Top 5 Music Videos of the Week: Boy Epic, Lea Porcelain + more

Outside the sun sends shimmers of heat from the pavement, which form into half-remembered nightmares, delirious hopes, and possible death from the sun. Stay inside with me, and lets watch the best videos of the week.

5. Lea Porcelain — “A Year From Here”

“A Year From Here,” directed by Micki Rosi Richter and Lea Porcelain is a stunning video, but hard to grok. I’ve sat through it several times trying to decide if it’s the ghostly journey of a mother and daughter dealing with a loss together, or the bleak imagination of an orphan trying to will her mother back into existence during her darkest days. Either way, it’s beautiful. Utter beautiful. There is a brightness, and a contrast, and a magic, and a pain. I look forward to drowning in it again.

4. Vallenfyre — “The Merciless Tide”

I get a surprisingly low number of great metal music videos in this column. Most of the truly disturbing stuff is coming from people who rarely speak above a whisper, and that’s not a bad thing, but I do miss an unapologetic scream into the void. “The Merciless Tide,” directed by Ash Pears, is not for the faint of heart. A man (Chris Haris), is trapped in a cell by white-faced figures and is being tortured to death slowly in a variety of inventive psychological ways. It all builds to a gruesome suicide, a hopeless nothing from which any sensible person would turn away.

I watched it three times.

3. Boy Epic — “Trust”

Every Boy Epic video I’ve ever seen sort of looks the same, but it’s in the way every Scorsese flicks sort of looks the same. Every time he shows up on my scream I feel like I’m watching some awesome spiritual sequel to Fight Club in broken pieces, and the result is magnetic. Here, we see Boy Epic live out a double fantasy life as a roguish gentleman of crime dragging his girlfriend through violence and vice, only for the terrifying reality to come crashing at the end. Boy Epic is just walking hypnosis in every movement, and I can’t wait for the next piece of the puzzle.

2. Hippo Campus — “western kids”

There are videos like Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” and A-ha’s “Take on Me” that managed that sweet spot between cutting edge animation that still managed to not be very good and, well, being something we just haven’t seen before. That’s why they have endured even though technology has gotten so much better. I sort of get the impression that “western kids,” directed by Najeeb Tarazi and which seems to take place inside pirated animation software, was sort of going for that sweet spot, and it oddly works. Contrived? Yeah, it kind of is, but the whole time I felt like I was immersed in a musical version of some terribly avant garde yet utterly broken visual experience, much like the video games of Kitty Horrorshow embrace dysfunction as a design aesthetic. The video ends with all the elements being deleted into a bland singularity, and it’s narratively more compelling than 90 percent of the videos out there.

1. Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel — “The Clock at the Back of the Cage”

I am cheating here because this hit the internet back in April, and despite being a huge fan of Edward Ka-Spel IU somehow missed it. That’s a shame because… woah. Directed by Chris Bennet, Christy Louise Flaws and Luke O’Connor (the latter two of whom also star in the piece), “The Clock at the Back of the Cage” is a spellbinding stop-motion fairytale that is so beautiful you forget it is disturbing as all get out. It comes across like Mirrormask by way of the Brothers Quay, and every second of it makes you wish every other music video would learn from it. I haven’t seen an animated masterpiece like this since Erasure’s “Gaudete,” and even that is barely in the same league. Watch this with the lights off, and as Ka-Spel always says, “sing while you may.”

Top 5 Music Videos of the Week: Boy Epic, Lea Porcelain + more syndicated post

Sears reportedly adds 2 Houston-area stores to closure list

Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) reportedly plans to close another 20 stores nationwide, including two in Houston.

Business Insider reports that Sears’ Baybrook Mall location and its store at 9570 Southwest Freeway on the list of closures announced June 22. No other Texas store was on the list.

This is the latest in a series of closures Illinois-based Sears has announced since January, according to Business Insider. Before this latest round, Sears had announced a combined total of 245 closings.…

Sears reportedly adds 2 Houston-area stores to closure list syndicated post

War On Women Take Their Message To Warped Tour

War On Women. Photo: Bridge9 Records

 

In punk rock, the tide has been turning towards the positive over the last decade. Gone is the attitude of bro-ism that once plagued the crowds and fan bases of the pop punk world and has since been replaced with more legitimate punk music and a very aware crowd. Being misogynist, racist, sexist, and abusive is not allowed in punk anymore, and those who lead the charge are doing so with more vigor and awareness than most who came before them. Baltimore’s War On Women is definitely one of the bands that’s leading that movement. Aside from a fiery live show, their message of feminism within their co-ed lineup has become a calling card worth listening and paying attention to. This summer, they’re taking that message to a broader audience when they perform on the Vans Warped Tour. Free Press Houston was more than thrilled to speak with lead singer Shawna Potter about where the band has been, where they’re going, and what they have planned for their Warped Tour appearance here in late July.

