May 14, 2011

Review: Manorlady | Home

We may be even more surprised than you to learn that a very promising shoegaze act resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. In a less-than-well-planned move after graduating college, we temporarily settled in C-Ville. We were very pleasantly surprised to find touring indie rock acts came through town (Archers of Loaf, Jeff Mangum, Cat Power, Versus, Godrays, Dirty Three, Trans Am, Sebadoh, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, et cetera) with thrilling regularity. And we were even more surprised to find some home-grown talent there that we became fast fans of (namely September 67). But there were no local acts during our brief tenure that approached -- or really, even acknowledged -- the density and textures of shoegaze. This was, after all, a town to which people made pilgrimages to see the mecca that was the bar that had once been tended by Dave Matthews, where one didn't have to hang around too long before spotting Silver Jews' David Berman walking on the downtown mall. But, after all these years, it would seem that Manorlady's notable debut full-length Home is proof that things are changing in the 'ville.

Manorlady's chiaroscuro dream-pop -- which attentive listeners will note is sonically akin to that of Pennsylvania-based Soars -- is marked by gothic undertones, often fed with firm guitar leads and anchored by the sort of clunky drum machine that in a certain era almost always boomed within clouds from dry ice. In a couple places it feels thin and the drum programming flat, but that is the exception and not the rule. Indeed, from the guitars-ablaze climax of the curiously titled, de facto opener "Boy And Flippers" through to the end of the 11-song set, there are a number of spine-tingling moments on Home.

The brooder "Trees'" thickly applied guitars, vocal harmonies and varied dynamics make it among the more remarkable tracks. But the towering highlight of the record is "International Boys Club," which launches with the sort of big guitar chords one encounters in a great Morrissey single, before settling on a surfy lead that dances atop of the here crushing electric drums. The whole thing is draped in ethereal vocals, and when that first chorus hits at the end of the second minute you will begin to see the world the way the Virginia-based trio sees it: shimmering and heavy, a little beautiful, a little scary.

Manorlady self-released Home April 23 and you can buy the set direct from the band at its BigCartel dojo right here. The trio has a pretty busy summer planned, and we've posted all the currently booked live dates below, along with a Soundcloud embed of the entire record. Definitely fire it up and listen to "International Boys Club."

Manorlady: Internerds | YouTube | Facebook | Soundcloud

05.28 -- Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar -- Charlottesville, VA
06.22 -- Magnolia -- Charlottesville, VA
06.24 -- Strange Matter -- Richmond, VA
06.25 -- Pterodactyl Art Gallery -- Philadelphia, PA
06.26 -- Mudhouse -- Crozet, VA
07.01 -- Elliot's Revue -- Winston-Salem, NC
07.03 -- Soapbox -- Wilmington, NC
07.07 -- The Happy Dog -- Cleveland, OH
07.08 -- Bar East -- Manhattan, NY

Home by manorlady

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