Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Swervedriver

The Best Music Videos of November 2018

Just two weeks have passed since November closed, which is more than enough time to for a variety of acts to have unveiled great music videos. Revived projects, critical darlings, and attention-catching upstarts make up the five picks below. A variety of film styles are deployed and each clip carries its own unique charm. To get the full effect, just click play.

1. Zuzu – Can’t Be Alone

Zuzu has been impressing for the past few years, slowly building international name recognition while consistently achieving at a high level. A sought-after live act and a songwriter who’s got a firm grip on both identity and craft, Zuzu’s continued to turn heads. The clip for “Can’t Be Alone” — which utilizes lightheartedness and French New Wave to tremendous effect — is another piece of an expanding, winsome story. Tongue-in-cheek, grounded, and immensely enjoyable, the “Can’t Be Alone” video is another reminder of Zuzu’s increasingly bright future.

2. Mitski – Washing Machine Heart

Watching the evolution of Mitski from celebrated bedroom pop artist to cultural megastar has been a privilege. As is the case with the best artists, that transition has seen Mitski grow more committed to personal artistic vision. Aided by the opportunities that level of recognition can unlock, the songwriter’s remained steadfast in using that visibility responsibly. “Washing Machine Heart” is another hyper-stylized video from the artist, leaning fully into the film noir tendencies that provided a few of Mitski’s past videos a nice flourish. It’s mesmerizing.

3. Alien Boy – Somewhere Without Me

One of the biggest artistic leaps forward this year came from Alien Boy, who unleashed an unlikely behemoth in Sleeping Lessons. A record that married grunge, shoegaze, punk, and emo in fascinating ways, had more than a few highlights. “Somewhere Without Me” was one of that record’s most astonishing moments and gets the visual treatment on a Sjur Hjeltness-helmed clip that pays homage to the iconic visual history of the post-punk genre. Studied and exhilarating, the clip serves as a perfect complement.

4. Swervedriver – Drone Lover

Not a lot of people could have predicted how seamlessly Swervedriver‘s return to the fold would be or that they’d be making some of the most powerful music of their career in 2018. “Drone Lover” makes a case for the latter part of that equation with gusto. “Drone Lover” continues the band’s collage-heavy tendencies on the visual end, which nicely underscores their primal squalor. Effective and hypnotic, it’s another strong introduction to the band’s revered output.

5. The Glow – Beamer

LVL UP‘s dissolution earlier this year freed up a lot of time for its members to pursue the other projects they’ve had their names attached to for years. In the case of Mike Caridi, the guitarist/vocalist returned to The Glow. A project that’s been mostly dormant for several years is being revived in earnest, with the dog-happy clip for “Beamer” leading the charge. It’s a colorful clip that illustrates The Glow’s wide-reaching appeal. “Beamer” is also a very welcome reminder that even though LVL UP’s left, Caridi’s here to stay.

 

Dilly Dally – Desire (Stream)

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While the slowly circulating news that The Weakerthans have decided to call it a day after a storied career has cast an unavoidable pall on the day, it seemed more appropriate than ever to celebrate the new music that’s been steadily surfacing over the past few days. All Dogs (deservedly) were the only band to get coverage yesterday and there’d only been specialized and series posts in the days leading up to the release of their extraordinary “That Kind of Girl”. In an effort to shed some light on some of the memorable entries to have surfaced in the time since the last standard post, a collection of songs will be posted below the included embed of today’s featured track: Dilly Dally’s “Desire.

Literally every song Dilly Dally has released to the public has earned glowing praise from this site and “Desire” ensures that streak’s not broken. Released in tandem with the announcement of the band’s forthcoming debut full-length, Sore, and the band’s signing to Partisan Records, it’s another piece of stunning noir-punk that comes laced with an emphatic gloom that only elevates the track’s foreboding atmosphere. It’s a dynamic that the band’s managed to perfect in just a small handful of songs (most of them appearing on two jaw-dropping 7″ records from 2014) and capitalizes on once more in “Desire”.

Opening with a cacophony of feedback and relative atonality, the song quickly settles into a serrated attack that waxes poetic on basic human impulse. Katie Monks has one of the most heart-stopping voices in music and the music Dilly Dally continues to conjure up around its central draw manages to simultaneously play into its darker sensibilities and elevate it into something that’s nearly transcendental. After a few lineup changes, the band’s found a powerful rhythm section that anchors the expressive nature of the band’s deceptively sharp guitar work (courtesy of Liz Ball, who’s always been essential to the band’s success).

Monks stated recently that Sore‘s central narrative hinged on the recurring thematic of rebirth and that “Desire” was- explicitly- about sexual release. “Desire” subtly incorporates both to create something that feels abnormally genuine and oddly harrowing. In a statement released to Fader- who premiered “Desire” earlier today- Monks expounded on the two threads and equated them with a struggle to find happiness while extolling the virtues of the fight required to obtain what proves to be an elusive emotion for so many. Grounded in bleak reality and stretching outwards towards a hopefulness, “Desire” quickly becomes one of the band’s strongest efforts in a discography that’s already obscenely strong for being so limited.  If this recent run of releases is indicative of the strength of the remaining releases on 2015’s slate, we’re in for one hell of a back stretch.

