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.
If there’s any one band known for its music videos it’s OK Go. The LA-based quartet began making indie rock in the early 2000’s only to have their career explode following the release of the music video “Here it Goes Again”, which featured the band performing a choreographed dance number on treadmills. Within six days of being posted on You Tube, the video had one million views, and it catalyzed a clever, over-the-top video style the band has continued to cultivate ever since. They’ve worked with trained dogs, toast, the dance company Pilobulus, and even collaborated on an intricate (and truly amazing) Rube Goldberg Machine experiment. But for their next video they want you to come up with something.
Last Saturday Pulp’s sixth studio album This Is Hardcore turned 15. Released on March 30th 1998, the album was the ambitious follow-up to their 1995 breakthrough, Different Class. The album was eagerly anticipated and on its release it received both critical acclaim and a number one spot in the UK charts.
For me, This Is Hardcore might not necessarily be the bands crowning moment, but there’s so many great things about it that I can’t help but celebrate it today. So, I invite you to raise a glass and join me in wishing This Is Hardcore a happy fifteenth-birthday.
We’re big fans of British singer-songwriter Keaton Henson. Not only are his lyrics thoughtful and poetic, his delivery is so subtle and beautiful, his emotion seems to stir yours with every listen. Already an artist with an armful of thoughtful and interesting music videos that function more as short films, his latest, “Lying to You”, is a collaboration with photographer Autumn de Wilde. An ode to the teenage girl, it stars de Wilde’s enigmatic daughter, Arrow, as she traverses suburban streets dotted with cat topiaries and errant Winnebagos in such a way as to make you remember the pangs of adolescent loneliness. We were so taken with it, we recently spoke to de Wilde to find out more about her inspiration and process for the video.
Late last year the Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson ran a competition asking fans to create a music-video for his track “Blackwind”. The entries were really impressive and it’s incredible to see the quality of fan-made videos being made. Last month he finally announced the winner as Chloe Poirier-Sauve but also gave special mention to six other entries; one of which is this video created by the South-Korean director Dee Shin.
About an hour ago Sigur Rós dropped an email announcing the release of a new album called Kveikur which is being released on June 17/18. In addition they also released a new video to accompany it titled “Brennisteinn”, which takes Sigur Rós into a much harder musical territory. Like I’ve never heard Sigur Rós sound this bad ass before, it’s kind of amazing. Plus the video, directed by Andrew Huang, is also pretty gnarly. I think it’s about a ritual sacrifice and the end of the world, but you can make your own assumptions.