Posted by: Necci – Jan 06, 2012
If there's one thing that working on Strange Daze earlier this year proved to me, it's that Richmond's excellent regional music scene is not a new phenomenon. In any given year, there's a ton of great music coming out of this town, and that's just as true today as it was 30 years ago. From the long-running hardcore punk scene that's still going strong in tiny clubs and secret basement hotspots; to the up-and-coming local hip-hop scene, which seems to gain more momentum with every passing year; to the talented indie kids who show up to clubs with unusual acoustic instruments and proceed to blow you away; to metalheads and alt-rock guitar slingers with huge amps that amount to a noise violation waiting to happen; to all sorts of other things that are way too unusual to fit under a genre umbrella; there's a ton of amazing music being produced within the borders of our fair city every year. Trying to narrow down our selection of local music videos to a mere baker's dozen was extremely difficult, and we don't want to claim that we caught everything that was worthy of being spotlighted. Indeed, you might think we missed something that beats out everything here--if so, tell us about it in the comments! For now, though, check out these 13 videos, which we hope will provide a great cross-section of all of the outstanding musical happenings that occurred this past year in our great city of RVA.
White Laces - Hands In Mexico
Singer/guitarist Landis Wine has been working with various incarnations of White Laces for a few years now, but in 2011, the rest of the group's lineup finally gelled, resulting in their best work yet. "Hands In Mexico" hit the internet as a free digital download this summer (it's finally scheduled to see a physical release this month, on a split 10 inch EP with The Snowy Owls), accompanied by this excellently produced video, directed by Danny Lerch. The video, which was shot at Richmond's Texas Beach, starts out seeming like a sweet story of teenage romance, before taking a surprising darker turn that evokes the myth of the sirens. Released only several months after their disturbing clip for "Motorik Twilight," from their self-titled debut LP, "Hands In Mexico" does nothing to dispel the disturbing undercurrent that runs throughout White Laces' loud, heavy, indie-rock sound.
Luggage - 2 Up, 2 Down
Luggage have been around for a while now, but for the past few years they had kept a pretty low profile. 2011 saw them back on the scene in a big way, putting together a new album called Sex, Drugs, And Rap, which is scheduled for release next month, and playing a whole bunch of shows around town. The video for "2 Up, 2 Down" was shot last summer at Cous Cous, and is a perfect portrayal of Luggage's crazy party animal stage presence. Beer gets spilled, people fall all over each other and climb on furniture--at one point Oxen Johnson even stagedives off the bar. But it's all in good fun, and if you weren't on the scene for the video shoot, don't worry--Luggage will be playing around Richmond again before you know it. For now, watch this video, which will get you even more hyped about seeing them live.
No BS! Brass Band - 2 The Day
No BS! Brass Band are the kind of musical group that you almost can't imagine existing anywhere other than Richmond--a funky assemblage of jazz cats, punk rockers, indie kids and metalheads coming together under the common banner of playing their horns for anyone who wants to listen. They do plenty of unorthodox covers, including one of A-Ha's "Take On Me," which graces the A-side of their recent single on Electric Cowbell Records, but "2 The Day" is an original composition from their self-titled double LP, released back at the beginning of last year by Worthless Junk Records. The video was shot on a beautiful late spring day, and as the members of No BS! trek around town marching-band style, regaling onlookers with their fine music, they also offer up an impromptu guide to the best outdoor hangout spots in Richmond--VCU campus, Maymont Park, Hollywood Cemetery, the Farmer's Market, and more. It's a particularly good day in Richmond when you catch a surprise performance from No BS! Brass Band, and this video captures that happy summer afternoon vibe perfectly.
The Diamond Center - Caraway
There's been a psychedelic music revival in Richmond over the last couple of years, and Texas transplants The Diamond Center have been right in the middle of it. Their droning, sunburnt take on psychedelia, which lands somewhere between Low and Mazzy Star, comes across clearly on this song, which is the A side of their 2011 single on Somedaythiswillallmakesense. The plot of the video isn't the clearest; it seems to portray a dark tale of a poisoning at a party, like something out of a Flannery O'Connor story. Regardless of the video's true plot, though, the spooky Southern-gothic imagery to be found within it fits perfectly with The Diamond Center's slow, hazy musical atmosphere.
