Fable & the World Flat – "Soliloquy in Symphony"
It's actually kind of hard to watch this video now, when it's 10 degrees and there are six inches of snow on the ground, because it's so quintessentially summer. A gang of bikers and boarders tool around a leafy green Milwaukee like they own the place before convening with some mystics around a bonfire. The video is beautifully shot by Cole Quamme and Dan Boville, with frequent slow-mo perfectly matching the song's syrupy synths. (JG)
The Fatty Acids – “Airsick”
The Fatty Acids, along with their tour buds in Sat. Nite Duets, essentially have the criterion collection of wacky, well done music videos. The band’s latest, “Airsick,” is no exception. The guys geek out during the space-themed video that finds singer Josh Evert shooting through the galaxy, as the rest of the band tracks his trajectory through the CGI expanses. Fatties member Kurt Raether, who owns Honeycomb Productions, is getting better with every video project he takes on. (TM)
Faux Fir – "Failure Prose"
I love this video for its simple story, a story of childhood that anyone should be able to relate to. In the days of psychedelic, decadent and self-indulgent music videos (though we clearly have no issue with those styles as evidenced by this list), it's refreshing to see a simple story take center stage. And who wouldn't have loved to turn their childhood nemesis into a ratty stuffed animal? (AC)
Jaill – "Pointy Fingers"
The dumpster behind Mad Planet becomes a gateway to another dimension (just as we suspected) in this bizarre video for the non-album single "Pointy Fingers." Frontman Vinnie Kircher goes from dance floor to ball pit to band practice, looking understandably harried by the time he picks up his guitar to squeak out a wiry little solo. Moral of the story: Don't go in the dumpster behind Mad Planet. (JG)
Juiceboxxx – “Never Surrender Forever”
While not technically a music video, it’d be a travesty to omit recorded footage of Juiceboxxx’s visit to Chicago public access show, Chic-A-Go-Go, in September. He chats cheese with a mouse hand puppet; he delivers a predictably emphatic performance of “Never Surrender Forever” and comes dangerously close to trucking an infant a few times. Perfect. (TM)
Klassik – "Boogie"
Nothing says classy like exposed brick and champagne, and the video for Boogie features plenty of both. Through the lens of director Mark Gage's camera, Milwaukee looks like Paris and Klassik looks like he just strolled out of the pages of Esquire to show us all how to dress this year. Best part is, the decadence is contagious. If you're watching it on your couch in sweatpants (like I am now), you'll instantly feel 20 times "Klassier," which is a feeling I just made up. (JG)
Like Like The The The Death – “Here Comes Irregular”
At the time this was written, 558 YouTube viewers exposed their fragile brains to the potentially scarring imagery of Like Like The The The Death’s crazy ass video for “Here Comes Irregular” (of 2013 album Cave Jenny). Those brave souls saw a man (?) with a backwards-facing head who was outfitted in only tighty-whiteys walking clumsily around a farm. He pets a horse, eats a Twinkie, shoots lasers from his mouth, barfs a glowing egg and calls it a day. Pretty much standard stuff. (TM)
Midnight Reruns – "King Of Pop"
I like this video for its possibilities as an origin story – that Midnight Reruns are actually a band conceived by Paul Collins in a dream and then somehow brought to life to carry on the torch of power pop lit in the '80s by Collins himself. After Collins (yes, that's actually Paul Collins!) falls asleep reading a book titled Power Pop Prime, he slips into a vision of a backyard party with a wildly off-balance beer-to-fruit ratio. (By my count, there are at least four pieces of fruit for every beer at the party.) Still, things manage to get pretty crazy (I blame all the natural sugars), and the Reruns' guitarist takes off his pants and throws them in a fire. And thus, a great power pop band was born! (JG)
RAGELIFE – "Champagne Range"
This is the second video on this list directed by Mark Gage (the other is Klassik's "Boogie"), which automatically elevates him to Scorcese-status in the relatively small pool of local music video directors. Not much happens in Gage's videos, which is okay because they're so mesmerizing to look at. In this one, rappers OYE!, P/1 and guest Klassik get a tripped-out, technicolor treatment. (JG)
Sat. Nite Duets – “The Three Wisemen”
Sat. Nite Duets is known for two things: Being compared to Pavement a lot, and music videos that are equally funny and visually impressive. Miraculously, “Three Wise Men” is the second video on this list to feature both a horse and mouth-lasers. The uncharacteristically mellow Electric Manland standout isn’t immune from the Sat. Nite video treatment, complete with a cowboy in a Tron-like dimension, a guy singing into his own ears and some baptisms for good measure. The fact that Music Notes contributor Joe Guszkowski appears in this video makes its inclusion toe the line of ethics, but this video is just too good not to mention. (TM)
Soul Low – “Wake Up Pains”
Local indie rock trio Soul Low came out of nowhere to put out one of Milwaukee’s best releases of 2013 with its outstanding debut, UNEASY. Now bogged down with expectations from its quickly growing fan base, Soul Low didn’t disappoint with its visual debut either. In October, we premiered “Wake Up Pains” – a touching story of conjoined triplets enduring persecution, only to exact their revenge and fall in love in 3:39 time. It’s also a love letter to Bay View, with Anodyne coffee shop and South Shore Park making cameos. (TM)
Volcano Choir – "Comrade" (Pitchfork)
I'm always suspicious when I see a Justin Vernon-related project doing well, but as Volcano Choir rose to prominence this year, he constantly deflected the spotlight toward his band members, and in this video you can really see why. Unlike the Fallon performance, this video (part of Pitchfork's "City of Music" video series) spreads the screen time more evenly, with some amazing shots of punishing drummer Jon Mueller and infectiously smiley guitarist Chris Rosenau. Plus, it's filmed in an old Milwaukee tannery. (JG)
WC Tank – “Demigodz (Of Tha Law)”
Wes Tank (better known as “WC Tank” in the local hip-hop community) is something of a videographer by his own right. The artsy rapper filmed a great, understated music video for his pal Milo’s song “Ecclesiastes” over the summer, and he just got back from working on a project with Hellfyre Club in Los Angeles. However, when it came to making a video for his own song, Tank relied on longtime collaborator, the aforementioned Kurt Raether of Honeycomb Productions, to do his song “Demigodz (Of Tha Law)” visual justice. The result is gritty, creepy footage of Tank crossing into “The Gutterworld” (seemingly an industrial area off 794 in Bay View) and other portals. It’s a dazzling video, which has an overall quality that far outshines its budget. (TM)