Saturday, November 9, 2013

Video of the Week: Yoshi Tanenbaum

Yoshi Tanenbaum's skill is surreal. The fact that the flick on his laser was perfect nearly every single try and he stuck all but maybe two attempts is incomprehensible. Making something so gnarly look easy enough to just run up and go for it like Yoshi did is beyond impressive, and then landing it twice in a row (what was wrong with the first one?) takes the cake for me.

For time constraints I will just list some other sweet videos from this past week:
Chaz Ortiz and his insanely consistent and buttery backside flips at the Berrics
The Expedition flow bros are extremely skilled
Always enjoy some new Josh Anderson footage, in this case via his Mag Minute
The ever-beautiful varial heelflips and variations from Willow in this Etnies feature
Moose's first pro truck via Thunder Trucks
Sweet new part from Aussie Jack Fardell
Always love some raw VX footage from one of my favorites, Walker Ryan
Connor Champion skating very poppy with this Quartersnacks remixed part
Loving the New Balance team lately, especially with edits like The Second Narrows
Waters and Army welcomes Marek Zaprazny with this awesome video part (fakie nosegrind switch tre!)
Introduction to Zero's Cold War video (so pumped to see it this week!!)

Best Music for a Part: Honorable Mention

While I've give my top 5 already for best musicians/bands for a skate video part, there are so many more that have worked well in past parts. Here's a rundown of some other good musicians worthy of mentioning:
(there are plenty more usages of the artists' songs, but these are the video parts that stood out most to me with the specific music)

Cass McCombs:
          "What Isn't Nature" - Jason Dill in DVS's Skate More (here)
          "Sacred Heart" - Jerry Hsu in Enjoi's Bag of Suck (here)
          "I Cannot Lie" - Dylan Rieder in Gravis' dylan. (here)
          "She's Still Suffering" - Chima Ferguson in Real's Since Day One
Explosions in the Sky:
          Many songs in Toy Machine's Good and Evil (here)
          "Catastrophe And The Cure" - Luis Tolentino's Recruit at the Berrics (here)
          "The Birth and Death of the Day" - Intro to Fallen's Road Less Traveled (also in Wednesday's with Reda with the hero shot)
          Many songs between Brandon Westgate and Jeremy Leabres in Emerica's Made Vol. 1
Notorious B.I.G.:
          "The Fog" (with 2pac) - Dave Vaughn in DGK's Parental Advisory
          "Friend of Mine" - CJ Tambornino in Flow Trash (here)
          "RIP Tribute NU Sound Remix" - second song for Walker Ryan in Focus Group (here)
          "Let's Get it On (Dirty Harry Blend)" - Antwuan Dixon in Baker 3 (here)
          "Juicy" - too many edits to count, but this one for example
          "Everyday Struggle" - Lucas Puig in KAMH (here)
David Bowie:
          "Moonage Daydream" - Moose in the Deathwish Video
          "Five Years" - Marc Johnson in Girl/Chocolate's Pretty Sweet
          "I Wish You Would" - Lucas Puig in Lakai's Fully Flared (here)
          "Big Brother" - Wieger Van Wageningen in Nike SB's Chronicles Vol. 1

