No creators of filmed entertainment enjoy the same kind of creative latitude that animators do. Filmmakers who shoot live video must work with the images their cameras capture. The animator is limited only by his imagination. Denver folk-rock band Milquetoast & Co. have always made music that invites flights of fancy: conventions have never constrained them, and the artists who’ve shot their gorgeous music videos have always had similar temperaments. Yet Milquetoast has never released a pure animated clip before. Until now.
For “Hummingbirds,” the group’s enchanting, theatrical new single, Milquetoast & Co. has joined forces with animator and visual artist Brendan Huza, winner of Genero TV’s “Director of the Year” award. Huza is a young artist, but he’s already developed a distinctive visual style that plays with dimensionality and texture and the immense expressive possibilities of paper cut-outs. Huza has worked with an impressive array of musical artists, including Aretha Franklin, Alanis Morissette, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Bingo Players. A Brendan Huza video is guaranteed to be visually striking, emotionally evocative, and, once seen, tough to forget – and his clip for “Hummingbirds” is a perfect example of his approach.
“Hummingbirds” follows Kashmir The Great, the 2019 EP by Milquetoast & Co., and the project that established the quintet as one of the most innovative acts in the Colorado indie underground. The set, which streamed upon release on IndiePulse (“as diverse a record as they come…. gripping both physically and emotionally”), fused pop and narrative folk with cabaret jazz, New Orleans R&B, and quite a bit of progressive rock, too. “Hummingbirds” builds on the success of the Kashmir EP, heightening the sense of drama, raising the stakes, and, with its shimmering, string-drenched, waltz-tempo arrangement, pushing the band into thoroughly haunted territory.
The clip for “Hummingbirds” is a dark fantasy, too. The focus is on Brendan Huza’s distinctive paper cut-out characters, forlorn, fragile, and malleable amidst a palette of browns and blacks. A man assembles an image of a woman by gluing scraps of photographs together on a blank bedroom wall. When hummingbirds burst through her paper body, she springs to life, much to the amazement of her creator. Yet he’s the possessor of a dark spirit that hovers over him – one that jeopardizes his freedom. Engaging, rich, spooky, and rewatchable, the “Hummingbird” clip is a perfect synthesis of the animator’s provocative vision and the band’s experimental sensibility.