Near the end of August of last year, I had the opportunity to interview Christina Gleixner about the home recording project she’d undergone to help pay for the next Low Branches studio release. At the time, not many details on the album were available, other than the fact that they’d done some production work with John Morand at Sound of Music, some themselves, and that the final product was to be titled One Hundred Years Old (or 100 Years Old, as I styled it at the time).
Exactly four months after that interview was published, the album’s title track hit the interweb via Richmond Playlist, and I haven’t been able to get over how much I love it… in large part because I can’t seem to get it out of my head.
(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.
So I’ve been excited to hear the new Snowy Owls tunes. How excited, you ask? So excited that, a few months ago, I compiled some of the Twitter-based progress reporting the group posted as they were preparing for the recording process. More details have emerged since, and I’m happy to say that the suspense bubble is set to burst tomorrow, when The Snowy Owls release the Within Yr Reach EP — a beautiful, 8-song, impressionistic portrait that showcases the band’s knack for pairing memorable, guitar-driven melodies with hazy arrangements that set a distinctive and mesmerizing mood. I had the chance to catch up with Owls frontman Matt Klimas via email this weekend, and he answered a few questions about the EP, his favorite pedals, Swedish pop music and more.
It’s incredibly satisfying when a band you’re seeing for the first time meets the expectations that took root when you listened to their recordings. You know what’s even better? When those expectations are totally obliterated, the band is even better than you could have hoped, and you walk away feeling like this.
I’d been trying to make it to a Dead Fame show for months, and the big moment finally came last night, when supporters of Richmond Playlist packed the Camel for the blog’s super-fun birthday party (yes there was cake, and it was delicious!). DF took the stage as the second of three bands, installing a snazzy light show that included a roving, green laser that, while the band was working out a few technical difficulties, became the subject of a fantastic English-majors-talking-about-science conversation between my wife and me about how the laser seemed to be moving the smoky air it touched, and whether this was actually possible. Our conclusion? We have no idea what we’re talking about.
Dead Fame’s set got underway a few minutes later and, within the first few moments of “Glass Jacket,” I was floored. Blown away. Gobsmacked.
There are a zillion reasons why everyone and their second cousin should head out to the Camel tonight for Richmond Playlist’s blog birthday party. I’ve listed a random sampling of 5 of these reasons below, organized in no particular order…
“Every day becomes better when listening to Queen.”
This quotation was culled from a tweet posted by the esteemed proprietor of Richmond Playlist, and I have to say that truer words were never spoken. When is the last time you heard a Queen song without your mood improving? I mean seriously, whose day was ever ruined by “Don’t Stop Me Now” or “Under Pressure“? And don’t get me started on “Fat Bottomed Girls,” a song that’s so awesome I had a hard time believing it was real the first time I heard it. Well just yesterday, a friend sent me a link to videographic evidence that conclusively proves this assertion beyond a shadow of a doubt. In the above clip, a drunk Canadian man sits in the back of a Royal Mounted Canadian Police car, having been arrested for, well, being drunk. But does he take that shit lying down? Hell no. He dusts off his vocal chords and performs “Bohemian Rhapsody” IN ITS ENTIRETY. Take that Mounties! This brave performer (who looks like the illegitimate love-child of Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers) clearly comes out the better man in this scenario and most certainly has some serious Internet stardom coming his way. The moral of the story? Queen makes everything better. So try not to get arrested this weekend, but if you do end up in the back of a cop car, you know what to do.
Queen — “Bohemian Rhapsody“
I’ve mentioned this before, but when I started writing You Hear That, I had no idea how much amazing music is being made right here in Richmond, VA. During the course of the past year, I’ve been completely blown away by RVA’s homegrown tunes, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to blogs like Richmond Playlist and Sounds of RVA for pointing me in all the right directions. And as inspired as I’ve been by outstanding groups like White Laces, Black Girls, Goldrush and The Trillions, there’s so much more to discover — especially when it comes to RVA hip hop. The Cheats Movement blog, which is a tremendous source for information about local rap artists (not to mention a seemingly bottomless well of positivity and enthusiasm), has helped me take a big step in that direction by posting the video above, which is the first in the series of clips that will document an event that took place on October 21, 2011 called RVA Hot Sauce. Much like the graffiti photos that got me hooked on Marc Cheatham’s blog several months ago, this video is a wake-up call as to the staggering amount of creativity flowing through this city, and I can’t wait to see the additional installments and hear more from performers like Black Liquid. Watch him and several other talented RVA folks in action in the video above (seeing Brian McDaniel from Dirty Richmond freestyle is particularly awesome), listen below to an older Black Liquid tune called “Life,” and keep an eye out for more RVA Hot Sauce videos down the road.
Black Liquid — “Life“
Did everyone have a wonderful Christmas weekend? Did you get enough holiday cheer? Get that new iPhone you asked for? If not, I hope you handled it better than these people. In any case, as you dig yourself out from the daze of the holi… days, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look back at the year in music via the latest edition of The Lagomorph, which just went live today! It’s the fourth edition of this “periodic document of musical experiences from the past year,” and I’m very excited to have been included alongside some truly talented Richmond writers, photographers and musicians. Click here to check out interesting pieces by folks like Andrew Cothern of Richmond Playlist, PJ Sykes and more. After all, as Ferris Bueller once said so astutely, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
It’s been almost 3 days with no power, thanks to hurricane Irene. Without evening interweb time, You Hear That is a boat without oars, so there’s only one thing left to do: quick-post a song about darkness! Here’s my all-time favorite darkness-related tune, Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Sure the void he’s talking about is actually death, and the darkness I’m experiencing is just a neighborhood without electricity (except for the a-holes next door with a generator. Richmond Playlist — you know what I’m talking about), but when you’re creeping up on 72 hours without power, you’re allowed to be a little melodramatic. Check out the video for “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” above and download the album, Plans, here.
Powerful music can make you get up and dance, give you goosebumps, or heal you when you’re feeling broken, but I believe one of the greatest gifts a song can give you is the feeling that you’re not alone (cue Mavis and Jeff). No matter who you are, it feels good to know that someone else has gone through what you’re going through. The ability to gather one’s experiences and piece them together in a way that engages others separates good songwriters from exceptional ones, and Passenger most assuredly belongs in that second category. I found out about Passenger (real name Michael Rosenberg) when Richmond Playlist tweeted a link to the video for “Settled,” a new song of Rosenberg’s that blew me away with its beautiful and bittersweet lyrics (I believe I actually said “Wow” out loud, even though no one else was around at the time). After receiving a follow-up recommendation from the same trusted source, I gave a listen to Passenger’s most recent album, Flight of the Crow. Released nearly a year ago, this record is comprised of one powerful moment after another. Some are joyful, some are painful, but these moments engage the listener with stark emotion and insight, and no track did so more for me than “The One You Love.” This lilting yet joyful tune about companionship immediately sucked me into its narrative, calling up specific memories and inviting me to count my blessings for the relationships in my life. Check it out below, along with the rest of Flight of the Crow, and buy the album from iTunes here.