Grace Vonderkuhn

Exciting things afoot at EggHunt Records…

Earlier this month, the Richmond label announced that it signed Grace Vonderkuhn — an exciting and explosive garage/psych artist who hails from Delaware. Full details on her upcoming album have yet to be announced, but I wanted to go ahead and start spreading the word for two reasons:

  • Her 2015 self-titled EP is well worth a listen. While her intense guitar work is a big part of why I’m looking forward to the release of her upcoming album, I’ve latched onto a more low-key tune from the EP called “God Bless Your Soul,” which is embedded below.
  • She’s playing at Strange Matter tomorrow! More info here. I’d imagine folks in attendance will have their souls blessed with a healthy helping of her new material, and three other bands — The Smirks, Black Naked Wings, and Don Babylon — round out the bill. Should be a hoot.

Grace Vonderkuhn — “God Bless Your Soul” [Bandcamp]

Friends For Equality


I posted a little while back about Feral Conservatives’ gorgeous track on the Friends for Equality compilation, which benefited the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I wanted to give the cause another quick signal boost, as a Friends for Equality benefit show is being held tonight at Strange Matter.

You’ll find a number of details on the flyer above (music starts at 8, $5-20 suggested donation), as well as the lineup, which includes those very same Feral Conservatives. This time, funds are being raised for Forward Together (“Our mission is to ensure that women, youth and families have the power and resources they need to reach their full potential.”) and SisterSong (“Sistersong’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.”).

Doors are at 7, but you can start prepping now by clicking play on the 15-minute journey RAIC calls “Penance.”

RAIC — “Penance” [Bandcamp]

Clair Morgan

Clair Morgan

Music is full of little miracles that are easy to overlook. One of the most fundamental is the fractured nature of performing as part of a band.

When you’re at your favorite venue, hearing familiar songs come out of a few, huge speakers, it’s easy to process it all as one thing, and to forget that the parts of that whole are the result of individual human beings putting into motion an unfathomable number of neural pathways and muscle groups in just the right order, at just the right time. It’s what makes being in a band so frustrating and so rewarding. When you get up on stage to perform with other people, you’re on a tightrope together, and the gravitational pull of chaos never abates. The universe does not want to be as ordered as you’re forcing it to be when you play a song.

After spending a few days thinking about why I so enjoyed seeing Clair Morgan at Strange Matter on Friday night, I’ve decided it has something to do with the remarkable way they walked that tightrope, and the daring way the band’s frontman and namesake (“Clair Morgan is and is not a band,” as the t-shirt I bought at the show explains) courts chaos, making the walk all the more thrilling.

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Angel Olsen


A few hours before Monday’s show at Strange Matter, I went for a long run down Grove Avenue with this weekend’s episode of This American Life. Titled “Secret Identity,” the show included a lengthy segment about people afflicted with a rare psychiatric condition called delusional disorder — a distant cousin of schizophrenia that causes otherwise-high-functioning people to convince themselves of fictional yet totally plausible delusions. This was either the exact right or exact wrong way to prepare for seeing Angel Olsen perform. That’s because, for entire sections of her set, which followed enjoyable opening performances by Richmond’s own Nelly Kate (who I’ll be posting about separately) and Chicago-based Pillars and Tongues, I thought Olsen was staring directly at me.

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NMP album art

I have a friend who seems to know someone in every other band that comes to town. It’s jealousy-inspiring and heartwarming at the same time, but more than anything else, I see it as a testament to how good and generous she is as a person, and how some people are wizards when it comes to keeping in touch. (This has always been a weakness of mine, so when I see that quality in others, it really catches my eye.)

She recently told me about a band she’s friends with that’s set to play this Wednesday, June 26 at Strange Matter, and it took approximately 0.734 seconds of listening to their new album for me to develop a strong desire to probe these people about the hows and whys behind the music they make. They’re called NYMPH, and they’re a 7-piece group, hailing from Brooklyn and specializing in the crazy spaces between jazz, psych- and noise rock. Their new album, New Millennium Prayer, comes out tomorrow, giving you 24 hours to dissect and digest it before they hit the stage at Strange Matter in a colorful cloud of creative energy.

