Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Goner

Girlpool – Before the World Was Big (Music Video)

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Allyssa Yohana’s tenderly constructed and affecting clip for the title track off of Girlpool’s upcoming Before The World Was Big was one of the most intrinsically human pieces of art unveiled over the last few days. In an age that so readily celebrates bombast, grandeur, and general post-production gloss to achieve greater accessibility, when something that feels as deeply personal as “Before The World Was Big Arrives” arrives it becomes even more arresting than it would have been stripped of industry context. That’s not to say there weren’t other pieces of multimedia that made an impression over the past few days. As always, there was a steady influx of material worth hearing, both in the single and full stream categories.

Representing the single streams were Heyrocco’s spiky basement pop rave-up “Loser Denial“, Looming’s compellingly dark “Onwards“,  Nots’ manic “Virgin Mary“, Mutoid Man’s oddly punishing “Reptilian Soul“, Future Death’s frenetic “Familial Tremors“, Sitcom’s intuitively layered “Ginger Ale“, The Velvet Teen’s triumphant return in “The Giving In”, and an absolute monster of a collaboration between Ghostface Killah, Adrian Younge, Raekwon, and RZA entitled “Return Of The Savage“. While the full streams didn’t quite match the sheer volume of that collection of songs, they matched their strength. Dustin Lovelis’ sprawling punk-leaning psych-pop Dimensions revealed all the makings of an unexpected contemporary classic, Nocturnal Sunshine’s brooding, glitchy self-titled, and Town Portal’s restless The Occident. For music videos, there was Girlpool’s “Before The World Was Big” and that was more than enough.

Girlpool have earned their fare share of written content on here over the years and a lot of the reasoning for that can be clearly evidenced in “Before The World Was Big”. Both in the song, which is an exquisitely rendered burst of well-placed nostalgia, and the video, which eschews any unnecessary distractions to present something heartfelt and honest. While the home-movie VHS aesthetic has been to death in music videos at this point, it can still maximize emotional impact when paired with the right content. Here, the visuals act in perfect tandem to their soundtrack, emphasizing both the yearning and uncertainty present in the lyrics while simultaneously relaying the duo’s joy of simply being together to share in their experiences. It’s a deceptively complex structure that winds up with an unshakable resonance thanks to the abundance of care and genuine feeling. It’s a short, sublime piece of work that feels perfectly representative of the band and their ideologies while retaining an atmosphere that suggests Before The World Was Big is going to be something truly special.

Watch “Before The World Was Big” and pre-order the album of the same name from Wichita here.

Watch This: Vol. 68

It only took about four months to elapse and required some serious legwork but Watch This will be resuming its regular format now and it’s regular pace on Sunday. Below are five live clips from last week that stood out. From old standbys to exciting new bands, each and every one of these takes is worth seeing. All five represent the absolute pinnacle of what can be accomplished with instruments, microphones, a camera, and some tasteful editing. So, enough with the lead-in, it’s time to sit back, turn the volume up, pour a drink, dim the lights, and Watch This.

1. Cymbals Eat Guitar (KEXP)

LOSE was easily one of last year’s best records and Cymbals Eat Guitars’ finest moment to date. Tackling sensitive topics with enough verve and vulnerability to make most acoustic singer/songwriters blush, the band created something that landed with enough force that it’s repercussions are still reverberating nearly halfway into this year. In the live setting, the band sinks its teeth into those songs with enough bleary-eyed fervor that it occasionally elevates their impact. KEXP recently turned their lenses on the band as they glided through a scorching set that fully demonstrated LOSE‘s formidable magnitude.

2. Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – Sweet Disorder (Jam in the Van)

Back in October, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires played their hearts out to less than twenty people in a small Milwaukee bar. It was one of the most impassioned sets that I’ve seen in the past few years and the band delivers that trademark intensity to Jam in the Van for what’s currently that series’ best session of 2015. All manic energy, grit, and relentless determination, the band turns in an absolute monster live take of “Sweet Disorder” that could convert more than a few people on its own.

