“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.
“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.
“Like a small bird pretty, while it’s crapping on a new day…”
Well, goddamn! Here’s something I didn’t think I’d be posting in 2013: We have a new Pixies song and video, everybody! Not too long ago, we heard news that Kim Deal had officially left the band, leading most – if not all – to assume that this would be the last we’d hear from the band. Imagine the surprise, then, when we discover that not only are the band continuing on, but they have new material on the way – their first original song in nearly ten years!
The visual accompaniment for Bagboy features none of the remainingPixies themselves – as is well documented, they never did enjoy making videos. Rather, they’ve left the job up to director duo Lamar + Nik; who take the ball and run with it into a world of smoke bombs, reckless abandon and potentially the coolest bath you’ll see in 2013. I love the way they’ve captured the oddity of both the song and the Pixies in general, sending this kid in as a spokesman for all the weirdness that is sure to ensue when the Pixies eventually release another record. Will Kim be missed? Of course. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy this, though, can we?
“Time is disgraceful, we’re all just watching these days fall apart…”
He’s back! It’s been awhile since we heard from Paul Banks, the vocalist of Interpol and the artist formerly known as Julian Plenti. These days, he’s playing under his own name, and has just released his second solo album, imaginatively titled Banks. Banks has been a part of some truly great music videos in the past, among them 2005’s Evil clip (think: creepy puppet) and 2007’s The Heinrich Maneuver (think: super-slow-mo tragedy). In this instance, however, Banks has moved away from the bleakness of his former videography and opted for something a little more light-hearted.
At the beginning of the video, it simply appears that Banks is taking his two young children to school. It’s not long, however, until we find that Paul is going back to school himself, Billy Madison style. He’s tormented and bullied by the other kids, who all appear to be having a blast in this clip. Ultimately, however, you’ll see PB securing his revenge in one of the ultimate elementary/primary school showdowns. For a guy who’s often seen as humourless, Young Again is a pretty funny video. I guess some rockstars can soften up in their older age. The album’s not bad, too!
Ben Britton is an Australian musician,
best known as the vocalist and guitarist of the band Strangers.
His favourite video is Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins.
I was in year five when this album was released (around 11 years old). I used to think that Billy Corgan was some sort of supernatural being, like a vampire or a circus ringmaster after seeing this video. This song introduced me to “dark pop” songwriting and completely changed my view on music all together. The clip itself has a silent film style influence, which has always been disturbing yet interesting to me. The song, the look of Billy Corgan and the band, the artwork and this film clip has always seemed to fit together… almost like it was meant to be. It was an exciting time to be a young music lover. From a kid growing up in the 90s, I personally believe we haven’t seen a band make this much impact on a generation (except for Nirvana) since. Even now, as I watch it again. It’s timeless.
Strangers‘ new single, Persona Non Grata, is available now.
The band are currently in the middle of two residencies – every Wednesday at the Cherry Bar in Melbourne and every Thursday at the Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney. For more information, like the band on Facebook here.
“I’ve no-one to confide in, and I want you to be with us…”
Earlier today, we discussed the awesome team-up of David Byrne and St. Vincent. Keeping on that theme, I thought I’d alert you to another brilliant collaboration. In one corner, the noisy grunge dudes of Dinosaur Jr. They’ve just dropped a brand-new studio album entitled I Bet on Sky, far exceeding the normal anticipations that comes with a reunion. In the other corner: soon-to-be Australian visitor Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! fame. You’ve probably noted the T&E obsession with dads in the past, and now it all comes to great fruition: TIM HEIDECKER IS YOUR DAD!
Well, not your dad, specifically. He plays one in this great new video, in which his daughter starts work at the local supermarket and falls for one of the skate-rat wasters that also works there (think Breckin Meyer‘s character in Clueless). His face is blurred like the way you see on television for courtroom criminals, adding to the danger of his world and lifestyle. It’s an increasingly intense triangle between the three, which culminates in Heidecker losing his collective shit. It’s a really smart and well-paced video that does not waste any of the the five minutes given for the track. Heidecker really needs to do more of this sort of stuff – like, right now.
