In conjunction with September's "RVA Musicology" feature, we offer links to the music of local bands and solo artists of note — both past and present.
Skillz: He's the biggest hip-hop player in the area, having recorded songs on a major label and written for other artists. Sean "Diddy" Combs has noted that Skillz did some work on his recordings. From 2008, here's "So Far So Good/Sick," featuring Skillz and Talib Kweli.
Photosynthesizers: This group takes the 1990s hip-hop trend of using real instruments behind the vocals and updates it. They're still playing local shows, but the unsigned Photosynthesizers are definitely up-and-comers, having opened for Snoop Dogg at The National. Listen to three songs for free here .
Black Liquid: This guy's everywhere — opening for Snoop, releasing an album and additional tracks, plus hosting hip-hop shows on WDCE and WRIR. Some of the language in his songs isn't exactly radio-friendly, but we like "Me" from Black Liquid's album What's What .
Josh Small: Small plays banjo and dobro in Tim Barry's folk band, but he has branched out on his own as well, with 2007's Tall by Josh Small . He and Barry will embark on a mini-tour this fall, including a stop at The Camel on Oct. 16. Here's the twosome playing "Brainvan."
Liza Kate: Her songs are simple and spare but utterly memorable. It's just Liza Kate and an acoustic guitar. You can hear a few examples of her playing at her MySpace page .
Brice Woodall: Another up-and-comer, Woodall spent August recording an album in Brooklyn. He's also played in the UK and Chicago, but he still finds time to perform (with or without his band the Positrons) in Richmond. His voice has the dreamy quality of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and it's fun to browse his YouTube channel to hear his latest compositions, such as this one — "Believe the Blood."
Girtles: It's "girls" plus "Beatles." This four-woman band covers early Beatles tunes, making gender-pronoun adjustments where necessary. The Girtles haven't been active long, but they did pay a visit to WRIR's show Mellow Madness , where "I Shoulda Known Better" was recorded.
Hot Lava: We think this homemade-looking video for "Blue Dragon" is hilarious, but the upbeat song is also catchy and memorable.
Prabir and the Substitutes: The popular band called it quits last year to "become farmers and raise little wolf-fighting children" according to their Facebook page, but we can still look back. This a cappella version of "Everybody Falls in Love With You" shows off the guys' vocals. (Note: Prabir Mehta's now part of a new group, Long Arms.)
Gull: You'll find Nate Rappole, aka Gull, busking on Cary Street occasionally — as in this video filmed outside Plan 9 Records. The masked one-man band is a memorable sight, but he is worth listening to as well.
Mudd Helmut: Original Richmond punkers Mudd Helmut reunited recently for Tumorpalooza, a July benefit for music-scene stalwart Stacy Prescott, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Here they play "12 Ounces" on stage at The Playing Field, filmed by Richmond magazine associate art director Justin Vaughan.
GWAR: You can listen to songs by the masters of schlock rock all over the Web, but we offer you their visit to the set of Jerry Springer. It's fun to see them negotiate sitting on wooden stools in those costumes.
Cannabis Corpse: Turn down your computer's volume if you're sensitive to loud noises, but this death-metal band's headbanging sound is on Richmond's leading edge. Cannabis Corpse, Parasytic, Inter Arma, Battlemaster and Bastard Sapling are among the local bands causing neck sprains among fans both here and in other cities.
Single Bullet Theory: We just couldn't write this list without a couple of gems from the early 1980s. Here we have the classic 1982 video for "Keep It Tight" — wacky band antics, perturbed hotel guests, funky lighting and all. This was when videos told stories, youngsters!
The Tom & Marty Band: More and more music from the Richmond-based Artifacts/yclept label is turning up on Free Music Archive these days, but this is the coolest find in our opinion: the experimental synth-pop album Afraid to Go To Sleep from 1982 . You can listen before you download; we recommend "Havin' a Canipshun" and "Trilogy," but it's all interesting.