Almost exactly two years ago, when writing about Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, I coined a term (sounds so much better than “made up a word,” doesn’t it?) that I’m still waiting for popular culture to whisk away. It’s confrenzus — the consensus frenzy that results from a book, movie or album that is so clearly worthy of acclaim that everywhere you look, someone is heaping praise on it.
There’s a confrenzus brewing, and it’s about to bubble over at the Broadberry. Tonight is the release show for Greenwood Shade — the new album from Richmond-based band Sleepwalkers — and I can’t resist joining the chorus in saying that tonight’s event (which also features Black Girls and Dead Professional) is well worth your time.
One reason I think people are so excited is that Greenwood Shade is uncommonly impactful. I wasn’t familiar with Sleepwalkers before this, but I needed only a few tracks to decide — in that way you decide things semi-consciously but with total certainty, like “Yup, I’m getting McDonald’s breakfast tomorrow morning” — that what I was hearing was special. It was also clear from the get-go that the musical brains that created this are well-read. Production techniques — the vocal processing on “Images,” for example — evoke specific periods, and the songs themselves pull from all sorts of genres.
When you’re everything, there’s always the chance that you’re simultaneously nothing, but I don’t get that sense here. Instead, I see this as a great example of a kind of musical singularity that’s quickly approaching. More and more music is made available each day, and the better songwriters get at absorbing diverse influences and incorporating them in tasteful ways, the closer we get to a moment when the walls between genres are so low that they’re not even worth talking about outside of a historical context. It’s a scary and exciting thought, and an album like Greenwood Shade offers proof that if that moment hasn’t already arrived, we’re pretty damn close. (There’s a great passage from Jessi Coble’s Richmond.com interview with the band that touches on this idea.)
Take a listen to “Images” below and hear for yourself how all the disparate pieces come together.