June 2009: Artisan Guns, Boh Runga, CASH, Collapsing Cities, Computers Want Me Dead, dDub

Weightlessness, a cautionary tale, it’s great when you’re straight, artistic uses for confetti, a DIY time machine, and a cute camp tale.

Artisan Guns “Autumn”

Artisan Guns showed up with their first single “Autumn” and its low-key video. It’s based around the band sitting still in a junk shop, performing the song with little physicality beyond the basic movements needed to play their instruments and sing. The camera lingers on each band member, with their bare faces showing shadows, spots, bags and other imperfections that music videos don’t normally dwell on (boy, you don’t need makeup). After a while the items in the junk shop start to catch on fire and float around, as if the Artisan Guns’ laidback indie rock has caused gravity to stop. The end effect is a strong, haunting debut.

Director: Tim van Dammen

Boh Runga “Be Careful”

The “Be Careful” video takes place within MacPaint, the image editing software that was included in Apple Macintosh computers in the ’80s and ’90s. While it stars a couple of humans, the backgrounds have a deliberately blocky style, far less technically accomplished than MacPaint was actually capable of. The song features vocals from System of a Down vocalist and New Zealand fanboy Serj Tankian. While that might sound like the recipe for a cool edge, it adds nothing to the mild-mannered song. The whole thing is disappointingly boring. Note: the video is only available on a random online video site because the official version on Boh Runga’s YouTube channel has been blocked by its own record company.

CASH “Heterosexual”

Heterosexual is one of the most hilarious words ever, and CASH’s “Heterosexual” is a celebration of having a heterosexual fling. The video has its roots in queer club culture, taking the idea of the sexy, heaving, anything-goes nightclub and subverting it to a world of hot girl-on-boy action. It’s like an anthem for queer club kids who want to spend one night playing at heterosexuality, just for fun. By the way, googling for “cash heterosexual” brings up loads links to “gay for pay” porn.

Collapsing Cities “Tazers”

After making dozens of videos for other bands, Collapsing Cities drummer Tim van Dammen had the chance to again put his talent to work with his own band. In this case, he seems to be paying tribute to another prolific New Zealand music video director, Joe Lonie. Not only is “Tazers” shot in reverse, it’s also a classic “torture the band” video, with the quartet having all sorts of stuff dumped on them – only shown in reverse. So the video starts with the band covered in layers of dark, mucky liquids and powders, the band members gasping for air, and ends up with them laughing at the pretty confetti falling away. But unlike Lonie’s videos for “Goodshirt” in the early ’00s, the novelty of “Tazers” dominates and ends up being more memorable than the song.

Director: Tim van Dammen
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Computers Want Me Dead “We Walk In Circles”

“We Walk In Circles” is a piece of cool, sexy, sophisticated electro-pop, that even cracked the top 40. But instead of making a video just as cool, the group are giving us something that looks like a goofy teen team’s entry for the 48Hours film competition. There’s some eight-bit-style footage of the band, which works, but the best of the video is a guy mucking around making a time machine out of common household objects. So it’s a really silly video when the song is demanding a treatment that is the complete opposite.

Director: Sam Harvey
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

dDub “We are the Ones”

I like it when an animate video works. In this case, the “We are the Ones” video follows two brothers. The little brother is trying to play with his older bro, who is too busy being a moody teen. The video is very effective at conveying the sadness when the little brother is rejected, but it loses its way at the end. Instead of an emotional reconciliation between the brothers, the older one gets together with a cute girl, secretly aided by little bro playing cupid. It’s cute but when there’s so much set-up, it really feels like they messed up the pay-off.

Director: Gerrad Southam
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

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