Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: All People

Watch This: Vol. 144

To ease Watch This back into its regularly scheduled rotation, the following will focus on the two weeks that occurred after the last installment was published. In that time, Acapulco Lips (x2), Wasted On You, Chain of Flowers, Pinegrove, Peter Bjorn and John, Sunbathe, Good Personalities, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Claire Cottrill, The Brokedowns, Kississippi, Haley Bonar, Billie Marten, Bayonne (x2), Entrance, Lush (x2), The Blank Tapes, JFDR, The Frights, Teleman, The Districts, Doe, Marissa Nadler, Joshua Bell & Jeremy Denk, No Honeymoon, Aaron & Bryce Dessner with Ben Lanz and Boys Noize, BlackGlass, The Minders, Super Furry Animals, Kristin Kontrol, Tenement, Queen of Jeans, Michael Kiwanuka, Breanna Barbara, Corbu, All People, Boss Fight, Margo Price, Titus Andronicus, Brass Bed, Somos, Oliver John-Rodgers, Foxing, The Wombats, and PWR BTTM all found themselves at the center of outstanding performance clips. Competition that strong says more about the strength of the five featured clips that could be conveyed with mere words. All five bands have been featured on the site in the past and the performances range from genuinely exhilarating to utterly devastating. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the volume, block out any excess noise, focus, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Never Young – Soap (Prisma Guitars)

Immediately kicking things back into the highest gear possible is this Prisma Guitars session from site favorites Never Young. Easily one of the most explosive single-song performance clips to ever be featured throughout the 140+ installments of this series, the quartet careens through an adrenaline-inducing take on “Soap” that sees them giving the session their everything. Beautifully shot and presented with an enormous amount of conviction, this is exactly the type of clip that Watch This was built to celebrate.

2. Greys (KEXP)

Greys have made several appearances throughout this series’ run and touring on their recently-released Outer Heaven‘s allowing them even more opportunities to be featured. The band recently stopped by the KEXP studios for a full session that features songs from their past three releases, including their most recent work, Warm Shadow. As always, the band plays with a barely-contained energy, an incredible amount of tenacity, and a deep-seated passion that makes this another vital document of one of today’s most exciting acts.

3. Heliotropes – Primates (BreakThruRadio)

For a few years now, Heliotropes have been quietly carving out an impressive name for themselves, earning the respect of both critics and their peers. Creatively restless and endlessly intriguing, the band continues to impress with this BreakThruRadio performance of “Primates”. It’s a glimpse towards the future the band’s angling towards and it’s impossibly tantalizing. One of their finest songs to date, “Primates” keys in on the band’s wiriest post-punk tendencies and sporadically cuts them to shreds. If this is indicative of the rest of the band’s forthcoming material, start bracing for something genuinely explosive.

4. The Coathangers (KEXP)

The second KEXP session of this installment features The Coathangers, who have been touring hard behind their excellent Nosebleed Weekend. Celebrating both that record and the 20th anniversary of the label that released the record, Suicide Squeeze, finds the band in exceptionally high spirits. All of that culminated in an unshakable, infectious joy that drives this session, making it both immediately accessible and surprisingly memorable. The trio remains in fine form throughout the session, playing with ramshackle glee while maintaining an impressively tight grasp on the songs, creating what could be considered a definitive portrait.

5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Girl In Amber

After enduring unspeakable loss, Nick Cave allowed filmmaker Andrew Dominik into his creative process to create One More Time With Feeling, a documentary that follows both the creation of Skeleton Tree and Cave’s battle with grief in the wake of his youngest son’s tragic death. It’s excruciatingly heartrending from an outsider’s perspective and Dominik elegantly underscores how unthinkably difficult it’d be to be in that situation. In the third studio video to be released from the project, Cave continues to look completely lost and withdrawn, as if perpetually trying to wrestle his thoughts down.

“Girl In Amber” also expertly incorporates Dominik’s inspired direction and the technical wizardry that went into the 3D, black-and-white filming of One More Time With Feeling. The overall effect’s equal parts haunting and haunted, creating an unforgettable impression. This is a staggering work of bravery and artistry, each colliding with the other to produce something as singular as it is captivating. As the camera circles Cave, surveying his every movement and placing him at the center of swirling uncertainty, Cave repeats “don’t touch me” as the video cuts to black, providing one last breathtaking moment of a miniature masterpiece.

Japanese Breakfast – Jane Cum (Music Video)

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Pinegrove, Emily Jane White, Casket Girls, Tiergarten, The Veils, Porches, Christopher Tignor, The Stargazer Lilies, All People, Yusek, case/lang/veirs, The Two Tens, clipping., American Monoxide, Johnny Foreigner, Creepoid, and Sigur Rós all released strong music videos over the course of the past two weeks. Earning their keep in a whole slew of specific categories, each and every clip is worthy of a heavy amount of investment. That said, only one clip can wind up being the focal point of this piece and that distinction belongs to yet another offering from the inimitable House of Nod Productions, Japanese Breakfast’s “Jane Cum”.

