The Richmond Music Catalog 1980-2021 Part 1

by | Jan 4, 2022 | MUSIC, PINNED

I get asked a lot by people: what Richmond bands should I check out? After a decade of trying to help everyone out, I decided to take a shot at putting them all down. So here is a catalog with every good local band we could think of. There are over 180+ bands listed in here with links to their music, or to a video. This list is not complete by any means and I invite anyone making music who wants to be included to reach out.

Our hope is that these four articles become a resource for anyone wanting to find out more about what bands influence or influenced the scene, and where the city has been musically, over the last few decades — it should offer up clues to where we are now, and where it is all headed. — R. Anthony Harris
, founder RVA Magazine

A Roman Holiday, ‘Dodging Seagulls’ DEATH
2013 Rorschach Records

There are many bands out there with the name Roman Holiday, but none hit so close to home as Richmond, Virginia’s Roman Holiday. Featuring members of Hot Lava, The Catalyst, Hail Hydra, and Bogus Machine, RH were an indie rock/punk band who fell off the face of this earth six years ago. This year on January 3rd, they finally released their final LP, Death, as a digital release on Rorschach Records, the label owned by former Roman Holiday member Curtis Grimstead. The sudden appearance of Death is a story in itself. Recorded in 2006, the album was never completed, and the unfinished files were thought to be lost due to a computer crash. All material was presumably gone. — from RVA Magazine, March 7, 2013

AARNxBRWN, ‘Value’
2020 Self Release

Since releasing his debut album, GHost, in 2019, Brown has built a reputation for his melodic production and expressive sound, as well as his dynamic lyricism. But his participation in the protests, where he marched alongside thousands of Richmonders for several weeks, made him want to record something as a means of expression. He produced the beat for his single, “Value,” and wrote the first verse after the first week or two, and returned to finish the track around a month in. — from RVA Magazine, October 29, 2020

Action Patrol, “Tube,” On Patrol
1997 Whirled Records

Perhaps it is knowing that we now live in a time where political and social complexity could be greatly articulated by bands who knew how to irreverently take the proverbial “piss” like Action Patrol. On their song “Tube,” they proclaim snidely, “I don’t think I’ll hold you close, I’ll just hold you responsible for another loud mouth advertisement,” before going fucking nuts in matching orange coveralls. Does that lyric need to be put into a contemporary context, or should we just accept that this sums up most of our entire experience in 2017? –from RVA Magazine, December 29, 2017

Aimee Mann, ‘I Should’ve Known’ Whatever
1993 The Imago Recording Company

Mann was born in Richmond, Virginia, and studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In the 1980s, after playing with the Young Snakes and Ministry, she co-founded the new wave band ‘Til Tuesday and wrote their top-ten single “Voices Carry” (1985). The band released three albums and disbanded in 1990 when Mann left to pursue a solo career.

Mann released her first solo album, Whatever, in 1993, followed by I’m With Stupid in 1995. They received positive reviews but low sales. Mann achieved wider recognition when she recorded songs for the soundtrack to the Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia (1999), earning nominations for Academy Award for Best Original Song and Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal.

After Mann’s record company Geffen refused to release her third solo album, Bachelor No. 2, Mann self-released it under her own label, SuperEgo Records, in 2000. She has released seven albums since. She has won two Grammy Awards, including Best Folk Album for Mental Illness (2017), and was named one of the world’s ten greatest living songwriters by NPR in 2006. — from Wikipedia

Alice and the Reverie, ‘The Way We Go’ The Way We Go
2020 Self Release

Formed in 2015 Alice and the Reverie both sparkle and crunch. Miriam Martin’s vocals are equal parts angelic and haunting. Guitarist Evan Surmaj and guitarist/keyboardist Nate Griffith move effortlessly between hyper-melodic and elegantly ethereal. Bassist Casey Sanders and drummer Scott Milstead form a groove-based rhythm section that’s understated yet relentless. — from Bandcamp

Alter Natives, ‘Slinging Nortons’ Live at the Metro
1992 Self Release

Alter Natives were an instrumental band in Richmond, Virginia in the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Formed by Greg Ottinger, Jim Thomson, Chris Bopst, and Eric Ungar in 1984, their work has been described as a combination of “metal/tropical/surf”and as having “connections to progressive and space rock, albeit an unusually concise, powerful, and disciplined version of those genres,” and “hard and fast instrumental fare geared tunefully by a mean, acidic guitar interplay and essential upfront rhythms.” The band signed to SST Records in 1986 and released three albums through the label. Though only four albums were released, material from a fifth unreleased album is available in rough form on the band’s MySpace page. – from Wikipedia

Amazing Ghost, ‘i gettupa’ 101 Things To Do In Bongolia
2010 Electric Cowbell Records

The video for Amazing Ghost “i getuppa” is a magical trip through the clouds full of wizards, demon birds, dancing girls, dolphins, and unicorns. We get to see the band battling evil forces with their brand of good time music and bringing peace to the scene. – from RVA Magazine, December 23, 2010

Angelica Garcia, ‘Jicama’ Cha Cha Palace
2019 Spacebomb Records

“This song is about not being seen for having a dual identity,” Garcia says. “When you don’t feel seen, you don’t feel accepted for who you are. In my case, I’m American, but I am also Mexican and Salvadoran because of my family blood. Though people often don’t know where to put me, I proudly wear both sides of my identity. The U.S. is a country made up of people from other countries. This song and video are a love letter to kids who grew up embracing two worlds just like me. [It] seems like many people in power are concerned with preserving some sort of ideal American identity — but our identity as a country is complex. Accepting and enforcing just one perspective is often just a guise for racism and xenophobia. To knock my family and I down for our Latinx roots is to knock down all of America’s history. Like you I was born in this country.” – from American Songwriter

