RVA #24 SPRING 2016

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10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015





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RVA #24 SPRING 2016


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R. Anthony Harris + Jeremy Parker FOUNDERS Carytown Plan 9 Records, Agee’s Bicycles, New York Inkwell Ventures PUBLISHER Deli, Don’t Look Back, Chop Suey Books, John Reinhold PRESIDENT Heroes & Ghosts, Weezie’s Kitchen, Ellwoood Drew Necci EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Thompsons, Need Supply Co. World of Mirth, Brad Kutner, Amy David RVAMAG.COM & GAYRVA.COM Bits N Pixels, Tobacco Club & Gifts, Venue Colonel Angus CREATIVE DIRECTOR Skateboards, Mellow Mushroom, American Drew Snyder ASST. DESIGNER Apparel, Loose Screw Tattoo, Sacred Waters, John Reinhold ADVERTISING Burger Bach, Carytown Burger & Fries WRITERS Drew Necci, Shannon Cleary, Doug Nunnally, Kyle Shearin, Cody Endres, Tim Wellington, Angie Huckstep


PHOTOGRAPHY Joey Wharton, Josiah Marroquin, Marc Cheatham Jake Cunningham, Patrick Biedrycki

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ONLINE Every issue of RVA Magazine can be viewed in its entirety anytime at rvamag.com/magazine. SOCIAL facebook.com/rvamag twitter.com/@rvamag instagram/rvamag rvamag.tumblr.com SUBSCRIPTION Log onto rvamag.com/magazine to have RVA Magazine sent to your home or office. DISTRIBUTION Thank you to our distribution partner BioRide / bioriderva.com HEADS UP! The advertising and articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinion and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or editors. Reproduction in whole or part without prior written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. RVA Magazine is published quarterly. Images are subject to being altered from their original format. All material within this magazine is protected. RVA Magazine is a registered trademark of Inkwell Ventures.

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10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

Broad Street Arts District

Street Cafe, Piccola’s, Pit & Peel, City Dogs, Shoryuken, My Noodle, Cap Mac, Black Sheep, Alchemy

Museum District VMFA, Bandito’s Burrito Lounge, Black Hand Coffee, The Franklin Inn, Cleveland Market, Patterson Express

The Fan Bellytimber, Commerical Taphouse, FW Sullivan’s, Lady Nawlins, Foo Dog, Cask Cafe, Harvest Market, Star-lite Lounge, Fan Noodle Bar, Deep Grooves, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Sticky ToGo, Joe’s Inn, Strawberry Street Market, Little Mexico, Lamplighter, Balliceaux, Helen’s, Metro Grill, Yesterday’s Heroes, Boca Taco, Green House Glass, Cary Street Cafe, Social 52, Uptown Market, Lady N’awlins

Scott’s Addition En Su Boca, Smoke and Mirrors, Lunch. Supper, Ardent, Salon, Hardywood, Isley Brewery, Lamplighter, Urban Farmhouse, King of Pops, Richmond Triangle Players, Boulevard Burger & Brews, Growlers To Go, Fat Dragon, River City Tattoo, Buzz & Neds

Jackson Ward Saison, Saison Market, Gwar Bar, Gallery 5, Rouge Gentleman, Jkogi, The Cultured Swine, Speakeasy

WEST END NIssan Of Richmond, Su Casa, Taboo, Libby Market, Jack Browns Beer & Burger Joint, Continental, Blue Goat, Cafe Caturra, Pallini Drive, Barrel Thief, The Grill, Corks & Kegs Mekong, Taboo, The Answer, Guitar Center

NORTHSIDE The MIll, Stir Crazy Coffee, Kitchen 64, Dots Back Inn, Roy Big Burger, Carytown Burger & Fries, Original Gravity


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THE LATEST IN Richmond BREW NEWS by Cody Endres CHECK RVAMAG.com/rvaontap for your daily pint

Three Notch’d to Legend Urban Series The Andall Tap Open New Legend’s newer releases, such as the Urban System and “The Art series, seem to fall under some beer Collaborative Space Legend of Adjuncts” drinkers’ radar. If you’re one of them, though, in Richmond you need to start paying closer attention, as the Mekong is well-known amongst the Richmond There’s a good chance that you’ve seen Charlottesville-based Three Notch’d Brewing Company’s beers around town, in cans and on draft. Richmond is about to see a lot more of them this spring — set to open in Scott’s Addition is a collaborative brewing space run by Three Notch’d. The owners and brewers are interested in having Richmonders tell their stories through collaborative beer recipes. Local businesses and artists of all kinds are encouraged to reach out via a form that can be found on the Three Notch’d Facebook page. A relatively even split of collaborative brews, and established core beers from the brewery will be on tap soon.

Hardywood Release Schedule This Richmond mainstay has a few surprises in store for beer fans, as well as some crowd favorites set to return this year. Coming in April is the massive bourbon barrel-aged milk stout, Foolery, followed by the release of the brandnew Smoked Doppelbock, sure to be a malt lover’s dream. By May, the transition from dark, malty beers to more spring-themed beers will be in full swing — the release of Hardywood’s Belgian-style Quadrupel Ale, Bourbon Cru, is to be followed by Trader Joe’s Hibiscus Tripel (large format bottles to be made for Trader Joe’s stores) and the Peach Tripel, a relatively new beer. June should see Hardywood releasing some intriguing new offerings, such as a draft-only Oyster Stout.


venerable brewery has some tasty offerings lined up for this year. Following the recent release of Gorilla Train Coffee Stout (a lot more fun than a train car of gorillas), Cold Harbor Fog Kölsch will hit shelves in June. A citrus peel-infused twist on the Kölsch style, it’s a beer intended to remind drinkers of a cold, foggy day in Richmond’s past, with a crispness akin to breathing in cold air. The spectrally-themed Ghost Rider Black Rye IPA is set for an October release. It should feature intertwining notes of spicy Rye and hop bitterness, to be balanced out by slightly sweet dark malt. Also be sure to keep an eye out for Legend’s Z Dam Ale, a warm weather-centric beer with a light, but tasty malt character, which lays the foundation for the addition of ginger, lime, orange. A crisp hop character rounds out the flavor profile of this summer quencher.

beer-drinking population for having a monumental draft list, and its sister restaurant/ brewpub The Answer is gaining recognition from the same crowd for basically the same thing. The Answer’s got more to offer than a collection of beer from other places, though. Mastermind An Bui has been working away at brewing his own beers, as well as perfecting a tap system that infuses beer with adjuncts (added ingredients). The Andall tap system is multi-purpose: for the beer lover that has supposedly tried everything, An has some unprecedented offerings, such as Mounds Vesuvius, an already massive stout which is complimented by the infusion of dark chocolate and coconut. The other purpose of the system is to give back to regulars, by naming Andall variants after them — Nicholas Standlick has a particularly tasty coffee-infused Barleywine named after him. Bui was initially inspired to create an infusion system after being frustrated by the fact that many breweries tend to keep sought-after variants tap room-only, or only release limited batches in expensive bottles. After years of experimenting, and learning what his clientele really wanted to drink, the Andall system was born, allowing The Answer to take a base beer, and “put steroids in it.” He has mastered the addition of coffee, coconut, chocolate, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks, and tropical fruits -- The Answer’s Morning Juice, an ever-evolving series of fruited sour wheat beers, was born out of some successful Andall sour variants. It’s important to note that the Andall system isn’t there just to appease An’s curiosity; crafting infusions is largely about giving back to the people that made Mekong and The Answer destinations in the first place. As he says, “Some people brew to style. I brew to the crowd!” RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING 2016

Originally when we signed on with them, we were their only Richmond brewery. Stone is part of their portfolio. They also acquired a lot of other craft breweries when they purchased Hop & Wine’s distribution rights, so they also have Sierra Nevada. I think they have Sam Adams as well. Founders, Bell’s, Lagunitas. So a lot of big hitters in terms of craft breweries. They’ve got some big breweries too, but I think we’re still one of five Virginia breweries that they distribute. There are a lot of established breweries in Richmond. What’s it like being the “new kid on the block”?

7BREWING hills CO.

to work on our first sour beer. So I’d imagine you’re getting souring bacteria in, not doing a coolship [open fermentation] type thing?

We’re not doing a coolship. We’re actually going to be doing a kettle sour for our first sour, just because it’s a really quick turnaround. I’m contemplating adding a Brett [wild yeast] lineup Located in the heart of Shockoe Slip, 7 Hills Brewing in the summer. I don’t think there are a lot of Co. has had to work in order to make its way onto the breweries in Richmond doing Brett beers. I’m radar of the city’s craft beer lovers. They’ve got plenty really excited about doing it. It just depends on if I going on, though, and we felt like the time was right to can afford to have a tank set aside for that. give them some shine. We spoke to head brewer Jeff Metz about 7 Hills’ upcoming offerings and what it’s What kind of hops are in this pale ale? like to be the “new kid on the block” in an increasingly populous RVA craft beer scene. That’s East Kent Golding and Cascade. It’s more of a balanced pale ale. A lot of the pale ales I’ve Your core lineup is an interesting mix of styles, and found in the market have been fairly hoppy. I of nationalities. What inspired that? love hoppy beer, but I think a pale ale should just be a nice balance of malt and hops. Our IPA is These beers are great representations of what definitely hoppier. It’s not a very bitter IPA, but it’s everybody might be looking for. So, there’s smooth and easy-drinking. We’ve got a rye pale somebody that likes maltier beers; we’ve got the ale that we brewed yesterday, that’s going to be brown ale, and we’ve got the stout. Somebody pretty spicy and piney. A lot of resinous hops in wants hoppier beer; we’ve got the pale ale and the that. We’re using a new yeast strain from RVA IPA. And the blonde ale just appeals to anybody Yeast Labs. We’re also going to use that yeast who wants to drink a beer, or people who are not strain in our double IPA that comes out at the end really familiar with craft beer. It’s like a starter craft of March. We’re shifting from the malty stouts to beer. All five of these beers are kind of designed the hoppy beers for the spring, then we’re going to to be approachable. They go great with food — go to light, bright summer beers. We’re going to since we are a brewpub, we want to make sure do a saison, and a berliner weisse. We’re going to our beer goes well with food. Then we have our do a German Helles lager. I think that comes out special release beers that kind of go off in different in July. That’s a nice easy-drinking lager. A little bit directions. We’re planning on releasing fourteen maltier than a pilsner, but a great style. new beers this year, so we’re just going to hit a little bit of each style [from] around the world. How did you get hooked up with Loveland We’re going to do some German lagers, some Distributing? Belgians… all kinds of stuff. We’re trying to meet a lot of demand in the market, which kind of limits We were originally approached by Brown, but us in terms of how many we can have on at a later we entertained the idea of going with certain time. Loveland. After a couple of meetings with them, I decided that they were just a better fit for us. I’d also imagine that the size of this place sets limits They give a little bit more focus on us. When there on what you can and can’t do. are festivals in town, we can sell a lot more beer. When Brown has festivals, they split it up between We have a seven barrel system. It lets us brew a the fourteen or fifteen [local] breweries that they lot of different kinds of beer, but when we have a have distribution rights for, so they’re only selling lot of beer that needs to go out the door for the a few kegs at each festival, where we sell forty or market, we’ve got to brew multiple batches of fifty kegs at a festival. That exposure is really what certain beers. So that kind of ties the tanks up a I want. Instead of having to share the spotlight, I’d little bit. It’s really just a balancing act of getting rather get more of the spotlight. beer out in the market and having fun. We have a lot of IPA going out to the Church Hill Irish Fest, I know Loveland does a lot of the big national so I’m brewing IPA for the next few weeks. After brands. I didn’t know they did local stuff. that, we’re getting back to fun stuff. We’re going Interview by Cody Endres Introduction by Drew Necci

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

We’ve had kind of a rough start. I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of the welcome that the other breweries have had from the city. I think a lot of that comes from taking so long to open. I think it was originally announced that we were going to open in 2014. That was just poor planning. Making announcements early, putting signs up early. It took so long to actually open that people lost faith in it, I guess. Or they just kind of forgot about it. I think once the city recognizes that we’re pouring great beers, serving great food, it’ll start picking up. Saturdays are always very busy here. You worked at Legend before this, right? What were you doing there? I originally started there working in the kitchen, then I worked my way up, and worked in the brewery there for a couple of years--really honed the commercial side of brewing. I’ve always done home brewing, and people had told me that I made some great beers, but I decided that I really needed to learn the commercial side before I said, “Let’s do it.” I learned a lot from those guys, so I’m pretty thankful for everything [they’ve] done. Even when I moved over here, they helped me out, let me borrow some equipment. We are new and small, so there’s not a lot we can offer them, but it’s nice to have that relationship. Do you have any collaborations lined up? We are throwing around the idea of collaborating with some local restaurants. I’ve also been talking with the James River Homebrewers Association. We’re thinking about getting a contest started this spring; the winner of the contest would get to come in and make a beer with us. I’m definitely open to doing collaborations with other breweries. I’ve got buddies at just about all of the breweries around town, so we always throw around ideas. I’ve just been super busy with getting our schedule knocked out, some little projects around here. By the end of March or early April, we’re hoping to start canning. We’re gonna can our Belle Isle Blonde in six packs, and we’re going to do our 42nd Street Stout in nitro cans. We’re throwing around the idea of doing a session IPA exclusively in cans, for the summertime. Canning is definitely something we’re excited about. All of our beers are named after different parts of the river, so we want to stick with the outdoor-friendly theme of having cans as opposed to glass.




