Welcome back to The Last VJ, music fans. Some local love managed to make its way into the selection of most triumphant videos this week. Also, get ready for evil dancing, mad science, and heroin. You like heroin, right? No? Well, that's OK. Even without heroin it's a great round-up this week.
Vote at the end for your favorite.
Ethan Gold, "Royal Flush": Full marks to Ethan Gold, who took home the position of number one video in the voting last week in the second time in this column. Gold's music is powerful, dark, and dissonant, and his music video collaborations reflect that wonderfully so. "Royal Flush" offered a dream-like love ballade delivered in Gold's typically twisted manner, and director Rachel Samuels pulled of a creepy sideshow to accompany it. Congratulations.
Jil Guyon, Chris Becker, & Spike the Percussionist, "Excerpt from 'Widow'": Strictly speaking, this isn't a music video, but I thought it was still wicked cool with contributions from two of my favorite local musicians. What you're watching is part of a video performance piece that is set to premier in New York very soon. All we get is a small piece of "Widow", but even that small snippet is haunting and wonderful.
Guyon, with glacial slowness, slowly pulls black cloth out of herself in a stark white hallway, and while that doesn't sound particularly moving or spectacular, the sheer emotion and blankness of her surroundings makes it akin to witnesses someone performing surgery on themselves. The score by Becker and Spike calls to mind the sense-shattering atmospheric work of Angelo Badalamenti. So much so that you feel like the sound is an invisible, malevolent character stalking Guyon. Here's hoping we get to see the full piece eventually.
See also: Last Week's Music Video Round-Up
Architecture in Helsinki, "Dream a Little Crazy": I'm hard on music videos that I don't feel have particularly compelling narratives, and even more so on ones that just throw a bunch of weird stuff together and hope it works out artistically in the end. That said, "Dream a Little Crazy" worms its way into your heart through its sheer insane mirth. I'm not sure how many people out there are still getting Jerry Lewis Nutty Professor gags, but if you're one of them this is a treat. Even aside from that is the Wonka-esque love of a colorful mess disguised as science in the name of whimsy. It's like a mini-sequel to the movie Toys, and that is the highest praise I have,
Piece continues on next page.
Weeknight, "Dark Light": Brief bit of personal history: the music video that convinced me that the art of such things wasn't dead and launched me covering them exhaustively three years ago was Goldfrapp's "Alive". It was such a potent mixture of Satanic imagery and insane choreographed dancing that it literally restarted my entire conception of what could be done in a music video.
"Dark Light" is not quite that brilliant, but one look at its weird Day of the Dead sensibilities mixed with cheesy go-go dancing had me transported back in time with a huge smile on my face. It's moody and fun, like a good sulk, and the completely infectious groove behind it all doesn't hurt either. More people should dance with the devil.
See also: Music Video Round-Up From Two Weeks Ago
Reflection Dies, "Detox": I comb through a lot of music videos that never make it into this column, and just guessing I would have to say that at least half of them are rap or metal. I would like to use Reflection Dies here as an example of why so many videos in these genres never make the list.
Playing or rapping in front of a place you think is cool is not a compelling visual narrative. It really is not. It's boring and offers no deeper look into the visual imagery of a song, yet that's 90 percent of the rap and metal videos I come across. It's all, "Look at me, I'm SO hard."
"Detox" is cheesy. There's no getting around it. I think I was in a one-act play about drugs in high school that was almost the exact same thing minus the shots of the band playing in a swamp. But man, they sell those shots of drug abuse with complete and utter sincerity. They narrate a descent into darkness, fumbling as that execution might be, with a total lack of fucks to give. And I love them for that. I will take reaching big over a safe, self-congratulatory musical circle-jerk any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I declare Reflection Dies to be magnificent bastards.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism