“The two creatures are playing a game that is ingrained in ancestral blood, and for them, playing this game with no distractions is truly living free.”
In another world, Soccer Mommy would’ve played just days ago to a packed crowd at Emo’s for her May 5 Austin show. Now, she’s reimagining what her visit to Austin might’ve looked like with a new music video for “crawling in my skin” — all in retro 8-bit style, of course.
The video features the pixelated avatars of Soccer Mommy and her band performing on Congress Avenue Bridge. In quintessential Austin style, swirls of bats swoop around the band and flutter into a golden sky while a crowd bobs along to the music. The city skyline appears in vibrant yellow and blue tones that evoke the album art and themes of color theory, Soccer Mommy’s recent sophomore album.
Soccer Mommy is the project of Nashville singer-songwriter Sophie Allison, whose confessional indie rock is at times lyrically reminiscent of ’90s-era Liz Phair and Fiona Apple. Released this February, color theory expands on the pop sensibilities of its predecessor, 2018’s Clean, while still maintaining Soccer Mommy’s guitar-driven sound. The record sees Allison turn inward as she examines her mental health, and bright power chords disguise the harsh emotional truths at the album’s core. On “crawling in my skin,” she details her experiences with sleep paralysis and anxiety, singing “Sedate me all the time / Don’t leave me with my mind.” The track’s catchy hook dilutes the underlying desperate melancholy of the lyrics.
Soccer Mommy was slated for a North American tour this spring in support of color theory that — needless to say — has been postponed. But she’s since found other ways to stay connected with her fans. She does frequent, personable livestreamed sets where she answers fan questions between songs, like who’s her favorite “Buffy” character. (She’s between Spike, Faith and Tara.) Allison brings her own distinct style to her virtual endeavors — take for instance her “Stardew Valley” livestreams where she walked viewers through a session of the farm-themed roleplaying game. An ill-fated “Club Penguin Rewritten” concert initially crashed the online gaming platform’s servers out of sheer popularity, but the second attempt proved successful with Allison appearing onstage as a pigtailed, guitar-wielding cartoon penguin while songs from color theory played.
So, it’s only fitting that the video game trend continues with a music video tour that features Austin and four other cities from the postponed tour getting the 8-bit treatment. On her decision to place Allison and co. atop Congress Avenue Bridge for the Austin video, director Bella Clark said, “I know Austin’s Bat Bridge is kind of touristy, but it’s also for some reason something everyone I know from Austin has brought up at least once.”
As for Allison, she’s been spending her time at home much like the rest of us.
“Quarantine for me has basically consisted of playing video games on my Game Boy, watching “Firefly” and “Buffy” and writing and recording demos. I’ve gotten to do a lot of cooking with my roommates, which is fun,” she said. “I’m missing tour but decided to try and focus on writing and relaxing while I can’t be on the road.” – Sophie Allison
While Soccer Mommy’s spring tour would’ve kicked off right after a SXSW appearance and wrapped up with an Austin show in the final days of its run, the “crawling in my skin” video brings things full circle. The video’s old-school charm may point to the ’90s, but its real nostalgia comes from its representation of a more recent time period — one of live music playing in the Austin night air, bats and all.
— Annie Lyons, KUTX
Austin folk outfit The Deer adds a healthy dose of whimsy to their psychedelic folk with their new music video for “Swoon.” The video follows the dreamlike journey of a woman after she travels through a wardrobe and discovers a lush green paradise hidden just beyond reality. But all is not as perfect as it seems — she’s quickly immersed in the hostility simmering between the combative cat and dog inhabitants of the forest, who all don Wes Anderson-esque animal masks. In a storyline reminiscent of Shakespeare, the tension boils over following the romance of a cat and dog.
The Deer are no strangers to mixing seemingly opposite elements. On their fourth album, Do No Harm, the band blends a myriad of genres — folk, psychedelic rock, dream pop — into catchy and cohesive tracks. Look no further than the song title of “Interstellar Frontier” to understand The Deer’s talent for wistfully spaced out soundscapes with a homegrown country appeal. Synth notes harmonize with rollicking fiddle and mandolin while frontwoman Grace Rowland’s voice floats gracefully above. The band is the creative effort of Rowland, upright bassist Jesse Dalton, guitarist Michael McLeod, drummer Alan Eckert and string player Noah Jeffries.
“Swoon” is the third single off Do No Harm, which was released in November 2019 on Keeled Scales.
Of the track, Rowland said, “‘Swoon’ is a song about what we perceive as opposites — dogs and cats, night and dawn, right and left — and is a metaphor for breaking the cycle of oppression. When we view each other as enemies, we take our eyes off of dismantling the larger structures that control us every day.”
Directors Zachary Scott and Drake Howard brought a playful touch to their vision for the video.
“Swoon has such a strong whimsical vibe. We wanted to match that by creating a world that felt like a dream. We took elements of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to explore the themes of the song,” the pair said. “We have two warring families, one of cats and one of dogs. Our protagonist finds herself stuck in the middle of this conflict, watching two star-crossed lovers be punished for their love.”
The video pulls from these familiar stories and expansive themes but zeroes in on the personal nature of the conflict by showing it through the eyes of a newcomer. Closely framed shots display the protagonist’s emotions, and lingering slow motion adds to the direness of the situation. The bright setting and storybook aesthetic grant a levity to the subject matter, creating a surreal effect for the heroine and viewer alike.
