The Richmond music scene had so many incredible albums come out this year, there was no way I could lump them in with national releases and then have to narrow them down to 10 (there are actually 11 on this list). And since my blog is primarily local, I made a completely separate list – and even that was still hard to do. Here are the best albums Richmond musicians had to offer for 2011.
COREY MCLEMORE – THE DEFINITION
There’s nothing really more I can say about the Richmond-turned-Brooklyn rapper and his amazing debut album since I’ve been talking it up all year, but it’s seriously that good. There’s an immense amount of talent in this young man and even though he’s left RVA, He still has plenty on hometown love in his heart for the River City and this album clearly reflects that.
TYLER CROWLEY – DAYS AND DREAMS
The guitarist from Louisiana Territory struck out on his own and created a simplistic yet very catchy solo album, which shows the rocker’s somber side and greater depth as a songwriter.
I knew this was getting on the list the moment I heard it. Vampire Octopus features songbird Lydia Ooghe and master musician Trey Pollard and the collection of songs is very happy feel good music that reminds you of summer.
DAVE WATKINS – WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS HERE AND EVERYONE IS ASLEEP
Simple yet incredibly complex at the same time, the music of Dave Watkins is something to be experienced. Mastering the art of the loop pedal, Watkins’ live shows are a welcomed sensory overload and his release is able to capture all the magic of his live shows just as well.
ROSS WRIGHT – HALLELUJAH, THERE’S A PLACE FOR ME
This one threw me for a curve. Upon first listen, you think you’re going to hear a singer-songwriter on the piano. Then Track 2 starts and synth and drums kick in and you’re left doing a double take. Mechanicsville’s Ross Wright and his debut album “Hallelujah…” left nothing less than a stellar impression on me.
There was no escaping White Laces this year. The group’s refined brand of psych noise rock was something that was turning heads everywhere and it was captured perfectly in their self-titled release.
THE LOW BRANCHES – SINKING, RISING
The hushed and haunting sounds of folk band the Low Branches are something to be admired. And this album is full of them. This is the kind of album who have to closely listen to or else you miss out of its true potential.
DEAN FIELDS – UNDER A SEARCHLIGHT MOON
Dean Fields has an incredible voice backed up with some fine guitar playing. His latest release offers a more polished feel and a more mature sound than he’s done before.
This band was EVERYWHERE this year. I will admit to not paying attention to them until mid-year. Their riotous rock sounds were just the thing to get you in the mood for the day. And they’ve got a new album just around the corner.
THE GREATER THE RISK – SAY WHAT YOU NEVER SAID
Pop-punk outfit The Greater the Risk got a new lead singer this year and released a collection of some of the most well-put together punk songs I’ve heard in a while. They took what they started on their previous EP and expanded everything – something every artist should do.
The Greater The Risk – Pick Your Poison
MERMAID SKELETONS – THE HANDSOME CORNUCOPIA
This collection of unreleased songs, written and recorded back when the group was just Josh Hryciak and Michael Satterfield, saw the light of day. Eager fans like myself who had been missing Mermaid Skeletons got a treat with an incredible set of their standard folk-pop tunes. This brought me back to the year 2008, complete with memories of the group’s performance at the Poe Museum’s garden – one of the best shows in Richmond, ever.
Mermaid Skeletons – Ants