Bored with rock? Tweak a bit. Take that bass guitar, flip it right up into the vert and--cue Jack Black from School of Rock--cel-lo! The trick, though, is making the tweak sound more like inspiration than whimsy.
Utah!'s sound is vast, organic and deep, and from the start the tweak could hardly be called a gimmick. With Anne Polesnak on cello, they cut a swath similar to the stately lumbering motions of other local mainstay, Shark Quest. The cello makes grand sweeps, while Mickey D'Loughy's drums chalk up advanced math, and it all expands outward into wide reaches of sound with a grace that no amount of guitar distortion can possess. Yet it still remains limber enough to pop.
Utah!'s instrumental palette fits so well that the most conventional element almost gives it away. D'Loughy and guitarist Eddie Pellioni sing with an earnest intensity that doesn't quite match the refined confidence of their instruments. Not to use the word 'emo' as if it had four letters; indeed, those who have a certain fondness for such earnest intensity might find in Utah! the best since Sunny Day Real Estate went stale. On some songs, the drama still works. But in other places it would work even better if the larynx grip eased a bit. There's good signs to suggest that Utah! will grow into a more comfortable union between traditional singing and their innovative instrumental equation.