“He shakes his head, finally stands up, throws his hands up in the air…”
Can you believe it’s been ten years since Steve Burns, the original host of Blue’s Clues, left the show? Since then, he’s mostly been subjected to various death rumours – including a nasty one about how he got manic depression and killed himself. Thankfully, none of that is true – although, to be fair, not many people are aware of exactly what Steve did next. The truth is, he got with some dudes from The Flaming Lips and made an album – a pretty good one, too, called Songs for Dustmites.
There are two videos that exist for the album’s lead single, Mighty Little Man. Although the one with Steve himself featured is sweet enough, I’ve decided to share what’s known as the “Dancing Gabe” version. A wild bearded man – looking similar to E from Eels – is jamming the track on a discman, while also air-drumming and smoking away. I think I love this video because anyone who can honestly say they’ve never found themselves in a similar situation while listening to music in public is a goddamn fucking liar. There’s no other word for it. Get your air drum kit out and get rocking.
“Ruby lips above the water, blowing bubbles soft and fine…”
Can anyone tell me where the hell that week went? Sorry for the lack of posts last week, and thanks for your understanding. I assume you understand, and if you don’t? Well, I can hardly help that. Moving on: Holy shit, Neil Young has a new record out this year. He’s had a mix of interesting and bizarre tunes on his last few records – Fork in the Road, a concept record about his car; Le Noise, an album almost entirely solo on electric guitar – and now he’s taken an in-road even further into oddity by getting the latest line-up of Crazy Horse to record a bunch of standards from the American songbook with him. He’s also put together a bunch of videos to go with the songs, made up of grainy archival footage – and Clementine is his latest foray.
This clip starts off innocently enough, with a loving mother in the kitchen going outside to see her three daughters. It’s from here that things become increasingly bizarre – the mother is a professional knife-thrower, and she uses her three daughters as target practice. No shit! Even when you’re watching it with the full consideration that the woman was a pro and no-one was injured, it’s still absolutely terrifying stuff to watch. The little winces and cringes the kids give when the knives come this close is really something else. This is a really creative and interesting project for Young and the CH dudes, and I hope it bears similarly delicious fruit further down the line.
“Wispy whispers fill the cabinets, filled with tawny photographs…”
It’s been three years between drinks for shouty Nebraskans Cursive, who released one of the finer records of 2009 in Mama, I’m Swollen; additionally making for one of my favourite songs of the year in From the Hips. It was an all-round winner – hell, that’s the kind of band Cursive are. They’ve followed it up with a solid new album, I Am Gemini, and we’re now being treated to the first video from it, a collaboration with director Kevin Slack. It’s early days yet, with the clip barely a fortnight old, but I think I’m in the clear as naming this video as one of the band’s best clips to date – if not the.
Why? It’s simple: This House Alive is a headfuck. It’s a mindtrip. It’s not a friendly video. It deals with some very dark, harsh themes mixed in with juvenile delinquency and a cold attitude. At the same time, however, it’s shot beautifully, with some really pristine forest locations adding depth to the the video’s context. Normally, this would be a clip that I over-analyse to buggery – particularly when it comes to the plot. This time, however, I really feel like This House Alive is a video that speaks for itself. See if you agree.
“I hit the sidewalk, and this is how it starts….”
Young the Giant‘s relationship with singles thus far has been anachronistic and weird. 2011 saw the band have a huge radio hit in Cough Syrup – a song they’ve had since 2008, when they were known as The Jakes. They’ve now followed that up with Apartment, a song that was not only already a single back in 2010, but already had a video made for its UK release. Exactly why they’ve gone this route is anyone’s guess, but if it means they keep putting out videos that are as good as this, they can release music from their first cassette demo for all I care.
A birthday is being celebrated here, with some friends waking up a mate before dragging him outside to a van full of his bestfriends as they go to take a roadtrip. The driving and location sequences are beautifully shot, using a mix of HD and click-and-shoot camera work to bring a somewhat old-fashioned feel to these parts of the video. Interspersed with this is footage of vocalist Sameer Gadhia, lying down in the dirt and apathetically miming along to the lyrics. It presents a great contrast from the blissful endless-summer vibe that the other footage gives, and will leave you guess up until near the end exactly how the two are connected. You’re probably thinking that it’s going to end badly, but I can assure that, without any spoilers, it’s a happy ending. Well, I think so at least.