Heartbreaking Bravery

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Great Grandpa – Fade (Stream)

Approximately 48 hours into the week and the world’s already delivered exceptional new tracks from Daddy Issues, Stillwave, Dent May, Tomten, Versa, Jason Loewenstein, Broken Social Scene, and PalmGreat Grandpa also released a song, following up their explosive “Teen Challenge” (one of 2017’s finest songs) with yet another jaw-dropping turn that should hike the anticipation even further up for the band’s forthcoming Plastic Cough.

Once again leaning into a ’90s alternative in a way that feels thrillingly alive rather than tired and rehashed, Great Grandpa have crafted another triumphant mini-masterpiece in “Fade”. Swinging from one wildly different section to another with an exacting prowess, the band seems to conjure up energy from perfectly executing hairpin turns and leaning into powerful moments with all their might. “Fade” is a wild, incendiary three minutes that suggests — as “Teen Challenge” did before it — Plastic Cough may just wind up being one of the year’s best records. As soon as “Fade” is over, the only thing anyone’s likely to do is go back and hit repeat. It’s another winsome moment for a re-emergent band poised to reach the next level of what looks to be an incredibly promising career.

Listen to “Fade” below and pre-order Plastic Cough from Double Double Whammy here.

Palehound – If You Met Her (Music Video)

As this Monday and Tuesday both disappear into the rear view, it’s important to take stock of the notable records that have emerged in that time. Ainsley Farell, Sweet Baby Jesus, Sam Craighead, Adult Mom, Chris Bathgate, The I.L.Y’s, Do Make Say Think, Tricot, Yung, Gouge Away, and B L A C K I E all revealed impressive full streams and there was an outstanding compilation released to celebrate the seventh anniversary of GoldFlakePaint. The focus for this particular piece falls back to the music video format, thanks to a career best showing from site favorites Palehound.

A small army was assembled to create Palehound’s latest piece, a music video for “If You Met Her” that lands with devastating clarity. Tom Quigley, Sara Tesh, Michael Escobar, Kiely Quinn, Rachel Newman, Tatiana Marquez, Jeovana Almeida, Zane Ryan, Tatiana Marquez, and Caitlin Leblanc all hard a part to play in pulling off a clip that’s already struck a nerve with a whole host of viewers. Guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter Ellen Kempner’s completely isolated in the clip, lending the narrative’s open vulnerability and existential fear even more heft.

Kempner does little more than navigate a seemingly abandoned house in the clip, allowing both the song — easily one of Palehound’s finest — and video to take on a haunted bent. There’s angst here, to be sure, but it’s the kind of acute and intensely focused angst that propels it past the realms of the cliché into something unnerving, despairing, and utterly terrifying. Grappling with insignificance and mortality in a way that presents the slightest hint of optimism amid a heavy resignation, there are echoes of Elliott Smith to be found in “If You Met Her” (a comparison that should never be used lightly).

“If You Met Her” is an astonishing work as a standalone song but the visuals the assembled team have provided the track render it transcendental. There are slight nods to something holy in several of the shots, underscoring the religious angle that’s always lingering in heavy existential crises. Whether the song (and video) is intended as a prayer, a warning, or a reminder may never be truly known but for now, we should all consider ourselves lucky to be able to explore the work on display. “If You Met Her” is not the type of clip — or song — to leave anyone’s memory anytime soon.

Watch “If You Met Her” below and pre-order A Place I’ll Always Go from Polyvinyl here.

Saintseneca – Book of the Dead on Sale (Stream)

Only two days into the week and Hot Flash Heat Wave, Summer Salt, Friend Roulette, Matt Maltese, Pallas, Cigarettes After Sex, Guerilla Toss, and Early Riser all revealed tracks worthy of praise. There was another track that came courtesy of site favorites Saintseneca, who have continued to operate on an exceedingly high level over the course of their already ridiculously impressive — but still relatively young — discography.

“Book of the Dead on Sale” continues Zac Little’s penchant for crafting Appalachian folk-inspired music tinged with just the slightest punk influence. It’s a formula that’s defined the band’s best work and “Book of the Dead on Sale” now proudly joins a host of tracks as an example of the project’s finest work. Humble, gorgeous, battered, and singularly focused, “Book of the Dead on Sale” makes the absolute most of a two minute run-time and proffers a reminder that Saintseneca is one of the best acts currently releasing music.

