"Ready, Able" Grizzly Bear, directed by Allison Schulnik

This past weekend I journeyed downtown to check out one of the two music video showcases organized by the Los Angeles Film Festival. This collection was named “Eclectic Mix 2” and featured videos from the likes of Grizzly Bear, The Fiery Furnaces, Hauschka, Astronautalis and Major Lazer to name a few (full program is listed at the end). After screening all the videos we were lucky enough to get a Q&A with most of the directors. And boy, when watching 20 music videos in a row it becomes abundantly clear what works, what doesn’t, what patterns the programmers went with and just how many ways there are to capture a song in music. I picked 10 videos to give my thoughts on….

1.  “Even In The Rain” The Fiery Furnaces
Directed by: Scott Jacobson

A parody of Easy Rider told through the off-screen drama between Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. Sounds funny and quirky, but I actually didn’t love this video. It dragged a little and got repetitive in a few places. So why am I featuring it on my blog? During the Q&A I got to ask the filmmakers what about the song inspired the concept of the video. To my surprise, director Scott Jacobson didn’t mention any endeavor to fit the song lyrically – but that his goal was to tailor the video to the band members instead:

“Around the same time I was reading about Easy Rider and saw that their dynamic was kind of similar to what Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda had, where there’s one kind of whirling dervish, kind of crazy and one kind of cool calm center. So I started with that, but Easy Rider has been parodied more than anything else – most people only really know it from the parody. But it seemed kinda funny to do a parody of something, but just the most trivial aspects of it. And that sort of convoluted approach kinda matched [The Fiery Furnaces], at least in my mind – they have a lot of ambitious, eccentric ideas”

2.  “Northern Lights” Bowerbirds
Directed by: Matt Amato

And interestingly enough, when asked the same question the director of this video said something similar. Again, the video was very much about the band members than the song itself:

“They took me to the summer house where they spent all their summers, so we stayed with their parents, who cooked for us while we were there. It was just like going back to their childhood, so it was a very personal expression for them. They also have a relationship – so their little love eyes that they were giving to each other were real…”

Unfortunately then the crazy moderator wouldn’t let anyone else answer. But no matter, I have my own thoughts on the next few…

3.  “Blonde Fire” The Hickey Underworld
Directed by: Joe Vanhoutthegem

Blonde Fire from Criss Crass on Vimeo.

HOLY SHIT THIS IS CREEPY. But what a distinct tone and voice.  I was disgusted and enthralled the entire time.

4.  “Breathturn” Hammock
Directed by: David Altobelli

This might be the opposite of the above video in every way except that it is also enthralling. I wish I could have gotten an answer to my question from this director. The video perfectly fits the ways the song soars, but it’s an entirely instrumental song…what inspired the cranes?

5.  “Evident Utensil” Chairlift
Directed by: Ray Tintori

Evident Utensil from Dead Video / Live Video Festival on Vimeo.

This video was screened second, and as such was easily lost among some of the other more elaborate ones shown later – but I thought the colors and the flow were marvelous. I kept wondering where the next movement would be, what would happen next. The concept did get a bit tired after a while since the director didn’t really go anywhere with it – but technically HOW DID THEY DO THAT?!

6.  “Heavens To Purgatory” The Most Serene Republic
Directed by: Ben Steiger Levine

The Most Serene Republic – Heavens To Purgatory from Arts & Crafts on Vimeo.

Like “Evident Utensil” this video also demonstrated impressive visual trickery and was lost by the end of the program. Debuting first, the song is sweet and the visual accompaniment essentially simple, clever and guaranteed to make you smile – it was a delightful embodiment of the music. With so many intense, high energy, plot driven pieces later in the program, however, it was unfortunately easy to forget.

7.  “See Fernando” Jenny Lewis
Directed by: Alan Tanner

Jenny Lewis “See Fernando” from Team G on Vimeo.

Case in point: “See Fernando” – bright colors, exotic locales, womanizing spies, gunplay, a femme fatale.  I think it’s quite an amusing take on the song, and the retro style totally fits Jenny Lewis’s vibe. And it’s a prime example of a trend apparent in several of the music videos of the evening: kitsch. See “Trouble Hunters” by Astronautalis, “Body Shot” by Electrix Six and…

8.  “Do It Again” Galactic feat. Cheeky Blakk
Directed by: Joey Garfield

Because hand puppets are so overdone.

No booty-shaking for you

9.  “If I Had A Heart” Fever Ray
Directed by: Andreas Nilsson

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HvjK29Gpn0&feature=avmsc2

And now for something completely different. Overall I was a big fan of this video. It’s visually stunning (and creepy) and totally added another dimension to the song. The ending, however, was a big disappointment – too much left for the viewer to tie together. I also thought Fever Ray could have gone with a better outfit, the skull make-up just didn’t stack up to everything else that was going on in the video.

10.  “Bubblicious” Rex the Dog
Directed by: Geoffroy De Crecy

Bubblicious from Rex The Dog on Vimeo.

And lastly, my favorite video. I smiled, I laughed, I followed the story, I cared about the characters and I thought it made the song even more fun.

Unfortunately Eclectic Mix 2 is no longer screening at the festival, but you can check out Eclectic Mix 1 on Wednesday June 23 7:30pm at The Grammy Museum.  Go and let me know what you think.  Same goes for the above – I painstakingly embedded all those videos for a reason.

Eclectic Mix 2 (Full Program):

“A Volta” N.A.S.A
Directed by Alexei Tylevich

“Body Shot” Electric Six
Directed by: Nabil

“I Can Talk” Two Door Cinema Club
Directed by: Megaforce

“Keep It Goin’ Louder” Major Lazer feat. Nina Sky and Ricky Blaze
Directed by: Jason Miller, Ferry Gouw

“Morgenrot” Hauschka
Directed by: Jeff Desom

“Move (If You Wanna)” Mims
Directed by: Keith Schofield

“Ready, Able” Grizzly Bear
Directed by: Allison Schulnik

“This Too Shall Pass” OK Go
Directed by: James Frost, OK Go, Syyn Labs

“Trouble Hunters” Astronautalis
Directed by: Mark Hubbard

“Even In The Rain” The Fiery Furnaces
Directed by: Scott Jacobson

“Northern Lights” Bowerbirds
Directed by: Matt Amato

“Blonde Fire” The Hickey Underworld
Directed by: Joe Vanhoutthegem

“Breathturn” Hammock
Directed by: David Altobelli

“Evident Utensil” Chairlift
Directed by: Ray Tintori

“Heavens To Purgatory” The Most Serene Republic
Directed by: Ben Steiger Levine

“See Fernando” Jenny Lewis
Directed by: Alan Tanner

“Do It Again” Galactic feat. Cheeky Blakk
Directed by: Joey Garfield

“If I Had A Heart” Fever Ray
Directed by: Andreas Nilsson

“Bubblicious” Rex the Dog
Directed by: Geoffroy De Crecy