Tweedy, the new band from Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and his son, Spencer, will drop their debut album Sukierae on September 16th. The album will feature a whopping 20 songs with “Summer Noon” as its second single, which they performed for their The Tonight Show debut.
The video for Tweedy’s “Summer Noon” is as beautifully simple as the song itself. Following a single red balloon as it floats through (what one would only suspect is) noontime on a summer day, this video really captures what summer is often all about: calmly taking in the the world as it just floats on by.
The gorgeous animation is what makes this minimalistic video work — which goes to prove that you don’t always need glitz, glamour, and complexity to make a captivating video. This great song with its simple, but beautiful, video is able to genuinely hold your attention for the three and a half minutes that it lasts.
While it may not be your typical summer song, “Summer Noon” certainly captures the serenity of these sunny months.
Moody singer Mark Lanegan has fashioned a career out of pairing a Tom Waits growl with elements of hard rock and 90s grunge. In his new video for “Sad Lover,” he couples this sound with slowly evolving glimpses of a bleak landscape.
The opening of the video sets up a sense of steady motion, syncing drums and distorted guitar with a shot that glides over a set of train tracks. It then shifts to views of the outdoors as seen from a moving vehicle, each partially obscured. The looming clouds in the distance reflect the lover’s vision of a “looming hurricane disaster”.
As the video progresses, the visual palette extends beyond shades of gray. Lanegan’s mention of a “red sun” prompts a neat shot of that object framed in a corner of the screen between blocks of shadow. Dark blues also come in and enhance the feeling of melancholy.
Lanegan makes an appearance about halfway through, looking appropriately grizzled. He’s dressed in a black suit and shades, with a nondescript high-rise in the background. He could be a man standing with grim resolve in opposition to a harsh world, or he could just be a total badass. It doesn’t really matter which.
The video as a whole is more concerned with creating a vibe than tell a story. The gradual pace meshes well with the warm bed of fuzz laid down by the guitar and bass. The fragments of color complement the hints of earnestness that enter Lanegan’s voice. I tend to prefer when videos adopt a less is more attitude, and this one uses that to good effect.
Sharon Van Etten gets very intimate in the video for “Our Love,” a track from her newly released standout album, Are We There. Many people would not be able to execute a video that is equal parts sexy and tasteful, but this lady succeeded. Shot almost entirely in black and white, the video is full of rustling sheets, tattoos, and Van Etten singing straight from the soul. The song is called “Our Love,” but despite the quick flashes of tender interaction, the woman in the video is strikingly alone. At the end color is restored as she bursts through a pool of water, signaling a sense of resilience rather than rejection. Sharon Van Etten has established herself as an artist who writes emotional lyrics, however this video is one of the most vulnerable and raw performances I’ve seen from her thus far.
If you’ve followed this blog for any significant length of time, you’d know that I gush about Jenny Lewis as often as I can and this is no exception. Her new self-directed video for “Just One Of The Guys” is adorable and heightens the anticipation for her upcoming solo album, TheVoyager, even more. Jenny is a doll on her own, but she made the video exponentially better by including Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson, and Kristen Stewart. While Jenny sports a pastel rainbow pantsuit (because of course), the rest of the ladies act as her back up musicians. The laughable part comes when they all dress in drag, mustaches and all, which serves as a literal interpretation of being “just one of the guys.” Things I learned from that transformation: Brie Larson looks cute no matter what she’s wearing, Kristen Stewart pulls off being a dude very well, and Anne Hathaway can sort of break dance. For a song with such a somber message, Jenny and her crew of high profile friends sure do have a lot of fun with it.
