The 10 Best Minnesota Music Videos of 2014

From Lizzo's "Paris" video, one of our favorites of 2014.

From Lizzo's "Paris" video, one of our favorites of 2014.

Highlighting 10 music videos for each week's Local Frames means that hundreds of excellent clips hit Gimme Noise during a year. Some are high-concept miniature movies, and others are just a lucky experiment capturing lightning in a bottle with the right talent from our backyard involved. Kudos to everyone for making digging through the archives of the past year such a rewarding task.

It was tough to narrow it down, but here are the 10 best local music videos of 2014.

Spooky Black -- "Without You"

The lo-fi nature of this video for Spooky Black's "Without You" didn't keep the clip -- and the song -- from becoming a massive viral sensation, as music fans across the country got completely lost within the hypnotic track and the mysterious artist who created it. The teenage St. Paul musician had help crafting the ethereal nature of this track by producer Greaf, who creates a dreamy soundscape that suits Spooky Black's impassioned but understated vocals. The track is lifted from Black's recent solo album, Black Silk, while the stark, snow-covered video was directed and edited by Gabe Broderick, who stylishly adds to the relaxed elegance of the smooth, modern R&B number.

Caroline Smith -- "Half About Being A Woman"

Caroline Smith delivered a powerful new video for the title track to her celebrated recent record. "Half About Being a Woman" was directed and shot by talented local filmmaker Dan Huiting and edited by Lauren Josephine, and stars Caroline along with Emma Cook and Jesse Schuster. Smith shared this insightful statement about the video: "The other side of strength. As women, we have this wonderfully complicated duality in us -- sometimes we feel strong, and sometimes we feel weak. We often resent our vulnerabilities, but have to face them in order to move on and shamelessly accept ourselves. This is what being a woman is all about." This video, and the stirring, soulful song itself, illuminates that duality perfectly.

Father You See Queen -- "Oceans"

Father You See Queen made a grand, stylish return with an ambitious 3D video for "Oceans," which was directed by Maria Juranic. The experimental short film was inspired by the comic Jeremiah, and the project itself was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, along with a Finishing Production Grant from Minnesota Women in Film and Television. The video comes together gloriously, as the wintry, ominous, octopi-filled images of the clip perfectly augment the saturnine sound of Father You See Queen. The local duo -- Marijuana Deathsquads' Mark McGee and Nicole Tollefson -- are in the process of recording an album, which they will release on Blood of the Young Records sometime in early 2015. It's great to have Mark and Mona back in the local mix, and this beguiling 3D video highlights their musical talents as well as all of the creative folks who brought the clip to dynamic life.

Marijuana Deathsquads - "Ewok Sadness"

Marijuana Deathsquads take the ominous sonic themes of "Ewok Sadness" and bring it to visual life in their new video, directed by Isaac Gale. The simmering lead-off track to the experimental group's recent album, Oh My Sexy Lord, builds to a dynamic, cacophonous finish, as does the dramatic video, which deals with the world's fixation on celebrity and how it can lead people -- even Ewoks -- to some really dark places. Marijuana Deathsquads captured much of the music world's attention while opening for Poliça on tour throughout this past year, and this striking clip caught the eyes and ears of fans of both Star Wars and wildly experimental music.

MaLLy - "City Of Fear"

The vibrant Minneapolis MC, MaLLy, made a dynamic return to the local hip-hop scene with his terrific recent record, The Colors of Black, and "City of Fear" was the first single/video lifted from that spirited collection. The creative video was directed by Cody Brown, and the stark, barren wasteland visuals featured in the clip only compliment the raw urgency of the track itself (which features a killer lyrical nod to P.O.S. at the midway point). MaLLy has been working steadily since the release of his debut caught the attention of local and national hip-hop fans, and the new record heightened the attention shown to this talented rapper who is seizing his musical moment with a tight grip.


John Mark Nelson - "Boy"

Local singer-songwriter John Mark Nelson returned with another compelling video drawn from his new album, Sings the Moon, this time out for the record's emotional centerpiece, "Boy." The stirring video was shot in the stunning mountain regions of California, and follows two disparate guys out into the woods on their unmentioned outdoor adventure. The song plays a key role in describing the action unfolding on the screen, before taking on a more poignant significance at the very end. The video and the song are both quite beautiful and moving, and pair perfectly to create an emotional resonance that lingers long after the clip comes to an end.

Tickle Torture - "You're Gonna Be My Baby"

Tickle Torture heats things up straight away on this sultry (and slightly NSFW) video for his pulsating new jam, "You're Gonna Be My Baby." The track is from Tickle Torture's new EP, Spectrophilia, which set dancefloors and home stereos ablaze over the past couple of months. The concept for the clip came from Mr. Tickle himself, Elliott Kozel, while it was directed by Ryan Kron Thompson, and produced/edited by Dan Huiting. There's an erotic quality to all of Tickle Torture's work (especially his carnal, everything-goes live show), but he pushes those traits to the hilt in the red-hot track and video.

Lizzo - "Paris"

The year 2014 just kept getting bigger and bigger for Lizzo. After successful tours of Europe and throughout the U.S. (including a sold-out two-night stand at First Avenue with Caroline Smith), she even turned David Letterman into a big fan with her dynamic performance on his late night talk show. At the height of the worldwide buzz Lizzo was generating, the vibrant MC released an official video for her recent single, "Paris." Lizzo has actually been to Paris since recording this wishful-thinking track, including shots of the City Of Light that make up much the video itself -- which turns the lyrics of the track on their head just a bit. These whirlwind, globe-circling experiences are just a part of Lizzo's breakout year and a testament to her great music and boundless creative determination.

Real Numbers - "Ordeal"

Minneapolis quartet Real Numbers' relentlessly catchy track "Ordeal" was given a stylish, ultra-cool video treatment by Teenage Moods' Gordon Byrd. The clip has a definite Warhol Factory vibe to it, with the band looking like a modern-day Velvet Underground -- while sounding like the Kinks. It all adds up to an exciting musical and visual statement from the band, who caught our attention with their spirited recent EP, Only Two Can Play, and this modish video strengthens our connection with their music and their contemporary aesthetic.

Squares - "Vaso Vagel"

Minneapolis prog rock quartet Squares released their captivating recent album, Three Theories, earlier this year, and enlisted talented local director Joseph McMahon to write, produce, and direct their indelible video for "Vaso Vagal." And what a wonderful job McMahon did, as he crafted one of the unquestionably best videos of the year. The unnerving clip is full of edgy drama and tension, and takes viewers from a haunting Civil War operating room to an ominous countryside cult, while the song churns away in the background. All of the striking visuals and shadowy anxiety perfectly suits the menacing urgency of the dynamic track itself.


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