Say what you will about the two, but few have revived interest in Jamaican music as Diplo and Switch’s zombie-killing creation, Major Lazer. Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do was a stunning record, a perfect follow up from the iconic mixtapes Diplo put out in the years prior. To some extent, the hype for their new album Free the Universe is not just necessary, but proper. The record mashes dancehall, dub, trap and thatratchetmusic all at once, perfect for dance floors from Silver Lake to Brooklyn to Kingston.
Yet the song to watch might be this one. “Get Free” displays the beauty of dub reggae so perfectly. Equal parts Augustus Pablo and classic R&B, there’s something beautiful here. Amber Coffman asks “What will I do without my dreams?” as the beat bubbles back and forth like water on a choppy stream. A synthy horn pops in, dancing on the reggae rhythm. The chorus rings out on so many levels: “Look at me, I just can’t believe what they’ve done to me: We could never get free, I just want to be…” Are they talking about the government? The style of music? The oppression in Jamaica? Or just that subconscious desire to live? No matter. We all want to get free, don’t we?
Love this new video for James Blake song “Overgrown,” which was directed by NABIL. The director uses a lot of time-lapse and shoots day-for-night which gives the video a very dreamlike feeling, but overall it looks seamless and not like Mr. Blake is walking through a video game.
It’s been two years since celebrated singer-songwriting Samuel Beam, aka Iron and Wine, has released a studio album. The latest, Ghost on Ghost, arrives tomorrow, and we’re already fans per the live stream first listen last week. We can attest that it’s a satisfyingly exuberant and uplifting new direction for Beam and his band, and it’s amplified by the album’s first music video for the song “Joy”.
Directed by Hayley Morris, we’re taken on a colorful journey through a blossoming wilderness. Cow skulls sprout flowers while dried flowers explode in shades of neon. It’s a stunning piece of animation created by projecting hand-painted watercolor animations into stop-motion landscapes. Morris was inspired by a particular lyric from the song—”deep inside the heart of this crazy mess, I’m only calm when I get lost within your wilderness”—and chose to visually show how love transforms and colors the world around you.
Aside from interpreting the romance of the lyrics in a beautifully literal way, the animation itself stands alone as a depiction of what it is to feel joy. “[It's] a song about love and taking a moment to realize how someone can vastly change how you perceive yourself and the world around you,” Morris says. “My goal was to have the viewer feel the effect through bursts of color, growth and transformation.”
We’re big fans of Swedish electronic duo The Knife. The band’s latest album, Shaking the Habitual, is finally out this week despite the free stream they gifted to fans earlier in the month. And if that wasn’t enough, they’ve released a new short film to go along with it called “The Interview”, featuring the band explaining the album in their own words. Shot in collaboration with director Marit Östberg (who also directed their provocative video “Full of Fire”), The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer layer explanations over natural imagery like clouds, rivers, and swimming swans. “What we do is political … the border between normal and strange is erased,” they explain in tandem.
I wrote about “Line of Fire”, the first in a two-part music video story by Swedish band Junip and filmmaker Mikel Cee Karlsson, back in February. Aside from the stunning imagery—which was often shot in still motion with only one part of a character’s body moving—the story of a middle-aged couple whose lives are upended by a teenage stranger was both mysterious and creepy. “Your Life, Your Call” is the unsettling conclusion, and it moves into even creepier (and snowier) territory despite the driving lilt of the song. You’re not quite sure why it all feels uncouth and wince-worthy, yet you somehow can’t look away, either, as the suburban drama slowly morphs into horror courtesy of a long-haired ruffian whose vampire gaze, hypnotic dance moves, and glistening braces are truly terrifying. Odd, engaging, and scored beautifully to Junip’s new music, the conclusion questions who the real villain was all along and leaves you wanting to go back and watch both videos again.
If, like me, you’re blown away by the work of Mikel Cee Karlsson, I urge you to check out his documentary The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of José González, featuring Junip member José González, or you can view more videos here. Junip’s eponymous new album is out on April 23.