Christmas is fast approaching and what better way to get in the spirit of things than with some great local holiday music? Well, there’s drinking heavily, but that works for every occasion.
After giving away a bunch of free songs over Thanksgiving, Dean Fields is at it again. This time, he went into the studio and recorded a few of his holiday favorites, and giving the gift of songs to his fans. Get the entire album at deanfields.bandcamp.com/album/christmas
Spacebomb Records, a new Richmond-based record label has been launched by Matthew White (of Fight the Big Bull), Dean Christesen (of RVAJazz) and Jesse Medaries.
From Spacebomb Records: Centered around a house band (think Stax or Motown), a distinct cast of contributing auxiliary musicians (think Phil Spector’s wrecking crew), division of labor (think Brill Building), and strong and unified musical and artistic statements (think Blue Note), Spacebomb is founded on old models, combining the creative structures and recording techniques of great record labels of the 20th century with the the DIY revolution of the last 40 years and the current digital music phenomenon. For each release, Spacebomb will be releasing 1,000 beautiful hand-assembled vinyl records as well as distributing the music online.
Recording artist Karl Blau will be the first to participate in the Spacebomb process, visiting Richmond to record a solo album, co-produce White’s solo album and perform at the Spacebomb premiere event at Balliceaux on February 16.
Spacebomb will also be curating a bi-weekly night at Balliceaux focusing on the recording projects that the label is involved in and supporting the individual projects of those musicians.
I’m excited to see where this leads. There can never be enough musical things happening in Richmond.
Richmond had so many amazing albums come out this year, there was no way I could lump them in with national releases and narrow them down to 10. So I made a completely separate list. And it was still hard to do. Here are the best albums Richmond musicians had to offer for 2010.
LONG ARMS – TO HOLD YOU
If there was one Richmond album that I listened to over and over again, it was Long Arms. These guys know how to make a rock song that leave you begging for more. Hands down, my favorite Richmond album.
Long Arms – Downtown Dreams
JONATHAN VASSAR & THE SPECKLED BIRD – SIGNS & WONDERS
Always a favorite of mine, I knew folk artists Jonathan Vassar & the Speckled Bird would be on this list. And after hearing it, I’m reminded why. The group spent over a year putting this thing together and built on what they do so well and make it even better to create a stand out album.
Jonathan Vassar & the Speckled Bird – Turn To Face The Wind
NICK COWARD & THE LAST BATTLE – KINGS Nick Coward and the Last Battle hadn’t been heard from in a good while and then out of the blue, they release “Kings,” a soothing-folk-rock-meets-dramatic-art kind of album. I listened to this and was so caught up in it that I had it on repeat without realizing it. Perfect album for a dreary day.
Nick Coward & the Last Battle – Funeral
SAMSON TRINH & THE UPPER EAST SIDE BIG BAND – THE ABBEY ROAD PROJECT
Everyone seems to think they can cover Beatles songs. However, Samson Trinh & the Upper East Side Big Band do it in a way that makes it fresh and exciting. Trinh and the 19-plus members of the Big Band covered the Beatles’ classic in its entirely, reconfigured in their big band sound. With all the talent put into something like this, I won’t have to worry about these Beatles songs.
Samson Trinh & the Upper East Side Big Band – Come Together
AGAINST GRACE – SHOUT IT OUT
The boys in Against Grace (finally) released some new material this year and “Shout It Out” quickly became a constant listen. They expanded their punk style with synth and well-thought-out melodies. And recording with hip-hop act Doethepaperboy for the single “Monday” (awesome song, released separately) brought a new crowd to their shows. Listen to these guys.
Against Grace – The Music’s Back
Jonathan Vassar and David Shultz teamed up to create some music and came up with something different altogether. When you put music powerhouses together on a project like this, you’re going to get gold. This album is one track after another of well-crafted folk songs that will leave you warm on a cold winter’s night.
Ophelia – Hunter’s Bow
SAFETY WORD ORANGE – ON YOUR MARK, GET SET The pop punk of Safety Word Orange was a welcome surprise this year and I found myself listening to their release “On Your Mark, Get Set” constantly over the past few months. I’m eager to see what else these guys have up their sleeves.
Safety Word Orange – Fiending
HORSEHEAD – BEFORE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS
I had heard Horsehead for such a long time before giving them the chance they deserved. Then I heard “Before the Bright Lights” and smacked myself for not listening to them sooner. This album is a fun collection of tracks I want to keep listening to.
Horsehead – Blood From a Stone
LYDIA OOGHE – LOVE THAT GLOW Lydia Ooghe has the voice of an angel and sings about pina coladas, small yellow birds and ice cream. “Love That Glow” features her band Lux Vacancy and it shows off her endearing qualities and immense talent.
Lydia Ooghe – Girlfriend
DAVID KARSTEN DANIELS & FIGHT THE BIG BULL – I MEAN TO LIVE HERE STILL Fight the Big Bull is certainly a jazz favorite. But they took it to another level when they teamed up with San Francisco-based artist David Karsten Daniels and the music of both parties fuses together seamlessly but stands apart from each artists’ works. More collaborations should be like this.
David Karsten Daniels & Fight the Big Bull – The Funeral Bell
ALBUMS ALSO WORTH CHECKING OUT
These were too good not to mention.
Lobo Marino – Keep Your Head Up
Alex Enggist – Carpetbagger’s Cabaret
Prabir/Goldrush – An Introduction to Prabir/Goldrush
No BS Brass Band – No BS!!
Andy Moore – 5 in Common
Doethepaperboy – Doe Nation
The Greater The Risk