“Come on Down” doesn’t really do it for me as a song – it’s a fairly ordinary pop-rock ballad that sounds like one of those Christian pop songs that pretends to be about romance but is secretly about Jesus. But the video is much more interesting.
Much of it is tour footage, capturing Zed during their peak, touring New Zealand and playing to packed out venues full of adoring teen fans. However, the video starts with the band playing amongst snowy mountains, which turns out to be a painted backdrop in a hall.
We also see Zed mucking around on the road. There they running up Baldwin Street in Dunedin, signing autographs, visiting a radio station, and generally just having fun. But the serious tone of the song casts a shadow on all these antics, and it feels like something awful is about to happen.
Awful like artistic black and white footage of the band playing on a beach? The tone of the video is all over the place. It feels like two separate videos that have been edited together – serious Zed meets fun Zed. And each bit cancels out the other, so it ends up feeling really messy.
And then there’s the strange behind-the-scenes shot of the clapperboard with the bottom part blurred out. Did the director and DOP not want their names associated with the video? I still have a lot of affection for Zed, but it’s a strange moment when I’m finding myself with newfound respect for the Feelers’ life-on-tour “Pull the Strings” video.
“Pretty Cool” is pretty cool. It’s a chilled out jazzy number with dub echoes and the video goes with this vibe.
The biggest strength of the vid is that it focuses on the musicians. I rather dislike videos for instrumental songs that ignore the people behind the music. “Pretty Cool” layers shots of the group over various scenes, including downtown Auckland. There’s the drummer, the keyboard player, the guitarist and, of course, the trumpet player.
Brass instruments are very photogenic. They’re shiny and cut a fine silhouette. While the ubiquitous ’80s sax may be long gone, there’s still a lot of power in a good brass silhouette.
The video also takes in sweeping cityscapes of Auckland at night. There’s the Sky Tower, now firmly established as an icon of the city. The combination of the editing and the glorious night time footage turns a small city like Auckland into a bustling metropolis. It lets us briefly pretend that the Auckland Town Hall has a Manhattan ZIP code.
Before Adele and “Someone Like You”, “Lydia” was the default white-girl-blues song for those evenings requiring white wine and bitter tears. It’s a great song (it hit number one in the charts) and has a perfect singalong chorus – “My babeeeeey! Don’t you want me anymore?”
Director Jonathan King sets the band performing in an intimate venue (filmed at Verona on K Road). It soon becomes clear they’re miming their instruments. It’s not just air guitar, but also air bass, air drums and air microphone. As sultry nightclub singer Julia Deans sings the song, the camera captures her dramatic eye rolls and sarcastic facial gestures. She’s singing across the room from a couple at a table – a crusty looking guy sitting with a blonde chick. Lydia.
When the chorus comes around, the sarcasm leaves Julia’s face. She gets right to the emotional core of the song, that feeling of awfulness.
As the video progresses we discover that Lydia is played by Julia Deans in a wig, complete with the same labret piercing. Julia walks over to the crusty guy and Lydia and climbs up on their table. But she seems to be as invisible to them as the band’s instruments are to us. But something happens. Julia turns to Lydia and cries, “My baby, don’t you love me anymore?” Lydia acknowledges her, her face dropping. And we realise – Julia was never singing to the crusty guy (good, because gross); she was singing to Lydia, a blonde version of herself.
Such a simple and such a devastatingly good video.
There’s something a bit uncanny valley happening in the “Soul Train” video. The song is a bright, upbeat soul number with electronic undertones. The video uses elements of the classic soul look, but things get a little strange. The band members have each been shot separately and they’re lit with bright, washed-out lighting that gives the band members a strange android-like appearance.
The motion of video is also has an unusual twitchy feeling, again making the band members seem more like robots than humans. With the band members never seen together, instead shot against different colour backgrounds, it’s as if they’re being held in cells for their pop-soul crimes. Or maybe being pop-soul androids, they don’t actually need all that much space to live in.
I’m actually really disappointed by this video. I like it better when Eye TV look and act like humans. This video obviously had a lower budget to some of their more impressive earlier works (like “One Day Ahead” and “Wish It All Away”), but having a low budget doesn’t mean having to make a bad video.
Best bit: Luke the drummer’s Playboy bunny logo t-shirt.
“R U Ready” is filmed Japan, shot by Mr Dub Asylum himself, Peter McLennan, on Super 8 film. This isn’t the first low budget video shot in Japan that we’ve seen. Indeed, previous NZOA-funded videos shot in the land of the rising sun have been “Milestone” by the Malchicks and “Kuru” by Cinema, but each of these videos does it differently.