Psychopomp, one of this year’s most pleasant surprises, put Japanese Breakfast — a project spearheaded by Little Big League‘s Michelle Zauner — on the map. The record was partially born from a tragedy that Zauner wrote eloquently about in the very first entry for the A Year’s Worth of Memories series. “Jane Cum”, another in a string of impressive videos from the record, continues to perfectly match Japanese Breakfast’s most cinematic sensibilities with House of Nod’s very specific vision, anchored once again by the deft directorial touch of Adam Kolodny.

Kolodny imbues “Jane Cum” with a B-grade slasher flick aesthetic, centering in on a narrative that involves a mysterious coven, ambiguous motivation, and unerring commitment. As always, it’s a beautifully lensed clip, elevating a continuously progressing tension to heights that near the unbearable. Appropriately, the clip never once loses a sense of mystery, even in its ultimate reveal a host of questions remain. All of the actors involved (including photographer Stephanie Griffin and Cadet Kelly’s Gabriela June Tully Claymore) give nuanced performances.

Beautifully paced, undeniably driven, and spectacularly composed, “Jane Cum” manages to easily climb the scope from notable to genuinely memorable. It’s a startling clip full of vivid imagery that owes debts to not just horror sub-genres but to classic film noir as well. At the center of it all is Zauner, injecting the affair with a sense of eerie calm that winds up being the clip’s definitive trait. Deeply compelling from start to finish, it’s a music video that provides a fine example of what can be achieved within the format under the right circumstances (and with the right collaborative partners). Take a deep breath and let its spell take you under.

Watch “Jane Cum” below and pick up Pyschopomp from Yellow K here.

Lonely Ghost – Funereal (Album Review)

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Now that the site’s all but caught up to the current release cycle, it’s time to bring the full streams portion of coverage up to speed. There were four formidable releases from All People, Tim Heidecker, Sunwatchers, and Head Wound City that were released over the past few days but it was the unexpected submission of the full-length release from Lonely Ghost that claimed the feature spot.

A bedroom pop project from Kenny Forrester, Lonely Ghost is the type of act that revels in conjuring up half-haunted soundscapes and then warping them into a state where thei severe damage becomes a quintessential part of their identity. From the onset of Funereal, it’s evident that the record’s striving for something singular, nearing an intangible transcendence in the process. Opener “Hidden” packs an emotional wallop that the ensuing nine tracks support and carry through to Funereal‘s gentle, contemplative post-storm finale suite.

Forrester imbues every second of Funereal with a raw emotionalism that allows each individual composition to hit with maximum impact. Several of the slower cuts on Funereal slow-build so effectively that it seems unlikely that they’ll ever stop improving on revisits. When Lonely Ghost opts for something more immediate, like the shoegaze-leaning “Slow Down”, the results are no less spellbinding.

Ultimately, the entire collection stands as a fairly remarkable statement from an emerging artist who’s decided to carve out a niche space in compelling ways. That Funereal navigates as much ground as it does, as successfully as it does, is cause for celebration. It’s also a record that rewards investment on a spectacular level, which is somewhat surprising given how fascinating it is on first listen. In short, Funereal is extraordinary.

Listen to Funereal below and download it from the band here.

Eskimeaux – Year of the Rabbit (EP Review)

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For the night’s second full stream, the attention gets turned to Eskimeaux‘s Year of the Rabbit EP, which has the unenviable task of following up O.K. last year’s Album of the Year. Before covering why Year of the Rabbit pulls this off with ease, a few more full streams appeared over the past few days that deserve mention: S-21’s absolutely vicious Demo, Closed Mouths’ rollicking 3 Songs, and a very tantalizing three song sampler from All People, appropriately titled First 3 Songs. While all of those releases were quite short, they all proved very adept at capturing attention.

Another release that not only captured attention but actively enthralled came courtesy of Eskimeaux, a band that’s been making all sorts of power moves lately. While the project’s early output had been consistent, thanks to project mastermind Gabrielle Smith’s unique artistic vision, it wasn’t until Eskimeaux became a full band that the songs started approaching the transcendent. In short order now, Eskimeaux’s issued one of the best records of the decade and an EP that’s all but guaranteed to be on this site’s list (and many others) come December.

Year of the Rabbit opens with one of Smith’s most effective production tracks, layering her voice into a sweet chorus that entices and soothes in equal measure. Slowly, the rest of the band kicks in, crescendos to a stop and strikes up a mid-tempo jaunt that serves as the bed for a characteristically nostalgic, human narrative. Less than a minute into Year of the Rabbit and Eskimeaux’s already concocted the foundation for an impressive composition with relatable angles.

After the airy rush of the title track, the EP devotes most of its time to songs that have been released in some capacity or another throughout the past year, including early 2016 highlights “WTF” (which was an easy inclusion for the 50 Best Songs of 2016’s First Quarter list), “Power“, “Drunk“, and “Sleeping Bear” (the latter of which was previously titled “Sleepy Bear”). While all of those songs carry an air of familiarity, they’re elevated by both the context of Year of the Rabbit and the natural flow of its sequencing.

