Album Roundup

Music by Craig Graziano
Issue 51 • May 2017

Featured in this roundup:
Fly Anakin & Koncept Jack$on • Chapel Drive
The Galax Bogtrotters • Old-Time Jubilations
TH E REG ULARS • Heart Land
James Buchanan Fan Club • 336
Nate Braeuer • Broken Skylight

Fly Anakin & Koncept Jack$on
Chapel Drive

Richmond • March 13, 2017

Take a ride down Chapel Drive, where Fly Anakin ferociously spits fire while Koncept Jack$on brings a slightly quieter approach with no less authority. The respective differences in each emcee’s delivery helps for each to carve their own distinct complementary personas. Overall production and use of sampling occasionally emulates The Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers, right down to the distorted piano and Eastern instrumentation. Low key samples from multiple genres and a variety of producers build a broad framework for our duo to roam and rhyme freely, as both artists emphasize a lyrical stream of consciousness front-and-center. The dense blending of vocal bravado and precise arrangements becomes greater than the sum of their individual parts.

This is also the first release to feature every member of Mutant Academy, a collective of East Coast, but mostly RVA, artists and producers. Check out “Mutant Vengeance” with its aggressive flow, grandiose backing brass fanfare straight from some variety show of yesteryear, and a guest spot from Big Kahuna OG. “Memory Foam’s” lax R&B vocal hook sample is equally infectious. As an artist’s statement, Chapel Drive is a bold double-dose vision from its respective collaborators. Available on limited edition cassette.

The Galax Bogtrotters
Old-Time Jubilations

Galax • April 1, 2017

Old-Time Jubilations is a mix of traditional and original folk compositions from the Appalachian stringband The Galax Bogtrotters. The group takes their name from another Galax band from the 1930’s known as The Bogtrotters. This modern incarnation, a quintet, is steeped in a long family history of musicianship that spans several generations, showcased in their tight yet swinging orchestrations. Mountain-bred lyrics trade off with plucking instrumentals, creating a splendid balance. Fiddler Erynn Marshall, a successful solo artist in her own right, shares harmonies with three of her bandmates, too. Available on compact disc.

Heart Land

Orange • February 19, 2017

Heart Land, the self-titled debut EP from garage duo TH E REG ULARS shows promise through a poignant trio of shaggy songs. The tracks are unpolished but remarkable for their sheer simplicity—just some ambling guitar, drums, and vocals—as well as a striking sense of earnest emotion. All is bared as the songs lean strongly towards power pop in melody and tone, though not necessarily tempo. The leisurely pace and ample hooks shares much with late period Replacements, while the overall recording quality speaks to that band’s earlier, more reckless years. A couple of guys having some fun.

James Buchanan Fan Club

Harrisonburg • April 5, 2017

John Belmont just might be the only card carrying member of the James Buchanan Fan Club, but he seems to be doing pretty well for himself on his self-recorded album 336. The range of gentle instruments include a glockenspiel, hammer dulcimer, and mandolin, as well as some electronic production, somewhat recalling The Magnetic Fields. Belmont’s matter-of-fact vocal inflection is eerily reminiscent of John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Such elements, of course, make for an inspired, stripped down, lo-fi pop collection. Hopefully Belmont will continue experimenting with his instrumentation and recording techniques in future efforts.

Nate Braeuer
Broken Skylight

Charlottesville • February 10, 2017

Broken Skylight features seven of Nate Braeuer’s heartfelt and melancholic piano ballads. “Bluegrass” is a clever meditation on the suburb-raised artist’s lack of authenticity: “I tried some cowboy boots, but they were useless.” Short interlude “Revenant Tethers” plays off “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad,” while distant voices recall some hazy childhood memory. Braeuer has a knack for stimulating turns of phrase. On “New Me,” the conversation “tends to stick like Goobers in your teeth.” Such imagery fills in narrative detail while the piano does the emotional heavy lifting. Fans of The National will enjoy the lush texture and throaty vocal melodies.

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