Heartbreaking Bravery

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Watch This: Vol. 133

Now that Watch This is back to its regular Sunday scheduling, the concentrated efforts of the week can feel even more staggering. By confining outstanding clips featuring Big Thief, Kevin Morby, Winter, Nothing, Noxious Neighbors, Oscar, Tiny Fireflies, Suss Cunts, Fear of Men, Bad Bad MeowTancrède, Megafauna, Victoria+Jean, Tacocat, Holy Fuck, Michael Kiwanuka, Fruit Bats, My Bubba, Italian Boyfriend, Chris Farren, and The Districts to a single seven-day span, the volume of material that gets covered starts to feel a little more concrete (and remains fairly intimidating). All of the acts to earn a featured spot in this 133rd installment of the Watch This series have been praised on this site before. Here, they reaffirm those early nods of approval with excessively strong works that deserve praise. So, as always, sit back, block out any distractions, adjust the settings, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Audacity (3voor12)

After “Not Like You” saw Audacity rejoin the featured music videos fold, they confidently re-emerge in the Watch This series as well. The band’s always excelled in the live setting so the wildly entertaining nature of this session for 3voor12 shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. It’s continuing to be a pleasure to watch their live chops grow sharper with age and this is no exception.

2. Palehound (NPR)

Palehound‘s grown incrementally more impressive each time I’ve caught their live show and this beautifully shot  NPR session from last year’s CMJ is a reminder of their potency in that department. Driven by the astonishing talent of Ellen Kempner and elevated by incredibly tight rhythm section work, the band’s attained a confident ease that suits both their music and their performances to perfection.

3. Margaret Glaspy – You & I (Conan)

One of the artists who’s been experiencing a very deserved breakouts this year has been Margaret Glaspy, whose Emotions and Math has proven to be one of 2016’s most nuanced and self-assured solo releases. Glaspy pulls inspiration from a wide-reaching variety of genres and continuously finds a way to make them coalesce into songs that frequently wind up being greater than the sum of their parts. Here, Glaspy tears through the best of those tracks, “You & I”, for one of the best performances to have graced Conan’s stage this year.

4. Pleistocene – Jack-O

For quite some time now, Pleistocene have been favorites of this site. While the band’s currently readying new material, they recently found time to dive into a recent favorite. In this clip, a pared-down version of the band performs a gorgeous, lilting version of “Jack-O”, a highlight from their split with Howlo. Perched on the branch of a tree and cloaked by its leaves with only an omnichord at their disposal, the duo gets swept up in harmonizing and visibly lose themselves in the music they’re creating. It’s a beautiful clip that serves as an able demonstration of the quiet power great art can carry.

5. Tacocat (PressureDrop.tv)

For the third consecutive Watch This in a row, PressureDrop.tv land an exhilarating entry that finds a way to enhance the common grounds between the featured band and the filmmaking. It’s startlingly effective on the visual front and enhances the frequently propulsive performances at its core. In this instance, Tacocat runs wild on a set that looks like an abandoned shed that was converted into a practice space. The setting mirrors the band’s own fun-loving sensibilities and the band seems to be energized by the space, turning in the kind of confident performance that makes it seem like they feel completely at home.

don’t – forget it (EP Review)

dont

July’s continued to bring out quality full streams in full force and the last few days of this week were no exception, bringing about worthy titles from Pre Nup, Yeesh, and The Saxophones as well as a Disposable America mixtape that’s directing all of the proceeds it earns towards the Pulse Tragedy Community Fund. As always, all of those titles should be more fully explored than time here allows and stand as highly recommended listens. Joining them in that regard is this post’s intended feature, the outstanding debut release from don’t, the cheekily-titled forget it.

Both the pop-punk and bedroom pop genres have been at their absolute best when they’ve proven to be subversive, opting out of merely imitating their expected beats. forget it succeeds in bridging the two genres by virtue of that type of subversion and becomes an unlikely standout in the process. In four short tracks, don’t offer up a variety of familiar points and then sets about demolishing their construction.

Whether it’s the synth that erupts at the chorus of “ambiguous” that transports the song into unexpected territory after a standard pop-punk build or the intense, sharp left forget it takes for its closing ballad, “your head”, that unexpectedly turns over the vocal lead and dramatically altars the momentum of the EP before exploding into a sort of euphoria, the band refuses to cater to an easy or predictable route.

Throughout it all, forget it remains deeply compelling not only by the virtue of its choices but in large part to the purity of the music it offers. Nearly every track’s narrative is populated and defined by some type of longing and elevated by its instrumental explorations. There’s not a moment on forget it that feels anything less than overwhelmingly honest and it draws a considerable amount of power from its sincerity.

