Sisters Underground “In The Neighbourhood”

1994-sisters-underground-in-the-neighbourhoodI just listened to this song for the first time in years and a lyric stood out:

It’s a cruel June morning on the edge of the city.
It’s so damn hot, and my neck is feeling gritty.

An unpleasantly hot day in June? This is not a New Zealand lyric. And I don’t think you’d find many “brothers talkin’ ’bout their damn MAC-10” around these parts.

It makes more sense to discover that Hassanah, Sisters Underground’s MC, is from Nigeria by way of New York, so I figure she’s allowed to write about her experience of stinking hot June days and guns in other cities in other hemispheres.

The “In The Neighbourhood” video is very cool, with footage of Hassanah and singer Brenda mooching around the streets of South Auckland wearing different combos of baggy jeans and buttoned-up shirts. Even though they both look like sweet teenage girls, they also have a toughness to them. Hey, they’re Sisters Underground. You do not mess with them.

And the video captures bits of ordinary South Auckland life. South Auckland has to be the most filmed area as far as music videos go. No videographers ever film people down at the Bucklands Beach shops.

This video rightly deserves its place as a landmark New Zealand music video. While it’s not the first music video to feature South Auckland life, with photographer Greg Semu behind the camera, it was the first to do it with beauty.

Best bit: the Sisters chillin’ in the golden afternoon sun. So cool.

Director: Greg Semu
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… too much is never enough.

Pop Art Toasters “What Am I Going To Do”

1994-pop-art-toasters-what-am-i-going-to-doThe Pop Art Toasters were a group formed by Martin Phillipps and friends, including David Kilgour, and they recorded an album of ’60s psychedelic pop covers. This caused a tear in the delicate fabric of the space-time continuum by the fact that Martin Phillipps has formed a band of entirely new people and not called it the Chills.

The video is very simple, with the band playing the song in Dunedin’s old Excelsior hotel, with a similar feeling to the Verlaine’s “Death and the Maiden” video. Martin and David are both wearing sunglasses, which is permissible if you are performing a song inside a house.

At first glance, the video feels like a bit of a shambles, but on closer viewing it’s clear that everything is quite deliberate and the bits of overexposed footage and weird camera moves are indeed all part of the plan.

Best bit: Martin’s rose-tinted spectacles.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… there goes the neighbourhood.

The Mutton Birds “Heater”

1994-the-mutton-birds-heaterThis is the genius of the Mutton Birds – their lone number one single was a song about a heater. Not in a “baby, my love will keep u warm like a heater”, but literally about a heater, an electric heater (the elements were made of wire and clay).

The video perfectly captures the sinister tone of the lyrics, with Don McGlashan playing the heater-buyer Frank, and stop motion used to bring life to the sentient heater.

Frank takes his newly purchased heater home, where his concerned parents (including Marge from “Shortland Street” as his mum) furrow their brows with concern.

The band’s performance takes second place to the adventures of Frank, perhaps indicative of the larger budget the Mutton Birds had after signing with Virgin for their second album.

Would anyone write a song like this about an energy efficient heat pump?

Best bit: Mum is concerned when Frank doesn’t want an egg.

Director: Fane Flaws
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… pop through rose-tinted specs.