Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Mozes and the Firstborn

18 of ’18: The Best Music Videos of the Year

Just under a full week into 2019 doesn’t seem like much but it affords time to go over what all of 2018 has to offer, right up until midnight on December 31. It’s a method that also provides room for close examination of the year’s finest releases in each major category (songs, music videos, and albums). While it’s literally impossible for any one person to hear or see every single release in those formats, a focus should be given to the best of what’s been experienced. Thousands of music videos made their way through the Heartbreaking Bravery channels, these 18 selections found ways to stand out from the pack.

Anna Burch – With You Every Day

Ever since the music videos for Anna Burch‘s gorgeous Quit The Curse started rolling in, there was a unified visual aesthetic. It’s a point that was strengthened with the release of “With You Every Day”, which finds Burch eschewing some of the sunnier palette tones to lean further into a ’90s art world sensibility. More than that, “With You Every Day” wisely refocuses from underlining Burch’s carefree tendencies to zero in on the sheer joy that’s evident in the emergent songwriter’s live performances. Tied together, those elements make for a mesmeric video that comes off as unabashedly honest, leading to another quiet triumph for Burch.

Car Seat Headrest – Nervous Young Inhumans 

It’s next to impossible to talk about Car Seat Headrest‘s “Nervous Young Inhumans” without mentioning that the song’s chorus is a fucking monster. A reworked full band version of one of Will Toledo’s most celebrated solo releases, the video was used — and used extremely effectively — to tease the total overhaul of Twin Fantasy. Visually striking and teeming with meaning, the side-by-side widescreen clip lays out everything you’d expect from one of the decade’s more discussed breakout acts: tongue-in-cheek humor, wry witticisms, a clear level of self-awareness, and enough artistry to dispel any notions of being effete.  While some might find the act cloying, the self-directed “Nervous Young Inhumans” video goes all in on just about every one of the band’s aspects and winds up as one of the band’s most definitive individual release to date.

Phoebe Bridgers – Scott Street

Phoebe BridgersStranger In the Alps proved to have quite a bit of staying power through 2018, with the record spawning a few widely-circulated music videos well afters its initial release. Far and away the most moving of that selection was the restrained, lovely clip for “Scott Street”. The premise of the clip’s simple enough: several people dress up as Phoebe Bridgers and enjoy a day out together, riding mechanical bulls, taking to a trampoline park, and taking a bus to some unknown destination. All of it’s lensed tenderly, letting a palpable sense of affection become the clip’s defining element. When Bridgers herself finally makes an appearance in the clip’s final stretch, there’s a surreal emotive heft to the gesture that propels “Scott Street” from being great to being unforgettable.

Sean Henry – The Ants

The Ants” stood out on Sean Henry‘s latest release, Fink, and was rightfully tapped for a music video. The visual treatment the song’s given plays into the song’s enigmatic nature, positioning Henry front and center, following the songwriter’s trip through NYC in costume store vampire teeth. Nervous tension and general mischievousness collide in an unexpected way, rendering the core narrative of “The Ants” oddly gripping. Aided by some stunning cinematography, “The Ants” becomes a fascinating journey on multiple levels that pull the viewer deeper into a world that’s more concerned with presenting questions than providing answers outright.

Casper Skulls – Colour of the Outside

From a beguiling, extended introductory sequence, “Colour of the Outside” takes great pains in comprehensively immersing its viewers into the world it places Casper Skulls. Softly lit and bathed in ghostly blue hues, the first half of “Colour of the Outside” provides a tug-and-pull between competing sense: familiar comfort and an unsettling tension that grows in small increments. Eventually, that dichotomy detonates as a huge portion of the set falls away and the band’s revealed to be playing in a basement. The light increases, objects get smashed, and the spell manages to find a route to amplification, lingering as the song dissipates amidst a haze of feedback. A deceptively clever clip, “Colour of the Outside” also manages to be strangely powerful.

Haley Heynderickx – No Face

Haley Heynderickx’s “No Face” is one of a handful of clips on this list that took a simple premise and executed it with panache by Evan James Atwood, leading to surprisingly memorable results. A stop-motion video that puts Heynderickx in full silhouette, “No Face” uses static framing to perfection. Consisting of no more than Heynderickx miming along to the song and another pair of hands for some additional meaning, “No Face” is a testament to what anyone can achieve with a shoestring budget. A million frames can make up an incredible picture, even when the images barely differ. An inspired — and inspiring — work from a deserving breakout artist.

Swearin’ – Grow Into A Ghost

One of the most heartening things about a year that didn’t always have a lot of those on hand was the return of basement pop legends Swearin’. Select orders of their first record after reuniting came with a version of 3D glasses that’d been relegated to a curious footnotes in the annals of film history. A fun gimmick on the surface was provided some extra weight with a pair of videos with “Grow Into A Ghost” becoming a genuine standout. Embracing a ’50s aesthetic and the stoic sensibilities of the era, Swearin’ have all sorts of fun with the animation integrated into a modernized strain of an updated technology. “Grow Into A Ghost” was the perfect reminder of what we’ve been missing.

Lucero – Long Way Back Home

Jeff Nichols is one of the most talented filmmakers working today. His collaborations with Michael Shannon have yielded countless accolades and an overwhelming amount of acclaim. Nichols’ brother, Ben, also happens to front Lucero, who have provided a few songs to those films. The brothers Nichols and Shannon team up once again for this short film set to Lucero’s “Long Way Back Home”, teeming with the quietly desperate rural lyricism that’s flickered away in the core of the trio’s work for years. A few more notable actors make appearances in a narrative that keeps the viewer in a vice-like grip up until the ambiguous final moments. While there’s no clear resolution, “Long Way Back Home” is a ride worth taking.

Mitski – Geyser

While the Christopher Good-directed clip for “Nobody” makes appearance after appearance — and deservedly so — on The Best Music Videos of 2018 lists, it’s also worth taking a look at the clip that preceded that one, “Geyser”. A gorgeous tracking shot on a desolate beach follows Mitski as the songwriter mimes the words to “Geyser” before abandoning that conceit entirely, fleeing the camera and collapsing onto the shore, writhing around in a place between catharsis and desperation, pointing to the sheer nakedness of the work on Be The Cowboy. A huge moment for both Mitski and filmmaker Zia Anger.

Iceage – The Day The Music Dies

Iceage and Graeme Flegenheimer teamed up for “The Day The Music Dies” video, which finds the post-punk act tapping into a strain of Southern Gothic visuals once again, producing a series of visuals that immediately register as formally classic, bringing to mind cinematographer Robert Elswit’s work on There Will Be Blood. “The Day The Music Dies” is flooded with iconic imagery but for all its formality, there’s a very evident sense of playfulness coursing through the clip. Tongue-subtly-in-cheek — check out those borderline nonsensical breaks for the car commercial shots — and fiery as hell, the clip’s a very strong example of how abandoning reservations can significantly elevate the material.

Noname – Blaxploitation

A cutting, socially conscious work from Noname, “Blaxploitation” leans hard into metaphor and film history. Taking its cues from the monster film genre, “Blaxploitation” depicts a young black child navigating a model set. Framed as a towering monster, the subject explores the small neighborhood, clearly innocent despite striking an imposing figure, relative to the setting. Tragic for all of the typical, endlessly frustrating reasons, Alex Lill’s video for “Blaxploitation” is every bit as thoughtful as the record on which it resides. Hypnotic and incredibly pointed, “Blaxploitation” is very clearly not just among the finest music videos but the visual format as a whole.

Lonely Parade – Night Cruise

Night Cruise” was the first of Lonely Parade‘s releases to get a huge push and that attention couldn’t have come at a better time. Released in advance of one of the year’s best records, the clip ably demonstrated the band’s identity. Soft strobes of neon hues, softer saturation levels, and some clever one shots cut to the core of the band’s confrontational sensibilities. “Night Cruise” showed that Lonely Parade know exactly who they were and exactly what they were about while still managing to be visually hypnotic. Easily one of the year’s best hangout clips, “Night Cruise” marked the arrival of a band whose career promises to be worth following.

La Dispute – Rose Quartz / Fulton Street I

La Dispute made a return in the year’s final month, unveiling the startlingly intense animated clip for “Rose Quartz / Fulton Street I“. A fever dream narrative plays out in the clip, which centers around a car colliding with a deer on the road. Psychedelic imagery swirls around this event, which plays out more than once, lending additional meaning to the event. There’s an impact, things are altered, objects are wrecked, but there’s a beauty that undercuts the despair, reminding the viewer of life’s fragility as much as its inherent tenderness. “Rose Quartz / Fulton Street I” is an astonishing work that may just be the band’s finest release to date.

Mozes and The Firstborn – Hello

For all the serious subject matter that tends to dominate these types of lists, there are moments of lightness to be found and celebrated. For instance: Mozes and the Firstborn‘s humorous, lighthearted clip for “Hello“. It’s an exceptionally simple premise that’s executed to perfection and imbued with genuine joy. One tracking shot keeps guitarist/vocalist Melle Dielesen front and center, surrounded by a marathon that was taking place in real time. Layers of clothing are shed, several with song-specific message scrawled or printed on them, a cigarette gets smoked, and the song is mimed while runners react to Dielesen’s tongue-in-cheek antics. Easily 2018’s most outright fun video.

