There are a lot of videos coming out of Austin these days, so we’ve decided to make life easier for you by compiling some of the most notable into a recurring feature called Out of Focus. Somehow not a single one of the videos featured this week was directed by John Valley.
Francine Thirteen “Sovereign, Song of Auras”
I’d argue that Francine Thirteen is as much a visual artist as a musical artist at this point, with her iconic look communicating many of the same themes and symbols as her lyrics and instrumentation. But if you were on the fence about whether Austin’s reigning priestess of avant R&B could claim both forms of art, her new video “Sovereign, Song of Auras” should erase all doubt. Directed by Dom G. Jones, “Sovereign” continues Francine Thirteen’s exploration of mythological tropes and iconography, pairing her with a snake and decking her out in scaled body paint. The track itself is fittingly more regal and extravagant than much of what we heard in her “Mary” series, but Francine Thirteen and her co-star Netherina Noble perform with the grace and lithe beauty of a number of those historic Mary’s that were explored. It’s no wonder the video attracted the eye of Vice, this is one of the most stunning and exquisite videos to come out of Austin this year.
Sertified “Lost Land (ft. Dowrong)”
Given its Ennio Morricone referencing beat, it’s not surprising to see Sertified’s “Lost Land” get a stark desert wanderer video. That means there’s not really a whole lot going on in “Lost Land,” it’s basically Sertified and Dowrong recreating the Gus van Sant film Gerry, but Tha Real Chino shoots it with style and verve, adding film distortion and lens flares to turn up the heat as he pans from the sweating duo to dry as fuck textures. Honestly, the more I think about, the more I’d be down to watch Sertified and Dowrong travel the Texas badlands after the inevitable heat death of Austin comes. Let’s call it Mad Max: Queso Road.
Continuing their mission to provide video accompaniments for each of the tracks on their masterful album Graphic, Troller and director Melissa Cha have reunited for “Sundowner,” one of the LP’s most brutal moments. The video is as intense as the song but not in the way you might expect; eschewing the Lynchian narrative of “Not Here” in favor of more abstract imagery, “Sundowner” has the band standing in the shadows, occasionally getting covered in paint and broken down in digital glitches as the song builds to its visceral peaks. The band actually recruited painter Nicolas Nadeau to assist them, lending him their bodies as canvasses and then turning to Cha to make further magic happen in the editing room. As much as I miss the eye for characterization Cha brought to “Not Here,” this painting-digital destruction hybrid is a perfect fit for “Sundowner” and its more ominous, layered sonics.
Wildfires “Undead Fun”
Wildfires strike me as unapologetic dorks. Their music mines a very specific time and place in ’80s indie music (1987 in the UK, more or less) and their live performances have them shuffling around like a bunch of high school teachers who are avoiding papers for the night to indulge in some throwbacks to their adolescene. The band themselves declare on “Undead Fun” that they “don’t want to be famous, just universally known.” That’s a smart goal for an act whose entire persona is wrapped up in better known signifiers, and it’s even smarter to make the video for “Undead Fun” a celebration of that. The clip has a group of lo-fi puppets popping in a video within a video, featuring Wildfires performing in front of a number of cheesy locales and backdrops, like an early ’90s Merge MTV submission. There’s a little bit of Beavis and Butthead to the puppets’ meta-consumption, but then the puppet drugs are brought out and we get a slew of cheesy visual puns, like crackers subbing in for crack. The whole thing has the production value of late period MST3K and it’s almost as lovable as the garbage bin epics they skewered.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover