Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Fat Possum Records

Minor Victories – Cogs (Music Video)

minor victories

Monday and Tuesday have all but come and gone, gifting us great new tracks from Young Jesus, The Regrettes, Purling Hiss, Drive-By Truckers, Sat. Nite Duets, Hoops, Cheena, Cass McCombs, Virgin of the Birds, Morgan Delt, The PoochesMutts, Tall Heights, and Indira Valey. Sweetening the deal were eye-catching music videos courtesy of Cara dal Forno, Boogarins, Numerators, AJJ, Slow Club, and Soto Voce. Rounding everything out was a surprisingly formidable slate of full streams belonging to artists like Stove, Dogbreth, Field Mouse, Good Morning TV, Russian Circles, Restorations, Super Defense, Soul Low, Daniel Kerr, Lungbutter, and Nato Coles & the Blue Diamond Band.

All of the above links contained strong material but none of those titles were as legitimately breathtaking as Minor Victories‘ latest music video, “Cogs”. The band’s been steadily revealing some of the most captivating music videos of 2016 by embracing the virtue of restraint. The best of those — the strangely moving clip for “Folk Arp” — saw them perfecting the art of the static shot, which had defined their prior two clips (“Breaking My Light” and “A Hundred Ropes“).

Following the conclusion of that static shot trilogy, the band’s turned their attention to motion. “Cogs”, which was released Monday, hinges on an exceptionally acute sense of fluidity. Presented once again through a crisp black and white, “Cogs” opens on a slow-panning shot of seemingly empty woods. Before long, a figure enters the frame at full sprint, though the video never wavers in its commitment to slow motion, unfolding at a pace that considerably heightens the tension. It’s an expertly staged trick, allowing the serenity of the setting to take on sinister undertones.

As “Cogs” goes through the motions, the central figure’s pulled tighter to the lens and some disconcerting imagery comes into play. The person assumed to be the protagonist of “Cogs” is a balding man, dressed in a hospital gown, whose movement grows more frantic and erratic with each step. It imbues “Cogs” with a sense of mystery that elevates the tension even further, prompting a series of questions that will go largely unanswered.

One of those question does find an answer at around the halfway mark as “Cogs” expertly stages the man’s exit from frame with the entrance of a figure in a poncho. Its imagery that echoes Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster and winds up benefiting from the association. The similarities serve to expand the scope of the questioning surrounding the contained narrative of “Cogs”, while offering an outcome that similarly manages to become both definitive on a small scale and ambiguous on a much larger one.

Swirling around everything is the bruising maelstrom of “Cogs” itself, a barbed, punishing song that’s one of the band’s most tenacious offerings. Surging forward with a euphoric sense of clarity and purpose, “Cogs” injects its visual accompaniment with so much additional urgency that the clip feels as if its about to come to life. It’s a staggering accomplishment that’s utterly transfixing through every frame, from its unassuming opening to its startling grand finale. In short: it’s a masterpiece.

Watch “Cogs” below and pick up Minor Victories from Fat Possum here.

Minor Victories – Folk Arp (Music Video)

minor victories

After an unbelievably stacked March saw the music video format take off at a sprint, April’s shaping up to be a beast as formidable as its predecessor. Just like the fixed stream posts that will be appearing throughout the rest of tonight, the music video features will all come equipped with shortlists of other titles worthy of attention. In this first round, that included videos from Kidsmoke, Molly, Solids, Journalism, The Bandicoots, The DronesSteady Holiday, Sundrones, Katie Von Schleicher, and Dreamcrusher. While, as stated, those clips were all great in their own right, it was Minor Victories’ most recent music video that made the strongest impression.

Minor Victories have been slowly stringing together an incredibly impressive run of music videos, each one establishing and enhancing a surprisingly artful visual aesthetic. “Folk Arp” returns to the static shot black & white presentation that made “A Hundred Ropes” so striking. However, the similarities between their presentation end at that point. Outdoor samurais are swapped out for a skeleton crew of employees working in a pizzeria. With a shot that uses a boombox as its centering point, “Folk Arp” allows itself to play out quietly, to tremendous effect.

Utilizing the simplest of premises, “Folk Arp” gradually involves into an emotionally involving character study. Accentuated by the slow-burning intensity of the song’s dynamic setup, the secondary action takes on a ridiculously powerful sheen that finds the band, once again, coaxing maximum effect out of a minimalist setup. As the employees go about their daily routine, the shot stays unchanged, proving that there can be motion in stillness. No matter how frequently patterns may seem stagnant, evolution — at least on the most minute level — is occurring. It’s the most mundane of details but “Folk Arp” seems to be arguing for its undeniable importance. A contained, nuanced work, “Folk Arp” deserves to be used as a reference point for years to come.

Watch “Folk Arp” below and pre-order the band’s self-titled ahead of its June 3 release from Fat Possum here.

