April 2007: Lucid 3, Opensouls, PNC, Polly Prior, Reb Fountain

Impressing your 16-year-old self, good radioactive housekeeping, an orange fiery glow, a sinking ship, and Cinderella’s rickety door.
Continue reading April 2007: Lucid 3, Opensouls, PNC, Polly Prior, Reb Fountain

Lucid 3 “West”

2004-lucid-3-westLucid 3 like a bit of dress-up and this video takes inspiration from its title and puts the trio in the wild west, which looks to be played by somewhere in Otago. Victoria is kitted out as a cowgirl, but spends most of her time sitting outside a stone building, playing her guitar.

The other two band members are the villains. They’re a-comin’, with their cowboy hats and swagger. “I’m being hunted down. I’m not ready to surrender,” Victoria sings. It looks like there’s going to be a showdown!

After a tense standout, involving some top-level Eastwood-style eyebrow twitching, the three draw their guns. Only the guns are invisible, which is the cue for an invisible gunfight. It’s nowhere near as epic or as much fun as the legendary invisible gunfight on Spaced, but it serves as a somewhat arty conclusion to the tension.

With her two foes felled, Victoria heads back to her hut with the swagger of someone who can keep things under control and who looks good in a poncho.

The song is a typically smooth Lucid 3 track, which doesn’t obviously suggest the wild west. But in this situation, it seems to set the tone for a chilled out world where anyone who tries to bring aggro will find himself dealt to with invisible bullets.

Best bit: the flourish with which Victoria throws on her poncho.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… eyeliner acting.

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.

Missing videos from 2004

February 2004

The Have “What You Owe”

“What You Owe” was the third single by Rockquest winners The Have. The group were one of five New Zealand acts to perform at South by Southwest in 2004, with “What You Owe” being included in a best of SXSW CD included with UK music industry publication Music Week.

Director: Adam Jones

February 2004

Dimmer “Finality”

“Finality” was the final track off Dimmer’s second album, You’ve Got to Hear the Music. Anika’s Moa’s vocals blend perfectly with Shayne Carter’s giving a sweetness and depth to the song. As the video isn’t around, here’s a piece Shayne Carter wrote for Public Address in 2004 looking at the album.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Falter “Fear Of Heights”

Christchurch punk-pop band Falter, the 2003 Rockquest winners, have their second single “Fear of Heights”. The single was recorded at York Street Studios as part of their Rockquest prize package.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

June 2004

Crumb “Got It All”

The saga of the missing video for Crumb’s song “Got It All” has the best story. Basically, the band had agreed to work with a director who was planning an ambitious semi-animated video. It involved something like the lead singer performing at a gig, seeing a mysterious girl who zaps him and he’s sucked into a cartoon world. The production was all going well until the band saw the finished product. It was terrible. No one was happy. The label refused to pay and the video never saw the light of day. No known copy of it exists, just some raw footage and a few stills. One can only hope that some day “Got It All” will surface in all its glory.

Dimmer “Case”

2004-dimmer-case“Case” is the final video from Dimmer’s second album “You’ve Got to Hear the Music”. It’s one of those great Dimmer tracks that sounds like the soundtrack to the best/worst weekend. The video used to be hosted at Amplifier and a lone screenshot remains.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Gramsci “Recovery”

Gramsci get gruntier with the very röck “Recovery”. 2004 feels like the tail end of the early ’00s rock revival. It will be interesting to see how much rock there is in the years to come.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Lucid 3 “Pitch Jumping”

Lucid 3’s song “Pitch Jumping” is their most popular track on Spotify, so it’s sad the video isn’t available anywhere. It’s a typically laid-back Lucid 3 track, with some cool organ playing.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

The Have “Monday Through Friday”

The Have’s song “Monday Through Friday” is another track that might not have actually had a video made, but the Rockquest winners were keeping busy and have more funding to come.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

August 2004

Heavy Jones Trio “Free”

The Heavy Jones Trio song “Free” was their second funded video and the first single off their debut album. Director Ivan Slavov vaguely but intriguingly noted that the band “gave us freedom of expression which lets us do our job.”

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Niki Ahu “Nobody Knows”

Niki Ahu won a Mai FM talent quest and had her single “Nobody Knows” produced by UK producer Colin Emmanuel. The Kiwi Hit Disk quoted Niki describing the song as “deep, grunty and heartfelt.”

Strawpeople “Love My Way”

“Love My Way” was the Strawpeople’s penultimate NZ On Air funded video, another track fro their final studio album Count Backwards from 10. The song had vocals from Leza Corban.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Visions

October 2004

No Artificial Flavours “Homeland”

“Homeland” was the follow-up single from No Artificial Flavours, but also their final NZ On Air funded video – though I’m not actually sure if a video was made. There was talk of an album, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. But I found a 2009 profile of frontman Taaz where there’s mention of new music.

