There’s something to be said for artistry within art. Art is an act of creation, but the process of creating art can itself be something to behold and appreciate. On Historian, the second full-length LP from Richmond-based musician Lucy Dacus, you can almost see the interconnecting layers being pieced together to create these stories. And you could certainly hear them live at Ottobar on Wednesday.
Fleet Foxes made its return last year with the release and subsequent tour for Crack-Up (Nonesuch Records). The record is filled with the same self-reflective lyrics, swelling music, and gorgeous harmonies as the band’s previous two records, but it seems like a more focused record. After six years between Helplessness Blues and the new LP, it’s a refreshed welcome home for this band whose debut album turns 10 years old as of this writing.
For nearly 30 years, the Toronto-based band Sloan has shown how a band can be consistently great while being completely democratic. Each member — Jay Ferguson (guitar/vocals/bass), Chris Murphy (bass/vocals/drums), Patrick Pentland (guitar/vocals/bass), and Andrew Scott (drums/vocals/guitar) — takes on songwriting duties and each song is perfectly crafted and laden with hooks that keep fans coming back from the band’s debut Smeared to the recently released 12th album (appropriately titled) 12. Fans came back again for their latest show at Rock and Roll Hotel on Friday.
Gracie Coates (piano/keyboards, vocals) and Rachel Ruggles (violin, vocals) create a what they’ve called “orchestral pop.” Their music ebbed and flowed in dark swirls while at the same time seemed to move forward in performance at 9:30 Club on Saturday, opening Ani DiFranco.
Austin folk artist Jess Williamson releases Cosmic Wink, her latest full-length album on Friday, May 11. On the road to its release, Jess performed at DC9 to open Loma on Wednesday. David LaMason captured the show on film!
Back in December 2016, I went to see one of Shearwater’s last shows of the Jet Plane and Oxbow tour at the Ottobar in Baltimore. It was a cold night, and the stage was festooned with large lights as part of Shearwater’s stage set up. The opener that night was a duo called Cross Record. Primarily using keyboards and guitars, the band — made up of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski — created beautiful landscapes of sound.
So it was a joy to hear that over the past year Emily and Dan had started making a record with Jonathan Meiberg of Shearwater in a band that eventually became Loma. Loma performed at DC9 on Wednesday.
The Afghan Whigs have been playing their brand of rock channeled through a heavy dose of dark soul for over 30 years. In fact, 2018 saw the 30-year anniversary of their debut Big Top Halloween. So, it’s a testament to their longevity that last year they released one of their best albums, In Spades, in their extensive catalog. Maybe it’s due to the steadfast style Greg Dulli (vocals/guitar/keys) and company — which also includes John Curley (bass), Rick G. Nelson (guitar/keys/violin), Jon Skibic (guitar), and Patrick Keeler (drums) — haven’t tried to change that unique style.
In a great show at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on Friday, The Afghan Whigs gave that style its due.