Hello and Happy Valentine’s Week — or as I like to call it, Valloween! If that doesn’t scare you, this weeks’ Video Clip just might! “Haunted” by LA Garage Rock legends The Sloths does double duty as a music video and a movie trailer, as the song also appears on the soundtrack to the independent horror film The Amityville Murders, which just hit theaters and VOD this past Friday! Coincidentally, Sloths’ frontman Tom McLoughlin is also a filmmaker, having directed more than 40 feature film and television projects, including Friday the 13th Pt. VI: Jason Lives (1986). Exciting!
Visually, “Haunted” features attention-grabbing footage from the movie intercut with newly-filmed scenes of the band playing live; but really, the song is doing most the heavy lifting here. If you love surf rock, but you also love The Cramps, “Haunted” is your kind of jam. The Amityville Murders‘ soundtrack features an additional Sloths-penned track, “Lust,” and both songs appear on The Sloths‘ 2015 debut album Back from the Grave, released by Lolipop / Burger Records. Catch The band live performing at SXSW in March! Enjoy!
My favorite memory involving Jon Spencer (he of the eponymous Blues Explosion) goes back to the time that I was assigned to write a cover story about him for a now long-defunct Rock magazine, whose editors would not allow writers to use the word “that” in any articles. Just being serious. For the interview, I arranged to meet Spencer at a Starbucks in the neighborhood where we both live, assuming it would not be impossible to settle in at an empty table and just chat over the reasonable din of people getting coffee and taking up space. When no tables were free at Starbucks, we attempted to find another nearby restaurant or bar to duck into, but there were no viable options, for some mysterious reason. I then suggested that perhaps we could just go to his apartment that he shares with wife Cristina Martinez, but Spencer said no way in Hell was that going to happen. Lovely. We ended up doing the interview while sitting on a bench in Union Square Park. Whatever. He was a decent interview, and now I have been able to share this fun story with you, so it all worked out.
This brings us to our featured video clip, with Spencer flying solo for “Do The Trash Can” – which was described to me as being “a Molotov cocktail of sound,” so I am just going to go with that. If you are already a fan of the kind of take-no-prisoners, eardrum-excoriating noise rock that Spencer is, dare I say it, the absolute best at churning out, then you will go crazy over “Do The Trash Can.” It’s a Jon Spencer song, what can I say? If you have no previous exposure to this true garage rock legend, consider this a test drive. Your mileage may vary.
Visually, “Do The Trash Can” is a bit of a softer sell, because this video ranks as a Work of Art. “Do The Trash Can” rates up there in the top five or so “most fun to just look at” video clips I’ve featured in five years of running this column. With Spencer dressed up as a vendor of the kind of fast food that you might find at, say, Coney Island, the video focuses on artfully directed images of him interacting with hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, french fries, and pop corn, while also introducing The Trash Can as some kind of minimal dance, and of course playing guitar. This is all presented against the most highly-saturated palette of primary colors that I can recall seeing in a video since DEVO’s “Whip It,” which everyone agrees was ahead of its time. I’m hungry and I want to go to an art gallery, just thinking about it.
As an aside, it has also never dawned on me how much Spencer’s guitar playing sounds to have been influenced by that of the late, great George Harrison. For a point of aural reference, revisit the breakdown in The Beatles’ “Tax Man” and tell me I’m not on to something. “Do The Trash Can” can be found on Spencer’s first ever (no kidding) solo album, Spencer Sings The Hits!, which is out on November 9, 2018 via In The Red Records! Enjoy!
If you’ve spent most of this past week sobbing hysterically and digging deep to find a reason not to slit your wrists, having lost all faith in 50% of humanity, then you might be ready to surrender your abused senses to a video that takes zero effort to appreciate, because it is rendered via the highly accessible medium of Claymation — just like Gumby! Yay! In the wildly engaging (and acid hangover-friendly) video for “Lost My Way” from NYC Garage Rock quintet, Cheena, we follow the psychedelic urban adventures of a tiny yellow pooch who looks quite like Mr. Bill’s dog Spot. Guest stars include a gang of mischievous serpents, a helpful cactus, and a ghost. Oh Boy!
Aurally, “Lost My Way” is mildly spooky, classic 60s-era fuzz-tone punk. What’s not to like? “Lost My Way” can be found lurking on Cheena’s debut album, Spend The Night With, which was released in August on Sacred Bones Records. Enjoy!
