Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: art

Nano Kino – Eyes Before Words (Music Video)

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Since the majority of the start of this week was spent on the road, it’s been difficult to be as vigilant about keeping up with the new music and videos that have been coming out. Today, that changed and the amount of great content is almost overwhelming. Every single one of the items that are going to be hyperlinked following this sentence are worthy of being the feature item. Those include full album streams from Mumblr and Sleepyhead (their first in 15 years), and a stream of Parquet Courts and Future Punx’s split 7″. There were excellent music videos from Death From Above 1979, Lace Curtains, and Brick Mower. Most of all, though, there were great new songs. Cut Teeth offered up a post-hardcore ripper, Ovlov provided a tantalizing glimpse at their upcoming 4-way split with Ex-Breathers, Woozy, and Gnarwhal. There was a smoky piece of folk-psych from Mail the Horse, a new Pity Sex song that ranks among the best of the year and teases an upcoming split with Adventures (it’s also their career-best), a new look at an upcoming EP from the increasingly popular Girlpool, a fiery Stereolab cover from Greys, another indicator that Dark Blue’s Pure Reality will be one of the year’s best records, another gentle piece of bliss from Eternal Summers, a snappy piece of riff-happy outsider pop from Little Big League that- like the Pity Sex song from just a few hyperlinks ago- ranks among the year’s best, another incendiary look at Meatbodies’ upcoming record on In the Red, and a brand-new career highlight for King Tuff. That’s one hell of a haul.

All of those are likely to get features elsewhere- if they haven’t already had them (and most have)- and Heartbreaking Bravery would be nothing if it wasn’t for the bands that are flying under the radar. Those are the kind of bands that this place strives to support- and Nano Kino (which translates to “very small cinema”) is one of them. And while the duo does include Duncan Lloyd of Maximo Park (and Decade in Exile), their profile’s currently surprisingly contained- which isn’t likely to last too long. There are chilly atmospheres that permeate throughout the duo’s music, using no-wave and post-punk as their major touchpoints while exuding an icy demeanor not too far removed from The xx. A lot of the band’s intrigue gets an extra push thanks to the mysterious vocal performances of Sarah Surl, the duo’s other member. While there’s still a considerable sense of mystery to be found in the textured guitar work that Lloyd provides, Surl gives it a strange sense of humanism that allows Nano Kino to eclipse so many similarly-minded acts.

Nano Kino currently have plans to release their debut record in the early parts of next year but have promised to tease pieces of the record in the lead-up campaign. One of the first pieces they’ve offered up is a visually stunning black-and-white clip that emphasizes the band’s penchant for noir-ish sensibilities. Bringing in other visual aesthetics to the fold (there’s a prominent French new wave influence running throughout this- as well as a lot of glances towards Spain’s golden-era of silent film), “Eyes Before Words” winds up being a quietly intense experience. Using grainy superimposed imagery (that’s occasionally stripped back to isolation) to maximum effect helps make this a video that stays with the viewer long after the final whispers of the fade-out. It’s unrelentingly poised and announces Nano Kino as a band that’s embraced a very particular vision- one that could wind up meriting critical and commercial success. Whatever the future does hold for Nano Kino, it’ll be a pleasure watching them fight their way forward- especially if the ensuing releases all manage to be as arresting as “Eyes Before Words”.

Watch “Eyes Before Words” below and keep an eye on this site for updates in the coming months.

Watch This: Vol. 30

Well, it finally happened. Waatch This is officially back on track and back to its regular every-Sunday rotation- and this week was particularly stacked. There was an incredible Serious Business feature from BreakThruRadio on Hive Bent, a beautiful Allston Pudding session with Saintseneca, and Mansions turned in what was arguably their best performance for an absolutely incendiary run for Little Elephant. None of them made this week’s installment. There were various reasons that kept each of them out and what wound up being featured was a fairly eclectic mix of full sets, single songs, old favorites, and at least one face that’s completely new to this site. So, sit back, relax, continue on with some day drinking, and Watch This.

