Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Soft Stuff

Emily Yacina – A Curse (Music Video)

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As the work week approaches its end, new material finds its way out into the world. This Thursday boasted intriguing new songs from Lina Tullgren, Peter Broderick, TERRY, Reality Something, No Joy, and Alexandra Savior. Moonface and Siinai, Private Victories, Grubby Little Hands, and The Blind Pets all released compelling new music videos. Full streams posted an impressive cast of entries as well, including new records from Soccer Mommy, Mikey Erg, Great Barriers, VHS, and The Dove and the Wolf. While, as ever, all of those are worthy of multiple revisits, it was a music video that slipped through the cracks earlier this week that ultimately wound up with this post’s feature spot.

Emily Yacina has built a career out of reveling in a comforting softness, conjuring up tantalizing beds of sound and enveloping the listener with the blankets. There’s an inherent warmth in her work that becomes effortlessly inviting while simultaneously creating a pull that stems from a deceptive emotional intricacy. The Sophie Savides-directed video for “A Curse” — which is gorgeously lensed by Kelly Jeffrey — capitalizes on all of those elements with an enticing precision.

Opening on a shot of a forlorn Yacina in a bathtub set against a clinically white backdrop, the camera draws closer, slowly pulling us into her world. Two vases of flowers adorn that backdrop, offering signs of life that soon blossom as the perspective switches to Yacina’s POV which reveals that she’s submerged in a milk-like liquid that single flowers populate. Another perspective shift and the flowers are suddenly everywhere, as a wellspring of noises calmly enter into the track.

Yacina captivates throughout, delivering a startlingly poignant performance that speaks to her abilities as both a composer and a performer. As the clip progresses, the sincerity in Yacina’s songwriting grows clearer as she bravely conveys every emotion that carries “A Curse” with a poise that seems effortless. Eventually, the camera pulls back out in a cyclical reveal that underscores the pained loneliness that informs the narrative of “A Curse” in a moment of reserved devastation.

Overall, “A Curse” is a deeply felt, elegant entry into Emily Yacina’s already impressive body of work. Open, honest, and incisive, it’s perfectly demonstrative of what can be achieved with an idea, a strong team, and a wealth of conviction. In that sense alone, it’s inspiring. What makes it worthwhile extends beyond its underpinnings to its execution. “A Curse” is exceptional at every turn and winds up being a definitive portrait of a formidable artist. After a dip into “A Curse”, it’s proving to be nearly impossible to work up the resolve to leave.

Watch “A Curse” below and pick up Soft Stuff here.

Watch This: Resuscitations, Pt. I

Two Watch This posts will run tonight, bringing the series back up to the current release cycle. After more than 100 entries and several long-form packages, Watch This has only managed to expand in both scope and range. The underlying principle remains steadfast: this is a project to celebrate the very best in live performance video, one of the most under-recognized and under-appreciated multimedia art forms in the music and film world. An intense amount of craft is required to make a live video memorable (or, failing that craft, a formidable level of personality) and some of the people who are brave enough to make entries turn in unforgettable work.

Below are 25 great performances from 25 artists who are worth exploring. Whether it’s PUP tearing through the strongest opening 1-2 punch any record’s boasted this year, Courtney Barnett putting her heart into a gentle solo rendition of “Depreston“, Midnight Reruns unveiling a new song, or Small Houses putting a warm spin on a Weakerthans classic, there are a lot of moments to appreciate embedded into this compilation. Old favorites and emerging acts found themselves posited as the centerpiece(s) of artful documentation and this installment of Watch This is a presentation of those documents. So, as always, turn up the volume, calm down, lean in, and Watch This.

1. Summer Cannibals – Go Home (KEXP)
2. Sunflower Bean – Easier Said (The Current)
3. Meat Wave – Delusion Moon (Ratio Beerworks)
4. Small Houses – Watermark (Onder Ivloed)
5. PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will + DVP (Stiegl)
6. Bird Laww – In My Sleep (Public Radio /\)
7. The Black Angels – Better Off Alone (Jam in the Van)
8. Mise En Scene – Show Me You’re Real (BreakThruRadio)
9. Wolf Solent – Countless Minds (Sea Records)
10. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (The Current)
11. The Coathangers – Make It Right (Paste)
12. Midnight Reruns – Warm Days (Set List)
13. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw + Doroth (The Daily Indie)
14. Katie Von Schleicher (Jenn Harrington)
15. Emily Yacina – Soft Stuff (This Has Got To Stop)
16. Bob Mould – Voices In My Head (Sound Opinions)
17. Palehound – Healthier Folk (Radio K)
18. Hemming – All I Want (Weathervane)
19. Odio Paris – En Junio (BalconyTV)
20. Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Radio K)
21. Journalism – Watching & Waiting (BreakThruRadio)
22. David Bazan – Oblivion (Little Elephant)
23. Murder By Death – Shiola (Paste)
24. Lucy Dacus – Green Eyes, Red Face (BreakThruRadio)
25. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Clean Slate (3RRR)

Milk Crimes – Milk Crimes (EP Review, Stream)

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: With the site now entering emergency year-end catch-up mode thanks to the cruel, mocking nature of time, tonight’s trio of posts will simply be short reviews of the album(s) in the headline(s) and an accompanying list of records that deserve to be heard.]

Every so often, a band explodes onto my radar by virtue of a simple email message and thoroughly captures my attention. Milk Crimes are one of these bands and their explosive self-titled EP, which recalls a number of acts from the impeccable Reeks of Effort roster at their most manic (while still clinging to the frantic pop sensibility that serves as one of their more defining elements).

Milk Crimes is comprised of five vicious punk-tinged basement pop numbers, each one barreling headfirst towards some unplanned destination. The trio trades vocals at will and are unified in their determinedly scrappy approach as individual musicians, conjuring up something that feels exhilarating because of the constant looming threat that it’ll all fall apart at any minute (yet never does). Wildly energetic and abrasively confrontational, it’s one of 2015’s finest hidden gems and deserves a lot more discussion than it’s getting. Get on board.

Listen to Milk Crimes below and pick it up here. Below the embed, explore a collection of some of the best full streams to surface over the past several months.

Sevdaliza – Children of Silk
Rubber Bang Gun – Making A Fool of Myself
Fórn + Yautja – Split 7″
Nervous Trend – Shattered
Val Hollie – Val Hollie
Total Abuse – Excluded
Ashland – Ashland
Bethlehem Steel – Docking
Lysol – Demo
Correatown – Embrace the Fuzzy Unknown
Jacobus – Jacobus
Goldmund – Sometimes
100% – Incantation
The Empty Gestures – Total Collapse
Z Tapes’ Christmas Benefit Compilation
Emily Yacina – Soft Stuff
The Just Luckies – Same Kids, Same Things
PC Worship – Basement Hysteria
Petal – Raspberry Cough
Skaters – Advent Calendar
Marvelous Mark – Crushin’