Seen your video. That phony rock and roll.

But the Replacements got it partially wrong, because their videos were great, only cementing my nascent love for them. A stereo speaker, in b&w, for the duration of “Bastards of Young,” and then a foot smashes it? Four guys sitting on a sofa, some wandering off, for “Alex Chilton?” I was sold. I was seeing something. A lack of packaging, which is possible in video, cancels phoniness.

A lack of packaging can sometimes recreate that Moment, late at night, when a television’s weak speakers ape the AM radios of my car-ferried youth and bring a song right into the room, especially if the images are right. Sometimes I tune into NYC TV’s New York Noise if I’m lucky, and I was last night: Amid Adam Green’s annoyingly unfunny hosting (although his Jessica Simpson song is slightly amusing) I caught a video for this track:

Human Television“Tell Me What You Want.”

Two scruffy guys, unlflatteringly photographed from the neck up, pose next to each other at an 130 degree angle, singing the only two lines of the song, without moving much more than their mouths. Unkempt hair, acne. The chorus consists of no words, only gigantic, marching guitar and drums and a pretty second guitar melody above; it’s the setting for the only other cut of the video, to a black and white but blue-washed portrait of a unique (to say the least) looking young woman mouthing unheard words into what might be a fuzzy secuitry camera outside some building.

I can only compare my delight to seeing a video for Teenage Fanclub’s “Star Sign” at 3 am the night before I left for Europe in 1992; or seeing “Silver Rocket” in high school on a public access channel somehow, or seeing the abovementioned ‘Mats videos. Human Television’s EP All Songs Written By: Human Television doesn’t live up to those classic standards, of course; in fact, the rest of the songs are nothing like “Tell Me What you Want.” They’re good, but quick, worst when they evoke tired and inevitable comaprisons to Arcade Fire or Talking Heads or Voxtrot blah blah frikking blah. At their best, they remind of something from the Patron Saints of Teenage comp, or Felt, or Orange Juice or, like on “Tell me What You Want,” a lost Ultra Vivid Scene single from their early 4AD days.

They’ve got a new album arriving May 2, but I’ll stick with this song for now and maybe forever.


11 thoughts on “Seen your video. That phony rock and roll.

  1. The HTV album is brilliant, I think you’ll love it when you hear it. The best part? They bury the highlight (i.e. the single) as the penultimate track, this unshakable, hooky confection that sounds like the best song the (unfortunately named) Masters of the Hemisphere never recorded. The vocal style is a little uneven throughout–always good, but a bit amorphous, very MotH one second and all Dean Wareham-y the next–but apart from that inconsistency this is going to be glorified for all the right reasons.

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  2. funny what ddz said about the Dean W. influence. I saw Human Television on a blog devoted to Luna or Galaxie 500. The vocals remind me of early feelies or early teenage fanclub, but just a notch less catchy. the indie world has needed such output for awhile. time to pray to the indie gods and give thanks.

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  3. Funny too about the Luna influence. I don’t hear it, especially not on the other songs. But yeah, it’s a nice burst of fresh air, no? See where some healthy hate brings us?

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  4. The greatest videos of all time:1. Minutemen – “This Ain’t No Picnic” – Their band could be your knife … wait … that’s not right … or is it?2. Husker Du – “Love Is All Around/Makes No Sense at All”3. Shane – “Ride” I have no idea where these guys came from or where they went. The song is pretty good. The video is great. They’re falling all over the place in a junkyard. Only seen twice on 120 Minutes.4. Pavement – “Stereo” – I cracked up when the puppet said “I know him, and he does …”5. Replacements – “Bastards of Young”6. Young Fresh Fellows – I forget which song it was, since it was only on once, but it was from their best album, <>This One’s for the Ladies<>, and <>the entire band was playing drums<>. Awesome.7. Beastie Boys – “Fight for Your Right to Party” – the only worthwhile thing Tabitha Soren ever did, unless she sucked my dick once and I somehow forgot about it.8. Replacements – “Alex Chilton” – They just didn’t give a shit.9. Pixies – “Velouria” – A version played only once on MTV that consisted of a three-second clip of them jumping from behind some rocks. The clip was stretched out in slo-mo to three minutes. Excruciatintly boring, and a great piss take.10. Duran Duran – “Girls On Film” (unedited version) – We all tried to catch a glimpse of this on HBO. Why is this on the list? One word: BOOBS!

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  5. You have to consider all Judas Priest videos now. New context for all that leather. And oh – “In the dead of night, love bites.” Does it Rob? Does it really? And don’t forget that video that Friday Night Videos used to play by some unknown band that had Japanese guys in three piece suits shooting laser beams from their hands at each other. Lemonheads’ Mallo Cup video was pretty good. He’s really outside her house at 3 am.This Ain’t No Picnic is the best video ever made. Ever.

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  6. You have to reconsider Judas Priest’s entire career in light of everything … including the arrest of the drummer for molesting a crippled kid.I think everyone at least had an idea about Halford before he actually came out. He wasn’t all that subtle about it. Like that kid in school who you hear is gay years later and you say, “Ooooh yeaaaaah. Of course.”I hear, in all seriousness, that the latest Judas Priest record is pretty good.

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