Sound Choices: New faces, old places, and terra firma

Sound Choices: New faces, old places, and terra firma

Ruth Good

Haunt EP, Citrus City Records

Richmond/Brooklyn-based Citrus City Records has served as a platform for marginalized and lesser-heard voices from all corners of the scene since 2014. One of the tape label’s latest offerings comes from Ruth Good, the moniker for brothers Jonathan and Wes Parker. The duo teamed up with older brother Alan Parker (Spacebomb) for Haunt, which brims with grit and nuance. With the elder Parker on lead guitar and pedal steel, Jacob Ungerleider rounds out the arrangement on keys, while Dr. Dog’s Eric Slick takes the helm on drums. Each member recorded remotely from home in April, and the final product was mixed by Adrian Olsen at Montrose Recording and mastered by Ryan Schwabe. Recalling elements of surf rock, harmonies dance around guitar and piano lines across the EP’s four tracks—which all clock in under four minutes—making Haunt a breath of fresh air that packs a punch. What’s more, 100 percent of the album’s digital sales are donated to Richmond Mutual Aid in support of disaster relief and COVID-19 resources (released September 5).

Jana Horn

Optimism, Self-released

Jana Horn has been a stalwart on the Austin music scene for years, touring with bands like Knife in the Water and Reservations. This fall marks a period of seminal change for Horn: She’s now spending a good chunk of time in Charlottesville, pursuing her MFA in fiction at the University of Virginia. Concurrently, she’s released her debut solo album, Optimism, which has been in the works since 2015. Recorded at Hen House Recording in Texas, the disc features Ian Phillips (drums) and her fellow Knife in the Water bandmates Aaron Blount (guitar) and Vince Delgado (bass). A quiet, meditative listen, Optimism is a folk exaltation that makes room for Horn’s ruminations to breathe and unfurl (released September 18).

Rob Cheatham and Co.

Sons and Daughters, Self-released

Sons and Daughters is Rob Cheatham’s third record in four years—and perhaps his most ambitious offering to date. His legacy in the commonwealth can be traced back to his time growing up in Richmond. After a stint in Philadelphia, Cheatham settled in Charlottesville, where he’s played in numerous bands throughout the years (The Nice Jenkins, Gunchux, Borrowed Beams of Light). Chock-full of the alt-country gusto listeners have come to expect from Cheatham, Sons and Daughters goes a step further, drawing on the touchstones of rock ‘n’ roll for a more robust sound. Amy Bowden’s violin provides a stirring through-line, while a horn section complete with trumpet (Ben Pryse), saxophone (Noah Galbreath), and trombone (Evan Amoroso) offers a welcome warmth. Across the album’s eight tracks, Cheatham reflects on our current cultural and sociopolitical climate, begging the question: What world are we leaving behind for our sons and daughters? (released March 20).

Pale Blue Dot

Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, Rockfish Music

Tapping into an array of musical influences from folk and prog-rock to jazz, Charlottesville-based Pale Blue Dot crafts music that’s smart and self-aware, prone to questioning the world and everything’s place within it. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species is a steady continuation of the group’s affinity for the existential. Songs like “Evolution Blues” and “Waiting for Signs” find the band’s feet planted squarely on the ground while challenging our self-imposed belief systems (released September 4).

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