“It’s just one of those days, I can’t stop thinking about you…”
It’s been an awesome time for great Australian artists that I respect the hell out of climbing the charts. Horrorshow and Dead Letter Circus both debuted in the top 5, Rüfüs of all bands took out #1 last week and this week’s top position belonged to Boy and Bear. I’m certainly not going to claim to be someone who’s been with this band from the very beginning, but I did see them when they played the tiny stage at Homebake back in 2009 after winning an Unearthed competition when they were but a four-piece. It’s been nothing short of impressive watching Dave Hosking and co. continue their ascent from therein. They make smart, sharp and harmonious folk rock. Is it groundbreaking? Not particularly. But they’re certainly not trying to be. They are what they are, and they’ve worked hard enough and put in enough into their craft to earn my respect and appreciation for their work.
The other week we had Mr. Tim Hart, the band’s drummer, vocalist and – in my humble opinion – the heart and soul of the band (pun intended) as a guest on the blog. When introducing his pick – Junip‘s Always – he said the following which I found quite interesting.
For me, when I look at film clips, I like to see something new and fresh, rather than the age-old band performance clip.
That’s something that has definitely been achieved here in the second video to be lifted from the band’s Harlequin Dream album. The entire thing takes place in slow-motion, which might cause some degree of dizziness or even inertia. Lock into the right headset, though, and you can immerse yourself in this simple yet alluring town street. A beautiful young woman walks by herself, leered at by two hoons roaring past – well, as much as one can roar while in slow-mo – in their wagon. At first, she ignores it – which is completely understandable. It’s never worth giving dicks like them the time of day. There comes a breaking point, however. When it comes, you’ll know. Oh, how you’ll know. It’s such a plain – even minimalist – concept for a video, and I’m happy to admit that it’s one that potentially could not have worked. I’m even happier to admit, however, that they’ve made this one work really well.
“I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black…”
When you think of Nirvana in terms of music videos, there’s some pretty obvious imagery that comes to mind. The janitor, the anarchic cheerleaders, the laugh-face-into-serious-face, the Ed Sullivan ripoff. But how many of you think of a crucifixion? A little girl in a white cape? A huge woman with all of her organs showing? Not many of you, I suspect. And yet, these are all clear images in my head – especially on a day like today, in which we take a look at my favourite Nirvana video; as well as potentially my favourite Nirvana song. A winning combination indeed.
Working with Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, the extensively detailed and occasionally disturbing video treatment – as created by Kurt Cobain himself – came to life in a way that few outside of that immediate circle could have expected. Yes, there were throwaway performance moments tied in, but it was the 90s. It was the thing. Authenticity and all that. Actually playing the song and what have you. That’s not the important part – the important parts come with the dark and confounding imagery that surrounds the clip. It’s almost like an entryway into someone’s nightmare, particularly when staring down that freaky Jesus. Another interesting aspect is the girl in the Klansman outfit, who spends part of the second verse leaping to grab a plastic baby that’s growing on a tree. You remember what was on the cover of Nevermind, right? A stinging (albeit subtle) jab at the corporatisation of the grunge movement, if I ever saw one.
While the Heart-Shaped Box director’s cut was made available on Corbijn’s DVD awhile back, it’s only dropped online very recently in anticipation for the blockbuster In Utero reissue. If you haven’t checked that bad boy out yet, I strongly recommend doing so. Anyways, this is an interesting take on what could have been. You won’t see any new footage in the first verse and chorus, so feel free to skip ahead. With this cut of the clip, a tense relationship begins to develop between the girl and the organs woman. I wish it had more time to play out, personally. Maybe stretched out into another verse. Also, in doing this, it manages to cut one of my favourite moments from the whole clip, in which bassit Kirst Novoselic puts his arm around Dave Grohl and the two embrace for the entirety of the third verse as Kurt sings in the foreground. I don’t know why, but I always found that part so sweet – it was a moment of peace and warmth in such a disturbing environment.
It’s worth emphasising that neither version is “better” than the other. It’s two sides of the same coin. It’s a methodical type of madness from the mind of a guy who thrived off such things.
