Tag Archives: White Laces

2016 in Review: RVA Albums

Lots of great RVA releases this year. Here are a few I particularly enjoyed, with one notable absence that will make sense when I post tomorrow’s list:

Avers — Omega/Whatever

Avers

RVA Magazine let me blurb this one for their best local releases list — check it out here. I wrapped up by saying:

They can crack off a breezy summer jam like “Santa Anna,” power through a charged rocker like “Everything Hz,” or sink into moodier tunes like “Don’t Care” with ease. That’s one reason Omega/Whatever is such a gift — we get the clearest glimpse yet of the plurality of Avers’ abilities.

Avers — “Everything Hz” [Spotify/iTunes]

Clair Morgan — New Lions & the Not-Good Night

clair-morgan

I wrote a longish review of New Lions & the Not-Good Night around the time it was released. I’ve been doing fewer of those lately — writing time is in short supply these days — but I felt compelled to dive deeper into this one, and I think this bit from the review explains why:

There are a lot of good albums out there, but music that can make you feel pure joy is rare. There has to be something about it that worms way down, through the topsoil of everyday stuff — Is this recycling week? Do I need to go to the grocery store on the way home? — to the core of what makes us who we are. The permanent stuff. The stuff that was forged years ago via childhood experiences we may have only snapshot memories of. New Lions & the Not-Good Night… gets to that place.

Clair Morgan — “How To Set Your Bed On Fire” [Spotify/iTunes]

Angelica Garcia — Medicine for Birds

angelica-garcia

I got to see Angelica Garcia perform a happy hour show at The Camel earlier in December. She was drinking tea and commented at one point about the possibility of losing her voice, which makes what I heard — a voice as versatile and expressive as any you’ll find — all the more impressive. In the span of just a few words, she’d jump between talk-singing, pure tones, pop ornamentation, bluesy bent notes, and a rapid waver that feels connected to the vibrato you might find in folk, only more natural and urgent, somehow. Medicine for Birds compiles all these sounds nicely, and while it’s tempting to frame the album as indicative of a wildly promising future, the polish of the production and the quality of the writing and singing make this a destination in itself.

Angelica Garcia — “Orange Flower” [Spotify/iTunes]

Noah-O + DJ Mentos — The Rain

noah-o

I only recently started listening to The Rain, but the partnership it features — Noah-O’s storytelling and DJ Mentos’ classic, jazz-inflected production — is clearly a winning one. They recently put up a vinyl pre-order — I look forward to snagging a copy and getting to know this one in person.

Noah-O + DJ Mentos — “Byrd Park” [Spotify/Bandcamp]

White Laces — No Floor

white-laces

This may turn out to be my favorite White Laces album. I wrote about it a couple of times, once on here and again in RVA Magazine. The latter review struck a heavier tone, since I’d learned by that point that White Laces were disbanding:

Landis Wine’s gliding voice pairs beautifully with synthetic elements that call to mind the ’80s, merging the past and present to create something truly timeless. I know it should feel final, but I’d rather think of it as everlasting.

White Laces — “Cheese” [Spotify/iTunes]

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White Laces

White Laces

I was very sad to see the news yesterday that White Laces are breaking up. I’ve said this a few times before, but they’re the band that made me want to turn this blog’s attention to the trove of musical talent that Richmond has to offer. That was back in 2011, not long after I started You Hear That, and I can honestly say that decision — and by extension, the group’s self-titled EP — changed my life. The way I plan my days, the relationships I have with other Richmond writers and musicians… I’m not sure what all that would be like had I not picked up their EP at Deep Groove that day.

I’ve written about White Laces and number of times — most recently in praise of their No Floor album — and I thought I’d post a few links as tribute to all the enjoyment and meaning the group’s music has brought me. Think of it as a chronological oral history told by this one fan.

May, 2011: My first post about the band, when I picked the EP at Deep Groove.

September, 2011: About being late to RVA Music Fest but still getting to see them play “Sick Of Summer”

January, 2012: About getting the White Laces/Arches split 7-inch in the mail

August, 2012: My review of Moves

November, 2012: An interview I did with Landis in the wake of the release of their “Heavy Nights” video

October, 2014: My post celebrating the release of Trance

October, 2016: My review of No Floor

I’ll close with a quick copy and paste from the post I wrote when Trance came out, because it feels just as fitting now:

This is an excellent opportunity to pause and look at how justified and good our pride in our city really is. That groundswell doesn’t depend on the success of any one artist or band, and it won’t be made or broken by how many copies of Trance are sold, but when music with such vision and craftsmanship becomes available to the world at large, we can all walk a little taller and listen a little more loudly, whether that’s to White Laces or another band that’s part of the bright and exciting spectrum that comprises the Richmond music community.

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Friday News and Notes

moses-sumney

Fancy a few Friday news and notes thingies?