Ann Beretta, ‘FM’ Wild, Young and Free
1997 Believe Music

“We’ll always have the radio – a small town and no place to go.” The first chorus of “FM” signals Ann Beretta’s triumphant return and instantly reminds us just what anthemic punk rock is all about. Old Scars, New Blood, their first album in over a decade, features 13 re-recorded hits that sound better sung with your fist in the air. Raspy and sincere vocals combine with rich guitar and drum tones to deliver catchy choruses blissfully lacking the type of saccharine pop punk written for kids. Never bound to a boring 3-chord punk script, instead Ann Beretta include organs, slide guitar and a taste of rockabilly on these tunes. – from Say-10

Ant The Symbol, ‘Gone Astray’ feat. Reppa Ton Ant Hasn’t Heard Of You, Either
2021 Gritty City Records

Richmond-based [hip hop producer] Ant The Symbol released his new album, Ant Hasn’t Heard Of You, Either, which oozes introspection within a steady flow of thoughtful rhymes. – from Alchemical Records

Antiphons, ‘Tiny Rooms’ Groan
2017 Citrus City Records

Nestled away in Rockfish Gap on the border of northern Nelson County and Augusta County, Swannanoa Palace is an Italian Renaissance Revival villa built in 1912 by millionaire and philanthropist James H. Dooley. You might recognize Dooley as man behind the mansion at Maymont here in RVA – the Richmond lawyer was obviously financially stacked but at least he had the good sense to invest in some beautiful architecture.

It turns out Tommy Terrell, a member of Antiphons and Good Day RVA, lives close to Swannanoa out in Waynesboro, and it was his idea to film there. The video captures the beauty of the location perfectly (as we’ve come to expect from Good Day) and the audio pics up a bit of that warm reverb as the tunes bounce off the 100+ year old walls. And yes, that’s a Tiffany Glass window behind them. — from RVA Magazine, March 31, 2017

Antlers, ‘White Fur’ Self Titled
2007 Rorschach Records

If Jacques Cousteau’s ghost was eating mushrooms at the bottom of the ocean and watching a giant squid doing battle with a great white shark, and he had his ipod on him, he would be listening to Antlers. Amidst a wall of ambient noise reminiscent of church organs comes a barrage of sound, droning and melodic, polyrhythmic and mesmerizing, harsh and beautiful. This is Antlers, living, breathing proof of the eclectic, dynamic nature of Richmond’s music underground. –from RVA Magazine, April 23, 2010

Avail, ‘Scuffle Town’ Over The James
1998 Lookout! Records

“I was thinking about the line “Ethyl dosed the planet,” and I’m not sure anyone knows what I’m talking about. The Daily Planet was a social service and gathering place for the homeless on Belvidere St. It was my view that when the Daily Planet got run out and bulldozed, that it was Ethyl Corporation [whose offices were a few blocks away] behind the thing. That it didn’t like the eyesore there. Who knows whether, as a young man, I was right or not? It was complete speculation. But we took that stuff really personally, because as a bunch of white kids from the suburbs, we’re running around town watching everybody get rooted out, and feeling this sort of guilt for it. Like, here we are, taking over. Here we are trying to function with high crime rates — shit, our next-door neighbor got killed. People would rob our houses. People would just walk into your house, take the TV and walk out, while you were fucking watching it! It was insane. 

But things change. And to glamorize the old Richmond, vs RVA, I’m not sure I’m ready to fall for that divide. Would I want to raise my two young daughters in the old Richmond, in the city? I’m not sure. But can I raise my two young daughters in RVA? Well, I’m not sure! We almost had to move because we couldn’t afford the rent.” –Avail’s Tim Barry, from RVA Magazine, August 10, 2019

Avers, ‘Insects’ Omega / Whatever
2016 Egghunt Records

Comprised of four singer/songwriters Adrian Olsen, Alexandra Spalding, James Mason and JL Hodges, along with multi-instrumentalist Charlie Glenn, the Richmond, VA-based quintet Avers first caught national attention with the release of their 2014 debut effort, Empty Light, an effort that had them opening for Foo Fighters and J.  Roddy Walston and The Business, along with an appearance at last year’s SXSW that was praised by a number of major outlets including Esquire and The Daily Beast. Building upon the buzz they’ve received, the Virginia-based quintet’s anticipated sophomore effort Omega/Whatever was written,  recorded and self-produced at their unofficial headquarters Montrose Recording — and the album, which is slated for a July 29, 2016 release through Egghunt Records, reportedly focuses on struggling through life in the modern world; in fact, the material covers divorce, how technology influences our lives, changing societal norms, corrupt politicians and more. And interestingly enough, the material also manages to continue the creative process that the band established for the sessions that comprised their debut effort — each songwriter brought in sketches and ideas with the entire group then pitching in to flesh out the idea into a song and quickly recording the material that same day, whenever possible. As you can hear on the album’s 90s alt rock-channeling single “Insects,” the result is a song that feels at times hushed and improvised and rousingly anthemic wall of sound-channeling song that captures a sense of powerlessness over the things you can’t control — while saying “Well, that’s life sometimes. Get on with it.” — from Joy Of Violent Movement

Bad Magic, ‘Punk’s Not Dead But I Hear You Are’ Harsh Surrender
2017 Self Release

Bad Magic is far removed from modern punk trends. The Richmond trio’s sound takes cues from 90s alt-rock mainstays like PJ Harvey and Cat Power, yet their sheer volume and intensity have made them a mainstay on punk bills in Richmond. Unsurprisingly, vocalist and guitarist Julie Karr cites ’80s and ’90s alt-rock among the inspirations for her songwriting.

“PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’, Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr., Cat Power, Neil Young, Wipers, and Tori Amos stay in pretty heavy rotation,” said Karr. “I revisited Arthur Lee and Love, too. I think ‘Everybody’s Gotta Live’ is maybe my favorite song.” –from RVA Magazine, September 17, 2018

Ballpoint Pens, ‘Nine Times Out of Ten’ Calcutta (Rabbits version from Love Me When I’m Gone: A Tribute to Ross Harman)
2012, Driven By Boredom

Ross Harman was one-half of The Gaskets, a quirky electro-pop duo who were active in the Richmond scene throughout the past decade. Sadly, he took his own life last year. At his memorial service, music from his little-heard solo project The Ballpoint Pens was played, and blew everyone away. Inspired by the reaction, Gaskets manager Nate “Igor” Smith decided to organize a tribute to Ross that would involve his many talented friends. A year later, the result of those efforts was Love Me When I’m Gone, a tribute album featuring 15 different bands performing songs written by Ross. –from RVA Magazine, October 5, 2011

Benet, ‘Shoot Your Shot’ Game Over!
2021 Bayonet Records

A 21-year-old nonbinary vocalist and producer from Richmond, Virginia, Benét is set to reshape the future of Gen-Z R&B and dance music through DIY capabilities on their new EP.

Inheriting their grandmother’s vinyl copies of 1973 landmark albums, including Stevie Wonder’s progressive-soul classic Innervisions and the soft-pop brilliance of Now & Then by the CarpentersBenét aspires to craft a sound just as timeless. Previously releasing a handful of singles through local boutique record label Citrus City Records, the vocalist joined Brooklyn indie enclave Bayonet Records, veering from die-hard anthems dedicated to TV shows Glee and Killing Eve to the nuances of young love. Penning similar tracks for Gen-Z favorites such as EuphoriaAdventure Time and Steven UniverseBenét admits that they’d jump at the chance to eventually become a music supervisor.

“Being heavy in stan culture and watching different shows, I’m like, ‘Oh, this happened in the show. I can write about it,’” Benét says. “I’ve always been able to see an experience in front of me, pull it into my own writing and connect it to me in some way.” — from Alternative Press

Bermuda Triangles, ‘Riddles In The Sand’ Reptilian Intervention
2008 Chaotic Noise Productions

When I first heard Reptilian Intervention, I heard the quality sound, engineered and recorded by Kevin Willoughby. To capture the Bermuda Triangles’ sound is an uneven task to say the least, but Willoughby turned front man Jason Hodges’ written songs into pieces of a revolution. Richmond is known for almost everybody doing the same thing, but that was not the route taken by this album of layers, shapes, sizes, space, colors and randomness. I don’t know about you, but shit on shit, we need that in our lives of listening. To compare this experimental, no wave, psychedelic and tropical noise music making foursome to any other band would be a travesty. Hence, it’s time to be a part of this intervention. –– from RVA Magazine, November 23, 2010

Big Baby, ‘Everybody’ Sour Patch
2017 Self Released

The twee-pop scene of Richmond has a fresh face from local band Big Baby. The band’s second EP, Sour Patch, was dropped on July 15. Mixing lo-fi vibes with pop-y vocals and harmonies, Ali Mislowsky (guitar, vocals), Chris Smith (guitar), and Brian Dove (drums) providing music lovers with the pop charm we need.

“It’s this movement opposing the punk movement in the UK in the 90s, and there were people just starting bands, and maybe they weren’t the best at their instrument,” said Mislowsky on the beginnings of twee-pop. “They’re just doing it because they wanted to do it. That’s a comforting scene because there’s no pressure to be really good at what you’re doing.” –– from RVA Magazine, August 10, 2017

Big Mama Shakes, ‘Coming Of Age’ As She Does
2017 Self Released

Big Mama Shakes formed among five locals in August 2013 – Brady Heck, Peter Cason, Chandler Matkins, Elijah Righter and Caleb Austin. As members of various local bands, they had played together before. And four of them knew each other from attending Warhill High School.

Together, they crafted a “soul rock” sound and energetic live show that friends and fans came to know and love. The band soon transitioned to Richmond’s music scene, where they’ve since released an album, toured a portion of the East Coast and opened for national acts.

“You really don’t assume that you’re going to get those opportunities,” said Matkins, the band’s drummer. “We definitely don’t take it for granted.” –– from The Daily Press

Bio Ritmo, ‘La Verdad’ La Verdad
2011 Electric Cowbell Records

When local citizens have discussions about RVA bands that have had a lasting effect on music over the past few decades, Bio Ritmo is a name that might not jump to mind as quickly as names like GWAR or Lamb Of God. But maybe it should! After all, this local salsa band has been together for over 20 years, and their melange of Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz and electronic sounds has helped propel the development of modern Latin dance music. Meanwhile, their DIY ethics and punk rock approach to playing a style of music not generally associated with those values has helped provide them with integrity and longevity that allow them to bring their music to the world on their own terms. — from RVA Magazine, June 24, 2014

BlackLiq, ‘Madness’ Anti
2019 Self Released

The bells ring, and the class lines up and proceeds to take their seats. Their teacher is sporting his signature black t-shirt that states “Richmond is for Haters.” The teacher pauses and then proceeds to prompt the students to write down a rhyme and immediately rap it upon completion.  A classroom setting may not be the most common habitat for a rapper, but encountering a credible hip-hop course for kids was as much of a surprise to veteran Richmond rapper Black Liquid as was receiving the role of teacher.

