So I’m going to attempt to end this jerk of a year with five wrap-up posts in five days. Fingers crossed this works. I tend to overwrite these things until they become albatross-y, so I’ll try to keep things snappy, starting with a quick list of links to music writing I did in 2016. Add in weekly contributions to the Off Your Radar newsletter and an August appearance on Sound Gaze and I can definitively say that this is the most blabbing about music I’ve done in a year.
Many thanks — seriously, too many to mention here — to the people I interviewed and the people who made what I wrote sound better and look prettier. Y’all know who you are, and I hope you also know how awesome and appreciated you are. Lots of fun stuff in the works for 2017. Until then…
Featured Off Your Radar weeks:
For Boomer Magazine:
For Richmond Navigator online
For River City Magazine
For RVA Magazine
For West End’s Best
It’s customary to start year-end lists by chewing some fat about how making them is strange and difficult work, and in general, I find that these intros can be exceedingly skippable. Everyone knows that album rankings are subjective (even when they’re created on behalf of a publication or website), and no one needs to be reminded that the list maker didn’t listen — and couldn’t have listened, of course! — to every single thing that came out in the preceding 12 months. You don’t share Santa Claus’ knack for bending the space-time continuum. Understood. But before I get to my Top 10 albums, I would like to share a quick story about how I came up with my list, and how Beyoncé helped me find meaning in this whole strange and difficult exercise.
In case you couldn’t tell from my post about Golden Rules for Golden People, I’m rather fond of Pretty & Nice. I’m extremely happy to report that I had the chance to interview them a few hours before their recent show at Strange Matter, and the interview just went up over at rvamag.com. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look it over and learn a little more about how their amazing new album came together.
Just for fun, here’s the Us You All We track I mentioned in the interview, along with its remix.
Pretty & Nice — “Dan’s Heart” [Spotify/iTunes]
Pretty & Nice — “Dan’s Heart” (The Mathematics Remix) [Spotify/iTunes]
For those of you who missed Volume 1 of YHT’s Tournament Album Coverage, I spent last weekend glued to my couch, watching the first rounds of the NCAA Tournament in a most gloriously sloth-like fashion. I can think of no better occasion for acting like a shut-in and no better way to enhance the experience than muting the television and choosing your own soundtrack for each game. (There’s only so much of Jay Bilas’ voice I can take before I just start yelling at the TV screen like a crazy person.)
With a few exceptions, things took a decidedly more contemporary turn after Friday night’s Garfunkel-fest. Below, I’ve posted the art for everything my friends and I listened to on Saturday and Sunday, along with a sample song and a context-free quote from someone in the room about each record.
Imagine for a moment that scientists working 500 feet below the Franco-Swiss border got a little tipsy and loaded up the Large Hadron Collider with concentrated musicianship quarks, particles of perfect pop intuition and a brand new, multicolored pack of highlighters that was taken from the lab’s supply cabinet. Imagine that these punchy scientists then flipped the switch to “ON,” sending the three aforementioned types of matter careening toward one another at an energy of 7 teraelectronvolts. Somewhere inside the accelerator’s 17-mile, ring-shaped tube, there would be a dramatic collision. And, by my calculations, that collision would look and sound exactly like the video posted above.
Shot in one take (!) in a brightly bedecked attic located in the band’s hometown of Boston, MA, this Love Drunk Studio-helmed performance video of “Yonkers” offers a wonderful glimpse of what makes Pretty & Nice so special.
Important Two Day Coverage, Part II … The Artist: Pretty & Nice.
Last night, I got to see Pretty & Nice at the Southern, a cool venue that’s nestled in a pleasantly dank basement, just steps off Charlottesville’s downtown mall. With some in the crowd sitting campfire-style at co-frontman Holden’s request, the band tore through a magnificently manic-yet-precise performance. Familiar songs like “Tora Tora Tora” and “Piranha” sounded sharp, and we got to hear a number of new ones (see above for “Yonkers”), all oozing the same mastery of melody, pace, dissonance and dynamics that made me such a fan of their last full-length, Get Young. After the set, co-frontman Jeremy shared that they’ve tracked these new tunes, and plan to mix at John Vanderslice’s new B studio, Minitel, eying a late summer or fall release. I’m super excited to hear the result.