1. Bob Mould – I Don’t Know You Anymore (The Current)

Bob Mould should be a household name by now. One of the most influential and well-respected songwriters to emerge from the 80’s/90’s DIY punk/hardcore heyday, he’s already amassed an army of untouchable classics that have his name on them and he’s in the midst of a staggering resurgence that’s currently seeing him match his past glory. Beauty & Ruin is one of 2014’s best and isn’t in danger of losing that position by year’s end. It’s driven by gems like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” which Mould recently deliver a commanding solo performance of for Minneapolis’ 89.3 The Current. That can be seen below.

2. Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked (Jam in the Van)

This isn’t the first time that this song’s appeared on this site and the feelings towards it haven’t changed. “Everything’s Fucked” is a song that aims to scorch the earth that surrounds it and shows a total disregard for anything attempting to get in its way. Here, the band delivers a fierce, ragged performance of it for Jam in the Van during their SXSW stay and hold absolutely nothing back. It’s a jolt of energy that’s strong enough to inject a jump-start into any dreary Sunday; keep it on file for those occasions.

3. Hop Along (unARTigNYC)

unARTigNYC is back in a big way this week: this is the first of three videos the channel posted that will be featured as the extended closing sequence for this week’s Watch This. Now, this will come with a touch of Deja Vu for any longtime readers of the site as Vol. 15 also featured a full Hop Along set that was also posted by unARTigNYC that was also captured at Saint Vitus. Lightning can strike twice. The only real differences are the sets and the fact that this was a Pitchfork showcase that also featured Pleasure Leftists, Frankie Cosmos, and the band occupying this installment’s fifth slot All of the new material Hop Along has been playing out is pointing towards one thing; whenever that record drops, it’s going to be a big deal that a lot of people will be very passionate about. Expect to see a stream of praise coming from sites like this one the moment that happens. For now, just enjoy the fact there are things like this out there to keep everyone excited (and deeply impressed).

4. Charles Bradley – The World Is Going Up In Flames (unARTigNYC)

Are there any stories in music from this decade more inspiring than the ascension of Charles Bradley? It’s sincerely doubtful. Plucked from obscurity during his days as a James Brown impersonator, he impressed all the right people and wound up signing a deal with Daptone Records, the most influential label in soul. Before that moment, and during the interim, the now-65 year old Bradley went through some extraordinarily harsh times. Almost dying and experiencing great personal tragedy didn’t deter him, though, and in 2011 his debut record No Time for Dreaming was met the same way his sophomore effort, 2013’s Victim of Love was: they both garnered immediate acclaimed and helped elevate Bradley to being one of the biggest names in his genre. Now affectionately known as “The Screaming Eagle of Soul”, Bradley has greeted any kind of interest with overwhelming appreciation and humility. If there’s one thing to feel good about in music, it’s his success- a success driven by charisma and raw natural talent.

5. Perfect Pussy (unARTigNYC)

Perfect Pussy, the band whose name makes Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan blush every time she says it, headlined the recent Pitchfork showcase at Saint Vitus. They also now have a commanding lead as the band featured most on this site, which should mean that close to everything’s already been said about them here. While that might be the case, I’m not even close to done talking about Perfect Pussy and I doubt I’ll ever be. Part of the reason for this is their high-velocity live show. Each of their shows is its own beast, though they all seem to clock in at around 20 minutes, which are infused with the most blistering whirlwind of sound and unrepentant aggression anyone could imagine (this fact has caused a lot of confusion from people who aren’t familiar with hardcore and the people that don’t understand how quickly high-intensity physical exertion can lead to dangerous levels of exhaustion). Vocalist Meredith Graves greets the triviality of those complaints the only way she knows how: with a smile (for proof of this, check the :40 mark for a memorable quip). Her lyrics are some of the most unflinchingly honest I’ve ever encountered and, impossibly, stand as both a complement and contrast to the band’s performance. In prose, Perfect Pussy can come off as slightly withdrawn and full of guarded desperation- but even then, it’s so forward that it feels like that same gut-punch the live show so readily and consistently provides. Here, the band’s in fine form, Graves is the physical manifestation of an internal maelstrom or three; Shaun Sutkus project a steely, detached calm to provide some stability behind his setup of synths; the rhythm section of Greg Ambler and Garrett Koloski both make sure they’re as physically present as Graves is and guitarist Ray McAndrew keeps his head down while providing an additional thrashing body. If it sounds chaotic, it’s because it is- it’s also all so improbably controlled that it makes their sets unforgettable affairs- no matter how long or short they wind up being. Add all of these qualities to the fact that Graves is currently one of the most outspoken public figures in an ongoing fight against multiple kinds of oppression and Perfect Pussy winds up exactly where they should be: as one of the most important bands that we’ve got. See them (and support them) as soon as humanly possible.

Greys – Use Your Delusion (Music Video)

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Quite a bit of kind digital ink has already been spilled on Greys (hell, quite a bit’s already been spilled on this very song) and they keep providing reasons for more to get added to the already overflowing pile. In the previous review for “Use Your Delusion” (which can be clicked on via the hyperlink directly preceding this sentence) there was a bold claim or two claiming the song was “all adrenaline rush and pent-up frustration [that] channels the best of both post-punk and classic hardcore.” Nothing’s changed. All that’s happened is that the band’s released another Amanda Fotes-helmed video toying with the idea of linearity that winds up providing an extra punch to the given statements.

As a video “Use Your Delusion” features the band playing the song to an empty room and then letting most of the magic happen in post-production. Very rarely travelling at regular speed, the video is instead presented at a brisk sped-up pace or in captivating slow-motion. There’s a brief recess from the action where the band all reveal yo-yo’s but for the most part, it’s just them crashing headlong into one of the year’s best songs- at constantly shifting speeds. It’s a jarring bit of modernism that feels both slightly antagonistic and entirely appropriate, landing the band yet another compelling bit of media and pushing expectations for what they’re capable of even higher.

Watch “Use Your Delusion” below and join the rest of the world in salivating over the promise of the band’s upcoming debut, If Anything.

Perfect Pussy at 7th St. Entry – 3/30/14 (Live Review)

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First of all, deepest apologies for the delay in content. It’s been an incredibly busy week and there hasn’t been much time to post anything between driving over 1,300 miles, prepping all of the content that came out of that trip, and the crippling side effects of getting a total of nine hours sleep over four days’ time. There was a reason for all of that insanity and the reason, for anyone even remotely familiar with this site, won’t come as a surprise.

It had only been two short months since the last time the coverage of Perfect Pussy’s incendiary Chicago set, which was something that played a definite factor in the decision to drive from central Wisconsin to Minneapolis to Chicago over three days to see them play two more sets. While there will be more to come on the second Chicago show, this piece will be devoted to their Minneapolis stop at the legendary 7th St. Entry, which more than lived up to its reputation.

Not only was the drive down much more pleasant than the potentially life-threatening Chicago trip back in January but there was actually time to spare before the opening acts, ensuring both time to settle in and the ability to see all three bands on a characteristically impressive bill. First up were local stalwarts The Miami Dolphins. All wiry nerve and frenetic energy, the quartet ripped through one of the most memorably spastic sets there’s been in quite some times. Seamlessly transitioning between a shrill metallic dissonance falling somewhere between Shellac and Sonic Youth at their most aggressive, the completely left-field work of The Minutemen at their strangest, and moments of both staggering heaviness and genuinely bouncy surf-inflected powerpop sounds like a mess on paper. Luckily, the written word doesn’t dictate motion. The Miami Dolphins’ set managed to be unpredictably thrilling and left a deep impression- they control their future by the sheer virtue of fearless originality. There’s not many things in music that are more commendable than pulling that feat off.