“I was invited to speak one year at Sabot at Stony Point to talk about the “Adventures and People you Meet Through Music,“ which was the theme for the school that year. They liked what I said so much that they offered me a job!  I didn’t have a plan, had never taught a class, and had no ideas beyond what I put myself through to get better at this, so I said “yes.”  Literally one of the best decisions of my entire life,” said Black Liquid. — from Alchemical Records

Blue Rajas, ‘Papyrus’ Self Titled
2011 Self Released

The dynamic duo of Zoe and Gracie Golden can’t be matched. Their sets can range from sloppy to dead-on, but the most important factor is that they are having a blast. Whether they are studiously engaging in their pop fanaticism or grinning like fools, there is nothing even remotely akin to the experience of seeing The Blue Rajas kill it. –from RVA Magazine, January 8, 2013

Brainworms, ‘Jay’s Big Date’ II: Swear To Me
2011 Rorschach Records

The Brainworms sound, an unusual but potent mixture of post-hardcore melodies and straight-up punk energy, is hard to describe but easy to appreciate, and with singer Greg Butler up front, shirtless and roaring, this quintet of RVA punk veterans incited the crowd into the most energetic reaction of the evening thus far. –from RVA Magazine, December 16, 2013

Breadwinner, ‘Kisses Men On The Mouth On The Mountain’ Burner LP
1994 Self Release

Few genre names sell their sound quicker and more accurately than math rock. The constantly shifting time signatures, offset polyrhythms and syncopated note placement are at the heart of the genre. The genre’s interdisciplinary nature carefully formulates elements from noise rock, no-wave, avant-garde jazz, and progressive rock into one feverishly eclectic, but brainy sound. Add all this up and you have a sound that’s tough to solve for X – for execution – if 4/4 timing is the safe shoreline you prefer to strum your ukulele on. Among the mountain of math rock lies an excellent song with a bombastic and lengthy title: “Kisses Men on the Mouth on the Mountain.” The track was released as part of Breadwinner’s 1994 album Burner. — from College Media Network

Burma Jam, ‘You Have The Right Neopolitan Metropolitan
1992 Simple Machines Records

Burma Jam’s “Emergency Broadcast System” was their first full-length vinyl release in 1992. From Richmond, Virginia, Burma Jam was known for their punk rock reggae and dub jams. –from Soundcloud

Butcher Brown, ‘Live on NPR Tiny Desk’ #KingButch
2020 Concord Records

There’s plenty to make ordinary music fans giddy on #King Butch, the Richmond band’s eighth release and major-label debut, beginning with the crackling rhythm team of bassist Andrew Randazzo and drummer Corey Fonville, who might be the best known of the band’s five members through his tenure in bands led by Nicholas Payton and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (“Broad Rock” could almost be lifted from an Adjuah set). With elements of neo-soul, disco, Minneapolis funk, Southern rap, and a dash of rock, Butcher Brown seems to be merging into the Roots’ we-can-play-anything lane. Add strong jazz solos and an ear for the underappreciated late 70s work of masters such as Herbie Hancock, and Butcher Brown can come off like a Piedmont version of the West Coast Get Down minus the spirituality.

But mere pitch-meeting descriptions (“P-Funk meets jazz at halftime on a football field”) don’t do justice to the way Butcher Brown effortlessly throws the genre code-switch, often several times within a song. — from PostGenre

Camp Howard, ‘Juice The Wild Honey Pie Buzzsession
2018 The Wild Honey Pie

Richmond, Virginia band Camp Howard creates delightful and eclectic indie rock music that can get anyone moving. On the Juice EP, which was released by Egghunt Records last May, the band showcased their wide range of talents, including songs of varying time signatures and blending styles, held together by their notably punchy bass lines and dance-y grooves. Almost a year after the release of this EP, the band joined us at Douglass Recording to perform special versions of two of their songs.

Our versions of these songs are rousing and dynamic while still feeling so effortless. There are so many amazing moments in these performances, like in “Juice” when singers Nic Perea and Wes Parker belt in perfect harmony “Oh, I will always be yours,” a promise that feels so heartfelt and fortified within the song. “Mismo” showcases the band’s more upbeat and psychedelic sound, performed entirely in Spanish with an energy that is so electrifying. Our favorite thing about this band, however, is the comradery that becomes clear when experiencing their music in a live setting. This was a special one for us, captured by the wonderful David Brickel, Sam Reynolds and Austen Deery at the always-outstanding Douglass Recording. — from Wild Honey Pie

Canary O Canary, ‘Integrity Among Men’ Sleep
2013 Self Released

Canary Oh Canary have patiently and deliberately crafted a sound that has been described in several ways. One description that has been applied to them is the term “shoewave,” a hybrid genre which combines the genres of new wave and shoegaze. They have certainly taken elements from these genres during their natural evolution as a band. Yet it all started rather simply, with two individuals finding a kindred approach to music by slowing down a Zombies track.

The first step in Canary Oh Canary’s evolution occurred during a Spring 2010 attempt to revive Rock Lotto, a Richmond tradition in which bands would be assembled by drawing names out of a hat. Said bands would then have one week to write and rehearse a set in preparation for a show at which all of them would perform. One of the bands assembled for this particular Rock Lotto included Michael Harl and Josie Davis. The two quickly discovered their similar musical inclinations. “We were doing this song by The Zombies, ‘This Old Heart Of Mine,’ which they took from The Isley Brothers,” Harl relates. “Josie and I were on the same wavelength when we both thought to slow down the song. We kept slowing it down to the point of ridiculousness, and I don’t think the other guys really got it.” “Yeah, I think some of the guys actually flat out refused to play it that way,” Davis chimes in. “So I thought we should totally deconstruct the song, and then bring it back and make it something entirely different,” Harl continues. “That kind of stuck with me and in my brain–that if [Davis] really wanted to do something like that, then I should try to reconnect with her, and create our own songs [from] this idea [of] the sparseness and the space between. — from RVA Magazine, December 21, 2011

Candy, “Lust For Destruction,” Good To Feel
2018 Triple B Records

Richmond has long held the hard-earned reputation as one of the East Coast’s premier extreme music hotbeds. The capital city’s bands regularly steamroll their competition, even making the heavy musicians of a metropolis like New York City look over their shoulders each time another crew of youngbloods comes charging from the South. We saw it with Southern riff-rock via Alabama Thunderpussy. We saw it with the thrash of Municipal Waste and Gwar. We’ve seen it in extreme metal with Inter Arma and Occultist. And, once again, we see it with punk—this time, with the hardcore band Candy.

