Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Alice Suh

Patio – Luxury (EP Review)

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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 people that this site brought into my life was Loren DiBlasi, Patio‘s bassist and one of the regular contributors to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series. Over those few years, DiBlasi brought up Patio on more than one occasion. I was ecstatic to be there for the band’s public unveiling and even more elated (although fairly unsurprised) to find that I adored the music the band was making, to the point that their demo was even included in one of this site’s year-end lists.

Now, the band’s finally offered up their first official release: the compelling Luxury EP. Big Ups‘ Amar Lal sat in the producer’s chair for this one and he brings out several of the important subtleties of the trio’s mix of razor-sharp post-punk and their more pop-oriented sensibilities, the latter being more fully embraced by drummer Alice Suh and guitarist/vocalist Lindsey-Paige McCloy‘s contributions to their excellent project with Phyllis Ophelia, Catbus

Each of the five songs on display throughout Luxury register as individual standouts while still managing to coalesce into a coherent whole (the lyrics and composition, especially, complement each other to a near-perfection). Whether they’re showing remarkable restraint or bringing out every knife in their arsenal, there’s an undercurrent of unflagging conviction that keeps Luxury surging forward towards some unknown destination. With songs as strong as these, ultimately, that destination won’t matter; it’s the thrill of the ride that we’ll remember.

Listen to Luxury below and pick it up from the band here.

Catbus – Fracas (Music Video)

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Closing out the first week and a half of great music videos to find release in April is a class that includes Curtis Harding, Mad Anthony, The Zolas, The Dandy Warhols, Tiny Moving Parts, Sioux Falls, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, and BOYFRNDZ as well as Tripping in the Dark, a surprisingly nuanced documentary on Modern Baseball. Beyond those titles was the quietly-released video for Catbus’ “Fracas”, the band’s only song to date and a no-brainer inclusion for this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016’s First Quarter list. Somewhat surprisingly, the music video for “Fracas” as just as strong as the song, embracing the band’s DIY nature to present the act in a fitting light.

Before going too much further, I’d like to circle back to an astonishing fact: “Fracas” is the only song that Catbus has released. In under three minutes, the band’s made a very serious case for being one of this year’s best new bands. Examining their pedigree (the band’s rhythm section is made up of 2/3’s of site favorites Patio and it’s fronted by bedroom pop artist Phyllis Ophelia), this probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Revisiting bassist/vocalist Lindsey-Paige McCloy’s A Year’s Worth of Memories piece that prominently features Ophelia, it’s also incredibly heartening.

Back to the video: “Fracas” immediately sets its tone with a clever, eye-catching title card and a beautifully framed shot that lingers on what appears to be a dog-shaped coin bank that’s been repurposed into a vase that’s holding flowers (which wind up being a key recurring aspect of the clip). Title cards are also granted to the band’s members whenever they make an appearance, in a manner that echoes Community’s classic A Fistful of Paintballs episode. As drummer Alice Suh enters frame and McCloy and Ophelia gradually work their way in, “Fracas” builds a curious momentum that complements the song its accompanying extraordinarily well.

The direction throughout “Fracas” is remarkably assured, lending a whole new sheen of legitimacy to a project that — and this is the last time i’ll mention this — is only one song into their career. Starting off with Suh ambling around a kitchen, Ophelia haphazardly strumming her telecaster with a hand that’s clutching a maraca as a cat plays on the ground, and McCloy comfortably situated in a bathtub with her bass and a copy of Current Hits for Teens. The latter of those three interiors is where the photography direction starts taking chances, using soft lenses and lighting to conjure up an aura of mystique that ultimately betters the clip.

From the introductory sequences forward, there are a handful of striking cutaways that continuously elevate the artistry of “Fracas”. Whether it’s a low wide of a hallway, a time lapse of the NYC skyline, or the band’s exquisitely framed apartment entrance that pushes the bokeh to the front and effectively draws all attention to the band’s three members, allowing them a fleeting moment where they seem larger than life. The direction of “Fracas” immediately sends them spiraling back down in a sly gesture of self-deprecation that feels perfectly suited to the band. That moment doesn’t last long, though, and the trio finds redemption and sets the party around them into motion by clearing out an area and finally, triumphantly, plugging in to play the song.

