Posts Tagged ‘RVG’

Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

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RVG

The debut from Aussies RVG (Romy Vager Group) came a bit out of the blue, at least around here. The album was short, precise, and poised, but its polish was offset by its equal attention to emotionally bare and ravaged lyrics delivered by Vager as impassioned pleas for understanding. As the band gained traction and eventually the backing of UK indie Fire Records, they’ve proven that a larger scale doesn’t diminish the impact of their delivery in the least. Feral slides onto the speakers like an instant classic – boiling the bones of the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs, Patti Smith, Siouxsie, and The Go-Betweens into a haze of jangle, crushed velvet harmonies, and sneered sincerity. Between the heartbreak that haunts the bulk of these influences, Vager sets her sights on larger picture topics that give the angst a heft that reverberates throughout the album. Mental illness, transphobia, family estrangement, and the gnawing realities of modern living all find their way into Feral, molding it into a staggering work of modern misery and resilience that could easily have haunted the radio a few decades prior.

While baring the soul has become requisite in many genres lately, the band’s combination of 80’s jangle and a lived-in grandiosity is unmatched in rock of late. Bands can preen and pretend, but they can’t command a chorus the way Romy can. The magnetism of the band’s figurehead is unshakable. She’s a force, a fire that fuels the band. Her hurt marks the soul of the listener, leaving an impression that doesn’t fade soon after the last notes fade away on the air. Anguish, rage, depression, repulsion, resilience, redemption — they all play a part in the tapestry of Feral — and each new listen opens the laceration wider, but lets it heal harder the next day. For whatever knocks you down, RVG is there to lift you back up and put the pieces in order, or at the very least let you know that they’ve been rendered asunder and are still around to show the scars. This is a vital album for 2020, or any year for that matter.



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Romy Vager on Psychedelic Furs – Forever Now

Still plenty of essentials on the way in this strange timeline we’re on and RVG’s sophomore LP is pretty high on that list. The band’s debut was an emotionally fraught, tumultuous record that stood high with ‘80s classics from Echo and the Bunnymen, The Go-Betweens, or Siousxie Sioux. The band has only refined and expanded on that sound with their follow-up, out soon on Fire Records and Feral aims to be one of the best of the year. Naturally, that put the band’s songwriter and driving force Romy Vager high atop the list of inquiries for a Hidden Gems, and she digs further into that ‘80s influence with a spotlight on Psychedelic Furs’ mid-period gem Forever Now. While its predecessor may have gotten all the acclaim for the John Hughes tie-in, this one begs further exploration and Vager explains how it came into her life and the impact its had on her own writing.

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RVG – “I Used To Love You”

Couldn’t be more excited for this one. Aussies RVG released an instant classic LP in 2017 – a record that was draped in emotional weight almost to the point of breaking, but so steadfastly resilient that it seemed like a life preserver flung into a sea of sadness. As is fitting, others responded to the sweeping grandiosity and laid bare honesty of Romy Vager and her band and they shot from the small scale to larger avenues. With a new LP on the way from Fire Records, produced by Victor Van Vught (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave) the band follows up one of their most crushing singles, “Alexandra,” (also on the album) with a taste of what’s to come.

While it’s hard to top the heart wrenching “can’t go home again” anguish of “Alexandra,” RVG still come to stun with the quiet composure of “I Used To Love You.” The song doesn’t crack into the emotional dam break that some of their past singles have, instead opting to operate as if holding back tears, not giving the subject of the song the satisfaction of seeing them suffer. There’s the feeling that after the dying notes of the song at least a few tears are shed for self-preservation, but the rest is a brave face cushioned in the resolve to move on to better things. The new LP is out April 24th.



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RVG – “Alexandra”

Skidding into a US tour, Aussies RVG are back with a new single that finds them comfortable in their velvet cushion of sound that wavers between Echo and the Bunnymen, The Church, and Love and Rockets. “Alexandra” retains the band’s emphasis on sweeping drama, mirroring Echo’s knack for riveting swells and invoking anguish as a genre unto itself. Amputated from a larger narrative of an album the song’s more of a primer for those who might have missed out on their excellent, and still underrated debut. If this one catches your ear, its recommended you go back to the crushed eyeliner and rain of that eponymous gem.

The b-side sees the band take on mid-period John Cale, giving a dose of urgency to his ’85 deep cut from Artificial Intelligence. Vager’s vocals do well for the song, perhaps taking a bit of license with the original’s more buttoned-down approach, but she’s does plenty to make it her own. The band pumps the song full of the same sense of urgency that they employ in their own works. With all due respect to Cale, its actually a great argument for covering your heroes, as they give the song quite a bit more gravity than the original ever had. Nab this double cut, definitely see the band if they swing through your area.




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RVG – “Eggshell World”

If you missed out on the excellent debut from the Romy Vager Group (more commonly RVG) last year, then there’s still time to catch up. Apparently, the Aussies tore up SXSW, so hopes are on that at least a few ears were perked. On the eve of their entry to the Split Singles Series mentioned yesterday they release a great video not for the new track (sadly) but for standout LP track “Eggshell World.” The accompanying video is just Vager alone, clad in a silver dress in the darkness – it’s a great compliment to the track’s sweeping emotional pull. Vager is doing her best to channel the demons left to wander in the wake of Echo and The Bunnymen, The Church and Love & Rockets. For those missing the mascara stain of tears along with your pop, meet your new favorites.

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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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