Last year we took a look at our favorite records to come out of the city in October of 2022. That was a while ago, so we here at RVA Mag felt that it was time to take a deep dive into the scene again to bring to the light some music releases that deserve the spotlight. Our goal is to cover releases that either didn’t get enough attention at the time, or that we missed altogether. This is in no way comprehensive, or meant to dismiss artists we haven’t talked about, as there are dozens of singles and albums that come out of the city, and even more that come out of the region, every month, but these are the records that caught our attention and we felt deserved an extra push.
If you have new music, suggestions or questions, then send an email to Bones@rvamag.com. We are always listening to the buzz on the scene, so help us keep our ear to the ground.
What starts off as a shoegaze showcase turns into so much more. This new self-titled EP by the young group Glossing, who claim they are, “current and ex-members of some other bands” masquerades as an irreverent side project of these experiences musicians. In reality, this recording is a triumph of dynamic control, ambient noise rock and pure, raw emotion that comes together into a sprawling collection of songs. Though only three tracks long, the EP clocks in at over 15 minutes, and utilizes its whole run time.
The first track “Potential” comes rocking right out of the gate with the whole band jumping right in after a brief second of intentional feedback. The lyrics sung by Case Graham sit down in the mix making them a little difficult to hear, but leaving room for the band’s well directed sound to fill in the space. The vocals aren’t entirely lost, almost providing atmosphere as a few keys words like, “please, please, please!” and the title, “such potential,” cut through in desperate wails. Almost sounding like a laid back Paramore, this first track is only a glimpse into what it to come.
The second track “I Don’t Need You” comes in at six and a half minutes, but it is worth the wait through this epic piece. Starting out with a solo guitar intro, the song continues much in the vane of the first with a heavy, well defined wall of sound from the guitars of James Hoffer and Tamir Gore, while Graham’s vocals sit down in the middle cutting through to hear the lyrics that matter like, “I don’t need you. I don’t need you.” As the track continues however, a far of dissonance slowly makes its way to the front of the mix like the slow approach of an oncoming hurricane. This continues to near the end of the song when it falls away and we are left bare with the bass and drums provided by Zak Bryant and Sage Maxwell, only to have those too fall away.
That leads us directly into track three, “All That Life Is” as a quiet guitar covered with heavy reverb provides a bed of sound out of which the music is sure to rise like the sun above the horizon. The dynamic control exhibited so late in the group of songs that fit so perfectly together is what caught my attention to this elevated piece of rock. As now, at the very end, in the quiet, Grahams’s lyrics are finally front and center, and listeners can hear the line, “It hurts, and then it changes, we stop chasing, we stop trying.” In a final cacophony of emotional bombast, the whole band crashes back in for one last blow to the senses as this promising band bids farewell to their freshman collection. Glossing are a group to check out for those who love rock and roll of any kind, and a standout among current releases, so I highly recommend you pop on this perfectly executed EP as soon as you get the chance
An enigma to me, Fredericksburg native Cane has been around for over a decade now, and that work and grind can be seen in his most recent endeavor H20. The ludicrous album cover is equally amusing as it distressing. Cane appears as a cartoon posing like a post-apocalyptic hero amongst a decrepit water park while a young woman, child and a dog look worriedly at something off screen. Almost like a concept album, every single track is named after something related to water like, “Splash Zone,” “Lazy River,” and “Water Is Life.” Almost primordial, there are numerous visuals of water as a life giving and familial substance.
Cane’s beats wouldn’t sound out of place at a 1950’s jazz club as he often features instruments like vibraphones, trumpets and various other horns. Not succumbing to monotony, his beats retain a dynamism often left behind in hip hop as rappers rush the production to get to their self-aggrandizing lyrics. Cane does not fall victim to this pressure. Rarely engaging in the inflating of his own ego through his rap, Cane tends to stay grounded, such on his song “Adult Swim” where he raps about the realities of being an adult in the modern world. The perfect example of his reality-driven lyrics being the line, “I got a kid and a wife, I got a crib and it’s nice.”
Constantly introspective, Cane can’t stop expressing himself and talking about his problems, emotions, thoughts and day to life keeping it real in a way that gets lost among many rappers who want to put on airs and project a certain lifestyle. And, just because he’s singing about his co-depency issues and his struggle with sobriety doesn’t mean he can’t have fun. Even while he’s exposing his inner self to listeners in songs like “DRIP”, Cane pops in to nasaly shout “drippy!” in a fun and child-like manner. This combined with songs like “Vapors” where he seemingly brought all his friends into the studio to pop open beers, smoke weed and generally laugh like buffoons give Cane an unpretentious vibe. All of this is before even mentioning his flow that is constantly in motion, changing in cadence and rhythm as quickly as his subject matter and that lends to his music a dynamic propulsion.
“The “U & You” Singles” (Single)
Dropheads confuse me. This group formed in February of 2022, so they are fresh on the scene, but their premiere recording came out in July of 2023 and has already garnered more 15,000 streams on Spotify with more than 10,000 monthly listeners. Who are these guys?
It is rare these days to see a classic A and B side single, but everything about Dropheads screams of old school from their classic pop rock sound, to the cover of their single reminiscent of a 1970s Los Angeles. The first “You” on their list of two similarly named songs is “I Don’t Need U.” The track opens with a groove laid down by Michael Di Constanzo (wow what a name) only to be joined almost immediately by Jake Mattauch and Taurus Hawk on bass and guitar respectively. Laying down the a recognizable guitar riff to establish the melody, the group fills out an enormous song only to fall away just in time for singer and principal songwriter Stevie Ashe to hop in and sing to some one now distant with the line, “it’s been a while since I left you.” Ashe’s full baritone absolutely dominates the music during the quieter sections oozing with charisma and swagger, while the rest of the band locks in to a hard hitting eighth note grove. When the chorus comes in, the band follows as Ashe brings the energy to a towering crescendo to scream out, “I don’t need you!” over and over again only to end without musical resolution, providing an ominous sense of foreboding.
The B side titled “Gold On You” allows for a moment of confused respite coming in with an odd 6/8 count from the drummer to cue in the rest of the band to slink in only to stop after just two measures. The group then immediately flips back into common time and flies through the rest of the song. The focus remains Ashe’s slippery voice, but he doesn’t dominate as between sections the drummer is given a break to provide an injection of energy. This is before all but Mattauch’s bass and Di Costanzo’s drums fall away and Ashe paints an image of a character with a “leather jacket on and ripped up jeans” singing out the window of their Mercedes; yet another retrospective image to a time past. Following in this fashion the group continues until the lead guitar is given time to control the narrative, first up close and in a mid-range, and then far away and distorted almost verging on the psychedelic.
In just two songs this new group has managed to capture the attention of thousands, and I for one am excited to see where they go next.
Top photo provided by Cane