Category Archives: #nowplaying

Tommy James and the Shondells

Tommy James

YHT HQ has changed locations, which is an unnecessarily opaque way of saying my family just moved houses. It’s been a bananas couple of months, with lots of emotional ups and downs, but we’re now in the process of unpacking, which I’m enjoying more than I thought I would. Unpacking records has been especially fun. Finding where everything is going to go. Seeing albums I haven’t laid hands or eyes on in ages.

Less fun was the fatal 45 avalanche in which a stack of carelessly placed (by me) discs fell from the top of my record storage onto my head and shoulders — the body parts, not the shampoo — and down to the floor. Most were fine, but Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson And Clover” didn’t make it out alive. I’d post a picture but I feel guilty enough already. To exorcise that guilt, I thought I’d memorialize the song here.

Crimson And Clover” was one of two #1 U.S. hits for Tommy James and the Shondells, the other being “Hanky Panky.” They also recorded versions of “Mony Mony” and “I Think We’re Alone Now,” songs that are so ubiquitous (like “Hanky Panky”) that I feel silly for not knowing that this one group made them all famous. “Crimson And Clover” isn’t quite as ever-present these days, but the chord progression voiced by the guitar feels super familiar, like someone’s since used it in another song, though I can’t think of what song that would be. (Just kidding — Wikipedia helped me find it: Dum Dum Girls’ “Lord Knows.”)

Fun facts: “Crimson And Clover” was one of the first songs to be recorded on 16-track recording equipment, Prince recorded a version that contains elements of “Wild Thing,” and Broken Bells has also covered it, which seems like a funny coincidence, since a broken 45 is how we got here in the first place.

As a side note, “Mony Mony” makes me think of being at a baseball game, I think because they often play it at baseball games. Though I’m not sure if I’m more used to hearing the Tommy James version or Billy Idol’s. Might need to go to a few Richmond Flying Squirrels games. You know, for research

Goodbye, “Crimson And Clover.” You were a good 45.

Tommy James and the Shondells — “Crimson And Clover” [Spotify/iTunes]

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The Shins

I resolved to avoid getting sucked into Heartworms. I know this is selfish, but here’s my logic: I probably can’t make it to their show at The National on May 17, so if I just kept my hands over my ears like the Hear No Evil monkey I wouldn’t feel sad about missing a show I would have otherwise been interested in. There’s just one problem…

Heartworms is really good.

There’s the bright, tightly buttoned up Shins stuff that I’m used to (“Dead Alive”), there’s a wonderful herky-jerky tune that reminds me of Pretty & Nice in the best way (“Rubber Ballz”), there’s the fantastic slow burner of a closing track (“The Fear“), and then there’s “Mildenhall,” which I love. I’m probably not alone in immediately thinking of James Mercer’s high register after hearing or reading the words “The Shins,” but “Mildenhall” dips way lower in his vocal range, and it’s more plainly narrative than I’m used to hearing from him. As someone whose journey to songwriting also involved “messing with my dad’s guitar,” the song really hits home, and I’m a sucker for the sub-genre of “How I fell in love with music” music.

Anyone know if a one-week-old child needs his own ticket at The National?

The Shins — “Mildenhall” [Spotify/iTunes]

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EggHunt Records

Egghunt

Every once in a while, I look around and say to myself “Damn, EggHunt Records has a lot of awesome stuff going on…” Now is an excellent example, and I think it’s time for another installment of the feature I’m unofficially naming “Damn, EggHunt Records has a lot of awesome stuff going on…”

Here’s a link to the first EggHunt catch-up post if you’re curious, and here’s an all new one, featuring three exciting projects:

Opin

opin

It really sunk in while I was listening to “Flee” for the first time that Landis Wine’s voice is Richmond to me, in the same way that the Boulevard is, or the river, or Bev’s. And it’s comforting knowing that if I ever moved away, I could still put on a White Laces album and feel the sense of place that I feel now. I’m excited to see him start a new chapter with Tori Hovater as Opin, and “Flee” leaves a great first impression. I’m especially fond of the build that ushers in the last minute of the song. Really neat.

Opin — “Flee” [Soundcloud]

Dazeases

dazeases

Speaking of distinctive Richmond voices, Dazeases’ has to be the most exciting new voice coming out of this city’s music scene. I’ve been digging into her catalog on Bandcamp, and I can’t recommend doing so highly enough. Her approach to production, vocals, performance… everything is entirely her own, and “Plum” promises continued inventiveness and gravity on her upcoming album, Local Slut, which will be released via EggHunt’s snazzy Hatched subscription series.

