Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Ian Pollard

LVL UP – Ski Vacation (Stream)

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It’s been an insane past few days. Full streams, videos, and songs worth writing about have been emerging at a breakneck pace and making deciding what to feature a near-herculean task of decisiveness. There was a monumentally important music video from Mean Creek‘s Chris Keene for his upcoming solo record as Dream Generation, an interactive piece of unbridled fun from Ty Segall for the title track off of Manipulator, characteristically cinematic videos from both Beverly and Fucked Up– who have each been doing wonders with the visual medium, a video that practically defines Bob Mould’s workmanlike nature, and a Jane Forsyth & Ian Pollard-helmed video for Parquet Courts’ “Bodies Made Of“- which proved to be an astoundingly sensible creative pairing. There were full streams of the gently gnarled She Keeps Bees full-length, the psych-trip of the White Fence and Jack Name split, and a new Greylag song, “Yours to Shake“, that showed some serious teeth. Picking between all of those seemed as if it might be impossible until, once again, LVL UP made the decision fairly easy.

At this point, noting that LVL UP’s upcoming Hoodwink’d is this site’s front-runner for Album of the Year seems redundant. It’s a 15-song masterpiece that sees the band perfecting their best aspects and surpassing an arsenal of lofty expectations in the process. This is something that this site’s touched on in reviews for the first three songs to be teased from the record: “Soft Power“, “I Feel Ok“, and “DBTS“. Now, the band’s released the fourth look at the now-imminent Hoodwink’d with “Ski Vacation” which shows the band expanding their sonic palette yet again. Boasting a tranquil atmosphere and no shortage of jangly guitar tones, the song integrates some subtle-yet-effective surf tendencies into the band’s outsider pop aesthetic- and the end result is spectacular. What jumps out about all of the songs that the band’s been previewing is that they stand on their own extraordinarily well and would warrant serious consideration for pushes as Hoodwink’d singles- but as a collective piece they’re extraordinary and complement each other better than just about anything that even bothers to casually flirt with genre-hopping tendencies. In that respect, Hoodwink’d might be the first record 2014 produces that would be deserving of a title no smaller than masterpiece. “Ski Vacation” is just the fourth of 15 dimensions.

For some essential reading on Hoodwink’d, please go to Sasha Geffen’s Interview piece– where the track premiered- to scroll through a can’t-miss interview that sheds some light on what went into making the record.

Stream “Ski Vacation” below and pre-order Hoodwink’d from Double Double Whammy (which has played host to several of 2014’s best releases and is in the midst of an absurd winning streak)- who will be co-releasing it with Exploding in Sound (see: last parenthesis)-  here.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Higgs Boson Blues (Music Video)

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have widely been regarded as one of the best live bands on the planet since the 1980’s. Live documents like the legendary Abattoir Blues Tour and Live Seeds have featured material startling enough to support this notion. Recently the band released Live From KCRW, which leaned heavily on the material from their most recent record; this year’s superb Push the Sky Away.

They aren’t anywhere close to finished with live releases though, as is proved by the music video they unveiled today for Push the Sky Away standout “Higgs Boson Blues”. Ian Forsyth & Jane Pollard are found at the helm of this video once again, having worked on a variety of projects before for the band. Forsyth and Pollard are also largely responsible for the upcoming film 20,000 Days on Earth, which recently was officially selected for screening at next year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is a pseudo-documentary about the band.

Some collaborations yield fruitful results and he Pollard, Forsyth, Bad Seeds triumvirate is certainly one of them. The live performance clip of “Higgs Boson Blues” is definitive proof. Featuring a searingly intense yet eerily quiet live performance from the band, the co-directors weave in and out of close-ups, shadows, and the nervous frenetic movement of the band’s central character. All of their directorial impact would be somewhat diminished if not for the outstanding cinematography work courtesy of the BBC’s Lol Crawley.

“Higgs Boson Blues” doesn’t take long to settle in, extending its incisors to lock the viewer into its deadly vice-like grip. This is a live performance that has the potential for complete captivation, erasing any thoughts of a daunting run-time of over nine minutes. There’s a slow hypnosis at work that can completely surround the viewer, forcing them to lose all perspective of their surroundings. While the impact isn’t quite as strong as being physically present for the performance, it’s about as close as anyone could wish for.

After a slow build, an entrancing unraveling, a small-yet-explosive climax, the song winds to a hushed, hair-raising outro. This is evidence of masters at work and it’s something completely deserving of its length. Go get lost in Cave & co.’s black magic below.