RVA Mag #28: Record Reviews (Part 3)

Posted by: Amy – Apr 19, 2017


This article was featured in RVAMag #28: Spring 2017. You can read all of issue #28 here or pick it up at local shops around RVA right now. If you missed Part 1 of our record reviews, you can check that out here. If you missed Part 2 of our record reviews, click here.

Jens Lekman
Life Will See You Now
(Secretly Canadian)

Lekman is a bit of a songwriting trickster. At his most depressed, the songs elevate themselves to appear as joyous affairs of boisterous arrangements and fanciful grooves. With this in mind, this record is Lekman at his strongest by balancing the sadness with the whimsical. Highlights include the pop gems “Our First Fight” and “How We Met, The Long Version.” It has been far too long, Jens. We are eager to hear you now. (SC)

Julie Byrne
Not Even Happiness (
(Ba Da Bing)

Organic and sincere, wistful and romantic; Byrne's second record is a much more confident affair than her debut with the singer fully embracing the tonal atmosphere she creates. Capturing her restless spirit is key here, with her august voice willing the listener to join her on her travels, both in the real world and within. Though clearly folk by design, the subtle use of synths helps distance herself from other songwriters, leaving Byrne in a class of her own in 2017. (DN)

The World Is A Loud Place

The album art for The World Is a Loud Place isn’t just the first GIF cover released via Bandcamp -- it’s also a wonderful representation of Landlady’s music. Big, colorful, kinetic... songs move and change with such amazing energy. “Electric Abdomen,” “Nina,” and “Driving In California” all function as multi-act productions that deserve elaborate set designs, and they round out -- along with past releases -- a vibrant and powerful body of work. (DJ)

Laura Marling
Semper Femina
(More Alarming)

The most important record released in the wake of the Women's March, Marlin's latest record is far from a departure from her previous works, but is also much more pointed in its subject matter and over-flowing with existential thoughts and observations. Easily the most attentive album of her catlog, Semper Femina is one of the boldest examinations of feminism and womanhood society has seen in some time, something that comes as no surprise to those who have followed her career. (DN)

Nothing Feels Natural
(Sister Polygon)

The aplomb of Priest's musical spirit is what makes this debut remarkable as the band weaves a needle of punk energy through a tapestry of surf rock and indie pop. Paying close attention to the words of the record and the way the music ebbs and flows reveals the band's personal politics, but the band ultimately leans more towards the Pixies’ end than Pussy Riot as they freely frolic in a surreal world swirling with surf and punk elements. (DN)

Ryan Adams
(PAX AM / Blue Note)

After his bold offering 2015 that exposed him to a completely new fanbase, Adams returns with a record that shrewdly builds on his past work, while still striving for that next sonic jump. Mirroring the album's over, the songs come off as blurry, patchy, almost disjointed at times, but still form a recognizable image of heartbreak and confinement, one that's as affecting as it is brilliant. (DN)

The xx
I See You
(Young Turks)

The xx have never lacked cohesion, but this feels like a new fusion of powers. Jamie xx’s production knowledge and abilities fully burst through on his 2015 solo album, and he’s applying that skill set more confidently than ever, complementing and elevating the hypnotic Romy-Oliver chemistry that’s defined the band to this point. Singles “Say Something Loving” and “On Hold” are instant xx canon, but “Lips” is a sleeper for one of the year’s most gorgeous songs. (DJ)


Like the title implies, Thundercat's goal here is to intoxicate you with the groove, something a lot of modern soul producers ignore. Listen to classic soul records and you can truly feel the attention given to the groove. It can alter and modulate, but it can't be paused, interrupted, or, worse, dropped. Thundercat realizes this and pays extra attention to it ensuring no matter who is in front of a mic or behind the board, it's a seamless sound from start to finish. (DN)

Reviews by Davy Jones, Doug Nunnally, and Shannon Cleary