This is the video for Breathe Your Last, by Jameson (Jameson Burt), from his new EP Carnivore. It considers, visually, the battle between artist – writer, in this case – and demons, and artist and self, and contains some weird Fight Club-style bloody violence and Blair Witch-style shaky footage of one man’s mind coming apart at the seams. There is one extended scene with words melting off a blackboard that is seriously the stuff of nightmares for anyone who keeps little piles of scribbled chunks of story and notes-to-self laying around. On the plus side: our hero does climb out of the nightmare pit at the end and presumably lives to fight (and scribble) another day. Some thoughts about Carnivore as a whole: I’ve been listening to it on loop for the last couple of days, and it is the kind of record that 1) will stand up to that kind of test – I have yet to get bored with it and 2) blooms under that kind of scrutiny. Breathe Your Last has a distinctly Americana sound, but the rest of the songs don’t really; they shimmy all over the indie rock spectrum, borrowing from a variety of genres … Continue reading
Nahko and Medicine for the People, led by Nahko Bear, are from Portland, Oregon, and are less a band and more an artistic collective that happens to play music. Really, really good music, that you could wedge into any number of genres, including world music, indie rock and inspirational. I came across them the other night when I fell in (yet another) Soundcloud hole, and I am very glad I did. This is the video for Budding Trees, from Dark as Night, which at this juncture is my favorite song of theirs, and I think it also serves as a good introduction to the band and their wider community, because it literally is the band and the community singing together. Not a show, however; they’ve used a broad assortment of footage, some amateur, some probably not, to show the tune winding through different lives. And this is Nahko Bear all by himself, doing their most recent single Wash It Away as part of a Gondola Session: Speaking of Soundcloud: This is their page, and you should go and just listen to the whole thing.
This video for This Old Banjo by J. Tex and the Volunteers of Copenhagen, Denmark, is a masterful piece of minimalism – it’s just him and a guitar – and it feels, for lack of a better term, organic. Unfussy, unforced, like he’s just walking around thinking with his guitar. The only thing that could have made it better would be the appearance of an actual banjo.
In honor of Michael Hutchence, who left us much too soon, and 17 years ago today: the video for Need You Tonight, by INXS, one that I watched every time it came up on MTV – which was a lot – and showcases him (them) at his finest. And, also, okay, yes, I totally had a middle-school crush on Michael Hutchence, fueled by this song, and this video. It was specific, but yet also somehow abstract; I was, I think, daydreaming of someone sidling up to me and informing me I was his kind. If that someone was as smoking hot as Michael Hutchence, all the better.
I touched on this briefly back in August, but: Frank Iero (Death Spells, Leathermouth, My Chemical Romance) and his new band (frnkiero andthe cellabration) have recently released a record, called Stomachaches. My feelings, the short version: It’s awesome and I love it. I return to it when I am feeling abraded by life, and wish to use Iero’s voice as a honey-and-gravel blanket. Or when I want to shuffle dance on street corners. Whatever you may have thought of My Chem: if you like vigorous punk rock with fuzzy accents and the occasional delicate melody, give this a shot. My feelings, the long version: I’ve been listening to this and Gerard Way’s Hesitant Alien as point-counterpoint, and while I like what Gerard Way has been up to – more on that later – Iero’s work is more musically interesting to me. I find I’m re-listening to songs not only because they feel like they fall directly into a pre-cut groove in my head and heart but because I’m actively trying to track what he’s doing with feedback and drums and/or listen more closely to the lyrics. Basically, I’m super into the way he’s playing with elements of dissonance in the … Continue reading
The last time we checked in with Heart-Ships was last October, and since then they’ve released a bunch of new music including a full-length record called Foil (YAY!) and split up (NOT YAY, MASSIVE :(). I listened to Foil late last night, and on the whole it is breathtaking. But there are a few songs that sank their claws into me. One of them was Undress Me To The Bone, which I present here in video form, because they did a “garden session” and sang it acoustic and it sounds like a diamond being wrenched out of them by force. This is the album version, which is worth listening to for the contrast: the lament sounds almost like an anthem. Also strong: Nadine, Heart of a Wrestler and We Were Quick to Bang The Drum.
Ocean, by Buffalo Sunn (formerly Sweet Jane): because y’all may have noticed this blog can be kind of . . . water themed, sometimes. I like the sea. Beach towns in winter are some of my favorite places; I love Coney Island all year ’round. By and large, if you need me and I am not where I usually am, you will find me by the seaside. Salt water and sea air: it’s good for whatever ails you. And this song expresses that feeling perfectly. The video is . . . kind of puzzling and claustrophobic – poking their YouTube channel implies we may we walking in mid-story – so the ocean, when it finally appears, is something of a relief.
So here is a story I have to tell you about Stay by Shakespeare’s Sister: The first time I heard it I was in the Arizona desert with my youth group, about three-fourths of the way through a week-long mission trip. We were out driving around looking at rocks, or something, I don’t remember, but it had been a long week. Tempers were fraying. Teeth were being firmly clenched. Required daily notes of affirmation to each other (yes, really) were becoming more difficult to compose. But we had the radio on, a) because it was 1992 and b) I think choosing one tape or CD to listen to might have been the last straw for all of us, and – this song came on: It was like someone had kicked down the door to a sex dungeon and it was full of fresh air. I didn’t quite understand what all was going on in there, but it surely was better than a car full of my seething peers. I bought their CD as soon as I got home (as well as a Patty Smyth CD; I was looking for Patti Smith and missed) and had that song on repeat for … Continue reading