Lazrus “Infinite Boxes”

2004-lazrus-infinite-boxes“Infinite Boxes” was the second of Lazrus’ two funded music videos. This time the song is about the pain of a relationship break-up. The video sees Lazrus play a postie – and according to Amplifier, this was also his real-life day job.

The video opens with Lazrus’ mate telling him he’s posted him something to help with the break-up. Lazrus is at work, sorting mail, being hassled by his boss. And we get a minute and a half of Lazrus mooching around the sorting room, which is pretty boring to watch.

Thankfully get out on his bike to deliver the mail and with it comes a star-studded tour of Grey Lynn. Along his route he meets Charlotte Dawson (RIP), Tame Iti, Stacey Jones and Marc Ellis (being a no-frills Hugh Hefner in his driveway). There are also other people that I don’t recognise, though Amplifier notes that one of them is Alex Behan who was host of the ill-fated New Zealand version of Top of the Pops.

Eventually Lazrus makes it home and finds the package from his mate waiting in his own letterbox. It’s a box of tissues, no doubt one of the “infinite boxes” he mentions in the chorus.

It’s quite a cool, catchy song, so I can’t help feel that the video is has really missed its mark with the long, boring sequence in the mail sorting office. It’s almost two minutes before the divine Miss Dawson appears and things get interesting. If you have Charlotte Dawson and Marc Ellis and Alex Behan in your music video, don’t hold back!

Best bit: the revelation that Lazrus even wears his woolly cap to bed.

Director: Stephen Baker
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… kiss kiss bang bang.

Katchafire “Rude Girl”

2004-katchafire-rude-girlKatchafire’s sauciest song opens with the titular rude girl leaving her inner-city apartment (or office?) and taking a shortcut through a Chinese restaurant downstairs to an alleyway out the back of a building, where a taxi awaits. None of these locations are faked – there is indeed a Chinese restaurant on Wyndham Street that leads through to Durham Lane. Though it would have been whole lot easier if she’d got the taxi to come around to the front entrance.

The taxi takes a surreal journey through a warehouse, lit in neon, with various members of Katchafire doing unusual things. It’s like a Levi’s ad from the ’90s. Rude girl isn’t bothered. She’s probably seen it all before.

The taxi takes her to Katchafire playing at a makeshift bar in the middle of an otherwise empty warehouse. Partying ensures. The next morning the rude girl gets into the taxi. NZ On Screen notes that “its kooky hydraulic suspension is utilized to rude effect”, which is a polite way of saying that it implies that the taxi is getting an erection, as taxis do.

The video does all look really stylish, and the whole experience has a dreamlike feel. It’s something that Katchafire’s previous videos have never managed, despite it really suiting the laidback style of their music. The video was rated #83 in the Film Archive’s poll of the top 100 New Zealand music videos.

Best bit: the car with an “APPLAUSE” sign where a “TAXI” sign would normally be.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… please, Mr Postman.

JCK “Freak in the Club”

Well, this a fun one. JCK was a duo, comprised of rapper James Castady-Kristament and singer Lou Ludbrook, who’d previously performed in a larger group called JCK and the Dirty Ho Bags.

“Freak in the Club” is a typical hip hop song of the mid ’00s, all about partying in the club. The video seems to want to show off a very blingy lifestyle, but with a low production budget it’s hard to fake that. In fact, this kind of video seems like the hardest thing to actually pull off. A good “in the club” video needs lots of people and they all need to be directed – and that’s hard.

There’s MC JCK posing in a suit and holding a walking stick. He’s not actually using the walking stick to support his leg, nor is he flourishing it like a pimpstick. He’s just holding it like he’s minding it for friend. In another scene he’s wearing a fur coat, but rather than coming across all PIMP, the too-short sleeves and ratty appearance make it look like something donated to an opshop from the estate of a deceased granny.

“I’m a freak in the club,” sings Lou, reclining on a couch, dressed like an extra from The Great Gatsby. She claims she’s a freak, but sitting around on a couch isn’t a very freaky thing to do.

There’s also an assortment of party girls who are dancing as giant letters fly past them with song lyrics. Some of the girls look like actual models, others look like friends drafted in to help out with the music video. And just to add to the list of things that don’t quite make sense, there’s also a vintage car.

And then there’s one girl wearing some horse-riding gear, who keeps showing up in the video. This no obvious connection between her and getting freaky in the club unless… unless the club in question is a pony club. In which case everyone else is rather underdressed. You don’t want to be riding a horse in gold hotpants.

Despite the ambition of both the song and the video, it never manages to get there. This is not a bangin’ club track and the video doesn’t capture the attitude or the energy of club magic. But the YouTube description notes that the video was played on C4 Select and Juice TV. Well, good on them.

Best bit: the camera movement which suggests that the vintage car has low-rider hydraulics.

