The Goodbye Forevers
Lay Where You Fall
Fredericksburg • June 16, 2017
A valentine to alcohol, Lay Where You Fall is a full production blast of Jeff Mullins’ tales of gallows humor and mental health stripped bare. A few songs have been stewing in the Fredericksburg native’s head, hashed out in gigs at local bars over the past decade. David Young, a longtime friend and collaborator from Richmond, assists in building each track up to a grandiose epic. Supported by precisely shredded guitar, our protagonist regularly stumbles home at 2:15 and assures us not to fear, “in five thousand million years, this dive bar will be swallowed by the sun.”
New wave synthesizer and Young’s melodic background vocals help to complement Mullins’ seething whispers, which erupt into hair-raising guttural screams. In between those two extremes, he also adopts an ever-so-slight Robert Smith affectation at times. A spot-on rollicking cover of The Lifetime’s “Hey Catrine” fits perfectly in between the morbidly funny originals. The penultimate title track is a great example of the pair’s working partnership as well as the best song they’ve ever recorded in this or any other project. An enchanting slow dance anthem that deserves play during the credits of the darkest movie John Hughes never made. Then Mullins screams once more.
Good Dog Nigel
Lynchburg • May 17, 2017
Parker Emeigh’s first release as Good Dog Nigel presents itself as meticulously executed without ever coming off overly showy. The sextet effort begins with “I Don’t Want It,” where a merry-go-round riff spins until an echoed “Hwuhh” halts the proceedings and then a singalong chorus takes over. Dynamics are a key element of Emeigh’s songwriting, finding balance between genteel moments of sparsity and full-fuzz rocking out. A sample of a John Lennon poem reveals the origin of the project’s name. “Sometimes It’s OK to be Quiet” is reminiscent of Daniel Johnston’s plainspoken simplicity. Available on cassette with digital download.
And the Heart
Charlottesville • June 2, 2017
Acoustic hymnals flourish into an orchestral apex with an electronic chaser on cellist Wes Swing’s sophomore album. Written during a post-tour hiatus and period of self-discovery, the songs weave through melancholic valleys and uplifting peaks. Second track “All Other Love” introduces Kid A instrumentals before emerging as a delicate postpunk plucking. The blend of instrumentation and genre could not be more beautifully captivating, supported by Swing’s lush vocals, a grounding force. Fans of Owen Pallett and Andrew Bird will find great solace in Swing’s introspective explorations. Produced by Paul Curreri, the album is available on vinyl or compact disc.
Harrisonburg • July 28, 2017
Seventeen releases from the superpowered duo of Billy Brett and Terry Turtle has mastered the marriage of cavernous industrial drums with a garage-blues guitar twang. “Apocalypse Me” kicks off with a Gories beat and Brett as personified piercing rage. Meanwhile, Turtle approaches his songs with an eternal Yippie spirit on political songs like “You’re Fracking Up The Planet,” or by simply declaring “Goats are Cool.” A jaw harp comes out to play on “Hey Lou,” an aptly challenging tribute to the Rock’n’Roll Animal who made Metal Machine Music. Available on vinyl or cassette with digital download from Ramp Local Records.
Richmond • May 5, 2017
With twenty-first century production techniques and collaborations with pop vocalists on his side, Ki:Theory builds a captivating atmospheric cybernetic palace in Silence. Ruelle meets up for the gorgeous and heartbreaking “Bringing Me Down.” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” one of two duets with Maura Davis, features a howling chorus worthy of TV on the Radio. Fully reinterpreted covers of Pixies (“Wave of Mutilation”) and Depeche Mode (“Enjoy the Silence”), the latter of which was featured in the live action film adaptation Ghost in the Shell, help to close out the record. Available on vinyl LP with digital download.