Dusk – Leaf

Finn Bjornerud has long been Tenement’s go-to music video director and continues to work with the members’ other projects. As good as some of the Tenement clips have been, Bjornerud hits a career high by some margin with the breathtaking video for Dusk‘s “Leaf“, which remains one of the best songs of the present decade. The song itself lends an additional potency to Bjornerud’s signature camera movements but also forces the camera to stay relatively still, fixating on the mundane details of winter life in the upper Midwest: the boots in the snow, clothing layers being shed, a flock of geese taking off from a snow-capped field. Tethering in a quiet, loving relationship between two people finding ways to celebrate their continued survival gives “Leaf” another empathetic layer that’s strong enough to ensure its rightful place on this list.

Fog Lake – Push

Some of 2018’s most brilliant editing work in a music video came courtesy of Noah Kentis’ twisting, multilayered visual for Fog Lake‘s “Push“. The first of a series of intentionally blurred smash cuts hits at just after the minute mark and every time is startling and powerful enough in its execution to warrant chills. No matter how many times its replayed or used, there’s a singular perfection to the framing and implementation that’s enough to knock a viewer out. As the Charlie Kaufman-esque narrative of “Push” unfurls, there’s a deepening sense of mystery inextricably tied to the ambiguity that characterizes the clip’s final moments. A masterclass in composition and editing, “Push” also stands tall as one of the most mesmerizing videos to have come out over the past handful of years.

IDLES – Danny Nedelko

For some reason or another, white supremacists started using the okay sign as a “covert” way of communicating their reprehensible ideology. Since they’re terrible at everything, the general public discovered what they were doing right around the time it started happening. Enter: IDLES, the band who made 2017’s best music video and missed that title this year by a hair. “Danny Nedelko” a standout track from Joy As An Act of Resistance was a song explicitly about their friend, an immigrant. The black-and-white video follows Nedelko through a series of vignettes, meeting up with other immigrants while dancing, laughing, and flashing the okay symbol with a sheepish grin. It’s a pointed missive of reclamation that’s framed with a welcome level of affection for its subjects. Joy As An Act of Resistance indeed.

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Hop Along – How Simple

Every publication told its readers the same thing at the end of 2018, which was destined to be a certainty from the moment of its release: the music video that defined the year was Hiro Murai’s astonishing clip for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America“. While that video more than deserves all of the praise its received, the aim of this site is to shed some more light on what’s flickering away in the shadows, which brings us to Hop Along‘s incredible video for 2018 highlight “How Simple.”

The first image of Derrick Belcham’s video for “How Simple” is a spotlight, centered on an unopened door. As a visual cue, it’s deceptively striking and open to many valid interpretations but it’s an image that only lingers for a few second as guitarist/vocalist Frances Quinlan seizes that spotlight and turns in a tour de force performance as the clip’s central subject. Exuding classic Hollywood charisma, bringing to mind the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, and Jean Simmons.

Quinlan’s an inherently magnetic presence on stage (and in studio) so it’s not a surprise the wildly gifted songwriter dominates nearly every frame of the “How Simple video, which is perhaps a calculated outcome for a narrative so heavily centered on personal identity. There’s an incredible emotional spectrum on display here with Belcham leaning hard into Quinlan’s facial expressions, which tell a story all their own.

“How Simple” is an incredible journey that’s gifted an incredibly appealing setting as its story unfurls, navigating everything from shame to resentment to anger to acceptance to celebratory self-reconciliation. Wisely making its home in the mundane nature of every day existence, “How Simple” cuts to the root of several hard-won realizations. By the clip’s purposeful resolution is revealed, Belcham’s ensured a moment of appreciation for a quiet triumph of perseverance, putting one last piece of finite punctuation on the best music video of 2018.

 


Further Watching: Peach Kelli Pop – Drug Store’s Symbol of Happiness | Lemuria – Kicking In | Advance Base – Your Dog | Dilly Dally – Doom | Pedro The Lion – Yellow Bike | Vundabar – Acetone | Hala – Sorry | Free Cake For Every Creature – Be Home Soon | Slothrust – Double Down | Onlyness – Comfortable | Deaf Wish – FFS | Spirit Was – Golden Soul | Harry Permezel – Wax Man | Alien Boy – Somewhere Without Me | The Magic Gang – Getting Along | Shame – Lampoon | Clearance – Had A Fantastic | Amos Pitsch – Piece of the Season | illuminati hotties – Cuff | Snail Mail – Heat Wave | Courtney Barnett – Charity | Lauren Hibbard – What Do Girls Want? | Tomberlin – Self-Help | Homeboy Sandman & Edan – The Gut | sewingneedle – Feel Good Music | The Beths – You Wouldn’t Like Me | Zuzu – Can’t Be Alone | Flasher – Material | The Glow – Beamer

Dominic Angelella – Red State (Stream)

The week got off to a strong start today, with great new tracks emerging from Mozes and the Firstborn, all day, Lev Snowe, and Tokyo Police Club. Tennis System, Okkervil River, METZ, and David Hopkins handled the new music video front while a pair of curious full streams constituted the haul for that format, with a Stephen Steinbrink rarities retrospective and a commendable covers compilation to benefit AFSP. All of those items are worth looks and listens but today’s featured item falls to the ragged basement pop of Dominic Angelella’s explosive “Red State”.

