This was one of those weeks where the best music-related video wasn’t a music video. It was Future Islands performing on Letterman and just fucking going for it. Letterman has already introduced frontman Samuel T. Herring’s dancing as a recurring joke on the show, and I sincerely hope it’s because he realizes that dancing was awesome, not because it was weird or whatever. (We’ll never know; it’s always impossible to tell with Letterman.) This was intense, everything-on-the-line performance, and it was maybe, hopefully, the rare late-night TV performance that actually makes a serious difference in a band’s career. I have this vague idea that Future Islands could be the Odd Future-style Band You Have To See at SXSW next week, and if that happens, that performance will be a huge part of the reason. But I still haven’t started including things like late-night performances in this column, so go ahead and enjoy a column that, for whatever reason, is absolutely packed with punk-identified guitar bands this week.
5. White Lung – “Drown With the Monster” (Dir. Steven Andrew Garcia)
Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to do a music video with nothing but live-show footage. But if the band in the video is one of the best live bands on planet Earth, you might be able to get away with it.
4. The Men – “Pearly Gates” (Dir. Brian Chillemi)
Pro-tip: If you’re making a ’70s-style car-chase movie but you don’t have the budget to film police cars sliding off the road and into ditches, don’t try to CGI it or anything. Instead, just have a cop on a motorcycle give up after the wind blows his hat off. It’s good enough. Don’t skimp on the occult drug sequence, though.
3. Dum Dum Girls – “Are You Okay” (Dir. Brewer)
Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote this, hasn’t cared much about the mechanics of plot since Less Than Zero, so he’s not the one who’s working out of his comfort zone here. Mostly, I’m just impressed that the Dum Dum Girls have been able to conjure something resembling creep-vibes. They’ve made me feel a lot of feelings over the years, but that is not one of them.
2. OFF! – “Hypnotized” (Dir. Chris Grismer)
If you’ve ever been trapped in a conversation with an old punk, you’ve probably heard a story that’s not too far off from what you see in this video. Still, seeing it acted out in front of you, in living color, is the sort of thing that sticks with you.
1. Holograms – “Lay Us Down” (Dir. Mattias Johansson)
I wish these Scandinavian punk bands were bigger on memorable choruses and hurtling abandon, but goddam are they ever great at design and atmosphere.