“Don’t keep me with the kisses, there’s never any doubts when I need you…”
I’ll be completely honest – I’m only going to Laneway Festival for Cloud Nothings and Japandroids at this stage. There’s still a lot that I haven’t checked out on the line-up – among the top of the list, until quite recently, was UK chanteuse Jessie Ware. I’ve seen her bandied about the place quite a bit lately, but I just didn’t have the time to get around to her. That was, of course, until this adorable little clip landed in my lap – or, at least, on my desktop. Whichever seems more pleasing to you, really.
Here, a kid version of Jessie works with a kid version of a producer to create the sultry pop magic that’s going on in the background (that was surprise number one, really – this shit is GOOD!) and ultimately perform it to their parents. Admittedly, it’s not all that original a concept – we’ve seen kid versions of rockstars many, many times in the past; from Grandaddy to Powderfinger. That said, there’s something still so wondrous and sweet about the interaction between the two kids in this video, from their work in the “studio” to their playful lunch break. It’s funny, it’s cute and it lures you into the music itself. Mmm, more please.
“You’re walking in, trying to act lazy…”
Holy shit. I’m still not entirely sure of what I just saw. I don’t know whether to be laughing hysterically, throwing up or crying in the corner. This right here is quite possibly the trashiest, most demented and wildly inappropriate video I’ve seen all year – and, considering the kind of crazy shit that ends up on my desk every day, this is no small feat. The band is Drunk Mums, a quartet of self-described “rock & roll yobbos” from Melbourne. Although I was previously unfamiliar with them, this is definitely an act I’m going to be keeping an eye on from here on in.
Our story begins in a messy bedroom, clearly after a massive night out. The anti-hero then awakes – and at this point it’s probably worth mentioning that HE IS A BAT WITH A DICK FOR A FACE. A GIANT, PLASTIC, INFLATABLE DICK FOR A FUCKING FACE.If you’re not completely and wholeheartedly sold from this point in, I guess there’s no luring you back in… unless, perhaps, I let you know that HIS GIRLFRIEND HAS A VAGINA FOR A FACE. SERIOUSLY. What follows is about on par with Smack My Bitch Up in terms of drunken naughtiness, and it absurdly ends with none of it resolved. I guess that was the point? Whatever the case, do NOT watch this around children – or, of course, if you are one yourself.
“The worst thing about living a lie is just wondering when they’ll find out…”
In January of this year, I saw the delightful Miss Merrill Garbus – better known as tUnE-yArDs - perform three times. Twice in Melbourne and once in Sydney. I’ve never seen another performer quite like her, and I don’t think I ever will. Garbus is practically untouchable – her banshee shrieks, her powerful Afrobeat rhythms, her mix of glitchy electronica and thudding hip-hop beats…it’s such a fascinating, powerful sound. Being an artist at heart, she also has a firm grip on visualising this sound – had I seen it in time, Bizness could have easily been in my top 5 videos of 2011. For now, though, I’m in the right place at the right time for My Country, the third video to be lifted from Merrill’s fantastic W H O K I L Lrecord and quite possibly the best.
Similar to the Bizness video, Garbus has once again employed a posse of wild-eyed, adventurous and downright adorable kids to follow along with all of the bizarre choreography and oddball nature of the video. One kid’s sole responsibility is to pop and lock; another’s is to sing into an unplugged microphone that’s drenched in water while wearing a raincoat. You’re getting the idea. It’s very primitive and very strange, but that’s all part of the tUnE-yArDs’ appeal. It’s a matter of expecting the unexpected, and going along with whatever insanity might pop up. I could gush on, but I’m going to let Merrill and co. speak for themselves. The kids are alright.
“Remember walking a mile to your house, aglow in the dark…”
Welcome back, gang! Here’s one that I really should have gotten to when it dropped a couple of weeks ago – I could give you half a dozen excuses as to exactly why I hadn’t watched it up until this very moment, but you probably wouldn’t read or care. Let’s just cut to the chase: The Shins are back. It’s been five years, and James Mercer is the only original member that remains from the previous line-up that gave us Wincing the Night Away. But it’s still the Shins, goddammit. And this is one of their best videos to date.
A mix of The Royal Tenenbaums, cartoon violence and the sentiment of family unity, a greyed-up Mercer plays the deceased father to the new members of The Shins, all disgruntled adults watching his video will. Imagery of their childhood years is interspersed throughout the clip, occasionally melding together until a dynamic shift about 3 minutes in. It’s a delightfully original clip that plays on a different side of the song that I didn’t quite expect, a story that keeps you engaged from its opening moments to its strangely joyful finale. I can’t recommend this any higher. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
“Tell me that behind you, you always tell me you never have a clue…”
We’re wrapping up the week here at Y,WGAV! with an artist that I don’t know anything about. Yep, honesty’s the best policy, and up until yesterday I had no idea who the fuck Grimes - aka Clare Boucher – was. I’m still not that much wiser on the matter. Wikipedia says she’s 23 and Canadian. That helps. She’s got an album coming out, too. This is from it. It’s a start. Anyway, the reason we’re talking about Grimes is because of this video. I can’t quite recall how I got to it, but I’ve no complaints at all about this discovery.
Oblivion is a video of stunning contrast and painstaking visual irony. Boucher bounds about her surroundings sweetly, carefree and innocent. Where she finds herself, however, is far from it. Shot on location at a college football game as well as a dirtbike rally and a locker room, Boucher finds herself swarmed by shirtless machismo and unintentional homoeroticism. It’s a provocative and intriguing thing to watch. Quite dark at times, too. Basicially, I’m head over heels in love with this. I love it more with every view. We’re having a fantastic year for clips, I tell you. Don’t be surprised if this ranks highly in my EOY list.