Listen to “Desire” below and keep an eye on this site for further updates on Sore in the lead-up to its October 9 release date. Beneath the embed, explore a list of other memorable songs to have surfaced in the past several days.

Happy Diving – My Zone
Yung – Burning Bodies
Swervedriver – Winter Depths
Nolita View – Departed
Advance Base – Pamela
The Lees of Memory – Let’s Turn Our Love Up Loud
Jaye Bartell – Lilly
Natural Snow Buildings – Sun Tower
Salad Boys – Dream Date
Menace Beach – Super Transporterreum
Best Behavior – Star Signs
Diane Coffee – Mayflower
Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake?
Amy Bezunartea – New Villain
Lost Boy ? – Big Business Monkey (Daniel Johnston cover)
Antarctigo Vespucci – Lost My Mind
Funeral Advantage – Gardensong
FIDLAR – West Coast
toe – The World According To
Helta Skelta – 55mm
Babes – I’ve Got A Reason To Keep On Living
Joe Jackson – A Little Smile
Youth Lagoon – The Knower
ON AND ON – Behind The Gun

Johanna Warren – True Colors (Music Video) (NSFW)

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It’s been about a week since a regular post ran on here, which mostly just means there’s a lot of content to come. A lot of great songs and albums have managed to appear in a very short window of time. All of those will be put on pause as this post gives sole focus to the more visually-inclined main category of this site (though plans are still in motion for film to factor into coverage): music videos.

Fucked Up’s fearlessly experimental multimedia experience for “Year of the Hare“, FIDLAR’s endearing, homage-heavy “40oz. on repeat“, Liza Anne’s absolutely gorgeous “Lost“, Braids’ stunning visual accompaniment to their career highlight “Miniskirt“, and Blur’s immensely enjoyable “Ong Ong” all proved to be notable highlights. Joining them were Pleistocene’s playfully shambolic “Pulp“, Swervedriver’s multicolor, kaleidoscopic “I Wonder?“, Izzy True’s tantalizingly bare-bones lyric clip for “Swole“, Demons’ skate spree in “Radical Cure“, Eternal Summers’ color-bled “Gold And Stone“, and We Were Promised Jetpacks’ beautiful, arresting “A Part Of It“.

Then, there was Johanna Warren’s “True Colors”.

Before diving into the blisteringly intense content of the video itself, it’s worth taking a step back to take a look at the history of the video- one that’s intrinsically intertwined with this site. At some point late last year, I’d latched onto Warren’s music thanks to her tour with site favorite Mitski. At some point during that time, Warren and I began talking and she eventually agreed to contribute a piece to the diaristic year-end segment A Year’s Worth of MemoriesHer piece stood out immediately, primarily because it was about something that hadn’t ever materialized.

When I caught up with Warren in Menasha- a small town in the middle of Wisconsin- to profile her for Consequence of Sound, I was eager to discuss the video. I’d been listening to nūmūn religiously in preparation and had a very distinct idea for what I thought the clip- initially intended for “Black Moss”- would be if it was ever resuscitated. Warren assured me it hadn’t escaped her mind (not surprising considering her initial levels of unease- feelings which would return leading up to the record’s premiere) and was still hoping to return to the concept for a future release.

Somewhere along the way, the song shifted and- during filming- took on a new life. Originally envisioned to be something far more gentle, the concept was adjusted into something much rawer (and, likely, much more important). To go into further details at this point would be relatively pointless as Warren provided an eloquent analysis of its mechanics in a statement issued to Stereogum, where the video premiered. That statement can also be read below.

This song is about traversing and transgressing boundaries: the tenuous lines that separate physical and metaphysical, waking and dreaming, and our moral categories of right and wrong. It’s about walking barefoot down the fertile coastline where binaries touch and exploring what hidden, buried parts of your soul might stir awake and flourish if you free yourself from the shackles of what society deems appropriate. It’s about surrendering to the wild — specifically the wild feminine, which has been so oppressed and forgotten — and communing in a primal, magical way with the powerful forces of nature.

The scene depicted in this video is an initiation rite. Throughout human history, spiritual practices have involved elements of bondage, flagellation, and submission as a means of entering altered states of consciousness/getting close to God. These days, most of us feel like we don’t have access to visionary experiences, largely because organized religions have convinced us they are the gatekeepers to spirituality. But there is a basic evolutionary human need for the expansion of consciousness, and that drives some of us to engage in activities that have been scorned, demonized and/or criminalized by our puritanical society, such as exploring psychedelics, magick, and BDSM—all of which, when done safely and consentually, can be effective keys in unlocking altered/ecstatic states (and all of which, I believe, are the subject of increased mainstream interest right now specifically because of our culture’s gaping spiritual deficit).

