Heartbreaking Bravery

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DBTS: BS2 (Compilation Premiere)

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The first building I stepped foot inside of after moving to Brooklyn in June was David Blaine’s The Steakhouse (DBTS for short). Montana and the Marvelles were wrapping up a practice and it took less than a minute for things to start coming across as familial. It was a sense that continuously expanded as time passed, making it incredibly clear that it was a venue that helped foster a tight-knit community of like-minded people. It’s in that spirit that the DBTS: BS compilation series was created.

DBTS: BS1, the first entry into the series, was a collection of demos, outcasts from a variety of notable projects all connected to the DBTS family in one way or another. It was an intriguing project that helped kick off would what prove to be a remarkably successful year for the residents of DBTS and their wide-reaching network of ridiculously talented friends.

Now, just ten months after the debut compilation, they’re issuing a sequel, DBTS: BS2. All of these songs are either sourced from idling projects, covers, castoffs that would otherwise be bound for homelessness, or early stage demos. Members of LVL UP, Downies, Slight, Porches., Painted Zeros, Glueboy, Bethlehem Steel, and Big Ups all contribute material through either their main vehicle, a side project, or as a solo or collaborative effort.

It’s an impressive effort from a collective that keeps spreading outward and gaining momentum without ever losing sight of a steadfast commitment to a DIY ethos. So, with all of that in mind, it’s with honor and admiration that I present the premiere of DBTS: BS2, the latest step forward for the makeshift family that’s given me a place that’s easy to consider as a home.

Initially, this was going to be a name-your-price ordeal for a limited time with all proceeds going towards funds to their neighbors at The Silent Barn, who are still running repairs after the venue caught fire several weeks ago. However, the presence of covers on the compilation prompted justified concerns over legal matters. Even with that being the case, The Silent Barn could still use as much help as they get, so if this is a compilation you find yourself enjoying, please consider showing your appreciation in the form of a donation to aid their recovery.

Stream DBTS: BS2 below and watch a collection of live footage from DBTS shot over the summer beneath the embed.

Watch This: Vol. 99

Last week was another particularly strong week for live clips, with two of KEXP’s most memorable sessions of 2015 acting as bookends for this installment of the series. Since the majority of the previous posts introductions had been overflowing with content, this entry seemed like a reasonable time to allow the five featured clips to be the sole focus of the series. For roughly 100 weeks, Watch This has focused on the best live clips to emerge in a given week, so it feels appropriate that this particular volume features one of the most entertaining sets the series has run to date, a new name to the site, and a band that’s a series regular. All of it’s worthy of investment and serves as a testament of how good of a time it is for live videos. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, relax, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Mike Krol (KEXP)

At the end of last month Mike Krol threw down one of the best sets I’ve seen all year at Baby’s All Right and brought a lot of the same manic energy to this KEXP session, which features the live renditions of more than half of his latest album. While KEXP’s camera setup required a reduction of the intensity of their lights show, the band still showed up in full costume with an excess of razor wire. Fast, dirty, chaotic, and injected with a childlike glee, this is a KEXP session that the station members will probably be talking about for a long time to come.

2. Mothers – No Crying In Baseball (Audiotree) 

Every so often, Audiotree unearths an incredibly promising emerging act that make the most out of their session time. This time around, that band’s Mothers, whose “No Crying In Baseball” is a remarkably accessible brand of post-punk that comes loaded with enough pop sensibility to have a tremendously wide-reaching appeal. While the song border the virtuosic at times, the quartet plays it with the exact right blend of commitment and detachment up until its explosive, passionate finale.

3. Worriers (BreakThruRadio)

Imaginary Life, Worriers’ latest effort, has managed to stand out in an astonishingly overcrowded 2015. The band recently stopped by BreakThruRadio’s studios for an interview and to perform a few songs from the album, providing an effective reminder of its strength. The live sections are spirited and the interview’s illuminating, cementing this clip’s essential viewing status.

4. Screaming Females – Triumph (Radio K)

It’s been stated before that Screaming Females have been appearing on Watch This for around as long as the series has existed. Nearly every piece of praise that can be directed towards their live performance has already been directed at their live performance but they still don’t seem content and are continuously topping themselves. Every time this band is on any kind of stage, it’s a signal to buckle up and brace for impact. Radio K invited the band in to their studios for a recent performance and the band obliged with a characteristically exceptional performance of “Triumph”.