“Let me go, where’s there’s no memory of you…”
Earlier this year, the music world heard the abrupt and surprising news that Kim Deal was to leave the Pixies for good. This wasn’t a full-band split like last time around – the Pixies were staying on, Kim was not. It was a bit of a shock to the system, especially considering what a huge influence she had over the band’s sound. We still had The Breeders – it’s not long now until the Last Splash tour hits Australia – but it was going to be flat-out weird to experience the Pixies without Kim doing her thing. Not long after that, we got Bagboy, the first new Pixies number in nearly 10 years. An insane video followed. It was promoted bigtime and plastered all over the place. They wanted to make a definitive, big statement about their return. Kind of a big deal, if you will.
By means of contrast, Kim dropped this remarkably quiet song quite recently with no fanfare whatsoever. The video is a simple affair, no cereal baths or youthful recklessness here. Hell, not even the lady herself had much to say about Are You Mine? – that is, except to give a succinct and touching description of the song itself:
I live with my mother, who has Alzheimer’s.
In the house she’ll stop me, put her hand on my arm, and dearly ask, ”Are you mine?”
I say back to her, ”Yeah momma, I’m yours.”
Oh, how my heart ached after reading that. The video, created by Kurt Ralske, is an intimate and strangely sweet affair. Its cast of characters are a humble collection of salt shakers, as owned by Deal’s grandmother. They are cast under flickering, coloured light, and occasionally covered in beads. It’s elementary in its approach, but it’s starkly emotional and even a little gut-wrenching – especially when the cameras hone in on the salt shakers’ blank expressions. The direct contrast between the warming glow and their cold, unmoving faces… I can’t describe it. What a tiny marvel this video is. A true delight.
“Live your life, VHS cassette, fast forward, back to the future…”
I remember meeting Alison Wonderland at the fourth birthday party of Sosueme, perhaps one of my only tolerated club nights in Sydney. She was polite and sweet; and I actually didn’t find out she was actually a DJ until later in the conversation. “Oh, right, cool,” I responded. “That sounds like fun.” Little was I to know exactly how much fun – her set with the rest of the Sosueme crew just as the clock hit midnight was a world of high-energy excitement and bombast. It was unpretentious and entertaining, which is more than I can say about a slew of other deck-spinning douches in the city.
Anyway, this year Ms. Wonderland has made the move into original music, and her debut single features a collaboration with my boys in Fishing busting out their rap dude personas. Now, I’ll be honest – as much as I dug the song, I wasn’t sure the video would be much chop. Nothing personal, it’s just that DJs… well… they’re not great with the music videos, are they. Let’s not forget the first-ever negative review we gave of a clip on this blog was a David Guetta video. And have you seen the Pauly D video for Night of My Life lately? Don’t. Of course, this isn’t to compare Alison to either of those guys – like I said, she’s different. One might even say, One of Us. So with equal amounts of relief and pleasure, the video for Get Ready ended up fucking ruling.
Like, seriously – Alison, Doug and Russell have gone above and beyond the call of duty here. Watching a crew of delinquent teenage zombies busting mad rhymes into a fisheye lens already screams “fucking awesome” on paper. The word ‘awesome’ being underlined several times. Watching the whole thing executed, however, leaves one at a loss for words at points. It’s just so much fun to watch – the lip-syncing is seamless, the little breakdancing dude left my jaw on the floor and the varying hijinks that unfurl throughout the second half cemented the shit-eating grin on my face. They couldn’t have made a better clip for this track, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. For Alison, for the rap dudes of Fishing, for the breakdancing zombies… the whole shebang. They’ve started something beautiful here, friends.
“You move around, you say goodbye to them…”
Oh hey, it’s The Polyphonic Spree! Gee, you guys are looking well. Really well. Is that a new haircut? And you’ve lost weight – wow, you’re down to sixteen members! Very slim. I just have to introduce you to the gang – guys, this is the Polyphonic Spree. You probably remember them from around the mid-2000s – the robes were bright and colourful, the songs were bright and colourful and their 2004 album, Together We’re Heavy, was an unstoppable beast of sunshine. They’ve been a little quiet as of late, but we’re very happy to have them back with Yes, It’s True., their first studio album of original material in about six years.
This right here is the lead single as well as the opening number to Yes, It’s True. Director Albert Moya takes us into a world where the adults are long gone, but it’s not in a juvenile blink-182 sort of way. In fact, one adult remains – but you’ll find out about that later. Our story centres around a young woman, seemingly locked away in some sort of self-imposed solitary confinement. It’s not long before she descends into cabin fever and her apartment begins to get torn up. She’s out, onto the street and bound for a bizarre underground club. Some shit’s going down here, but initially it’s not going to be all to clear exactly what that is. All I can tell you is that it’s only going to get stranger from this juncture.
The dark overtones and the confronting imagery are really not becoming of a band as bright and technicolour as TPS. Realistically, this isn’t a clip that should work. And yet, like light to the flies, I can’t help but be engrossed by this surreal alternate reality. I guess it’s as definitive a comeback statement as you’re likely to see this year.
“Pop culture was an art, now art’s a pop culture in me…”
Has there ever been a more conflicted relationship than between Lady Gaga and Yes, We’ve Got a Video!? Man, not even Perez Hilton can match our bad blood. There was a time when Mother Monster was creating some truly awesome videos. She even took out the #1 position in our inaugural Top 30 Videos of the Year list back in 2010 for the inimitable Telephone. After that, things began to sour. The video for Alejandro was dreary and confusing, the video for Judas even more so. And the video for The Edge of Glory was fucking atrocious. I don’t recall even bothering with the video for Marry the Night.
I was done. Then, I saw her live on the Born This Way Ball last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. She’s an entertainer, I thought. Can’t take that away from her. Look at this spectacle. It’s all eyes on her. Maybe her inevitable comeback will recapture some of that magic that made me a fan to begin with. Who knows? Well, here we are. The video for the already-underwhelming single Applause is here. I genuinely didn’t think there could be a bigger mess of a video after the Edge of Glory debacle; but even this is giving it a substantial run for its money. The effects are lazy, the imagery borders on desperate – seriously, Gaga’s head on a fucking swan?!? – and even the choreography is substantially lacking. The fact that it treads much closer water to her “Weird Al” Yankovic parody video, Perform This Way, says a lot about how far down the rabbit hole things have gotten. This, friends, does not bode well for the rest of 2013 in GagaLand. Proceed at own risk.
“I’ll take you all the way, stay another song…”
Y’know, there is one way to make me feel like I haven’t achieved anything, and that’s to show me the successes that others have had when they were my age. For instance, Sophie Ellis Bextor – the focus of today’s lesson – was 22 (indeed, the age I am now) when she had her first worldwide solo hit. A top-five hit in eighteen countries at 22! Jesus. Ms. EB is 34 now and has three kids, but there was a period where she was probably the hottest woman in pop music – I’m talking both figuratively and aesthetically here. Although her only major hit over here – excluding Groovejet by Spiller, on which she provided the vocals – she’s managed to keep up a fairly respectable profile in the UK, consistently releasing albums and accumulating a strong following among the pop geeks.
That’s all well and good, yes, but today we’re here to hone in on what was the most-played song on European radio throughout 2002. This inescapable early-2000s floor-filler had enough going for it without any form of visual accompaniment – there’s a hook every seven seconds (pop geeks will get this), the production is flawless and SEB’s vocals are chic and stylish. With that said: Holy hell, the video made a difference. If one was to ever properly answer how to improve on perfection, they’d surely point to a clip like this. It remains one of my absolute favourite clips of the 2000s, pop or otherwise. And why? Because it’s so delightfully bitchy.
I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the representation of the ego within pop videos – the males going for boastful and brawny; while the females tend to be more snide and vindictive. It’s more or less about asserting status, and this is very much achieved in the Murder on the Dancefloor video. Yes, it’s clearly a bit of a send-up and a parody of the ego representation, but it plays it straight enough that it could fall either way – especially to a younger audience.
A dance competition is happening, and the heat is on for SEB and her partner. She shows full intent on winning the thing from the very beginning, and cuts some pretty severe corners in order to do so. The cast of characters surrounding SEB are hilarious enough on their own, but their reactions when she manages to cut them out of the comp make them even better. There clearly wasn’t much of a budget for the video – perhaps there wasn’t much faith in her as a solo artist? – but it doesn’t take a genius cinematographer to make SEB look resplendent; nor a genius choreographer to make her look fantastic in the throes of the dance.
