RVA #31: Record Reviews

by | Jan 10, 2018 | MUSIC

Originally printed in RVA #31 WINTER 2017, you can check out the issue HERE or pick it up around Richmond now. 

Tim Barry
High On 95

Punk rock is the kind of scene that wears a person out. This might sound ridiculous to the kids singing along to “Young Til I Die” covers at the all-ages show, but by the time you’re 29 with two full sleeves of tattoos, sitting at the end of the bar because you don’t have the energy for the pit anymore, you learn the truth. Perhaps it’s not too surprising that Tim Barry, who once led 90s punk heroes Avail, is a decade deep into a solo career as a folk-country artist and shows no signs of looking back. High On 95 is his sixth solo album, and it shows him settling ever more comfortably into the acoustic troubadour role. He only sang in Avail, but his proficiency on acoustic guitar here sees him creating some excellent melodies on songs like “Gumshoe Andy” and “O & DP.” The minimal instrumental backing (slide guitar, violin, the occasional percussion) gives these tunes a rootsy feel and allows you to crank up the volume without bugging the neighbors. The DIY veterans will see the appeal immediately. The kids might not get it yet, but rest assured, their time will come soon enough. (MN)

Ann Beretta
Old Scars, New Blood

Collections of old songs re-recorded can be a risky move–it may do little more than spotlight the fact that the now-middle-aged members have lost a step. That said, Ann Beretta is lucky enough to retain a vitality that makes the past 20 years seem like the blink of an eye. This one’s worth it even if you have the old records. (MN)

(Citrus City)

Fine zooms in and out in an incredible way. The EP’s lyrics focus on super-specific circumstances — burning your tongue, going into anaphylactic shock because of a nut allergy — yet the music gradually opens up via savvy guitar work and countermelody, resulting in big, inviting moments. In that way, Fine manages to be personal and universal at the same time. (DJ)

Ashanti Bragg
Journey of a Young Woman Vol. 1

With seven tracks giving us a good sample of what’s to come, Virginia Beach native Ashanti Bragg makes her debut almost two years after dropping the video for opener “My Love.” Featuring a variety of songs showing her musical versatility, the confidence that oozes through her music makes for a fun and energetic experience that leaves the listener wanting more. (KMP)

Big No
Get Over Yourself

Presenting itself as an ambitious and experimental project, Get Over Yourself is vast. One second, the structured sound is airy and poppy, and then the next, it begins to wax into blues. Big No has made it obvious that their strongest musical asset is their instrumentation; Heather Jerabeck owns that piano. (CM)

Black Liquid

Two words: Unfiltered. Observation. Black Liquid’s obstinate attitude and sharp public commentary on ANTi challenge local perception and opinion through a conversational approach. His poignant flow found on the title track “ANTi” is relentless, barraging the listener with anecdotes that highlight the MC’s natural inclination for hip-hop as an art form. (CM)

Butcher Brown
Live at Vagabond
(Gearbox Records)

Make room, Donny Hathaway–this is one for the ages. Live at Vagabond captures the energy of the crowd and the virtuosity of individual instrumentalists with remarkable clarity, giving listeners a taste of Devonne Harris’ compositional gifts, adventurous approach to keys, and the ensemble’s knack for seizing the moment. This is the Butcher Brown sound at its most cohesive and dominant. (DJ)

Buzzard Dust
Buzzard Dust

What happens when a ragtag group of metal veterans wants to rock? They form a thrash band. Buzzard Dust’s eponymous debut is a 24-minute adrenaline burst of wicked dive bombs, breakneck blast beats, and guttural profanities that recalls the feeling of a dark, sweaty mosh pit. I dare you to not headbang during “Have You Seen Me.” (CM)

Doll Baby
Hell Block EP

Doll Baby blesses listeners with yet another phenomenal demonstration of their artistic prowess. Hell Block is a mere five songs, but holds the sustainability of a traditional full-length album. The four-piece’s jam tracks scratch a deeper itch, bringing everyone to their feet. Singer Julie Storey has the most pleasingly unique punk vocals you’ll ever hear. (CM)

Fly Anakin, Koncept Jack$on & Tuamie
Panama Plus
(Mutant Academy/Smallz World Management & Consulting)

More hardcore, boom-bap hip hop from the Southside’s own Fly Anakin & Koncept Jack$on, this time with fellow Mutant Academy brethren Tuamie handling the production. Hearing the duo spitting over one producer’s sound gives this project a different, more cohesive feel from their last full length, but if you’re expecting a drop off in quality, you won’t find that here. (EH)

