We get sent a lot of music videos by local groups here at RVA Mag. And of course, since we are always trying to keep track of what’s happening in the local music scene, we stumble across a whole bunch of videos on our own time. The result is an ever-growing list of tracks that would be cool to post. But too often, we don’t find the time to devote a full post to them.
That’s why this roundup exists. Because it’s Black Friday, everyone’s still dealing with the food coma from Thanksgiving, and nobody has much of any energy. So why not throw together a playlist of songs we’ve been accumulating in Google Docs and notes on our phones, so that all of us can just chill and watch some cool stuff for a while? That was our thought, and we decided it was a good one. So here’s a collection of music videos by Richmond artists that we’ve been meaning to get around to for a while. You may not like everything here, but from metal to hip hop to indie to emo-punk, we’ve got something for just about everyone. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
NDEFRU & Profound79, “Motions”
Gritty City Records
The Gritty City stable runs deep, and you’ve really got to keep close tabs on this label if you want to know about all the great Richmond rappers they have on their team. Trust me, I know – just when I start to get my head around the Gritty City thing, a new rapper or producer pops up that I need to get familiar with. I never regret doing so, though, and that’s definitely true of NDEFRU, on his new single “Motions,” produced by Profound79. This is an introspective track with a somewhat downbeat but always catchy groove, over which NDEFRU raps about the struggles he’s been through and the work he’s doing to make a better life for his kids. Ultimately, the song has a positive message, and the visuals correspond with it, as they alternate between shots of NDEFRU playing with his kids in a park and scenes from his participation in the 2022 Richmond 16.19, which I didn’t know about before I saw this video – it’s part of the Africa Reconnect Event Series created by the Djimon Hounsou Foundation to commemorate the sacrifices African American people have made for the United States. All three races that were part of the event series this year were held in cities important during the Transatlantic Slave Trade – Richmond; Liverpool, UK; and Ouidah, Benin. Seeing NDEFRU rapping his lyrics from this song as he participates makes clear that he’s a man of action and conviction who stands behind his words. We can never have too much of that around here.
Timothy Bailey & the Humans, “Weird Animal”
Timothy Bailey & the Humans are a group that’s been around Richmond for a while, but they only recently released their first proper album, a self-titled effort from which “Weird Animal” is drawn. It’s the third single from the album, but it’s the one that caught our attention the most, with its moody indie pop sensibility that manages to draw from artists as diverse as Leonard Cohen, Chet Baker, and the Tindersticks (and if you know all three of those references, chances are this band is right up your alley). These guys have obviously made a lot of great friends around Richmond while they were coming up, as the album features guests like Liza Kate, Curt Sydnor, Erin Lunsford of Erin & the Wildfire, and a ton more. It’s the songwriting that draws you in, though. That said, “Weird Animal”’s video, directed by Rachel Kleinman, adds layers to the meaning of the track, as we see vocalist Timothy Bailey dressed up in the kind of fancy suit that makes you think he’s a lounge singer in a cocktail jazz bar where they still think rock n’ roll is kid’s stuff. It’s a weirdly appropriate setting for this jazzy and mature-sounding music, but at the same time, the song’s undercurrent of loneliness and alienation also cuts through the video, as we see backstage scenes that make clear this lounge singer is maybe not having as great a time as we’d like to think.
Black Matter Device, “Concrete Nose Dive”
Dark Trail Records
Black Matter Device’s latest release, Autonomous Weapons, came to us back in the spring, but the latest music video released from it is only a few months old, and is just way too good to ignore. This band’s metallic, chaotic hardcore sound is a lot of fun on its own, but they take things to the next level with the video for “Concrete Nose Dive,” which starts out seeming like the classic metal(core) band video – spooky yet somewhat incoherent, full of ominous scenes with odd flickering lighting that you can’t quite get your head around. However, by the end of the video, it becomes clear that the whole thing is a deadpan joke, in which the main character goes through a series of physically and mentally taxing struggles in his ultimate quest to… successfully make a sandwich. At first, he struggles to cut a tomato without butchering it, to put ingredients onto the bread in a logical order, to keep his head together and not get completely overwhelmed. Eventually he turns to the internet, to a classic 80’s-movie training montage that proves utterly fruitless, and finally, a black magic ritual in which the ingredients for the sandwich are set on a cutting board at the center of a ketchup pentagram. Sure enough, the sandwich proceeds to assemble itself – but there’s a cost for our inept hero, one we learn about in foreboding, flickering visions during the last few seconds of the video. I’m not gonna spoil it for you, so make sure you’re not rocking out too hard to keep your eyes on the screen. That said, with a song this heavy and fun, I wouldn’t exactly blame you.
