Monday, January 6, 2014

Things Are Different and I Hate It - Sea of Knives by Brice Woodall

Recently I've been thinking. My doctor told me my medication would prevent this, but apparently I haven't been taking enough. What have I been thinking about? The past. Specifically when I was in college. I think everyone feels this way, but I think a lot of the world has changed during my life. I think this pegs me as some sort of curmudgeon, retrogrouch, or premature old person, but maybe I am.

This new year's eve I was taking a bus and there was a group of people on that bus. Since they were audibly excited about going to a bar I have to assume that they were all 21 or younger. Everything they said made me want to ride my Rascal back there and tell them to get off my lawn. I hate it when people who are young (like me) say they are old, but I guess we all hate ourselves sometimes.

Anyways, these are the changes I've been thinking about, and all of them have to do with electronics:

1. When I left for college, cell phones were a thing that a few people had. Suddenly, though, everyone had them. This meant that it was no longer possible to make specific plans with people because they would just "call you when I get there". Gone were the days of meeting in front of the statue of Nixon at 7:25 AM.

2. During college I sent exactly 0 text messages and received about 3 of them. While I was still in college younger kids showed up who texted all the time. You would be talking to them and they would be texting. They would walk out of a class and immediately text someone. Those phones that you turned sideways to access a keyboard were really popular. Who were they texting and what were they texting about? I still have no idea.

Man, I'm terrible. I recently told my aunt that I was thinking I should get on Twitter but didn't really understand it. When did this happen to me? Am I going to start complaining about kids who don't pull their pants up?

3. Everyone started buying Ipods. Before this everyone had to use either Disc- or Walk-men (mans?) using either regular CDs/tapes they bought from a store or homemade mixes. You were forced to listen to an album or consciously create a set of songs that function like a homemade album where the songs were supposed to be listened to in a certain order. Because Ipods can hold a bunch of songs pretty much everybody bought one and started listening to their entire music collection on shuffle at all times.

None of these are particularly bad things. They are just changes. I don't think any of them ruined America or even a different country that wasn't already ruined.

That third change, though, had a big affect on music. Before you would choose what music to listen to. Now you just hit shuffle and if something comes on that you don't like you go to the next randomly chosen song. Also, people started to listen to music more. You might just be walking to the store, but you'd listen to music at the same time. This meant that we weren't so much listening to music as creating a soundtrack to our lives. The music we wanted to hear was no longer the best to listen to, but the best reflection of whatever we were doing or whatever emotional state we were in.

It's not a surprise that shoe gaze had a resurgence in popularity at this time. Shoe gaze is the perfect soundtrack for a hungover college student walking to class. Shoe gaze is brutally boring, of course, and if you sit down and try to listen to it while doing nothing else you will kill yourself after 3 minutes. That doesn't matter anymore because of Ipods. Musicians can create what is essentially background music and know that people will enjoy listening to it while walking around.

(Note: I understand that this sounds extremely judgmental and that I am basically saying that the type of music I like is the real deal and type of music other people like is bullshit. Oh well. I'm under the impression that bloggers were supposed to be dicks all the time, so that's what I'm doing.)

What does any of this have to do with music videos? Isn't Another Flavor a music video blog? Yes! One of the reasons I love music videos is that it matches well with how I prefer to listen to music. I like to just sit there and listen to the music. Music videos force you to pretty much do that because you have to listen to the music and look at the video. Your eye and ear senses are fully engaged. I guess you could distract yourself by touching animal fur and then trying to guess the animal (do NOT attempt this with live bears), but most people wouldn't do that. You just sit there and watch the music video.

This actually creates a problem for those musicians who specialize in this background-type music. How do you make a music video for a song that isn't supposed to be interesting by itself? Let's find out.

Sea of Knives by Brice Woodall (who I believe is from Chicago):

First off, I do not want to say this song is bad. It really isn't. It just isn't my style. I feel like the chorus is too similar to the verse and the vocals are so processed that you can't hear any of the words. That's fine, though, because the song is supposed to make me feel a certain way. As a result, the visuals in the video need to provide more content than a video normally needs to. You can't just follow the story of the song because the song floats along with very little content. In this case, a whole narrative is concocted:

There is a prison on an island.

In said prison there are some prisoners.

Aren't their outfits a delight? They are wearing old timey prison stripes and hobo hats. The man has a suspiciously well-kempt beard.

They try to escape! They crawl through the barbed wire.

Incidentally, "razor wire" is pretty much the only recognizable phrase in the song. From what I call tell the first line of the chorus is, "We can mingle with the crowd," but that is only after watching the video 5 times.

Since the prison is on an island they have to swim for freedom.

A man in a biplane drops bombs at them.

They land in paradise.

This freedom might actually be death because it seems a bit too ideal. Maybe this song is about how the only freedom we can ever find comes from leaving this life. Maybe the guy who made the video just really likes sunflowers.

This narrative is actually kind of perfect. It is easy to make a music video's story too confusing (just check out this video by Camera Obscura) or too complex. This story is very clear and is the right size for the length of the song. Also, using animation plus people in front of green screens lets this video be mildly ambitious with a presumably small budget. The video also looks very good as a whole.

This video does exactly what a video should do, which is make me like the song more than I would without the video. Awesome.

Join me tomorrow for another edition of Twosday here on Another Flavor!


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