Dorthia Cottrell (self-titled)
Richmond • March 1, 2015
It’s not uncommon for a stoner-doom vocalist to have a gloomy alt-country side project, but it’s less common for it to be as impressive as Dorthia Cottrell’s self-titled solo debut. The droning acoustics and echoes of lap steel guitars may be expected, but Cottrell’s voice catapults this album into uncharted territory. Beautiful, intimate vocals reflect her pain and uncertainty, immediately cutting to the heart, then twisting the knife deeper with stellar songwriting. Cottrell expresses ache and yearning in a way that reminds me of Hope Sandoval. There’s a folk feel to “Rake” that will bring Stevie Nicks’s best B-sides to mind, while the simple beauty of “Orphan Bird” conjures up Chan Marshall. Cottrell is standing in the shadow of Lucinda Williams on “Perennial” and “Song For You,” but she stands tall. It’s a stunning offering of peyote-musings, whiskey poetry, and lonely laments, as soul-crushing as it is enlightening, as comforting as it is spooky. For as much praise as has been written about her vocals in Windhand, when the dust settles on Dorthia Cottrell’s legacy, she deserves to be celebrated as one of the darkest of alt-country.
Borrowed Beams of Light / New Boss
Charlottesville • February 26, 2015
Even at 18 tracks, this tape manages what few other LPs seem to be able to do: maintain consistency. Given the similarities between these two bands, it makes sense that their hazy waves of translucent power-pop would merge into what will surely become a collector’s item. The BBL side glows as a perfect way to start an evening, swaying to the infectious swagger of “Long-necked Wife” or shaking your rump to “33 and 45.” New Boss keeps things lo-fi so you can melt into your couch with “Last Try” or “Teaser” on repeat.
Richmond • March 22, 2015
In the very best sense of a word that’s used so broadly these days, Dirt Merchant made a heavy record. As soon as the opening riff of “Naked Ape II” grabs hold, the pulsing rhythms sneak in, hypnotize you, and take you on a deliberate journey. While reverb-laden guitars lead the way, it’s the persistent basslines and the consistency of the drums that keep you moving, unconcerned with your destination. “Home” is a particularly face-melting jam, but the “Breach” closer shines like a million suns. Somebody tell the Devil we want more like this one.
Fuck The Police
Herndon • March 11, 2015
Look, you either get punk rock or you don’t. It’s loud, it’s brash, and it’s straight-forward. An Invitation is no exception to that aesthetic. Fuck The Police has all the aggression you’d expect from an EP with that title. It’s three songs with a guaranteed dose of reverb, charging riffs, and angsty vocals. While I could do without a guitar solo or two, it’s damn fine punk rock. They certainly aren’t breaking any new ground here, but rather continuing the legacy of politically-fueled, loud music that you can’t ignore. If you lament the pop dilution of punk, listen up.
King of Lost Kings
Newport News • March 2, 2015
Boom-bap rhythms permeate this EP while Eddie Phat flows like a smoked-out sea turtle on a surfboard. “Darlin’” is one of the more honest break-up raps this side of Rhymesayers. “Aye!” is a grimy thug track, but it’s laced with a moral aesthetic lacking pretense. Lyrically, some might pigeonhole Eddie Phat as “conscious rap,” but there’s no hypocritical self-righteousness or unattainable ideals here. Sure, there’s a message, but it’s delivered in a laid back style. Whatever Eddie’s message is, it’s good news for people who dig hip hop.