A snappy sub-three minute track, “Red State” showcases both Angelella’s endearing narrative voice and musical control. Everything on “Red State”, despite its shaggy presentation, feels concise and deliberately articulated (including its gruff sensibility). It’s a perfect piece of the kind of basement pop this place was built to celebrate, something that seems destined to fly under the radar but hit a small group of targets with incredible force. Clever, fun, a little bit bleak, and immensely enjoyable, “Red State” isn’t just good enough to liven up any party where it gets played, it’s good enough to be remembered.

Listen to “Red State” below and pre-order Road Movie here.

The Streams, Music Videos, and Full Streams of December’s First Half

As the year-end list slate of material approaches, this publication (and many others) have a tendency to get backed up. Being run by a single person puts Heartbreaking Bravery at a greater disadvantage in those terms. Other mitigating life factors have proven to be fairly significant in terms of time allotment. However, no matter how many things there wind up being to balance, keeping up with the latest releases never gets neglected. While there are a handful of tracks, music videos, and full streams that will be receiving (likely brief) individual features, there are many others that have recently emerged which deserve celebration. Those can all be accessed below, split into each respective category. Enjoy.

Streams

Rosebug, MainLand, Them Are Us Too, Doubting Thomas Cruise Control, Exam Season, Mrs. Magician, Ben Grigg, Hand Habits, Baked, Little Scream, Antonio Williams and Kerry McCoy, John Wesley Coleman, HeatNevāda Nevada, Active Bird Community, Rick Rude, The Feelies, Sam Skinner, Infinity Crush, Fog Lake, Low, Sister Helen, Ali Burress, Oliver Wilde, Holy Now, clipping. (ft. SICKNESS)Moon Duo, Joan of Arc, Serengeti + Sicker Man, Palberta, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Tino Drima, The Bushwick Hotel, DYVE, Six Organs of Admittance, orchid mantis, Peter Silberman, MeatbodiesTim Cohen, Broken Chairs, Sonya Kitchell, The Sadies (ft. Kurt Vile),  Owl Paws, The Modern Savage, Career Suicide, Thelma, Because, Loose Buttons, Del Paxton, Sinai Vessel, Saw Black, Thula Borah, Kohli Calhoun, and Gone Is Gone.

Music Videos

Fern Mayo, Los Bengala, Shame,  The Big Moon, Strand of Oaks, Matthew Squires, The Molochs, Mozes and the Firstborn, Square Peg Round Hole, The Lonely Biscuits, The Adventures of the Silver Spaceman, C Duncan, Dakota, Girl Ray, OhBoy!, Holy Fuck, SPORTS, The Wave Pictures, Serengeti + Sicker Man, New Fries, Winter, Ab-Soul, Boogarins, Heat, Lucidalabrador, Real Numbers, Rainbrother, Dizzyride, Joseph King and the Mad Crush, Auditorium, Joyce Manor, Hollow Everdaze, Greg Gaffin, Tesla BoyTrentemøller, Emily Reo, Monogold, Dark Tea, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Ravi Shavi, Pleistocene, Katie Gately, Anti Pony, Watsky, Aquaserge, and Preoccupations.

Full Streams

Stove, Slanted, Kissing Party, Alejandro Bento, Rebel Kind, The Velvet Ants, Nike, AD.UL.T, Tim Carr, Andrew Younker, Lucy and the Rats, CARE, Miss Chain & The Broken Heels, The Obsessives, Night Flowers, Baby Acid, Ocean Music, Year of Suns, BRUCH, Ian Wayne, and the second incredible Post-Trash compilation, aptly titled Post-Trash: Volume Two.

Mannequin Pussy – Romantic (Stream)

mannequin-pussy

There were outstanding music videos from Potty Mouth (which very nearly claimed this post’s feature spot), Jeff Rosenstock, WL, Haley Bonar, No Nets, T-Rextasy, Public Access TV, Tom Brosseau, NOTHING, Cass McCombs, Candy, Sargent, Maxwell Drummey, This Is The Kit, and Jonny Fritz to emerge over the past 48 hours. Joining those clips were quality full streams that came courtesy of Hiding Place, Mozes and the Firstborn, Slow Mass, Dust From 1000 Yrs, Wovenhand, BLKKATHY, and Whiskey Myers. All of them deserve all of the attention that they’ll inevitably receive but today’s featured spot falls to an old site favorite: Mannequin Pussy.

