Scene Recap: Twin Drugs, Mad Skillz, 40 Under 40

 In News

Countless great outlets, organizations, and individuals cover the music scene in Richmond, so many that it might be hard to keep up to date on all of them. We’ll try and collect some great articles, coverage, and news bits we’ve read each week here at The Auricular.

No Bandcamp Friday today. Not sure why. I actually went through the whole process of making the list last week only to find out that it wasn’t happening. Oh, well — at least we’re prepped for the August return! It’s still a good day to buy some local music though, which is a good thing because…

It’s a big release day for local music. We premiered some of it earlier this week: Dead Billionaires’s Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book, Sincerely, Iris’ Love In A Time Of Disaster, and “Down In The Dirt” by Strawberry Moon. Some other notable releases out this week are Ant The Symbol’s I Know Who I Am, Cleopheus James’ Leftover Hills, “Do Si Do” by A.M. Carter aka Minor Poet, Moco Sierra’s Magenta Sunset, and some more. Oh, McKinley Dixon released Beloved! Paradise! Jazz​!​? too! We’ll have a review of Cleopheus James next week as well as a full feature article on Ant The Symbol. You should go check them all out now. Everything is linked here so click away!

Style Weekly released its annual 40 under 40 list this week. Definitely go check it all out, but we’ll highlight some of the musical people featured: Ms. Jaylin Brown, Will Keck aka OG ILLA, Ali Thibodeau aka Deau Eyes, and Zoe Golden & Jordan Pulaski from Small Friends Records and Books. Also a shout-out to poet Roscoe Burnems who is not a musician per se, but has definitely done a lot to build up the local music scene around town. There are plenty of other great people on this list so give this read and get acclimated with some of the key people helping to make Richmond better with each passing day! (List of articles here.)

Last week, I rushed to finish the column and in doing so, I left off the Mad Skillz episode of Liner Notes. Don’t let the momentary lapse in judgment fool you — this is one of the absolute best episodes of Liner Notes so far. Skillz is a legend in hip-hop (locally and nationally) and there’s so much to dive into when talking to him. Instead of just rushing through all of it to make sure it gets covered, the conversation here is just relaxed, allowing Skillz to showcase the breadth of his impact and the allure of his sound. Make sure you’re tuning in every other Tuesday for this stuff — it’s always a great watch. Speaking of, next week’s episode features beloved and prolific musician Charles Owens and you do not want to miss that one either. (YouTube link here.)

Friendly reminder that we have a Patreon and there’s been some interesting stuff posted there recently. I’m actually planning to post another interesting video there this week… (Patreon link here.)

The Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (or RPAA) announced the line-up for its upcoming season with a lot of familiar names on it like DJ Harrison, Cassidy Snider, and Deau Eyes. Style Weekly has a good run-down of all the upcoming concerts so give it a read and pop on over to one if you can! (Article link here.)

Andrew Bonieskie’s weekly Sound Check column at RVA Magazine covered a lot of ground this week from Dan & The Fam to Ant The Symbol to even Jonathan Brown, who more people need to be going out their way to see. Read for yourself! (Article link here.)

Speaking of Andrew Bonieskie, the Pebbles Palace frontman also started a video companion series to Sound Check which showcases local acts and talks to them at the venue. Two videos are out now on Shagwulf and The Milestones and you can find them on social media or YouTube. (YouTube link here.)

This week’s Shockoe Sessions Live featured rugged folk songstress Mackenzie Roark, who was backed by a full band that really helped amplify her already fabulous songs. Whether she’s by herself or with a full sound, Roark’s songwriting speaks for itself. Sharp, slick, and stirring, Roark brings real emotion to these songs and crafts them in a way that they connect to a variety of personal experiences in your life, making them linger in your mind that much longer than a normal good hook would. See for yourself with this performance. Next up from In Your Ear studios this coming week: FLKL, a folk-punk quartet that sounds more folk in recordings but truly punk in a live setting. Can’t wait! (YouTube link here.)

Colpa Mia performed a Sundown Sessions that was released last Friday through Fire On The Moon Production. Really good stuff and it features their new song “Opal” which was also recently released. This band has been turning ears for over five years now and they continue to improve and dazzle, as shown in this great performance. See for yourself! (YouTube link here.)

The 804 Podcast released a really good interview with local singer-songwriter TheMaraDiaries earlier this week. There are a lot of great new podcasts, video and audio, popping up around town, but Nic, Jesse, and Alex warrant a fixture in your content queue. Check out this episode and see what I mean. (YouTube link here.)

Are you a Richmond musician who has had their music pressed to vinyl? Reach out to us. We’re working on something! (E-mail us here!)

The Roundup column isn’t necessarilylate this week. With the end of the month happening on Wednesday and the holiday weekend disrupting a normal release schedule for some artists, I decided to just cover May 21st through May 31st in one column. Because of that, this special edition will come out on Saturday, hopefully first thing in the morning. We’ll be back to normal next week just covering June 1st through the 5th I believe.

Live music! So many concerts coming up in town that it’s hard to keep track. As always, I’ll point you to two places: RestlessRVA for full listings of all the shows going on (Instagram link here), and Marilyn Drew Necci’s weekly column that zeroes in on eight notable performances you should check out (article link here). Look through both and find something cool and local to see this weekend!

As is customary with this column, it’s time to close with a local song. It’s been a busy few weeks over here and usually when that’s the case, I either fall back on soothing soundscapes or visceral punk music for comfort. Since it’s been two straight weeks of non-stop rushing though, I felt I needed both this week which led me to crave a strong shoegaze sound today. Of course, if we’re going to talk about Richmond shoegaze, the first name that’s going to pop up is Twin Drugs so let’s dive in. Their debut EP Uzi was released in 2016 with songs like “Praline” providing insight into the brand’s vision of gritty dream-pop: ethereal vocal and atmospheric tones all roughened by piercing guitars and pulsating rhythms. Their next release in 2019, Hi Pressure, is what really turned me on to them and I actually covered that album way back in 2019 (review link here). Genre blurring was a big part of that sound, but at its core, it was still excellent shoegaze music that could thrill or soothe depending on your needs in the moment. Fast-forward to last year and the band released In Now Less Than Ever, their longest release to date and easily their best. Here, the genre blurring of Hi Pressure seems to be clear and direct with their core shoegaze sound being refined by a noise rock edge. Songs like “Eyelets & Aglets” really showcase this approach with dreamy vocals floating through a scrambling combination of asperous guitars and pounding rhythms. This was one of my favorite albums from all of 2022, Richmond or not (see my Uproxx poll for yourself!), and part of the reason is how familiar yet refreshing it all feels. The essence of shoegaze is there waiting for any devoted fans of the genre, but there’s so much more at play here with the noise rock elements adding in another cerebral level of resonance. I could go on and on, but we’re here to talk about a song. I mentioned “Eyelets & Aglets” earlier and that’s a great song, but what I really wanted to highlight today was the closing track of the record: “The Sun While You Can.” A seven-minute strain of perfect dream pop, the song doesn’t have the obvious hallmarks of noise rock like the rest of the record, but it instead relays on subtle layers of tension and agitation to really help build its emotional release. It’s a beautiful culmination of the record’s sounds, with the stress and strain of the noise finally being released into a forgiving and fulfilling ether. God, I love this album so much. Check it out for yourself. The album is on vinyl too and would be a great addition to your collection if you’re so inclined (order it here). I’ll be back next week with more!


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