Salisha Taylor “I Saw An Angel”

Young singer Salisha Taylor had her debut single “I Saw An Angel”. There’s little trace of her online, but I found a post on the soc.culture.new-zealand newsgroup where an enthusiastic member of her team described her as “a real diva but she still replies to all her fan mail.” This prompted someone to cruelly reply: “It’s good to see New Zealand music in the international spotlight. It’s a shame its shit New Zealand music.”

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

December 2004

48May “Spinning Around”

48May had funding for their song “Spinning Around”. There’s no sign of the video, but instead here’s “Into the Sun”. It seems to have been made around the same time and includes outtakes from “Home By 2”, as well as ever reliable live footage.

Red Drum “Resurrect Jim”

Red Drum was a rock band fronted by Garageland frontman Jeremy Eade and “Resurrect Jim” was their funded song. A 2003 blog from Arch Hill Recordings mentions the production of a Red Drum song called “No Cross in the Crossroads”, but there’s no sign of that either.

Director: Paul Taylor
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Rhian Sheehan feat. Gramsci, Bevan Smith & Matthew Mitchell “Miles Away”

Rhian Sheehan teamed up with Gramsci and friends for “Miles Away”.

Director: Age Pryor
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Instead…

This month’s consolation video is Steriogram’s lively “Walkie Talkie Man”, directed by the perpetually creative French director Michel Gondry, far removed from the world of NZOA. By the mid 2000s Monsieur Gondry was well established as one of the cool-dude video directors, so he was the go-to guy for Capitol Records when they needed an impressive music video to attempt to launch Steriogram in America. The stop-motion-animated woolly world was created by production designer Lauri Faggioni and her team of knitters. (This is also a good enough place to link to Gondry’s enigmatic video for “Sugar Water” by Cibo Matto, one of my favourite videos ever.) Seeing a big budget video like this makes all the New Zealand videos set on beaches seem like roughly made home movies (and in some cases that’s just what they were). Sometimes it’s just nice to revel in the world of the fancy international music video in all its glory. (Director: Michel Gondry; Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Hey, this is the halfway point!

In almost three years, I’ve reviewed 777 videos, which is quite a lot, really. There are also 350 videos that aren’t currently available online (like the ones above), though there are definitely more videos available from the mid 2000s than there were from the early ’90s. And 57 previously awol videos have since turned up online, which is splendid. I just need to get around to catching up with those ones.

When I started 5000 Ways, I didn’t have a specific end date in mind, but I realised that I don’t want to do it forever (oh God). So I’ve decided that a good enough end goal is June 2011, the final funding round of $5000 grants before that was replaced with the current Making Tracks scheme. I’ve roughly calculated how long it’s going to take to complete it and I will reveal this: it’s going to take a bit longer than three years. It’s ok. It’s not like I have anything better to do.

The one thing this project has done is completely kill the joy of nostalgia for me. When I look at a video from the olden times, it’s like I’m seeing it how I saw it back then. And when I’m not watching old music videos, I only listen to contemporary music. Anything older than five years just makes me feel depressed. Yay.

Anyway. This is still loads of fun. Most videos are a pleasure to watch and there’s a lot of good stuff out there. The only ones I have trouble with are ones that are just really boring – because no one deliberately sets out to make a boring video. But at least now when I come across a difficult video, I can at least console myself that I’m over the hump.

Ok, on we go. Here’s a video right from the beginning, “The Beautiful Things” by the Front Lawn one of the first three to be funded.

Lucid 3 “Paradigm”

2002-lucid-3-paradigmIf you go to a regional museum in New Zealand, chances are there’ll be an old manual telephone switchboard on display. The “Paradigm” video makes use of such a switchboard. It’s obvious that Victoria is in a such museum (MOTAT, I’m guessing) as she operates the old switchboard, but we’ll just ignore the display case on the wall behind her.

More important is how she’s connecting calls without using a headset to hear which numbers the callers want. Maybe she’s just randomly connecting people. At one point she totally neglects her operator duties and pulls out her guitar.

The song is all about communication. The other band members (one in a workshop, the other in a butcher shop) each have old hand-crank phones and seem to be puzzled by who they’re getting connected with.

We also see a contemporary couple chatting on the phone, each lying on their beds like teens. The guy is even talking on a wired landline phone, which now almost seems as old-fashioned as the antique telephony in the museum.

But yet no matter whether it’s made wood, Bakelite, metal or glass, people have been using technology to communicate for decades now. Let’s just be grateful that technology today isn’t interrupted by a guitar-playing telephone operator.

Best bit: the male caller’s “I see dumb people” t-shirt – so 2000s.

Director: Nic Finlayson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… guitars and the real girl.

