The Feelers “Supernova”

2004-the-feelers-supernovaI’m going to declare that of all the NZOA-funded videos I’ve seen so far, this one has have the most moronic plot. The video is shot in a single take, which seems to have led to a whole lot of nonsensical scenes set up purely to have something to film.

Let’s start at the beginning. It’s a wet day. A car has crashed – flipped right over. From it emerges a man who staggers around to the other side and helps out a woman. Ok, those are our protagonists, 04 Bonnie and Clyde.

As they run away from the car, it explodes, which spurs them to run even faster. Then they do something really strange. Instead of running along the road, they detour over the top of a fence into a playground, then over the fence on the other side, emerging at exactly the same place they’d have ended up if they’d just run along the road in a straight line.

They continue up the road into the local pub where the Feelers are playing. Now here’s thing. There’s just been a car crash about 100 metres away followed by a loud explosion, but no one in the pub has gone out to see what’s happened. No, they’re all just sitting there happily boozing away with the Feelers.

The couple – all wet and dirty – walk past everyone like nothing’s up. They go into the loos and change from their matching dark shirts with matching artistic rips into matching white singlets. (This toilet makeover is slightly more convincing than the non-event one in the Feelers earlier “Venus” video, but both are firmly trounced by the saucy 1990s Levi’s ad.)

They head out the back of the pub and see a path down to the river. They quickly run down, but the ground is wet and slippery and the dude actually keeps slipping and crashing into things. And why are they in such a hurry? No one’s chasing them!

At the bottom of the path they find a jetty with a speedboat in which they make their getaway. But here’s they’re at the Riverhead pub – taking the boat upstream is just going to take them into a swampy Kaipara creek. If they’d headed in the other direction, well, that would eventually lead them to the Waitemata Harbour and an easier getaway.

Morons. Actually, the only way this video could make sense is if they’d both sustained a significant brain injury in the car crash, severely clouding their judgement and leading them to make that series of dumb-arse decisions. They’re probably not even on the run from anyone. They were probably just off to the pub to see the Feelers play when they crashed. Always drive for the conditions, kids.

Best bit: the pub patrons who don’t give a damn.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… getting unravelled.

The D4 “Feel It, Like It”

2004-the-d4-feel-it-like-itAfter last being seen in 2001, the D4 return from being big in Japan with with a new album. “Feel It, Like It” was actually the third single off their second album, but for some reason it was the first to be funded.

The video uses the ancient art of sock-puppetry to tell the story of a big night out. The colourful world puppet world is simply constructed yet very detailed with plenty of little bits to notice.

The story revolves around a young dude sock puppet who has a hot date with a lady sock puppet. After decking himself out in new threads (i.e. a non-holey sock), he meets his date to see a movie – a 3D concert movie of the D4. This is where the band make their first appearance, rocking out with a fake 3D shadow.

The experience seems to have an aphrodisiac effect on the sock-puppets, as the guy and girl head back to his place for a, er, handjob. Here’s the bit where the video isn’t so effective. After implying that there’s some sock sex happening, suddenly we see the bare hands of a man and woman sensually caressing each other. That totally kills the sock-puppet humour and makes it way more sexual and real that it needs to be.

Bloody hell. If you can’t make an entertaining video where sock puppets are having weird sock puppet sex, then you need to go back to sock puppet school.

Best bit: the awkward sock-puppet pashing.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the long way around.

The Black Seeds “So True”

2004-the-black-seeds-so-true“So True” is a chilled out song of love, and the Black Seeds celebrate that with a Coromandel road trip. Cruising in a Holden HR (and I thank YouTube commenters for that detail) three band members, a guitar, a ukulele and a Polaroid camera cruise around the Coromandel countryside and coast.

Bret McKenzie was in the band at this stage, and he’s shown behind the wheel with the shaggiest hair ever. The trio arrive at a motorcamp and join some friends for a barbecue, further cementing the Black Seeds as a barbecue reggae band.

Then it’s time for a bit of exploring around the coast, some beach cricket, a bit of swimming, some snorkelling, and a dramatic cliff drive.

There’s a stop at a dairy that looks like some very conspicuous product placement. The dairy is covered with Tip Top ice cream branding and Bret cleanly removes the wrapper of his pineapple Fruju with a flourish. This isn’t the first time there’s been product placement in a NZOA video, but it somehow sticks out a bit too much. Also: damn, I could do with a Fruju now.

The world of “So True” is an idealised North Island New Zealand, where it’s always summer and it’s always sunny and idyllic. The video has evoked emotional comments from people, both overseas and in New Zealand, who are relishing in that cruisy loved-up summer feeling.

Best bit: the pineapple on the back shelf of the Holden.

Director: Gareth Moon
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… sock it to me.

