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.
Sweet Spirit- “Baby When I Close My Eyes”
While critics are losing their shit to the white male masturbatory exercise that is Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa, the actual best use of puppets in an artwork in recent memory is John Valley’s “Baby When I Close My Eyes.” Yes, it’s a music video. Yes, it was apparently rejected by scores of publications for premiere before landing at the Austin Chronicle last week. But Valley’s work for Sweet Spirit continues to blow nearly every other local director out of the water and if “Baby When I Close My Eyes” is his Magnolia, what the fuck is his There Will Be Blood going to look like? Hyperbolic Paul Thomas Anderson claims aside, “Baby When I Close My Eyes” is both epic and digestible, a split narrative piece that zooms in on debilitating moments in the previously placid lives of a few puppets. There is also a Lynchian dance sequence involving Sabrina Ellis’ uncle. If you don’t love it, we can’t be friends.
Technicolor Hearts- “Dream Jar”
Almost immediately after the New Year was upon us, Technicolor Hearts sent over their video for “Dream Jar,” which they say is meant to “honor the New Year” and to strike a balance “on the line that draws between reality and a dream.” Not surprisingly, it’s a very hazy work, presenting itself as a home movie of sorts, complete with VHS glitches and static interruptions, but also newer digital touches like hyperreal colors and frenetic editing. “Dream Jar” ultimately feels like a single than it does a half-remembered hallucination, which is likely the intent– Technicolor Hearts want you to commemorate the New Year by anthologizing the previous one, collecting cherished little moments that might not have much narrative weight but are potent in the remembrance of their components.
Maryann- “Not Uncommon”
I normally have an adversity to cabaret indie pop but Maryann’s “Not Uncommon” seems to have bypassed a lot of my biases there. Jaunty and playful, the track achieves a comfortable middle ground between Man Man and Spoon, while the video amplifies its goofiness as the band members (including a Thomas Middleditch lookalike) mug at the camera against a Sears family portrait backdrop. It helps that there is nothing strained or ironic about the track or the video, instead it’s clear this is a group of guys fully enjoying themselves and making equally enjoyable music.
Daniel Eyes & the Vibes- “Dessert Cocaine”
Not only does this track sound like it stumbled out of 1993, its accompanying video also looks like a forgotten Levi’s commercial from the same era.