Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 Year in Videos...

Normally at the end of the year I post a "top Baltimore music videos" list.  Frankly, I'm not as up to date these days as I used to be, and do not believe I could make a comprehensive list I'd be happy with later.  Here's the stuff I know should be mentioned...

Wing Dam made a lot of noise-pop fuzz and riffs this year.  After releasing the album Shifter Bliss in the Summer the band also put out a few music videos.  The best arguably is by T.J. Domingue and is for the track Software.  They happen to be on tour opening up for Future Islands on a short domestic tour right now.

The video for Ping Pong by Mighty Mark and TT the Artist is a gem.  With art direction by Felipe Goncalves.

The Sterling Sisters released their first and probably only LP Hale in 2012, and it is an incredible album of dark post-punk-inspired country.  In 2014 there were a couple of uploads of videos of live performances, and one by Nick Hansen-MacDonald of the band performing Shallow Blood is especially good.  While the future of the band is uncertain, as Scout ParĂ©-Phillips has moved on to other projects, I for one will always remember their music fondly.

Baltimore rapper DDM put out an amazing video for Come Thru.  Directed by Funzito, it is one of my favorites of the year.

George Cessna, the former front-man of the Sterling Sisters, released his first solo LP Sincerely Yours in 2014.  A few of the tracks made their way into his short film I'm Not a Very Good Cowboy.  In the short, Cessna ruminates on what makes a good cowboy and reflects on his writing process.  In a real way he is trying to redefine his sound and understand its place within country music.  Also for the holidays he released a Christmas EP with Maxime La called I Can't Make It Home for Christmas which you should check out before it gets warm again.

George Cessna - I'm Not A Very Good Cowboy from George Cessna on Vimeo.

Dan Deacon has yet to release Gliss Riffer, his fourth LP, due out late February.  Domino did upload a video for Feel the Lightning, directed by Andrew Jeffrey Wright.  The video is a colorful and fun look at the parties your living room throws when you aren't home.

What would a year be without an amazing Bosley video?  The Digital Cave production for the track Just Like You took a ton of time to make and it was worth it all.

Dope Body dropped the album Lifer and with it a video for the track Repo Man.  The hard-edged, spastic thorns of rock thrown in the song are reflected by the hard-edged, threatening face tattoos and thin lips of some male protagonists in this skillfully composed video by Theo Anthony.  Anthony, who has done work for Future Islands and Dopy Body before, manages to make the video an expressive cry of angst and loathing, largely with found VHS footage.

I wrote about Wye Oak's video for The Tower when it was released last April, and in my mind this video hasn't been topped since.  Produced by A&B Solutions, this video is a well-choreographed wonder.

2014, in terms of Baltimore-based music, will be looked back upon as the year Future Islands broke.  They broke BIG.  Along the way all year they left behind a great trail of moments on video starting with their now-legendary appearance on Letterman, to their last show at the Floristree possibly ever (can you imagine the logistical nightmare that would be now?) to their video for Seasons and A Dream of You and Me.  We'll just wrap this list with the recently released short documentary Road Dawgs.  The short, shot by Jay Buim ( a  favorite of the band), reflects upon the road the band has been traveling lately.  There's no telling how far it will take them.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Lottery - Afghan Whigs (video)

The Afghan Whigs are not from Baltimore, but their monitor engineer Ryan O'Hara is.  Now O'Hara is also the star of the Whigs' newest video for the track The Lottery.  The video is made up entirely of footage of Ryan dancing to the music behind his audio consoles.  I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ryan professionally over the last couple years and he is always a positive and knowledgeable guy.  That energy he brings with him often turns into him dancing and really enjoying the bands that he is working with. It is easy to see why that infectious energy is featured in this video.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Unedited Footage of a Bear (Adult Swim)

AB Solutions, a division of WHAM City and the creative team of Alan Resnick and Ben O'Brien, uploaded their second installment of shorts for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.  Unedited Footage of a Bear is a truly dark journey into a drug-addled mind, and a searing indictment of the modern medicinal mentality.  It is also a highly entertaining and challenging effort that should be watched more than once.