I’m always endlessly delighted when I can find an animated clip for the week’s featured video, because it reminds me fondly of watching my favorite cartoons on weekend mornings as a child (though I admit that this mostly took place on Saturdays). Nostalgia! This week’s video, “Sleepy Dog” is the masterstroke of a band called Wand. Directed by Meghan Tryon and Garrett Davis, the visual odyssey of this adorable little black dog comes on like a reined-in version of a monochromatic R. Crumb-induced hallucination. And since we already know that the dog is sleepy, it is pleasing to imagine that his many otherworldly adventures — which include a visit to an art museum — are, in fact, just a fever dream of sorts. There are also enough creepy, nightmare moments to make this choice appropriate for Halloween, which is just a few days off at this point. Nice.
Aurally, “Sleepy Dog” pays homage to the very best of ’60s garage rock psychedelia. Nothing more need be said. “Sleepy Dog” comes to us from Wand’s latest album, 1000 Days, which was released on September 25th, 2015Dragcity Records.
Was it easier to be a teenager in the ’50s, ’60s or even ’70s? I was a teenager during one of those decades and I’d say yes, yes it was easier. And you know why? Because life was just way fucking simpler. Back then, my worst problems were waiting for the latest Queen or Who album to be released so I could get a ride to the record store and buy it before any of my friends, coping with “Busy Signals” when making a phone call in the time before Call Waiting existed and dealing with my stupid parents. Teenagers today probably still have that last problem, but their lives are also infinitely complicated by needing to have the latest technological gadget that fits in your hand, which spawns endless problems in and of itself. Hand to God, you could not pay me to be a teenager in 2014. Ugh.
In this Black and White video for the garage rock rave up, “Teenager,” rock trio The Rich Hands lament about another universal issue — but one that is especially overwhelming to the teenage mind and body – falling in love. Interspersed with live action performance shots from this very fun band, you’ll see vintage (my guess, late 50s?) footage of teenagers dancing, going to movies, tailgating, dressing up for some kind of formal party and, in general, having fun without the obsessive need to look at their smart phones every 15 seconds. If there was any doubt that the featured footage is authentic, I am pretty sure I recognize a young Dick York (the original Darren on Bewitched) at the 18 second mark.
Recommended if you dig the music of The Ramones and Elvis Presley, The Rich Hands‘ new record, Out of My Head, is out May 6th on Burger and Fountain Records. Enjoy!
Proving once again that you can make a big sound with just drums and guitar, The Noise Figures, a power duo from Athens, Greece, bring a sweet rockin’ groove to today’s Video Clip of The Week. I hear a Sixties-era, San Francisco/Garage Rock vibe is this tune about losing one’s mind, and the band’s label, Inner ear Records, seems to concur. They describe the duo’s music as combining, “deceptively simple chords and patterns with hazy walls of feedback” and “Restless fuzz guitars flirting with old-fashioned garage [rock], but also with contemporary blues, amps with plenty of spring reverb and dirty over-driven vocals.” All that sounds right on to me, and I admit it’s refreshing to read a press release that isn’t all full of bullshitty buzzwords and hype. I also liked this recommendation that, “The Noise Figures is best listened loud and is the ideal soundtrack for escaping the urban boundaries by car.” Agreed!
The Noise Figures sing in English-as-a-second-language-stye English and the Asian subtitles are confusing, but you’ll get the gist of the song after just one listen. Hopefully, you’ll hit repeat a few times. Also, if you live in an area where it is currently very cold, this video features the guys driving around in an RV with lots of images of the beach, the desert and swimming pools, so that might make you feel a bit warmer. Find out more about The Noise Figures, and buy their music, at This Link. Enjoy!
Breaking News: Sky Saxon (born Richard Marsh), vocalist and founder of the seminal 1960s Garage Rock band, The Seeds has passed away today, June 25th, 2009, at St. David’s Hospital in Austin, Texas of as-yet unknown causes. The Seeds are perhaps best known for the hit singles “Pushin’ Too Hard” and “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine,” which can currently be heard sound-tracking an Axe Body Spray commercial. Sky shares his death day with both Michael Jackson (who, perhaps understandably, seem to be getting most of the attention) and actress Farrah Fawcett. What a freakin’ day. Rest In peace, Sky.