The making of this video was an experience I curated for myself with the support and guidance of two trusted, beloved collaborators: Gretchen Heinel, a radical feminist genius whose evocative body of work explores BDSM, body modification, and ritual; and Damon Stang, a highly gifted and learned Witch and practitioner of queer urban folk magic. In light of important ongoing discussions and valid sensitivities around issues of consent and violence towards women, let me clearly state my stance as an empowered creative woman who believes every human has the right to do with his or her body exactly what he or she chooses, short of infringing the rights of a fellow being. The struggle to reclaim that right is at the heart of so many key social issues right now: gay marriage, abortion rights, legalizing marijuana and other controlled substances, etc. For me, making this video felt like a radical reclaiming of my right to do with my body exactly what I want.

On my drive home from the shoot, a critical little voice in my head asked me why the hell I did this, and I happily replied, “Because I fucking wanted to.” It was fun and empowering and sexy and beautiful and deep and magical, I learned so much about myself and I have no regrets. It’s crazy, though, how even knowing all that, watching the video and thinking of others watching it, I find myself judging myself SO HARD and feeling a lot of fear. But just as my anxiety reaches a peak, I hear my own voice sing, “Forget the duality of wrong and right,” and I’m like… “Oh yeah, good point.”

It’s at once a spellbinding look at the psyche of one of the more interesting artists of the moment and an incredibly charged statement. Genuinely unsettling and superbly directed by the team of Gretchen Heinel and Damon Stang, it verges on being an extremely difficult watch but it soon becomes impossible to look away. As a representation of one of Warren’s most successful dichotomies (an inexplicable- and often light- gentleness paired with a searing- and frequently dark- intensity). Operating on the fringes of both dream and nightmare, “True Colors” is one of 2015’s boldest visual works to date.   

Watch “True Colors” below and pick up nūmūn from Team Love here.

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 3

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Over the past few days, this site’s been running a campaign to get one of its most important cornerstones back. When the Watch This series was first brought into existence, it was done out of admiration- but also frustration. For whatever reason, great live footage never quite gets its due. Outside of rare exceptions (Scorsese’s The Last Waltz comes to mind), it’s an overlooked format. Reduced to miniature, it has an almost non-existent footprint. Yet, the very best of these clips hinge on the abilities of both filmmaker(s) and the central subject and are treasured fiercely by the people invested in either side. There’s a common ground between film and music that these clips manage to accentuate and exploit when they’re operating at their highest level, they represent multimedia formatting at its finest. Watch This was designed to amend the medium’s inexplicable reduction, Every Sunday, the installment would feature five of the strongest live clips of the week in some small effort to amend the egregious exclusion of a central focus for live footage.

Since 2015 started, like everything else, I’ve been amassing a list of some of the strongest entries in this category and this post marks the last of the trilogy making up the 15 or so weeks that made up 2015’s first quarter. There’s a heavy emphasis on interview-heavy clips and full sets, with healthy numbers for KEXP, BreakThruRadio, and Pitchfork. DIY culture is mostly fully embedded in Pupppy’s set at the endearingly named Dong Island and the whole playlist is bookended by two of the finest live videos of the year. Each of those two clips comes courtesy of NPR, with a full Sleater-Kinney set providing an exhilarating opening and a devastating Torres lullaby clip bringing the proceedings to a hushed, haunting close. Regular Watch This will resume on Sunday and continue weekly. Now, the video player below contains hours worth of material so it’s not something that’s probably going to be watched start-to-finish- but it can certainly be bookmarked and all of it is worth seeing (and, just as importantly, hearing). So, with all that mind, sit back, crank the volume, take a drink, settle in, and Watch This.

1. Sleater-Kinney (NPR)
2. Bully – Trying (Pitchfork)
3. Mike Pace and the Child Actors (TCGS)
4. Fred Thomas (BreakThruRadio)
5. Swervedriver – Autodidact (KEXP)
6. Menace Beach (3voor12)
7. Waxahatchee – Coast to Coast (Pitchfork)
8. Literature (BreakThruRadio)
9. Fat Supper – Mind Your Head #14 (MOWNO)
10. Francisco The Man (KEXP)
11. Nots (BreakThruRadio)
12. Title Fight – Mrahc (Pitchfork)
13. White Reaper – The Cut (BreakThruRadio)
14. GRMLN – Night Racer (Amoeba)
15. Girl Band (KEXP)
16. METZ – Nervous System (Pitchfork)
17. Popstrangers (BreakThruRadio)
18. Laura Stevenson – Bells And Whistles (Space Jam Sessions)
19. Jenny Lewis – Just One of the Guys (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
20. Strand of Oaks – For Me (Amoeba)
21. Pupppy (Dong Island)
22. Krill – Foot (WKNC)
23. Museum Mouth (WKNC)
24. La Luz – Call Me In The Day (KEXP)
25. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (NPR)