Hoax Hunters/The Snowy Owls

HH:SO cover HQ

(This is the third [and probably final] post-Record Store Day open letter. To read the first, An Open Letter To The People Who Lined Up Outside BK Music On Record Store Dayclick here. To read the second, An Open Letter To The Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr Album That Made Me Bleed On Record Store Day, click here.)

An Open Letter To People Who Don’t Buy Records Regarding The Hoax Hunters/Snowy Owls Split 7-Inch That Was Released On Record Store Day

There’s something I want you to see. I want you to hear it too, but I want you to see it first.

Before we get to that, some quick background information… Record Store Day is an annual event that’s been held on the third Saturday of each April since 2008. Artists help independently owned music stores buoy bottom lines by releasing hundreds of limited-edition titles on vinyl all at once, generating anticipation, long lines and a subsequent buying frenzy that’s as beneficial for these locally owned businesses as it is retrospectively embarrassing for the (usually) mild-mannered folk who get swept up in the excitement and push and shove their way through crowds to grab at treasured items before they sell out. Think of it like a big game of musical chairs for record collectors, one that gives a shot of vitality to an industry that’s still in the process of reinventing itself after being hit hard by the advent of .mp3s, file sharing and iTunes.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Well damn. I like supporting local businesses and all, but I listen to all my music on my iPhone, and I’m pretty sure iPhones don’t play records.” If you said that, you’d be both correct and completely justified. Between iTunes, YouTube and Spotify, you can enjoy a lifetime’s worth of amazing music without ever leaving the warm glow of your favorite Apple device. Listening has never been more convenient, and I count that as a net win for society. But if you’ve completely given up on physical media, you’re missing out. Big time. And I’m not just talking about the free donuts Jay at Deep Groove hands out to the people waiting in line on Record Store Day.

I want to show you exactly what I mean, so I cleared off my coffee table, disassembled the split 7-inch that was released on RSD by Hoax Hunters and The Snowy Owls, and took pictures of each of its components. I want you to see the kind of stuff you’re missing out on by living your musical life solely in the digital realm…

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5×5, Part 4: RVA Long Plays

5x5, Part 4 - RVA Long Plays

(Click here for Part 1 – Songs, here for Part 2 – Collaborations, and here for Part 3 – Late Breakers.)

When Richmond Playlist posted its Best Richmond Albums of 2012 list last week, two things immediately became clear: Richmond produced a bumper crop of new music in 2012, and I managed to wrap my brain around only a small portion of that output. But instead of blaming myself, as is customary for a person with a guilt complex as highly developed as mine, I’m going to project blame onto the following 5 LPs, which were so damn good I couldn’t stop fawning over them. Here are my favorite full-length albums from Richmond artists this year, along with a bonus list of the EPs that loomed large as well.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

When I first started writing this here blog, the idea was that each post would highlight a way of finding new music. There are a million-and-a-half avenues for discovering bands these days, and I thought it would helpful to sift through them and talk up the ones I found most fruitful. I still think about that each time I sit down to write a post, but I can’t deny that I’ve slipped in this area. (My self-control in the face of Super Bowl halftime shows and “Gangnam Style” is pretty much non-existent.)

With that shortfall in mind, I’d like to keep up the momentum I generated from yesterday’s posthere’s another link to the fantastic 70 Day Weekend — by dedicating this post to the people who are, without question, the reason I’m enjoying Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new album so much. In this case, though, it’s not about who recommended Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! Instead, I’d like to talk about the bands that paved the way for my appreciation of an album I might not have given a fair shake a few years ago — bands that have opened my eyes to the glorious, noisy rock being made here in Richmond and elsewhere.

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Colin Stetson

If there was an Annoying Cliché Hall of Fame, “You can’t tell a book by its cover” would be among its most vaunted honorees. To my ears, the sound it makes when someone actually says it aloud is nothing short of cringe-worthy. The worst part is that it means well — the notion that you should reserve judgement until you’ve had the opportunity to get to know someone or something is top-notch advice…

…and that’s what makes periodically proving it wrong so damn satisfying.

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New Music Advent Calendar

I know it’s the beginning of June, but this past weekend got me thinking about Advent calendars. I’m convinced they’re magic. How else can you explain a poor, helpless piece of chocolate, with only the tensile strength of a perforated paper door to defend it, surviving the terrifying clutches of a sugar-crazed child’s hands for 25 whole days? You might as well be playing Jenga with Milk Bones on your dog’s nose.

So why was I thinking about Advent calendars? Is it because I’m one of those people who celebrate half Christmas? No siree Bob; my perception of time is way too poor to figure out when that even is. Is it because I’m turning into that creepy kid from Bad Santa? No, but let’s be honest — I’d grow that blonde ‘fro in a heartbeat if I could. The real reason is that three of the Richmond-based bands that I follow on Twitter, White LacesThe Snowy Owls and Hoax Hunters, are in the process of recording new music, and they’ve been tweeting from their respective studios about the proceedings.

These bite-sized missives have ranged from progress reporting to tantalizingly cryptic musing to revelatory pictures, and I can’t tell you how much I love this stuff. Even though they lack the chocolaty treats of a real-life Advent calendar (which is probably for the best, given that I somehow manged to eat both Popeye’s and Burger King for lunch this past Sunday), these brief hints have ratcheted up my excitement one notch at a time, and I can’t wait for the running-downstairs-on-Christmas-morning feeling I’ll get when the fruits of the labor they describe become available. In order to spread this excitement, I thought I’d do a quick roundup of some of the tweets I’ve seen recently. Call it a New Music Advent Calendar. The best part? You get all 25 at once! Let’s get started …

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Hoax Hunters

Yesterday, I wrote about a few of the many reasons to see live music. There’s one example I left out because I had today’s post in mind, and in the age of the interweb, it’s an extremely rare one: music that’s exclusively available in live form. In late May, Hoax Hunters performed their first set as a band under the name the Blood Vowels. I couldn’t make this inaugural show, but this past Friday (YES, the same night as the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings show — Mrs. You Hear That?!? is a trouper!), which was just a few days after the name change was made Twitter-official but before any of their music had made its way online, the Richmond-based band performed their second show at Strange Matter. It was such a gift to walk into the venue completely free of preconceptions, filled with the excitement of knowing I was about to hear music that, at the time, wasn’t within Google’s beneficently creepy purview. Hoax Hunters rewarded me with six explosive and exhilarating rock songs that resonated right away, leaving an uncommonly gripping first impression. Three of the tunes from Friday’s show have been posted on the band’s ReverbNation page, including my favorite of the night, “Mantooth.” The track highlights how well-crafted their songs are, mixing power and subtlety in a way that shows real care and creativity. Check it out here, and be sure to check the band out at their next show, on August 4 at Sprout with White Laces, Fossil Eyes and Grandfather.