April 2009: Midnight Youth, Minuit, Nathan King, Opensouls, Pluto

Nostalgic matrimony, a golden explosion, the photographer at work, old style, and green screen to the ’90s.

Continue reading April 2009: Midnight Youth, Minuit, Nathan King, Opensouls, Pluto

October 2007: Magik Johnson, Mumsdollar, Natalie Elms, Opshop, Pluto

Dramatic smoke, a beachy stroll, a beardy run, and farmyard dangers.
Continue reading October 2007: Magik Johnson, Mumsdollar, Natalie Elms, Opshop, Pluto

June 2007: Pluto, Shapeshifter, Simple Day, SJD, So So Modern, Solstate, Spacifix

Red light special, the kids TV aesthetic, a grown-up game of chasey, the drum tech and the return of the giant cassette tape.
Continue reading June 2007: Pluto, Shapeshifter, Simple Day, SJD, So So Modern, Solstate, Spacifix

October 2005: Nesian Mystik, North Shore Pony Club, Pluto, Recloose, Shocking Pinks, Sola Rosa

A raucous children’s party, retro computer games attack, fleabag hotel intrigue, a hideous car crash, picking up chicks, and a badman,
Continue reading October 2005: Nesian Mystik, North Shore Pony Club, Pluto, Recloose, Shocking Pinks, Sola Rosa

August 2005: Pluto, Recloose, Sarah Brown, Sola Rosa, Steriogram, The Checks, The Phoenix Foundation, The Rabble, Tyree

Racing car action, flaming flames, a marionette, animated bands, extreme close-ups, and some punks.
Continue reading August 2005: Pluto, Recloose, Sarah Brown, Sola Rosa, Steriogram, The Checks, The Phoenix Foundation, The Rabble, Tyree

Pluto “Long White Cross”

2005-pluto-long-white-crossGuys, let me tell you a story. When I was at primary school, every year there was Calf Day, which was like a mini A&P show for kids. As well as kids bringing their pet calves and lambs to school (did I mention it was a country school?), there were also prizes for things like baking and floral arrangements.

One of the floral categories involved getting an old coffee jar, sticking a wad of Blu-Tack in the bottom, then inserting an arrangement of flowers into it. The jar was filled with water, the lid screwed on and you’d end up with a floral arrangement in a jar filled with water.

Anyway, one year a whole lot of kids started adding food colouring to the water. A light tint might look good, but there ended up being all these jars of darkly dyed water. I didn’t put any food colouring in my jar, and my arrangement ended up winning. The lesson learned: sometimes less is more.

Which brings us back to the “Long White Cross” video. A lot of Pluto’s previous videos have had way too much going on. They’re packed with dense visuals and/or wacky high jinks that end up fighting for domination with the song. Too much food colouring.

But finally “Long White Cross” has found the right mix. It’s a simple performance video, but it’s shot really stylishly. There are no crazy costumes, no gimmicks. It’s just Pluto performing the song (and it’s a good song). Not surprisingly, it was nominated for Best Music Video at the 2006 New Zealand Music Awards. Nice one.

Best bit: the inconspicuous fairy lights.

Director: Adam Jones
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… splash.

Pluto “Radio Crimes”

2005-pluto-radio-crimesThere’s the song and there’s the visuals and there’s not much connection between the two. The “Radio Crimes” song is a big, bold indie rock number, tempered with Pluto’s trademark delicate falsetto harmonies. But the video pushes Pluto right back. It puts Baby in the corner.

The video is based around a bank of television sets, which broadcast parts of members of Pluto. That immediately puts distance between Pluto and the viewer. But then Pluto themselves are all hiding behind sunglasses and scarves and the other accoutrements of rock they’re so fond of. The end result is a band who seem like they’re too cool to star in their own video.

There’s no rule that says a band must appear in their own music video. New Order even used a youthful stand-in group in the “Crystal” video. Instead we get Pluto coming across as concentrating so hard on emoting into the microphone that they lose all connection with the viewer.

