Mane, The Sugar Hollows & It Is: This Week’s RVAMAG Sound Check

by | Apr 3, 2023 | MUSIC

Every single week while researching this column or others I stumble across underground bands that I have never heard off, with only one or two hundred monthly listeners on Spotify, some of them with multiple albums, and I’m constantly astounded by the amount of talent that lies just underneath the surface of our city. On this week’s SOUND CHECK we catch up on some international acts being backed up by prominent locals all with new music, and a few hidden gems in the local scene who are competing to get their music heard with two very different approaches to the release game. Let’s take a look who’s releasing some music this week, or premiering their new music live in Richmond. If you have new music, press releases and/or suggestions, reach out to Bones at bones@rvamag.com

COMING TO TOWN

MANE

Coming in from the other side of the world is the Australian singer MANE. MANE spent a good deal of time in Richmond last year and did a video for her song “Breathing Again” with Hourglass Sessions which she premiered at Plan 9 Records Saturday April 1st. I was able to catch her performance this last weekend and was surprised at her intricate vocal effect work that she did entirely by herself with a series of footswitches. A laid back ethereal pop sound permeates all of MANE’s music that speaks openly about personal experiences with friends, family, and mental health management, and is the perfect music for relaxation with a hint of introspection. 

If you happened to have missed MANE’s stripped down show at Plan 9, that’s perfectly okay because she’s playing at The Camel this Tuesday with Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers and FLKL who themselves just put out their second album Fistful last month. Fistful is a triumph of a record with an intense sound that does not let up from beginning to end despite the dips it takes around the middle with songs like “Something” and “Tandra and the News” taking periods to slow down to regulate the manic energy that is prevalent throughout much of the album. “King Arthur” stands out as something special as the song takes a journey from quiet intro, to beautiful harmonies, a catchy hook, and lyrics that use the imagery of the King Arthur mythology.

Themselves a stray into a bit more of a psychedelic alternative rock, they are quite bit different from MANE’s laid back ethereal pop, and even more of a far cry from Cassidy Snider’s jazzy blues rock fusion who will also be joining the lineup on Tuesday. But, that just makes for an evening of wild left turns and sonic spontaneity. You can check out “Breathing Again” below, and you like MANE’s sound, and want to catch some hot local bands as well, then make your way to The Camel tomorrow night for an evening new music and eclecticism.

“Breathing Again” (Official Video) by MANE

LOCAL & REGIONAL

THE SUGAR HOLLOWS

This week has been positively stacked with bands releasing their debut albums, or singles promoting albums, so we’ve selected a few that need some attention put their way. The Sugar Hollows stand out as a distinct group this week, and their self-titled first album is a must listen if you’re a fan of americana. The Sugar Hollows offers a laid back soft rock sound under a veil of americana and southern rock tones. Lyrically the songs are all quite straightforward with titles like “Sweet Virginia Girl” where they sing about a good ol’ girl back at home who is steady and rock solid over jangly guitar. For a bit of a deviation in the sound, though a continuation of the Virginia and southern themes, the track “Shenandoah” strikes a bit more of an indie tone with a sound bed laid down by an affected organ and very snappy pop sounding drums. This is a bit of an outlier sonically and serves as an interesting experiment for the group as they show themselves and their new music to the world.

The Sugar Hollows are going on a small tour to promote their new album that ends at Get Tight Lounge Saturday April 8th where they will be celebrating their release with Mackenzie Roark who herself put out an album Rollin’ High, Feeling’ Low in October of 2018. If you live in the southeast check here to see if The Sugar Hollows are bringing their sound to you. And if you’ve got the time this weekend, then go check out these two locals, though they might have some direct conflicts with a group who is approaching their release in a completely different way.

IT IS

There is some stiff competition this weekend if you’re going to check out these bands premiering their new music live, because Saturday night will see local band IT IS showing off their debut album The Exister released March 31st. Performing at an undisclosed location, this band is shucking the venues in town all together, and instead opting to use Richmond’s underground DIY house show circuit to put it on. Performing at some place called Dr. Cabbagebrain’s, you’re going to have to reach out to the band directly to know where they’ll pop up this weekend. 

Leaning into the increasingly popular alternative rock sound that seems to be making somewhat of a resurgence, IT IS knows how to rock hard. A riff-based sound dominates most of the record with a sort of off-handed irreverence towards their whole approach with some songs such as “Tendrils” demonstrating an abundance of proficiency yet an almost joking attitude towards the music. Best exemplified in the comical repetitive hits from the band and lurching guitar licks that interplay in the middle of the track. The wild feel changes and distant distorted vocals provide a sense of euphoria and confusion all at once, and is the perfect band to catch in the dingy living room of a house belonging to a one Dr. Cabbagebrain. Check out their music and hit them up on Instagram to discover the location of their underground show. 

Top photo courtesy of The Sugar Hollows

Andrew Bonieskie

Andrew Bonieskie

But you may call me Bones. I'm the Associate Editor of RVA Mag, and a writer and musician living in Richmond, Virginia. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a minor in creative writing I have gone on to score feature and short films, released a book of poetry, an album of original music, and perform lead vocals with the band Pebbles Palace.




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