Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: The Zolas

Watch This: Resuscitations, Pt. II

After a large handful of extended posts, Watch This will be back to its weekly schedule following this collection. Watch This has been an essential part of Heartbreaking Bravery since its first era as its very foundations are rooted in a philosophy that complements this space’s mission statement. They’re frequently ignored despite their astonishing level of artistry and are rarely featured in any meaningful way on any other forum. Live documentation is deeply important as it creates an immediate visual aid for a multifaceted chapter of history (and specifically the intersections that occur between venues/locations and artists).

Once again, 25 bands are featured in the below packet. Among these videos are performances that run the gamut from explosive covers (Meat Wave tackling Elliott Smith, Tacocat taking on Katy Perry), head-turning solo performances (Declan McKenna), confident experimentation (Operators, Fresh Snow, Blasteroid), and adrenaline-fueled thrill rides (Audacity, PWR BTTM, Mike Krol), among several other performance modes. Everything on display in this collection is worth studying, whether it’s the fillmmaking aspect or the performances themselves. There’s a lot to ingest so, as always, sit up straight, adjust the volume, get settled, and Watch This.

1. Audacity – Dirty Boy (BreakThruRadio)
2. PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries (Radio K)
3. Meat Wave – Speed Trials (SideOneDummy)
4. Stephen Steinbrink – Absent Mind (Little Elephant)
5. Moving Panoramas – Radar (BreakThruRadio)
6. David Bazan – Both Hands (KEXP)
7. The Zolas – Swooner (Light Organ)
8. Chris Bathgate – Nicosia (Radio K)
9. Hype – Last Man On Earth (DZ Records)
10. Operators – Space Needle (WFUV)
11. DIIE – Miracles & Magic Are Real (Radio K)
12. The So So Glos – Dancing Industry (Little Elephant)
13. Declan McKenna – Brazil (Conan)
14. Fresh Snow – Your Thirst For Magic Has Been Quenched By Death! (Exclaim!)
15. Mike Krol – This Is The News (KINK)
16. Tacocat – Roar (The AV Club)
17. The Kills – Tape Song (KCRW)
18. Guerilla Toss – Eraser Stargazer Forever (BreakThruRadio)
19. Blasteroid – Triple D (VHS Sessions)
20. GoGoPenguin – Branches Break (WFUV)
21. Saintseneca – How Many Blankets Are In The World (WXPN)
22. Murder By Death – Foxglove (Paste)
23. Nada Surf – Friend Hospital (World Cafe)
24. Furnsss – Roll With It (VHS Sessions)
25. Lee Fields – Don’t Leave Me This Way (KDHX)

Catbus – Fracas (Music Video)

catbus

Closing out the first week and a half of great music videos to find release in April is a class that includes Curtis Harding, Mad Anthony, The Zolas, The Dandy Warhols, Tiny Moving Parts, Sioux Falls, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, and BOYFRNDZ as well as Tripping in the Dark, a surprisingly nuanced documentary on Modern Baseball. Beyond those titles was the quietly-released video for Catbus’ “Fracas”, the band’s only song to date and a no-brainer inclusion for this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016’s First Quarter list. Somewhat surprisingly, the music video for “Fracas” as just as strong as the song, embracing the band’s DIY nature to present the act in a fitting light.

Before going too much further, I’d like to circle back to an astonishing fact: “Fracas” is the only song that Catbus has released. In under three minutes, the band’s made a very serious case for being one of this year’s best new bands. Examining their pedigree (the band’s rhythm section is made up of 2/3’s of site favorites Patio and it’s fronted by bedroom pop artist Phyllis Ophelia), this probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Revisiting bassist/vocalist Lindsey-Paige McCloy’s A Year’s Worth of Memories piece that prominently features Ophelia, it’s also incredibly heartening.

Back to the video: “Fracas” immediately sets its tone with a clever, eye-catching title card and a beautifully framed shot that lingers on what appears to be a dog-shaped coin bank that’s been repurposed into a vase that’s holding flowers (which wind up being a key recurring aspect of the clip). Title cards are also granted to the band’s members whenever they make an appearance, in a manner that echoes Community’s classic A Fistful of Paintballs episode. As drummer Alice Suh enters frame and McCloy and Ophelia gradually work their way in, “Fracas” builds a curious momentum that complements the song its accompanying extraordinarily well.

