A Ways to Go
For a young band, Desert Noises are surprisingly aware of their surroundings. The trio of twenty-somethings hail from Provo, Utah; a vast expanse of natural beauty entrenched in Mormonism. For that reason, the band may come across as rather tame as far as folksy rock outfits go. There’s certainly little edge in their SQE debut, 27 Ways. Opener “Grandma Looks” starts off with a string of arpeggios mirrored by frontman Kyle Henderson until the harmony-soaked chorus. At times Henderson veers into Tom Petty territory. You can practically hear the chill perma-smile in his voice, even on sadder songs.
The lament of “Wild Dreams” never digs deeper for that reason, almost pushing it into mainstream territory. Though the concept of mainstream is almost completely lost on an ever-changing music landscape, it’s records like this where you can really separate the radio friendly from the altogether too indie. Sure, Desert Noises have come a long way in their sound, but their roots ultimately lie in a band started in their teens. 27 Ways still reflects that youthful spirit in a carefree way that packs little substance to its material. It’s friendly. It’s superficial. It’s… ultimately forgettable.
The band got their name from a dream and yet, the only dreamy song meanders in around the end of the album. “Angels” starts off all echoes and sparse guitar. It’s a nice, ethereal piece that feels almost incongruous to 27 Ways. It’s also perhaps the most emotionally charged track on the album. When Henderson & Co. cry out that they feel the weight of the world, it’s almost believable.
Closing track “Dime In My Pocket” is Desert Noises at their bluesiest and perhaps a marker of what’s to come. The group may be able to carry a twelve bar but it takes a bit of life experience certainly not found in Utah. Though they’ve toured a bit, Desert Noises still has a ways to go.