Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Dead Oceans

Mitski – A Burning Hill (Music Video)

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Following two of the year’s best music videos in “Your Best American Girl” and “Happy“, Mitski recently returned with yet another breathtaking clip from a Puberty 2 highlight. This time around, “A Burning Hill” gets the visual treatment and returns to Mitski’s exploration of her sense of character, side-stepping the remarkably acute examination of genetic makeup featured that drove “Happy”. “A Burning Hill” is one of Puberty 2‘s quietest moments and allows Mitski a direct line to showcasing a guarded mental state, revealing a sense of being directionless with devastating certainty.

Small moments of comfort and strength can be found through routine and choice, something “A Burning Hill” makes explicitly clear, while acknowledging they’re only temporary victories in an ongoing war. All of these points are emphasized by the breathtakingly gorgeous cinematography (courtesy of Bradley Rust Gray) and the assured concept and realization of So Yong Kim (who worked closely with Gray). “A Burning Hill” largely follows Mitski around for a day, from an empty home to busy streets to the elegiac coda that finds the songwriter adrift underwater. It’s a mesmerizing work that affords Mitski the same empathy that’s found in the songwriter’s music, leaving “A Burning Hill” as one of Mitski’s most revealing works to date. Gentle and spellbinding, “A Burning Hill” is more than just a great clip, it’s an unforgettable one.

Watch “A Burning Hill” below and order Puberty 2 here.

Mitski – Your Best American Girl (Music Video)

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Finally, after an onslaught of posts both large in scope and small in stature, this site has caught up to the current release cycle in all three main categories: streams, full stream, and music videos. It’s been a surprisingly overwhelming early run for great material in all three fields and Wednesday kept that pace humming along.

This post will cover music videos and full streams, while the ensuing post will circle back to individual songs. While Mitski‘s brilliant, confrontational “Your Best American Girl” finds the spotlight here, Bob Mould, Lewis Del Mar, The Pack a.d., and Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling Hex also provided strong clips. Meanwhile, a formidable duo of records — Zen Mantra‘s self-titled and Guided By VoicesPlease Be Honest — also found their way out into the world.

“Your Best American Girl” winds up with this post’s spotlight for a whole array of reasons. Everything from the directing, to the subtext, to the pointed commentary, to the visual presentation, to the editing, to the song itself ensured that “Your Best American Girl” would be held up an an example of not only the extraordinary but the deeply important. Ever since I first met Mitski, she’s been expounding on the virtues of self-worth and detailing the endless struggles that accompany the path to its attainment.

The Zia Anger-directed clip for “Your Best American Girl” is the most vivid hyper-realization of those defeats and triumphs to date.

After cracking this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016‘s First Quarter list, “Your Best American Girl” has been on near-constant repeat and that level of investment’s been rewarded tenfold. The anticipation for Mitski’s upcoming Puberty 2 has been growing since the release of Bury Me At Makeout Creek (one of this site’s picks for the Best Albums of 2014) and the arc of “Your Best American Girl” has elevated that anticipation to stratospheric levels. Now, that song’s got an unforgettable video and Puberty 2 seems poised to be another instant classic.

Opening on a shot of Mitski being sprayed, touched up, and transformed into a perfectly made up creature. During this process, she looks overwhelmingly disinterested until the clip cuts to a one shot of a young, conventionally attractive male across the room. Both of them are seated on stools and, eventually, they start exchanging body language, cultivating some palpable sexual tension in the process. While this is a sequence that takes less than forty seconds, it proves to be masterful in its execution, taking great care to both distance the male figure and pull Mitski out of the shadows through clever lighting design and photography direction.

Meticulous details like those inform the rest of “Your Best American Girl” while the central action occurs; an attractive white woman joins the male figure and the pair quickly become physically affectionate as Mitski looks on, confused, distraught, despondent, and displaced. Those looks that occur on the artists end feel painfully honest due to the onslaught of cruel injustices that she’s had to face throughout her life. For a moment, “Your Best American Girl” abandons any semblance of hope and becomes a devastating statement of isolation.

