Tag Archives: Strange Matter

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!

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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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The Snowy Owls

Within Yr Reach

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.

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New Music Advent Calendar

I know it’s the beginning of June, but this past weekend got me thinking about Advent calendars. I’m convinced they’re magic. How else can you explain a poor, helpless piece of chocolate, with only the tensile strength of a perforated paper door to defend it, surviving the terrifying clutches of a sugar-crazed child’s hands for 25 whole days? You might as well be playing Jenga with Milk Bones on your dog’s nose.

So why was I thinking about Advent calendars? Is it because I’m one of those people who celebrate half Christmas? No siree Bob; my perception of time is way too poor to figure out when that even is. Is it because I’m turning into that creepy kid from Bad Santa? No, but let’s be honest — I’d grow that blonde ‘fro in a heartbeat if I could. The real reason is that three of the Richmond-based bands that I follow on Twitter, White LacesThe Snowy Owls and Hoax Hunters, are in the process of recording new music, and they’ve been tweeting from their respective studios about the proceedings.

These bite-sized missives have ranged from progress reporting to tantalizingly cryptic musing to revelatory pictures, and I can’t tell you how much I love this stuff. Even though they lack the chocolaty treats of a real-life Advent calendar (which is probably for the best, given that I somehow manged to eat both Popeye’s and Burger King for lunch this past Sunday), these brief hints have ratcheted up my excitement one notch at a time, and I can’t wait for the running-downstairs-on-Christmas-morning feeling I’ll get when the fruits of the labor they describe become available. In order to spread this excitement, I thought I’d do a quick roundup of some of the tweets I’ve seen recently. Call it a New Music Advent Calendar. The best part? You get all 25 at once! Let’s get started …

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The Diamond Center


Isn’t the success that’s couched in abject failure the sweetest? Allow me to provide an illustration.

A week ago, I headed to Strange Matter for the sold out Real Estate show. Moments after I walked in the door, I caught a glimpse of a magic marker-scrawled schedule that was sitting on the desk of the ticket-taking station. The whole shindig was exactly 1 hour behind the advertised start. The Diamond Center at 9. Twerps at 10. Real Estate at 11. Normally, I don’t put too much stock in concerts starting on time, but I had to be up at an ungodly hour Friday morning and was beset by an uncharacteristic and unwelcome wave of prudence. Gross. But the Diamond Center put on such a fantastic display in the first opening slot that I completely forgot about my accursed curfew for a while, and I left Strange Matter with the unmistakable feeling that I’d gotten my money’s worth — and then some — even though I didn’t experience a single note of the headlining set.

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Hoax Hunters

Yesterday, I wrote about a few of the many reasons to see live music. There’s one example I left out because I had today’s post in mind, and in the age of the interweb, it’s an extremely rare one: music that’s exclusively available in live form. In late May, Hoax Hunters performed their first set as a band under the name the Blood Vowels. I couldn’t make this inaugural show, but this past Friday (YES, the same night as the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings show — Mrs. You Hear That?!? is a trouper!), which was just a few days after the name change was made Twitter-official but before any of their music had made its way online, the Richmond-based band performed their second show at Strange Matter. It was such a gift to walk into the venue completely free of preconceptions, filled with the excitement of knowing I was about to hear music that, at the time, wasn’t within Google’s beneficently creepy purview. Hoax Hunters rewarded me with six explosive and exhilarating rock songs that resonated right away, leaving an uncommonly gripping first impression. Three of the tunes from Friday’s show have been posted on the band’s ReverbNation page, including my favorite of the night, “Mantooth.” The track highlights how well-crafted their songs are, mixing power and subtlety in a way that shows real care and creativity. Check it out here, and be sure to check the band out at their next show, on August 4 at Sprout with White Laces, Fossil Eyes and Grandfather.

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