Candy collect former and current members of several RVA contemporaries. The upstarts came crashing into view last year with an aggressive self-titled demo that foretold their stylistic elasticity. And now, on their debut LP, Good to Feel, Candy tap a deep knowledge of hardcore’s past while staking a claim on the genre’s future. Good to Feel marries the baroque, shred-happy ecstasy of Japan’s Burning Spirits school of hardcore with New York’s furrowed-brow brand of pummeling and D-beat mania. They have a healthy appreciation for hardcore’s inveterate genre-smashers, Integrity. This is a primal scream from the most maladjusted branch of the punk family tree, flirting with umpteen other genres but refusing to commit to anything except pure upheaval. –from Pitchfork

Carbon Leaf, ‘Life Less Ordinary’ Indian Summer
2004 Vanguard Records

Carbon Leaf has been a mainstay in the folksy, Celtic-Americana scene, and as a Richmond-born band that has been around for a couple of decades, they’ve grown a cult following in the 804 area code and beyond.

Celebrating their 25th year making music, Clark and Privett are excited to bring tunes both familiar and new to their hometown. With 17 albums behind them, they have a big back catalog, but they’ve faced legal challenges regaining the rights to albums produced under Vanguard Records, the label they left in 2010.

The legal challenges made re-recording their main priority over the last few years. Buoyed by positive feedback for the new versions, the band finished three revamped albums, Indian Summer Revisited, Love Loss Hope Repeat Reneaux, and Nothing Rhymes with Woman (2016 Re-Recorded Version), and regained full rights to their music from their previous label. –from RVA Magazine, July 13, 2018

Cast Aside, “Dead Beat,” The Struggle
2004 Deathwish Inc.

Led by vocalist Wes Vincil, Cast Aside produce aggressive hardcore that is up to par with today’s top hardcore acts Terror and Hatebreed. The guitar duo of Shane Legano and Fahs Wood pump out a perfect mix of speeding Pantera-inspired guitar riffs and breakdowns that will send even the girls onto the floor to dance. And teamed up with the great guitar-work is the drumming of Chris Fergueson. While hardcore music isn’t the most technical genre to play, it is always nice to have a proficient individual behind the kit, and Fergueson is just that; he gets the job done. A lot of these songs contain great breakdowns, but in particular “Dead Beat” is an excellent representation and any fan of hardcore along the lines of Ringworm will eat this band up. –from ScenePointBlank

Chance Fischer, “Souffle,” Souffle (single)
2015 Self Release

“SOUFFLE is kind of a two part track, I’d heard a few things whispered about me with some negative connotations I wasn’t particularly fond of,” he said. “In that regard, SOUFFLE is more of a statement track, a chest-beating track that isn’t particularly the most lyrically intricate but remains assertive and witty. It’s a ‘please don’t speak on my situation until you get your situation together’ kind of song.”

SOUFFLE’s beat is sick and Fischer has the rapid, clever lyrics to back it up. He released the record via the Cheats Movement blog on Oct. 6. His flow and lyrics show that this Richmond native has been steadily honing his craft and sweating it out in the studio polishing each song he puts out. –from RVA Magazine, October 14, 2015

Clair Morgan, ‘How To Set Your Bed On Fire’ New Lions and The Not Good Night
2016 Egghunt Records

After playing in bands throughout his adult life, Morgan had grown weary of getting settled inside a dynamic, learning to play with and against a specific group of people to create a unique sound, only to have things disrupted by disagreements or moves. Bands perpetually fluctuate, Morgan explains over the wrap special at Lunch! Supper! in Scott’s Addition, so naming the band this way and thinking of it more like a project allows for changes in the line-up.

New Lions, featuring most of the seven members that currently perform with Clair Morgan, thus evinces a maturation of a sound spawned with No Notes and that has grown through live performance. And it is that driving, upbeat sound that propels this album forward, absolutely, but that sound would not be as strong nor effective without acknowledging the interplay of voices both as instruments of sound and lyrical content. So crisp, so indie pop is the sound already recognizable from the band that one almost overlooks the depth and complexity of the lyrical content. — from RVA Magazine, May 4, 2016

Cloak / Dagger, ‘Billions Millions’ Lost Art
2009 Jade Tree

Cloak/Dagger have a loud, fast, out-of-control sound that lives at the borderline between garage-punk and old-school hardcore, and singer Jason Mazzola is always a live wire onstage, so these guys will be 100% worth it. –from RVA Magazine, February 4, 2015

Cough, ‘Killing Fields’ Sigillum Luciferi
2011 Forcefield Records

A few years back, Virginia’s Cough set out to be the loudest and heaviest band in their hometown of Richmond, and they’ve come one clubfooted step closer with the debut full-length, Sigillum Luciferi. Exhaling with a wicked Electric Wizard hack, the ten-minute “Killing Fields” kicks off the down-tuned doomfest with elongated, feedback-drenched chords, à la Eyehategod. “Hole in the Infinite” calls to Iron Monkey, while “288 Years of Sin” (from 2006’s Kingdom EP) adds David Cisco’s Southern rock-influenced soloing. The plodding “Northern Plague” gives Cisco increased room to eke out more solos in between Chris Kirby’s throaty, Weedeater-like growls. Kirby puts echo on his vocals in the aptly titled “Shallow Grave,” while the nine-minute “Lyssavirus” again nudges Cisco into the spotlight with molasses-dripping chords and Joey Arcano’s tree branch-wielding drum assaults. Recorded by doom farer Sanford Parker (Indian, Buried at Sea, Minsk), Sigillum Luciferi gives Cough maximum momentum for metal dominance in slow motion. — from Exclaim

