Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: WRAY

WRAY – Pined (Music Video)

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Editor’s Note: There’s been a month-long gap in coverage, thanks to near-incessant travel and other extenuating circumstances. The following run of posts that contain this note will be posts that should have appeared sometime within the past several weeks. Use these posts as an opportunity to catch up to the present release cycle or to simply discover some new music. Either way, enjoy.

One of the most unbearably tense music videos of 2016 came by way of WRAY‘s Dillon Hayes-directed clip for the outstanding “Pined”. Expertly lensed by Hayden Mason, “Pined” plays almost exclusively to the anxious paranoia that serves as the song’s driving function. Painstakingly choreographed, “Pined” is so meticulously composed that at more than one point it becomes a genuinely unnerving experience.

A loose narrative thread begins to emerge more than full minute into the clip that may or may not  involve the occult but definitely involves an eerie woodland ceremony. At some point a series of shots involving a statue, tree branches, and a reflective body of water are interwoven to amplify the unsettling nature of “Pined” to an even greater magnitude. In the video’s closing moments, all three members of WRAY surround a cassette recorder that plays back field recordings before the POV switches to a skybound view of the trees, allowing some sunlight in, releasing the viewer from the relentless fear that imbued the rest of the clip (while letting it linger via the unanswered questions).

“Pined” is one of the more masterful videos, at least as far as classic filmmaking craft is concerned, to be released in recent memory. It’s difficult to parse, impossible to shake, and easy to admire. Tense and unforgiving, it’s a miniature masterpiece that succeeds in securing interest as it piles on a formidable amount of intrigue. As much of a short film as a music video, it’s the kind of clip you’ll want to show to your friends just so you can spend the next few days dissecting all of its potential meaning (and spend a few more hours getting lost to its spell).

Watch “Pined” below and order Hypatia from Communicating Vessels here.

Dusk – Too Sweet (Music Video)

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Capping off tonight’s run of the best music videos of the past few months is Dusk— one of the year’s best new bands– with 2015 highlight “Too Sweet“. Over the course of the past 10 years of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet most of Dusk’s members and share bills with their bands. The most notable of these directly affiliated bands is Tenement, a band I’ve written about on this site in great detail thanks to their key role in my artistic and personal development. As a kid who was just figuring out how to play guitar, I remember stepping foot into The BFG (a DIY punk house venue that the band used to run) and being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of records that the house had amassed, each showing the residents’ eclectic tastes.

I’d later come to find that a bulk of these belonged to Tenement guitarist/vocalist (and Dusk bassist) Amos Pitsch, who had a penchant for old soul and country records from the likes of artists like Sam Cooke and The Louvin Brothers. Those influences would gradually present themselves in subtle ways on Tenement songs (which have been erring closer to the band’s jazz influences) but they’d never featured as prominently as they do with Dusk, who also seem to share a very serious kinship with acts like The Band. After coming out of the gate with “(Do the) Bored Recluse“, the band followed up with “Too Sweet” arriving perfectly at a marriage between classic country and classic soul without ever sounding remotely inauthentic.

That sense of authenticity, the complete rejection of cheap revivalism, is evidenced again in the song’s Finn Bjornerud-directed music video, which simply features the band playing the song in an average living room (like their affiliates, Dusk has a tendency to find the beauty in the everyday rather than try to capture grandeur or bombast). A few striking compositions are spliced in here and there– including an absolutely gorgeous silhouette shot of a soft-lit Ryley Crowe playing pedal steel and a beautiful final group shot cleverly framed by an archway– but more often than not, the clip opts to celebrate the communal act of playing music surrounded by people you love.

Led by Julia Blair’s attention-ensuring crooning, a cavalcade of impressive backing vocal harmonies, and committed performances from all the featured players, “Too Sweet” feels like more than just a music video, it skews closer to a mission statement; celebrate the things you have and strive to elevate the people around you. Defiantly honorable to the end, “Too Sweet” is the most perfect encapsulation of Dusk to date and suggests that the band, thankfully, is only just getting started.