 

Free Press Houston: The band has been around since 2011 and you’ve received all sorts of critical praise. Has anything changed since you started?

War On Women: Nothing about our message or priorities has changed. Maybe a few more people know about our band, and as we all know, critical praise does not equal fame and fortune, [laughs] but we’re still doing our thing: playing shows, writing songs, and putting an inclusive feminist ethos front and center. Hopefully we’re always growing and becoming better feminists and musicians.

 

FPH: You’re known for your stances on feminist messages, but you also cover political topics like mass shootings and overall rights. Did you ever think the message of the band would get as much press and as much traction as it has when you started?

War On Women: We weren’t thinking about it like that, honestly. The stuff we’re talking about is important to us and we felt it necessary to get this message out, for ourselves really, knowing — hoping? — that others might find something valuable in it as well. And to be clear, mass shootings and overall rights, as you say, are feminist issues. That’s the thing. Basically any issue will affect women and the LGBTQ communities in a unique way, and that is why it’s imperative that everyone have a say in government and media through representation. Mass shootings are often performed by white men experiencing a kind of toxic masculinity that is rooted in the idea that to be a man is to be as different from a woman as possible, while desiring them — or being confused about not desiring them — and hating them at the same time. If we were to allow men in our culture to experience a full spectrum of human emotion without shame, while emphasizing that women are autonomous human beings who don’t owe you anything, then frankly we’d all be better off.

 

FPH: After this last election, it feels like the country went backwards, and now we’re in a more unsafe and draconian era. Does the message of the band change at all under this administration, or is the goal to just get it out to more and more people?

War On Women: It’s been very difficult for me to think of a “plan” for this band in this new era. I am still waiting for a time when looking at 45’s face doesn’t physically sicken me or remind me of his admitted and alleged sexual assaults. I am certainly not giving up, and one reason we are playing Vans Warped Tour all summer is to get our message out to more people who might not hear it otherwise. While feminism has an actual definition despite pervasive misunderstandings, there are certainly different tactics in getting the message across. I’m happy to play heavier music in front of folks who didn’t show up to see us and maybe try to convert some of the uninitiated.

 

FPH: The last time you played Houston, you played at Walter’s, the city’s most progressive and feminist leaning venue. Did it shock you that the crowd reception was so positive down here in the South?

War On Women: Well, I came from somewhere, right?! I was born in Houston and I’ve spent a bit of my life there, and I know if riot grrl found me in junior high before the internet was in every home, then of course it’s possible for people to find progressive, female- and queer-friendly music now. I was super excited to meet all the young women in bands or who want to start bands, and to see everyone singing along, it was a beautiful thing!

 

FPH: Your last album came out well before all of the negativity that the last election has brought upon the country. For your next release, what do you have planned and will you focus it more towards this currently tone deaf administration and those who voted for them?

War On Women: Again, I can’t even look at 45 and I don’t wanna even talk about him. I don’t know if I’m looking more forward or still in a weird state of shock or denial or what. I’m still processing it personally. So that is certainly affecting me. It’s also not very easy for our band to create and respond to events in “real time,” it’s just not something we can handle logistically or financially, so that leaves us with either writing a record that is immediately dated upon it’s release, or trying to touch upon themes at least that are bigger in scope than specific current events. Or a healthy mix of both, but the shit hits the fan too fast and in too great a quantity to keep up these days, you know!? I’m trying to just let my creative process do it’s thing at the moment.

 

FPH: I caught your Houston and Sound On Sound dates last year, and I found your show to be a mix of sonic assault, fevered energy, and community based message. For those who’ve never seen the band before, what should they come to expect from you at your Vans Warped Tour appearance?

War On Women: That’s high praise, thank you. I mean, if everyone felt that way we’d all be in good shape, I think! You know I try to put myself in the shoes of everyone attending, and at the core I would really love people to truly understand that there is no one way to be a woman. And if women can be different, can be individuals, then that implies that we are human and deserve respect; we’re not just play things to be ogled at or abused. And if me and Sue feel free to be ourselves on stage, maybe those watching can feel free to be themselves as well. We’re not rail thin, we have cellulite, I have bacne and bad teeth and stuff, you know? We are middle class and white, so we have plenty of privilege in life, but as far as getting on a stage and asserting that we have a voice that deserves to be heard, and we’re not asking nicely, and we don’t look like models? I think that is something every girl, queer, and trans kid should see, so they know their voice deserves to be heard, too. Just as important, boys need see that every girl, queer, and trans kid’s voice deserves to be heard, so I guess it’s good that Warped is letting them in this year [laughs].

