Self-Released December 3, 2016
The Thumps (a great name for a band) are a part of the Louisville music scene, now releasing their first full length album, A Grizzly Scene. The band – made up of piano, accordion, bass, and drums – is orchestrated uniquely for one playing rock music. The omission of guitar here allows the independent parts and vocals to be heard more easily, casting a dark light on timbre and subject matter of many of the songs. From the beginning of the first track, “Doktor,” this mood is present – a certain sinister feel is tangible in the lyrics and minor tonality. “Back to the Future” is a two-part ballad that tells (pretty literally) the story of Marty and Doc. This pair of tracks is perhaps the best indication of how the band’s instrumentation can work well – some tasteful intros and instrumental sections in both parts really work well at pacing and setting this apart. “terrible, terrible” is another ballad and favorite of mine, this time telling a ‘whodunit’ story of a murder investigation, and serves as inspiration for the album’s title. Over the course of the album, the band tells some good stories in their songs, matching them with nice, unique instrumental atmospheres. The Thumps have an interesting sound, and have put together a fun album in A Grizzly Scene – if you’re looking for something that sounds a little different, this is well worth a listen.
Tracks I Liked: Doktor, Back to the Future!!!, Back to the Future Pt. 2! , terrible, terrible!!, Toomai (of the Elephants)
Ben Southworth – December 4, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Genre: Folky Murder Ballads
Though this band is currently based in the District of Columbia, lead singer, Mark Charles Heidinger, has made his way through Lexington-based bands – specifically as frontman of The Apparitions with Robby Cosenza. Because of this, Vandaveer has a pretty large following in this town, but somehow I failed to have heard of them until very recently. It’s a shame too, because their newest album Oh, Willie, Please… is excellent. The album is made up entirely of their renditions of eleven murder ballads – all of them dark and chilling, but making their impressions through equal parts uptempo tracks to those that are just downright slinky and spooky. The title of the album “Oh, Willie,” is heard referenced several times throughout the album, and lends it a sense of cohesion; the album is made up of made up of eleven stories – track by track – but listens almost like a concept album with a greater arcing storyline. What that bigger story might be is tough to tell, though – it tends to make me want to think of the tales of a small town, and the instances of anguish and revenge it has seen. The sound of the album is great too, being recorded in perhaps Lexington’s best known studio at Shangri-La. The layers of instruments are added with perfect pacing and the building of intensity on tracks like “The Railroad Boy” is created masterfully. Heidinger’s voice is paired perfectly with the rich tone of Rose Guerin’s, but with no knowledge about her, I’d have sworn that he had talked Emmylou Harris into recording with him. For all the pop music today that mistakes itself for folk music, Vandaveer is treating the genre the way it ought to be treated – this album is crisp, and for all dark, bleak, and hard-to-stomach subjects, it’s surprisingly a beautiful and refreshing listen.
Tracks I Liked – The Banks of the Ohio!, Pretty Polly!!, The Railroad Boy!!!, Mary of the Wild Moor!, Down in the Willow Garden!!, The Drunkard’s Doom!!!, Poor Edward!
Watch the video for the album’s lead single “Pretty Polly” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g8BV6zrVBs
Ben Southworth – Lexington, Kentucky – May 23, 2013