Listen to “Book of the Dead on Sale” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the band.

WHY? – The Barely Blur (Music Video)

The first two days of this week have ushered forth excellent music videos from GospelbeacH, Top Down, Pulgas, The Tambo Rays, Rodes Rollins, Sparks, Demure for Sure, Smidley, Kikagaku Moyo, Justus Profit, and Honeyfitz. WHY? also joined in on the fun, releasing an inventive, vivid clip for Moh Lhean‘s gorgeous closing track, “The Barely Blur”. Colorful, thought-provoking, and straddling the realm of the surreal, “The Barely Blur” joins a very distinctive line of videos that the project’s unleashed over the course of their career.

Utilizing intimate footage of joggers (underscoring the band’s long-held interest in fitness regimens) largely presented in intense close-ups, “The Barely Blur” taps into something ethereal off the bat. It’s a sensibility that’s heightened by both the song’s casually epic sweep and the digital footage that’s intercut with the more human elements. In exploring the duality between its two core paradoxes (grandeur vs. modesty and artificial vs. organic), “The Barely Blur” touches on something intangible, wisely choosing to observe and present rather than to solve. It’s a heady, gorgeous, mind-bending trip and it’s another solid entry into an enviable artistic output.

Watch “The Barely Blur” below and pick up Moh Lhean from Joyful Noise here.

Courtney Barnett – How To Boil An Egg (Stream)

Over the course of the past two days Soccer Mommy, Patrick DeFrancisi, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Julian Fulton, Amber Arcades, Old S Resort, Ben Grigg, and Public Service Broadcasting have all unveiled outstanding tracks. Courtney Barnett joined their ranks, releasing a characteristically extraordinary track in “How To Boil An Egg” which retains and showcases  the songwriter’s penchant for oft-kilter melodies and dry wit.

Released as part of the Split Singles Club — a joint effort between Bedroom Suck and Barnett’s own Milk! Records label — “How To Boil An Egg” treads welcomely familiar territory but offers enough of a twist to keep the song from being staid or complacent. Leaning in a touch harder on a classic country influence, Barnett conjures up another high-energy ramshackle gem, replete with clever turns of phrases and gritty tones. In short: it’s another sterling effort from one of our generation’s finest young artists.

Listen to “How To Boil An Egg” below and subscribe to Bedroom Suck and Milk! Records Split Singles Club here.

Empty Heads – Meat Mouth (Song Premiere)

The worlds of DIY punk, shoegaze, and bands reveling in lo-fi aesthetics have overlapped for years but the definitive examples of that intersection have, historically, been woefully under-covered. Empty Heads are looking to change that with their upcoming Normality EP, which boasts a collection of songs as fierce, ragged, and determined as “Meat Mouth”, which is premiering below.

Encapsulating a host of influences, from the obvious shoegaze forebears to psych-inflected basement punk contemporaries, “Meat Mouth” is a towering work. Managing to come across as both earnest and reserved simultaneously, “Meat Mouth” exists as something of a paradox, drawing listeners in for closer inspection. In its opening stretch, the song immediately (and successfully) sets out to bruise before its final stretch sees an inspired disintegration that veers incredible close to noise territory, getting significantly heavier before slinking into an eerie ambient work defined by swells of feedback and effects manipulation.

Between those two definitive markers, “Meat Mouth” is anchored by a familiar narrative, which at once expresses self-doubt, self-deprecation, and a buried desire for something resembling normalcy. From thinking sideways to the chemical makeup of the brain, “Meat Mouth” concerns itself with minutiae as much as the big picture, becoming an odd reflection of its own composition. It’s a remarkable work from a band worth hearing and a very strong lead-in to one of 2017’s most formidable EP’s to date.

Listen to “Meat Mouth” below and pre-order Normality from Debt Offensive here.

Miya Folick – Trouble Adjusting (Stream)

Last Friday held no shortage of excellent new releases in all three major format categories: single tracks, music videos, and full streams. On the songs front there were strong showings from No Vacation, Mogwai, Boxed In, and Walktell. Memorable music videos emerged from the likes of Bellows, Wolf GirlElf Power, Mt. Doubt, Milk, Wovoka Gentle, PLGRMS, Annie Hardy, and Sammy Brue. The Drafts, Double Grave, Bendigo Fletcher, Elf Power, The Moonlight Love, and Steve Von Till rounded things out by unveiling notable records. Miya Folick ultimately reclaimed a feature slot with the driving “Trouble Adjusting”.

