“Bits of yellow paper, addressed from you to me…”
Here’s another example of when a performance-based video can score themselves a hall pass here at Y,WGAV! Perhaps you’re familiar with Michel Gondry; the legendary French director behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and countless classic music videos for Bjork, Steriogram, Foo Fighters, The White Stripes, Kylie… just to name a few. It’s pretty safe to say that the guy is one of my heroes, whose work has shaped the blog’s motives for even existing.
When I found out that Love Letters would be his first music video in three years – following a Bjork clip from back in 2011 – I couldn’t have clicked fast enough. Although it quite literally centres around the band performing the song, I knew that there would be more to it. It’s Gondry, after all. He manages to find a way. After a few views, I was completely taken – it’s not what’s happening in the confines of the performance, it’s the scenery that surrounds it. As the camera spins, it takes us to a different, beautifully-painted backdrop. The concept is so simple, but it adds so much to the song. Dammit, Gondry, you’ve done it again!
“These building tops, they connect the whole block…”
Feeling refreshed and excited after a week off, so let’s plow through some new releases. Up first this week, I’ve got a new clip from an adorable duo who have more brilliant clips than you’ve had hot dinners – hell, one of their videos literally contained a hot dinner; the food-fight party that was Yea Yeah. Since then they’ve become zombies, stripped in public, jammed in a taxi and played some seriously tricked-out basketball. You’d think after all the effort they’ve been putting in – just recently releasing a new album, Lightning, going on tour with blink-182 and planning their third Australian visit for the Groovin’ the Moo festival – they’d need a bit of a rest.
That’s what brings us to today’s visual delights – Matt and Kim in bed. N’aww, isn’t that sweet? Of course, the serenity doesn’t last long. It turns out that our favourite indie-pop couple are restless sleepers. So much so, they find themselves tossing and turning at the exact same time – yep, I think we may well be looking at the first-ever case of synchronised sleeping. What a world we live in, huh? Next time you feel like a nap, might I suggest throwing in a sneaky dance routine for good measure. If It’s Alright is anything to go by, you’ll be looking fabulous real quick like. I’ll be practicing my routine and saving it for their show in Sydney at the Oxford Art Factory on May 1st. Did I mention that tickets are on sale now? I did, didn’t I. Good good.
“We bet that parties are rebel, you know it’s not the same if they’re not…”
Catch-up time for Y,WGAV! continues – hell, will we EVER be up to date? Who knows. All I can tell you is that DZ Deathrays are back in action. Since releasing their debut LP, Bloodstreams, the boys have been tearing up stages here and abroad with some world-class hype following their every move. They also released one of the best Aussie clips of the year, the Call Me Al parody of No Sleep, starring the one and only Arj Barker. How the hell do you follow up such an ingenious slice of madness?
One simple word: Dogs. Yep, they were one of the many highlights of the No Sleep video, galloping past in the final moments. Here, they return in a much more prominent form – the video for Cops/Capacity centres itself around two crooked cops that also happen to be canines. They harrass women, they smash up cars and they get stoned with criminals. I’m not going to lie to you – it’s pretty badass. The production/direction team of the Hayes Brothers have done a bang-up job, following these two evil dog-cops around Brooklyn and creating something perfectly-paced and darkly humourous, fitting the whole dealio perfectly. Now, can we please get these fuckers back to Oz for a show or two? That stage isn’t going to dive off itself, y’know.
“It’s just you and me, strange exchange of energy…”
Hey everyone! Sorry about the lack of Monday updates – not only was I having internet troubles (internet troubles, people!), but I spent most of yesterday working on my debut album. Yeah, clang and all that. Shit’s getting real, dudes. I’m really excited about this, and will share accordingly when it’s ready.For now, though, here’s a great little video that I’ve been meaning to get around to for weeks but just haven’t been able to fit into the schedule. Fear not, Ed Vallance – you do have a video, and it’s flippin’ great.
Vallance is an expatriate Brit currently living in Brooklyn, where he has just recorded his first album in four years, Volcano. Here, the lead single from it gets one of those brilliantly meta film-clips that doesn’t actually have any film involved. Across thousands of photographs, a daily routine is tracked of a very pretty young woman. It seems to go back and forth between forwards and backwards, which makes for some very tricky shots. That probably provides the most entertainment out of the entire thing, just figuring out which way it’s all going. Oh, and Vallance’s “cameo” in the second half is pretty cute, too; I guess. A fun, interesting clip from across the pond and into the mean streets of NY. See what you think.
