Video Picks / Yo La Tengo, Speedy Ortiz, Ex-Cops, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Crystal Soda Cream, Sonny & the Sunsets

We typically toss a video onto a post when highlighting a new band or a show preview or something and let you draw your own conclusion about it. Sometimes we throw a change-up… strike that — let’s call it a round up. These visual/aural displays were worthy of our attention, and we think you’ll dig them. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then a video must be worth a million. Hold on to your hats!

Words and picks by Brendan

Today we’re featuring an animated fun-fest from Yo La Tengo, a basement wrestling match from Speedy Ortiz, a chic display of emotional isolation from Ex-Cops, a powerful portrayal of depression from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a lo-fi mini horror film from Crystal Soda Cream, and surrealist cinéma from Sonny & the Sunsets. All great songs, all great bands. Some may be new to you, so dig in!



Yo La Tengo / “Ohm” / Fade [Matador, 2013] / dir. Donick Cary

Indeed, what is Yo La Tengo? I bet this video offers fewer answers than one would obtain by just diving into the discography the band. And hey, I think that’s the point. Poor Joe Shmo (the un-volunteer) in the video finds himself throw into the land of YLT while his female counterpart “mathematically” derives the band (keep your eyes peeled for some absolute gems in the writing, like “Sun (Ra)^3 Riot”). There, he finds all manner of fantastic imagery, James and Iras and Georgias out the wazoo, and boxes saying “Yo La Tango” taken off the assembly line. In the end, it was the only way he could come to know the band. How true, Mr. Shmo.


Speedy Ortiz / “Shark Tank” / Major Arcana [Carpark, 2013] / dir. Matthew Caron

The first shot of this video is the band standing together, motionless but smiling wryly. Thereafter, there’s not a moment of quiet, stillness, or simplicity. Even at Speedy Ortiz‘s “simplest” moments, there are multiple layers belying a maturity beyond their years and our ears. The dense lyrics with wordplay and poetic cadences, the jangly but heavy melodies that both earn and far exceed the “Pavement-redux” comparisons … man, everything about this song rocks. Oh yeah, and there’s a silly spoof (perhaps? is that the point?) of an underground wrestling match.


Ex-Cops / “Separator” / True Hallucinations [Other Music, 2013] / dir. Jason Shaltz

I admit, I wasn’t sure what this song was “about” until I saw this video. I’m still not sure, but I have more ideas now. Mostly, they stem from the scene around 1:02 to 1:15. There, Brian Harding and Amalie Bruun stare distantly towards and through and beyond the camera while a dancer seductively gyrates near them but she’s not the focus. It’s the distant gaze in their eyes, their apparent separation from the world, from their surroundings, from each other. From themselves? It’s not clear. What do you think?


Unknown Mortal Orchestra / “From The Sun” / UMO II [Jagjaguwar, 2013] / dir. Rick Alverson

The biggest revelation you can have going into this video is that “from the sun” refers to hiding from and not coming from. What follows is a three-and-a-half minute depiction of the overwhelming blanket of depression, followed by a one minute depiction of what it might be like to “wake up” from that and walk through what’s left of your world. This is a harrowing video, despite its apparent “amateur acting class” feel. I guarantee you will never hear this song and band the same way again.


Crystal Soda Cream / “Shot By Both Sides” / Escape From Vienna [Totally Wired, 2012] / dir. Christian Sundl

This video is more of a murder mystery told in stark black & white imagery overtop hauntingly jangly guitars and deep, monotone vocals. I was already intrigued by this band and their record (although Escape From Vienna’s Asylum might be more accurate), and this vid lured me in even more, even though I’m not a horror fan at all. Meanwhile, this band is clearly a fan of both John Cale-era VU and all things David Lynch. Don’t watch if you aren’t prepared to be totally sucked in, perhaps literyally …


Sonny & the Sunsets / “Palmreader” / Antenna to the Afterworld [Polyvinyl, 2013] / dir. Sonny Smith

I shared another video from this record recently, but I have to share more. I caught Sonny & the Sunsets live in Pittsburgh last month, and it’s shaping up to be one of my fave shows of the year. Not only that, but I’m falling head over heels for their latest record, Antenna to the Afterworld. The titles of the record and this song embody some supernatural/otherworldly ideas, and Sonny has been very open about the fact that a visit to a fortune teller heavily influence these tunes. (See this interview, for instance, and this reverse interview!) Whatever the influence, his work on this humorous re-take on some kind of surrealist French cinema is humorous, catchy, and totally great.


There ya have it, our video picks for this week. Any thoughts? Dig the tunes? Love the cinematography? Want to hear/see more? Leave some comments and we’ll chat it up! Let us know if you’re into the bands and we’ll point you in the right direction, too.


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