Godzillionaire, ESAI, The Epitome, and more of the best local music videos

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Let’s be honest: there are only so many episodes of Forensic Files you can binge before your conversations stop sounding hypothetical. The question, “You know what these people keep doing wrong?” no longer comes across as quizzical, but more like preparation, and your significant other’s sidewise glances are more than a little bit tinged with alarm.

In that case, here are a bunch of joyous performances with which to switch up your viewing habits. There are entries for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest, vintage live performances, a few actual music videos, and — because I think it’s a law or something — one quarantine-themed cover song.

True Lions, “Wind Flirter” 

The first of several entries into NPR’s Tony Desk Contest comes from the indie-pop talents of True Lions. Not only do you get the core foursome, but there’s also Adee Dancy on cello and Aryana Nemati on saxophone. It’s a big-sounding version of the band’s “Wind Flirter,” found on True Lions’ most recent EP, You’re Not Invited, which we were lucky enough to premiere back in November.

You can snag the studio version of “Wind Flirter” on True Lions’ You’re Not Invited EP, which is on Bandcamp.

Ebony Tusks, “Gang Signs” 

The collective known as Ebony Tusks brings one hell of a banger, and a unique take on the “perform behind a desk” aspect of the Tiny Desk Contest in this performance of “Gang Signs.” As a bonus, it’s a teaser for the group’s upcoming Heal_Thyself LP on High Dive, which — if this cut and “HDF” are any indication — will blow your mind clear out your ears.

Boys Life live in Kansas City, MO 1996 

Kansas City’s Boys Life briefly reunited in 2015 when Topshelf Records reissued their sophomore LP, Departures and Landfalls, but other than that, the quartet has been pretty much broken up since 1997. Kansas City record shop, Recycled Sounds, has been closed since 2007, making this live footage of Boys Life playing at Recycled Sounds on October 20, 1996, something of an amazing time capsule on two fronts. If this piques your interest, check out unARTigNYC, the YouTube page run by Kevin Zelko, for an absurd number of live videos from Kansas City’s mid-’90s heyday. In addition to multiple performances from locals like the Get Up Kids and Coalesce, there are hardcore shows from the Daily Grind featuring such punk rock luminaries as Avail, Quicksand, H2O, and Neurosis, among many, many, many others.

Godzillionaire, “Exit the Succubus / Bankrupt, Naked, & Void” 

One of only three actual videos in this month’s roundup comes from Lawrence heavy rockers, Godzillionaire, with a very woozy video for the first cut off their new album, Negative Balance, which we reviewed early last month. Filmed in frontman Mark Hennessy’s living room back in February, it’s a trip.

You can snag Negative Balance on Bandcamp.

Jessie Bear, “Nars” 

I never knew that there could be a song which sounded like a folk-punk version of INXS’ “Don’t Change,” but damned if the electronic loops backing up Jessie Bear on this live, outdoor version of “Nars” doesn’t capture that feeling perfectly. Their entry for the Tiny Desk Contest sees traffic whizzing by in the background of what would otherwise seem to be out in the country, nice complimenting the organic-meets-electronic feel of the track.

“Nars” can be found on Jessie Bear’s self-titled album, which is on Bandcamp.

Good Saint Nathanael, “Hands Held Together” 

We spoke with Nate Allen last year when he released Hide No Truth, and this marks the first new music we’ve heard under the Good Saint Nathanael moniker. Shot “via social distancing” in Swope Park by Kerry Burrow, this Tiny Desk entry doesn’t feature an actual desk, but it does feature artist Dylan Mortimer’s Open Spaces installation, “Tree, Broken Tree,” and that’s way cooler.

ESAI, “Be Fine” 

EASI’s new single, “Be Fine,” is essentially an R&B love song, but as a thank you to all the front line workers out there. It’s flipping brilliant in concept and execution. While it does feature quite a bit of the singer sitting in a room all by his lonesome, there are some really phenomenal shots of an empty Kansas City, as well as stills of many of those out there doing the big work.

You can donate to the CDC Foundation here.

Chuck Mead, “I Ain’t Been Nowhere” 

Over the years, Chuck Mead has recorded a slew of classic country tunes, both on his own and with his former act, BR5-49. Reworking the Hank Snow classic, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” for the quarantine era sees Mead taking it all seriously, but with just enough cranky old man energy to keep you smiling. It’s charming as all hell, and certainly beats “My Corona.”

Amira Wang x The Epitome, “Big Bawdy”

The Epitome’s next full-length, Nerdy Niggas Trap 2, won’t be out until August or September, but it’s going to be worth the wait. We got a sneak peak listen last month, and it’s as chock-full of bangers as you’d expect. For those looking for a taste, the Kansas City rapper dropped a video for the album’s collab with Amira Wang last week, and it is everything and has everything. It starts out with a shot of someone drinking Crown Royal from between a pair of twerking cheeks, and just goes from there. An “artistic representation of being completely comfortable with who you are, no matter where you are,” “Big Bawdy” is beautiful.

Are you a local musician with a new video to share? Email nicholas.spacek@gmail.com to pitch it to our music editor!

Categories: Music