Hiss Golden Messenger

I posted a few days ago about the live album Father John Misty released to raise funds for the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund — here’s another live set you can download to benefit a great cause.

M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger is passionate about public education. He’s the son of two teachers, he taught for a time at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and his wife is an ESL instructor in Durham, where his kids attend public schools. If you’ve been to one of his shows lately, you might have seen t-shirts emblazoned with “DEFEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS” for sale at the merch table. (They’re available on his website as well.) He’s even been pausing his sets to give teachers in the audience individual rounds of applause before launching into “I Need a Teacher,” the opening track from his most recent studio album, Terms of Surrender.

He’s keeping the momentum going during social distancing by offering up Forward, Children: A fundraiser for Durham Public Schools students, a new live album documenting his group’s recent two-night stand at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. It’s available over at Bandcamp. Same deal as the FJM jam: $10 download, with those dollars going somewhere extremely worthy — in this case it’s the Durham Public Schools Foundation, which helps students impacted by school closures find their next meal. As a fellow son of two teachers, I applaud what Taylor is doing, and I hope you’ll join me in this exceedingly enjoyable show of support.

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Father John Misty

You may have seen news about the new Father John Misty live album elsewhere, but I wanted to add my own recommendation.

The download is just $10, with proceeds going to the Recording Academy’s MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. And it’s an outstanding recording — horns, strings, a nice mix of older and newer songs, and most importantly, a number of tunes whose prescience is unmistakable in light of our current nightmare. “Things It Would’ve Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution” and “Pure Comedy” are especially affecting in this sense, and “I Went To The Store One Day” and “Ballad Of The Dying Man” strike me as more poignant than ever. Times like these bring out the relevance of his big-picture thinking, even if that thinking results in shrugging about how absurd life on this “godless rock that refuses to die” can be. And his gallows humor has never been more necessary.

So much of what I loved about the set he played at the Atria Theater in June of last year is captured here. Well worth a download — again proceeds go to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

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Tyler Meacham

Back in early February (aka 3.7 million years ago, news-wise), I had the opportunity to chat over the phone with singer-songwriter Tyler Meacham, whose pop-infused Property EP was one of my favorite albums to come out of Richmond last year.

It was such a fun and engaging conversation — the kind that makes you want the resulting article to be out in the world as soon as humanly possible. A month and a half — plus one worldwide pandemic — later, sharing it feels bittersweet in all the ways Meacham described in her Instagram post from Thursday. Social distancing represents an existential disruption for performers everywhere, and it’s especially devastating for musicians who had been (and still are) working to gain the type of momentum that leads to liftoff for a career as an artist.

Nevertheless, I have two pieces of incontrovertible good news:

Good News #1: If I’ve learned anything from listening to Meacham’s music, seeing her perform live, and speaking with her about her craft, it’s that her gift is as real as it gets. Her drive, her savvy outlook on what defines pop music (one of my favorite parts of our chat), her remarkable ability to take her own experiences and mold them into pieces of art that are broadly affecting — that stuff endures, and while I can’t say what the world is going to look like a year, month, or week from now, I’m certain that those are the characteristics you find in artists who thrive in the long run, through ups, downs, and whatever else is thrown at them.

Good News #2: There are so many ways to keep the momentum going for musicians right now. Here’s a quick list of ways to make your Meacham fandom felt:

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Buy from Bandcamp today!

I posted earlier this week about how buying from Bandcamp is a great way to support artists right now, and today is an excellent day to act on that. Bandcamp is waiving their cut of all transactions today, meaning more of your dollars will go directly to artists, many of whom have seen steep declines in income as a result of COVID-19.

Here are a few recommendations, based on my buying plans:

FM Skyline — Liteware

Been looking forward to putting in a preorder for this since a few Thursdays ago, when I stayed up until midnight for the live YouTube premier of “polygon park.” With the backing of the 100% Electronica label, Pete Curry’s vaporwave project represents one of Richmond’s most ascendant acts at present. The first pressing of his Advanced Memory Suite album sold out, so if vinyl is your thing, I’d recommend acting quickly.

Avery Fogarty — #​(​$​%​&​@​*​&​)​!

Fogarty is the frontwoman of Hotspit, another ascendant Richmond act. When we’re on the other side of all this craziness, I recommend seeing them in person ASAP. Their live show is nothing short of arresting, characterized by big dynamic swings and complex guitar work. Forgary’s solo material focuses more on studies in mood and texture, and I do a joyful dance inside every time a new one shows up on Bandcamp.

The Blue Hens — Heavenly Sunlight

Brand new gospel EP straight outta Galax, Virginia, courtesy of Dori Freeman and husband Nicholas Falk. I had the chance to see them perform the title track at the Richmond Folk Festival. It’s gorgeous, not to mention rhythmically hypnotic.

Elkhorn — The Storm Sessions

A snowstorm caused Elkhorn to cancel their show, so they decided to make an impromptu album, making this a real-life manifestation of making the most of being stuck indoors.

Philip James Murphy Jr — bummer is icumen in

Murphy is a friend of a friend, and I’m so glad the intermediary introduced me to this album earlier this year. Really beautiful and varied. (How about that prophetic title?)

Whether or not you dig the tunes above, what’s important is that we keep finding ways to support musicians right now. For a way more extensive list of Bandcamp options, check out the Auricular’s amazing rundown.

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Saw Black

Hey y’all. First and foremost, I hope everyone is staying healthy and staying home as much as possible. This is some crazy, scary shit, and I hope that if you’re reading this, you and the ones you love are able to look back on this someday soon from a place of relative safety and say “Wow, that was some crazy, scary shit.” (My mom reads this blog, and we typically check in about whether it was really necessary to curse in my writing when I do, and I think even she’d agree that now’s the time to let it fly.)

Like many folks are, I’m trying to keep my family safe while thinking about ways we can all support each other over the weeks and months ahead. I plan to pass along the ideas and opportunities I come across, as long as I’m able, and I thought I’d start with the rarities album Saw Black released yesterday. Bandcamp is a great way to support the artists you love — via merch, music, whatever. I know I’ve leaned toward using the site mostly for vinyl buying and streaming in the past, but now is a great time to throw in some bones for those sweet, sweet mp3s.

Don’t sleep on this particular set — Saw indicated that it’d be available for only a couple of days.

 

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David Shultz

Hope y’all are spinning this today, too. It’s easily the best thing about having an hour rudely wrenched away.

Didn’t notice this liner note when the song was released last year: “All instrumentation performed and recorded by Alan Parker.” Hot damn. Produced by Parker and Andy Jenkins, mixed by Adrian Olsen… dream team all around.

Cheers to David Shultz and co. for giving us a reason to actually relish springing forward. Lost an hour, gained a tradition.

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Justin Golden

In November of last year, I had the honor of sitting down with Richmond singer-songwriter and guitarist Justin Golden for an interview. I’d seen him open for C.W. Stoneking at Richmond Music Hall not long before, and it was such a joy getting to chat about music with him — both the music from the past that he and Stoneking draw inspiration from, and the music currently being made in Richmond that we both find meaningful.

I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the interview here. You can also find it in the current print edition of River City Magazine on newsstands around town. (Just saw a stack at Wawa over lunch today!)

Many thanks to Justin for his generosity with his time and conversation, and for all his help with the piece. The depth of Justin’s love for music is inspiring. Check out his music below, and be sure to keep an eye out for when he’s performing around town. I think you’ll walk away as inspired as I did.

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