Top 10 best Minnesota music videos of 2014 (so far)
Local Frames is a weekly column spotlighting the best new music videos featuring musicians and directors with Minnesota ties.
At the year's halfway point, we take a look back at some of the most artfully crafted and stylish clips that truly caught our eye over the past six months. Here are the ten best music videos of the first half of 2014.
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 caught much of the music world's attention while opening for Poliça on tour throughout this past year, and this striking clip certainly caught the eyes and ears of fans of both Star Wars and wildly experimental music.
No Bird Sing - "Apogee (Feat. Aby Wolf)"
No Bird Sing's national fan base grew a lot wider when the local trio signed to Strange Famous Records, who recently released their spirited album, Definition Sickness. For the second video from that collection, the group leaned hard on Aby Wolf, who not only lends her backing vocals to the track, but stars in the video (along with Joe Horton) as well. The clip, which was directed by Horton and Patrick Pegg, artfully captures a couple in conflict, and the games that are often played in any relationship, both literally and figuratively. The track and the video both build to an elegant, impassioned conclusion, with No Bird Sing yet again making a bold musical statement that will resonate with fans both new and old.
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 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 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.
Buildings - "Because It Doesn't Matter"
Minneapolis noise-rock trio Buildings returned with a raucous new 10-inch EP called, It Doesn't Matter, and the first offering from their new collection is this arresting video for the quasi-title track, "Because It Doesn't Matter," which was directed by Joe Clark. The track is a blistering, urgent musical statement by the band, with echoes of the sludgy churn of the Melvins boiling just below the surface of the tempestuous number. Throw in irreverent visuals of a menacing (aren't clowns always menacing?) clown, a cake, and what appears to be an extremely comfortable couch, and you've got the makings of one of the best videos of the year.
What Tyrants - "Hangin' Out In Havana"
The young Minneapolis garage rock trio What Tyrants are set to release their debut 7" later this summer, and they recently released their first video for the lively lead single, "Hangin' Out In Havana." Drummer Kyle Schultz directed the clip, which features the band rocking out to a rather immobile, judgmental audience who slowly get won over by the untamed sounds of the group. As both the crowd and the band become more rambunctious, the staid original setting suitably switches over to a far more raucous beach party as the song picks up in both pace and potency. Absolutely ace, this.
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" is the first single/video lifted from that spirited new 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 only heightened the attention shown to this talented rapper who is clearly seizing his musical moment with a tight grip.
Real Numbers - "Ordeal"
Minneapolis quartet Real Numbers' relentlessly catchy track, "Ordeal," is given a stylish 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 certainly caught our attention with their spirited recent EP, Only Two Can Play, and this modish video only strengthens our connection with their music and their contemporary aesthetic.
The Sudden Lovelys - "Gone Is Time"
The Sudden Lovelys are a self-described "aggressive folk two-piece" out of Nordeast Minneapolis. The group, comprised of Daniel and Paige Ferraro, released their new full-length, Brave and Alive, back in March. This video is for their catchy first single from the album, "Gone Is Time," which finds the pair playing the roles of their respective grandparents over the years. It's a touching, lovely tribute to those who have come before us, as well as the enduring, evocative power of music. Throw in a Ray Davies reference and I was immediately hooked by this sprightly, vibrant number and its poignant video.
Enemy Planes - "No Strings"
Enemy Planes made quite an impression with "No Strings," their second video to promote their forthcoming debut album, Beta Lowdown. The indie electro-rock outfit enlisted the talented Jeff Pryor to direct the fire, frustration, and whiskey-fueled clip, which was all filmed in one continuous shot with no editing -- no small feat considering precisely what goes on throughout the proceedings. The video only adds to the hypnotic, pulsating churn and restless tension of the track itself, which is yet another promising song from the band's highly anticipated record.
Squares - "Vaso Vagel"
Minneapolis prog rock quartet Squares recently released their captivating new album, Three Theories, and enlisted the talented local director Joseph McMahon to write, produce, and direct their new video for "Vaso Vagal." And what a wonderful job McMahon did, as he crafted one of the unquestionable 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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