consistent between the two of them. They write some interesting guitar parts and know when to let feedback speak for itself. I hope they take the time to come down and play in Provo often.

Chasing Kings

Chasing Kings rolled into town last Halloween weekend and blew everyone away with their vocal harmonies, catchy hooks (did I seriously just write that?), and engaging performance. One of them was kind enough to give me a copy of their EP The Current State of Our Future, and it stayed in my car's stereo for a long time. They came back into town and once again, played a fantastic show. They played a lot of new songs from their forthcoming record, but everyone saw the mark they left on the town when we all sang along to their EP's title track. I hope they made a lot of new fans last night, and I really hope you're there when they next play in Provo.

Holy Water Buffalo

I've told you folks about Holy Water Buffalo in the past, but let me reiterate that they are a great rock and roll band who are very quickly making a name for themselves in the local scene. Last night was no exception.

Eyes Lips Eyes

I have seen Eyes Lips Eyes (formerly Elizabethan Report) the last six times they've come into town since moving to Los Angeles. How can I miss the greatest live show in Provo? Fresh off a stint at SXSW, Tony Hello and his band of merrymen showed us all how to put on a real rock show. The band is tighter than ever. If Hello were more self-conscious, his showboating could be seen as egotistic, but he just completely lets himself go as he flails around the stage and gets the audience to sing along. Instead of overshadowing his bandmates, he lets us see them even more. Spencer Petersen's innovative guitar playing is inspiring. Aaron Hatch's bass adds a lot of funk, and he makes sure to hog up the stage as much as anyone. Thomas Carroll's steady and eccentric drum playing gives the band the base they need to go crazy. The audience is completely participatory: singing along, jumping up and down, clapping, dancing. The whole event taps into this primal human need to just let go of inhibitions and be one with a group of people. While Eyes Lips Eyes may not have played my favorite music of the night (though they still write some amazing, amazing stuff),  they did manage to steal the show every time through sheer force of will.

I also caught Eidola at Muse Music last night in between sets at Velour. Eidola is the new project of former Follow the Earth frontman Andrew Wells. Wells writes some very complicated songs, but he grounds them in some good Rock & Roll. It is a sound that is entirely his own, accentuated by the crazy light show his band always puts on. Let me just say that Eidola are a very, very good band and will be making waves in the Provo scene in the close future.

After all the shows, the Parlor had an "aftershow" where Tighty Willis played as people ate pizza. Sometimes, you just need to dance until 2 in the morning. Last night was one of those times.

I really am impressed with the scene here. It's strong. Velour, Muse, the Compound, and now the Deathstar are all doing so much to keep music alive in town. I used to worry that it was too much competition all right next to each other, but last night all three venues were packed with people, and tonight might be even worse. I now look at 100 Block as a little music festival every weekend with multiple stages. I think our little scene here is about to see an explosion, and some of these bands that we enjoy are going to see themselves in the spotlight on a national scale. Let's just enjoy the music together.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fan Mail #1

You should follow @Provo_Music on Twitter for all sorts of treats and goodies.

Hey everyone, lately I've been getting plenty of e-mails, but most of those are people either asking me to review albums/shows or sometimes even asking me to help book a show! But I also get the occasional bit of fan mail, telling me what a great job I've been doing. Just yesterday I saw this lovely e-mail from "Richard" in my inbox and I wanted to share it with everyone:


I just wanted to let you know what a total douchebag you are--or at least how absolutely shitty your music reviews are. I can't speak for your character as an individual, but I'm not surprised in the least that no one in Provo reads, follows, or otherwise pays any attention at all to your blog.

Please don't take this as a personal attack. I'm just sick of side-liners who play in washed-up, unoriginal bands but feel like they are entitled to make crap judgements from some sort of pretentious, god-given soap box. (Yes, I've listened to Wild Apple's music, and I've even seen you play live, and you were pretty awful). But really, the internet has enough junk on it without your meaningless contributions. 

So please, do your part to make the world a better place and stop writing such lame reviews. Consider this hiatus as a form of community service; some people have to go out of their way to help the world around them by picking up trash, volunteering, planting trees, or donating to charity. All you have to do is stop what you're doing, and go do something else. Masturbation, crochet, cooking, or even just playing halo all day would be much more productive and meaningful than your current music blogging.

If, because of your incredibly douchebag-distorted view of reality, you think that this is funny or a joke, it's not. Really, I mean it. Please stop writing that piece of shit blog of yours.



Thanks for the kind words, Richard! I always appreciate when someone takes time out of their day to write me!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Calm Paradox - How to Mind

Most girls, when they pick up an acoustic guitar, are content to either imitate Taylor Swift or Ingrid Michaelson. They don't sing with their real voice, opting instead to imitate the pronunciations and inflections of a favorite singer. With every newcomer, I see more and more homogeny. (Not that boys are much better, about 3/4ths of every open mic night is filled with Jake Johnson would-be's.) There are very few girls (and guys, for that matter) who simply like to kick some ass.

Michelle Kennedy's brainchild Calm Paradox joins Provo's White Elephant and Salt Lake's SLFM as an exception to that rule. She may have started as another singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar and a few chords, but she knows the beauty of an overdriven guitar and a solid drum beat. Calm Paradox is reminiscent of indie rockers such as the New Pornographers and Metric. She writes pop songs then cranks up the guitar and rocks out.

In less than half an hour, her indie (and I mean that in its original sense) album How to Mind (which you can listen to at shows the very promising start of what could eventually be Utah's favorite alt rocker. The album is littered with fuzz, synths, piano, and fairly original sounds. It's like she tailor made it all for me, knowing my musical sensibilities. Yet it's still very accessible and could appeal to a very wide demographic. Most songs don't break the three minute mark, giving us just enough to want a little more and never tiring out.

I really love the album and have listened to it quite a few times already, but unfortunately for Calm Paradox, playing the kind of music that I like also means that I am extra critical.

There's a certain level of monotony to the album, though clever instrumentation helps keep things interesting. A few songs in, the melodies and rhythms start to feel repetitive, with some exceptions. "Rich Kid" has a great, catchy chorus, and "This May" has the album's most distinctive and engaging melody. For the most part, I can perfectly imagine these songs being played by any number of female guitarists/singers. "Rites of Passage" are the most notable examples of this, being little more than an acoustic guitar, vocals, and piano. It works since the rest of the album is more energetic, but it's also the key to seeing the origin behind the rest of the album.

What makes How to Mind special is the way Kennedy presents her music. The girl can sing, and more importantly, she doesn't fake her voice. One of my chief grievances in music is when a singer does his or her best to imitate someone else's style (as complained about in the beginning of this review). You can tell that it's fake, and it shows a certain level of insecurity (whether conscious or not) from the vocalist. Kennedy knows her own voice and displays it proudly. It's just so damn refreshing!

The instrumentation compliments her songwriting. Without it, she would just be another girl and guitar. "Barcelona" and "Sunrise" have some of my favorite arrangements. The former uses pauses to great effect and latter includes some subtle strings to accentuate the melody. Occasionally there are some hiccups: my least favorite song on the album, "Dystopia", has some guitars that could use another few takes in the studio. I would like to hear what Kennedy's songs would sound like with some more experimental instrumentation. Right now it's still fairly generic. The songs are open enough that you could do almost anything with them at this point. Some more melodies and harmonies would add some wonderful color to How to Mind.

The lyrics can be... lacking. They feel more like placeholders for the music than any kind of poetry unto themselves. If you stuck a lyric sheet in front of me, I would be very surprised by how good the music is in comparison. It's that voice that gives them meaning. Although I can say I am a fan of the line "I'd rather share a married man than have a cheating asshole who's all mine" from "Boots". She has clever lines like that now and then, such as "as tangible as death can get" and "let's use friction to heat our frozen lips" from "Influenza Tiger". Still, those moments are few.

My favorite song is the album's closer "This May". It would be stronger at an earlier point in the album. And I wish it were longer than it is, building up to a bigger climax and finishing out strong. It shows a lot of promise for the young artist, and I hope it is indicative of things to come.

I am a big fan of Calm Paradox's debut effort. I may have sounded like an overly critical know-it-all in this review, but only because I see a lot of potential in what Kennedy is doing and hope that she constantly improves. The album is very enjoyable and very clean. It's too clean, actually. Overproduced. Calm Paradox deserves a dirtier, rawer sound. I'd like to see what she can do live with a full band. I know that I will be at the show, right at the front.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Matt Weidauer, The Brocks, and Provo's bustling music scene

Don't forget to follow @Provo_Music on Twitter for all your local opinions in short form!

