Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Music in Brief

Cut Shorts (Eclectic) collects 30 years' worth of short films, music videos, and random shoots by David Markey, an alternative-rock scenester most famous for his feature films Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and 1991: The Year Punk Broke. The DVD is a hit-and-miss affair, loaded up with lo-fi avant-garde visions of Los Angeles and New York, set to catchy pop-punk by Markey's pals, but it's noteworthy for its casual shots of Sofia Coppola and the members of Sonic Youth hanging out, unguarded… B-

Included with Sigur Rós' new Sæglópur (Filter) CD single is a second disc with three videos from the band's last album, Takk…, and people who think the band's music is inscrutable should see the videos, which string together eerie, slow-motion images of children tangled up in seaweed at the bottom of the ocean, and old people tormenting teens with childish pranks. The clips look strikingly beautiful, and in their preoccupation with innocence lost, they make a fine visual analogue to Sigur Rós' music… B+


Blondie's recent Greatest Hits (Capitol) CD comes packaged with a DVD of the band's music videos, which date back to the earliest days of the form, when videos were actually shot on video—poorly white-balanced video, at that—and looked simultaneously cheap and painfully modern. Blondie's video concepts tended to be simple, with brief scene-setting followed by a full lip-synced performance, fronted by Debbie Harry in a skimpy outfit. The best of the bunch is also Blondie's best song, "Heart Of Glass," a disco wonder that opens with shots of 1978 New York, as the '80s are about to be born… A-

Meanwhile, David Bowie's Serious Moonlight (Virgin) DVD marks the moment when the '80s start to die. Recorded during the Pacific Rim leg of Bowie's Let's Dance tour, the concert film sports pointless video effects, cruddy sound, and a bizarre framing device that has Bowie carrying a caged cricket around the Orient. (The DVD adds an overly long, overly abstract documentary about that same tour.) And though Bowie's songs are fantastic as always, his mid-'80s persona—as computer-generated ringmaster to a massive band of soulless pros—was his least compelling… C-

There isn't much of a story to tell in We Jam Econo: The Story Of The Minutemen. The band caused a ruckus by bringing some needed weirdness to the punk scene. Then singer-guitarist D. Boon died in a car accident. Which leaves this documentary to modern-day interviews with survivor Mike Watt and friends/fans like Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins. The film itself leans too heavily on old live footage, and the bonus DVD material goes way over the top, with 62 complete live songs. Fans only… C+

Los Angeles avant-punker outfit The Mae Shi draws on the resources of West Coast art-school chums for the DVD Lock The Skull, Load The Gun (5RC), which includes 30 music videos, some as excruciating as the band's music can be (for example, the clip that consists of little more than flashing colors and pictures of Transformers), and some sublimely funny (like the one that has tubby Midwesterners performing karaoke, and the many animated clips that promote random slapstick violence). The disc adds a tour documentary, which provides necessary context, showing the excitement of a Mae Shi live show, where the band's jagged assault often makes more sense than it does on disc… B+

Not many documentaries about defunct hardcore-punk acts are as downright beautiful as Refused Are Fucking Dead (Epitaph), a clear-eyed look at the final days of Swedish punk legend Refused, shot in rich color and scored with a string quartet, just like an art film. It's too short and too light on biographical information, but its live performances are blistering, full of the turn-on-a-dime tempo shifts and arty textures that marked the band's masterpiece, The Shape Of Punk To Come. The DVD adds shoddy-looking concert footage and energetic videos, but the selling point is the documentary, in which the band members reflect on how hardcore's brightest hope burned out so fast. B