If anyone has watched a lot of local music videos in 2013, it's your old pals at the Cream. There have been some genuinely impressive, top-tier local clips this year, as a matter of fact — enough that I figured I'd round up a couple dozen of them and present them here. After the jump you'll find my 26 favorite Nashvillian music videos of 2013. Unlike our annual Top Local Albums critics' poll, this list wasn't constructed based on the votes of 20 carefully selected local music writers. And unlike our 10 most-read Cream posts of 2013, the list isn't based on cold, hard numbers. It's just a list of my favorites. Did I overlook any of your favorites? Have a look at the good stuff after the jump, and let me know what I left out.
From electronic-pop songster Mikky Ekko (who had an extremely big year) comes the video for "Kids" (not to be confused with Diarrhea Planet's "Kids"), which features Ekko playing what appears to be the world's sleekest pinball machine — a chrome, reflective, angular thing that takes Ekko to the desert, the forest and random street corners while he's stalked by a trio of attractive, sharply dressed young women. Profesh.
Recent cover boys Diarrhea Planet debuted their "Separations" vid via MTV back in August. "Most of [the band’s] party lyrics before, it wasn't even actually me being like, 'Party hard' or whatever," DP singer Jordan Smith told me in regard to the band's pre-I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams lyrics. "It was more like bitter satire, making fun of people who live like that.” "Separations" depicts just that sort of antic-riddled lifestyle.
In his Esquire-debuted video for "Working for You," local blues-rocking everyman Patrick Sweany plays the part of a salt-of-the-earth, door-to-door vacuum salesman, doing his damnedest to bring home the bacon despite interference from burglars, goth bands, bored housewives, a rival salesman (portrayed by local director Michael Carter) and a pack of jerks on motorbikes. If you didn't find Sweany endearing before, this oughtta do the trick.
According to co-frontwoman Nikki Darlin, Those Darlins' "In the Wilderness" is "about my frustrations with the relationships between men and women and the dreams we build around each other." The video is directed by frequent Darlins collaborators Veta&Theo of Ovvio Arte, and it features keyhole peepin', nipple tape, some Inception-like gravity-related mindfuckery, a booty crack and beyond.
As contributor Lance Conzett put it shortly after Tristen's "No One's Gonna Know" video debuted via Wall Street Journal in November, "While the video may lack the 'local rock mass poisoning' charm (spoiler alert!) of 'Matchstick Murder,' it's relieving to know that I'm not the only one having recurring, Blade Runner-esque nightmares about persistent video ads."
Honestly, Hammock's "Mute Angels" absolutely could have qualified for this list as well, but I'm trying to keep it to one video per band here. Directed by Alex Amoling (who also directed "Mute Angels") and shot in Staten Island, the "Edge of All Things" video follows a family — a man met with the challenge of caring for his family as the bills pile up, a boy at the very beginning of his life, and a wife who perhaps doesn't know her husband as well as she thinks she does. And hey, spoiler: It's the only video of the year that made me cry a little bit. Shut up!
James Wallace and the Naked Light's “To the River” is absolutely a cleverly conceived and well-executed music video, but it's "Worse Things Have Happened" that takes the cake for me. The Drew Bourdet-directed video for "Worse Things" sees Wallace as a spaceman who comes across a pretty young lady as well as a crew of Mad Maxian, cyber-punkish, nitrous-huffing van-dwellers (played by members of the Naked Light). As I put it when we debuted the video, I'm a sucker for speculative fiction hazily imbued with allegory and images that remind me of this scene.
Easily one of the trippiest videos I saw this year, Cage the Elephant's Isaac Rentz-directed "Come a Little Closer" video was inspired by illustrations from frontman Matt Schultz’s own sketchbook. It's a very eye-catching, psychedelic clip, with a sort of Yellow Submarine-meets-Ren and Stimpy-meets-Pushead aesthetic.
Very likely the funniest (or at least the most what-the-fucky) local video of the year, Birdcloud's Josh Duensing-directed "Ice Balls" starts off with members Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green in a Tenacious D-esque hinterland, crooning artlessly about drowning a would-be lover in "fuck sauce" and introducing him or her to their "front butts." It gets ... more insane from there.
Like Hammock, pretty much any video from Hotpipes could land in this list (see "Only the Young" and “Magic Is Everywhere”). But it's "Answer Your Telephone" — which was directed by frontman Jonathan Rogers — that won me over the most, with its dual-bodied, horn-headed, eyeball-chested mega-monster who may or may not belong to our protagonist's family tree.
The Winter Sounds' video for "Shoulders Above" is likely the most under-sung video on this list. Directed by brother-sister animation duo Team Kolendo, the beautifully animated video takes place in the pages and spaces of a bookstore.
Labeled "risqué," "scintillating" and "voyeuristic" by our own Adam Gold, The Ettes' Jo McCaughey-directed video for "You Were There" is the only (music) video I've seen this year featuring a peep show. Hot stuff, coming through!