In approximately 11 minutes, don’t  go from being an unknown entity to one of 2016’s most exciting — and most promising — new acts. Don’t be surprised to see a quick succession of converts fiercely latching onto the band following this release or to hear their name come up in conversation a lot more readily. With a start this promising, it’s very easy to have a tremendous amount of hope for the future of music. Before that point hits, we should just be grateful to have been gifted such an incredible soundtrack for the ride.

Listen to forget it below and pick it up here.

Audacity – Not Like You (Music Video)

Audacity

In the closing moments of the week, there were great new music videos to emerge from the camps of Erin Tobey, Big Eyes, Death Grips, Sewage Farm, And The Kids, and The Holy Circle. As good as those all were — and they were quite good — they simply couldn’t match the allure of personal history attached to this post’s featured clip. The very first Heartbreaking Bravery post centered on an Audacity music video. Now, more than 900 posts and nearly three years later, the band’s offered up another strong clip for a Hyper Vessels highlight.

In the time that this site’s been running, I’ve been afforded several unique opportunities. One of those was working doors for one of Brooklyn’s finest venues, Baby’s All Right, which is the setting for Audacity’s latest clip, “Not Like You”, giving the whole affair an oddly meaningful bent. Baby’s iconic backdrop always lent the venue a uniquely cinematic appeal that often seemed to energize the acts on stage and this Brendan McKnight-directed clip utilizes that trait to its advantage.

Audacity are a band that’s thrived on conjuring up excessive amounts of energy since their earliest releases and have honed that particular skill set into something resembling concentrated weaponry. “Not Like You” is a surging track and the editing for its accompanying visual treatment matches that velocity to perfection, creating a high-impact punch that leaves an intentional mark.

Simple, effective, and embracing an honest sense of genuine fun (something that’s been noticeably absent from the majority of recent releases), “Not Like You” distills the band into what may prove to be a definitive piece. Manic, sharp, and surprisingly forceful, “Not Like You” is practically a victory lap for a band that’s been creating the type of art this site quite literally used as a foundation. Taking all of that into account, it’s nearly impossible to not revel in the sheer amount of joy on display.

Watch “Not Like You” below and pick up Hyper Vessels here.

Yankee Bluff – I (EP Review)

Dogs On Acid II

To close out last week, a variety of great songs got released from the likes of Jeff Rosenstock, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, The Channels, YJY, Morgan Delt, Color Tongue, Pill, Multicult, Alphabetic, dreambeaches, and DYAN. While all of those tracks were certainly worthy of a great deal of attention, this featured spot goes to the surprise debut from Yankee Bluff, a band that was born out of the ashes of site favorites Dogs On Acid (pictured above), who announced both this new project and their end in a recent Facebook post.

While losing Dogs On Acid is tough to swallow, the sudden appearance of Yankee Bluff helps smooth out the transition. Helping matters even further is the fact that their debut EP, I, easily ranks as one of the format’s finest entries of the year. Beginning with “Agessi”, demonstrates the songwriters’ increasing knack for nuanced basement pop and distances them even further from their emo roots.

Anchored by a compellingly battered production aesthetic, everything in comes across as surprisingly grounded without sacrificing some towering pop-leaning hooks. As the EP progresses, a folk undercurrent slowly emerges, recalling some of Tenement‘s more Americana-informed works. By the time hits its halfway point, Yankee Bluff have fully announced themselves as a democratic collective, allowing each member’s respective voice the opportunity to become distinctive, bringing their contemporaries in LVL UP to mind.

There aren’t any weak patches throughout the EP, with each song demonstrating a new angle that Yankee Bluff manages to successfully explore, a trait that will undoubtedly work to their advantage down the line. Whether they’re latched onto the near-anthems that Dogs On Acid cranked out a startling rate or the slow-burning acoustic act that defines the EP’s penultimate track, they also manage to cultivate a singular identity and establish themselves as a very serious force.

Ultimately, stands as an unlikely — and unexpected — triumph. In the wake of losing one of the best bands of the past few years, we’ve been gifted a band that’s very capable of taking up the mantle. is as good of a debut as anyone’s likely to hear this year and opens up the doors for even more impressive material in the coming years.

As Dogs On Acid recedes into the distance, it’ll be incredibly reassuring to have the privilege of watching their spiritual successor keep their flame alive and burning while forging an entirely new path. Even at the start of the party, there’s already an abundance of riches. Pick them up and hold them close, value them with the respect they deserve, and don’t make the mistake of letting them disappear without acknowledgement. After all, nothing lasts forever.

Listen to below and pick it up here.