By Mike Romero
Most people are acutely aware that pop music and alternative/underground music are worlds apart. Both definitely have their merits, but the age-old debate about which brand of art is better still rages on (and may rage forever). One thing is certain: the main thing that separates popular culture from alternative culture is power. Pop music is pop music because those with means and ability can force it upon the masses.
For the Utah music scene, the players are wildly different but the dynamics are the same. Case in point: if you think of ’00s Utah music, many will immediately recall the soundtracks for The Singles Ward, The RM, Sons of Provo, and EFY – largely because they were able to reach an outsized audience by having institutional backing from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Halestorm Entertainment funded the soundtracks to their films, but were able to land distribution deals from the Church-owned Deseret Book, who then spread them like wildfire through tight-knit Latter-day Saint communities. EFY records were commissioned by the Church itself.
Those familiar with the Provo music scene know that Latter-day Saint music may have been Utah’s most consistent export during the early aughts, but it wasn’t representative of the entire scene. For example: The Used formed in Orem in 2000 and were signed to Reprise Records by January of 2002. Their explosive emo/pop punk career has rippled into the 2020s, with frontman Bert McCracken collaborating with Machine Gun Kelly on his platinum-selling record Tickets to My Downfall.
But their success was definitely an exception to the norm at the time. The infrastructure to make them huge was non-existent in Utah, and they certainly did not fit the Latter-day Saint music scene. The Used had to go to LA to get in touch with people who could amplify their voice. So even though the Utah music scene was full of talented musicians experimenting with the pop punk, emo, and hardcore genres, many went unnoticed and unheard because they were “alternative” here.
Enter Heck Records.
Founded by local music aficionados Brad Rhoades and his best friend Chris Hrynyshyn, Heck Records is a DIY label nostalgic for all the incredible local music that was coming out in the early 2000s but never had a chance to shine. Brad and Chris spent much of their free time together going to local shows – especially in Provo. Now, they want everyone to experience the magic of their favorite bands from the era, and they’re putting some muscle behind that.
ECHOES FROM THE VALLEY is a new compilation album and the first release from Heck Records. It features 16 Utah bands of various rock-adjacent genres from the early aughts. Bands include Form of Rocket, Instant Winner, Kyros, Abby Normal, Mr. Fusion and the Flux Capacitor (which might be the best band name of all time), and a bunch more. The compilation was released digitally on April 28 on YouTube and Bandcamp, as well as on limited edition cassette tape – only 50 copies.
“We made this compilation for all the bands, venue owners, show promoters, and fellow show-goers to take a trip down memory lane with us and relive some fun memories from 20 years ago,” says Brad.
So if you’re nostalgic for the good ol’ days of going to punk/hardcore/emo shows at Starry Night or Muse Music in Provo, or you simply like discovering new music, this is for you. To quote SLUG Magazine, “ECHOES FROM THE VALLEY compilation is equal part lost aughts treasures and equal part fresh bangers for 2023. This is a local scene that should not fade into history.”
You can snag the limited edition cassette on Bandcamp and listen to the compilation on YouTube below!