Lobo Marino/Joseph Shuck/Jesse Carole Montoya/Swamp Trees/Charlie Hunt—Rain Dogs, 1045 Park St.
Friday, January 30, 8pm; $5
Lobo Marino, and their subcontinental drift.
“Lobo Marino” means “Sea Lion” in Spanish—in this case, specifically, the Pacific Sea Lion. Hailing from historic Richmond, VA, Lobo Marino’s national bonafides were certified through relentless touring over the past couple of years, much of which has been documented across the full spectrum of social media. The thermodynamic duo of Laney Sullivan and Jameson Price have certainly built a solid following—wide-ranging, diverse and loyal—in a very short time, and that is largely due to their usage of technology, which stands in stark contrast to their own personal austerity.
My favorite album of theirs is “Fields” (2013), their second, which is built around field recordings made while on the road in places like Cheffcouan, Morocco; Albujaras, Spain; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Chicago; Butte, Montana; Geyserville, CA. It’s truly one of the most singularly unique albums recorded in the 21st century so far—an absolutely essential document. For Lobo Marino, travel is not a means to an end—it is the end, and that is a crucial component of their brand.
Their Tumblr page, for example, is largely devoted to photographs of the various places they’ve slept while on the road, none of which are five-star hotels, and very few of which are even hotels at all. Guest rooms, living rooms, band rooms, barns; offices, couches, floors, tents; garages, farms, hostels, sometimes even their own vehicle. (While in Jacksonville, the band crashed in Antique Animals’ music room.) It’s a funny, fascinating look at the interior life of a working musician in the modern era, and the logistics involved in carving out a niche in this crowded, competitive marketplace. Hopefully they collect all those pictures for a book someday.
They’ve already established a semi-regular presence in Northeast Florida, having previously performed at Burro Bar and Bold Bean. They’ll be playing three local gigs this week, starting with a two-night stand January 28 & 29) as part of Ananda Kula’s “Audio Ananda” concert series on Wednesday and Thursday. Lobo Marino headlines a stacked bill at Rain Dogs on Friday night that includes two of the region’s top singer-songrwriters, Antique Animals frontman Joe Shuck and the delightful Jesse Carole Montoya, as well as fellow Richmond band Swamp Trees and rising star Charlie Hunt. Both settings make for an ideal matching of artist, audience, and aesthetics. Theirs is a breezy, esoteric sound—music for meditation, and maybe astral projection, heavy on harmony, dense with drone and dulcimer. It’s safe to say that no other group anywhere sounds quite like them, nor could any, if they tried. Singer Sullivan and percussionist Price lean toward older, unusual instruments that don’t get as much use in the usual indie-rock toolkit.
Lobo Marino’s newest video is for “Holy River”, the lead track from their fourth album, 2014’s “City of Light”. The Indian influences insinuated throughout the album reflect the couple’s longtime love for the subcontinent, its culture and its music, which only increased after going there a couple years ago. It was recorded at the Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville in Buckingham, VA, with some sounds recorded in India; all proceeds from online sales go toward their friend’s Vagdevi Children’s Art School, which uses music and arts to help lift children out of unfortunate circumstances.
It’s the best record yet from a band that always makes great records, and it was recorded six months ago. Lord only knows how good the next one will be, but you can be damn sure that it will be epic. The band’s sound has expanded dramatically from their experimental indie-folk roots in their five years together, but they had already grown into their mature song by the first time they worked Duval. “City of Light” points the way forward toward even greater creative evolution. “Radhe Radhe” takes the form to its apogee over nine minutes; it’s like an Indian field holler with bass drum (which Price plays Mo Tucker-style), hand-claps and harmonium. It may be cliché to call it “trance-inducing”, but not if it’s true. Buy it, and play it loud, and then do it again.