Tag Archives: KSLC

Artist combines multiple genres on third album

James Pan's third album will be released on Stones Throw Records on May 3. Photo courtesy of www.stonesthrow.com

James Pan's third album will be released on Stones Throw Records on May 3. Photo courtesy of www.stonesthrow.com

Singer and multi-instrumentalist James Pants (real name James Singleton) has been on fire since his debut album, “Welcome,” was released in 2008 to positive reviews.

Since then, he has released a second full album, “Seven Seals,” two EPs and a slew of singles through Stones Throw Records (Madlib, Aloe Blacc, Dam-Funk and others). Now, his fifth release and third LP is slated for release May 3. And it does not disappoint.

The album is self-titled and features Singleton at his best. It was originally named “Love Kraft,” but this was likely changed after it was discovered that Super Furry Animals had released an album of the same name in 2005.

His superb drumming, groovy bass lines and lush synthesizer harmonies drive many of his most successful tunes. All of these are wrapped in the warm, lo-fi glow of ’80s funk, new wave and post-punk styles — an amalgamation loosely known as “fresh beat.”

Singleton uses this fun and catchy sound that still allows for a large degree of complexity to draw the listener into a warm, ’80s embrace in his latest album.

The album is more rock-oriented than previous releases, even incorporating some elements of rock ‘n’ roll and doo-wop from the ’50s and ’60s, and features backbeat rhythms with a stronger emphasis on the electric guitar although it never overshadows the other instruments.

Singleton’s unique singing is also heard more frequently along with other vocalists.

Likely the result of a mix of heavy production effects and intentionally poor-quality recording, all the sounds on the album have that lo-fi ’80s electronic quality to them from echoing, sometimes incomprehensible, lyrics,muffled drumming, fuzzy guitars and cosmic
synthesizer effects. It stands in stark yet infinitely amusing contrast to the sleek, over-produced pop music of today.

While these elements seem like they might be a turn-off to most listeners, James Pants is always danceable, and Singleton is known for some killer live performances.

James Pants can be placed loosely under the umbrella genre of electronica, but his use of live instruments stands out.

The new album began strongly with the energetic and driving “Beta,” a minimal tune with great drumming and a nice guitar solo.

The music branches out as the album progresses but always features a solid beat to move to. The most enjoyable tracks come near the end with the songs, “Alone” and “These Girls.”

“Alone” features some excellent guitar work and a beautifully intriguing saxophone part and “These Girls” is definitely the most rockin’ track on the album with some great synth effects.

All of the songs also have plenty of cheesy ’80s vocals that constantly entertain in a humorous light. For some nice, romantic ’80s introspection, check out “Screams of Passion” and “Kathleen.”

While the album isn’t as groundbreaking as past releases, it still stands solidly on its own with a unique sound that reminds us that the music of the ’80s wasn’t as bad as everybody assumes.

“James Pants” doesn’t come out until May 3, but Stones Throw has 7” vinyl singles for “Every Night I Dream” and “Clouds Over The Pacific” available on its website.

Tune in to KSLC 90.3 FM to hear tracks from “James Pants.”


Braden Smith/KSLC 90.3 FM
Braden Smith can be reached at kslcmusic@gmail.com.

Washington folk band provides ‘Salvation’ for listeners

Photo courtesy of www.checkitoutmusic.com Pullman, Wash.,-based band Buffalo Death Beam released its second album, “Salvation for Ordinary People,” on January 1.

Photo courtesy of www.checkitoutmusic.com Pullman, Wash.,-based band Buffalo Death Beam released its second album, “Salvation for Ordinary People,” on January 1.

Buffalo Death Beam’s second album, “Salvation for Ordinary People,” is a nice gem that stands out in the increasingly saturated folk/folk rock genre.

Coming out of Pullman, Wash., the band clearly has potential and is starting to gain wider recognition in the area after Jan. 1’s “Salvation” and an earlier EP’s release.

The album’s strongest track is its first one, “Staff of the Shepherd,” which uses warm, vocal harmonies, driving rhythm and airy, acoustic atmospheres interlaced with well-placed electric guitar and other effects

The song transitions seamlessly between three different sections of varied tempo and meter, switching to 3/4 time after close to one minute into the second section, which is followed by a hard, percussive pulse in the last section. The interesting melodies, variance, driving rhythm and powerful vocals pack a lot of punch into four and a half minutes.

Unfortunately, this opening sets expectations high for the rest of the album. The other songs are good, but it’s disappointing to hear that no other tracks carry quite the same punch. This is one of the downsides of beginning an album with your best work. It grabs attention immediately, but can be a bit of a letdown during the course of the album.

