Music Videos from the Post-MTV Era


| 9/15/2008 11:31:27 AM


Tags: soundies, music videos, music production, athens, blogotheque, man man, r.e.m., port o brien, yeasayer, drakkar sauna, mtv, vh1,

Music videos have come a long way. The medium began as live-audio, one-take film shorts called soundies (like this one from 1941 for Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train"), but has since morphed into a lustrous presentation of glossy models singing pre-recorded audio (like Rhianna’s video for “Disturbia,” this week’s most popular video on mtv.com)

But even with such a technology surplus, a small group of filmmakers are exploring exactly what we can gain from taking a few steps back to capture that raw enthusiasm and unabashed sincerity.

The Take Away Shows and the Athens Soundies are modern one-take live-audio music videos featuring both well-known and obscure musicians. The Take Away Shows began in April 2006 as a project of Chryde and Vincent Moon, founders of Blogotheque, but has since become a worldwide spider web of directors and musicians updated almost daily. It also inspired Jason Miller, Ethan Payne, and Jason Luttrell of Eikon Productions to start up the Athens Soundies in March of this year.

When it’s a larger act on screen, like R.E.M., the take-away message is easy: Music is as integral to these musicians’ lives as eating, and they’d do it with or without the record sales and sold-out arenas. When it’s a relatively unknown musician, things get a bit more personal. Maybe it’s just a new name to seek out at the record store, but it’s might also be reassurance that everyone (including you, yes, you!) has a creative spark that can’t be stifled by the modern world, unless you let it.

The Soundies’ deviance from the modern-day music video in no way sacrifices plot. Alison Weiss sings “I Don’t Wanna Be Here” walking down a modest Main Street with her brother on backup guitar, two discouraged orphans on the run from an anonymous third party.