RVA #27 WINTER 2016

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R. Anthony Harris + Jeremy Parker FOUNDERS Inkwell PUBLISHER John Reinhold PRESIDENT Doug Nunnally PRINT EDITOR Brad Kutner WEB EDITOR, RVAMAG.COM & GAYRVA.COM Amy David ASSISTANT WEB EDITOR Global A Go Go CREATIVE DIRECTOR John Reinhold ADVERTISING WRITERS Shannon Cleary, Doug Nunnally, Joseph Genest Cody Endres, Sarah Schuster, Laura Confer, Davy Jones, Jill Smith, & R. Anthony Harris PHOTOGRAPHY Christian Hewitt, Craig Zirpolo, Jeremy Ledford, Ali Mislowsky, & Nick Davis INTERNS Megan Corsano, Jordan Michelle Collier, Sasha Jiron, Joseph Vandersyde, Tommy D. Tran, Blake H. Rackley, Kendall Bazemore, & Taylor Ostendorf hello@rvamag.com GENERAL, EDITORIAL & DISTRIBUTION ADVERTISING p: 276 732 3410 john@rvamag.com SUBMISSION POLICY RVA Magazine welcomes submissions but cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Send all submissions to hello@rvamag.com All submissions become property of Inkwell Ventures Inc. The entire content is a copyright of Inkwell Ventures Inc. and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without written authorization of the publisher.

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.

RVA Magazine is printed locally by Conquest Graphics cover by Craola 88



CARYTOWN Plan 9 Records, Agee’s Bicycles, New York Deli, Portrait House, Don’t Look Back, Chop Suey Books, Heroes & Ghosts, Weezie’s Kitchen, Ellwoood Thompsons, Need Supply Co., World of Mirth, Bits N Pixels, Tobacco Club & Gifts, Venue Skateboards

BROAD STREET ARTS DISTRICT Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Turnstyle Velocity Comics, Monument, Utmost Round Two, Steady Sounds/Bare Bones Vintage, Lift Coffee, Quirk Hotel, Sabai

DOWNTOWN & CHURCH HILL Pasture, Barcode, Tobacco Company Bottom’s Up, Kulture, Alamo BBQ, Legends, Plant Zero Cafe, Cha Cha’s Cantina, Urban Farmhouse, Manchester Market, Union Market, Mbargo, Frame Nation

VCU AREA ALB Tech, Strange Matter, Lamplighter VCU, Kulture, 821 Cafe, Fan Guitar & Ukulele, Ipanema, The Village, Mojo’s, Rumors

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, Capitol Mac, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Stikcy ToGo, Joe’s Inn, Strawberry Street Market, Little Mexico, The Camel, Lamplighter, Balliceaux, Helen’s, Metro Grill, Yesterday’s Heroes

WEST END NIssan Of Richmond, Su Casa, Mekong, Taboo, The Answer, Diamond Direct Guitar Center

SCOTT’S ADDITION The Broadberry, En Su Boca, Buz & Ned’s BBQ,, Smoke and Mirrors, Lunch.Supper, Ardent, Salon, Hardywood, The Veil

NORTHSIDE The MIll, Stir Crazy Coffee



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GOOD EATS RVA We like to eat. Follow us @RVAmag OPPOSITE PAGE from left to right, row to row Main: Momotaro Sushi Top: Savory Grain, Weezies, Goatacado Second Line: Pho So 1 Third Line: Joe's Inn Bottom: Thai Diner Too, The Nile, En Su Boca Main: Mellow Mushroom Top: Ellwood Thompson's, Burger Bach, Home Sweet Home Second Line: Sticky Rice Bottom: Bandito's Burrito Lounge, Helen's GOOD EATS RVA -- tag us @RVAmag





Coming Up in 2017... The Top of Bravery Jan 12 - Feb 4 Richmond Triangle Players 1300 Altamont Avenue Richmond, VA 23220

Cultural Arts Center 2880 Mountain Road Glen Allen, VA 23060

TICKETS - QuillTheatre.org | 804.340.0115 14





HARDYWOOD GINGERBREAD STOUT VARIANTS By the time this magazine makes it to print, you may have had a bottle or two of Gingerbread Stout already, and that’s fine, as there are plenty of variants to try: Bourbon Barrel GBS’ layers of vanilla, spice, and spirit characters come from the Virginia bourbon barrels that the beer rested in, making an already rich stout even more complex. The pairing of ginger and honey in the base beer with the spice, molasses, and brown sugar from the Caribbean dark rum barrels makes Rum Barrel GBS easy to cozy up with. Christmas Morning’s pairing of Gingerbread Stout and coffee from Black Hand Coffee Co. is ingenious, the somewhat bitter, roasted notes of coffee balancing out the sweetness of the base beer and accentuating its spices. The final twist on the GBS formula, Kentucky Christmas Morning, is Christmas Morning aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, naturally. It’s as good as it sounds. All of those variants are December releases, but Hardywood has plenty going on in 2017. The brewery’s biggest news for 2017 involves the opening of two new facilities. While the Goochland location is still in progress, and its opening date is still to be determined, the Charlottesville location will open in January. Hardywood’s beer is already sold and well-liked in the area, and they will be joining an already strong brewing culture, with Three Notch’d, Champion, and others already right around the corner. The Charlottesville spot represents an opportunity to experiment and collaborate more, as the facility will feature a larger pilot system than the Richmond location. hardywood.com





Although Steam Bell has only been open since June, they’re already looking to expand. I met Head Brewer/Owner Brad Cooper at the brewery recently, where he expressed to me that the brewery is already at one hundred percent capacity in their current space, as far as producing beer goes. That means that there’s no space for even a small packaging line, and the increased amount of brewing equipment that would then be required to keep up with the increased beer production to go into packaging and taproom kegs. While the search for an extra facility continues, the production of beers both established and new continue at the Oak Lake Boulevard location. Out now is a new flagship beer, the Brindled Brown. The Brown Ale is made with cocoa nibs and toasted pecans. It sounds like it would be heavy, but it actually finishes somewhat dry, and is very drinkable. The Brindled Brown joins original flagship Grisette, a version of the Belgian Saison style. Effervescent and light, the Grisette is ideal after a long shift -- rightly so, given the style’s historical association with miners, a profession that Brad Cooper used to be involved in. An early hit for Steam Bell, Liege, is returning in 2017. Liege is a Belgianstyle Tripel brewed with maple syrup and conditioned on vanilla beans, a rich, complex brew perfect for slow sipping. While Steam Bell has a few hoppy beers, namely the Time Is Money IPA, Cooper feels that “Hoppy beer is very well-represented in Richmond.” The brewery is more concentrated on representing styles that are not quite as common as the IPA. They currently have a sour beer in the works, which will condition for the next six to eight months. Hopefully once they find their new facility, we’ll see more beers of that kind being doled out.

By the time you read this, Triple Crossing’s new location may already be open. The new spot is a 30,000 square foot facility in the Fulton Hill area that will be used to increase production, can beers, and house a multitude of barrels filled with mixed fermentation beers. This location will also function as a full-on brewpub/restaurant, with a patio for outdoor seating. Brewer and co-owner Jeremy Wirtes is particularly excited about the neapolitanstyle pizza that will be served at the new place, a lighter style of pizza perfect for pairing with beer. The space features a unique aesthetic for a brewery, one based around street art and murals which cover the interior walls of the building. While you’re there, taking in the vibrant art, be sure to be on the lookout for Battle Creek, a single-hop Mosaic Double IPA. That entry in the hop-forward Lockout series of beers will be canned at the new facility, alongside Falcon Smash, Paranoid Android, Clever Girl, and other future projects. Also in the works is a barrel program, with beer being put in unused oak barrels and wine barrels currently. Wirtes hopes to build up a stock of these beers in order to start blending them, a practice common among many Belgian Lambic-makers. The new brewery is about half a mile from Stone, so hopefully there will be plenty of crossover appeal, as this sounds like another great addition to the Richmond beer community.





CASTLEBURG GOING STRONG Although Castleburg hasn’t even been open for a year, they’ve built quite the stronghold for themselves just down the street from Hardywood. Fortifications include a number of malt-forward and hop-forward draft options, such as the Black Knight IPA and Rustication Red Ale. Those seeking even hardier provisions can look forward to the December 23rd release of Kings, Crimes And Punishment. A Scottish Strong Ale, KC&P is a beer sure to sate your cravings for big, malty brews. The Run The Gauntlet series of singlehop Pale Ales is going strong at the time of writing, so hopefully we’ll see a continuation of the series through December. Ale is not the only option for merriment at Castleburg, however. If you find yourself longing for a tune, look for Commonwealth Bluegrass Band on the 17th, and Red Light Rodeo the same day Kings, Crimes And Punishment debuts. Also, be sure to make it out to Thursday night trivia, where groups can compete for prizes the night of, or accumulate points and cerebrally duke it out for a quarterly grand prize. It’s too early to say what 2017 holds for Castleburg, but you can be sure that more beer is on the way. castleburgbrewery.com

Legend fans, you’ve got a new destination if you’re planning on hitting the Tidewater area next summer: Richmond’s oldest craft brewery has got a new location in Portsmouth that’s set to open mid-Spring of 2017. The location, in keeping with Legend’s image, will sit in a beautiful historical building right on the Elizabeth River. The location is going to be a full-service brewpub just like the Richmond location, with indoor and outdoor seating that will accommodate about eighty people. Legend is hoping to create some special beers that are exclusive to that location, specifically some that feature “local flavor,” such as an oyster stout. Even guest taps are a possibility. While the opening of the Portsmouth location is a little ways away, Legend’s winter seasonal releases are available now. Their classic Winter White is on draft and on shelves throughout the city, still redolent of coriander, orange peel, and Belgian Trappist yeast as always. Legend’s twist on the traditional Belgian Wit style is fortified for winter, with a richer malt body than most wheats, making it perfect for those that don’t feel like drinking an imperial stout just yet. The Chocolate Porter goes full-tilt into “winter beer” mode, a rich, malty affair complete with natural chocolate flavor. At six percent though, Chocolate Porter won’t quite knock you off your bar stool. Also be on the lookout for Legend Barleywine out now. Legend’s take on the style is a massive fifteen percent ale chock full of dried fruit and caramel flavors, with a distinctively American hop bitterness to it, which is something that will fade with time. That fact is worth noting, as the high alcohol content and rich flavor of this beer make it a perfect candidate for aging. So stock up and try an aged bottle alongside next year’s batch.. legendbrewing.com




Interview by Cody Endres

His combined experience brewing Heady Topper, assisting Hill Farmstead’s barrel program mastermind, and learning from Cantillon -- the producers of some of the most beloved traditional sour beers in the world -- might tell you where The Veil’s Head Brewer Matt Tarpey is now. How did he get here though? Once you meet Tarpey, you understand how. The road that he traveled towards starting his own brewery was clearly paved by his seemingly constant drive, plus gobs of enthusiasm and charisma. He started out as a volunteer at O’Connor Brewing in Norfolk, before moving to New England to pursue opportunities at Portsmouth and The Alchemist. After a chance meeting with Cantillon’s Van Roy, Tarpey hopped the pond to Brussels, Belgium to learn from the highly regarded brewery. Coming back to Vermont, he continued on at The Alchemist, and helped out at Hill Farmstead in his spare time, eventually going on to work directly under Head Brewer and namesake Shaun Hill. Although reasons for Tarpey’s move from Vermont to Virginia were not entirely beer-related, he couldn’t have picked a better time join Virginia’s beer community, with more breweries producing more quality beer than ever before. The Veil’s contributions to that community thus far have mainly been big, flavorful IPAs, and while those aren’t going away, there’s a wide variety of things to come. Tarpey recently took time out of his always busy schedule to tell me about those future projects, the whimsical nature of spontaneous fermentation, and the over the top hopping schedules for their IPAs.