Best Music for a Part #1: Beirut

Beirut's songs alone really don't naturally associate themselves with ideas of skateboarding, yet when their songs are used in video parts, the skating elegantly comes alive. I wouldn't ordinarily listen to most Beirut songs offhand, but now that I have the visuals of some pretty great parts connected to the songs, I love being carried away by the music into those very video parts. Beirut's style is particularly hard to put into words, especially as to why they make video parts so special. I'll leave it at this: the skating becomes extremely graceful, the vibes are relaxing for the senses, and the skills of the skaters are brought out by the memorable melodies.
Joey Brezinski's part in Cliche's Cle (above) was the first time I'd ever heard a song by Beirut, so when Joey specifically asks Junior during the opening conversation to check out a song, my interest was peaked. Moving from the dialogue to the video part as "Carousels" starts playing, you can already tell that Joey's wild manual combos and energetic style would fit well with the song. The main tune for Carousels is extremely catchy, making me want to pull up Joey's part again and again at the most random times simply to appease my craving for Beirut-edited skateboarding. One clip that sticks out for me is at 2:14 where Joey does a fakie manual kickflip to switch manual down a kinked pad to the singing of "It's a long way down..."
Before Stevie Perez blew up with Chocolate he came out with this part in Good Luck to Beirut's "Vagabond". The slow intro is fitting for both the song and the edit, and then the somewhat syncopated tune repeating in the background keeps things very up tempo and happy-go-lucky for Stevie to casually get a lot of tricks in with his quick feet and have fun while doing it. Stevie's make-everything-look-easy style also works rather well with the smooth song and keeps you craving more of those buttery lines from him.
One song that is high in my iTunes rotation from Beirut is "The Rip Tide" because it was used in Mark Suciu's Cross Continental, which is easily in my top 5 favorite video parts overall. The opening piano keys and old film capturing techniques settle you in for a great work of art and at about 0:44 unleashes the aesthetic energy when Mark properly lands bolts on a switch backside kickflip down a set. For the rest of the use of "The Rip Tide", every trick Mark does is technically impressive in some way or another (you know, classic Suciu) but with his insane control over his board and body, he oozes an incredibly smooth style that could not fit any better with the song. The trailing note on the trumpet as Mark ends his Washington DC line from 1:51 with the fast back tail gap out leaves your brain running through everything that just happened but wanting so much more of the flawless skating at the same time.
Lastly, looking at The Philadelphia Experiment again, the zoom in on the flowing LOVE park fountain about 4 minutes in together with the introductory chimes of "Payne's Bay" from Beirut provide you with the perfect mind state to witness a very appealing piece of videography, while engraining tricks like Ishod's front heel over the LOVE plaza garbage can into your head.
It helps that the lead singer of Beirut has a voice that will throw you into a trance of focusing on the skating. Not only that but the sheer intrigue behind all of Beirut's songs keeps you wanting more after you finish watching the skating that goes with it. Whatever mysterious aspect this is just works and I don't mind one bit.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Best Music for a Part #2: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

When you look at the number of skate videos that have used songs by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (who I will call ESTMZ for short here) on, the long list is quite stunning. But there's a reason for the madness (pun intended as Kenny Hoyle will explain) because ESTMZ simply produces great music for skate videos. Mixing qualities that make videos memorable and epic at the same time, the music makes you feel happy while watching the skating but excited too for the trick progression throughout the part.
If I remember correctly, the first time I heard ESTMZ was the heavily-used-in-skate-video song "40 Day Dream" through Addie Fridy's Mag Minute. The part came out a good 3/4 years ago I think but The Skateboard Mag re-released it this year. What caught me off guard was just how many bangers Addie kept coming out with, even in the quieter verse of the song. The slo-mo's near the end of his Mag Minute matched the hype from the good-feeling refrain and the double-take on his nutty ender goes hand-in-hand with the double-take on the final words: "Ohhh oh, I could die". (What's crazy to me is that while this part is pretty old by now, for these day's terms, it's still super gnarly. I'm surprised Addie is just now coming up on flow with Expedition.)
My second experience with "40 Day Dream" was through RVK's Younited Nations entry to the Berrics a few years back. But the defining video part for this song would be Kenny Hoyle's turning pro part in Expedition's Madness. The introduction as Rob Welsh leaves Kenny in the dirt to shovel out his first pro model is ideal: short enough that you don't start begging for the skating to be back, funny with the solid acting from the Expedition crew, and meaningful enough to the unleashing of the new pro. Kenny's few stomps on the dirt patch covering his board cue the fade in of the music, which slowly amplifies to Kenny's opening line of buttery ledge tricks. The first "Ahhh-ah!" at about 1:38 is timed out perfectly with Kenny's line in that clip: a sick flick on a nollie tre and a cruising no comply together build up with the music and then unleash with a huge frontside half cab flip at full energy. The held out "yeahh" at 3:55 on the varial heel across the long Chinese street gap works really well. But probably my favorite clip is right after when Kenny switch heelflips into a manual and the music momentarily is silent, suspending the suspense perfectly only to have Kenny switch 360 flip out! That culmination of excitement was too awesome so that every one of Kenny's following bangers is just made that much better. The quick cut to black after his ender and the short cut off on the music also leave that stunned feel as to what just went down.
ESTMZ's radio-popular song "Home" was featured in Lakai's Am I Am feature, with Vincent Alvarez, Riley Hawk, Raven Tershy, and Daniel Espinoza. The song was the last song used and goodness did it do a great job of closing out the video. The skating by these four dudes was heavy (enough to have 3 of them be pro by now, and arguably Riley should be as well) and "Home" created that really epic feeling with every trick going down.
Walker Ryan skated to ESTMZ's "I Don't Wanna Pray" in Organika's Grow With Us. The very beginning seemed rather quiet, but as soon as the upbeat tempo starts, you just want to start snapping your fingers along with it. It helps that Walker keeps it playful with his first few clips: 180ing into a bus after landing his grind and cruising along a sick DIY bank spot and even skating some tree branches. Walker's positive attitude shows through his skating and this song could not fit better to bring that out. The whole part takes his great skating and leaves you feeling impressed and happy at the same time. When the song quiets down again at about 2:58, it highlights all of his pretty crazy manny tricks. It brings in feelings of amazement that all work up to Walker's insane switch backside flip over the bump to bar ender. Satisfaction completely guaranteed by the experience.
Lastly, with one of the most epic video parts in recent memory, Andrew Reynolds skating to ESTMZ's "Om Nashi Me" in Stay Gold (see above). The introduction fills you with pure joy: visually Reynolds skating around his backyard and playing with his daughter is complemented by the song's cheerful introductory chords. So as soon as the music builds up from the intro and Reynolds frontside half cab flips Carlsbad, you know the part's going to be magical. The song provides that really epic video feel as all the tricks are going down. After he nollie noseslides a gnarly rail at about 3:08 and gets the elated high five from Herman, the music calms down a tad. At this point, while watching Stay Gold with my friend for the first time, we literally remained speechless with our eyes glued to the screen watching legendary spot after legendary spot be crushed. The music matched the compilation of tricks in a way that left me with feelings of pure awe. And when Reynolds kickflips the UC Davis gap at the end, the final melodies from "Om Nashi Me" make the kickflip feel like the battle has been won and celebration is in order. Exactly how an epic video part should conclude.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Best Music for a Part #3: Fitz and the Tantrums