Following some seriously impressive turns at the start of their career, Mannequin Pussy have hit an astonishing career high with “Romantic”. Opening with a surge of unexpected momentum amid a wall-of-sound shoegaze-friendly opening figure that seems intent on decimating in its path, the band suddenly veers back into a section that’s more delicate than anything in their discography (so far, at least). What follows is a back-and-forth battering ram of dynamic dichotomies in both the music and the narrative.

“I get along with everyone I meet, I’m so sweet” is the unassuming opening line of “Romantic”, which sets an uncertain tone that quickly fixates on much darker undertones. There’s a desperate, pleading moment before the chorus that brings the dramatic stakes of the narrative to light and once the intentions of the band’s statements become clear, the music gains a staggering amount of force. While the narrative hits upon some difficult subject matter, the emotive backdrop of the vocal delivery and instrumental figures never lose themselves to easy trappings. It’s a deeply impressive work from a young basement punk band that’s been finding exciting ways to surprise their audience. If “Romantic” is any indication, that audience should be getting a whole lot bigger in the very near future.

Listen to “Romantic” below and pre-order the record here.

Eluvium – Rorschach Pavan (Stream)

eluvium

Over the course of the past few days, a host of impressive streams have surfaced from the likes of Death By Unga Bunga, Cory Hanson, Cheap Girls, Goon, Super Unison, Mannequin PussySofia Härdig, Totally Sl0w, Kiran Leonard, The Tallest Man On Earth, Two Houses, Suburban Living, Chasms, Racing Heart, Roses, Kadhja Bonet, Belle Mare, Diamond Hands, Astro Tan, and Kynnet. A bevvy of music videos emerged as well, including impressive new clips from Mozes and the Firstborn, Annabel Allum, Sam Evian, Marching Church, Billie Marten, Odonis Odonis, Eleanor Friedberger, Austin Lucas, The Body, Sunshine & the Blue Moon, Peter Bjorn and John, Cinemechanica, and The Pooches. Outstanding full streams from Band Aparte, Channeling, and Kaz Mirblouk rounded everything out in stylish fashion.

While all three dozen of those entries are worth a hefty amount of investment, it was Eluvium‘s characteristically breathtaking “Rorschach Pavan” to earn this post’s featured spot. Following on the heels of the spine-tingling “Regenerative Being“, Matthew Cooper once again demonstrates what’s made his discography one of the richest — and most celebrated — in ambient music.  “Rorschach Pavan” is one of Cooper’s finest offerings to date.

Once again, there’s an air of tranquility that permeates through “Rorschach Pavan” as well as a genuine sense of peace. Cooper’s stated that False Readings On is meant to be a meditation on cognitive dissonance and that thread reveals itself in patches throughout the course of this track but never overwhelms the proceedings, acting as a brief reprieve from the aggressive punctuation of “Regenerative Being”. Even with feedback and white noise swirling through its veins, “Rorschach Paven” registers as one of Cooper’s more calm, cerebral works.

The structure of the bulk of Eluvium’s music demands the songs to slowly unfurl, revealing themselves in layers while simultaneously adding new, overlapping themes, motifs, and instrumentation. Here, that approach hits an apex just after the 3:40 mark as a bass suddenly lifts the melody skyward in what’s one of the most beautiful sequences of music anyone’s likely to hear all year. That specific moment winds up being the definitive one for “Rorschach Pavan” as the gentle climax slowly cedes and the track begins to calmly disintegrate.

Otherworldly, intimate, and unfathomably gorgeous, “Rorschach Paven” is classic Eluvium, through and through. Beyond that, it’s one of the most awe-inspiring songs of recent memory. If the rest of False Readings On can live up to the standards set by its precedents, it’ll likely stand as one of the most beautiful records of 2016. Until then, “Rorschach Pavan” should be more than enough to tide anyone over. Fall under its spell and drift off on a sea of muted bliss.

Listen “Rorschach Pavan” below and pre-order False Readings On here.

Slothrust – Horseshoe Crab (Music Video, Live Video)

Slothrust VII

Mozes and the Firstborn, TOY, Backer, Blue States, and Jess Williamson led a strong charge of new songs to get Wednesday off on the right foot. A handful of excellent music videos came from the ranks of Plush, Prince Daddy & The Hyenas, Weyes Blood, Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, Crushed Out, The Julie Ruin, Belle & Sebastian, and Cass McCombs. Tying everything together in a bow were full streams from DARK MTNS, JEFF The Brotherhood, Gauntly, Dog Orchestra, and Horseback, as well as a memorable five-year anniversary compilation from New Professor where the artist from the label cover each other’s work.