A new high-water mark for an exciting emerging artist, “Trouble Adjusting” keys in on several of the elements that made Folick’s best early work so invigorating. There’s a raw ferocity to “Trouble Adjusting”, present in everything from the scintillating guitar work to the way Folick practically spits out several lines of the verses, fangs bared and ready to go in for the kill. It’s a song that gains both energy and power as it hums along, transforming itself into a whirling mass of breakneck force like a wrecking ball swinging back on its axis before bearing down into its intended target. Melodic, memorable, and completely galvanized, “Trouble Adjusting” seems to suggest Folick’s bright future is there for the taking.

Listen to “Trouble Adjusting” below and keep an eye on this site for more details regarding the forthcoming Give It To Me EP.

Watch This: Vol. 162

Over the last seven days Los Campesinos!Active Bird Community, Diet Cig, Las Ligas MenoresHeart Attack Man, Future Islands (x2), BRYDENouveau Vélo, Basement (x2), Charlie Whitten, Astronautalis, This Is the Kit, Lexie Roth, The Maldives, Peter Silberman (x2), Molly Burch, Samantha Crain, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Caroline Spence, Kristin Hersh, Aliocha, Gregory Page, Kyle Emerson, Zeta, Charlie Shaw, Bong Wish, Sera Cahoone, Nervous Assistant, Pet Symmetry, Current Swell, The Estranged, Lunch, and Slowdive have all found themselves at the center of outstanding live videos, constituting a typically stellar run that goes a long way in proving the ongoing vitality of music. Those weren’t the only videos worth watching that surfaced during that time. So, as always, sit up, adjust the settings, relax, lean back, and Watch This.

1. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (KEXP)

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have popped up on this site with relative consistency in the past. The band’s particular brand of rambling, punk-tinged Americana hitting several of this site’s pleasure nerves. In recent years, the band’s grown bolder and more confident, transforming themselves into a well-oiled machine worthy of a host of accolades. In this full session for KEXP, the band also proves how sharp their touring schedules made their live show, which is a thing to behold.

2. Aye Nako (Audiotree)

A lot of places (this one included) have championed Aye Nako in the past but they’ve never been afforded a showcase as definitive as this live session for Audiotree. Tearing through a set of songs that highlights what makes the band so great, the quartet seemed poised throughout. Tenacious, composed, and purposeful, Aye Nako deliver a blistering set that ranks right alongside anything from their recorded output; this is a band that never stops improving.

3. Middle Kids (Indie88)

Middle Kids have made a habit out of appearing on Watch This, whether it’s in the weekly roundup of links or in a feature capacity. While all of their previous entries have been unmistakably impressive, there’s something about this Hidden Studio session the band recorded for Indie88’s Stiegl Hidden Studio Sessions that stands out. The band’s voracious touring has molded them into one of the best live acts currently on the circuit and this session serves as both document and definitive proof.

4. Terry Malts (Audiotree)

Over the past several years Terry Malts have been quietly becoming one of the best outfits in both basement pop and basement punk. The band graciously contributed a demo to the A Step Forward compilation last year and have been on something of a tear this year, touring heavily and releasing an excellent single. Audiotree recently hosted the band for a no-holds-barred, career-spanning set that nicely underscores the band’s intensity. Catchy, aggressive, and always full-throttle, it’s a characteristically outstanding session for all parties involved.

5. Why? – Easy (CPR)

Oaklandazulasylum, Elephant Eyelash, Alopecia, Eskimo Snow, and a handful of other records released under the name Why? solidified the project as one of the most fascinating acts since the turn of the century. Yoni Wolf, who started Why? as a solo project and his since expanded the outfit but remained the heart of the operation, has staked a claim as one of this generation’s most inspired lyricists. It’s hard to tell which direction the band will pursue at any given moment but for CPR’s Open Air, they went the calm and gentle route, unleashing a gorgeous rendition of “Easy” for a breathtaking live capture. Don’t let this one go unseen, unheard, or unnoticed.