Part two! A very tasty five clips last week, but they’re about to get even better and better! From escalators to James van der Beek and back, let’s edge just a little bit closer to the top 20…
25. Battles feat. Gary Numan – My Machines
Directed by Daniels
It was great to have the brilliant Battles make their return in 2011, proving they still had what it took despite losing vocalist/frontman Tyondai Braxton. Gloss Drop kicked all kinds of arse, and it got even better when they made their return to videos. Bringing along Gary Numan for the ride, this very simple but incredibly effective clip revolves around a single location – an escalator at a shopping mall. Not too enthralling on paper, until a father desperately attempts to grab a dropped present for his son, tumbling down the “up” side of the escalator. A gripping, exciting video that is great for both simply enjoying and for complete and utter over-analysis, which I thankfully haven’t done here but am prone to do from time to time.
Read my original blog on My Machines here.
24. Darren Hanlon – Butterfly Bones
Directed by Natalie van den Dungen
I knew I was going to love this video as soon as I heard about it. One of my favourite directors, Natalie van den Dungen, at the helm (also responsible for Darren’s great All These Things video from 2010, amongst others); as well as two of my favourite Australian actors, Jessica Tovey (Home and Away, Paper Giants) and Rhys Muldoon (The Secret Life of Us, Play School) making appearances. Sure enough, I adored this clip from the very second I saw it: Darren Hanlon is his usual adorable self, the cinematography and locations are utterly gorgeous and even cranky old writer Bob Ellis makes a great cameo with his sole line: “You bastards!” I maintain that anyone who isn’t a fan of Darren’s – especially after seeing his videos – needs a soul.
Read my original post on Butterfly Bones here.
23. Death Cab for Cutie – Home is a Fire
Directed by Shepard Fairey and Nicholas Harmer
Some delightfully clever stuff here from the Death Cab guys, who made one of the year’s most underrated records (in my humble opinion, of course) in Codes and Keys. The video is a collaboration between the band’s bassist, Nick Harmer (also responsible for The Decemberists‘ excellent Sixteen Military Wives video) and prominent stencil artist Shepard Fairey. Fairey is best known for his Andre the Giant Has a Posse and Barack Obama: Hope art, stickers and posters. Stencils featuring the lyrics of Home is a Fire were created and put up and around various city locations, with some wonderful shots of their creation as well as shots of the stencils in relation to their part of the song. It’s an ambitious proejct, but one that has worked significantly in the band’s favour – truly one of their most special videos to date.
Read my original blog on Home is a Fire here.
22. Ke$ha – Blow
Directed by Chris Marrs Piliero
OK, we should probably get the facts out of the way first. I’m not a Ke$ha fan, I don’t enjoy the majority of her music and she often has a tendency of getting on my nerves. That said, I am more than willing to put literally all of my premonitions and grudges aside if it means I get to enjoy this video. I love this fucking video. As far as mainstream top-40 pop clips went this year, few topped Ke$ha’s efforts alongside former Dawson’s Creek heart-throb James van der Beek – or, “James van der Douche,” if you believe Ke$ha’s insults. The two are at some sort of bizarre party where they are essentially the only humans – the rest are unicorns in suits. No shit. The humour is much more knowing and tacky than her previous videos, and the whole thing looks fantastic without the obvious commercial sheen. I’m not going to become her #1 fan overnight, but I’ll be damned if Ke-dollar-sign-ha hasn’t won this round.
21. TV on the Radio – Will Do
Directed by Dugan O’Neil
Been a lot of ups and downs for TV on the Radio this year, but I admire them so much for overcoming the loss of their friend and long-serving bass player Gerard Smith, whom appears briefly in the video, and continue on as a four-piece in support of the excellent Nine Types of Light. It was sudden and devastating, but they’ve risen from the ashes and ultimately triumphed, particularly with some amazing shows in November here in Oz. I’ve always loved the imagination and imagery of TVotR’s videos, but I’ve found this one to be easily the most affecting out of everything they’ve done. It’s bold and very emotional, depicting how blurred the lines can become between fantasy and reality – and, subsequently, just how frustrating that can be for some. It’s heartbreaking, but beautiful to watch – not to mention how beautiful it is to look at, especially in HD. A defintive and powerful clip that stands alone as a work of art as it does an accompaniment.
Read my original blog on Will Do here.
10 down, 20 to go. The suspense, naturally, is killing you.
Catch up on part one here.
Send me your best clips of the year here.
All sorted? Jolly good. This time next week, then.
Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you’ve been having an amazing time with the new year, and that you had a fun and safe Christmas. I’ve been at Peats Ridge once again, having a blast. Have just had an amazing week of gigs, too. But no rest for the wicked – this time next week, I’ll be jetting to Melbourne for a week for my first-ever visit there! How exciting! Anyway, prior to our official full-time return in February, here are the best 30 videos from last year. There’s some fun, some sadness, some beauty and a few unexpected gems. Let’s dig in!
With apologies to: Beastie Boys, Ball Park Music, Wavves, Beyonce, R.E.M., Jebediah, Seeker Lover Keeper, Fishing, Alpine, Snakadaktal, The Black Keys, Unkle and Is Tropical.
30. The National – Conversation 16
Directed by Scott Jacobson
Deep down, don’t we all want to live in a world where Kristen freaking Schaal gets to be President? No? Just me? Anyway, this was a peculiar choice for the final single to be lifted from 2010’s excellent High Violet record – but it resulted in possibly the best video the band have ever done. An unrequited love story between Schaal and Mad Men‘s John Slattery, this is a fantastically done video which plays out more like a silent movie – the expressions on the faces, as well as the music itself, explains it all. Truly one of the best bands in the world, giving us a great way to kick off the countdown.
Read my original blog on Conversation 16 here.
29. Fireworks – Arrows
Directed by Thom Glunt
Gospel, the outstanding second record from Detroit pop-punkers Fireworks, was easily one of my favourite albums of the year. Not to sound discriminatory or anything like that, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the band to add a video of the year contender with the clip for the album’s lead track and lead single. Have I simply come to suspect that all pop-punk bands do is tour footage montages? Anyway, the band themselves are nowhere to be seen in this video – instead, they leave the dirty work to a particularly sadistic arch-villian. He’s hell-bent on eliminating a family, one by one – but not in the way you’d expect, and certainly not with the motive you would expect, either. Oh, the suspense!
Read my original blog on Arrows here.
28. Snow Patrol – Called Out in the Dark
Directed by Brett Simon
If you take a cliche and twist it slightly, what does it become? Original, or just a counter-cliche? Whatever the case, consider this old chestnut: a music video inside a music video. You’ve seen it done, from Jack Johnson to Fall Out Boy and back again. It can still be clever, but you’ll be damned if it’s not cliche. Consider this curveball, though: What if you, the creator of the music, were not allowed to star in your own video (within a video)? This is what happens to Gary Lightbody, as he attempts to weave his way back onto camera and win over the director (played by Boston Legal‘s Tara Summers). For a band that have often been dismissed as too serious or glum, this is certainly a surprising turn – and one you can be grateful they have taken, if it leads to more great videos like this. As far as counter-cliches go, this isn’t too shabby at all.
Read my original blog on Called Out in the Dark here.
27. They Might Be Giants – Can’t Keep Johnny Down (video contest winner version)
Directed by Mohit Jaswal
This one might cause a little bit of controversy. As much as I liked the concept of the official Can’t Keep Johnny Down video, which features Rip Torn doing what he does best (kick arse), I couldn’t help but be drawn to the charms of the video contest the band held to make a video for the song. Some great entries came forth, but I’m of the firm belief that not only was the winner the most deserving, but also the best video for Johnny that has been made. It begins with underpants on the ground in the forest. It ends with a frustrated man in the office. In-between, there are pools, coupons, motorbikes and a variety of other slow-motion escapades. How does it all come together? Fucking beautifully. So watch for yourself.
26. Mamas Gun – Reconnection
Directed by James Stoneley
A delightfully unexpected nugget of gold came in the form of this little winner from up-and-coming London groovers Mamas Gun, who I had never heard of before getting recommended this clip through the blog’s email address. It only took one viewing for me to completely fall for its charm, and I can only assume it will do the very same for you. The brightly-coloured adventure takes its queues mostly from Alice in Wonderland, but it’s by no means a direct rip. All things considered, it’s quite inventive – I love the multiple camera effects and the costume changes, as well as the fact that every band member plays something different. A joy to watch every single time.
