New local music releases
By Brian Tucker
Musicians have been performing from home via Facebook or in shows like Quarantined Fest, Wilson Center’s Ghostlight Series, Stoop Records’ weekly showcase, or those arranged by Tommy Brothers (featuring HanoverFist, Tina Langevin). As of late online is the place to catch live music.
While our local acts can’t perform to support new music there’s plenty to check out in the wake of the pandemic (Wyldphyre, Grant Eubanks, Sacred Cashcow, Personality Cult) in addition to new songs by Mike Blair, Hollow Intent, Wax Imperials, Louis., Bag of Toys, Team Player, and a twenty minute ambient track by Ryan Lewis’ Cheval Gris. Check out the latest offerings below and music videos at the end.
Tod Soul – Reciprocate
Electronic instrumental album from Tod Soul (Danny Thomas II), a rapper and producer who co-founded music collective Beats+Coffee. Reciprocate is a combination of lush and relaxed playing (see “Palmer Alley,” “Priscilla”), a meditative album more circular than one simply with a beginning and end. As a musical representation about the ebb and flow of how love is given, Reciprocate keeps the ambiance relaxed but hits the right emotional buttons. And remembers to have fun (“Tesla Pills”).
“Reciprocate was a meditation on the ways that we give and receive love. I was trying to view that from different vantage points and make music that made me reflect on that. I shot the cover art with a photographer named Lindy Schoenborn, who I went to school with, back in 2017. At that time, it was sort of a loose concept. But over the course of the last 3 years I used that image to make music that felt like it aligned with the concept.”
“The album touches on everything from familiar love, with songs like “Ms. Bernice”, which is an ode to my grandma, or “Palmer Alley,” which is my reflection on a date with my girlfriend to the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. Palmer Alley is an actual location not far from there. I wanted the song to sound and feel like that space/moment.”
Patrick Carr – Vox Humana
For this instrumental album Carr made guitar star of the show, a collection of acoustic driven material created. Wanting to emulate an instrumental guitar album in the vein of Jeff Fahey, Carr’s songs are lush yet spare, able to spark imagination in the listener. Elegantly stark (“Eurydice”), roaming (“Misty Mountain Reel”), or epic (the nine minute “Black Mountain/Burial of the Dead”), Carr’s album lets you get to provide the story.
“That’s the beauty about instrumental music. It can say so much, but without using tangible words,” Carr said. “There’s also the possibility for real emotional depth that is really satisfying.”
The Quarantine Sessions, Vol. 1
This fourteen track compilation happened quickly, culling new and rare material from local performers (the proceeds going to Nourish NC). Team Player’s Martin Cunningham was considering how to get fellow players working together. This collection was born and benefited from so many people creating from home. He was blown away at the tracks donated and said it made Team Player work harder. It’s a great mix, from atmospheric (Slow Dance’s “Dewy” and Rosemary’s “Soften”) to fun (Two Tree Hill’s “Dracula’s Going Back 2 School” and Tennis Elbow’s “Broke Heart”).
“This idea of local musicians working to put something out for people to enjoy, and be able to turn around and give back to an organization like Nourish, to kids in our city, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Jacob Jordan – Finding My Way
A mix of indie rock and bedroom pop, Jordan’s debut can be rollicking (“600 Miles”) or a Beatles-meets-Bush piano ballad (“Jaded”). The whole feels like a love letter never sent and found later. Beneath the range of music is frank, picturesque lyricism. On the leaving home-inspired “600 Miles” he sings, “Thanks for the “good luck’s, I’ll lace my boots / I’ll tell you the places they take me to” and on “DanceFloor” the grind of life rears up, “I’ve got a young man’s face but I don’t feel so young no more” and “I’ve got a string tied to my back…”
“I think it’s about selling yourself short on what you want to do in life,” Jordan said. “Following your dreams and discovering the innate strength to continue on when you fail.”
Exploding Math Lab – Straight Into the Sun
I once described EML’s music as soundtrack for a future apocalypse – fun, soaring, ragged rock songs with a hypnotic vocalist leading into the bleak unknown. And here we are in 2020, sheltering in place during a pandemic. More great music from EML but nowhere to roam with it except at home. The band’s garage rock meets psychedelic caustic qualities remain. A bit more atmospheric, still fun. Plus, the album was recorded live.
“We did 2-3 takes for each song. One or two songs we played once, liked the take, and moved on,” says guitarist Ben Schachtman. “We went into the studio, drank a few beers, and did what came naturally.”
The Girls – The New Rock and Roll
The Girls added band members and recorded new songs to add to their last EP. Its a full album of back alley, gut punching 70s inspired punk rock and roll. On it J.P. Verardi writes solid, catchy material. This is a Friday night, let-it-loose, album. Think The Donnas but more in-your-face, more self abandon. Impressive for songs clocking in around two minutes (some less), the band delivers hard driving music and Verardi’s vocals are both guttural and accessible.
“I really just want to make people dance, have fun and forget the problems in the world when they come to our shows,” Verardi said. “Just have a good time.”