RVA #33: Record Reviews

by | Aug 15, 2018 | MUSIC

These blurbs originally appeared in RVA #33 Summer 2018. You can check out the issue here, or pick it up around Richmond now. 

Natalie Prass

“The Future And The Past”

(ATO)

In the three years since Natalie Prass made her debut on Spacebomb Records, she’s been evolving as an artist — and that evolution is clear from the very first listen to sophomore LP The Future And The Past. Having made her mark with the lush analog sounds of the Spacebomb house band backing her up, her new album finds her exploring some decidedly digital sounds. It is full of deep grooves that rely on R&B-style synths and an incredibly funky bass sound that could come straight off a Cameo or Gap Band album from the dawn of the 80s. With Prass’s vocals added into the mix, there’s a decided Janet Jackson vibe that creeps in, and I for one am not complaining. Prass’s frustration with the election of Donald Trump and the corresponding threats to women’s rights comes through powerfully in tracks like female-autonomy anthem “Ain’t Nobody” and ladies-first singalong “Sisters.” Add the unforgettable jam of a first single, “Short Court Style,” and powerful ballad “Lost,” and you get an album chock full of instant classics. It might not be quite what we expected from Prass, but it is certainly welcome. (MN)

Andy Jenkins

“Sweet Bunch”

(Spacebomb)

The veteran Spacebomb collaborator makes his full-length debut in impressive fashion, with meditative, nuanced writing that calls to mind the finest singer-songwriters. Throughout, you’ll find masterful performances from the Spacebomb house band and multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook, as well as natural imagery that makes Sweet Bunch the perfect soundtrack for time spent down by the James this summer. (DJ)

Fly Anakin & Ohbliv

“Backyard Boogie”

(Mutant Academy Worldwide)

On what is actually Anakin’s first solo full-length, the young spitter goes from beginning to end over stellar production from Ohbliv. Beats and non-stop rhymes are the recipe, as Anakin mostly goes for himself throughout this project — which definitely deserves all of your attention.  (HH)

Gold Connections

“Popular Fiction”

(EggHunt)

Building on the momentum of Gold Connections’ 2017 self-titled EP, Will Marsh returns with an EggHunt Records-backed full-length that shines over a span from cathartic sing-alongs — like the final sequence of opening track “Icarus” — to balanced production that’s remarkable in how great it sounds at both loud and quiet moments. A rewarding listen from beginning to end. (DJ)

McKinley Dixon

“The Importance Of Self-Belief”

(Citrus City)

This angry young MC has been making waves around RVA; on his new album, he brings his live band into the studio for a more organic musical feel, making this release a quantum leap for an already-standout artist. His politically-informed lyrics hit harder than ever on tracks like “Circle The Block,” “Black Boy Flies,” and the title track. Essential listening. (MN)

Nickelus F

“Stuck”

(AGM Imperial)

Fresh from receiving his degree at VCU, Petey returns with his long awaited new project, Stuck. The self-produced banger of an album is full of introspective rhymes that still make you bounce. After a few listens, you’ll start to realize why this city has a mural depicting this RVA hip hop legend. (HH)

Park Sparrows

“More Peace”

(OVOLR/Debackle)

Old punks never die — they just get introspective. This EP from a veteran crew featuring members of Strike Anywhere and Landmines hits hard, mingling hardcore-punk rage with an undercurrent of melody and irreverent wit. “Maps” is the pensive singalong anthem; “Wig Out At Mojo’s” the inside-joke rager that only the old guys will get. The whole thing is great. (MN)

Saw Black

“Water Tower”

(Crystal Pistol)

One of the paradoxes of the creative life is that strength lies in vulnerability; Water Tower shows Saw Black’s intuitive mastery in this area. It’s incredibly strong, with evocative melodies and lyrics, yet the tone and vocal delivery feel strikingly raw. As “Mama Knows” puts it, “You hold your secrets close to your chest / I tell everyone.” We’re lucky he does. (DJ)

Spacebomb House Band

“Library Music I: No Space High Enough”

(Spacebomb)

Beat tapes aren’t just for producers anymore. This cassette release finds the Spacebomb House Band stretching out, crafting instrumental grooves perfect for film soundtracks and chilled-out evenings. From effect-laden funk to experiments in dub reggae and soul jazz, this talented crew of studio musicians stays in the pocket and delivers the goods. MCs seeking beats, take note. (MN)

Reviews By: Reviews by Hip Hop Henry (HH), Davy Jones (DJ), Marilyn Drew Necci (MN)

 

Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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