Record Review: Chuck Johnson Goes Electric, Gets Graceful on Velvet Arc | Record Review | Indy Week
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Record Review: Chuck Johnson Goes Electric, Gets Graceful on Velvet Arc 

In the bands Spatula and Shark Quest, North Carolina native Chuck Johnson dealt, respectively, with atavistic indie rock and stately instrumental anthems. Since leaving for college and California, Johnson has built a distinct, different reputation as a solo fingerpicker, his songs refined and meditative.

But on the new Velvet Arc, Johnson picks up an electric guitar and returns to full-band life, at least in part, for a seven-track album that's as fuzzy, warm, and graceful as its title claims. Velvet Arc begins with the brooding "As I Stand Counting," where low-end riffs trudge through plodding percussion. He gets lush and hazy for "Everything at Once" but sculpts the sensation for "Anamet," which drifts as though suspended in a dream for seven minutes. "Anamet" previously appeared on 2015's Blood Moon Boulder under a different name, Johnson's trebly guitar underscored only by the sighs of pedal steel. Here, he adds loping synthesizers and faint percussion, his past successes now reinforced by the help of new peers. The coda stretches like a permanent sunset.

Velvet Arc begins to bend with the title track, moving from mild psychedelia into pastoral realms, as if Johnson's scoring winter's slip into spring. If "Anamet" gathers the final weeks of February, "Velvet Arc" announces springtime, with pedal steel and fiddle suggesting gentler winds. "Roadside Auspice" patters at a moderate clip, like a sunny afternoon drive through the countryside, a feeling echoed in the back-roads cruiser of snappy closer "Middle Water."

Johnson is part of a passel of excellent, relatively new solo guitarists—Glenn Jones, William Tyler, Cian Nugent, Steve Gunn, Daniel Bachman. Sometimes, all their exquisite flurries of steel-stringed notes can blur, with even distinct styles melding into one. On Velvet Arc, though, Johnson manages to merge his rock-band past with his intimate solo reflections, moving toward more dynamic material and into a moment of distinction.

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by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

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Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

by Steve Grothmann on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Remember that time the "journalist" took to the comments section to fire off a snarky response when called out on …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure that if the press release we received had mentioned Chris Grubbs, the article would have reflected that crucial …

by David Klein on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure John Meier hasn't been in this band for quite some time and Chris Grubbs wrote and recorded this …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

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