“Bulldog”, the EP’s penultimate song, feels completely new and scans as the record’s most personal moment as well as its most riveting. It finds Smith operating solo, revisiting the roots of the project, and fearlessly embracing the band’s most definitive trait — vulnerability — on a staggering level. The song also offers up the EP’s most breathtaking moment in its hard isolation of the phrase “is it hard losing?”, which takes on a significant magnitude as the song reaches its conclusion.

More than ever, it feels like Smith is addressing herself rather than her audience as she tears into difficult questions about her own constitution. Each one of the EP’s seven songs is a gripping run through the songwriter’s psyche, the band’s ambition, and the dynamic that allows both of those elements to take on a symbiotic relationship. For that reason and — as is increasingly the case with Eskimeaux — so many other deeply ingrained reasons that reveal themselves over time and a certain level of investment, Year of the Rabbit stands out as one of 2016’s strongest releases. Get on board now and save yourselves the regret of showing up late to the party.

Listen to Year of the Rabbit below and pre-order a copy from Double Double Whammy here.

Dilly Dally – Gender Role (Stream)

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One last big overhaul will be contained in this piece and 25 of the best songs from the first quarter of the year will follow. I wish I had time to give all of these songs the words and attention that they deserve but, unfortunately, time has dictated that this is the most effective mode of catching the site up to the present release cycles. All of the songs that were listed in this piece- and in pieces past- are worthy of inclusions to any collections. One of those many songs earns this piece’s headline: Dilly Dally’s electrifying new single, “Gender Role”.

It’s a song that capitalizes on the band’s built-in identity and aesthetic trends, with post-punk gloom reverberating through every single impassioned second. Already fully-formed just a few songs into their career, their warning shot- one that damn near topped our best 7″ Records of 2014 list- set the floor for “Gender Role”. In turn, “Gender Role” goes a long way in proving that the Candy Mountain 7″ was no fluke. Here, the band adds an adrenaline shot of genuine fury to the mix and it pays off to tremendous effect. Vocal wails, a formidable rhythm section, and incendiary guitar work act as a great reminder of Dilly Dally’s inherent strength and limitless potential, making “Gender Role” a fierce example of why Dilly Dally deserves to be on everyone’s radar.

Listen to “Gender Role” below and keep an eye on this site for continuing coverage of the band. Beneath that, enjoy a selection of 75 great songs from the first part of the year.

Buyer’s – Brand Loyalty
T-Rextasy – I Wanna Be A Punk Rocker
Heeney – Brooklyn Pop
Alex Napping – Trembles, Pt. 1
Chris Weisman – Cold Chimney
Los Angeles Police Department – Water and Wine
Robert Pollard – Up and Up and Up
Together PANGEA – I Looked In Too
Ryley Walker – Sweet Satisfaction
Jacco Gardner – Find Yourself
KDH – Beloved Devotion
Fond Han – Sub City Blues
Turn to Crime – Prince of Slackers
EULA – Like No Other
Nadine Shah – Fool
Bohannons – Black Cross, Black Shield
Algiers – But She Was Not Flying
Living Hour – Steady Glazed Eyes
Le Volume Courbe – The House
Slow Turismo – Corners
Antony Hegarty & Yoko Ono – I Love You Earth
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – The Sun Roars Into View
Jeff Rosenstock – Beers Again Alone
Surfer Blood – Dorian
Arm Candy – Lounge Lizard
ADVAETA – Angelfish
Family Bike – Idiot Boy
HSY – Sally
Never Young – Ur A Front
Fever & the Fret – Sasha in the Morning
Waxahatchee – Fish Eyes (Bottomless Pit)
The Nudes – Zima
Sammy Kay – Saints and Sinners
Vaadat Charigim – Ein Li Makom
Mall Walk – Criminal Code
Krill – Billy Madison Victory Song
JEEN. – NY Island
Holly Miranda – All I Want Is To Be Your Girl
Faith Healer – Canonized
Vetiver – Loose Ends
The Helio Sequence – Stoic Resemblance
So Stressed – Merv King & The Phantoms
Soft Cat – Diana
Kopecky – Quarterback
Bombay Harabee – Dotted Line
Paul De Jong – Auction Block
Fort Lean – Quiet Day
Peach Kelli Pop – Plastic Love
This is the Kit – Silver John
Oddisee – That’s Love
Spring King – They’re Coming After You
Wire – Split Your Ends
Public Access T.V. – Metropolis
Black Baron – Fluorescent Light
Docking – Meat Hook
The Nudes – The Internet
Bent Denim – Caitlin
Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
Simon Joyner – Nostalgia Blues
Tree Blood – I Want You to Cry
Houndstooth – Borderlands
Van Dale – Speak Yellow
Mute Forest – Infinity Pools
Aquarian Blood – Savage Mind
Shunkan – Our Names
Part Time – Fallin’ 4 U
Tom Levin – Thunder On
MNDR (ft. Killer Mike) – Lock & Load
Kathryn Calder – Song in Cm
The Cribs – An Ivory Hand
House of Wolves – Love
All People – Conversations
Lost Boy ? – About the Future

Speedy Ortiz – The Graduates
Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst
Dave Segedy – Walk Around