What Do You Want?
Richmond • September 23, 2017
Blush Face’s debut album is an enigmatic alt-country concoction, one that doesn’t mind stepping outside its comfort zone while inviting you to do the same. Take the starter “Magnolia.” Entering with a distant telephone ring and disconcerting warbly tones, the two soon find their balance, then proceed to explore a terrific dynamic and emotional range. Allie Smith’s vocal delivery recalls rhythmic elements of Patti Smith, particularly when rattling off a mouthful of syllables or drawing out her “uhs” when she insists, “Make it lucky. Make it love.” By this point, Evan Hoffman’s once eerie guitar is now a surf lullaby coming to scoop you up.
Other notable tracks include “Love for a Ghost,” which builds momentum with initial isolated strumming partnered with a delicate, earnest confessional of spooky adoration. When the drums and bass finally strike, any gentleness that was in Smith’s voice is gone. With its rising tension and hypnotic rolling bass, “Home Electric” has the unique distinction of a title that describes exactly what it is: a powerhouse. Jered Fykes’ cover art is a digital surrealist dream. Closer “Clicking Heels” returns us to distorted territory, giving the record a circular sonic narrative. There’s no place like home. Available on CD with digital download.
Norfolk • May 17, 2017
Adam Hanson’s Pet Name is a collection of soft-spoken but vibrant daily affirmations in the guise of indie power-pop gems. “Disappearing Act” lists a marbled composition notebook’s worth of uncomfortable pubescent anxieties: “Oh geez to be thirteen, between Hi-Cs and wet dreams, He-Man and stealing dad’s magazines.” The awkward transformation is perfect for the music’s lackadaisical Pavement-esque shambling. Hanson discovers a personal epiphany on the next track, “I’ve Grown Happy.” In moving away from those fraught formative years, he finds himself less worried about unexpected outcomes. A spot-on collection of quick self-esteem boosters for fans of Rivers Cuomo.
Dyin 2 Live
Reston • September 3, 2017
Luciana hails from Reston by way of Detroit, sporting a tight flow and a serious demeanor. Though a member of the DMV collective Young Boss Society, she flies mostly solo on this debut release. The majority of the tracks contemplate the struggle of existence when faced with limited options and hard choices. G.I. Productions matches the material’s gravity with otherworldly minor tones and a clicktrack blitz. Check out “NOT MY LVL” for its amped up dancehall hook and unnerving electric chimes. A deep cut Robert DeNiro sample at the tail end stresses the importance of discipline over talent.
Hearses Don’t Hurry
Fairfax • September 24, 2017
Gaslight (verb): To manipulate someone’s psychological means into doubting their own sanity. The first single from this darkwave duo takes on domestic mental abuse with effectively programmed sequencers and an equally calibrated bullshit detector. As a droning fog swells, Tracy B. gets straight to the point, stating, “I’m not crazy. I know who you are. You built me up just to tear me down.” She backs up her moment of clarity with the oft-repeated mantra, “You’re nothing.” Excellent music for a dysfunctional dinner date with Robert Smith and the Spiderman.
Fredericksburg • August 25, 2017
Robert Keelin’s Going Places is an amalgamation of Fifties and Sixties pop-rock, taking time to specifically note the period’s country and rockabilly elements. The album breaks through the British invasion and ultimately ends on an Eagles vibe (“California Seems”), delivered with a voice not dissimilar to Warren Zevon. The use of MIDI horns on tracks such as “Rain, Rain” is a bold, stunning choice. These are peaceful, fun meditations in an increasingly anxious world. “Breathe deep. Relax,” Keelin instructs. “All my worries fall through the cracks.” >=iii=<O