There's something about the music that I've heard from Fitz and the Tantrums that simply stays in my memory. The skate videos utilizing their music were all filled with great skating, but nothing in particular that would keep me daydreaming about those parts (such as Westgate's street annihilation in Made or Guy Mariano's technical NBDs in Pretty Sweet). Yet the upbeat songs and good selection of mood changes, for lack of a better description, allow for full-on enjoyment of the video parts.
The first time I remember getting hooked to a video was with Fitz and the Tantrums' "Moneygrabber" in Kenny Hoyle's Madness Bonus Part (above). Kenny's style and trick selection is easily one of my favorites but despite getting used to watching his tricks again and again, I just had to keep rewatching this video so I could repeatedly experience the huge bump to bar heelflip as the percussion dropped. And right as the first verse starts Kenny comes out with a sweet line that keeps the excitement going while maintaining the soothing vibes from the quieter music. Then the switch back heel at 0:50 perfectly times the slow motion with a new underlining sound for the music as it builds back up. Another reason why I was so intrigued by this bonus part and the song was the strange skip at 1:32 that I knew felt out of place at first. Regardless, after wanting to hear the song in full, I would always picture Kenny's great skating when I thought of this melody.
Now most people probably know "Moneygrabber" from Mike Mo's part in Pretty Sweet, which I must say was an instant favorite of mine in great part because of this song. The clever ground-stomping intro as the song fades in depicts Mike Mo's effortless skill all too well. It's cool to see when that first verse comes in (which apparently is the beckoning for the first line in the video part), Mike Mo takes it back to the ledges we know him for. And then at the first major swell for the chorus, he comes out with a pretty surprising switch nosegrind fakie front 360 shove out at a green schoolyard ledge, which sticks out clearly in my mind. Same thing happens when the next chorus comes around: Mike Mo starts off a 3-trick downhill line at a school that he also skated in Fully Flared with a fakie big heel, flawlessly following that up with his impossible late flip, and finishing the line down a nice set of stairs with a gorgeous frontside flip. And at the part in the song with the 1,2,3 count-ups, Mo's trick selection gets rather crazy but is amplified by its pairing with the song for what is my favorite segment of his part.
More recently, Fitz and the Tantrums had their song "L.O.V." featured in Bones New Ground for Trent and Trevor McClung's shared part. Throughout it all, the song is very upbeat and brings out the positive mental attitudes that the brothers have. While showing off their impressive abilities they appear like they're having fun in the process, which is helped by the song. I like Trevor's 5-0 into the long, steep bank at 15:00 because his rolling away speed wobbles match the singing of "tryy-yy". Just a little gimmick that helped me enjoy the part even more. And directly after, the timing of the drums (leaving and then entering) for Trevor's switch big flip down Carlsbad couldn't have been better, as the epicness of the trick is made to stand out. Then at the end as the music slowly fades out, the saxophone solo cordially invites the two bros to a free-for-all of heavy tricks...and they accepted.
Just like in the other parts, Josh Anderson's part in Organika's latest offering of Grow With Us is really made  memorable because of the Fitz and the Tantrums' "Hey Mr. President". The first few piano chords as Josh ollies over the manhole cover and powerslides down the street are extremely inviting for the viewer. The split second of silence when Josh locks into his 360 flip nose stall at a popular ditch around the 4:00 mark acts as a moment for the viewer to catch their breath out of surprise at a pretty rad trick on a rough bank. On top of that, the chanting of "Hey!" and "Ooh!" work well as solid moments for Josh to comfortably stomp his tricks down throughout the part; they also happen to emphasize his slam around 4:42, but it all adds to the likeability of the part.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Best Music for a Part #4: Future Islands