Before long, the video inverts is course and Mitski pulls up her hand and mimics the discomforting display of affection happening across the room. At first, those moments where Mitski becomes amorous with herself feel like they’re drawn from a learned place of loneliness, despair, and the kind of personal anguish that can be derived from having a crushingly low sense of self-worth.

Just a few seconds after the sequence becomes extremely uncomfortable in both its confrontational presentation and its unflinching subtext, something beautiful happens: Mitski reclaims her own agency and fully commits to herself. In just a few frames, “Your Best American Girl” transforms itself from a public display of extreme self-deprecation to a bold, empowering statement that drastically reduces the need for the approval of others.
 
By the video’s end, Mitski’s shed her carefully-selected ensemble (a red pantsuit that exposes her own vulnerability) and been reborn in a dress, guitar in hand. While there’s still a desire for intimacy, understanding, and acceptance that lingers throughout the closing moments of “Your Best American Girl”, the need’s been lessened by the realization that we’re worth more than our disappointments. It’s a crucial, realistic distinction and it pushes “Your Best American Girl” from being great to being legitimately important.

“Your Best American Girl” is an astonishingly powerful video that perfectly presents the values that drive the majority of Mitski’s work. It’s a daring clip, whose risks are rewarded with the songwriter’s most definitive entry in an already impressive career. If the rest of Puberty 2 lives up to the standard this has set, it’ll be a record that’ll be admired (and played) for decades. Don’t make the mistake of letting this pass without celebration and remember that we all have inherent worth, even during the stretches — especially during the stretches — when that seems impossible.

Watch “Your Best American Girl” below and pre-order Puberty 2 ahead of its release here.

Beliefs – Tidal Wave (Music Video)

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Now, despite all the content that’s already gone up tonight, there’s still a lot that went down over the past week and a half while the site was dealing with technical complications. To that end, the approach in coverage is going to be slightly different this time around. Full streams, single streams, and music videos will all be covered- but they’ll be branched off into categories. Each entry will get a line or two and then when everything’s been accounted for, there’ll be a feature spot granted to Beliefs’ ridiculously entertaining clip for “Tidal Wave”. So, without further ado…

SINGLE STREAMS

Pet Cemetery – Giants: The newest near-perfect post-punk entry into Art Is Hard’s perfect Pizza Club series. | Deer Tick – White Havoc: A fuzzed-out Holiday stomper courtesy of one of today’s more intriguing acts. | Sun Hotel – Tropic of Cancer: An incredibly compelling and slightly damaged folk-leaning exploration. | Abi Reimold – Workshop: A folksy DIY pop masterpiece that doubles as a perfect contribution to a great compilation series. | The Soft Moon – Black: Nightmarishly menacing ambient music that tilts into industrial territory. | Sleater-Kinney – Surface Envy: Video game guitar lines. Corin Tucker’s vocals. Total madness. Sleater-Kinney is back. | Victoria+Jean – Holly: Seductive art-pop that flirts with expectations and capitalizes on tension. | Menace Beach – Blue Eye: An ambient noise exercise that only gains intrigue as it quietly builds towards its finish. | Deerhoof – Exit Only (Perfect Pussy Remix): A terrifying reimagining of an already terrifying song, courtesy of Shaun Sutkus. | Moon Duo – Animal: Menacing and minimal psych-punk that isn’t afraid to bare its fangs. | Grand Vapids – Aubade: Indie pop that isn’t afraid to subvert or challenge aesthetic expectations. | Howlin’ Rain – Wild Bush: A pastoral folk throwback jam that wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. | California X – Red Planet: Another triumphant, scorched-earth preview of what looks to be a career-best effort. | The Sidekicks – Jesus Christ Supermalls: Subtle, stunning, and lovely. The Sidekicks‘ finest work to date. | Seagulls – Swimmin’: Unbelievably winsome and completely enchanting folk-centric indie pop. | Elephant Micah – Slow Time Vultures: Gently gorgeous and effortlessly arresting ambient folk reminiscent of Vic Chesnutt. | Future of What – Daydream 99: Boldly stylish indie pop that crafts its own brand of magic. |

