Staunton • November 25, 2016
Shagwüf’s first full-length album unleashes heavy psychedelic blues on the ears of an unsuspecting public. There is a lot to unwrap here. The dense musicality suggests a mastery of instruments. Mood and tempo change quickly within songs courtesy of drummer Pablo Olivieri, while Ivan Christo Christopher’s organ-esque keyboard wailing helps define the swampy atmosphere. The lyrics suggest a primal, violent undercurrent. “Run O’ Bad Luck” begins almost as a self-empowering dance track before vocalist Pete Stallings turns to the listener to snarl questioningly, “How does it feel to be someone else’s meal?”
“Fight Like a Girl,” with bassist Sally Rose on lead vocals, exhibits the best attributes of a top-notch Kim Deal-fronted Pixies song, one-upping Julius Caesar with the refrain, “She came, she saw, she broke my jaw.” The garage energy blazes toward “Cassolette,” the five-minute churning typhoon at the album’s center. Once there, all instruments explore the parameters of their existence with many a noodle. Rose and Pete Stallings complement each other’s vocals throughout. In spite of the intensity, the songs have a strong throughline of humor as well, one necessary to sell the charming couplet, “I’m in my cheetah chariot / I feed my cheetahs on baby carrots.”
Norfolk • November 23, 2016
Matt Wallace’s project Crash Mosaic demonstrates his gift for blending electronic vapors with graceful piano on the EP Ghoulish. His voice has a stark, yet soulful vulnerability that somewhat recalls Ben Gibbard’s work in The Postal Service. One difference is that Wallace’s words flow out like dripping honey thanks to the use of multiple stacked vocal tracks. An exceptional instance being the oft repeated “I’m sorry” hook on the emotionally impactful ghost story “Loopy.” All of these elements mesh to construct a haunted, beautifully experimental groove. Madi Thompson’s striking album artwork is on point, contributing to the overall cohesion.
Pop Organ Varieties
January 6, 2017 • Yorkshire
The Chirples are an introspective lounge-act from Kyle Hivizdash, a man who immediately acknowledges that he is a step out of time from the digital age mediascape. He states, “My brain is nineteen-forty-three,” on the giddily self-effacing “Pop Organ Chart-Topping Hit.” This toe-tapping, chamber pop belt-out would make a splendid opening song for Hivizdash’s biographic stage musical. “Best Peruvian Flavor” builds up a sinister staccato strum, inviting the organ to launch a full-on Bach attack. One’s personal enjoyment may depend on their attitudes toward an unabashed adenoidal vocal delivery. No complaints here. The album concludes with a delightful mariachi denouement.
Richmond • November 19, 2016
“I’m pretty sure all my friends are dead or out dancing,” Chad Murla muses near the start of indoor/indoor’s calming and catchy Suburban Lakes. The music’s placidity offers a chill, meditative quality, but the lyrics continually hint at a quiet sense of desperation. Interwoven ethereal guitar licks stand front-and-center for this lo-fi alternative quartet. Meanwhile, whispy vocals play wallflower, people-watching the “boring drunks” of all walks of life and fashion on “Paper Lantern.” Murla’s voice is a soothing salve for alienated souls, even when singing about trimming pubes. All proceeds go to the International Refugee Assistance Project.
Punk Rock for Kids Who Can’t Skate
Winchester • January 1, 2017
If the Ramones were seen as a cartoon, then Destructo Disk is what they would have watched on Saturday mornings. Guitarist, bassist, and vocalist Gideon Kupka and drummer Danny Roff craft fast and funny punk rock gems. “I Wish I was a Riot Grrl” avoids any potential male gaze discomfort. “Screaming in your face until your ears get tender / teaching you a thing about race and gender.” Nineties kids will appreciate the cover version of MTV’s Daria theme song and the Weezer references on “Sockhead,” both in the chord progression and lyrical namecheck. The solo acoustic ballad is Kupka’s heartfelt salute to his own bandmate.