Heartbreaking Bravery

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Savages – Fuckers (Music Video)

Savages came out of an ominous mist last year and took everyone by surprise with a firm stranglehold on all the tastemaking sites for quite some time. Fortunately, for everyone, their stock hadn’t skyrocketed due to cheap PR ploys or novelty gimmicks; they earned their still-expanding level of admiration through sheer talent. It’s been exactly one year since Matador released Silence Yourself and the band’s deciding to celebrate with the release of the 12″ single “Fuckers” b/w a cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” (available via Matador/Pop Noire). The former of which now has an accompanying video built off and around stunning live footage. The band’s live sets have always been noted for being visually striking and the Giorgio Testi-directed clip plays that aspect for all its worth. “Fuckers”, on its own, is another triumph for the band- a cold-blooded 1o minute run that grows darker and more menacing as it goes along. For such a cold exterior, the lyrics are fairly warm and cautiously guide rather than berate. It offers a nice contrast that plays into the band’s aesthetic strengths. Put that together with the cinematic flourishes of the videos and it stands as a memorable piece of art.

Watch “Fuckers” below and give into its atmospheric magic.

5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 2

The 5 to See series continues from where it left off since Vol. 1. Now that the cases to see METZ, Swearin’, PS I Love You, Greys, and Perfect Pussy have been made, it’s time to lean in to Volume 2. A brief description of the featured band will be provided and accompanied by a video. All of this will lead up to the festival itself, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in style. Keep tabs on all of this and make the necessary adjustments when faced with schedule conflicts. Now that the exposition’s out of the way, let’s get to the bands.

1. Mac DeMarco

What to Know: Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days is his best work to date and his live shows continuing to earn raves. He’s a living archetype: the slacker sleazeball personified. It’s part of what makes him and his music so effortlessly endearing. Take the normal manic pace of a festival into account and DeMarco’s set may easily be the most enjoyable bit of escapism that NXNE has to offer.

What to Watch:

2. Pet Sun 

What to Know: At this point, there isn’t much to know about Pet Sun other than that the Hamilton-based band has released an incredibly promising demo and that decent live footage of the band is hard to come by. That said, as lo-fi as recent clips of the band have been, they’ve indicated that the band’s capitalizing on their early promise- possibly exceeding it- and that it’s pretty clear they put on one hell of a live show.

What to Watch:

3. Speedy Ortiz

What to Know: Whether they liked it or not, the band was positioned at the forefront of a 90’s revival on the backs of 2013’s incredible Major Arcana. Since then, they’ve been anything but quiet, capitalizing on opportunities to create new music and demonstrate a knack for trustworthy politics. Oh, it also helps that somewhere along the way they became a tenacious live band. Expect their set to be as much of a force as they’ve proven themselves to be.

What to Watch:

4. Beliefs

What to Know: Beliefs, like Vol. 1 features METZ, will have the advantage of playing to a hometown crowd. Coincidentally, the band also put out an incendiary split 7″ with Greys (another Vol. 1 feature). Their sound lands between the most industry-conscious no-wave of the 80’s and the most incandescent shoegaze of the 90’s. Put all of that together and it’s very clear things are going their way- which always makes for good sets. Don’t miss theirs.

What to Watch:

5. Swans

What to Know: What hasn’t been said already? There’s a very real possibility that Swans are the darkest and most nightmarish band going right now. Micahel Gira & co. have been mining utterly intense levels of dread for so long that it’s difficult to imagine any one of their members exposed to sunlight. Their past two records, The Seer and To Be Kind, may just be their two finest. Nothing at NXNE will come to being even remotely close to this ominous (has anyone ever created music this terrifyingly apocalyptic before?)- and it’s very possible that nothing will come close to being this oddly beautiful as well. Swans’ music forces the listener into self-examinations, self-actualization, and total transcendence. Make sure to be wherever they are when they play. This is just about guaranteed to be the most bruising, massive set of the entire festival.

What to Watch:

Watch This: Vol. 23

Well, it’s certainly been a while since Watch This ran regular non-themed content. As such, there’s quite a bit of ground to cover for this volume, the series’ 23rd installment. This Watch This will feature both the familiar and the fresh; there are old standbys in terms of both bands and outlets and there are a few who have, somewhat inexplicably, never earned a mention on here before. It’s all worth watching and this collection, more than most, is a perfect summation of the type of music this place invests in most. So, sit back, stand up, kneel as if in prayer, assume literally any position- just make sure to Watch This.

1. Ovlov – Where’s My Dini (Elephant Room)

Ovlov’s 2013 record, am, was a nearly unclassifiable triumph. Since then, they’ve managed to grab a lot of people’s attention. This is in part thanks to a ferocious touring schedule that had them playing on stacked bills nearly every night. Through all of that, they’ve only managed to sharpen their craft, perfecting their cinematic shoegaze-heavy 90’s Midwestern-emo rambles. Here, they take to the Little Elephant to perform “Where’s My Dini”. If an introduction piece to the band was needed, it’d be close to impossible to improve on this video.

2. Parquet Courts – Black and White (WNYC)

While this doesn’t have Fred Armisen augmenting their guitar attack, Parquet Courts’ WNYC performance of “Black and White” is as fierce as anything the band’s done. It’s performances like this one that have Sunbathing Animal creeping up on an outside radar. Parquet Courts aren’t messing around. Straight, to the point, almost abrasive in its minimalism yet weirdly cathartic, this is worth a few watches.

3. Jeff Rosenstock – The Trash The Trash The Trash (TCGS)

What is there to be said? Jeff Rosenstock keeps doing things worth writing about. During this particular at-bat, he takes over Don Giovanni comedian Chris Gethard’s show to perform “The Trash The Trash The Trash” before it devolves into complete chant-a-long chaos. It’s a surreal spectacle that has an absolutely incendiary performance at its center. This is the best kind of weird.

4. Kal Marks (BreakThruRadioTV)

Exploding in Sound recently took over BreakThruRadio for a stretch, offering the label a perfect platform to showcase their incredible roster. They wasted no time in getting Boston trio Kal Marks a featured spot on a performance and interview series (in a similar vein to KEXP). It’s a good thing they did, too. Kal Marks is an incredible live act who put out one of 2013’s very best records with their punishing masterwork Life is Murder. Their Serious Business episode is one of the most packed BreakThruRadio has ever done and is well worth carving out some time for.

5. The Orwells – Let It Burn (KEXP)

It’s been a weird road for The Orwells following their infamous Letterman performance. In under five minutes, they became one of the most divisive young punk bands to court that much attention in who knows how long and then kept quiet for a while to let things play out. Now, with their sophomore effort, Disgraceland, nearing its release date, they’ve lined up a string of relatively high-profile stops and, as can be seen here, are making the most of it. If “Let It Burn” is an accurate indicator, they’ve got one hell of a record up their sleeves.

Cloud Nothings at the High Noon Saloon – 5/2/14 (Pictorial Review)

Cloud Nothings I

On Friday Night, the High Noon Saloon played host to Fire Retarded, Protomartyr, and Cloud Nothings for one hell of a show. Fire Retarded were as spastic as anyone could ask for, flexing some serious punk muscle, while Protomartyr found their footing in smoldering intensity. Cloud Nothings more than proved they’d earned their headlining slot; their set played out like a constant highlight reel. These thoughts will be expanded more later elsewhere- but for now, take a look at the first set of official Heartbreaking Bravery photography (and expect a lot more of this to be featured on the site in the upcoming months). Enjoy.