A lot of types of indie/rock music seem to work rather well in skateboarding. Whether it's the beats that tricks are landed to or the memorable melodies that climax with a banging trick, something about this genre brings out the right vibes in a skate video. One band that seems to have a solid collection of video parts is Future Islands.
I first remember hearing Future Islands through Austyn Gillette's awesome Unlimited part last year (above). As soon as images of Austyn's travels start popping up with the opening beat and entertaining jingle of "Tin Man", you're instantly captivated. From the start, as the part was advertised to be, you can tell that the next 7 minutes are going to be a visual journey simply from the tune and the visuals. (To add to that, Austyn came out with some pretty incredible skating as well, which is why this part turned out so great all around.) The first major change in chords around 1:56 accompanies Austyn's super long front board very well: "as time goes by..." so does Austyn sliding along the rail. The rest of the part is extremely well-edited and keeps this very appealing theme throughout it all, the music keeping you in a trance as Austyn smoothly and powerfully skates by.
Now the first time most people probably heard of Future Islands was with their song "Balance" through this part from Jason Park. Creativity, style, insane board control, etc. You name it, Jason Park has it. If only this guy could continue producing footage like this in the skateboarding spotlight. Personally, I first heard this same song in Lakai's "A Postcard from Paris" feature. Much like in Unlimited, the song works well here with the beautiful scenery and adds to the well-edited piece. Between the spots and the skating from the sick Lakai crew, Future Islands knows how to bring out the cheerful vibes from videos like this.
While browsing the many videos online over the past year or so I came upon this clip of Steve Stinson skating in his hometown park in Mililani, HI. The edit was to Future Islands' "Close to None" and again works very well. Some cool editing effects and very solid park skating from Steve are made very graceful and majestic with the song's melody and consistent bass.
Also, Joey Brezinski dropped an incredible part for Cliche's Bon Voyage this past spring. (Unfortunately I think all videos of that part were taken down from the internet.) Not only were Joey's manual combos and lines yet another step up from his last part, but the whole part exuded a positive feeling because of Future Islands' "Vireo's Eye". It's a very upbeat song and complements Joey's constant flipping in or shove-itting out of manuals and such. Bon Voyage as a whole was definitely well-edited (shoutout to Boris Proust!) but this was a stand out part for sure.

