RVA Mag #24: Record Reviews Part 3

Posted by: Amy – Apr 13, 2016


This article was featured in RVAMag #24: Spring 2016. You can read all of issue #24 here or pick it up at local shops around RVA right now. To check out the first installment of Record Reviews click here. To check out Part 2 click here and for part 1 click here.

National Reviews (Continued...)

David Bowie

The perfect end to a truly legendary career, Blackstar is another fantastic departure for the man of a thousand sounds that seems to perfectly emulate the pulse of today's scene, while still being groundbreaking in its own right. There are ambitious arrangements, and foreboding lyrics abound, but nothing displays Blackstar's brilliance more than album closer "I Can't Give Everything Away" and its heartbreaking call back to his celebrated career. (DN)

Des Ark
Everything Dies

For a long time, Des Ark swung back and forth between hushed acoustic beauty and thrashing post-hardcore angst. However, they've found a way to unify their previous extremes. On Everything Dies, the band retains an intense passion while exploring beauty through piano, acoustic guitar, and Aimee Argote's always-amazing vocal talents. (AN)

Jesu/Sun Kil Moon</strong>
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
(Caldo Verde)

This is hardly a collaboration that makes much sense on paper, but in execution, it works very well. That said, those who dislike recent Sun Kil Moon records probably won’t be turned around by this album. Mark Kozelek continues his trend of autobiographical near-spoken word, while Justin Broadrick’s atmospheric and heavy guitars do a fantastic job of establishing a melancholic tone. (CE)

(Westbury Rd/Roc Nation)

The much delayed and long awaited album sees the singer boldly forge a new path, while still offering clear glimpses of her former sound. It's an interesting transitional record with the singer often torn between conflicting ideals, but the brashness of the lyrical content and musical choices more than make up for any cohesive issues on this impactful record. (DN)

Self Defense Family
(Run For Cover)

SDF’s prolific nature and constantly shifting lineup lends itself to a bit of a chameleonic sound. On their latest 12-inch EP (4 songs, 15 minutes), they veer closer to the indie end of the spectrum, channeling a dark, ominous mood that is nonetheless strangely pastoral, at times even ambient. Superior sneaks up on you, then draws you in. (AN)

State Champs
Around The World And Back
(Pure Noise/Sony)

This is the kind of pop-punk I eat up with a spoon; bouncy and melodic, upbeat and emotional, mixing ingredients from hardcore and emo into the pop-punk broth that can be so stale without some cross-genre seasoning. This record is a touch more polished than their first LP was (I blame the Sony deal) but it's definitely still punk enough to love. (AN)

The Waiting Room
(City Slang)

Despite a 20-plus-year career as a band, Tindersticks is still full of imaginative arrangements — this record is loaded with diverse instrumentation, from violins to steel drums, bolstering the band’s reserved, effective guitar-bass-drums rock instrumentation. Stuart Staples’ measured but casual lounge-singer voice sounds as distinctive as ever. Fans of The National need to check this out. (CE)

The Catastrophist
(Thrill Jockey)

Tortoise is back with a new album of peculiar post-rock, their first in seven years. Mostly instrumental aside from a David Essex cover and a new song featuring Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo, this album leans towards the funkier side of Tortoise’s sound. Synth-led tracks with tight rhythms are the order of the day, plus some flirtation with jazz fusion. (CE)

By Doug Nunnally (DN), Drew Necci (AN), Shannon Cleary (SC), Cody Endres (CE)