Thus far, local music hasn't been much of a focus on Chewing Gum for the Ears, but when I find something special so close to home, I'm not exactly one to keep it to myself. The No-Nation Orchestra, led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Stephen Chai, is one group in the SLC area reminding me of the talent and creativity abundant here if you're simply willing to look around a bit.
Chai has been involved in a handful of bands over the past few years, but none more exciting than this latest project, which finds him leading a skillful quartet that blends elements of Afrobeat and Latin jazz with a melodic pop approach. The band's upcoming debut EP, entitled More More More, is set to drop later this month and serves as a convincing introduction to the excellence of the No-Nation Orchestra.
On the opener/title track (which you can hear below) Chai floats his soulful falsetto over groovy, complex rhythms and killer horn riffs, while "Holy Holy" throws in a flashy piano line and an almost sinister vocal melody you'll find difficult to get out of your head. If I had to pick, I'd say the incendiary "Find Me The Savory Sound" is my current favorite -- but that's like to change tomorrow as each of the EP's five tracks have only gotten better with every spin.
Whether you're looking for the best of what Salt Lake City has to offer or perusing the web for a genuinely inspired new band, Stephen Chai & The No-Nation Orchestra is a must-listen. Hear the single below and check out the band's homepage for pre-orders. Also, if you're a local, make sure to catch them at Urban Lounge on September 23rd for the album release show.