Count Me Out, “What We Built,” Few And Far Between
1999 Ambassador Records

Few and Far between is the first CD release for this Richmond, VA hardcore band. CMO is old school hardcore with an edge, if you will. This LP is probably the best representational piece of work for any band I can remember. Few and Far Between *is* Count Me Out. The energy conveyed on the album translates to their great and exciting stage presence. This is a must have for any fan of old school hardcore even if you weren’t into HC in the 80s or old enough to appreciate it. Extraordinarily clean production to boot. –from Amazon

Cracker, ‘Low’ Kerosene Hat
1993 Virgin Records

The jangle and rasp of “Low,” the leadoff track from Cracker’s 1993 platinum album Kerosene Hat, was a ubiquitous signpost of the alternative-as-the-new-mainstream era. As just one example, by the end of 1994, its noir-ish video was more popular on MTV than Springsteen or Jodeci. And it survived long after life in the Buzz Bin, spending two decades as a staple on rock radio, and remains a beacon sending televised sporting events to the great commercial break in the sky.

The song bestowed unlikely rock stardom on frontman David Lowery, who by 1993 was a couple of years removed from his former band Camper Van Beethoven, a weirdly wonderful gaggle of quirk-poppers who invaded college radio like a Martian jug band playing Balkan folk-punk. After Camper splintered in the early ’90s, Lowery teamed up with guitarist Johnny Hickman and bassist Davey Faragher for Cracker, a band whose roots-rock sound was a little more straightforward but whose oddball lyrics — minor left-field hit “Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)” turned Burt Bacharach lyrics into an anthem of sexual frustration — kept a similarly offbeat spirit.

By the time Cracker hit their second album, “Low” filtered that spirit though a haze of lyrics about junkie cosmonauts, brown skies, a million poppies, and more chemically altered imagery that required a letter to radio stations swearing it wasn’t about drugs. The song, complete with its chorus about “being stoned,” is now all-ages fare, something you hear in movie soundtracks and, weirdest of all, baseball games. — from Spin

D’Angelo, ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ Untitled (How Does It Feel)
2000 Virgin Records

The conventional wisdom about Voodoo, in a few big ways, is wrong. Released on Jan. 25, 2000, the second album by D’Angelo was hailed as a high point of the neo-soul era. The music video for the single “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” — featuring the singer crooning shirtless with perfect white teeth, perfect muscles, perfect cornrows — announced him as the moment’s new sex symbol. But as D’Angelo would later confess, he hated the way his breakout video sexualized his image. And as hindsight makes clear, Voodoo wasn’t really a neo-soul album at all.

Black radio was changing quickly at the end of the 1990s, as artists like Jill ScottMaxwell and Lauryn Hill melded R&B with slick hip-hop production and a coffee-shop poetry-night sheen. But D’Angelo had spent the past few years indoors, away from the vanguard. As part of The Soulquarians, a collective that also included superstar drummer Questlove, keyboardist James Poyser and heady, trippy producer J Dilla, he had logged countless hours holed up in Greenwich Village’s Electric Lady studios, whose vintage equipment had previously helped artists like Stevie WonderThe Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix make their masterpieces. As Nate Chinen of NPR’s Jazz Night in America described in The New York Times, The Soulquarians were in their own world — jamming out to old Prince and Stevie bootlegs, transporting themselves and the music they made there to the past, not the future. — from NPR

Dead Billionaires, ‘Engines’ Dead Billionaires EP
2021 Self Released

This band has a strong resemblance to Max Bemis and Say Anything on the first track “Engines” although a slightly less charismatic lead vocal. This is one of those bands, that I personally refer to as “bar rock” and that’s not a slight in any way. This feels like the kind of band that has listened to 30 years of pop rock music and they have put that in a blender and made a palatable amalgamation of mellow jangly college rock. — from Blood Makes Noise

Dead Serious, “Smile You Yellow Tooth Bastard,” It’s What You Can’t See
2002 Thorp Records

From Richmond, Virginia comes DEAD SERIOUS. Fed up with the easy formulated approach that many hardcore bands take in an attempt to get over in the scene, they have sought to make themselves anything but the typical hardcore band. With a variety of influences ranging from Turning Point, Side By Side, Slapshot, S.O.D, Johnny Cash, Good Riddance, and the Sex Pistols, each member brings both a different approach and viewpoint to the songwriting process. A band who asks for no more than they deserve and works hard for that, DEAD SERIOUS has attempted to get back to the idea that the only way to get “over” in the scene is through hard work and determination. –from Thorp Records

Death Piggy, ‘Smile or Die’ Smile or Die EP
1982 Self Released

Death Piggy were an American punk band, formed in 1982 in Richmond, Virginia. They flourished briefly and were then fully absorbed by GWAR in 1985/1986. They put out a few ’45s (some limited to 301 copies) and had a small yet loyal following.

