June 2005: Rhombus, Rock ‘n’ Roll Machine, Rubicon, Savage, The Boxcar Guitars, The Fat Monks, The Pits, Vickie Evans

Communist propaganda, suburban escapism, tropical home movies, Auckland cool, lamps and a jazz legend.
Continue reading June 2005: Rhombus, Rock ‘n’ Roll Machine, Rubicon, Savage, The Boxcar Guitars, The Fat Monks, The Pits, Vickie Evans

June 2005: 4Eulogi, Frontline, Foamy Ed, Heavy Jones Trio, Luke Thompson, Niki Ahu, Pearl

A Freudian gothic nightmare, one night at a busy hotel, a walk along the beach and one big fallacy, yo.
Continue reading June 2005: 4Eulogi, Frontline, Foamy Ed, Heavy Jones Trio, Luke Thompson, Niki Ahu, Pearl

Fast Crew “Set the Record Straight”

“Set the Record Straight” was the title track of Fast Crew’s debut album. It’s a great big celebration of who they are, and the video captures live performances from the Crew’s peak time – including their 2006 appearance at the Big Day Out.

When the band aren’t making the room jump in their live gigs, they’re shown posing around Cross Street – a place with conveniently rundown buildings that can stand in for cinematic urban decay when needed.

Singer Rebecca Le Harle barely features in this video. She doesn’t perform on the track and is only ever seen in wide shots of the group performing live. She eventually left the group and didn’t perform on their next single, so the occasional flick of her ponytail is the last we’ll see of her.

The video was uploaded to the Fast Crew’s YouTube account in 2006, which means we’re getting right into the era when videos were uploaded at the time of their original release. This also means that for the early years, the video quality isn’t great. This one is only 360p (I’m not totally sure what that means, but, y’know, it’s a small number), so the video quality is very pixelly.

It’s not a great song or video, but at the very least it captures the band at their peak. Playing the Big Day Out is a major achievement for any band, and seeing the Crew rocking the BDO’s Boiler Room is worth capturing.

Best bit: the trio proudly displaying their Air Force 1’s.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Ok, that’s it for another year. This year I covered videos from June 2003 to June 2005, and reached the overall halfway point (Wahey! Only another three and a half years to go, OMG, what am I doing with my life, etc). I’m going to spend the summer break watching Katy Perry and/or Eurovision videos, and I’ll be back sometimes in January 2015. Or February if I’m lazy. Thanks for reading, y’all!

Elemeno P “11:57”

Elemeno P returned with a new album, Trouble in Paradise, and “11:57” was its first single. In keeping with the times, the band had taken a harder, rockier sound, moving away from their poppier roots. The trouble is, lead singer Dave’s speak-singing style can’t keep pace with the power of the music. He sounds like someone doing a half-arsed singalong, while bassist Lani outshines him with her rock solid backing vocals.

But let’s get to the video. The band are dressed all in black (so emo), with a few accents of colour, including lani’s red shoes. They seem to be performing on a roof top, with a large khaki and orange target shape on the ground. It’s night time – 11.57pm, of course.

The camera has a sense of excitement and urgency, rushing about the performance area. This is no passive bystander – the camera is like a gig-goer hopped up on Red Bull. And that’s where the emphasis is – Elemeno P, rocking out. It ends up putting the spotlight on the strong rock qualities of the song, which in turn shows up the contrast of the non-rock vocals. It’s tense.

Best bit: Lani’s shoes, as always.

Director: Marcus Ringrose
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… wheel out the urban decay.

Chong Nee “Thin Line”

Chong Nee has previously shown up with videos for his work with AKA Brown and Dei Hamo, but “Thin Line” was his first solo video. The song, an R&B ode to a straying lover, is underpinned by a quirky keyboard loop that starts to outstay its welcome after about a minute.

The video starts by establishing Chong Nee in a somewhat unsympathetic light. He’s spying on his girlfriend, watching her laughing with another man at a basketball game. There’s another scene where the girlfriend is attempting to relax in a candlelit bath, except Chong Nee is also in the bathroom, emoting “I don’t want to live my life this waay-ay-eee-eeee.” Dude, she’s not going to cheat on you when she’s alone in the bath.

Or is there a supernatural explanation for all this? Of course there is: Chong Nee is a ghost. The M. Night Shyamalan-style shock twist comes near the end when a club patron walks through Chong Nee. And even beyond the grave, he’s still spying on his girlfriend at the club.

I guess this is the frustration for Ghost Chong Nee: he probably doesn’t feel that his relationship has ended, so when he sees his girlfriend with other guys, it feels like she’s cheating on him. Meanwhile the girlfriend has had to deal with the death of her boyfriend, and might just be getting back into the social scene. She doesn’t need to be haunted by the jealous ghost of her ex. Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him?

Best bit: the pink and green bathroom decor.

Director: Chris Chetland
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the inevitable emo phase.

Che Fu “Lightwork”

This video is so frustrating to watch. It takes the form of a comic-book story. It’s illustrated with a fairly dark palette so it takes a bit of effort to figure out everything that’s going on. That on its own shouldn’t be too hard for the viewer to overcome, but the video just goes and complicates things even further: it adds subtitles.

