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.
“You can see it in my eyes, you can read it on my lips…”
Let’s talk about ageing gracefully. Recently, The Offspring skidmarked all over the comeback trail with two cringeworthy and awful videos – the horribly cliched Days Go By and the just plain horrible Cruising California (Bumpin’ in My Trunk). This, boys and girls, is NOT how you do it. The band look and sound about 100 years old, and a mercy killing is certainly imminent. So, what do the recently reformed No Doubt do differently, exactly? Click play on the new video for Settle Down and let’s take a look.
What you’ve got to remember to start off with is that No Doubt were about 100 when they released their last album, 2002′s Rock Steady. They have nothing to prove to anyone – hell, this reunion didn’t even need to happen, given the major success of Gwen Stefani‘s two solo records. This is a labour of love, and the band are clearly doing this because they want to, not because they have to. The video, in turn, is very bright and very upbeat – a mix of the wild partying of the Hey Baby video and the grittiness of the Hella Good video. The extended dance sequences are an absolute treat, and despite the excessive airbrushing they all look stunning. I would not say no to Gwen Stefani, people. Ever. And that’s a promise. Anyways, this is really fun – I hope the album is decent enough, too.
“I never really said it before, there’s nothing here but flesh and bone …”
Here’s an interesting one from my childhood. Most of my Old Favourites are either from 1998 or 2004 for whatever reason, and today we’re going to take a look at the latter – a landmark video clip for me that I didn’t fully appreciate until later on in life. You see, whether he wanted to be or not, George Michael was my first foray into the world of GLBT culture. I wasn’t even born when Wake Me Up Before You Go was a hit, and missed out on both Faith and Freedom. So, this was it – but what a time to be introduced to George Michael!
Just six months before this song/video came out, George had been found with a dude in a public toilet. You know how that story goes, I’m sure. This video, in response to that saga in his life that lead to his coming out, would satirise the entire thing. Well, I suppose if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? This was way too camp and cheesy for my liking at the time, so the whole thing – the porn parody, the uniform choreography, the various queer PDAs – went over my head at the time. Revisting it later on, though, it made so much more sense. Now, as a bisexual guy myself, I trace my first real exposure to gay culture back to this video. Did George Michael send me queer? Who knows? Who cares! It’s lunchtime – let’s go outside!
There’s an extensive history of nightmarish videos going with heavier dance tracks, from The Prodigy‘s acid trip of Smack My Bitch Up to Aphex Twin’s eternally creepy Come to Daddy video way back when. I’ll never say a bad word about either, but really: Where’s the Squarepusher love? Despite this being one of the most genuinely terrifying videos I’ve ever seen, it remains an underrated enigma of a filmclip. Hardly anyone I know has any love for this clip – and that’s just plain old crazy talk to yours truly.
Set in a child’s mental institution in Japan, a jailbreak is hatched with a little girl and her dog. Her plan is simple: Get one of the guards and turn them into her dog using a brain-switcher. Yeah, this mental institution happens to have a brain-switching device for some reason. I don’t know. Don’t question it. What unfurls is a blood-pumping race of psychopathic proportions, which matches up to every last glitch and tweak that the song presents. It’s quite a feat, making the video even more involving and terrifying than it already was. Have to warn you all, though, this can and will give little ones nightmares, so if you have kids or are one then please put them or yourselves away. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Sui Zhen is a Melbourne-based singer-songwriter,
who performs both solo and as a part of duo Fox + Sui.
She has picked five of her favourite videos: Colours and Soul by Dunkelziffer,
Amanaemonesia by Chairlift, You Changed Me by Sean Nicholas Savage,
Udi Baba Udi Baba by Asha Bhosle and Hawaii Bombay by Mecano.
Somewhere between Can, Liquid Liquid (for their Cavern clip) and Tom Tom Club (for their Genius of Love clip) sits Dunkelziffer. It’s happy and percussive space reggae that could please any adult and child alike. I aspire to make videos like this – expressive, colourful and ultimately satisfying. It’s the kind of labour intensive art that appeals to me – stop-motion animation with crayon, cubist figures and dope music – the kind of song to bring in the dawn.
A more contemporary video here, featuring green lycra, excellent dance moves, beautiful colour grading and classic 80’s synth pop. It’s from Brooklyn band Chairlift, who’ve continued a vibrant and tastefully psychedelic-karaoke aesthetic since their previous release with the data-moshed Evident Utensil. I’m mainly into the execution of their ideas. It’s supreme. Caroline Polachek is a babe and her subtly slick ponytail and self-choreographed ‘adult-contemporary dance suggestions’ blow my mind.
Oh yeah, and there’s amazing hand-drawn stop-motion animation too. Pfft. Too good.
Sean Nicholas Savage has my heart with this coupling of a true ‘romance’ song and wonderfully simple yet somehow still creepy video. His long stares and offbeat mannerisms are ever perplexing – and he has these wonky teeth that peek out with such good timing. I love the reference to David Byrne with the over-sized suit – not sure if intentional, but it works perfectly for this awkward character. The ‘wo wo wo’ intro and outro reminds me of Cantonese singing. This guy breaks. My. Heart.
