Cruel Summer, “Leeches”

Sjimon Gompers

San Francisco’s Cruel Summer premieres their follow-up to 2013’s ST​/​EP with a peaceful statement against the tech-takeover in the jubilant debut of, “Leeches”. Directed by Heidi Petty, Robert Lampe, and edited by Aaron Buttig; Thea Chacamaty, Josh Yule, Chani Hawthorne, and Sean Mosley return to reclaim the city and Bay that they love before the bridge-and-tunnel tycoons moved in, and kicked everyone out. Conveyed through  sunny, summer day visuals and a plastered-pastiche sound, “Leeches” echoes the various eclectic art movements that have comprised the Bay Area scenes from the former garage rock boom, the local dream pop movements, to its psychedelic past.

Cruel Summer interrupts the Bay Area’s current torrential storm to wander in the green, spring fields of “Leeches”. Giving the gift of sunshine to chase away the overcast clouds; the freedom of unburdened afternoon unfolds as Thea declares with warning and conviction, “the leeches are coming into town, and they just want to suck your blood”. Crisp, sparkling guitars voices beautifully blend into harmonic voices of defiance in an allegory made against the SF tech intrusion. The slightly-psych kissed visual overlays from Heidi Petty and Robert Lampe re-introduce a ‘flower power’ style of back-to-nature/back-to-basics aesthetics, replete with over-exposed lens shots of sunbeams brightly reflecting off Chacamaty’s sunglasses. The opening shots blurs the saturated streets of San Fran with the foliage, tree branches, and bristling blades of grass captured from the surrounding park escapes.

Cruel Summer’s Josh Yule talked with us about the making of the video for “Leeches”, and their beautiful, cacophonous love song to the soul of San Francisco before the tech boom began to bleed it dry:

As more artists and musicians are displaced from their communities, “Leeches” is another addition to the rising tide of responses to the city’s scourge. In a city known for its wild creative community, “Leeches” is about the struggle to hold on, as many musicians are now, by clinging for dear life to the one thing keeping them in their homes: rent control. While recent the recent boom times have lead to massive displacement for many, and several of the city’s venues are slated to close in the coming year, those that remain have cultivated a curated and vibrant music scene centered mainly around the dive-y clubs and underground venues such as the Knockout, Hemlock Tavern, and Vacation.

The video takes the band on a dreamlike journey through the city through the filtered lens: one of gossamer beauty and a psychedelic color wheel to highlight the life in it that’s still left.

Listen to more from Cruel Summer via BandcampRocinante Records have released a limited-edition lathe cut 7″ for the song, of which there are only a few copies left.

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