Album Roundup

Music by Shannon Cleary
Issue 66 • August 2018

Featured in this roundup:
Manatree • Engines
Intalek • The Chase
Rare Colors • Rare Colors
Illiterate Light • Better Than I Used To
Berries • presents… Good Things/Aubade


Richmond • July 12, 2018

Manatree never cease to amaze with their intricate, dutifully layered math pop. On their second release, the band moves from being disciples of Minus The Bear and Vampire Weekend towards Bon Iver territory. Their past aesthetic of loopy guitars and pop-punk bliss still shines through, but this new collection invites you to explore the next level of Manatree’s sonic identity. It’s all masterfully executed, making Engines Richmond’s hidden gem of 2018.

Album opener “Brushfire” sets the mood for the record. With effervescent flares of electronica and solid hooks, it serves as the album’s manifesto, but it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly where songwriter Jack Mayock’s musical mind will go next. “Backwards” and “The Words” are rock meditations juxtaposed with their heightened instrumentation and saturated moods that lend themselves nicely to Manatree’s reimagined dynamic. The title track might be the most revealing moment on the album: amusing of what drives any of us towards the things that we don’t entirely understand the reason behind. The journey between records that led to Engines may have been vast and challenging, but the end result is more than worth it.

The Chase

Virginia Beach • May 8, 2018

When you talk about progressive MCs in the Commonwealth, it’s important to include Intalek in those conversations. This six-song EP provides plenty of inspiring moments, touching on everything from never forgetting your roots (“City”) to the ambitious futures on the horizon for the artist (“What’s The Word”). Throughout, the central focus is on Intalek’s lyrical thought, with lines so dense you’ll want to hit rewind to make sure you heard correctly. The Chase is the perfect introduction to another important voice in Virginia hip hop.

Rare Colors
Rare Colors

Richmond • April 22, 2018

On their self-titled debut, Rare Colors have composed the perfect soundtrack for some sci-fi dystopian future. Rising from the ashes of their previous band White Laces, songwriters Jay Ward and Jimmy Held have quickly adopted a bedroom chillwave pop aesthetic for this new project. As spiritual successors to Cocteau Twins and Brian Eno, the duo find their groove on tracks like “Just Wait” and “Homes.” There’s a lot to digest throughout this strongly crafted album, but as the closing moments of “Ocean Floor” wash over you, it’s certain that you’ll be thirsting for more.

Illiterate Light
Better Than I Used To

Harrisonburg • July 6, 2018

The moment when the chorus first hits on Illiterate Light’s new single has a melancholy, yet uplifting impact that will leave a tearful smile on your face. It captures the impression that the band has truly come into their own with a future that has never looked brighter. For guitarist Jeff Gorman and drummer Jake Cochran, “Better Than I Used To” is the perfect middle-ground between their live and studio performances, offering a compelling blend of soul and indie rock that never lets up. Fans of The Flaming Lips classic Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are in for a treat.

presents… Good Things/Aubade

Virginia Beach • May 4, 2018

Songwriter Chris Ledbury is never short on material. That is on full display in his surf-psych project Berries. These two new songs act as rejuvenated life and a nice throwback to the band’s debut record from 2014. These unearthed recordings are reminiscent of Virginian peers like Wild Nothing and Warren Hixson. Especially on “Aubade,” it’s quick to see how the band compares to similar-minded outfits like The Unicorns. Here’s hoping that this brief epilogue to the band’s tale is a promising tell that Berries have returned for good.

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