Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Amanda Shires

Watch This: The Best of 2017’s First Quarter, Pt. II

While the first part of this four-part series featuring the very best of the live videos to emerge over 2017’s first quarter primarily featured fast-paced, punk-leaning numbers (with a few notable exceptions), the second round’s focus is a little bit softer. Acoustic (or electric) solo takes, folk acts, and ballads are very well-represented in these selections as are many site favorites. As is always the case, each of these clips and each of these performances are deserving of more attention than they’ve already received. So, as always, sit up straight, focus, adjust the settings, and Watch This.

PART II

1. Fern Mayo – Pinesol (Deli Cat Records)
2. Mitski – I Bet On Losing Dogs (WFUV)
3. Meat Wave – Run You Out (Live! From the Rock Room)
4. Charly Bliss – Black Hole (Do512)
5. Middle Kids – Your Love (KCSN)
6. Darkwing – 201 Carousel (BreakThruRadio)
7. Dust From 1000 Yrs – Spring II + The Deepest Part (Boxfish Sessions)
8. Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me (WFUV)
9. Jack – A Kick / A Knife
10. Strand of Oaks – Goshen ’97 (The Current)
11. Woods – Suffering Season & Politics of Free (La Blogotheque)
12. Slow Caves – Rover (Open Air)
13. Kodakrome – Head Down (DZ Records)
14. Ben Seretan – I Like Your Size (Chiu Productions)
15. Teenage Halloween – 666 (Little Elephant)
16. Twiga – Ballad of Rainy Dave (Chiu Productions)
17. Johanna Warren (ft. Bella Blasko) – Glukupikron (Velvatone)
18. 4th Curtis – Chicken (The Current)
19. Smartini – Liquid Peace (BalconyTV)
20. Amanda Shires – You Are My Home (World Cafe)
21. David F. Bello – 1,000 Shiny Daves (Little Elephant)
22. Sonny Falls – Wealth to the City Man (DZ Records)
23. Dan Managan – Race to the Bottom (BreakThruRadio)
24. Steve Strong – Do Not Swallow (BalconyTV)
25. Let’s Eat Grandma – Deep Six Textbook (NPR)

Melkbelly – Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain (7″ Review)

melkbelly

When last week came to an end, it gifted the world great new tracks from the likes of ESP Ohio, Cross Country, Marissa Nadler, Field Music, Pamphleteers, Fond Han, WTCHS, Death By Unga Bunga, Grandaddy (x2), Sonic Avenues, Black Marbles, Hello Shark, Peaer, Pony Hunt, Oathbreaker, Computer Magic, Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Sean Rowe, Ricky Eat Acid, and Francie Moon. Those weren’t the only things this week’s left in its wake. Along with those titles, there was also (finally) the release of the Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain 7″ from Melkbelly.

The band first teased this release more than a full year ago by uploading an early, unfinished version of “Mount Kool Kid” to their bandcamp. That version’s been pulled in the time that’s elapsed since its quiet release and its absence has finally been amended with the release of the band’s latest 7″. “Mount Kool Kid” remains an absolute beast of a song, echoing shades of the very best noise, basement punk, and hyper-spastic pop acts in one fell swoop.

Even though it wears all of those influences proudly, “Mount Kool Kid” is still very distinctly Melkbelly. The enhanced production brings out a near-feral rawness in the track that was previously buried, albeit still evident. Everything hits tremendously hard in this more polished version, utilizing Albini-esque tactics for the drum sounds and providing some layers that allow it a more expansive sound.

The flip-side of the 7″ is “Elk Mountain”, which dials back the ferocity to expand on the band’s penchant for grunge and sludge-leaning moments. While the tempo recedes, the abundance of feeling remains in tact. Not a moment of “Elk Mountain” is anything less than exhilarating. Guitarist/vocalist Miranda Winters helps set these songs apart by infusing them with a surprising amount of delicacy that elevates both of these tracks into the realm of the sublime.

Both “Mount Kool Kid” and “Elk Mountain” are incredibly dynamic, compelling  tracks that near the four-minute mark. For virtually every second of their run-time, there’s an admirable choice that manifests in the songs. Whether it’s a drastic tempo change, a vocal run, a runaway drum break, or a sudden commitment to overwhelming heaviness, those choices enliven both tracks, leaving Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain as one of the best 7″ releases anyone’s likely to hear in 2016. So, stop reading, hit play, surrender to the band’s chaos and get swept up in the frenzy.

Listen to Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain below and pick up a copy here.

Watch This: Vol. 69

After almost four full months, regular Watch This coverage is ready to resume. Once again, every Sunday, there will be an examination of five of the preceding week’s strongest live video clips. The live video’s a historically under-appreciated form of multimedia but one of the most difficult to master. Fortunately, this week had no shortage of strong examples, making it difficult to narrow it down to just five selections. While Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ lovingly tender Warren Zevon cover and Chastity Belt’s KEXP session aren’t featured in the ensuing collection, they’re both deserving of multiple watches. Joining those two videos in that distinction are the five clips listed below, which cover a very broad genre spectrum. All of them are worthy of praise. So, as always, sit down, lean back, forget about your troubles, and Watch This.

1. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me (Coachella)

Here and Nowhere Else still sounds as vital and as necessary as it did since it was released. “I’m Not Part Of Me”, the album’s closing track (and one of our best songs of 2014), still packs an enormous punch and that’s an aspect of the song that only gets enhanced in the live setting. Dylan Baldi remains a fascinating songwriter (and underrated composer) and Jayson Gercyz still seems nearly inhuman behind the kit, making this Coachella performance a must-watch.

