By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
Arcade Fire, "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)," "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)," "Rebellion (Lies)": Grab these crazy Canadians' videos first. The "Neighborhood" entries feature intricately animated worlds--one like a water-stained children's book and the other a digitally animated caper that stars Jawa-looking dudes in Santa outfits. But don't bother watching "Rebellion (Lies)" on an iPod. The humor of the band shooting lightning bolts at kids is lost on a Post-It-size window.
Bright Eyes, "Lua" and "Lover I Don't Have to Love": In "Lua," Conor Oberst sits in a thrift-store parka at a bus stop and just plays the song on his acoustic, with two cameras filming him (one of them gets in the other's shot). Fun for members of the "It's Conor, OMG!" club, at least. By contrast, in "Lover I Don't Have to Love," you never even see the boy wonder. It's produced like a karaoke video with song lyrics running across the screen, yet somehow, the gag works. Have you ever downed a few Pink Slippers and given a crowd your best impression of Oberst's cracked vocals? With that new iPod, you'll soon do so on the go.
The Fiery Furnaces, "Tropical Ice-Land": Despite their zany tunes, Matt and Eleanor Friedberger are two of the stiffest people in indie rock, and in this video, where they're surrounded by arctic scenes drawn in crayon by somebody's grade-schooler, they don't even crack a smile at their own sight gags. Looks cool, but if they make a video for the newly released Rehearsing My Choir, a concept record with cameos from relatives, I vote for Grandma to run the show. Compared to these two, she can probably shake a leg.
Laura Veirs, "Galaxies": Just as the song's pitch-bending synth line doofs up a perfectly good Lucinda Williams impression, the video for "Galaxies" makes the plain seem precious. She's sad, so she sheds a tear, but it turns into a book--because, you know, Veirs reads books--and then she dances with a deep-sea diver. Symbols, symbols, symbols. I would love to see the handmade journal in which she storyboarded this video.
The New Pornographers, "All for Swinging You Around": A bunch of incredibly cute and wholesome Canadian girls decked out in camisoles and PJs dance to this song--sometimes in slow motion. It's so hot, they don't even need to tickle each other! Really, thank goodness that the Pornographers write pop songs that make teen girls want to dance. Isn't that why we invented music videos in the first place?