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Sex, paranoia, techno collide on Art Department and Seth Troxler's 'Cruel Intentions'

Detroit may be techno’s birthplace, but nearly from the start it’s also had a sphere of direct influence that extends far enough to encompass places like Toronto and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Those are the hometowns, respectively, of the group Art Department (comprised of producers Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White) and Seth Troxler, techno scene stalwarts who balance a deep respect for the genre’s conventions with a sonic daringness that keeps their work from falling into the trap of rote reproduction.

Recently all three teamed up for a track called “Cruel Intentions” that coats techno’s relentless minimalist thump in a thick layer of organic grime that evokes greasy, beat-up machinery and tops it with an intriguingly enervated-sounding vocal part that sounds like it could have been recorded from a death bed. The video (produced with a grant from the Canadian talent-promotion foundation MuchFACT) adds in a bit of creepy surveillance-state paranoia and abstract sexiness to the cocktail of intriguingly weird vibes.

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Pink Martini taps a new generation of von Trapps for 'Dream a Little Dream'

Portland’s Pink Martini has made its name on recreating traditional American pop with a respect for tradition spiked with hint of the uncanny—which lends the enterprise a vaguely John Waters-esque vibe.

Recently band leader Thomas Lauderdale hooked up with Sofia, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp, the great-grandchildren of the actual Captain and Maria von Trapp who inspired The Sound of Music, adding them to the group’s sprawling lineup for a new album, Dream a Little Dream, where they take on everything from the Rwandan national anthem to, yes, “Edelweiss.” For the titular track the collective teamed up with Portlandia producer David Cress and Tanya Selvaratnam for a video co-created by Melanie von Trapp and Alex Marashian that matches the song’s juxtaposition of cutesy old-timey aesthetics and dreamy surreality.

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OK Go dances with umbrellas in 'I Won't Let You Down' video

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OK Go’s new video for “I Won’t Let You Down” follows through on the song title’s promise: It will not let you down.

The men of OK Go dance around on UNI-CUBs, personal mobility devices that act similar to Segways but without the standing, and are later joined by a mass of umbrella-toting women. Shot in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, the video’s dancers open and close their colorful umbrellas as the custom multi-copter camera spins around them, collecting both aerial and street-level shots. The result is a mesmerizing, uninterrupted shot of umbrella-assisted choreography. READ FULL STORY

One Direction show off their human menagerie in 'Steal My Girl' video

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One Direction’s “Steal My Girl” video is bound to draw criticism for its use of the hoary “white performers with ‘exotic’ dancers” trope and lyrics that fit snugly in the long tradition of songs that treat women like property—and if you give it a straight reading, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d feel that way.

But things are much more interesting if you imagine that the Maasai dancers, sumo wrestlers, mimes, and assorted other types of people who appear alongside the floppy-haired boy band are actually specimens that the group has assembled into a human menagerie, like a more terrestrial version of what The Collector was up to in Guardians of the Galaxy. Coming from that angle, the possessive lyrics–especially the refrain “she belongs to me”—take on a far more literal, far more sinister meaning that considerably improves the song and video alike, and may inspire visions of One Direction owning a human zoo at an estate in a remote corner of the English countryside where they amuse themselves by arranging pit fights between sumo wrestlers and mimes.

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See 'Office Space' star Greg Pitts in Teach Me Equals' delightfully weird 'Coelacanth' video

At this point in the game, it feels a lot like the possibilities of the traditional drums-bass-guitar rock band setup have been exhausted, and that every different type of noise that can be made with that configuration have already been made. Avant-punk duo Teach Me Equals have solved that problem by composing and recording their new album Knives in the Hope Chest using nothing more than cello, guitar, violin, voice, and a few electronic flourishes like the beat on their single “Coelacanth” made from manipulated samples of the buzzing noise you get when you touch the end of a plugged-in guitar cable. Between the unconventional instrumentation and angular compositions their music sounds like musique concrète run through the ’90s Pacific Northwest experimental hardcore scene.

In the video for “Coelacanth,” Office Space‘s Greg Pitts (a.k.a. “Drew the O-Face Guy”) romances the titular lobe-finned fish, which was thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago before they were discovered to be living in small populations around the globe. It’s a deeply weird scenario, but strangely tender as well.

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Get a taste of synesthesia with Deep Sea Diver's vibrant 'One by One' video

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Jessica Dobson has spent the past few years as a guitarist for hire, with a résumé that includes stints playing with Beck, The Shins, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Spoon, and The Divine Fits. Deep Sea Diver is her outlet for her own music, which trades the jangly guitars of the bands she’s been playing with for a more electronics-based sound and a songwriting style that combines quirky indie-pop with more dance floor-oriented stuff.