Some of Pluto’s earlier videos were pretty goofy. I get the feeling that in later years Pluto wanted to be portrayed as an edgy rock band. They managed that with the super “Dance Stamina” video, but “Radio Crimes” goes too far, making them seem to inhabit their own world, totally removed from their audience.

Best bit: when the TVs show a whole lot of cartoons.

Director: Adam Jones

Next… chickens in spaaaace.

Pluto “Dance Stamina”

2003-pluto-dance-staminaHere’s Pluto sounding very cool, with hints of the Stone Roses and early U2. Far removed from the comedy world of “Bananas in the Mist”, “Dance Stamina” gets very moody and sexy. Oh yeah.

The video opens with Pluto silhouetted in red light against a screen. When we meet the band, they’re bathed in red and blue lights, with lead singer Milan looking all hot and bothered. Also – fabulous cheekbones.

The video is directed by Kezia Barnett, who has previously proven her talent for using quality choreography in music video with “Buck It Up” and “Cement” for Goodshirt. But rather than the extravagant formation styles of the Goodshirt videos, “Dance Stamina” just uses one dancer, who is dressed very similarly to the disco goth vamps of “Cement”. Only this time there’s no ironing board. She dances in a separate space to the band. Are they even aware of her existence?

As the band are playing it so very straight and so cool, the dancer – with her black wig, pale make up and bloody mouth – is a lively contrast. But how much dance stamina does the dancer have? Three and a half minutes into the video, she collapses, but then rises again in silhouette form.

What if she’s an immortal vampire who can dance for a long time? Things would have been good with the dance marathons on the 1930s, but it’s slim pickings in the 2000s when indie bands would only record songs that are a measly four minutes long.

“Dance Stamina” doesn’t seem like it had the larger budget of Goodshirt’s videos, but the simple set, dramatic lighting, fab performances from the band, and of course the dancer all come together to make something very slick.

This video was a finalist at both the Kodak Music Clip Awards and the Juice TV Music Awards.

Best bit: the dancer’s layers and layers of faux pearl necklaces.

Director: Kezia Barnett
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Sydney skate.

Missing videos from 2003

February 2003

Dead End Beat “Nervous Bag”

Dead End Beat were basically a slightly older and wiser Breathe with a new drummer. “Nervous Bag” was their debut single.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Donald Reid “The Return”

Donald Reid is the brother of James from the Feelers. “The Return” was his debut single, though I can’t find any evidence of there having been a video made for it, though Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has an entry for the album track “No Ordinary Day”, which isn’t on the NZOA funding list.

Evermore “Pick Yourself Up”

“Pick Yourself Up” was another track from Evermore’s “Oil & Water” EP. I’m not sure if there was actually a video made, but it’s on the list.

Hendrix Warren “Empty”

I wasn’t sure if the video for Hendrix Warren’s song “Empty” existed, but I found the online CV of a camera operator, who lists the video production amongst his work history. Well, that’s good.

Director: Ivan Slavov

Pluto “On Your Own”

Pluto have “On Your Own”, another track from their album “Pipeline Under The Ocean”.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Soda “Falling Faster Now”

According to the band’s description on Amplifier, Soda’s “Falling Faster Now” video “explores the depths of Karaoke booth kitsch”. More than Rufus Wainwright’s “California” video?

The Brunettes “Boy Racer”

A few months ago The Brunettes’ “Boy Racer” video was on YouTube, but it’s since been taken down. I watched it once back then and I remember it involved the band performing at an empty theatre, as well as their backstage preparations. I mourn the loss.

Director: Daniel Monaghan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

April 2003

50Hz “Smooth Rhodes”

More relaxing beats from 50Hz. “Smooth Rhodes” has guest vocals from Miss La.

P-Money “Go With The Flow”

There’s a P-Money track listed called “Go with the Flow”, but I can’t find any other mention of a song by that name. As far as I can tell, there were no more videos made for tracks from P-Money’s debut album Big Things.