Lost Tribe - Winter (Live At Reference Gallery, May 2011)
Gothic/crust-punk hybrid Lost Tribe made some waves around town this past year with their impressive live show, and between the flashing strobe lights, the fog machines, and frontman Davey Bales's intense stage presence, it's no surprise. Lost Tribe's dark, heavy music only accentuates the ominous mood of their stage presence; when they play, it feels like anything could happen. "Winter" is a song from their debut LP, released this year on Blind Prophet Records, and since Lost Tribe are the sort of underground punk band that doesn't really do videos, this clip, shot by an audience member this past spring, is the closest they've come to visual evidence of their live performance. But it gets the point across and then some, with band members moving across the floor and coming only inches from the camera as strobe lights flash into the lens and fog drifts through the air. Nothing really crazy happens during this video, but the fact that the possibility is always there makes Lost Tribe a must-see in 2012.
Kid Is Qual - Knights Of Ole
Kid Is Qual could certainly be described as a power trio, but they shake up the typical rock trio lineup by replacing the lead guitar with a second bass. Singer/bassist Jonathan Sullivan takes the lead instrumental role in the band, running his bass through a multitude of effects and his vocals through an old-school talkbox, like a funk singer (or Peter Frampton). They crank things up on this single, from their EP Damn, Son, and the video depicts the full extent of Kid Is Qual's ability to turn a party out, as they invade a boring teenage birthday party with friends and intoxicants in tow. Ridiculous hilarity ensues, as the band members somehow find time to perform as the party's house band while taking shots, doing lines, and eventually hugging toilets. While there's no real nudity in this video, there are nonetheless some activities going on that I can't imagine making it to MTV, so see this clip now, in its uncensored form. It's so much more fun that way.
Josh Small - Come Down (Live at the Firehouse Theatre, May 2011)
This is an old tune from Josh; it was originally released on his 2007 album Tall By Josh Small. Anyone who has been to see him play anytime in the last five years has probably seen him play this song at least once. And yet, as this passionate performance proves, it hasn't gotten stale in the least. Performing without the backing instruments that appear in the song's studio version, Josh proves that he doesn't need anything but his voice and his steel guitar. He saws frantically at his strings and stomps his foot with fierce determination as he plays, yet still possesses the internal control to allow him to lean close to the mic and deliver the occasional line in the quietest of tones. Regardless of how far his musical style is from that of R&B singers like R. Kelly or Sam Cooke, it's clear nonetheless from the way Josh attacks this song that soul is a big part, perhaps the most important part, of the music he plays.
Mutwawa - Mayan Mutations
This experimental noise duo consisting of Jason Hodges (Suppression/Bermuda Triangles) and Gary Stevens (Head Molt) released their second limited edition cassette, Mayan Mutations, in 2011. This video, for that cassette's title track, was created by Joe Legzz, a local artist whose visuals tend towards vertigo-inducing chaos, especially in his video work. Here he combines his signature kaleidoscopic, acid-drenched imagery with occult allusions, as well as the occasional glimpse of Mutwawa performing in their signature dayglo face masks, to create a clip just as bizarre and unsettling as the song that acts as its soundtrack. Mutwawa are at the forefront of the small but dedicated experimental music scene in Richmond, and once you get used to their unusual approach to sound, there's a lot to enjoy in their work. This video is no exception.
Government Warning - Arrested (Live At Strange Matter, October 2011)
This video captures the last song of the final set by long-running Richmond hardcore band Government Warning, letting us all see just how crazy things were in the middle of the mosh pit that night. Despite getting landed on by at least two stagedivers during the first 30 seconds of the video, the intrepid camera operator sticks with it, and manages to get a great shot of singer Kenny Ball slowly collapsing to the stage, nearly pulled into the crowd by exuberant kids who just want to sing along. And sure, the audio's not the best, especially towards the end of the video--you can hear the kids in the crowd singing along better than you can hear the vocals coming through the PA system. But then again, how cool is that? The idea that the kids in the crowd are just as important as the band onstage is what punk rock is all about. Even though this video captures the end of Government Warning, it also proves that Richmond hardcore is still alive and kicking.
