Heartbreaking Bravery

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Greys – Guy Picciotto (Music Video)

Greys’ If Anything (due out June 17 via Carpark) is already one of the most anticipated full-lengths of the remaining year. This is thanks, in no small part, to lead-off preview track “Guy Picciotto”. Amanda Fotes has now provided that track with a video that rivals the songs sense of chaos and tension. Presented in a muted palette (incidentally- and possibly intentionally- it looks like it was tuned through a gray filter), the video revolves around the band throwing a Marshall cab off of the roof an ostensibly abandoned building in a desolate part of some unnamed city. There are a few moments where some footage of the band playing gets spliced in and Fotes disorients the linearity of the act by positioning the members on both the roof and the ground during the amp’s descent. It takes the amp the duration of the song to reach impact and there’s a sly bit of cleverness to that ultimate, climactic moment. It’s all over in well under two minutes and more than worth anyone’s time. Watch it below and keep an eye out for both If Anything and the band’s reportedly insane live show. Enjoy.

Watch This: Vol. 21

Well, it’s already been too long since the last one of these- the most personal installment of the series to ever have run– went live. This week’s all about making up for lost time which is why between this posting and Sunday, there will be three Watch This pieces posted. It’s been nearly a month since new material was posted so this volume will be dedicated to covering that space. There were more than a few videos to choose from due to the delay but the five below, whether they be a full set, short documentary, or just a single song, were five of the videos that most closely adhere to the spirit of this place. So kick off the new week in style, crank up the volume, and Watch This.

1. Tacocat (Full KEXP Session)

Tacocat’s recent self-titled record, NVM. is already shaping up to be one of the definitive 2014 summer records, filled to the brim with sunshine-inflected basement pop. In this recent KEXP session, the band plays four songs and enthusiastically responds to a fair few interview sections in an incredibly winning middle segment. All of the songs are played loose and with a sense of purpose. Never anything less than a delight, this round of songs for KEXP is just another notch in the band’s increasingly impressive belt.

2. Speedy Ortiz –  Silver Spring (Allston Pudding)

It didn’t take long for Speedy Ortiz to be thrown into the driver’s seat of the current 90’s revival crop. Major Arcana made it incredibly easy by distilling seemingly everything great from the alternative culture of that time period into something that was undeniably modern. This also allowed Sadie Dupuis a platform to tear down oppressive institutions and schools of thought, which is something that’s (dishearteningly) still sorely needed. Importantly, that also kept the band in the public eye and was likely one of the reasons for their continuously elevating success. Another reason? Their live show, which plays perfectly into their aesthetic- feeling over technicality had been lacking as of late, so praise be to Speedy Ortiz for trying their hand at restoring the balance. This version of “Silver Spring” should make just about anyone understand.

3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Blameless (KEXP)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have remained an anomaly by virtue of the band’s undeniably erratic trajectory. When they were introduced to the world at large, they were at the forefront of a newly-emphasized class of buzz bands that were supported by hype and high expectations. After their debut record won them a vastly expanded following, they disappeared for a while before returning with what many thought was a lackluster sophomore effort. Retreating again after that, the band went through same changes, Alec Ounsworth started making solo music, and seemed fated to fade into a distant memory or relative obscurity. Now, Ounsworth is back, playing songs out solo under the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah moniker- and if this utterly gorgeous performance of new song “Blameless” is any indication, it looks like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah just might be coming up a whole lot more in conversation again.

4. Pookie & the Poodlez (Jam in the Van)

Another year, another Burgerama, and another of what will hopefully be one of many more Jam in the Vans from that festival. Pookie & the Poodlez (which is essentially just the Nobunny touring band switched around) rip through three gleefully obnoxious basement pop rippers. It’s all in the spirit of fun and fits perfectly into the Burger aesthetic, serving up a near-definitive representation of what kind of weirdness the label’s all about. Insanely catchy and absolutely carefree, it’s enough to spark hope for many more Burgerama Jam in the Van’s.

5. RIP 285 Kent (Pitchfork)

Definitely coming in as an outlier for the Watch This series, this Pitchfork documentary’s earned itself an inclusion on the basis of necessity; this is one of the most important short-form discourses on what a DIY space can mean to a community and what it can become. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a major area or the smallest town, there are valid points littered throughout RIP 285 Kent. Yes, there may be some esoteric language in terms of location and development pace but the underlying messages are ones worth noting. Additionally, it’s a close examination of a DIY space that was important to a scene that was important. Everyone from Deafheaven to Lodro to DIIV to Fucked Up get featured via live clips and a great deal of insight is offered from everyone who’s directly involved/responsible (like Ric Leichtung) and anyone who was tangentially involved (like Dan Deacon). It’s also a reminder to celebrate the things worth celebrating while they’re around. It’s worth several watches and bookmarking for future reference. All of those reasons are why it’s earned its spot as the closer for this 21st installment of Watch This.