June 2003

Brett Sawyer “Save Me Now”

“Save Me Now” was the sixth funded video that Brett Sawyer had and – surprise, surprise – it’s also the sixth of his videos to not be online. I’m very intrigued by him now. I’d love to see just one of his videos.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Carly Binding “This Is It”

Carly Binding’s single “This Is It” reached No.12 in the charts. It’s not online, but you can see her performing the song live with Donald Reid in 2006.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Dead End Beat “Tonite We Ride”

Dead End Beat have “Tonight We Ride” – not to be confused with “We Ride Tonight” by D-Super. It’s a fairly ordinary early 2000s rock ‘n’ roll number.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Emcee Lucia “All This Time”

Emcee Lucia was the first New Zealand female MC to release a solo album. “All This Time” was the first track. She’s one of those artists who had a lot of buzz at the time, but I haven’t been able to figure out if she’s done anything lately.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

August 2003

The Bads “Don’t Go Losing”

In one database this track was listed as being by Diane Swann, one half of the Bads. “Don’t Go Losing” was the duo’s first single. I’m not actually sure if a video was made for this track. A profile at NZ Musician mentions that The Bads parted ways with their record company “after several videos had been shot and were poised for release”, so that might explain it.

Evermore “Hold On”

“Hold On” was a track from Evermore’s EP “My Own Way”, their last release before their debut album “Dreams” kicked off their success in Australia.

Taisha “I’ll Go”

After appearing in OMC’s video for”Land of Plenty”, R&B songstress Taisha had the country-tinged “I’ll Go”. She’s now part of the all-star cover band the Lady Killers.

Director: Ivan Slavov

October 2003

Brooke Fraser “Lifeline”

The original version of Brooke Fraser’s “Lifeline” video is not online. From memory, it involved Brooke and her band, dressed in overalls, playing a board game called Lifeline that administered electric shocks for losing moves – like a low-budget version of the Domination game from “Never Say Never Again”. And I have this idea that it ended up Brooke winning the game and her opponents being reduced to a smouldering pile of overalls.

The video was a bit darker and yet goofier than the song required, so director Joe Lonie filmed a new video, this time with Brooke walking through scenic landscapes (with a typical Lonie twist).

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision – New Zealand version
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision – international version

Paselode “C’Mon Hallelujah”

Paselode were a rock band from Wellington. I saw them live few times in 2003 and they were always entertaining. Their songs were always about a minute too long and had one person too many playing on the track (they were a five-piece band but felt like an unwieldy ska band). “C’Mon Hallelujah” was their lone NZ On Air funded single. The band broke up shortly after, but not before the Simmonds Brothers told the band’s tumultuous story in the animated short film “The Paselode Story”.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

December 2003

There are no missing videos from December 2003!

Instead…

This month’s consolation video is the super chill “Dawnskate-88” by The Video Kid, a side project by Black Seeds and Flight of the Conchords dude Bret McKenzie. This non-NZOA-funded video shows Bret and pals having a skate down the streets of Mt Victoria, then along a deserted Lambton Quay. It’s so Wellington.

Missing videos from 2002

February 2002

Tadpole “Now Today Forever”

The lone missing video for the February funding round is “Now Today Forever”, the second single from Tadpole’s second album, and a rather driving rock number.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

April 2002

Che Fu “Top Floor”

There’s also only one video missing from April, Che Fu’s uplifting number “Top Floor”. As it happens, I wrote a summary of this video in 2002. It sounds amazing:

Che Fu and his posse are hanging out on the front porch of a large wooden lodge. A young lady hands out pieces of chocolate cake and MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave pass out cups of instant coffee. With a very laid-back vibe, Che Fu spends most of the video sitting in a rocking chair, knitting. But just in case you think he’s turning into an old gran, in the middle of a song he turns into a robot and does a rap. But then it’s back to the porch. At the end of the song he’s finished knitting. He admires the, er, long red thing he’s made, tosses the ball of wool up in the air and it magically transforms into a snow ball and then Che’s snowboarding off into the sunset.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