Heather Woods Broderick – Wyoming (Music Video)

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In the last round of catching up from last week’s loaded slate of new releases, Heather Woods Broderick’s stunning clip for “Wyoming”. It’s the only video in yet another round of great songs. Sunflower Bean released the swirling, psych-damaged “I Hear Voices“,  Nervous Trend unveiled their pummeling post-punk highlight “Shattered” (which came a hair’s breadth away from taking the feature spot), Digital Leather’s winning streak of synth-heavy basement pop hit new highs with “Cold Inside“, and Speedy Ortiz offered up a fascinating look at the minutiae of their songwriting process via an acoustic guitar/vocals demo of “Basketball“. Then, there was “Wyoming”.

Shot in a grainy 16mm black-and-white that favors long landscape shots, “Wyoming” finds an early strength in a mode of cinematography that creates a sense of eerie calm. As Broderick’s song slowly builds to its towering climactic moment, the clip’s palette blooms into a soft color. It’s an unexpected, and effective, moment that matches the song’s penchant for the otherworldly. As the camera follows Woods from climbing waterside ridges to the water itself, the clip deepens a sense of inexplicably serene calmness. Emotive storytelling via the film’s mechanics are favored over a clear narrative (in a manner not entirely dissimilar from Shane Carruth’s incredible Upstream Color). It’s a minimal, evocative piece of filmmaking that boasts imagery that’s hard to shake and elevates an already great song. After the flurry of posts about last week’s material, it also feels like the perfect end-cap to a particularly memorable storm. Don’t let this one drift off into the distance.

Watch “Wyoming” below and order Glider from Western Vinyl here.

Liam Hayes – Fokus (Stream)

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Every once in a while there’s a record, a video, or a song that comes along and shakes things up in the best of ways. Enter: Liam Hayes’ “Fokus”, a song that coasts on the kind of timeless punk-leaning powerpop that Ted Leo built his name on steadily perfecting. Hayes and Leo also share a similar timbre and delivery, along with their penchant for sunny melodicism and driving rhythm sections. Everything feels propulsive and joyous, from the light psych influences to the Byrds-ian jangle. “Fokus”, more than just about any other song to have been released over the past few months, has felt like a sunray forcing its way through the cold to provide some relief. It’s a charging whirlwind of a song that deserves to land on several summertime mixtapes next year- and operates just as effectively as a preview of Slurrup, which deserves to be met with anticipation. Keep the volume up for this one and use it to soundtrack an upcoming road trip, it’s built for travel.

Listen to “Fokus” below and pre-order Slurrup from the reliably great Fat Possum here.

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.

Joanna Gruesome – Jerome (Liar) / Trust Fund – Reading The Wrappers (Music Video)

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After a very strong start to the week, today’s bevvy of notable content kept things moving at an aggressive clip. Nots stepped up and made sure their voice was heard with “Decadence“, a searing lo-fi blast from their upcoming record, We Are Nots. The Dead Ships made a mark with the punchy basement pop of “Canyon“, which brought to mind a more refined PURPLE 7. “Candy Mountain” heralded the official arrival-at-large of Dilly Dally, whose Candy Mountain 7″ just got skyrocketed up to “must-own” status. Run For Cover Records look set to continue on with a stunning run of records, if Young Statues’ soaring “Natives” is any indication. On any other day, Crimson Wave‘s extraordinary Say/Calling You 7″ would have earned today’s feature spot and has a very good chance at gate-crashing more than a few year-end lists. Joanna Gruesome and Trust Fund’s decision to release partnering complementary videos to promote their incredible split 12″ proved too intriguing of a prospect to let slide without providing some well-deserved focus.

Now, before getting to the videos the brilliance of Joanna Gruesome and Trust Fund’s split needs to be mentioned here for about the billionth time. Both bands are natural complements to each other, with each accentuating similar tendencies in dynamics and sound on an equal level. All six tracks are stunners and it’s a record that can be incredibly hard to pull away from once it’s started rotating. London-based artist Rose Robbins was the creative force driving the twin videos to their respective enchanting heights (and an even more stunning effect as a whole). In the Impose premiere of both videos, Robbins explained some of the fascinating process behind the bulk of the artistic decision-making that went into the finished product(s).

Joanna Gruesome’s “Jerome (Liar)” sounds as vital as it did the day it was released and the video taps into the band’s sense of fun with great precision. It’s a firecracker of a song that ignites  their side of the split, operating in a way not entirely dissimilar from Trust Fund’s “Reading The Wrappers”- which also receives Robbins’ endearingly playful visual treatment. Both videos are injected with cartoon animation that feels naturally suited to Joanna Gruesome and Trust Fund’s partnership. That partnership is an underlying thematic device is a very simple, and affecting, touch that works wonders. Balancing a relatively lighthearted tone with weighty issues is never an easy task but Robbins manages to pull it off with aplomb. It’s a relentlessly entertaining experience that’s all but guaranteed to trigger a few genuine smiles- which is an achievement that should never be undervalued. This isn’t just great entertainment, it’s great art.

Watch “Jerome (Liar)” and “Reading The Wrappers” below- and order their split 12″ here.