Heartbreaking Bravery

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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.

Watch This: Vol. 161

Every week this year’s offered up an enticing host of live clips and the week that transpired the week before last proved no exception, keeping the flame not only alive but roaring. The Tablets, Fits, Robyn Hitchcock, Miss Molly Simms, Summer Twins, Perfume Genius, Strand of OaksBenoît Pioulard, Sean Rowe, Rahim AlHaj, Tenement, Flesh World, Bad History Month, Dinosaur Jr, Hi-Tec Emotions, The Paranoyds, Laura Marling, The New Pornographers, Slow Dancer, Lucy & La Mer, Imaginary Tricks, Double Grave, Queen Hilma, Violents & Monica Martin, Juliana Hatfield, Fast Romantics, Atlas Road Crew, Micah P. Henson, The Drive-By Truckers, Tamino, Lucille Furs, Leif Vollebek, Two Houses, Umm, S.H.I.T., and Electric Eye all found themselves at the center of excellent live captures. A group that strong goes a long way in indicating the formidable nature of the featured clips, which include several long-time site favorites. So, as always, sit up, straighten out, adjust the settings, draw the screen a little closer, and Watch This.

1. Waxahatchee – No Curse (Weathervane)

Katie Crutchfield’s no stranger to this site, seemingly all of the songwriter’s projects having been covered in some capacity. Waxahatchee has become Crutchfield’s calling card in recent years and remains the most singularly focused of the musician’s artistic output. Here, Crutchfield and company rip through an enticing new song entitled “No Curse” for Weathervane’s outstanding Shaking Through series. It’s a potent reminder of the inherent power of one of this generation’s finest artists.

2. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Living in the City (The Current)

A handful of releases into an increasingly notable career, Hurray for the Riff Raff continue an impressively upward trajectory. Each consecutive record and performance seems to constitute a new career high for the project, which has never been anything less than commendable. “Living in the City” is just the latest upward rung on a never-ending ladder that seems poised to reach stratospheric heights. Looking down from where the act is now, it’s more than enough to induce a serious amount of vertigo.

3. Vundabar (Audiotree)

One of the more intriguingly frenetic punk bands of recent times, Vundabar have carved out a reputation for themselves by meticulously crafting unpredictable music. Recently, the band swung through Audiotree’s studio to record a session perfectly showcasing the tension and urgency the band’s so adept at creating. Every song in this session is eye-opening and executed to perfection without anyone in the band sacrificing even an ounce of conviction.

4. Nothing (Amoeba)

Watch This veterans, Nothing keep finding new ways to impress. In this Green Room session for Amoeba, the band sacrifices their signature onslaught of volume for something far more intimate and contained. In passing up one of their most noted trademarks, the band also ably demonstrates how good the songs lurking underneath have been since the beginning. Utterly transfixing and devastatingly sincere, this acoustic session stands as an entirely unlikely but wholly welcome new high for the band.

5. Allison Crutchfield (KEXP)

While Katie Crutchfield may have taken the opening slot on the features list in this volume of Watch This, Crutchfield’s twin sister is the one to close it out. As another musician whose projects have been well-documented on this site throughout a lengthy career, Allison Crutchfield seems poised to spearhead a sterling solo career. A lot of supporting evidence can be found to back that claim up, including this abbreviated set for KEXP, which finds the band (which includes Radiator Hospital‘s Sam Cook-Parrott) running through an impressive array of new songs with a sense of unified purpose.

Ratboys – Elvis in the Freezer (Music Video)

In the past four days, a small handful of exceptional records have been released by artists like Tica Douglas, Jodi, Christopher Gold & the New Old Things, Taiwan Housing Project, Great Deceivers, Street Eaters, Show of Bedlam, Nick Pope, and Old Maybe. While all of those are worthy of celebration, this post’s feature fell to a different format: the music video. Ratboys‘ “Elvis in the Freezer” proved far too exceptional to let pass without a closer look.

Director Kenna Hynes was at the helm for the “Elvis in the Freezer” clip and Hynes’ deft touch ensures that the clip’s not only wildly engaging but both heartrending to the point of being emotionally shattering and just heartwarming enough to keep it vibrant. The crux of the story presented in the clip for “Elvis in the Freezer” is simple: a cat dies and a good friend comes to console its owner. What’s impressive is the way Hynes frames this story, utilizing a variety of effects to heighten each emotional beat. From the slo-mo reversals of the opening sequence all the way through the clever Julia Steiner (Ratboys’ guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter) reveal.

As the clip works its way through each new movement, the song lends the sequences some additional dramatic heft. “Elvis in the Freezer” is the type of track that lets anyone paying attention to Ratboys know that the band’s evolving in increasingly successful ways, sharpening their strengths and injecting a greater sense of ambition into their work. Here, the song works wonders as the soundtrack to a familiar, everyday story that’s undoubtedly struck a major cord with an array of viewers. Both the song and the clip are heartfelt, bittersweet, and memorable pieces of work that deserve to be remembered. Thankfully, “Elvis in the Freezer” is very hard to shake.

Watch “Elvis in the Frezzer” below and pre-order GN from Topshelf here.

Real Life Buildings – No News (Music Video)

Every week this year’s been a kind one to music videos and even though it’s not over yet, this week’s proved no exception. Dama Scout, Girlpool, Willie J Healey, Baby, Thurston Moore, Blessed, Blaire Alise & The Bombshells, Kevin Devine, Tobin Sprout, Saint Motel, Banditos, Diagrams, Round Eye, The New ResistANTS, Wall of Ears, and tricot all emerged with strong new clips. Real Life Buildings joined their ranks with their fairly modest and exceptionally clever video for “No News”.

A highlight from Significant Weather — a record full of highlights — Real Life Buildings enlisted the directorial talents of Jon Appel and Matthew Van Asselt for “No News” and were repaid in full. As the clip plays to the narrative’s focus on the mundane, it also makes room for the music the band uses to combat that monotony. Making time for each member, the clip cycles in and out of performance footage, travel footage, and footage of the band practicing and preparing.

It’s a humble presentation of what’s become one of music’s most unlikely supergroups (Vagabon‘s Laetitita Tamko and Crying‘s Elaiza Santos are among the quintets members). All in all, “No News” is a potent reminder of the band’s enormous strength and a beautiful document of the daily routines and quiet moments in the life of a musician. The song powers the clip and the clip remains true to the song, creating something that stands out on its own. It’s another in a long string of triumphs for one of today’s most consistent — and consistently overlooked — bands.

Watch “No News” below and order Significant Weather from Lauren here.

Cende – Don’t Want To (Stream, Live Video)

The past four days have brought in a wave of excellent tracks from a variety of artists, Jet TrashMichael NauBjørn Torske & Prins Thomas, Single Mothers, Standard Legal, Yazz Ahmed, Hundredth, Pat Keen, Passion Pusher, Pet Cemetery, Gallery 47, Lando Chill, and Lød all among that extensive list. Cende also made another appearance with a third glimpse at the band’s forthcoming debut full-length, #1 Hit Song, and secured yet another feature on this site with the explosive basement pop of “Don’t Want To.”

In under 100 seconds, Cende manages to make yet another strong impression, this time emphasizing their more punk influences rather than scaling them back. It’s an effect that goes a long way in creating both energy and momentum, leaving “Don’t Want To” feeling surprisingly vital and a little volatile in the process. Guitarist/vocalist Cameron Wisch once again centers the narrative on self-doubt, self-deprecation, and self-awareness, which remains an intensely relatable combination. As sharp as both “Bed” and “What I Want“, “Don’t Want To” all but cements the lingering feeling that #1 Hit Song will wind up among the year’s best records.

Listen to “Don’t Want To” below (and watch the band rip through the song and an as-of-yet unreleased song beneath the initial embed) and pre-order #1 Hit Song from Double Double Whammy here.

Surfer Rosie – Worms (Stream)

A little over half of this week has passed and it’s seen great new songs surface from the likes of Grey Gersten, Slowdive, Jesse, The Sea Life, VAJJ, Doghouse Charlie, Swimming Tapes, TOPS, Now, Now, Sheer Mag, Swiftumz, Kazyak, and Cutty Flam. That same stretch also produced Surfer Rosie’s outstanding “Worms”, a fine introductory track to an incredibly promising new project.

Last year this site was fortunate enough to host the premiere of Sun’s Out Bummed Out’s “Cut All My Hair“, a song that’s refused to relinquish its vice-like grip on my brain ever since. Laura Daegling, the songwriter responsible for that project, is back at it again with another new outfit: Surfer Rosie. Formed as a Pixies cover band, the quartet eventually morphed into something else entirely and they’re offering a glimpse at what’s to come with “Worms”.

Spiky, atmospheric, and a little bit vicious, “Worms” is a contained burst of oft-kilter pop, dressed up in a decidedly punk aesthetic. It’s a simple, effective, and even gripping work, making the absolute most of two minutes and injecting that time with a distinct personality. Invigorating and galvanizing in equal measure, its easy to see why Good Cheer Records — a label that continues to make all the right choices — has tapped the band for their debut release. While further details have been kept quiet, “Worms” will go a long way in filling that silence. Give into its minimalism for a maximal effect.

Listen to “Worms” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on Surfer Rosie.