Out of Focus: Wild Child, Darkbird and the Dirty Heat

Out of Focus

There are a lot of videos coming out of Austin these days (2/3 of which are directed by John Valley and we are a-okay with that), 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.

Wild Child “Break Bones”

In their most recent video “Break Bones,” Austin pop titans Wild Child perform within the bombed out husk of memories from disintegrating relationships, like characters in a Baz Luhrman directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s a nifty visual spin on the song’s dramatic cravings, where a key line is “I hope this fight never ends.” Aaron Brown’s direction breathes new life into the track for me– on the album, I found it a little bit overbearing, but Brown’s visuals are full of depth and rich in color, particularly in a sequence where a kaleidoscopic array of merry go round horses creates a halo around our leads.

Darkbird “All There Is”

Continuing our impromptu theme of domestic drama, Austin video genius John Valley’s latest mini epic is Darkbird’s “All There Is,” a subtly unsettling analysis of unchecked suburban ennui. In it, Darkbird singer Kelly Barnes performs like Neko Case gone goth, channeling Lana Turner’s dissatisfaction in Imitation of Life and amping it up until before you know it she’s a spider queen luring you into a house of webs (shout out to Nicole E. Gonzales’ impressive make-up effects here). I’ve always felt like there’s a bit of Todd Haynes in Valley’s visual style and now with “All There Is” I’m 100% certain of this.

Kelly Barnes will be performing a solo set in the Butterfly Bar at the Vortex Theatre as part of Microsessions’ event tonight, Wednesday, July 27th

The Dirty Heat “Empty Spaces”

Are you tired of John Valley yet? If you answered yes, I’m sorry, but I’m going to need you to get the fuck out of my house, pronto. The director’s video for the Dirty Heat’s “Empty Spaces” also deals in webs and dissatisfaction but here it’s of the digital variety, as two oddballs are drawn to each other via digital connection, only to discover all those cables and codes are holding them back from being truly connected. It’s not exactly a novel concept, but Valley’s keen eye for framing and performances makes it worthwhile, and it’s intriguing to see him work in black and white instead of his standard technicolor palette. Valley also co-stars here and any chance to see him inhabit a character is worth it. Especially when he’s decked out like a gutter punk Andy Warhol twist on Frankenstein’s monster.

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