Turn it up: Our favorite local recordings this year

From punk to kids’ pop, hip-hop, and so much more, 2019 was another year with a lot to hear from Charlottesville-area musicians. From punk to kids’ pop, hip-hop, and so much more, 2019 was another year with a lot to hear from Charlottesville-area musicians.

Lots of people complain that there’s no music scene here. And we get it—there can be lulls in shows (and definitely lulls in good shows)—but a music scene is more than what’s on stage. We love recordings, too, so may this list serve as your entry point to some local sonic treasures. We’ve compiled a lengthy list of local album and EP releases (scroll down for that) and while we were at it, highlighted a few of our favorites.

Fried Egg, Square One

When every day starts to feel exactly the same, when you’ve bought a car to drive to work in order to pay for the car you bought, you get down on your knees and pray to whatever idol you pray to for a band like Fried Egg to make you jump out of the pan. On Square One, an album about feeling disillusioned with modern life, the half-Charlottesville half-Richmond band turns up the heat with tight, off-center hardcore punk that’s neither over- nor undercooked.

Read more: “Over hard: Punk band Fried Egg goes beyond its hardcore roots”

Heron & Crane, Firesides

“It’s very much ready to be played during a Folgers coffee commercial,” Dave Gibson told C-VILLE about Heron & Crane’s Firesides. Gibson and longtime friend and musical collaborator Travis Kokas used a limited palette of instruments—a 12-string guitar, a few MOOG and Yamaha synthesizers, an Oberheim DX drum machine, and an organelle—to venture out onto the lush and gentle kinda-folksy, lightly-psychedelic, almost-kosmische, pastoral aural landscape.

Read more: “North by southeast: Heron & Crane’s Firesides arrives via online collaboration”

Little Skunks, Smells Like Music

Don’t turn your nose up at this kids’ album —we’re not talking Wee Sing Silly Songs, KidzBop, or even “Rockabye Baby” here. Smells Like Music was made by a bunch of adult musicians with pretty good manners and a sense of humor, people who usually make electronic, experimental, and rock music for grown-ups. The record is silly (“Mice in My Underwear Drawer”), endearing (“I Love You”), inspirational (“Start A Band”), and slightly ridiculous in the best way (“Who’s cooking pancakes?”). You don’t have to be a kid to get a total kick out of it.

Nathaniel Star, Bush Master

There’s alchemy in the combination of Nathaniel Star’s butter-smooth voice and producer Vintage’s rich beats, and the resulting elixir was so magical, it caught the ear of Bandcamp’s Chaka V. Grier, who named it one of the site’s “Best Soul on Bandcamp: August 2019” selections. Grier sums up the album’s appeal perfectly: “It’s not an easy thing to achieve—making music that enchants and enlightens—but Star makes it sound effortless.”

Read more: “Time to play: After nearly a decade, Nathaniel Star returns to the stage”

Patient 0, Girl Problems

In order for a small music scene to survive, young people have to start bands, make music, and play shows. So it was exciting to see a fledgling rock band like Patient 0 (one with solid skill and a lot of potential) release a full-length record, Girl Problems, which the teen band members recorded at the Music Resource Center here in town. Singer, lyricist, and bassist Tessa Majors wrote with a lot of heart and a good dose of ’90s riot grrrl attitude, and moved her audiences at every show. Majors died while this list was being put together, but her voice lives on in this record.

Space-Saver, Exponential Bummer

Local drum ‘n’ sax duo puts on one of the most fascinating live shows, and its recordings are no different. Do you lock into Steve Snider’s drum grooves, following them as they take roundabouts and sharp angles? Or into Travis Thatcher’s sorta-distorted sax paths? What if you get both at once? Whoa.

Waasi, From Virginia with Love

This is Malcolm “Waasi” Wills’ second release in as many years, and the young rapper has this to say about his new record: “If you don’t know me, I feel like From Virginia With Love gives you a perfect description of my personality: Funky, feel good, and raw.” He’s got flow, social consciousness, self-awareness, and solid stage presence—a combination that makes it easy to see how his record release show nearly sold out The Southern Café & Music Hall.

Wild Rose, Cosmic Miasma

Riffs, riffs, riffs, and more riffs. This local punk ‘n’ roll band has put out a couple tapes in recent years, and its first 7″ record (issued on local label Infinite Repeats) careens in at just under 10 minutes, with singer Josh Phipps maxing out his voice at whatever cost, eager to get his point across. The record’s great, and the band’s live show is even better. Next time Wild Rose plays in town, don’t miss it.

More 2019 local releases


Abstract Threats, Contentment (indie rock)

Alice Clair, Loop (folksy rock and soul)

Andrew Neil, Merry Go Round (alternative indie folk, grunge)

Angel Metro, Dark Days Bright Lights (dark synthpop)

Angela on the Arts, Within (chamber jazz, modern classical)

Bergot, Surmae (electronic, experimental)

Big Lean, C.A.L.M. and The Rabbit Hole (smooth, soulful hip-hop)

Butterfly Vendetta, Running in Place and Contents Under Pressure (pop punk, rock)

Charles Owens Trio, Three and Thirteen (jazz)

Chris Hall, red winter beats (emo, experimental, pop, trap)

David Wax Museum, Line of Light (indie folk-rock, Mexo-Americana)

