The scene at Strange Matter last Sunday night, where Into It. Over It., The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, and Sundials played an all-ages show, was familiar to me. But it wasn't much like anything I've seen in a long time.
Last week was a double kicker for Diamond Youth, the Baltimore-based alternative rock band. Their new EP, Shake, was released on Tuesday the 4th by Topshelf Records, and they started their tour with Turnstile, Turnover, Blind Justice, and Angel Du$t the next day at Strange Matter.
Today, for the first time anywhere, we're pleased to bring you the complete lineup of RVA Noise Fest III, taking place April 18-20. This festival of experimental sound takes things to a whole new level in its third year--5 shows at 4 different venues, spread over 3 days and featuring over 50 acts, for an avalanche of noise the likes of which this city has never seen.
Not to be dismissive of the first blush of youth or anything, but these days it seems like it's the bands made up of longtime veterans that have the most to offer.
The Sands are a band from Bloomington, Indiana, but they have deep roots in the RVA music scene. Jeff Grant, one of the band's two frontmen/guitarists, previously led Richmond's Pink Razors, who spent most of the last decade charming the city with their wry, catchy tales of living, learning, and growing up.
While softer indie rock has been in the musical spotlight for the past few years, sometimes the world just needs some gritty rock and roll. Enter FIDLAR. The LA quartet's been around for several years now, but in 2012, they started gaining some momentum and finally got some recognition outside of their hometown.
Navi, a not-quite-instrumental duo consisting of guitarist Jon Hawkins and drummer Kyle Flanagan, have been capturing the imagination of RVA's more tuned-in music fans for a couple of years now (we even profiled them in our Fall 2013 print issue). However, actual releases from the group have been sporadic.
They've only been playing out locally for a couple of months, but brand new RVA quartet Burn/Ward have been grabbing some attention with their fast and furious power-violence sound. Now they've got a demo out that converts their wall-of-noise live sound into somewhat more comprehensible form.
It would be an understatement to say that the long-awaited Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me!'s first album to be released since frontman Tom Gabel became frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, is one of the most talked-about albums of 2014 so far.
I first saw Down To Nothing play at St. Stephen’s Church in D.C. This was back in 2010, not long after I’d been introduced to the latest generation of straight edge hardcore bands, including Down To Nothing as well as Trapped Under Ice, Cruel Hand, Cold World, and more. The macho bravado and heavy, fast riffs that were these bands’ stock in trade bore a superficial resemblance to the scene breakdown bands (The Devil Wears Prada, Suicide Silence, Whitechapel) that I had listened to through most of high school, but straight edge hardcore was more real. Songs about friendship, loyalty, and hardships were more relatable then mindless brutality. Instead of swoopy, asymetrical haircuts and 808 bass-drops, raw album production and the tough guy asesthetic seemed much more badass.
The ability of hardcore bands, even some of the best in the genre, to sound strikingly similar to a decidedly recognizable set of influences yet still retain a compelling intensity is one of the greatest elements of the genre, and one of the least appreciated by those outside it. And while complaints that it all sounds the same aren't a hundred percent unwarranted, to the initiate, The Kids Will Have Their Say and Victim In Pain (to choose two examples somewhat arbitrarily) couldn't sound more different.
This past Friday at Strange Matter, The Catalyst played their last show ever. If I tell you that The Catalyst was one of the best and most important bands to come out of Richmond in the past decade, you can be sure I believe it with all my heart. At the same time, I can't pretend there isn't a certain amount of bias there.
The first time I saw Guerilla Toss was at the Coward Shoe in Baltimore last winter. It was one of those shows where the bill is a veritable who’s who of up and coming bands. Everyone that played that night has been instrumental in helping to create and spread the gospel of the contemporary noise rock movement across the country in the last few years.
After three decades plus of chest thumping, slogan shouting, and all around dead horse beating, it can be easy to allow a disenchantment with hardcore to come crawling around the periphery of one's taste in such things. No matter how fresh or engaging some band's take on the style might be at its inception, without fail, legions of lesser bands will swoop in like a particularly voracious murder of crows to drag away its heart and viscera, rendering what once had been vivacious little more than hollow, rotting carrion.
Roseanne is one of the most promising new bands to emerge out of Richmond’s underground in the last year, and they’ve just released their debut recording on local weird rock magnate Ben Miller's label, Bad Grrrl Records.
Last Tuesday, a back-to-back bevy of melodic hardcore acts took the stage of The Camel in a high energy show that was reminiscent of the late 80s post-hardcore characterized by the era’s releases on Dischord, Alternative Tentacles, and the like.
The most successful element at the core of Mutoid Man's debut album lies with an inherent contradiction in the first impression that the record conveys. On one hand, anybody familiar with the members' other bands – whether Steve Brodsky's work with Cave In, or Ben Koller's drumming for Converge and All Pigs Must Die – can likely imagine more or less how the album sounds without hearing a note.
Historically, the number of bands who can craft an album a quarter-century after their inception that could be considered equal or superior to their early output would be such a rarity that, were somebody attempting to offer a quanitification, it might come off as a statistical anomaly.