Black Liquid - Can I Get A Deal?
He may have denied it in our recent interview with him, but there's considerable evidence that Black Liquid is indeed the hardest-working man in Richmond hip-hop. The video begins with a silent title card that fills us in--15 albums, 2 radio shows, opening slots for Snoop Dogg and Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony--before the song asks the obvious question: Can this man get a record contract already? The song that follows proves what a lot of RVA hip-hop heads already know: Black Liquid's got skills. He spits rhymes in a harsh voice over a minimal but undeniably funky beat, as the accompanying video footage shows us Liquid and his massive crew hanging out on Broad St during First Friday; rapping, hawking CDs to passerby, and getting kids dancing. The lyrics to this song prove that Liquid has done his homework and knows that he's better off not signing until someone offers him the right terms. In the end, this song is not sour grapes but instead a manifesto from an artist who is clued in to the tricks that businessmen play. Plus you can dance to it. Works for me.
Jonathan Vassar And The Speckled Bird - Turn To Face The Wind
Jonathan Vassar's quiet, contemplative acoustic music is sometimes a bit more produced than I'd like, but his most recent album, Signs And Wonders, sounds just about perfect to me, and this video for one of the best songs from it is a great visual representation of the simpler, more organic lifestyle that Vassar evokes in his music, with his use of old-time instrumentation and simple folk-inspired song construction. This video portrays construction of another kind, showing Vassar and friends chopping down trees, tending to livestock, and working together to finish up a project in their front yard as the sun sets. It's not a dramatic video by any means, but the Speckled Bird don't really make dramatic music either, so in the end, it's a perfect fit.
DJ X - Richard Dreyfuss
You guys, I wish I could tell you a bit more about this silly, fun novelty of a video. Rumor has it that DJ X is in Amazing Ghost, but I can't prove that. Google is no help at all, as I'm sure you can imagine. So I'm left with the video evidence before me, which is basically three and a half minutes of a goofy white guy running around Richmond in a sport coat, glasses, and a baseball hat, sometimes accompanied by several friends who are dressed the same way. Lyrically, the point of the song seems to be that, by dressing in that manner, DJ X is actually the actor Richard Dreyfuss. Sounds kind of silly and dumb, right? Well, yeah, it kind of is, and yet I can't stop listening to it. The music is based around an incredibly catchy 60s era ska sample, so I almost don't care that the lyrics are both repetitive and ridiculous. And the video is awkwardly funny in that Tim And Eric Awesome Show sort of way, where if you hadn't been told in advance that it was humor, you might almost think that it was serious, and it was just made by someone with really poor social skills. And hey, failing all of that, the video was shot in my neighborhood, so it's fun to watch them walk around a bunch of landmarks that I walk past every day.
Kenna - Chains
OK, so Kenna's not actually a Richmond-based artist, but video production group Orson Whales are from here, and as will be obvious as soon as you start watching, this clip was shot here as well. All sorts of well-known Richmond locations were used for the filming, from Rumors Boutique to Patterson Express to the Hat Factory, plus a bunch of alleys and at least one local house. The fashions in the video are excellent, and the parties are off the hook, so it captures the spirit of the Richmond night life quite well. And the song is decent too, mixing hip-hop and house music into a funky, danceable groove. But it's the visuals that really make this video worth checking out. Trust me.
Noah-O - I Got It
Gotta add the video that got national play on MTV and helped move the Richmond Hip Hop scene forward a few notches. Shot at The Camel with a catchy hook, "I Got It" was a rowdy glimpse into what the Southside crew is bringing to the table. - Tony
Of course, the reason I didn't add this video into this list originally was because it came out in August of 2010, but hey, what the hell, right? I guess it just goes to prove that Richmond is always at least six months ahead of the rest of the world. Which of the other videos on this list will end up blowing up around the world halfway through 2012? Guess we'll see... - Andrew
By Andrew Necci