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Videowatch: September

30/09/2011

More videos! And ever so slightly underwhelming ones this month. Excuse me for slightly shorter opinions this time, I’ve just written around 12 000 words on R.E.M.

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – STAY YOUNG, GO DANCING

The new Death Cab album’s been growing pretty nicely on me, even though it’s still far from the best they’re able to do. “Stay Young, Go Dancing” is one of the largest growers on me in it, starting out as a slightly underwhelming closer and these days safely resting in the position of being a rather lovely song with some gorgeous string sections, a pleasantly swiveling feel and one of the better words in the otherwise lyrically underwhelming Codes and Keys. I’m not entirely sure how it works as a single but y’know, whatever, I’m clearly not in the same page as the people who decide these things. The video is pleasant enough: the visuals are inspired by the lyrics and in this case that approach works well, Ben Gibbard seems to be nearing the completion of his transformation into a Jim Carrey lookalike, and so forth.

MANIC STREET PREACHERS – THIS IS THE DAY

So, there’s a new Manics compilation out soon. It gathers together all their Sony era singles which is great: it means they can’t just ignore some of their best material that they themselves cannot stand anymore because it’s not a The Holy Bible-copy or Everything Must Go-copy. The band are also coinciding this with a few year break from everything musical so there’s a sense of just doing things for the sake of doing things in the air around the compilation’s release: most annoyingly how the super special singles boxset is a load of wasted potential as apparently it only lazily contains the b-sides from the CD1 issues of the singles, and most visibly there’s the fact that their token promotional song is a cover. And a fairly throwaway cover of a dull song, to boot. I mean sure, their version of The The’s “This Is the Day” is thoroughly alright and everything but it’s the sort of stuff you tend to bury as a vinyl b-side or something rather than shove in the end of a fantastic singles discography on a compilation and release as a promotional single. Not that they probably care – it seems like the comp is more of a contract thing and judging by the nonexistent promo and such, the band’s more keen on just taking a creative break right now instead of touring about and acting like this is a great song worth promoting.

That said, the video actually improves the song slightly. The video itself is a fairly standard compilation-coinciding clipshow stuff, with bits and bobs from throughout the band’s career (nicely enough, from all of the band’s career so we have a shot of showing that the Lifeblood era actually exists etc). It’s a few hour job at most and not that special in itself, but for a fan who’s loved the band for a very long time it comes across as somewhat heartwarming, and the otherwise underwhelming song actually works with the video. Their take on This Is the Day turns the song into your usual triumphant, nostalgic clipshow fodder that you could imagine used in any context where you need a clipshow to the past, and when it’s married to that clipshow it gets to be in its natural element. And it works. Outside the video it’s still a so ok it’s average cover that you listen to once and then forget it ever existed, but combined with the video it actually sorta works for the three minutes and forty-two seconds the clipshow lasts.

I think I’ve filled up my “clipshow” quota for the year in that paragraph.

NOAH AND THE WHALE – WAITING FOR MY CHANCE TO COME

Noah just keep on churning out singles. At this rate by December we’ve got the whole album out as singles, including the minute-long interlude. And you know what, it’s just another Noah video from this campaign. There’s some vague plot element going on, there’s some nice enough shots of the band playing, there’s closeups of Charlie looking halfway between impatient and annoyed, some black and white shots thrown in for good measure, et cetera et cetera. Nothing we’ve not seen before throughout this album campaign. It’s okay I suppose but at this point I’m starting to feel a bit force-fed. But if they’re still going to keep doing these, can we at least get something for “Wild Thing”, with what it being the best song on the album and all?

And the song itself is alright enough and stuff.

TV ON THE RADIO – SECOND SONG

This video, or this song more accurately, finally got me into checking out the new TV on the Radio album, plus the first two singles were pretty great as well. Love the horn sections, love the slight hint of Peter Gabriel-esque tones on the song, love the general groove and such. Great album too, definitely a band I need to check out more from at some point. Not that any of their other work apparently resembles this based on the murmurring I’ve read about on the internet but that’s all cool.

Video of the month anyway. Great animation work with interesting visuals. Not that the competition is very tough but this would still stand out nicely.

WILCO – BORN ALONE

One of the highlights of the new Wilco album, which I’m sure I’ll get around to talking about sooner or later. A summery tune (in Autumn! Although nicely UK is experiencing an indian summer right now) with a great instrumental chorus-kind-of-thing. Not the best material on the album, but one of the better songs in the rank after the marvellous bookends. A pretty good single choice, which is a rarity for Wilco. That said, Wilco have never really been a band who really devote time to the commercial angle of album campaigns, so it’s not a big surprise that the video for the song is more of a film student project than anything actually memorable. Unless you really like slideshows of random things.

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And that’s it for September.

 

 

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