As they play, flowers bloom and serve as garnishes for the instruments, they act as hairpieces, they stand out in the projection imagery that washes over the band as they dip into the song’s last section. It’s a beautiful display of symbolism that feels intrinsically connected to not only the way “Fracas” develops but the constitutional beliefs of the band themselves. It’s another piece of essential art in a long line of examples that argues there’s an unbelievable amount of beauty and power to be found in our own modesty. Just as everyone comes together as the song ends, “Fracas” offers up an important epilogue that sees the trio heading out of frame, leaving a trail of flowers in their wake.

Watch “Fracas” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the band.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Loren DiBlasi)

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Now that (an excessively busy) January is a piece of our past and we’ve had ample time to reflect on the events of 2015, it’s time to return to a series that began last year: A Year’s Worth of Memories. Every year, a handful of this site’s favorite people in the worlds of music and film are asked to reflect on the smaller moments that stood out as personal highlights of the preceding year as a more personalized companion piece to the more static run of year-end lists. A long list of potential contributors were asked if they’d be interested in writing a piece and a handful responded in kind, writing beautiful pieces that scratched very personal roots. This year’s first piece comes courtesy of MTVNews editor — and a writer that’s earned bylines at Impose and DIY — Loren DiBlasi (pictured above, playing bass and singing for site favorites Patio), who is one of a handful of contributors returning to A Year’s Worth of Memories. Loren’s remained a constant friend through some harder times and it’s an honor to have her be an ongoing part of the series. Read about what had the most impact on her in 2015 below.

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MY BAND SAVED MY LIFE

I read Our Band Could Be Your Life ten years ago, when I was sixteen, the year I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up: a music writer. It was the same year I read other books like Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me, and Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up And Start Again, and realized, hey, this is a thing that people actually do for a living. As my obsession deepened, I amassed an extensive CD collection that started with post-punk revival bands of the time (Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads) and worked its way backwards, all the way from Pixies and Sonic Youth to Joy Division, Buzzcocks, and The Fall.

From sixteen on, I didn’t care about anything. I only cared about music. But I didn’t just want to write about it; I wanted to eat it, sleep it, breathe it, and live it until the day I died.

But I never wanted to play it. I didn’t think I could.

There’s this thing with young girls who love music. Except for a few bands I liked — maybe Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The White Stripes — there weren’t many contemporary female musicians I looked up to. If there was a “girl in a band” — the title of Kim Gordon’s memoir, which I would devour a decade later — she was either “not as good” as her male counterparts (the incessant critiquing of Meg White) or she was the dazzling, charismatic lead singer, a figure far more glamorous than I’d ever imagined myself to be (like Gwen Stefani or Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes).

I fancied myself a nerd, an outsider, a weirdo; at the time, I didn’t know many female musicians who reflected those qualities. An exception might be Eleanor Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces, but again, she wrote lyrics and sang. I was young, timid, and still developing as a writer, let alone a songwriter (and the idea of singing in front of people was scary). I just didn’t think I had it in me.

When I became obsessed with Talking Heads, I worshiped Tina Weymouth; she was cool, and smart, and different in a way I could relate. She had a boy’s haircut, but she was undeniably feminine: her look was chic and classic, and she wore lots of black. She resembled a miniature version of the supermodel Twiggy. I admired her style and her fearless attitude first; her musicianship later. Stop Making Sense was the first time I really noticed the bass on its own, and the idea of playing it — of being like Tina — intrigued me.

But like I said, there’s this thing with girls who love music. I felt that because I was already sixteen, and had never touched an instrument, that it was too late for me. If I hadn’t shown musical promise by that point, I never would. Plus, what if I was bad? Of course, what’s hilarious is that I had never even tried, and I was already writing myself off as incapable or unworthy; this is a classic teenage girl move. Where boys are encouraged, girls are outsiders in music communities, and it takes a lot of time, effort, and courage to break free of that restrictive, deep-rooted thinking.

(Years later, I learned that Tina Weymouth hadn’t picked up the bass until her 20s, to join the already-formed Talking Heads.)

