The Richmond Albums of 2015

There were so many great albums to come out of the Richmond music scene this year. Here are the albums that filled RVA’s ears in 2015.

When I started to put together my favorite releases from Richmond bands this year, I quickly realized this was going to be a daunting task. There were so many great things to come out of RVA this year, and it just floors me how much talent is right here in our own neighborhood.

While this is no means a “Best of” list, here are the albums that filled Richmond’s ears in 2015.

Check out some of these artists on this Spotify playlist!

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Natalie prass

Natalie Prass — Natalie Prass

If any of the artists on this list have had a great year, it’s Natalie Prass. The indie pop darling has been getting love from the likes of Pitchfork, TIME, The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, Stereogum, and more for her debut self-titled album. And Richmond’s own Spacebomb Records is certainly seeing the accolades it deserves. You should also pick up Prass’ Side by Side EP, which came out in late 2015 and features covers of Simon & Garfunkel, Anita Baker, and GRIMES.

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Anousheh — Make Noise

Anousheh takes the work she’s done with EDM DJ group Deep Dish and as a solo folk artist and focuses her sound into indie pop. It’s a seamless transition. Make Noise is a dark, mood-filled, beautiful album that I can’t stop listening to. Songs like “Hold You” and “LTD” are on constant repeat.

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Big Mama Shakes — As She Does

This album came completely out of left field. I had not heard of these guys until I got the chance to see them at the XL102 Local Exposure contest earlier this year. Their Southern-filled Americana sound worked over the crowd like no other band, which is why clearly why they won the competition. They’ve since made their way into Richmond’s hearts (and my own), earning spots at Big Field Day and the RVA Playlist 5th Anniversary Party. As She Does is a fine collection of upbeat funk songs that will get you moving.

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Horsehead — Casual Dracula

I’m more upset that they didn’t keep the original title of this record, The Vampire Strikes Back. However, I can overlook that because Casual Dracula is a fun country rock album that clearly shows off Horsehead’s skills as a band. The energy on this record rivals most of their other releases.

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No BS! Brass Band — Brass Knuckles

Richmond loves it some No BS!, and No BS! loves it right back. This band has been putting the city in the national spotlight and with every release, and they keep getting better. Just try not to shake it during “3am Bounce.”

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Heartracer — Summer Gold

Travel back in time to 80s synth pop with this record. Formerly known as Cosby, Heartracer delivered a solid pop album this year, and it’s refreshing to see artists like this. Songs like “Overboard” and the eponymous “Heartracer” would not get out of my head. Get out your aviators and put this on blast.

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The Trillions — Superposition

When the Trillions announced the release of their second full-length album Superposition, everyone in Richmond music circles (myself included) went bananas. The rock-filled album released in January and stayed in my rotation the entire year.

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Matthew E. White — Fresh Blood

In addition to Natalie Prass’ stardom, Spacebomb also had a good year with White’s new record Fresh Blood, the follow-up to 2012’s insanely successful Big Inner. It’s full of big sounds and bigger feelings wrapped in beautiful music.

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The Southern Belles — Close to Sunrise

It is very hard to not be in a good mood when listening to the jam rock of the Southern Belles, and Close to Sunrise clearly brings all the good feelings to the surface. Listen to this when you’re having a bad day and all will be right with the world.

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Hoax Hunters — Clickbait

Hoax Hunters win for the best album title this year. And the subsequent marketing of the record was hilarious as well (Which Hoax Hunters song are you? Find out here!). This band always finds a way to make loud, chaotic songs approachable and enjoyable for everyone. You won’t believe what Hoax Hunters is going to do next!

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Positive No — Glossa

Few bands work as hard as noisy dream pop group Positive No. The effort that went into getting this album out to people is astounding. That effort paid off with the lead single “Pedal Through” being featured on NP-freaking-R thanks to its hilarious rendition of “Indie Rock Parking Lot.” Glossa is a great album from start to finish.

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Against Grace — Lately

In the past few years, Against Grace has moved from a pop punk sound to a more synth-heavy presence. It’s been a good move for them as they’ve fine-tuned their sound. The group has released single after single, but it’s nice to finally have a collection of these songs wrapped up in one well-crafted album.

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Butcher Brown — Grown Folk

From the 70s funk style of the music to the vintage looking cover art, Butcher Brown’s Grown Folk is soothing soul music that’s just fun to listen to.

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Flashlight Tag — Americana Electronica

Flashlight Tag, the two-man band comprised of Brian Phelps (Classic Monkey Shine, That Monster) and Justin Laughter (Silly Bus, junction), released an exploration and celebration of America with this record. It’s mixture of folk, rock, and pop that reimagines the American classics. Be warned, you’ll be suckered into a history lesson when you listen to this.

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Sam Reed — This is Love

I couldn’t have been more excited to hear that the amazingly talented Sam Reed, who’s been part of such great groups as Photosynthesizers and Beast Wellington would be coming out with a brand new solo album. This Is Love shows off what a voice Reed has and its power to command attention.

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Manatree — Manatree

The former Herro Sugar guys returned with a new name and a new self-titled record this year. The music contains elements of math rock and pop punk and it’s a fine example of how much power you can fit into one record.

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League of Space Pirates — Precognitive Universe of Emergent Desire

If you’re unfamiliar with the League of Space Pirates, you’re missing out on a band of merry thieves in the far future battling against the tyranny of the villainous corporation Übercorp and bringing rock and roll justice to the entire universe. Precognitive Universe of Emergent Desire puts 25th Century space rock into your ears as the fight for intergalactic freedom lives on.

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Goldrush — Summer Sun

Known for its crazy antics on stage involving science, tequila, and Carl Sagan, the ever-talented indie pop band released its Summer Sun EP with an actual working sundial and five songs of friendship and love. Many of the songs were directly influenced by a violent attack on songwriter Prabir Mehta in 2014 as well as the strengthening of community following the assault. It’s a sentimental record that doesn’t lose any of the fun Goldrush is known for.

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Lightfields — Melodies

I’m a bad Lightfields fan because this EP completely slipped past my radar until later this year. The EP may only be three songs but they are the three catchiest damn songs I’ve ever heard.

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Jonathan Vassar and the Badlands — Reckless Thoughts

Richmond’s minstrel of folk music is back with a new record from his new group the Badlands, made up of Grant Hunnicutt (formerly of Mermaid Skeletons and River City Band), Nate Mathews of the Richmanian Ramblers and the Moonbees, and Curtis Wayne Patton. The music of Reckless Thoughts is full of imagery and somber haunting folk melodies.

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We’ve heard a lot from certain Richmond artists already working on new material. Singles were released this year, but more stuff will come out in 2016, and judging by what I’ve heard already, these artists will be the ones to watch next year.

  • Those Manic Seas released a new single “Outlier” earlier this year and have been extensively touring since. They’ll most likely be back with some new music in the coming year.
  • Lady God released “More Bang for Your Buck” and are making themselves known as the best live rock band in the city (seriously, go see them, you will not regret it).
  • The New Outliers released its debut album Begin the Everything in late November, and it’s a solid record.
  • After releasing the seriously addictive single “Vampires” earlier this year, Avers came back with an EP entitled Wasted Tracks this month and have more new music on the way with a new record planned for 2016.
  • Songbird Lucy Dacus released “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” which pushed its way into my song rotation. She’ll release her debut album No Burden on Febuary 26th.

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Andrew Cothern

Andrew Cothern is the founder and editor of RVA Playlist, a music site that showcases events, concerts, album, show reviews, and opinion pieces that focus on the vibrant local music scene in Richmond.

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