This was JCK’s one and only NZ On Air funded video, but in 2013 he made a self-funded video for the song “Straitjacket”. It’s got more of an indie/electro sound, but the video is even more entertaining than “Freak in the Club”. You should watch it right now.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a rude journey.

Incursa “Find Out”

2004-incursa-find-outIncursa were the winners of the Smokefreerockquest in 2004. Band members included Sam McCarthy, who was also in Goodnight Nurse; and Jordan Arts, who later formed Kids of 88 with McCarthy.

“Find Out” is mish-mash of styles. It’s punk, it’s metal, it’s nu metal it’s rock, and there’s even a big ol’ guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Yeah, that sounds like something that would do well at the Rockquest.

The video is set at a dairy, where a few members of the band work. They’re just going about their business stacking the shelves and minding the till, when some no-good punks come in and start vandalising stuff. One of them even tips over some trolleys.

But then a curious thing happens. The head punk shows up to the shop and, oh, he’s working there now. Is this punishment for his earlier vandalism? Or maybe he was hoping to get fired for all the earlier chaos.

The video doesn’t explore this anymore. The second half of the video is just the band playing the song, with the lead singer channelling the spirit of Brandon Boyd from Incubus. We never return to the dairy again, but the video has a coda involving the bad punk carrying some groceries for a bossy old lady.

I’m happy to accept a video like this knowing that the Kids of 88 are just four years away. Hurry up.

Best bit: the regurgitated no-frills chips going back in the packet.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… it’s all happening in the club.

Goodnight Nurse “Going Away”

2004-goodnight-nurse-going-awayGoodnight Nurse become “Goodnight Nerd”, and a comedy nerd voice kicks off the video by saying “This is gonna be totally awesome!” followed by comedy nerd guffaws. The video is set in bleak suburban Henderson – a location well suited to the punk-pop of Goodnight Nurse, but less to the 1950s nerd stereotype.

The song is about a guy who is slowly realising that his girlfriend is seeing other guys, so our nerd hero (played by Grammy-award-winning songwriter Joel Little) is suitable nuts over a girl in the video.

The lyrics attempt to slut-shame the girl (“Whats it like being such a ho? What are they gonna think of you when theres no one you haven’t screwed?”) but she’s shown having a (paddling) pool party with a few of her dude friends who then throw the nerd in the pool. But there’s a happy ending – the nerd finds a cute puppy to love.

This is another of those videos that aren’t anything special, but aren’t terrible either. It’s just an adequate visual depiction of the song. And that’s about the minimum you’d want in a music video.

Best bit: the nerd’s grandpops, cheering on his nerdy grandson.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… down the local dairy.

Eight “Fall Apart”

2004-eight-fall-apart“Fall Apart” is a one-take video, filmed a block back from Karangahape Road, on Poynton Terrace. It’s a bit more ambitious than your typical one-take video, on account of it being shot using a crane, with the camera doing an impressive amount of moving.

The action starts on the back of St Kevin’s Arcade (including the back steps where we previously saw Jan Hellriegel in “Geraldine”), before crossing the road to visit the Espano Flats.

And that’s where the rest of the video is centred, the 1926 building being put to good use, with both the exterior and interiors seen. The camera flies over a courtyard then swoops up the side of the building, showing the occupants engaged in all sorts of everyday activities. I actually wish there was a bit more going on – the sight of two people carrying a mattress along a hallway is pretty dull. Can’t they put it down and jump on it?

As a love letter to inner city Auckland architecture of the 1920s, the video is a pleasure to watch. But as a music video, it’s rather boring. It doesn’t help that it’s all shot in slow-motion, meaning that when we finally see the band playing the song in a street-front room, it comes as an anticlimax. Eight, you’re not as interesting as an old building.

Best bit: the neat garden out the front of the Espano, a change from the weedy tangle on Google Street View.

Director: Adam Jones
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… revenge of a nerd.

Deja Voodoo “Can’t Do (What I Wanna Do)”

2004-deja-voodoo-cant-doThis song tackles the subject of what it’s like being a 30-year-old man in love with a 14-year-old girl. Because, yeah, 14-year-old girls are totally hot for gross, hairy, sweaty old guys.

The video avoids showing the subject of the song. Instead it’s Deja Voodoo rocking out among sand dunes and some classic-era Deja Voodoo explosions. Sometimes they’re shown walking in slow-motion and smoking cigarettes, which reminds me of Supergroove’s “You Freak Me” video with its self-conscious “Look!!! We are smoking!!!!” teenage posing (and curiously enough, both videos were directed by Joe Lonie).

Perhaps all the explosions and fireballs symbolise the sexual frustration of a man who has vowed to wait until his 14-year-old girlfriend is 18 – two years past the age of consent – before they do it.