The following track, “Motel Queen,” maintains the previously attained drive. It is hard, fast and fun but not nearly as awe-inspiring (not that every track should be).

“Lonely Mouth,” the third track, is an improvment. It reverts back to powerful vocals that begin quietly, but have a more climactic ending. The song also features nice mandolin and violin instrumentation.

Other main highlights of the album include “We Drink Beer,” a pleasant waltz reminiscent of Jack Ruby Presents; “Look Homeward, Angel”; and the final track, “Madmen Choir,” a disjointed tune that features eerie banjo, mandolin and accordion sounds backed by an odd, pounding percussion line.

The band’s most evident strength is its vocals, combining multiple voices to create lovely harmonies backed by strong lyrics and singing. Other significant areas include its varied instrumentation and percussion with a drummer who does much more than simply maintain a beat.

While far from perfect, “Salvation For Ordinary People” is a great showcase of Buffalo Death Beam’s obvious talent and potential, so keep an ear out for more.

Tune in to KSLC 90.3 FM to hear music from

“Salvation For Ordinary People,” released January 1.


Braden Smith/KSLC 90.3 FM
Braden Smith can be reached at kslc@gmail.com.

Australian band chases the nu-disco funk groove

Photo courtesy of www.codebreakermusic.com Nu disco duo Codebreaker released a debut album, “The Space Chase,” on Feb. 15 on Disco Demolition Records.

Photo courtesy of www.codebreakermusic.com Nu disco duo Codebreaker released a debut album, “The Space Chase,” on Feb. 15 on Disco Demolition Records.

Codebreaker, made up of Steven Hawley and Sage Schwarm of Christmas Island, Australia, released its debut album “The Space Chase” Feb. 15.

The album is a vibrant model of the emerging nu- disco genre that is gaining popularity in the U.S. The duo is pioneering the young genre, which fuses elements of modern dance and house music with those of disco and funk from the ’70s and ’80s.

With solid dance beats, funky guitar riffs, futuristic synthesizers and cheesy vocals, “The Space Chase” is a shining example of nu-disco’s potential. On the surface, the album is fun and easy to dance to, but it is also sophisticated in the way it is produced and mixed. The result is a sleek album that will appeal to many modern listeners, even those without an appreciation for the fine art of traditional disco.

The first track, “Silver Lining,” introduces spacey synthesizer effects that permeate the album but quickly establish a solid disco beat accompanied by tambourine and clapping. Short, lyrical phrases, effects and synthesizer solos are interspersed so that even after six minutes, the song never becomes dull.

Similar techniques are used throughout the album to keep the body dancing while simultaneously taking the mind on a trippy, synthy sojourn through space.

All of this is laden with cheesy lyrics about love that supposedly died out after the ’70s and early ’80s. The singing is rarely so pronounced that it becomes too cheesy but is still quite fun and provides a humorous glimpse into how love was once expressed in the music of a past era.

However, the romance really heats up in an entertaining way when they break out the French in the sixth track “Sous l’ Choc,” featuring Marc Gauvin.

Other enjoyable tracks include “Follow Me” and “First True Love Affair.” While each track isn’t amazing, they are all exceedingly entertaining and will put you in the mood to get you groove on to wherever you are.

The synthesizer has seen quite the rebirth in the 21st century, and Codebreaker masterfully employs it and other modern techniques to give disco and funk a fresh, sleek coat of paint, reviving a genre that many thought to be dead.
Tune in to KSLC 90.3 FM to hear tracks from Codebreaker’s “The Space Chase.”


Braden Smith/KSLC 90.3 FM
Braden Smith can be reached at kslcmusic@gmail.com.

Portland-based indie band releases an ‘honest’ album

Photo courtesy of www.tenderlovingempire.com Typhoon’s “A New Kind of House” will be released March 8 on the Portland record label Tender Loving Empire.

Photo courtesy of www.tenderlovingempire.com Typhoon’s “A New Kind of House” will be released March 8 on the Portland record label Tender Loving Empire.

During a time when all indie music sounds like the same heartfelt, self-absorbed ramblings, it’s rare to find a band thatproperly expresses what seems to be the true ethos of the genre: honesty.

“A New Kind Of House,” an EP by the up-and-coming Portland band Typhoon, is set to win over a wealth of listeners faithful to the sound of troubled musicians.

