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Tim Barry "Rivanna Junction" (Suburban Home)

Goes well with punk-Americana that keeps it on the real.

To those who know Tim Barry's musical history, the words "heartfelt, introspective and melodious" are not the first that come to mind. As lead singer/screamer for the Richmond-based punk band Avail, Barry has traveled the world performing music that tries hard to be the antithesis of those adjectives.

This fact makes his new solo album even more unique. Sparse instrumentation on songs such as "Avoiding Catatonic Surrender" and "Cardinal in a Red Bed" allow Barry's lyrics, full of imaginative metaphors and sometimes brutal imagery, to accomplish their full effect. Highly personal in content, the songs introduce tales of revenge, traveling and late-night drunken philosophizing. While not exactly pretty, Barry's voice fits the homespun melodies of these songs, sometimes hatcheting through syllables, betraying his punk-rock background.

Barry is ably joined by many locals, including Lance Koehler, Josh Small, Daniel Clark, Billy Lucks, and his siblings Caitlin and James Barry. Pick up this album if you're looking for Americana music that pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. ****— Josh Bearman

Marna Bales "Boys Will Be Boys" (Mikey Boy Music)

Goes well with modern country-pop, humor and grit.

Marna Bales is a well-known face in and beyond the Richmond scene. On her second release as a solo artist and bandleader, she produces a sound that is refined and classy, but holds tightly to a fun-loving attitude. The 10 tracks, produced by drummer Jody Boyd, cover topics ranging from the infallible desires of the male gender ("Boys Will Be Boys") to drought ("Praying for Rain") and back to the original subject ("Two Pairs of Shoes").

The band is composed entirely of Virginians, including Macy Kaczmarek, who shows that the vocal-talent apple doesn't fall far from the tree (she is Bales' daughter). They fall strongly into the category of modern country-pop music, with clean production, clear vocals and some hot picking to back it all up, while the humor and grit shown allow them to achieve something more. *** — J.B. S

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