 

There’s nothing tame about a set from War On Women, and as a guy who’s seen them more than once, they definitely will make sure that their voices will get heard when they perform. You can see War On Women at this year’s Vans Warped Tour. The all ages event will be in Houston on July 30 at NRG Park. With gates at 11 am and tickets between $41.50 and $51.50, the tour has plenty of depth this year with sets from Candiria, Bowling For Soup, I Prevail, Riverboat Gamblers and many many more. Discounted tickets are available from these Journey’s locations while they last as well.

War On Women Take Their Message To Warped Tour syndicated post

Acid Angels in Arizona: An Interview with Body of Light

Body of Light. Photo: Kaleb Marshall

 

In recent years, when Arizona’s experimental music realm rears it’s head, you are met with an entirely new world of talented individuals creating something enviable that artists are tracing their lines around. In steps Body of Light, a synth duo comprised of Alex and Andrew Jarson, two brothers that helped solidify the emerging Arizona music scene. Body of Light exhibits style and power, with swelling synths, the throb and peal of electronic drums surrounding hungry, searching vocals, further showcasing tracks that could surely be a staple of dancehall nights for years to come. Free Press Houston exchanged words with the Jarson brothers prior to their performance at The Secret Group on Friday.

 

FPH: Last time you were in town was a bit over a year ago with High Functioning Flesh. That was a fun show, and seemed like a promising tour with label-mates. This time around, you are visiting with Black Marble and DRAA, two bands I personally have been enjoying very much recently. Incredibly solid tours back to back. How has the tour been so far?

Andrew: It’s been a blast. Every show has had great crowds. They always seem to be very energetic, and we’re a pretty energetic band so that helps the shows in the long run. Black Marble had already been on tour for I think 20 something days before we met up with them in NYC, and it can be awkward starting a tour like that, but we had an amazing sold out show in NYC and that really set off the whole tour. Chris and Oliver from Black Marble are truly great guys and we’re blessed to tour with people we get along so well with.

Alex: We’ve been having the best time in the world. Nearly every show has been packed with people and the crowds have been very responsive to both bands. That’s all you can really ask for. We love touring with Black Marble. They’re amazing people and I’m kind of bummed we only have like 9 days left.

 

FPH: Alex, we met in 2013 and you gave me a few Body of Light (or Bodi of Light) cassettes, as well of other written works of yours. Older tracks like “Wayside City,” which were catchy dirge-pop hits, could have remained a lifelong direction, but then the LP Let Me Go comes around and seems to have realized a clear path for the band. Was this a natural evolution, or is this something you eventually wanted to work towards?

Andrew: I’d say it was certainly a natural evolution, we actually wrote Let Me Go not too long after we put out the Limits of Reason tape in 2014. I’d say the biggest difference between the two is that we had the intention of having the LMG tracks mixed professionally, and the songs did go through some gradual changes during the time between it’s released. Once we got Ben Greenberg on board to mix the record, the songs really took shape into something we had wanted them to be from the start. We had already envisioned Let Me Go as our first real LP, so he brought it to a level, to a platform that we felt we could build on as a band from here on out.

Alex: I’m very conscious of when I’m writing the same thing over and over again. We’ve never been that kind of a band. So when we went into writing this album, I wanted it to be different. We wanted high energy tracks that came off in a powerful way, especially live. But I also wanted it to feel hollow, yet emotional to the listener. Ben really helped push us to mold these tracks and I’m really grateful for his input.

 

FPH: Mentioning earlier your written works, you are both heavily involved and helped create Ascetic House, an incredibly influential creative collective that has produced some of the most noteworthy music of the past few years. How did it all begin, and do you still have the same creative input as you did before?

Alex: It starts much earlier than the name, you know? We were all going to shows, like anyone else involved in underground music. Eventually, people moved and things felt like it needed a bit of a push. We all got a bit older and wanted to have some influence with our output. We came up with the name, I think, in 2011. We released music we enjoyed and really pushed ourselves to grow and learn. The creative input is still the same. If anything, we have more control now as it expands.

Andrew: I moved to Tempe in 2009 and lived on Alex’s couch. I was making music constantly at the time on my Akai 16 track recorder, usually in the corner of the room that I had made into my little makeshift room, if you could really even call it that. I was pretty socially awkward at the time — I was 18 and I had gone to punk and hardcore shows with my brother for a while before then, but hardcore was never my thing at all, and I never really met anyone or anything like that. So I felt maybe like a bit an outsider. But moving to Tempe, I got the chance to see these amazing punk and indie shows at these great DIY spots like The Manor, Yobs, Eastside Records, etc. and I met all these great people like Danny Pupillo, Nick and Steve Nappa, JS Aurelius, JR Nelson, and way too many others to reference. We all realized we lived within blocks from each other, and as we started forming all of these bands with each other, and seeing so many amazing acts, that was really how Ascetic House naturally began.