5. Wimps (KEXP) 

Wimps have slowly been racking up interest for the past few years and that interest seems to be nearing a fever pitch. Releasing records at a startling rate tends to be an attention-getting tactic but, outside of Robert Pollard and a very small handful of others, it’s rare that kind of over-saturation has much artistic merit. Wimps belong to the small handful that are the exception to that rule. Every single one of their releases has been ridiculously enjoyable and they’ve only sharpened their craft as they’ve progressed. That maturation’s very evident in this entertaining KEXP session that already seems to be earning the band a few converts. This is the kind of party that people kick themselves for missing.

Watch This: Vol. 98

The recent swell of outstanding live clips should be evident by now, with the overflowing packets of honorable mention selections that characterized the last two entries of this series. It’s not a trend that tapered off pushing forward, either, as the 98th installment of Watch This was a similarly contested battle. While the five clips featured below are well worth featuring, there were also deserving clips from Funeral Advantage, J Fernandez, DMA’s, Afterpartees, Gary Clark Jr., Glen Hansard, NovellerGreg Holden, Teen Men, Watkins Family Hour, Galgo, Grave Babies, and Wire. One of the more eclectic volumes of this series, the 98th entry includes a third consecutive appearance from a site favorite and the Watch This debut for a band comprised of some artists whose work influenced more than half of the bands that get written about on this site. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, wind down, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Cayetana – Madame B (Little Elephant)

The second Cayetana clip to be featured from their Little Elephant session finds the trio digging into “Madame B”– one of the best songs in their discography– and laying into it with an abundance of feeling. Throughout the clip, it’s easy to see each individual member get completely lost in the song at various points throughout, each seemingly succumbing to some sort of trance without ever losing any of the determination that characterizes their music.

2. Deerhoof (MOWNO)

Deerhoof is an insane band that’s always veered away from conventionality and their live show underlines both of those defining aspects. MOWNO was on hand to film some of their performance at the Teriaki festival in Le Mans and the results are incredibly engaging. Impassioned, off-kilter, and wild-eyed, not a second of this clip is worth missing. As inventive as it is fierce, this is the perfect presentation of Deerhoof’s current era.

3. Meat Wave – Too Much (Audiotree)

Returning once again to Meat Wave‘s Audiotree session, this particular performance finds the band reaching back to their shockingly under-discussed self-titled debut (which remains one of my favorite records of all time). Venomous, grim, and surprisingly atmospheric, it shows the band firing on all cylinders, showcasing an impressive dynamic sensibility in the process. Brooding and much darker than usual, “Too Much” is the sound of a band establishing its identity.

4. Lady Lamb – Millions of Eyes (OnAirstreaming)

“Billions of Eyes” was one of last year’s most charming songs and marked Aly Spaltro’s arrival at large. Since the release of that song, Spaltro’s Lady Lamb project severed “The Beekeeper” from its title, released a very well-received record (After) on Mom+Pop and set about touring on the release. Here, OnAirstreaming catches Spaltro delivering a rare solo performance of the song and clearly exhibits an endearing affection between the songwriter and the work. It’s strangely uplifting and immensely enjoyable.

5. Big Star’s Third – Blue Moon (The Current)

It’d be a maddening exercise in futility to try to cover the artists who have had their careers directly impacted by Big Star’s work. The powerpop icons have been continuously cited as an inspiration by all varieties of punk and pop bands since their emergence in the early ’70s. Everyone from The Replacements to Elliott Smith to Cheap Trick has written songs about the band or covered them directly. Members of the band recently toured with a collective of friends to perform Big Star’s seminal Third and, accordingly, provided the project with Big Star’s Third as a moniker. The Current recently hosted the project where they performed a gentle, honest version of “Blue Moon” and the end result is lovely beyond reason.

Watch This: Vol. 97

Continuing on with this Watch This spree, we go back three weeks and dive into the most memorable live clips to appear in that given time. While there were several strong videos that came from artists like Kristen, Albert Hammond Jr., The Good Life, Low, Liza Anne, Calexico (ft. Neko Case), The Folk, On an On, Jurassic Shark, Jounce, Gardens & Villa, and Fredo Viola. Those clips’ collective strengths are indicative of the considerable worth of the featured videos of this particular series installment, which boasts an emphasis on abbreviated sets from the included artists and two arresting performances from a pair of site favorites. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Menace Beach (3voor12)

Ratworld was one of 2015’s earliest highlights and Menace Beach have wasted no time in following it up with the outstanding Super Transporterreum EP. 3voor12 recently captured the band delivering a fiery set in the Netherlands, conjuring up all kinds of winsome noise. An endearing interview and a trio of invigorating performances are contained in this surprisingly explosive clip.