“R U Ready” embraces the hustle and bustle of urban Japan. The camera observes the busy Tokyo streets from a distance, but also gets right among it. It’s as if some moments of orientation and reflection are needed before we can dive into the crowd.
From the streets, we go into the metro, through the busy train station and onto a train as it speeds through the urban landscape. The sun sets and it’s time to explore the city, all lit up with giant advertising signs. Even an ad for an appliance retailer feels sexy and exotic when it’s a flashing neon sign, seen at night in a beautiful and mysterious foreign city.
The song, with its deep beats and Bobbylon’s playful vocals, seems nicely matched to the ever changing cityscapes of Japan. By the end of the video, the footage starts to get layered and chopped up and it’s as if the city is taking over, forcing as much of itself into the video as it can manage.
Best bit: the little kid scrambling up the temple steps.
Another track from the elusive Brett Sawyer. His single “Supercool” has almost no digital traces, but there is a brief review by Graham Reid in the NZ Herald, where he accurately describes Sawyer’s album When It Happens as being “Not bad, but over the long haul not gripping.”
Joshna’s single “Anything” notably was written by New Zealand songwriter Pam Sheyne, best known for co-writing Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle”. The song has a cool housey sound with undeniable pop chops.
Mary “Big Boy (Santa’s In Town)”
Mary contributed the gentle track “Big Boy (Santa’s In Town)” to Christmas on the Rocks a yuletide compilation of New Zealand indie artists. (It’s actually quite a good CD, by the way.)
Moana and the Tribe “Speak To Me”
Moana, having ditched the Moahunters and rebranded to Moana and the Tribe, has “Speak To Me” the first single off her third album “Rua”. It was, as Graham Reid noted in the Herald, a departure from the hip hop sounds of earlier albums and a move to the world music sound she’s known for today.
Suzanne Neumann “Lose Control”
Suzanne reports that the video for “Lose Control” was released and was played frequently on television. Unfortunately the video is not currently available online.
Before Friday “Now”
Before Friday were a duo of Dean Chandler and Ben Bell-Booth. They had a few singles – including “Now” – before deciding that it would be better if Dean went solo with Ben as his manager.
Carly Binding “We Kissed”
“We Kissed” was originally intended as the first single off TrueBliss’s second album, and indeed the funding was originally given as a TrueBliss single. But but eventually Carly Binding left the group, taking her pop with her. Carly’s first solo single was “Alright with Me (Taking it Easy)” had its video funded in 2002, leaving the funding for “We Kissed” on the books for later use.
Confucius was the work of Christchurch electronica musician Nava Thomas. Director Gaylene Barnes intriguingly describes the “Roll Call” video as “Confucius and MysteriousD become trapped in a drum and bass time warp, in this sepia toned music video which incorporates archive footage.” The video was also a finalist in the 2001 New Zealand Music Video Awards.
Sola Monday’s second and final funded video was “All For A Dance”, a sweet folky, jazzy number.
Splitter “Supermarket Girl”
August 2000 is proving to be not a particularly fruitful month for finding music videos online. Joining the missing persons line-up is Splitter with “Supermarket Girl”.
The Nomad “Life Forms”
There’s no sign of The Nomad’s second video, “Life Forms”.
DNE “The Cause”
DNE’s second and final video is for the upbeat dance-pop number “The Cause”. “We are bound to see this group do great things,” says the equally positive bio at Amplifier.
Goldfish Shopping Trolly (GST) “Hey You”
Goldfish Shopping Trolley (or GST for short) was the original name of Opshop. “Hey You” was their first single and has the classic Opshop anthemic sound. At the time, GST were threatening to release the alarmingly titled album “Homo-Electromagneticus”, which promised to capture “the turbulent etheric renderings and solid earthy rhythmic growl of the native New Zealand west coast”.
Breathe “She Said”
After a run of 10 videos, Breathe go out with “She Said”. They just seem like a band that – for whatever reason – never quite lived up to their potential.
Loniz “Child Street Blues”
Loniz were a Tauranga-based trio who later became Pacific Realm. “Child Street Blues” was their first single, which the Kiwi Hit Disc says was playlisted on iwi and b.Net radio stations.
Weta were one of those bands who seemed hovering on the verge of greatness, but for whatever reason, things didn’t happen. (But things are very much happening for Aaron Tokona’s new band, the psychedelic AhoriBuzz). This is Weta at their best, getting series amongst shipping containers.