Harrisonburg • December 17, 2017
“I’m twenty-three and I still call myself a teen … Nothing is left. Nothing here to see.” After a somewhat meditative introduction with acoustic guitar and keyboard drones over muted ruminations, Cyber Twin’s new record rip-roars into “Half-Full Forty,” a speedy anti-surf (there’s no waves!) party anthem in the vein of “Rockaway Beach.” On follow-up track “Abendroth,” Mike Flaig’s crunchy tight guitars and snotty, yet melodic vocals make it even more apparent that the group’s true kindred spirit is a mid-Nineties Green Day, long before they donned eyeliner and went to the opera.
Bassist Calah Mortensen offsets the comparison a bit by singing lead on “Grey Grass” midway though. This actually makes the EP flow like a dialogue between two people, equally restless and dissatisfied with both each other and themselves. “In and out, let’s fight it out,” they vow. Even at that point the group still sounds like they would have fit right in on Lookout Records. These tracks are lean pop-punk gems with no frills, propulsive percussion courtesy of Michael Ginsberg, and a heavy dose of lyrical self-deprecation. On “Mouth Breather // Bottom Feeder,” Flaig repeats the mantra, “If I’m lucky I’ll forget everything.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Richmond • April 14, 2017
The compulsion to create stands out among many underlying themes on Anti, the most recent release from the gravel voiced, no nonsense Black Liquid. He has little time for elaborating on relationship drama or triflous beefs. The mere struggle for existence and a sense of responsibility for his scene make up his aforementioned drive to make music. Both ingredients supply plenty of frustration as well. Finances and family take obvious precedence, while lesser acts get thousands of likes with frivolous braggadocio and flaunting T&A. There is a measured anger, but Black Liq never flies into blind rage, keeping each grievance grounded.
No Any Walls
Heavy on Earth
Blacksburg • January 2, 2018
As No Any Walls’s Heavy on Earth begins, stark notes fly before Gary Tofie Hello Jr.’s voice comfortingly creaks like your favorite broken-in armchair. His words often center on people just trying to make ends meet and are sung with a gorgeous, mournful demeanor. “Forget That I Care” moves to a more freewheeling attitude with hoots and wails dominating the last half of the song as distorted drums drive through. It is reminiscent of Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop” or Springsteen’s “State Trooper,” both of which match Hello’s mission to depict the downtrodden. The title track attests, “It must be crushing you.”
Justin Trawick and the Common Good
Arlington • January 22, 2018
Spritely instrumentation and heartfelt vocals are the charms that anchor Justin Trawick and the Common Good’s new EP The Riverwash. An ambling stride kicks off the good feelings on “This is Love” before a gentle hootenanny takes hold in “Ten Long Years.” The affection is both palpable and contagious. One exception to the light mood is the ballad “All the Places I’ve Been,” a vigil of 20th Century American strife from D-Day up to to now with assassinations and disasters in between. The release closes on a cover of Oasis’s “Wonderwall” that provides plenty of room for beautifully somber strings.
Norfolk • December 19, 2017
“Don’t move. Don’t breathe. I just wanna hide. Only time I’m feeling right is when I wanna die.” Real Down shows off an atmospheric mastery of production by combining an emo goth sensibility with unnervingly sparse beats and a constant fuzz throughout. Crawling at a “why bother?” pace, Egosghost softly broods through a nihilistic worldview backed up by the most memorable hook: “Real down boy in a real down place. Slow move now with a real down face. Knife in my back, never fall for a fake. Nights falling back all alone in the rain.” Three cheers for sweet misery.