Once again, it's time for the return of Videodrome, our semi-regular showcase for the best music videos around. Since the form has given the world game-changing helmers in both the blockbuster and arthouse realms, it's always important to keep an eye on promos, and indeed, one could argue that there's more invention to be found in the short form than there is in features. So, without further ado, the five best music videos we've seen in the last few weeks. As ever, any tips and suggestions are more than welcome.
Hilary Hahn & Hauschka – "Draw A Map" (dir. Eric Epstein)
Despite winning Best Indie/Rock Video at the U.K. Music Video Awards last year for his haunting clip for Memory Tapes, Eric Epstein, a NYC-based former motion graphics artist, has been slow to follow it up. But he's finally back for a brief clip for an instrumental track by violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist Hauschka. And it's again rather extraordinary, featuring a researcher with a curious machine that creates real-life wave-forms, reflecting Hahn and Hauschka's song. It'd be beautifully made on its own, but the subtle visual effects and terrific staccato editing makes this something very special indeed. Epstein's definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Caveman – "Vampirer"/"Old Friend" (dir. Philip DiFiore)
It's easy to roll your eyes at the latest hot-shot NYC band to emerge, but Caveman have been consistently defying expectations, not really sounding or acting like how you'd expect them to; they're far more than just a buzz band. And their new video, for two tracks, the atmospheric "Vampirer" and more traditional "Old Friend," is another extension of that. Beginning as a Hitchcockian horror homage (featuring the voice of Peter Sarsgaard), it shifts into an afterparty, before taking another disturbing turn. It's unnerving and unique, paying homage while marching to its own beat, and displaying impressive work from director Philip DiFiore (who helmed the documentary "Stranger: Bernie Worrell On Earth").
Family Band – "Night Song"
New York's Family Band certainly live up to their title: it's a collaboration between vocalist Kim Krans and her husband Jonny Ollsin, former frontman of the metal band Children. They probably don't sound like what you might imagine; atmospheric electronica that seems like it came from Scandinavia rather than Brooklyn. The video, directed by and illustrated by Krans, takes its simple inspiration from their album cover (for the upcoming Grace & Lies), with the singer's face embellished with a series of simple black-and-white projections. It looks deceptively simple, but it's starkly beautiful (and even a little funny in places), and matches the track, "Night Song," beautifully.
A Band Of Buriers – "Filth"
Slowly, we're getting to see the entire Harry Potter cast in music videos: Emma Watson, and more recently Daniel Radcliffe, have both done duty in the past. And now, Matthew Lewis, who was the surprise breakout star of the final installment, is getting in on the act with "Filth," the promo for the lead single British folk act A Band Of Buriers' first album, which came out this week. The actor plays a man whose girlfriend (Lily Loveless from "Skins" and "The Fades") has a strange attachment to a human bone. When he throws it away, he ends up taking dark and bloody action to repair his wrong. The band brought in playwright Rob Hayes to co-write the script, and it shows; there's a stronger sense of narrative than in any other video that we've seen of late, and it helps that it's beautifully shot by director Blake Claridge and DoP Sara Deane.
Aesop Rock – "ZZZ Top"
After all that darkness (clearly the rainy British summer is playing havoc on our state of mind), why not close things out with a little ass-kicking? Ever since the Wu-Tang Clan, hip-hop and kung-fu have gone hand in hand, and it's a relationship that continues with "ZZZ Top," the second cut from Skelethon, the first album in five years from Aesop Rock, which hit stores this week. Directed by Pete Lee (who's making a pretty good case for a career in action cinema), it stars martial artist Hao Ziahua (credited as Patti Li) as a kidnapped woman who fights back against her captives. It's deftly handled stuff, considering the budget can't have been huge, and the choreography — presumably by Hao herself — is fairly impressive. Mainly, though, it's just fun to see a middle-aged woman laying so much smackdown.