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Videowatch: February 2013



This month, we meet a very cynical and cranky Flint sat upon a smörgåsbord of videos and disappointment.


The Atoms for Peace album will most likely get a belated first impressions ramble later this year but based on one streamed listen, here’s a quick review: it’s a Thom Yorke solo album rather than an Atoms for Peace album, like we feared and unlike what we actually wanted. The hobbyist-IDM of Yorke’s first solo album, the alright The Eraser, was transformed by AfP into MINDBLOWING brilliance on stage and while the soundworld is a little bit fleshed out on Amok as opposed to how it was on The Eraser, it’s a far and somewhat disappointing cry over what Atoms for Peace can truly be.

“Ingenue” is alright. It’s got a pretty cool synth melody. Yorke’s vocals seem to be mixed really low. It’ll probably be a beast in live setting. Etc. The video is much more entertaining on the other hand, cashing onto the Dancing Yorke phenomenon and serving us some thoroughly awkward and yet so enthralling choreography by both Yorke and a companion. Dancing Thom – the gift that keeps on giving even though we have no idea why.


Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” meets Where the Wild Things Are. The combination is absolutely perfect for Natasha Khan’s music and instantly jumps near the top of the Bat for Lashes videography. It’s magical and giddy, loaded with the usual Bat for Lashes mysticism and mixing it with very imaginative storybook aesthetics. Just so very lovely. That its chosen musical companion “Lilies”, the marvellous opening track from one of last year’s best albums, is a match made in heaven. In a month of otherwise lackluster videos, this is one of the ones that are genuinely worth watching.


The cinematic quality of much of Cave’s work has always lended itself well to music videos, even though only a few have ever tried to do anything actually cinematic with it. The tale of prostitution and loneliness that accompanies “Jubilee Street” nails that feel to a T. It feels like we’re not talking about just a random promo single off an album and a four-minute music video to go with it, but an excerpt of something grander, a soundtrack to something more important. Professionally done, edgy but not tastelessly so, a good quotient of Cave swagger and a fantastic tune – a great combination (and definitely miles ahead the video we got for the previous single).


The mourning heart of the new CMX album (first impressions ramble coming up in the upcoming weeks!). Despite being such an aggressively rocking and complex band at their core, they have always had an impeccably good knack for simple yet devastatingly beautiful songs and “Rikkisuudeltu” is no exception. It’s brilliant in so very many levels and feels like an important part of this album era despite being completely at odds with the rest of Seitsentahokas. The video is typical CMX fare – I’m sure there’s a grand idea there somewhere but it just doesn’t reach the viewer.


“We didn’t know to which song [we were filming the video for] at the time nor had any plan/concept for the video”. Says it all really. I feel horridly mean for being nasty towards a video that was made out of sheer love rather than marketing but with the way this feels like a checklist of things I don’t like in independent low-budget music videos, it never stood a chance.


What I want from the new Depeche Mode album is that it’s not another Sounds of the Universe (the terminally dull 2009 album that fully lived up to all the criticism people tend to raise for the 00s incarnation of DM) and the lead single “Heaven” sure isn’t giving me any hope about that. It’s a lukewarm by-the-numbers Depeche ballad that can barely be arsed to come up with a vaguely memorable chorus. It’s tired, devoid of any inspiration and as a cherry on top the video feels like a pastiche of DM videos (except that it’s not in black and white). Churches, anemic band scenes, pointless faux-symbolism and zero-effort attempts at looking mysterious… yeah, pass.


There are some positive features here this month too, and this is one of them. A wonderfully realised surreal nugget that manages to be somewhat heartwarming at the same time, and a perfect match for such a warm and genuinely happy song. The surreal tones never feel overdone or forced, like they’re there just for the sake of being weird: they’re a natural fit for the song’s vibe and feel perfectly normal around it. Jim James’ solo album is one of my favourites out of the February bunch and it’s great to see that the victory lap continues in the visual format. It’s simply all-around lovely and smile-raising.


The song that everyone called the Bond theme that never was gets a video featuring surfing corpse paint dudes, which probably sounded wackier in idea than it actually comes off in execution. Meanwhile, the band shots tell us that the band had a lovely holiday somewhere sunny even though they had to spend a few hours rocking out on some random cliff. The song still kicks ass though. And I suppose we should be glad to have a video to begin with after “Follow Me” somehow got snubbed from it.

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