Watch “Too Sweet” below, pick up a copy of the 7″ here, and explore a list of some of the best music videos of the past few months underneath the embed.

Bing & Ruth – Broad Channel
Summer Twins – Ouija
Total Makeover – Self-Destructive
Francis – Follow Me Home
EL VY – No Time to Crank the Sun
Half Japanese – That Is That
James Clark Hangover – Maria
Oscar – Breaking My Phone
Wray – Hypatia
NZCA Lines – Persephone Dreams
Overlake – Travelogue
Rah Rah – Be Your Man
Paul Bergmann – You May Never Know
Pink Lung  – Chinese Watermelons
Laura Stevenson – Jellyfish
Ben Millburn – Don’t You Wait
Big Harp – DIEV
Busdriver – Much
Erica Glyn – The Killing Moon
Neonderthal – The Ride
Jackson Boone – Runaway
Freddie Gibbs – Fuckin’ Up the Count
Lowly – S.W.I.M.
Joey Kneiser – The Wilderness
Tuff Sunshine – Fire in the Hero Building
The Rashita Joneses – White Wave
The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally
Kenrick Lamar – These Walls (ft. Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat)

Painted Zeros – Only You (Stream)

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Over the past few weeks, a lot of excellent material has surfaced. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of that material has been singles. Since the time span was so extensive (mostly due to the attention afforded to the CMJ coverage), all but one of those songs have been compiled in a list that will be running at the very bottom of this post. The one exception is tonight’s featured song: Painted Zeros‘ “Only You”.

After being somewhat underwhelmed by Painted Zeros’ set at Alphaville (which, to their credit, seemed to have more to do with the sound setup than their performance), the band knocked me for a loop during CMJ at Aviv. Having already commented on the impressive nature of their quieter material from their upcoming Floriography, it’s heartening to see the trio committing to “Only You”– a clear standout from their CMJ set– as their latest release in the album’s rollout campaign..

Driven by a gentle, intricate bass figure that comes courtesy of Jim Hill (who also plays in Slight, The Glow, and Montana and the Marvelles), “Only You” serves as a showcase for guitarist/vocalist Katie Lau’s more pensive side as well as the band’s considerable growth. Floating along like a fully-realized dream seeped in tranquility, “Only You” far surpasses the very evident promise of S V A L B A R D. Defying any easy genre categorization while flashing hints of the very best elements of everything from dream pop to post-punk, the song finds a soft transcendence and sustains it through its final, fading moments. From start to finish, “Only You” is a lovely, unexpected triumph.

Listen to “Only You” below and pre-order Floriography from Don Giovanni here. Beneath the embed, explore a collection of some of the best songs to find release over the past two weeks.

Petal – Silly Heart
Basement Benders – Purple Days
The Gloomies – LSD
Eluvium – Confessor
They Might Be Giants – Or So I Have Read
Holy Esque – Hexx
Kitten Forever – Temple
Matt Kivel – Janus
Wray – May 23rd
The Unspeakable Practices – A Steadying Effect
Soldiers of Fortune (ft. Stephen Malkmus) – Campus Swagger
Brass Bed – I Am Just A Whisper
Free Children of Earth – All Tomorrow’s Plunder
Go Deep – Slumberland
Elephant Stone (ft. Alex Mass) – The Devil’s Shelter
Globelamp – Controversial Confrontational
Tenement – Weakest Ones (Demo)
The Besnard Lakes – Golden Lion
Beach for Tiger – Coco
Le Rug – Bomb
Kindling – Painkiller
Manwomanchild – Return to Ithaca
Bummed – Smoking Jewels
Jaala – Salt Shaker
Cicada Rhythm – The Keeper
MONEY – You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides of the Sky
Human Potential – 105 Pounds of Disintegration
Busdriver (ft. Milo and Anderson Paak) – Worlds to Run
Wimps – Old Guy
Infinite Void – Even Ground
Black Panties – You’ll Never Find My Body
TOPS – Hollow Sound of the Morning Chimes
Earring – Black Chalk
Swings – Dust
Some Pulp – Slasher Nite @ The Showcase East
Florist – Cool and Refreshing
Sam Means – We’re Alone
Never Young – New Villain
Floating Points – Peroration Six
Eternal Summers – Our Distant Bodies
Andy Shauf – Jenny Come Home
Val Hollie – Siberian Summer
William Alexander – Strangest Things
Mitylion – My Yard Is On
Sheer – Cursed Again