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10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

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Gemtone, “10yrs” soundcloud.com/gemtone

With a strong EP out, as well as a slew of recent performances, this onewoman synth-goth act is building up a bit of a reputation in the Richmond music scene. This latest song builds on the sounds first displayed on debut EP Thru False Walls, with an ominous, pulsating synth build-up that leads into an uptempo but haunting main passage. Ludwig’s singing on the track is tender and somewhat hushed, occasionally bolstered by Fever Ray-style harmonies. The track is almost six minutes long, but seems to fade out all too quick, leaving me wanting a full album. --Cody Endres

Bare Mattress, “Phone”

Don’t Complain/Don’t Explain (Tye Die Tapes) Anyone coming to this Albany, NY, solo electronic project probably knows that leader/founder/sole member Hans Leibold used to play guitar in Self Defense Family. The mid-80s DIY coldwave aesthetic here will probably throw any of those fans for a loop, but that doesn’t mean this project is without merit. In fact, it’s pretty great, especially on this track, which is based around a double-tracked vocal loop on which Leibold laments the difficulties of dating in the modern smartphone age. “You cry like a baby when they don’t get at you,” he sings, (presumably while staring at Tinder). “And you cry like a baby when they get at you.” I know that feel. --Drew Necci

Lucy Dacus, “Direct Address” No Burden (Egghunt Records)

Lucy Dacus has been on everyone’s mind and it’s easy to see why. On “Direct Address,” she muses about the precautionary anxieties one endures with love. She begins with delusions attached to convincing yourself to fall in love, only to turn towards those anxieties with a line like “I don’t believe in love at first sight/It’s hard enough for me to not fall in love with every person that I see.” At the song’s conclusion, she continues to question everything, but with a tinge of hope. In this moment, there are absolute truths revealed that cut deep. It’s beautiful--the anthem that hopeless romantics never knew they needed. --Shannon Cleary

Kanye West, “Waves”

The Life Of Pablo (GOOD Music)

I don’t have Tidal, but I do have the new Kanye record. How’d I pull that off? Suffice to say, there are ways, if the internet is your friend. This track’s been a standout for me when listening to this less-than-consistent album. The humming synths (or crooning voices?) that make up the song’s melody line are disrupted by punched-in hollers from old soul singers. Kanye’s raps feel strangely unfinished, but I’d rather listen to Chris Brown croon on the chorus. And then I have to take a shower afterwards, because ugh, Chris Brown. But hey, sometimes scumbags sing like angels. And it’s not like I spent any money on this… --Tim Wellington

The Sun Days, “You Don’t Need To Be Them”

Album (Run For Cover Records)

Epiphanic indie pop bliss clocking in at under four minutes. It’s sugary at times, jangly at others, and yet emotionally and sonically resonating throughout with a basic message that’s delivered with such aplomb that it comes across as a call to action. Armed with a triplet cadence beat and the most triumphant chorus of the year this far, it’s a timeless song that could be a heavyweight in any era and shows how impactful basic models can be when backed by awe-inspiring musicians. --Doug Nunnally


STUDIO NEWS My Darling Fury has lost a significant number of members since they released their last album, but they’ve carried on undaunted in their quest to create an even better followup. Now guitarless, the remaining trio has moved toward a more electronic sound for their new material, which is slated for A/O/K, the album the band crowdfunded with a PledgeMusic campaign last year. Latest single “Aches” gives a pleasant and intriguing preview of what’s to come for the new album, but with the group proceeding deliberately and taking their time to get everything perfect, we might still have a bit of a wait ahead of us before we hear the entire thing. Regardless, it’s sure to be worth it. The Head And The Heart may have experienced a bit of a setback in the process of completing their third album. Recently the band announced that co-frontman Josiah Johnson will be sitting out their upcoming US tour due to struggles with addiction. As the band has been in the studio off and on for over half a year now, though, one can hope that recording proceeds on schedule. Having legendarily recorded their first album at home and sold the first 10,000 (!) copies as self-released CD-Rs before getting picked up by Sub Pop, this band has significant DIY credentials. However, photos released from recording sessions make clear that these guys are going for the deluxe treatment on this album. In a recent Facebook Q&A with drummer and RVA resident Tyler Williams, he revealed that the new album would offer “MORE” of everything fans have come to know and love from the band. “Fast songs. Slow songs. More beauty. More dirt,” he said. “It feels like we are stepping into our own shoes and I’m loving it.” Regardless of recent troubles, we definitely have something to look forward to. Jazz-metal maniacs Dumb Waiter are prepared to unleash their follow-up to wild debut Is This Chocolate? on an unsuspecting RVA populace within the next few weeks, so get ready! Entitled Cancel Christmas, the album was, like its predecessor, recorded with producer/engineer Dave Watkins at Gallery 5. The band has worked very hard on this material; speaking to RVA Mag’s own Amy David, guitarist Nick Crider explained that “It took us about three years to write all the material and then another year and a half of recording.” Initial studio sessions began as far back as January 2014, so expect the album to show the excellent results of some painstaking craft. The release show has not been officially announced yet, but it should be coming anytime now, so keep an eye out!


10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


thE2016 VAFestival Preview By Drew Necci and DOUG NUNNALLY

Festivals have been a big part of life as a music fan for decades now, going back to the golden 90s era of traveling all-day carnivals like Lollapalooza, Lilith Fair, and um, the Family Values Tour (OK, so not everything from the 90s is worth reviving). Today, fans save up for months to afford tickets to huge destination events like Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Coachella--and that’s great, if you can get the time off work. But don’t worry, VA fans--there are plenty of great festivals you can hit up this year without leaving your home state. They might even be so close you can still sleep in your own bed every night! So consider spending the money you would’ve dropped on a tent and a camp stove on tickets to these awesome homegrown affairs instead; your ears (and your bank account) will thank you. MACRoCk April 1st-April 2nd Harrisonburg, VA

Friday Cheers May 6th - June 24th Richmond, VA

Festival season kicks off with a bang this year, as it has for nearly two decades now, with the multi-venue, student-run extravaganza that is MACRoCk. Running back and forth between multiple clubs located within a several-block radius in Harrisonburg will make you feel like you’ve landed at a more intimate, easier-to-navigate SXSW, without the inflated prices or days of travel. And we can’t forget the raging late-night house shows-always a highlight! Spotlight acts this year include noise godfathers Wolf Eyes, recently revived Chicago postpunk band ONO, and psychedelic shoegazers Shana Falana, as well as many other rad East Coast DIY artists you’ve been meaning to check out--all in one place!

Venture Richmond’s love letter to music on Brown’s Island forges another year with an impressive lineup. As always, there are plenty of musical heavyweights on display from Kurt Vile and The Violators (6/10) and Shovels And Rope (5/13) down to Drew Holcomb And The Neighbors (6/24) and The Revivalists (6/3). Best bet for openers to not sleep on would be gutsy quartet Seratones (6/3) and Richmond favorite Lucy Dacus (6/10). Speaking of RVA, the now annual RVA Night will be on May 27th with performances from critical darling Natalie Prass, the unpredictable Lady God, and timeless Sam Reed.


LAVA Fest May 27th-May 28th Suffolk, VA This will be the second year for this now two-day innovative music festival at the Suffolk Executive Airport, which started with a big bang in 2015. Camping options and a silent disco are new this year, and will join features like the LAVA Lounge and the rock climbing wall as key non-musical attractions. The fourteen band bill is bolstered by an increased Richmond presence this year, with Matthew E. White, Lucy Dacus, No BS! Brass, and Natalie Prass all appearing on the bill. Headliners include Charles Bradley, Minus The Bear, Blitzen Trapper, and JR JR. Shenandoah Valley Music Festival July 22nd-September 4th Orkney Springs, VA Founded in 1963, this weekend series of live concerts spans seven weeks and aims to continue its storied legacy of bringing diverse and interesting music to the Shenandoah area. Since moving past symphonic music in the early 80s, the festival has been known to bring in legendary performers such as Kris Kristofferson, Bela Fleck, and even The Temptations. Each year provides a new opportunity to enjoy intimate performances in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful landscape and create an indelible memory for yourself and friends. Floyd Fest July 27th-31st Floyd, VA The annual eclectic festival held in the Blue Ridge Festival continues its Americana/jam band scene focus with a 2016 lineup that includes Bruce Hornsby, Leftover Salmon, Anders Osborne, Railroad Earth, and more. Armed with perhaps the most breathtaking surroundings of any festival in Virginia, Floyd Fest is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the Virginia summer with some breezy and relaxing music to soundtrack your weekend, from some of the most celebrated musicians this country has to offer.


SwampFest August - Days TBA Richmond, VA

Staunton Music Festival August 12th-21st Staunton, VA

This DIY fest made a big impression with its debut in 2015, contrasting more established local hardcore fests like United Blood with a weekend featuring a different kind of hardcore-less angry, more passionate; less violent, more emotional--but still featuring lots of loud, heavy bands from all over the country. They’re set to bring us an even bigger followup in the swampiest days of this RVA summer, featuring return sets from local heroes Ostraca and Indiana veterans Coma Regalia, plus a ton of other DIY acts from underground hardcore and metal scenes all over the US.

This ten-day chamber music festival spreads its reach far beyond the normal confines of musical concerts, with plenty of lectures and workshops to keep any devoted music follower happy. The classics, from Bach and Liszt to Mozart and Beethoven, will be on full display alongside contemporary symphonies from local composers with a deep appreciation of the classical world. Close to thirty concerts will take place in and around historic Staunton, each breathing new life into the nostalgic appreciation of one Virginia’s most adored cities.

Richmond Jazz Festival August - Days TBA Richmond, VA

American Music Festival September 2nd-4th Virginia Beach, VA If the Blue Ridge Mountains aren’t your scene, then make sure to take in this Labor Day event at the bustling oceanfront in Virginia Beach. Regarded as one of the largest outdoor music events on the East Coast, artists from all across the musical spectrum take stages up and down the boardwalk providing an option for anyone of any musical tastes. Don’t miss out on the events of the main stage at 5th Street, though, as there are always noteworthy occurrences there, no matter who the performer.

Richmond’s premiere jazz event makes the river city a destination spot for improvisational gurus the world over. In addition to the performances -- which includes the cream of the crop with international and national talents -- plenty of RVA attractions will be on full display, from chef demonstrations and wine tastings to artist meet & greets and exclusive access to the Maymont grounds. With past performers such as Chaka Khan, India.Arie, Jill Scott, and Dr. John, the Jazz Festival has quickly become an Lockn’ Music Festival in-demand event for festival gurus September 8th-11th throughout the country. Arrington, VA

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion September 16th-18th Bristol, VA/TN Virginia’s best kept musical secret celebrates its sixteenth event and plans to continue showcasing the “Birthday Of Country Music” in all its glory. Roots musicians of all stature fill each year’s schedule with shows filling every nook and cranny of the town. The event pulls in notable headliners each year like Justin Townes Earle, The Avett Brothers, Dr. Dog, Delta Spirit, and more. It’s a modern continuation of the legendary musically diverse Bristol sessions from the 1920s that made instant stars of Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, and more, and is a destination trip worthy of a getaway weekend. Richmond Folk Festival October 7th-9th Richmond, VA

Folk’s right there in the name, but everyone in town knows that genre tag doesn’t even scratch the surface of what this heavily attended festival has to offer. Attendees browsing the scene could find themselves walking between zydeco, bluegrass, and even gospel performances in mere minutes thanks to the stunningly high list of performers and their wide-range of musical diversity. Don’t even bother making a list of who to see, because everyone in town knows the best shows are the ones you randomly stumble upon, making the folk festival almost a scavenger hunt of musical This still-fledging music festival talent. continues to take steps to place itself among the elite of summer festivals, with lineups designed to draw the most stalwart of festival junkies as well as those finally wanting to bite the bullet. 2016’s line-up includes performances by My Morning Jacket, Ween, and legendary jam giants Phish, who will actually be performing four sets across two days. There are plenty of intriguing new acts to check out too, such as Austin fusion rock quartet White Denim, who may provide the biggest surprise for attendees this year.

