Doug’s Pick: Double Feature – Comrades At Strange Matter / Atlas Bloom At The Camel

13495219_10154319029296757_7750900571356181152_nI know it’s Doug’s Pick, not Doug’s Picks, but there is way too much quality music going on in Richmond tonight to avoid so I’m picking two shows tonight. Deal with it.

Thursday, July 14, 5 PM
Comrades, Withered Bones, Vagabonds @ Strange Matter – $7

The “Blood & Ink Records + Friends Tour” will be rolling through Strange Matter early tonight with three great bands to check out so don’t miss out on a chance to celebrate one of Richmond’s most vibrant and ambitious labels here in town. Comrades head up this show I’ll be honest — I’m pretty much a fan of anything Joe & Laura do (especially last year’s Borrowed Spirit side project), but I’m especially excited for this show as they’ll be debuting some new material that should really stand-out of their set. I’ve always dug the relationship between Joe & Laura on stage too. One seems to be pushing on the beat while the other will lay back on it — and they’ll just switch automatically mid-song, no questions asked. The drums always seem to be working perpendicular to that approach too, but still parallel in a way that gives the songs some fluid motion. There’s a lot I could say about Comrades, but the best thing you need to know is that this is a band coming back to Richmond after waving that RVA flag for years across the country. They don’t play the city often so definitely don’t miss a chance to see three amazing musicians on stage, but more importantly, let’s not miss a chance to give them the hometown reception they truly deserve.

Get your hardcore fix from Phoenix band Withered Bones on this lineup, but also don’t be put off if hardcore’s not your thing because this band might be a good gateway to all that genre has to offer. There’s not only a strong sense of melody in their music, but there’s also a good deal of restraint in their songs that the hardcore scene just isn’t known for. This manifests in a number of ways — there might be a more somber song that resists the urge to fully breakdown or there might be a song that fully commits itself to that melody without destroying it in a fit of rage. Withered Bones are a hardcore band, but don’t make the mistake of brushing them aside as something you’ve heard before.

Emo punkers Vagabonds from Michigan are opening up this cool bill with a taste of their hardcore sound that bounces back and forth from emo and punk at exactly the right moments in each of their songs. Honestly, if you want to thrash about while feeling all the emotions, this is a great band for you. But for me? I’m more excited to see the more alternative approach Luke Dean is bringing. The band’s latest single “Your Life Is Not A Movie” is punk in the confines of a bedroom confession that I’d desperately want to hear sandwiched between two guitar ragers. These guys aren’t afraid to take chances so who knows what they’ll do up on that stage?

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Thursday, July 14, 8 PM
Atlas Bloom, Josie McQueen, Wester Green, Black Dog Prowl, Lucy In Battle Armor @ The Camel – $7

New York trio Atlas Bloom return to Richmond for this show and judging by how impressive their last show at The Camel was in February, you should all head out to catch them. Their constantly evolving sound never ceases to amaze and honestly, neither does their off-kilter approach to “rock” songs. Most of these songs seem simple at first, but dig a little deeper and you can hear some of the classical and jazz approaches that the band utilizes. Just listen to that rhythm section on “Your Silence Spoke” — so twisty, so quirky, and honestly, so surprising. I chatted with the band last time they were in town about these approaches, as well as their dedication to hit the next level in 2016, so check that out if you want a bit more insight into what makes the band tick. But for tonight — well, the band does love Richmond and the people heading out to their sets feel the same way, so I’d expect something special tonight from their set tonight. Something special and something truly unforgettable.

If you haven’t seen Richmond trio Josie McQueen yet, well this is your chance as they’ll be on the bill as well showcasing their own rock amalgamation sound that will leave you infuriated if you try to describe it. Grunge meeting indie meeting post-rock meeting punk while some post-hardcore and sludge riffs dance in the background — there’s a lot happening in these songs that should really just be described as “rock,” even if it does just sound dismissive. Check out their latest EP, The Man Is A Thief, and specifically hone in on the single “Say What You Will” and you can hear why the description “rock” seems both apt and insufficient for their music. These guys are building a nice buzz for themselves around town thanks to their live show so if you dig the music, make sure to go out and see it in fully realized form at The Camel.

Folk band Wester Green from here in town are also playing on this show tonight, offering up a nice contrast to the rock sound of the other four acts. The tone will definitely shift to a more somber one with these guys on stage, but so will the approach to the music, with the band highlighting the “less is more” mindset and showing how sparse, minimalist sections can lead to grand and spectacular finishes. Their Bandcamp says they are “sometimes good” and my gut is the chances are high that tonight will be one of those times.

DC quartet Black Dog Prowl is also on this bill bringing you their all-encompassing rock sound that’s fully displayed on their new EP from last month. For people who grew up listening to alt-rock stations, this is the perfect band for you as they freely switch between mellow grooves and harsh chords to really flesh out an appealing sound. Honestly, they remind me a bit of obscure Boston band Antler — they probably share their name with a dozen other acts in the US, but here’s which one I’m talking about — in that they have glimpses of blues, stoner, swamp, country, and even metal in their music, yet it all still sounds cohesive. These guys are definitely something to be intrigued by.

And rounding out the bill is Lucy In Battle Armor, a really exciting Richmond showing that Ms. Dacus isn’t the only Lucy in town we should be celebrating. Groovy rock music is the best description for what to expect with this one, but don’t be surprised if you hear flickers of other genres too like jazz, psychedelic, and even math rock. You can get a taste of some of the songs in their set tonight by listening to their latest EP, Gates, but don’t spend too much time obsessing over it because these guys (and gal) are sure to twist each song as much as possible in a live setting to keep everyone guessing.

Two shows tonight. Eight cool bands. Get out and see something, people.

Doug Nunnally (@MusicDoug)
sound-gaze.com

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