 

FPH: Translating from being a part of the punk community, Body of Light puts on a very entertaining live performance, and utilizes an intriguing aesthetic. I know Alex used to carry a leg bone with him on stage while performing, which is great in my book. Tell me a bit about that.

Andrew: The bone era was about right when I joined the band. So I had seen him perform as Body of Light and understood what the performance was supposed to be. I never wanted to distract from that, I found my way to provide support and let him do his thing. His performance evolved from there on out, and at the same time so did my stage setup and the structure of the set.

Alex: I found this bone in a field and for some reason, I thought it would be fun to perform with. I would hold it in the air as if it was an instrument of its own, or a wand. I was experimenting a lot with my surroundings then. The idea of mortality was becoming ingrained in my mind. I think that idea terrified me and having that with me gave me a sense of peace. It didn’t matter. On stage, we were the ones who had control. When I felt like it was the right time, I threw it off the stage at a show in New York. It shattered into a million pieces. I still have a small fragment in a box somewhere.

 

FPH: Both of you are involved in solo experimental electronic projects (Memorymann, Blue Krishna, etc) and seem equally capable behind the gear. Has there ever been a shimmer of an idea to try performing a track with your positions swapped?

Andrew: Body of Light is a collaborative project, It’s not like I’m the songwriter and he’s the singer/lyricist. Sometimes he will write the basis of a song and I will give musical input, and sometimes I’ll help out with lyrics or vocal melodies. Just because we have roles on stage doesn’t mean we need to follow them in the long run. Not sure if I would ever do lead vocals at this point, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. I’d love to do some backing vocals sometime, which we’re working on in practice. It’s that natural blood harmony, you know?

Alex: Yeah, roles are always changing. We have plans for him to get on vocals, perhaps on the next record. I’d like to play more live, if I ever stop running around on stage.

 

FPH: Besides the musical influences that stick out almost immediately from listening to your tracks new and old, what else in the creative world influences you for songwriting, performance, recording, etc. 

Alex: There’s just too many bands and artists to name. I’m mainly influenced by the people that are close to me. Sometimes it has nothing to do with sound at all. Someone could do something and it produces a thought. The sound just comes from the emotion behind it. I’ve found that touring and traveling in general influences my music the most.

Andrew: Some of my biggest influences in terms of production from the past come from the Modern Soul and Funk world, like Terry Lewis & Jimmy Jam, Prince, etc., but I also love the pop productions of Scott, Aitken, & Waterman, Bobby Orlando, and Freestyle bands of the past. Stuff I love to listen to on the radio. As far as modern influence I really like the recent releases from Danny Wolfers/Legowelt, especially the Smackos stuff. I’m also a huge fan of some of our friends work, such as Glochids, High Functioning Flesh, and SURVIVE.

 

FPH: The LP from Dais made it’s way across quite a few 2016 Best Of The Year lists. I’ve seen great tours and shows showcasing you as well. What is next for the band?

Alex: I love our last record a lot and it’s really exciting to see how much it’s been listened to. We got to go play in Japan, tour the US twice, and meet so many amazing people. I never expected anyone to care, so it’s a huge blessing to be able to do this with my life. We’re going to finish this tour and jump into writing a new record. I think it’s time.

Andrew: I’m really excited to write when we get home from this tour. We have both got a lot more gear and production equipment since the last record, and I spent a lot of time building up my studio to work in a very hybrid ITB/OTB way. We’re also planning on some tours and have even bounced around the idea of adding another live member to the band. So there’s a lot on the table and we’ll see where it takes us.

 

Catch Body of Light at The Secret Group on Friday, June 23. The night will include Brooklyn’s Black Marble headlining, with DRAA from Tempe supporting. Pick up a copy of Body Of Light’s LP “Let Me Go” on Dais Records from the band, label, or local vendors Deep End, Wired Up, or Vinal Edge.

Also, catch up with the sonic innovations of Ascetic House at www.ascetic.house

Acid Angels in Arizona: An Interview with Body of Light syndicated post

Boomers are pumping up prices — and rents — for vacation homes. Here’s where Galveston ranks nationwide

There are opportunities to be had for people looking to invest in a vacation home — especially for those looking to rent the place out when they’re not using it.

But investors should move sooner rather than later, analysts say. Between the booming stock market and the nation’s shortage in housing inventory, demand for vacation homes is expected to increase. Click through the slideshow to see the most expensive vacation spots in the country, based on average rental rate.

Galveston’s vacation…

Boomers are pumping up prices — and rents — for vacation homes. Here’s where Galveston ranks nationwide syndicated post