Last night in Provo, there were four different concerts happening within a very small radius. I found myself wandering around, seeing all the sites and running into friend after friend. At Muse Music, patrons were treated to the folky simplicity of Garret Williams and Alameda, as well as Jennifer Blosil's jazz-inspired songs. At the Deathstar, one could see some harder rock bands like the Incidentals, Stencils, and the Strokes-esque Crylics. Velour was having a ska night where skanking was most definitely encouraged.

The big event was Fictionist outside Sammy's. They closed off that whole block so several hundred people could watch them play. As you are probably aware, Fictionist is in a contest to get on the cover of Rolling Stone. They're Provo's biggest band right now (not counting Neon Trees). Allred played, though I can't say I became a fan. I did manage to catch Lindsey Stirling's hip-hop violin act though. Stirling was recently a finalist on America's Got Talent and has been making a name for herself. She was thoroughly entertaining and you should see her as soon as possible. I left after Fictionist played a couple songs to go see Jennifer Blosil's set at Muse, but I can understand why people are such big fans of the band. I wish them success.

There was so much to do last night for local music fans! If you wanted to hate one thing, you could enjoy another. Provo-based music is getting ready to blow up. Record companies have been watching bands around here. There are dozens upon dozens of bands in town, and a select few will soon find themselves gaining national attention. Neon Trees are bona fide pop stars, with "Animal" having been featured on Kidz Bop, Glee, and even Now! That's What I Call Music. Joshua James and Parlor Hawk are some of iTunes best sellers in their genres. Empirates are about to be featured on radio stations across the country and are very likely to become an under-the-radar hit.

These aren't the bands for this blog though. I'm here to tell you about someone you may not have heard of who has been making great music that goes unnoticed because it may be less accessible or just lacks promotion. Today I will be reviewing a couple local recordings, one old and one new. Requests for reviews have been steadily increasing (which means people have been reading!) so I decided it would be more prudent to include more than one at a time.

Matt Weidauer - Birds

It may be a job requirement in the United States that public school bus drivers listen exclusively to Country stations, as that is all I heard as a child. And I absolutely hated every second of it. The entire genre was sullied by exaggerated (and often completely fake) southern drawls, homogenous orchestration, and faux-patriotism.

Luckily, Matt Weidauer exists to show us that Country can be intelligent, pleasing, and good. He released his album, Birds, back in late 2009, but I recently acquired a copy and I intend to give it a small fraction of the exposure it deserves. Weidauer plays that wonderful mix of country, folk, and bluegrass that has slowly come to define music in and around Utah. The eight songs that make up Birds are fine songs in and of themselves, and they all work wonderfully together to produce an album worth buying.

My favorite song is "A Just & Perfect Man", a song about Job from the Old Testament. The lyrics tell the story from Job's shoes (or, well, boiled feet). Weidauer conveys the importance of overcoming adversity and sticking to one's principles through his steady guitar and subtle voice. It's the sort of song that could be forgotten on an album such as this. It has no drums, no bass, no harmonica. It's only Matt, a guitar, and a violin. And it's short. But its simplicity is why it's so good. I wouldn't change a single thing about the song, and it breathes new life into an old Bible story.

Please, buy this album. You can purchase Birds on iTunes or pick up a copy at Muse Music Cafe. It is worth every penny and will help support local music that doesn't suck. And make sure you see Matt Weidauer at his next performance. He plays an acoustic guitar better than the majority of artists in town and it's worth it for that alone.

The Brocks - The Brocks EP

The Brocks sound like an 80s movie soundtrack. Or a late 90's radio rock band. But more modern. The influences are all there. They have a variety of sounds. The recording quality is fantastic and everything is well performed. But it tends to go all over the place, never giving them a distinctive sound. Are they pop? Rock? Indie? Folk? I am all for incorporating as many genres as possible, but it doesn't quite feel cohesive. The one thing keeping the record together is the organ.

"She Loves You" is a fun pop song. It's not what I would listen to in my spare time, but I wouldn't deem you a Philistine if you told me you liked it. "Run Away From Here" is similar in scope and style. Starting the EP with these two songs would have the listener assume that their entire catalogue sounds just like this, when that's not true.