Really, we’re all winners at the end of this one. What a glorious bit of fun this one is. I wish I could have enjoyed it more at the time – at 11/12, I was too busy trying to convince people I was a heterosexual to have time for this. Only later did I appreciate the true beauty of Murder. With that came the silent envy over her young achievements, but it’s a double-edged sword I’m willing to wield.
“Next to him, next to her, messages well-rehearsed…”
I honestly couldn’t give you many reasons to want to live in Canberra. It’s cold, it’s far away from everything, the live scene is more or less dead in the water and it’s fucking COLD! I’ve had some good nights in Canberra, I won’t lie, but it was made all the better knowing that I got to go home afterward. Anyway, what’s the point of all this? Well, there’s a nifty little rock band from Canberra called Super Best Friends. A couple of them (perhaps all three?) work in the Canberra Press Gallery, and used their positions to make a video for their new single pretty much from a day on the job. They asked a stack of pollies to appear in their video – and, amazingly, a lot of them did. Including the two most powerful men in Australian politics right now.
Straight up, I am giving SBF the most credit for their fucking balls. Imagine walking up to Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott or even fucking Bob Katter of all people and asking them to be a dick for the camera… well, intentionally, anyway. By some divine intervention, they made it happen; and that’s what Round and Round lives and dies on. It all flies by in the barely-two-minutes it takes for the song to play, and there’s plenty of laughs to go along with in the meantime. My highlights include Clive Palmer having no fucking idea what to do – a fitting inclusion, really – and Rob Oakeshott really getting into the spirit of things. I guess they’re not all evil, lying bastards who hate having fun and enjoy crushing those beneath them… not all the time, anyway.
“I could be one in a million, baby, but I’m nobody now…”
Normally, I don’t link to photos but I really want you to check out Daniel Boud‘s work, so go click on Andy’s gorgeous face there to see more stunning portraits like this one. One of the finest photographers in the country – perhaps one of the best Aussie photographers ever? He’d have my vote. Anyway, let’s move on. Andy Bull, everyone! Yeah, he nailed the comeback single and video combination with the bizarre Keep on Running a little while back, and I guess he figured he could go two from two with the release of Baby I am Nobody Now. Guess what? Bullseye! Yeah, don’t act like you didn’t see what I did there.
The video for Baby… takes us into an extended movie trailer, staring the man himself in the lead role. He plays an estranged loner, attempting to get his life back together through meagre jobs and quiet introspection. He begins to long for how his life used to be, and a series of flashbacks assist with it. Be sure to look out for a few of the old friends, as Sydney music/media-heads will definitely recognise a couple of them. Jake Stone from Bluejuice, Tim Derricourt from Dappled Cities and even old mate Dan Ilic make apperances. Maybe it was just for the trainspotters, but I thought it was a really cool touch. This is potentially the best clip that Mr. Bull has ever done – I love the pacing and the imagery, which meld into the song and its themes perfectly. I thought it would be good to kick off the week in such a triumphant fashion. Hope this sticks with you for the rest of the day!
Marcus Azon is an Australian musician.
He is the guitarist and vocalist of Jinja Safari.
His favourite video is Miss Misery by Elliott Smith.
This clip is a favorite purely for the personal connection I have to it. There are a lot more impressive videos, brimming with outstanding effects, and complex narrative. But this video is so simple, that it leaves you with an image you can’t shake, years after watching it. For me, it epitomizes a very specific time in my life; and a time where i felt i could relate to almost every Elliott Smith lyric. It’s really interesting to watch him in this clip, because it’s essentially just a one-man performance piece. I’ve got every album, B-side, demo etc. that he has released; and am still fascinated by him as a writer and performer. Always lyrically inventive, and melodically unpredictable. Maybe it’s the finality of his untimely death that has left him immortalized, to leave us thinking “What else could he have done?” But what he did leave was a catalogue of music that is continually inspiring. From what I know, he wasn’t the most comfortable live performer, and frequently made mistakes, which lead people (including himself) to think he was a poor performer. But i think his performance in this clip is as honest as you’ll ever see.
Jinja Safari‘s debut self-titled album is available now via Island Records.
You can purchase it here.
They will also be undertaking a national tour in September,
starting on the Sunshine Coast and finishing in Bunbury.
For a full run of dates and to purchase tickets, visit the band’s official website.