Steriogram “Road Trip”

2004-steriogram-road-trip“Road Trip” was the follow-up single to “Walkie Talkie Man”, Steriogram’s attempted breakout single that came with a great big fancy music video directed by Michel Gondry. “Road Trip” was somewhat less ambitious than the yarn-based universe, but still a good portrait of Steriogram in their attempt to make it overseas.

The song is an honest account of life on the road – the mix of sleep deprivation, boredom, having no money, hunger and – oh yeah – “we’re doing what we love and we love what we’re doing”. The video is along for the ride, but doesn’t dwell too much on those less fun aspects. As director Andrew Morton explains on YouTube, “I went on the road with Steriogram for three months back in 2004. We went to Tokyo, Toronto, and all through the States multiple times. It was an insane amount of fun and killer times. This video is a compile of those travels.”

There are a few shots of the band napping in vans and breakdancing in hotel rooms, but most of the video is based around live shows. Despite the tedium of the van, it seems Steriogram could turn up to a venue, put on a show and get the crowd moving.

It’s a really effective live video. They’re not faking audience size or enthusiasm – here’s a young New Zealand band who are working their arses off on tour. They didn’t quite manage to establish themselves in America, but this video is a good enough record of that year of hard work.

Best bit: the end shot of a guitar being tossed up in the air, with no follow-through on the comedown.

Director: Andrew Morton
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… summertime gladness.

Opshop “No Ordinary Thing”

2004-opshop-no-ordinary-thingOpshop return with “No Ordnary Thing”, and it sounds like they were listening to a lot of Radiohead when they wrote it. The song is perhaps best known when it was used on Outrageous Fortune when Aurora died. Boohoo.

The video is largely animated, set in space. It opens with what looks like an eclipse, only it’s revealed that the large object blocking the sun is actually a car tyre. We soon discover that there’s whole lot of stuff floating around in space. But this isn’t standard space junk – it’s very ordinary bits and pieces of everyday life on earth. Things like a doll, a petrol pump, a t-shirt, and a flickering neon sign advertising “X GIRLS”.

But a curious thing is happening – the objects seem to be getting unwrecked, unsmashed. Then we discovered all the junk is heading for one spot and – ohh… – it’s rebuilding planet Earth, which we presume has previously exploded.

This is like one of those really rubbish deux ex machina episodes of Doctor Who. And somehow it’s only the accoutrements of Western life that are heading back, suggesting this repaired Earth will have remote African village huts made of laptops and sneakers.

Back on the rapidly reconstructed Earth, we find Jason from Opshop in a playground with his daughter. He’s taking photos of her, implying that the only thing that can bring a fractured world back together is a father’s love for his daughter. Well, that’s nice.

It feels like the song is so strong that it doesn’t really need the video. People who like the song will like it regardless of whether or not there’s a pair of sneakers floating in space.

Best bit: the “X GIRLS” sign, bringing some cheap thrills into space.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… on the road, yet again.

Nesian Mystik “What’s Next?”

2004-nesian-mystik-whats-nextAfter having five videos funded from their debut album, Nesian Mystik return with the first track off their follow-up album Freshman (which, being their second album, technically should be Sophomore, but that doesn’t sound as cool).

Like a lot of the group’s songs, this one is about Nesian Mystik, but unlike their previous songs, “What’s Next?” has a harder edge with some of the lyrics getting bleeped in the video. A threat that they’ll “Mimi [urinate] on you amateurs, just so ya’ll can feel our flow” has “mimi” removed, to avoid any bilingual offence.

But that’s nothing compared to this line:

I hate to bring this up like an eating disorder
But you could never touch on this like molesting your daughter

The “molesting your daughter” bit is bleeped. Damn, this trumps Split Enz’s “I’m lost at sea and I’m an amputee” line from “Shark Attack” as the worst couplet in New Zealand music ever. Far out. Just because it rhymes doesn’t mean you have to use it.

So, with Nesian Mystik being bad boys, how does the music video show this? It puts them in an underground car park, in a nighttime cityscape, and under the Victoria Park overpass. The overpass looks all gritty and urban on camera, but if they took a few steps to the left they’d be standing in a pretty cricket oval, surrounded by splendid London plane trees.

Yeah, the video is trying very hard to be hard and edgy, but the poppiness of the song (the chorus is killer) and the niceness of the group that still comes across makes it hard to believe that they are the sort of dudes who’d be found hanging around a dark car park, and all that implies.

Best bit: the song’s opening, simple Spanish guitar played outside a suburban house.

Director: Mark Tretheway
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… space junk, space junk.