FULL STREAMS

The Goodbye Party – Silver Blues:  The latest DIY punk-pop gem to grace the impossibly reliable Salinas roster. | Littler – Get A Life: Relentlessly propulsive weirdo punk. | Bonny Doon – Fred’s House Demo: An impossibly overlooked (and impossibly great) folk-tinted basement pop masterpiece. | School ’94 – Like You: Graceful indie pop with gargantuan scope that still manages to come across as refreshingly breezy. | Forth Wanderers – Tough Love: Defiant and subtly venomous basement pop with an unbelievable amount of inherent charm. | SUSAN – Just Call It: Surf-indebted basement pop with enough punk bite to please a purist. | Githead – Waiting For A SignLeftifeld post-punk and new wave from a quasi-supergroup that features members of Wire, Compact, and Scanner. | Furnsss – Silent Gold: Deranged slacker punk and basement pop for the actively lethargic. | Thelma & The Sleaze – Heart Like A Fist: Incendiary basement punk with a heaping of 80’s hardcore influence. | Cave People – Older: Treble-heavy basement pop that leans towards sentiment and presents a genuinely memorable vision. | Terrorista – Purple Tape: Hard-charging basement punk that thrives on the notion that everything could fall apart at any second.

MUSIC VIDEOS

Young Statues – Run The River Dry: Visually stunning and endlessly intriguing, “Run The River Dry” shines a bright light on Young Statues’ promising future in the visual format. | Christian Lee Hutson – Late November: A simple concept that becomes a wrenching experience as it transforms into something inexplicably moving. | Flashlight O – TV Time: Staunchly DIY and weirdly hypnotic in its collage-heavy presentation. | Highway Cross – Open Eyes: Furiously paced and brilliantly edited, this is a perfect example of how emphasizing details can pay off in unexpectedly huge ways. | Luluc – Tangled Heart: Beautifully arranged and enhanced with simple, creative effects, “Tangled Heart” winds up feeling like something worth treasuring. | Johnny Marr – Dynamo: The iconic guitarist has always had a visual flair but those tendencies reach new, modern heights with this clip. | Run The Jewels – Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry): Like the group, this is a video driven by outsize personality- it’s unabashedly weird and it’s absolutely glorious. | Bass Drum of Death – For Blood: Bikers and gangs collide in deliriously entertaining fashion throughout this brilliantly executed tracking shot clip. | Blonde Redhead – Dripping: A sensual and highly stylized video that wields atmospherics and soft touches to stunning effect. | Communions – Love Stands Still: Classically composed and unwaveringly endearing; a perfect reflection of Communions’ indie pop. | A Place To Bury Strangers – Straight: A hallucinatory collage of striking imagery backed by one of the band’s most insistent songs to date. | Liars – Mask Maker (Extended Version): Characteristically bizarre and replete with a whole mess of yarn. | Tinkerbelles – When Puppies Cry: Extraordinarily damaged basement punk made weirder by one of the most insanely warped clips of 2014.

TIDAL WAVE

Okay, so the bold font probably wasn’t necessary but it’s late- and this is a really great video. Beliefs first gained an uptick in notoriety when they paired with the similarly-minded Greys for one of 2013’s best splits. Since then, they’ve been on a tear, steadily building a name for themselves on the strength of their powerful new material and formidable live show. If “Tidal Wave” is any indication, they may be able to add great music videos to that list as well. While it mostly finds inspiration in the trends of classic clips from the 80’s and 90’s there’s a certain playfulness here that’s missing from a lot of homage-style videos. That playfulness comes to a head nearly halfway through when they manage to seamlessly work in something genuinely unexpected and ridiculously perfect. It’s too good of a moment to spoil completely but it’s also one of the more endearingly appreciative moments of recent memory. By the time all the effects have worn down and “Tidal Wave” reaches its tongue-in-cheek epilogue, it becomes abundantly clear that this band has big things in mind for Leaper (the forthcoming album “Tidal Wave” is taken from) and for themselves. Beliefs aren’t a band intent to keep quiet and if they keep going at the pace they are, we’re all in for one hell of a ride.

