Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: documentary stream

All Dogs – Skin (Stream)

All Dogs V

Depending on the releases, some days are made easy and- while the reprieve is welcome- it can be disheartening. Then there are days like today, which offer a frustration spurred by more than a few releases being too good to settle on a definitive feature. For a large portion of the planning that went into this post, the intended feature was going to go to Ought’s most recent blistering, insistent masterwork, “Men For Miles“.  Even in those stages, the song had competition in the likes of Nabil’s jaw-dropping GoPro interactive design that acted as the moody clip for Foals’ fiery “Mountain At My Gates“.

It wasn’t as if that trio was without competition, either. Deer Tick’s gorgeous “Grandfather Song“, Faux Ferocious’ scuzzy “Nowhere To Go“, Team Spirit’s pulsating “Takin’ My Time (Never Enough)“, Doubting Thomas Cruise Control’s frenetic “Lenny Bruce“, Birthmark’s slow-building “Find Yourself” would have constituted an impressive field on their own accord. Elevating the difficulty was the fact two outstanding unique features surfaced in the form of an engrossing Tickle Torture documentary and a full recording of a recent set from Colin Bares (the songwriter behind The Weasel, Marten Fisher project), whose responsible for some of the year’s finest songs.

Even the full streams had a great day, with excellent offerings from bratty scuzz-punks Fox Face, the lo-fi neurotics in Ego, the punk-indebted basement poppers in Vamos, and the increasingly fascinating (and darkly tinted) world of Black Thumb. Rounding the day out were compelling music videos from Wild Ones, Oddisee, and Living Decent. Even with all of that taken into consideration, though, the day still ultimately belonged to All Dogs.

Having just released a surefire song of the year candidate in “That Kind of Girl“, the band was presented with the unenviable  task of selecting the follow-up track for their forthcoming record’s rollout campaign. A lot of different modes can be considered (and ultimately, selected) for this slot and “Skin” seems to fall into one of the trickier categories to pull off: the song that demonstrates the record’s range and scope. In the past, those songs have tended to fall more towards the acute version of sophomore slump than anything else but “Skin” hurdles those traps with no shortage of grace to all but ensure Kicking Every Day will be among 2015’s best releases.

All Dogs have never been shy about finding something beautiful in damage, something that’s been continuously driven home by the frequently devastating lyrics of Maryn Jones (who’s also a member of site favorites Saintseneca and Yowler, the latter being Jones’ solo outfit). “Skin”, over the course of it’s slow-building five minutes and change, finds Jones grappling with some of the prevailing themes throughout her discography: loneliness, self-doubt, resilience, self-sabotage, and quiet redemption. All of which continue to feel deeply personal, nearing a point of voyeurism that only grows more nerve-wracking as the song progresses.

Elevating the feeling of tension is the scintillating dynamic angle that All Dogs uncovered when transitioning their writing process to a full-band ordeal following the addition of guitarist Nick Harris. Every conceivable element that made the band so great to begin with gets amplified by this approach and the dividends are already paying off in startling fashion. The interplay between Jones’ and Harris’ guitar work is increasingly nuanced and the rhythm work’s even more emotive than it’s been in the past, contributing to some newfound atmospherics that complement the band to perfection.

Looking at the sheer magnitude of “Skin” in comparison to anything found on the band’s debut 7″ (which was reviewed in the sixth post to ever run on Heartbreaking Bravery) is revelatory. At the level the band’s currently operating, they’ve unlocked a seemingly boundless arsenal of styles to achieve increasingly varied effects. From the subtle, interlocking post-punk guitar work to the bruised euphoria of the chorus, “Skin” is a jaw-dropping indication of the band’s ever-expanding capabilities. Throw in an earnest, beating heart at the core and All Dogs’ future suddenly looks intimidatingly bright.

All that’s left at this point is to find out whether the band can top perfection.

Listen to “Skin” below and pre-order Kicking Every Day from Salinas here.

Girlpool: Things Are OK (Documentary Review, Stream)

gp

Over the course of the past few months, there have been hints towards this site expanding its coverage in new directions. One of those will be an emphasis on film and film coverage, much of which may branch away from things with a decidedly musical pull- but it’d just feel wrong to not use one of those films as a starting point. Since 2015’s started there h, ave been three outstanding music documentaries, the short-form Pops Staples “Don’t Lose This”, the monumentally affirming Richard Gin-directed long-player The Epoch Is __., and the Cory McConnell-helmed piece of magic that gets tonight’s feature: Girlpool: Things Are OK. All three are deserving of as much attention and affection as anyone can generate but what sets Things Are OK apart from the rest of its early-year companions is its sense of craft.

As central figures go, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad are inherently compelling central figures. When they’re on screen (which is for the majority of the film), they’re as brashly honest as their music suggests, never shying away from self-examination or pointed commentary. McConnell likely had a lot of great material to work with and the fact that Things Are OK wound up coming across as so complete in just over 25 minutes is a fairly astonishing indicator of the director’s raw talent and deft touch (especially in terms of composition). Utilizing small ambient movements for maximum effect, like creating a sense of urgency with the travel shots to establish the momentum of both the film and its compassionately-portrayed subjects, McConnell manages to turn this into a subtle filmmaking showcase without ever impeding the film’s central aim: to provide a definitive portrait of an incredibly important band in the early stages of their career.

While the majority of the film is composed of the band’s genuinely stunning live performance, when it allows itself to switch gears to provide those performances a narrative by presenting an exacting portrayal of Tucker and Lebel-Tividad’s psyches, it takes on an unexpectedly emotional pull. Girlpool, at their very best, cut to the hearts of their listeners with exacting precision, conjuring up some fierce emotions (in a manner not too dissimilar from Big Star at their most devastatingly vulnerable). It’s one of the core reasons why this site continues to loft praise at the band and it’s something that Things Are OK manages to make a focal point without ever overselling that particular aspect of the band. It’s also worth noting that Things Are OK chooses its vantage points carefully, allowing a cautiously brave elevation of Girlpool through cleverly-constructed cinematography (which is consistently gorgeous throughout the film’s duration), until they finally appear larger-than-life in their last performance, offering nothing but grace notes until the film’s quiet conclusion. It’s a fitting tribute to the duo, who continue to impress, deeply, as their career progressively blooms into something that’s already threatening to be unforgettable.

Watch Girlpool: Things Are OK below and buy their powerful self-titled EP from Wichita Recordings here.