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




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MODLIN CENTER FOR THE ARTS modlin.richmond.edu | (804) 289-8980

2016-2017 SEASON Celebrating 20 years of the very best in music, theatre, dance, and visual arts!

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation // The Cultural Affairs Committee // H.G. Quigg Endowment // Mayo Arts Fund

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




Filling A Void:

The Cheats Movement Podcast

Puts RVA Hip Hop On The Map By Drew Necci

They’re only six episodes in, but there’s already a lot happening with the Cheats Movement Podcast. Created by Marc “Cheats” Cheatham, founder of The Cheats Movement, and Hip Hop Henry of The Listening Party, an internet radio show broadcasting Thursday nights at 7 PM on 101.1 The Fam, this podcast has become a movement unto itself. Cheats and Hip Hop Henry are joined on these episodes by a huge cast of RVA hip hop loyalists, from the frequent contributors who form the show’s brain trust to the many local MCs, DJs, producers, and other movers and shakers who stop by throughout the show to play new tracks and hype up their latest projects. Through all this activity, taking place inside a small recording studio, something bigger is taking shape. I stopped by the studio during the recording session for Episode 6, and immediately realized just how full of people and activity these sessions are. As many people as it sounds like on the podcast, it’s more. The headcount hovered between 16 and 24 during my time in the studio, and over a dozen rappers managed to get on mic for the final cipher. Cheats is still the man everyone is there to listen to, though. The way people follow his words make clear that he is a true leader within this community. And while hip hop is certainly on the minds of everyone in the room, that’s far from the only subject the hosts cover in these between-song breaks. Everything from Beyonce’s Super Bowl appearance to Black History Month and the NBA All-Star Game becomes a topic for discussion at some point. Cheats takes every opportunity to hype up the latest edition of New Richmond, the monthly concert series the Cheats Movement Podcast has been hosting at Gallery 5. This is just the first of many ways in which the crew hopes to take what they’re doing beyond a monthly podcast; to not only bring the good word about Richmond hip hop to your iTunes, but also to help change the local scene for the better. And if Cheats, Hip Hop Henry, KB, Big Rich, Gigi Broadway, DJ Mentos, and the rest of the crew have anything to say about it, this goal will be achieved sooner rather than later. As the recording session wound down at Spacebomb Studios, I spoke to six of the Cheats Movement Podcast’s hosts about the past, present, and Whattup 10 years of Cheats! RVA Magazine 2005-2015

future of Richmond hip hop, and how a local music scene can have a positive effect on the world it’s a part of. Cheats, I’m assuming the podcast was your idea? Cheats: I can’t take full credit for it. It was an idea that I had, but ideas are nothing without execution, and [without] a partner like Hip Hop Henry who was willing to go in with me, it wouldn’t have been done. The Cheats Movement Podcast wouldn’t [exist] without the whole team you see here coming through, supporting, and being a part of this show. We wanted to fill a void. We’re realists, so we understand that mainstream radio can’t play local artists. And so a lot of those local artists are going straight to digital, blogs, websites, and internet radio. We wanted to build a platform that we felt was supportive not only to local artists, but also to the people who support those local artists. Hip Hop Henry and KB--you guys do something called the Listening Party? Tell me about that. Hip Hop Henry: We’re on 101.1 The Fam. Every Thursday we [play] boom-bap hip hop. I like my hip hop gritty and raw. I was noticing we don’t really have a big platform for that to be heard, so... KB: It’s for anybody who just wants to turn off the radio and find the most obscure beat and record from the early 90s, late 80s, and be like “I thought I was the only motherfucker in this world who knew that damn song!” The Listening Party airs every Thursday, but this is only Cheats Movement Podcast #6. Cheats: We try to do every two weeks, but honestly, in Richmond there are a lot of studios that are real poppin’ right now, so getting in every two weeks was difficult for us. We got in probably every three weeks or so at the old spot--Overcoast, who are fantastic-and now we’ve got a good partnership with Spacebomb. We’re really excited about it. 25

I wanted to talk to you about is your thoughts on the Richmond hip hop scene and where it’s at now. I’ve always known about local hip hop, but before a decade or so ago it didn’t seem like there was much of a cohesive scene. To me, it seems like this is the best moment for RVA hip hop… probably ever?

Did the podcast start with the idea of getting as many people in the building as possible? Because there were around two dozen people here tonight.

Hip Hop Henry: That’s what I was gonna say. We have the unity now. We have a lot more collaborations. Cats are shining light on other artists, as well as themselves. That’s how you get a scene, rather than just having a bunch of rappers in a city.

Big Rich: The greatest thing ever! [laughter]

Hip Hop Henry: [For] the first show, it was just like, “We’re going to get the studio time, boom.” But once the word got out, everybody Cheats: I think the big shift [is] climate, as wanted to come through. Next thing you know, opposed to individuals. That’s why someone it’s like eight dudes, ciphers breaking out... like yourself feels like we’re in probably one of the best eras ever. It’s because [local artists] Cheats: When Hip Hop and I started talking have platforms now to actually showcase their about the podcast, we really wanted to model talent. I really do believe Richmond has always it after the Stretch and Bobbito radio show in had a lot of talent when it comes to hip hop. the early 90s up in New York. What’s changed now is [that] more people feel as if they’re in it together. Hip hop ten I’ve heard of it but never heard any of it--what years ago was a real bloodsport. was that show like?

KB: Like tonight, you have a mix of MCs from every crew, every different set.

DJ Mentos: There’s a documentary about it. Cheats: Yeah, Radio That Changed Lives. DJ Mentos: They broke Big L, they broke Jay Z, they broke Nas. They put people on before anybody had heard them.

Cheats: That was the idea behind the podcast-to do something for our community like they did for theirs. Listening to their show, you would never know who was gonna show up. They always had the new freestyle. I was able to interview Bobbito Garcia, and I asked him how he was able to be such a successful hip hop renaissance man. His [statement] to me was, “Look at your community, and if you see a void that’s there, you fill that void.” By modeling our show after their show, we were able to create the atmosphere we did. And KB: Not to mention the respect they have for then we looked at other things. What was the Marc, to come and do this. Because they could next void from the podcast? How could we get do this anywhere for anybody else, but they the entire community invested in what we’re come and they do it just for him. They don’t building? That’s where the New Richmond live ask for nothing, they just want the mic. The series has come into play. respect is big there for him. You guys talked tonight about several issues Cheats: I think there are a couple of unique that pertain to the community as a whole, and things that make it easier for someone coming might even matter to your aunt who doesn’t from a blogger-journalist perspective, as even listen to hip hop. opposed to an artist perspective. If the only people that were putting on shows were artists, DJ Mentos: When I first saw The Cheats then everybody looked at them like they had an Movement, my thought was that it was about alternative agenda. Coming from a perspective hip hop music. Then you quickly remember of starting my blog first, meeting a lot of the that real hip hop is about much more than just community first, covering the scene first, music. It’s the culture that we grew up in, and made it easier for people to understand that the people, and the community and all that there wasn’t as much of a selfish agenda [for too. Whereas when you talk about hip hop on us]. That’s why I enjoy the team that we have. the radio, it’s just pop music. We’ve got our favorites, everybody does. But we’ve learned that we will get so much more KB: The music part of it is a lesser concern done for the culture if we have people coming to me, because that music is gonna generate together, than if we try to separate ourselves itself over and over again. But the culture of and make ourselves the top guy. hip hop--me being from the Bronx, where hip hop was born, it was always instilled in me. So to maintain the culture is of the utmost importance. DJ Mentos: A long time ago, in hip hop, you would have had clashes, people beefing and fighting. It takes a lot to have a group of musicians come together and support each other like that. By definition, rap is a competitive thing. It’s born out of ciphers and battles. And frankly, most MCs rap about themselves, so there’s some ego to it too. When you bring together 20 or 30 MCs and they’re all slapping each other on the back and giving each other pounds, that just says a lot.



Big Rich: Just like historians preserve the history, we preserve the hip hop for the next generation. Gigi Broadway: I think we’re in a good space right now. Not only do we encompass true hip hop, especially with Richmond being like a melting pot--there’s just so many different waves and styles. For us to be able to take that and put a cultural and a political aspect on it-because we’re all parents, we all have families. Just to be able to put everything together in a segment and give something back to the community is great. I love it.

Cheats: That’s a bad thing, though! That’s not a good thing! [laughter] DJ Mentos: The only thing of substance, I should say. For me, coming from New York, it was like “Well is there any hip hop in Richmond? Or is it just crappy music I wouldn’t want to hear anyway?” So that’s how I found these guys and got tuned in. I was like, “Oh wow, there really is a scene.” So to me, what you guys are saying [it] could be [in] the future, it already is. It already represents Richmond hip hop outside this area.

Cheats: I’m gonna throw salt on all of that. [laughter] What I hope happens is that, through the stuff we’re doing, the culture grows to a point where we literally put ourselves out of business. Like Mentos says, we’re the only entity that shows up on the internet. I think that’s a problem. As a culture, we’re not gonna be as successful until Karmalifee blows up, and RichCity804 blows up, and Slapdash [blows up]. Granted, as long as we’re in the game, we want to make sure we’re doing our thing. But we will never tell you we know every talented MC in Richmond. Since we don’t know everyone, and we can’t rep everything, we want those other platforms to be there. I’ll give you a really good example--five years ago or whenever I started covering murals, it was basically Cheats Movement and RVA Mag. Nobody else was even there. And now, I don’t even cover murals anymore, because I know What do you see going forward, for the Cheats every other media outlet is gonna be there. Movement Podcast and for Richmond hip hop in And that’s cool! I’m on to the next thing. But general? Where do you think things are going we need other platforms to step their game up and reach other. Short term, I would love for and where would you like to see things go? our Gallery 5 shows to really be a staple once Big Rich: I won’t stop until we’re on government a month. I’d love for the podcast to be a staple channel 7. [laughter] I see this being very, very once a month. We want to be as welcoming, big, surpassing almost everything I could ever positive, friendly an artistic environment imagine. I see us doing something bigger and as possible. We don’t want anybody to feel better as far as the community goes. I really uncomfortable, or to turn anybody away. But want to dive into helping the community out then hopefully the next Cheats Movement [will come along]. Because we’re old! [laughs] more. We need the next generation to come up Gigi Broadway: When people talk about hip and highlight the culture, the way people did hop, and when people talk about Richmond, I before us. want people to talk about us. I just want us to be, if not the catalyst, at least the embodiment DJ Mentos: You asked about the future of of not only the Richmond scene but the hip hop Richmond’s hip hop scene. It’s not very often that a town has a localized scene that blows scene in general. up. There’s different areas that had their time, KB: Just looking at the evolution from the first but the thing they all have in common is that episode has been crazy. I see this going beyond they started off with this tight-knit group. By Richmond. I [already] get hit up by people in the time they blew up, it almost didn’t even California--”When’s the next podcast coming matter, in the sense that they had a localized scene. I see that going on in Richmond now. out?” At some point in the future, when guys that DJ Mentos: I moved here from New York two were in this room are known on a national or years ago, and googled Richmond hip hop--the international level, it won’t even be a surprise. only thing I found was the Cheats Movement. soundcloud.com/the-cheats-movement [laughter and celebration] Cheats: Talking about what’s happening, in Richmond [and beyond], is so important that I know it’ll be in every podcast. One good thing about podcasts--it doesn’t matter if people catch on two years from now. If they like it, they’re gonna go back, listen to [earlier episodes], listen to these conversations, and listen to the music. It’s important that those perspectives get out there. We highlight talented artists and we use the music, but if we can sneak in a conversation about Flint, or about how America reacts to a certain thing, if we can sneak in what we talked about with police brutality or the Justice Or Else march, it’s something people can come back to years from now and understand that the community is having these conversations, whether they see it in the local news platform or not.

