Just ahead of their first ever gig (this Friday in Sydney folks!), we get another video release from Green Buzzard, I Oh You’s new boys. It’s a Tobias Jesso Jr cover, which actually says a lot all by itself. For a start, it’s a cover of something that’s about five minutes old, which is entertainingly tl;dr. It’s also an interesting one in possibly unintended ways – Jesso’s appearance onto the scene also owes a lot to his friends, connections and the fact his label is part of the giant indie dinosaur that is the Beggars group. Just as Jesso delivered a Tonight Show appearance before the album arrived, Green Buzzard are getting traction through one of the smartest and most internet-savvy release strategies I’ve ever seen through I Oh You.
I’ll bang on about that separately, but for now we’ll just focus on the music, which is confusingly terrific. While Jesso’s original is sparse and stripped back, with frequent use of silence in between the distorted electric piano and his plaintive voice, Green Buzzard take this as their starting point and promptly douse it it lashings of rhythm. Your initial reaction will be to reference Oasis – the arrogant strut of the Gallaghers is imprinted deep here, but behind that (which let’s face it, is just too shallow to last long these days) lurks something a little icier, something a lot cooler, and something a damn sight better.
While I struggled to place the exact 90s reference I was looking for on their debut release ‘Zoo Fly’, I think I might have been looking in the wrong place though, the common factor I’m starting to hear is in the earlier warp and hiss of the Jesus & Mary Chain – which is infintely better than beating yourself up for liking something that reminds you of Oasis.
The video itself is all 35mm and VHS (viewers of a certain age will particularly appreciate the bits when the tape is paused, fuzzy lines and all), kind of following the sailors through a slightly demented tourist tour of what looks like 70s and 80s Los Angeles. The cop cars are boxy, the colours are blown out, the restaurants and diners look both hip and tragic all at the same time.
It’s often ham-fisted direction to directly reference the topic of the song in the visuals, but it’s done in a way that slightly bends the mind and sparks a thought or two here. It’s like The Cure’s classic “Jumping Someone Else’s Train“, the video for which was a Go-Pro like first-person view of a single train sped -up journey – by making the visuals completely familiar, part of the fabric of TV & film culture, it makes you instead focus on the lyrics and the delivery, which takes you to a different place in your head than does a video with strikingly new visuals.
It’s clever – but if I’m right about this band, little they (or their label) will do in the coming months will be stupid.
See you at the first show, yeah?