Back in January, on the very same day that Bandcamp Weekly posted a new episode with Kenneka Cook as the featured guest, I had the honor of chatting with Cook over lunch at Pop’s Market. I’m excited to say the resulting RVA Magazine article is on newsstands now, and I hope it reflects how fun and wide-ranging that conversation was. We talked about everything from her approach to different songs on the album and the brilliance of American Paradox community to the music she grew up with and our shared love for Richmond’s record stores.
More than anything else, I hope you all get a sense for Cook’s vision and voice. Separately, those words point to different ideas. Different senses. A way you receive information about the world and a way you share information with the world. But vision and voice can both represent loftier ideas, as well, like imagination and influence — things that can come together in the creative process to render something truly new and special. That’s what I hear on Cook’s wonderful debut album, Moonchild. Check out the title track below and be sure to grab a copy of RVA Magazine if you see a stack around town.
When people are doing what they love, you can tell. Cooking, singing, repairing bicycles, doesn’t matter. Being in your element means tapping into something deep and true, and that’s what Andrew Carter’s debut album as Minor Poet sounds like to me. His love for recording is unmistakable; it stands out like a third dimension, with layers and harmonies only a devoted craftsman would seek out and execute.
Sitting down with Carter for an interview at Black Hand Coffee absolutely confirmed this first impression, and I’m excited to say that the results of that conversation are available now in the newly released RVA Magazine summer issue. Carter kindly called it the “definitive” version of the events surrounding the release of And How!, an album (out August 25 on EggHunt Records) that promises to reach many ears and make Minor Poet a very familiar name both in Richmond and beyond.
I want to thank Carter for such a candid interview, and Doug Nunnally for all his help with writing this piece. I also want to recognize the inimitable Joey Wharton — it’s an honor having my words next to his photos. Just stunning.
Click here to read the article online, or snag yourself a print copy around town. I have a couple other pieces of writing in the issue I’m psyched to tell y’all about, so stay tuned…
Minor Poet — “River Days” [Spotify/Bandcamp]
The new issue of RVA Magazine (#28, to be exact) is out now, and in addition to a truly a gorgeous pink cover, it sports an article I wrote about Dazeases, one of the most exciting new artists to emerge from Richmond’s music scene in recent memory. Working on this was a genuinely inspiring experience. Dazeases has a true artist’s creative drive, and her compass is guided by a powerful sense of self-determination, whether you’re looking at her inventive approach to songcraft or her singular performance style. (Case in point: Her performance this Friday will include two venues and a 5-minute guided walk in between. How cool is that?)
I owe Dazeases my thanks, both for the inspiration she radiates and for all her help with the article, and I hope you’ll take the time to get to know her a little better by picking up a copy of the magazine or by reading online here.
Dazeases — “Laurel” [Spotify/YouTube]
It’s been a hot minute since I was in the print edition of RVA Magazine — the last time was in 2012 — but I’m happy to say I have an article in the new issue, which sports a truly gorgeous cover. Look at that thing. Greg Simkins, y’all.
I wrote about recording studios in Richmond, spending the first half my 2,000 words surveying options and the second half profiling the studio I’ve spent the most time in — Pedro Aida’s Audio Verite. Aida is a talented dude, and interviewing him gave me an opportunity to dig deeper into his relationship with music and how he got his start as an engineer/producer. It strikes me now that the reason that conversation was so rewarding and the reason Aida finds recording so rewarding are one in the same: It’s all about connecting with people. Finding the right studio… helping people make albums… writing… performing… at every stage, your success and your ability to connect with people are intertwined, and I feel like I now have a fuller understanding of that than I did before I started working on this article. Thank you, Pedro.
You can read the article here (I also have a few album reviews/blurbs in this issue) or find free hard copies around town. I found a stack at Belmont Pizzeria while out for a run and managed to tuck two into the front pocket of the hoodie I was wearing. They bounced around a bit on the way home, but it was worth it.
I’ll close by re-posting “Reinvent The Space,” which Positive No recorded with Aida at Audio Verite. (Click here for more info on the song and the great cause you can support by buying it.)
Positive No — “Reinvent The Space” [Bandcamp]
Merry Christmas Eve, y’all! I thought I’d check in and recommend some reading in case you need to grab your laptop and abscond to a guest bedroom after downing one too many gingerbread stouts and telling your in-laws what you really think about their political views…
RVA Magazine‘s Top 25 albums countdown! For the second year (Thanks for having me back, Doug!), I had the opportunity to submit a ballot and contribute a few blurbs, and the one I wrote about Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music just went up today. Check it out here. I’ll keep updating this post as the rest of the list is published.
[Update: The top five albums were posted today, including a Flying Lotus blurb by yours truly — read it here.]
[Update Update: Last installment (best RVA releases of 2014) is go — I got to write about Sleepwalkers’ outstanding Greenwood Shade album.]
Hope you enjoy, and good luck facing your in-laws at breakfast tomorrow morning!
Sturgill Simpson — “Turtles All The Way Down” [Spotify/iTunes]
Almost exactly a year ago, rvamag.com published an interview I did with Matuto, a thrilling and innovative NYC-based group that takes strands from different forms of traditional music — American bluegrass and Brazilian forró being two — and interweave them via fun songwriting and truly spectacular musicianship. At the time, the group was fresh off a sold-out Lincoln Center show where they debuted a new piece called “Africa Suite.” That suite just hit the interweb in the form of an EP, and it’s excellent.
In my book, the very best way to listen to an album for the first time is to load the thing up on the ol’ iPod Nano and go for a run that’s as least as long as the album’s (no pun intended, I swear) running time. My mind is clear, my attention span is uncharacteristically long, endorphins are flowing, I can crank the thing up as loud as my eardrums will let me… it doesn’t get much better on planet Earth, as far as I’m concerned. I had one of these perfect runs a couple weeks ago while giving Goldrush’s debut full-length Greatest Hits a first listen.
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]
Last week, I shared a little about how I pick songs for Fridays, saying that I tend to look for the most fun/weekend-y thing I heard during the course of the week. On a somewhat related side note, I woke up with R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)” stuck in my head, which is fun and all, but not really appropriate for 8 a.m., no matter which day of the week it is. (By the way, have you seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance of “Ignition”? Well worth a look-see.)
Wait… what were we talking about? OH YEAH! Besides levity, there’s another great reason to save a post for Friday — the need for a couple of weekend days to chew on it.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview RVA’s favorite team of #snuffrock specialists, Black Girls. It was a tremendous honor meeting and chatting with these 5 incredibly talented and gracious gents, and the resulting article is available now in the spring issue of RVA Magazine. I’m excited about how it turned out, as the band has had some wonderful things happen in the last few months, and I really believe they are destined for great things. If’n you’re interested, you can read the piece online here or, if you’re an ink and paper kind of guy/gal, you can pick up a hard copy of RVA Magazine for $0 at several spots around town (my favorite place to snag the mag when it comes out is Steady Sounds on Broad Street, but hey, that’s just me). In the meantime, you can sample Black Girls’ song “Get Off” below and, if you don’t have it yet, click here to pick up their kickass recent album, Hell Dragon.
Black Girls — “Get Off” [Spotify/iTunes]