Watch “Tidal Wave” below and pick up Leaper from Hand Drawn Dracula as soon as it’s available.

MOURN – Otitis (Stream)

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Yesterday this site’s coverage was exclusively dedicated to the premiere of Mutts’ incredible “Black Ties & Diamonds“, ensuring that there’d be quite a bit of material to catch up on today. There weren’t a lot of full streams to emerge but the ones that did made it count. Among them: Cloakroom‘s incredible new 7″, Michael Rault‘s sprightly psych-pop cassingle, Cross Wires’ spiky Your History Defaced EP, and Trust Punks’ snarling post-punk ripper Discipline. Each of those are good enough to have a shot at appearing in a few year-end lists and enhance each respective artist’s profile considerably.

In single stream territory, things got relentless with no less than 11 great songs fighting their way out into the world. These included another look at Cellphone‘s upcoming Excellent Condition with the blistering “No Wind In Hell“, Quarterbacks‘ completely revitalized full-band version of Quarterboy highlight “Center“, A Place To Bury Strangers’ unrelentingly aggressive industrial post-punk bruiser “Straight“, and Seagulls’ airy left-field pop number “You & Me”. Colleen Green teased the upcoming I Want To Grow Up with a career-best in the form of “Pay Attention“, Soft Fangs revealed the quietly mesmerizing “Dead Friends“, Elvis Perkins made an unexpected return with the lightly damaged pscyh-folk of “Hogus Pogus” in advance of the upcoming I Aubade, and Leapling celebrated their teaming with Exploding in Sound via the compelling bizzaro pop of “Crooked“. American Wrestlers teased their upcoming 7″ with the driving lo-fi psych-pop of “I Can Do No Wrong“, Noveller revealed the characteristically beautiful “Into The Dunes“, and Two Gallants unleashed a preview of their upcoming We Are Undone with the vicious title track.

Music videos were just as eventful thanks to efforts like Desperate Journalist‘s strikingly minimal clip for their arresting “Control“, an absolutely gorgeous turn-in for Blonde Redhead‘s “The One I Love“, and Belle & Sebastian’s playful nostalgia in the black-and-white-turned-multicolor “The Party Line“. Elvis Depressedly celebrated their Run For Cover Records signing with the endearingly weird video for “No More Sad Songs“, Dizzee Rascal continued his unlikely hot streak with the visual medium in the  supernatural-tinged kung fu revenge tale contained in “Pagans“, and Hey Elbow conducted an unnerving psychedelic visual collage experiment for “Martin“. Viet Cong created an intensely disquieting clip to serve as an accompaniment for their excellent “Continental Shelf“, TOONS went the simple-and-charming route with “Sittin’ Back“, and Angel Olsen deliver the absurdly stunning Rick Alverson-directed “Windows” (which featured startlingly gorgeous cinematography) to round things out in a manner so stunning that it very nearly earned today’s feature spot.

Enter: MOURN. The young band recently became one of Captured Tracks’ most exciting acquisition since site favorites Perfect Pussy. Immediately standing out thanks to their surprisingly young age(s), MOURN seems to have caught just about everyone off-guard thanks to the enviable strengths of their songs. None of those songs landed with as fierce of an impact as their barn-burning “Otitis”. Unfailingly bleak and deeply impassioned, “Otitis” never goes for anything but a merciless kill. All of this played into why the song was previously featured on this site in the 53rd installment of Watch This, where the song grew even sharper fangs. MOURN has been available digitally for some time and comfortably stands as one of 2014’s most exhilarating releases with “Otitis” being its definitive exclamation point. From the wiry verse progressions, to the cavalcade of sharp hooks, to the intuitive harmony work, to the intimidatingly dark chorus, “Otitis” has put MOURN firmly on the map. All of the excitement rests in watching where they go from here.