Illiterate Light, “Feb 1st”
This one’s a brand spanking new cut for you, having only hit YouTube two weeks ago today. It’s the third single from Illiterate Light’s forthcoming album, Sunburned, and makes clear that they’ve got plenty of super-catchy tunes awaiting us when the album drops in a few months. As usual, Illiterate Light manages to add a strong dose of melody to their indie sound without sacrificing any of the heavy rocking that always belies the fact that there are only two guys in this band. Amazing that they’re able to sound that full. The video features footage from a recent performance at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Pour House, and demonstrates what we’ve all known for years – these guys are an electrifying live act that can have a whole venue feeling the spirit and getting wild. These shots are interspersed with more mellow moments in which the members of Illiterate Light hang out on some unrecognizable lake shore, which add a moody vibe to the video that’s apropos in light of the song’s less-than-cheery lyrics. “I found a healer on the web,” sings guitarist Jeff Gorman during the relatively quiet bridge, “if I could just get out of bed.” That’s a relatable sentiment, even if you haven’t been struck down and bedridden by COVID anytime in the last month – god knows it’s a tough time in which to even try to keep your head up. And yet, the feeling you’ll take away from this Illiterate Light video is one of renewal, the idea that things will get better as long as you keep pushing forward. Maybe that’s the message we all need right now.
OK, this one’s a bit of a cheat for us, because it previously appeared in our article about Drook and their new EP that ran a month or so ago. No apologies, though, because this video has grabbed us in a manner nothing else out of this city has in the last few months. Drook used to be called She, but changed their name before releasing their new EP, Life In Estates. One of the songs on that EP – the first of two that are included in this video – is called “She,” and while it’s a shame that changing their name kept them from being one of those bands that has a song that’s named after the band (that’s always cool), it certainly makes them a better prospect where SEO is concerned. And they should be, because Drook are pretty goddamn great. These two songs show two different sides of what they can do when they’re at their best; “She” is a driving indie rock anthem with an absolutely killer chorus; “Soap” is a dreamy shoegaze tune that feels like you’re sinking into a warm bath of sound. The songs have two completely different videos, both of which are crammed into this three-minute clip – early 00s hip hop video style. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it works perfectly; the opening 90 seconds, in which scenes of the band riding around frolicking in the back of a car alternate with shots of singer Liza Grishaeva riding her bike with no hands and singing the lyrics into a selfie cam. The big transition happens at the 1:30 mark, right in the middle of the second chorus, as Liza falls from the edge of a trampoline, cartwheeling backwards in slow motion as the opening riff of “Soap” kicks in. No harm done, though – she lands on her back in a sunny meadow, and bounces up from the grass with a big grin on her face. The band then proceeds to dance around the meadow and have a pillow fight while playing “Soap.” Both of these videos remind me of random videos by bands I’d never heard of that popped up on late-night MTV when I was in high school in the early 90s. That’s how I found out about new bands back then, and I would have rushed right out and bought Drook’s new CD if I’d seen this clip between Drop Nineteens and Teenage Fanclub tracks back then. The formats have changed since then, but picking up Drook’s Life In Estates is still the appropriate move in response to this excellent video.
Municipal Waste, “Grave Dive”
Nuclear Blast Records
Oh OK, you don’t know who any of these artists are? You want a video by a band you’re already familiar with? We’ve got you covered. Here’s the latest clip from Municipal Waste, a track from their seventh album, Electrified Brain. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been waiting with bated breath for a new Waste album for years now. It’s a great relief for us all to find that the band hasn’t lost a step, and has even thickened up their sound in recent years, with the addition of Nick Poulos (Parasytic, Bat) on second guitar. “Grave Dive” is emblematic of the Waste’s sound on their latest release – it’s not extremely fast, but instead relies on thick, memorable thrash riffage. Rather than sounding like early DRI, as they often did on earlier releases, this track takes things back to the classic sound of legends like Exodus and Anthrax at the peaks of their respective 80s thrash power. The video, by Pierre Mousquet of Imov Studios, is entirely animated, and looks like the sort of thing that would be put together by some 80s thrash kid who liked to draw crazy horror-themed metal artwork in his notebook in the back of study hall if he got to work with the budget and equipment that Metalocalypse had at their disposal. It features a storyline in which very accurate cartoon versions of Municipal Waste’s members break into a graveyard and start playing a secret show. In response, the corpses buried in the graveyard begin rising and going on a homicidal rampage. There’s too much going on to describe it all, but characters like Skeletor, Elvira, and the Scooby-Doo Gang all make cameo appearances. You’ll want to watch this one ten times in a row just to catch all the tiny easter eggs buried throughout this excellent clip.
OK, that’s enough for now, right? It’s gonna have to be, because we’re already over 2000 words deep. That said, I’ve still got a big list of local videos I want to get to, so rest assured that this Friday video roundup will return in the very near future. In the meantime, keep sending your videos to us: [email protected]. You might see one here in a future edition!