Yung Pocket$ & Alfred
Richmond • June 7, 2017
In the typically hypermasculine hip-hop scene, it’s refreshing to hear two artists attest to be So Sensitive, wearing the oft maligned label as a badge of pride. Do not mistake their muted delivery as a lack of confidence, for this effort is quite self-assured, commenting on environmental, racial, and LGBTQ issues without limiting itself to just being a “message” record.
“You can spot me by all my floral tees.” RVA-via-Woodbridge emcee Alfred lays his life and perspective out there with empathetic humor. “I’m just sorry if I’m coming off really flaky ‘cause my skin is kind of dry.” His flow melds beautifully with Yung Pocket$’s chill production and arsenal of gospel and R&B inspired backup vocals, courtesy of friends and collaborators such as MNLV, Princess Sappho, and various members of the collective Tribe Ninety-Five. Guest MC chï lights a fire under a dark, rhythmic groove as the artists try to “celebrate above the bullshit” with a strong emphasis on “bull.” The glistening, comparatively high-energy track “thepocket$ong” offers sonic density and a hilarious culinary demand from Tico a.k.a. Lil Mochi to put some Crystal hot sauce “in your cereal.”
In Search of an Exit
Charlottesville • May 23, 2017
The new album by Breakers inhabits a space somewhere in between the raw, yet slickly produced height of grunge and peak classic rock proficiency. On “Wild Violet,” Lucas Brown sings with an enigmatic sheen of mystery, like a secret agent who communicates strictly via rock anthem. At points, the guitar riffs turn down carnivalesque avenues, only to build back up as punchy punk ragers or soaring face-melters, reminiscent of Pearl Jam, but a tad flashier. “Da Solo” features a flute straight from Jethro Tull. Closer “Found” rides on a festive, bouncing calypso rhythm. Available on compact disc.
Portsmouth • August 10, 2017
Nocturnal Flights is a dulcet ode to moonlit summer nights and, as the liner notes indicate, the weird vibes given off by the Elizabeth River. There may be something in the water, but it is the use of alto sax and trombone that offers a charming jazz accompaniment not typically heard in this sort of lo-fi aesthetic. Horns mesh with electronic keys and drum machines in a particularly arresting fashion, such as on “Path of Least Resistance” and “Eye of the Storm.” Grace and Zach O. complement each other’s vocal melodies in this home-recorded duet. Bring back your hand-drawn covers.
Dinwiddie • July 23, 2017
As distancing as the title might be, The Dinwiddies succeed here in both witty songwriting and proto-showtune prowess, making this release all kinds of delightful. Piano driven melodies and self-deprecating lyrics take time to locate simple pleasures, such as finally reaching the weekend (“Finally Friday”) or to sweetly lament the fact that the world’s greatest songs have already been written (“All the Best Songs”). Whether it’s dogs, the end of the world, or their own professed limited capabilities getting them down, they will still bring a smile to your face. Sounds like a more theatrical, less dance-oriented version of The Gaskets.
The Whole Other
The Whole Other
Staunton • June 16, 2017
The Whole Other teams up prolific singer/songwriter Nathan Moore with multi-instrumentalist Lex Park. The collaboration emerged as a result of Moore’s weekly radio show. In it, they combined his folk and rock prowess with Park’s electronic loops and samples. The result is a multifaceted blend of emotion, theme, and sonic exploratory tours. Songs range from the jumping Django Reinhardt-flavored “Something in the Underground” to a searching tale about a robot being cut off at a bar. “Over Last Sunday” captures a mood and instrumentation similar to The National. Looking forward to more from this excellent partnership.