Listen to “Otitis” below and pre-order MOURN from Captured Tracks here.

Filmstrip – Don’t You Know (Stream)

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A lot of great material came crawling out of the woodwork today on all three major fronts. On the music video side of things, two more woods-set music videos continued this week’s increasingly eerie visuals, courtesy of The Afghan Whigs’ “Lost in the Woods” and Greylag’s “Yours to Shake“. Over in the territory occupied by full streams, there was Smack The Brick, a characteristically insane new EP from fearless art-punkers Guerilla Toss, a gloriously punishing psych-indebted punk stomper from Aj Davila Y Terror Amor called Beibi, and Farewell Foolish Objects a sprawling post-punk masterpiece from The Gary which very nearly took today’s feature spot- and may very well see more coverage here in the near future. For single streams there was a fascinating collaboration between PC Worship and Parquet Courts, a new tune for the deluxe version of one of this year’s best records- Burn Your Fire for No Witness– carrying the tongue-in-cheek title of “May As Well“, and “Kid“- a heart-on-sleeve blue collar punk anthem from Standards. Additionally, there was a typically spiky new demo to surface from another one of the year’s best efforts- Lost Boy ?’s Canned– called “Boring Jr” and Communions’ giddy indie-pop grandeur came to light in the form of “Love Stands Still“.

One of the strongest songs to come to light, though, was one that avoided detection when it first came into being a few months back: Filmstrip‘s “Don’t You Know”. Taking cues from bands that pioneered the merging of noise, post-punk, and early emo (a la Sunny Day Real Estate, Shellac, and The Wrens) and bringing in a fair bit of early 90’s slacker revivalism (along with a few nods to Canadian powerpop), Filmstrip have managed to craft an identity that feels as familiar as it does unique. As aggressive as the song feels, it’s also surprisingly accessible and will play well to the sensibilities of genre specialists across a very wide spread. There’s a real sense of both history and craftsmanship that accompanies “Don’t You Know”, rendering it a compulsively fascinating listen. Well-informed, well-tailored, and brimming with a raucous energy, it’s a very tantalizing first look at the band’s upcoming record- Moments of Matter- which is due out via Exit Stencil Recordings next week. Tightly-knit and aggressively kinetic, “Don’t You Know” cements Filmstrip’s status as a band that’s not worth overlooking.

Listen to “Don’t You Know” below and pre-order Moments of Matter here.

Screaming Females – Wishing Well (Stream)

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Even with recent Monday’s bringing a lot of great new content into the world, today was exceptionally gigantic. Everything that appears in a hyperlink is worth clicking over to experience and choosing what to feature was insanely difficult. Enough with the exposition, though, because there’s a lot to mention- which is why each of these categories will be provided with their own paragraph (starting with this very one). In the world of full streams, NPR’s First Listen series presented Meattbodies’ self-titeld stomper, New Noise Magazine put up a full stream of Heart Attack Man’s excellent Acid Rain EP, Stereogum hosted the first stream of Greylag’s enchanting self-titled debut, and Dark Thoughts posted the blistering (and damn near perfect) ripper of an EP, Four Songs, on their own.

Over in the territory of single song streams, Radical Dads posted the remarkably compelling “Cassette Brain“, Popstrangers continued to excel with a Mack Morrison cover, post-hardcore supergroup Vanishing Life lived up to their promise (and then some) with the vicious “People Running“, The Mantles raised the anticipation for their forthcoming Memory with its jumpy title track, there was the deliriously riffed-out “Mortality Jam” that came courtesy of Hound, another extremely promising look at Night School‘s upcoming EP (following the outstanding “Birthday“), Wilful Boys’ snarling rager “Anybody There“,  the pulverizing new synth’ed out post-everything track “10,000 Summers” from the incredibly unlikely group of people that make up No Devotion, and an absolutely breathtaking song from Infinity Crush called “Heaven” that easily ranks among the most gorgeous pieces of music to be released this year (and very nearly took today’s feature spot).