June 2002

Fast Crew “Mr Radio”

Along came the Fast Crew, which included Kid Deft who later reverted to his maiden name, Dane Rumble. “Mr Radio” was their debut single, a rant about the difficulty of getting play-listed – something that would soon cease to be a problem for the Crew. The single reached #15 on the Independent NZ chart.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Fuce “Restless”

Christchurch band Fuce have their final NZOA-funded video “Restless”. The group had plans to relocate to Auckland in 2003, but I don’t know what (if anything) happened next.

In 2002 I wrote this about the “Restless” video: This video uses two visual clichés, one old, one getting old. The first is where the camera jerks about as if it’s trying to find something to focus on. The second is when the camera moves as if the power of the music is making the camera shake. Yeah, it’s a low-budget NzonAir video, but it’s looking ok. It just could have looked better if it had just shown the band playing the song, instead of all the dumb camera tricks.

Director: Aaron Hogg
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Splitter “You’re Right To Rock”

Splitter got in on the rock ‘n’ roll revival with “You’re Right To Rock” an ode to you-know-what. Sample lyrics: “Power chords are ringing like a bell!”. Aw yeah.

Subware “Into”

Subware’s final funded video was the lush “Into”, with vocals from Sandy Mills.

Theo Va’a “Little Angel”

Theo Va’a was an 10-year-old singer (dancer, entertainer, songwriter and professional model) from Palmerston North who later wowed the 2003 Christmas in the Park crowd. “Little Angel” featured Atilla Va’a, who I assume grew up to be the 130kg rugby prop asserting himself here.

August 2002

Mace & The Woodcut Crew “Shake ‘m”

“Shake ‘m” is a collaboration between rapper Mace and Auckland producers the Woodcut Crew producers. I’m going to assume it’s an instructional song about making protein shakes.

Pluto “Perfectly Evil”

Pluto have the dark and synthy “Perfectly Evil”. It’s been entertainingly used as the soundtrack for an almost wordless short film made by some year 13 students for their media studies assignment.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

October 2002

Lavina Williams featuring Emily Williams “Higher Lovin'”

Ex-Ma-V-Elle singer Lavina Williams teams up with her younger sister (and future Australian Idol star) Emily for the soul jam “Higher Lovin'”. Their sisterly harmonies sound fabulous.

December 2002

Crystal Fitisemanu “Sunny Summer’s Day”

I’m not sure if the video for Crystal Fitisemanu’s song “Sunny Summer’s Day” was made. There’s no mention of it online, but there is a brief mention of a $3000 grant in 2001 from Creative New Zealand for Crystal to record five songs.

P-Money featuring 4 Corners “The Xpedition”

“The Xpedition” is another track from P-Money’s debut album, this time featuring 4 Corners on vocals.

Rhombus “Tour Of Outer Space”

Well, Rhombus go on a “Tour of Outer Space”.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Tadpole “Always Be Mine”

“Always Be Mine” was the penultimate single released off Tadpole’s second album.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Instead…

This month’s consolation video is “Verbally Decapitating” by DJ Logikal. It was the winner of a competition that TVNZ’s after-hours music show M2 held, with the prize being a $10,000 fancy music video made for the winning track. This is a throw-back to how things were in the days before NZOA, where TVNZ (and its predecessors) made music videos for bands. Though in this case, it was a heavily promoted contest with an alcohol sponsor. The video – which is a really is a proper fancy video – sees DJ Logikal infecting downtown Auckland with his scratched-up beats, and it features pre-development Britomart for some gritty urban decay. It visually name-checks P-Money, and incorporates the song’s samples by having people on the street lip-syncing the words. The video rightly won Best Editor for James Anderson at the 2003 Kodak Music Clip Awards.

Director: James Anderson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision