RVA No. 10: Record Reviews

Posted by: – Oct 24, 2012


The Album Leaf - Forward Return (self-released)

Some lovely, mostly instrumental post-rock here from James Lavalle (formerly of Tristeza and, um, The Locust), which mixes gorgeous, heartwarming guitar melodies with somewhat glitchy programmed beats to excellent effect. Reminds me of a cross between The Mercury Program and Pinback. This album makes me happy. (AN)

The rest of the record reviews from the new issue (all 23 of them!) are after the jump.


Animal Collective - Centipede Hz (Domino)

As Animal Collective albums go, their latest is pretty accessible. Underneath a thin layer of quirky bleeps and incidental noises lie some very solid psychedelic pop songs. Synths are still a strong presence, but this album feels less programmed than their last, which is a step in the right direction. (AN)

Cardinal Compass – Born Homesick (

I am a sucker for female songwriters, and often an easy sell when it comes to talented women who sing well, putting together words and concepts that enchant each listener. Hannah Standiford of Cardinal Compass is exactly one of those musicians. Born Homesick is fourteen tracks of solid folk/Americana that’s easy on the ears. (DA)

The Casualties – Resistance (Season of Mist)

Happy, pleasant, uplifting, and mellow are words I would never use to describe Resistance. I would, however, call the ninth studio album from street/thrash punk legends The Casualties awesome and intense. Littered with the sociopolitical references and four letter words you’d expect from this type of record, The Casualties inspire me to incite a riot. (DA)

Circa Survive – Violent Waves (Self Released)

This is the fourth album from this Doylestown, PA five-piece screamo band, and the first to be self-released. Anthony Green exhibits his shriekingly powerful vocal ability as these eleven songs cover a variety of topics one would expect to find on their records - including a veiled shot at their previous record label, Atlantic. (DA)

Cons, The Child – Fruits (

Fruits is an 11-track drugless trip of an instrumental album from up-and-coming Richmond producer Cons. A lyricist might find spitting rhymes over the entirety of these songs to be a difficult task, but doing so would just ruin the sanctity of a very pleasant experience anyway. Fruits is ambient, enjoyable, and free to download. (DA)

Elemint – Brain Food (

Last fall, Elemint flew out from LA to work with unsung local producer Octopus Drummer on this album, and still, a year after its release, Brain Food has yet to receive the respect it deserves. Elemint is an exceptional MC with profound lyrical potential that meshes well with the intellectual production provided here. Don’t sleep! (DA)

Enslaved - RIITIIR (Nuclear Blast)

Another excellent release from this veteran Norwegian Viking metal band, who add to their history of progressive innovation in fine fashion here. Melody and instrumental prowess are their focus on RIITIIR, but they're still capable of getting brutal on occasion, and their epic songcraft hasn't diminished one iota. (AN)

Farah Loux – Flaws (

Flaws is the debut album from this virtually unheard six-member Auckland, New Zealand indie/alt-rock band, who are well outside the confines of what I normally review. Though there’s nothing particularly spectacular about this record, it’s exceptional for what it is. A well crafted, self-contained fourteen track work of love. (DA)

Gifts From Enola – A Healthy Fear (The Mylene Sheath)

A Healthy Fear is the fourth record from this Harrisonburg, VA instrumental four-piece, whose music is heavy, technically tight post-rock/metal. This album a solid addition to any record collection, and should fit comfortably somewhere between Isis and Explosions In The Sky. (DA)

Helvetia – Nothing in Rambling (Joyful Noise Recordings)

Short, boring, and predictable was what came to mind after the first song, but beyond that, the delightfully monotonous instrumentation coalesced with the distortion heavy, lo-fi garage-band vocals and make this album more engaging than cumbersome. It’s easy to compare Jason Albertini’s work on this album to that of Julian Casablancas. (DA)

Hex Machine - Fixator (Learning Curve)

On their second LP, this RVA band resurrects the mid-90s era when noise-rock and math-rock were vital subgenres of the post-hardcore scene. They layer off-kilter scree overtop of solid heavy-rock riffing in a manner that holds up next to the work of The Melvins, Jesus Lizard, and other heavyweights from last decade. (AN)

The Honorable Sleaze – Broad Street Boogie (Blocsonic)

