Song Of The Day 8/26/2015: The Avalanches – “Frontier Psychiatrist”

I’d like to talk about The Avalanches, the Australian electronic group who put out a classic album in 2000 called Since I Left You and has yet to follow it up. But instead I’m going to talk about Tom Kuntz (pronounce with caution), who co-directed this eminently re-watchable video for “Frontier Psychiatrist” with Mike Maguire (with a drummer in drag who looks eerily like the Stones' Charlie Watts). The first big thing Kuntz & Maguire did was a satirical short called Tokyo Breakfast, a fake sitcom pilot that gave you many layers of deeply ingrained stereotypes to sift through. It works, on balance. Then they did “Frontier Psychiatrist,” which I feel is straight-up genius from start to finish.

Kuntz then embarked on a remarkably successful career making some inventive commercials. His adverts have happily skewed outlines, inserting controlled, chaotic and creepy moments into commonplace environments. There’s the Chocolate Skittles bit featuring a pissed-off human piñata. There’s the FedEx spot with mutant carrier pigeons. There’s an Axe ad with an irresistible chocolate Frankenstein. There’s a frankly frightening spot for Toohey’s brewery with an army of inflatable tall men.

Then there are Kuntz’s ads for Old Spice deodorant, which are complete works of visual style and astonishingly good writing. I’m primarily talking, of course, about “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” starring former Seattle Seahawks receiver Isaiah Mustafa. That won an Emmy. Its sequel, “Scent Vacation,” was even more ambitious, and contained the classic line: “I hope you like water… because we’re neck deep in the sweet waters of friendship and trust.” That resulted in a practical Tom Kuntz’ Old Spice Flying Circus, featuring disturbing animatronic men and Terry Crews’ most anarchic spot ever.* I love these ads.

Anyway, welcome to my music blog, now watch some commercials.

*As far as I can tell this is the only Crews/Old Spice ad Kuntz directed. The others featuring Crews were directed by, and this should surprise no one, Tim & Eric.

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