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 Doll”
Not every video concept needs a bloated budget and ample spectacle to succeed at its mission of capturing eyeballs. Really all a great video needs is a solid hook and divine inspiration. I don’t know what it is about Sabrina Ellis’ projects but she seems to connect with directors who totally understand these fundamentals, stretching on back to Ryan Darbonne’s service for A Giant Dog in “Cleveland Steven,” where a kind of questionable premise lifted from The Dark Knight was given an Enter the Void POV graft and twisted into something more disturbing and unsettling. The Valley Forge’s John Valley pulls from the same set of ingredients here in Sweet Spirit’s “Baby Doll” clip, only with even more direct involvement with his inhabiting the role of the genderfluid oppressor. “Cleveland Steven” was a sick nurse but “Baby Doll” is a glammy burlesque kidnapper in possession of an entire chorus line of victims, their mouths gagged as they’re forced to watch Valley strut his stuff and complain about being perennial second fiddle. This is a sexy, volatile video that makes the most of its cramped spaces and green room lighting. Valley puts on such an excellent show, even the victims go Stockholm and worry about his impending doom. If more Austin videos were as inspired and well-executed as Valley’s work on “Baby Doll,” I’d be a much happier music columnist.
Meganoke- “Out of Time”
Stephanie Chavez continues her work with Meganoke with “Out of Time,” a clip that offers up further proof that Chavez is one of Austin’s most visually gifted directors. Like “Baby Doll,” this is a video that keeps things simple and sticks to stunning imagery to win over its audience. Setting up Meganoke as some dark winged angel looking out over the horizon, “Out of Time” conveys morbid beauty and untouchable otherness, making otherwise quaint imagery haunting. Where it struggles is in its source, as “Out of Time” the song feels half-formed, incomplete. There’s a certain charm in that, like it’s a peek behind Meganoke’s artistic curtain. But I can’t help but feel as though this is merely a tease of some large, profound work to come.
Bateau- “Gold (Ft. Walter Moten II)”
Although Bateau’s track “Gold” predates her team up with HADES and thus her embrace of a classic trip hop sound, it’s impressive how confident a grasp she has on casual cool, to the extent that she far, ahem, outshines her guest Walter Moten II on this more hip hop leaning single. The video actually hit a couple months ago but I am a slowpoke and only now getting up to speed, but that works out in its favor in a way since it looks like something from this season’s True Detective. There are sirens in creepy gold masks, exerting a corrupting influence on the more angelic Bateau, Moten making lustful promises but looking a bit overwhelmed by Bateau’s inherent charisma. Like Bateau’s music, “Gold” is dreamy, though not in the more saturated surrealist sense, it instead has a half-awake quality, akin to a fleeting memory of the touch of a fondly remembered lover.
Leach- “Tru Luv”
I guess the accidental theme of Out of Focus this week is simplicity, as every video assembled here is built around a simple concept and simple execution. But the simplest might be Leach’s “Tru Luv,” which has the bedroom pop boy wonder stuck in a bleak black room scanning YouTube clips, the colors lighting up his face as he mumbles along to the song. “Tru Luv” is what starts Leach’s new album Kokedama off, a bit more revved up than the bulk of what follows, the distorted bass lending Leach’s impressive but usually subtly mixed voice some growl. It’s a strong enough song that it really doesn’t need much ornamentation, though I must confess I had hoped Leach would have given it a little something extra. Admittedly, “Tru Luv” as a clip fits the intimate intrusion of Kokedama, so maybe I’m wrong to make such a demand.
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