Heartbreaking Bravery

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Thee Oh Sees – The Lens (Music Video)

Thee Oh Sees may be on an indefinite hiatus but that hasn’t stopped them from releasing new music. “The Lens” was the first song the band released to tease next month’s The Drop, their last release for the foreseeable future. It’s a weird psych-heavy slow-burner from a band more prone to ferociously energetic freakouts and now “The Lens” has a video to further its weirdness. Managing to work in a visual aesthetic that appears to be some sort of halfway point between Terry Gilliam’s animation work and The Beatles’ visual psychedelia, the song’s queasiness eventually takes full effect as the animation lets one hallucinatory image gently ease into another. It’s as bizarrely hypnotic as the song itself and vaguely NSFW, so watch it with caution. “The Lens” can be seen below and The Drop is due out on 4/19 via Castle Face Records. Keep an eye out.

Tashaki Miyaki – Cool Runnings (Music Video)

Tashaki Miyaki are continuing on their insanely prolific month by releasing their fifth music video- this one coming hot on the heels of their stunning videos for “Best Friend“, “Get It Right“, “Tonight“, and “Somethin’ Is Better Than Nothin’“. For anyone unfamiliar with the Los Angeles trio, the video for “Cool Runnings” will be as good of an introduction point as anything else in the band’s short but impressive catalog (though their swoon-worthy self-titled EP is definitely worth a look). “Cool Runnings” (no relation to the film) continues the band’s black-and-white clip aesthetic, this time simply showing three friends enjoying a day spent at a quaint, abandoned home. There’s genuinely gorgeous cinematography throughout that evokes Jim Jarmusch’s visual aesthetic as much as Roger Deakins’ (Nebraska is also brought to mind more than once). Somehow the visuals wind up complementing the band’s breezy shoegaze-tinged dream pop. It’s a great addition to a strong 7″ and a seductive appetizer that (hopefully) points to a forthcoming LP. Only time will reveal the details of such a thing but it’s certainly nice to have a soundtrack to wait to. Watch “Cool Runnings” below and start looking forward to warmer weather.

Help Save Fort Foreclosure (Indiegogo Campaign)

Photos by Rich Dionne William Schaff is an internationally known artist who works mostly on commission and has designed dozens of album and CD covers, prints, posters and other works of art. His name cuts such a wide swath and carries such pull that he's had visitors travel from as far away as Sweden, unannounced, to meet him. But he considers himself as much a Warrenite as an artist of international acclaim.

Continuing tonight’s trend of unusual coverage is a very important cause: saving Fort Foreclosure, home of artist William Schaff. For those not familiar with Schaff, he’s the artist behind some of the best album artwork of the past 15 years, from Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven to Songs: Ohia’s Magnolia Electric Co. to all of Okkervil River’s artwork (the pieces he put together for the Black Sheep Boy series deserve to be celebrated into the next century). Unfortunately, Fort Foreclosure is currently living up to the latter portion of its name and he needs all the help he can get to change that.

That’s why Schaff’s started up an Indiegogo project that offers some unique rewards for very fair prices. From a stunning deck of individually designed playing cards ($9) to little books containing the sketches for Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven ($15) and sketches inspired by In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea ($10) to packages containing all three of those things in addition to a project-exclusive benefit CD full of project-exclusive songs from a variety of artists connected to Schaff ($60) to more decidedly extravagant rewards like a five day, five night residency at Fort Foreclosure with Schaff himself ($800). There are several other offers on the table and they’re all for a very worthy cause. Each offer can be viewed and selected here.

This is a serious situation that can yield serious rewards for both the artist and the contributors. It’s a unique project that deserves investment and a way to help one of this generation’s most gifted artists thrive. It’s an opportunity worth seizing for both the cause and the effect. Most importantly, it’s a good way to provide a healthy environment for the creation of great art- a cause that this place holds sacred. Stop waiting, contribute now, and make anyone and everyone aware that they can too. The clock is ticking.

A note from Schaff about the situation can be read both in the above link and below.

“My Name is William Schaff. As most of you here know, I have been a working artist for the the last 20 some odd years or so. I have started this campaign because the studio and home that both myself, and the band, Brown Bird, inhabit is again in Foreclosure. I am looking to make this stop, once and for all, and I am hoping you can help. Please check out the rewards I offer for contributing, and see if there is anything that catches your fancy. I’ve tried to make sure that each of you, no matter your situation, can be part of this effort. If we are not able to raise all the money, what is raised shall still go towards covering the mortgage, and dealing with the utilities. Keeping the Fort, out of foreclosure.

