10 Utah Bands You Should Listen to Now

Music Utah
Share Tweet Submit Pin

After I took a cross-country trip earlier this year, it’s hard to deny that one of the most beautiful states I hit was Utah. From gorgeous mountains to never-ending plains, taking the whole landscape in was a total pleasure. And, thanks to the suggestions of our readers, we’ve discovered some pretty great music from the Beehive State too. We asked you some of your favorite Utah acts, and you responded. While it looks like Utah definitely has its own niche carved out (folk dominates from what we’ve seen), there’s still a lot to be heard from this beautiful state. Here are 10 great new additions to our 50 States Project that we think you should take a listen to now.

The Blue Aces

Hometown: Provo
Members: Cristal Ramirez, McKenna Petty, Katie Henderson, Alisa Ramirez
For Fans of: Alabama Shakes, Laura Marling
The Blue Aces aren’t promising because they’re only teenagers! They write their own songs! We think they’ve actually got some pretty good ones, too. This soulful quartet recalls the roaring punch The Alabama Shakes brought to the spotlight years ago.

Concise Kilgore

Hometown: Salt Lake City
For Fans of: Pusha T, Jay Z
Utah doesn’t necessarily seem like fertile ground for hip hop, but the ambitious Concise Kilgore from Salt Lake City has the goods to impress on a national level. This prolific rapper has been turning heads in the area for years, and we can’t wait to hear more.

Desert Noises

Hometown: Provo
Members: Kyle Henderson, Tyler Osmond, Pat Boyer, Brennan Allen
For Fans of: Blitzen Trapper, My Morning Jacket
Fans of My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses will feel right at home with Desert Noises’ laid-back style. We asked readers to submit their favorite Utah bands, and Desert Noises was a clear winner for good reason. Their Southern-fried catalog backs up all the ruckus, and their latest LP 27 Ways should give Desert Noises some national attention.


Hometown: Salt Lake City
Members: Dan Actor, Sean Smith, Harvey Bennett
For Fans of: Maps and Atlases, Minus the Bear
You might expect Grass to be the antithesis of the quickly rising electronic-dependent Yeasayer with an album called Naysayer, and you’d be right in a few ways. Although the band is a trio that relies heavily on those old-fashioned stringed instruments, this forward-thinking band still keeps things fresh with mathy-tapped guitars (think early Maps and Atlases or Minus the Bear’s entire catalog) and cloak everything in a hearty layer of reverb.

Jay William Henderson

Photo by Eric Mahler
Hometown: Salt Lake City
For Fans of: Damien Rice, Josh Ritter
With a voice suited for his recent Nashville move, Jay William Henderson developed his strong following in Utah. The former Band of Annuals songwriter just released—like, really, a few weeks ago—the beautiful Hymns to My Amnesia, which kicks off with the haunting “Marrow in the Morrow,” a beautiful introduction to his hearty voice and subtle, classy arrangements.

Joshua James

Photo by Jake Buntjer
Hometown: American Fork
For Fans of: Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes
Our discoveries reinforce that Utah will be the birthplace of some exciting neo-folk of the future, and Joshua James sits up among the best of these discoveries. The prolific artist and producer worked with Paste favorites Richard Swift and TW Walsh on 2012’s From the Top of Willamette Mountain, and he’s continued to impress with the recently released tribute to Modest Mouse, Well, Then, I’ll Go to Hell.

Koala Temple

Hometown: Salt Lake City
Members: Taylor Clark, Craig Murray, Josh Brown, Andrew Sato
For Fans of: Foxygen, Islands
We’re not totally sure we’ve fully absorbed Koala Temple’s Blue Milk. The album, after all, comes with ominous tags on Bandcamp like “Gloom-fi,” “Bantha” and “Wizard.” But we do know that this Salt Lake City outfit is making some pretty satisfying throwback music—think Foxygen if they went on a horror flick binge.

Lake Island

Hometown: Provo
Members: Steve Richardson, Jared Cisneros, Kyle Hooper, Jacob Hall, Pat Boyer, Brennan Allen, Adam Klopp
For Fans of: Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Band of Horses
Leaning on thick, floaty arrangements that recall an Americanized Sigur Rós or a more guitar-inclined Radiohead, Lake Island is a Provo band that’s wrapped up the familiar into a sound all of its own. Its latest offering, the six-track Outermost, is satisfying right up to its titular, feedback soaked finale. It’s beautiful stuff.


Illustration by Daytrotter’s Johnny Cluney
Hometown: Salt Lake City
Members: Alex Gilvarry, Morgan Broadway, Rob LeCheminant, Richard Gailey, Bryan Hull, Devon Wooley
For Fans of: Grizzly Bear, Foals
This Salt Lake City group turns its focus to the more progressive, dressed-up side of folk music we’ve seen in bands like Grizzly Bear or Modest Mouse in recent years. With its 2013 LP, The Traveler, the act reveals its mission statement of creating solid tunes with beautiful, full production.

The Moth and the Flame

Hometown: Provo
Members: Brandon Robbins, Mark Garbett, Andrew Tolman
For Fans of: Muse, Atoms for Peace
The Moth and the Flame are probably old news to residents of the Beehive State, but they’re quickly on the rise nation-wide. After building a strong base with their self-titled debut, the band has been winning fans over with bass-heavy, unsettling pop tunes that truly have a mark of their own. It’s worth noting that the band recently relocated to Los Angeles, but its roots are deep in Utah.


Thumbnail image for Salazar_bandphoto.jpg
Hometown: Provo
Members: Alexander Woods, Bret Meisenbach, Michael Hart Dixon, Landon Young, Adam Klopp and Kyle Hooper
For Fans of: Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear
Provo band Salazar, who comes from Utah by way of Washington, just released an excellent, 10-song collection called Saudade. The folk artists take elements of dream pop and adds wiry guitars and rolling drums to the hearty production of Saudade for a hearty collection that drums up memories of Grizzly Bear at their mellowest and Fleet Foxes’ more electric moments.