RVA Magazine was kind enough to pick up the interview — I hope you’ll check it out here and listen below to the remix they did of “Golden Heart,” one of the tracks from Neneh Cherry’s outstanding 2012 album, The Cherry Thing.

NYMPH & Neneh Cherry – “Golden Heart” Remix [Spotify/iTunes]

WRIR and Commonwealth of Notions Presents: Volume 3

Commonwealth of Notions

On July 14 of last year, when I was speeding down Monument Avenue on the way to Gallery 5, the air in my Honda Fit was thick with suspense. I was eager to see The Snowy Owls, a band I’d been listening to but hadn’t seen live, and I was just as eager to get my first taste of “WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents.” Last year was the second for the Shannon Cleary-curated WRIR fundraiser, and it proved to be a dynamite day and night of music, with 10 local bands, multiple stages and perfectly staggered set times. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the Richmond music scene better at last year’s event, and it’s become clear that this year’s is going to be even more rewarding.

If Volume 2’s format provided a steady stream of sets, this year’s is more like an angry river that’s going to crest on four consecutive nights at four different venues around Richmond. And while we know the where and when for WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents: Volume 3 — things kick off on Thursday, July 18 at Strange Matter, followed by Balliceaux on July 19, Gallery 5 on July 20 and Bandito’s on July 21 — the who has been kept secret until the last few days, whereupon RVA Playlist, Sounds of RVA and One Way Richmond began revealing the bands who have signed up to participate.

Today, I’m honored to announce three more puzzle pieces — Wolf//Goat, Way, Shape, or Form, and Heavy Midgets. The dates and venues are listed below, along with some sample tunes to get the anticipation flowing.

July 18 at Strange Matter

In Watermelon Sugar

Wolf//Goat — “Lobocabra” [Bandcamp]

July 20 at Gallery 5
Way, Shape, or Form

Way Shape or Form

Way, Shape, or Form — “Tenants” [Bandcamp]

July 21 at Bandito’s
Heavy Midgets

Heavy Midgets

Heavy Midgets — “Golden Cow” [Bandcamp]

Keep an eye out for more announcements, including information about a very special mystery artist who will be returning to Richmond to perform at Balliceaux on Friday, July 19.

Hope to see you there in July!

Pretty & Nice

Pretty & Nice

I want to talk to you about value.

(No, this is not a first time home buyers’ seminar, and I’m sorry to say that there’s no free timeshare waiting for you at the end of this post.)

I want to talk to you about value because Golden Rules for Golden People, the fantastic new album from Boston-based mad pop scientists Pretty & Nice, strikes me as one of the most valuable albums I’ve ever heard.

So what makes a band’s work valuable? It is, of course, an intentionally broad question, and you could answer it in a zillion different ways. A song that reminds you of the day your son or daughter was born would have emotional value. (I’m told Aaron Copland’s Billy The Kid was playing on the radio when I popped out, which is a tad bit creepy when you consider that my father’s name was Bill.) That first pressing of Meet The Beatles your parents never let you touch has some serious historical/monetary value, while the EDM you blast to keep yourself awake while driving long stretches at night has a very specific, practical value. We could keep going, but you get the point. Circumstances, time, our needs… all these things turn a piece of music into something more than just notes and words.

That said, Golden Rules has me thinking about a totally different kind of value. Something more objective and less ascribed. Something inherent in the recording itself.

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Sounds of RVA

The internet is a funny place.

Well… I suppose it’s not actually a place. It’s a thing. A network. A series of tubes, much like the ones used to transport endorsed checks between you and the bank’s drive through teller. The fascinating thing, though, is that it feels like a place. The virtual spaces we visit so that we can interact with people who share our interests feel just as real as the 7-11s we hit up for coffee on the way to work — even more so in some cases, given that a diligently updated blog can be front-and-center in your consciousness several times a day, if you’re equally diligent about reading it.

Though I’ve never met Sarah Moore Lindsey in person, her words regularly occupy that front-and-center position, thanks to Sounds of RVA.

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