As significant as all of those were, only a few came close to matching the inexplicable emotional pull of the music video for Slothrust‘s “Horseshoe Crab”. After catching the band at Suburbia last year, the band’s maintained a consistent position on this site. Expect that position to progressively intensify as their forthcoming record, Everyone Else, draws closer. “Horseshoe Crab” kicked off the trio’s rollout campaign and now they’re capitalizing on the growing interest the single accrued with an unflinchingly intimate music video that pays homage both to their DIY ethos and their penchant for embracing uncomfortable honesty.

Slothrust built a strong reputation for themselves following the release of “Crockpot“, which easily stands out as one of the best tracks of this current decade. “Horseshoe Crab” comes across as a natural continuation of the template established by “Crockpot”, refining some of the band’s approach in the process. A 2016 highlight, “Horseshoe Crab” now has an intuitive CJ Riehl and Emmy Kenny-directed video as a complementary accompaniment that taps into something inextricably connected to Slothrust’s core.

Cleverly opening on a vantage point that skims a waterline, there’s a tonal sense of bittersweet tranquility that eases viewers into some confrontational imagery: sand, ants crawling over hands, hastily applied nail polish, and a papier mache doll all factor into play. Before long, the focal point becomes guitarist/vocalist Leah Wellbaum, surveying an expansive collection of dolls and figurines on the beach, while stuck in a state of melancholic longing.

All of the early imagery is filtered through an unavoidable sense of nostalgic mourning, lending “Horseshoe Crab” a quiet devastation that elevates the project. Johanna Brooks’ cinematography caters to all of this beautifully, successfully creating an additional empathetic character that also serves as an audience stand-in. Pushing the effect to almost unbearable heights is Brooks’ decision to shoot from Wellbaum’s POV, conjuring up nearly direct access to a deep-seated understanding that becomes so realistic that it approaches levels of genuine duress.

The middle section of “Horseshoe Crab” touches on the distancing that linear time necessitates before plunging fearlessly into a near-euphoric exploration of the unknown. During that connected sequence, the distancing is established by leaving a trail of figurines on a path, one by one. It’s a deeply effective move that’s matched by the arrival of the song’s extraordinary solo, which the video takes as a cue to momentarily ascend before diving back into the water.

In the most breathtaking sequence “Horseshoe Crab” has to offer, there’s a gorgeous underwater shot of Wellbaum sinking to to the bottom of a pool that’s intercut with sea creatures, directly referencing the song’s incredible lyrics. By the clip’s end, the band and the team they’ve assembled to shoot, edit, and produce “Horseshoe Crab” have created an unforgettable meditation on nostalgic loss, alienation, existential crises, and the malleability of longing. It’s an unlikely masterpiece that benefits from its own modesty and it deserves to be remembered fondly.

Watch “Horseshoe Crab” below, view an early performance beneath the initial embed, and pre-order Everyone Else here.

+

Cymbals Eat Guitars – 4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY) (Music Video)

ceg

A lot can surface in two days time, like great new songs from the likes of Mozes and the FirstbornR.L. Kelly, Snail Mail, Extra Medium Pony, Jordaan Mason, Rod, Joseph Coward, BADBADNOTGOOD (ft. Charlotte Wilson), The Saxophones, Alexa Wilding, Carl Broemel, Baby Girl, Amy Blaschke, and The Hell Yeah Babies. Even better when that crop can be rounded out by notable full streams from the camps of Flout, empathPorcelain Raft, Omni, Phantom Posse, and The Rashita Joneses. Best of all is when that entire cumulative haul can be complemented by new music videos from Joanna Gruesome (who very nearly took this feature spot), Alice Bag, and Bent Knee.

As good as all of those above titles are, this post’s focus belongs solely to Cymbals Eat Guitars’ inspired “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)”, a song that immediately and effortlessly carves out a spot as one of this year’s finest. Elevating the song’s absurd individual strength is another in a respected list of clips that find a way to exploit the middle ground between music video and lyric video (a niche approach that was popularized by Bob Dylan’s iconic clip for “Subterranean Homesick Blues“). It’s a devilishly clever reflection of the song’s narrative; the song’s transparently informed by history and the visuals follow suit.

Following Warning, one of this decade’s stronger records (and a high-ranking pick for the Best Albums of 2014), the band unveiled the funk-tinged romp “Wish“, prompting some questions over the directional aim of the band’s forthcoming Pretty Years. In case anyone was concerned that the band had lost their penchant for soaring, aggressive, punk-indebted anthems, “4rh of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” can definitively put those worries to rest.

From its opening moments, “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” stakes a claim as the most blown-out, deep-in-the-red track of the band’s impressive career and the severely bruised aesthetic winds up propelling the song to a place of curious transcendence. The band digs their heels in deep for the track, which scans as one of their most personal — and most revealing — to date. Ostensibly about the events that guitarist/vocalist Joe D’Agostino experienced last fourth of July in some great company (including site favorite Alex G, hence the winking parenthetical in the title), the song actually gains momentum through its transparency and frankness.

