Martha, “Present, Tense”

Quinn Moreland

I have been kicking myself for not writing about Courting Strong, the debut album from Martha, since I saw the pop punk foursome perform at NYC Popfest. Hailing from the aptly-named village of Pity Me (a village within Durham), the group quietly released one of the catchiest power-pop records of the year in May. Courting Strong channels the complicated feelings of youth with a sense of humor and an aching heart. Few other bands could successfully namedrop Voltairine de Cleyre right after lyrics like “You lost your lucky purple lighter / On the Megabus to Brighton.” While I could write a much longer piece about the record, and like I said, this should have happened months ago, it’s time to move on to Martha’s new music video.


One of Martha’s best qualities is that each member is crucial, and there is no better example than in the video for “Present, Tense”. The video finds JC Cairns (guitar, vocals), well, all over. “Present, Tense” is largely about searching for some sort of concrete feeling, but JC can’t seem to catch a break. Bedrooms, churches, alleys, bathrooms, a pillow with rats, JC is everywhere, but not for very long. He is joined in the myriad of locations by his bandmates Naomi (bass, vocals) and Nathan  Griffin (drums, vocals) and Daniel Ellis (guitar, vocals), who offer comic relief in the backgrounds of otherwise standstill scenes. The video is lighthearted, everywhere at once, and characteristically clever.

Courting Strong is out now on Salinas Records (US) and Fortuna Pop! (UK).

Read our brief interview with Martha here.

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