Male Bonding – A Kick to the Face (Stream)

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In the last batch of posts, there were recaps built around some of last week’s finest musical moments. There was a brief delay in regularly-scheduled content that necessitated an outpouring of material to keep this site’s regular coverage humming along. Similarly, this post will concentrate on the music moments worth celebrating to have emerged from the Monday-Thursday range. Following this post will be two more entries dedicated to some of the stronger musical content that emerged on Friday. With all of that out of the way, it’s time to dive on into the three major categories: single streams, full streams, and music videos.

As is wont to happen over a period of time, there were some fairly extraordinary songs that surfaced in this week’s first stretch. Some of the more favorable ones included the following: Gal Pals’ zippy throwback basement pop stomper “Ex-Marionette“,  Evans The Death’s absolutely monumental “Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face” (a legitimate song of the year candidate), Los Angeles Police Dept.’s severely bummed out holiday tune “Oh Lonely Night“, Menace Beach‘s latest stunning Ratworld teaser “Tastes Like Medicine“, No Monster Club’s defiantly vibrant (and tantalizingly weird) bedroom pop earworm “Arms Across America“, The Julie Ruin’s mesmerizing “Blueberry Island“, Kind of Like Spitting’s revitalizing “Bullied By A Bee“, the best remix from Perfect Pussy’s Shaun Sutkus to date (this time of Rubblebucket’s “Carousel Ride”), and an absolute monster cover of Wipers’ “Mystery” from site favorites Meat Wave.

Music videos fared just as well, with a few very resonant clips. There was Small Houses’ engaging visual journey for “Staggers and Rise“, Cave People’s wearily homespun “Brace“, and Literature’s woozily kaleidoscopic “New Jacket“. Additionally, there was Anti Pony’s seductively colorful “I Go Places“, WRAY’s effortlessly propulsive “Bad Heart“, Laura Marling’s autumnal and slow-galloping “Short Movie“. Rounding things out were Breakfast In Fur’s jaunty graphics experiment “Shape“, Erase Errata’s near-static stunner “My Life In Shadows“, and a resoundingly powerful reminder that TV On the Radio got where they were by virtue of making excellent decisions; “Lazerray” is yet another towering culmination of several wise moves.

Full streams were, comparatively, a little shorter in supply- but there were still a few gems that were unearthed and brought to life. Lazy threw caution and fear out of the window with their Soft Sheets 7″, Trauma Harness unveiled a severely damaged basement punk triumph with their discography-spanning Advent Calendar, and TIT (a collaborative effort between Digital Leather and The Hussy) offered up a stream of their psych-drenched self-titled 12″. Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle provided a quietly intense and arresting live recording of one of his extremely intimate house shows (and appropriately titled the recording House Show). There was also a very personal release from Jarad Charles Lee Francis Olson that tethers a wide-reaching array of genre influences into something unwaveringly hypnotic and, ultimately, tragic (while still managing to subtly incorporate a devious streak of dark humor) in the My Cats Are My Dogs EP.

Even with all of that to consider, today’s feature fell to an anomaly of a track- Male Bonding’s standalone single, “A Kick to the Face”. The title’s an immediate eyebrow-raiser and the accompanying title track lives up to its promise. All scorched-earth and fury, it’s an exploration of an abusive relationship that simultaneously rails against the fact that they’re a common occurrence and empathizes with the abused. Structurally, it’s constantly shifting and punctuated by brief bursts of searing intensity before sharply settling back into its normal pace, providing a near-perfect reflection of the song’s central topic. It’s a brave track that suggests Male Bonding’s ambitions may be higher than they initially let on- and it’s one hell of an appetizer for whatever the band’s cooking up next.

Listen to “A Kick to the Face” below and keep an eye on this site for any notable future items from the band.