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25 Great Bands, 30 Great Music Videos

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Creating a music video, in my opinion, should be about creating art. There are so many intricate elements that should go into a video that are so often left forgotten or, at least, unattended. First and foremost is the song itself — a video must compliment the art to which it is expanding from audio to video. Connecting the two is extremely important. Second is theme. The best videos have some storyline, vague or distinct. Or at least something visually interesting.

What started below as a few of my favorites from the past year ultimately turned into a much bigger list of simply great videos both current and dated. Most are visually stunning, as noted in the title of this post. However, a few are impressive instead through the conceptual elements of plot and story (the first one is testament to that). That being said, if you know of some masterful videos from the past few years, feel free to drop a link into a comment — and don’t forget to let us know why you feel it is a “must see” video.

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The Apples In Stereo

The song is great, but what really makes this a good music video is the storyline before and after the song. Featuring Elijah Wood as a teacher, he is whisked away into an alternate universe where Robert Schneider is not a scientist but a musician. This music video is quite nontraditional — it comes with a completely separate introductory video.

“Dance Floor” Part One

“Dance Floor” Part Two

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The Black Keys

The story this video tells is quite entertaining and more than worthy of several repeat viewings. “Tighten Up” comes from their eighth release (counting both EPs), Brothers, and is the highlight track. Featuring Auerbach and Carney at the local park with two boys, both pairs spot the girl of their dreams and friendship loyalties stray in the most hilarious of manners. See for yourself:

“Tighten Up”

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Casiokids

I really, really dig “Finn Bikkjen” by Casiokids. It’s a wonder I haven’t really spent time to seek out more by the band. What I did stumble upon, however, is their video for this song. 2010 appears to be the year everyone dresses up in animal outfits. (Chris Ewing, who’s featured soon below, also did a video featuring them for the band Seasons.) Here they’re playful, and they are creatures we have never seen. Very unique and fun.

“Finn Bikkjen”

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Club 8

This video is a bit odd in that Johan Angergård tends to favor his other project, The Legends, for videos that feature dancing. He did it both in “Lucky Star” and “Seconds Away”, the latter of which you’ll see a bit lower. Yet “Western Hospitality” does just that.

“Western Hospitality”

Club 8 “Western hospitality” from Labrador Records on Vimeo.

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El Perro Del Mar

First off, this video is flat-out strange. But it fits the music and it’s definitely unique. Makes me think of Rocky Horror Picture Show, though. And despite my predilection toward women and their scantily-clad-ness, it’s both an impressive physical feat and quite entertaining.

“Change Of Heart”

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Fredrik

Fredrik’s music has always blended the ethereal with pop and folk, creating a surreal universe and their videos for “Viskra”, “Milo” and “11 Years” give us a glimpse into these so-called places. “Milo” is colorful and blurry, while “Viskra” (primarily in black-and-white) shows a snowy world with human like creatures. “11 Years” uses stop-motion photography to create a trippy world within a train car. All three work well with Fredrik’s dreamy folk-pop.

“11 Years”

Fredrik – ’11 Years’ from Iris Piers on Vimeo.

“Milo”

Fredrik – Milo from The Kora Records on Vimeo.

“Viskra”

Fredrik – Viskra from The Kora Records on Vimeo.

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Tobias Froberg (NSFW)

Tobias Froberg’s “When We Go To War” is a play on good versus evil, documented theatrically via two professional dancers. And the video fits perfectly with Froberg’s masterpiece. The two individuals within appear normal enough, but when both enter onto the roof of a building, they turn into creatures ready for battle. There’s a hint of nudity in this one, so it may not be safe for work.

“When We Go To War”

Tobias Froberg – When We Go to War from Petter Ringbom on Vimeo.

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[ingenting]

This song is so touching to begin with, it’s hard not to get emotional when watching this video. [ingenting] of Sweden is a rarity in that they sing in their native tongue — most Swedish bands we hear on this side of the ocean have adopted English as a standard for performing. Still, the emotion comes through easily in this tale about love and loss.

“Dina händer är fulla av blommor”

[ingenting] “Dina händer är fulla av blommor” from Labrador Records on Vimeo.

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Jonsi

Jonsi of Sigur Ros is now creating music under the moniker Jonsi, and it’s pretty sweet. Honestly, I don’t much care for the vast majority of videos that just show a band performing their song, but Jonsi’s video for “Animal Arithmetic” is done at odd angles, which means it’s not your standard performance video. That makes it a rarity: totally worthwhile.

“Animal Arithmetic”

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The Knife

Easily one of the creepiest music videos around is The Knife’s “Silent Shout”. Once the flashing lights fade, we begin to see odd, misshapen humans and hear The Knife’s equally mind-bending vocals. The result is nightmarish.

“Silent Shout”

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The Legends

With each new album, Johan Angergård takes The Legends in an exciting new direction. Here you can hear and see three distinct sounds from three separate albums Still, I have a hard time discounting their first one — it has been a mainstay in my regular playlist since discovering shortly after its release (“There And Back Again” is from that release). Both “Lucky Star” and “Always The Same” find The Legends featuring a quirky, awkward dancer and it couldn’t be more fitting thanks to the dancey electro-pop of the former and the lovable pop vocals and crazy distorted pop guitars of the latter.

