December 2008: The Datsuns, The Feelers, The Mots, Trigger Theory, With Hope, Zowie

Teen terrorisers, the boxing sage continues, faux council estate, a night together, lying down, and math nerd rhythm.

The Datsuns “So Long”

The “So Long” video is filmed at the old Kingseat psychiatric hospital, and it’s just occurred to me that this is the “old mental hospital” location used in so many music videos. “So Long” takes full advantage of the teen-terrifying haunted corn maze at Spookers, so the band are chased by a large mob of readymade monsters and ghouls, who are probably the most experienced extras a New Zealand music video shoot has ever used.

The Feelers “Whoever Said”

Well, this is clever. The “Whoever Said” video tells another side of the story in the Feeler’s earlier “Beautiful Feeling” video. That video sold the story of a boxer who, despite learning she has a serious neurological condition, engages in one more fight which seems to be her last. “Whoever Said” sells the story from her boyfriend’s perspective. He’s her trainer and he’s there when she gets her diagnosis. He’s also the one the gnarly old boxing guy calls just before the fight, prompting him to sprint to the gym, bursting in just as his girlfriend is knocked out. The video is still vague on why the boxer fights despite her illness, but the race against time, the tension and emotion is utterly captivating.

Director: Stephen Tolfrey
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

The Mots “It’s Too Hard”

The “It’s Too Hard” video seems to be channelling the spirit of mid-1990s Britpop videos – there’s no progression, just a very straight ’90s throwback style. It wants to be set in a British high-rise housing estate block, but because such things don’t exist in New Zealand, it’s faking it with an exterior shot of the old Auckland City Council building in Aotea Square. Inside is a flat with the quirky old fashioned style of “Morning Glory” or “Song 2”, complete with the obligatory flock wallpaper. The Mullholland bros and the other one are sitting around the flat, playing their instruments, when suddenly they are overcome with the urge to smash it up and throw stuff out the window. So we’re treated to some really bad CGI of objects being flung out of the council building, with a cheap animated breaking glass effect. It unfortunately makes it very clear that the building on the outside does not match the building on the inside. Ugh.

Director: Tim van Dammen
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Trigger Theory “A Soft Farewell”

This is Joseph and Maia before they were Joseph & Maia. In this case, Joseph is the lead singer of Trigger Theory, while Maia plays his love interest in the video. And it’s such a sweet video. They play a young couple who meet at a party and spend the evening hanging out, just walking the nice streets of Albany together. Being a real-life couple, the chemistry between them is authentic and there’s a really lovely feeling, even in the bleak suburban tracts of Albany. There’s also the suggestion that in the future it’s all gone wrong, with Joseph looking back and revisiting the places they’d been. It’s all very “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”.

Director: Ivan Slavov and Daniel Strang

With Hope “Feels Like Falling”

Credit has to go to the Parachute music festival. At its peak in the mid to late ’00s, it came to foster a lot of young Christian bands with crossover appeal. “Feels Like Falling” has a relentlessly full-on poppy sound, sounding more like something from a decade prior. The video sees the band on their backs, performing on various flat surfaces, set up to look vertical. But the novelty soon wears thin and the video fails to match the manic energy of the song.

Zowie “Broken Machine”

And here comes Zowie, who was originally funded as Bionic Pixie. Zowie’s appearance is significant, but I’ll explain why later. The “Broken Machine” video is the unmistakable work of Special Problems, and it earned them a New Zealand Music Awards nomination for Best Video (they lost to themselves, for The Naked and Famous’ “Punching in a Dream” video). The song itself is the kind of electronica-infused pop that showed up in the late ’00s, with Lady Gaga at its core. And it’s tempting to see “Broken Machine” as being a Kiwi Gaga/Ke$ha attempt, with self-consciously quirkiness.

The video doesn’t buy that, and sticks with Special Problems’ math nerd style. It’s full of machines and animation and a strong sense of rhythm. It’s a very enjoyable video to watch, with all the components clicking into place.

Director: Special Problems
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

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