Heartbreaking Bravery

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Shea Stadium: It’s Not Over Yet

While the Kickstarter drive to help secure Shea Stadium was wildly successful in terms of generating fiscal resources (nearly $100,000) for the beloved DIY Brooklyn venue, their fight’s only just beginning. The musical haven and cultural staple of Brooklyn’s landlords essentially refused the option of renewal to those running its operation, citing plans to convert the lower space into a nightclub as a reason for withholding the required signature to keep Shea Stadium alive at 20 Meadow St.

However, the Kickstarter campaign wasn’t the only thing funding the venue’s efforts of a greater revival. All of the people who had a hand in running Shea Stadium are resolved, now more than ever, to keep Shea Stadium going. The relocation costs provide a much steeper challenge than what would’ve been required to keep the venue alive on 20 Meadow St. and while the Kickstarter certainly helped, Exploding In Sound Records (who have maintained a very close relationship with the venue over the years) recently announced Exploding In Sound: Live at Shea Stadium.

Exploding In Sound: Live at Shea Stadium‘s a compilation of the best live cuts from the venue by the bands that have had a working relationship with the label and all of the proceeds will be directed towards the re-opening of Shea Stadium. To offer a glimpse of what’s on the tape, the label’s offered up a characteristically invigorating Pile performance, which sees the band tearing through “Baby Boy”. It’s a tantalizing preview of what’s destined to be one of the year’s most essential compilations.


In joining the communal outpouring of affection that’s swelled up around Shea Stadium, I’ve compiled all of the Heartbreaking Bravery videos that I personally shot at the venue over the summer of 2015, a near 50-video playlist which includes performances from the following: Attic Abasement, Charly Bliss, Diet Cig, Pupppy, Rivergazer, Clearance, Leapling, Lost Boy ?, Mumblr, Eskimeaux, Mitski, PWR BTTM, Model Train Wreck, Fern Mayo, Fruit & Flowers, Boytoy, & Sharkmuffin. It’s those kind of acts that inspired a loyal following that eventually became something greater: a legitimate community that’s ready to rally behind what’s developed into one of New York’s most important — and necessary — musical institutions. Buy that Exploding In Sound compilation here and revisit some highlights from the venue circa summer 2015 below.

Waxahatchee – Silver (Music Video)

Throughout the past six or seven days, great music videos by the likes of Pale Grey, Meat Wave, Tim Kasher, Mark Lanegan, Fuzzystar, Special Teams, Gurr, Chick Quest, EMA, Street Eaters, SOFTSPOT, No Vacation, Mayflower Madame, Airpark, Real Numbers, Hoan, Exit KidMurlo, M.I. Blue, Kurt Swinghammer, The Broken Hearts, Skye Steele, and Morning Teleportation have found their way into the world. All of them made several very good impressions but none of them seemed to go quite as deep as the considerable indent Waxahatchee‘s “Silver” left in its wake.

Katie Crutchfield’s projects were always going to be a staple of this site for however long either wound up being around. Ever since becoming accustomed to the songwriter’s work during P.S. Eliot‘s tenure. Fortunately, Crutchfield’s kept busy under the Waxahatchee moniker, releasing one sterling record after another and Out in the Storm looks ready to carry that unimpeachable run. “Silver” the first song to be released from the record also came equipped with an appropriately DIY-leaning video.

Throughout the clip, Crutchfield’s shown in a variety of ways, from running through the song with the band, to lip-syncing along to “Silver” while bathed in confrontational strobe lights, to black-and-white footage of the artist simply walking around. All of it forms a coherent whole that seems to enliven the song driving the whole affair. Clever editing, an easygoing charm, and a sense of place all congeal into something striking. When all’s said and done and the storm has abated, Crutchfield remains calm, standing proudly as one of this generation’s essential artists.

Watch “Silver” below and pre-order Out in the Storm from Merge here.

Pleistocene – Your New Life (Music Video)

Over the past week, there have been outstanding records by Real Life Buildings, Yellow Paper Planes, Molly Drag, Bluffs, pickle darling, Guilty Optics, Eric Slick, Good Good Blood, cooking, Sundae Crush, Monograms, Exhibition, Go By Ocean, dead man hammock, Kelly Moran, BENT, Raj and the 100’s, Tara Jane O’Neil, and Priests all finding release. Records weren’t the only things making an impact over the stretch. There were more than a few great music videos to surface and one of them came from site favorites Pleistocene.

In the most recent edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories Pleistocene bandleader Katie Preston talked a great deal about camaraderie and fostering healthy relationships, especially through shared interest. Those values are all reflected in the band’s new BUBL-T-directed music video for “Your New Life”, Spear‘s excellent lead-off track. The clip turns the focus onto the world of roller derby, where physical toughness is brought out with feverish intensity.

In addition to that toughness, there’s a dedication to the sport’s virtues that turn the people who immerse themselves in that world from casual spectators to role players to near-obsessives. There’s an undeniable ferocity to the game that manifests itself in the players, who, in turn, support each other. Since it’s not the most visible sport, that kinship intensifies considerably.

All of the values that are clearly evident in the sport wind up being analogous to the ones that Pleistocene have preached over the course of their discography, whether it be the inherent power of sisterhood, the willingness to stay resilient, or the importance of camaraderie. “Your New Life” distills everything into an energetic, effective, honest, and oddly moving portrayal of one of the great fringe sports. It’s a powerful piece from a band that, like derby, a lot more people should grant investment.

Watch “Your New Life” below and pick up a copy of Spear from the band here.

father truck – talk to me (Music Video Premiere)

“The video has clips from times in my life that were fun, and it’s about growing from that even if things have changed.” In that lone sentence describing the “talk to me” music video from Brooke Johnson’s solo project, father truck, Johnson exceeds the word count of the song. Combining that sentence with the only one present in “talk to me” — the twice-repeated “I wish I had enough time” —  along with the visuals and suddenly, this sub-minute piece’s meaning expands infinitely.

The song’s taken from father truck’s forthcoming stealing flowers from the neighbor’s lawn, which was partially inspired by the excellent Adventure Time miniseries Islands, which explores everything from fractured familial relationships to several feasible fates for humanity, should certain paths be emphasized. Affecting, introspective, bittersweet, and ultimately tender, Islands influence can be felt all over the video for “talk to me”, which incorporates ambiguous footage from a previous spring over a melancholic organ figure.

Sincere pleading collides with the downhearted acceptance that life can never truly give us everything we want, leaving it up to us to carve out some good parts along the way (and then look back on them fondly as we move forward and face new sets of challenges). “talk to me” may end with birds chirping and earnest laughter but what comes before that moment could hardly be described as light. Then again, when we’re faced with the bleakest circumstances or realizations, sometimes laughing’s all we can do.

Watch “talk to me” below and pre-order stealing flowers from the neighbor’s lawn from It Takes Time here.

Watch This: Vol. 158

Last week’s Monday-Sunday stretch yielded a large handful of outstanding live videos. While normally Watch This segments run on Sunday, this one (and the posts soon to follow) were held back by outside circumstances. The posting on Heartbreaking Bravery will be more frequent going into the future. Getting that rotation started is this crop of clips, which were strong enough to render compelling takes from the following as honorable mentions:

Jesca Hoop, Sigur Rós, Los Gold Fires, AJJ, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Dolfish, The New Pornographers, The Regrettes, Amy O, Sean Rowe, Desert Mountain Tribe, Weyes Blood, Hollerado, Vagabon, Future Islands (x2), Craig Finn, Noname, Deap Vally, Jonny Grave, The Smith Street Band, Car Seat Headrest, Hannah Lee Thompson, Hinds, Beach Slang, Liz Cooper & The Stampede (x2), Lou Canon, Sue the Night, Peter Silberman, Mipso, Juliet K, Ceschi, Anna Tivel, Lillie Mae, Bruise Violet, Hayley Heynderickx, Cold Country, Kyle Morton, Lisa Hannigan, and Kim Janssen.

As is typically the case, that’s a uniformly strong crop that reflects well on the selected features. So, as always, take a seat, calm down, take a deep breath, adjust the settings, lean in, and Watch This.

1. Vagabon (Audiotree)

A staple on this site for a few years, Vagabon‘s finally beginning to receive the levels of admiration, acclaim, and attention they’ve deserved for some time. Touring heavily on one of 2017’s finest releases thus far, the band recently found time to stop by the Audiotree studios and deliver a mesmerizing set. Running through several highlights from Infinite Worlds, the band remains in sharp form throughout and delivers one knockout blow after another, solidifying their status as one of today’s most exciting musical prospects

2. Lady Pills (BIRN)

Lady Pills have made a few brief appearances on this site but this two-song take for BIRN virtually guarantees them expanded coverage. Both “I Hate You” and “Irrelevant” reveal an understanding — if not outright mastery — of a very specific style of songwriting. Energetic, commendably contained, and compelling, the band lights into both tracks with both force and feeling. The instrumental segue that bridges the two songs is a thing of beauty and Lady Pills never stop providing reasons to commit their name to memory.