Read my original blog on Reconnection here.
That’s it, gang! Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you for part 2 of 5 this time next week! In the meantime, feel free to submit your own favourites or comments on these in the comment section below, or over at email@example.com. Sound good? Great!
“And then the light shines, it’s gleaming like a bottle…”
Even with the tragic passing of Gerard Smith earlier this year, TV on the Radio have barely paused since the release of Nine Types of Light earlier this year. Following the heartbreaking video for Will Do and the pyschedelic brilliance of the Caffeinated Conscious clip, the band have scored a hat-trick with this excellent accompaniment to the opening track from Nine Types, featuring animation from the brilliant Mikey Please, who is an in-demand U.K. editor best known for his work on the animated short The Eagleman Stag.
Please’s style of animation is to bring meticulous detail to a series of odd characters and shapes, and the combination of both this and the stop-motion style that is applied to many of the objects throughout the video make it absolutely fascinating to watch. The influences on his work are clear, and yet it comes together to make something quite unlike anything else out there right now. The brilliantly crafted alternative/alien universe mixes in with the song itself perfectly, and I have a huge appreciationfor what Please has brought to this video. Highly recommended for fans of both the band and animation that’s just a little bit out there.
“Jesus was a carpenter, Yeezy laid beats…”
Happy Thursday, boys and girls! Can you believe we’re nearly over for yet another week? Absolute insanity! It’s been an incredible comeback run – and it’s about to get all the sweeter. A huge video from hip-hop conglomerate The Throne – better known as Jay-Z and Kanye West – dropped just yesterday and it’s already destined to be one of the most talked-about videos to involve either’s music – and let’s not forget the controversy surrounding Yeezy’s Flashing Lights and See You In My Nightmares clips.
It also could not come as a greater contrast to their previous clip – while Otis was a fun-loving ego trip where a literally not a second went by when the twosome weren’t on-screen, No Church in the Wild features neither of them at any stage. Rather, the video focuses on rewriting a page in the history books, with a clan of black people oppressing their white slaves. It’s often quite confronting in its imagery – I certainly wouldn’t take my chances trying to load the clip at your workplace, for instance – but in a manner that more or less means that you can’t look away. It’s also beautifully shot, with much of the lighting coming from fire-lit torches, bringing that very dark vibe throughout the whole thing. It’s a pretty full-on experience, but that’s essentially why this is the video you should be watching and talking about with your friends right now. I can’t wait to see if or when shit hits the fan on this one.
“So fused are we, to the cause of light…”
Another weird and wacky video from the brilliant TV on the Radio that comes as a bittersweet surprise. On one level, this is an outstanding clip with a low budget but a wild, outlandish imagination – they haven’t done a video this trippy since Golden Age back in 2008. On another level, however, it’s heartbreaking to think this will be the last ever video to star former bassist Gerard Smith, who tragically lost his battle to cancer only a week or so after Nine Types of Light came out. He might have been an enigma, but he was still an integral part of the band’s sound. Still, it’s not healthy to dwell to much on the negative – let’s use this video to celebrate just what an amazing musician Gerard was!
“As your body flows, the second hand flashes, passes over your skin like time…”
Here’s a great new one from a band I’ve missed quite a bit since their “hiatus” back in 2009. They’ve been working on some really cool stuff since then – there was Rain Machine, Tunde’s acting and the cool videos of Maximum Balloon. Nothing quite compares to what happens when these guys come together, though; and that’s expressed in the complete audio-visual package right here.
Will Do is a tender, desperate ballad and has a chillingly beautiful video to go with it. It’s an expression and commentary on the dangers of being lost in virtual experiences, as opposed to firm reality. All the members of TV on the Radio – except bassist Gerard Smith, who is currently being treated for lung cancer – put on a headset which takes them to a virtual world of their choosing. It’s lead singer Tunde Adebimpe, however, who seemingly grows addicted to the virtual reality, where he has found a woman who loves him. There are no words spoken, aside from some lip-syncing to the song – at times, it can honestly be quite confronting. In turn, this is why it works so well. It’s confronting and honest, much like the song itself. It’s going to be a very good year for this band, I can tell…