A lot of your popular beers are hazy, hopforward ales that utilize newer, less wellknown varieties of hops. What would you say are the main contributing factors to the consistent direction of your IPA program, and how do you manage to coax such vivid flavors and aromas out of the hop varieties that you use? In terms of consistency, I would say that would just kind of go back to one: experience, and two: I guess it would be my OCD about different quality checks throughout the process. In my opinion, there hasn’t been one hundred percent consistency in the last six months, because I have been making subtle changes to adjust to our system, the particular yeast blend that we use. They may not be as noticeable to the average beer drinker, the difference between batch two of Crucial Taunt and batch six of Crucial Taunt, but to me they’re noticeable. I think we’re really starting to dial in how to work with the particular yeast blend that we’re working with, our system setup; we’ve been experimenting with different base malts. So I think, in terms of consistency, I think we’re really starting to hone in our process and our system here. Contributing factors to extreme aromatics and flavor profiles, hop-wise, that we have for our beers, I think, again, is a combination of experience, experimentation, and recklessness. [Laughs] I’ve told a lot of brewers how much hops I use in our beers. Like I tell Trillium, and I’ll tell Monkish, and I’ll tell Bissell Brothers, and Other Half how we use our hops. Sometimes, those brewers have said I’m crazy. They start talking to me about diminishing returns, and all that kind of stuff, and it’s not important to me. That’s how it’s been, that’s how our business has been set up from day one. Of course, we are still a business, so we have to focus on profit margin and that kind of stuff, but that’s not the first and foremost, most important factor in our beer production.

It’s the beer, and make the beer the best we know how, the best we can to the best of our abilities, with the best ingredients that we can get our hands on, and hope and cross our fingers that we can make some money off of it too. The money has never been, from day one, the interest or the focus of this brewery. It’s about seriously making the best beer we know how to make. What is your process for choosing which beers to brew again? You put out a lot of beers that seem like one-offs, but then they’ll pop up again a month later. I’d say the main contributing factor of when a beer returns is if I liked it or not. If I don’t like it, then I probably won’t bring it back. There’s a few, which will remain nameless, that I did not like, that we will never brew again. I would say the second contributing factor to that is... I kind of go back when I’m writing the schedule out -- because I usually write about six to seven weeks in advance -- I go out and I say “Is there a beer that we brewed in the past that was pretty cool, but hasn’t made it back?” We either haven’t re-released it, or it hasn’t been brewed in a while or something like that. Sometimes I’ll throw that in there. Sometimes when I just have a creativity block, I’ll just go back and say “Well, we haven’t brewed that one in a while,” and then we just throw that in there because I can’t think of another new beer to make. We’ve been open seven months today and I think we have sixty different beers we’ve released. That’s like eleven or twelve new beers a month. That’s pretty crazy. So far we’ve seen a few wild- and mixedfermentation beers from The Veil, with more to come in the future. Could you talk a little bit about making beer like that? It’s hard for me to comprehend how you weed out an undesirable trait in something that seems somewhat outside of your control.


beginning of 2015, late 2014. We looked in Manchester. We looked kind of all over Richmond honestly. In all reality, no place had the ceiling height that we needed. The ceiling, the proximity of some residential [property] for foot traffic... it was just hard to find the perfect location. We were going to lease this space down here on the corner, adjacent to the handcraft building, but that didn’t work out. We had another space down there that we were going to work on, or that we signed a lease for, but the zoning was improper, so we canceled that one. This property fell into our lap, from the other two guys that we have a partnership in the ownership in this building. So our business owns half and It’s a beautiful thing. these other two gentlemen own half of the Yeah, it’s amazing. I love it. I love the building. This space was inadequate too, fact that I don’t have any control over until they said they can raise the roof. Over it because I have so much control on the there, where the tanks are, we actually had to raise the roof six feet. IPA production and then I have this other aspect where I don’t have any control. The only thing that really can contribute We saw the potential of Scott’s Addition. to the production of something beautiful I think it was an added bonus that from something so wild is my palate, or our this space was in Scott’s Addition. We palates, which is... that’s crazy. I know a lot would have liked to have been in Scott’s of people that are extremely book-smart Addition because we saw the potential of when it comes to beer production. They’re the neighborhood, but it actually wasn’t walking textbooks, but they can’t taste imperative. I think it was the property in diacetyl, they can’t taste off-flavors. They general, and the opportunity that we had don’t have great palates. It’s also kind of with this property that drew us to this like music to me: You can learn how to play property, which so happens to be in Scott’s Addition. the guitar, you can learn how to play the drums, but if you can’t sing, you can’t sing. You can take singing lessons, but how far Influences from breweries you previously are you going to get with that? You just worked in show up in Veil beers -- New might be able to hold a note. I think that’s England-style cloudy IPAs, and Belgian-style way more exciting to me, that palate is wild ales, that kind of stuff. What makes a Veil beer a Veil beer? the contributing factor in the production of these beers. It’s been awesome. We’ve been experimenting with a lot of different There’s a very fine line between inspiration and imitation, and that’s a line that I think yeast blends, for mixed fermentation. a lot of breweries walk, and sometimes I How did you come to choose Scott’s Addition find myself walking that line, and it’s scary. I don’t want to. Everything about The Veil, as the site for your brewery? everything I do here, I use the techniques Scott’s Addition was kind of on the radar that I have learned working with previous from day one, from when we first started brewers, and I kind of make them my own. talking about this project back in the If you showed other brewers that I worked So with wild beer production, it’s as simple as it sounds. It’s wild. There is not a ton of control. There is control and a lot of it does take experience, but you’re very right. We’ve produced some beers that have been super, super weird in barrels. They taste weird. Especially with the spontaneous -- the spontaneous aren’t weird. I’m very happy with the spontaneous project so far. With the spontaneous, there is zero control. All I do is produce wort and then I put that wort in a barrel, then whatever happens, happens. It ferments and conditions with the microflora that’s in the air, and I can’t do anything about that.


with my recipe sheets, they would be like “Oh, that’s kinda weird that you’re doing that” or “I wouldn’t do it like that” or “I’d do it like that, but I definitely wouldn’t do it like that.” I think it’s important to try to make everything you’re own, which is very hard these days, because there’s so many breweries out there that are making great beer, in Virginia, and all over the world. I think for all brewers, it’s important to do our best. If you find yourself walking that line, to try your best to lean on the inspiration and not the imitation. Trust your own instincts. Trust your own ideas. Exactly. Just go with your gut, your intuition. Just try to make it your own. In my opinion, one of the most exciting things about The Veil is that we aren’t tied to a big distributor, we aren’t tied to distribution in general. We don’t really distribute beer that we produce. All of our canned products are sold in-house, and then ninety-five percent of our draft is sold in-house. I think that’s the beauty of our situation -- it’s that we brew for us, we don’t brew for the market, which is important. I think that helps us be true to ourselves. We don’t see a growing trend and jump on it. We brew the beers that we like. Sometimes you’ll walk in here and there’ll be nine different Double IPAs on, and that’s all we have. We don’t have a brown ale, and a golden ale, and a lager, and something else. We’re not brewing these hazy, juicy -- whatever you call ‘em -- New England-style IPAs. We just call ‘em Double IPA. We aren’t brewing these beers because they’re popular. We’re brewing these beers because we love these beers, and that’s what I feel comfortable brewing. Don’t miss the full interview with Matt Tarpey over at RVAMag.com later this month.




The line between dance and electropop has been drawn and it’s dark, dynamic, and unforgettable. Richmond titan Anousheh’s latest single is a stand-out composition that will haunt your mind with melodic whispers and forlorn jubilation. With a memorable thump and systematic drawl, the song feels trance-like with brief moments of clarity, most notably in the bridge where a sprightly melody and vocals behind a wall of fuzz open the song up for a striking conclusion. Anousheh’s uncanny ability to float between sonic light and dark has always been remarkable, but here, it’s simply imposing as it flaunts Anousheh’s musical power for Richmond and the world to see. --Doug Nunnally


This is possibly the most sparkly goth jam in recent history. This L.A.-based band calls to mind Cocteau Twins with their shimmering, shoegazing guitars, although they eschew that band’s dreaminess, opting for faster, more driving percussion. Stark but resonant singing harkens back to classic post-punk, and contrasts the bright, modern feel of the production. Sleek synths seem to alternately pulsate under, and wash overtop the song arrangement, adding incredible depth to the track. “Cold Souls” is positively Cure-like in its marriage of lush arrangements to an overall dour tone. Look for the album that this song is from, The Demonstration, early next year. --Cody Endres

LAURA BURHENN, “GOOD MEDICINE” APPLES & ORANGES, SADDLE CREEK Required listening for those wandering life in a daze as a devastating political landscape unfolds. The activist message from the frontwoman of The Mynabirds loudly reverberates across the soft composition giving her gentle voice as much power as an overblown amp. What’s truly uncanny here is that stunning and indelible melody with its dangling hesitancy that says with a few notes than any voice ever could. It’s a melody born out of pain and sorrow, yet not discouraged. It’s the anthem of the downtrodden, one that could be repeated across any medium with comparable impact, though its true power lies in Burhenn’s hands as she cautions to just start listening. --Doug Nunnally

MATTHEW E. WHITE & FLO MORRISSEY, “LOOK AT WHAT THE LIGHT DID NOW” GENTLEWOMAN, RUBY MAN, GLASSNOTE Spacebomb’s arrangements create incredible depth, and the total effect of closing your eyes during the biggest part of a Matthew E. White song is enveloping. But zooming in on details can be just as rewarding, and “Look At What The Light Did Now,” the lead single from the Gentlewoman, Ruby Man cover album White made with Flo Morrissey, is my new favorite example. Take Cameron Ralston’s bass -- it’s just one element of the song, but focusing on Ralston’s extraordinarily nimble and funky contribution is enough to overwhelm. No wonder White called it “one of the sickest bass takes I’ve ever been in the room for.” --Davy Jones

YOUNG SCUM, “OUT OF STATE” ZONA, CITRUS CITY There’s a familiarity in noticing that a moment has washed over you in the most incredible of ways. All anxiety has been lifted and you sense that the uncertain is exciting again. Young Scum express these sentiments and more on the enchanting “Out Of State,” a song that kicks it in high gear from the moment it begins and never lets up as it closes out their EP Zona. The song blends their exhilarating take on indie pop and delivers a song that will leave you endlessly persuaded of how much a song can emulate the memories you could never part with. --Shannon Cleary


STUDIO NEWS Egghunt Records recently announced Hatched, a year-long subscription service that will release four cassette EPs from new additions to the label’s growing roster. Subscription is limited to 50 slots with each subscriber receiving a cassette release, digital copy, and band-specific bonus item each quarter. Q1 of 2017 will see the release of a new EP from avant-garde pop artist Dazeases, followed by popular chill rock group Camp Howard in Q2, grainy pop trio Big Baby in Q3, and thundering grunge punk quartet Doll Baby in Q4. It’s an ambitious reach for the young label in both a business and musical sense, with many artists in town hoping for its success in order to win a chance in 2018’s line-up. Former Egghunt member and current Matador jewel Lucy Dacus continues to debut new songs at her concerts across the country and here in town, fueling anticipation of her follow-up barely ten months removed from the release of her debut record. As she racks up accolade after accolade in the end-of-the-year retrospective for publications both small and large, expectations will be high for whatever comes next, but by the sounds of her new material so far, fans should expect something as gripping and moving as No Burden to follow. Local label Cherub Records recently celebrated their 15th anniversary that was preceded by a monumental release spearheaded by Dave Watkins entitled The Colloquial Orchestra, and also accompanied by a 40 song compilation that celebrates the diversity of their roster over the years. The label is already eyeing 2017 too with an anticipated release from Hoax Hunters due out, which will serve as the follow-up to their 2014 inventive EP Clickbait, offering local fans plenty of reason to keep their eyes on Cherub moving forward. A little over a year removed from his memorable stint on The Voice, Richmond musician Evan McKeel will be releasing his first record in over three years in 2017 entitled Brown Paper Bag. The first single, “Love Again,” recently premiered with its heart-wrenching lyrics and stunning vocals standing out proudly against a backdrop of sparse instrumentation. The album will be released under McKeel’s skinny-E alias, who will be using that name in and around town moving forward. Expect plenty of benefit shows and releases in the first few months of 2017 as Richmond channels its frustration over the political landscape of our nation into productive outputs that will benefit organizations like ACLU, Forward Together, and Sister Song. The recent release Friends For Equality, organized by Fox Food Records and Spartan Jet-Plex, seems to be leading the way with its recent release, but many more are underway with artists in town yearning to have their voices heard and their causes furthered.








The Virginia ACLU had representatives in blue vests to offer support and observe police interactions.

“A first grader in my class said, ‘if Trump wins we’d go back to slavery,’” she said. “A first grader.”

Several people stood to make their views on Donald Trump heard, including River Holland, a senior in high school in the Richmond area, VCU freshman Aaron Shah, and VCU junior Jafar Cooper.

Other protesters like Leah Gosnell, a homemaker from Midlothian, voiced similar outrage.

Cooper, a student in the Theatre Arts program, spoke directly to first-time protesters.

It was Gosnell’s first protest. Friends and family in her community refused to join her--so she came alone.

“People have been facing this fear for their entire lives,”said Jafar Cooper, a member of VCU’s Theatre Arts program.


Saturday, November 12th, four days after Donald J. Trump was elected, hundreds of people gathered in downtown for an event called “Richmond Grabs Back.” The event was part of a vaguely coordinated call to action along side cities across the country. Unlike many initial protest events held around the country Tuesday night, this event and others like it aimed to peacefully express their concerns as opposed to some of the destruction of property left in the wake of events held days earlier. VCU student Julian McBain said those incidents were “a cathartic release of anger,” a reaction to Trump’s history of objectification of women and minorities.

“I am so happy to see all these people out here today,” said Cooper into a megaphone. He offered moral support for those who hadn’t activated before. “People have been doing this forever...This is the reality that people have had to deal with for their entire lives.”

“I want you to ask yourself--’what is freedom?’ And what does freedom and liberation look like? What does that look for the Black, queer, trans, woman body?” they asked. A deafening cheer went up through the crowd.” Cooper recited “I Want A President,” a radically queer and race-based poem by Zoe Leonard which offers underrepresented, real-life alternatives to the rich, white-male “president” image Trump represents to many. “My fist goes up ‘til Trump steps down!” shouted the crowd behind a “RVA GRABS BACK” banner. The crowd head east up W. Main St. towards Carytown.

McBain, who helped organize the protest along side a number of fellow activists, hadn’t been involved in this large-scale action before.

“I have friends who were scared to come out today,” said a VCU senior and professional Spanish Interpreter who only gave her first name, Lisa, for fear of repercussions of speaking out against the new establishment.

The crowd gathered outside the James Branch Cabell Library. VCU, William & Mary, and UVA students as well as city and county residents, families and individuals alike, came out.

A first generation El Salvadorian-native here on a student visa, she was unsure what would come of her and the kids she mentors the Boys and Girls Club.

The protest began with speeches, including statements from Figueroa and McBain advising protesters on the chants and their rights.

“It affects me, it affects my family,” she said of Trump’s promise to deport millions of immigrants, undocumented and documented alike, all while shifting her "Not My President" sign between her hands.


“I never thought he’d win,” she said.

Trump’s surprise win “made me get off my butt,” she laughed. Chants during the march ranged from “No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” to “Black Lives Matter!” Reasons for joining the march crossed a broad spectrum, from county residents like Gosnell to VCU sophomores like Logan Carmone and Aria Sharif. The two stretched between them a blue, pink, and white flag that symbolizes Transgender Pride. “I’m Kurdish,” said Sharif, who also identifies as Brown, trans, and gay. “My family lived through one genocide, and I don’t [want] them to live through another.” Carmone agreed. “We’re out here for trans rights, queer rights, muslim rights. The majority vote is not represented by the electoral college,” he said. Talk of political corruption seemed to permeate throughout each discussion, as well as a need to create a community movement beyond national politics. The march snaked through the whole of Carytown along W. Main St. and back down West Cary ending back at the VCU library. As protesters passed, patrons of Carytown and Fan restaurants came out to watch, cheering on the protest or, in some cases, gazing on in plain shock at the flooded streets. Of the future, many in the protest hoped for greater unity against Trump and his politics. Several hoped that the protests could remain unified and peaceful, a sentiment shared by Figueroa, Lisa, and VCU senior Toni Sheffield. “It needs to be a community movement,” Sheffield said firmly. As the sky went dark, and the procession slowed to a halt on campus once more, Cooper spoke again to those who had protested for the first time. “I want you to ask yourself--’what is freedom?’ And what does freedom and liberation look like? What does that look for the Black, queer, trans, woman body?” they asked. A deafening cheer went up through the crowd. “We are not free, until we are all free!” RVA MAGAZINE 27 24 || WINTER SPRING 2016




By Laura Confer

Moving here three years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. Sitting on a pillow, doing my best to see over the wheel of a 20’ moving truck I barreled down from Boston to Syracuse to Richmond, I arrived sleepdeprived and sore from carrying boxes to break into the apartment where my new landlord had forgotten to leave out keys. Like so many transplants before me, Richmond was attractive because it offered change, something familiar but not, a city where I could afford to fail. For two months, until the college where the teaching job I had secured began the semester where I was needed, I was unemployed and unknown, save the three friends I brought down from upstate New York. Broke and restless, armed with more free time 26

than I will ever have again in my adult life, I ran my finger down the list of shows played across town, behind the doors of houses and venues I had no idea about, and just went. “Any night of the week, you can pick a show with a list of bands you’ve never heard of and go hear amazing music,” Tim Falen yells, loudly enough to be heard over the crush of people surrounding us. Strolling onto the back patio at taco bar Don’t Look Back, Falen stands tall against the red stringed lights, trademark jean jacket and button down shirt (never a t-shirt, he learned from his father) almost hidden underneath a waterfall of classic rocker hair. Adjusting the prescription-less glasses he sports these days, Falen sits down

at the picnic table worn smooth, unabashedly surveying the stream of people in and out of the tiny space as we speak. Coming here seven years ago with the other members of electrified folk band Diamond Center, Falen related to that experience. Getting out into the music scene was a given, seeing as Diamond Center needed to make connections to be able to book shows, but beyond that Falen remembers being impressed by the quality of music here. Here, new local bands will “literally go out of town to play shows just to get tight enough to come back and play their first home gig” he laughs, stubbing out a cigarette in a cheap plastic ashtray. When the audience is going to be made up of members from so many other bands, “you can’t really afford to suck.” Living in a city that gave the world Gwar, Lamb of God, and Sparklehorse, among countless others, one would assume there is no shortage of good music still being played. And while that is true, the fundamental difference between this town’s music scene then and now is not just the quality of the music, but the connectivity that is a hallmark of Richmond music. “Before, and elsewhere, the people are not as together,” explained Falen, noting that plenty of good music is played in little pockets all over the country, but the feeling has never been as cohesive for him as it is here. RVA MAGAZINE 27 24 || WINTER SPRING 2016

Remembering his own move into Richmond, the other musicians and fans then, Falen leans forward in a moment of seriousness, citing the “elimination of a singular mindset” as the motivation for bands “not piggybacking on others’ art, but promoting one another.” Falen drives home the point matter of factly by saying “young bands shouldn’t have to know everything” before they play their first show.

to be played at 45 RPM, and a 7” would be crowded. “I like 78’s, but who really plays those anymore?” she laughs, eyes squinting in the evening sun. For bands like Atta Girl, who spring up in the Richmond scene and play mostly at local venues, creating a tape could be the first, if not primary, way to get music into the hands of patrons who loved their shows.

“He just came up to us after seeing us play and asked if we wanted to make a tape,” said Nathan Grice, one half of the duo Big No. Under hanging plants and band posters, Grice reclined in his living room, mug of hot tea in hand, while Heather Jerabeck, his partner, cutely wrapped a small birthday gift for a neighbor down the street. Though Grice had lived in Richmond as a student, he and Jerabeck relocated to the city several years ago from California. After meeting a few people at shows, and putting together a few for their own band, they met Falen, who by then was playing in multiple other bands, and who also had taken over the tape label Bad Grrl Records.

For all that tapes give a fiscally sound alternative to vinyl or CD for a small band, it is really the underlying sense of community and camaraderie that drive a scene so niche, so focused that keeps Falen working in “tape jail” night after night. After working a job that basically pays for the label, Falen comes home to sit with his computer, tape duplicator, and scissors to put together the product. “Most of what I do is cut paper,” he laughs, pushing buttons on the tape deck, setting up the run, before settling in to, indeed, cut the labels out for a run of Big No cassettes. With his beloved dog Pearl at his feet, Falen runs the label out of his living room crowded with amps, drums, and guitars in between working, going to shows, and playing drums and bass for his own current bands: Bad Magic, Lady God, and Ultra Flake.

When Falen joined up with Bad Grrl in 2014, the label was struggling, almost nonexistent, and since then Falen has taken on virtually every role necessary to see it survive. “It’s a way to take home a physical reminder, some tangible media, from the show you went to the night before,” Falen drawls through drags off a cigarette, as “digital media doesn’t create memories.” In an age where renting a movie means Amazon.com allowing access for 24 hours before the film magically disappears again, walking away from a show with the band in hand is not as much as a nostalgic action as it is a connective one, putting you back into the music, into the energy of the show, time and time again. Tapes, like a live show, capture the “natural imperfection of music, and that’s what makes [them] good.” In a local scene punctuated with small bands that may never go far beyond our city limits, creating tapes as physical reminders of a show binds together those people, those Richmonders who live and work in this city with those of us who will go to a house show on a Tuesday to see, hear, and love an amazing band. With her pixie hair and laugh that almost seems to catch her by surprise, RM Livingston of Atta Girl echoes Grice’s words in remembering how her band came to cut a tape with Bad Grrl. After hearing the band at a show one night, Falen simply asked if they would like to make a tape. As a younger band, Atta Girl had only six songs they were ready to record, and a tape made the most sense. “Vinyl is expensive,” Livingston succinctly explains in between offering bites of her barbeque tofu. “Touring and putting out a record isn’t as much an option for us,” she says; at only six songs, a 12” would have 10 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015

The spirit of goodwill for the music community that keeps Falen knee deep in paper and tape shells drives the label and also the relationships built between bands, Falen, and fans. Though he may not see it this way, Falen works tirelessly to thread together these relationships and has been one of many driving factors in shaping the music scene in Richmond as it stands today, one of support and love between most bands. Small labels like Bad Grrl fill a hole in the support structure of a solid music scene, as band members would have to have access to all this other gear and time and money to put out non-digital music unless they were signed to a bigger label and had more of a catalog from which to choose tracks. “It’s not easy to get stuff pressed,” Falen notes, “and bands can’t always eat the media cost on top of everything else.” Further, as Jerabeck notes, she appreciates having a tape because “otherwise, what physical reminder of the band would [Nathan and I] have?” Fun work though it is, Falen bears the brunt of Bad Grrl almost alone, yet views his contribution in a detached, obvious way, framing the label as falling in line with what others have done and continue to do here. Strange Matter, for example, “would not be as awesome as it is without Mark Osbourn, who books good bands inclusively and doesn’t adhere to a type or genre.” Having a local station like WRIR, which is completely volunteer-based and strongly affiliated with local music, gives musicians, tech people, writers, and countless others the chance to

try out ideas, to promote a band that is so new their set is 10 minutes, but it is a rad 10 minutes. In a setting like that, “you do what you can, give what you can, until you get too busy or burnt out and take a break; they’ll still be there when you’re ready to come back.” The competition and pettiness that can fracture music in other cities does not play well here. Band members turn out for other shows, put newer acts on their bills; graphic designers and artists donate their time to create posters; writers cover shows and albums and bands, and all is done with a sense of community. In Richmond, Falen says, “music is a cared-for thing.” As I sat with Falen on the back porch of Don’t Look Back that night, talking with him about the label and music we love over whiskey drinks and cigarettes, we were slowly joined by the night crowd filtering in as parents and their kids went home from dinner, as little groups of colleagues trying out being real-world friends picked up suit jackets slung over chairs during Happy Hour drinks, and soon were surrounded by musicians and fans, people somehow affiliated with Falen. As the sun went down and the porch lights came on, James Wingo and Matt Fottrell, half of alternative band Sungazer, came to shake hands and slap Falen on his jean-jacketed shoulder, settling in a few tables away but soon unable to not contribute to our conversation. The guitarist and bassist for Falen’s former band Clair Morgan sat down beside us, telling stories from their weeks and asking about ours while Clair Morgan himself made us all drinks behind the bar. What started as an interview gradually devolved back down into what happens out there so many nights: the familiar narrative of ridiculous jokes, old show stories, and our lives. As I watched Falen throw his head back in his loud, staccato laugh at a mention of how he once was thrown out of the bar for using the fire extinguisher, I could not help but see the self-proclaimed Nihilist, the man whose love for his dog is legendary, the man who jokes about eating Wendy’s Baconators and how it doesn’t matter what he eats because nothing matters, as the same man in the midst of what he has helped to foster. Running a tape label on his own, working to promote small, new bands who maybe do not have the funds, or maybe are so new to being in a band at all that they are not even sure how to start, Falen aims to bolster a scene long-lived in Richmond, one that has in the past been fractured by jealousy or detachment as any creative aspect of a city can be, but has actually worked to help form something even tighter, even bigger than he would potentially believe: a family. facebook.com/Bad-Grrrl-Records



There were a couple of years during the second George W. Bush administration when I was playing at Curbside Cafe every Thursday night with an acoustic trio called Captain Slicktalk. During that time, I had a MacBook with Pro Tools installed and (apparently) a ton of time to experiment with recording and mixing. Hours and hours were spent getting to know the Pro Tools interface, learning how to correctly mic a guitar, not learning how to correctly mic a djembe, compressing, fading, and panning. Along with a handful of unreleased -- and quite possibly unreleasable -- recordings, two lasting realizations came out of those years: One, I loved the process of recording music. Two, I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve since learned to lean on people who do know what they’re doing, and I’m lucky enough to live in a city that doubles as a buzzing hive of recording activity. As a huge fan of just about everything Spacebomb does, I’ve watched with reverence as the studio has earned headlines for lending sophisticated arrangements to artists from near (Matthew E. White, Natalie Prass) and far (Foxygen, Slow Club, Georgie). I feel a similar reverence when I visit In Your Ear Studios for their Shockoe Sessions; these networking events provide rare access to their stunning facilities, which host everything from Grammy-winning recording and live performances to audio production for films, video games, and commercials.


Including and beyond Spacebomb and In Your Ear, the options for Richmond bands looking to lay tracks down are many, varied, and often affordable, and even a brief survey of the studios in town is truly inspiring.

You might have caught Shannon Cleary’s article in the magazine’s last issue about The Virginia Moonwalker, the Mechanicsville studio operated by Russell Lacy that’s become popular among local acts. Another space Richmond musicians have latched onto is Scott’s Addition Sound. Offering “a classic mic collection, vintage rack gear and many years of experience,” Scott’s Addition has helped craft -- among many other albums -- two post-rock masterpieces that loom large in the local section of my own record collection, Shy-Low’s Hiraeth and Everyone Dies In The End’s All Things Lead To This. Both were recorded and mixed by engineer Allen Bergendahl and build expansive soundscapes, reflecting wonderfully Scott’s Addition’s generously sized live room. Bergendahl’s is a name you’ll see often in the liner notes of Richmond-based recordings, as is Bryan Walthall’s. A popular engineer and producer in his own right, Walthall mastered the last two Lightfields releases, Feelings and Melodies, which were largely recorded and mixed by Bergendahl at Scott’s Addition. Another name that appears often is Adrian Olsen. Olsen and his father Bruce helm Montrose Recording, which is named after the historic former plantation it resides on, just a ten minute drive from downtown. Montrose boasts a wealth of outstanding equipment and a three-bedroom, two-bath guest house, so visiting bands can complete extended projects in comfort. Fans of Avers know that Adrian works on both sides of the board, having served in complementary production and performance roles on the band’s two standout albums, Empty Light and Omega/Whatever. Indie favorites like Futurebirds and Spirit Family Reunion can also be found on Montrose’s client list, along with venerated Richmond names like Steve Bassett and Lindy Fralin. Driving those ten minutes back into downtown gets you to the doorstep of the studio some would call the city’s most revered, Sound of Music. The facility’s history reaches back more than twenty years to a heyday when ‘90s alternative standard-bearers like Cracker and Carbon Leaf gained acclaim regionally and nationally with recordings made there. When the band I currently play with, Road Kill Roy, was first looking to record, we toured Sound of Music and were floored by the studio’s offerings -- recording, mixing, mastering, video production, equipment repair and rental, and live performances all take place there. Founder John Morand has earned a reputation as one of the most gifted engineers in the industry, and he’s served as mentor to a whole generation of aspiring engineers. In fact, one of the studio’s significant contributions has been acting as an incubator for behind-the-board talent. RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING 2016

Pedro Aida is a great example. Aida and Sound of Music first crossed paths in 2002, when he moved to Richmond after earning a certificate from the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe and interning with hardcore producer Brian McTernan at Baltimore’s Salad Days Studio. We talked recently in the living room of his family’s home about how he got started in the business. “My friend Casey was an engineer [at Sound of Music],” Aida remembered, “and I interned for probably eight or nine months, twice a week. We went there and interned all day, before I had a paying assistant engineer job on certain sessions… Carbon Leaf had a record called Indian Summer that they recorded in 2003, and I was on their session. That was a six-month job. I learned a lot. I was an assistant engineer, so I wasn’t anything more than a paid intern -- you know, putting up mics, getting lunch, charting sounds... That was a cool experience, watching those songs come to life.” He even lived at Sound of Music for a time. “Everyone [who works there] lives there at some point,” Aida said, “because it’s free and you’re kind of like the groundskeeper… You help clean up, set up sessions, and you can just hang around and work on stuff.” Aida is who took Road Kill Roy on a tour of Sound of Music, and a handful of years and several sessions later, we’re still working together, having just completed a speedy three-song round of tracking and mixing at Audio Verite -- the studio he now owns and operates in a built-out detached garage behind his Lakeside home. It’s hard to think of Audio Verite as a garage now. It’s split down the middle into a live room and a control room that are separated by an entryway at one end and window at the other. The control room has a comfortable couch, chairs lining the walls, and a massive TV monitor on the back wall, and every now and then, Aida’s incredibly sweet dog Pisco will make an appearance and help you finish a guitar part by licking your hands while you’re playing. We’ve spent enough time at Audio Verite for it to feel like a second home for the band, but the hours we do spend there are jam-packed. “One thing that I bring to the table is [being] quick,” Aida said. “I know what I want out of the recording and I know how to get it, and as soon as I get it, we move on.” Studio efficiency is any band’s best friend, and guitarist Kenneth Close affirmed that Aida’s pace is part of why Positive No returned to Audio Verite for a new round of recordings. “We worked with him on our ‘Automatic Cars’ single and his flexibility in working quickly at 10 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015

a good price was a big influencer in us coming back, along with being pleased with the final product. I’m extremely picky about drums sounding big and he’s managed to help us achieve that without 30-foot ceilings.” Aida maintains a relentless sense of momentum -- he even speaks quickly, I noticed while interviewing him for this article -- which has prevented Road Kill Roy from getting bogged down by excessive ornamentation or easily-fixed imperfections. “I’m not an audio nerd,” he confessed. “I’m not an audiophile.” As part of a band where everyone has kids and time is tight, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate his approach. Add in the fact that our singer, Mike Raybould, did carpentry work on the facility, earning us some studio time, and you can see why going back to Pedro was a no-brainer for us. But for other bands -- groups just starting out or musicians looking to achieve a specific sound -- the choice of where to record can be a complex one, made especially complex by the fact that there are so many good options in Richmond. I asked Aida about how to go about making that decision. “The first thing bands [should] think of is the sounds the engineer has put out in the past.” He mentioned Steve Barber, Bob Rupe, Alan Weatherhead, and Kevin Willoughby as respected colleagues, and he praised Montrose and Scott’s Addition for their ability to capture specific sounds. “Montrose… there are some really cool studios in town that you don’t hear about all the time but do really cool, more organic, big-room stuff. Scott’s Addition Sound… they have a big room, but it’s also very tight, with the tile ceilings.” Aida went on to note Sound of Music’s versatility. “John [Morand] is so diverse in what he can do. But I always liked things John did that were more folky, or even garage-y, like Cracker, or things like Carbon Leaf where you get that Sparklehorse [sound] -- that slow, folky, big, lots of old lo-fi gear, talk box stuff.” Location, scheduling, and cost were other factors Aida pointed to. “Once you know your budget, that narrows down the studios that you can go to, which is still a lot of them. I think most studios in town now are at that same rate -- mid-level, $35 to $45 an hour.” While Aida acknowledged the warmth of analog, he issued words of caution about the expense of recording to tape. “When I started at Sound of Music, my first few sessions were on tape. It definitely has this warmth to it, and this nice compression, especially if you have a solid drummer. But it’s very expensive.”

One way musicians can keep costs low, regardless of whether they choose digital or analog, is to show up ready. “Be prepared,” Aida advised. “New [drum] heads, new strings, that kind of stuff. Know the parts. If you want to use studio time to rehearse, that’s fine. I’ll take the money. But for your sake, I’d rather you be as ready as possible.” Aida placed less emphasis on how extensively studios are outfitted, though he talked about acquiring his current drum set as a turning point for Audio Verite. At the same time, he acknowledged the significant role band members’ own gear plays. “Starting off with good equipment from the musician’s standpoint is important. If you have a good drummer and a good drum set -- a good drum sound -- then you’re already 80% of the way toward a good recording.” Drum considerations can be decidedly different for hip hop and electronic artists. “There are people out there who work in a digital realm where that’s all they do,” Aida said. “They’re really good [at] sequencing, MIDI, Reason, and programming drums, getting them to sound really good and real… that’s what they bring to the table.” I was immediately reminded of Jellowstone Records mastermind Devonne Harris (DJ Harrison), known across several of Richmond’s musical circles as the prolific producer of beat tapes like his landmark Stashboxxx album, and as the keyboardist of soulful jazz outfit Butcher Brown. Aida is also used to sharing producing and performing duties. He currently both plays guitar in and plays engineer to punk band Ann Beretta. “I recorded them before I was in the band,” Aida said. “I recorded Rob [Huddleston] in a producer-engineer sense, so he was very open to ‘Let’s do it this way, let’s do it that way.’ They’ve always come back to me. Now that I’m in the band, we’ve just kept that mentality going. ‘I’m recording your band that I just happen to play guitar in now.’ We’re doing our new record here next year and starting some stuff now. I’m really excited about it.” Aida’s passion for recording runs deep, especially when it comes to people, reflecting how, ultimately, your studio decision should come down to who you’re happiest working alongside. “My favorite thing in general about recording,” Aida stated, “is connecting with all of the people in the bands… When I can get with a band or project [where] everybody’s cool and the songs are good, it doesn’t feel like work. I almost feel bad getting paid for it sometimes.”







"Let's go upstairs and make sure we can see the whole city while we chat." That's Tyler Williams, drummer for The Head And The Heart, speaking to fellow band member Jonathan Russell and myself in the lobby of The Quirk Hotel almost instinctively after the first music question was asked. We had arrived here in the heart of downtown Richmond to chat about the band's new record, Signs Of Light, their time apart from the band the last few years, and the maturation of their folk rock sound, but after just seconds of talking, it was clear the band's attention was on something else that evening. "Can you tell we're excited to talk about the record," Russell joked shortly after we grab a table at the rooftop bar. "Don't get me wrong. This new record is very important to both of us, but we're only halfway through the album cycle and all the promotional stuff for it. You just find yourself talking about the same things over and over again and you just want to talk about something else. Like The Shins. You just end up wanting to talk about The Shins instead of The Head And The Heart." So we did. We pushed The Head And The Heart aside and discussed The Shins for a while, specifically their second record Chutes Too Narrow. From there, the conversation moved to Bat For Lashes' new record The Bride which Williams had become enamored with recently. The topic jumping continued as the duo discussed Wilco, Santigold, and finally The Band, which led to Russell smiling about driving on Route 5 at night with a Dylan record playing in his car. Before long, the conversation had ventured its way back into Head And The Heart territory as the two discussed the mindset behind the new direction on their own record, something they both admit was natural, yet scary at times. "I had to have friends calm me down because it didn't sound like the first record," Russell revealed. "You get used to what you think your band sounds like or even what your 32


“Ultimately, it comes down to this... We can live anywhere we want, but we live in Richmond because we f**kin' love Richmond. We wouldn't be who we are if I couldn't take that five minute stroll or Tyler couldn't spend time behind a local studio, and we wouldn't have made this music if we didn't have Richmond giving us what we needed out of life.�

own voice sounds like so it's jarring when it changes." Russell continued by describing it as an exciting time as he knew they were making an honest representation of who they were and where they were in life, but it did change the way he viewed the rest of their music. "That first record ended up sounding like a demo to me which is crazy," Russell said before his co-hort quickly pointed out that the album was designed to be exactly that. "That first record was just supposed to be this thing that we used to book shows around town," Williams revealed. "It just took on a life of its own and before we knew it, we were lumped in with this 'folk rock' movement even though I never felt like we fit in with them. Our record sounded like it did because we had limited recording time and we were all limited musicians. It was bound to change and grow as we used better resources and became better at our instruments." That jump didn't happen with their second record though, 2013's Let's Be Still, as the band found themselves travelling further into a roots rock rabbit hole, but to both Williams and Russell, this was due to the circumstance. "We had two months after our last show before we were supposed to be in the studio to record our first fuckin' song," Russell lamented. "That's insane. It was no time to live so what happened was we just made a record about being in a band that travels. It's a total clichĂŠ for a reason and we fell into it because we didn't have time to get out of this bubble from being on the road so much." Popping that bubble became a priority for the band and as the touring began to wind down in 2014, all six members of the band made plans to take a break and get some perspective. "We just had to go back to doing our own shit and living our lives for a while," Williams added. "Otherwise, we don't have anything to talk about and I don't just mean in music. We didn't want to stay the same people on the road every year, never growing." For Russell, he spent time travelling to gain perspective. He bought a van, travelled to California, and ended up writing there in a rented house that quickly became a makeshift studio. Following that, he went down to Haiti to do work with Artists For Peace And Justice, an experience he describes as an "overwhelming," before ending up in Mississippi to visit family. "I just kept travelling," he said, "but not with the same eleven person troupe day in and day out. I just went out and lived life wherever I could and it really helped me realize how much I had grown since we had formed the band. It was eye-opening and frankly overdue."



