Here’s To Almost
Virginia Beach • January 22, 2016
A spunky blend of R.E.M. and the Cocteau Twins, Feral Conservatives manages to run along the more compelling edge of a radio-friendly knife, glittering with electric mandolin all the way. Rashie Rosenfarb’s voice is largely reminiscent of Leigh Nash, with touches of Cyndi Lauper at higher pitches. Drummer Matt Francis and bassist Dan Avant set the tempo for twinkly folk, punk rock, and everything in between. Flourishes of guitar, horn, keyboard, and violin round out the sound expertly captured by engineer, Mark Padgett.
“Round The Corner” invites Rosenfarb’s listeners to meet up and run away but, after gathering resolve to “get the hell out,” gives the impression she won’t be waiting around much longer. The first single, “Last Light,” plays like an indispensable contrast to Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me.” Rosenfarb sweetly sings about “things we lost in the fire,” camouflaging the dark demeanor of “Twenty-Eight,” until a searing riff burns the bridge. “Logan’s Song” bristles with upbeat angst, frequent feedback, and Rosenfarb’s most fervent vocals. “Wait For Me” closes climactically, drums building over a minute of echoing tension before bursting the dam. Not quite an implausible formula, Here’s To Almost is destined to pleasantly surprise a wide variety of listeners.
Fredericksburg • December 30, 2015
Ed Feels reportedly locked himself in his apartment and recorded Toast in the 24 hours following the end of a relationship that had lasted five years. The seven songs share a lo-fi feel and the average length is only two minutes, but they’re a banner for the broken-hearted in the spirit of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago or a J Mascis solo album. Feels sings “goddamn, my ego hurts like hell” before the slow wailing guitars fade out on “Decay.” I wonder what a more complete record would sound like, but this raw, lonely polaroid is a fascinating snapshot.
Richmond • January 23, 2016
Mutant Academy is an up-and-coming hip hop collective that first entered the scene with their Open House compilation in 2014. Fly Anakin and Koncept Jack$on are the most prolific members of the group, quickly following up Anakin’s Elsewhere Ave. with their enjoyable collaboration, The Mandate EP. The newest release, Hawaii, takes a different tack, matching up five producers with five songs. What it lacks in cohesion it makes up for in showcasing their broad range of influences and capabilities: a salad of jazz, funk, reggae, R&B, disco, and Eighties pop drenched in Nineties rap.
Harrisonburg • January 1, 2016
Post-punk that makes you imagine you’re in a dank basement with a low ceiling and bad lighting. Malatese is here to pluck your last nerve and then play it like a cello. “Last Night I Felt Fine” gets infected by catchy cacophony and warbly, unintelligible vocals. “Natural Consequence” makes you believe it wants to be a punk song, but “Untitled” immediately follows with a wasteland of post… music. “38.547999, -77.360659” searches for the right frequency for four minutes, vocals chime in for a few more, and the rest is a mad science experiment in aborted patience.
Richmond • January 7, 2016
S.K. Neale recorded 50 songs over the last seven years, a feat rather evocative of 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields. Neale’s folksy affectation and quirky-yet-ruthless humor might best be summed up by his stripped down cover of “Dead Flowers” by The Rolling Stones. “White Morning” is a cheeky, sad song about failing to leave a voicemail after a one night stand. Neale accuses “Charlotte” of “probably smoking meth in a trailer with a man named Bud” after she misses their rendezvous, but “62 Miles From Richmond” proves that Neale can also write great songs where humor takes a backseat.