  • Today’s an awesome release day (hello there, Hiss Golden Messenger), but I left two crucial releases off last week’s list: White Laces (wrote about No Floor yesterday) and Moses Sumney. Lordy, is Lamentations good. I pretty sure I remember “Worth It” from when he opened for Sufjan Stevens at the Altria Theater — it went straight on my “That’s My Jam” playlist after I heard this version. “Lonely World” is also outstanding, with an assist from Thundercat. Well worth a listen, if you’re not already a Sumney fan. Or if you are. And since everyone on Earth falls into one of those two categories, there’s no excuse for not listening.
  • Some really great Spacebomb news — their newest roster addition, Georgie, just released a song called “Company Of Thieves” and a corresponding video that looks like it was really fun to make. This is some seriously punchy stuff, both in terms of the strength of her voice and the oomph the horns provide. More plz thx.
  • Next long run I go on I’m listening to the Bruce Fresh Air interview. Can’t wait. Also looking forward to reading his book. There need to be more hours in the day so I can do that like… now.
  • Goodwill scores this week include Wynton Marsalis’ debut album, the soundtrack for The Empire Strikes Back, and two spoken word Star Trek albums, which include three or four narrated episodes each. I’m not all that into Star Trek, but they looked too campy to walk away from.
  • Too much good music this weekend. Lucy Dacus (with My Darling Fury and Spooky Cool) at The National tonight and the Richmond Folk Festival all weekend. Here’s hoping the weather doesn’t act up too much — Stephen Lecky and the whole Folk Fest machine put in so much work each year, and it’s such a gift to the city. Stop by early and often, and be sure to throw a few bucks into an orange donation bucket. You’ll probably get a sticker, and you can wear it like a badge of honor.

I whined a little about the weather earlier, but if you’re in Florida/Georgia/South Carolina and you’re reading this, be safe. Here’s hoping the storm heads east and doesn’t circle back around.

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White Laces

white-laces

How rare is it that you get to say that every release a band has put out has been your favorite of theirs to date? I can say that about White Laces. It’s as much a winning streak as it is evidence of the band’s searching nature. They’ve changed a bit with each release, and with No Floor, I think they’ve found something really remarkable.

There’s more synth/programming than ever on this album, and heading in that direction has opened up a powerful pairing — the precision of synthetic elements and the fluidity of Landis Wine’s voice, which is one of the most distinctive in town. The effect is almost visual; when I close my eyes and listen to the choruses of “Cheese” or “Mall Madness,” I see sharp edges layered with colorful, rolling hills. I see contrast. Not dissonance, necessarily, just contrast.

Tori Hovater’s vocals work similarly — they’re such a complement to Wine’s — and I’m wild about the minor turn the grinding synth sound takes during the chorus of “Youth Vote.” It came as a surprise the first time I heard it, but the contrast it builds with the major sound of the verse makes it a surprise that rewards over and over.

On the meaningful and memorable “Dots,” Wine sings “I used to think about time as a living thing.” It seems to me that, by drawing inspiration from the 1980’s, White Laces has found a really exciting way forward — one that has them sounding as lively as ever.

White Laces — “Cheese” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Friday News and Notes

denver

Just a few things to wrap up the week…

  • The Mountain Goats show was everything I could have hoped it would be — new songs, old songs, constant enthusiasm from John, enthusiasm from the crowd, a cover of “Dark as a Dungeon,” a “This Year” finale — and holy hell, was the merch table a dream. Practically his entire back catalog on vinyl. I got a copy of Beat the Champ (listening as I type this) but The Sunset Tree is absolutely on my wantlist now.
  • Oh Pep! opened and did an amazing job. Their song “Tea, Milk & Honey” has stuck to my brain like… well, honey is a perfectly sufficient simile. They even had homemade egg cups for sale at the show. I’m telling you — this was the most insanely good merch table I’ve ever seen.
  • Speaking of sticking to your brain, cheers to the White Laces on their new song “Cheese.” So catchy — such a bright and fascinating continuation of their ongoing evolution. Can’t wait to hear more.
  • Wow. I was excited for the Ian Chang solo stuff to come, but the video for “Spiritual Leader” totally blew my mind. Just wow. Want to see what drums can do? Watch this.
  • I’ve been meaning to post the “Animal Quietlies” video from Manatree. So glad to see this excellent, frenetic song making its way around the interweb.

Heading to Denver this weekend. Hope your weekend is great wherever you’re spending it.

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Friday News and Notes

Lucy Olympics

Happy Olympics, y’all! Can’t believe I didn’t say something last week.

Dunno about you, but I just about cried last night when Simone Manuel got her gold, and while I know what happened in the women’s individual all-around, I’m not going to say anything because Mrs. YHT is trying to achieve the informationally gymnastic feat of not finding out until she has a chance to finish watching. On a slightly less triumphant note, I’m worried about the men’s basketball team. That Australia game was slightly terrifying, even watching via DVR knowing what the outcome would be. Let’s hope they pick it up against Serbia tonight.