Dazeases — “Plum” [Spotify/Soundcloud]

Eric Slick

eric-slick

I’m not the best with time signatures. Does “You Became The Light” shift from 6/4 in the verse to waltz time in the chorus? Or is it 12/8? Are those relatively arbitrary designations? I don’t know enough to answer any of those questions. I’m just going to say that whatever Eric Slick (drummer for Dr. Dog) is doing here, I really like it. A verse that keeps you on your toes and a chorus that soothes for a few short moments before hurling you back into the madness… sign me up.

Eric Slick — “You Became The Light” [Spotify/iTunes]

 

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Afro-Zen Allstars

afro-zen-all-stars

One of my favorite interview experiences  was talking to Richmond bassist Brian Cruse, whom I wrote about for River Ciy Magazine last year. The article was about a record he made with an ensemble he leads, but he’s also part of Afro-Zen All Stars, a group that derives inspiration from a “Golden Age” of jazzy Ethiopian music that was made in the 1960s and 70s.

If you haven’t heard their new Greatest Hits album yet, it’s well worth a listen. Check out the bass line Cruse lays down on the first track, “Cha Cha.” Steady as hell, funky as hell, groovy as hell. So easy to get lost in. The whole album has that quality.

I got the chance to see the band open for No BS! Brass Band’s 10-year anniversary show, but was near the back of the venue during their set. Can’t wait to see them again to get a closer look. And to get lost in some extremely groovy music.

Afro-Zen All Stars — “Cha Cha” [Bandcamp]

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Landlady

landlady

Foregoing news and notes because this isn’t just any Friday — today is the day Bandcamp is donating their cut of all sales to the ACLU, which strikes me as a completely kickass move.

My plan is to snag Landlady’s newest album, The World Is a Loud Place. I had a chance to see and hear a few of these new tunes when the band came to Hardywood in August — “Driving In California” for sure, and I think “Nina” and “Electric Abdomen” made appearances as well. It’s a fantastic album, every bit as imaginative, tightly executed, and soul replenishing as Upright Behavior. In fact, Landlady has become one of the bands –maybe you have a similar list — whose shows are more like exercises in spiritual fulfillment than just a pairing of people playing music and people watching those people play music. They’ll be at The Camel on March 6, and I highly recommend grabbing a ticket. If you’re like me, you could use some spiritual fulfillment right now.

In fact, I was having one of those days just yesterday. I bet you know the kind. Checking Twitter every few minutes and bracing yourself for the awful shit it would reveal. Feeling sad/angry/confused about how so much could be allowed to go so wrong so quickly. I’ve had days that weren’t one of those days since January 20, but they’re the exception. Sad/angry/confused has become my new normal, even though I’m committed to the fight to keep intolerance from becoming America’s new normal.

You know who else is? The good people at the ACLU, and seeing that Bandcamp was doing what they’re doing today snapped me out of yesterday’s daze. I couldn’t wait to write this post and chip in.

Here are a few of the RVA bands and labels who are going a step further and pledging their own share of song/album sales to the ACLU:

And then there’s Lightfields, who have been donating their Bandcamp sales to Planned Parenthood for some time now. Richmond is full of amazing people. If you’re a band or label in town and I left you off the list above, please let me know so I can include you, because you’re awesome.

Happy Friday, y’all. Consider this today’s act of resistance. We’re just getting warmed up.

Landlady — “Nina” [Bandcamp]

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Sound Gaze

sound-gaze

I posted in November about two special episodes of Sound Gaze that Doug Nunnally had titled “I’m With Them” — episodes comprised completely of music by or featuring women musicians. It was a beautiful, meaningful, and well-executed idea, but apparently Doug was just warming up.

He’s just posted 10 (!) more I’m With Them episodes, each 75 minutes long, with songs in pairs, so you can consecutively hear a recommended song and a song by the musician who recommended it. 750 minutes total = running music for the foreseeable future. Can’t wait to dig in.

Click here for more information and download links, or better yet, subscribe to Sound Gaze via iTunes. And while you’re at it, check out this wonderful Style Weekly article about Doug and the I’m With Them series.

Alabama Shakes — “Hang Loose” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Merry Christmas!

sleepwalkers

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!

Lots of year-end list-y fun coming up next week, but for now, dig into Sleepwalkers’ brand new holiday tune. Love these guys. Love y’all.

Sleepwalkers — “Stop Your Christmas Moanin’” [Bandcamp]

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