Semi Lemon Kola “Otherwise”

1995-semi-lemon-kola-otherwiseSemi Lemon Kola had perfected the contemporary grunge rock sound of the mid-’90s. “Otherwise” absolutely sounds like an artefact of this era and even though I don’t think I’ve heard the song before, it takes me back to this era.

The video starts with an angel, a woman serenely posing with wings and looking very Catholic. There’s footage of a church, but we quickly get straight to the band. The video is shot in black and white with lots of dramatic shadows of window frames, like they’re the indoor variety angsty teen.

The action is cut very rapidly, with the only moments of reflection being given to the angel. It’s like she’s there as the calm centre of the crazy “Otherwise” universe. But despite her presence, things get even crazier as the song ramps us. Near the end, the video bursts into colour, with shots of the band performing live. It’s a manic ending, far removed from the chilled out world of the angel.

I get the feeling this song would have done quite well on Channel Z, the alterno rock radio station of the era. It’s so ’90s that I can’t quite take it on its own terms. It feels old.

Best bit: the angel’s ’90s bob.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… hair and confidence.

Semi Lemon Kola “Play Dumb”

1996-semi-lemon-kola-play-dumbSemi Lemon Kola always had a bit of a Red Hot Chili Peppers sound, and indeed it’s there even when they’re tackling a ballad. “Play Dumb” has that same serious Anthony Keidis ballad voice happening, complete with compressed vocals.

The video attempts a World War II theme, but it’s not quite an authentic period drama. In this World War II, glamorous women are also high-ranking military officials.

A non-military glamorous woman puts a record on the stereogram for a couple of officers, while up in the sky some aerial combat takes place. Any attempt at realism is dropped with the use of wobbly models for the aerial shots.

After a terrible crash, a soldier gets some badly applied bandages on his face, reminiscent of Metallica’s “One” video, only not as haunting.

But who is the enemy these brave soliders are fighting? Perhaps there is a clue in the lyrics – “I’m my own worst enemy. The only one I blame is myself.” Oh, it’s not Nazis they’re fighting; it’s the super-ego!

The video ends in more aerial combat, cuminating with a cheerful pilot who appears to drop a nuclear bomb on the Beehive. It’s not entirely clear why he does this, though it’s probably something to do with the government getting everyone down.

I dunno. New rule for music video production: stay away from the army surplus store.

Best bit: the glamourous lady plays the “Oceana Roll” record, a song that predates World War I. Get with it, grandma.

Director: Steve Morrison
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a giant jar of Vaseline and a view.

Semi Lemon Kola “Before Heaven”

1994-semi-lemon-kola-before-heavenI’ll say it again – the Red Hot Chili Peppers have so much to answer for. Anthony Kiedis and pals can take full responsibility for all the shirtless, long-haired dudes in music videos.

The video starts with lead singer Tosh strolling past some shipping containers, while a sunbather, businessmen, a goat and and vaccuming housewife play their music video part.

The chorus has some black and white live footage, then Tosh finds himself on a yellow ARA bus. He leaps off and runs through the old Britomart bus terminal. It’s strange seeing the familiar older buildings of Britomart but with the giant 1950s wet dream of a car-centric bus terminal plonked in the middle.

Tosh is running because he’s being chased by a carload of silver-wigged children, who eventually catch him and get up to no good in some public toilets. I really like these videos that try to be really really weird but years later the old bus terminal is more interesting than the deliberate collection of curiosities.

Best bit: the bus window decorated with names of Mt Eden streets and suburbs.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the singing nipples.