“No-one stopped to think about the babies, or how they would survive…”
Sometimes, the joy of discovering new music can be completely accidental. Such is the case with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – they were not the act I was planning to watch on the SXSW live stream on YouTube (I had actually tuned in for Kimbra), but they were the act I got all the same. And I was mesmerised – these guys have to be one of the most fun, inventive and exciting indie-pop acts going in North America right now. I love their debut album, It’s a Corporate World, and I love the video that they recently put out to celebrate two huge parts of American pop culture – the late Gil Scott-Heron and the city of Detroit.
It’s a tribute to the former in that this is his song, released around 35 years ago on his Bridges record. It’s a tribute to the latter in that the band filmed this video in and around their beloved city. It doesn’t come across as self-grandeurizing or an attempt to tack themselves onto a historical legacy – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. With this video, DEJJ manage to profess the love they have for their city in a very sweet, unique and clever way. It warms my heart to see them do this, especially when you learn more about just how much this project meant to these guys. There’s a greater layer of story here, but I’ll leave that extracurricular reading up to you. For now, kick back and enjoy this.
“Garbage in, garbage out, she’s getting what she wants…”
Holy word. Now we’re talking business. Rarely has the term “first the worst, second the best” been more applicable than with the two solo videos of the honourable Jack White III that have been released this year. The first, Love Interruption, although a nice enough little ditty, had a boring as hell video that was a plain baby-blue performance. Here, on White’s Sixteen Saltines, shit has gotten well and truly real. A collaboration with director AG Rojas, White has truly brought the crazy – it’s potentially the best video he’s been a part of since The White Stripes‘ twisted clip for The Denial Twist back in 2005.
What can you say about this flash of madness? Jack is arguably the least important player here – he starts off being tied up in a room and ends up being blown up in a car. The in-between involves complete disarray and chaos as a gang of hostile youths take over – trashing warehouses, asphyxiating themselves, sleeping in coffins, getting tattooed. You name it, they’ve probably done it in the course of less than three minutes. It’s insane. Judging from the YouTube comments, this video is reaching a whole new generation of kids who don’t get Jack White – and that excites me a lot more than you’d think. Roll on, Blunderbuss!
“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!
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!
“If I started over, I’d do the same again…”
Well, I’ve gotta admit that I didn’t see this one coming. As much as I love pop-punk and how much it means to me, I don’t normally look to it for great clips. It’s often either just your stock-standard performance vid or compilations of tour footage – and, as fun as the latter can be, it’s not exactly inspired. So imagine my surprise when Detroit’s Fireworks came out of the blue with one of the most original videos of the year – I knew instantly that I had to share it about.
I’ve seen some fairly creepy imitations of humans in my time – the Manic Street Preachers and their civilsation of literally faceless people – but I’ve got to say that seeing pinata people – yeah, like the ones at kids’ parties filled with candy – have to be up there with the creepiest. The pinata people are being hunted by a crazed killer, complete with daggers, knives and…you guessed it…bow and arrows! Will the creepy family survive? What’s the killer’s motive? Was that candy? Think you’ve got some watching to do, chief.