A set as jumpy and insanely bug-eyed as The Miami Dolphins’ one, especially when used in the opening slot, has multiple benefits- one of them being that it can cover a wide range as a set-up for the ensuing act. Condominium‘s abrasive hardcore noise somehow seemed to dovetail quite nicely with their preceding act despite occupying two very different ends of the hardcore spectrum. Their unifying ground may have come via what seems to be a distinctly unique debt to the readily apparent influence of Steve Albini but the level of intensity both brought to their live sets wound up being what pushed them into a comfortable coexistence (and wound up heightening the expectations for Perfect Pussy’s set). They played as loud as possible and approached frightening with their militaristic precision but really seemed to live for the moments of pure noise (usually generated by guitarist Greg Stiffler’s penchant for maximum-impact feedback sections). More than anything, they obliterated any lingering doubts (if their were any to begin with) that their Sub Pop signing and subsequent release was a fluke.  Last Sunday their set seemed to indicate that they were far from done. Expect to be hearing about them quite a bit more in the coming years.

After two incredibly loud sets (neither lacking in the intensity department), the stage had been set and the bar had been raised. Perfect Pussy came out, sans vocal amp, set up and looked downright tranquil for a few moments to the point where it became an effectively eerie calm-before-the-storm situation, all members looking down at their feet or out at the void that exists pasts the blinding stage lights. Meredith Graves, one of the most seductively intimidating and forceful performers on the face of the planet, paced silently.  Then, it happened. Drummer Garrett Koloski counted the band in and they took off with enough velocity to send the crowd into immediate hysterics. All of the band poured every inch of themselves into their near-twenty minute set (a marathon by their past standards) and absolutely tore through the majority of Say Yes to Love while also making sure I have lost all desire for feeling wasn’t completely neglected either.

Both the band and the audience fed off of each other in another strong example of the most supportive symbiotic relationships imaginable, reaching a fever pitch during the band’s last stretch that kicked off with the back half of the unbelievably gorgeous-turned-unbelievably fierce “Interference Fits” (a highlight even without an introduction containing a dedication worth eternal gratitude for).  Shaun Sutkus’ body shook violently, as if he was possessed, guitarist Ray McAndrew couldn’t stop thrashing around even during the very few song breaks that the band allows, and bassist Greg Ambler seemed to be everywhere at once. At several points, being on the stage looked about as risky as being in the center of the audience. That potential danger seemed second nature to everyone between those four walls, though, as it was nearly impossible to find anyone in 7th St. Entry without a massive grin on their face.

Feeding into that relentless energy and making Perfect Pussy’s set even more memorable was the fact that it sounded incredible (seriously, major props to whoever was behind the soundboard, bands that loud and chaotic are not easy to mix- especially when the singer’s notorious for wanting to drown the vocals in swells of interference and pure feedback). Actually hearing Graves yell things like “Ain’t that a big drag?!” over the staggering wall of noise her bandmates conjure up around her was nearly as cathartic on its own as the presentation as a composite whole. There were times where it really was all whirlwind, heat, and flash. Photographers staked out their ground early only to be swallowed up in the chaos surrounding them, beer was spilled on just about everyone, converts were made and the band was onstage, doing what they love, clearly having the time of their lives, unafraid to show their adoration for anyone in the audience reacting to something they created.

By the time Sutkus’ epilogue showcase had finally run itself into silence, McAndrew, Ambler, Koloski, and Graves had all exited the stage, visibly exhausted but still feeling the overwhelming excitement that comes with being at the center of a groundswell. They may have their detractors, they may also have the accompanying anxieties of being a band that’s incredibly visible so early on, and they may very well have escalating levels of doubt- but one thing’s for sure- they put on one hell of a show. All fingers crossed that this thing they’re at the center of lasts as long as it possibly can- and that they get every ounce of enjoyment out of it as humanly possible. They deserve it.

Photographs below.

