Februay was a short month, but it was filled with some great new albums from music veterans to debut albums to local tracks. Here are some favorites from the KRCL music team.
Sunny War / Anarchist Gospel
Sydney Lyndella Ward aka Sunny War, had a rough start, struggling with addiction and homelessness in her early years. It was music that helped pull her out. The Folk-Punk rocker spent years releasing albums on lesser known labels lables and developing her rootsy, soulful, sound. Her new album, Anarchist Gospel, blends Folk, Roots, Blues, Gospel, and Punk, together effortlessly. It's her fourth album, and first for New West Records, and features some amazing guests: Allison Russell, Jim James, and David Rawlings
Try "No Reaon" "Shelter and Storm" and "Earth"
Black Belt Eagle Scout / The Land, The Water, The Sky
Indigenous, queer artist, Katherine "KP" Paul aka Black Belt Eagle Scout is back with their third album, The Land, The Water, The Sky. In 2020, Paul was on the road when the pandemic shut everything down. They decided to move from Portland back to their ancetral land, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (based north of Seattle) where they were raised. In a recent interview with American Songwriter, KP said “I didn’t really move back home for music, I moved back home for my well-being and to be around family, which ultimately ended up being music. It was the foundation that I think helped me be able to create music.”
Try "Nobody," "Salmon Sinta," "Blue" and "Fancy Dance"
Gorillaz / Cracker Island
The virtual band Gorillaz, led by Damon Albarn have been talking about making a full length animated film for years now, but sadly it looks like that movie won't be happening after all. Not all is lost though, according to Albarn it was the process of working on the movie that led to them creating their latest album. In a recent interview, Damon Albarn said “The new record came about because Jamie and I were often in Los Angeles. We were working on a Gorillaz feature film, which will never happen.” While the film may never happen, the band is officially back with their eighth album. The new record is a return to form for the decades old group. Where their last outing, Song Machine, felt like it was built around the featured artists, this record seems to be a bit more focused, and uses most of the guest features as opportunities to collaborate rather than having them take center stage - a good example of this is when the legendary Stevie Nicks sings harmony with Damon Albarn on the song 'Oil'. The record also features Beck, Tame Impala, Thundercat, Bad Bunny, Adeleye Omotayo, and Pharcyde's Bootie Brown.
Try "Oil (feat. Stevie Nicks)" "New Gold (feat. Tame Impala and Bootie Brown)" and "Silent Running (feat. Adeleye Omotayo)"
Tennis / Pollen
Tennis released their sixth album, Pollen, this month and the Colorado-based duo will swing through Salt Lake on April 16th at The Depot. The new record feels both nostalgic and fresh. Husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley's retro sounds get you swaying and even the biggest ear worms are loaded with lyrical longing, a la "Let's make a mistake tonight / Like palm trees in the twilight / Let's turn water into wine / We're gonna find something better."
Try “Let’s Make a Mistake Tonight” "Forbidden Doors" and "Hotel Valet"
Otis McDonald / Hits EP
Since the beginning of 2023, Otis McDonald has already released a full-length album, Winter, and two EPs, Hits and King Canyon (a collaboration with Eric Krasno, co-founder of Soulive and Lettuce). Otis McDonald is in fact an alter ego for Bay Area-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Joe Bagale. Over the years, he has performed with Stevie Wonder, Mickey Hart, Lyrics Born, Gift of Gab and many others. The highly prolific producer's latest material is packed full of funky beats, stony loops, and genuine musicianship.
Try “Scarlet Fire” "Mulholland (featuring Derek Trucks)" "Can't Hide" and “Ice and Fire (featuring Son Little)”
Best spotlight on a Utah band: Little Moon's Tiny Desk Contest entry.
Every year since 2015 NPR Music opens the "Tiny Desk Contest" to find new talent, and every year we cross our fingers for our Utah bands who enter. While we haven't had a winner from the Beehive State yet, Little Moon has been tapped twice now for the "Next Best Thing" feature, first in 2020 and now, just last week. Take a look the latest entry with the song "Wonder Eye", and 2020's "Ballad of a Moonchild III" and see for yourself. The next best thing may be right here in Utah. The contest is open until March 13.