YouTube is famous for making temporary stars out of regular folks with a clever idea or a yen for the spotlight. But people aren't the only ones to achieve minor celebrity in viral videos. Out of all of the creatures in the animal kingdom, cats seem to be the most Internet-savvy when it comes to fame.
Madison indie-rock project El-Tin Fun taps into the nation's cat fancy in a video for its brand-new song "Cactus Flower and the Willameans," a track from the forthcoming album Sunburned Skeptics.
While other musicians might go for a video featuring slick shots of their band onstage or attractive actors enacting a story to a song, El-Tin Fun's approach to video-making is similar to their music-making: It's pretty low-tech and very D.I.Y., but the resulting imperfections highlight the quirks and foibles of human behavior. The music has a bit of a '90s-era Yo La Tengo flavor, but the visuals demonstrate something even more modern, despite their raggedy, retro look.
The video has a Blair Witch Project-style camera shake at the beginning, but if you can endure motion sickness for a few seconds, you'll begin to understand why the band paired their song with footage of their pets. The cats seem to represent the emotions that most people hide when they're upset about conflict, especially conflict with a loved one.
As a cat bats a ball around a circular track, trying to free it, it's hard not to imagine conversations that go round and round with no resolution, or glimpsing a quality in another person but being unable to fully extract it. As the cat hides in a cavern of blankets, he embodies despair, or the desire to run and hide when the going gets tough. And when he sits on a Hammond organ, making a dissonant sound, he seems to represent the anxiety about musical ability that most musicians conceal.
The cat isn't just a cat; he's an emissary of candor, a representation of the unexpressed.
More music and information about El-Tin Fun are available on its BandCamp, Facebook and MySpace pages. The band will play "Cactus Flower and the Willameans" and more from Sunburned Skeptics at its release party at Mickey's Tavern on Saturday, September 25.
MadTracks highlights songs performed by local musicians. All content is provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.