John Graham & Boas
Richmond • December 9, 2015
As catchy as it is bleak, Winder Phase will crush you into heartache dust and mold your clay into a monument of gorgeous anxiety. John Graham of Fat Spirit began recording these songs over seven years ago, calling on producer Tyler Newbold (AKA Boas) to help him craft the perfect sound for this laboring love. Graham’s voice, lyrics, and acoustic strums evoke the depressed Brazilian songwriter Yoñlu. Meanwhile, Newbold’s clutch contributions allow the precociously pure disappointment of a suicidal teen to coexist with the manic nightmares of Thom Yorke or Panda Bear.
“Boring Coil” hooks you with peculiar percussion while Graham compels us to, “Feed the fucking appetite / A moaning, groaning bus delay.” The fuzzy fever dream of “Two White Horses” insists, “This is not real and I do not exist.” “Fuck A Darkness” eerily contends that we all do just that, extolling, “It sleeps inside us every day … It whispers things I cannot say.” “Foam” nakedly pleads, “Purpose is a curse you make for yourself,” before getting lost in an electronic masquerade. “In my loneliness, I wait for you,” is the theme of “Try Not To Think,” but you won’t be able to help yourself (still, you won’t mind).
Noise Cancellation Thighs
Richmond • December 17, 2015
Originally from Hampton, Alex Freewifi manages to experiment in chilled-out hip hop while remaining totally listenable. “Data” starts the lounge vibe with liberal samples from “Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz. In “Pink Panther,” his verses bounce carefree over a strangely hypnotic beat incorporating electronic shoe squeaks, a distorted digital choir, and occasional brass. Alex impersonates Frank Ocean over a Sade sample for the title track: “Rather have shorty’s noise cancellation thighs wrapped around my head.” “Cherry” evokes a similar vibe with a Sade/Biggie cocktail, but things shift to a mellifluous Busta Rhymes-like closer with “Go Back.”
P.I.T. (Party in Terror)
Newport News • December 22, 2015
If you miss mosh pits, Kombat Wombat is here with their patent-pending brand of thrash punk to wipe away your sad bastard pout. Tired of your hipster friends going to shows and just nodding their bobbleheads in begrudging approval? Take theatrical thrash metal, stir in two cups of punk intensity, and slam dance vigorously with strangers for five minutes. “Caesar Salad” is an amusing name for a song about betrayal, while “No Tribute” dresses down racism for almost two minutes. “1-2-3 Go Hard” is a love song to “my fist, your face, the ground.”
Lotus & The Parasites
A View to Infinity
Richmond/Toronto • January 15, 2016
Lotus, the voice, hails from Richmond and somehow found a way to collaborate with The Parasites, a band from Toronto. From the first track, this appears to be one of the few healthy long-distance relationships I’ve ever encountered. There’s a pop-sensible post-punk atmosphere permeating “Hearteater,” then “Hotline” jukes into Jamiroquai’s neo-funk universe. The rest of the album swings on an indietronica pendulum between those extremes, reminiscent of bands like Phoenix and The xx. If anyone ever makes a sequel to 500 Days of Summer, one of these songs will be in the trailer.
Front Royal • December 9, 2015
Recording on a 4-track in his bedroom for the lo-fi effect, Ike Turner has produced an exceptional collection of songs that sound far too polished to be just demos. I’m reminded of Nick Drake on the acoustic end of things, seeping into Neutral Milk Hotel’s domain during the more experimental fare. “White” and “Running After Me” steal their electric guitar stream-of-consciousness from The Dodos. Heavy use of a drum machine crowds the last half of the record, but I hope Ike finds some kindred musical spirits to help him color in his visionary album.