So please watch the attached video, see what you will be getting involved with. Share, and tell your friends. Become a part of the arts in a way you may not have before!

Thank you.”

Sleep Party People – In Another World (Stream)

SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE - In Another World

Very rarely has Heartbreaking Bravery stepped outside the confines of the DIY punk community. Even the bigger acts that have been celebrated in this space have had ties to the basements that birthed this continuously-evolving faceless collective. Usually when there’s an interloper it’s an artist that has some inclinations towards a fierceness characteristic of that community or that fierceness is an inherent part of their work. There’s a reason for this- Heartbreaking Bravery has a conscious identity primarily revolving around the bands that deserve to be celebrated in their early stages and no scene seemed to embody that spirit more than the one that’s most frequently covered here. Every once in a while, though, there comes a band, video, or song that’s good enough to challenge or infiltrate that identity. Sleep Party People is one of those bands and “In Another World” is certainly one of those songs.

Sleep Party People’s We Were Drifting On A Sad Song, an enticing mixture of ambient, pop, electronica, psychedelia, and moments of transcendental heaviness, was one of 2013’s more challenging records just by virtue of being so fearlessly unique. One of the most prominent features of that record came in the form of Brian Batz’s strangely unnerving electronically-manipulated vocals.  That the Copenhagen artists vocals appear to be relatively unfiltered throughout “In Another World” instantly make them more arresting, if only because the move is so unexpected. Batz’s vocals aren’t the first attention-catching thing here, though. “In Another World” (the first track to be teased from the upcoming floating starts with a haunted acoustic guitar medley underneath a warm phonograph crackle before being joined by a hypnotic drum part, ultimately winding up in peak DangerMouse/Gorillaz territory.

Shortly after that soundbed’s established, a creeping sense of uncertainty sets in as Batz gently lays his falsetto over the noise as additional production (courtesy of Mikael Johnston and Jeff Saltzman) creeps in and out of the mix- sometimes quite literally, as the brilliant sound design has it panning from left speaker to right, fluctuating in volume. It’s an experience that’s impossible to pull away from- its entrails reach out and surround in a foreboding paralytic embrace. Piano lines appear and vanish, the bass rises and falls with frightening conviction, the vocals remain disconcertingly calm and what should wind up being a vaguely nightmarish experience somehow becomes one of quiet catharsis.

This is music that matters and doesn’t deserve to be overlooked. Listen to it below and stare forever at the obscenely gorgeous cover art.

Bleeding Rainbow – Images (Music Video)

Bleeding Rainbow keep adding onto what’s already one of the year’s more impressive lead-up campaigns for their upcoming Kanine debut, Interrupt. A trio of tracks from the record have already been released into the world and “Images” is now the second to get a music video (“So You Know” was the first). “Images”, like “Paper the House“, is another performance clip video- only this is a much more involved variant. That the band decides to emphasize their visuals for “Images” isn’t surprising considering the title- what is surprising is how well the video suits the song. There’s a definite sense of unease that permeates a lot of Bleeding Rainbow’s work (something that seems to get amplified in accordance with how frenetic they get) but paired with color-tinted hallucinatory visuals, that unease quickly elevates to a focal point. All of the overlays, superimposed moving one shots, and sly delays combine to make “Images” a surprisingly memorable experience. Watch it below and give in to its tricks; it’s one hell of a ride.

Fucked Up – Paper the House (Music Video)

There are very few bands with discography’s as deep as Fucked Up’s with so few LP’s. For a while, especially towards the beginning of the band’s career, they produced a ceaseless onslaught of 7″ and 10″ releases, while never offering up more than an EP. When their first LP finally did come along, it sent some shockwaves through a broadening audience. Fast forward from that moment to today and nearly all of their full-lengths can be considered classics. After all, it takes something special for a band flirting with so many hardcore tendencies to take home the Polaris Prize (here’s looking at you, The Chemistry of Common Life). Now, three years after their massive, blistering rock opera David Comes to Life, the band have set their sights on their newest LP: Glass Boys.

For a long while Glass Boys was shrouded in mystery, with the band taking some time to rest before emerging full-force just a few short months ago. Then, as is often the case with Fucked Up, everything seemed to hit at once: the announcement of the Year of the Dragon 10″, a revealing interview with Stereogum, the 285 Kent adieu, the Glass Boys reveal artwork above), and the stream of the accompanying lead-off single- along with its music video. While the recorded version of “Year of the Dragon” has yet to be heard, both “Paper the House” and its video prove to be quite gripping.