**

Maybe I wasn’t ready to try my hand at music as a teenager. But once I had reached my 20s, and had gained endless insight working as a journalist, it was time. Still, the circumstances had to be just right. First, there was the concept: Patio. My band. Grass is Green, Vulture Shit, and Flagland played a show at David Blaine’s, spring 2014. Friends and I joked about how we had wasted our Saturday, which was drinking at bars, on various outside patios. Even Randy of Vulture Shit said he’d done the same.

“Wouldn’t ‘Patio’ be a fucking perfect band name?” I proposed. “Like a group of distraught millennials sitting outside, drinking away their troubles, when in reality their lives are actually fine.”

It was a joke at first, but eventually the name took on greater meaning for me; it represented a deep sense of boredom with my surroundings and an overall dissatisfaction with life, whether that was a spoiled mentality or not.

The first time I actually held a bass, I was in bed with a boy, a bass player. I liked him. He had resolved to give me a lesson, but somehow the idea of him teaching me how to play made me more uncomfortable than whatever we had done together the night before. When I didn’t know how to place my hands, he laughed at me, and that was it. I was done. I didn’t want to try something new in front of him, or anyone that I didn’t trust.

I didn’t like him for very much longer. When I finally found the person I did trust, things moved a lot more quickly (and that person wasn’t a boy).

**

I met Lindsey-Paige (LP) McCloy through mutual friends later that year, and quickly realized that not only did we talk, act, and dress similarly — something that’s still pointed out to us by friends and strangers alike — but we shared an affinity for everything music- related. The major difference between us was that LP had been playing in bands for years, and I had so much to learn.

Through a combination of weird, serendipitous events — like a sudden breakup that afforded me an abundance of free time, and finding our heroic drummer, Alice Suh — Patio soon evolved from a joke, to a joke band, to an actual band. Immediately, LP and I learned that we worked exceptionally well together; her calm and patience, combined with her talent, is an ideal balance for my rash, dramatic nature. The first song I ever played on bass, per LP’s instruction, was Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair” (ironic because I don’t even like Pavement, but it’s the perfect starter bass line). LP wrote fantastic bass parts to Patio’s first ever song, “Air Japan,” and soon — after lots of practice — I discovered I could write my own parts.

I’ve found that the way I make music is similar to the way I write about it: spontaneous, emotional, and unpredictable. Riffs and melodies seep into my brain while I sleep, or completely unsolicited, a lyric will pop into my head while I’m showering, cooking, or riding the subway. By no means is it an orthodox process, and by no means is it easily replicated. Sometimes I’m happy with the end result — I wrote all the words and parts to my first song, “Baby’s Alright,” while my phone was dying on the M train — and sometimes it’s utter shit. Even when it’s shit, it’s still good. It’s all part of it, even the bad stuff.

There’s nothing I look forward to more than band practice: being trapped in a small, sweaty room with my bandmates. LP has the uncanny ability to translate even my boldest, most bizarre suggestions into actual, cohesive sound, and we’ve collaborated on songs I’m insanely proud of. When my penchant for bleak, dark noise becomes too overwhelming, she cuts me off (or we meet somewhere in the middle, like on the track we’ve semi-jokingly dubbed our “goth country song”). Sometimes I’ll arrive at practice equipped with nothing but a sentence, or I’ll start plucking in a random pattern, and with her guidance, it transforms into something tangible and inspiring. Ours is the healthiest, most meaningful (and longest) relationship I’ve ever had, by far, and for that, I love her to no end.

**

All this year, I’ve worked tirelessly at not just making Patio better, but making myself better. Often, these efforts have been one in the same. After a rough end to 2014 (one which I so openly, or rather drunkenly, detailed right here), and disappointment after disappointment, my positive outlook began to fade, until I hardly recognized myself anymore.

Suddenly, I didn’t want to do the things I’d always loved to do: write, go to shows, interview bands, see friends. After something traumatic happened at a show involving a person I loved more than anything, I could barely leave my bed, let alone leave my house. For months, I couldn’t sleep. I stopped eating almost entirely. I stopped listening to music. I couldn’t go to a show without having a panic attack, or feel completely crippled with anxiety. And if I couldn’t do the things I had always done — the things I was good at, the things that had helped me make a name for myself within our little Brooklyn community — then who was I?