“I feel like standing tall, and getting all of my ducks in a row…”
The world’s most uncool cool person. This, boys and girls, is Kimya Dawson – a singer, songwriter, mama and one of my personal heroes. Why? Pretty simple, really. She’s never stuck to any form of convention, she has a remarkable story and you can learn pretty much everything you need to know about life from her music. Her music will make you feel as though you and your life mean something. Not many musicians can do that. Oh, and for this blog’s sake, she’s got some super-sweet videos up her sleeve as well.
The last time we had her on, with the video for Driving Driving Driving, Kimya was making model volcanos with Aesop Rock and her daughter, Panda (pictured). This time around, Kimya takes Panda for a swim,and it’s adorably unpretentious. The synchronised swimming is daggy, the camera work is shaky, the miming to the song is off… much like Kimya’s music, it’s imperfectly perfect. Really, if you don’t get a smile watching Kimya and all of her friends dancing around the pool like utter dags, then maybe this friendship isn’t going to work out. A nice, big warm hug for your Friday morning. Go on. You deserve it.
“Held your bare bones with my clothes on, I’ve thrown rocks that hit both my arms…”
If there is one record from 2011 that has grown on me like nobody’s business, it’s Strange Mercy, the third album from the delightful Annie Clark – aka St. Vincent. The contrasts, the power in her voice, the fact it can be so delightfully poppy and adventurously weird at the same time… it’s a great headphones listen, that’s for sure. I have to say, though, I might not have even thought to give it a second chance were it not for her music videos.
Her last one, Cruel, ended up on many end-of-year lists and was one of the most talked-about clips of recent times. It completely flew under my radar, and watching the clip helped me fall in love with Annie and her music all over again. Naturally, I wanted more – and she’s delivered with Cheerleader, which is quite possibly her best video yet. In it, Clark plays herself as a living, breathing statue. She is watched apathetically by a small group, walks away and then literally crumbles on the ground. Yeah, spoiler alert and all that.
It’s not a video where the ending is the selling point, though – purely as a work of art I find this fascinating. Click through to the YouTube page are there are hundreds of comments on different interpretations of what the video means. Is it a comment on feminism? Objectification? A non-caring society? Hate for women in the arts? Honestly, it could be all of those things and it could be none of those things. What I want you to do is see for yourself. See what it means to you. I know what it means to me, and I don’t think I need to force it onto you. Just watch Annie destroy herself and see what you make of it. Oh, and if you’re in Australia come to her shows! They’re next month!
“I’ll give it all that I have to give…”
It was interesting to do a Google Images search for Brooke Addamo to get the picture you see above. She’s certainly come a long way since her time as a naive teen on Idol, having evolved into a unique pop artist with a strong, textured voice – but she’s also developed from a purely creative perspective. Following on from the dark, strangely sexy video of Faces late last year comes an intriguing adventure centred around the title track of her new EP, Raiders.
For this clip, Addamo appears to have gone for a mix of a gypsy queen and Xena: Warrior Princess, dancing and singing around a bizarre alternative universe that expands from barren tennis courts to mystic rivers. She carries a bow and arrow, but exactly what she needs to protect herself from won’t be initially clear. Maybe it even won’t be by the end of it, who knows? It’s all about how you interpret it – but it’s a beautifully shot and well-paced video all the same. Top work, Addamo.
“And he thinks there’s something missing, that there’s something wrong with him…”
I’m going to be catching Seeker Lover Keeper at several of their upcoming shows, and I’m very excited to be doing so. I thought just before I did that I might pay a bit of tribute to the individual ladies that make up the group – so you’ll see a Sarah Blasko favourite tomorrow and a Sally Seltmann vid on Thursday. For now, though, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the gorgeous Holly Throsby and what is actually one of my all-time favourite videos.
Released in 2004, Things Between People is a very, very simple video. It starts as a tiny white dot in the centre of your screen, before zooming into a street, heading all the way to the end and then reversing the process, occasionally cutting or restarting. Literally, that’s it. So why does it work? It’s utterly fascinating, for one. You can’t look away even though you know exactly where the video is headed. I also love the dynamic shifts that come with changing the colours, bringing it in after the first ninety seconds or so of black and white. It goes from cold to hazy to blissful and warm, and all it takes is a quick change of the colouring. It’s simple and beautiful, much like the song itself, and it’s a video that has stuck in my mind for years. There’s just something about it that I find totally unforgettable.
“There’s a fire going out, there’s really nothing to the south…”
We’re a day late here at Y,WGAV!, on account of a massive weekend of live music. Be gentle and forgiving – and let’s get straight into it. First up, we’ve got a great new clip from Justin Vernon – better known to the world around him as Bon Iver. He’s back from exile and hanging out with Kanye West to deliver his gorgeously haunting sophomore, Bon Iver, Bon Iver (yes, that is the title) – and this is our first taste of the album from a visual perspective.
There are a lot of conflicted themes and strange visual metaphors woven throughout this video, and I’m aware it’s going to be pretty open to interpretation for a lot of people. Whatever your feelings on its message, it’s hard to deny the beauty of the video – it flows smoothly and is gorgeously shot through a series of very different locations. It’s an outstanding visual companion to the song, which itself gets more and more serene every time I hear it. This is a strange video, certainly, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. I see a story of complicated love that is striving to something greater, but is held back by circumstance of the world around them. What do you see?