Their best performances included concerts at Shafer Court, an apartment on Grace Street, and a backyard on Floyd Avenue. They were also known to have played alongside the Butthole Surfers and the Dead Kennedys in their earlier years. The remaining copies of their music are rare and are known to go for up to $103 on eBay. — from last.fm

Deau Eyes, ‘Parallel Time’ Let It Leave
2020 Egghunt Records

Since introducing herself with 2018’s cutting “Paper Stickers” – a rush of raw anger at the world’s treatment of women, seen through the eyes of her 8-year-old niece – Richmond, Virginia’s Ali Thibodeau has been destined to set the world on fire. She has carefully charted an upwards trajectory for her musical project Deau Eyes in recent months, releasing a string of compelling singles in “Some Do,” “Parallel Time,” and “Full Proof” that have showcased her versatility, range, and lyrical genius. — from Atwood Magazine

Denali, ‘Hold Your Breath’ The Instinct
2003 Jade Tree Records

In a story that never suffers from its retelling, Denali formed in 2000 when an unheard of singer named Maura Davis asked her brother, Engine Down’s Keeley Davis, if he wanted to start a band with her. One could only imagine his surprise. Not only had the then-19-year-old enchantress yet to write a proper song, but no one knew she had a voice in her as powerful and as compelling as the one that would easily exhale the band’s first dozen songs — all of which would lead to the recruiting of fellow Richmond, VA scene vets Cam DiNunzio and Jonathan Fuller, who under the name Denali would quickly became one of the hardest sought-after bands in the underground. Signing to Jade Tree a year later, the dramatic four piece has since taken on a chilly place in the indie rock landscape by writing truly cinematic and spacious pop songs, that come from behind you both softly and slowly. As if there were any other way. — from Jade Tree

Disinterment, “Burning Eden,” Endless
1997 Sevared Records

Featuring three blazing metal lead guitarists and multiple members who went on to future fame with bands like Darkest Hour, Iron Reagan, and Immortal Avenger, Disinterment aren’t that well-remembered by today’s RVA metalheads. However, their powerful fusion of death and black metal, drawn out to epic song lengths and incorporating virtuoso riffing alongside guttural screams, made an impact on heavy music from the river city that’s still being felt today. –Marilyn Drew Necci, RVA Magazine, January 4, 2022

Divine Council, ‘P. Sherman (PS42WW$) ft. $ilk Money’ Council World EP
2016 Epic Records / Sony

Technically, Divine Council still exists. However, the four-headed hydra of Richmond rappers Lord Linco, Cyrax, and $ilkmoney, alongside Chicago producer ICYTWAT — who combined SoundCloud aesthetics with technical focus and emerged in the mid-’10s as one of the country’s most inventive rap collectives — is dead. Today, $ilk and Cyrax carry the Divine Council torch, albeit without ICYTWAT and Linco (who left the group in acrimony in 2017), and without the support of a major label.

So why does the story of Divine Council matter now? It offers a case study in the genuinely organic power of SoundCloud, and what can happen when a major label-backed rap Voltron scatters, and its members go independent. These four artists are still only 22 and 23. For some of them, Divine Council may have just been the beginning. — from High Snobiety

Divine Profitz, ‘The Riot’ The Riot
2006 Self Released

Coming from Lynchburg with a name like Divine Profitz might make some people reflexively think of Christian music — or bands that play festivals with names like Night of Joy, selling T-shirts that read “His Pain, Your Gain.” But Divine Profitz is a hip-hop group that tackles the kind of socially conscious material that would’ve sent Jerry Falwell into full-froth mode.

The group formed during the mid-’90s and built a strong following in Lynchburg before relocating to Richmond in 2000. Its lineup includes founder/producer Chadrach (Chadwick Ashwell), emcees BeenOfficial (Brian Crawford), Chris Chronicles (Chris Patillo) and Ran (Ran Neblett).

“Most of us grew up in Lynchburg listening to hip-hop,” Crawford says. “It’s a more diverse city than people think … but everything we heard came from radio and TV. There were no places to perform.”

Things aren’t so different for underground hip-hop in Richmond. At least ever since Nanci Raygun shut down and Alley Katz stopped hosting hip-hop battles after fighting broke out several years ago, Crawford says. “The scene here was a lot bigger a few years ago. Now you’re back to rhyming on the floor in front of people instead of onstage,” he says. — from Style Weekly

DJ Harrison, “Dilla’s Eclair,” Stashboxx
2014 Jellowstone Records

Regardless of Harris’s self-effacement, his early sonic explorations paved the way for everything that’s followed. And from the beginning, he was seeking a particular sound. “My dad was a record DJ, so there were just different records in my house all the time,” he explains. “The whole hiss and pop sound–I grew up with that as a foundation of what music was. So if I hear something clean, it doesn’t really speak to me.” This crate-digging appeal vibed well with hip hop, though as a child he had a hard time tracking the genre down. “I would go hang out with my cousins, and they’d play the music videos. My mom wouldn’t let me watch all of that,” he explains, laughing. “I remember seeing the Lil Kim ‘Crush On You’ video for the first time. I was like, ‘Yo, my mom won’t let me listen to this? This is fresh!’”

When he discovered the work of RVA beatmaker Ohbliv, it all fell into place. “I was recording 30 second tracks, putting them on my computer, and looping it,” he explains. “I heard Ohbliv–some of his drum hits were on, some were off, but it still had the whole swagger. Once I heard that, I’m [thinking] man, I need to figure out something.” The eventual result was his beatmaking alter ego, DJ Harrison, whose Stashboxx was the first single-artist release on Jellowstone Records. While its funky instrumental grooves certainly show the influence of Ohbliv, as well as legendary hip hop producers like J Dilla, Madlib, and MF Doom, what sets Stashboxx apart is the small print underneath the credits: “No samples were used on this record.”