2. Meat Wave – Erased (Audiotree)

Another Watch This, another clip from Meat Wave‘s Audiotree session. This time around, the trio sinks their teeth into the ferocious– almost feral– “Erased“. Chaotic, wild-eyed, and terrifyingly precise, “Erased” sees Meat Wave continuing to excel with blistering force in the live department. Jagged, vicious, and unapologetic in its searing intensity, it more than earns its place among this week’s featured videos.

3. Peter Wolf Crier (The Current)

For whatever reason, Peter Wolf Crier have always been a band that’s quietly excelled, accumulating a devoted fan base through an unusual consistency. While they still haven’t racked up stratospheric numbers, they’v never released anything less than stellar. The Current recently brought them in for a two song session and the band responded in kind, gifting the studio one of their stronger sessions in recent memory.

4. Kurt Vile (WFUV) 

Is anyone out there making music that sounds more effortlessly breezy than Kurt Vile? At this point, it’s sincerely doubtful. Vile’s attained a sort of easygoing, freewheeling charm that infuses his current work so naturally that it’s nearly impossible to find a line separating himself from his art. That dynamic’s retained in full and deeply embedded into this three-song performance hosted by WFUV. It’s a perfect soundtrack for an early fall day.

5. Torres – The Harshest Light (3voor12)

Candlelit rooms are perfect backdrops for quieter music and generally tend to heighten their intimacy. Torres, a name that may have been featured throughout this year on this series more than any other, operates almost exclusively in an incredibly intimate mode. Even knowing all of that, it’s hard not to be knocked breathless by this clip, 3voor12’s second of the week, which features a solo acoustic performance that’s intercut with footage of a nameless man navigating a graveyard, rendering it one of the year’s most surprisingly powerful live clips.

Watch This: Vol. 96

It’s been quite some time since Watch This made an appearance due to a variety of extenuating circumstances. However, the series was still going through upkeep in its absence. This will be the first of four posts that collects and features the best live performance captures in that same amount of time, each in a chronological order. Going back four weeks, there were intriguing clips from Bear’s Den, Juan Wauters, Redthread, The Good Life (x2), Bertrand Belin, Laura Marling, Telekinesis, Beirut, Julia Holter, FIDLAR, Ride, and Donovan Wolfington. It was a suitably strong crop of clips but the five to earn featured spots here earner their respective positions for a reason. So, as always, lean in, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Cayetana – Serious Things Are Stupid (Little Elephant)

Cayetana have made a few appearances on this series before but their performance of “Serious Things Are Stupid” for Little Elephant is their best clip to date. The camerawork here’s intentionally loose and matches the band’s aesthetic in a thoughtful way while the performance is committed, tight-knit, and delivered with verve. It’s a short blast that winds up being remarkably effective.

2. PWR BTTM (BreakThruRadio)

Anyone that’s clicked on this site anytime since summer rolled around has likely seen a mountain of praise directed towards PWR BTTM, who remain one of the most entertaining live bands on the circuit. With that being the case, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise anytime they make a Watch This appearance. Here, they deliver some typically fierce performances and provide their host with a transformative experience.

3. Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Audiotree)

There have been more than a few posts on this site discussing Meat Wave‘s fundamental importance to this site’s development and the trio keeps delivering at an exceptional level. 2015’s outstanding Delusion Moon has helped the band gain significant momentum and they’re capitalizing on that momentum at every conceivable level. Audiotree recently hosted the band for a session and they led their set off with the surging “Cosmic Zoo“, delivering the song with a bracing immediacy.

4. Madalean Gauze – Accumulations of Life  (WXPN)

This performance of “Accumulations of Life” was my introduction to the spiky guitar pop of Madalean Gauze, a band that comes across as immediately relatable and extremely well-versed. As a first piece, it’s a near-perfect blend of practiced and promising, solidifying theirs as a name to watch straight out of the gate. Vibrant and alive, “Accumulations of Life” is an incredibly enjoyable look at an intriguing emerging act.

5. Glen Hansard – McCormack’s Wall (ANTI-)

Occasionally a clip surfaces and immediately registers as transcendental. I can vividly remembering having that thought upon first watches of a very small selection of the 500+ performances that have been featured on this series- yet, “McCormack’s Wall” manages to stand out even among those few. Deeply cinematic, characteristically heartfelt, thematically rich, tenderly shot, crisply edited, and beautifully presented, “McCormack’s Wall” occasionally comes across as a tone poem. Easily one of the most gorgeous clips to ever run in this series, “McCormack’s Wall” is a pinnacle of what can be achieved with the format. Share this one with family.