Not only is “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” one of the finest narratives D’Agostino’s ever crafted, the band’s rarely sounded this overwhelmingly committed to creating something this vicious. The video embraces the song’s production aesthetic and places D’Agostino in various scenic locations, holding lyric cards and taking in his surroundings as a series of overwashed imagery — which looks like it was shot on actual film — creates a cohesive visual narrative that complements the lyrics nicely.

Literally everything the band throws at this video works on miraculous levels, congealing into an astonishing piece of art that ably demonstrates the depths of the band’s ambition. There’s a very real sense of world-building both in the lyrics and in the clip, which again plays to the seamless marriage of both sides of the spectrum in “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)”. D’Agostino’s lyricism has rarely been as vivid or as sharp as it is here and that’s really the crux of the song as well as its most effective engine. Sludgy, punishing, and boasting the most grit the band’s ever conjured up, Cymbals Eat Guitars go full tilt at everything at their disposal for this one and wind up with a breathtaking career highlight that demands a serious level of consideration as an unlikely classic.

Watch “4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)” below and pre-order Pretty Years from Sinderlyn here.

Bueno – I Got Your Back (Stream)

bueno

The past two days have been eventful for nearly every major release category but standalone streams put up an incredibly impressive run thanks to great new tracks from Chris Staples, Toby Coke, Mozes and the Firstborn, Hater, Heaven For Real, Stephen Steinbrink, Year of Glad, IAN SWEET, Yeesh, Young Mister, Dumb Numbers, Tamper, Vomitface, Planning For Burial, Adam Torres, Private Joy, The Rantouls, Half Loon, LUKA, Pascal PinonDYAN, and Slow Hollows. Music videos offered up a strong class as well, including new pieces from Summer Cannibals, Nico Yaryan, Peter Bjorn And John, Allah-Las, Melaena Cadiz, Alice Bag, Shock Machine, John Southworth, and an astonishingly powerful entry into the format from TotemoGraveface, Lea, clipping., Neutrals, Shickey, RLYR, Control TopSpook the Herd, and a summer sampler from the remarkably consistent Z Tapes rounded out the full streams.

While all of those titles are more than worthy endeavors worth ever single moment of investment that they’ll be given (and likely even more), Bueno’s latest track grabs this post’s headline. Over the past several years, Bueno has gain an extremely dedicated following that have granted them an almost cult-like status among their converts. “I Get Your Back” justifies that adoration with a calmness that nears the serene. Incorporating an off-kilter powerpop sensibility into their typical ’90s-indebted slacker punk approach pays massive dividends here, as the erratic propulsion of “I Got Your Back” leads it into the kind of near-transcendental territory that’s hard to forget.

Listen to “I Got Your Back” below and pre-order Illuminate Your Room here.

2016: The First Two Months (Full Streams)

Jawbreaker Reunion II

Now that the songs have, by and large, been brought up to the present release cycle, it only seemed fitting to turn the attention towards some of 2016’s strongest records. Since records are more time-consuming than individual songs, none of them will be featured individually in the next week. However, all of the records below are more than worthy of investment. A small handful of these even have a shot of being expanded on at the end of the year. For now, though, I’ll simply provide another list for exploration. Once again, there’s absolutely no way these can be listened to in one sitting so it may be best to just bookmark the page and return at will. From demo debuts of solo projects (Potty Mouth‘s Aberdeen Weems) to triumphant returns (Jawbreaker Reunion, photographed above) to fascinating splits (Great Thunder and Radiator Hospital) to outstanding compilations, there’s a lot to discover. Dive in below and find some new bands worth following.

Jawbreaker Reunion – Haha and then What 😉 || Margaret Glaspy – You and I b/w Somebody to Anybody || Purling Hiss – Something || Kal Marks – Life Is Alright, Everybody Dies || Two Inch Astronaut – Personal Life || Aberdeen – Blue Lemon Demos || ROMP – Departure From Venus || Lucy Dacus – No Burden || Swim Team – Swim Team || Rita Fishbone – Spilt Milk || Hothead – Hothead || Sioux Falls – Rot Forever || Past Life – EP I || Abi Reimold – Wriggling || Nice Try – Nice Try || Krafftmalerei Plagiat || Lawndry – EP || Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk – Burritos || Mal Devisa – Kiid || Kane Strang – Blue Cheese || Big Ups – Before A Million Universes || Årabrot – The Gospel || Michael Nau – Mowing || Looks Like Mountains – Quick, Before We’re All Dead! || High Waisted – On Ludlow || Sin Kitty – Softer || Rafter – A Sploded Battery || Candy – Azure || Baklaava – Dane On

