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8.19.14: The Last VJ’s Top 5 Music Videos of the Week

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Welcome to The Last VJ, music fans! There’s some local love this week, and the one and only Katie Herzig is back with her new offering. Also, I finally get a rap video with some real visual substance, and that’s always cause to celebrate. Put on your phones and listen up, now.

The Ugly Beats, “Bee Line”

Let’s start the week with something fun. Filmed right here in Houston, “Bee Line” is part of a fundraising initiative of the no kill pet rescue SMART Rescue. The organization is looking to spread the word of on an upcoming fundraiser this October, and to that end enlisted various pet owners and the Ugly Beats.

It’s a hell of a good effort, too. A little cheesy, sure, but nicely and sincerely done. We get to watch a cat named Cleo turned into Cosmic Cleo Super Hero and drive around town in a swinging ‘60s catmobile like a combination of the Electric Company and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Plus, after watching this I totally think more people should animate the statue on the Telephone Museum as some sort of Houston oracle.

Octave Minds, “Symmetry Slice”

Octave Minds is the Marvel Team-Up of Boys Noize and Chilly Gonzales, and if the video for “Symmetry Slice” is any indication it’s going to be a fantastic match. Rolf Bremer is one of my favorite music video writers and directors currently working today, and here he takes the soft, haunting instrumental music of Octave Minds and leads us through something as beautiful as a Michel Gondry film.

The video stars Emilie Kara and Sabine Bremer as two halfs of the same girl. One languishes in a white room where everything has the consistency of crumpled up fine stationary. It’s like living inside an Emily Dickinson poem, until she lies down and begins to dream. Then we see another aspect striding through a bright colorful world as a titanic goddess, bringing light and towering across the land until she passes back through the dream veil.

It’s sheer loveliness, and a prime example of what a great modern music video can and should be.

Katie Herzig, “Drug”

Katie Herzig’s last video, “Walk Through Walls” is one of my favorites of all 2024 so far, so I had some high expectations when I saw that she had a new one out. Sadly, “Drug” isn’t as good, but it’s still a pretty solid effort.

This time Herzig is part of a high school gym class where she and a collection of misfits are teamed up to dance with each other. I will say this about Joel Kling’s direction and set-up; he did perfectly capture the groans of exasperation school kids make when a dance day is announced at school.

Eventually, of course, everyone gets into it and there is a nice round of happy weird choreography. It’s amusing, and Herzig’s music is always good enough to pull off any video, but I do sort of miss the deeper spirituality of “Walk Through Walls”.

BLKHRTS, “Wrath of God”

BLKHRTS is a great example of why I don’t often think highly of rap music videos. It has nothing to do with the music. BLKHRTS kicks nine species of ass whichever way you look at it. The problem is presentation. Rap videos that explore a visual narrative are extremely rare. Mostly it’s just the group rapping in front of a place they like.

BLKHRTS finally edges closer to something more cinematic, and it give some hope because I like this group and want to talk about them more. They go the full nine yards on capturing the style of their nihilistic flow on screen, with a true dedication to exploring all the ways they can take death and religious imagery to drive home their point of destruction.

They’re joined by a woman than dances in and out of a black mask as an angel of death illustrating the end of life in a masterful interpretive performance throughout the video. It’s a good effort all around. Let’s see if they keep on driving towards their masterpiece.

Mirel Wagner, “The Dirt”

We’ll go out on a sad note this week. Mirel Wagner takes the director chair alongside Aki Roukala to create a dark, despairing look at rock bottom. We see a mom and her daughter, or possibly two sisters of greatly different age, living their lives in a rotting cabin full of broken furniture and windows. Like most of Wagner’s music, it’s skeletal and cold, but possessed of its own strange beauty.

The only thing not decaying in the video are the girls themselves, immaculately clean and pretty amid the wreckage. However, this is just Wagner messing with us. As the song says, “You can’t eat the dirt” and pretty soon we’ll be the dirt ourselves. So it doesn’t matter how much you love each other or how you try to rise above your circumstances, we’re all just going to be the mud that needs scraping off the bottom of our descendants’ shoes regardless.

I think Wagner should try watching My Little Pony sometime. I know I need to after seeing this.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.