Says contributor Stephen "Goose" Trageser, "A sort of prequel to the video for Joey Kneiser's 'Under a Barking Moon,' which started out with his wake, the 'Midnights' clip includes a ride to hell courtesy of a nattily-dressed devil played by Velcro Stars' Shane Spresser. Aided by liberal use of the green screen, there's a nod to Vertigo, as well as some Harryhausen-inspired grappling with the undead."
Featuring local songsters Caitlin Rose and Sam Farkas, Heidi Feek's noir noveau "Someday Somebody" video is, according to Goose, "a beautifully shot clip, complete with spooky living-photograph effects" that is "a perfect complement" to the smoldering track. Smolder on.
Moon Taxi's "The New Black" features some striking underwater shots of the band members themselves, not to mention a trouble-making young lady who decides to get her reckless abandon on in a beautiful drop-top '65 Chevelle. Remind me never to carpool with her.
Wild Cub's "Black Tide" was directed by Drew Bourdet and features local photographer/artist/"It Guy" Garland Gallaspy as a cult leader a la John Hawkes in Martha Marcy May Marlene. As I pointed out when we debuted the video, the whole thing has a spooky sort of Martha Marcy vibe to it. Also, there's boobs in it.
In the Steve Condon-directed clip for "Working Together" (which is more than a touch like The Grateful Dead's video for "A Touch of Grey"), Los Colognes employed the wit of Two-Dollar Tuesdays host and fellow Electric Western Records artist Derek Hoke. Hoke wrote the pop-ups in the video, which is an homage to VH1's Pop-Up Video series. Very well played.
One of the two creepiest music videos this year to feature Chris Crofton (see also: The Weeks' "King-Sized Death Bed"), The Sufis' James Cathcart-directed "No Expression" features Crofton and actress Hailey Collier. The pair has some trouble expressing any emotion other than extreme, puppet-like, stiff-faced glee. Good concept for a video — especially one for a song called "No Expression" — even if it does give me panicky feelings.
The Non-Commissioned Officers' 80JD-shot video for "Say" features some excellent production value, with a young jogger who's drawn into a psychedelic dimension by a character known as "Crystalline Man," as well as that thing that's frequently absent from local music videos. What's that thing called again? Oh right. A plot.
The Lonely H's Ryan Kendrick-directed video for "Waiting on a Broken Heart," features frontman and blue-eyed Nordic prince Mark Fredson as an appropriately sentimental fix-it man, piecing together broken dreams while aided by his conspicuously nice-looking secretary, portrayed by songstress Caitlin Rose. Hammock may be the only band whose music video made me cry this year, but this one definitely tugged one or two of my icy, black heartstrings.
Definitely the only music video on this list to be directed by actor Shia LaBeouf, Future Unlimited's "Haunted Love" stars F.U. frontman David Miller as well as Mia Goth, the latter of whom is featured alongside the recently in-hot-water LaBeouf in Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac. The video itself is a wonderfully dark, macabre and — let's be honest — goddamn terrifying affair, with the appropriately monikered Goth playing a victim-turned-murderess. As far as we know, the video doesn't feature plagiarized material.
Ttotals' Marty Linville-directed video for "Life Thus Far Out" is quite a well-shot affair, complete with an intriguing premise — some paranormal "automatic drawing," some clandestine briefcase-swapping and some appropriately psychedelic imagery. In case it isn't obvious, I'm a sucker for anything sci-fi-tinted.
William Tyler's Michael Carter-directed, Two-Lane Blacktop-homaging video for "A Portrait of Sarah" was selected by yours truly as the Best Music Video in our Best of Nashville 2013 issue, so you'd better believe that it qualifies for this list. The video casts Tyler in James Taylor’s role, with Jamin Orrall of JEFF the Brotherhood as Dennis Wilson and local comedian Chris Crofton as antagonist Warren Oates. Very goods stuff.
According to the Vimeo description for Elle Macho's Joseph Anthony Baker-directed "Conquistador" vid, the video was "inspired by real-life matadora Mari Paz Vega." The video is beautifully shot and features bull-fighting and body-painting and yes, even a nude Butterfly Boucher (that bit kind of straddles the SFW/NSFW line).
Debuted by Billboard, Caitlin Rose's Michael Carter-directed video for "Only a Clown" features young Ms. Rose finding herself in a bit of trouble thanks to some bad judgment and a purloined disco ball. Various Music City hangouts play a large role in the video, as does sometime Scene reporter Bobby Allyn.
And finally, Little Bandit's "Platform Shoes" features cameos from local songstress Tristen, Ettes frontwoman Coco Hames, sometime Nashville's Dead photog Bekah Cope and Buffalo Clover's Margo Price as streetwalkers, not to mention Lonely H frontman Mark Fredson as a black-hearted John who apparently has no problem with leaving pools of forensic evidence laying around. It's the sort of campy you're looking for, if you can get down with the whole murdering-hookers thing.