Jumping to the realms of the more visually-inclined medium, things were just as tantalizing with no less than seven music videos worth watching. Greys crafted a creatively animated and hard-hitting skate-heavy clip for If Anything bruiser “Adderall“, Lushes hit a sweet spot with their repetition in “Traffic“, Obits used minimalism to a sizable effect in the low-key clip for “Machines“, newcomer Pix made a splash with a subtly haunting accompaniment for the stunning “A Way To Say Goodbye“, The Wooden Sky raised their profile with a fascinating short film to back “Saturday Night“, site favorites Radiator Hospital premiered a lovely DIY clip for “Bedtime Stories (Reprise)” over at Rookie, and Martha more than lived up to all of their praise with the unabashedly joyous video for “Present, Tense” (another entry that came dangerously close to being today’s feature).

Even with all of that formidable competition nipping at its heels, Screaming Females‘ “Wishing Well” managed to be a clear-cut standout. Boasting one of the most massive choruses the band’s ever had, some of the lightest verses they’ve ever conjured up, and an overwhelmingly sunny melody, it’s impossible to ignore. “Wishing Well”, by all accounts, is an absolute monster of a track and lays waste to the poppiest territory they’ve ever tread. Guitarist and vocalist Marissa Paternoster keeps herself in check, showing surprising restraint and a vice-like grip on total command. It’s no secret that Screaming Females are one of the best live bands currently playing shows- and it’s not even remotely surprising that “Wishing Well” has become both a fan favorite and an undeniable staple of their live set.

As Paternoster noted in the brief segment that ran with the Rolling Stone premiere of “Wishing Well”, a lot of people will likely view this as a departure for the band- despite the fact their regular dynamics are still in tact. Sure, it’s more melodic than anything they’ve done in the past but it’s also unmistakably Screaming Females, definitively proving the group’s unique identity. In terms of aggression, “Wishing Well” skews closer to Paternoster’s Noun project and acts as an exhilarating bridge between both vehicles, suspended by pure determination and innate talent. “Wishing Well” is easily one of 2014’s most thrilling songs and comes backed with what may very well be the band’s personal best- “Let Me In” (another fan favorite and live staple)- rendering this 7″ nothing short of an event.

Listen to “Wishing Well” below and make sure to pick up the 7″ it headlines directly from the band on one of their upcoming tour dates or pre-order it from iTunes.

together PANGEA – Badillac (Music Video)

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Due to yesterday’s hundred-marker mixtape, a lot of great just-released content got glossed over. Today, the amendments kick in, provided via hyperlink. There were incredible songs from Left & Right, Wishbone, The History of Apple Pie, Whirr, The Shivas, and Spray Paint. On the more visual end of the spectrum there was a hypnotic video from Literature, a lovingly-lensed performance clip from emerging artist Greylag, and a typically goofy clip from site favorites Krill. Over the past two days, though, only one could snag today’s feature spot and that honor goes to together PANGEA’s ridiculously fun, homage-heavy clip for the title track off of their excellent LP from this year, Badillac.

It’s been a while since their last music video (which, incidentally, also secured a feature spot from this site) and the only real avenue to continue featuring the band has been Watch ThisConsidering just how well Badillac has held up as the year’s worn on, it just didn’t seem  right. Luckily, the band’s offered up a very good reason to give them another turn at bat; a note-perfect ode to classic horror films. There’s an attention to detail that helps this transcend the medium’s usual attempts at pastiche. All in all, it’s one of the more pleasant ways to spend a few minutes that’s been put forth this year- and that’s something that’ll always be next to impossible to argue against.

Watch “Badillac” here and make sure to order the record from Harvest here.