Video Review – The Big Sleep's "Ace"

A low-budget video with cool lighting and shots, this video highlights the awesome tension and release of this guitar-driven indie rocker.

While the Big Sleep released their video for “Ace” in January 2012, I first came across the band only recently through Spotify‘s ‘Discover’ page.  This first single off Natural Experiments is a powerful indie rock song about defiance.  The music builds toward a heavy chorus that just explodes, while the lyrics and singing have a calm assertiveness that is hard to deny.

A very simple video accompanies the song, but it is aided by good editing and use of lighting. Set mostly in a barren warehouse, the musicians play and shove each other around while flashing lights shine in sync with the music.  They use big bright floods of light and a quick strobe light to illuminate the quick cuts.  They also use a constellation lamp which ties in to the lyrics about “what’s the right way”.  The video uses footage traveling down “the high road” during the chorus as well.

For more of the Big Sleep, check out “Valentine,” which is a bit of a departure from “Ace.”

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Art Appreciation – Josh Marshall for the Ghost's This Pen is a Weapon

This Pen is a WeaponGreat music reveals new layers and insight with each listen. Great art can do the same with each observation. For the Ghost‘s This Pen is a Weapon, both are true. The band enlisted artist, long-time friend, and past collaborator, Josh Marshall, to create artwork for their second album (He also created the art for This is a Hospital).

Marshall uses black pencil and water color to create images blending human and plant forms. He renders these organic shapes in carefree strokes, allowing for drips and spreading color to add to the natural texture. The cover features a complex and beautiful image of a woman with a deep hole in her chest surrounded by the blooming pedals of a flower.  Her hair flows out and her cracked face is darkened while the lines flow through her wound.

Inside the insert, two images show a seed sprouting roots and one plant entangled with another.  The jagged leafless branches of the first plant signifies this may not be mutually beneficial.  There is no human elements to either, but the blossom of the tangled plant resembles an eye.

Inside the tray card, a hand reaches out from the long leaves or pedals resembling a flame.  It is not clear whether the image is of growth or death. Perhaps, both. On the back of the tray card, another flower blossoms forth in all directions like an explosion.

The artwork is one reason why I keep coming back to This Pen is a Weapon — originally released in 2004. In a frame hanging on my wall, the album’s promotional poster catches my eye and reminds of it’s great music.  Each hand drawn/painted image is unique, though not necessarily illustrating a narrative.  The abstract ideas linking the growth and death of humans and plants parallel the grand scale of these epic, progressive post-hardcore tunes that mix acoustic and electric elements.

Feel free to check out more Art Appreciation posts or e-mail me suggestions for artwork you’d like to see in a future post. And if you like these posts, consider buying my music.

Click ‘Continue reading’ to see album artwork. Continue reading “Art Appreciation – Josh Marshall for the Ghost's This Pen is a Weapon”

Video Review – Rival Schools' "Used for Glue"

VIDEO (Source: RivalSchoolsVEVO)

Rival Schools – Used For Glue


“Used for Glue” was Rival Schools first music video for United by Fate (2001). As an eighteen-year-old who just discovered post-hardcore music and wished cute indie girls would notice me, this video instantly struck a chord.  Yes, the single-chord  opening riff had me.  The song is very groove-oriented, but the lead guitar riffs balance nicely on the beat.  The singers slightly raspy voice is matched in intensity by his gaze into the camera.

Visually, almost everything in it seemed within the realm of possibility.  The band and crowd were nodding and bouncing to the music at a t-shirt-and-jeans-kind-of house party. No spinning leg kicks. No outrageous makeup or lights.  Even the main characters in the music video were slightly-above-average good looking in an endearing way.  There’s skateboarding, too.  This setting could happen — Rival Schools could play at my buddy’s house and some cute acquaintance would end up making out with me after a few semi-awkward encounters. Easy.

What’s cool is that instead of just straight filming, these encounters are heightened through brief slide-show-like scenes.  They are very simplistic and direct — “you just need to see this, this, this, and this” all to the beat.  The slides even have Instagram-esque frames almost a decade before that application came out. Another cool special effect is the flash bulbs in the tree at the end — just a cool touch.

For a more recent video, check out their first single from Pedals, “Shot After Shot”.

Click ‘Continue reading’ to see lyrics.
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Washing Away Recording Sessions

Washing Away in StudioThe second EP from Washing Away has been a long time coming.  The songs have been written, but there is more to recording than that.  These songs needed another perspective and more polish.  Not like a shiny coat, but a layer that pulls out the best qualities — more emotion, the right instruments, bigger moments.  Lewis has been in the studio with friend and Shock + Audio engineer, Andrew, since the Spring of 2011.  Along with Andrew’s former bandmate, Steve, on drums, they’ve come together to make a great collection of songs. We’ve posted pictures below of the recording sessions.  Here’s hoping for great 2013.       Continue reading “Washing Away Recording Sessions”