The one exception to the EP is "You Are", which sounds so much like Coldplay that it may as well be a tribute, British accent and everything. I don't listen to Coldplay (ever), but this is not a bad song by any means. Much like Coldplay, it feels very spacey, never distorting the guitars. Also like Coldplay, it feels like it just barely misses the climax that would turn it from a good song to a fantastic one. It's a fine song, but don't base your opinion of The Brocks on it, as the rest of the EP never quite sounds like this.

The highlight of the EP is "I'll Try". It's catchy, simple, and has some fairly cool instrumentation. The arpeggiated synthesizer adds a bit of subtle flavor. The recording feels like it was done underwater, but I do not mean that in a bad way. There's a dreamlike quality to the song. The next song, "Satisfy" is fairly similar. The vibrato on the synth (or organ?) later in the song comes across as awkward, but doesn't last. "Since I Held You" sounds like some discarded Beatles song played with folk instruments. The EP ends with "The American Revolution", which is actually a great song. The hip hop drum beat and variety of instrumentations help what would otherwise be a repetitive and boring song.

Perhaps a different song order would help the EP. The individual songs are well written and performed, but as a whole it just feels off. I am most definitely not the Brocks' audience so it is difficult for me to judge them or their music. I like that they mix up genres, but I'm not a big fan of how they mix up their genres. If you're a fan of upbeat pop folk, give their EP a listen at Reverb Nation. This is a group where I say, "make up your own mind".


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Glowing Heads, the Howitzers, Colleen Green, and Meth House Party Band @ the Compound (March 12, 2011)

by Alex Pow

Follow @Provo_Music on Twitter for up-to-the-minute snarky opinions and mean-spirited comments!

This was the first Compound show I’ve been to in a while, and it was the best show I have ever been to in my life. I used to go when my friends’ hardcore band played there, but since they split up I haven’t been. After Saturday’s show, I’ll do my best to never miss another one. 

Glowing Heads played first, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I missed their whole set except for the last half of the last song. What I heard (a sweet bass-line and some dreamy synthesizers) was awesome and I’ll be at their next show no matter where it is - I promise.

The Howitzers, a garage-rock three-piece, played second; I hear that some of the members used to be in The Yaks, another band in Provo that stopped playing before I moved here. I was impressed by the guitarist, who played some sexy, psychedelic guitar riffs and solos. Mid-set the vocalist/bassist said to the guitarist, “I told you to do more stuff.” I think he was doing plenty of stuff. They asked if anyone liked playing Super Metroid and then said the next song was called “Samus.” So, yeah, awesome. I thought it was very appropriate that the vocalist was wearing sunglasses and standing directly in front of the dartboard, so the warning sign above him read, “IF YOU HIT THE WALL YOUR CLOTHES HAVE TO COME OFF.” Sexy.

Colleen Green, touring from LA, started setting up, and I knew I was going to love them before they even played their first song. Colleen introduced the bassist as her friend Melissa (hope I got that right), and the two girls set up a drum machine, put on their sunglasses and started playing a song that instantly brought Dum Dum Girls (one of my favorite bands) to mind - their long, dark hair probably also had a little to do with that. I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of Colleen Green before, but thank goodness I have now. Colleen has a sweet, but also kind of droney voice, and the steady beats of the drum machine provided an interesting contrast to the fuzzy guitar. The second song they played was a cover of The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and it ruled. After the set was over, we all started asking for one more song, and so they played another one for us. I bought the “Green One” 7” after the show - it’s the best thing I’ve bought this year (I might even like it better than the new Dum Dum Girls EP). Colleen Green is the reason this was the best show I have ever been to. Thank you, Colleen.

Meth House Party Band played last, and before one of their songs they said “this is about being fans of The Cramps in Idaho Falls.” I think that may be the best way to describe how they sounded - very punk-rock. The bass drum had a skull and crossbones spray painted on it, but with Pacman instead of a skull. 

I hope you'll all go to a Compound show. They’re always fun, and you can find out about some great bands. 


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cody Taylor's Debut Album

Hey you kids, follow @Provo_Music on Twitter to get all my fast updates, first impressions, and snarky comments (mostly the latter)!