 

 



 

Tumul – Nature Master (Music Video)

Let’s get this out of the way at the top; Tumul are not a conventional band in any way, shape, or form. There are times when the band’s live presentation will teeter on a very thin line that separates the grounded from the avant. There’s always an element of futurism that’s present in their ambient/drone works and their just-released music video for “Nature Master” expertly showcases that aspect of their presentation. Directed and lensed by Mike Turzanski (who was also behind Green Dreams’ “Bug Sex” video), “Nature Master” is rife with translucent hues of white and purple. Tumul themselves, long lost twins Joe Tunis (who runs Carbon Records) and Camburger Fahresh, spend the entirety of the video wandering a desolate, wintry landscape.

Despite- or in fact maybe because of- the lack of discernible plot, in addition to the disquieting nature of something so reliant on tension, “Nature Master” becomes a piece of art that’s nearly impossible to be torn away from. Clad in matching white suits that fall in line with classic B-Movie depictions of a totalitarian future, Tumul engage in a few moments of connectivity, wrapping each outfit around the other. In seemingly any other situation, these acts would seem ridiculous- paired with the disquieting atmosphere of “Nature Master” itself, it takes on the feel of a sacred ritual. It’s a stunning display of clearly refined minimalism and something that’s difficult to shake. Watch it below and start coming up with theories on what it all means- or if it means anything at all.

Help Save Fort Foreclosure (Indiegogo Campaign)

Photos by Rich Dionne William Schaff is an internationally known artist who works mostly on commission and has designed dozens of album and CD covers, prints, posters and other works of art. His name cuts such a wide swath and carries such pull that he's had visitors travel from as far away as Sweden, unannounced, to meet him. But he considers himself as much a Warrenite as an artist of international acclaim.

Continuing tonight’s trend of unusual coverage is a very important cause: saving Fort Foreclosure, home of artist William Schaff. For those not familiar with Schaff, he’s the artist behind some of the best album artwork of the past 15 years, from Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven to Songs: Ohia’s Magnolia Electric Co. to all of Okkervil River’s artwork (the pieces he put together for the Black Sheep Boy series deserve to be celebrated into the next century). Unfortunately, Fort Foreclosure is currently living up to the latter portion of its name and he needs all the help he can get to change that.

That’s why Schaff’s started up an Indiegogo project that offers some unique rewards for very fair prices. From a stunning deck of individually designed playing cards ($9) to little books containing the sketches for Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven ($15) and sketches inspired by In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea ($10) to packages containing all three of those things in addition to a project-exclusive benefit CD full of project-exclusive songs from a variety of artists connected to Schaff ($60) to more decidedly extravagant rewards like a five day, five night residency at Fort Foreclosure with Schaff himself ($800). There are several other offers on the table and they’re all for a very worthy cause. Each offer can be viewed and selected here.

This is a serious situation that can yield serious rewards for both the artist and the contributors. It’s a unique project that deserves investment and a way to help one of this generation’s most gifted artists thrive. It’s an opportunity worth seizing for both the cause and the effect. Most importantly, it’s a good way to provide a healthy environment for the creation of great art- a cause that this place holds sacred. Stop waiting, contribute now, and make anyone and everyone aware that they can too. The clock is ticking.

A note from Schaff about the situation can be read both in the above link and below.

“My Name is William Schaff. As most of you here know, I have been a working artist for the the last 20 some odd years or so. I have started this campaign because the studio and home that both myself, and the band, Brown Bird, inhabit is again in Foreclosure. I am looking to make this stop, once and for all, and I am hoping you can help. Please check out the rewards I offer for contributing, and see if there is anything that catches your fancy. I’ve tried to make sure that each of you, no matter your situation, can be part of this effort. If we are not able to raise all the money, what is raised shall still go towards covering the mortgage, and dealing with the utilities. Keeping the Fort, out of foreclosure.

So please watch the attached video, see what you will be getting involved with. Share, and tell your friends. Become a part of the arts in a way you may not have before!

Thank you.”

