As our recent rundown of the 25 best Milwaukee albums of 2016 showed, a dizzying amount of great music was made and released in our fair city this year. And, as evidenced by things like the Milwaukee Film Festival’s ever-growing Cream City Cinema program, a ton of great music videos were released, as well. As we prepare to say goodbye to 2016, join us as we take a look back on some of the funny, weird, creative, and downright impressive visuals set to music this year.
Marielle Allschwang — “Aquarium”
There are no words to adequately describe this Heather Hass-directed visual wonder that transformed Marielle Allschwang’s “Aquarium” into something haunting and gorgeous. It took more than 200 hours to complete. Just watch.
The Blue Mooners — “Never Meant To Moon You”
The grainy and goofy video for The Blue Mooners’ “Never Meant To Moon You” shows frontman “Spud Butler” fishing, mowing a soccer field, and penning an apologetic letter to the apparent recipient of the song’s titular act of exposure as tears of regret roll down his
cheeks face. Though there’s a fortnight left in 2016, we can confidently say this is the best song and video about a guy showing his butt that you hear all year.
Direct Hit! — “Was It The Acid?”
No band in Milwaukee had more music videos in 2016 than Direct Hit! In total, half the songs off the band’s great Wasted Mind received the video treatment, with overwhelmingly positive results. The best video from that potent six-pack of morbid, campy, low-budget renderings has to be “Was It The Acid?” The video stars a gigantic turkey that roams down Farwell Avenue and inspired varying reactions from the unprepared (and perhaps unwilling) co-stars it encounters. It’s also the last time Nick’s House was ever captured on film.
The Fatty Acids — “Little Brother Syndrome”
Three years after the release of The Fatty Acids’ “Little Brother Syndrome”—from 2013’s Boléro—the song finally got a video in 2016. It was worth the wait: The sprawling, seven-and-a-half-minute clip (directed by Josh Evert, Ryan Reeve, and Cole Quamme) takes the song’s theme of inadequacy and grafts it onto a deliriously surreal tale of a woman sucked into a Swan-like makeover show (The Ducking) before going under the knife to the delight of a howling studio audience. Impossible media-dictated beauty standards, reality TV, infomercial hucksterism, and parrots all get their just desserts.
GGOOLLDD — “Undercovers”
The cinematic video for GGOOLLDD’s “Undercovers” finds the electro-poppers stranded in rural Wisconsin in a vintage RV. The crisp glimpse of life on the road takes an abrupt twist into slasher film territory with only one survivor. Maybe.
Group Of The Altos – “Coplights”
When it came to making the video for “Coplights,” Group Of The Altos sought to reach back and recapture the look and feel of 2012’s “Sing (For Trouble)” by calling on the directorial efforts of frequent collaborator Sean Williamson and members Heather Hass and Shawn Stephany. Williamson calls the near-seven-minute effort “a prequel of sorts” for the “Sing” video. Like “Sing,” the imagery employed in “Coplights” careens from magnificent to menacing, while melding natural beauty and wonder with cold industrial facades and television static.
Lorde Fredd33 — “SOS”
In this Kiran Vee-directed clip, Lorde Fredd33 commits a chilly act of seppuku in a cold and snow-covered landscape. The Milwaukee rapper and New Age Narcissism member has said the clip was inspired by Japanese director Takashi Miike’s 2010 film 13 Assassins. And, like so many excellent Milwaukee videos these days, it was shot and edited by Cody LaPlant and Damien Blue.
Moon Curse — “Beneath The Waves”
Though Moon Curse has been relatively quiet this year, the stoner rock outfit broke its silence in a big way last week with the awesome “Beneath The Waves” video. The near-eight-minute epic is a drunken nightmare at sea that includes a glowing orb, a “deerdog” that vomits blood onto the protagonist, and a level of production that befitting of one of Milwaukee’s most intricate and outstanding acts. You had us at deerdog.
Brett Newski — “Mind At Large”
Shot in Berlin during one of Brett Newski’s “crusty adventures,” the video for “Mind At Large” highlights the well-traveled troubadour’s penchant for goofiness with Segway stunts, firecrackers, a pickup basketball game, and juice box props. Along the way, the silliness is offset with striking drone-shot glimpses of the German countryside that pair well with the sunny optimism of the song it’s tasked with representing.
NO/NO — “Television”
At first glance NO/NO’s “Television” video is a simple performance video, albeit one featuring a serious workout and gymnastics regime from actor Kellen Milad. But there’s more on director Ryan Thomas Reeve’s mind than simply breaking a sweat. Notice how the heavy throb of the music perfectly matches the visuals. Dig the way the neon-drenched backgrounds seem to place the band in an abstract 1980s gym. Realize that—a-ha!—those same purple and blue backgrounds are lifted straight from the Sound And Light album cover. Oh, and enjoy the funky split-screen action.
Soul Low — “OMG STD”
Soul Low’s visual adventure for “OMG STD”—from 2015’s Sweet Pea EP—takes a quite literal turn, as the quartet takes the anthropomorphic form of a sexually transmitted disease. Chicago-based director Ryan Ohm—with the cinematography and Blatz-purchasing assistance of Jackson James—perfectly executes the concept of the blurry, outdated high school PSA as the band disrupts a sex ed course, plays a sock hop, and leads an innocent young man down the path of immorality.
Soup Moat — “Band Practice,” “Uptowner Girl”
What would it be like to get inside Mark Borchardt’s head? That’s the question posed—and answered—in the two-song video for Soup Moat’s “Band Practice” and “Uptowner Girl.” In the clip (directed by Nathan Lee Riddle), the sludgy thrash-punk band is seen literally playing inside Borchardt’s brain.
Space Raft — “Hang On Hang On”
Between releasing a seven-inch, putting out a wonderful full-length, playing Bernie Sanders campaign rallies, having a presence at nearly every area festival, and touring Europe for the better part of a month, it’s been a pretty big year for the guys in Space Raft. Along the way, the band bucked its ’70s-era rock and roll sensibilities and shot an innovative 360 degree video in the basement of Dusty Medical owner Kevin Meyer. What resulted is a video no two people will see the same way, and one many will want to watch over and over again.
WC Tank — “27th And National”
Wes Tank is usually responsible for shooting and directing outstanding videos on a shoestring budget (see Busdriver’s “MUCH” video). The camera turns in Tank’s direction for the “27th And National” video and finds the artsy emcee laying beside a river and being stalked by a skateboard-riding visage of Satan himself. As the name suggests, “27th And National” was shot on Milwaukee’s oft-overlooked south side, which offered streets, structures, and headstones to bolster the video’s dystopian motif.
WebsterX — “Everything”
The always-inventive WebsterX is no stranger to always-inventive music videos, but the Cody LaPlant/Damien Blue-directed clip for “Everything” takes things to a whole new galactic level. Here, WebsterX takes on the role of an alien who crash-lands on Earth, emerges from a pod-like spaceship, and performs some nifty upside-down rapping.