201V: Our Favorite Boston Music Videos of 2015

From Air Traffic Controller to Ruby Rose Fox, here are 14 locally made videos that caught our eye this year. —Michael Marotta

This post originally appeared on Vanyaland.

Still from Air Traffic Controller's "The House"

Still from Air Traffic Controller’s “The House” / Video by Michael Parks Randa

Over the past 12 months or so we’ve hyped and premiered a relative fuckton of music videos from Massachusetts bands and artists. Some videos were done professionally, others… well, not so much. But the underlying connection of them all was a visual celebration of our eclectic and vibrant music scene, telling the stories of the songs, adding visuals to the sounds, and sometimes, just going off on something else entirely. As the year comes to a crashing close, here are just some of our favorite videos that lit up our YouTube-viewing hearts in 2015. Like with our Most Favorite Songs of 617 list, this post could be five times as long as it currently stands.

— 1. —

Air Traffic Controller, “The House”

We probably messed up by not including “The House”—Air Traffic Controller’s airy, lyrically brilliant indie-pop song about growing up as two families come together as one—in our Best Tracks of 2015 roundup, so we’ll make up for it by listing the visually engaging video here. Directed by local filmmaker Michael Parks Randa, the clip aligns nicely with the song’s content, and there’s also a silly string fight and a shout-out to Dover-Sherborn High School in Massachusetts.

— 2. —

The Digs, “Ready Set”

Sometimes the best real-life drama is the attempts to get to the rock club in time for soundcheck. In “Ready Set,” off The Digs’s debut November LP Manic, the trio race around town trying to get to the gig, and sadly, one of them ends up at the now-closed T.T. The Bear’s Place. But there are also shout outs to O’Brien’s Pub in Allston, an MBTA Orange Line station platform, Charlestown Rehearsal Studios, a bunch of Somerville streets, and one sketchy-ass taxi, as well as raised pints toward the Digs’ Ocelot Records, Goddamn Draculas, Lenny Lashley, Psychic Dog, and others.

— 3. —

Eldridge Rodriguez, “Giving Myself Over To Boston”

We all have a love/hate relationship with Boston. In this video from scene veterans Eldridge Rodriguez, taken from a single off October’s The Castrati Menace LP, the love letter takes visual form. Says frontman Cameron Keiber: “Every city has problems but sometimes it seems Boston has more than the average city its size, historically, currently, and institutionally. There is a lot of misguided boot-and-rally pride in this town and I don’t think that attitude represents every one’s experience here. That mentality gets exhausting to be around. Boston has a lot going on that people outside the city don’t normally associate with it. So we were having a bit of fun with that, I guess. It’s all tongue-in-cheek. But you are always more critical of the things you love and most endeared to. I felt like Boston deserved a Randy Newman-esq anthem and could have some fun with itself.”

— 4. —

Esh & Arc, “Live It Up (‘Til The Buzz Dies Down)”

Weekend At Bernie’s is re-born on Esh & Arc’s “Live it Up (‘Til the Buzz Dies Down),” the first clip off the Boston hip-hop duo’s debut LP, Death Doesn’t Want You, which drops January 22 via AR Classic Records. The video was directed by Xander Hayes, and shot in collaboration with Downlow Productions. “This song is one of a handful of dark party jams on the record, so we wanted some sort of lighthearted, but actually pretty fucked up, visual representation of that concept,” says Esh. “So, I came up with the idea of two nondescript gentleman dragging my fresh corpse through a typical Allston house party, Weekend-at-Bernie’s-style. The nondescript gentlemen are never acknowledged, and none of the party-goers realize that I’m dead. What starts as a typical party gets progressively weirder, with different vices being represented in a number of different rooms of the house. It has a wacky Dante’s Inferno-vibe and I’m pretty sure it is the first rap video with a pegging scene in it, haha.”

— 5. —

Florio, “Red Flags”

On “Red Flags,” Boston’s Florio positioned himself as one of the city’s likely breakout stars of 2016 with a crisp electronic pop sound. But on the video for “Night Falls,” a rousing, explosive alt-pop track that falls somewhere between the best of New Edition and Cut Copy, things get messy. Produced by Danny Chamberlain, the video shows Sir Florio getting a bit messy in the paint, a nice contract to the sharp cleanliness of the song itself. Expect big things in the New Year from this dude.

— 6. —

Gene Dante & the Future Starlets, “We Are All Whores”

It felt like Gene Dante’s anti-shaming anthem “We Are All Whores” had been around for a few hot minutes before it got the visual treatment over the summer. With new life and a new look, the video, directed, produced, and edited by Herschel Smith Jr., pulls back the glittery curtain and gives us a look behind the scenes on the neo-glam Hegwig star. “[The video is] a metaphor for the hangers-on/fairweathered fans that inevitably show up once something becomes en vogue,” Dante explains. “Curious people venture into a glittering black box and have a great time until, quite literally, plastic invaders show up. Jem & The Holograms (the wonderful ’80s cartoon, not the soon-to-be released abomination) meets Dr. Who, by way of a dark alley.”