A few News and Notes items to keep you company until then:

  • Many thanks to Doug Nunnally for inviting me to my first Shockoe Session. We got to see a jazz group called Doors Wide Open, and I got my first glimpse of In Your Ear studios. Very cool space, very cool monthly event — check out Doug’s description of Doors Wide Open’s performance here. (Hoping to have a post of my own up about it next week.)
  • Cheers to White Laces on the cassette reissue of Sick of Summer! Stream it here and place your preorder here.
  • I know I said it yesterday, but BK’s latest used haul really is worth checking out. Two albums you won’t find there: The Clash’s London Calling and The Postal Service’s Give Up. Grabbed them when I went to pick up Durand Jones’ jam (say that five times fast). Gonna be a fun turntable weekend.
  • Finally watched the Michelle Obama/Missy Elliott episode of Carpool Karaoke. Planning to watch it whenever my faith in humanity needs to be restored, because it’s absolutely beautiful.
  • Hey! It’s my Off Your Radar turn this week! We’re going to be covering Jump, Little Children’s Magazine album, with yours truly kicking things off with the long first blurb. Click here to subscribe if’n you’re interested and haven’t yet.
  • The Big Payback is playing tonight at the Broadberry (read the article I wrote about them here) and Landlady will be at Hardywood on Saturday. Still can’t believe I’m getting to see Landlady there — the combination of one of my favorite bands and one of my favorite places to see music feels fated. Tailor-made. Cozy. It’s even Doug’s Pick of the Week for fellow OYR contributor Drew Necci’s RVA Must-See Shows. And get this — Landlady’s frontman, Adam Schatz, is making a guest appearance on OYR next week! So excited. Hope to see y’all at Hardywood!

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Phil Cook

Phil Cook

It’s hard to overstate the influence the people in this photo have had on my musical life.

Not long after Phil Cook started playing at last week’s Friday Cheers, I saw Matthew E. White walk through the crowd and settle in near the front, and at the risk of being a little bit of a creeper, I made sure to get a shot of these two hugely important people in one place.

This was my first time seeing Phil Cook play under his own name, but I’ve gotten to see him perform three (I think) times before — twice with Hiss Golden Messenger in Richmond and once with Megafaun in Portland, OR. That 2011 Portland show at the Doug Fir was the seed of something that’s grown much bigger. I’ve written about this idea before, but every single thing the Megafaun diaspora touches or is associated with — HGM, Sylvan Esso, The Shouting Matches, Grandma Sparrow — turns to gold, and those projects and Phil Cook’s solo album have brought me a great deal of happiness in the years since Portland.

Less than a year after that show, the first songs from White’s Big Inner debut (Phil Cook was involved with that too) started appearing on the interweb. I hadn’t been clued into Fight the Big Bull back then, so these songs were my introduction to White. It was a little like when I first heard White Laces — it felt like I’d stepped on a live power line in my own backyard, like “Holy crap! Was this here all along?” I preordered the album and followed White on all possible social media channels, including his Spotify profile.

I’m not sure how many of y’all use the feature that allows you to see what your friends/the people you follow are listening to, but White’s feed changed everything for me. It’s how I found out about Randy Newman. About Harry Nilsson. About Stevie Wonder. And then Stevie opened up the whole world of soul music for me — Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Nina Simone… there’s an entire section of my record collection that probably wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for White’s Spotify feed.

The same goes for one of the happiest moments of my life: In the spring of 2014, Mrs. YHT and I did a long weekend in Corolla, NC while she was very pregnant, knowing we were going to skip my family’s summer beach trip that year. On the last day, before heading back to Richmond — and back to reality, where parenthood was imminent — we spent a few minutes in (what I believe is called) Historic Corolla Park literally sitting on the dock of the bay (OK, the Currituck Sound) listening to Otis Redding. For that short time, I felt completely at peace with the world and my place in it. Peace was scarce in those days, given how anxious I was before our daughter was born, so I’ll never forget listening to that song in that setting in that moment. Without Otis Redding, and by extension, Matt White, I’m not sure I would have found that sense of peace.

Toward the end of his Cheers set, Phil Cook dedicated a song to a friend in the audience, and while I can’t remember the exact words of his dedication, it seemed clear he was talking about White. The song ended up being Randy Newman’s “Sail Away.” Two days later, at the P.S. 321 Flea Market in Brooklyn, I found a copy of Newman’s album of the same name. It felt like all the musical connections I’d been thinking about for those two days came together in that one record I was holding. I’d held a copy of the album before — while flipping through records at Deep Groove a while ago — but on Sunday, it felt like the most valuable record in the entire world.

I really wish I had video of Cook doing “Sail Away” on Friday. My phone’s battery was low because I had already taped Cook playing “Crow Black Chicken,” which Ry Cooder recorded for Boomer’s Story. Here’s that recording — it’s a little blurry, but there’s an excellent bass solo from Michael Libramento. And it seems only fitting, given that this is a story about connections, to share that Ry Cooder played on Newman’s Sail Away album.

Phil Cook — “Crow Black Chicken” (Ry Cooder cover) [YouTube]

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