VOTD: Conor Oberst - “Common Knowledge”

Conor Oberst plays a tortured version of himself in the video for his regretful “Common Knowledge.” There’s a bit of meta-commentary, as an opening scene features Oberst reflecting on the filming and how it relates to an unnamed “incident.”

The song’s lyrics talk about a self-destructive acquaintance, saying, “If I had half his guts I’d want it, to chase that fatalistic comet.” The Oberst on screen seems to be the visualization of what he’d look like if he actually did so. He wanders around aimlessly, with shaggy hair and a bottle of booze and a cigarette in hand.

He takes a visit to his label, Nonesuch, and looks for a copy of his record. After finding it, he takes it home and gives it a play on the turntable. Something eventually shifts in his thoughts, and he takes out a pair of scissors and decides to give himself a haircut. Perhaps he has come to some realization, and wants to become the Oberst we know. Or maybe this is just part of a cycle, and every so often he is reminded of his talent and makes a half-hearted attempt to change.

-Joe Ciccarello

VOTD: Diarrhea Planet - “Platinum Girls”

With the band name Diarrhea Planet, wanting to avoid their videos is understandable. It’s instinct - don’t worry, I get it. But rid yourself of those dark thoughts, and allow yourself to enter a beautiful world of shenanigans and guitar riffs. The men of Diarrhea Planet have released a video that perfectly combines their Malcolm in the Middle style of hooliganism with the ironic realism for which they stand. 

Set in the front- and backyards of picturesque, suburban houses, this video has it all: men dressed in space suits being covered in shaving cream, creepy ice cream trucks, experiments with vacuum cleaners, and, of course, a whole lot of guitars. It brings you back to those carefree summer days when you and your friends sat around asking, “So, what do you wanna do?”, filling you with nostalgia, optimism and pure happiness. I’m not going to go as far as to say this video will bring world peace, but there is no proof yet that it doesn’t.  

-Helen Hennessey

VOTD: The Magic Numbers - “E.N.D.”

Slowly but surely, disco has been creeping back into our collective vocabulary. Hints of it were found in the new Jenny Lewis track “She’s Not Me,” and HAIM’s debut emulated the sparkling production of the ’70s and ’80s. But the newest Magic Numbers tune “The End” makes NO bones about what it’s going for. It’s velvet-Elvis-portrait smooth, with Bee Gees hand claps and violin straight out of that one Goofy Movie scene. Strangely, the other tunes on their latest record Alias go for completely different styles. “Shot In The Dark” is a jangly, roots-y strummer; “Roy Orbison” is full of doo-wop vibes. Moral of the story: the Magic Numbers are great at reinterpreting the musical past.

-Kelsey Butterworth

VOTD: The Both - “Volunteers in America”

What I would give to have Aimee Mann and Ted Leo as my wedding band. The duo’s new video for “Volunteers in America” shows just the kind of backyard gathering many of us wish we were hip enough to attend. A girl with a flower crown officiates an older couple renewing vows and the cuteness continues to escalate from there. The video celebrates love and connection through sundresses, hammocks, red solo cups, and a group sing-a-long. The Both, and this song in particular, is a long way from the solemn Aimee Mann hit, “Save Me.” Her voice maintains that strong hold on the crowd, though, even if it’s far less melancholy of a tune. 

-Emily Hirsch

VOTD: Bishop Allen, “Start Again”

You’re not going to watch a 4-minute music video of Bishop Allen and their friends hula hooping in slow motion, now are you? You are totally going to watch a 4-minute music video of Bishop Allen and their friends hula hooping in slow motion. Now that you know what the video is, nothing you can say will convince me otherwise. Just give the video a peek. Tell me you didn’t watch the whole thing. 

It’s just, it’s so… captivating. It’s so weird, and cute, and fun, and awkward, and artsy, and wow, 4 minutes went by pretty quick. Plus that song, that song was so catchy. I want to hear that song again. And I want to hula hoop. I want to hula hoop to that song. In slow motion. Let me go hula hoop. Do I have a hula hoop? Oh, you know what… I don’t think I even have a hula hoop. Now that I think about it, I’m really bad at hula hooping. I might have even hurt myself hula hooping that one time. Not really sure how I did that. Maybe hula hooping isn’t such a great idea.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to watch the video again. What’s that? They made a hula hoop video for every song on the album, and they get trippier the farther you get along…? Uh oh, there goes my day.