In 2015 I was split open, and Patio helped me feel whole again. My band has given me something new, something fun, something to look forward to. It’s helped me forge a new identity, but it’s also taught me how to embrace my own life again: the friends who love me, the things that give me purpose. Depression and anxiety are both very real, but it’s important to have an outlet that lessens the burden, whatever it may be. I’m lucky to have found a new one, despite the turmoil of this year.

In many ways, Patio is still a joke, but for me, it’s the realest thing I’ve ever had. We write silly, nonsensical songs about diminutive genitalia (“Microballs” is all Alice’s genius) and call fried chicken sandwiches our boyfriends. And yet, I don’t think I’ve ever cared about anything more in my life. Back in my teens, when I read all those books, I knew that I’d one day be a writer, too — and I’ll never stop working at that — but I never, ever imagined that one day, maybe my own band could exist. Now it does. Whatever we accomplish going forward, that feels real, and it feels fucking good.

 

-Loren DiBlasi

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 7

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Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

The preceding galleries can be accessed via these links:

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Potty Mouth

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5

Johanna Warren I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3

Idle Bloom

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1

Radioactivity

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

Patio – Patio Songs (Demo Review, Stream, Live Video)

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As 2015’s progressed, a handful of people I’ve been fortunate enough to know have come out swinging with intriguing musical projects. Two projects that immediately jump to mind are the no-holds-barred Kodakrome and the seductively noir-ish Patio. I was fortunate enough to host some of Loren DiBlasi’s writing in the first A Year’s Worth of Memories and have been consistently struck by the prevalent thoughtfulness of her many other pieces at places like Impose and MTVNews.

A similar thoughtfulness courses through Patio’s music, which finally found an official release via a two-song demo that was released at the end of October, right around the time this site’s regular coverage went on an extended hiatus. There’s a very palpable sense of history on display in both “luxury” and “air j” which echo shades of everything from post-punk pioneers like The Gun Club and The Birthday Party to contemporaries like Big Ups.

Lindsey-Paige McCloy takes on the bulk of the band’s vocal duties, effortlessly conjuring up an air of subtle mystique while the band’s rhythm section (made up of DiBlasi on bass and Alice Suh on drums, both  of whom also tackle an occasional vocal part) keep everything grounded. Everything’s played for maximum effect and is exceedingly impressive in terms of atmosphere, thanks in large part to the band’s understanding that post-punk generally functions best when it scales itself back.

Part of the success of the band’s minimalist approach lies in their gift with understatement; when McCloy and DiBlasi trade vocal leads on “luxury”, it never feels anything less than casually supportive (the polar opposite of the traded vocals dynamic on The Libertines). After Patio Songs immediately announces its voice in the shrugging, half-detached, tragicomical “luxury”, Patio flashes some formidable pop sensibility in “air j”, which evokes the very best of ’90s alternative radio and caps a very worthy introduction to one of 2015’s most promising new acts. Don’t be surprised if they wind up making the slacker punk soundtrack of next summer.

Listen to Patio Songs below, watch a pair of videos of the band playing their first show, and pick the demo up here. Underneath the embeds, explore a list of other great full streams to have appeared in the past few months.

Le Rug – Game Over
Goth Babe – Fuzz Ghost

Dick Stusso – Nashville Dreams/Sings the Blues
Globelamp – The Orange Glow
Palm – Trading Basics
Sheer – Uneasy
Soggy Creep – Drag the Well
Noun – Throw Your Body On The Gears And Stop The Machine With Your Blood
The Dictaphone – Hazmat
Three Man Cannon – Will I Know You Then
Zanders – Buried Men
Swings – Sugarwater
Big Hush – Who’s Smoking Your Spirit?
Slight – Hate the Summer
Eugene Quell – I Will Work The Land
Marriage + Cancer – Killjoy b/w Nothing’s Wrong When Nothing’s Real
Addie Pray – Screentime
Failed Mutation – See You Tomorrow
Kindling – Galaxies
Wrekmeister Harmonies – Night of Your Ascension
Miya Folick – Strange Darling