YAWN – KIND OF GUY
I don’t know if it’s racial blinders that keep me from seeing YAWN as an afro-pop band (like Chicagoist does) but I never have. At first, they were the noise band who inexplicably played dance parties (when they’re in percussive mode, parallels can be drawn to Cave, Waterbabies, and Mahjongg, and it makes sense; when they’re in drone/chillwave/space music mode, it sounds more like Brian Wilson-by-way-of-Animal Collective, it doesn’t).
The band’s been coming more into its own lately and feeling a lot less inexplicable. Their bookings are looking more intentional, and more targeted (not that there’s anything wrong with breaking up the monotony of sameness that so many dance parties share by throwing in something different, which in my opinion is one of the best things you can do… but it’s definitely nice to see them playing shows where half the crowd isn’t thinking what the fuck just happened? and going out for a smoke), and now I’m coming to know them as a Chicago band that does a lot of cool shit. Their free EP, and their free remix EP are examples of this, and their video for “Kind of Guy” is definitely an example of this.
The video opens with what looks like a taped-off-the-TV-in-the-80s UHF yoga show, where a guru, flanked by shirtless men with pyramids on their head, invites you to prepare your body for space music. There are shades of Emergency Broadcast Network, Tim & Eric Awesome Show, the found footage website Everything is Terrible, some of the more experimental bits from The Muppet Show, and that PBS show where music is interpreted visually via Rube Goldberg devices, robots, and awful early generation CGI (google tells me the show is called Animusic, and it’s awesome to watch while you’re effed up). With a rolling backdrop of outer space, and a song that blends the bands’ percussive and melodic elements, members of the band make stop-motion cartoons of themselves as they’re wrapped in glow sticks and filmed in low light. There are glowing puppet heads that swirl in and out of the kaleidescopic images, and while there is absolutely no structural narrative to speak of, it really is one of the most fun and innovative videos I’ve seen in a long time, especially for a group working with an extremely limited budget.
HEY CHAMP – NEVEREST
I don’t think there was ever any doubt as to what Hey Champ was. Since the release of their stellar “Cold Dust Girl”, they’ve been a band who produces tight, catchy, singalong electropop with clean, crisp imagery and just a bit of a sleazy subtext.
Their song “Neverest” follows that famialiar vocals-and-synthesizers formula, but their video, which sparkles even when it’s dark and grim, stands visually as a high-definition polar opposite of YAWN’s intentional lo-fi look, takes a turn for the weird and cinematic. It’s as if (early period) Guy Ritchie sent two of his gangsters on a tour through The City of Lost Children, where the band’s members, trapped in pyramids, play for the song for a demonic shadow figure. There’s a definite Michel Gondry/Aphex Twin influence as music video tropes are upended and the topless dancing girls are warped into something decidedly not hot.
I’m not sure if the intro/outro is necessary. It doesn’t frame the song nearly as well as YAWN’s new age guru, but the rest is all gold.
THE GLAMOUR – LOVE BURN
I’ve been hearing about party-starting Milwaukee duo The Glamour for a few years now, but it wasn’t til last week when member Diamonds spun a set at Happy Daze that I ever got to rock a party with them.
There’s not much to say about the video for “Love Burn” (off their EP of the same name). It’s a straightforward disco jam with two dudes, one babe, some wacky costumes and over-the-top slapstick. Also: it’s fucking fun.