-Dylan Singleton

VOTD: Johnny Marr, “Easy Money”

Johnny Marr gets a Scorsese-esque treatment in the new video for his solo track “Easy Money.” A hyperactive camera follows him around for a tongue-in-cheek look at the allure of anything that promises to get you rich quick. The frame is filled with vibrant colors and glowing lights as rows of slot machines are surveyed.

Marr is often at the center of the action, looking directly into the camera. Sometimes he is entreating the viewer to join him in the madness. Other times he is warding the viewer off with a menacing glare. The best shot may be the one around the 45-second mark that has him lurking with his guitar in between two sets of slots.

The song itself is a fun piece of post-punk, with a bit of Gang of Four and a bit of Franz Ferdinand therein. You’ll have a hard time getting Marr’s voice saying “It’s money, money” out of your head for at least a few hours.

-Joe Ciccarello

VOTD: Twin Peaks, “I Found a New Way”

Twin Peaks is one of my favorite Chicago bands and now they have given me yet another reason to love them even more. The video for “I Found a New Way” makes Millennials yearn for a classic childhood movie, The Sandlot. The boys grab their gloves, bats, and balls, and head out to play ball against hot-headed bad boys. Even more impressive, Cadien Lake James (lead singer and guitarist), plays in his wheelchair due to breaking his leg while on tour with The Orwells this past spring. If you are looking for three minutes of nostalgia and a great song, you have found it with this video.

-Lauren Rosalanko

VOTD: Haim feat. A$AP Ferg, “My Song 5”

HAIM IS JUST SO GOOD AT MAKING MUSIC VIDEOS. If you haven’t noticed by now, I like writing about them. “Falling” was set in the middle of a forest, “The Wire” had boys crying, and now “My Song 5” is a Jerry Springer kind of talk show with a slew of celebrity guests. This version of the bass-intensive track from Days Are Gone includes an A$AP Ferg verse and oh so much more. SNL comedian Vanessa Bayer plays the flighty interviewer, Kesha is in love with her cat, A$AP Ferg’s girlfriend is leaving him for another girl, Artemis Pebdani from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has a cotton ball phobia, Este Haim has a thing for mimes, Ezra Koenig and A$AP Rocky watch the madness from the audience, and Grimes chills backstage because she’s cute or something. That is a lot of amazingness to fit in a video, but Haim did, and it is hysterical.

-Emily Hirsch

VOTD: Chet Faker, “Gold”

Nick Murphy, also known as Chet Faker, released his first full-length LP, Built on Glass, in April of this year. This is the only other release since his first EP, Thinking in Textures, which earned him the “Best Independent Release” award from the 2012 Rolling Stone Awards in Australia.  Now, in more recent news, Murphy has released his second music video from the album for his second single, “Gold.”  On this track, he stays true to his electronica production style while also showing off his R&B side in his vocals. This video will most likely catch you off guard… It starts out with a camera view, riding down the middle of the road in the middle of the night along the middle double yellow line, with a light coming out of the back of the car. Then you see something entering the light! …A woman riding on rollerblades?! And then, there’s two more! So while you’re still watching, you start to get over the fact that you’re watching three girls rollerblading in a music video, and you start to notice that their choreography along with the song is actually pretty entertaining! Especially since they are all definitely attractive, as well. The camera then turns 180 degrees and finally, there’s Chet Faker, singing along in a busted car in the middle of the road with a deer right beside him. Not sure from where director Hiro Murai struck this idea, but I can’t complain… quite the opposite actually.

-Alec Moss

VOTD: Big Ups, “Justice”

“Everybody says it’s getting better all the time, but it’s bad! It feels bad!” 

These are the screamed words in the chorus of “Justice,” the third track from Big Ups’ full-length, Eighteen Hours of Silence. It’s a sociopolitical commentary on the dangers of fighting the system. Frontman Joe Galarraga alternates between Cake-like mumbling and full-force screaming, as churning guitars lash out over drums nearly too tight to be ‘just punk.’

In the “Justice” music video, one woman looks into the face of government officials and sees the all-controlling forces of evil for what they truly are. She flees as they pursue her, led by their leader, who has earwigs coming out to take control of her brain. It’s Big Brother in the information age, with every few frames cutting out to randomized bars of color - a broken television playing a legal drama turned deadly.

“If I had just one wish, I’d wish for this, I’d wish for justice,” Galarraga pleads, and in the final moments of the video, the running woman stomps on the earwig, splattering corruption into a bloodstain on the floor. If only it were that easy in real life.

-Asher Meerovich (@Bummertime)