August 2009: Misfits of Science, Nesian Mystik, Opensouls, P-Money, Pistol Youth, PNC

Bound in streetwear, the boys go to work, murderation, four corners of the globe, and an ordinary life.

Continue reading August 2009: Misfits of Science, Nesian Mystik, Opensouls, P-Money, Pistol Youth, PNC

April 2009: The Datsuns, The Mint Chicks, These Four Walls, Timmy Schumacher, Vince Harder, Zowie

A baby dreams, pro wrestling, a night out in Tokyo, Auckland on a grey day, attack of the crazy costumes.

Continue reading April 2009: The Datsuns, The Mint Chicks, These Four Walls, Timmy Schumacher, Vince Harder, Zowie

October 2008: Addison, An Emerald City, Annabel Fay, Antiform, Autozamm, Beneath the Silence

The ticking of time, sand dunes as desert, a trip to the beach, a trip around Auckland, murderous revenge, and some bad-ass shredding.

Continue reading October 2008: Addison, An Emerald City, Annabel Fay, Antiform, Autozamm, Beneath the Silence

Found videos from 1997

A fluffy bra, nightclub, a prison, a derelict swimming pool, three lifts and an escalator.
Continue reading Found videos from 1997

Bryan Bell “Sure Seems a Long Way Down”

2004-bryan-bell-long-way-downSix years after the Dead Flower’s last funding, frontman Bryan Bell returned with a solo record. His first single was “Might As Well Get Used to It”, with a non-funded video shot in Las Vegas that included pashing and an implied murder.

B. Bell’s solo career was more pop and less rock than this previous band. His second video was again directed by Marc Swadel, but this time shot in London. Bryan stands on a rooftop, observing life on the streets below. Soon we meet a gothy, punky girl on the tube, looking all bothered. She heads down an alleyway and ends up doubled over, vomiting up blood. Er, ok.

Next we meet a couple of guys wearing hoodies, who also look a bit ill. Then something unexpected happens. They pash – and that’s seven seconds of close-up manpash. This isn’t just noteworthy of being a gay kiss in a music video – I actually don’t think there’s been a boy-girl kiss of this intensity or duration in a NZ On Air video before.

Of course, there’s mouth blood involved with this snog. One of the kissers fondly recalled on YouTube, “i was in it. kissing a chav. and that brown goo made me throw up on myself. glamour!”

The action continues with a heterosexual couple engaging in a full-on pashing and goping session, breaking the aforementioned record. This video is just going for it. Naturally, this kiss also ends with a mouthful of goopy blood.

This all makes me wonder if there is some sort of sexual ebola outbreak in Shoreditch, with Bryan Bell being an observer from the World Health Organisation.

Best bit: #manpash

Director: Marc Swadel

Next… waking up in the future.

Dark Tower “You Beauty”

2000-dark-tower-you-beautyThis is Dark Tower at their flyest. The video starts with the duo experiencing inner city pressure. While hanging out in front of a large graffiti wall, they find themselves bothered by another couple of rival homies, one played by Jon from “Ice TV”. Homeboy Jon consults his “Hip-Hop Rulebook”, confused at this pair who rap in New Zealand accents and wear a lavalava.

Dark Tower leave the oppressive city and head for a farm, where they will be free to be themselves. Wandering the pastures, they unleash some brilliant rural lyrics, raping about how it’s “a hard task chewing grass down through Lewis Pass/I saw 10 dags dangling off a dead nag’s arse.” You definitely wouldn’t find that in the Hip-Hop Rulebook.

Their mates Rubicon come to the farm to join them, playing on the back of a ute and in a woolshed (where else?). Jody DJ with a potato sitting near his turntables, and we also see a baby sitting in a vegetable garden because that’s what happens on farms.

“You Beauty” is a fun, lively video that shows Dark Tower doing what they did best – throwing the hip hop rulebook out the window and rapping about what they know.

Best bit: Paul from Rubicon’s trademark joy-mouth drumming.

Director: Marc Swadel

Next… I’ve seen the future.

Tim Finn “Twinkle”

1999-tim-finn-twinkle“Twinkle” was the only single from Tim Finn’s fifth solo album, the self-released “Say It Is So”. It’s a very simple video and seems on par with other indie efforts from the era.

The video starts with a mysterious woman smoking a cigarette. This is a subtle change from smoking in music videos from the mid-’90s. In this video, it’s not the artist smoking, but rather a character. It’s used to convey unease, not coolness.

Tim plays a businessman. He comes home, flops his briefcase down on his bed, pours himself a scotch and sits in an easy chair. What happens next is very interesting. He’s sitting in his chair, looking at the camera, singing the song. And it looks like a webcam.

There’s the same blue screen light and unflattering angle. It actually looks like someone who’s settled down for a good, long Skype session with their sweetie in another town. But back in 1999, webcam technology wasn’t that advanced. The best you could manage on dial-up was ever-changing black and white stills.

