Tooth & Nail has been one of the few labels in the Christian music industry to take an active interest in music videos--and it shows. Tooth & Nail Television Volume 5 is a collection of quality video clips.
In the past, many of the Tooth & Nail videos had the same general look--if you'd seen one, you'd seen them all: the punk band play at a house party while a bunch of teens ham it up for the camera. Well no more. The bands in the Tooth & Nail empire have come up with some entertaining videos.
If you've watched any Christian music video programs recently, you may have noticed that some songs just don't measure up to what you'd see on MTV or VH1, but for the most part, the look of the Tooth & Nail videos would blend in well with standard top 40 fare. But, as you'd find in mainstream videos, many are just plain uninteresting, and unless you are a big fan of any of these artists, there's little reason to watch these repeatedly. One viewing is enough.
The Supertones do their best imitation of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for the song "Chase the Sun." This is one of the best videos in the collection. The action is carefully choreographed and the cinematography is excellent. The band's performance also stands out. The concept basically finds the band up against a posse in a typical wild west town.
Ghoti Hook follows with a parody of America's Funniest Home Videos for their cover of "Walking on Sunshine." The concept is a little cliched; the band basically re-enacts mishaps that you might have seen captured on video. This one may find you reaching for the remote.
Jerky camera movements and out of focus shots demonstrate the lack of creativity on Project 86's "Pipedream." The camera continually drifts, and so does your attention. This kind of look was hip with the onset of grunge in the early to mid '90s. Anyone who's seen videos from Nine Inch Nails or Bush from that era will know what to anticipate in this song.
Flight 180 just can't take off in their song "Tick Tock." The band brings their swinging sound to a bowling alley. Haven't we seen this before? Even if we haven't, it still looks like a retread. I know that Flight 180 is a band and acting is the least of their concerns, but a little emotion would be nice. This song is one of the dullest on the collection. Fanmail and Dogwood also call on familiar formulas for their songs. While the look is crisp and clean and the editing is good, the concepts of both videos are also far too common.
MxPx is well known for having hits that landed in mainstream rotation. Just like "Chick Magnet" and "I'm Ok, You're Ok," the band's charisma and stage presence translate well to the small screen. While this song lacks any real visual gimmicks you would see in the aforementioned videos, the trio knows how to make a compelling two and a half minute video.
Tooth & Nail saves the best for last. Videos featuring Mike Knott, Plankeye, and Joy Electric are far and away the best on the album.
Musically, there's no question Mike Knott differs from the punk, ska, and hardcore of the other artists on this collection; his song also stands apart visually. "Tattoo" finds Knott playing his guitar while quarreling lovers argue in neighboring apartments on either side. This video is one of the few on the collection that tells a story. You can see the moody, smoking man in a dark, blue-tinted room, and through the walls we can see the edgy girl, nervously pacing, her face washed out by the light. The two begin arguing, with Knott in the middle, his face covered in mud. The camera subtly pans through the walls. If you muted the sound you could still follow the action here.
Plankeye's video for "Goodbye" also adds life to the music. The directors place the band's two members in an elevator, and people come and go. The warm, orange tones of the elevator and the slow deliberate shots complement the tempo of the song.
My favorite from the Tooth & Nail video collection is a song that isn't even listed on the tape's packaging. Joy Electric finds a visual look that perfectly complements their music. If "Children of the Lord" were described as eye candy, it would be a pack of Skittles. The sharp primary colors and Ronnie Martin's charisma carry the song. This is one track I could watch again and again. Several of the videos on this tape are extremely repetitive, but "Children of the Lord" has enough visual appeal to warrant repeat play. In the videos from Project 86 or Dogwood, you've basically seen the entire video after the first 10 seconds, but not here. You could watch the Joy Electric song several times and still see something new.
As with any collection, consistency is lacking. In terms of production quality, the editing and camera work are excellent. The big let down are the creative concepts. It would be very easy to get sick of these videos, save two or three, but liking a third of the songs isn't reason enough to buy the entire thing.
Steve White 4/17/2000