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Protomartyr Share Bittersweet Video for “June 21”

Ultimate Success Today Out Now via Domino

Jul 23, 2020 Protomartyr
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Detroit-formed post-punkers Protomartyr released a new album, Ultimate Success Today, last Friday via Domino. Now they have shared a video for the album’s “June 21.” Ashley Armitage directed the video, which features an old woman reflecting on her youth and the memories of her house. Watch it below.

The band’s Joe Casey had this to say about the song in a press release: “Nostalgia and regret under the dwindling shade. For instance, there’s a translated lyric from the Alexander Robotnik song ‘Problemes D’Amour’ (it’s on ice but it won’t keep). A 12-inch remix of that song was so popular in Detroit it became the theme for WJLB and was used in their ‘Strong Songs’ ad campaign. Hearing that song evokes in me the hiss of the summer grass, the whine of a Spree’s 2-stroke 50cc engine, the rising horror of cicadas, and the verdant immolation of the summer, I hope this feeling was captured in ‘June 21.’”

Director Ashley Armitage had this to say about the video: “When I first listened to ‘June 21,’ it immediately felt nostalgic to me. One of the first sentences in the song mentions a ‘prima ballerina’ so I took that theme and ran with it. I’ve moved houses and cities a lot in my life and there’s something so tangible and bittersweet about bidding farewell to a place. I have very specific memories in each house I’ve ever lived in, and I wanted to make a music video that represents this feeling. The main character in this film is an older woman who’s lived in this house her entire life. She’s finally moving out and we watch as she literally dances through her memories in the house.”

Read our review of Ultimate Success Today here.

Ultimate Success Today was due out May 29, but in April it was pushed back to July 17 because of COVID-19. Previously Protomartyr shared Ultimate Success Today’s first single, “Processed By the Boys,” via a video for the song. “Processed By the Boys” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from the album, “Worm in Heaven,” via a video for the track. Then they shared another new song from the album, “Michigan Hammers,” via a video for the track. Yoonha Park directed the video, which features clips from action movies and is also a play on the Detroit-set sci-fi/action classic Robocop. “Michigan Hammers” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Ultimate Success Today is the band’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2017’s Relatives in Descent and 2018’s Consolation E.P., both also released by Domino. Last year they also put out a deluxe reissue of their debut album, No Passion All Technique.

The band co-produced Ultimate Success Today with David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House), who also mixed it. It was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church in Upstate New York

Protomartyr is Joe Casey (vocals), Greg Ahee (guitars), Alex Leonard (drums), and Scott Davidson (bass guitar). Ultimate Success Today also features various guest musicians: Nandi Rose aka Half Waif (vocals), Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello).

Casey had this to say about the album in a previous press release: “The re-release of our first album had me thinking about the passage of time and its ultimate conclusion. Listening to No Passion All Technique again, I could hear myself hoping for an introduction and a long future, but also being cognizant that it could be ‘one and done’ for us. So, when it came time to write Ultimate Success Today, I was reminded of that first urgency and how it was an inverse of my current grapple with how terribly ill I’ve been feeling lately. Was that sick feeling coloring how I felt about the state of the world or was it the other way around?

“This panic was freeing in a way. It allowed me to see our fifth album as a possible valediction of some confusingly loud five-act play. In the same light I see it as an interesting mile marker of our first decade of being a band – a crest of the hill along a long highway. Although just to cover my bases, I made sure to get my last words in while I still had the breath to say them.”

Read our 2017 interview with Protomartyr.

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