Fake Boyfriend – Mercy || Axed Crown – Amnesty || Soda – Without A Head || Fucko – Dealing With the Weird || Opposites – Joon II and Got My Cough || Journalism – Faces || Sarah Neufeld – The Ridge || Great Deceivers – Ask Me About Your Strong Suits || Burnt Palms – Back On My Wall || Adult Books – Running From the Blows || Dead Stars – Bright Colors || Acid Dad – Let’s Plan A Robbery || yndi halda – Under Summer || Sheer Mag – III || Edgar Clinks – Bath w/ Frozen Cat || Tangerine – Sugar Teeth || Muncie Girls – From Caplan to Belsize || Risley – Risley || Great Thunder/Radiator Hospital – Wedding Album || Pinegrove – Cardinal || Acid Fast – Last Night on Earth || Making Fuck – Harrowing End || Nick Thorburn – Serial S2 || Fred Thomas – Minim || Dude York – Lose Control b/w Love Is || Self Defense Family – Superior || Jo Passed – Out || POP ETC – Souvenir

Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered || Nap Eyes – Thought Rock Fish Scale || Art Week 2016 || Crater – Talk To Me So I Can Fall Asleep || Tuff Love – Resort || The Castillians – You & Me || Sitcom – Gig Bag || Howardian – A Smurf at Land’s End || Mass Gothic/Ex-Amazed – Split || Step Sisters – Thick || Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place – You’re Doomed. Be Nice. || Washer – Here Comes Washer || Titus Andronicus/Craig Finn – No Faith/No Future/No Problem || Frameworks – Time Spent || I’m An Island – Bored Days, Old Years || Wussy – Forever Sounds || Nathaniel Bellows – The Old Illusions || Keeps – Brief Spirit || Serac – Songs for the Broken Hearted || This Heel – This Heel III || Cotton Ships – Cotton Ships || Truly – Henry || Acid Tongue – The Dead Man’s Cat Walk || Dying Adolescence – Dear You, It Can’t Wait. || Proud Parents – Sharon Is Karen || Cayetana – Tired Eyes

JOYA – Surround b/w Kitsilano || The Two Tens – Volume || Leggy – Dang || Cellar Doors – Frost b/w Prism || Celebration Guns – Quitter || Quarterly – Quarterly || Hollow Hand – Ancestral Lands || Sierpien – Stench Up to Heaven || Cherry – Gloom || Relick – Twin House || Sun Dummy – Bunny || Lionlimb – Shoo || Tiny Knives – Black Haze || Chives – Drip || Chris Storrow – The Ocean’s Door || Bombay Harabee – Goldmine || Swaying Wires – I Left A House Burning || The Spook School – Binary / David Bowie Songs || Tender Defender – Tender Defender || Mozes and the Firstborn – Power Ranger || DRÆMHOUSE – Only Friends || Molly Drag – Tethered Rendering || Black Thumb – Black Thumb

Mozes and the Firstborn – Bloodsucker (Music Video)

Mozes and the Firstborn quietly released one of the best debut records of last year on Burger as a cassette and few people noticed. Now, though, on the brink of releasing that same record in all major audio formats (and in the midst of a tour with together PANGEA), lots of people’s heads are turning. All it takes is one listen to just about any song off of Mozes and the Firstborn to know that this quartet of kids from the Netherlands has tapped into something special. Serious songwriting chops paired with enviable pop sensibilities and enough dirtied up grit to make any Ty Segall acolyte blush. All of this is why this site’s already spent a fair amount of words on the band. They’re a band worth celebrating and undoubtedly deserve the praise and affection that will be coming their way.

Today, the band outdid themselves. Already prone to sneaking in nods to film (their name is a reference to the animated religious film The Prince of Egypt), they elevated their filmic tendencies by releasing a music video for “Bloodsucker” that’s a loving ode to The Big Shave, the 1967 short film that launched Martin Scorsese’s career. Only this time, instead of the principle subject shaving the bottom half of his face off, the band and director, Jeroen Dankers, give the stark story a blackly comic twist that prompts as much laughter as it does disgust. It’s an audacious move and may even become an iconic clip in certain circles. While the video’s dedication to a faithful aesthetic recreation of its source material is impressive, it’s the song that pushes this over the edge. “Bloodsucker” is the kind of vintage powerpop that’s incredibly difficult to get successful without sounding strained but is a style Mozes and the Firstborn manage to pull off effortlessly. With “Bloodsucker” backing the increasingly garish imagery that accompanies it, they create an incredibly memorable piece of art that deserves to be seen. Watch “Bloodsucker” below, pre-order Mozes and the Firstborn from Burger, and don’t take any brushes with fate for granted.