Charlottesville • August 1, 2015
“Twee Boogie” is an appropriate name for much of the New Boss sound. The first half of the album, recorded with vocalist Carolyn Zelikow, acid washes Belle & Sebastian bounciness with The Velvet Underground. “Jungle Warfare” almost tilts in favor of uncomfortable cuteness except for the creepy jingle “I’m so happy I could hang myself.” I don’t know where part one went, but “Rock n Roll Pt. 2” is another fun jam with funny notions: “Oh, oh / How I’d like to go / But the doctor, he said no / So I guess you’re on your own.” By tracks six and seven, “Spaceface” and “Do I Have To,” Zelikow and the band find a balanced stride that reminds me of Rachel Haden’s collaborations with Weezer.
“Owls” kicks off the b-side with Jordan Perry on vocals and lead guitar plus Chelsea Blakely on keys and backup vocals. “Since You Been Gone” marks the end of the twee sound section, affecting a style that’s closer to the psych pop of The Apples in Stereo. “Dear Sir” and “Lenny” follow up, short and sweet, squeezing two of the juiciest guitar riffs out of the entire album. Apparently losing Blakely to grad school, the band will no doubt regroup again and push on to boogie frontiers three and four.
Four Ways To Say Goodbye Forever
Richmond • September 5, 2015
Featuring production by Will Toledo, “Four Ways to Say Goodbye Forever” threatens you with a good time. With a swelling of swoony trumpets, “Sensitive Skin” finally confesses, “I am paralyzed by everything.” The duet, “Singapore Song,” feels like an anxious twist on Heavenly via Beck. A sauntering anthem to unspoken romantic thoughts, “Sound Sleepers” climaxes surfing both clean and distorted harmonies. A smitten tourist with a deceptively peppy beat, “Speaking Spanish” is an easy favorite: “I got nothing to say / Still got nothing to say / Now I’m falling in love.” If you dig this, check out “Something Soon” by Car Seat Headrest.
Young Hardware EP
Harrisonburg • September 24, 2015
Dead Professional has damn fine aim and “Downtown at Sundown” hunts happy hour like Billy Joel writing “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” for the Footloose soundtrack. “You Heard What You Wanted” drives a maddening beat with strategic blues chords hypnotizing anyone not already on a train to New Orleans. “Call Me A Doctor” plays downtempo nurse, complete with guest female vocals. “I’m In The Dark” pretends it’s like the first two songs but tension builds with each palm-muted strum. Anyone left craving after “Sweet Surrender In The Bitter End” should look up their 2014 EP, Hard, Hard, Hard.
I’ve Done My Waiting EP
Virginia Beach • August 10, 2015
Padfoot is messing with emo spacetime. “I’ve Done My Waiting” sounds as if The Anniversary drifted into noodly guitar in the absence of a keyboardist, or maybe like The Appleseed Cast developed an obsession with harmonies and gang vocals. Young hipsters will talk about this music as giving them the feels. Meanwhile, thirty-something nostalgics might stop reminiscing about their mixtapes long enough to cough up some beer money. “Make Way For The Hurt Kid” will be your sad autumn anthem if you let it: “I should have pawned my guitar / and broken the rainy day jar / turned my pockets out / skipped town and headed South.”
Still Life with Orange
Charlottesville • September 4, 2015
Singer-songwriter James Tomberlin serves up a sassy Americana dish. “Still Life with Orange” finds a balance between classic Arlo Guthrie and soulful folk a la Sean Hayes, throwing in a pinch of upright bass here and a dash of jazzy drums there. “Better Walk Right” breezes by with a sunny flow. “Find The Beauty” does so with precious xylophone flourishes. The lovesick lyrics of “Silk & Diamonds” are accented by the lonely whine of an electric guitar. “21 Years” is the highlight of the album, though it’s a lament that’s wiser and more polished than its title would suggest.