In the wake of SXSW’s cancellation, The Deer will still be playing a number of showcases the upcoming week. The band performs at 2 p.m. during the free Black Fret day party on Thursday, March 19 at Shady Grove. On Friday, March 20, they’ll play at 6 p.m. at Central Machine Works and at 9 p.m. during the Keeled Scales showcase at Radio Coffee & Beer. You can also catch the Deer’s 11 p.m. set during the Nine Mile Records showcase at Beerland on Saturday, March 21.
— Annie Lyons, KUTX
Austin R&B outfit Nané descends into the darkness with a stylishly cool music video for their latest single, “Wolverine.” With seductively haunting vocals and screeching guitars, the track explores a new facet of the band’s Western soul sound, complete with moody black-and-white visuals that revel in the song’s drama.
With only a handful of singles under their belt, the group has made big waves since its inception in early 2019. Frontman Daniel Sahad named Nané for a term of endearment used by his family in the Dominican Republic. The name weaves warmth and a familial spirit right into the band’s funk-infused DNA. He’s joined by Ian Green on guitar, Scott McIntyre on bass, and JaRon Marshall on keys. With a fondness for psychedelic guitars and danceable grooves, Nané’s crafts a richly textured sound, reminiscent of soul groups like Alabama Shakes. But Sahad’s charismatic vocals are the real treat as he moves smoothly from alluring half-whispered falsettos to powerful howls.
On “Wolverine,” Sahad showcases his range over a thrumming bass line as he wrestles with the darker side of the human psyche.
The Moyo Oyelola-directed music video follows a young man forced to face down the mirror version of himself, represented by a twin who literally tethers the pair together, like a scene out of Jordan Peele’s “Us.” The shadow self leads a troop of masked demons, who wreak havoc on the protagonist, shredding the wispy plastic walls of his home with their bare hands and ripping into a grotesque feast while he sits trussed up between them. Marked by his stillness, he seems disaffected by the chaos erupting around him — but there’s a simmering resentment just perceptible in his eyes. Moments of release come with shots of the protagonist screaming underwater, but Nané takes care to let the tension build before reaching a resolution.
“In this video, we watch the internal struggle of our hero as he battles with his demons. They destroy his home, tie him up and celebrate their victory, until our hero finally summons the courage to take ownership of himself and ultimately burn down their playground,” Sahad said. In the final stark shot, the character slowly rises from the ashes and gazes upward, finally in control.
Starring: Hakeem Wortham and Rakeem Wortham
Director: Moyo Oyelola
Director of Photography: Steve Mccord
Producer: Daniel Sahad, Cesar Velasco. In Association with Onion Creek Productions
Assistant Director: Cesar Velasco
1st AC: Nico Paprota
2nd AC: Paola Oliveros
Art Director: Suzanne Wyss and Daniel Sahad
Hair and Makeup: Vivian Stephens
Gaffer: Keaton Loudamy
Grip: Ivan Salazar
Key PA: Rebecca Mendoza
Set PA: Jonathan Gartman, Jesse Rodriguez
Special thanks to Victor and Ingrid Peralta
It’s been a slow, slow burn waiting for more from Flora & Fawna, but the Austin electro-pop duo delivers with a tantalizing new video for “Slow Burn.” The video follows the tumultuous night of a couple pursued by a red-cloaked malevolent spirit. Equal parts seductive and sinister, the nighttime visuals match the song’s woozy hypnotism.
Flora & Fawna melds the creative talents of singer-songwriter Lili Hickman Waldon and producer, multi-instrumentalist Mason Ables into an effortlessly cool electro-pop sound, reminiscent of EXES and Oh Wonder. The pair met by chance while Ables played in a soul band and Hickman Waldon did folk music. They quickly discovered how Ables’ danceable production suited Hickman Waldon’s ethereal vocals, releasing “Slow Burn” as Flora & Fawna’s first single in May 2019. Soon after in Sep. 2019, they were named a 2019 KUTX Artist of the Month preceding the release of their eponymous debut EP.
Self-described as “music that makes your plants grow,” Flora & Fawna’s chilled-out pop feels tailor-made for late-night driving during hazy summer nights. They lean into this imagery with the “Slow Burn” music video, which opens with Ables and Hickman Waldon rushing into a car under a bruised violet sky. Night falls, bringing with it the danger of a ghostly red woman who commences a relentless chase of the couple. Shots of headlights on the dark road and the overhanging moon are cut together with brief moments of tranquility where the pair rests against the car, washed in deep pink hues. But the threat of the haunting specter feels ever-present, an ominous manifestation of the “force you can’t escape” that Hickman Waldon sings about in the track.
Director Kirk Van Sickle felt the song’s sensuality lent itself to a supernatural element.
“After speaking to Flora & Fawna, we both agreed right away that the visual language of ‘Slow Burn’ needed to match the moodiness, sexiness and the looming danger within the song itself,” Van Sickle said. “Inspired by ’80s low-budget horror films, the ‘Slow Burn’ video features our band driving into the alluring night, only to find that a demon has followed them.”
The danger comes slowly until it doesn’t. By the video’s mesmerizing climax of rapidly shifting and double-exposed images, the protagonists’ fate is inescapable, fulfilling the song’s prophecy — “can’t run, it’s too late.”
With their packed calendar for March, you don’t have to wait long for more Flora & Fawna. They’ll be celebrating the “Slow Burn” video with a release show on Friday, March 6 at Cheer Up Charlie’s with Indoor Creature and TC Superstar. Catch them again during a free KUTX live broadcast at the UT at SXSW event at Fairmont Austin on Friday, March 13. The pair is also an official SXSW artist — find more details on their showcase schedule here.
– Annie Lyons, KUTX