Despite being fairly new to the Richmond music scene, Trrrash Records’ Blush Face is already gearing up to release their debut album What Do You Want? this week. Entertaining us with their own special brand of indie pop is Allie Smith (vocals/guitar), Evan Hoffman (guitar), Drew Barnocky (drums), and Billy Bacci (bass). The band’s unique sound of folk and pop draws in listeners from both audiences.
“We are an indie pop-rock band, or an indie folk pop-rock band, if that’s even a thing,” Smith said. “A lot of those songs on the album come from my days as a solo artist. It started with just a guitar, then the drums and bass.”
Blush Face is signed with Tim Falen at Trrrash Records, formerly known as Bad Grrrl Records. Falen is a workhorse in the Richmond music, giving a voice to surf rockers The Milkstains, indie strummers Camp Howard, and twee poppers Atta Girl, to name a few. By helping these artists, Falen is doing something unforgettable for the community on top of doing what he loves.
The group formed in August of 2016 after Smith and Barnocky met at a Singer/Songwriter Night at The Camel. “I met Drew, and we immediately started practicing together,” Smith said.
What Do You Want? was recorded over two days at the Virginia Moonwalker, an eight-track analog studio in Mechanicsville.
“We recorded live, with all of us in the studio playing together. So day one was the drums, guitar, and Carreon’s bass,” Smith said on the recording process. “The vocals were recorded the next day, plus we added some other cool instruments and sounds.”
Prior to this full-length record, the band released two singles, “Love For a Ghost” and “Eat My Blues” last month which are definite tracks to check out to hold you over until the band releases their album.
The vocals coming from Smith on the current album are captivating and stem from a very personal place, whether it’s coming to terms with a difficult situation or self-realization.
“That’s when I feel like picking up the guitar the most. I also like to delve into cycles,” she said. “The last song on the album, ‘Clicking Heels,’ is what we usually start shows with, but it is the last here. It is meant to flow back into the first track, highlighting the cycle of renewal.”
There was some urgency to get the forthcoming album, What Do You Want?, out. Blush Face’s previous bassist, Carreon, was moving and the band wanted to send him off with the album’s release. However, a call to perfection ultimately slowed the production down.
“I know there was some debate within the band on when the album would be released, but we wanted everything to be perfect; the sound’s maturity, the album art, all of it,” Smith said.
Blush Face’s ability to speak to one another through music alone stands as their greatest strength on What Do You Want?. The albums stutters to get off the ground at the first track, “Magnolia,” but has completely found its sound by the fourth track, “Citronella Cinderella.” The bass walks through the tempo, leaving a head-bopping ode to really grab the listener’s attention.
A personal favorite, “Rock Star Drama Queen” is cathartic, being pushed along by Smith’s impressive vocal range and Hoffman’s power chords. In fact, “Rock Star Drama Queen” and “Clicking Heels,” the last two songs, are expansive and derive true meaning from the band’s trick of seamless communication. The vocalist will cue the guitar, which prompts a drum fill, and at the end, the plucks of bass strings. Blush Face has demonstrated their potential here, which has us on the edge of our seats for the album drop.
Be sure to head out to Hardywood on Sat., Sept., 23, for the What Do You Want? release party. Attendance is free, and Blush Face will be backed by Gull and Bad Magic.
All photos via Joey Wharton Photography