Last month, I wrote two rather lengthy posts on the pioneering Raleigh, NC/NYC-based shoegaze quintet The Veldt. Currently comprised of founding members and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) along with […]
Earlier, I wrote a lengthy post about pioneering Raleigh, NC/NYC-based shoegaze quintet The Veldt. Currently comprised of founding members and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) along with Hayato Nakao (bass), Frank Olsen (guitar), and Martin Levi (drums), the quintet can trace their origins to the vital and quirky Chapel Hill, NC music scene of the late 80s and early 90s — a scene that featured Superchunk (perhaps, the best known out of that entire scene), Polvo, Dillon Fence and others. Initially featuring the Chavis Brothers and Levi along with Joseph “Hue” Boyle (bass) and later David Burris, The Veldt managed to be a rather extreme rarity as shoegaze act prominently featuring black men in a genre, as well as a place and time in which it was considered highly unusual — and honestly still is; however, despite how unusual it seemed, the then-Chapel Hill, NC-based band quickly attained “must-see” status in their home city and a rapidly growing national profile with the release of their debut effort Marigolds.
Their 1994 Ray Shulman-produced sophomore effort Afrodisiac propelled the band towards international recognition and the band wound up opening and touring with the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Oasis, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Fishbone, Corrosion of Conformity and others. Unfortunately, throughout their initial run together, the members of the band found with their management and labels who found them “too difficult to market” as their sound meshed elements of old school soul and shoegaze. And unsurprisingly, the band got dropped from their label. Struggling to fund writing, recording, releasing and marketing their work and touring, the band went through several lineup changes before officially going on hiatus in 1998.
Several years later, the Chavis Brothers had relocated to New York and started their post The Veldt project, Apollo Heights, which received quite a bit of buzz locally for a sound that added trip-hop and electronica to their previous mix of shoegaze and soul. In fact, I can clearly remember reading a raving and informative profile of the band in the old New York Press, a few years before I started to write for the publication. And honestly, it shouldn’t be surprising that critics and journalists were raving about the band — their 2007 Apollo Heights debut White Music For Black People was produced by Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and featured guest spots from Guthrie on guitar, Mos Def, Lady Kier of Deee- Lite, TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek, and Mike Ladd.
Sadly, despite their early successes the Chavis Brothers work have been reduced to largely cult-favorite status; but interestingly enough, their work in The Veldt and Apollo Heights has managed to quietly reverberate and influence some highly regarded contemporary musicians — the members of Bloc Party and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek have publicly claimed The Veldt as influences on their work and sound, which has proven that the Chavis Brothers had the somewhat bitter misfortunate of being about 20 years ahead of their time; however, with the forthcoming release of The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape, their first batch of original material in almost 20 years, the members of the reformed band seek to firmly establish their claim as the forebears and pioneers of a sound and aesthetic that has captured the blogosphere and fans by storm. And interestingly enough, they hop they do so in a similar fashion to the incredible renaissance that the members of Detroit-based proto-punk/proto-metal band Death has seen over the past few years.
“Sanctified,” the first single off The Shocking Fuzz reveals how deeply indebted TV on the Radio’s sound is to The Veldt as towering squalls of guitar chords played through gentle amounts of reverb paired with skittering yet propulsive drum programming and Danny Chavis’ soulful crooning in a tender and swooning song that evokes the feeling of being desperately, madly, stupidly in love — in a way that nods at subtly cosmic version of The Jesus and Mary Chain, if they had been influenced by Fishbone , Marvin Gaye and Prince; in other words, it’s shoegaze that manages to be irresistibly sexy.
If you were frequenting this site over the last four to six months of 2015, you’d likely be familiar with Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist Jamil Rashad and his solo recording project Boulevards. Describing his sound as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move,” Rashad’s work caught my attention as it draws from the classic funk sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, Rick James, Chic, the production work of Quincy Jones – most notably Off the Wall and Thriller-era Michael Jackson, as well as Talking Heads, Grace Jones, and Cameo among others. Unsurprisingly, those acts were the sounds that he listened to as a child — although his teenage interest in punk, hardcore and metal also influenced his own songwriting and production work. And with the release of his Boulevards EP, Rashad quickly put himself on the map as part of a growing neo-disco/neo-funk movement that includes several mainstays including Dam-Funk, Escort, Rene Lopez, Mark Ronson (in particular, his mega-hit “Uptown Funk”) and several others.
April 1, 2016 will mark the anticipated release of Boulevard’s full0-length debut, the aptly titled Groove!, and the album’s first single “Cold Call” is indebted to 80s synth R&B and pop as layers of wobbling and shimmering synth stabs are paired with a sinuous bass line, Rashad’s seductive cooing, warm blasts of horn and an anthem hook in a slow-burning jam that channels Cameo’s “Word Up!” and “Candy,” Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain” Adding to the period specific feel, are the brief interludes with Rashad seemingly flirting and coming on to the listener. Simply put, it’s the sort of song that you can do that old-fashioned two step to — while flirting with hat pretty young thing you saw across the club.
As the son of a renowned jazz radio DJ, Jamil Rashad grew up in a musical household in which, a passionate interest in music was fostered and encouraged. And as a result, the young Rashad […]
Fronted by Ryan Trauley, the Raleigh, NC-based quintet Oulipo have been praised across the blogosphere for a lush and complex pop sound that manages to be both intimate and anthemic. Of course, that shouldn’t be […]
Neighborhood Veins marks two occasions – the first release from the Durham, NC-based band Schooner in quite some time, and the first national release from Durham/Raleigh, NC-based boutique label, Potluck Records. Why would it take […]
Last year, St. Lucia released two EPs, Closer Than This and September which wound up on this site’s Honorable Mention List for 2012. But perhaps more important for me (and perhaps for you as well, reader) is that St. […]
With the release of their first three albums, the Raleigh, NC-based Gray Young have developed a reputation for material that’s been described as oceanic – there’s a palpable push and pull in the material, as […]