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015






10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


Patrick Biedrycki By Angie Huckstep Photos by Patrick Biedrycki

If you gave up milk or mutton chops for Lent, that’s just too bad! Our cover sweetheart this spring is Richmond photographer Patrick Biedrycki. Having used his editorial expertise to illustrate RVA Mag in the past, we thought it time for a proper styling and profiling of the artist behind it all. Aside from his seasoned portfolio of commercial and commissioned works—Penske Logistics, Freecreditreport.com, and Spin Magazine, to name a few clients—Biedrycki has a striking collection of personal series that punctuate his spaghetti-moto aesthetic. For the purposes of this interview, we have chosen to feature a number of images from his self-portrait series, Fiction. What began in 2009 as various exercises in lighting technique has matured into a comprehensive parody of self-advertisement. His taste recalls Cindy Sherman’s compositional genius and schematic punch, as we see Biedrycki meditate on the humor and fluidity of his own visage. Where is home? Home for now and the foreseeable future, is Richmond, VA. I first moved to Church Hill around 2004. I am thankful crime has gone down significantly, and there are some fantastic restaurants just a short stumble up any of the neighborhood’s often treacherous, blighted brick herringbone sidewalks, although I feel like the neighborhood is losing some of the grit and charm that originally drew me to it. You couldn’t even get a pizza delivered up here back then. It does still seem odd to see a mother pushing a stroller down a street she wouldn’t have stepped foot on just a few years ago. 30


10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


How long have you been shooting professionally? Strictly shooting, since 2008. I did photo assist in Miami for about two years. I then became a freelance independent contractor, and ceased to punch a clock at a job. That freedom of pursuit is what marked the beginning of my career in my own mind.

but those success stories, more often than not, involve an angel on the inside willing to go out on a limb. Things are different now with social media, and the fact that everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times. All photographs used to be a product of intent, now they are largely proof of existence. You no longer have to make the conscious decision to carry around an extra accessory in order to be creative.

Workwise, what’s on your plate at the moment? What does your set-up usually include, and do you January-March is generally pretty slow for me have a favorite piece of gear? in the realm of advertising and editorial work. I still have the random portrait, headshot, or band I don’t really shoot film regularly these days, so photo to shoot; but no major travel or commercial my usual go to is a Nikon D3 digital camera body.

work. I did just finish shooting that ridiculous Scotch “ad” that I’ve been kicking around, and I’m always scribbling out random ideas in my moleskine, or kitchen chalkboard. Admittedly, though, when I go back and read them I’m not always 100% sure of what I was talking about. How do you balance your private and personal projects? Personal projects always come first. I may not have any commercial jobs on the books and want to get out and shoot. You can’t get a job without a body of work that establishes yourself as a photographer. Not to say that doesn’t happen 32

80% of the time I shoot with a 24-70 2.8. It’s just such a versatile focal length. Next in line is my 50 1.4. Although the 24-70 encompasses the 50mm focal length, the large 1.4 aperture is tremendous in low light and produces beautiful bokeh. My telephoto and ultra wides don’t get much use these days. I don’t really get too wrapped up in gear the way some people do. Everything is just a tool, like a hammer or a socket wrench. That being said, I do have an old kind of rare Nikon F3P film camera that I’ve shot hundreds of shows with and countless rolls of film. It’s beautiful. The paint is rubbed off in spots and the brass is exposed from heavy use. It’s arguably the best 35mm film camera ever made.

How might you describe your style? I still struggle with the words to define my style. I feel like it’s pretty traditional environmental portraiture. I started out shooting a lot of street photography, photojournalism and live music. I feel like the skeleton of those disciplines is still evident, although I have grown to enjoy the technical side of lighting and production. Maybe cinematic would be a word, just in the sense that I vastly prefer to shoot with the camera horizontally. There are times when a vertical composition is the formula for the image, but I feel like there’s less space to tell a story.

I come from a film background so I strive to capture everything in camera as meticulously as possible. My technical skill in photography and lighting far surpasses my knowledge in Photoshop, which I didn’t even start using until around 2005. 90% of my relationship with Photoshop is what a professional custom printer would accomplish in the darkroom: contrast, curves, saturation, color balance, and burning and dodging. I don’t really do photo illustrations or composite images.


Why do you take photos? I think you’re asking me this to see if I’ll take the bait and paint myself as a man with a camera and an over inflated sense of creative prowess. Why do you ask questions and write stories? Yes, I take photos because I enjoy it. Yes, I take photos as a creative outlet. The reason all photographers, in my truest and most pure definition of that word, make images is because we see everything in pictures. Like a sickness that’s obviously, certainly not a sickness. It’s involuntary. Is that just seeing? I don’t know. I’m not a scientist like Dr. Steve Brule, though I do hope this response is pompous and exhaustive enough to answer the question. Who have been your professional mentors, and what impact would you say they’ve had on your work? I wouldn’t say any of my mentors had a significant impact on the look of my work directly. I feel like, besides learning lighting, the biggest thing I took away from assisting was how to behave on set—how to engage and collaborate with clients, how to treat the people working with you. Here’s where I’ll name names and give credit and talk shit. Very early on in Richmond I met Thomas A. Daniel. He was always great to me. Lent me his studio space a few times, always offered to loan me gear, etc. He’s a character and a talented photographer. After hanging around with Tommy, I was pretty captivated by the way he always said what was on his mind and did whatever he wanted. I’d never really met anyone that was such a complete individual, and it truly inspired me to be myself. While living in Miami, I assisted a lot of photographers. A few famous ones--they were the worst. One goes by the name Annie. She has a notorious reputation for treating her assistants like garbage. She had the misfortune of me being one of the many assistants to stand in the crosshairs of her unwarranted, abusive wrath. With three famous celebrity athletes and a crew of about 20 people on set, the aforementioned photographer and I had a brief exchange that resulted in her walking off set. I was high fived and championed at lunch by the other assistants for standing up for myself and not allowing her to treat me like an idiot. I will say that later in the day it was just her and I on set in between shots and she looked at me and smiled. I like to think she was reminded for a second that the majority of people that work with her are so impressed to be there, no one challenges her. I think it’s easy to get lost surrounded by yes-men. I just couldn’t understand why anyone would treat so many people so poorly. It doesn’t magically get the shots done faster.

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

How do you identify with the characters in your self-portraits? Some of them are just ideas born out of my own interests, like the European motorcycle officer, or the alien autopsy. Some of them are recreations of nostalgia from my childhood like the tennis player and the scotch ad. Some of them may be inspired by a found object or a particle of clothing I have, or a verse from a song or a passage from a book, or just a weird idea I scribbled down somewhere. They seem to offer an outlet for alter-egos, would you agree with that? Yeah, I would agree with that to some extent. There are certainly aspects of these characters that I relate to. I created them and have to get into character with an expression or body language to really sell them.

What kind of planning goes into the portraits? They’re planned out to the smallest details I can foresee. Once I decide to move forward on an idea, it’s already a finished picture in my mind. Location, wardrobe, props, lighting, and characterization have all been decided before the camera comes out. There’s only a certain number of times that I can set the camera for a sequence of photographs, run back into position, and then be that person before the whole thing starts feeling like a bad idea. Is there a favorite image you have shot recently? I just finished that parody scotch ad. It’s pretty funny to me. There was so much overt sexism in advertising in the 70’s--there still is. And I’m not saying sexism is funny, but liquor and cigarette ads from back then just crack me up. It was such a decadent time. I shot it in my dining room with 33

a four-light set up. I really enjoy the challenge of lighting things in a way that they don’t necessarily look lit; taking into account cameras don’t really record with the dynamic range that our eyes see. Is there something you are still learning, or would like to learn? I feel like I’m still learning almost every time I shoot. Whether it’s my compositions, directing talent, or just knowing when to stop shooting. Sometimes you get the shot early on, and there’s no sense in continuing. I have always wanted to make a camera obscura out of one of the rooms in my house. Do you have any favorite books on photography, or titles that tie into your personal work? I keep a few on my coffee table to thumb through for inspiration. Ones I still look at all the time are Danny Lyon’s The Bike Riders, Robert Frank’s Storylines, and Bill Allard’s Decades: A Retrospective. I do like those “Found” collections as well. Name something that’s overrated. I recently saw one of those jetpacks that uses water instead of fire. Have you ever had an undercover job? The undercover part I’m not sure about. When I was living in Miami I got hired by some sleazeball mag or blog to essentially paparazzi Britney Spears. I did it for one day. I wasn’t too aggressive, she even waved to me, so I guess I didn’t piss her off. However, after getting home and downloading my cards and sending the images off, I felt pretty rotten about the whole thing. I never even pursued payment. That aside, I think it’s important to build a rapport with your subjects, so the undercover thing just wouldn’t produce what I want out of it--if we’re making wishes here. Do you have any comments surrounding Richmond’s photography industry; and where do you see it going? I’d say the industry as a whole is getting more competitive all the time. A good thing, but the downside to that is publications are folding and advertising budgets are getting smaller. Print media is struggling, in general. Banner ads are becoming animated with gifs, stop motion, and video. We’re lucky to have a handful of ad agencies and branding shops in town. The local editorial market in Richmond is pretty small, so it’s always nice to get a call from a magazine out of state. All that being said, Richmond is finally standing on it’s own as a vibrant arts town with an exciting culinary community. There’s a lot of creativity here. I look forward to seeing where that “progress” leads us. www.pbiedrycki.com 34


“...you’re asking me this to see if I’ll take the bait and paint myself as a man with a camera and an over inflated sense of creative prowess. Why do you ask questions and write stories? Yes, I take photos because I enjoy it. Yes, I take photos as a creative outlet. The reason all photographers, in my truest and most pure definition of that word, make images is because we see everything in pictures. Like a sickness that’s obviously, certainly not a sickness. It’s involuntary...”

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


Richmond International Film Festival By Angie Huckstep Photo by Joey Wharton

Over the past five years, the Richmond International Film Festival (RIFF) has brought a wealth of art, media and collective community action to our city. What started as a showcase of short films in 2011 has evolved into a brimming extravaganza of cinema, music, educational forums, and vibrant social festivities across town. The festival has attracted substantial attention from the international independent film community. Their 2016 call for entries accrued more than 1,000 films representing over 40 countries—with participants ranging from Academy Award winner Terrence Malick to up-andcoming local filmmakers, producers, and actors. As one of the largest international film competitions in the Mid-Atlantic, this young festival has distinguished itself as a premier innovative cultural nexus for Richmond and abroad.

“...Richmond didn’t have a film festival working towards the likes of a Sundance or Tribeca.“ In five years time, RIFF has matured into an international forum with a tight program, and is proving itself as an up-and-coming mainstay on the east coast’s festival circuit...



Countless rounds of judging distinguished the 125 Official Selection films screened at the festival between March 3-6th of this year. Submissions are divided into eight categories: Narrative Feature & Short, Documentary Feature & Short, Experimental Short, Animated Short, Music Video, and Web Series. With more than $20,000 awarded in cash and prizes, these Official Selection films compete in overall main categories for film and screenplays—the Best of Festival awards and Grand Juried awards—as well as Outstanding Merit Awards, Best Actress/ Best Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Music/Score. Festival founder and producer, Heather Waters, notes that “the majority of these films have never been seen

in a theatre, so Richmonders are given the first chance to view and weigh in – in a setting that’s up close and personal with the filmmakers and artists who have traveled here from across the world.” When asked what inspired her initial vision for the festival, Waters points out, “Richmond didn’t have a film festival working towards the likes of a Sundance or Tribeca.” In five years time, RIFF has matured into an international forum with a tight program, and is proving itself as an upand-coming mainstay on the east coast’s festival circuit. “RIFF’s platform prizes idea exchange over competition,” Waters says.