Lucid 3 “AM Radio”

2004-lucid-3-am-radioThis song is Lucid 3’s very cool tribute to the pleasures of AM radio, but I assume they’re not including 1300 1ZH, the local Hamilton pop station of the ’80s. Because there was nothing cool or romantic about hearing a fuzzy, monophonic rendition of “The Living Years”. Ew.

The video sees the trio performing the song in a wood-panelled room in front of a small audience of hoodie-wearing dude slumped in their chairs, looking like they’d all be more at home in a Blindspott video.

There’s once latecomer to the performance. He arrives and walks over to a vintage Wave Master radio and switches it on. Soon he and his hooded brothers started nodding their heads to the beat.

And there the video seems to have reached its happy place. The song fades out, which leaves the prospect of the band playing to the audience of nodding, hooded radio heads forever. But being an AM radio station, it’s only a matter of time before an ad comes on for a local muffler repair shop.

Best bit: the shiny silver Wave Master radio.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the bad-boy aesthetic.

Katchafire “Seriously”

2004-katchafire-seriouslyA lot of Katchafire’s previous videos have involved the band playing at some sort of concert, but this video goes a step further and is a recording of an actual live performance.

It all looks like a pretty standard Katchafire show, with no rockstar (reggaestar?) antics wheeled out for the camera. And it’s so good to see a real audience in a performance music video. The enthusiastic crowd dance and cheer, seemingly of their own accord.

The song takes a while to get going. In this live version, the bass doesn’t kick in until almost two minutes into the song. Before that happens, the build-up feels like one big tease of EDM proportions.

Strangely enough, throughout the performance we can hear the constant chatter of the crowd. Is this normal at a Katchafire concert? Because it seems to me if you’re talking loud enough to be heard over the music, then you’re probably not really paying all that much attention to the music.

It ends up being a fairly ordinary documentary of Katchafire playing a live show in 2004. Maybe that’s the problem. To be in the crowd, dancing along with your friends with your favourite band would be a great experience. But somehow these emotions don’t translate so well to the screen.

Best bit: the positioning of the NZ On Air logo at the end of a beam of light.

Director: Ivan Slavov

Next… tuning in.

Jordan Luck “Here They Come, There They Go”

2004-jordan-luck-here-they-comeAfter a long, successful run with the Exponents, Jordan Luck went solo, accompanied by his new backing band called Luck. “Here They Come, There They Go” was his only solo video to receive NZOA funding.

The video for his first single attempts to delve inside the subconsciousness of Jordan, starting with the singer asleep in bed, having a dream involving two bikini-wearing chicks who also have the head of a fish. I dunno. I just always imagined Jordan Luck’s dreams would be a bit more interesting than femme-fish erotica.

Fortunately real life proves to be more interesting. He takes a shower then sits down to enjoy a nice full English cafe breakfast, only for the sossies and to transform into chocolate fish and other oceanic delights. Oh, and the waitress has a fish head.

Much of the video takes place on a double-decker bus, full of Jordan’s band (including serial session bass player Mareea Paterson) and various freaky friends. There’s also a bit of action around Western Springs, with even yet still more fish-headed people and some punks feeding jelly worm sweets to the ducks.

The song has a fun singalong chorus and the video joins in with all the energy of that. Even when Exponents videos were being lively, there was always a seriousness to them. Jordan’s solo video just gets down and has a great time.

Best bit: the throwback to the gold commedia dell’arte mask originally seen in the Exponents “House of Love” video.

Director: Ivan Slavov

Next… down in the front row.

Goodnight Nurse “Taking Over”

2004-goodnight-nurse-taking-overThe video opens with Danny Watson. Forget the distant future where Goodnight Nurse’s lead singer wins a Grammy. All that matters it that it’s 2004 and Danny Watson is in the “Taking Over” music video.

At the peak of his ponytail phase, he plays a suburban dad who’s off for a weekend away with the suburban mum. They leave their teenage daughter home alone. Will she enjoy a quiet weekend? Of course not. Her punk-arse mates in Goodnight Nurse will come over and throw a massive party.

Soon the band set up and a large number of partygoers show up at the door, including a pizza guy, nurses, a mime artist, and Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury. Yeah, pretty much everything you need for a bangin’ time.

Goodnight Nurse prove themselves capable of rocking the house, and it’s perhaps more effective to have a small living room full of people rocking to some punk-pop, rather than trying to fake it with an actual performance venue.

The music video based around a crazy house party is nothing new (Loves Ugly Children used the concept for “Sixpack”), but the trope pretty much demands some sort of payoff at the end. But disappointingly, we don’t get a return visit from Danny Watson. Instead there’s a generic morning-after shot involving one of the partygoers sneaking out. The only way that could be more boring is if we were shown the remaining party guests cleaning up.

Best bit: the awkward camera angle that makes Danny Watson’s daughter look more than a head taller than her him.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the Luck bus.