top picks for 2015


It’s that time of year again. A time to look back at the bands we have featured from the past year and figure out who we liked best. It’s moments like these where it becomes clear how much incredible talent we have in the Commmonwealth and the District, and it can be painstaking to narrow it down. That being said, this list is not all inclusive, but we felt like these artists deserved recognition for the quality of their work. In no particular order, we’ll let the music speak for itself.

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top 10 2014 header


It’s that time of year again. Time to look back and reflect on some of our favorite albums released over the past year. From hardcore to hip hop and indie rock to pop punk, these are a selection of albums that stuck out to us as the top 10 albums of 2014.

dear adamus


The debut EP from Virginia Beach natives DEAR ADAMUS has helped lead the way of the surge of new, talented indie bands coming out of the Hampton Roads music scene. Our favorite tracks include their first single, “Chapter 1: Blood, Diamonds, and Gold,” as well as the album’s opening track, “Rose Petals,” which begins with an atmospheric recording of a subway station by lead vocalist and guitarist Raytheon Dunn. His enigmatic vocals help set the tone for this short but sweet EP.

fragile hands

FRAGILE HANDS Between Here and Infinity

One of the most anticipated releases this year came as the debut EP from FRAGILE HANDS, a melodic hardcore band featuring members from both Richmond and Fredericksburg. Using the band as an outlet for his struggles with depression and his relationships with family members, as well as his ongoing struggle with his religious faith, vocalist Nick Matejko’s screams pull at the heartstrings of anyone has endured similar struggles. The top track is definitely “Cold,” but the light manages to shine through the darkness on every track.

minor sunshine

THE JUDY CHOPS Minor Sunshine

Inspired by this bourbon spirit, as well as country music, jazz, swing, and good old rock ‘n’ roll, THE JUDY CHOPS of Staunton, Va. are living proof that you can never have enough good music or whiskey, but they can certainly satisfy those cravings. Earlier this year, the band released their third studio album Minor Sunshine, which starts in the minor key and moves throughout the album to become a major key. I don’t know any band that did that this year, along  with the style and flair they show on a consistent basis.


RAINTREE For A Little While

One of the few emo bands of the Charlottesville music scene, RAINTREE have been flying under the radar since 2010, but recently, with the release of their latest album about friends and family members in singer/guitarist Blake Layman’s life, they have finally come into their own and have started to get the attention they deserve. Our personal favorites are the last two songs, “The Caretaker” and “The Catcher”. Each song is heartfelt and well written.

robert mcfarland


Everyone loves nostalgia, and this album definitely has the style and energy of some of the best names in hip hop from the 1990’s era. Inspired primarily by NAS, his music hearkens back to when rap had a social consciousness. In addition to his melodic viral sensation “MC vs. Rapper”, the album flows almost effortlessly, ending perfectly on 1999 with a New Year’s Eve countdown. It is poetic and constructed seamlessly.

the concussion theory


When CONDITIONS broke up in July earlier this year, the crown for the kings of the Richmond music scene went up for grabs, and THE CONCUSSION THEORY have been strong contenders since releasing their self-titled full-length on May 22, 2014. Borrowing influence from their former colleagues, as well as bands such as ENVY ON THE COAST, BRAND NEW, and CIRCA SURVIVE, this CD is a must have for your record collection.

the weak days


Another rising star in the Virginia emo scene, coming from Richmond, is the “twinkly” three-piece THE WEAK DAYS, which includes Dustin Reinink, who also plays in the pop punk duo WINNING THE LOSER’S BRACKET. This EP was easily one of the best records from beginning to end. There is not a single bad song.

true worth

TRUE WORTH Fleeting Lives

This is hands down one of the best hardcore bands to come out of Virginia, but they are not from Virginia Beach or Richmond. They are TRUE WORTH from Harrisonburg, a scene not necessarily known for their hardcore bands. Nevertheless, each song backs a serious punch with heavy riffage to get your blood pumping. Don’t sleep on this one.



SKYWARD’s sophomore album Drift can be summed up in one word: epic. The songs by this Harrisonburg indie rock band features huge vocal melodies and harmonics that could be the soundtrack to any battle scene or high-tension sports event. Their religious faith provides some background to the songs, but they are ambiguous enough to be appreciated by anyone. It’s a solid album overall, but “Drag” and “Sing It Back” are definitely our favorites.