Williams found solace during the break in Richmond, specifically the local music scene. He formed local supergroup Avers and spent countless hours at Montrose Studios not only cultivating the band's sound, but also learning more about the process of music. "Doing those two records in the break really helped inform me how to make a record," he stated. "I learned how to prioritize sounds and parts, as well as what creates unique tones and different styles of music. It was such an inspiration for me. Being able to make a completely different record with a different band." In addition to a completely new band, Williams also began to tackle music from another angle, with some assistance from long-time friend and music scene stalwart Brandon Crowe. By mid-2015, Crowe, a respected manager for a variety of local acts, had started to work with local star Lucy Dacus, who had just recorded her first album in Nashville and was beginning to make a name for herself around town. It didn't take long for Crowe to introduce the young talent to Williams and give him a taste of what would become one of 2016's best records. "I instantly fell in love with it," Williams exclaimed. "I thought it was a brilliant piece of work. The emotion and the openness of it was so evocative and she was speaking with such wisdom at a young age." Williams expressed his admiration to Crowe, and also proposed a partnership to him that would see them both help manage Dacus as she began to navigate the tricky business aspect of the music world. By November of 2015, the two formed their own management company that's still in effect today, giving Williams a more comprehensive understanding of the music industry.

duo excitedly chattered about their love of around his 'tower,' Russell is quick to offer Richmond. some snark. "Fuck that store," he laughs. "I'll picket it. You wait and see. They don't need to "Just look around you," Williams directed. change anything." "The architecture and antiquity that exists here. It's comforting whether you're walking a Of the two, Williams lives the more connected street or sitting on a rooftop. Richmond really Richmond lifestyle, constantly weaving in is this special town and that's something a and out of musical circles when he's in town, lot of people don't even consider until they're but that's not to say Russell is holed up and away from the city for a while." antisocial. "Tyler's normally my barometer," he says as Williams stifles a laugh. It's not just the road that gives Williams this "Sometimes, when I'm feeling like I've been perspective though, but also his days living in too reclusive, I'll just text him asking where Seattle during the band's nascent period as the humans are and I'll meet up with him to well as time spent in Nashville for recording. "I get my social fix. Richmond's good like that. lived in other places long enough to know that It can be really what you want it to be and what Richmond has is actually special and not the people let it be that way which is the best just fake spirit," he said. "When I moved to part." Both are well-versed in the musical Seattle for the band, it was different. Nobody scene though with plenty of bands and artists was comfortable with themselves. It's a very they admire like The Wimps and Andrew uptight place. You can't rib someone or mess Carter. The two even spend considerable around without them getting very offended. time, in the conversation alone, pondering That doesn't sit well with me. I want people what happened to this-or-that band, some who don't take themselves too seriously and from almost a decade ago, before collapsing can learn to interact with people so they can in a chair saying "Man, that EP they put out grow." was amazing! I wish they were still around."

Russell agreed with his sentiments adding how people are just more secure in Richmond than in other places he's lived. "A lot of those people in other cities aren't and it's not a good thing to be around," he continued. "East Coasters, our humor is partly based in arrogance from being secure. That's not the vibe over there." Those thoughts may be surprising to those who remember the band was formed in Seattle by a majority of West Coasters, but Russell was quick to point out how the difference is something he actually wants in the band. "I'm glad we have that East versus West dichotomy," he remarked. "It made me a more well-rounded person and I'm For Williams, Richmond became a place to sure them too, but at the end of the day, I'd explore all aspects of music and examine just rather be back in Richmond." the different philosophies and approaches that each artist utilized, whereas for Russell, Williams spoke of the two's time living in Richmond became a place for him to collect Nashville with a similar outlook, though much his thoughts after a world of travelling. "It more focused on specific instances. "When was nice to just go home and go for a walk you walk into a coffee shop in Nashville, in a familiar area," he described. "It could be everyone turns their head," Williams relates. a five minute walk just around the corner of "They stare you down and wonder if they my place, but it's so refreshing and there's know you. They're judging you and wondering nothing like it in the world." if they should talk to you or connect with you. 'That guy looks like someone I should know, By this point, it was clear the duo had maybe I should I talk to them.' You can feel exhausted their talking points on the new it instantly and it's not a comfortable feeling. record and the rest of the band, save going That would never fly in Richmond." song-by-song in examination. "I couldn't even do that if I tried," Russell exclaimed In Richmond, the two feel more connected, before slamming his drink down on the table. even though Russell is the first to admit he "I write these songs and I just have nothing feels like he "lives in a tower on the outside to say about them five months later because of town." He doesn't spend long bemoaning I already said what I needed to say." Instead, his outsider status though for as soon as the conversation took on a new life as the Williams tells him new shops are opening up 34

For almost as long as they discussed the new record, the two went back and forth over bands in the city, as well as new shows coming to town and the expansion of local radio stations. Each new topic brought on a new wave of hurried excitement before the two exhausted every topic and were left rotating their heads to take in the full view of the city. It was clear that Richmond was not only the duo's home, but also their vital lifeblood and their indirect inspiration. We won't see a song entitled "RVA Skyscrapers" anytime soon from the band, but that doesn't mean the city's vibrant atmosphere doesn't inform every word and note that flows out of the two. "Ultimately, it comes down to this," Russell concluded. "We can live anywhere we want, but we live in Richmond because we fuckin' love Richmond. We wouldn't be who we are if I couldn't take that five minute stroll or Tyler couldn't spend time behind a local studio, and we wouldn't have made this music if we didn't have Richmond giving us what we needed out of life." After making his point, he looked across the table for an endorsement, but only found the back of Williams' head as he looked around the city. "Gorgeous day," Williams observed. "Just look at the city. What a city." theheadandtheheart.com








THE POP SURREALISM OF CRAOLA Interview by R. Anthony Harris Words by Jill Smith

38 38

From being shot at while writing graffiti in a concrete-lined river bed in Compton, California, to painting large-scale acrylic paintings found in the collections of famous musicians and actors, the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art’s Turn the Page artist, Greg “Craola” Simkins, has bridged the genre gap with the help of fellow artists and friends, childhood books, and the brief but intense Pogs game fad. Simkins started out painting graffiti in the early 1990s in Torrance, California, just south of the city of Los Angeles. He soon began meeting other writers from nearby Compton and South Gate who had witnessed RVA MAGAZINE 24 27 | SPRING WINTER 2016 2016

his work, and they brought him to their own spots to letter, painting in riverbeds and under freeways off of the 405 and 710 highways outside of his home area. He exchanged black books, a graffiti artist’s prized sketchbook, with other writers, adding detailed tags of his own to theirs, a routine in which he became highly sought-after. Before long, Simkins started wondering what more could be done with the letters he was painting, so he began to add characters and backgrounds to his graffiti work and not just to the black book sketches he was trading. In doing so, he was introduced to writers who painted with acrylics and who influenced and encouraged him to do something larger than 10 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015

just graffiti writing; established writers such “[We were] making a point that we were there,” Simkins declares, despite the risks of as Axis, Nato, and Plek. being caught by the cops. Sometimes, they “Axis showed me what to use and how to were chased out of the yard in which they use it, and I still respect that guy so much,” painted and were even the target of gunshots Simkins says. “Nato pushed me from just at least once in a river bed in Compton. Still, it painting throw-ups and bombs into doing was worth the risk to Simkins and his friends to spend the extra time and effort necessary productions in illegal yards.” to paint the bigger, better productions they The art became larger, and Simkins and his were on a mission to create. new friends began challenging themselves to spend a couple of days rather than a few Once Simkins put the pieces together hours lettering, but with backgrounds and between creating more detailed work he had been sketching in black books and larger characters added. productions he had been pushing himself to produce and learning to pick up a brush and 39 39

use acrylics, he found a medium for bringing to life the characters and stories he had been drawing since he was a kid. “Once I did and I picked up a brush finally, it opened up every single door that was kind of closed in my head,” he details. “All these little stories made sense because I could finally start fleshing them out.” Still, the thought had not yet occurred to Simkins at that point in his life that painting for a living was within the realm of possibility. When he was 18, he began studying preveterinary medicine at a junior college but continued drawing on the side, whether by designing promotional flyers for punk bands or by creating skateboard designs for small surf shops. One of his friends, Mark, who, under the name Earl Liberty, was a former bass player for legendary punk band Circle Jerks, invited Simkins to work for him for a couple of weeks at a baseball card company in San Diego. There, Simkins used his street scene skills to design the graphics printed on Pogs, the glossy, flat game pieces of the milk caps game that became a briefly intense fad in the mid-1990s. “For about two weeks of work, I made ten grand,” remarks Simkins. The realization of job potential, although not necessarily career potential, came to him then. “And I was like ‘Holy crap, you can make money off of art,’” he said. “I had one art class in college and [Mark] said, ‘Why aren’t you switching your majors? You’re really good at it,’” Simkins remembers. After being encouraged by his friend and talking it out with his parents, Simkins swapped his single art class and prevet focus to work toward a major in Studio Art from California State University of Long Beach in 1999. He admits that college was still not his main concentration, even after switching his area of study. “[I was] just doing the bare minimum so I could go out and do graffiti. I wanted to hang out at the beach, go to punk shows, and do graffiti,” he lists. Through the graffiti and working with punk bands, he pushed himself to make more art. He contends that he became “the background guy” for some time. He worked on video games and painted on the side, painting whatever he wanted until someone at the gallery he worked with urged him to consider creating art for a living. Back then, he would go home late at night and paint until the early hours of the morning -- something he says he would not have been able to do if he had had children then, but that was twelve years ago. 40








Although he still goes out with his friends to paint on a wall every once in a while, since 2005, Simkins has worked as a full-time pop surrealist artist. He is not even sure if he fully understood the pop surrealism genre when he became a part of it, or how many people the movement would influence over time, but he weirdly and somewhat surprisingly felt that he found his place there. “I just said, ‘Oh, I fit into this,’” Simkins says. “This is where I belong. And I had a lot of friends and peers that we all kind of met around that time. And they all had similar backgrounds. And it just fit.” Today, Simkins spends his time breathing life into characters from pop culture and eliciting creatures from his own deeply active imagination in paintings, some of which can be found in the collections of celebrities such as Josh Duhamel, Stacey “Fergie” Ferguson, Joel Madden, and the late Robin Williams. “It’s like an introduction to what’s going on in my head,” Simkins explains of what he hopes audiences can glean from his paintings. “If I have this idea in my head, why not put it on canvas?” Simkins avoids establishing rules which would prevent him from painting the oddities in his mind and even those from the strange worlds of some of his favorite children’s’ books. “There was an old line from the book The Phantom Tollbooth, and he’s talking about opposites and it says, ‘He thought of birds that swim and fish that fly’ and I thought, ‘What if that did exist?’” Simkins says. “It’s got to be a place like Phantom Tollbooth or Oz or Neverland. Where you’re free to use your imagination, and it’s not going to make sense over here.” Those are the foundations of “The Outside,” which is the world Simkins says he fashions through his paintings. While he admits that both his graffiti and paintings were once aggressive, darker, and even maniacal at a younger age when he found such themes more exciting to bring out, he now draws some of his artistic inspiration from being a father to his two children. “Something snapped and said ‘I don’t think this is the message that I want to tell. I don’t think it’s really my story,’” Simkins says of the change in his art over time. Despite his website’s name, Imscared.com, he in now inclined to believe he likes to paint objects and characters which are beautiful, intending to use the imagination he has been given in a positive way. He focuses more on story-telling because of his kids, too. In fact, his two sons are now frequent occupants of his imaginary art world, especially his older son who often poses as the white knight 44

character found in his paintings. He has also Lewis are in the show so I see a lot of my created stop-motion short films based on his buddies walking around.” kids. Simkins contends that the Hi-Fructose Turn When asked if he hopes his kids will also the Page show is one of the best and most become artists like himself one day, Simkins professional he has ever walked through, said, “I hope they’ll become what they’re from the layout and hanging of the art to supposed to become. I don’t care if they the atmosphere thick with talent as so many become artists. I just want them to be good incredible artists exist and share together in men.” He says he has many friends who had one space. However, he finds live painting a rough time because they did not have a sessions, such as the one he participated in at father figure in their lives. “That’s one thing Turn the Page, to be somewhat intimidating. I have on my side. I’m going to be there for He admits that he has a bit of difficulty with them every step of the way. That’s the game painting in front of an audience in the same plan. And me and my wife, we have a good way he would in the privacy of his own home, relationship, and we just keep focused,” he getting lost in his in-depth illusory world of remarks. white knights and cartoony animals.