Cody Taylor has finally finished his self-titled debut album. He has been performing in and around Provo for quite some time, perfecting his sound and working on the album. Cody plays a fairly traditional form of singer/songwriter folk, similar to artists such as Damien Rice, Elliott Smith, and even Nickel Creek. His shows are often just him with an acoustic guitar, occasionally accompanied by someone on violin or cello. The raw emotion he displays gives Cody the individuality that otherwise might be lacking in such a traditional American genre.

I was able to obtain a copy of Cody Taylor's Cody Taylor last week and have hopefully given it enough listens for an honest review (or in Cody's own words, "brutally honest"). To start off, the album is good. Very good. The more and more I hear from local artists, the more I am convinced that the only difference between the unknown and famous is exposure. Take a listen to the album's third track, "Don't Go":

This song was recorded quite a long time ago, but it no less fits right into the album. It's catchy, fast, and would not be out of place on a Top 40 station (that almost seems like an insult coming from me, but I mean it as a compliment). If my math is correct, that song was recorded while he was still in high school, showing a much more mature musician/songwriter than his age might indicate.

While the album has its share of energetic songs such as "Criminal Virtue" and "Ralphie", most the record is slower and softer. But the album never drags and never bores. The songwriting is so good that Cody succeeds where others routinely (especially around here) fail.

Cody has one of the best singing voices in town, something I know on a personal level as he makes me look like a drunk karaoke singer in our Backstreet Boys cover for Reliving the 90s. He showcases a wide vocal range, from the baritone of "Timeless" to the tenor of "Love, Love, Love". Despite the professional quality of both his voice and the recording, it still feels somewhat raw thanks to the emotion injected into every note.  I mentioned in my review of Cody's house show that he puts more emotion into his performances than anyone else in Provo, and that carries right into the LP.

The instrumentation of Cody Taylor is not to be ignored either. With a background heavily steeped in orchestrated heavy metal, Cody makes sure to keep things interesting. Harmonica, strings, and mandolin are scattered throughout the songs, giving them their folky flavor. The string arrangements are marvelous. While I do not know how much of the album is actually performed by Mr. Taylor himself or by other musicians, I can say that everything is very clean and very well recorded. Cody's perfectionism has paid off in that aspect.

The album only suffers in that the song order feels a bit awkward. I can't say I have suggestions on how to fix it or that I wouldn't have made the same choices if put in Cody Taylor's shoes, but it doesn't feel very cohesive. None of the songs are subpar and some are spectacular, but as a whole it feels disjointed. Thanks to the fact that it took so long to record, it ends up feeling more like a compilation and less like an album.

The worst part of the album though is that I have it in my iTunes playlist, and as soon as it ends, Coldplay's "Don't Panic" starts. I have since deleted Coldplay from my computer. Now it segues into Colin James Hay's "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin", one of my favorite songs.

The album will officially be released next week on Thursday, March 24 at the Release Show at Velour with the Second Estate, Donnie Bonelli, and Wolves. Cody will be playing with a full band, an experience I have personally wanted to see for a long time. If you want to pre-order the album at a cheaper cost, e-mail Cody himself. You can also download it from The CD shows that local artists can do it just as good if not better than famous acts, and you would do a lot to support that cause by purchasing a copy.

You can also buy the album on iTunes! And I suggest you do.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

News et cetera

I am currently making somewhat futile attempts to create a logo for Provo Music. This is where I currently am:

It is just a prototype. I might be an artist but I most definitely not a graphic designer (nor do I have the money to afford one). You see, the orange dot on the "i" is where Provo is, and that's about as clever as I know how to get when it comes to this sort of thing. You can tell me how much it sucks or how great it is. I constantly dish out my fair share of criticism but I don't want to be one of those unstable jerks who can't take it either. I mean, if you see my band play and send me a scathing review, I'm not going to get all Charles Foster Kane and post it just to prove that I can be unbiased. This whole paragraph has become rather stream-of-consciousness, but I woke up late today and missed my Jazz Improv class and am a little upset.

This is all getting very "personal blog". Here are some things to say that you will actually care about:

Colin Hatch, frontman of Tighty Willis won Second Place in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Video Challenge with "Answer the Phone". So, for your viewing pleasure, here is the video!

