Photo: Cai Indermauer

J. Graves finally reach the end of the story in the video for sinewy rock exorcism “Mad” [BPM Premiere]

The work of Portland, Oregon post-punkers J. Graves is caught between the darkness of various emotional traumas and a musically buoyant approach to overcoming hardship. Streaks of wiry guitar and propulsive percussion provides the backdrop for narratives detailing heartache, regret, and anger — and maybe even the stray bit of joy. Channeling the unfiltered emotion of early Sleater-Kinney and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the band — comprised of singer-guitarist Jessa Graves, bassist Kelly Clifton, and drummer Aaron MacDonald — mold their sinewy sound around bursts of intimate revelation and universal experience.

For their upcoming record, Fortress of Fun, the band wanted to try something a little different. Thematically, the album echoes with the same ideas of grief, frustration, and brief glimpses of lightness that they’ve played around with in the past, but conceptually, the record adheres to a “choose your own adventure” structure, as they wanted to engage more fully with the their audience. The idea was first thrown around when they found a an actual choose-your-own-adventure book in the studio where they recorded their previous album, Deathbed. Each song has a video that offers various paths to choose, allowing additional clips to be viewed depending on your choices. You can begin the adventure here.

For their latest single, “Mad”, the band tries to make sense of the countless troubles that surround us every day, from the most inane irritations to global pandemics. Guitars bend and twist into strange angles, while Graves’ voice shakes and contorts itself into beautifully angular shapes. At times quite minimal before blooming through riotous rock theatrics, the track finds them all playing with expectations before completely deconstructing the world around them.  

“‘Mad’ came at one of the strangest, most difficult times of my life,” explains Graves. “I needed this song like I needed to understand why I felt turned inside out. Whatever was happening, I couldn’t escape it, no matter what I did or how hard I tried. I couldn’t control it nor reason with it – all I needed was to be held, softly. Despite my own distraught confusion, this song had no other name and no other working title. ‘Mad’ knew exactly what it was.”

The video, filmed by Cai Indermauer, continues the adventure with buried treasure chests, masked figures, and beach performances before revealing the antagonists behind the entire ordeal. The story is over — our choices have been made.

Watch the video below.

J. Graves’ new album, Fortress of Fun, is due out September 30. Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram