Tag Archives: No BS! Brass Band

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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No BS! Brass Band

no-bs-brass-band

This post contains:

  • A quick update about an article I wrote that’s on newsstands now
  • A ticket giveaway — so be sure to read to the end!

I had the honor of interviewing Reggie Pace of No BS! Brass Band recently, and the resulting River City Magazine article can be found online here and in the real world as well.

He and I met up at Perly’s and discussed — between bites of matzoh ball soup — everything from the history of No BS! to the need for more coverage of Richmond’s hip hop scene. It’s a conversation I won’t soon forget, and it’s one I feel very grateful to have had. Many thanks to Pace for meeting up and to Lauren Serpa for letting the magazine use one of her photos for that amazing cover.

Now for the giveaway — be the first to comment below or on this blog’s Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr and you’ll win a pair of guest list spots for tomorrow’s No BS! ten year anniversary show at The Broadberry. Really excited for this one. I’m feeling a little under the weather, but I don’t care — I’m not missing it. Hope to see you there!

No BS! Brass Band — “Brass Knuckles” (live) [YouTube]

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Friday News and Notes: Holiday Music Edition

natalie-prass

In recent years, I’ve made the mistake of waiting until the two or three days leading up to Christmas to start spinning holiday tunes, so I’ve been hitting it hard in the last week or so. John Fahey. John Denver (Toddler YHT’s choice: “I want the mountain one”). The Kingston Trio. Charlie Byrd. Here are a few web-based recommendations:

Too much good stuff, too few Christmases per year, y’all. One more thing: Don’t miss tonight’s No BS! Brass Band show at The Broadberry — it’s three things in one: A canned food drive, a beer release and, well, a No BS! show. Luray opens. Click here for tickets.

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Avers

Avers

New Avers!

EggHunt, man. They could easily be sitting back and basking in the brilliance of their recent successes, but it’s full steam ahead with another preorder-worthy release, Omega/Whatever. Out July 29. Love the cover art.

I got to see Avers last Thursday night at the Broadberry as part of a three-band celebration of Virginia Tourism’s new “Virginia is for Music Lovers” campaign (which you should definitely check out — Andrew Cothern is doing really inspiring things in his new role there). No BS! Brass Band was first, Galax-based singer-songwriter Dori Freeman followed (you can read more about her set over at Doug Nunnally’s blog), and Avers closed the show.

I’ve gotten to see Avers a number of times, and have favorite tracks from both their Empty Light LP and their Wasted Tracks EP, but a song I wasn’t familiar with grabbed my attention. “These are the days when everything hurts” it said. “I feel ya,” my internal monologue responded. Turns out it’s one of the tracks on Omega/Whatever, “Everything Hz,” and Consequence of Sound just wrote it up. Very cool.

Avers is packed with capable songwriters, and I’m not sure who penned this one, but the title reminds me of the way The Trillions (another Charlie Glenn outfit) name songs — references to technology, with lyrics that often convey an uneasy feeling about internet culture and digital-age relationships. According to EggHunt’s site, Omega/Whatever traffics in similar concerns: “It’s an album about balance, too, centered around the struggles of living in the modern world.”

Sounds like this is going to hit extremely close to home. Balance is something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what Avers have to say on the subject. “Everything Hz” is certainly a strong, relatable start.

Avers — “Everything Hz” [Soundcloud]

 

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Friday News and Notes

Ralph Easter

Happy Easter weekend! A few news and notes items to crack open before you go hunting for eggs:

  • Going to start giving a quick CD Monday update at the end of the week. I enjoyed rolling around to Daniel Bachman, though I’m not sure if Baby YHT did. Not much of a reaction. Then again this was some pretty out there stuff — some drone-y songs, diverse instrumentation… really neat. While that disc isn’t available, I don’t think, it reminds me of Miscellaneous Ephemera and Other Bullshit, which you can still buy.
  • Have you heard the Sturgill “In Bloom” cover yet? Really interesting I think — takes cojones to give the major-key treatment to such a dark song. The video is wild as well — definitely worth a watch. Apparently the rights were almost denied because of a changed lyric…
  • I know I’m late to the party, but I listened to last year’s Nathaniel Rateliff album for the first time this week and hot damn. Floyd Fest is suddenly looking pretty snazzy.
  • So Hrishikesh Hirway from the excellent Song Exploder podcast started a West Wing podcast with his friend… Joshua Malina. They’re going to do an episode for every single episode of the show. 100% on board — the first one was super cool. Perfect for West Wing fans and newcomers alike (if you up for watching and listening to 150 of something).
  • Lots going on Saturday — Horsehead at the Camel, No BS! at the Broadberry. I’ll be at home watching the tournament with basketball-loving in-laws, but I might spin my copy of Brass Knuckles in No BS!’s honor.

Happy Friday!

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2015! Holy Crap! Part 4: Resplendent Richmond Releases

Anousheh — Make Noise

Anousheh

When I first wrote about Make Noise, I zoomed in on “Blue Red” and how it’s illustrative of a powerful emotional intelligence:

There is a wonderful specificity to the lyrics — real and focused emotional messages that are often missing from music with the pop signifiers you hear on Make Noise — but my main takeaway has been more general. I hear both sensitivity and boldness in its words, and when you’re going through difficult times, those two qualities couldn’t be more crucial.

Another great example is “Lightning,” The burn is slow, building from the verse to a passage that would serve as the chorus were it not for an even more intense, imploring chorus that follows. All the while, you get a glimpse into this private world of motivations — one where strength and vulnerability are tuned on their heads: “Your lightning keeps on burning holes in my thick skin.” Each track on Make Noise presents this kind of lived-in universe worth exploring with patience and empathy. In that sense, this could be one of your favorite albums of 2016 as well.

Anousheh — “Lightning” [Spotify/iTunes]

Scott Clark 4tet — Bury My Heart

Scott Clark

Ambition is best when paired with honor, and Bury My Heart is proof. In communicating the tragic story of the Native American genocide, Scott Clark has issued an open invitation to consider more deeply a part of American history that is too often (and callously) ignored. The fact that he set out to convey such weighty subject matter wordlessly is where the ambition comes in. To say he let the notes do the talking would be to downplay how difficult it is to imbue an instrumental piece with specific ideas and emotions; the capacity to do this has always seemed borderline magical to me. Clark clearly has that capacity, and it’s inspiring to see the gift used to such a righteous end.

Scott Clark 4tet — “Broken Treaties” [iTunes]

Brian Cruse — Brian Cruse presents: The B-Snap-tet

Brian Cruse

From my interview with Cruse for River City Magazine:

In 2014, he set his sights on recording a new album, and he decided to do so under a new name – the B-Snap-tet… Under the guiding hand of Minimum Wage Recording owner Lance Koehler, who also recorded and engineered Con Legno, Cruse produced a truly eclectic listening experience, from the hip-hop-inspired “Nightlight” to the album’s meditative centerpiece, “26.1,” which takes on the grave topic of the previous year’s Boston Marathon bombing.

Brian Cruse presents: B-Snaptet — “Side Steppin’” [Spotify/iTunes]

The Diamond Center — Crystals for the Brass Empire

Diamond Center

From when I first posted about the album in October:

Crystals is excellent; I got my vinyl copy a few Fridays back and felt transported — each track felt like it was dropping me on the set of a different old movie.

The Diamond Center — “Bones” [Spotify/iTunes]

Manatree — Manatree

Manatree

From my review of the album:

A glowing YHT review of this album is long overdue. Same goes for Manatree’s live show — both are polished and powerful to a degree that’s rare for a band promoting a debut full-length. These songs are so sharp, precisely pivoting from clean to heavy, all the while building melodies that hold tracks together. The word “agile” comes to mind. This is the music Fender guitars dream of when they’re not being played.

Manatree — “Fat Jackson” [Spotify/iTunes]

No BS! Brass Band — Brass Knuckles

No BS Brass Band

From my review of the album:

I don’t think No BS! will stop acting as ambassadors of Richmond fun anytime soon, but judging by their new album, Brass Knuckles, they have their eyes set on an even bigger role. By taking up the banner of social justice in songs like “Act Like You Know” and “Tyrannis,” the group is using their force-of-nature arrangements and abilities to amplify the voices of those in the community who are taking progressive stances on issues related to race, inequality, and policing.

No BS! Brass Band — “Brass Knuckles” [Soundcloud/iTunes]

Positive No — Glossa

Positive No

I’ve written about Glossa a few times since its release (check those posts out here, here, and here), and I was so thrilled to see “Pedal Through” included on NPR’s favorite songs list. Congrats to Positive No on an excellent year!

Positive No — “Pedal Through” [Bandcamp]

Natalie Prass — Natalie Prass

Natalie Prass

From my RVA Mag blurb:

This was the album I reached for when friends and family came for dinner or a visit. I loved playing them “It Is You,” a marvel of a song, and hearing the beat to “Bird Of Prey” and the powerful conclusion of “My Baby Don’t Understand Me” meant pinching myself — reconfirming that this phenomenon, with roots in Richmond, was real.

Natalie Prass — “Why Don’t You Believe In Me” [Spotify/iTunes]

Sam Reed — This is Love

Sam Reed

From my RVA Mag blurb:

When I first heard This Is Love, I couldn’t get over the one-two punch of “Come Inside” and “Real Feel Sound.” I kept replaying them, amazed by the confluence of soul, gospel, jazz, R&B and hip hop. Reed’s voice soars in spots and seethes in others, and the backdrop provided by the Jellowstone family — especially the gritty bass in “Come Inside” and the enormous chorus of “Real Feel Sound” — had me enthralled. It’s such a lush, detailed landscape.

Sam Reed — “Come Inside” [Spotify/iTunes]

The Trillions — Superposition

The Trillions

From my RVA Mag blurb:

Most bands would kill to be as complex or as catchy as the Trillions can be, yet it’s the balance they bring to those forces that makes them truly exceptional. “Dead Meat” is my favorite illustration yet. There’s more musicality in opening seconds than in some entire albums, yet the intro gives way to a verse that exudes strength via sparse precision. Throw in a sweetly sung, slightly unsettling chorus and you have the Trillions at their best — a powerhouse as discerning as it is dynamic.

The Trillions — “Right ’til Proven Wrong” [Spotify/iTunes]

Matthew E. White — Fresh Blood

Matthew E. White

From my RVA Mag blurb:

White’s taken his hushed vocals and preternatural knack for gathering talent and applied them to subjects ranging from simple pleasures (“Fruit Trees”) to church abuse (“Holy Moly”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Tranquility”) to music itself (“Rock & Roll Is Cold”), all the while lifting up the R&B tradition to which he’s making significant contributions.

Matthew E. White — “Tranquility” [Spotify/iTunes]

More retrospective fun!

Part 1: Fav Physical Releases
Part 2: Blasts from the Past
Part 3: Excellent EPs

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No BS! Brass Band

No BS Brass Band

If you did a Richmond version of the Voyager Golden Record, you’d have to include No BS! Brass Band. They’re an inseparable part of our beloved music scene, and they epitomize some of the best aspects of it. The tremendous depth of Richmond’s musical talent pool. The musicivic (Can we make that a word?) pride here that seems to reach new heights with each passing year. The way our Friday and Saturday nights seem to gravitate toward a crowded room and group of people with instruments. That’s the feeling I get when I listen to their last album, RVA All Day. “Look at what we have here. Isn’t it amazing?”

I don’t think No BS! will stop acting as ambassadors of Richmond fun anytime soon, but judging by their new album, Brass Knuckles, they have their eyes set on an even bigger role. By taking up the banner of social justice in songs like “Act Like You Know” and “Tyrannis,” the group is using their force-of-nature arrangements and abilities to amplify the voices of those in the community who are taking progressive stances on issues related to race, inequality, and policing.

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