3. Nots – Reactor (BreakThruRadio)

Nots’ self-titled full-length for Goner Records last year was one of the strongest moments of 2014 for the legendary punk label. Ever since that release, the band’s been touring at a reckless pace and honing their live show- something that’s easily evidenced in yet another outstanding BTR live clip. “Reactor” is one of the band’s best songs and the band injects it with a self-possessed fury that accelerates the song into a whirlwind of near-chaos that suits Nots’ aesthetic to perfection.

4. A Place To Bury Strangers – We’ve Come So Far (KEXP)

I’m not sure KEXP has a hosted an individual performance that’s as singularly vicious as A Place To Bury Strangers’ recent run-through of “We’ve Come So Far”, which goes so far beyond the memorable stage antics that helps transform this into one of the station’s most visually stunning offerings in some time. Light projections, noise solos, and a flood light that’s wielded as both a slide and as a weapon go a long way in making this version of “We’ve Come So Far” stick but what really gives the performance its teeth is the way every band member seems to forget their surroundings and just lay into their respectable roles in a way that indicates this is less of a performance and more of a deranged, otherworldly ritual.

5. The Districts (Out of Town Films) 

While The Districts recorded output hasn’t quite gripped me like I’ve expected, in a live setting the band’s an entirely different beast. Here, lovingly filmed by the excellent Out of Town Films, they deliver a scorcher of set that more than backs up the band’s considerable buzz. Stunning cinematography and a killer set of songs take this to the realms of a near-classic document of an exciting young band. Only growing stronger as they go, The Districts (and Out of Town Films) turn in a vital reminder of their sizable strengths. Don’t let this one slide by quietly.

Girlpool – Blah Blah Blah (Music Video)

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Another traditionally stacked Monday is just about in the books and it had a pool of treasures to offer. Single streams wound up being surprisingly scant but still had two small triumphs in the form of Cave People’s surprisingly gentle “Cluster” and Slaves’ weirdly menacing “The Hunter“. Full streams fared slightly better and included JOYA‘s delightful sophomore effort 2nd, Native America’s wild-eyed Grown Up Wrong, Warm Soda bandleader Matthew Melton’s similarly-minded (and similarly excellent) Outside of Paradise, and Two Inch Astronaut‘s extraordinary Album of the Year contender Foulbrood.

Music videos wound up being the most stacked category and that was thanks to the varying strengths of their collective efforts. Nots crafted a visually striking clip for We Are Nots highlight “Decadence“, The Cush committed to steady transitions for “Summer’s Gone“, and Sonny & the Sunsets went with a constantly-evolving deceptively crude comic look in “Cheap Extensions“. Guerilla Toss continued to be willfully chaotic with their video for “367 Equalizer“, The Bandicoots dreamt up an absurdly charming and well-executed concept for “Just After Dark“, Nothing staged a robbery-turned-kidnapping-turned-torture sequence for “Chloroform” (which was a highlight from their recent split with Whirr), and The Vaselines combined French new wave, film noir, and silent film hallmarks in their impossibly light and deeply engaging clip for “Crazy Lady“. Site favorites Girlpool wind up earning today’s feature with their second great video of the year- one that sees them teaming up with The Punk Singer director Sini Anderson.

Girlpool have been having themselves one hell of a year. From stunning seemingly every critic at CMJ, to high-profile publications giving them coveted distinctions, to critical acclaim, they’ve set themselves up in an enviable position- one that will likely entail an uncomfortable amount of scrutiny. That they’re rapidly exceeding with as much poise and grace as they are is astounding; they’re incredibly young and their career together’s only just beginning. All of this bodes well for their future. An exponentially growing faction of people have chosen this band to rally behind because they embody so many things all at once; the unfairly marginalized, a decidedly DIY ethos,  an unerring sense of conviction, and commendable bravery in their relentless pursuit of choosing to do the thing they clearly love.

A nightmare for ageists and a dream for those looking to celebrate and encourage the talent of youth, the duo’s already released one of the best videos of the year via their devastating “Plants and Worms” clip.  This time around the formidable team of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad eschewed the arresting animation styles of Catleya Sherbow and went the live action route with Sini Anderson. “Blah Blah Blah” starts out on a shot in front of LA’s famed The Smell (the venue where the duo met) and is split into thirds through a clever natural framing device, with Tucker and Tividad pushed off to the far sides. It’s an arresting image that immediately establishes the duo’s stylistic aesthetic, ensuring the viewers rapt attention to their movements. Before long, they’re inside and striding their way through a crowd of friends and admirers who eventually surround them as they play through the scathing, pointed “Blah Blah Blah”. It’s all beautifully lensed and impeccably edited, climaxing with a strobe-lit confetti-strewn hanging-telephone singalong to drive home an emphasis on the band’s communal aspects.

Ending with a rapid pullback that suggests the party kept going after the cameras stopped rolling, “Blah Blah Blah” becomes a cinematic testament to personal resolve and an unforgettable reminder of Girlpool’s strength. We’re lucky to have this band and should facilitate their rising profile at any given chance, if only because they’re exactly the kind of band that deserves to serve as inspiration for aspiring musicians or people who need something to believe in. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste; make sure Girlpool gets the kind of platform they deserve.

Watch “Blah Blah Blah” below and pre-order Girlpool from Wichita Recordings here.

Chandos – ..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top’ (Stream)

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With the entirety of yesterday’s post dedicated to Mitski’s miracle of a record, Bury Me At Makeout Creek, there’s quite a bit to catch up on today. There were a bevvy of single streams that included Le Rug’s blown-out rager “Dudley“, Ghastly Menace’s vibrant pop confection “Closing“, and The Dodos’ triumphant return single “Competition“. There was also a sprawling, punchy piece of anthemic open-road folk in the form of Small Houses’ outstanding “Staggers and Rise” as well as another look at YAWN bandleader Adam Gil’s solo project, Dam Gila, via “Home Again“. Rounding things out for the single stream category was a demo from The Guests (a new band featuring members of Sheer Mag), a typically bold Liars b-side, and a Girlpool cover of one of the most achingly romantic songs ever recorded.

In the realms of the music video there was an equally plentiful pool of treasures that included Diarrhea Planet’s oddly compelling fantasia in “Kids“, Metronomy’s stunning woodland-set magic surrealism in “The Upsetter“, and Spider Bags’ subtly nightmarish visual effects collage “Eyes of Death“. Additionally, there was Dream Generation’s stark “The Spirit of America“, She Keeps Bees’ gorgeous “Owl“, Owen Pallett’s inexplicably powerful “In Conflict“, and Corners’ masterfully executed “The Spaceship“. As if that wasn’t enough, the full streams that appeared over the past few days matched the rough output of both the single song and music video output with some truly outstanding efforts coming to light- like Caddywhompus‘ strong bid for Album of the Year contention with Feathering A Nest. The Paperhead emerged with their latest throwback-heavy gem, Africa Avenue, while Parkay Quarts built on their renewed buzz with the wiry Content Nausea. Open Wide released a demo of quietly stunning folk-leaning ballads, Ex Cops threw a darkly-tinted dance party with Daggers, The Jazz June resurfaced with some shockingly strong material in After the Earthquake, and Nots left burn marks with the scalding punk tantrums of We Are Nots.

All of those items are worth sitting down and spending time with but it was recent Carpark Records acquisition Chandos’ “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” that gets today’s feature spot. It’s a vicious piece of sharp, 90’s-indebted punk, equal parts Acid Fast, PS I Love You, and Speedy Ortiz, “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” flies along, never bothering to do anything but build momentum through its myriad twists and sharp left turns. Tempos shift, personality gets exuded, and Chandos (formerly Chandeliers) wind up with something that sounds as raw as it does inspired. On Carpark’s ridiculously impressive roster, Chandos falls somewhere between Cloud Nothings and Popstrangers, which is really just shorthand for saying that Chandos’ upcoming record- Rats In Your Bed– is well worth an extremely high level of anticipation. If “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” is any indication, Chandos is in the midst of a creative peak that will likely yield the band’s strongest material to date. If everything clicks as well as it does in this song, Rats In Your Bed could very well be the first great release of 2015 when it’s released on January 27. Mark the calendar now.

