Comic Con may be over for this year, but that doesn’t mean the geek joy needs to end. Witness these three new videos, all dealing with space and time travel. One’s a bit of science fiction in the classic “allegory for the world we live in” sense featuring a performance by the kind of uber-hottie actress that could inspire a veritable library of fan fiction. There’s a nerdy goof on parallel realities (err- “alternate space-time continua”) starring a former child star (who also happens to be the band’s label boss). And finally, a mournful ballad that reads like an elegy for the decline of the U.S. space program (or maybe the decline of the singer’s solo career).
First up is the latest by Broken Bells, “The Ghost Inside”. It’s the second single from the self-titled debut of this partnership between producer Danger Mouse (fresh off his success with Cee-Lo in Gnarls Barkley) and The Shins’ James Mercer. The video features Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks in a genuinely wonderful performance as a woman who, quite literally, sells her body in her desperate pursuit of interplanetary luxury.
“The Ghost Inside” by Broken Bells
Elijah Wood was 12 years old and on the verge of indie-film stardom when the Colorado band The Apples In stereo, an eccentric indie-pop sextet centered around singer-songwriter (and fervent Brian Wilson acolyte) Robert Schneider, released their debut seven-inch “Tidal Wave”. Now the 29-year-old actor has his own record label (Simian Records), and the first act he signed was The Apples In stereo. Both actor and band have come a long way in the last two decades. This latest video finds the band, which started out making wildly colorful, but overly precious psychedelic pop (think Harpers Bizarre), embracing an impossibly cheesy retro synth-pop sound on their latest album Travellers in Space and Time. To promote the record, the band teamed up with Greg Kilpatrick to produce the album’s first video “Dance Floor” along with an adorable 5 minute companion short film starring Wood (as a middle school science-and-gym teacher and host of “Exploring the Universe”) and Schneider (as a scientist who can turn a cucumber into a drum machine). You can watch it at stepthroughtheportal.com. It’s true that Schneider’s baby-voiced delivery is utterly at odds with his bald-bearded-bellied appearance. The incongruities are off-putting at first, but the song is an absolute winner that should endear itself to anyone who ever loved DEVO. Even better: The band is offering the song for free download. Click below to get your own copy!
“Dance Floor” by The Apples In Stereo
Finally, we have “Morning Sun”, the latest from 36-year-old British boy band veteran Robbie Williams, whose impressive latest album Reality Killed the Video Star finds the singer contemplating celebrity culture and his own role in it with thoughtfulness, uncharacteristic humility, and a mordant sense of humor. The video is a simple and elegantly photographed depiction of Williams’s astronautical journey from the earth’s outer atmosphere to the outer reaches of the solar system and the Milky Way galaxy, flirting with his own spectacular destruction, before parachuting back down to earth. All as if to say that like space travel, like celebrity itself, is journey as fascinating as it is isolating. And what does one even do with oneself after space?
Though in the ten years since his song “Millennium” became his first U.S. hit, Williams has been ignored by American audiences and radio programmers, he’s enjoyed continued success overseas. But lately, even British and European audiences are feeling underwhelmed by Williams, which is sad since his latest record may actually be his best yet. And it may be his last solo record for a while. Following the release of a greatest hits set, he’s just recently re-united with Take That, the boy band he left in 1994. The other four members of Take That reunited after a 10 year hiatus in 2005 and have enjoyed even greater success in their second incarnation than they acheived during their early 90s heyday (which culminated in their 1995 U.S. Top 10 hit “Back for Good”).