God Goldin & Duce
Universal Benefits
(Control Ent)

Bouncing back and forth over each track, Goldin & Duce have a great chemistry, with Duce’s laid-back flow paired on “Lolo” along with Gold’s more hype flow. The songs feel like these two have been a working partnership for years already. If you need a quick musical boost in your workday, give this a spin. (EH)

Nobody Cares

Gritter isn’t necessarily reinventing the (steel) wheel on their fourth album, but then again, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Their brand of harsh, caustic metal has some clear NOLA influences but gives it their own muddy James River flavor. This music will give you strength to face life’s frustrations. Don’t leave home without it. (MN)

Thorp Jenson
(South Boulevard)

Fully-formed narrative writing, steady-handed production, and killer performances from top-notch players provide many reasons to disbelieve that Odessa is a debut release. It plays like an expertly crafted survey of styles from the last 60 years, from Stones riffs and heartland rock to country waltzing and soul not unlike Matthew E. White’s. Well-worn and world-class, right out of the gate. (DJ)

For Your Joy
(Citrus City)

With this monster of a debut full-length, the duo Keep has etched its name among the city’s growing list of musicians on the rise. The group’s sound is diverse and evocative, being deeply rooted in their appreciation of grunge and industrial predecessors. For Your Joy embellishes an introspective atmosphere that lets one track roll right into the next. (CM)

Long Arms
Young Life
(Dead Serious)

Long Arms began as James Menefee’s alt-country project, but with their latest album, they’ve left those touches behind in favor of the punk-influenced heartland rock that feels like Menefee’s natural mode. It suits him; skipping genre tropes in favor of excellent heartfelt tunes with a heavy Replacements influence makes Young Life is a career highlight. (MN)

Goodbye And Other Lies

An intense, heartfelt slab of pure emotion delivered with power and melody, Goodbye And Other Lies is a worthy contribution to the field of melodic punk rock from a group of veterans who’ve paid plenty of dues. This is music for remembering past struggles and appreciating where you are. With this EP, Mistaker carves out a distinctive niche for themselves. (MN)

My Enemies & I
The Beast Inside

This VA-based metalcore crew draws a lot of influence from angst-ridden early 00’s nu-metallers like Slipknot and Mudvayne, interjecting melodic choruses and moody breaks into a stew of pounding downtuned riffage and brutal breakdowns. The result is an invigorating, gleefully profane blast that brings me back to my youth. If this is what today’s kids are into, sign me up. (MN)

Positive No
Partners In The Wild
(Trrrash/Little Black Cloud)

This RVA quartet definitely brought the fire this time, cranking up the energy to deliver a louder, more distorted follow-up to debut LP Glossa. The 90s alternative and indie-rock influences that fundamentally inform Positive No’s sound are still dominant, but their punk past is much closer to the surface here–and that’s definitely a good thing. (MN)

River Black
River Black
(Season Of Mist)

This combo sees Municipal Waste drum-pounder Dave Witte reuniting with his Burnt By The Sun bandmates, John Adubato (guitar) and Mike Olender (vocals), to carry on that band’s brutal, politically-driven metal rampage. Doom-infused metallic hardcore riffs meet grinding blast beats and double-bass mayhem to create an unstoppable steamroller of a record. (MN)

Talk Me Off
Talk Me Off

Some fun, speedy punk with a tendency toward retro stylings. The first song has a borderline-hardcore intensity, but the others get more melodic in a manner reminiscent of early 80s SoCal punk–Agent Orange, first-LP Bad Religion, that kind of thing. The furious anti-white-nationalism lyrics on “Inglorious Bastards” are a particularly nice touch. (MN)

Vivian Fantasy
Deep. Honey.
(Hush Hush)

Can music be simultaneously comforting and unsettling? Deep. Honey. makes a pretty strong case in the affirmative. Warm synth sounds and layered guitars lay down pillowy sonic padding, yet Danny Bozella’s singing is manipulated throughout, coming across as uncanny. “I put effects around my voice to hide what I write,” he sings on “Charms,” ringing with a beautifully ironic honesty. (DJ)

Reviews by: Marilyn Drew Necci (MN), Eugene Henry (EH), Davy Jones (DJ), Kiara M.P. (KMP), Christopher Alan McDaniel (CM)

Top Photo Credit: Joey Wharton Photography

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

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