The direction throughout “Fracas” is remarkably assured, lending a whole new sheen of legitimacy to a project that — and this is the last time i’ll mention this — is only one song into their career. Starting off with Suh ambling around a kitchen, Ophelia haphazardly strumming her telecaster with a hand that’s clutching a maraca as a cat plays on the ground, and McCloy comfortably situated in a bathtub with her bass and a copy of Current Hits for Teens. The latter of those three interiors is where the photography direction starts taking chances, using soft lenses and lighting to conjure up an aura of mystique that ultimately betters the clip.

From the introductory sequences forward, there are a handful of striking cutaways that continuously elevate the artistry of “Fracas”. Whether it’s a low wide of a hallway, a time lapse of the NYC skyline, or the band’s exquisitely framed apartment entrance that pushes the bokeh to the front and effectively draws all attention to the band’s three members, allowing them a fleeting moment where they seem larger than life. The direction of “Fracas” immediately sends them spiraling back down in a sly gesture of self-deprecation that feels perfectly suited to the band. That moment doesn’t last long, though, and the trio finds redemption and sets the party around them into motion by clearing out an area and finally, triumphantly, plugging in to play the song.

As they play, flowers bloom and serve as garnishes for the instruments, they act as hairpieces, they stand out in the projection imagery that washes over the band as they dip into the song’s last section. It’s a beautiful display of symbolism that feels intrinsically connected to not only the way “Fracas” develops but the constitutional beliefs of the band themselves. It’s another piece of essential art in a long line of examples that argues there’s an unbelievable amount of beauty and power to be found in our own modesty. Just as everyone comes together as the song ends, “Fracas” offers up an important epilogue that sees the trio heading out of frame, leaving a trail of flowers in their wake.

Watch “Fracas” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the band.

Watch This: Vol. 120

After several recaps, best-of features, and weeks of waiting, Watch This returns to its standard weekly installments. A large handful of memorable videos have managed to accrue during the course of the past week. Kississippi, The Cave Singers, The Belvederes, Lomelda, The DistrictsFoxing, Cherry, The Zolas (x2), Choir Vandals, Fraternal Twin, Bayonne, Sun Club (x2), Jitters, 4th Curtis, Tomber Lever, Otis the Destroyer, Sounds Del Mar, Holy Wave, Shearwater, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Audacity, and The Greeting Committee all had individual efforts that merited multiple looks. Ultimately, this week belonged to the quieter sessions but still found a way to produce one of the most memorably raucous turn-ins of 2016 (so far, at least). There’s a lot to appreciate in the five videos below so, as always, straighten up, lean in, crank the volume, focus, and Watch This.

1. Mothers (NPR)

Last year, Mothers had me on the  verge of tears with the unveiling of the devastatingly gorgeous “Too Small For Eyes“. I’d seen them a  few months prior to that release but the restrictions CMJ presents essentially ensured that I wouldn’t be adequately prepared for the band’s astounding debut full-length, When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired. NPR recently hosted the band for an exquisite Tiny Desk session that does an intensely moving record justice.

2. Sunflower Bean – Easier Said (World Cafe)

One of the more intriguing bands to watch develop and fine-tune over the past few years has been Sunflower Bean, whose insane work ethic has begun to translate to widespread success (and no shortage of burgeoning acclaim). While it may be easy to become fixated on the band’s backstory, in the face of their music — a lovely blend of powerpop and psych-pop — it simply doesn’t matter. The band’s recent World Cafe session sees them on steady, assured footing, ready to meet whatever may come their way.

3. Kal Marks – Mankind (Allston Pudding)

Kal Marks is a name that’s appeared on this site multiple times over and the band keeps providing reasons to keep that name in heavy rotation on these pages. Case in point: an intense, scorched-earth single song performance for Allston Pudding. The band holds absolutely nothing back in this run through “Mankind”, which finds the trio elevating their no-holds-barred take on a blend of vicious basement grunge and snarling post-punk. It’s a thing to behold.

4. Long Beard –  Moths (VHS Sessions)

VHS Sessions has been crafting excellent live performance videos throughout 2016 but their current crown jewel came in the form of this humble run through “Moths” from Long Beard, who continue to set an exceedingly high bar for themselves and their peers. The trio constantly tap into an ineffable magic that renders songs that sound simple on paper transcendent in practice. This performance may very well be the most definitive example of their most intangible — and compelling — aspect.

5. Daughter (KEXP)

One of the most unexpected shows I managed to luck my way into last year was Daughter‘s secret set at Baby’s All Right. I’d admired the band previously but was completely enraptured with their live set, even to a point where I was incapacitated by severe chills during a breathtaking run through “Doing The Right Thing”. While it’s impossible for what the band achieves onstage to translate to a filmed studio session, this KEXP run is as close as anyone’s likely to get for the foreseeable future.