Utah Carol – Rodeo Queen
Label: Stomping Ground
Release Date: May 15, 2007
In a world with MySpace and countless self-proclaimed music moguls blogging about who’s up and coming, on the horizon, or about to break, there’s little to no room for discovery. The romantic notion of the A&R guy from X label strolling into a rundown little club and signing the next Panic! or Fall Out Boy or Sufjan Stevens is all but dead. More often than not, if you’re a "good" band in today’s music scene more than a few people know your name.
Utah Carol’s MySpace profile had been viewed 1217 times as of noon on the 18th of March, 2007. Compare that number to a band with considerable more buzz and not too dissimilar a sound, Headlights. Their fellow Illini, they currently register over 70,000 views. I won’t even bring in the Sufjan number. It’s obscene by comparison, though I don’t suspect that Jinja Davis and Grant Birkenbeuel care too much. They’ve been working together in the Chicago music scene since 1995 and haven’t yet “broke” to anyone outside of a select few. It’s a safe bet however that after the word gets out on the husband/wife duo’s third full-length, Rodeo Queen, Utah Carol won’t be a secret anymore.
On Rodeo Queen, the two (with a little help from their friends) whip through a handful of sleepy folk-pop with a grace and beauty familiar to bands under the Polyvinyl or Saddle Creek imprint. The album’s opener “Kimberly Smiles” features a steady percussive beat, that sounds as if it were produced by those rhythm sticks you learned to play in elementary school, over a soft slinky melody. “Come Back Baby” is a wistful and sour lovespun chug of Americana, underscored perfectly by the Maria Taylor-esque voice of Davis and the hushed harmonies of her husband. Other highlights include the remorseful ballad “I’m Sorry Maria” and the hip-hop influenced instrumental, “In The Lake”. It may be only March, but I'll wager Rodeo Queen will surely make more than a few critics’ lists come December.
Love is wrong: “Come Back Baby”, “I’m Sorry Maria”
Who are three bands that have never been in my kitchen?: Azure Ray, Yo La Tengo, Andrew Bird