The video for the band’s new single “One by One” from their recent EP Always Waiting was directed by its drummer (and Dobson’s husband) Peter Mansen. It’s Mansen’s first attempt at shooting a music video but it has an interesting concept: Those large fields of color throughout it were chosen by fans of the band who have a type of synesthesia that lets them experience different sounds as specific colors. The dancer is Mansen’s younger brother, who combines a 6’10″ frame with a very unique dance style.

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The world sings along to 'Tuesday' in iLoveMakonnen's Drake-filled new video

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ILoveMakonnen’s “Club Going Up On a Tuesday” is an odd example of a viral hit. It doesn’t come with its own dance or a hook that references a pop-culture property or a bass drop conducive to making Vine videos, and while it does have a lot of hooks in its deceptively complex melody, the Atlanta singer/rapper/whatever-he-is delivers them in a sleepy flow that soft-sells them in the most extreme way. Still, the song is massively infectious, and with little more than a co-sign from Drake, it’s become a global phenomenon with a fervent cult that spans all distinctions of pop music fandom.

The obvious next step would be for iLoveMakonnen to attempt to engage with the mainstream, and convert his memetic popularity into a more traditional type of success. The new video for the Drake-assisted version of the song, simply entitled “Tuesday,” would seem to be the first step in that direction. In keeping with the song’s title and subject matter there are a lot of shots of people going up in a club, albeit a club steeped in Makonnen’s eccentricities, where mannequin heads done up with Ziggy Stardust makeup get tossed around like crowd surfers. The other half of the video is made up of all sorts of people from all sorts of places singing along to “Tuesday” and smiling, reflecting and emphasizing the song’s idiosyncratically universal appeal.

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Museum of Love combines synthesizers, sculpture, and sadness on 'The Who's Who of Who Cares'

Like their DFA label mates, Museum of Love‘s Pat Mahoney and Dennis McNany make music that seems to come from an alternate universe where guitar-based rock ‘n’ roll died out in the late ’70s and was replaced by electronic musicians with analog gear and more delicately nuanced sensibilities who in the timeline we inhabit have been relegated to cult status. The first single from their brand new self-titled debut LP, the funky but vaguely bummed-out “The Who’s Who of Who Cares,” offers interlocking synthesizer patterns, an archly theatrical vocal melody, and plenty of horn and percussion embellishments.

Together, the combination sounds like a collaboration between Roxy Music, Arthur Russell, and the Salsoul Orchestra that was handed off to a Chicago house producer for remixing. For the video, Mahoney shows off the sculpting skills he developed in his pre-music career working for the toy industry to create a reproduction of McNany’s head which the then promptly destroys.

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Wild Cub blend heartachy hooks and hypnotic visuals in a new version of 'Colour'

Back in the spring, Nashville indie rockers Wild Cub released a video for their song “Colour” from last year’s Youth LP, a swoony ballad possessed of a nervy postpunk energy and a visual (created by Drew Bourdet and Dustin Lane) with pretty young people doing the low-key profound things that young people do, like drive around in cars and make out with each other. The band’s latest release is a “Colour” single, which includes not only the radio edit of the song but a radically different version recorded with Spoon drummer/producer Jim Eno and featuring singer-songwriter Jessie Baylin that slows things down, smooths them out, and lets it all breathe in a way that shows an entirely different side to the composition that’s softer and even a little heartbreaky. Similarly, the accompanying video presents the original material in a different way, editing outtakes from the first “Colour” visual into a dreamy, hypnotic collage.

The “Colour” single, which also includes a remix of the Youth song “Thunder Clatter” by Jensen Sportag, is out digitally now on Mom + Pop, with a limited edition 10″ vinyl version out Oct. 28. They’ll be heading out on tour with Fun. offshoot Bleachers starting later this month.

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Lia Mice searches for a lost pet and finds electro bliss in her 'Our Heavy Heart' vid

Lia Mice is an exceptionally peripatetic artist, both geographically and artistically. She started out her music career in punk and soul bands in Australia, relocated to Brooklyn’s noise scene, and finally settled in France, where she now makes music that combines adventurous electronic sounds with a distinctly Gallic brand of clever pop songwriting in the lineage of Serge Gainsbourg and the French yé-yé artists of yore. Her album I Love You comes out Nov. 4 on Old Flame Records, and it’s full of sing-alongable melodies and sonic textures that are easy to lose yourself in. Her latest single, “Our Heavy Heart,” steers the current dream pop revival toward the dance floor with help from a clanging, echo-laden cowbell that almost manages to steal the show from Mice’s shimmering vocals. Its video alternates between shots of her on the street searching for a lost snake and shots of her and the snake dancing together in presumably happier times

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