PROVO — Voted one of the best independent bands in the West last summer by Billboard Magazine, piano rocker Chris Merritt and his band are slated to release a second album Saturday at Velour Live Music Gallery, 135 N. University Ave., at 8 p.m.

Originally from Virginia, Merritt formed a group in high school called Paper Face. He signed with the Takeover label and moved to Los Angeles in 2005 where the group recorded several albums, said manager Tim Fellow.

Deciding he'd rather work under his own name, Merritt last year recorded his first solo album, "Hello, Little Captain," before leaving Los Angeles, and released it in Utah. No longer with a label, Merritt is among the new generation of musicians who record their own albums independently and rely on the Internet for most sales. (His Web site is:

Merritt formed his current band with Fellow as the drummer and Dustin Hoffeins of Orem on bass.

Fellow, also from Virginia, played with Merritt through junior high and high school.

Merritt's band of driven piano melodic rock has created a fan base in Provo and around the West. His new band won accolades quickly and was voted a top six independent band in the Independent Music World Series. The group toured several western states, then opened for singer-songwriter Ben Folds in April. The group spent the month of May playing on the East Coast before heading to Japan for a 10-show tour.

The second album bears the title "Pixie and the Bear." The double disc album with 22 tunes is named after Merritt's dogs, whose personalities match the tone of each side of the album, said publicist Jill Fellow.

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