Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Emily Kokal

Saintseneca – Bad Ideas (Music Video)

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Saintseneca was one of the very first bands this site latched on to and, subsequently, endorsed at every turn. That streak continued earlier this week with the release of yet another outstanding music video, which highlighted yet another batch of similarly enticing material. In addition to Saintseneca’s latest visual feast, there were also intriguing clips from Little Fevers, Ghosts In Pocket, Paul Bergmann, Cheatahs, Alex G, Everything Everything, Fresh Snow, Eleanor Friedberger, The Bulls, Low, Tall Juan, The Dying Arts, and Majical Cloudz. It was a considerable haul for the format but, while all of those clips are worth watching, it was Saintseneca that made the strongest impression.

Following the slice-of-life aesthetic that the band returned to for “River“, the band indulges their more Refn-like tendencies for the Jon Washington and Zac Little-directed “Bad Ideas”. Wielding surreal imagery, quasi-nightmarish costuming, gorgeous cinematography, and a committed central performance from Little to maximum dramatic effect, “Bad Ideas” is one of the more arresting clips to come along in recent memory.

It’s a presentation that’s loosely connected to the excellent Such Things‘ lofty ambitions, marked by something that approaches being intentionally impenetrable. Beautifully choreographed, crisply edited, and endlessly entertaining, “Bad Ideas” is an instantly memorable clip from a band that’s no stranger to producing unforgettable imagery (there’s a shot of a flare at the 2:38 mark in “Bad Ideas” that ranks as one of the most impressively staged shots I’ve seen all year).

Once again, skateboarding make an inclusion, likely underscoring the band’s continuing narrative centered around motion. There’s not a false note to be found in “Bad Ideas” and the band expertly balances pathos with levity. The end result’s a gripping piece of expressionism from a band that’s operating with an increasing level of fearlessness. Saintseneca’s doing some genuinely fascinating things with their material, we should all just count ourselves as fortunate to be along for the ride.

Watch “Bad Ideas” below and order Such Things from ANTI- here.

Bruising – Emo Friends (Stream)

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Three weeks is a long time to go without covering a specific song in a feature section, something that inevitably means grappling with a whole  lot of content. Occasionally, some of the heavier decision making is made easy through very particular releases. One such type of release occurs when a young band (especially one who’s already been featured on this site) brings new material into the world. After establishing some level of investment through coverage, it’s exciting to see those acts capitalizing on early momentum.

Bruising are one of those bands and “Emo Friends” is their latest musical adventure. The duo of Naomi Baguley  and Ben Lewis continue to complement each other to some sort of perfection. The pull between their twee tendencies and something far more sinister continues to sustain their aesthetic and lend it a surprising amount of propulsive force. Effortlessly light melodies and razor-sharp guitar figures provide the song with a tattered cloth and give “Emo Friends” a palpable sense of place. As the distortion and cleanliness dip in and out, weaving an intricate pattern, the song as a whole barrels forward with little to no regard for easy expectations. It’s another thrilling moment from a band that’s continuing to build something worthy of greeting with genuine excitement.

Listen to “Emo Friends” below and pre-order the single from Beech Coma here. Underneath the embed, explored a handful of other great songs to find release over the past three weeks.

Winstons – Do My Best
Father John Misty – The Memo
Alex G – Kicker
Painted Zeros – Call Back
Yvette – Calm and  Content
Promised Land – Push and Pull (All the Time)
Triathalon – Slip’n
Mount Moriah – Calvander
Coke Weed – New Jive
Boosegumps – Stole Ur Bike
Little Fevers – Apple Tree
Lucern Raze – Happy and Astray
Public Access T.V. – Patti Peru
Babes Are Wolves – Wait
Paul Bergmann (ft. Emily Kokal) – Wishing Song
The Dirty Nil – No Weaknesses
The Radio Dept. – This Repeated Sodomy
The Decemberists – Why Would I Now?
Pony Time – Really Nice Guys
Threading – Candy Girl
Major Murphy – On & Off (National Broadcast TV)
Juliet K – Live With Me
Laura Stevenson – Cocksure
Linear Downfall  – The Question
Courtney and the Crushers – Room 309

Hop Along – Texas Funeral (Stream)

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Over the past year-and-a-half I’m not sure any band at this point has come up in coverage without snagging a headline feature than Hop Along. While they’ve appeared in various Watch This installments and a handful of mixtapes (including the best-of for 2015’s first quarter), they’ve never actually had an individual focus piece. That changes today. First, though, as was earlier relayed, are ten songs to have emerged this April that are absolutely worth hearing. Among them: Grounders’ psych-pop dream “No Ringer“, Saul Williams’ characteristically vicious “Burundi“, Honey Radar’s tantalizingly lo-fi “Per Schooner Agro“, Cyberbully Mom Club’s hazy new demo “Make Time“, and Vomitface’s pummeling post-punk number “Never Make It“. In addition to those five there was Diamond Youth’s powerpop rave-up “In the Clouds“, Wild Yaks’ defiantly triumphant “Paradise“, Estates’ searing “Not Now“, The Holy Circle’s mesmerizing “Basel (About What Was Lost)“, and site favorites Vaadat Charigim‘s typically extraordinary “Hashiamum Shokea“. While all of those deserve a slew of plays, it’s high time to give Hop Along their proper due and “Texas Funeral” provides the perfect opportunity.

After making a memorable impression on the DIY circuit and cultivating a small but extraordinarily passionate following, the band signed to Saddle Creek for the release of their forthcoming record, Painted Shut. The lead-up to the record’s been extremely promising with both songs preceding “Texas Funeral”- “Powerful Man” and “Waitress“- easily ranking among the year’s very best. “Texas Funeral” joins their company with a practiced finesse that even furthers Painted Shut‘s likelihood at being something truly special, even in regards to this year’s already formidable stockpile of musical highs. The band’s last record, 2012’s staggering Get Disowned, showed glimmers of bigger things to come- hinting that the band was capable of producing a classic.

Ever since then, guitarist/vocalist Frances Quinlan and company have been refining their sound and delivering heartfelt sets that have occasionally taken on a monumental feel. It’s a peak that “Texas Funeral” hits again and again, emphasizing both Hop Along’s considerable growth and undeniable talent. Quinlan, in particular, sounds more assured than ever, with her vocals (sometimes sung, frequently nearly-screamed) hitting stratospheric heights. Unpredictable, exhilarating, vibrant, and unapologetically alive “Texas Funeral” makes it sound like Hop Along is in the throes of a victory lap, bringing to mind the feel and aesthetic of another Saddle Creek record on more than a few occasions- Rilo Kiley’s career highlight The Execution Of All Things (one of the best records of last decade). With an exasperated youthfulness on full display and a keen eye for life’s minutiae, Hop Along seem to have tapped into something genuinely thrilling with “Texas Funeral”- and at this point it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to expect that the rest of Painted Shut will follow suit.

Listen to “Texas Funeral” below and make sure to pre-order a copy of Painted Shut from Saddle Creek here.