Tim Braley knows a quality band when he hears one. The co-singer and guitarist of local group Elephino has shared the stage with dozens of bands, including Desert Noises, a Provo, Utah-based rock act, which has made Rochester a regular tour stop among its East Coast swings. "Desert Noises was solid, mistake free, and fluid," Braley says of the band, which he played with as a member of Gin & Bonnets. "They are also cool dudes who hung out to dance with us after the show."
Desert Noises has evolved since it began in 2008, with new members, new life experiences, and from being on the road and playing in bars nearly every night. If we said this band combines the feel of rockers like "Harvest"-era Neil Young and Kings of Leon, with a dash of Western nuance, that's something you would be into, right?
Before Desert Noises began to make waves, it was a trio consisting of Kyle Henderson (vocals, guitar), his brother Trevor, and their friend Riley Johnson. The group gigged around the Utah Valley music scene and released a self-titled EP in 2009. When Kyle Henderson received an invitation to join folk singer Joshua James on his international tour, Desert Noises had to be put on hold. But that experience eventually affirmed Henderson's desire to pursue music full-time, and on his own terms. Once he returned home, a re-formed line-up of Desert Noises began to take shape. Tyler Osmond (bass), of the Osmond musical family, joined the group. Then Riley Johnson departed. When Trevor Henderson was called to serve on a Mormon mission, Pat Boyer (guitar) and Timothy George (drums) stepped in.
Two years would pass before the band's first full-length album would be released in 2011. "Mountain Sea" was produced by Joshua James, and one of its songs, "Tell Me You Love Me," was featured on an episode of the MTV show "Teen Mom." The album drew some comparisons to like-minded groups including Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes due to the group's use of layered vocal harmonies and pleasant guitar jangle.
A three-song EP was released in late 2012 that included the band's newest member, drummer Brennan Allen. The shimmering psychedelic-like single "I Won't See You" was featured on MTV Hive, while the remaining songs sounded less folk-influenced than the group's previous tunes. To catch Desert Noises in concert nowadays is to see a band that is propulsive and sonically capable of showing its teeth. To paraphrase Osmond's relatives Donny and Marie, Desert Noises is a little bit alt-country, a lot rock and roll.
Kyle Henderson lives in Orem, Utah, along with his wife and their dog. "There's not much going on. It's kind of just like fast-food places and car dealerships," he said in a phone interview the evening before Desert Noises head out on a lengthy cross-country tour. "We've been home and that's been really wonderful, but you just get the feeling that it's time to go again."
Desert Noises' sophomore full-length album, "27 Ways," dropped on March 25. The disc was recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso and completed in Los Angeles with producer Nick Jodoin. "The songs sound like they are supposed to sound," Henderson says of the 12-song album that rocks harder than any of the band's previous recordings.
If there is any message behind "27 Ways," it's probably about breaking away. "It's about taking that first step," Henderson says. "Leaving everything behind because you know that's exactly what is supposed to happen whether it's going to be sad or good. It's what's your calling."
There is also an undeniable Western — but not country — vibe that runs through the new album, as it does with most of the Desert Noises catalogue. There is something about where the band grew up, the way it talks, what it listens to, the way it acts. Desert Noises could only come out of a place like Utah. "Growing up with the culture... Also, the nature is extremely beautiful. It plays a big part when you're waking up in front of these giant mountains," Henderson says.
The quartet may be from a small town, but it punches above its weight class. Its song "Mice in the Kitchen," an alt-country rocker from the new album, was recently included on an episode of ABC's musical TV drama, "Nashville." New tunes including "Run Through The Woods" and "What The World Made" may not be too far behind when it comes to mainstream exposure.
Henderson and his band mates are appreciative of the group's fans, along with its run of success. "We've put a lot of work into it. It's great to feel like it's growing. That the work you put into it shows," he says.
When will Desert Noises finally know that it has arrived? "When we're 80 years old and can't play guitar anymore. Then we'll know it's time to stop. But I'm sure we'll still try," Henderson says.