The focus behind “A New Kind Of House,” is not immediately clear, even after a fourth or fifth listen. However, the album serves as a cartharsis: It’s pow-erful, moving and seems inspired by a real human experience. It’s not some pop-influenced expression of pubescent angst; this is the adult version: a mire of emotion that has historically worked extremely well for the Goth movement and the emotionally charged Indie movement of the early aughts. Unlike most of its contemporaries, Typhoon manages to pull off this emotion without sounding contrived or disingenuous. The band’s just being honest.

When it comes to describing the overall sound of this EP there are the standard descriptors that can be broadly applied to all on this collection: lush, captivating, sincere, moving and triumphant. But, as with anything that’s well- made, it’s incredibly difficult to separate one piece from the whole. It’s hard to imagine this EP as a collection of separate songs, and even harder to choose the highlights. That being said, there are a few tracks that stand out above the rest — not necessarily as the greatest but certainly as the most interesting.

My favorite is the second track “Summer Home,” which has a sound that gently guides the listener deeper into the EP’s true meat. The song consists of cheerful percussive elements and the sort of poetic lyricism which lends itself to repeated listenings. “Summer House” is is an excellent showcase of Typhoon’s talents and of its overall range of emotion. Everything about this track seems thoughtfully considered, right down to the title, which is appropriately chosen for the mood the track conveys. The song also provides a gentle segue into the intended magnum opus of “Claws Pt. 1.”

Clocking in at nearly 8 minutes, “Claws Pt. 1” is the longest track on the EP and is given billing as one of the EP’s foremost singles. Perhaps it’s because of the pressure put on it that “Claws” is a bit off, somehow coming across as schizophrenic and constipated at the same time. Frantic, uncomfortable and strange, Claws is a low-point in an otherwise stellar display of talent.

Ultimately, “A New Kind Of House” is nothing if not enjoyable. An EP full of images: washed-out postcard snapshots of steel-toed workboots following the muddy treads of a snowy road or lonely woodcuts of unashamed blue-collar heartache.

Typhoon seems like a band that doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t, and that is what good music is all about. So if you’re in the mood for something a little bit special give “A New Kind of House” a listen.
Typhoon’s “A New Kind of House” will be released March 8 and can be heard on KSLC 90.3FM.


Eric Tompkins/KSLC 90.3 FM

Deerhoof’s still kickin’ after 16 years

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Deerhoof, one of the biggest and quirkiest bands in the indie rock scene, released its 11th album, “Deerhoof vs. Evil,” on Jan. 25.

After 16 years of making music, Deerhoof shows no signs of slowing and its latest album is just as original and fun as past albums have been.

As with most of their albums, Deerhoof brilliantly blends pop and traditional indie rock with light doses of experimentalism and hard rock, true to their own art rock style. Topped with the distinctly cute, childish and sometimes eerie vocals of Japanese-born front woman and bassist) Satomi Matsuzaki, the mix blends into a genuinely unique experience.

The album is a bit jarring at first, opening with Matsuzaki singing in Catalan on the song “Qui Dorm, Només Somia,” which features a cluttered opening followed by a steady beat and melody that grows and twists as the song progresses.

“Qui Dorm, Només Somia” is followed by the constrasting “Behold a Marvel in the Darkness,” which is more poppy and fun with a simple, enticing chord progression on an acoustic guitar at the start. Along with a pretty chorus from Matsuzaki of “what is this thing called love?” answered by a hard rock instrumental response presented in call- and-response fashion, the song comes off as cutesy and fun with a bit of punch.

The album alternates between a experimental song and one that’s sweet and more melodious for almost every track, sometimes in the middle of one. The album never settles down with one feel but instead darts around seemingly at random.

Whether there is an actual method to the madness, the one clear fact is that the band seems to have a lot of fun.
Some standout tracks with a pretty fun feel are “No One Asked to Dance” (recently featured on NPR’s “Song of the Day”) and “I Did Crimes For You.”

Those interested in the more intriguing, experimental songs should check out “The Merry Barracks” (available for free at www.polyvinylrecords.com) and “Must Fight Current.”

“Deerhoof vs. Evil” isn’t an amazing new piece of art, but it’s certainly a fun and welcome addition to Deerhoof’s solid discography. The album indicates that the band will continue to satisfy in the foreseeable future.

Deerhoof is set to play on Feb. 26 in Portland at Holocene at 6 p.m. Visit www.holocene.org/calendar for more information.

Tune in to KSLC 90.3 FM to hear tracks from “Deerhoof vs. Evil.”


Braden Smith/KSLC 90.3 FM
Braden Smith can be reached at kslcmusic@gmail.com.