2. Natalie Prass – Why Don’t You Believe In Me (Bruxelles Ma Belle)

Natalie Prass’ self-titled record was one of the first major surprises of 2015 and, accordingly, was met with universal acclaim. Here, Prass strips the fleshed-out arrangements of the record back to a bare-bones dual guitar setup. Softly lensed and starkly intimate, Bruxelles Ma Belle captures what may be one of Prass’ most captivating performances yet. R&B-inflected folk cascades across a deserted dining hall and fills every inch of the unlikely venue with feeling, rendering this clip unmissable.

3. Public Service Broadcasting – Go! (WNYC)

Occasionally a band will appear off to the edges on my radar and I’ll forget to check them out before a reminder surfaces in plain view. Public Service Broadcasting were one of those acts and this performance of “Go!” was one hell of a reminder. Starting off as a keys-and-sample led ambient piece before erupting into a monstrous, inventive, forward-thinking beast of a genre-defying song, “Go!” encapsulates close to everything an act primed for a breakout should have. Impassioned, deeply-felt, smartly crafted, and musically boundless, “Go!” provides a feeling of genuine exhilaration. Taking cues from decades’ worth of musical trends, deviations, and subversions, “Go!” quickly becomes unforgettable.

4. Happyness (KEXP)

Weird Little Birthday was a strange release that never seemed to garner the levels of attention it deserved. Whether this was due to the spaced-out release schedule, the rollout campaign, or just issues with timing is anyone’s best guess but those that were fortunate enough to hear it all seemed to be fully on board (it very nearly cracked this site’s best albums of 2014 list). The band recently stopped by KEXP’s offices to deliver a deeply intriguing set that doubled as a demonstration of the band’s seemingly limitless potential. Running the gamut from spaced-out ambient territory to 90’s-leaning slacker pop, it’s the type of performance strong enough to create converts and reinforce the convictions of the already faithful.

5. John Davey – Burning and Bright (GemsOnVHS)

When Heartbreaking Bravery was built part of its structure was a keen focus on immensely promising artists who had yet to receive a higher level of recognition. John Davey fits squarely into this category and, as such, has already received coverage on the site. Here, GemsOnVHS turns their cameras on Davey as he makes his way through the gripping “Burning and Bright”, intercutting sweetly homespun footage of the various stages of a shared meal with the performance to create their best video since the stunning Molly Parden turn-in. Imbued with a familial sense that’s emphasized by the song, it’s a genuinely gorgeous final product that also, incidentally, brings this 69th installment of Watch This to a warm, fitting close.

Watch This: Vol. 6

Another year comes to a close and offers up a luxury; a chance to go back for looks at videos this site never got to cover because it came into existence far too late. In this week’s addition of Watch This, all of the videos featured are standout takes from earlier on in the year that deserved a spotlight they weren’t able to receive the first time around. So, take a break between football games this Sunday and give these a watch; they’re all worth it. Regularly-scheduled time-sensitive posts will resume on Watch This next Sunday. Until then, enjoy some of the best live videos that 2013’s first stretch had to offer. 

1. Savages – Husbands (KEXP Session)

Savages landed in the US with a considerable amount of fanfare, a lot of which can be attributed to stunning live performances like this take on Silence Yourself standout “Husbands” for KEXP. The decision to release the clip in black-and-white only furthered the band’s sense of mystery (and aggression). There may not have been a better KEXP session all year.


2. The Frankl Project – Dissatisfaction at its Finest (Blue Recipe Radio Session)

One of the year’s most pleasant surprises came from a small Cincinatti power trio that were once considered to be more ska than anything else. The Frankl Project’s Standards is a testament to DIY ethics and self-reliance. Additionally, it happens to be one of the better records of 2013 and possibly the best the pop-punk genre had to offer. This Blue Recipe Radio Session included two other standouts (“My Hands” and “Alive on the Road”), so be sure to give all three a watch- it’s passionate, exhilarating material.


3. Amanda Shires – Bulletproof (Rhythm N’ Blooms)

A wildcard among this deck, Amanda Shires’ “Bulletproof” earns its spot on the strength of the second verse alone. What starts off as an ostensibly twee tune about a good-luck charm suddenly turns dark and examines humanities darkest tendencies; a desire for exploitation, violence, and empowerment. When Shires (now officially Amanda Isbell) hits the line “bring out the switchblades”, after a brief pause, it’s delivered with such a frightening amount of verve that it’s hard not to be completely taken. Definitely a talent to watch.


4. Mozes and the Firstborn – Time’s A Headache (Live at Biscuit Studios)

There may not have been a better live video that Heartbreaking Bravery encountered all year. It’s not much more than the band playing a standout cut from their self-titled debut effort in a basement but holy hell, do they ever play that song. The young Antwerp hell-raisers lay into “Time’s A Headache” with everything they’ve got to the delight of the crowd gathered around them in the basement where this was shot. There were a myriad of discoveries to make in 2013 but Mozes and the Firstborn (and this video) were among the very best of the “hidden gems” category.


5. Midnight Reruns – Grand Slam / Basement Guy (TCD’s Take One Session)

This marks the third time Midnight Reruns have appeared on a Watch This and it’s very unlikely it’ll be the last. This band simply isn’t getting the recognition it deserves and anything this site can do to further their exposure, it will do. ThirdCoastDigest started a video series earlier on this year called Take One where local area WI bands play an acoustic version of a song or two for their cameras; despite outstanding efforts from the likes of Midwestern Charm and Vic & Gab, the most intoxicating session belong to Milwaukee’s Midnight Reruns. “Basement Guy” and “Grand Slam” both take on noticeably different forms from their LP versions and are just as strong, if not stronger, for it. Get a jump on the inevitable and stop sleeping on these guys- they’re a band worthy talking about as early as possible.