Playlounge – Waves and Waves and Waves (Stream)

Let’s get this out of the way at the top: Playlounge are a London-based guitar/drums/vocals duo. They play scrappy scuzzed-out pop music that recalls a lot of bands that operate within the confines of that format. There are traces of Japandroids, No Age, and PS I Love You (among others) to be found all over their music. What differentiates them from the pack is the sheer velocity they conjure up. Where Japandroids are almost consumed by a desire to sound huge, it comes off as a byproduct here rather than a focal point. PS I Love You are willfully off-kilter and Playlounge don’t really seem to will anything; they just fucking go for it. No Age have their arthouse tendencies as well- chiefly, their obsession with damaged lo-fi. Playlounge just hint at an interest in those kinds of things, while actually sounding damaged- not in terms of recording quality, but their actual physical state of being. It makes for a strangely cathartic listening experience. “Waves and Waves and Waves”, yet another preview of their upcoming LP Pilot, showcases all of these qualities and more. It’s available for both streaming and download below. Take advantage of it.

Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits (Stream)

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Ever since Perfect Pussy released I have lost all desire for feeling they’ve endured a level of scrutiny that’s generally given to bands who are several records removed from their debut demo (it’s next to impossible to stress enough how insane that is, especially considering this is a band operating on the fringes of hardcore). Since then, they’ve lit off a firestorm of opinions, played as fiercely as possible, released an extraordinary preview track of what promises to be an incendiary LP, a music video for I have lost all desire for feeling‘s lead-off track that was nothing short of life-affirming, and vocalist Meredith Graves was even kind enough to grace this very site with a characteristically revealing interview. As a result of this kind of whirlwind production (not to mention filling a select few LP’s with Graves’ actual blood), all eyes have been fixed on them, curious as to what they’ll do next. For now, the answer is the same as it’s likely to always be; subvert expectations.

Everything the band’s released up to “Interference Fits” has been balancing a duality between chaos and vulnerability, always leaning towards the former. “Interference Fits”, likely the upcoming record’s centerpiece, flips the script so adeptly, it’s honestly difficult to imagine the band in any other mode. From the undeniably gorgeous slow-building introduction to the moment of euphoric explosion following Graves’ disarmingly emotive shout of “since when do we say yes to love?!” there’s not a moment here that falls short of utterly, almost frighteningly, captivating. The song’s ultimately one of the best uses of the tension/explosion dynamic this side of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and full of a transcendental freedom that accompanies the kind of unassailable honesty the band traffics in. That the song’s closing moments are full of feedback isn’t a mistake either; it’s the calm after a storm of genuine self-evaluation- an epilogue to the manic run-through of the Important Questions. In all, “Interference Fits” is easily one of the best songs to emerge from 2014 and even more reason to look forward to Say Yes to Love (pre-order here). Do not miss this.

“Interference Fits” can (and should) be heard over at NPR and a live user-shot performance clip of the song can be seen below (thank you for shooting and uploading, loopyvids).

Perfect Pussy – I (Music Video)

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There are very few names that have been as instrumental to Heartbreaking Bravery’s (admittedly limited) early success and continuing expansion as Perfect Pussy‘s Meredith Graves. Endlessly supportive and impossibly kind, she’s lent an unwavering support that’s both humbling and welcome. For this reason and this reason alone, I’m going to abandon at least one rule of the hidden manifest I’ve held Heartbreaking Bravery to up until this 110th post; the use of a first-person narrative. I’m breaking this rule specifically for this post because these words will be about Perfect Pussy’s new music video as much as they’ll be about sincerity. Sincerity, compassion, and empathy were at the heart of our last discussion and were three of the things that attracted me to the band begin with. There’s an unflinching honesty that, as evidenced by the almost immediate backlash following their success, alienated about 1 person for every 10 that it’s inspired.