No-one slides and sighs like Asha Bhosle (though the the deeper toned and huskier Asha Puthli comes close). This video has everything you could EVER WANT in a music video. TICK.
Lastly, I point you to this little number. I feel it’s closest to where Fox & Sui are heading at the moment out of all the above clips. Lo-budget VHS home-movie, Faux-exotica, bird sounds – the kind of magic that could only come from a Spanish-new-wave pop-rock band of the 80’s. Watch how the men turn to her for the ‘sighs’ in the chorus and her cheeky seductive lovemaking to the camera. Class act.
Sui’s debut album,Two Seas, is out now.
Sui will be going on tour from the 30th of May onwards. For dates and venues, head to Sui’s official Facebook page.
Hey gang! So, we’re not particularly denominational here at Y,WGAV!, but it’s still a place where any holiday is celebrated. Whatever you got, we’ll gladly take the day off to celebrate it. In this instance, we’ve got the Easter long weekend to look forward to – a spiritual time for some, but for most just another excuse to send ourselves into a confectionery-induced coma. To celebrate, here are five videos that will annihilate your sweet tooth. Chocolate, ice cream, lollies… it’s too good to be true!
5. New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream
Within the first 20 seconds, there’s a glorious spinning shot of sticky sweetness in a conglomerate of gooey candy – bullets, licorice, teeth, jellybeans etc. It’s a low-budget delight for the senses, really – and that’s not even mentioning knockout lead singer Tahita Bulmer. Simple pleasures are always the greatest.
4. Craig David – What’s Your Flava?
Here’s a blast from the past – suffering from Second Album Syndrome, Craig David tried to rustle up some interest in his new gear with this dorky homage to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As lame as it is, credit where credit’s due: he actually runs a fairly solid parody that runs with the plotline of the original story. Oh, and he travels down a chocolate river. There’s no earthly way of knoooowiiiing…
3. Rainbow Chan – Sweet Tooth
Here’s one a bit out of the ordinary , to say the least. One of my favourite Sydney artists, Rainbow Chan (yes, that IS her real name!), a few months ago took the initiative of having multi-coloured ice-cream melted and dripped onto her from above. It sounds a bit weird – and by god, it is. What can’t be denied, however, is just how watchable it is. There’s something strangely beautiful about a woman eating a snake lolly while being completely covered in rainbow ice-cream. And I never thought I’d say that.
2. Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate
Perhapsthe definition of a one-hit wonder. No-one had heard of Shanks & Bigfoot prior to the late nineties, and no-one has heard from them since. With their sole hit single, however, S&B inspired a whole generation of chocolate lovers. I loved this adorable fantasy chocolate world as a child, and it still brings out the child in me to this day.
1. Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg – California Gurls
Yeah, sorry Shanks – but not even your land of chocolate can compete withKaty Perry shooting cream out of her glorious tits.
Happy Easter, kids, hope you enjoy your holidays. We’ll be back on Monday, bellies full and eyes square from watching so many videos. Good times!
“What’s up with what’s going down, in every city and every town…”
Catching up on a few articles of SPIN Magazine online recently, I got hit with the fact that Pretend We’re Dead, the signature song of all-girl rockers L7, is officially twenty years old. How about that? I was all of a toddler when the song was dropped, and here we are 20 years later and I know the track like the back of my hand. One of the most anthemic tracks of its time, L7 assisted in keeping grunge alive on a not-so-mainstream basis. One of the other things I love about Pretend We’re Dead, however – leading us to today’s blog – is just how defining the video itself is.
From my extensive watching, I feel like I can pretty neatly separate the majority of grunge clips from this era into “artsy” and “rocking out.” Artsy clips are ones like Black Hole Sun, Heart Shaped Box and Jeremy. Watch them and you’ll get what I’m talking about. Rocking out clips, however, are more like My Wave, Lithium and Alive, to keep with those respective acts. You know the types – lots of thrashing about on stage, stagedives, crowd surfing, etc. All in slow motion, of course. Often in black & white, too. Pretend We’re Dead managed to combine the best of these two to create another bold statement on American teen apathy. The grainy shots of the city and walking the streets are met with vocalistDonita Sparks preaching the lyrics both on-stage and off.
Has Pretend We’re Dead aged? Has it, fuck. Gracefully, of course. It’s a complete product of its time, and that’s why it’s still such an interesting video to watch after all these years. For an extended interview with Sparks on the song and the context surrounding it, head over to SPIN online. Before that, though, enjoy this grunge masterpiece.
Joel Byrne is the lead vocalist and guitarist of
Adelaide-based pyschedelic rock band Wolf and Cub.
His favourite video is She Said by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
I love JSBX. Push comes to shove, I think they’re my number one. This clip isn’t especially amazing, but it’s decent – real decent – and I’ll stop whatever I’m doing at the time to watch it, because I love the JSBX and anything and everything that they do speaks to me.
It’s funny because, The Black Keys are one of the biggest bands in the world at the moment, and it distresses and confuses me that the JSBX aren’t just as big. Perhaps my love of the JSBX is making me ignorant. In that case, then, ignorance is bliss.
Wolf and Cub‘s new double A-side single, See the Light/All Through the Night, is available now via Bandcamp.
The band will play three shows in Adelaide, Melboure and Sydney this March and April. For details, head to the event page.