“That’s the whole trip I was getting accustomed to,” Harris explains. “Making the loop sound as much like a sample as possible, whether it’s the instruments I’m playing, or the sound palette I’m recording to.” The result has the same warm, soulful groove that many hip hop beats display, but put together from scratch by one person. –from RVA Magazine, December 22, 2014

DJ Williams Projekt, ‘Everyday Is Love’ Short Stories
2021 Self Released

If there is one question that guitarist DJ Williams is used to, it’s the one involving turntables. He’s not actually a DJ, that’s really his first name — like the linebacker from the Denver Broncos. “Oh yeah, I still have to answer that question four or five times a day,” he says, laughing. “Especially when I’m on the road.”

A prodigiously gifted musician, Williams grew up in a musical family where everyone had to learn an instrument. He started playing classical piano when he was 4 and didn’t pick up the guitar until he was 16. Now he also plays drums, bass and clarinet — basically any instrument he can get his hands on.

Known for his popular Tuesday-night gigs at Cafe Diem, anyone who’s seen Williams play solo or in a band can attest to his creativity. But he says his band, which sports Gordon Jones on sax, Todd Herrington on bass, Dusty Simmons on drums and Brian Mahne on keys, is too often lumped into the jam-band scene because its members tend to improvise live and incorporate elements of jazz. “I hate that term, because every band jams, you know,” he says. “But we have been moving more toward a song-based structure [in recent years].” — from Style Weekly

Doll Baby, ‘The Great Divide’ Short Polliwog EP
2017 Self Released

Richmond band Doll Baby recently released their first EP this month, Polliwog, and it’s a blast. The three-track EP may be short, but it’s an assuring sign of great things to come from this talented local band.

Doll Baby, which formed a little over a year ago, consists of Julie Storey (vocals/guitar), Dan Kelly (drums), Eric Kelly (guitar) and Jason Snider (bass). Their sound so far resembles a vicious combination of brash punk and indie/alternative rock, with well-crafted melodies, personal lyrics and choruses that threaten to get stuck in your head – in a good way.

A polliwog is a baby frog, still in the development stage and not quite matured, much like the band itself. But if this EP is any indication of what’s to come, they will absolutely blow people away when they put out a full album, something that Doll Baby plans to do eventually.

While their 2015 demo is every bit as melodic as Polliwog, the EP strikes as a more serious effort, recorded professionally and featuring songs that sound more concerted and planned out. RVA producer Bryan Walthall’s solid production lent a different perspective to the band, who recorded their demo themselves in their singer’s basement. — from RVA Magazine, June 24, 2016

Down To Nothing, ‘No Leash’ Life On The James
2013 Revelation Records

Since 2000, Richmond VA quintet Down to Nothing have been delivering album after album of wholly authentic straight edge hardcore. On fifth record ‘Life on the James‘ the band holds strong to the fire that’s fuelled their output for over a decade, jam packed full of energy, memorable hooks and choruses, and a sense of “hometown pride” that ensures it will resonate with listeners, while giving it a personal edge – the album’s title is a reference to the James River in Virginia.

It has been a long time since the group’s last full-length album – 2007’s ‘The Most‘. However, moments into opener ‘When I Rest I Rust’ any fears about whether or not the five-piece are still capable of bringing it are vehemently quelled. This is classic DTN – ferocious, fast-paced and passionate. It’s not so much that the band change their sound up or bring anything wildly different to the table; it’s simply that it’s so distinctively DTN, with the band absolutely nailing their strong points. — from Kill Your Stereo

Dr. Millionaire, “Air Is Nice,” My First Million
2015 Imaginary Friends

This summer kicks off with a bang, with the release of the first official Dr. Millionaire solo release. My First Million is an 8 song cassette, which will be released on NY/LA label Imaginary Friends. The songs on the EP show Dr. Millionaire to be the cocky, hard-partying ladies’ man he’s demonstrated himself to be on older singles like “Alt Bitcs” and “Pearl Necklace.” “Snapchat Screenshot” could be a sleaze-saturated ode to internet creepitude in lesser hands, but Dr. Millionaire infuses it with enough wit and charm to make his attempts to get nudes sent to his iPhone amusing rather than gross. “More Songs Than Pac” has a menacing sound due to the spooky piano loop Hovey Benjamin contributes to the track, but features wide-ranging cultural references from Larry Bird to Paul Auster. –from RVA Magazine, July 23, 2015

Check out part 2 of The Richmond Music Archive 1980-2021 HERE

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




more in music

The Butcher Brown & The Richmond Symphony Put On A Show

Butcher Brown, the progressive jazz masters from Richmond, played a special show in partnership with the Richmond Symphony over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. The show featured 10 of their tunes arranged by Richmond’s own Trey Pollard and Tim Barrons which they...

A Man Named Earl, A Punk Named Yonder

Richmond based punk artist Yonder opens up about his art and music career, and the role that mental health plays in it. He discusses how his "outsider" attitude and vulnerability in his work is rooted in his experiences growing up as the "black sheep" of his family...

RVA Shows You Must See This Week: January 11 – January 17

FEATURED SHOW Saturday, January 14, 7 PM Last Minute Fest II, feat. The Mitras, Mad Abbey, Pipesleeve, Overunderdog, Sifter, Stevie Ashe @ The Camel - $10 in advance, $12 day of show (Order tickets HERE) It's officially a new year, but I always take a little while to...

Richmond Music 2022, Part II: Indie (Second Half)

OK, I should have known that this one in particular would go too long -- when I made up these playlists before starting to write this article series, the indie playlist was the longest one by a significant amount. To put it in perspective, the rather lengthy hip hop...

Richmond Music 2022, Part II: Indie (First Half)

Since I got to this city 30 years ago, Richmond's had a thriving indie music scene. From wild house parties and tiny stages in small clubs to headlining gigs at The Broadberry and beyond, plenty of indie bands around Richmond distinguished themselves with excellent...

Pin It on Pinterest