Lucid 3 “Fluid”

2002-lucid-3-fluidThe “Fluid” video is based around a fluid – specifically, a tureen of piping hot soup, served for a family lunch on a grey rainy day. The meal is attended by lead singer Victoria Girling-Butcher’s actual family, gathering for lunch at the family home in New Plymouth. It comes as a surprise how alike the Girling-Butcher whanau look – there’s even a resemblance in photos of ancestors. But given that most families we see on the screen are played by unrelated actors, perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising that there’s a family resemblance.

The dining is filmed with a relaxed camera, focusing on small details – a slice of bread, a sip of soup, a child’s animated conversation. It’s very cosy and nice, with everyone smiling and enjoying themselves – and there’s no drunk uncle being a dick.

Alternating with the meal is footage of Victoria sitting at a window singing, next to her mini-me niece. Rain falls outside the window, which just makes the indoor goings-on that much more comforting.

The dishes are done and people start leaving. Fortunately the rain seems to have stopped. And the video ends with Granny and Gramps (or Great-Granny and Great-Gramps) at the door, seeing off their offspring.

In a way this video is a fantasy, the family dinner where everyone is loving and peaceful, where the grandparents live in an old homestead in the Taranaki rather than a pensioner flat in Howick. And the video lets the viewer feel like maybe they can be a guest at this comforting family lunch.

Best bit: the soup – it looks pretty good.

Director: Nic Finlayson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… on yer bike.

Lucid 3 “Smooth Machine”

2001-lucid-3-smooth-machineGood equipment is everything, as Lucid 3 demonstrate in the “Smooth Machine” video. It’s all about Victoria’s epic journey to get a microphone.

Cooped up with the band in a rehearsal room in the wilderness, Victoria suddenly realises her microphone is inadequate. She grabs her Discman and runs through the bush. A magical tunnel transports her to downtown Auckland, where she keeps on running until she reaches the Rock Shop on K Road. She she grabs a microphone and resumes her epic jog.

That leads her through another tunnel, over some sand dunes and back to the other two band members setting up in their rehearsal space. She puts her new microphone in place, straps on her guitar and suddenly she’s all glammed up and the cabin in the bush is aglow with rock lighting.

“Smooth Machine” has a bit more fun than previous Lucid 3 videos, even when it’s playing on the themes of performance anxiety in the lyrics (“I’m shy about opening my throat/A song might not fall out”). The rapid shifts between the idyllic coastal location and the busy city seem like a perfect match for Lucid 3 – a bit urban, a bit hippy. And all a result of that magic mic that makes everything ok.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the importance of being nice.

Lucid 3 “Shiver”

2000-lucid-3-shiverThe “Shiver” video begins with a stark scene. Film in high-contrast black and white, the action starts in a large, old warehouse, glistening with wetness. As the camera moved in to the centre of the warehouse, there’s a large platform where the band stand.

They’re not positioned like they would be at a gig. Victoria stands alone near the front, with the bass player behind her to the right and the drummer further behind to the left. It’s very artistic positioning and a pleasant change from the standard gig positions used in so many videos.

Like the previous single “Curious”, the song has acoustic guitar in the verses and crunchy rock guitar in the chorus. But unlike the “Curious” video, this vid reflects the song’s changes in feeling with more dramatic angles and editing.

It’s a simple, stylish video focusing on Lucid 3’s talent as a live band without resorting to the fake gig video technique. Instead we see the trio performing; no rock faces, just the song.

Best bit: the close-ups of Victoria’s awesome shiny steel guitar.

Director: Alex Sutherland, Michael Lonsdale
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… bed time.

Lucid 3 “Curious”

2000-lucid-3-curiousLucid 3 comes along as a break in the rock-dominated world of early 2000s music videos. A bit of jazz, some trip-hop, some pop and a bit of folk mean they stand out amongst the sneering dude-rock bands of the era.

“Curious” starts with the beater of a kick drum doing the very same giant-marshmallow trick we recently saw in a Dimmer video. And indeed, some serious beats and slinky bass introduces the very lovely trio of Victoria, Marcus and Derek.

The band are performing in an empty room. Victoria is in the middle, with the other two on either side. It’s quite an artistic setting, with no attempt at pretending the band is gigging. Victoria is good at delivering down-the-barrel pop visuals, and the different shots of the band are layered to give a moody, lazy feel.

It’s all going really smoothly, but suddenly the chorus kicks in with some electric guitar. That’s fine (and it sounds great) but the video doesn’t acknowledge this. It keeps on with the same style as the earlier smooth stuff. This and the stationary camera shots gives the impression that we’re watching different feeds of CCTV cameras, not a music video.

There’s an attempt to liven things up with a hearty headbang from Victoria (and she has the hair for it), as well as a few rock poses, but it feels a little awkward in the otherwise restrained setting of the video. It’s like, if the band aren’t really feeling the chorus, why should I?

Best bit: bass player Marcus’s biceps. He has bought us tickets to the gun show.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next: don’t bogart that elf.