“There was an old line from the book The Phantom Tollbooth, and he’s talking about opposites and it says, ‘He thought of birds that swim and fish that fly’ and I thought, ‘What if that did exist?’” Simkins says. “It’s got to be a place like Phantom Tollbooth or Oz or Neverland. Where you’re free to use your imagination, and it’s not going to make sense over here...”

“I’ll do a spray paint and then add acrylics to it. And do just, like, quick gestural stuff. I thought I would bring something more detailed out this time, and it’s hard to really get going working on little, small sections of areas,” Simkins explains. “It’s a whole other beast.” Another familiar face for Simkins at Turn the Page was the artist, Attaboy, who co-founded Hi-Fructose with his wife, Annie, over ten years ago. Simkins recalls perhaps first crossing paths with Attaboy at an art show in the past, but he believes the two met at Baby Tattooville, a surrealist event held annually in Riverside, California. In a weird twist of small-world chance, Simkins also says that Attaboy was his old studio mate’s college roommate in New York. Simkins says he was at first unsure of how Hi-Fructose would fit into the space of art magazines which was already inhabited by the defining publication Juxtapoz. In the end, he says that the competition between the two seems friendly. Since our interview with Simkins, his “I’m Scared: The Movie,” one of the stop-motion short films about his two kids, was released, and a children’s book -- Simkins’ first -version of the movie has since had a “soft” release with the help of a robust Kickstarter campaign. His first sculpture, a resin cast, with Los Angeles’ Silent Stage gallery also recently came out. At the end of September, Simkins took part in the Life is Beautiful “Crime on Canvas” group exhibition in Las Vegas.

In September, Simkins made his first ever trip to Virginia Beach to give a master class and special live painting demonstration for the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art’s Turn the Page exhibition, which declares itself as “An unprecedented retrospective featuring 51 artists from the first ten year history of Hi-Fructose magazine.” Simkins, who was featured on the front cover of the California-based magazine on issues number 14 and 41, found himself at the exhibition in When it comes to the rest of his future plans, the midst of acclaimed artists he has looked Simkins simply tells us, “Then working on the next show, working on pieces; it just up to throughout his career. never stops.” “Just to be invited and be amongst these artists was a big deal. I was really excited. For more information about Greg “Craola” [There were] all of the people I looked up to Simkins and his pop surrealism artwork, visit in this scene when I was coming up,” Simkins his website www.imscared.com gushes. “My friends like Jeff Soto and Jeff RVA MAGAZINE 27 24 || WINTER SPRING 2016








An antiphon is a chant. A verse or a song that is sung in response. In many cases, this is where the connection between a band and their audience begins. When the words a songwriter writes become the voice of one’s internalized thoughts, the relationship begins.


For Richmond’s Antiphons, their brand of atmospheric indie rock has triggered this connection with many throughout the local music scene. Singer/guitarist Brian Dove spins dreams of yearning for people and places that are not uncommon to most fans of the genre. Starting as a solo project, the current lineup exudes a confident bravado in every musical By Shannon Cleary journey contained on their debut full-length Photos by Ali Mislowsky entitled Groan. In 2011, Dove began to start writing music under the name of Antiphons. With a set of home recordings that would end up comprising an EP release, Dove saw the project as a way to subvert what he was currently doing with the band Brother Wolf. “Brother Wolf worked as a means of writing longer songs and seeing how many movements we could shift through,” Dove recalls. “As a reaction to that, I wanted to write songs that felt a bit more direct.” Dove would start to test this more direct material out in town, with one of his first shows being at Emilio’s along with Richmond stalwart Dave Watkins. As the songs began to take fruition, he realized that he wanted to incorporate other musicians in order to give fuller life to the music. The search would be a quick one. Brother Wolf members Tommy Terrell (guitar) and Matt Stinnett (drums) already had a long standing musical relationship and it only naturally extended to Antiphons. “The three of us having played music together for so long is something that makes it easy for us to communicate creatively,” Terrell describes. “The time spent in Brother Wolf probably drove us to working with Brian in this band. Brother Wolf let our imaginations run wild and write these really abstract songs. With Antiphons, we can get away with not having to play twenty minute songs.” Reflecting on that time period of the band, Dove is quick to consider that a lot of groups in the music scene helped shape the idea of the band initially. “At the time, bands like Houdan The Mystic and Zac Hryciak & The Jungle Beat were definitely influencing a lot of directions we were taking,” Dove remembers. ”The Jungle Beat is definitely a band I was inspired by and how they could include a lot of dynamic shifts in a single song.” Both Houdan The Mystic and The Juble Beat would become bands that Antiphons would share the stage with when they started playing shows as a full band in 2013 after completing the Antiphons line-up with bassist Ben Medcalf, who helped to shape the initial construction of the group as a folk outfit around town.





Around 2014, Dove decided to move to Oregon for a year. In the time spent there, he lost the tip of one of his fingers in a freak accident and began to write several of the songs that would appear on Groan. “When I was living in Oregon, I started writing a lot of music,” he states. “I was starting to sense that they were going to be taking a distinct turn. We started as this folk band around town and everything I was writing was making sense as being better suited for a rock band.” Upon returning, Terrell noticed a shift in Dove’s songwriting. “When Brian got back, it seemed like his guitar playing was focusing more on riffs and the songs didn’t just focus on chord interplay,” Terrell says. “There was a strong focus and he was more conscious about guitar.” Referring back to the Brother Wolf days, the band is quick to point out how even the gear was quickly changing between both projects during this time. “In Brother Wolf, everything sounded incredibly clean,” adds Terrell. “Immediately with Antiphons, we started to obsess over tone and effects. We were starting to acquire a ton of gear and learning how to achieve this really big sound that a lot of these newer songs were demanding.” The band continued to play around town while they started to record what they thought would be Groan, but those plans quickly changed as they started to re-analyze the music scene around them. “When I left for Oregon, the music scene seemed a bit more experimental and a lot of bands were working with math rock,” Dove reflects. “When I got back, there was a certain pop sensibility that a lot of my friends playing music were starting to incorporate.” The band began to record by getting engineer Mitch Clem to record drums and the rest of the recording was done at Dove’s apartment. This proved to be an enormous task as the band sought to find the balance between being socially active and committed to recording on the weekends. “There would be weekends where I would come in town and we would try to record while we were battling enormous hangovers. I’d go record a guitar part and then leave to go throw up and then record another part,” Terrell jokes. Around the time they finished the record, they started to shift their focus on how they wanted their debut to sound. “I think it was around the time that Camp Howard and Lucy Dacus put out their albums and I thought to myself that our record sounded like shit in comparison,” Dove confesses. “I started to see how a lot of bands around town were putting a lot of work into making their records sound really great and I think we needed to push ourselves a little harder to make that happen.” After scrapping their previous recordings, they booked time with engineer Tim Falen at The Virginia Moonwalker to start recording again. “What we never realized is that the record 50


we thought we were going to release was just a super long pre-production session,” Terrell says. Along with re-recording the album, the band also found that a number of songs they were going to release didn’t feel like they fit and they decided to drop them from the sessions. “In the time we were in the first recording sessions, we started writing more songs that felt closer to the larger sound that we were trying to achieve.” Dove adds. “Recording with Tim gave us a better opportunity for getting that and I know we wouldn’t have gotten it on the one microphone I had at my apartment.” After the sessions at the Virginia Moonwalker, the band would lean on Bryan Walthall to help mix Groan while Allen Bergendahl lent his mastering expertise to the young group. Groan is a record that examines the relationships that we share with others and the surrounding environments. The opening instrumental that leads into “Weekends” feels like an exodus for the moments we dream of during the monotony of day-to-day life. “Tiny Rooms” is an exploration of the fright that accompanies anxiety. It’s a call for disappearing into an endless winter and discovering the titular room as a place where trust is achievable. The hope is there even in the tiniest of places: “Losing Teeth” floats gracefully through a plea for the ability to feel in control once again. The song magically transposes this idea by displaying the hushed vocals, guitar interplay, and nuanced effects. “Human Bruise” might be the most personal track off the record with Dove musing about how it’s cool to be alive... most of the time. It’s appropriately the first single off Groan and a video was shot for the song by Terrell as well as edited by Dove, all being inspired by Dove watching a ton of Star Trek and wanting to shoot a video where he played an astronaut examining a vast foreign landscape.

his label. I just asked if he would be into and he was quickly enthusiastic about it. Also, he has done a great job getting a good amount of press for the bands on his label through a more DIY mentality.” The band quickly settled on a cassette release through Citrus City Records, but the desire was there to press this special record to vinyl as well. “Our friends in Night Idea had just put out Breathing Cold and we heard about this Chicago label called Gigantic Noise that was helping them do the vinyl,” Dove explains. “I wrote Phillip from the label and wanted to see if he would put it out. He responded positively and I was pretty shocked by how supportive he was. We didn’t know each other and he was quick to work with us.” After finishing the sessions on Groan, Medcalf announced to the band that we would be leaving to pursue other projects. The band understood and were able to move forward with bassist Chris Matz. “Now, they will have a real bass player and not one just pretending,” Medcalf laughs. Outside of his new project Buddy List, Medcalf continues to perform with Dove in local outfit Young Scum. “Chris has been a great addition to the band and as sad as we were to see Ben bow out, we are all still super close,” Dove says. 2017 is proving to be an exciting year for Antiphons. With their debut release on the way, the band reflects greatly on the successes of 2016 and what to learn from there. “Just seeing how many Richmond bands decided to get pretty professional about the way their bands operate is pretty inspiring,” Dove admits. “Not only did it make us want to put a record that better displayed us as a band, but it makes us all want to figure out how to efficiently tour behind it.” With the scant weekend tour here and there, Antiphons have already begun the descent to build notoriety regionally.

While discussing Groan, the band were quick to point out “Rotten Apples” as a highlight of theirs off the record. “It’s my personal favorite song,” Terrell proclaims. “I think it has all of the elements that I like about our music and I hope people can sense that when they hear it.” Medclaf agreed adding, “It seemed like a conglomeration of all the ideas and sounds that we had been worked towards through figuring out what we wanted the Antiphons sound to be.” Dove mentions that “Human Bruise” is another song that really struck a chord with him. “The mood. The lyrics. The tone. All of those things seem to leave an impression on me when I listen back and whenever we play it live.”

Groan will be officially released on January 13th, 2017 and fans both locally and nationally will find out the qualities that make Antiphons’ music so special. The band’s true beauty lies in the cadence of their music. There is an emotional turmoil on display that unravels quaintly throughout Groan. Even in the darkest moments, the band effectively evoke whimsical swirls of sounds that elevate you to greater plains where you remain untouched by your fears. Their music joins the ranks of Richmond bands that have risen to the challenge of setting their own unique spin on songwriting in this town. In this day and age, that’s not an easy feat. Yet, Antiphons seemed to have found a As the band started to consider potential choir of supporters that feel compelled to sing labels that could help them release Groan, one the band’s praises. Upon Groan’s imminent local label ended up being an obvious choice. release, one can only imagine there will be “We reached out to Manny Lemus from Citrus even more that will become enchanted with the City about putting it out,” Dove states. “He band’s proper debut. has done such a great job with Camp Howard, Lance Bangs, Young Scum, and everything on antiphons.bandcamp.com 10 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015



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GLOBE TROTTING THROUGH THE CLOUDS By Joseph Genest Photos by Christian Hewitt

“Versace Chachi? Is that spelt with a dollar sign and some cent signs? Or just a dollar sign?” The person across from us at Lamplighter asks, half kidding as we wait for him to arrive. “One dollar sign. That’s it,” I smile back. She doesn’t know it, but her question was actually pretty funny, a nod to the irony of this whole situation. You see, regardless if she’s a hip-hop fan or not, her sentiment is actually a pretty common one amongst those in and out of the scene. Ver$ace isn’t quite a household name amongst Richmond hip-hop fans yet, but he will be soon. When he finally arrives to our table, he’s surprisingly full of energy for someone who just got back from a month and half long tour through Europe. And for his third international trip, it appears the rest of the world has caught on to Ver$ace before the city has.