Tighty Willis are a group of great songwriters and musicians who really deserve this recognition. They also put on one of the best live shows around. (Perhaps Colin is inspired by his brother's band Eyes Lips Eyes.) Luckily for you, faithful readers, they will be playing this Saturday at Muse Music Cafe with Ferocious Oaks and Wild Apples (shameless self promotion). You can hear the rest of Colin's fantastic, non-award winning songs, and purchase a copy of Ferocious Oaks' new Polyamory EP! Yours truly will also have an art installation up at Muse for one night only. The place is going to be colorful like you've never seen it before.

And in the very near future, we shall be starting a weekly Provo Music Podcast! Any ideas you have for people to interview/things to talk about would be very much welcome!



Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ferocious Oaks - Polyamory EP

I have been jonesing to get my hands on Ferocious OaksPolyamory EP and was finally able to last night. The band released the EP headlining Velour a week ago, to much success. They are relatively new but have been quickly growing in success thanks to their energetic and unpredictable live shows. (They are also the only band in town brave enough to take a harp on stage, after all.) Within the next year, Ferocious Oaks can very easily become one of the bigger bands in town, and hopefully have enough exposure to be known on a much broader scale.

Polyamory has been in my hands for less than 12 hours, but it's short enough that I have given it quite a few listens already. It is 15 solid minutes of new music. I emphasize the "new" because frankly nothing sounds quite like this. Sure, it's an indie folk album, but it avoids the many cliches of the increasingly popular genre. Halfway through the title track, the band shoves a whole lot of coal into the engine, setting the tone for the rest of the record. Instead of slide guitar, there's a flute. Instead of banjo, there's a harp. Instead of four-part vocal harmonies, the melody is accompanied by bitter (yet upbeat) screaming. Like the virtually unknown Parenthetical Girls, Ferocious Oaks takes a pair of scissors and cuts out different styles and influences then glues them onto construction paper in whatever way they please.

Strong songwriting is at the base of the EP. Any band can be weird or different yet completely awful. Polyamory shows us that you can do whatever you like with a song if the song is well written. It is as catchy as anything you'll hear on the radio. Justin Duckwitz with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his voice would make for a great show. The songs underneath the instrumentation are simple enough that one could translate them to rock or pop or really anything, but it's the way they are performed and arranged that gives the band its unique flavor.

Despite all the strings and woodwinds present in the EP, it still feels very raw. But I mean that in a very positive way. Too often a band goes into a studio and loses everything that makes them special. They become a sanitized, boring version of themselves. Polyamory does not suffer this same fate. Duckwitz puts so much emotion and energy into each song that one feels as though he is in the recording booth with him. Everything stays acoustic where other bands would be tempted to put in some loud, distorted guitars. The Oaks fill that space up with an orchestra's instruments. (An occasional mandolin in thrown in for good measure.) This record feels like the listener is watching a jam session of seasoned musicians, maybe even playing along on a djembe or piano.

Despite the diversity in orchestration and song structure, Polyamory is very cohesive. It suffers a bit from homogeny. I found myself barely noticing that a new song had started on my first couple listens. On my list of praise, that is my only complaint and it may not be a valid one. The record is short enough that a bit of homogeny does it good.

What gets me most excited about Ferocious Oaks is, like I said earlier, they do something NEW. The influences are obvious, but they have a unique sound while the majority of bands do their best to imitate whatever is popular. As an art student, I am surrounded by artists and am often lectured on the subject of growing a unique voice while understanding the importance of those who have come before me. Songs are paintings, yet musicians and songwriters often lack artistic sensibility. It's not something exclusive to a select few, but merely a different perspective that literally anyone can have. Ferocious Oaks are artists, and they paint some beautiful portraits.

I urge you to pick up a copy of the record. On Saturday, March 12, Ferocious Oaks will be playing at Muse Music with Wild Apples and Tighty Willis. You can grab your own copy of the Polyamory EP there, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Ferocious Oaks puts on one of Provo's best live shows while Wild Apples and Tighty Willis are two of the most energetic bands in town. (I am not above shameless self-promotion.) Ferocious Oaks will be playing again at Velour on March 26 with The Archer's Apple, Timber!, and The Mighty Sequoyah so be sure to catch that show too.

Comments? Complaints? Threats? Leave them below!

And if you'd like to write an article about the local scene, just let me know and I shall post it here!