All Music Guide: The indie rock group Utah Carol, taking their name from a traditional cowboy song, are a duo consisting of husband and wife Grant Birkenbeuel and JinJa Davis. They began writing songs together in 1995 and launched the band in Chicago in 1997. The first Utah Carol album, Wonderwheel, was self-released in June 1999. "My Fear," a song from it, was chosen for inclusion in The Rough Guide to Americana, while another track, "Mabel Custer," was featured in the Sundance award-winning film All the Real Girls. Comfort for the Traveler, Utah Carol's second album, was released April 22, 2002, by Munich Records in Holland. Rodeo Queen, their third album, appeared in 2007, anticipating the release of three more films using the band's music, Kabluey, Love and Mary and documentary Rodeo Queen.
Grant Birkenbeuel-Vocals, guitars
JinJa Davis-Vocals, keyboard
Comfort for the Traveler (2001)
Rodeo Queen (2007)
Rough Guide to Americana
Songs of Hope (ParkinSong compilation)
Urbs in Orto (complilation)
National and international radio airplay
Our music has been featured in Salon.com, Mojo Magazine, All Music Guide, Uncut, Paste, and many others
Charted on CMJ
Songs placed in the following films: All The Real Girls, Rodeo Queen, Love and Mary, Kabluey, Anna's Being Stalked, 9:09 by Eun-Ha Paek, Spirit Mountain Casino 2-year ad campaign
Mojo Magazine 4-Stars for Rodeo Queen
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4 Stars for Rodeo Queen Review by Sylvie Simmons Rodeo Queen **** After two distinctive, diapha...4 Stars for Rodeo Queen
Review by Sylvie Simmons
Rodeo Queen ****
After two distinctive, diaphanous indie albums, Utah Carol have finally released a follow-up, one whose titles suggests they've set up even firmer stakes in Americana. Eclectic and sophisticated, this is actually quite stylistically diverse: twilit, floaty songs and Western campfire guitar are mixed with more upbeat numbers, some featuring interesting percussion and electronica. Kimberly Smiles, fusing a kind of narcotic tropicalia with '70s pop, has a stoned sweetness; Shine Your Light On My Tears, wih angelic oo-ing harmonies and washes of steel, sounds like a hymn to a god who surfs. With Grant Birkenbeuel's and JinJa Davis's dual vocals melting into a subdued, hypnotic Iron & Wine-esque whisper, this album retains their trademark sense of wonder and peace. --Sylvie Simmons
Salon.com Song of the Day
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Review by David Marchese The Chicago-based Utah Carol may take their name from an old Marty Robbi...Review by David Marchese
The Chicago-based Utah Carol may take their name from an old Marty Robbins tune, but the alt-country band's most obvious musical precedent is the Velvets-meets-Patsy Cline sound of the Cowboy Junkies, who've made a career out of the kind of seductively languorous music featured on "Come Back Baby." But this is one of those instances where being derivative doesn't matter. Taken from the band's forthcoming "Rodeo Queen" album, the song does a wonderful job of nailing the hazy, high-and-lonesome vibe it's shooting for. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pour myself a whiskey, take a seat on the porch and watch the sun sink slowly into the horizon.
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Review by Russ Hockenbury In a world with MySpace and countless self-proclaimed music moguls blog...Review by Russ Hockenbury
In a world with MySpace and countless self-proclaimed music moguls blogging about who's up and coming, on the horizon, or about to break, there's little to no room for discovery. The romantic notion of the A&R guy from X label strolling into a rundown little club and signing the next Panic! or Fall Out Boy or Sufjan Stevens is all but dead. More often than not, if you're a "good" band in today's music scene more than a few people know your name.
Utah Carol's MySpace profile had been viewed 1217 times as of noon on the 18th of March, 2007. Compare that number to a band with considerable more buzz and not too dissimilar a sound, Headlights. Their fellow Illini, they currently register over 70,000 views. I won't even bring in the Sufjan number. It's obscene by comparison, though I don't suspect that Jinja Davis and Grant Birkenbeuel care too much. They've been working together in the Chicago music scene since 1995 and haven't yet "broke" to anyone outside of a select few. It's a safe bet however that after the word gets out on the husband/wife duo's third full-length, Rodeo Queen, Utah Carol won't be a secret anymore.
On Rodeo Queen, the two (with a little help from their friends) whip through a handful of sleepy folk-pop with a grace and beauty familiar to bands under the Polyvinyl or Saddle Creek imprint. The album's opener "Kimberly Smiles" features a steady percussive beat, that sounds as if it were produced by those rhythm sticks you learned to play in elementary school, over a soft slinky melody. "Come Back Baby" is a wistful and sour lovespun chug of Americana, underscored perfectly by the Maria Taylor-esque voice of Davis and the hushed harmonies of her husband. Other highlights include the remorseful ballad "I'm Sorry Maria" and the hip-hop influenced instrumental, "In The Lake". It may be only March, but I'll wager Rodeo Queen will surely make more than a few critics' lists come December.
Love is wrong: "Come Back Baby", "I'm Sorry Maria"
Who are three bands that have never been in my kitchen?: Azure Ray, Yo La Tengo, Andrew Bird
Mars Needs Guitars
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I first became enamored with Utah Carol (Chicago duo Grant Birkenbeuel and JinJa Davis) with their 1...I first became enamored with Utah Carol (Chicago duo Grant Birkenbeuel and JinJa Davis) with their 1999 release Wonderwheel, a wonderful mix of Americana folk tinged dream pop. Birkenbeuel and Davis mix delicate harmonies on top of lush instrumentation yielding twenty fine songs on Wonderwheel.
I lost track, over the past few years, of this band who are named after a song sung by Marty "Mr. Teardrop" Robbins about a cowboy who dies trying to save his friend from a stampede. So, I was rightfully excited to hear that they have a new release titled Rodeo Queen that will be released in May. Luckily, I was able to get a promo copy of the CD and am happy I did. Rodeo Queen is Utah Carol at their finest, creating dreamy, ethereal songs that grab you and pull you in. The title track is a fantastic pop song filled with the duo's rich vocal harmonies combined with layered horns, keyboard, slide guitars and orchestral samples. Utah Carol make music that will haunt you with it's subtle warmth and sensual vibrations.
30-45 minutes either as an acoustic duo or with a drummer and acoustic bassist.