A couple of years ago, Ver$ace was like most MC’s around town, with rap as side hustle sprinkled in with a few local shows to stay relevant. He worked a 9-5 and dabbled around with some creative outlets, but never considered his music as a career. Then, with a promotion and more comfortable lifestyle in sight, Ver$ace left the corporate world to move to New York. He wanted to take rap more seriously. Crediting his friend and fellow-collaborator Space God with the opportunity, Ver$ace took New York as his training ground to becoming a rapper. Every day was just video games, weed, shooting videos, writing blog posts, and most importantly, recording new music. He changed up his image and started pushing his music hard, with the internet taking notice. After gaining notoriety overseas for his singles on SoundCloud, Ver$ace took his act abroad, taking his first tour to open for SpaceGho$tPurpp and Young Simmie, as well as XXL 2016 Freshman, Denzel Curry for a show. The audiences loved him, allowing him to sell-out a second tour as the headliner. That brings us to now, where kids in Berlin and Paris are coming up to him the third time around, rapping every last one of his words. However, despite being a globetrotter, Ver$ace still calls Richmond not only his home, but his “favorite city in the world.” He claims his stomping grounds have more hustle, more culture than all the places he’s seen. He has a love for this place, which is why he left in the first place... to bring it all back home.



Let’s start with the basics. Where are you from in Richmond? I don’t exactly [say] where because I’ve stayed all over. I don’t claim no hood or nothing crazy like that, but I’m from the south, the Southside. As you ask, “who the fuck is Ver$ace Chachi?” How did you come up with that name? Well, I used to go by a different name, Spitaz, and by having a “Z” at the end, everyone thought it was a group. I would go to the stage or an open mic and they’d say, “The superstar Spitaz are coming to the stage!” And they’d say it as if it was more than one person. So, I said ‘this shit is fucking annoying. So one day, I bought some Versace glasses at Sunglass Hut. We were really young and shit. I paid like $300 for it and my friend was like, “Oh, your new name is Versace Chachi” and he just kept me calling that shit. It was so annoying. Then all my friends kept calling me it, and they called me that shit until I adopted the name and ran with it. It’s kind of catchy so I just went with it, ever since that day. You’ve toured all around Europe. How did you get started with that? I moved to New York about two years ago, actually. I was up there, I had this friend Space God. He’s an artist I met here in Virginia, but I went up there a few times and met with him and liked New York so I moved there. During the process, I met a few people, did a lot of blogging, and finally put my shit out on SoundCloud. I noticed people in Europe were gravitating towards it a little more than here. I had a fan base in Richmond, but it’s just “here.” I had people where I’d go to shows and they’d show me love, but I didn’t feel like I could fully progress and prosper, which is why I went to New York. During that process, I was putting videos and songs out. More people started reaching out to me and I eventually got a tour manager in Europe. We set the tour up with Simmie and SpaceGho$tPurpp, and from that day forward, shit’s just been rolling. That’s really cool man. I had heard asking around that you had a tour with them. Yeah, I was fucking with them. I still fuck with them. I’m not with them, but they decent people. I met them, we scheduled a tour overseas, and it was dope, bro. That brought a lot of attention because back home, I know pretty much every hip-hop artist out here. I’ve been doing this since I was 15, 16, so I know



pretty much everybody. But I felt like there was no way for me to progress back home. I’d do all the shows -- those are my peoples, don’t get me wrong -- but it was like, “I’m not trying to just do this locally; I really want to step out and do something different.” And then I had option to move to New York, so I took that option and packed up and moved up. After your third overseas tour, what would you say the hip-hop shows are like there? That shit is fucking insane. It’s crazy because they might not speak English well, but they know your lyrics. They’d come up with their tattoos and spit all your words -- that shit is mind-blowing. The first time I went out there, it really fucked me up like, “This shit is not real!” But it motivated me to want to go back. What was your favorite city? I personally love Berlin. Paris is cool too, but it’s overrated. It’s like when I moved to New York. At first, I was really excited, but after a while, it’s like, “Oh, it’s just New York.” That’s how it was with Paris, but I had fun there. I fuck with Amsterdam a little bit too, just because of the weed. It’s still Hypebeast, but it’s cool. I always get lost when I go over there.

“This is my favorite place in the world. I think every other place is just Hypebeast. I love it because we’re overlooked. We have so much sh*t here that a lot of people don’t know about. If you haven’t lived here, you wouldn’t know. I’ve seen Richmond grow. It’s slowly growing, but it’s still growing. The styles have changed so much too. This shit used to be dry, but now there’s [streetwear] stores on Broad Street.”

How would you say Richmond’s culture compares? I feel it’s better. This is my favorite place in the world. I think every other place is just Hypebeast. I love it because we’re overlooked. We have so much shit here that a lot of people don’t know about. If you haven’t lived here, you wouldn’t know. I’ve seen Richmond grow. It’s slowly growing, but it’s still growing. The styles have changed so much too. This shit used to be dry, but now there’s [streetwear] stores on Broad Street. That shit was crazy. Talk to me about your label TTF. It seems like it’s a lot of people from a few different cities. How did you all link up? I created TTF about a year before I met Space God, and it was originally Richmond based, but the first day I met him, we just clicked. I was taking trips back and forth to New York. But he’s from New York, Jay Purp is from Toronto, TrippyGod is from Florida. I have a few other artists from Richmond that are in process of getting things done. It’s a new age in hip-hop where it’s so easy to contact someone, so we’ve been talking for years. Then one day we just said, “Fuck it. Let’s bring it together and make it bigger than what it is.” With these people we have now, everyone has something to offer. They already had their own shit going on. “He didn’t need to pull from me. I didn’t need to pull from him.” We just finished the album in Europe so that’s coming out soon. 56


You make a lot of references to older, early 2000s video games. What are some of your favorites? Jet Set Radio, for sure. Chilu, and maybe some sports shit... maybe 2k or Final Fantasy. But I like all sorts of games. Before I was rapping, I was playing video games. That’s all I’d do. Just smoke weed and play video games. I get inspired by that shit, even to this day. I got tons of game systems. If I wasn’t making music, I’d probably have some crazy YouTube channel on some nerd shit. What are you playing now? I’ve been on that Pokemon Go shit lately. I only have 70 or 80, just hit level 17, so I’ve been lacking, but I’m about to get back on the field tonight. Any crazy Pokemon in Europe? Yeah, I caught some crazy shit, but I was roaming so it’d kill my battery. I’d go outside for like ten minutes and lose like 20% battery, so I couldn’t go ham like I wanted to. But since I’ve been back, I went to Monroe Park and was lighting shit up. I leveled up five levels in one day. Niggas ain’t ready out here. Your music is reminiscent to the Cloud Rap movement that came out a couple of years ago. Why that sound? Why do you think people still gravitate towards it? My bro SpaceGod influenced me a lot with that, and being on the internet, with SoundCloud and watching dudes like TeamSESH with independent movements, I was inspired by that. Just that nostalgictype feel. I would make a song about a video game before I make a song about money or shaking an ass. I feel like that’s too mainstream, so I gravitate more towards the cloud rap. Plus, we smoke a lot of tree. When I moved to New York, we had a 50” TV and we’d just play video games and smoke weed. We had the mic in the room too,so we’d just smoke, watch kung fu, play games, and then make songs about it. What exactly do you mean by nostalgic? Just retro shit, like Dreamcast and things like that. I fuck with the Dreamcast a lot because it was so slept on. It’s just the culture I grew up on. You can check out Ver$ace’s latest EP with Chemist this winter, as well as his latest music -- soundcloud.com/versacechachi








Shortly after the release of 2014’s False Light, people’s ears finally started perking up to Unsacred’s sound. Perhaps it was an article in another popular publication that awoke some, maybe a savage live performance for others. The point is, one of the many gems of Richmond’s contemporary music scene emerged anew two years ago, a lean, taut trio. Although the band has been going strong since 2011, bassist Hunter McCarty’s turn as lead vocalist in recent years has distinguished Unsacred, turning their already heavy music into something that sounds truly By Cody Endres dangerous. Photos by Jeremy Ledford We got another taste of apoplectic punk and black metal with the September release of Unsacred’s split with New York’s Anicon, who fall more on the experimental, frantic part of the black metal spectrum. Although only two new Unsacred songs are showcased on the split, that’s more than enough incentive to keep an eye on this band. I recently talked with Hunter and drummer Scott Bartley (also of Left Cross) about the shape their new material is taking, being labeled a black metal band, how far that genre has come, and how it might progress into the future. Do the songs on the split represent where the band is now, writing-wise and musicianshipwise? HM: I think it’s just getting a little more drawn out. Trying to make complete ideas, rather than just rush them and loop riffs, you know? SB: The songs that are on the split were definitely a good snapshot of where we were at the time we wrote them, but we wrote those songs like three or four years ago, so we’ve changed a lot of our music since then, and we’ve begun concentrating a lot more on writing more complex songs, and spending more time writing. What do you hope to achieve with this next release? You’ve mentioned trying to write stuff that’s a little less riff-based. HM: Yeah, less A-B-A-B stuff, kinda like... you don’t know where it’s gonna go. SB: Abstract. HM: A band I personally take a lot of influence from, that I think does it very well is False, where the riffs are just... I don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to come next. It’s kind of like the Black Sabbath of black metal. Did taking on the mantle of being a black metal band ever feel heavy, considering the history of the genre? HM: I don’t really even think Unsacred’s a black metal band, to be honest. [Laughs] When we get together, I guess the main goal is to write black metal, but I view black metal as a much 60



more sophisticated genre than the stuff that we play. What do you think of the more accessible bands that sort of take elements of black metal and combine it with something that’s a little easier to get into? Or what about the more experimental stuff that’s been popular in recent years? HM: While they’ve been doing it for quite some time, I think Midnight did a really good job of making people appreciate old, old black metal, when it was basically just thrash. SB: Taking bands like Venom, and early Bathory... HM: ...And making it accessible to the next generation. SB: A lot of people wouldn’t consider Midnight, by today’s standards, to be a true black metal band, but lyrically they have everything in common with that. HM: Aesthetically too, as far as aesthetics matter. As far as the shoegazey stuff, and the more experimental stuff goes? HM: I’m open to all music. SB: What some of these bands are doing seems to be working well for them. I don’t want to get into a thing about them being “true black metal” or not. I think it’s a pretty subjective label. HM: At this point, yeah. SB: I think a lot of it has to do with what you’re writing about. Black metal to me is a lot more about lyrical content, than whether it’s all tremolo riffs and blast beats. HM: We’re basically just a d-beat band in a different genre. Do you have a perspective that you intend to portray with your lyrics, or are they more personal? HM: It’s really just me sitting down and trying to put together cool sentences. I don’t put a whole lot of thought into it. I just kinda sit there and wait ’til something works. I don’t write towards a specific theme. I don’t have a subject for each song. It’s more after the fact [that] I’ll analyze it and go, “Oh, that’s what I was going for.” Do you think your environment has an effect on the music that you’re making, your lyrical themes? You guys are definitely an urban band, as opposed to a band like Wolves in the Throne Room.



HM: I think it definitely affects the vocabulary that I use, because, y’know, things that I see every day, ideas that are constantly popping in my mind. I’m sure if I was stuck in a forest, living in a cabin, I’d probably use a much different vocabulary. As far as how it influences our music, I don’t know. SB: I think living in an urban environment can inspire a lot more feelings of being trapped, and I think you kind of underestimate the feeling of isolation. You’re surrounded by so many people in a city. I think that’s definitely inspired a lot of our music, as far as for me. Historically, black metal has been an outlet for hateful, sometimes regressive thought. Do you think the genre could be used to promote some more progressive, inclusive thoughts, and how might that be received? SB: Inclusivity outside of the black metal scene I’m sure is really welcome. Within it, probably not so much. It just kind of depends on the bands, who you’re playing to. There are a lot of black metal people that hate and xenophobia are a big part of black metal, and you can’t really deny that. I think a lot of those people were just trying to be the most evil, going further and further into being evil, and then evil becomes hatred. I think inclusivity should be a part of anything. We identify a lot with the punk scene. We definitely want to be as inclusive as possible. HM: I think black metal is just cool music, so I think cool people are going to appreciate it, and cool people play in other cool bands, and eventually all of the hateful nonsense gets washed out. It still exists, but there are cooler and cooler people that are making black metal that are not exclusive... SB: Progressively-minded individuals. HM: They just find other cool things to write about. SB: There’s hatred in a lot of music. That shit’s everywhere. If you want it, you can find it, but if you don’t want it, you also don’t have to hear it. Living in the time of the internet, a lot of that stuff can be weeded out. A lot of people can just be stuck on these hateful bands. I think no one is making me directly support them, and I think nowadays, people will choose what they want to listen to, and a lot of those bands will just be weeded out, like Hunter said. Most people don’t want to hear that kind of stuff, and the people that do are such a small minority that it’s irrelevant to the majority of the scene, in my opinion.