Mean Creek – My Madeline (Music Video)

Well, after a night of catch-up via writing about some of the best music videos to have come out in the past few weeks, what’s one more? Before getting into that, though, it’d be a missed opportunity if light wasn’t shed on some other notable music videos from the likes of Curtis Harding, Screaming Females, Thee Oh Sees, OFF!, Cloud Nothings, Popstrangers, Vertical Scratchers, Pure X, Sweet Apple, Nothing, Yuck, Tacocat, The Antlers, Courtney Barnett, Parquet Courts, and Owls (as well as a deeply unsettling short film from The Body). While all of those are well worth taking multiple looks at (that short film, especially), the video earning the feature spot is for recent Watch This act Mean Creek.

To celebrate the release of the band’s recent Local Losers, they released a somewhat haunted clip for Local Losers standout “My Madeline”, directed by Richard TK Hawke and James Lindsay. In the video, guitarist and vocalist Chris Keene stalks an apartment that’s either full of tripped-out scenes from the aftermath of an afterparty or projected memories on a wistful tour-through. All the other members of Mean Creek make appearances in various guises as the video glides along, retaining a sense of subtlety that emphasizes the song’s finer points. It’s an immensely impressive works on all accounts and solidifies their status as a band to know.

Watch the hazy video for “My Madeline” below and pick up Local Losers from Old Flame Records or any record shop that carries it.

Archie Powell & the Exports – Holes (Music Video)

It wasn’t too long ago that Archie Powell & the Exports earned themselves both a write-up and a best-of mixtape inclusion for the incendiary ripper “Everything’s Fucked”. That song was the first to tease the band’s upcoming record, Back in Black, which promises to show a rawer and more ragged side to the Chicago-based quintet. Since releasing that as the introduction piece the band have been carefully doling out bits and pieces of the record but nothing has been as impressive as the recently-released music video for “Holes”, which earned itself an impressive feature on Consequence of Sound and featured heavy involvement from Audiotree.

“Holes” comes courtesy of Brian Racine and an impressively assembled crew who made this video as eye-catching as possible, in the best of ways. All of it’s shot in keeping with a classic video game aesthetic (in terms of palette and presentation it’s not too far removed from Edgar Wright’s largely misunderstood Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), apart from the few avant-glam shots thrown in for good measure, and packs a hell of a punch. It’ll also drive up a desire to either play arcade games, grab a drink, or start a band- so fair warning. All told, this is just further evidence that AP&tE are ready for bigger things and have their sights set on achieving them.

Watch “Holes” below and then play some arcade games, grab a drink, and start a goddamn band already.

The So So Glos – Speakeasy (Music Video)

No band was as successful at releasing memorably goofy and immensely enjoyable low-budget music videos in 2013 as The So So Glos were. After releasing what was arguably the most outright fun record of last year, Blowout, the band just seemed to decide that wasn’t enough and proceeded to grant us a bevvy of riches that perfected a certain aesthetic- and they’re still not done. “Speakeasy” is the fifth music video to be crafted for a Blowout track and lives up to its predecessors. Again occupying the low-budget lo-fi slot, “Speakeasy” introduces itself by way of text that gets delivered in what appear to be retro error messages on a computer. What happens after shows off the band’s personality and natural charisma as well as anything possibly could while a clever concept guides them along. It’s irreverent, idiosyncratic, self-referential and every bit as fun as anything they’ve produced so far. To say anything more would risk ruining the impact. It’s best just to watch “Speakeasy” below and grin stupidly the whole way through.

PUP – Lionheart (Music Video)

One of the first few pieces this place conjured up was a glowing review for PUP, which had only been released in Canada at the time of posting. As the US release date for the record approached, more people started taking notice of the band. Rave reviews for the live show spilled in from the various corners of the wider-reaching music community and anticipation for the record shot up in accordance. Now, PUP is a great record, which has been covered but the music video the band crafted for “Reservoir” was in a different stratosphere of greatness. That music video was one of the best of the past several years so when the band announced a follow-up effort, this time for “Lionheart”, the expectations were off the charts. Fortunately, for everyone, the band delivered.

The premise of “Lionheart” is incredibly basic but it manages to exist in a similar realm to its predecessor thanks to the flawless execution. Once again, the band has tapped into the DIY ethos, only this time they’ve moved it from the stage to the afterparty. It’s a single shot emphasizing the action that takes place in the kind of basement most punks would be proud to call home. From taping bottles of some unidentifiable liquid to whoever’s crashing on the couch right through to the guy eating pizza in a Green Bay Packers beanie, this is the kind of scene that should be familiar to anyone who’s showed up early or stayed late at any house show. All of the details feel lived-in and authentic giving the whole thing a loose classic vibe. All of this, of course, is propelled by the actual song itself which elevates it into something resembling nostalgia. Simply put: it’s another great video from a band that’s worth knowing about. Honesty and humility are difficult things to play up in the format but the band pulls it off with ease, keeping their track record just about perfect.

Watch “Lionheart” below and then live it this summer. Support local music. Support great music. Play this video.