Resnick and O'Brien, already having started to define their aesthetic of cultural riffing in previous efforts such as Live Forever as You Are Now, hone in quickly on their artery of madness.  Unedited Footage of a Bear blows through the walls of its television commercial conceit quickly and in ten minutes will go further with its reality construct than the viewer will believe possible.  Skillfully the team directs the protagonist (played with a virtuosic range of emotion by Kerry and Jacqueline Donelli) through a series of obstacles of the mind that is sort of like watching Luke Skywalker see himself as Darth Vader in that cave on Degobah but way more frightening.  If you watch closely you'll see a number of our favorite local-types making brief appearances in the short, including Whammers Connor Kizer and Dan Deacon, as well as M.C. Schmidt of Matmos, Robby Rackleff and a tune from Ed Schrader.  To further confuse casual observers there's a website.  In short, this spectacular effort raises the bar yet again.  I absolutely can't wait for their first feature.

Monday, September 15, 2014

DDM - Come Thru (video)

Back in June when the Summer was still new Baltimore rapper DDM dropped this absolutely amazing, super-slick video.  The song, Come Thru, is typical of DDM's bravado.  The video, directed by Funzito, is an engaging, sometimes visually clever foray into quick cuts and animated flourishes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ESMB - Televan (video)

So I'm way behind in posts for new Baltimore music videos.  We'll start with the most recent and work our way back.  Almost two weeks ago punk/poet Ed Schrader and bassist Devlin Rice of Ed Schrader's Music Beat released a video for the high-energy, pseudo-surf rocking tune "Televan".  The video, directed by Justin Barnes, is of strikingly simple construction, but manages to capture the aggressive energy of ESMB.  Supposedly they made it in 24 hours.  Considering the busy schedule of the band, it was a day well-spent.

Ed Schrader's Music Beat: Televan from Justin Barnes on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Schwarz - "Hands Up, Don't Shoot"

In Ferguson, MO the issues that usually bubble under the surface of this country are spilling out into the streets.  There is little that can be said about this tragedy that hasn't already been voiced a hundred times, but now there is another layer to the soundtrack.  Local DJ and producer Schwarz just dropped an absolutely amazing Bmore club track using samples of the protestors in Ferguson chanting, set against the wail of police LRAD systems.  Calls for justice have moved into the club...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Baltimore! Brought to you by Budweiser!

As is the fad these days, yet another corporate interest has backed yet another music blog to "report" on and co-opt the music scene here in Baltimore.  The word is out that if you need something that reads to key demographic groups as relevant and smacks of real, authentic DIY than all you need to do is grab your 4-camera DSLR team, a few associate producers, and Lance Bangs and head to Baltimore.  So it is that VICE magazine's music arm, Noisey, made the video below and put Budweiser's logo on it.

The video itself is produced well, although it doesn't really go into any uncharted territory.  It does manage to get a few DIY luminaries to talk about how great their underground scene is.  How underground is a scene that seems to keep craving, and receiving, national attention?  I really enjoy the part where MATMOS manages to complain about people recording shows in other cities while they're doing an interview on camera for a YouTube channel primarily stocked with concert footage.  The tone of the piece is very positive, and it does make the city look like a place most viewers would want to be.

The funny thing is a lot of people are upset about this video, but no one seems to have a good reason.  Rockers complain online that they weren't featured and that it focused on the noise/GLBT-friendly hip-hop side of things.  Of course, if you want to be in the video than you aren't cool enough to be in it <emphasis sarcasm>.  I saw a complaint about some of the artists not actually being from the Baltimore scene (Animal Collective came of age in Brooklyn, NY and MATMOS is a transplant from San Francisco) but this is clearly referenced in the video and doesn't make their opinions on the scene less valid.  Hipsters that sport their DIY merit badges where their fanny packs were 7 years ago bitch about it being corporate, but after the whole GEICO fiasco last October ignorance is not an excuse.  If a team of people with high-end gear walks into a club and starts asking for interviews it is up to you to ask who's paying for all those cameras.

It should be noted that I am affiliated with the Metro Gallery, which is one of the venues featured in this video.  For what its worth, the team represented themselves as being from VICE, and didn't mention the corporate sponsorship.  No one asked either, and it isn't the first time the Gallery has had corporate interests focus on local talent with our venue as a backdrop.  The frustration I felt over the GEICO video was because of how completely wrong the information it it was and how uninformed the narrator seemed to be.  This video, despite people's feelings on it, manages to paint a fairly accurate picture of what is going on here.  The presentation, including the corporate sponsorship, is a part of the scene.  Congrats, Baltimore.  We made it.