The Big Drum in the Sky Religion
Harrisonburg • July 3, 2017
Their website claims “The Big Drum in the Sky Religion is not a religion.” To be honest, they’re not simply a band, either. Removed of apparent structure, save for an unconventional cover of the traditional spiritual “Since I Laid My Burdens Down,” Psacredelia appears to be more focused on matters of philosophy and our collective fate within the universe. They approach these existential themes by following where the musical urges take them, a prospect that is as equally challenging as it is rewarding.
The majority of the record is a mixture of ambient and avant-garde with intentionally rough edges and noodle freakouts that make Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade eccentricities seem like a bad dream. The six-minute “No Sutra Tonight/Nude Mother Nature” is far from the longest track on the record, but it is particularly engaging, opening with ethereal, near-unintelligible whispers, then dropping into an explosive sweet-swamp garage stomp a third of the way in. Psacredelia is available digitally and on ultra limited edition cassette from Liquid Library, the latter complete with hand-pressed flowers inside individually collaged covers. I honestly can’t wait until they unveil their split with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Fredericksburg • June 23, 2017
Moog-assisted empowering vocal pop is the crux of Kinslea’s debut EP. Produced by Devin Spear, the five tracks showcase whirring dark synths and a deceptively delicate voice that can transform from fragile to steadfast in a split instant. “Shadow Walker,” an upbeat but downward-driven dance-off, leads into the captivating “Don’t Follow Me” with fluttering lyrical melodies, a fierce message of independence, and a fantastic multi-tracked vocal breakdown. “Daydream” closes out the release with a chilly piano and haunting words that would fit easily anywhere within Tori Amos’s catalog.
Home for the Summer
Fairfax • July 31, 2017
It feels strange recommending what is essentially a straightforward rap/rock release in 2017, but Where’s Zach’s debut EP is as far away from those turn-of-the-century roided-out ragers as you can get. For one thing, the music is a less frenetic, but just as proficient, alternative jam. For another, the band has decided to not disclose their rapper’s identity, one whose rhymes are a mix of social consciousness, word association, and taglines like “Gotta Catch Em All.” Their flow follows the more rigid delivery of an MC Frontalot. An engaging song trio, centered by “Paula Dean’s Magical Road Trip.”
The Mulberry House
Richmond • May 19, 2017
The Mulberry House is another lushly textured folk release from duo Laney Sullivan and Jameson Price, vocalizing various social causes on the back of a gorgeously rising and falling harmonium and string accompaniment. “Awake” cries out for worldwide unity with its oft-repeated metaphor, “We’re all standing in the same sunlight.” Sullivan absolutely entrances the ear with her soothing voice on songs like “The Loon,” which reappears later. “Fear Not Creation” is a twisted string-webbed hootenanny. Both dark and gripping, it seamlessly leads into the sweetly percussive “The Pilgrimage of St. James.” Available on limited edition cassette.
Washington • June 30, 2017
Sam Mullany’s There behaves less like music and more like a fascinating ambient investigation of how various sonic experiments might affect the listener’s mood and psyche. Despite this fact, the structured presence of shifting drones and tones remains constant beneath these aural tests. “Dark Blue” moves from mammalian chatter a la Pink Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” to a staticky motor repeatedly drawing near and far. There is no escaping “Margaritaville’s” pulsing laser waves. Made to be listened to with a sturdy pair of headphones for immersive experience.