This was the first single of Deja Voodoo’s second album, Back in Brown, and both the song and the video feels stuck between the jokey tone of their first album and a totally legit rock band. Look at it one way, and it’s funny, but the other way and it’s kind of creepy.

But then, maybe the line “You weren’t even born in the ’80s!” is really the cry of a man annoyed that his teen girlfriend doesn’t get his hilarious Thundercats references.

Best bit: the “cool dudes walking in slow motion ignore big explosion” scene.

Director: Joe Lonie
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… an old building.

Dei Hamo “To Tha Floor!”

2004-dei-hamo-to-tha-floorThis is what the mid ’00s felt like. Peak hip hop, bling culture and Dei Hamo with a song that sounds like a regurgitation of all the popular music trends of the era. At the time it seemed very cool (the song reached number 5 in the singles chart) but now it just hasn’t held up.

Most of the video is Dei Hamo surrounded by a harem of hotties and various male members of the New Zealand hip hop community. The song’s lyrics are basically Dei Hamo bragging about how cool he is, how he’s a hit with the ladies.

He makes a reference to drinking “a whole 40 ounce of [malt] liquor”, or as it’s known in New Zealand, 1.2 litres of beer, which brings to mind the image of Dei Hamo spending most of the evening rushing off to toilet for a wee.

“Now move your body like a snake, ma,” he commands. Boringly, we just see one of the party girls dancing. I’d be more impressed if she dropped to the floor and started wiggling, hissing and biting.

The best thing about the video is that there is actually a lot of dancing in it. A whole lot of different dancers do their thing, with the centrepiece being some cool formation dancing. But then later, over the top of the song, there’s a lame Lord of the Rings Gollum skit for which there is no excuse.

If the song was about 90 seconds shorter, the video would be just fine. But as it is, it feels very self-indulgent in places.

Best bit: Awa from Nesian Mystik’s seductive eyebrow. I see you, boy.

Director: Chris Graham
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… lol-ita.

Concord Dawn “Man for all Seasons”

2004-concord-dawn-man-for-all-seasonsThis Concord Dawn video was another recipient of the $1500 grant that Positively Wellington Business gave for the production of music videos in the Wellington region. And like the other recipients of the grant, the video doesn’t have an obvious Wellington setting (but behind the scenes is another matter).

“Man for all Seasons” is more of Concord Dawn’s drum and bass sound, with a few lyrics about a man who wasn’t believed. The video is set in a futuristic environment where a lone man is brought out of suspended animation to work on an “inhabitability survey”

He uses touch screens, which are annoying huge and require flamboyant arm gestures from a standing position, a la Minority Report. Contrast this with the iPad, which can be operated with just one finger and you don’t even need to get out of bed to use it. Concord Dawn’s future vision just seems like a recipe for RSI.

It’s a bit hard to figure out what’s going on, due to the low-res version of this video, but this is what I think is happening. The man is running simulation to figure out whether a planet will be inhabitable. The simulation shows the planet going from booming civilisation to crumbling ruins, so the guy gets all sad and returns to his pod. The video ends with the simulation continuing to run, showing a pleasant enviro city rising from the ruins. Well, that inhabitability survey was a bit of a mess.

Best bit: the random shot of the female in suspended animation, wearing a strapless top because future.

Director: Ed Davis
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… 1.2 litres of beer.

Bryan Bell “Sure Seems a Long Way Down”

2004-bryan-bell-long-way-downSix years after the Dead Flower’s last funding, frontman Bryan Bell returned with a solo record. His first single was “Might As Well Get Used to It”, with a non-funded video shot in Las Vegas that included pashing and an implied murder.

B. Bell’s solo career was more pop and less rock than this previous band. His second video was again directed by Marc Swadel, but this time shot in London. Bryan stands on a rooftop, observing life on the streets below. Soon we meet a gothy, punky girl on the tube, looking all bothered. She heads down an alleyway and ends up doubled over, vomiting up blood. Er, ok.

Next we meet a couple of guys wearing hoodies, who also look a bit ill. Then something unexpected happens. They pash – and that’s seven seconds of close-up manpash. This isn’t just noteworthy of being a gay kiss in a music video – I actually don’t think there’s been a boy-girl kiss of this intensity or duration in a NZ On Air video before.

Of course, there’s mouth blood involved with this snog. One of the kissers fondly recalled on YouTube, “i was in it. kissing a chav. and that brown goo made me throw up on myself. glamour!”

The action continues with a heterosexual couple engaging in a full-on pashing and goping session, breaking the aforementioned record. This video is just going for it. Naturally, this kiss also ends with a mouthful of goopy blood.

This all makes me wonder if there is some sort of sexual ebola outbreak in Shoreditch, with Bryan Bell being an observer from the World Health Organisation.

Best bit: #manpash

Director: Marc Swadel

Next… waking up in the future.