Chosen by Monk

The Uber Rock Approved stampIt’s hard to believe that it’s been seven whole days since we last awarded our coveted ‘Video Of The Week’ title, and, despite the ongoing, and some cases renewed, lockdowns in many parts of the Überverse, we are still receiving a healthy bundle of submissions for our coveted ‘Video Of The Week’ title. Many of them are produced against the background of continuing quarantine conditions in some countries, while others reflect artists being able to return and flex their creative muscles once again.

After careful consideration of the 100-plus submissions we once again received this week – and, yes, we did watch them all – our winner sees us staying, more or less, on ÜR’s home turf, as it comes from Northern Ireland troubadour Matty James Cassidy and the title track of his latest album, ‘Old Souls’. The recent C-19 enforced lockdown has actually proven to be a productive period for Cassidy, as the singer-songwriter has written and released two full albums and an EP over the course of recent months: but, then, he always has been a prodigious and productive writer, and not one to sit twiddling his thumbs – at least not without a guitar on his lap!

One thing we always look for when judging our ‘Video Of The Week’ is how well the accompanying clip matches the song itself, and ‘Old Souls’ is a perfect example of how to marry the audio and visual elements together in nigh-on perfect harmony. The song is a darkly poetic and reflective slice of rock ‘n’ roll melancholia, and this is superbly reflected in the cinematic and darkly film noir approach of both Cassidy and photographer/videographer Ronan McGrade, who gave the accompanying video a suitably laconic ‘Peaky Blinders’-style vibe, made all the more evocative by the fact that it is shot in black and white. The video was filmed in County Fermanagh, opening in Cassidy’s hometown of Enniskillen and moving on to historic local sites such as Brookeborough Train Station, which has been closed since 1942.

Matty says of the mini movie: “Sometimes songs play out in your head like short films, picture the scene and imagine the world-weary characters… maybe they are the Old Souls”.

Our first runner-up bears a strong connection to our winning submission, in two ways: it once again comes from a solo artist, the German acoustic country-blues songwriter Jack McBannon, and it is also presented in black and white. It’d also another reflective and deeply personal song, as it tells the story of ‘An Outlaw’s Inner Fight’, with the accompanying video a mixture of live and behind the scenes footage, depicting the loneliness of a sole troubadour on the road (not least of life itself), and a very basic story which reinforces the song’s thematic with the power of its sheer simplicity:

As McBannon himself says of the song: “[It] is a song about inner fears. It’s a song about one’s struggles with life and the feeling of building emotional walls around oneself. And still it’s a song about hope, and it’s a song that reminds you to get up again and fight even in the darkest hours.

Another link between our chosen clips now, as our next video also echoes the theme of loneliness and emanates once more from Germany. But, it’s a complete change in mood, as we switch the generic dial to “metalcore” as Annisokay present their visual interpretation of ‘Bonfire Of The Millennials’, the latest single to be lifted from their forthcoming new album, ‘Aurora’, which is being released at the beginning of December. The video has a dystopian, sci-fi feel to it as it depicts and astronaut returning a much-changed earth, one apparently devoid of people, very much in the style of ‘Le Dernier Combat’, and also reflects the isolation which has been experienced by so many people during the ongoing quarantines:

Another complete change in mood for our penultimate offering, which comes from a band who may be a new name but boast a pedigree that is second to none. The Shang Hi Los formed last summer when Boston stalwarts Jen D’Angora (Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents, The Dents, The Downbeat 5) and Dan Kopko (Watts) paired up to start writing three-minute, pop-and-harmony infused rock-n-roll, drawing on their shared love of ‘60s girl-groups, ‘70s punk and glam, ‘80s new wave and ‘90s indie.  The pair soon recruited the heavyweight backbone of Lee Harrington (last known address, The Neighborhoods) on bass and vocals, and “drummer about town” Chuck Ferreira (Eddie Japan, Lonely Leesa & The Lost Cowboys) to impart the essential “Los”. The video for debut single, ‘Sway Little Player’, links us back to our first two choices, as once again it is filmed in black and white, with film of the four band members interspersed with archive footage of the classic Sixties US pop show ‘American Bandstand’ in a way which perfectly captures the essence of the song, which harkens back to much happier days (sic) with its infectious rock ‘n’ roll groove:

Our final selection this week is worth inclusion just for the brilliant opening section, in which art-punks The Imbeciles reference their recent line-up changes  –we’ve slimmed down from a meandering, vegan, six-member prog rock combo, to a tight-knit, guitar-led, steak-eating four-piece,” says lead Imbecile, Butch Dante – before embarking in all sorts of madness, as Dante elaborated:

“[It] is what you get when a band has too many ideas, no grownups, and zero clue how to actually make a music video. A gigantic helium filled Pink Floyd style inflatable pig competes for the viewer’s attention with a vintage 1960’s Ford Escort, rallied (badly) round a field in pursuit of various band members on Honda dirt bikes. At one point a random Druid turns up, as if by druidy magic, to bless a stone circle, which itself makes a five-thousand-year-old guest turn. There’s a drone (of course). And fireworks (why not?). And a 70-foot-tall scaffolding tower hidden in some trees!”

‘Yes I Am’ is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming new EP, ‘Dissolution Sessions’, which was recorded with Youth from Killing Joke and is being released at the end of the month. The band had originally gone into the studio earlier this year to record a radio session for BBC R6, but that ended up being cancelled because of the pandemic. “We were there anyway so we started riffing on some new songs and everything came together real fast,” says Butch. The result is three new songs and three new versions of tracks that first appeared on last year’s debut album. “The music is still weird; but everything just gets to the point faster. You can hear that energy in ‘Yes I Am’; it’s the sound of a band having fun being creative again after a difficult year.”

Well, there you go. That’s your lot for this week. Hope you have enjoyed the new sights and sounds we have brought to you this week. Until next Sunday, keep ‘er lit, keep ‘er between the hedges and #StaySafe…

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