There are a lot of great videos coming out of Austin these days, so we’ve decided to make life easier for you by compiling some of the best into a recurring feature called Out of Focus.
On “Cry of Tin,” soon-to-be-huge Austin post-punk outfit the Young take a slight step away from the more classic rock oriented sounds of the band’s Matador Records debut Dub Egg, featuring a motorik rhythm and forboding guitars screeching out noisy, delay-drenched riffs. The band keeps the structure simple but piles on the atmosphere, from a neurotic solo towards the end to the build of feedback that augments the verses. The video itself is a riff on the standard broke band practice of taking over a storage unit and making it a DIY practice space, but since these are especially bleak economic times, the band is surrounded by lawyers, massage therapists and other professionals who agree commercial real estate rent is too damn high. But then some amoral locksmiths get involved and everything goes to hell.
I don’t know what it is with Austin bands and storage spaces currently, but outside of The Young, alt-country up-and-comers Summer Swells have also got a video exploring the unknown world of the rental unit. The difference is that Summer Swells’ video for “Exile Scene” is pretty ominous, featuring a Roger Sterling looking dude running around checking in on what I can only assume are families and friends he has abducted to occasionally look in on like some creepy urban zoo. He doesn’t even give them real food, they’re forced to make do with imaginary helpings on family heirloom dishware left behind by a forgotten grandma. Maybe I’m misjudging, though, because the song itself is a sweet if downtempo affair that shifts from a shuffling beat on the verse to a near orchestral, lushly arranged chorus. And I guess it does have a happy ending of sorts, with Not Roger Sterling wandering off into the beautiful beachy wilderness…after being dragged through corridors by some never revealed presence.
Let’s be frank: in general, hip-hop videos kind of suck. For every gonzo Hype Williams/Missy Elliott collab or insane Kanye West hype piece, you’ve got a million porn shoot pool parties and barely lit drab club confessionals. Local hip-hop group Wise Beyond Knowing don’t necessarily erase the still painful memory of Cisqo spending millions of dollars on a video in order to avoid explaining what a thong is to his daughter, but I applaud their ingenuity on “H.O.R.U.S.” At first I thought “H.O.R.U.S.” was going to be another boring ass hip-hop video featuring guys on couches smoking up, but the video’s intro is just subterfuge, since the real intent of the clip is to drop Wise Beyond Knowing into some kind of Inception/I Dream of Genie mash-up. A woman who is either a bellydancer or a genie or both is stuck in chains or a bear trap in Austin’s own corner of Narnia, the WBK boys save her and as thanks she rips their crystal necklaces off. But it’s cool because they just head back to a tent and smoke some more. “H.O.R.U.S.” features a beat that’s purposefully minimal in order to emphasize the clear flows of WBK, which is honestly a nice reprieve from the cluttered production of most of the newer ATX hip-hop that hits my inbox. The piano line in the verse unfortunately recalls Linkin Park, though, and the “I am a fire breathing dragon” line repeated throughout makes me think of “Swaggin’ Dragon” every single time. Otherwise this is a solid track with a gloriously creative video.
Chipper Jones is one of a growing number of intriguing post-rock bands based out of Austin. What separates them from many of their peers, though, is their taste in irresistible rhythms, specifically the impressive drum work of Charlie Martin. Martin creates complex patterns and arrangements, but he’s the rare technical drummer who isn’t flashy, instead sacrificing flair for graceful, subtle flourishes and movements. Riley Engemoen’s video for “Amarillo/Headrush” wisely emphasizes the duo’s live sound constructions, focusing on the clear love of playing Chipper Jones has, and their devotion to setting a groove and riding it out for a relatively brief burst, leaving you wanting more rather than making you drowsily seek some other musical offering. The band’s Two Rooms EP is similarly devoted to showing off the live Chipper Jones experience, pairing studio soundscapes with straight presentations of live performances but be sure to check them out live yourself, they’ll be at Empire Control Room on August 16th for Vagabond Collective’s Summer Nights Finale.
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 Dylan Garsee on twitter: @Nick_Hanover