In his own words, Matt McAllister’s sound is “experimental folkish, alternative rockish, maybe deformed-blues-ish, maybe downright strange.” A native of British Columbia, McAllister represents his province with a quirky personality, qualifying his genre on Facebook, “Maybe I’m lying. Listen to find out!” He’s energetic and funny, as charming as they come. Check out the beginning of “Just for Now,” and you’ll understand his appeal.
McAllister is a solo act with enough personality for two. “Weird Ideas” truly is a weird idea of a song, coupling looming, spooky vocals and the twang of a banjo. Somehow the two make sense together, especially when combined with a message of questionable ethics: “Weird ideas have won the voters, bad decisions bring their friends.” With his friendly character and quirky style, Matt McAllister has the power to deliver controversial messages while maintaining a lighthearted, upbeat show. Don’t miss him when he opens for The Working Effective at the Southern on tonight.
RIYL: Andrew Ripp, Ben Rector, Ryan Adams
Twiddle evokes “jazz, classical, and bluegrass, but above all, masterfully blends raggae and funk,” according to the band itself, but I propose that ska be added to that list. In a world of indistinguishable pop hits, Twiddle demands more attention. Many of their songs begin with a slower narrative before punchy, offbeat [read: ska] drums change the pace. The members of Twiddle explore the versatility of their instruments. The piano ranges from classical in “When It Rains It Pours” to ragtime-y in “Daydream Farmer.” The guitar sings like an extra voice at times and adds a flickering, mechanical feel at others. Lyrically, the ideas are meaningful enough to ponder, while the sound is young and cheerful. I can imagine a toddler or a drunk audiophile alike bouncing around to Twiddle. The crowd will definitely be dancing when Twiddle opens for Papadosio at the Jefferson tonight.
RIYL: Dangermuffin, Jamiroquai, Streetlight Manifesto, Umphrey’s McGee
New York-based Helado Negro is the son of Ecuadorian immigrants, which comes as no surprise after listening to a few of his songs. Blending Spanish and English lyrics with electronic beats, he cleverly appeals to young masses while maintaining his ethnic identity. The vocals are soft and wispy, granting Helado Negro space to expound on the global qualities of his brand of electronica. One advantage to emphasizing the music over the vocals is allowing listeners to tap into the emotions that sound can evoke. “Myself On 2 U” is a sexy, mysterious song that evokes falling rain, James Bond themes, and the whistle of a flute. The song ends dramatically with a high pitched, questioning note. I never thought I’d see myself use “questioning” to describe a note, but much of Helado Negro’s music feels mysterious, haunting. Don’t miss the ominous Helado Negro open for Sinkane at the Jefferson on October 9th.
RIYL: Atlas Sound, Blue Hawaii, Destroyer
Hometown heroes are generally a rarity, but central Virginia has them in droves. Raised in Nellysford, Sally Rose has been called “one of the finest singers/songwriters/guitarists this lovely area has offered yet,” by Adam Gripp of Magazine 33. Sally Rose began writing music at the ripe age of 8, and first picked up a guitar at 11. By the time she was legal, she had produced two albums. These facts are impressive, so how do she and her band sound? In a word: phenomenal. The band is comprised of a cello, electric guitar, drums and a bass, not to mention the shining star: Sally Rose’s sweet, sexy, Southern vocals. “Witchbaby,” has a lustful twang that could make a grown man weak in the knees. The band frequents Charlottesville, playing at Blue Moon Diner once a month, but this group deserves the best space in town. Join the Sally Rose Band, at The Jefferson, when they open for the Old ‘97’s at the Jefferson tomorrow, October 8.
RIYL: The Band Perry, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Lizzy Ross
I don’t know how old Tristen is, but her music sounds 25 in the best way possible—old enough to party hard, but still exploring. Her sound is sing-songy, light and sweet, but with thoughtful, mature lyrics. The popular “Baby Drugs” exemplifies this idea: “I will pick your clothes up in the morning, I will put the coffee by the bed, baby don’t you want me to bring you those drugs?” One hell of a relationship, no? Tristen depicts and simultaneously questions a lifestyle that is prominent among her peers. Tristen carefully lightens her poignant messages and smartly reinforces her lighthearted messages simultaneously with her soft and sweet voice. Don’t miss her opening for Roadkill Ghost Choir at the Southern on October 13th.
RILY: Deep Sea Diver, Escondido,The Mynabirds
The Southern’s smaller, darker space is conducive to a particular style of artists, and Rone fits the bill. Rone’s music is all the light that the Southern will need; his bright layering of beats will absolutely energize the entire room when he opens for Com Truise on October 14th. Admittedly, electronic music isn’t usually my thing. Sometimes, I actively dislike it. But, Rone is different, very different. “So So So” incorporates sounds akin to whale sonar, distant echoes and snapping; it’s as if you can hear light and feel sound. Somehow his French background is blantantly apparent in his music, perhaps in its complex, emotional quality. Each song is a complete, wordless journey from beginning to end, but leaves you in a deeper state of desire when the sound ceases. He’s already a smashing hit in Europe—I’m not sure what is taking Americans so long. Needless to say, I’ll be at the Southern on the 14th, and so should you.
RIYL: Acid Pauli, Agoria, Ellen Allien