Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: visual

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 7

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Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

The preceding galleries can be accessed via these links:

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Enjoy the gallery.

 

LVL UP – Ski Vacation (Stream)

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It’s been an insane past few days. Full streams, videos, and songs worth writing about have been emerging at a breakneck pace and making deciding what to feature a near-herculean task of decisiveness. There was a monumentally important music video from Mean Creek‘s Chris Keene for his upcoming solo record as Dream Generation, an interactive piece of unbridled fun from Ty Segall for the title track off of Manipulator, characteristically cinematic videos from both Beverly and Fucked Up– who have each been doing wonders with the visual medium, a video that practically defines Bob Mould’s workmanlike nature, and a Jane Forsyth & Ian Pollard-helmed video for Parquet Courts’ “Bodies Made Of“- which proved to be an astoundingly sensible creative pairing. There were full streams of the gently gnarled She Keeps Bees full-length, the psych-trip of the White Fence and Jack Name split, and a new Greylag song, “Yours to Shake“, that showed some serious teeth. Picking between all of those seemed as if it might be impossible until, once again, LVL UP made the decision fairly easy.

At this point, noting that LVL UP’s upcoming Hoodwink’d is this site’s front-runner for Album of the Year seems redundant. It’s a 15-song masterpiece that sees the band perfecting their best aspects and surpassing an arsenal of lofty expectations in the process. This is something that this site’s touched on in reviews for the first three songs to be teased from the record: “Soft Power“, “I Feel Ok“, and “DBTS“. Now, the band’s released the fourth look at the now-imminent Hoodwink’d with “Ski Vacation” which shows the band expanding their sonic palette yet again. Boasting a tranquil atmosphere and no shortage of jangly guitar tones, the song integrates some subtle-yet-effective surf tendencies into the band’s outsider pop aesthetic- and the end result is spectacular. What jumps out about all of the songs that the band’s been previewing is that they stand on their own extraordinarily well and would warrant serious consideration for pushes as Hoodwink’d singles- but as a collective piece they’re extraordinary and complement each other better than just about anything that even bothers to casually flirt with genre-hopping tendencies. In that respect, Hoodwink’d might be the first record 2014 produces that would be deserving of a title no smaller than masterpiece. “Ski Vacation” is just the fourth of 15 dimensions.

For some essential reading on Hoodwink’d, please go to Sasha Geffen’s Interview piece– where the track premiered- to scroll through a can’t-miss interview that sheds some light on what went into making the record.

Stream “Ski Vacation” below and pre-order Hoodwink’d from Double Double Whammy (which has played host to several of 2014’s best releases and is in the midst of an absurd winning streak)- who will be co-releasing it with Exploding in Sound (see: last parenthesis)-  here.

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.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always (Music Video)

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have endured one of the stranger career arcs of recent memory but, thankfully, that hasn’t stopped them from making music. If the backlash and critical comedown they faced after the buzz from their much-adored self-titled debut had deterred them, they wouldn’t be on the verge of releasing what looks to be a fairly incredible record. The band had already shared a track featuring The National’s Matt Berninger which didn’t skimp on scuzz, which is a trend that continues on “As Always”. Additionally, they’ve released an alluring music video to accompany “As Always” that accentuates the song’s sense of unease to near-perfection.

Anchored by an engaging central performance from Will Daniels, the David M. Helman-directed clip blurs the boundaries between the naturalistic and surreal to great effect. Tracking the protagonist through a night on the town that’s filled with a quiet discontentment, it manages to become both a frightening character study as well as a cautionary warning. With the atmosphere of the clip heightened by the decision to present much of its arresting imagery through hazy exteriors, it becomes a magnetic force through its artfully positioned movements. By the climactic finish, just how harrowing everything that preceded it becomes clear- and everyone involved has something they have every right to be proud of.

Watch “As Always” below and make sure to pick up the band’s forthcoming album, Only Run, when it’s self-released on June 3.

Thee Oh Sees – The Lens (Music Video)

Thee Oh Sees may be on an indefinite hiatus but that hasn’t stopped them from releasing new music. “The Lens” was the first song the band released to tease next month’s The Drop, their last release for the foreseeable future. It’s a weird psych-heavy slow-burner from a band more prone to ferociously energetic freakouts and now “The Lens” has a video to further its weirdness. Managing to work in a visual aesthetic that appears to be some sort of halfway point between Terry Gilliam’s animation work and The Beatles’ visual psychedelia, the song’s queasiness eventually takes full effect as the animation lets one hallucinatory image gently ease into another. It’s as bizarrely hypnotic as the song itself and vaguely NSFW, so watch it with caution. “The Lens” can be seen below and The Drop is due out on 4/19 via Castle Face Records. Keep an eye out.