Richmond • July 8, 2016
Richmond’s metal scene has always been bountiful, but I don’t think anyone saw Inter Arma coming when they emerged a few years back. Sky Burial, the five-piece’s debut on Relapse Records, was named one of 2013’s top albums by many a music blog, and they haven’t let up since. Their sophomore release, the Cavern EP, consists of a single, punishing 45-minute track. Now they’re back with Paradise Gallows, an album of Mastodon-level concept and ambition, with epic, ten-minute maelstroms of sound in no short supply.
Inter Arma combines many styles including prog, death, and doom metal, but they’re also known for throwing in unexpected twists. The beautiful piano of “Potomac” is a surprisingly tender moment, and opening track “Nomini” begins with delicately plucked strings before the fury is unleashed. Every moment is full of cold, patient calculation and riveting suspense. With moody atmospherics and generally slow tempos, Paradise Gallows is a perfect album for driving alone under stormy, blackened skies. It’s available in several physical formats, including a deluxe colored vinyl packaging. Inter Arma is currently wrapping up a tour of the U.S., but will likely head back out for more before too long.
Norfolk • April 1, 2016
Ladada hails from the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, but despite these salty-aired stomping grounds and the carefree nonchalance of their name, Ladada’s brand of energetic rock doesn’t conjure images of lounging at the beach. Hi Five is a rollicking psych-rock affair with plentiful pop hooks among the onslaught of youthful exuberance. Represented by Boston’s Gold Robot records, the trio’s stylistic simplicity allows them to focus on what they do best: razor-sharp, classically-refreshing rock ’n’ roll. The Hi Five EP is available on “coke bottle green” vinyl; that version includes their self-titled Ladada debut EP on side B to boot.
Charlottesville • June 16, 2016
Lee Marchenko finally released tjing, a personal collection of offbeat electronic pop that has been in the works for years. You may recognize him from the band Climbers, but his Marchenko solo work showcases his skills at creative songcraft with loping, quirky rhythms and abstract-yet-relatable lyricism. Animal Collective and Baths are decent comparisons, but beyond mere mimicry, tjing is an honest glimpse inside Marchenko’s mind, swarming with warm psychedelic optimism. tjing features contributions from Essie Quoi, Nelly Kate, and Willis Thompson. At live shows, Steven Sorensen also joins in, including at the tjing release party where he famously ate a sandwich on stage. Available digitally and on cassette tape for $1.
Richmond • May 6, 2016
The Richmond hip-hop scene is on a sound-specific mission right now with instrumental producers like DJ Harrison and Satellite Syndicate bringing back raw, soulful MPC beats in the vein of J Dilla and Madlib. One new frontrunner is Ohbliv, featured on the current edition of the Fat Beats Records Baker’s Dozen series. Full of bluesy guitar samples, weightless funk synths, and whispered vocal snippets, Ohbliv’s Baker’s Dozen is a collection of twelve sublime selections from his beat kitchen. The limited edition vinyl sold out quickly, but it’s still available as a digital download.
Omega / Whatever
Richmond • July 29, 2016
Avers is a true democracy: instead of just one vocalist, this Richmond band features four singer/songwriters, each bringing their perspective to the compositions. On their sophomore album, Omega / Whatever, Avers offers psychedelic guitar frills, boisterous sing-alongs, as well as more subdued fare, all with a sound that pays tribute to tradition while refusing to be bound by it. Recorded at band member Adrian Olsen’s Montrose Studios, each track was finished on the same day that it was conceived. The end result is a strong, relatable rock album; as the lyrics to “Everything Hz” instruct, “let it turn you on.”