January 22, 2010

Must-See Videos: Gil Scott-Heron, Los Campesinos!, KillaQueenz & South Rakkas Crew...

Courtney Smith

Gil Scott-Heron “Me And The Devil”

To be honest, I am inclined to watch any video put together for Gil Scott-Heron’s latest album. It is so interesting lyrically that I’m predisposed to think the visuals that could be attached would be equally odd. In the case of “Me And The Devil” I was right. This video looks like what could have happened if the NYC blackout of 2003 had gone horribly wrong. I especially like how everyone wears a mask, illustrating the symbolic idea that men can detach from their humanity do horrible things if they hide behind masks.

Los Campesinos! “Romance Is Boring”

Finally, after a few lo-fi seaside videos, Los Campesinos! release their first concept video from their third album. They opt for a director with a very different aesthetic this video around. The pulp novel style is appro for them and the film comes across as a touch reality TV, which is actually perfect once it becomes apparent how over the top the storyline goes. Everything feels just weird enough to be absurdly real and terribly disturbing. You know, not unlike real life.

KillaQueenz & South Rakkas Crew f/ Lady Chann “Double Up”

Ok, new game: hipster or hip-hop? It’s harder than Google or gay in Chelsea and about on par with hipster or homeless. Let’s start playing with this video. So, there are American Apparel-style outfits/colors, but mixed with actual African accessories. Three dancers who appear to be actually from the Bronx, but a white girl floating in a bathtub. Production nods to old school hip-hop, but also an (ironic?) standard Mac voiceover on the track. Guy with an eyepatch cooking stew, mute Indian. I don’t know if I wanna bet on red or black.

Arsis “Forced To Rock”

I fucking loved “Hot For Teacher.” So did these dudes. Check the singer’s homage to David Coverdale’s guitar face.

Follow columnist Courtney E. Smith on Twitter or read her blog.

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January 08, 2010

Must-See Videos: Lil' Wayne, Animal Collective, Jay-Z...

Courtney Smith

Lil’ Wayne “On Fire”

So, this whole music project of Lil’ Wayne’s where he plays guitar and blends elements of recording himself playing Rock Band with hip hop was always a fascinating idea. Now we get to see his first music video as a rock star. He’s got old-school music video director Chris Robinson at the helm and the video is exactly the merger of rock and hip hop iconic video styles that it should be. Unfortunately, it’s so cliched that it is actually boring to watch. Why play it so safe, Wayne?

Lightspeed Champion “Devil in Disguise”

And now for someone who never plays it safe: Lightspeed Champion covering Elvis. This gorilla video shot in flammable fabrics all over the decaying bits of Los Angeles brings forward immediate thoughts of both Black Elvis/Kool Keith and the sad spectacle of Vegas Elvis. There is something unspeakably sad about LA’s landlocked East side that this video really nails.


These little electronic music blips have been circulating on the Internet and half the people I follow on Twitter are trying to figure out who they are. My best guess: it has to be the Knife. The footage looks very much like the work of Andres Nilsson, their longtime video director, and the visuals fit nicely into their Darwin Opera theme for the forthcoming album.

Jay-Z f/ Swizz Beatz “On To The Next One”

Jay-Z is just about the only person who can change the evolution of hip hop videos. In this you can see influences coming from everywhere: Gaga’s performance art, True Blood, Kanye – all amounting to not the same old shit. Sam Brown, who has helmed a few Foo Fighters and several Brit rock videos, takes on his first hip hop directing job with this video and really brings something fresh to the genre.

Animal Collective “Brother Sport”

AnCo, as the Runoff likes to call them, bring you a Wild Things-inspired story line with this new video, that takes an odd break here and there to seg into neon paintballs. Of course their music brings on a sense of childlike wonder and often invokes in me the sense of both making an omelet and getting the evil eye, but who knew they’d go so literal with a video.

Follow columnist Courtney E. Smith on Twitter or read her blog.

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January 04, 2010

Watch: Wordless Music's Ronen Givony Interviews Composer John Adams on Nonesuch, Steve Reich and NYC vs LA...

Adam Shore

An Interview with John Adams (12.12.09) from Dustin Nelson on Vimeo.

Video of an interview with composer John Adams conducted before a retrospective of his work by the AXIOM Ensemble at (le) Poisson Rouge on December 12, 2009. The interview is conducted by one the artistic directors at (le) Poisson Rouge, Ronen Givony.

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January 04, 2010

Watch: Trailer for 'Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam'...

Andrew Flanagan

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December 11, 2009

Must-See Videos of the Week: Mariah, Monsters Of Folk, Ratatat...

Courtney Smith

Mariah Carey “H.A.T.E.U.”

Here’s how you know Mariah totally phoned this video in: at about 1:20 you actually see what appears to be fat on her belly when she bends forward. Just two albums ago diva would have DEMANDED that shot be removed. Personally, I like it. It humanizes her in a way her giant, over-the-top fake lashes just can’t do.

Kid Cudi ft/ MGMT and Ratatat

Hands down the best video released this week. Ever chug champpers in a room full of people and still feel all alone? No? Then you don’t work in the music industry. That’s the dream, kids—a world where most everyone around you is an embarrassing asshole and rejects you. Cheers.

Monsters Of Folk “Say Please”

They’ve been workin’ in the coal mine, writin’ indie rock songs. This video is beautifully shot and oddly reminiscent of “The Notebook.” Perhaps it’s just their old timey worker bee clothes. Here’s my question: with so many Americana artists on the scene, why are they all evoking this Deadwood clothing aesthetic? Are things so bad that Woodie Guthrie is the only touch stone worth touching?

Dev “Fireball”

There is an on-going dialogue in music about the lack of female MCs, but what that conversation really refers to is the lack of “respectable” female MCs. Sometimes the fault lies with sexism (of music programmers who think guys only want to listen to other guys, while girls will listen to anything; of the music industry for not signing femme MCs in the first place; and, of the media who body snark and trash talk women right out of the hip hop game). In this instance, none of these are the problem. Be La Roux or be a rapper. Do not be both.

Fang Island “Daisy”

Finally: concrete proof that mimes of all colors and plastic presidential masks are scary in every situation, including as the backing track to one of the happiest sounding songs this year. Thank you, Fang Island, for clarifying. Now allow me to clarify: this video would have been amazing if it ended exactly like “Point Break.”

Follow columnist Courtney E. Smith on Twitter or read her blog.

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