It seems to be an attempt to explain the plot of the video. 47 subtitles, to be precise. In both Japanese and English. And a lot of the subtitles don’t stay on screen long enough to be read in their entirety.

The crazy thing is that the plot of the video is clear enough on its own, so the subtitles are pretty much unnecessary. All they do is constantly snatch the viewer’s attention away from the main story. The video might as well have random graphics pop up saying “LOOK OVER HERE!!!!”

But the absolute worst thing about subtitles is that reading them takes mental priority over listening to the lyrics of the song (it’s worth noting that one of the greatest music videos of all time is based around a comic book adventure with no captions or subtitles). So essentially “Lightwork” video has made the song such a low priority that it’s relegated to being a soundtrack to Che Fu’s comic adventure.

Best bit: the 23 second bit at the end without any subtitles.

Director: Shane Mason
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… when to let go.

Carly Binding “I See the World”

This music video has so much to offer.

1. It’s the first single off Carly Binding’s second album, So Radiate. The album title is written on her guitar strap for extra brand awareness. It actually looks like it’s been written in Twink.

2. The video is shot in portrait orientation. You know how there are all those webpages passively-aggressively reminding people to turn their smartphones to landscape orientation when filming interesting things? Yeah, eff that. Sometimes portrait is cooler. In this case, the video includes lots of tall buildings and shots going up, so the portrait style suits it best.

3. But there are lots of shots of people falling from the buildings, WTC style. Because it’s a magical music video, everyone falls safely and gets to enjoy a Carly Binding street concert, but there’s still an unpleasant reminder of the people who fell to their death on 9/11. Maybe the innocence and naivety of New Zealand means something like this can be got away with, but just imagine the outcry if an American music video had scenes like this.

4. Carly’s drummer is Scotty Rocker, star of Treasure Island: Couples at War, one of the sacred texts. This makes me intensely nostalgic for that period in the early to mid ’00s when TVNZ made lots of trashy reality shows in order to fulfil its charter obligations. I miss Celebrity Treasure Island. I miss the Scotty and Vicky-Lee magic. There aren’t even any YouTube clips.

5. In one scene there are posters for touring acts Goldie and the White Stripes, among others. It’s the weirdest bit of product placement because Carly Binding is so different to the edgy drum ‘n’ bass of Goldie or the homespun stripped-down rock of the White Stripes. But then, maybe the posters were just chosen for their colour or design, rather than any sort of artistic association.

6. Nice one, Carlz.

Best bit: 7. Carly’s Chrissie Hynde fringe.

Director: Andrew Morton
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… too much to say.

Bleeders “Out of Time”

In every Bleeders video, there’s an inevitable shot of Angelo grabbing the microphone, showing off the Straight Edge X’s on the back of his hands, which reminds me that straight edge is still a thing. Guys, if you’re feeling kinda glum, just think about straight edge and all your troubles will disappear.

We find sXe pinup Angelo and his bandmates mooching around the Bob Hill Reserve skate park in New Lynn, in the days before the council cleaned all the graffiti off. This is not allowed to be a fun community youth recreation facility; it’s all urban and gritty, ok.

When the band aren’t at the skate bowl, they’re performing in a studio with footage of the skate park projected behind them, just in case the studio wasn’t urban or gritty enough.

The winner is shouting everyone McDonald's.
The winner is shouting everyone McDonald’s.

Back in the skate bowl, with the Pagani outlet store in the background, the lads are hunched in a circle, playing craps. There’s a shot of the money that had been laid down – two $20 notes and a six $1 and $2 coins, less than $50, all up. And the weird scenario where two people have put in $20 each, but the others have just plonked down whatever loose change they’ve had in their pockets. I can’t help feel that someone is getting ripped off.

The video ends with footage of the Bleeders hanging out with their mates. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves – and it works a lot more successfully than the attempt at street craps.

Best bit: footage of Angelo at the skate park flawlessly switches to the studio backdrop.

Director: Andrew Morton
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the fall girl.

Autozamm “Don’t Worry”

This is the premise: Autozamm are each suspended in a cage attached to a crane and are twirled around a city at night. It sounds like it could be a really amazing visual, but it just doesn’t work.

It’s all done with CGI and there’s no sense that Autozamm are literally being hurled around in cages. Rather, it looks like four dudes filmed in the comfort and safety of a green screen studio, superimposed onto the dizzying scene. Compare this with Goodshirt’s “Green” video, a classic in the “torture the band” genre. Even though the band members were essentially going about ordinary bathroom tasks, there was still no denying that they were all doing it hanging upside down. There’s no sense of this discomfort or indeed peril in the Autozamm video.

The night setting of the video seems to be done to remove the need for an elaborately animated city backdrop. When even the band members are shot in partial darkness, there’s so much less work required. Though, the familiar hilly Wellington skyline is still visible, possibly a nod to the $1500 grant from Positively Wellington Business’s Made In Wellington scheme.

40 years prior, the Mary Poppins film managed to create a more thrilling scene involving flying people. And – one might argue – with a better soundtrack.

Best bit: I dunno, the CGI buildings look like buildings?

Note: This video was previously available on MySpace but has since been removed.

Director: Ed Davis
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… street craps.