One distinguishing characteristic of the festival’s program that she values is that “the larger events always seem to become more political.” She explains, “Our judging is not political, which puts all entries on equal footing with one another.” To understand what is meant by “politics” here, consider this explanation from Raindance Festival founder, Elliot Grove: “If a film screens at Edinburgh, it is ineligible for the London Film Festival - which only screens UK or world premieres. If it screens in Edinburgh, it can screen at Raindance. A film premiering at Raindance is not eligible for Berlin because Berlin specialises in European premieres…” By avoiding all of this, RIFF can focus on its crowning attribute: its great diversity of contestants—“from emerging artists to winning films”—which provides a space for filmmakers to see how their work compares alongside heavy-hitters of the international indie community. NEXT PAGE: We have selected a sampling of the 2016 competition featuring both RIFF winners and other international highlights. *see full/extended article online at www.rvamag.com

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that RIFF has been created by one of the largest “filmhearts” in the state. One of Heather Waters’ most fervent goals with RIFF is to “reinforce, within the Richmond community, the totality of what a film following brings to the city.” Much more than a competition, the festival acts as a “condensed model showing how creative and business communities can share a mutualistic relationship” through film. This year, RIFF received its greatest number of submissions shot in Virginia, and by Virginia filmmakers (features include On The Wing and Shooting the Prodigal, shot in Richmond; Josephine, Coming Through The Rye, and Texas Rein - as well as shorts like “(un)Sexy,” “Fading Felt,” and “She’s Home”). Waters has especially structured RIFF to advertise this untapped potential within the city by “using film as a gathering force to collaborate 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

strategically with individuals and businesses,” while utilizing industry sectors involved in film production. She continues, “capitalizing on these connections will help push us toward the likes of an Austin or Atlanta.” RIFF works with a plethora of sponsors and local businesses to facilitate the various industry panels, Q&As, live musical performances, red carpet awards, and entertainment mixers that complete the festival experience. This year, the historic Byrd Theatre and Bowtie Movieland/ Criterion theatres screened all Official Selection films. Over the course of the festival, restaurants such as Balliceaux, Starlite and Joe’s Deli hosted mixers and filmmaker breakfasts. Thursday night festivities culminated at the Broadberry with the Music Video screenings, followed by a live music showcase of Richmond’s popular talent—

featuring Anousheh, Black Liquid, members of Horsehead, Rodney Stith, Skye Handler of Lady God, Chance Fischer, The Tide Rose, Lamayah, and Heather Taylor of Junction Hill. “This city has a lot of underground talent that is unfortunately split between many separate artistic communities,” Waters explains, “so in growing our festival, we look for as many opportunities to cross-pollinate all of these sectors as possible, and show off the best of what Richmond has to offer.” In working with sponsors, Waters strives for a “cyclical development of partners [who] self-identify as collaborators in building the Richmond scene… boosting tourism, and creating a repertoire for Richmond as an ideal place to make films.” rvafilmfestival.com 39

The 2016 Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Feature Film went to Spanish thriller Day Release, also known as Tercer Grado. On his first weekend of parole after serving 5 years in prison, Mark Rodriguez (Jesus Lloveras) witnesses the armed robbery of a security van. His brother´s critical situation and his feelings of remorse for his own crimes lead him to take desperate measures, with only the help of a young, sexy stripper he met the night before. Where seamless quality meets a bloodied, jarring edge, you can tell there is more going on here than just another anti-hero redemption flick. This artful blockbuster is the first feature length film from the production team of director Geoffrey Cowper and lead actor Jesus Lloveras, who share a decade partnership of making films. Inspired by a real event that took place at a movie theatre where Cowper worked, the pair built a fictional story around a car heist to challenge themselves as director and actor. The film provides a window into Spain’s law enforcement/inmate culture, where men with wives and families are allotted weekend release after showing good behavior some time into their sentence. Day Release also stands as visual commentary for Spain’s present economic strife, which has caused families to lose homes and property due to the current banking system. Interview with director Geoffrey Cowper I can’t help but admire the creative, working relationship and friendship you and Jesus have built over the last decade. Could you give a few comments on your process? We met while I was studying film and he was studying acting. We got along from the first moment, and we’ve worked together in several short films before. We even shot an extremely low-budget one in New York! So by the time we did Day Release, we had built up a lot of trust, and that I think is very important. Since we both wrote the script we “argued” a lot before shooting the film, so once we were filming, with only a look Jesus knew if I needed another take. The 2016 Best of Festival Feature Documentary went to India’s Daughter, directed by Leslee Udwin. One of the most poignant and serious social commentary pieces in the festival, India’s Daughter shares the story of 23-year-old medical student, Jyoti Singh, who was gang raped and beaten to death on a Delhi bus in 2012. These events inevitably sparked protests and heated conversations surrounding gender inequality across India, and at large. Viewers are addressed through interviews by Singh’s family and friends, victims’ rights advocates; as well as by the assailants, their lawyers, and their families.

Director Leslee Udwin explains, “When the news of the ‘India’s Daughter’ gang-rape hit our TV screens around the world in December 2012, I was shocked and upset, as we all are when faced with such brazen abandon of the norms of ‘civilized’ society. But what moved and compelled me to commit to the harrowing and difficult journey of making this film was… the optimism occasioned by the events that followed it. It was the ordinary men and women of India, in unprecedented numbers, who poured out onto the streets, and withstood the onslaught of teargas shells, lathi charges and water cannons to make their cry of ‘enough is enough’ heard with extraordinary forbearance, commitment and passion.” India’s Daughter has won numerous honors for its powerful message, and has been praised by the likes of the late Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, and Meryl Streep.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about your film? Well, we’re very happy to have won the Grand Jury Prize and we hope that the audience also enjoyed our movie--especially since Day Release is our first feature film, and a very independent one. Jesus’s grandfather (Jesus Mora) became a film producer at age 85 and was our main investor. Without him this movie wouldn’t exist. Also it was great that my parents (Conxita Sal·lari and Richard Cowper) were able to do the catering for the whole cast and crew. It’s crucial that the cast and crew on a movie set eat well. And I’m sure that if they hadn’t put all their love and effort into the making of our movie, we wouldn’t have won the award. I really hope I can come to the Richmond International Film Festival, sooner rather than later, with my next film. www.facebook.com/TercerGrado

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Louder Than Bombs is a feature length drama directed by Norway’s Joachim Trier that premiered at Cannes this year. The preparation of an exhibition celebrating the famous war photographer, Laura Freed, brings her husband and their two sons together for the first time three years after her unexpected death. When an unsettling secret resurfaces, the three men are forced to look at each other and themselves in a new light, redefining their innermost needs and desires. Although it was not in competition this year at RIFF, Heather Waters noted, “This film has a ton of buzz, and will be in theatres across the country in April, so it’s great that we’re getting it here first in Richmond.”

Another noteworthy documentary piece featuring heavy subject matter is Steve Hoover and Danny Yourd’s film Almost Holy, also called Crocodile Gennadiy. This film was Executive Produced by the acclaimed Terrence Malick, who many may recognize from his work on The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, and Badlands. The fall of The Soviet Union left Ukraine in a wake of social and political upheaval; its crippled economy and corrupt infrastructure produced little hope. However, a pastor and civic leader from Mariupol, Ukraine named Gennadiy Mokhnenko, made a name for himself by forcibly abducting homeless drugaddicted kids from streets of his city. He founded Pilgrim Republic, a children’s rehabilitation center and home for former drug abuse victims. The review from its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival ensured that the “Terrence Malickproduced Crocodile Gennadiy is a lot more than poverty porn.”

In spite of the film not being in competition, the RIFF 2016 Rising Star Award went to the freshly 18-year-old Devin Druid, a Richmond native, who portrayed the younger son, Conrad. In a Variety interview, Trier gave a glowing commentary on casting the youth, “And then we found Devin Druid, who’d done some great work with Louis CK, and that was perhaps the part I was most nervous to cast… That’s what kept me up at night, trying to find that kid. When Devin Druid was brought to my attention…we found our guy. That was the biggest relief of the whole process. And I’m so pleased with him.” Upon meeting Druid at the festival, I was delighted when he mentioned his aspirations to be the “18-year-old-male incarnation of Tilda Swinton”, which shows an impeccable taste that pairs well with his obvious passion for the craft. Druid was sure to add, “This is not a soundbite film. It’s very sophisticated and requires the viewer to be present. And some people really need to let it rest with them for a day or two. I’m proud of this film. I think it’s extraordinary. I’m so very pleased that it will be released soon so others can see it.” facebook.com/louderthanbombsmovie

almostholyfilm.com Shot in Winterthur, Switzerland, “Lothar” is a 14-minute narrative short about an absurd character whose sneeze causes nearby objects to explode. The poor kid can’t catch a break, as we are briefed of his lifelong bout with technology and nature. To protect the world from his destructive “gift”, Lothar has relegated himself to a bunker stocked with the necessities: light bulbs, toilet paper, his daily bread, a toaster. The sheer quantity and repetition of these items recall a backhanded-Warhol aesthetic that uplifts the implied monotony of his isolation. Lothar’s melodrama is no joke when he manages to break his beloved toaster, an early gift from his mother. This mishap provokes Lothar to risk leaving the confines of his subterranean home. Writer/ director Luca Zuberbühler elaborates, “With the story of Lothar, I want to symbolize the contrast between the external world and one´s solitary life.” “Lothar” is now online in HD and free to watch at www.viddsee.com/video/lothar lothar-movie.com 10 10 years years of of RVA RVA Magazine Magazine 2005-2015 2005-2015




I10will years never of RVA forget Magazine vegas 2005-2015 Mike. - tony


LADY GOD By Shannon Cleary Photos by Josiah Marroquin

Lady God are masters of disguise. The group could be identified as harbingers of the next psychedelic wave in the Richmond music scene. Lady God could also be seen as one of the most fully realized rock outfits to come out of this city in recent years. One thing is for certain-the creative forces at play behind this project operate in an endless cycle of trippy dialogues, rhythmic diatribes, eclectic influences, and volatile emotions. This is Lady God. Everyone in the band has a unique relationship with the city of Richmond, all having resided elsewhere before deciding on this area to make a home. This is especially true for guitarist Skye Handler. “My grandma is from Richmond and so is my uncle,” he says. “I’ve been coming through my entire life, but I guess around 2009 or 2010, I started playing music with Adrian Olsen in a band called The Razorektors.” Olsen, now guitarist for Avers, performed drums for that project, accompanied by fellow Avers member Alexandra Spalding on bass. On the Razorektors song “My Cigarette” (still viewable on Vimeo), you can see early impressions of the songwriting style that would take full form in Lady God. Despite modest success, the Razorektors were quick to split. “I think it’s tough to make rock’n’roll. It takes so much out of you. And I get it. You can be a willing executioner of rock’n’roll, or you can try to just do something different,” Handler explains. After the group’s break-up, Avers later recorded and performed “Hangman,” a song written by Handler.



Several years later, after Handler had re-located to Maryland, he got a call from an old friend. “Russell Lacy rang me up and told me that I needed to start putting my songs together again. Things were happening in Richmond and I needed to be a part of it,” Handler relates. Granting the request, Handler ventured to Lacy’s home studios, The Virginia Moonwalker, to begin demoing and writing. There, he met bassist Chrissie Lozano. “I had a few projects I felt pretty fired up [about], but I couldn’t shake this feeling of just not being sure about it,” Lozano says. “In those initial sessions with Russell, I just found myself noticing that this was the thing that you strive for in making music. And at that point, I just decided to not leave Skye alone.” The trio, rounded out by drummer Trip Hill, began writing and recording material in preparation for a debut performance at 2014’s Instant Pleasure Psych Fest at The Broadberry, alongside The Young Sinclairs, Avers, The Diamond Center, and several others. The band’s first release came together during this time. A 7 inch vinyl EP, Lady God Presents: The Pebbles includes the songs “Nervous Talk” and “Roll Tennessee.” Both display the instantaneous, natural interplay between Handler and Lozano. Their adjoined vocals on “Roll Tennessee” are a particular highlight of the release. There is an immediate distinction drawn from the snarled flair of Handler’s call being met by Lozano’s response at the song’s finale. It draws in new listeners only to stop them in their tracks. “Nervous Talk” spins the group’s approach and injects a lounge vibe, with its steady but patient rhythm driving throughout and the spotlight focusing on Lozano’s vocals. To commemorate the release of Pebbles, a special show was set up at the Virginia Moonwalker. Taking place in November of 2014, the show featured a number of unique performances. It was inspired by an event that happened a year prior. “I remember going to see my friend Jordan Tarrant do a similar show at Russell’s,” Lozano explains. “When we were considering how to celebrate this Lady God release, that triggered my excitement. It felt like it would be all ours and we could make it a truly special night for all parties involved.”Fans met up outside the Camel for the ride to the show, and on the bus ride to Virginia Moonwalker, Cardboard Poncho entertained a PBR-swilling audience. Upon arrival, The Milkstains began an energetic outdoor set and warmed up the cold evening. Fire dancers swirled around the Mechanicsville landscape as Lady God ended the evening by performing for an eager audience. 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

Within a few months, Lady God had begun playing out regularly and taking their first trips out of town. Soon, though, drummer Trip Hill had to depart, leaving the band without a permanent drummer. “It’s natural selection. I’ve been on the other side of it as well, but sometimes things change, and you have to move forward,” Handler says. The band soon found a replacement in drummer-about-town Tim Falen. “Diamond Center had just wrapped up,” Falen explains. “I was down a band, and I like to stay pretty chalked up. Chrissie hit me up about playing with Lady God; it seemed weird at first. Then the first time we played, I got it, and felt like this was an idea that hadn’t been pushed really hard yet.” Once Falen had joined, Lady God wasted no time before returning to the studio. This

