Part of the solution
I hope you are all keeping well out there in Lockdown Land, and I hope by now that at least some of you have been contacted by the NHS to arrange a date for your first innoculation. The covid numbers this week are frighteningly bad
Vaccines give us hope for a way out of this, but we've also got to stop spreading it. Lockdown is hard, very hard, but we have to decide if we want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Wait a minute, wasn't that a lyric from the song "Solution" by the Scottish Oxford band "Dallas Don't" who played at Klub Kakofanney in 2013?
Dallas Don't is an unusual name. I wonder if maybe they grew up around Loch Dallas, in Moray, or is it because they cite the Welsh band Mclusky as an influence on them, and the name is perhaps a play on the title of Mclusky's 2002 album, "Mclusky Do Dallas"?
Whilst Mclusky was well known in the hardcore pop scene, less well known is that after the band broke up, two of its members formed an equally dynamic group called Future Of The Left. They've made some stylish and thought-provoking videos, but I especially like this one, "Sheena is a t-shirt salesman" where the frantic action really emphasises the music. The movement is a supplement to the music, not a distraction from it.
The title of that song, "Sheena is a t-shirt salesman" is, of course, a variation on the Ramones song name, "Sheena is a punk rocker", the first true punk song I ever heard. Did you spot that the first banner in the video was a poster for a Ramones t-shirt?
Memories of Saturday nights
So many gig venues have black backgrounds, and so many musicians like to dress in black when they play there. Studio videos have more leeway for creativity and, when it is used properly, a featureless white background can really emphasise the movements of the performers. Here is a video from a Shantel, a German musician who does Balkan-flavoured songs, and this one, "Disco Boy", is a reminder of life before social distancing.
I like the way that video is so up close and personal, and the way the "dad dancing" contrasts with the fluid movements of the woman in blue.
Memories of tomorrow
There was a band from Japan, called Chocolate Chip Cookies, which is variously described as a Jpop band, or an emo punk band, but to be honest it is very difficult to find out anything about them. I know they started out in Tokyo circa 2007, and this is the opening track of a 2011 album called "Laugh Loudly (Keep On Smiling)". It is another example of a plain white video with pastel shades, but this time with a dark bridge in the middle.
Most of the other tracks on that album are listed in English, but this track is titled only in Japanese. I think it translates as "Tomorrow's Memories", but I am not sure, and I have no idea what the lyrics are about. It doesn't really matter though, music is music, I like the track, I like the energy, and I like the sentiment of the album, "keep on smiling".
It's not a place in time
Sick Of Sarah was a band from Minneapolis. They came to the UK about 10 years ago, on a shoestring budget, playing in small venues around the country and building friendships and memories, but I don't think they ever appeared in Oxford. This track, "Kick Back", is my favourite, and again they are playing in a white sterile void.
To me, this is a great example of a music video where the images and the timing of it really helps you focus on the music. I still get goose bumps watching that video. Or is that because the heating has switched itself off?
Find your inspiration wherever you can
I hope this is giving you some musical inspiration, helping you while away the lockdown hours, helping you think about different approaches to your music and how you could present it. Please keep yourselves safe and healthy, keep a safely-distanced eye on your friends and neighbours, and look forward to the days when we can gig again.