— 7. —

Goddamn Draculas, “Say Goodbye”

Boston’s Goddamn Draculas—or the Drax depending on who’s paying the bills—are known to take a stand against the bullshit. Whether it’s against drugs, violations of the rock and roll code of brotherhood, or a familiar friend or family member who just can’t get their shit together. Their anthemic cut “Say Goodbye” deals with that last cause. “It is about losing a significant other who refuses to live up to being his or her better self,” says drummer Jerry “J.R.” Roach. The video was hot over the summer at the Cambridge Masonic Hall in Porter Square and Montessori’s Riverbend School in Natick, and directed and edited by Ian McFarland, “an old friend of virtually everyone in Goddamn Draculas,” adds Roach.

— 8. —

Mei Ohara, “Bystanders”

Channeling Bladerunner is no easy task. Owning it is otherworldly. As is Mei Ohara, Boston’s solo experimental dynamo who here shines through a lens inspired by dystopian science fiction. Produced and directed by Jesse R. Sherman, the video captures Mei Ohara’s chaotically beautiful sound. “There’s an idea of who we each belong to, if not ourselves, and to what degree one runs from themselves or others to fulfill their own identities,” she tells Vanyaland. “The Blade Runner elements show up in the glowing eyes and dystopian visual scheme: city-line, dark color palette. Also, as a general nerd of space and science, I made sure to include make-up with a Neptunian trident—my home planet!—and a Saturn-esque silhouette on my forehead. The third of the make-up looks includes a third eye, which ties in to identity, psychological perception, and also just a futuristic/alien/non-human feeling.”

— 9. —

Midriffs, “Death Beach”

If you’ve been to a garage or psych-rock show around Boston or Cambridge over the past few years, you’ve likely seen Peter Colpack. Usually positioned just to the left or right of the front of the stage, Colpack leads his Lysergic Factory Light Show with two distinct rituals: providing “live” psychedelic visuals as the backdrops for live performances, and pausing every now and again to freak the fuck out with arms and head flailing around as his feet remain fastened to the ground. Dude is usually on some other shit entirely, but in the debut video from Massachusetts garage-fuzz crew Midriffs, he’s on a different kind of quest. Colpack—or “Petey,” as he’s known—stars in “Death Beach,” and gives the uninitiated a taste of his live show presence.

— 10. —

Oh, Malô, “Out On My Own”

Boston rock band Oh, Malô spent most of the year releasing a series of color-coded EPs, capturing their live show frenzy and meticulous approach to songwriting. In their April video for “Out On My Own,” bassist Jordan Lagana becomes re-acquainted with his cheeks and chin, something he had not seen in the flesh for over a year. Yes, it’s is a video about shaving. And it’s glorious. “[The] video exposes many of the dire inconveniences of life with a beard,” guitarist/vocalist Brandon Hafetz tells us. “The hair in his eggs was a collection of all of the shaved facial hair of the other three members of the band.”

— 11. —

Petty Morals, “Telephone Erotic”

Singer Tai Heatley makes out with a Muppet. End scene. (But…we’ll also note that it was directed by Jonas Em of Emvision Productions, the creative talent behind the band’s Boston Music Award-winning “Just A Game” video, was filmed at Gallows Haus in Salem, and that the video is the first single off new EP Marked Women, which drops with a Vanyaland-presents release party January 2 at Great Scott.)

— 12. —

Potty Mouth, “Cherry Picking”

The song, a swirling guitar ripper that packs one massive, stratospheric chorus, takes us back to the glory days of ’90s alt-rock, and the video transports us back a few decades, as well. The Western Mass trio harken back to a simpler, more exciting time in the Eliel Ford-directed “Cherry Picking” video, and it’s enough to not only make us want to (finally) get out of bed and play a show in our backyard, but also…dare we say…Start A Band.

— 13. —

Ruby Rose Fox, “Dance Of Frankenstein”

A force in the Boston music scene, Ruby Rose Fox showed off some ghoulish patriotism in “Dance of Frankenstein,” her October video single filmed and edited by Roger Metcalf. Fox noshes on some chicken in the video, and even broke a tooth in the process. But it couldn’t slow down this vision of Frankenstein: “As I went into the Mary Shelley rabbit hole,” she says, “I became even more obsessed with how Robert Oppenheimer’s inability to disarm his a-bomb mirrors this classic so closely (the U.S. basically hunted him down and ruined his career). I couldn’t stop thinking about how weird it was that the two stories are so similar. When I was a kid, talk of nuclear weaponry was folklore. It was a thing of the past. But, it’s still very much alive like it was for the villagers in the novel. Nuclear weapons are strangely a forgotten threat to my generation as the Frankenstein keychain at CVS except the only difference is they are real.”

— 14. —

The Sun Lions, “Whatever’s On Your Mind”

One day they’ll be showing this video in Massachusetts history classes, educating the youth about Route 1 Miniature Golf and Batting Cages’ beloved orange t-rex. Before the old fella is removed for good, Massachusetts garage rock band the Sun Lions paid fitting tribute in a supportive show of animal magnetism. “The video was filmed totally home-movie style on a shoestring budget at the Route 1 Mini-Golf course,” says the Sun Lions’ guitarist/vocalist Pete Schluter. “We heard it was being shut down after this season so some rich dude could build more condos, which totally sucks. That’s when we decided to get in one last bit of late-summer American fun before this Mecca of kitsch closes forever. Consider the video a tribute to a simpler time.” Lions and dinosaurs, roaming together in a show of solidarity.

Read all 2015 year-end lists from Vanyaland:

» 201V: The Year in Music «