In terms of sentiment, the lyrical content on I have lost all desire for feeling elevates itself past the bleeding-heart realm into a full-on self-performed open heart surgery that cuts off halfway through, laying everything bare for onlookers. It’s not kitschy, it’s fucking brave. Detractors like to speculate that it’s all just an act, grossly unaware of how little of a veil there is that separates the band from its audience. There’s a heart on display that’s beating furiously and unapologetically, allowing anyone paying attention to interpret its motions as they will. Operating without a filter and embracing as much positive energy as humanly possible, the band’s already managed to establish a reputation for themselves on the strength of a four song demo and fierce touring.

All of those early trademarks- the empathy, compassion, sincerity, (positive) energy, fearlessness, and upfront honesty come together in Lukas Hodge’s clip for I have lost all desire for feeling‘s explosive opening track, “I”. Hodge opens the video with an endearing black-and-white shot of the band, all smiles, descending a staircase and led by an umbrella-toting Graves. Before the jump cut out of the stairwell hits an abbreviated quick cut sequence, Graves shoots the audience the kind of smile that seems to say “thank you” and “I love you” all at once, to anyone that cares. It’s a brief second that feels like it’s worth a lifetime, aptly illustrating a moment of  something  approaching self-actualization. It’s unlikely there will be anything as intimate captured this year.

Following the contained beauty of the band’s introduction, the video ably jumps between three scenarios; the live performance footage, the band shooting firecrackers off in a beautiful wide-open field, and walking around various city locations. All of “I” is lensed with a subtly soft, warm hue that maximizes the clip’s easy naturalistic feel. Though, there aren’t moments lacking in artistic merit in the face of that naturalism. While it’s difficult to tell whether or not it actually was raining, the band (and certainly the director) were likely aware of how significant something as simple as the umbrellas has been throughout musically-inclined film projects. From Mary Poppins to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to, more recently, How I Met Your Mother, umbrellas have acted as beloved staples (and important plot devices) in culturally resonant art. While a two minute music video is obviously going to have to deal with some limitations, “I” already feels like one of the more definitive presentations of a very specific subculture within the confines of punk.

Before the video’s explosive confetti-strewn climax, Hodge manages to articulately convey the band’s frantic passion through exposition. By splicing together the outside footage with the performance, it’s easy to grasp the band’s personality which makes the final payoff that much more exhilarating. You want the people that greet you with a warm embrace to succeed, especially when their end goal doesn’t carry any inherently negative or mean-spirited consequence. That’s a space reserved for the kind of people who embrace the lighthearted fun that’s on display throughout “I”. By the time “I” hits its relentless stride and the band’s surrounded by friends, everyone under a shower of confetti and clothed in silly string, the moment feels deserved. Driving this point home, Hodge allows his camera to linger on a small group of hands that are raised up, as if in elated prayer, and a once small-but-significant moment acts as a stand-in for a much larger one; those few enlightened hands have now turned into thousands, each of which (mine included) more than happy to attempt to push the band to even greater successes and heights.

While Graves may still be on the operating table, picking herself apart and attempting to figure out how to live the most worthwhile life possible, there are people in her corner. There are people that know Perfect Pussy are a band that’s worth believing in, not just because they’re making great music but because they’re making sincere music, the kind that directly opposes the apathy that’s descended like a darkness and all but consumed the forefront of the DIY/basement punk scene. There’s an intrinsic value to Perfect Pussy’s commitment to honesty. At a time when things as basic as desire and enthusiasm are positioned as things that can damage credibility, I’ll be on the side of the band that comes into that fold and fucking destroys the misguided preconceptions about them. Perfect Pussy are a band that kids can look to and be assured that it’s okay to be excited about art and the importance of that should not be lost.

“I” will likely always be Perfect Pussy’s best calling card, distilling the band’s indomitable passion into a blistering 120 seconds (complete with an arresting mantra that perfectly captures the band’s paradoxical marriage of aspects gentle and forceful). Somewhere, in those two glorious minutes, an entire subculture’s esoteric pretense was stripped away. Somehow, Lukas Hodge managed to create a video that managed to push the band’s ideals further while presenting an accurate portrayal of their collective identity. Someday some fifteen year old kid is going to see that video and learn a myriad of things; that it’s okay to be who you are, that art/punk/noise/hardcore/whatever-the-fuck is one of the most gratifying experiences you can possibly have, that gender should never matter in music, that youth can be retained, and that sincerity is something that should never be overvalued.

