Album Roundup

Music by Craig Graziano
Issue 47 • January 2017

Featured in this roundup:
Pete Curry • Night Logic
Grayscale • Sins of a Father
J. Flax & The Heart Attacks • The Ace Tone EP
Khate • the sun is dark but the moon is bright
Z Plan • ZP

Pete Curry
Night Logic

Richmond • October 20, 2016

Night Logic is Pete Curry’s super concentrated, full-length dose of Eighties dance-pop. On opener “Voicemail From a Bill Collector,” vocals of a sultry melancholy obsessively yearn while providing creative pronunciations for states Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Infectious rubber band synthesizers bound overhead and a face-melting guitar solo jet-skis across the lucid neon plain. It’s all enough to make Vangelis weep tears of joy.

The electropop aesthetic holds court for the entire album, exploring a multitude of moods and hooks. “Look All Around You” is a smooth but energetic flash lightning dance anthem. “The One” offers heartbeat pulsing drums, a grandiose synth melody, and an anthemic emotional core. “Final Boss (Money)” turns into a night cycle race with a flickering falsetto riding sidecar. Lovely crystalline instrumental interludes provide pit stops throughout the journey.

The lyrics are occasionally obscured by all the spectacle, allowing the listener to interpret many of the tracks however they would like. Who needs fully intelligible words when you can just dance? Ultimately, Curry creates a bionic being of a work, full of heart and circuitry, all of which serves his impressive vocal talents. All proceeds from Bandcamp purchases will be donated to the ACLU. Available on cassette.

Grayscale
Sins of a Father

Virginia Beach / Petersburg / Colonial Heights • November 25, 2016

Is it the end of days? / My pen is like Hemingway’s / Carcinogens gettin’ blazed / We’ve been sinning for days.Grayscale is a hip-hop collective featuring emcee Chuck Nasty, producer Kam Kommissioner, and several other collaborators spread throughout the state. The production is full, featuring dramatic film score snippets and reverbed everything. “Vladimir Putimin” displays brilliant flow and wordplay by adding an extra syllable to the Russian president’s surname. Comics, movies, and video games are referenced, but it leans more MF Doom than nerdcore. Both playful and fierce, Sins of a Father is a powerful effort. Available as a pay-what-you-want download.

J. Flax & The Heart Attacks
The Ace Tone EP

Norfolk / D.C. • November 30, 2016

The Ace Tone EP is an energetic grab bag of originals, covers, and live takes. The fun begins when “Don’t Forget To Write” leads an extended, punctuated march onto “Duncan St.,” igniting a chaotic carnival, and then everyone hangs it up to surf. Take note of the frenetic call-and-response interplay between Flax’s guitar and Josh Seaburg’s organ. “Go Home Alone” is a fistful of Morricone’s spaghetti west. Covers of The Sonics, The Undertones, The Cramps, and others appear. That the band’s originals hold up with these garage legends is a testament to their overall tightness and songcraft. Available in limited edition cassette through Leather Daddy Bubble Bath.

Khate
the sun is dark but the moon is bright

Newport News • November 28, 2016

Khate’s ambient work best resembles a science fiction fever dream, blending mechanical and natural sounds into otherworldly compositions. Animalistic hoots and hollers are juxtaposed with sirens and radar signals. The mechanical whirrs of computers move from mere background noise to a prominent component of the pieces, captivating all the while. Many of the tracks understandably have an industrial edge, but at one point a staticky opera breaks through, only for a fleeting moment. The final piece samples a recording that radio station WFMU looped post-9/11. “It is now past eight o'clock. The deadline has passed. May God be with you.

Z Plan
ZP

Harrisonburg • December 1, 2016

Z Plan’s off-kilter pop experimentation blends satirical commentary with pleasing melodies on ZP. “Anarchy @ Home,” for example, is a forthright declaration of online subterfuge that seems like a relic of the early days of the internet. “Sign me up! Where do I begin? / The world wide web will tell you where and when,” songwriter Mike Hudson declares in his best supreme overlord voice. Drums and guitar rage ferociously until the track blooms into a lithe, delicately sung refrain. Even with a Devo-esque vocal delivery and occasional non-sequitur lyrics, Z Plan’s mission to create a catchy earworm is always present.

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