Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: The Good Life

Mitski – Happy (Music Video)

Mitski IV

Over the past handful of days, several notable music videos have found release. Yoni & Geti (who almost claimed this post’s featured spot thanks to the editing alone), Band of Horses, Mumblr, Dead Stars, Fear of Men, Gemma Ray, Nicholas Allbrook, Atoms and Void, SomosCate Le Bon, Omni, Thin Lips, Braids, and The Good Life Ben Seretan, all had clips deserving of multiple looks and Steve Gunn offered up an endearing lyric video. There was even a Henry Rollins-starring trailer for a new Dinosaur Jr record. Ultimately, it was the latest clip from Mitski that earned this post’s feature.

Following the unforgettable “Your Best American Girl” clip would’ve been a daunting task for any artist (or filmmaker) but “Happy” accomplishes it with astonishing ease. Directed by the inimitable Maegan Houang — whose work has been praised on this site before and likely will again — “Happy” creates a challenging narrative that touches on everything from personal intimacy to self-doubt to self-loathing to gender politics and race relations (among others).

Exquisitely shot and paced, the story unfolds delicately, revealing a growing wound between a woman and her military husband. Suspicions are confirmed and the wound grows deeper, creating a tightly-wound level of tension that’s only drawn tighter as the clip progresses. Fueling the atmosphere is Houang’s assured direction, giving nods to legendary filmmakers like Wong Kar-wai and Alfred Hitchcock along the way, layering on the cues to subtly underscore the passage of time.

Everything in “Happy” feels like it’s heading towards some climactic moment, a confrontation that exists on a purely personal basis. While that climactic moment does arrive, “Happy” manages to successfully subvert those expectations while remaining true to the heart of the video. At first blush, the final sequence may not seem overtly personal but dig deep enough and it becomes heartbreaking in its symbolism.

Those final moments are full of untold tragedy, harsh reality, and keen awareness. It’s terrifying and confrontational all at once, full of a well-placed rage that imbues the entire affair with a passion that retroactively alters every one of the clip’s preceding vignettes. One of the most satisfying narrative presentations the format’s had in recent memory, “Happy” winds up being more than masterful; it’s legitimately memorable. Easily one of 2016’s finest clips, “Happy” demonstrates Mitski’s taste and convictions in equal measure, ultimately culminating in one of the artist’s finest offerings to date.

Watch “Happy” below and pre-order Puberty 2 here.

Watch This: Vol. 97

Continuing on with this Watch This spree, we go back three weeks and dive into the most memorable live clips to appear in that given time. While there were several strong videos that came from artists like Kristen, Albert Hammond Jr., The Good Life, Low, Liza Anne, Calexico (ft. Neko Case), The Folk, On an On, Jurassic Shark, Jounce, Gardens & Villa, and Fredo Viola. Those clips’ collective strengths are indicative of the considerable worth of the featured videos of this particular series installment, which boasts an emphasis on abbreviated sets from the included artists and two arresting performances from a pair of site favorites. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Menace Beach (3voor12)

Ratworld was one of 2015’s earliest highlights and Menace Beach have wasted no time in following it up with the outstanding Super Transporterreum EP. 3voor12 recently captured the band delivering a fiery set in the Netherlands, conjuring up all kinds of winsome noise. An endearing interview and a trio of invigorating performances are contained in this surprisingly explosive clip.

2. Meat Wave – Erased (Audiotree)

Another Watch This, another clip from Meat Wave‘s Audiotree session. This time around, the trio sinks their teeth into the ferocious– almost feral– “Erased“. Chaotic, wild-eyed, and terrifyingly precise, “Erased” sees Meat Wave continuing to excel with blistering force in the live department. Jagged, vicious, and unapologetic in its searing intensity, it more than earns its place among this week’s featured videos.

3. Peter Wolf Crier (The Current)

For whatever reason, Peter Wolf Crier have always been a band that’s quietly excelled, accumulating a devoted fan base through an unusual consistency. While they still haven’t racked up stratospheric numbers, they’v never released anything less than stellar. The Current recently brought them in for a two song session and the band responded in kind, gifting the studio one of their stronger sessions in recent memory.

4. Kurt Vile (WFUV) 

Is anyone out there making music that sounds more effortlessly breezy than Kurt Vile? At this point, it’s sincerely doubtful. Vile’s attained a sort of easygoing, freewheeling charm that infuses his current work so naturally that it’s nearly impossible to find a line separating himself from his art. That dynamic’s retained in full and deeply embedded into this three-song performance hosted by WFUV. It’s a perfect soundtrack for an early fall day.

5. Torres – The Harshest Light (3voor12)

Candlelit rooms are perfect backdrops for quieter music and generally tend to heighten their intimacy. Torres, a name that may have been featured throughout this year on this series more than any other, operates almost exclusively in an incredibly intimate mode. Even knowing all of that, it’s hard not to be knocked breathless by this clip, 3voor12’s second of the week, which features a solo acoustic performance that’s intercut with footage of a nameless man navigating a graveyard, rendering it one of the year’s most surprisingly powerful live clips.

Watch This: Vol. 96

It’s been quite some time since Watch This made an appearance due to a variety of extenuating circumstances. However, the series was still going through upkeep in its absence. This will be the first of four posts that collects and features the best live performance captures in that same amount of time, each in a chronological order. Going back four weeks, there were intriguing clips from Bear’s Den, Juan Wauters, Redthread, The Good Life (x2), Bertrand Belin, Laura Marling, Telekinesis, Beirut, Julia Holter, FIDLAR, Ride, and Donovan Wolfington. It was a suitably strong crop of clips but the five to earn featured spots here earner their respective positions for a reason. So, as always, lean in, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Cayetana – Serious Things Are Stupid (Little Elephant)

Cayetana have made a few appearances on this series before but their performance of “Serious Things Are Stupid” for Little Elephant is their best clip to date. The camerawork here’s intentionally loose and matches the band’s aesthetic in a thoughtful way while the performance is committed, tight-knit, and delivered with verve. It’s a short blast that winds up being remarkably effective.

2. PWR BTTM (BreakThruRadio)

Anyone that’s clicked on this site anytime since summer rolled around has likely seen a mountain of praise directed towards PWR BTTM, who remain one of the most entertaining live bands on the circuit. With that being the case, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise anytime they make a Watch This appearance. Here, they deliver some typically fierce performances and provide their host with a transformative experience.

3. Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Audiotree)

There have been more than a few posts on this site discussing Meat Wave‘s fundamental importance to this site’s development and the trio keeps delivering at an exceptional level. 2015’s outstanding Delusion Moon has helped the band gain significant momentum and they’re capitalizing on that momentum at every conceivable level. Audiotree recently hosted the band for a session and they led their set off with the surging “Cosmic Zoo“, delivering the song with a bracing immediacy.

4. Madalean Gauze – Accumulations of Life  (WXPN)

This performance of “Accumulations of Life” was my introduction to the spiky guitar pop of Madalean Gauze, a band that comes across as immediately relatable and extremely well-versed. As a first piece, it’s a near-perfect blend of practiced and promising, solidifying theirs as a name to watch straight out of the gate. Vibrant and alive, “Accumulations of Life” is an incredibly enjoyable look at an intriguing emerging act.

5. Glen Hansard – McCormack’s Wall (ANTI-)

Occasionally a clip surfaces and immediately registers as transcendental. I can vividly remembering having that thought upon first watches of a very small selection of the 500+ performances that have been featured on this series- yet, “McCormack’s Wall” manages to stand out even among those few. Deeply cinematic, characteristically heartfelt, thematically rich, tenderly shot, crisply edited, and beautifully presented, “McCormack’s Wall” occasionally comes across as a tone poem. Easily one of the most gorgeous clips to ever run in this series, “McCormack’s Wall” is a pinnacle of what can be achieved with the format. Share this one with family.

Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Music Video)

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After a relatively slow start, the Tuesday push of new releases saw the content push rapidly accelerating and left us with a little under three dozen items to cover. Once again, there were some strong full streams from great artists like Infinity Girl, Modern Merchant, Wild Moth, Peterborough Pirates, and The Invisible Strings (as well as the 16th LAMC split, this time between La Luz and Scully). A handful of great music videos made their way out into the world, coming from acts like Potty Mouth, Findlay Brown, The Good Life, Django Django, Sea of Bees, Whitewash, and Floating Points. Then, of course, came the slew of single streams that included outstanding new entries from a field consisting of no less than Spencer RadcliffeLow, Small Black, Sudakistan, Farao, Kevin Devine (covering The Cure), Varsity, Amanda X, Hurry Up, Blonde Summer, Library Voices, Antibodies, Active Bird Community, and Protomartyr. It was a lot to take in and literally everything linked above, as always, is worth checking out- but today’s focus falls to a name new to most but familiar to me: Mike Krol.

For years, Krol’s been involved with the DIY punk scene in the upper Midwest and found himself in frequent collaboration with the tragically under-appreciated (and sadly defunct) Minneapolis-via-Madison act Sleeping in the Aviary. It’s a collaboration that continues today (several of the band’s former members play on Krol’s upcoming Merge debut Turkey), which probably isn’t surprising considering how frequently they toured together (Sleeping in the Aviary was Krol’s backing band on more than one occasion) and the fact that Sleeping in the Aviary literally dedicated a song to Krol in its title on one of the best split 7″ records of the 2000’s.

Already a few great releases into his career, Krol’s deal with Merge has ensured a lot more eyes will be trained on his next few moves and so far, the songwriter hasn’t disappointed. After “This Is the News“, Turkey‘s fiery as hell lead-off track, it was abundantly clear that Krol’s wielding more power than ever- and doing it with an almost vengeful force. For his latest feat, he’s enlisted Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu to direct a screwball clip for Turkey highlight “Neighborhood Watch”. Adopting a vocal approach that has some uncanny similarities to Davey Jones of Lost Boy ? makes “Neighborhood Watch” sound immediately familiar (and endlessly enjoyable) on record, it’s the clip that pushes it over the edge. Emphasizing Krol’s penchant for irreverence and incorporating a barrage of winking edits, “Neighborhood Watch” infuses itself with enough self-effacing slapstick to make it one of 2015’s more enjoyable outings. For some tongue-in-cheek humor and yet another genuinely great song, this one’s going to be hard to beat.

Watch “Neighborhood Watch” below and pre-order Turkey from Merge here.

Royal Headache – Another World (Stream)

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A few years ago, Royal Headache came barreling out of nowhere and struck with enough blunt momentum to create a crater that pulled a large handful of notable minds into their world. In the time that’s followed the release of their incredible self-titled record, they’ve managed to create a fascinating story by carving out their own epilogue and assemble what promises to be their finest release to date. Due out in August, High has already generated a significant amount of anticipation on the strength of its fiery title track (which is holding strong as one of 2015’s best songs). Those expectations get pushed even further up the spectrum with “Another World”.

In a week of some seriously extraordinary releases (see the list of links at the bottom for proof), Royal Headache once again managed to conjure up a true standout that sees them surging towards the barriers of their own perceived limitations and doing everything they can to dismantle them with sheer momentum. It’s their most tightly-crafted song to date, rife with memorable hooks and genuinely explosive moments. As a new song with an open future, it would have been exhilarating in its promise- as a part of the band’s extended death rattle (the band’s vocalist was allowed to depart under the conditions that he stay on to complete the record and the subsequent promotional tour), it’s unforgettable. Wild-eyed, manic, impassioned, and deeply felt, “Another World” is another peak for a band that will be leaving us far too soon- but doing so at the height of their powers, on their own terms, and at the absolute top of the mountain.

Listen to “Another World” below and pre-order High from What’s Your Rupture? here. Beneath the embed, explore a list of great songs to have surfaced throughout the week (if for some reason you’ve been doubting the overwhelming strength of this year’s release crop, remember that the below list is comprised of individual songs that all found release in the same week).

SPORTS – Saturday
Mike Krol – This is the News
Dogs On Acid – The Prick
American Pinup – The Radio
Sean Henry – Sad ‘C’
The Good Life – Forever Coming Down
Lower – At The Endless Party
Promised Land Sound – She Takes Me There
Slow and Steady – Pendulum
Sally Crewe – Later Than You Think
Jackson Boone – Moonbeam
Born Ruffians – We Made It
Chris Staples – Cheap Shades
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages – The Claw
The Golden Eaves – No Other
elle le fantôme – Sore
Sweet Cobra – Complaints
Generifus – No Surprise
Zig Zags – Sunken City
Adult Mom – Laying On My Floor
VHS – Superhuman Happiness
Emilie & Ogden – Ten Thousand
Little Wings – Live To Tell
PINS – Live and Let Go
Marissa Nadler – Solitude
Wavves – Way Too Much