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Now Hear This: Get the Music Fan in Your Life the Gift of Sound



For that someone who likes brass horn party music injected with funk and hip-hop, not to mention positive lyrics, No BS Brass recently dropped a new album, “Brass Knuckles” that’s been earning praise.

“The new record is us raising the bar for ourselves. Compositionally we’re going for it full-force with the difficulty and the sheer power,” trombonist Reggie Pace says, noting that the lyrical subject matter also delves into police brutality. “The whole record is a statement of togetherness. Staying together and positive in the face of adversity. Not giving in to anything that pulls people apart.”

  • Mara Davis
  • Hotel X

Take a dash of Ornette Coleman, another dash of Fela, and shake ’em in a massive shekere and you might get something like longtime local Afro-delic funk outfit Hotel X. The group also has a new album out, “X Years” on Ladies Choice Records, available at Plan 9, CD Baby and iTunes. Check it out, it’s a percussive party waiting to enliven your ear holes — or as Calendar Editor Chris Bopst calls the group, “A jazz funk-tinged survey of the universal history of groove.”

And if you missed all the national press surrounding the Numero Group reissue of Edge of Daybreak’s “Eyes of Love” — you may have missed one of the most soulful releases of the year, hastily recorded by Powhatan prison inmates back in the ’70s. While doing time for assorted crimes, these friends managed to create something beautiful and lasting that speaks to the indomitable human spirit. Pick it up on vinyl if possible.

Edge of Daybreak
  • Edge of Daybreak

For the listener who prefers something more aggressive and nerve-shredding, local experimental label Chaotic Noise Productions, aka CNP, just released a couple of new cassettes, including Brown Piss’ “Maggot Shack” (Jason Hodges solo) billed as “eight tracks of rhythmic contact mic crashing, electronic burp beats, harsh noise, weird loops, sci-fi/ horror synths, and uncomfortable wetness.” It also has a new Suppression cassette, “Rats in the Control Room,” inspired by early noise and grind core.

Most of the above records are available in fine local record stores, but if not you can always try the record labels or band webpages.

For fans of global sounds: One of Virginia’s most fascinating collectors and music personalities undoubtedly is Grammy-winning sound archivist and author Christopher King, who lives in Nelson County and sits on the Richmond Folk Festival programming board. King gets a whole chapter devoted to him in the fascinating book by New York Times and New Yorker music writer Amanda Petrusich, titled “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.”

Lately, King says he’s been working on his own book — while a few of his more recent releases include field recordings he made in Greece while accompanying Petrusich there (her subsequent Times article for the trip, “Hunting for the Source of the World’s Most Beguiling Folk Music,” is worth looking up).

Now you can hear the fruits of King’s labor: the gorgeous, pastoral results on JSP Records include “Vitsa - Takimi of Epirus: Field Recordings from Zagori, Epirus, Greece - 2014” (a sort of village party of friends) and “Parakalmos: Field Recordings from Pogoni, Epirus - 2014.” Both albums are filled with skillful local musicians whose life-honed music manages to sound both ancient and startling refreshing — no easy feat. It’s adventurous playing that comes alive when you hear it, and it may have you thinking about booking your own trip to Greece.

Also worth checking out, if you want a sampler featuring a wider variety of music, are two bargain-priced collections from the Excavated Shellac series by the Dust to Digital label based in Athens, Georgia. The first is “Strings,” compiled by Jonathan Ward, featuring 17 performances from four corners of the world using instruments such as guitar, oud, tar and violin. The second volume in the series, the hypnotic and pastoral “Reeds,” contains never-before issued 78 rpm recordings of only reed instruments from countries including Tanzania, Kurdistan, Turkey, India and China. Both albums are available on vinyl, CD or download formats and offer a good introduction with an astonishing breadth of sound for the curious.


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