Listen to “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” below and pre-order Rats In Your Bed from Carpark here.

Nobunny – Nightmare Night (Short Film)

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Even by the ridiculous standards of the past few weeks, today was absolutely loaded with worthwhile content. Antarctigo Vespucci streamed their second outstandning EP of the year- I’m So Tethered- over at The AV Club and Field Division unveiled their mesmerizing Reverie State EP, rounding out today’s full streams. The full songs department was a bit more plentiful, with new offerings ranging from the most recent look at Big Ups‘ side of their split with Washer (via the ravaged and ravaging “Not Today“) to the gentle acoustic pull of Soft Fangs’ “Dog Park“. Continuing things in the quieter realms were the lightly damaged pscyh-folk of Ready Astronaut’s “Lost In Space” and the quietly lilting sounds of Elephant Micah’s “By the Canal“. Fleshing out the DIY punk side of things was another sideways glance at Nots’ hotly-tipped We Are Nots, courtesy of “Reactor“, and an exhilarating career-best from Crying called “War of Attrition“. Really, though, today absolutely belonged to music videos. Nearly every single one of these would seem like an obvious feature choice on literally any other day but as it stands, today will be going to the most thematically appropriate.

Before jumping into Nobunny‘s most recent hellscape, it’s worth touching on everything else that made up today’s embarrassment of riches in the visual medium field. Cool Runnings skated their way through a desert oblivion in “Blister“, Foul Tip indulged a lo-fi lunacy in “Madness“, and Platinum Boys exuded a rock n’ roll ethos in “Candy“. Sweet Apple teamed up with Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard to soundtrack a memorable Halloween outing in “Reunion“, former Speedy Ortiz guitarist Matt Robidux’s new project- Curse Purse- embraced the heavily discordant in “Message CP“, and Willis Earl Beal drifted off into darkly ambient territories with “I AM.” The Growlers used a bevvy of classically filmic composition tricks in the black-and-white clip for “Good Advice“, Team Spirit dealt with an insane producer in their absurdly entertaining clip for “Satisfaction“, and MONO released an absolute gift of a video in the gorgeous, jaw-dropping, Mitsuyo Miyazaki-directed clip for “Where We Begin“, which may very well be one of that medium’s most compelling pieces this year. Even with the strength of that MONO video, it just felt too appropriate to give today’s spot to the deranged gore of Nobunny’s short film, Nightmare Night– just in time for the holiday.

First thing’s first: this is a severely NSFW clip (although that should just automatically be assumed with anything related to Nobunny), so be sure to avoid that mistake. Blood, gore, B-movie tropes, and a DIY resonance abound in Nightmare Night, a spirited homage to the maniacal tendencies that come attached to the Halloween season. From its introductory sequence that introduces a burnt out cast of misfits to the unbridled bloodshed, Nobunny’s aims are even less restrained than usual. If there’s a mandatory genre beat to be hit, it’s not just touched on- it’s downright obliterated. Taking the bloodlust to sadistic levels that’d make even Tarantino blush, everyone’s favorite masked rodent stars as the centerpiece of this nightmarish fever dream. Picking off the would-be partiers one by one until the final climactic battle, Nobunny runs through a cast of fellow musicians while “Lizard Liars” from last year’s excellent Secret Songs: Reflections From The Ear Mirror propels everything towards its conclusion. Blackly comedic, entirely unrestrained, and ridiculously bombastic, Nightmare Night is the perfect way to kick off a weekend of veiled debauchery.

Watch Nightmare Night below and order Secret Songs: Reflections From The Ear Mirror 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.