“...There’s something to be said about guys like Iggy Pop or bands like AC/ DC writing these really awful lyrics, but just owning them and selling them hard,” he says. “It’s kind of what makes rock music the best. When you take stupid shit and juxtapose it, it’s the best...” session occurred at Sound of Music Recording Studios, and the group had two songs in mind immediately. “East vs. West vs. Future” is an adventurous jaunt, with Handler recording parts of his vocals through a modified telephone and using the natural lo-fi tone to capture his unique sound. The song itself slightly elevates itself with spiraling notes and a stellar presence throughout. Meanwhile, “More Bang for Your Buck” might be Lady God at their most lucid and grimy. These two songs were combined for the band’s second 7 inch EP, Lady God #2. Despite constituting their second release, these songs actually predate the tunes that appeared on Pebbles. “I am always trying to think of what songs fit together better,” Handler says. “Especially with working on seven-inches, you

get the freedom to toy around with all of that shit.” When asked how such attention to detail would that affect the tracklisting of a full-length, he’s quick to voice his uncertainty. “I have no fucking clue, man. We have enough songs to work towards that, but I have no fucking idea where to even begin with figuring something like that out,” Handler says. “We’ll just probably have to go with our gut on that one.” As the Lady God energy continued to build, Lozano found herself inspired to a surprising extent. “As things kept going and it felt like writing was getting under my skin, I just started absorbing as much as I could,” she says. “I was reading poetry every day and I was giving in to writing every day. And--surprise! If you start writing every day, you have more stuff to sift through--and that’s really helped with songwriting.” Not everything created is perfect, but Lozano finds an upside to this aspect as well. “You end up with a lot of garbage, but you can make your way through all of that to find the good stuff,” she reflects. “I enjoy the idea of finding the poetry in rock music. Patti Smith immediately comes to mind as someone I’ve been drawn to.” Handler, meanwhile, cites old R&B, particularly Smokey Robinson, as a style he has been drawn to when approaching lyrics for the group. He also admires certain kinds of big dumb rock energy. “There’s something to be said about guys like Iggy Pop or bands like AC/DC writing these really awful lyrics, but just owning them and selling them hard,” he says. “It’s kind of what makes rock music the best. When you take stupid shit and juxtapose it, it’s the best.” Considering the wealth of as-yet-unreleased material the band has accumulated, you never can tell what you’ll hear at a Lady God show. They could take any of several different approaches to a particular performance. “It might seem like Chrissie and I share this idealized take on things,” Handler says. “We try to look at rock’n’roll and write to this logic of not just standing still while we’re playing. We write what we want to write and thankfully that leads to us trying to translate how we want them to be performed, too.” Handler’s impression of Richmond’s music scene since his return is largely positive. “There’s just a lot more places to play,” he explains. “Everyone seems like they are dusting off their four-tracks.” He’s also quick to mention the fascination he finds in the resurrected appeal for vinyl. “It’s tactile. It’s something you can hang on your wall,” he says. “I like the feeling of even getting a poster with a record, and feeling a different sensory reaction to this 45

thing. The other cool thing about records is that Right now, the band hopes to spend more time on the road. With the recent addition of yet the sound is trapped--it’s like a bug in amber.” another Diamond Center alumni, keyboardist Where the band’s future is concerned, Handler Lindsay Phillips, to the fold, upcoming doesn’t feel too pressed to jump into the label performances should prove to be exciting. game. “I run into these people all the time that “Adding Lindsay has been so awesome because mention that they are starting a label and this there is just an even greater opportunity for or that, and I can’t help but wonder--what’s the getting weird with any of our songs,” Lozano difference between [labels and] what we might gushes. “[We can] add harmonies, or anything do by ourselves? Would they still want to get that we can imagine. It’s so cool.” reimbursed for the cost of making [records]?” Creative control, and making records that exist Lady God fits solidly into the recent history as works of art and not just products, are also of psychedelic rock music in Richmond. Their appealing elements of continuing to release unique approach, as well as a certain loose their own records. “I figure it’ll just take record nature, help set them apart from those that came labels being able to look at records as more before. Along with groups like Manzara and than just business cards” before the band will Peace Beast, they help set the pace for further sonic exploration. “I think things have changed consider signing with one, Handler says. with psychedelic music,” Falen explains. “No one wants to hear The Black Angels with a 46

different name, 45 different times. There was a point where people were reflecting on the things of the past, [but] now, I think people want to engage with the concepts even more.” “I think people find their own way to be psychedelic. You hone in on things that might freak you out and try to play with those ideas,” Lozano adds. But Handler distills the matter down to a strong, simple core. “I don’t think it’s so much what our take is on psych music,” he says. “It’s more how it brushed against us. And we take it for a spin, but beyond that, I think we are just, through and through, a rock band.” soundcloud.com/meetladygod bgeproduxions.bandcamp.com @bge.produxions


10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




Ostraca By Drew Necci Photos by Jake Cunningham

Ostraca aren’t as well known around Richmond as they should be, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a force to be reckoned with. The loud, powerful trio--which consists of singer/ bassist Gus Caldwell, guitarist Brian Russo, and drummer John Crogan--are more likely to be found in local basements than onstage at clubs, though they showed their faces above ground last summer for a ferocious headlining set at the inaugural Swamp Fest. Now, with the long-awaited vinyl release of their debut LP, Deathless, Ostraca are ready to take Richmond, and the entire country, by storm. Ostraca have existed in their current form for less than two years, but their history as a band begins nearly a decade ago, when all three members were still in high school in the Northern Virginia suburbs. Initially known as Kilgore Trout, they began as a quintet, which also featured guitarist Josh Niezgoda, along with a series of early singers. “I worked with the [original] vocalist, Tommy, at Baskin Robbins,” explains Russo. “He came up to me during a shift and was like ‘Hey, I’m gonna be in this band, do you want to play guitar? It’s gonna be loud and noisy.’” Russo was intrigued. “I was just playing in grunge bands,” he says now. “I wanted to do something crazier, more intense.” The band’s beginnings were tied in with the nascent rumblings of a DIY scene in their suburban town. “Foundational in all of us meeting each other and starting to play music together was our friend Ted [Gordon], who now plays in Kaoru Nagisa,” says Caldwell. “[He] had started doing shows in a shed in his parents’ backyard.” The Red Shed, as this unassuming outbuilding came to be known, became an epicenter for underground music in the area. Unlike city kids who grow up with small clubs doing all-ages shows within driving distance, the members of Ostraca had no access to any other local music scene. “I started going to shows when I was 12 or 13, but that was going to the 9:30 Club, someplace where you have to buy a ticket on the internet,” Caldwell explains. “I don’t know if it would even be meaningful to say that I felt alienated [from the larger scene], because I didn’t really feel like there was enough [happening] to have a cohesive scene of any kind.” Due to the lack of options, The Red Shed became an early stop for a lot of relatively popular touring bands that came through the area. “There was a pretty cool scene from Baltimore and a lot of those bands used to come down,” says Russo. Caldwell remembers seeing Swedish band Suis La Lune at the Red Shed, as 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

well as early performances by Pianos Become The Teeth and Osceola. The word the members of Kilgore Trout used to describe this music was “screamo,” a term they’d learned from the internet. “The very first exposure I had to screamo was on a Streetlight Manifesto forum,” Caldwell relates, referencing the New Jersey ska-punk band. “Someone started a thread about screamo and they posted [albums by] Jerome’s Dream, Orchid, and Saetia. That was my starting point.” Personally, I have always hated the term screamo, and I can’t continue the interview without a five-minute tirade in which I say things like “this word sounds like a fucking joke” and “when you hear the term ‘screamo’ attached to something, you think ‘that music cannot possibly be cool.’” The members of Ostraca have heard this rant from me before

“...I’m focusing on the insanity aspects of musical writing,” he tells me at one point in the interview. As he continues, saying, “I’m trying to, like, push the boundary of insanity,” Caldwell and Crogan both begin to laugh. Russo can’t help but join in; nonetheless, he is making a serious point...” (usually between bands at a house show), and humor me with admirable patience. To an extent, they can relate. “I definitely feel that when my co-workers ask what kind of band I’m in,” says Caldwell. Regardless of my misgivings, screamo was how Kilgore Trout saw themselves in their early days, and they quickly threw themselves into the scene the Red Shed had shown them. “We got thrown at the DIY world of the East Coast really early on,” says Russo. “We met some people from Baltimore who were doing similar things to us and that opened up a whole new world. You go up 95 and hit Philadelphia, and it’s like ‘Wow, it’s even bigger here than it is in Baltimore.’ It was like, ‘This is feasible. We’re doing this here, they’re doing it there--where else are people doing this?’”

Over the next several years, Kilgore Trout dove more deeply into the underground scene, releasing two full-length albums and several EPs and splits. They grew from sometimessilly experimentation into a more fully-realized musical style. Their original vocalist left after their first EP, and was replaced by Megan Lee McGaughey, who stayed with the band for the next few years. Finally, after her departure in 2013, Caldwell took over on lead vocals himself, and the band began to resemble its current form. The transition from Kilgore Trout to Ostraca occurred upon the departure of Josh Niezgoda. Taking a new name, derived from the shards of pottery on which citizens of ancient Athens would cast votes to exile other residents (the root word for the modern English word “ostracize”), Caldwell, Russo, and Crogan chose to carry on as a trio. “Ostraca is a continuation of Kilgore Trout,” says Caldwell now. “It’s grown and continued in the trajectory it was on, without making an effort to write things that sounded different. That said, the songs that Brian and I write have been different, and progressing.” By the time they’d embarked on their new incarnation as Ostraca, all of the members had moved from Northern Virginia to Richmond. Caldwell was the first to leave NoVA, spending several years in Harrisonburg earning a communications degree from JMU. By the time he graduated, Crogan and Russo had moved to Richmond, and a small but tightly-knit scene was developing around house-show spots like Smash Palace and Gangway Garden. The creative energy around this rather intimate scene gave rise to an implausibly high number of bands in a very short time--though the number seems less implausible when you realize that every band contains multiple members of at least two other bands. The members of Ostraca quickly got into the spirit. Before long, Crogan was playing with Kaoru Nagisa and .gif From God, while Russo and Caldwell joined Caust and Swan Of Tuonela. Caldwell even began multiple solo noise projects--one under his own name, another under the name Unlit. Crogan sees the scene’s creative energy as an unstoppable force of nature. “If a bunch of people are left alone together, a band will start,” he says. “Different people are available to make the band at a certain time, and that’s [what determines the lineup].” Russo, meanwhile, proposes that Ostraca’s own tendency to participate in multiple other projects only gives rise to even more. “When Gus, John, and I leave, we’re in so many bands [that] a lot of bands can’t play,” he says. “This Land Is Now Dead started because we were on tour. Those were the people [that were] there.” Crogan picks up the thread. “Kaoru Nagisa 51



10 years Photo byof Jake RVACunningham Magazine 2005-2015


was started a while ago because our friend TJ [Whitehead] was moving away and we wanted to start a band with him in it, because it made us feel better about him moving.” Caldwell interjects, “He’s back now.” Crogan laughs and agrees. “He’s back now, but he was gone for a while. Then when he came back, [we] had songs, and it went from there.” All of this extracurricular involvement doesn’t detract from the members’ ability to focus on Ostraca, though. “I do a lot of work for Ostraca, because we’re all really good friends and it comes more natural that way,” says Russo. Caldwell agrees. “I would say that I see [Ostraca] as my primary outlet,” he says. “I write my parts in Caust and Swan Of Tuonela, but I only write entire songs for Ostraca. [And] Ostraca definitely does the most touring of any of those bands.” In fact, the band is spending March and April of this year on a full US tour in support of Deathless. Jointly released by Middle-Man and Skeletal Lightning Records, the vinyl version is if anything long overdue. “We recorded it in mid-January 2015, so it’s been done for a full year,” says Russo. Pressing plant delays caused over eight months to pass between Deathless’s digital release and the appearance of its finished physical form. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, though, it was worth the wait. 54

The six-song, 30-minute slab of vinyl creates a dark atmosphere for the listener, in which Ostraca prove that their music deserves much better than a goofy term like “screamo.” Caldwell’s blistering shrieks and deep roars simultaneously channel first-LP Liturgy’s emotional black metal ferocity and Tragedy’s apocalyptic punk-metal gloom. Meanwhile, the dynamic range of the songwriting, and Russo’s ingenious riffing, call to mind the post-rock soundscapes of Godspeed You Black Emperor at times, while at others the fiery rage of Norwegian black metallers Emperor is what springs to mind. And yes, all of you who know your screamo (ugh, that word still sucks) will definitely catch tinges of Orchid, Envy, and One Eyed God Prophecy in the mix.

named after a Kurt Vonnegut character). “It’s basically just about wishing, to put it plainly, that the world was a machine that ran smoothly and neatly--rather than being organic and messy, like it is.”