Even if Graves & co. are pinching themselves now, in the midst of a rapid ascension to the kind of levels where all of their moves will be met with scrutiny, they’re not the sort to pay attention to any of the critical responses. That’s the final key to their success; by blocking out all of the outside opinion- apart from the reactions they get from shows, people buying merch through their bandcamp, or personal messages- they’re free to cater to the things they believe in. Luckily for us, those beliefs are worth celebrating. Nearly everything that I’ve written above (in addition to the twenty or so times I watched “I” today) has led me to a realization. Perfect Pussy have officially become a personal item for me. This isn’t a band I want to push- it’s one I need to. They’re doing important things, whether they know it or not, with a high enough profile that those things may have an actual impact and cause some positive reform in increasingly stale scenes. While Heartbreaking Bravery certainly won’t be the most visible source lending their aesthetics and creative decisions vocal support, it’s still worth discussing.

For a reminder of all of this, watch “I” below and pre-order a deluxe copy of Say Yes to Love over at Captured Tracks.

Saintseneca – Happy Alone (Music Video)

Between the streaming of Terrestrials the behemoth of a collaborative album between Sunn O))) and Ulver, the announcement of a Bad Banana reunion show, John Dwyer releasing his first material post-Oh Sees hiatus, Big Air publicly unveiling their excellent debut tape, Buds, Fear of Men releasing a very promising sneak peek of their upcoming debut full-length Loom, a surprisingly punchy new track entitled “Any Wonder” from Yellow Ostrich, Mary Timony’s newest project, Ex Hex, offering up a hard-charging sample of their upcoming Merge debut, the cleverly constructed first music video to come out of the pairing of Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws and Julianna Hatfield for their Minor Alps project, an NPR Tiny Desk Session from The Pixies, the energetic black-and-white music video premiere of The Orwells’ “The Righteous One“, a live performance video of an all-acoustic run through of upcoming Drive-By Truckers track “Made Up English Oceans“, and Angel Olsen‘s absolutely stunning smoky, seductively noir-ish music video for upcoming Burn Your Fire for No Witness track “Hi-Five“, it’s been one hell of a Monday. Then, to top it all off, there’s the video that managed to edge out all of this to become today’s focus piece; Saintseneca‘s extraordinary clip for upcoming Dark Arc track “Happy Alone”.

Dark Arc, at this point easily one of the year’s most anticipated albums, should officially herald the arrival of Saintseneca, a band that was previously best known for being a conglomeration of two excellent Ohio basement punk bands; All Dogs and The Sidekicks. They’ve been maintaining an entrancing (and incredibly effective) rollout campaign for Dark Arc, their Anti- records debut, and seem poised to continue rewarding the investment of anyone who’s paying attention. “Happy Alone” has officially elevated their art form even further. The Christopher Good clip is clearly indebted to a vast array of arthouse influences and features stunning handheld cinematography, a gorgeous (magic hour-infused) color palette, inspired editing, yet another great song from the band, and band member Zac Little’s head in a giant bubble as he makes his way through everyday tasks.

It’s borderline dadaism and dips in and out of some Warhol-level pop art as it goes along to the most weirdly entrancing effect. It works as a surface level piece and as a light commentary on the nature of loneliness. There’s really absolutely no reason for any of it to add up to the inexplicably powerful whole that it is but it manages to do that and a little more. On its own, “Happy Alone” is definitive enough to act as a perfect introductory piece to the uninitiated while being singular enough to plausibly rank as one of the bands most important moments in their continuing evolution during this much-deserved groundswell of success. Above all else, though, it’s just a beautiful piece of art. That’s something that will always be worth rewarding. Watch it below.