The most recent release from The Honorable Sleaze may be his best one yet. Anyone familiar with Sleaze’s vast collection of albums and beat tapes will know that’s a hefty compliment. Even with collaborations from well-known RVA MCs like BCMusic1st, Joey Ripps, and Emphasys, it’s the production that truly takes this to the next level. (DA)

JEFF The Brotherhood - Hypnotic Nights (Infinity Cat/Warner Bros)

The brothers Orrall built their rep on heavy, grinding, no-frills rock n' roll, but their 7th LP sees them adding layers to their sound through the use of additional instruments (keyboards, vibraphone, etc). The result is still heavy, but catchier than before--think early Weezer as a garage-rock band. Good stuff. (AN)

John Cale - Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood (Double Six)

New solo joint from the other Velvet Underground guy. Its 80s-as-hell overproduced rock sound comes across like a muscular version of Leonard Cohen's erudite sleaziness, and the title makes me think the vibe is created on purpose. But whether the sleaze is conscious or not, this album still isn’t a particularly enjoyable listen. (AN)

Just Plain Ant – What Did You Expect? (Just Plain Sounds)

A fitting title for this LP from one of RVA’s hardest working producers. Ant does what he does best with this joint, digging deep for choice samples, and finding the best Richmond rappers to collaborate with. The album flows seamlessly from one track to the next, painting a picture that feels like a soundtrack. (DA)

Matthew E. White - Big Inner (Spacebomb)

This is the debut solo album by the Fight The Big Bull ringleader, who steps into the spotlight with help from his many friends in the RVA music scene to present us with a supremely laid-back collection of lush, soulful, vaguely psychedelic R&B ballads. Listen late at night with the lights down low. (AN)

The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth (Merge)

To some extent you know what you're getting with The Mountain Goats--heartfelt indie-folk with idiosyncratic, brilliant lyrics. But this one adds a horn section (arranged by RVA's own Matthew E. White) and a previously-unheard rock/soul flavor, keeping things interesting even for fans who already own 12 other TMG albums. (AN)

Oreo Jones – Betty (Rad Summer)

Titled in homage to his grandmother, Oreo Jones has created an excellent, intriguing synth-heavy hip hop record. Anyone who has respect for the lyrical craft should instantly see the value of this album. Oreo kills it, from “House Nigga” down to “Cordon Bleu.” Laced with art and literary references, Betty is something special. (DA)

Plastic Plates – Things I Didn’t Know I Loved (Kitsune)

This 3-song electropop EP from Mr. Felix Bloxsom, AKA Plastic Plates, is exactly like having everything that sucked about the seventies and eighties vomiting while it fornicates in your iPod. Don’t get me wrong, Felix is very talented, but in my opinion, his taste in music is incredibly dated. He offers nothing new to the genre. (DA)

Silver Jews - Early Times (Drag City)

This collection of the early EPs by this Pavement-affiliated indie crew has the same ramshackle lo-fi noisiness of the earliest Pavement work, but leans more toward folk than Pavement's rock n' roll. David Berman was always a great songwriter, and if you can get past the tape hiss, there are some classic tunes here. (AN)

Title Fight - Floral Green (Side One Dummy)

This Cali-based emo/hc/punk band has been taking quantum leaps on each new release, and Floral Green is just the latest of these. Passion, energy, distorted guitar roar, screamed vocals that retain a healthy dose of melody and strong feeling, songs that will stick in your head for days--this album has everything. (AN)

Witchcraft - Legend (Nuclear Blast)

This Swedish metal band is considered doom, but it's more accurate to call them retro--Legend is not particularly slow, just epic in a post-Zeppelin sense, with midtempo song structures based around mournful melodies and lengthy guitar solos. The perfect Christmas gift for your Judas Priest-loving uncle. (AN)

YokoKimThurston - YokoKimThurston (Chimera Music)

I expected this historic collaboration between avant-garde pioneers to be weird. What surprised me was how calm it turned out to be--though don't get me wrong, it's still pretty bizarre. Yoko caterwauls, Sonic Youth's Gordon & Moore wring bizarre sounds from guitars. You know whether you want this. (AN)

By Dan Anderson (DA) and Andrew Necci (AN)