Album Roundup

Music by Craig Graziano
Issue 46 • December 2016

Featured in this roundup:
Daniel Bachman • Daniel Bachman
2~Da • 2 Cents
Oahu • Mountain Rain / Garden Flood
Reagan Riley • Summer Complex
Mike Lawson • Lie Here With Me

Daniel Bachman
Daniel Bachman

Petersburg • November 11, 2016

In the past five years, Daniel Bachman has recorded nine full-length solo albums, plus a slew of additional collaborations, singles, and EPs. The 26-year-old continues his prolific rate of output with an eponymously self-titled LP (the second of its kind, the first Daniel Bachman album having been released in 2014). With such work ethic, it is no surprise that Bachman is exploring new sonic avenues beyond mere melody. Though he delivers plenty of traditional compositions, it is the dissonant metallic shriek of strings that promptly catches our attention on the opener, “Brightleaf Blues.” The reverberation sustains for over two minutes before newly plucked notes bend upwards and downwards. Only after this striking prologue does Bachman’s signature fingerpicking stake its claim. An extended, almost inverted variation of the piece returns for the record’s second half. These thesis statements establish a mood for the other compositions to accentuate and contrast.

Spareness is another defining element of the record. “The Flower Tree” takes its sweet time, holding dramatic pauses before it gallops across the finish line. “A Dog Named Pepper” contains found sound of a vehicle treading gravel. Meanwhile, “Watermelon Slices on a Blue Bordered Plate” is just simply a four minute treasure of sheer acoustic blues perfection. Available on vinyl from Three Lobed Records.

2~Da
2 Cents

Richmond • October 30, 2016

Each time 2~Da opens his mouth, a gorgeous baritone yawn of rhymes and the aroma of a recently killed jay waft out. This six-track debut EP might have a drowsy vibe, but a vibrant production quality and lively guest spots from P. Lo, Jahn, and Halfro are enough to help wipe the sleep from your eyes. He has taken personal hardships and transformed them into hypnotically sung hooks, such as on “Like Me.” 2~Da might reveal some harsh truths, but his powerful voice and chemistry with his collaborators help to keep things light—or maybe just lit.

Oahu
Mountain Rain / Garden Flood

Virginia Beach • September 24, 2016

Oahu’s Mountain Rain / Garden Flood is made up of two complimentary electronic pieces. Both ambient compositions are exactly fourteen minutes and fourteen seconds, constructed with a tinkerer’s arsenal of synthesizer modules, iPad apps, and a Korg KP3 sampler. The pieces are aptly titled: while “Mountain Rain” gently washes over you like a static shower, “Garden Flood” is a continuous looped deluge of digital blips, beeps, and boops, gaining and losing textural layers as it progresses. Rotating between placidity and near-sensory overload, they create a cycle. As one piece finishes, you yearn for the next. Available on limited edition cassette tape.

Reagan Riley
Summer Complex

Charlottesville • September 6, 2016

Reagan Riley grants us a trip-hop pick-me-up in anticipation of the impending cold weather with Summer Complex. As she drifts through ghostly off-kilter beats on this five-track release, Riley embraces surreal lyricism. “You kissed me on my third eye portal / with trigger finger lips you shot me immortal” she states matter of factly on “Lemons.” Muted tones and jazz instrumentals make for an appropriate accompaniment to Riley’s understated delivery. Guest artists Junior and Keese bring a traditional hip-hop flow to the mix while keeping the experimental vibe with twisted beats and playful tempo shifts. Contemporary ultralounge at its best.

Mike Lawson
Lie Here With Me

Norfolk • November 4, 2016

Mike Lawson’s balladesque Lie Here With Me is a longing search for one’s own soul and significant other. Acoustics, piano, and harmonica complement each other to create the fullest of Americana soundscapes. Prior to this, Lawson performed with the band The Vir. He offers a reimagining of one of their songs, “Old Train Car,” with driving handclaps and a deceptively simple chorus of “doodoodoo-dadadee-dadadee-da-dum.” Easy to sing and hard to forget, the track is a keeper. Zhaklina Poulos provides some of that desired companionship vocally as they harmonize, “Family and friends and love of life is all I need to survive.”

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