“Paper the House” the song is one of the most melodic pieces the band’s wrung out of their tenacity yet, containing a lead guitar line that’d fit comfortably in just about any 90’s slacker pop song. There’s a catchy-as-hell chorus, a vocal part that showcases Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham’s deceptive range (as well as what seem to be his most personal lyrics to date), and a fittingly forceful rhythm section that keeps the song as propulsive as possible. The accompanying video is artfully directed and unfailingly minimal- a beautifully-shot and artfully directed black-and-white performance clip video. It’s a necessary reminder of how straightforward this band can be without losing any of its power and its a tantalizing glimpse at what could be one of the years most important records. Watch it below.

Mr. Dream – Cheap Heat (Stream)

Mr. Dream - Cheap Heat - Ultimate In Luxury - GODMODE - 2014

There have been days that have been vacuums, tornadoes of loneliness and unrepentant angst, where all that’s needed for correction is a shot to the face. Enter: Mr. Dream and their new single, “Cheap Heat”. Mr. Dream have been making some waves recently and it’s not difficult to imagine those being a direct result of the maelstrom the band’s music conjures so readily conjures up. “Cheap Heat” is one of the byproducts of their force-of-nature approach; all blitzkrieg and no safety; velocity set to approach terminal levels. It’s a headfirst dive into the frenzy, with rapid-fire riffs and energetic vocals cascading off of each other like objects swept up in a tornado. By the time it’s over, it’s as if another world had interrupted the one that had existed so calmly in the before and after. After all that destruction, the quiet starts to signify a menacing sense of meaningless, the chaos takes the shape of purpose- and the only thing left to do is hit repeat. Hear “Cheap Heat” below and hold onto any valuables.

Watch This: Vol. 17

After an unforeseen extended break due to some technical difficulties and exterior circumstances, the defibrillator has jumped this place’s pulse back into motion. Returning after a week’s silence means quite a bit of catch-up to do while also attempting to keep the up-to-date news in circulation. In the coming days and nights, there will be multiple posts a day until the day:post ratio of 1:1 is re-attained. This frenzied spree will kick off now, with what will hopefully be the last overdue Watch This for quite some time. This week’s edition is heavy on full KEXP sessions as an apology of sorts, a way to overcompensate for lost time. So sit back, relax, and watch this.

1. Coachwhips – You Gonna Get It (Sailor Jerry’s)

For whatever reason, Sailor Jerry’s has always been supportive of the DIY punk scene and hosted more than a few memorable live sessions. Most recently, they were on hand for SXSW to both assist and capture this insane middle-of-a-crowd Coachwhips performance. Coachwhips, a direct predecessor of Thee Oh Sees, were a band that generated a lot of support in the early days. Seeing them come back and met with an elevated level of adoration in this video is nothing short of bliss.

2. La Luz (KEXP Session)

With a tumultuous 2013 behind them (one that saw them release one of the year’s best LP’s, EP’s, and survive a major traffic collision), La Luz have nowhere to look to but the future. They’ve earned the support of a very vocal community that’s constantly growing. With performances like this one, it’s hard to see that trend doing anything but continuing- after all, that’s probably the best way to pay tribute to the band themselves.

3. Fruit Bats (KEXP Session)

Fruit Bats have maintained an enviable consistency over the past 17 years, releasing a body of work that deserves to be celebrated as legendary. Perpetually on the fringe of national attention, Eric D. Johnson watched as the roster around him constantly shifted. For this session, the songwriter came in on his lonesome and delivered a handful of tracks from Mouthfuls, along with the announcement that Fruit Bats was officially calling it quits. If this video can be viewed as a selection of Fruit Bats’ last stand, then it’s pretty clear Johnson is going out on top. 

4. Dinosaur Pile-Up – Arizona Waiting (Audiotree)

There has been no shortage of bands playing with 90’s influence as of late but it’s been quite some time since there was a band reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, and early Foo Fighters in equal measure. Dinosaur Pile-Up somehow manages to encapsulate the spirit of all of those bands while throwing in enough Audacity-style change-ups to keep things firmly rooted in the present. This video couldn’t be a more perfect introduction.

5. Angel Olsen (KEXP Session)

What else can be said about Angel Olsen at this point? Since the release of this year’s first quarter highlight Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Olsen’s gained enough accolades to close a canyon and her performances have been revered in the most awestruck of words. Having already appeared numerous times in Watch This, the most that can be said without growing too repetitious is that this KEXP session may be her finest recorded live outing to date.