“Always The Same”

“Lucky Star”

“There And Back Again”

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Letting Up Despite Great Faults

Letting Up Despite Great Faults is the band I referred to before, the one with a video by Chris Ewing. Like his work for Seasons, this one features a beautiful girl. Unlike that one, in which she’s plagued by animals, this one is a love story. And true to Ewing’s creations, there’s plenty of mixed media and surreal surrounds.

“Our Younger Noise”

LETTING UP DESPITE GREAT FAULTS: Our Younger Noise from Christopher j Ewing on Vimeo.

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Radiohead

It’s hard to write about great music videos without at least mentioning “Rabbit In Your Headlights” by Radiohead. Technically, it’s a split between Thom Yorke and UNKLE. Aesthetically, thematically, and visually, this is one of my favorite music videos of all time… right up through the explosive ending.

“Rabbit In Your Headlights”

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Seabear

As you’ll soon learn, Iceland’s Sindri Már Sigfússon like multimedia videos. Off Seabear’s latest release, We Built A Fire, of which I’ve been listening to a lot lately, “I’ll Build You A Fire” does just that. The good news is that Sigfússon does multimedia videos very well.

“I’ll Build You A Fire”

Seabear – I’ll Build You A Fire from seabear on Vimeo.

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Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes

The concept behind this video is “Desert Song” itself, and in fact it is the first of many from Sharpe-and-entourage. Actually, they’re making an entire movie based on their hit album Up From Below.

“Desert Song”

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros “Desert Song” from benjamin kutsko on Vimeo.

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Sin Fang Bous

Sin Fang Bous created an epic masterpiece in 2009. The solo project of Seabear’s Sindri Már Sigfússon. This video was directed by Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir of, I’m assuming, Iceland (that’s where Sin Fang Bous and Seabear are from). Mixing media is a difficult thing to do, but Birgisdóttir does it quite successfully here. Odd and filled with a unique style of electro-pop, Sin Fang Bous has a worthy and comfortable home on Morr Music.

“Clangour And Flutes”

Sin Fang Bous: clangour and flutes from morr music on Vimeo.

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Small Black

Small Black created a bit of a masterpiece with their video for “Despicable Dogs” and they do it again with “Bad Lover”. It’s been a while since a video has seriously creeped me out; probably since “Silent Shout” by The Knife. “Bad Lover” does a good job thanks to people with odd masks on.

“Bad Lover”

Small Black: Bad Lover from Nick Bentgen on Vimeo.

“Despicable Dogs”

Small Black: Despicable Dogs from Yoonha Park on Vimeo.

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Tame Impala

Reality and sanity are both focal points in Tame Impala’s video for “Solitude Is Bliss”. Whether or not there’s a deeper meaning behind the images displayed is up for debate; I’d argue for. It fits with the title — the “solitude” our protagonist sees. He is thwarted by the masses but seems aloof in his own world of destruction. Tame Impala is one of this year’s promising finds, for sure.

“Solitude Is Bliss”

tame impala – solitude is bliss from EL NINO on Vimeo.

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Thieves Like Us

I love videos like the one for “Shyness” by Thieves Like Us. It shows the fleeting awkwardness of teenage love — the lust, the love, the heartbreak and the all too quickly forgotten memories. You almost feel naughty and guilty watching it.

“Shyness”

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Chad VanGaalen (NSFW)

What makes “Molten Light” so special is that VanGaalen did the video himself. His art, just like his music, is highly original. This video too is disturbing, and probably not safe for work.

“Molten Light” (NSFW)

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Warpaint

There is no other way to put it: What Adam Harding does in creating Warpaint’s video for “Stars” is absolutely stunning. Visually, it’s quite impressive; he perfectly captures the dreamy nature of their subtle shoegaze soundscapes, and the nuances of Warpaint’s playful darkness. Furthermore, he creates momentum that moves with the song — particularly in its final moments — a momentum that increases to a powerful climax as the song fades away.

“Stars”

Warpaint – Stars from Adam Harding on Vimeo.

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Vitalic

All this video contains is flying dogs and laser beams. Brilliant! And that’s all I need to say about Vitalic’s “Birds”.

“Birds”

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Washed Out

It’s amazing to think that Washed Out’s Ernest Greene planned to settle down after making his epic EP, 2009’s Life Of Leisure. After years of creating music under various bands and monikers, Greene was suddenly thrust into the spotlight with this project. And we finally get a music video to accompany the music.

“Hold Out”

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Wolf Parade

They really should make more science fiction movies like this; “Yulia” by Wolf Parade is filled with interesting footage and great cinematography.

“Yulia”

Wolf Parade – Yulia from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.

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Yeasayer (NSFW)

This video is definitely not safe for work. That being said, it’s also quite interesting — it follows the path Yeasayer took with their sophomore album, one that heightens to a whole new level the experimental glam they started with their debut.

“Ambling Alp”

Yeasayer “Ambling Alp” from Team G on Vimeo.

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