Bishop Allen

The Best Music Videos I Saw This Year

I was going to save this post until much later in the month, but then it dawned on me that I might forget to make a top-list post and then January will hit and it will be too late. And I don’t think it would be all that timely to post a best-of ’09 list in the beginnings of ’10. So, with that in mind, I say let’s push forward with The Best Music Videos I Saw This Year. The criteria for this list wasn’t all that complicated. The band had to have a really good song, not be too insanely popular, and be more than just a band playing for an audience. It also had to keep the viewer engaged by not beating it’s gimmick to death. Might seem like vague rules, but when you see these videos, you’ll understand what I mean. Also (and this is a MINOR criteria), the videos needed to be in a high quality format (HD) and be easily embeddable on any website.

Let’s do this.

5) Do You Want To Date My Avatar – The Guild

This video makes it onto this list because the song is catchy, and the nerdy references are cranked up to eleven. It’s an ode to those of us who play MMORPG’s (pronounced: meh-mor-pe-guhs) and anyone who knows what a level 50 paladin is. Also, the costumes are rad and there really isn’t a band to speak of, so the conceit of playing to an audience doesn’t exist. If you like this, check out the show.

4) French Navy – Camera Obscura

I like Camera Obscura, a lot. Their newest album, My Maudlin Career, is simply a gem and this video captures the essence of that. It’s shot to look like old footage, and it’s cut fast enough to keep you from being too bothered by the band playing music together in a flat. Sure, the mushy lovey-dovey story within the video is a little gag-worthy, but the music keeps it from getting too obnoxious.

3) Lessons Learned – Matt and Kim

I like this band well enough, but their other music videos haven’t really caught my attention. They’re you’re typical indie music video where they just have the two band members playing an instrument in a weird environment. This video breaks that conceit and it’s all the more refreshing for it. I also like this song much better than Daylight, which you could hear for awhile on some alcoholic beverage commercial. Also, naked people who are fairly good looking make this music video a win in my opinion.

2) Sick Muse – Metric

This video makes it this far down the list in it’s simplicity. It’s a band goofing around and not really playing their instruments. They aren’t playing to an audience and they are dancing around like fools. It helps that the band is amazing and the album is perhaps the best one I’ve heard this year. I wanted to put Gimme Sympathy on this list as well, since it had an interesting gimmick, but there wasn’t an HD version on youtube. Also, I like this song just a teensy-weensy bit more.

And the winner of best music video this year?


1) Cousins – Vampire Weekend

The film student in me loves the low-tech of the video. It’s just the band playing their instruments on a dolly in a back alley somewhere. It fits the tone of the song, which differentiates itself from the previous album with a bit more energy than A-Punk and plays around with time and space editing which I love in music videos. Check out near the end of the video where they wear the other band members’ faces behind their own. It’s an editing gimmick that makes the video editor in me SQUEE with delight.

And of course, the runner up..

Dimmer – Bishop Allen

Good Playlist; God-Awful Film

I mistakenly thought, upon seeing the advertisements for Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, that this film was aimed at my age demographic, and that it would try to evoke some kind of feeling that Garden State (see: one of my favorite films) did earlier. Admittedly, I did no real research on the film going in, and just knew that it starred stereotypical nerd Michael Cera and some gal I didn’t recognize (EDIT: but now remember quite well from “40 Year Old Virgin”). The commercials had music in it that I liked, and I knew from reading You Ain’t No Picasso that Bishop Allen had a brief cameo in it as themselves. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I finally got to see the film.

Here’s a brief (and convoluted) summary of the film, as brought to you by wikipedia:

After seeing his ex-girlfriend, Tris, with a new boyfriend at his band’s gig, Nick O’Leary, a member of The Jerk Offs, is asked by college-bound Norah Silverberg to be her boyfriend for five minutes to prove something to her friend Tris. Little does Norah know, Nick is Tris’s ex-boyfriend, who Norah has developed a crush on even before seeing him. This is due to his mix CDs he had made for Tris after she broke up with him. Nick’s friends then attempt to set them up, thinking it would help Nick get over Tris.

The problem with this film, for me at least, lies in the sum of it’s parts. There are some great moments in here, ones that still stick with me since I saw it a few weeks back. But when combined with all the rest, it makes me realize how little anyone cared whether or not this reached an audience.

Right away in the film we’re introduced to the characters as they converge on a music venue in Manhatten. Nick and his band “The Jerkoffs” open for Bishop Allen. Herein lies the first issue that takes me out of the film. I’ve seen Bishop Allen and bands like them live and to get into the venue they were playing at, I had to prove to the scary guy at the door that I was of legal drinking age. So, even if this is an 18+ venue, why the hell is one of the characters drinking? How did this slip by the bartenders? I’m pretty sure that people in these venues aren’t THAT careless, are they? As we traverse the film further, we end up in more clubs and we see more young high schoolers getting it on with the liquid courage. Really?

I know that high schoolers drink. It’s one of those facts of science, like gravity and Thetans. But what I don’t get is how they can be so careless about it in a big city and not get any flak for it, or at least get picked up by the police.  How is it that these morons can get away with so much shit and come out unscathed? Take the character of Caroline, the wasted partier / comedic relief of the film. Not a moment went by in that film where I didn’t wonder how the hell she survived. Granted, this is a comedy and things like this can’t really be challenged, but it did take me out of the film.

And then there was the overt “I’m cool because I listen to x” motif that really turned me off. At times, it was like watching a PR push from hipster central. We see a list of bands in the opening credits, and each of the characters echo the other’s tastes in music. In fact, it was hard to tell the characters apart because of this. Nick likes x, and Nora agrees, and “The Jerkoffs” agree, and the ex agrees, and they all agree that the fictional band “Where’s Fluffy” is where it’s at. They all decide to find “Fluffy” and they all turn on the same damn songs on their car rides to the potential hiding places. The whole music aspect to this film felt like it came from the point of view of someone out of touch with the current generations and their differing tastes in music.

And then there’s extremely awkward sex scene, which you can see being set up a mile away. It’s lame, uninspired, and feels very much like a ripoff of the flashback sex scene in Juno. We don’t see anything happen but still experience the awkwardness of it. They’re young, so this must be how it goes to speak. Right?

But there are good things about this film. I’m not ALL doom and gloom. The way in which Nick and Nora’s feelings grow for each other doesn’t feel fake or forced. They genuinely seem attracted to each other. The acting on everyone’s part is energetic and no one feels like their just doing this for the hell of it. The side characters are colorful, and I believe them all (with the exception of the aforementioned Caroline). There’s a moment in the end of the film where Nick and Nora kiss while on an escalator. It’s all in slow motion and they glide off screen as the music swells. It’s a good moment.

If I had to give this film some kind of grade, I’d give it a C+. The filmmakers never quite figured out who to market this one to, and the end result is that it’s quite the forgettable little flick.

P.S. I don’t think I’ll ever chew gum again.