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.
Go Fever “Folk Zero”
Bad histories, self-loathing and misdirected rage are usually problems, unless you’re a musician, in which case they’re ingredients for your art. Acey Monaro has proven the potency of those elements in her solo work and in Go Fever she’s found allies who help her channel it towards even more impressive results. Case in point: “Folk Zero,” a simmering track from the band’s eponymous debut that tries to contain its grim aspects until they boil over and force themselves out. Zachary Scott clearly picked up on that while developing the video, mixing together Acey’s already established vintage style and quirk with a cheeky depiction of her battling a scarred and hostile inner demon after engaging in some good old fashioned hoodlum antics herself. The video’s ultimate payoff also makes it clear that as handy as a troubled past is for art and creativity, what really makes Acey and Go Fever stand out is their ability to laugh at themselves and that burdensome history.
Sweet Spirit “Pamela”
Speaking of cheeky, Sweet Spirit kick off their new video “Pamela” with a slow motion spanking, which is fitting for a song dedicated to Sabrina Ellis’ love for all things Pamela Anderson. Though the video isn’t set on a beach (we’ve got a desperate lack of those here in Austin, after all), Sean Daigle shot it during the band’s performance as part of the Hotel Hot Burrito cruises this year during SXSW. “Pamela” may lack the inventive visuals and narratives of the band’s previous video work, but it’s hard to resist the charms of a Sweet Spirit-led boat party. Daigle also directed a documentary-esque video for the band’s charming, harmony drenched track “Ooh Yah Yah Yah” that showcases the band’s ability to have fun even when they’re ostensibly hard at work.
Max Wells “JohnCena”
Max Wells’ self-directed clip for “JohnCena” inexplicably has the vibe of a digitally distorted found footage horror work, which makes the track’s hook “I feel like Cena/You can’t see me” more unsettling than it’s likely intended to be. But I’m not complaining, it’s certainly a more inventive visual style than the vast majority of Austin hip hop videos, and Wells’ goofball charm stands out even amongst the trackin error aesthetic. And more importantly, the song itself showcases Wells’ evolution, merging his natural cleverness with a newfound ear for hooks and taste for beats that can land with club audiences as well as Soundcloud fans.
Though I’m mostly kidding about the accidental creepiness of Max Wells’ “JohnCena,” Keeper’s short video for their excellent single “Dock” is absolutely creepy and unsettling. Side Label Productions initially sets the video up like a commercial for a new outdoor apparel brand, following Yadira Brown and her boyfriend Andrew Thaggard (aka BoomBaptist) out to a secluded and serene nature spot. Yadira’s Keeper bandmates lurk ominously in the background, indicating something creepy is going to happen involving them, which is only half-true. You see, they’re just there as witnesses and accomplices to Andrew’s murder via stabbing. Keeper then put his body in a canoe and push it out into the water, perhaps as a sacrifice to the dock gods that enabled them to make such an eerie and affecting single. Either way, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to hear the group’s music as anything less than murderous going forward.
The Teeta “What Have You Done (ft. MadFlo)”
Maybe it’s just my desperate craving for more Atlanta, but I get the sense that The Teeta’s breezy and simplistic “What Have You Done” video is an ode to that show’s casual surreality. Produced by Sire, the track has Teeta, MadFlo and crew hanging out in an anonymous strip outlet that mysteriously packs a swing on its walkway. There might not be a lot going on in the clip, but Jesse Rodriguez shoots it beautifully, like Terrence Malick gone urban, a perfect fit for the track’s chirpy samples and airy tone. I’m hoping the next time this crew gets together we get something with even more depth.
Alex Napping “Fault”
Alex Napping have always succeeded at pairing their music with memorable and thoughtful imagery, but their new video “Fault” is a major leap forward. Intended by lead singer Alex Cohen as a representation of a “a micro-world where my [eating] disorder and associated neurosis exist as removed from reality,” “Fault” utilizes minimalist imagery and choreography to convey complex thoughts and issues. Director Eleanor Petry uses claustrophobic space, a bold blue and white palette and a black mannequin prop to make Cohen seem at odds with her own surroundings, reaching for stability and calm but unable to achieve it. The intro and outro sequences in particular, where Cohen lays in water filled with donuts and bananas and greenery, are effectively jarring, disrupting the association we have with water as a serene, peaceful element, forcing the viewer to consider the alienation victims of eating disorders feel whenever they are alone with their bodies.
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