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Editor's note: KSL.com does a monthly feature on local musicians/bands in the community. If you have an up-and-coming band/musician in mind, feel free to email your submission to email@example.com. Please include a contact email for the artist, if available.SALT LAKE CITY — Things are about to get loud. After a handful of lo-fi releases, Westing — led by Salt Lake City native Matt Mascarenas — is set to put out its most aggressive recording to date.
The group’s new EP, “I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself,” is a tightly wound bundle of post-hardcore: pounding drums, sludgy bass lines and plenty of anger. But what rises to the top is Mascarenas’ knack for melody and song structure, which create an impressive blend of chaos and beauty.
The EP’s dynamic is summed up in a line from its opening track, “Skipping Beats,” when Mascarenas screams in desperation, “It’s so easy to lose it all” — before quickly adding a firm resolve of hope, “but I’ve gotta get up, move on, this is not enough.
From Salt Lake City to New York and back again
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mascarenas starting going to punk shows when he was 13 and was playing in bands before he was old enough to drive. He has since assembled an impressive discography.
He started the group Reviver in 2007, which released two albums of blistering hardcore music. Touring with the band eventually led to an invitation to move to New York to become a member of Rise Records band Daytrader.
When Daytrader broke up in 2012, Mascarenas made his way back home to Salt Lake City. Though he continued to make music with some of the members of Daytrader in a new group called Heartless Breakers, he also started his own project.
His new band, Westing, began as a solo act, and its early releases were quiet affairs — largely just guitar, vocals and emotion.
“There was no pressure, due to it being a new project without any real plans or expectations at the time,” Mascarenas said of the early days of Westing. “I was able to write simply for the sake of creating, and it resulted in a calming experience. I was able to spend as much time as I wanted on the songs without having to work around scheduling conflicts that normally comes with the band setting.”
When it came time to record “I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself,” Mascarenas was ready to turn the volume back up.
“I always felt like I was holding back when playing live (as a solo act) and knew fairly quickly that I wanted to make the transition,” he said. “I prefer playing with a band.”
Mascarenas recorded the EP in New Jersey with his friend Gary Cioni from Daytrader and I am the Avalanche drummer, Brett Romnes. After the recording sessions, Mascarenas turned Westing into a proper band, enlisting members Ken Vallejos, Wes Johnson and Dan Fletcher.
“I needed to create something and feel excited again. The few months leading up to this record were challenging, and distracting myself with music has always been the easiest way to get through the down times. I also realized it was the right time to make a proper record. All the music I had released up to that point was written and recorded on the spot and far less prepared.”
For Mascarenas, this new release represents catharsis. He hopes that for listeners, it will invoke inspiration.
“If anything, I would like listeners to leave wanting to create something of their own,” he said.
“I Haven’t Been Feeling Myself” is available April 14. The band will play an album release party at Diabolical Records in Salt Lake City on May 5.