“...when we get together to make music, it’s just three people that have their own influences that just get together and see what works. All of our influences draw together and those are the Unsacred songs. When I hear it, it doesn’t sound quite like black metal to me.”

You guys said that you don’t really think of yourselves as black metal band, more of a punk or d-beat band. Can you expound upon any bit of that identity that you feel is maybe overshadowed by the labels that people give you? HM: I think it all makes sense. I guess why I said that I don’t think we’re a black metal band is that when we get together to make music, it’s just three people that have their own influences that just get together and see what works. All of our influences draw together and those are the Unsacred songs. When I hear it, it doesn’t sound quite like black metal to me. Not all of it is influenced by black metal, and I feel like some of it is atypical to black metal. I also don’t want any elitist people to be like “Fuck that kid.” [Laughs] “That’s not a black metal band.” SB: Calling us posers because we don’t listen to enough Satyricon... HM: I just like to call it a metal band, because metal as a whole is a pretty broad genre. We definitely fit in there somewhere. Black metal has always felt to me like one of the most punk sub-genres in metal. The early stuff just sounded, maybe unintentionally, crappy. SB: They would go for the worst. HM: I think a lot of it was intentional. [Laughs] SB: They wanted it to sound as gritty and as gross as possible. HM: They pulled it off. SB: I really like the idea of that. I don’t think you should necessarily go out and record your demo with First Act stuff. I’m not really advocating that, but I think there’s something to be said for simplicity, and trying to convey an emotion through simpler means. HM: Just usin’ what ya got. SB: The whole DIY ethic is a lot more present in black metal than a lot of other stuff. HM: I just think in modern times obviously, it’s a lot easier to get somewhat better equipment, and make your music sound a little better, so that’s why more people do it -- understandably so. I think it would be weird if a newer black metal band came out, and they recorded all of their stuff on USB microphones or something. I feel like it’s just outdated. Not that it’s not cool, because I still listen to Mayhem all the time. It’s 2016, man. [Laughs] https://unsacred.bandcamp.com





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NICK DAVIS photographer model NICKELUS F & FRIENDS




















Shannon Cleary (SC), Cody Endres (CE), Davy Jones (DJ) & Doug Nunnally (DN)


For those tired of the ‘90s revival, the sounds of the mid-2000s are alive in this Richmond quartet’s latest EP. This music is far from dated though as the band plays with production and various leads to provide an interesting take on a sound that is sadly quickly dismissed. Most impressive here is how the inventive melodies of Press allow the soaring moments of James Bolen’s voice to imprint on your memory, leaving you with plenty of reasons to hit repeat. (DN)





Dazeases’ self-described “lo-fi electronic sad pop” is one of the most interesting new sounds in Richmond right now. London Perry spends much of C R U M B S singing about sex and love in an incredibly open manner, sounding vulnerable amongst sparse electronic instrumentation. More synths slowly creep in, the reverb gets cranked, and before you know it, demons are being exorcised through your speakers. (CE)

Sultry, yet tasteful. Lush, yet sparse. This forceful soul singer’s new EP offers plenty of radio-friendly songs that hardly settle for cheap patterns or devices. While the production catches your ear instantly with inventive, often contradictory backdrops, it’s the singing of Rowe that established dominance in each song, even at its more minimal moments, leaving the listener in awe of the vocal power and in love with a new musical force. (DN)



Exit Oderus. Enter Pustulus. The new record from Richmond shock rockers does its part in building the mythology of GWAR as well as providing new staples for live performances and reasons for younger fans to care about something other than the live show. Still, as hard as Battle Maximus rocks and as repulsive as it shocks, it’s hard to view GWAR as anything but lesser without Dave Brockie behind the helm. (DN)

There is a tidy precision to the music that Chris and Chip Cosby create. I hear a remarkable sense of clarity, from their stated throwback influences to their thoughtful, perfectly proportioned songwriting. Eat Your Heart Out’s literal centerpiece, “I Just Want U” is an expertly crafted pop ballad that’s a joy to get lost in -- lost in the harmonies, the guitar, and in time. (DJ)

(INDOORINDOOR.BANDCAMP.COM) There’s charm to spare on this quartet’s newest record, but to chalk it up to bedroom pop feels nearly hollow when considering expansive songs like “Boardwalk Blues.” This is a laidback and homey collection of songs that has as much in common with Phil Cook as it does Frankie Cosmos. Some songs feel like toe-tapping jaunts destined for afternoon listens in the bed, while others come across as intimate, yet intricate compositions that untangle effortlessly in your ears. (DN)




There appears to be no stopping Pete Curry. On his latest, he extracts all of the pop sensibility of his past work and indulges in an electronic labyrinth of synthesizers and video game soundtracks where the dichotomy of songs becomes especially impressive. Consider this not only Curry’s best to date, but also a perfect soundtrack for the winter months ahead filled with dance parties. (SC)

(WAYSHAPEORFORM.BANDCAMP.COM) An expansive discovery of rock-tronica that is deeply memorable. Elseware bucks the expectations and standards of each genre as it strives for an immersive expedition utilizing melodies that somehow brood and prance simultaneously. After a two year absence, it’s clear Troy Gatrell’s songwriting skill has only grown as he delivers a rousing instrumental record... one that’s equally memorable and inspiring. (DN)




(NAKEDPICTURESRICHMOND. BANDCAMP.COM) After a short wait, Naked Pictures have delivered the stellar follow-up to their NUDES EP. On Wade The Water, the band continues to express an adoration for blistering '90s alternative and bolting post-hardcore jams. In finding ways for the two worlds to coexist, Naked Pictures craft a number of instant favorites with songs like “Die Alone” and “My Turn.” This is the band that people met in 2016, but will fall immediately in love with in 2017. (SC)








(GHOSTSOFFICIAL.BANDCAMP.COM) On his fourth full-length, Caleb Hoehner has quietly yet impressively established himself as one of RVA’s premier songwriters, and perhaps the most consistent musician the city has to offer. Still maturing sonically, this record pushes Hoehner fuzz & din aesthetics forward with a shrewd ear that makes sparse reverb as catchy as crunchy feedback. What more could you want from a one-man rock band? (DN)



The title of this tape may allude to the fact that this is a new collection of B-Sides from the extremely prolific beat maker. It may also allude to the hazy mood that these songs evoke. Some tracks have a more straight-up hip-hop vibe, with space for an MC, others are almost vaporwave, still others Detroit techno-flavored. Altogether, it’s a pleasant trip. (CE)



White Laces’ run comes to a bittersweet close with No Floor. It's a glorious stopping place, though, in that they found what may be the strongest distillation of their evolving sound. Landis Wine’s gliding voice pairs beautifully with synthetic elements that call to mind the '80s, merging the past and present to create something truly timeless. I know it should feel final, but I'd rather think of it as everlasting. (DJ) RVARVA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 27 24 | WINTER | SPRING2016 2016






With atypical MCs like Kendrick Lamar & Chance The Rapper enjoying success, it’s important to remember who came first in hip-hop with seamless, often eccentric fusions. Tribe’s return/farewell record excels in avoiding bittersweet sentiments, instead glorifying a genre that is as expressive as it is connective. Of course, bittersweet moments do pass by in remembrance of members past. (DN)

Love” and “Holocene” with a side-step that initially seemed polarizing, yet became stunning in realization. Much like his own records, Bon Iver isn’t charting new sonic territory for anyone but himself, but his own personal takes on folktronica make this a deeply personal record that pushes the boundaries of whatever folk is in 2016, as well as whatever Bon Iver is in 2016. (DN)

imprinted on each spectacular song, most written far before any political match-up was finalized, something that sadly speaks to the country’s stubborn acquaintance with Common’s woes that are part of the national DNA. Change is clearly harder than ever, but stunning works like this definitely ease the journey’s pain. The national conscience and moral compass Common provides here truly cements the rapper as a voice of civil rights. (DN)

XXX, Danny Brown has kept busy, pushing his oddball hip-hop sound further into abstraction and mingling that with more and more electronic elements. DB’s first release for experimental music label Warp is perhaps his most thoughtful and ambitious yet. Odd pacing causes the album to drag a bit, but there’s a depth to the songwriting that makes repeat listens worthwhile. (CE)





WE GOT IT FROM HERE, THANK 22, A MILLION BLACK AMERICA AGAIN ATROCITY EXHIBITION YOU 4 YOUR SERVICE (JAGJAGUWAR) (DEF JAM/ARTIUM) (WARP RECORDS) (EPIC RECORDS) Bon Iver rids himself of the shackles of “Skinny The timing of this monumental release feels Since the 2011 release of his stylistic revelation


The parts -- the voice of The Walkmen and the architect of Vampire Weekend’s sound -- are impressive enough, but I Had A Dream That You Were Mine adds up to so much more. Hamilton Leithauser’s smoky vocals ascend seemingly without limit; when paired with Rostam Batmanglij’s knack for producing in styles both old and new, that voice -- “the same voice I’ve always had” -- soars with an inspiring freedom. (DJ)



As Blackstar before it, the conversation on You Want It Darker will inevitably fall back on swan song and career retrospection. It’s fair and only human to do so, but the source material differs minimally from his last several records. Topics and themes instantly feel familiar, yet Cohen has still found new ways to posit the reason of emotions allowing the album to feel invigorated and timeless. If only Cohen’s physical state could have reciprocated. (DN) 1010YEARS YEARSOFOFRVA RVAMAGAZINE MAGAZINE2005-2015 2005-2015


M.C. Taylor has renewed his compact with fans by providing a set of personal, stirring, and heavily rhythmic folk songs in Heart Like A Levee. Reflecting the depth that Taylor’s incisive writing affords, the album uplifts via the comforts of family while offering advice that feels especially crucial right now: “You can't choose your blues, but you might as well own them.” (DJ)



An integral part of music in 2016, New York’s LVL UP debut record is simply an enchanting indie pop dream full of lush harmonies, infectious melodies, and incredible production. “Closing Door” launches you into a cloud nine frenzy while “Naked In The River...” provides the perfect aside for a record that feels settled in, but delivers one final surprise. One of the best of the year and a highly recommended for fans of unpredictable indie pop bliss. (SC)


Hval’s album Apocalypse, girl topped my 2015 year-end list, and while it is incredibly strange, it features some great songs. Blood Bitch is more viscerally weird, with a few truly amazing soft rock songs mixed in. If you have the patience for questionably candid found audio of the album’s concept being called “basic,” and the odd vampire metaphor, dive in. (CE)



Further divulging from the band’s black metal beginnings, Sorceress is another step forward in Opeth’s prog-rock exploration, and perhaps their strongest yet making the phrase “late career slump” almost laughable. With callbacks to King Crimson as well as their own work, technical proficiency and foreboding tones are still abound making it pleasing to both metal and prog fans, regardless of when they first found Opeth. (DN)


The evolution of Joyce Manor has been a curious and enjoyable journey with their latest, Cody, being perhaps their most straight-forward record to date as it sounds above and beyond the rest of contemporary rock music. The sincere lyrical content with a clean, superb production suits the band nicely and figures a nice balance between the harsh yesteryears with the current output of the band. “Fake I.D.” and “Stairs” are quick to point out as immediate favorites. (SC)



You could view Solange’s sophomore record as a companion piece to her older sister’s landmark 2016 record. You might pose that it takes the exploration of Lemonade a bit farther. If you so wish, you could even proudly state it far surpasses her sister. Pick your poison, but be careful for each misses it marks. Seat is a singular experience that is as provocative as it is eclectic, something only a true artist devoid of a looming shadow can accomplish. (DN)


sincerely, Jon Baliles 78

FYI -- RVA MAGAZINE has endorsed Jon Baliles for Mayor of Richmond.


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