VOTD: John Legend, “You & I (Nobody in the World)”
John Legend has been making beautiful music for ages, but now that he’s brought social activism into the mix I couldn’t be more thrilled. His new video for “You & I (Nobody in the World)” attempts to combat widely held insecurities that women have concerning their bodies and themselves in general. As part of his #OPERATIONGIRL charity challenge, the video highlights women and girls of various sizes and ages, with the overriding message that they are beautiful despite any doubts that they or other people may have. The video follows all the women through a cycle of second guessing to eventual confidence that many of us know too well. The first verse of the song encapsulates it the best, “You fix your make up, just so/ Guess you don’t know that you’re beautiful/ Try on every dress that you own/ You were fine in my eyes, a half hour ago.” Those words are powerful enough on their own (particularly coming from a male artist), however the visual effect of seeing all these women look in the mirror is a bit tear-jerking. We get to see mothers, little girls, athletes, graduates, business women, and even cancer survivors. John Legend’s gorgeous, supermodel wife, Chrissy Teigen, along with Orange is the New Black and LGBT advocate, Laverne Cox, are both featured. Thank you, John Legend, for using your influence to shed light on such an important issue.
Mapei is setting herself up to be the next chart topping, soulful pop queen…just you wait. Her newest lyric video for the triumphant single “Change” is pretty incredible. Imagine if the Humans of New York guy got all the people he has taken photos of together and made a music video. It’s kind of like that. Filmed all over NYC, the video features an astoundingly diverse cast of characters including dancers, artists, musicians, families, food service workers, chess players, the list keeps going. Each person holds up a piece of cardboard with lyrics written in black sharpie marker while Mapei’s booming vocals provide the pulsing soundtrack. The concept is simple and straightforward, but that’s what makes it so effective. In only four minutes, we get an accurate and bravely honest depiction of NYC and its inhabitants. “Change” is all about well, change, however the most resonant part comes in the bridge when Mapei repeats over and over, “You’re in control, you’ve got so much soul.” Seeing New Yorkers of all sorts and all backgrounds hold up signs with that theme of being able to control change is a quite a powerful image.
Seriously, do the guys of OK Go know how to make an amazing video, or what? Their videos are quirky, fun, and always match the whimsical quality of their music. With their latest offering, for “The Writing’s On the Wall,” the spirited four piece has outdone itself. Shot in one continuous take (seriously), the video is artsy, creative, and captures your attention for all four minutes. And between the upbeat track and the colorful, kid-like scenery, it’s impossible not to smile through the entire video. Between upside down bike riding, mirror tricks, and crazy contraptions, you would have to watch it a gazillion times to notice every little detail. So let all the awesomeness crammed into this video tide you over until OK Go releases their next album in October!
Ava Luna as a musical venture edges dangerously close to performance art (though not necessarily on the level of, say, of Montreal or Vampillia). They self identify as “nervous soul” and they look like an NYU admissions ad. Sometimes they sound like Dirty Projectors, sometimes they just sound nuts – but that’s what makes them one of the most interesting and fun bands on the scene (whatever the scene is). Their latest video for “Sears Roebuck M&M’s” has everything! Green eyebrows, a Mouseketeers’ hat, screaming. It’s basically their response to the United States of Tara, and it fits the music exceptionally well. If you dig it, which you absolutely should, check out the rest of their latest record Electric Balloon.
Everyone loves nostalgia, but in the past few years everyone has ESPECIALLY loved the 80s and 90s. Combine VHS-quality camerawork with bouncy, upbeat-Foals-meets-Friendly-Fires synth pop, and you’ve got yourself a highly enjoyable experience. Sweden’s Futile Claps, who look like an alternate reality Breakfast Club, clearly know how to win over the internet: shimmying, full denim, trippy greenscreens. We basically want to live in this video.
The dream pop trio Quilt makes some of the best ethereal road trip music out there. Thus, it’s fitting that the video for “Eye of the Pearl” is all about the group traveling through breathtaking southwestern landscapes. This video is indicative of the kind of journey we all wish we were cool enough take part in or even put on our Instagram. The members of Quilt meander around deserts, woods, and mountains (most notably SoCal’s colorful Salvation Mountain), with no tourists in sight. It’s only them, nature, and the occasional cute animal. The song serves as the perfect backdrop for these hip nomads and anyone with a wanderlust-y bone in his or her body can appreciate the constant motion in the video.