Heartbreaking Bravery

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Watch This: Another Full Session

There have been a few recent posts that have commented on (and made attempts to amend) the recent hiatus that Watch This experienced. There will be two more extended packets following this installment of the series and then Watch This will be caught back up to the current release cycle. After the last entry — the longest compilation of any kind that’s ever run on this site — nearly exhausted the finest full sessions of the past month and a half, it felt necessary to turn the attention to some more abbreviated sessions.

Now, for the sake of consistency of time, a few full sessions appear toward the end of the compilation below. There are 83 total videos in this package but, as is always the case for this extended version of Watch This, 25 performances are featured. Had they been able to fit in without repeating or more properly aligned with what this entry’s trying to accomplish (without being repeat inclusions for the artist), Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings all had sessions that would have made the cut. That trio of clips alone should serve as a testament to the strength of this edition of the series. So, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, lean back, and Watch This.

1. Bully (The Current)
2. Those Manic Seas (Little Elephant)
3. Potty Mouth (Bedhead Sessions)
4. Torres (Paste)
5. Eddi Front (Hooke)
6. Alabama Shakes (Paste)
7. Tacocat (WFUV)
8. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (KCRW)
9. Seratones (WFUV)
10. Frightened Rabbit (KCRW)
11. Music Band (Jam in the Van)
12. Charles Bradley (KINK)
13. Mass Gothic (Rhapsody)
14. Greys (Exclaim!)
15. Izzy True (Don Giovanni)
16. Black Beach (Allston Pudding)
17. Erik Blood (Band In Seattle)
18. Acid Dad (Jam in the Van)
19. Suuns (Exclaim!)
20. Diarrhea Planet (Jam in the Van)
21. Parquet Courts (Rough Trade)
22. Negative Scanner (Pressure Drop)
23. Wild Powwers (Band In Seattle)
24. Burnt Palms (Pressure Drop)
25. Wimps (Band In Seattle)

Quilt – Padova (Music Video)


Few music video directors working today have cultivated an aesthetic that’s as consistently grounded and visually appealing as Christopher Good, whose work this site’s featured numerous times (and who has been kind enough to join the contributors ranks of A Year’s Worth of Memories). Good’s most recent work, the freewheeling clip for Kevin Morby’s “Dorothy” saw a confident footing in a fluid approach that’s carried over into his latest clip, Quilt’s heartrending “Padova”.

Guitarist Shane Butler wrote “Padova” as a rumination on the passing of his mother and the wide range of feelings — not just sadness — that event invoked. The music video’s a visual interpretation of that emotional gamut as well as a commentary on mortality and the passage of time. It’s a beautiful video (with some gorgeous lensing, courtesy of Jeremy Osbern) that solidifies Good’s position as a top-tier director for the format and it honors Butler’s mother in a fashion that’s tasteful, respectful, and deeply moving. For more on that count, read the statement that Butler issued in tandem with the video’s release:

This song was written shortly after my mother passed away. It was written in Padova, Italy on a night where we were scheduled to perform there in the courtyard of a beautiful villa-like building on the outskirts of the city. There were old ceramic walls, chandeliers, Italian vines, and horses on the periphery of the property; it was idyllic to say the least. During this period of time, after my mother had passed, I would talk to her every day. Whether it was in imagination or in spirit doesn’t really matter; my experience was the same. That night in Padova my mother and I talked for a long time as I took a walk around the property. I then happened to come across an old busted up guitar in a giant wooden room with a chandelier in it, I tuned it to something that would work, and this song came out.

The experience of my mother’s death has not only been of grief, as our culture often solely represents death being. But, in my experience, death has taken on infinite voices. There are voices of beauty, melancholy, humor, rejuvenation, and freedom located in this experience. When talking with Christopher Good about making this video we talked about making a representation of this experience that involved some of these other aspects of death. Christopher has an incredible eye and mind to make abstract narratives, which is what we decided to go with for this video. This scene is only a detail on the vast canvas of representing life’s transition. As there is no finality to this experience, no static way to understand it, we chose to use abstraction, movement, color, and the elements to play with the ideas at hand.

Whether you believe in ‘soul’ business or not I’d like to leave with this quote of Kahlil Gibran’s that I read shortly after my mother passed. I think it is very beautiful and maybe provides a moment to reflect on another possible voice of death:

Death is an ending to the son of
The earth, but to the soul it is
The start, the triumph of life. 

Watch “Padova” below and pick up Plaza from Mexican Summer here.

Jay Som – I Think You’re Alright (Stream)


Summer Cannibals, Man Up, Yancey, Brenda’s Friend, Kino Kimino, NettlePost Moves, and Old Maybe all had notable full streams surface over the past few days. While all of those titles are worth the investment, the attention’s going to — once again — be directed back to a song. Jay Som’s set to make a big push as the opener for an upcoming tour that also features Japanese Breakfast and Mitski, so “I Think You’re Alright” functions nicely as an anticipatory warning shot.

The thing is, “I Think You’re Alright” is so much more than just a warning shot; no song has reminded me more of Sparklehorse since Linkous’ tragic passing (and that’s an obscenely high compliment). “I Think You’re Alright” is the kind of chill-inducing bedroom pop that comes coated with the slightest layer of punk grit to keep it tethered to the earth, affording the song a relatable feeling that enhances its most wide-eyed sensibilities.

In under four minutes, “I Think You’re Alright” runs seamlessly through a variety of genre touch points, from the steady, programmed drum beat to the swirling feedback at the song’s most climactic moment. None of its misplaced, each small moment registering as a revelation. Everything in “I Think You’re Alright” coalesces into these moments of sublime transcendence that arrive at an alarming rate; it’s an astonishing song that’s comprised almost entirely of grace notes.

Importantly, everything on display sounds open and honest, amplifying the song’s inherently tragic nature. Uncompromising and singularly beautiful, “I Think You’re Alright” confidently stands as one of 2016’s most unforgettable releases. Boasting a strangely comforting melody that calmly builds a home and refuses to leave, the song ultimately carries an atmosphere that’s as inviting as it is melancholic. It’s an invitation that’s worth accepting.

Listen to “I Think You’re Alright” below and pre-order the single here.

Gorgeous Bully – Just Like Before (Stream)


Over the past few days Outer Spaces, Audreytina, Huh, Beach Skulls, Space Raft, and Frameworks all released exceptional music videos that are well worth seeing. Since the songs of the past few days were covered in the preceding post (and full streams will be covered in the post immediately following this one), the attention will be returned once more to an outstanding song: Gorgeous Bully’s “Just Like Before”.

Building off a breathtaking introduction, “Just Like Before” never loses hold of its vast scope. Instrumentally, the song straddles a near-impossible divide between being completely controlled and surging forward, threatening to break away from its confines at any moment. In that relative chaos, they weave a heartbreaking narrative that manages to embolden both the song’s restraint as well as its chaotic, brooding unwieldiness.

“Just Like Before”, against some odds, never finds itself toppling over; this is a masterfully executed piece of basement pop that thrives off its meticulous pacing and stormy atmospherics. It’s an astonishing track that ably demonstrates Gorgeous Bully’s continuing growth as an outfit. Every little subtlety and nuance the band packs into “Just Like Before” serves itself as much as it serves its surrounding components. From the start to the end, it’s a staggering triumph that proves Gorgeous Bully doesn’t intend on going away anytime soon.

Listen to “Just Like Before” below and pre-order their forthcoming 7″ here.