“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!
“There through my wasted days, you’re there through my wasted nights…”
Yay, it’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs time! I’ve gone on a bit about my love for this band and their videos, from 2003’s Maps all the way up to this year’s Sacrilege clip. That relationship has not changed at all with the release of Despair, a song I never would have picked to be a single but am ultimately so very, very happy that it was selected. It was one of the highlights of their Sydney show, and the magic has certainly been captured here.
It begins with Karen O drunkenly singing, seemingly to herself, in a bar. The a capella take here really emphasises what a unique and striking voice she has, building up the atmosphere of the video itself. Such a bold and stark open has never been seen before in a YYYs clip – but, then again, neither has the Empire State Building. That’s right – Kaz, Brian and Nick have found themselves atop it in what can only be described as an immense, powerful spectacle that builds up along with the song to create something really wondrous and sweet. Yeah, there’s elements of performance in here – which is normally a Neddy No-No. But seriously, YOU watch Karen dancing near the last chorus and tell me you don’t feel something.
“The room is on fire, as she’s fixing her hair…”
By 2003, The Strokes were very much on my radar. I’d taken notice with the now-infamous video for Last Nite, but had more or less no idea what was going on in terms of their greater impact. Hell, I was in the fifth grade – can you blame me? By the time I hit high school, I naively wondered into Room on Fire, their second studio album which will celebrate its tenth anniversary in October. I realise that it’s a very disregarded and marred album now, but because it was my first full-on Strokes moment, I treasure that record. I know every word to every song. Hell, I know every last melody – I even have harmonies for them. As I see those same fans that adored them around this time turn their collective backs to the band’s latest record, Comedown Machine, I’ve returned to this era to see what I could find.
Rather than go with the Tron-aping clip for 12:51, I’ve decided to take a look at the album’s second single – overlooked at the time, but has grown in recognition over the years thanks to Guitar Hero and the like. The video is an up-close-and-personal look at the band members – and that’s not a metaphor. These here are what Wayne and Garth would have described as “extreme close-ups” (WOAHHHHH!). I loved this, as it showed exactly what each member contributed. Watching both guitars and the bass at the same time in the “chorus” of the song is spellbinding stuff. I also love Albert Hammond, Jr. shaking violently before the second verse starts up; not to mention Julian Casablancas screaming and going all bug-eyed on us. Brilliantly edited and effortlessly cool – the latter of which has basically become a Strokes calling card.
“Not so cute anymore, now that you’re pushing thirty…”
For my money, A Joyful Noise was one of 2012’s most underrated albums. It certainly didn’t have a “Heavy Cross” or a “Standing in the Way…” among its tracks, but that doesn’t take away from its great songwriting, top-notch production and the fact that Perfect World remains one of their greatest-ever songs. With this in mind, I really hope people give A Joyful Noise a second chance – especially after seeing this very funny clip.
The song itself is a takedown of slacker girls and dodgy housemates, so it’s only fitting that Beth Ditto is as sardonic and bitchy as ever in the clip. Taking on a myriad of jobs, with all the wigs and costumes one could ask for, Ditto tears through the workforce with ease. Whether she’s working the phones, pulling teeth or literally just hitting a piece of wood with a hammer, there’s nothing that Beth can’t do! Sassy and sharp, Get a Job is easily one of the best clips the band have put their name to. What’s that? You haven’t seen it? Well, shit, son, get to work!
“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.
“If you are a deity of any sort, then please don’t go…”
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Y’know, I don’t often get the chance to say it, but how great is Regina Spektor? She makes consistently good records, she looks like a goddess and her videos rule. Them’s some pretty big ticks if you ask me, what more could you ever really want? Oh, gee, how about some toy caterpillars, lampshades, yellow paint and mannequin hands? Really? Did you really ask for allofthose very specific things just right now? Oh man, you have no idea how lucky you are.
Yes, all of these very peculiar things take a starring role in Regina’s adorable new video. Bored in her hotel room, Spektor takes matters into her own hands – at times, quite literally – and creates a bizarrely cute fantasy world. It just goes to show the absolute power of the imagination when one is left to their own devices. I particularly like the anti-gravity scene, as well as the slow dance that Regina partakes in where she’s covered in a bedsheet. Like I said in the Steve Burns video: Like hell you’ve never done something like this when you’re alone; and if you haven’t, what’s wrong with you? Can’t you see how much fun Regina’s having? Really, why can’t you be more like Regina? Geez.
“So pardon me for asking, pardon me for thinking…”
It says a lot about their devoted fanbase that, even several years after their peak of popularity, the two gents behind The Mighty Boosh – Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt – are still able to make things cool by association. The latter is what brings us here today, as Barratt turns his eye to music video directing for the first time with New York electro duo Tanlines. It’s already had a stack of views almost entirely on the back of Barratt’s name being attached, but it’s worth noting that All of Me is far from a bandwagon jump.
The video maintains the absurdist quirkiness that made Boosh – particularly within its first season – so appealing. In a dimly-lit room full of senior citizens, a mysterious figure enters with a video (yes, an actual video for a VHS!), puts it on and shares Tanlines’ performance with the group. At first, they remain statuesque – until one brave soul cannot contain the rhythm within and gets up to… dance? I’m not entirely sure dance is the right word. It’s delightfully done from a choreography perspective, though; creating something dark and unexpected yet somehow undeniably joyous. See what you make of it.
“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.