WATERMEDOWN Perfect is Pointless

Finally, the last album you cannot afford to miss is the latest EP  from Johnny Mays, who is originally from Northern Virginia and currently lives in Richmond, and is also known by his stage name, WATERMEDOWN. Featuring heartfelt and emotional songs perfectly crafted by Mays, the EP includes not only vocals but also spoken word that is overflowing with passion.


best of 2013


It has been a crazy year in the Virginia music scene, but we would not have it any other way. Every genre was on their game this year from metal to EDM to punk to country, and everything else in between. There were so many great albums put out from some of the best bands, DJs, rappers, and solo musicians this year, but we have narrowed down our picks for the top 10 albums of 2013. Here they are, in no particular order.

down to nothing_life on the james

DOWN TO NOTHING Life on the James

Arguably one of the best hardcore records of the year nationwide, these Richmond boys are doing Virginia proud with this hometown inspired album. Specifically, songs such as “Dirty South” and the title track “Life on the James” are all about the Virginia hardcore scene, and life in RVA. What’s not to love about that?

the last bison_inheritance

THE LAST BISON Inheritance

In October of this year, THE LAST BISON released this record as their major label debut with Republic Records, and though it only has five songs, it is one of the most heartfelt records I have ever heard. The opening track “Switzerland” really sets the tone, and with over 70,000 plays on Soundcloud, it is easily the crowd favorite.

honour crest_spilled ink


Virginia Beach’s biggest metalcore sensation HONOUR CREST also had a major label debut this year on Rise Records. The highly anticipated follow up to their previous album Metrics leaves listeners decimated, yet still craving more. Listen to “Glaciers” for a taste of the raw power that the band unleashed on this album.

the great dismal_clay manor ep


One of the few female-fronted bands in Virginia, THE GREAT DISMAL have really captured something with their debut EP. Though the songs are mostly sad and angry, they express things that everyone deals with everyday, especially in their song “Vultures”, which deals with vocalist Sarah Camdens personal struggles feeling like an outsider as one of the few girls in the scene. However, this record shows that Camden is just as good as the boys.

ian marsh

IAN MARSH Self-titled EP

Though he is known by most people as pop punk founder of COWABUNGA!, singer/songwriter IAN MARSH also has a heart for writing country music that has dwelt inside him since he was a boy. In February, Marsh finally let his country side project out into the public with this four-song EP, which has recieved rave reviews. “It’s All Good” is my personal favorite song.

9-strikes-tiger_massive roar

9/STRIKES TIGER Massive Roar

Though this is not technically an album, I would be remiss not to include this series started by the DJ phenom 9/STRIKES/TIGER, which began earlier this year.  Currently on it’s 10th installment, Massive Roar is 9/STRIKES/TIGER’s most popular podcast. His unique mixes of electro house are tearing up clubs and bars in both Northern Virginia and Washington, DC in the best way possible.

logan vath_better man or ghost

LOGAN VATH Better Man or Ghost

Hailing originally from Nebraska, singer/songwriter LOGAN VATH was brought to Norfolk with the Navy, but it was here he found a home in the local music community, which helped him form a band with other local musicians to record this record. In my interview with him in early October, he told me that songs such as “This Far From Home” are very representative of this transition, and it touches on his desire to find his voice in the local music scene to help him follow his dreams.


RDGLDGRN Self-titled LP

Another debut record. 2013 was clearly a break out year for new Virginia artists, including RDGLDGRN from Reston. Their unique variety of indie go-go attracted rock legend Dave Grohl’s attention enough for him to play drums on the whole record. From there, the band played the full 2013 Vans Warped Tour, and have been attracting the attention of fans worldwide. The recorded is full of star power with Grohl’s drumming and even a collaboration with the legendary Virginia recording artist and producer Pharrell Williams on their track “Doing The Most”.

makeshift shelters_the cautious end of things

MAKESHIFT SHELTERS The Cautious End of Things

You guessed it, a debut record. Though this band is formed of musicians from the bands CAUST, LOUD?, and singer/songwriter ELLA SOPHIA, when they come together, they produce something magical. According to bassist Phil Edfors, the songs on this record are “cathartic songs about situations about to erupt,” which may be good or bad depending on which song you are tuning into. I recommend checking out “Overflowing”, which is the final song on this short but oh so sweet record.

random holiday_space to grow


Last but certainly not least is the sophomore album of this pop punk powerhouse whose members have recently relocated from Winchester to Richmond and Virginia Beach. The distance however only makes them stronger. This album is an emotional roller coaster with high energy anthems like “Heart Grows Colder” and soft acoustic ditties, such as “Walk Before You Run”. With both highs and lows, this album is a home run.