The shorter, faster songs that make up side one of the album also have quite a bit of thought behind their lyrics. “’Without Articulation’ is about the idea of thinking without words,” Caldwell says. “I was reading some study about children who are found in the wild and have never learned any kind of human language. [The song explores] the idea of whether that’s somehow more real than learning words and confining your experiences to our defining language. The question [is] whether people can experience these things more deeply if they’re The album’s epic-length closer, “All Watched not refined to having a single word to define an Over,” is Deathless’s emotional centerpiece, and experience.” evokes strong feelings throughout. Beginning as a melancholy dirge, it eventually builds to The evocatively-titled “When Is It Ever an all-out explosion of furious noise--which, Different” also has a complex, thoughtful story at its height, is suddenly disrupted by blasts behind its lyrics. “The title comes from a fable I of static, followed by a mournful coda in which read--I do not at present recall where--in which a distant piano plays the song’s main melody there’s a boat out at sea in a storm,” Caldwell line. Caldwell clearly puts a lot of thought explains. “Everyone on the boat is freaking into his lyrics in general. “All Watched Over,” out, bailing out water and trying to ready he explains, “takes its title from a poem by themselves for a crash--except for one old man Richard Brautigan, called ‘All Watched Over By who appears calm. A young sailor asks him ‘Old Machines Of Loving Grace’.” This is the first of man, how is it you’re so calm when we could quite a few literary references that occur during be a second away from death?’ to which the old this interview (fitting for a band originally man responds, ‘When is it ever different?’ The RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING 2016

love forever. So he asked Zeus to grant his lover immortality, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. Tithonus became this tragic character who is unable to die, but is also in this decrepit body and wants nothing more than to die. The [song is] generally about the idea of outliving your While waiting for Deathless to come out, usefulness, or going past a desirable life, for the Ostraca has continued to create. They’ve had sake of continuing to be alive.” three songs, slated for a split LP with Texas band Flesh Born, completed since sometime The song that follows “All I Was In Ashes” on last summer. Of the three songs slated for the the split also draws its title from “Tithonus.” upcoming split, “All I Was, In Ashes” is the most “Decay And Fall” is noteworthy as a spotlight immediately arresting. Nearly six minutes in for Russo’s continued musical explorations. length, this song features a memorable section “I’m focusing on the insanity aspects of musical in which Flesh Born’s Parker Lawson sings a duet writing,” he tells me at one point in the interview. with Caldwell, adding a beautiful melodic vocal As he continues, saying, “I’m trying to, like, push line that contrasts perfectly with Caldwell’s the boundary of insanity,” Caldwell and Crogan harsh screams. When asked if this could be a both begin to laugh. Russo can’t help but join new direction for Ostraca’s sound, Caldwell is in; nonetheless, he is making a serious point. not opposed to the idea. “I don’t think I’m going “The last song on the split is more in a metallic to make a point of doing it, but I am happy with hardcore direction,” Caldwell says, coming to the way it turned out,” he says. “[Clean vocals his rescue. “But without the corny [aspect of] are] an effect that, when done right, ends up what metallic hardcore became,” Russo chimes in. “More like the pioneers of the genre.” He sounding really cool.” cites Curl Up And Die, Ed Gein, and As The Sun Meanwhile, the lyrics to this song indicate Sets as inspirations, and indeed, “Decay And a similar depth of thought and feeling to Fall” reflects these inspirations, shifting back what went into Deathless. The title comes and forth between high-intensity blast beats from an Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem entitled and slow, brutal breakdowns. “Tithonus.” “The poem is about this figure from Greek mythology who was a god, and fell in love Caldwell is exploring some musical directions with a mortal,” Caldwell explains. “He wanted of his own in the band’s newest material (which the mortal to be immortal, so they could be in is intended for a second full-length, to be song is basically about trying to live without worrying about death constantly, and making peace with the fact that, hey, maybe you’re going to get hit by a car today or something.” He laughs and adds, “To put it briefly.”

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

recorded sometime this year). “I like having a mixture of tempos and a mixture of dynamics,” he says. “My songs are definitely leaning more towards post-metal influences--like really early Isis, when they didn’t have a ton of clean guitar and big atmospheric sections. It was sludgy, but there were some melodic elements to it.” While Deathless actually contained one song, “Pyrrhic,” which was originally released on a Kilgore Trout EP, Ostraca are feeling much more like a band unto themselves these days. “A lot of the first songs we wrote could have been Kilgore songs,” Russo says. “Now it’s a little different, because we feel more like we identify as Ostraca, not as the band formerly known as Kilgore Trout.” With a split LP on the way featuring their best material yet, and plans to finish a second fulllength as soon as they return from their current tour, it appears that after nearly a decade playing music together, Ostraca is still just getting started. Their name is perhaps not as well-known around Richmond as any of half a dozen different doom or thrash bands--but that’s starting to change, and for good reason. Anyone in this city who’s been sleeping on Ostraca needs to wake up and stop missing out on one of the best bands this city has to offer. ostraca.bandcamp.com/releases 55



10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


Egghunt Records By Doug Nunnally

A lot can happen in two years. You could start a band and record your first EP. You could get a new job and hopefully a promotion. Hell, you could learn a new language or two if you had the discipline. But I don’t think “starting a record label and making it a success” would be on anyone’s list of possibilities--yet that’s just what the team at Egghunt Records have done. In just two years, this Richmond label has gone from being a plucky upstart full of modest aspirations to an in-demand record label brimming with the lofty potential of placing our local scene in the national spotlight. It’s a daunting task, but it’s something founders Adam Henceroth and Greg Gendron are very vocal about. “I kind of envision Egghunt as this label that’s an RVA hub,” Henceroth explained. “My idea is to be a family of sorts and help cultivate this strong network of musicians. They were already doing that [on their own], for sure, but I think we’ve helped catalyze some of it [by] getting the word out. Sort of the way Sub Pop did in Seattle.” Henceroth and Gendron are both music stalwarts with years of personal and professional experience that they’ve brought into the business. Gendron, currently a resident of Silver Springs, MD, is a recording engineer who’s actually helped master some of Egghunt’s releases, while Henceroth was better known locally for starting booking company Oncology Promotions in 2009. Egghunt’s seeds were planted when Henceroth built a studio in his home in Midlothian in order to “hunker down and work on some projects.” Word got out among friends, and his humble studio caught the eye of local band Red States when they were looking to record their next project. At the same time, Henceroth had been introduced to Gendron through mutual acquaintances and the two of them began considering starting a label. “We just got this idea in our heads that it’d be great to start a record label,” Henceroth remembered, “because then, you could focus on all the projects you wanted to, with bands you were passionate about.” Red States’ project, the High Bison EP, would become their first proper release in June of 2014. It kickstarted Egghunt, a name Henceroth believed exemplified the label’s mission statement. After a phone 58


conversation in which he and Gendron juggled some generic names with RVA or River City in the name, Henceroth recalls heading to a neighborhood Easter egg hunt, where the label’s name became obvious. “It was this lovely day in spring.” he recalled, “I was just thinking that looking for these good bands is an Easter egg hunt in itself. It’s like finding a diamond in the rough. And Egghunt just sort of hit me.” High Bison provided Egghunt with a strong debut in town and news spread about the duo, most notably reaching White Laces mastermind Landis Wine. “I had known Landis from booking with Oncology Promotions,” Henceroth remarked. “He reached out to see if we were interested, and of course we jumped at that chance, even though it was just going to be vinyl.” White Laces were putting the finishing touches on their 2014 record, Trance, and had already landed deals for CD and cassette releases with two other labels, making Egghunt the third partner in a major co-release that Henceroth credits with laying the foundation for what Egghunt would become. “[Trance] was a crash course on running a record label for us,” he laughed. “I learned everything on that release, and made some incredible contacts who were able to help us grow and strengthen our abilities. Looking back, I’m very grateful for that release because it really pushed us in the direction we wanted to go.” Along with Trance, Egghunt also re-released White Laces’ Moves. They followed it up that same month with the debut record from DC group Sun Machines. It was clear Egghunt was poised to become a major player in town, on the same level as Spacebomb and Jellowstone--two local labels the Egghunt founders have deep admiration for. “They’ve been a big inspiration for us,” Henceroth declared. “They’ve been around longer than us and they both showed how big the talent pool Richmond has really is. They have their own pocket of the scene, but their work is so great that it really spreads out across the whole community, and drives people to want to do bigger and better things.” 2015 saw Egghunt spread their wings a bit with releases from artists outside of Richmond like North Carolina’s Family Bike and OKO TYGRA from Denver. These artists came to Egghunt’s attention as submissions through their own website, a fact that Henceroth was blown away by. “Those submissions are so incredibly humbling because it means they paid attention to what we were doing and liked it,” Henceroth explained. “They’re sending us these lengthy emails with all of these links to their stuff, and it just became a little overwhelming.” Henceroth admitted he never foresaw the type of responsibility Egghunt now had in fostering these young bands, but it 10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015

was a responsibility the label were not going to take lightly. “I can only imagine if I was an artist submitting my work,” Henceroth thought. “What kind of hopes and dreams would I have of a record label approving it for release? I don’t take that lightly. We may get twenty to thirty submissions a month, but we listen to everything because it’s fair and the artists deserve it.” But Henceroth and Gendron aren’t ones to sit by and wait for the bands to come to them, either. They’re actively searching for talent that makes sense for Egghunt, even if it comes from outside of Richmond, as in the case of Virginia Beach band Feral Conservatives. “I found them on Twitter, actually,” Henceroth revealed. “I really liked their stuff, so I started a dialogue and then

“...I kind of envision Egghunt as this label that’s an RVA hub,” Henceroth explained. “My idea is to be a family of sorts and help cultivate this strong network of musicians. They were already doing that [on their own], for sure, but I think we’ve helped catalyze some of it [by] getting the word out...”

The Brass Empire. With each release, they were getting stronger at handling the business and anticipating release demand, something that was crucial when dealing with bands who often hold lofty ambitions for their music. “A lot of bands want vinyl and everything, but it’s tough,” Henceroth explained. “Sometimes there’s a lot of interest so it make sense, but you still have to be conservative.” Still, Henceroth admitted his foresight wasn’t 2020 and he actually loved being surprised. “That Manatree record was an example of the CDs flying off the shelves like hot cakes,” he exclaimed. “They sold hundreds of CDs in a matter of weeks, mostly at live shows, and it was just great. It made us really think about what we would do next for them.” After The Diamond Center and Manatree, Egghunt remained quiet for the rest of 2015 as they worked on their next projects--one of which would become their most noteworthy and successful release to date: Lucy Dacus’ No Burden. Like all of Richmond over the first few months of 2016, Henceroth gushed about Dacus and was deeply grateful that Egghunt was able to take part in the whirlwind. “She’s probably the most talented artist I’ve ever met,” Henceroth casually stated. “I firmly believe she’s going to do big things for years to come.” It’s not something he kept to himself either; he made it very clear he believed she would get picked up by a bigger label than Egghunt, something he was perfectly content with. “Our whole purpose for doing what we do is we really want to help break people into the bigger realm,” he explained. “I think Egghunt could be pretty big in the future, but that’s not our purpose right now. It’s supporting and developing artists like Lucy and being grateful that they’re letting us.”

really tried hard to persuade them to record an EP in our studio.” Henceroth’s persistence wore the band down, allowing Egghunt to not only release their early 2015 EP, The Feeling Noise Becomes, but also their next fulllength, entitled Here’s To Almost, which saw release this past January to strong reviews. Brimming with folk songwriting, punk energy, and pop melodies, it’s a versatile highlight of Egghunt’s young discography and perfectly exemplifies the label’s spirit and vigor.

The attention for No Burden was unprecedented for Egghunt. With love from Rolling Stone, NPR, Pitchfork, and more, it was clear Egghunt had a true indie hit on their hands and they began seriously considering a vinyl repress before the album was even properly released. “I don’t think anyone could have predicted all this,” Henceroth reflected, “but if you’ve seen her live, you know she was destined to break out.” Henceroth used one of Dacus’s Hardywood performances as a clear example. “I got to watch from behind the stage and I just saw all these people watching her like they were in a tractor beam. It’s no wonder she’s got so much momentum. She’s so talented and so very clearly has that intangible you can’t define.”

