“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.
“Falling for a guy, who fell down from the sky…”
A couple of things that are blowing my mind regarding these guys. Firstly: Fever to Tell is TEN FUCKING YEARS OLD. One of the more iconic alternative debuts of the 2000s, which still sounds as fresh, aggressive, fervent and hellbent as it did when it first dropped so many moons ago. On that note, how have they not aged? They’re all in their mid-thirties now, and it barely shows. They still have a world of energy to them, particularly within their live shows – one of which I had the pleasure of seeing back in January as a sideshow from their Big Day Out festivities. Jolly good.
Lastly, anyone else as excited for Mosquito, their fourth album, as I am? I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet, and it’s not officially out for a few weeks, but I heard from a friend of a friend of a third cousin that it’s out on the interwebs somewhere right about now. Before you get to it, however, take a minute to soak in the glory of Sacrilege, which opens the album; and its sinister video. It begins with a fire, and what appears to be an entire township surrounding it. With each flash of footage, we work our way backwards from the fire to find out how exactly we got there. It does indeed involve many of the people surrounding the fire in the first place, all linked in to a single person. Sorry to be vague on the details, but I really think this one has to be seen in order to be believed. No smoke (apart from the fire) and mirrors here. Just raw, confronting and gripping film-making. It’s quite possibly the best video I have seen all year.
“Can’t understand, how the very word Australian has just been damned…”
A very special celebration from over the weekend in regards to Australian hip-hop – it’s the ten-year anniversary of The Herd‘s seminal LP, An Elefant Never Forgets. A drastic amount has indeed changed in the years since this album’s release – for Australia as a nation, for the Herd as a group and for myself as a listener. Australia has long since gotten rid of John Howard and – at least slightly – grown to have a greater understanding and empathy of the horrible ways that refugees and asylum seekers have bee treated over the years. Once a hungry collective of up-and-comers, The Herd are now an Aussie hip-hop institution, selling out tours and running one of the most notable indie labels in the country in Elefant Traks.
As for me? This was my gateway into Australian hip-hop – yep, this was pre-Nosebleed Section for me, so it was a steadfast and forthright display of what kind of hip-hop was happening in my own backyard. Nowadays, I’m fully immersed in Australian hip-hop – I’ve seen great artists come and go (Phrase, 1200 Techniques), not to mention some terrible ones (anyone remember Figgkidd? No?). It’s a community of artists and ideas that I appreciate so goddamn much. And it all begins here: An animated clip in which Little Johnny wakes up one day and gets to find out exactly what it’s like when horrible things happen to him. This actually managed to tie in with my first major interests in politics, as well – with Bush, Howard and Blair all in office, what a time to fucking hate world government, huh? I’m really glad I got to sit down and watch 77% again – it reminds me that Australian hip-hop lives, it reminds me that there is still a world of injustice out there and it drives me to maintain the rage on both accounts.
“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.
“My mate Bill Gates says it, the President of the United States says it…”
2003 was a confusing and disappointing year for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Sure, they got to headline Homebake and released their 12th studio album Nocturama – but there were consequences. The album pretty much tanked, and founding member Blixa Bargeld left the band not too long after it was all finished. Thankfully, there was one great thing to come out of the Bad Seeds circa Nocturama. And you, dear friends, are about to watch it.
Babe, I’m on Fire is about as anti-single as anything that the Bad Seeds have ever done. It’s 14 minutes long, it features extensive organ solos and the lyrics centre almost entirely around a myriad of people saying the titular phrase. Why they decided it was a good idea to release it is anyone’s guess, but this video will make you forever grateful that they did. For a band with such a brooding manner and a noted lack of humour, it’s worth seeing the entire band at their absolute silliest. Raiding the costume drawer, the Bad Seeds dress up as every single character depicted in the song, from Nick’s “wife with the furniture” to “the doomed homosexual with the persistent cough.” Perhaps this wildness was the place where the idea of Grinderman began to bloom, who knows?
Whatever the case, this is easily amongst Cave’s best videos, if only just to see him as a skinny, cross-dressing nutjob for a minute or fourteen.
“Fire in the disco! Fire in the disco! Fire in the Taco Bell!”
I’m a man who loves my novelty rock. From the epic first Tenacious D album all the way up to recent blog-featured fellas The Beards, I’ve got no qualms with a band that can make me laugh and make me dance. Such is the case of Electric Six, the Detroit natives best known for two smashing comedy-rock hits back in 2003. Of course, there’s Gay Bar – the snarling bit of homoerotic power-pop with the Abe Lincoln strippers in its video – but for today’s edition I’ve decided to take the other option.
Gay Bar may be a fantastic tune, but in terms of their videos I’m always going to side with Danger! High Voltage. Why, you ask? Have you seen the thing recently? No, seriously, have you? I know it’s been awhile, so let me jog your memory. There is some very creepy dancing, some dead animals, a makeout scene to end all other makeout scenes… oh, and glowing genitals. Glowing. Genitals. If your video doesn’t have glowing genitals, don’t bother sending it to me, kay?
In other interesting news, I just found out that these guys are not only still together and touring, but they have released an album every year since 2006. How’s that for consistency? Maybe I should see if I can get them as My Favourite Video bloggers… watch this space!
“My heart is stronger than you all, but I love to watch good dancers talk…”
To wind down for the day, here’s a classic from the early 2000s that I’m particularly fond of. Way before you knew Luke Steele as the evil genius behind Empire of the Sun, he was meticulously creating brilliant pop music under the moniker of The Sleepy Jackson. It saddens me that many EotS fans have probably never heard a Sleepies tune – as much as I dug Walking on a Dream, it simply doesn’t have a patch on an album like Lovers. It’s also my sincere opinion that Luke has never put his name to a better music video than this one.
Although two videos were made for Good Dancers, it’s this one that has stood the test of time and proven to be the more popular – and very deservedly so, I should add. It’s the kind of video that manages to speak quite powerfully on a theme without actually saying anything. A cleaner works his way through what appears to be either a retirement home or a mental institution, falls in love with a worker, dances with her and leaves suddenly, without any warning. There is nothing more to the video, which would lead some to suggest it’s some absurdist form of art. On the contrary, I say.
To me, Good Dancers is a video about the fleeting nature of happiness, those tiny moments of joy that might seem bizarre at the time but later go on to be completely unforgettable. It’s about being swept off your feet and letting your imagination stretch until it snaps. It’s about finding your joy in the most unlikely of places. In a really strange way, it’s kind of about life. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. I don’t know. All I know is that I can’t help but fall in love again and again with this video, and if you’ve never seen it before then I hope you do the same.