Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Neo-noir

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Televan (Music Video)

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Ed Schrader’s Music Beat is a name that’s been appearing with a greater regularity the past few months. Whether this is due to making the most out of their tour appearances, the ridiculous strength of this year’s excellent Party Jail, or the fact that they’re excelling at something that just about no one else is attempting is difficult to tell. Most likely, it’s just a combination of all three. They’re a band that no one’s likely to forget after coming across them because they keep coming out with things that are truly memorable- the latest of which being the music video for “Televan”.

Reflecting the band’s jackknife post-punk to near-perfection (as well as their minimalism), “Televan” features two primary clips. Centering around nothing more than an assortment of shadowy close-ups of Schrader mouthing the lyrics in a one-shot and a collage of rapid-fire still shots behind a font displaying “DO THE TELEVAN” that makes it appear as if they’re permanently suspended in mid-air, it still somehow manages to be unrelentingly hypnotic. Breaking things up are some half-lit shots of bassist Devlin Schrader laying into his bass, rivaling the intensity that Schrader brings to his singing (which is a considerable amount). It’s a low-budget affair that hits with maximum impact, keeping the viewer entranced while expertly showcasing the song. Not a bad next entry for a band that seems intent on constantly one-upping themselves.

Watch “Televan” below and order Party Jail from the increasingly great Infinity Cat here.

Iceage – Forever (Music Video)

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The past few days have been outstanding for unmitigated ambiguity. No less than three of the best songs of 2014-so-far have emerged, each tinged with at least a small tendency towards the unforgivingly bleak. Baltimore’s rightfully-celebrated Roomrunner (somehow) wound up being the lightest of the three by virtue of allowing in a stronger pop influence on their outstanding new single, “Chrono Trigger“. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds cemented their status as one of the most consistently brilliant bands of all time with an outtake from last year’s mesmerizing Push the Sky Away that’s being featured in the undoubtedly extraordinary quasi-documentary that centers around Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth. Between those two, it almost seemed impossible that anything else would land today’s feature spot- until Iceage released their jaw-dropping song-video combination for “Forever”, the next gigantic stride in an ongoing evolution that “The Lord’s Favorite” kicked off in spectacular fashion a little over a month ago.

While “Forever” doesn’t have the subtle optimism of “The Lord’s Favorite”, it keeps their trademark tension in tact, while allowing the band to stretch out a little more than usual. In an almost too-coincidental twist, it’s as if the band’s picked up the primordial nightmarish post-punk that characterized Nick Cave’s earliest works. Arriving with an accompanying note detailing the band’s upcoming record, Plowing Into the Field of Love (due out on Matador in a little over a month), “Forever” becomes the record’s second song to suggest that this could be a game-changing record for the landscapes of popular taste. While the song sears, broods, and brutalizes with the absolute best of them, it’s the visually stunning Pattinama Coleman-directed video that winds up pushing the whole thing into the sublime. Getting maximum effect out of a decidedly minimal approach is never an easy task to accomplish but “Forever” winds up pulling it off with ease. Whether that’s because of the band members’ natural charisma, damaged magnetism, a cavalcade of genuinely arresting looks, or the noir-ish presentation is impossible to say- but there’s something with an undeniable, intrinsic pull that centers “Forever” which suggests that this band has a greater grip on their identity than just about anyone else right now.

When the song’s closing minutes kick in and the video pulls back to an old man that seemed oddly intrusive during his first appearance inspired some of the fiercest chills to be provided by any music video this year. If “Forever” is topped by any song on Plowing Into the Field of Love, it’ll warrant consideration for Album of the Year honors. All that’s left to do now is wait in earnest, to see if the record can live up to its first two offerings. With the way things have been playing out, there’s reason to believe that’ll be the case.

Watch “Forever” below and pre-order Plowing Into the Field of Love from Matador, before it comes out on October 6, here.

Dum Dum Girls – Are You Okay (Short Film)

It’s probably fair to say that when most people woke up today, they didn’t think they’d be watching a Dum Dum Girls short film written and conceptualized by Bret Easton Ellis that eclipsed 11 minutes. Yet, that’s exactly what happened to a large section of the people who pay attention to those kinds of things- and we’re all the better for it. There’s a compelling vagueness to the film itself (which includes some gorgeous additional score work from Tamaryn and Drew McDowell), that centers around a rich psychologically-involved narrative. Brewer is at the helm of the strikingly visual Are You Okay and throws in characteristically seductive flourishes throughout.

After an intense opening sequence that establishes Dum Dum Girls’ lead personality Dee Dee Penny as a patient in a therapy session (after an evocative opening shot of a desolate landscape that pans outwards over the sound of heavy breathing) who’s challenged to recreate an imaginary double of herself. As Penny goes deeper into the task, fully embracing all of its set parameters, Are You Okay begins to mount a sense of dread. Charles Ray’s postmodern Two Boys art piece is used masterfully throughout, intensifying the feeling of disorientation.

“Are You Okay?” winds up being the film’s centerpiece- and rightfully so, as this is ostensibly a showcase to serve the song (one of Too True‘s stronger highlights). The goth-noir tendencies are perfectly suited to the progressing tension that’s so present throughout the entirety of Are You Okay. While the song itself does lend a new dynamic to the film, it’s the introduction and epilogue pieces that drive the song to noticeably greater heights. All in all, it’s a gorgeous piece of multidimensional art that ignores the limitations of traditional formatting. As a result, it’s one of the most compelling things to have been unveiled in the artist/video category this year. Watch it below and get treated to some world-class cinematography and surprisingly exceptional acting.