Throwback Thursday Videos - The Potter Stewart Edition...

....aka the "I Know It When I See It" edition, in honor of the judicial wisdom of the former United States Supreme Court Justice. In the case Jacobellis v. Ohio, Justice Stewart famously wrote, when asked for his definition of hardcore pornography, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

That's right, today's #TBTV artist are the Canadian supergroup (ultragroup? Voltrongroup?) The New Pornographers. With a lineup that's alternated between five and eight members, and with four vocalists in Carl (A.C.) Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar, and Kathryn Calder, the Pornos have delivered densely layered vocals and infectious, punk-infused pop tunes for nearly two decades now.

We kick off this TBTV edition with "Letter From An Occupant", from their 2000 debut Mass Romantic. Fueled by a manic, Feelies-like energy and Neko Case's soaring vocals, the video utilizes a clever perversion of the Droste effect - that endless, recursive, picture-in-picture. The song is also one of the rare songs written solely by Case for the group.

Next up we have "The Laws Have Changed, from the band's 2003 follow-up, Electric Version. Inspired by Luis Buńuel's 1965 film Simon of the Desert, the video is decidedly less lo-fi than its predecessor. The song features lyrics sufficiently obscure to inspire DC musicians and writers Timothy and Elizabeth Bracy (and members of The Paranoid Style) to describe it as "a document of an ideology long on pretense but bereft of true meaning" and an indictment of American exceptionalism dating from the "war on drugs" to our endless post-9/11 military engagements.

Our final video of the night is the star-studded "Moves", from the band's 2010 release Together. Directed by Tom Scharpling, the video takes the form of a movie trailer chronicling an exaggerated account of the band's rise to fame. It begins with Paul Rudd and Bill Hader in a fake trailer for a film called Expectant Dads that you would totally go see. The video also features cameos from John Oliver, John Hodgman, and and Donald Glover, among others, and Kevin Corrigan as Dan Bejar, Jon Wurster as Carl Newman, Julie Klausner as Neko Case, Wyatt Cenac as Blaine Thurier, Horatio Sanz as John Collins, and a pained-looking Ted Leo as Kathryn Calder.