So, ok, Tim isn’t Skyping or vlogging. He’s just sitting in his chair getting sloshed. He briefly gets up to make a phonecall and paces about for a bit, but the video is largely him just sitting.

But suddenly drama! Cigarette girl gets all “Hunger Games” on Tim. She pulls back a crossbow and shoots him in the back, through the chair. I’m not sure how this works out as she appears to have been shooting from outside and yet the arrow comes from inside the apartment. I don’t even think Katniss can shoot that well.

Director: Marc Swadel

Next… behind the bamboo curtain.

Slim “Rise Up”

1999-slim-rise-upPost office boxes didn’t used to be bright red. They used to be a subdued grey, in keeping with the general greyness of the New Zealand Post Office. When NZ Post was born, post office boxes got a lick of red paint and a bold new backdrop was born.

The last NZOA video that took advantage of this setting was Love’s Ugly Children in their “Voodoo Girl” video. That explicitly used the space as a post office box lobby, but with Slim it’s more abstract. The camera hardly ever focuses on the boxes, so the walls become giant crimson slabs of colour, a perfect backdrop for some energetic punks.

In the YouTube description, director Marc Swadel notes the video was “a three way directorial race on this between myself, Slim singer Aaron Hogg, and Italian director Simona Lianza”. Whatever was going on behind the scenes, the finished product doesn’t show it.

The band perform the song in the narrow space, performing to each walls and with different combinations of band members. The camera is usually locked off in the same place, with a few shots near the end taken against a different wall, and a shot of a rotating skull in the middle. Adding a bit of variety, lyrics from the song and random graphics flash up on screen, making it look a lot slicker than a bunch of guys in a post office.

Best bit: “Open a bank account”, commands a random graphic.

Director: Marc Swadel, Aaron Hogg
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Otago noir.

The Stereo Bus “Birthday”

1999-stereo-bus-birthdayThis is a quality song. It’s the sort of song that is sometimes described as “perfect pop” but it never managed to bother the charts the way that the similarly perfect pop of Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys or Westlife did at the same time.

Maybe “Birthday” was a little too depressing to get higher than #26. But it’s a good kind of depressing. “Today is your birthday and not mine,” sings Dave Yetton, looking miserable.

The video is a simple affair. It focuses on brightly lit close-ups of band members. Dave is shot against a white background, the rest of the band against a black background. And while it’s Dave’s voice we can hear, the lip-sync is shared amongst the band.

Cut between that are shots of brightly coloured sweeties. There’s Tim Tams, Cadbury DMCs (Dairy Milk Centres aka off-brand M&Ms), Pink Smokers, Jet Planes, eerily corpse-like Eskimos, licorice allsorts, Shrewsburys… Oh, I’m starting to feel a little ill now.

“No, you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” admonishes Dave. And the video conveys that well – the dark side of celebrations. Whether it’s a child stuffing their face until they turn green or an adult dealing with the end of a relationship, life has a funny tendency to get in the way of the best laid plans.

Best bit: the old-style H2GO bottle.

Director: Marc Swadel
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… renewable energy.

Dark Tower with Dave Dobbyn “The New Outlook”

1999-dark-tower-new-outlookDark Tower team up with Dave Dobbyn, reworking the DD Smash hit “Outlook For Thursday” into a manifesto promising a new outlook for the New Zealand music industry.

The video starts with a young woman giving a weather forecast, recalling that ’90s television trend for hot chicks reading the weather. Meanwhile, the Dark Tower lads are summoned by Dave Dobbyn, who is cooler than the young ‘uns, as this subtitled dialogue demonstrates:
Dave: Now is the hour of the Tower.
Dark Tower: Yo! Yo! Yo! The OG godfather wants us to kick it. Let’s bust a move, yo! Word.

We meet two versions of Dark Tower. In one, they’re three blinged-out hip hop gangstas, surrounded by a harem of hotties, ticking all the boxes of hip hop video cliches and inventing some of their own (cask wine!). In the other, they’re three New Zealanders, casually dressed, hanging out in the bush. Does this represent the conflict Dark Tower feel, torn between being pop stars and musicians?

Both versions hang out with Dave Dobbyn – in the first, he’s dressed like a Bond villain, in the second he’s casually hanging out in the recording studio.

There’s a lot to the song and the video. It’s pretty meta, criticising bands who sample old songs while doing the same thing themselves. (“Look around – all you see is grave robbin’… to the hook of David Dobbyn.”) There’s also room for a relevant Bible verse – Matthew 16:26.

But is the conflict between the two Dark Towers resolved? Two lift doors open and each version of the group emerge, acknowledging each other before moving off in different directions. A graphic asks “What’s the ‘real’? You decide.” Whoa.

Best bit: Dave Dobbyn as the OG godfather.

Director: Marc Swadel

Next… female problems.