Bands from outside Richmond provided Egghunt with great opportunities, but they still kept their finger on the Richmond pulse. Summer of 2015 saw the label release Manatree’s self-titled debut, as well as corelease former Richmond favorites The Diamond Center’s new album, Crystals From

No Burden will cast a long shadow over future Egghunt records, but their next release might just be the exception. In early May, Egghunt will release the long-awaited sophomore record by Clair Morgan entitled New Lions And The Not Good Night. Dacus’ shadow may be long, but it’s nothing compared to the 59

internal band shadow cast by Clair Morgan’s 2012 debut, No Notes. It’s hard to overcome the legacy of that timeless record, but with Clair Morgan now a fully realized sevenmember group, it actually seems possible. The first single “Rogue Island” is out now, and has received strong reviews thanks to its atypical structure and infectious melodies. Egghunt believes the single is only a taste of things to come. “I think people are going to be shocked by how good this record is,” Henceroth declared. “I’m really glad we were able to get this one to follow Lucy, because it’s kind of the perfect one to do so. It’s a completely different sound and it shows off more of the strong talent we have here in Richmond.” Outside of the music, New Lions And The Not Good Night will be a big release for Egghunt based on the packaging alone. “It’s this huge gatefold record with this incredible artwork,” Henceroth previewed. “It’s just as stunning to look at it as it is to listen to, really. We’re also going to release some of them on this solid white vinyl which I had never seen before. The whole product is top-tier and I can’t wait for it to come out.” It’s Egghunt’s most ambitious project to date and one that aims to set the bar higher for their next releases, much like Feral Conservatives did with their twee gold in January and Lucy Dacus did with her thundering songwriting in February. With all of these heavyweight releases coming out, though, Egghunt hasn’t been able to do as many releases as they’d like, something Henceroth was almost remorseful about. “The hardest part of this is telling people we can’t take on their projects,” he sighed. “The talent pool is so deep around here; having to say no at times just sucks.” Throughout all of their recent activity, Egghunt has remained a small operation run solely by Gendron and Henceroth, with additional logistical help from Henceroth’s wife Candice. “It’s a family business on the side,” said Henceroth, who works full time as an anesthesiologist in Richmond--something that makes Egghunt’s success even more unexpected. Henceroth was straight-forward about Egghunt’s placement in his life as a hobby or side project, but joked that it’s no different than his colleagues in the medical field. “Most physicians spend their time playing golf or going on fancy trips,” he said. “I spend my free time hanging out with bands and running a record label. That’s their passion and this one’s mine. I think I’m getting the better deal.” Despite being a side project, Egghunt has reached the level where Henceroth conceded they’ll have to take on more employees. They’ve added a sales manager already, who’s become a travelling liaison to record stores and radio stations across the region. 60


Henceroth predicts they’ll have to take on some more to handle their growth moving forward. “If Egghunt’s a house,” Henceroth suggested, “then the house is intact and the walkthrough is done, so we’re ready to move in. We’re going to let the dust settle for the releases so far this year, and then just go for it.” They may be letting the dust settle, but Egghunt is already making big moves behind the scenes to make sure the end of 2016 is equally as strong as the beginning. They’re in talks with some of the bigger bands in the area to release their next work, but are also keeping their ear to the ground for exciting newer bands coming on the scene that might find their way onto Egghunt’s roster at some point. “The Erotic Bombs had some demos out that were real promising,” Henceroth said. “Then of course there is Spooky Cool, who everyone is raving about.” Beyond that, Henceroth did reveal the tentative plans to release Manatree’s sophomore record in 2017, and even admitted they’re thinking of hosting an Eggfest event towards the end of May to showcase their talent roster as well as some other local bands. “Shows are still so vital in Richmond, because that’s how you tell where the talent is,” Henceroth stated. “With Eggfest, we’d love to show off our talent, but also some newer bands, and maybe some other bands we love but just haven’t been able to schedule something with yet.” It’s a crazy time for Egghunt now, as the demand for Lucy Dacus increases and Clair Morgan’s release looms on the horizon, but Henceroth dismissed the idea that they’ve bit off more than they could chew. “We’re not overburdened in any sense,” he answered. “We just can’t take on much more than we have right now without expanding. Our big challenge this year is going to be looking at infrastructure and where we want to go. Do we stay relatively small and focus on two to three releases a year? Or do we really want to grow and reach whatever the next level is?” No one realistically knows what’s next for Egghunt, but it’s a safe bet the label is going to go for it with the same tenacity that got to them this point now. With the spotlight on them only growing, they’re truly poised to become Richmond’s own Sub Pop. Maybe one day, we’ll look back on Egghunt with the same endearing nostalgia that we do with Sub Pop now. For now though, sit back and enjoy as Egghunt continues to showcase the best of the local music scene--one release at a time. www.egghuntrecords.org

10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015


LOCAL Reviews

Shannon Cleary (SC), Cody Endres (CE), Drew Necci (AN), Doug Nunnally (DN)

Atta Girl

Camp Howard

Daniel Conover

On this quick EP, Atta Girl work in moments of twee bliss with a musical approach that wouldn’t feel out of place on any number of punk bills. Breezy cuts like “Vagacadabra” and “Jamie Lee Curtis” make this infectious release one that you’ll find yourself replaying over and over again. (SC)

(Citrus City/Crystal Pistol /Bad Grrrl) On their self-titled debut, Camp Howard executes a number of dream pop twists that feel fresh and nuanced. “You’ve Been Misled” and lead single “Veins” both have a great air to them that feels ageless. This will be a surefire success for all fans of the band and genre. (SC)

(facebook.com/konsthechild) Daniel Conover, aka Kons, carries on from his earlier work with Seven Hills, deeper into his own unique solo world. Falling is perhaps the most spaced-out project he’s produced yet, with the psychedelic “cloud rap” backing tracks mixing well with Kons’ mystical, spiritual lyrics. Hip hop inner space exploration. Dive in. (AN)

Lil Ugly Mane

Naked Pictures

Fuck The Sun (Bad Grrrl)

Feral Conservatives Here’s To Almost (Egghunt)

Camp Howard

Oblivion Access (Ormolycka)



(nakedpicturesrichmond. bandcamp.com)

Fully realized twee music that’s as versatile as it is jangly from a Virginia Beach band on the Egghunt roster with a fearful musical bite. The band showcases the more well-known aspects of the classic C86 sound with indie pop treasures galore, but the album truly soars in moments of rumbling intensity that show of the oftenforgotten origins of the genre. (DN)

Shawn Kemp had a fairly prolific 2015, releasing a collaborative mixtape, a compilation, and this latest album. With a flow reminiscent of ElP, darkly skeptical lyrics, and a unique mix of spaced-out beats and harsh noise, the rapper/ producer is on top of his game, despite this material having been culled from the darkest depths of his psyche. (CE)


Colin Thibodeauxx /Ghosts

Ultra Flake

This duo quietly dropped one of the Richmond’s best debuts in recent memory with a four song collection that straddles the line between melodic pop and emocore. Don’t let the name of the release fool you as these songs are as strong as any proper studio recordings thanks to the pensive energy that effortlessly loops in and out of these wistful lyrics. (DN)

(collinthibodeauxx. bandcamp.com)

This new RVA hardcore-punk band features ex-members of Hot Dolphin and Bitchmouth, but what sets Ultra Flake apart from other local bands with similar sounds are the complex, dynamic riffs of guitarist Samantha Pearl. This goes by quickly and keeps you guessing, while also giving you plenty of reasons to point your finger and scream along. (AN)

Demo 2016 (rugbie.bandcamp.com)


Split EP

Two melodic indie-rock songs each from two upand-coming Richmond guitar-slingers. Collin Thibodeauxx has some upbeat catchy janglepop for you with a drifting, whimsical feel. Ghosts have a harder edge, but are still supercatchy--think early Weezer crossed with Guided By Voices. Both of these artists are sure to make you smile. (AN)

Every song on this EP just kills. Fuzzed out guitars, anthemic hooks and overdriven riffs prove to be a strongsuit for new band Naked Pictures. If this is just their first collection of tunes, what is Richmond prepared to hear when they unleash a proper follow-up? (SC)

Loudmouth (Bad Grrrl)

Lucy Dacus No Burden (Egghunt)

Believe the hype. Richmond’s brightest star delivers huge on her debut record for Egghunt with thundering music that’s firmly grounded thanks to incisive lyrics and evocative melodies. The songs here are wise beyond their years and show off Lucy Dacus as a timeless soul utilizing the vessel of a young artist on the cusp of truly making it big. (DN)

Night Idea

Breathing Cold (JuJu)

Night Idea are a band inspired by sonic exploration and Breathing Cold leaves no surface untouched. Crazy time signatures and abstract lyricism help set the band apart from several of their contemporaries within the genre. Every moment is a delicate balance within unique parameters that help to make this one of the best Richmond releases to come out this year. (SC)

Venus Guytrap

The Jell-O Shot Demos (venusguytrap. bandcamp.com)

After a short wait, Venus Guytrap recordings are a thing! Over the course of three songs, the band displays a strong prowess for nineties grunge while creating a sound all their own. “Prommunism” is full of speedy lyrical bursts and lush harmonies that show the unpredictability of Venus Guytrap and what makes them so wonderful. (SC)) RVA RVAMAGAZINE MAGAZINE2424| SPRING | SPRING2016 2016


Agoraphobic Nosebleed Arc (Relapse)

For a band that once released a 20-minute, 100-song CD to fill nearly half an hour with just three songs is decidedly irregular, but it seems Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s command of sludge is just as strong as their dominance over hyperspeed grind. Vocalist Kat Katz takes the lead here, giving us a femme-powered blast of slow-mo brutality. Sick. (AN)

David Bowie Blackstar (Columbia)

The perfect end to a truly legendary career, Blackstar is another fantastic departure for the man of a thousand sounds that seems to perfectly emulate the pulse of today’s scene, while still being groundbreaking in its own right. There are ambitious arrangements, and foreboding lyrics abound, but nothing displays Blackstar’s brilliance more than album closer “I Can’t Give Everything Away” and its heartbreaking call back to his celebrated career. (DN)

Self Defense Family Superior

(Run For Cover)

SDF’s prolific nature and constantly shifting lineup lends itself to a bit of a chameleonic sound. On their latest 12-inch EP (4 songs, 15 minutes), they veer closer to the indie end of the spectrum, channeling a dark, ominous mood that is nonetheless strangely pastoral, at times even ambient. Superior sneaks up on you, then draws you in. (AN) 10 10 years years of of RVARVA Magazine Magazine 2005-2015 2005-2015

The Anchoress

The Black Queen


A thrilling collection of thematic break-up songs that form a narrative so strong that it might just deserve placement on Broadway. Catherine AD’s new stage name allows her to branch out with an engaging art rock sound that has you guessing at every sonic twist and turn of the record, all the while wondering how you never heard it coming. (DN)

Greg Puciato’s turn as a Mike Patton-esque semi-power balladeer in The Dillinger Escape Plan has rubbed many a fan of the band’s oldschool material the wrong way. That said, the singer’s somewhat mucousy wail has a certain magnetism to it, which fits right into The Black Queen’s dark, sexy, and sleek update on Depeche Mode-style synth-pop. (CE)

The second album from this Chicago-based heavy, experimental rock group has some pretty obvious metal guideposts — the prog-sludge riffing of Mastodon and the complex rhythms of Isis are apparent ancestors to this band’s particular brand of heaviness. Despite this, it isn’t a straight-up metal record. Thin, gritty guitars, classical influences, and Bruce Lamont’s singing set this material apart. (CE)

Des Ark

Jesu/Sun Kil Moon


(Caldo Verde)

(Westbury Rd/Roc Nation)

Confessions Of A Romance Novelist (Kscope)

Everything Dies (Graveface)

For a long time, Des Ark swung back and forth between hushed acoustic beauty and thrashing post-hardcore angst. However, they’ve found a way to unify their previous extremes. On Everything Dies, the band retains an intense passion while exploring beauty through piano, acoustic guitar, and Aimee Argote’s alwaysamazing vocal talents. (AN)

State Champs

Around The World And Back (Pure Noise/Sony)

This is the kind of pop-punk I eat up with a spoon; bouncy and melodic, upbeat and emotional, mixing ingredients from hardcore and emo into the pop-punk broth that can be so stale without some cross-genre seasoning. This record is a touch more polished than their first LP was (I blame the Sony deal) but it’s definitely still punk enough to love. (AN)

Fever Daydream (self-released)

Jesu/Sun Kil Moon

This is hardly a collaboration that makes much sense on paper, but in execution, it works very well. That said, those who dislike recent Sun Kil Moon records probably won’t be turned around by this album. Mark Kozelek continues his trend of autobiographical near-spoken word, while Justin Broadrick’s atmospheric and heavy guitars do a fantastic job of establishing a melancholic tone. (CE)


The Waiting Room (City Slang)

Despite a 20-plus-year career as a band, Tindersticks is still full of imaginative arrangements — this record is loaded with diverse instrumentation, from violins to steel drums, bolstering the band’s reserved, effective guitar-bass-drums rock instrumentation. Stuart Staples’ measured but casual lounge-singer voice sounds as distinctive as ever. Fans of The National need to check this out. (CE)

Bloodiest (Relapse)


The much delayed and long awaited album sees the singer boldly forge a new path, while still offering clear glimpses of her former sound. It’s an interesting transitional record with the singer often torn between conflicting ideals, but the brashness of the lyrical content and musical choices more than make up for any cohesive issues on this impactful record. (DN)


The Catastrophist (Thrill Jockey)

Tortoise is back with a new album of peculiar post-rock, their first in seven years. Mostly instrumental aside from a David Essex cover and a new song featuring Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo, this album leans towards the funkier side of Tortoise’s sound. Synth-led tracks with tight rhythms are the order of the day, plus some flirtation with jazz fusion. (CE)




10 years of RVA Magazine 2005-2015