Best Music for a Part #5: John Lennon

John Lennon has some very laid back music, ideal when it comes to certain styles in skateboarding.
Take Madars Apse in DC's Where EU At? above for instance. Madars easily has one of the best styles in the game with his natural lankiness that translates into very fluid-looking tricks. He oozes creativity and a sense of having fun while he skates, which matches up perfectly with Lennon's "Oh Yoko!" I especially like the part where the harmonica comes in around 2:50 right as Madars nails an enormous ollie into a bank from one of our dreams. It's also pretty cool how a quick cloud/skyline clip is shown with "in the middle of the clouds" at 2:07 and Madars pops up bobbing his head right on with the beat. The entire part, from Madars style to Lennon's cheerful song, is really feel-good; it's inevitable to start smiling when this part is playing.
John Lennon also has "Watching the Wheels" in Nick Trapasso's part in And Now. It's hard to think of any skater more laid back than Nick, so pairing this super chill song with his lazy yet gnarly skating is a soothing combination. "People say I'm lazy...dreaming my life away" appears to be a very accurate outside view of Nick. It's like the song was recorded specifically for this part. The 3 drum beats right around 3:26 with the surge in the music and the slow-mo'd switch frontside 360 add just the right amount of hype even with all the calming vibes from the part, as oxymoronic as that sounds. And the last few clips or so are as if Nick's listening to John saying "...just have to-oo let it go-oo", stomping down some serious bangers without even trying.
John Lennon's laid back music fits right with Madars' and Nick's easy styles, but it also works very well with The Boss in his part in Baker has a Deathwish, as Reynolds casually drops hammers to "Whatever Gets You Through the Night". Lennon's count-up at the start (of the song anyway, after the initial Baker hijinx clips) sets up Reynolds for his bolts fakie flip to kick off the happy music. At the first chime in of "whatever gets you through the night", Reynolds switch tres to switch manual at nighttime with the spot lit up from nearby lampposts it seems. For a trick I haven't seem much from Reynolds, he literally does whatever gets him through the night. The rest of the part feels very jolly as you watch The Boss demonstrate his master flick. And it's also pretty cool that at 3:16 I believe Lennon says "STOP!" but it sounds way to close to "STOMP!" to be a coincidence. Because Reynolds most certainly stomped that nollie inward heel (not to mention popping it unnecessarily high) down that set.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Next Week: Best Music for a Part

Skateboarding is primarily documented through video parts. Over the years, progressive and impressive skating has kept video parts new and exciting and has cemented favorite skaters in people's minds. But more often than not, it takes a meaningful or invigorating song to make a video part be truly epic. This week I'll go into my top 5 favorite musicians that have worked extremely well in making some video parts more than just a bunch of skate tricks but a wholly memorable experience.

Video of Last Week: Rodney Mullen TEDxTalks On Getting Up Again

There were a great deal of solid skate videos this week, but I must give top honors to Rodney Mullen's recent TEDxTalk. Even though the video came out prior to this past week, I didn't see it mentioned until this week and it is just too critical of a video to pass up mentioning.
Rodney has to be one of the brightest people on this planet. Finding enough physical and mental strength to progress any physical activity like Rodney has with skateboarding is already a feat in itself, which explains the whole industry behind professional athletes. But it takes a truly brilliant mind to pick apart at that psychological/physical teamwork to express the process behind doing what we do as skaters. I'm sure everyone's had those instantaneous fleeting thoughts right before you pop a trick that result in the board being kicked away and busting yourself, and just like Rodney said, you tell yourself that you're not going to do that the next time. I believe Rodney called it a "cognitive override" when he referred to getting back up again just to conquer the trick. His ability to put into words the evanescent thoughts that fly around in our heads to analyze skateboarders like no one else has before is remarkable. Personally I really enjoyed hearing him discuss skateboarding as a language, which is a relatively common connection, but going further to describe how "environmental components" shape our "physical dialect", a comparison I've never thought of before but really do admire now.
Rodney has intellectually conquered his body to the point of knowing his limits when it comes to ripping apart scar tissue, and through that has converted his physical setback into the most legitimate switching of stance possible for skateboarders. At least, that's what is currently considered because who knows what skaters will accomplish ten years from now...much like how Rodney established that learning tricks through others is merely learning that tricks are possible after being materialized from some innovative skater's thoughts.
I have boundless respect for Rodney and this video captures a lot of the reasons why he is one of my greatest inspirations.

On a more standard level of skateboarding videos, this week had a nice dosage, so listed below are some videos worthy of views:
Pat Rumney and Taylor Kirby's shared bonus part in the Deathwish Video, spawned after this week's welcome video for Pat onto Supra Footwear.
JP Souza full video part via Thrasher
Dashawn Jordan's pretty crazy raw clips
Alex Schmidt's exclusive part for The Skateboard Mag
Bert Wootton's Sequel video part

And last but not least, congrats to Sammy Winter for turning pro for Cliche! I love the whole Cliche squad and Sammy is definitely one of the sickest underrated dudes out there. Also in honor of Sammy turning pro this week, we have a short film by the one and only French Fred, Sammy's remixed part by Manolo from Bon Voyage, as well as his original part from the Cliche vid.