Dropping Julia, Wake Up (funky/rootsy pop-rock)

Fried Egg, Square One (hardcore punk)

Front Porch Revival, Live at Lance’s (drum & bass, experimental hip-hop)

Grand Banks, Autumn Cannon and Live 3-31-2019 (experimental, electroacoustic, drone, raga, pastoral)

Greg C. Brown, Premieres (classical guitar)

Guion Pratt, Drone for the Holidays Vol.I III (experimental, ambient, drone)

Harli & The House of Jupiter, Deja Vu (alternative rock)

H.B. Kipps, Dead Air Telepathy (electronic, video game music)

Heron & Crane, Firesides (pastoral electronic psych-folk, library music)

Holly Renee Allen, Appalachian Piece-Meal (country, folk, Americana)

Human Shaped Objects, Country Countdown 2013 (ambient, algorithmic)

J Certi, Now or Never (hip-hop, rap)

Jeneene, the Areas (punk, garage)

Jordan Perry, Names and a Draft of First Cold (experimental guitar)

Jovon White, Thought Noise (experimental hip-hop)

LaQuinn, Nostalgia and Laquinn in South 900 (rap, hip-hop)

Lowland Hum, Glyphonic (minimalist hush folk)

Little Skunks, Smells Like Music (electronic rock for kids)

Matéo Amero and Ezra Miller, Tales from the Lazy River (country, folk, cowpunk)

Minnush, Minnush (Sephardic, jazz, roots, improvisation)

Nate Braeuer, altars were here (acoustic indie folk)

Nathaniel Star, Bush Master (Afrobeat, hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul)

New Immersion Blender, Feel Right, MF (experimental, kosmiche)

Oil Derek, The Devil’s Nine Questions (country, folk, spiritual)

Panda Slugger, Standing Outside in the Rain Trying to Remember the Way It Feels to Believe (ambient, chill)

Patient 0, Girl Problems (alt. rock with a touch of riot grrl)

Pearl Pile, Plastic Plant (alternative basement psych, indie rock)

Piko, œ (avant garde, experimental indie)

Pluto, Pluto (reggae-ish electronic)

Salvaticus, Ordo Naturalis (black metal)

Ships in the Night, The Remixes (darkwave, dream pop)

Six Foot Ceilings, Six Foot Ceilings (pop rock)

Space-Saver, Exponential Bummer (experimental drum ‘n’ sax)

ST/MiC, sevens & thr33s or something like that (lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals)

Studebaker Huck, Wired in the Darkness and Barn Burner (punk-ish Southern rock)

Tracy Howe, Things That Grow (gospel, folk, rock)

Va Doe, The Chris Newman Show (rap, hip-hop)

The Voice of Saturnotherwordly transport (electronic, synth, kosmiche)

Willie DE, Runaway Child (blues-rock singer-songwriter, jazz)



ArtificalRealitySoundscape, Neutral Centipede Carpool (experimental electronic, noise)

Beasts of Least Concern, That’s Not How I Like to Do Business (gothy acoustic ballads)

Bobblehead, Bobblehead (alternative swamp rock boogie)

Cameron Taylor, The Reef (experimental hip-hop)

Carry, Small, Early, Free (Appalachian experimental drone)

Gold Connections, Like A Shadow (hi-fi indie rock)

Gold Sounds, Gold Sounds (jazz-funk)

Good Dog NigelThe Implied Sunrise (indie rock, power pop)

jaRed lodwick, ¿ (hip-hop, rap)

Kate Bollinger, I Don’t Wanna Lose (chill indie bedroom pop)

Kendall Street Company, Lunar Dude (improvised rock, jazz-grass)

Kylie Cloud, Royal City Harbor Remixes 2

LaQuinn, If I Sold Dope (the Mixtape) (rap, hip-hop)

Lost Ray, Conflux (ambient electronic)

Matéo Amero, Untitled (folksy country rock)

Maxwell Mandell and Elinor Glassco, Next To You (electronic singer-songwriter)

Naomi Alligator, Big World (arty alternative singer-songwriter)

Paint the Watermelon, Composer (alternative ambient electronic)

Patrick Keese, Gallery (indie chamber pop)

Pretty Pulp, Break Me Up and Atrophy (grunge, alternative rock)

PROLO, singles ep and Te Hip Vol. 1 (hip-hop, rap, boom-bap)

Reagan Riley, Glass (chill neo-soul)

Ruckus the Bulldog, Welcome to Thrashville (hard rock, comedy)

The Skavaliers, The Skavaliers (ska)

Spillway, Fall 2019 Live Demo (shoegaze-y hard indie rock)

Stray Fossa, Laridae EP (poppy indie rock)

Synthetic Division, digital singles (synthpop)

Time Nothing, Losing Faith (metal, metalcore)

The Vailix, Ageless (conceptual hard rock)

True Spirit, II (noise-y post-punk)

Wild Rose, Cosmic Miasma (punk ‘n’ roll)

Wülf Boi, Thanatophilia (rap, hip-hop)

Local mixtapes

Various (Music Resource Center), It’s Here. It’s Always Been Here. (alternative, hip-hop, indie, rap, rock)

Various, Nine Pillars Mixtape Vol. 2 (rap, hip-hop)


What’d we miss? Email us at arts@c-ville.com to add your album or EP to the online list.

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The Bloody Angle came out in 2012.