Dec 18, 2008, 05:02AM

The Best Music Videos of the Year, Part 2

Round 2 of our 3-part discussion of the year’s best music clips, official and otherwise.

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Be sure to check out Gabriel Baker's picks in Part 1.

Most of the videos I really like are the Vincent Moon-style Take Away Shows, and luckily for me, there have been a lot of spin-offs of that kind of live performance in 2008. The best I saw from Blogotheque this year was when they filmed Bloc Party about a month or two. Just Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack, acoustic, outside a bar in Paris, playing "This Modern Love." So intimate, and completely amazing:

I agree with Gabriel on Margot and the Nuclear So and So's "As Tall as Cliffs." It's just a hilarious video, great lyrics, and yes, it somehow manages to give us some sympathy for ol' G.W.

The BPA w/ David Byrne and Dizzie Rascal, "Toe Jam": Beautiful women naked? Spelling out "Toe Jam" with black bars? Yes that is all I need. Plus the perfect line "Boy looks at a girl, and a girl looks like a pony."

Everyone's heard the story by now about how Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago was recorded: Justin Vernon was holed up in his father's cabin in Wisconsin for three months, recovering from bad break-ups with both his girlfriend and his band. He never meant to write any songs, but… out they came. Jagjaguwar put the album out in February, and when Bon Iver went on Later with Jools Holland in May, just as 4AD was releasing For Emma in the UK and Europe. Vernon is obviously nervous. He also looks like a train wreck. But he gave the most heartbreaking performance of this song I've seen so far. 3:03-3:10… Wow.

One of the great Take Away Show spin-offs is a music blog called Shoot the Player, who took Beach House out to rocky cove outside Sydney and had them play "Used to Be." Maybe the first time I've ever heard Beach House completely acoustic, without any of the heavy reverb/effects they're known for.

Devendra Banhart, “Carmensita”: Because Natalie Portman is always beautiful, except when George Lucas gets his fat nerdy fingers all over her. And because this video managed to offend nearly every Indian person on the planet (Indian = dots, not feathers).


Jeff Mangum, “Engine”: Even though I pretty much fully agree with Jake Brown over at Glorious Noise on the whole "Oh My God, Mangum's back!" talk that went down at the end of October, when Magnum resurfaced for shows at the tail end of the Elephant Six reunion tour, watching this video of Mangum playing "Engine" is just so, so good. There's no way anyone could deny Mangum's incredible talent.


Vampire Weekend, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”: I'm not a huge Vampire Weekend fan, but I love the retro 80s feel that starts this video (go figure for a song that references Peter Gabriel) and then the weird homage to "Thriller" it devolves into.


Gnarls Barkley, "Who's Gonna Save My Soul": Is this even a music video? A fair question. But the first two minutes ring so true, and to see Gnarls Barkley as a heart with lips using a piece of broccoli as a microphone… Awesome.

These United States – Secret Garden Show: Whether this counts as a music video or a short music documentary (it runs 35 mins. total) is hard to say, but I don't really care, because watching Jesse Elliott and the boys play "When You're Traveling at the Speed of Light" in the Japanese Garden of Lefferts Garden, Brooklyn is just an amazing thing. Jesse never fails to make you feel like he's playing every song just for you.


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