3. IAN SWEET (PressureDrop.tv)

When a label like Hardly Art shows interest in a band, there’s usually a handful of good reasons behind why they’re paying attention. Occasionally a band crumbles under the pressure or disintegrates in the face of a new set of challenges. IAN SWEET repaid that kindness in full, and then some, with their debut full-length, Shapeshifter. Following the record’s release, the band made a name for themselves on the live circuit. This full session acts as both a document and as definitive proof of their live prowess.



4. Forth Wanderers (KVRX)

A short while back, Forth Wanderers released one of the best EP’s of 2016 in Slop, a staggering career highlight by any metric. They’ve been hard at work ever since, promoting that EP and working on new material. In this intimate, stripped-down KVRX session, the band splits the selections between SlopTough Love, and offers a look ahead. All of the songs remain mesmerizing, even when scaled back to only guitars and vocals, aptly demonstrating that the band’s appeal — and talent — runs far deeper than the surface offerings.



5. Creepoid (Audiotree)

Creepoid‘s built a deeply impressive run over the span of their career, offering up plenty of fascinating twists along the way (the short film Ernest Undead being a notable example). In that time, they’ve also honed their live abilities, transforming into a tightly-knit wrecking crew that knows how to both enhance and accentuate the heaviness of their recorded material while still doing the ambient trappings justice. In this Audiotree session, they bare their teeth and clamp down, drawing a fair amount of blood.

Hazel English – More Like You (Stream)

Now that everything’s caught back up to the current release cycle, expect posts nearly every day to recap what’s been happening. Thursday brought in a small trove of treasures from great new tracks by the likes of Sharkmuffin, Christopher Paul Stelling, Walter Martin, Adult Mom, Gallery 47, The Bonnevilles, BNQT, So Many Wizards, Saudade Sisters, and Do Make Say Think to great music videos from John K. Samson, Tara Jane O’Neil, and JFDR to outstanding records by Workhorse, Lugaweight, and Mimi Raver.

Shortly following a characteristically excellent clip, Hazel English has returned with another winsome piece of music just in time to soundtrack all of our warm weather parties. “More Like You”, the project’s latest, is teeming with a familiar carefree aesthetic, something played up in the wistful, nostalgia-inducing home movie leanings of its music video. As always, it’s a warm piece of music, buoyed by the same empathetic warmth that’s quietly made Hazel English one of our most consistent emerging songwriters.

“More Like You” is unassuming, unpretentious, and gently atmospheric, conjuring up a world that’s easy to get lost in and difficult to leave. While the vocals remain pensive, they also retain the sunny optimism that’s always provided Hazel English’s music with a sturdy core. It’s that paradigm that makes Hazel English such a fascinating artist and what makes “More Like You” so alluring. There’s a hint of mystery nestled into the familiarity, rendering the comfortably breezy “More Like You” yet another triumph.

Listen to “More Like You” below and pre-order Just Give In/Never Going Home from Polyvinyl here.

Christopher Gold & The New Old Things – Sad Songs (Music Video Premiere)

There are few figures in the Wisconsin music scene that have been working as tirelessly and exuding as much warmth as Chris Gold, who’s maintained a consistency throughout a number of both musical projects and charitable work. A mainstay in the world of folksy, heart-on-sleeve balladeering, Gold’s also revealed a streak that leans far closer towards punk over the years. “Sad Songs”, the lead-off single from the forthcoming  You Are A Ghost, bridges that divide masterfully.

Directed, shot, and edited by Aaron Jankowski, the video for “Sad Songs” both takes the title of the record it appears on very literally and, in a characteristic turn of events, keeps it in the family. Gold’s son, Oliver, is hidden underneath the sheet for near the entirety of “Sad Songs” but still manages to exude the kind of magnetic, easygoing charisma that defines his father (and his father’s work).

“Sad Songs” itself comes across as a perfect amalgamation of everything Gold’s accomplished in his career, so it seems fitting that he’d find a way to encompass his son into the proceedings. Like all of his work, it’s heartfelt, it’s well-informed, it shows its influences, and reveals a heart all its own. A Southern-tinged rock n’ roll romp from a proud Northerner, “Sad Songs” may look towards the past but it marks an exciting new chapter for the artist responsible for its creation.

Watch “Sad Songs” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on You Are A Ghost, which will be released on May 12. The release show for You Are A Ghost will be held at Source Public House in Menasha, WI on May 13.

Pinegrove – Size of the Moon (Music Video)

There were a small handful of great releases to make their way out into the world over the past 24 hours, including great new tracks from RatboysCool American, Harmony Woods, Land of Talk, BodYAWN, Jimi Charles Moody, music videos by the likes of Kevin Morby, Hovvdy, Kamasi Washington, Hellrazor, Mt. Wolf, Bill Baird, Laser Background, and a pair of records from Oiseaux-Tempête and Entrail. Still, as good as all those titles were, it’s impossible to compete with the emotional heft generated by documenting a real-life affliction, especially when that documentation’s got the benefit of being set to one of last year’s finest songs: Pinegrove‘s “Size of the Moon”.

While this is, officially, an unofficial video, its also an unforgettable one. Chronicling the fight against Advanced Chronic Lyme’s Disease Monica Arbery — a sister of one of Pinegrove guitarist/vocalist Evan Stephen’s Hall’s friends — is currently waging, the video (directed by Arbery’s brother, Will) is a deeply human look at what it’s like to face down a debilitating disease.

In all of the laughter, all of the tears, all of the dancing, all of the resilience, and all of the strength present throughout “Size of the Moon”, the empathy driving this clip becomes readily apparent and, in turn, makes it an even more powerful document. Remarkable, compelling, and near impossible to shake, “Size of the Moon” gets at the heart of familial love in the face of struggle and makes its case with an abundance of conviction and feeling. Click play and then click over to the medical fund linked below to do something that will yield immediate productive good.

Watch “Size of the Moon” below, pick up Cardinal here, and donate to Monica Arbery’s medical fund here.

Hazel English – Fix (Music Video)

2016 was a very good year for Hazel English, who produced several of the year’s best music videos as well as one of its best EPs. “Fix”, the latest clip from the project, may just be its best yet. Whereas previous videos offered up what were essentially contained (and beautifully shot) travelogues, “Fix” takes a step further with its narrative and instead of isolating the artist, allows for a character study of a relationship.

It’s never exactly clear which stage of the relationship is being documented — most signs point to early — but it’s evident that it’s a healthy, thriving one. Too frequently, especially lately, have videos opted to take an overly-serious route when it comes to these types of studies but director Austin M. Kearns wisely side-steps that temptation to enhance the gentle beauty inherent in Hazel English’s best work, allowing both song and video to enhance each other’s impact in the process.

Ava Shorr’s cinematography also lends an elegant feel to the proceedings, switching between magic hour lyricism and a mid-day vibrancy that renders “Fix” the most colorful — and most impressive — of Hazel English’s increasingly gorgeous music video output. Derek Perlman gives a fine, committed performance as the male lead and Hazel Enligh remains the winsome center. The whole thing comes across as a breath of fresh air and the photography direction stands as some of 2017’s most beautiful in any format. Put simply: “Fix” is worth celebrating as much as its worth watching. Dive in, get lost, fall in love, and curl up in its effortless warmth.

Listen to “Fix” below and pre-order Just Give In/Never Going Home from Polyvinyl here.

Diet Cig – Maid of the Mist (Music Video)

To say that the past few weeks have been tumultuous for Diet Cig would be a massive understatement. From an NPR First Listen premiere for their debut album to a conversation-starting Pitchfork review that offered up some scathing criticisms, the duo has seen stratospheric highs and harrowing lows in very quick succession. True to their nature, they haven’t seemed too affected by any of the chaos swirling around their characteristically carefree epicenter.

Even with all of that happening, the duo managed a small but significant triumph in the animated clip for Swear I’m Good At This highlight “Maid of the Mist”. A lot of Diet Cig’s appeal comes down to guitarist/vocalist Alex Luciano’s defiantly optimistic worldview and unfettered sincerity (especially in a time when both of those things are topics of derision for one too many people), a trait that Mazzy Bell wisely plays up in this clip, which also doubles as a lyric video.

From the simplistic animations to the vibrant colors, Bell complements Diet Cig’s aesthetic with ease, rendering “Maid of the Mist” one of Diet Cig’s most representative — if not the most representative outright — offerings to date. It’s a quietly sublime work that coaxes maximum impact out of Diet Cig’s latest career highlight, enhancing its numerous strengths by mining the basics. Playful, effective, and surprisingly striking, it’s a perfectly-timed reminder of why so many people already know this band’s name. If they keep approaching their craft with this much thought, a whole new slew of converts will be waiting just around the corner.

Watch “Maid of the Mist” below and pick up Swear I’m Good At This from Father/Daughter (in conjunction with Frenchkiss) here.