Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Amber Arcades

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.

Siobhan Wilson – Whatever Helps (Music Video)

Last week Amber Arcades, Rolling Blackouts Coastal FeverOfflaga Disco Pax, Teen Daze, and Kaleidoscopic Horse all released great music videos. Emergent artist Siobhan Wilson also managed to turn in an arresting clip for the equally arresting “Whatever Helps”. Directed by Alistair Ogilvy and comprised of low-grade film footage that switches between a yellow-soaked hue and stark black-and-white, “Whatever Helps” is given an unnerving face that accentuates the song’s intrinsic uncertainty.

Incredibly dark in tone but deeply empathetic in delivery, “Whatever Helps” firmly establishes itself as one of 2017’s most gripping tracks and the video only heightens that arresting nature; it’s impossible to look away from something so unapologetic in its intimacy. Bruised and disconcertingly knowing, it sets a memorable tone for Wilson’s forthcoming There Are No Saints. If the rest of the material on the record lives up to “Whatever Helps”, it’ll be one of the year’s most unlikely — and most welcome — standouts .

Watch “Whatever Helps” below and pre-order There Are No Saints from Songs, by Toad here.

Ghost Gum – More (Stream)

ghost gum

Occasionally, there are days that underwhelm in terms of new releases. Then there are days like today, which churn out more than a dozen legitimate contenders for the headline slot and serve as reminders that we’re currently living in the best (and most accessible) time for new releases. There were incredible songs from Jack (who came a hair’s breadth away from getting a standalone post), Eric Slick, Lost Boy ?, Eyes of Love, Johanna Warren, Soft Candy, No One Mind, Peaer, Diners, Chris Farren, M. Lockwood Porter, Seeing Hands, Nots, Oldermost, Sex Stains, SubRosa, Lambchop, The Minders, Elijah Ford, Sports, and an outstanding one-off cover from site favorite Mo Troper.

Several music videos made an impressive impression as well, including new entries from the camps of Sunflower Bean, Dust From 1000 Yrs, Death Valley Girls, Uni Ika Ai, Silent Pictures, Le Boom, EL VY, WatskyAmber Arcades, and Chris Staples. Tying everything together were the full streams that were unveiled by Pleistocene, Earth Girls, Kindling, Katie Dey, Ant’lrd, and Lié.  In terms of quality, it matched an above-average week’s worth of material. Topping it all off is “More”, a near-perfect new track from Ghost Gum.

After turning some heads last year with “Again“, their contribution to a loaded 4-way split (Loose Tooth, Clique, and Mumblr rounded out the release), the quartet’s returned with a vengeance. “More” comes loaded with hooks, exhilarating moments, and genuine feeling. At every turn, the song provides something fascinating, from the tremolo picking that sets the tone of “More” to the rapid-fire hi-hat pattern to the earworm-ready bass line and guitar riff that kick the track into the fifth gear.

In less than three minutes, Ghost Gum offer a masterclass in dynamic structure, getting the most mileage possible out of a soaring chorus, a searing solo, and a compellingly muted verse that keeps everything grounded and breathes in some fractured humanity. Some aching backing vocals enhance the song’s half-haunted atmosphere to great effect and everything clicks in ways that both satisfy and induce genuine excitement.

When everything’s through, “More” stands as a song that not only lives up to the promise of its title but redefines that very same title as a winking understanding of how listeners should be feeling upon hearing the song’s final notes. Explosive without being bombastic and contemplative without dipping into tedium, “More” is a sharply crafted piece of work from a band that’s been continuously bettering themselves with each successive release. If the rest of their forthcoming release, The Past, The Future, Dwelling There Like Space, is anywhere near this good, it’ll be among the strongest releases of the year.

Listen to “More” below and download it here.

Watch This: Vol. 129

Hello and welcome to the 129th installment of Watch This. Just like the previous 128 entries in this series, this volume will focus on the finest live performance videos to be released in a set time frame (this time around being the normal version: this singular, immediate week).  As is usually the case, there was quite a bit of material to sift through that included strong showings from the likes of Margaret Glaspy, Antiphons, The Tallest Man On Earth, Ty Segall & Cory Hanson, Day Wave, Whitney Rose, Beach Slang, Naked Naps, Seratones, Amber Arcades, Hannah Georgas, Boogarins, Alessio Bax, Zach Puls, Totally Mild, Chick Corea & Gary Burton, Venus II, Dream On Nilsson, Dolfish, Dr. Dog, and Bowerbirds. A lot of gems can be found by exploring that list just as the five featured clips offer up an arsenal of astonishing talent on both sides of the camera. So, as always, kick back, crank the volume, get prepared, and Watch This.

1. Bully (Bonnaroo)

After purring out one of last year’s finest records, Bully have been hitting both the road and the festival circuit with staggering force. Feels Like, the record that spawned an extremely promising career, conjured up enough momentum that the band’s carried it to what’s essentially a victory lap. Fortunately for everyone, they’re playing their shows as if they still need to be the first to cross some unseen finish line.

2. Fruit + Flowers – Drug Tax (BreakThruRadio)

For well over a year, Fruit + Flowers have been drawing near to the cusp of becoming a breakout band and in that time, they’ve sharpened their live show to a fine point. That dedication shows in this steely-eyed performance of “Drug Tax” the band delivered for BreakThruRadio, tapping into the kind of fiery determination that a bigger scale — a scale that they deserve — necessitates. Expect to be hearing their name more at some point in the near future.

3. The She’s (PressureDrop.tv)

For as much as it gets featured on this site, the fact remains: good, carefree basement pop — the kind that comes equipped with a band’s singular identity — is surprisingly hard to create. Since they formed, The She’s have been working resiliently to perfect both their approach and that very niche genre. This inspired full session for PressureDrop.tv shows that they’re as close to achieving that goal as anyone.

4. SAVAK – Reaction (BreakThruRadio)

Session musicians are frequently overlooked despite being the backbone of the recording industry. SAVAK is a supergroup of relatively unheralded background players whose cumulative credits include roles in Obits, Holy Fuck, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, The Cops, Nation of Ulysses, and more. Apart from their former projects and united under one flag, they’ve clicked and transformed into a wrecking crew. This run through “Reaction” is proof.

5. The Thermals (KEXP)

Very few bands boast a discography as absurdly strong as The Thermals, one that’s highlighted by The Body, The Blood, The Machine (which itself is one of the finest records of the past 16 years), yet they’ve managed to retain a nearly unparalleled drive that’s constantly reflected in their work. The band’s live show is when that aspect evolves from an endearing trait to an unavoidable reality. KEXP recently hosted the band (with the very welcome addition of Summer Cannibals‘ Jessica Boudreaux) in their studios and filmed them ripping through some highlights of their most recent effort, We Disappear. A loving document of one of the great DIY-leaning punk acts, it more than earned its spot on this list. Enjoy.

What A Difference A Month Makes (Music Videos)

In the past month, a lot’s happened on both sides of the coverage spectrum. A lot of sets were documented in that time and will be receiving some attention at some point down the line. A lot of full streams came out, even more songs were released, and quite a few music videos found their way out into the world as well. All three of those formats will have a list dedicated to them and then a slew of individual features will be posted celebrating a handful of exceptional titles. Below is a list of formidable music videos that made a powerful impression over the course of the last month. Take a breath, dive in, and go exploring. 

Mo Troper, Lion’s Den, Tiny Deaths, Tim Heidecker, Weaves, Amber Arcades, Night Idea, Steve Gunn, Littler, Bambara, Braids, Prism Tats, No Parents, Those Pretty Wrongs, Stan Simon & The Hotel Bible, Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling HexRJD2, Crosss, James Supercave, Eric Bachmann, Tacocat, Julianna Barwick, Acapulco Lips, Conrad Keely, Programm, Lontalius, Clique, Martha, Wilder Adkins, The Spook School, Rozwell Kid, The Loom, Oscar, Bishop Briggs, Angel Du$t, Patience, Band of Horses, The fin., The Raveonettes, Secret Space, Pure Bathing Culture, Howardian, and GOAT.

Modern Baseball, Holy Fuck, Sturgill Simpson, Butch BastardMinor Victories, The Slovaks, The Coathangers, OMNI, Stove, Sløtface, Franky Flowers, Slim Twig, Kino Kimino, D Generation, Pony Time (ft. Lisa Prank), Beverly, Living Hour, Former Belle, Tancred, Mutts, Pet Sun, Teen Suicide, Krano, Your Friend, Dear Boy, The Stargazer Lilies, The Kills, The Loom, Aesop Rock, Cellar Doors, Xiu Xiu, Globelamp, TV Sets, and Eleanor Friedberger, and a surprisingly outstanding fan-shot video for Mike Krol’s “Less Than Together” (one of this site’s picks for Best Songs of 2015) as well as the trailer for Casket Girls’ The Night Machines.

Mo Troper – Star Wars (Stream)

mo troper

More than a dozen great new songs found their way out into the world at large today, which seems as solid of an example as any to point out that the early running of 2016 has yielded an overwhelming amount of outstanding material. 13 of those songs came from Try the Pie, NOTHING, Boys, Amber Arcades, Your Loss, Hanni El Khatib, Mike Adams at His Honest Weight, The Moles, Harmony Tividad, Youth In Bloom, Earring, Hestina, and MONEY. While all of those titles, as always, deserve as many plays as they can possibly receive, it’s a song that I’ve been playing to death for the past month that gets the spotlight here.

Before going any further, I’d like to sincerely thank the good people over at Good Cheer Records for patching along an advance copy of Mo Troper’s essential Beloved because it’s practically all that’s been played ever since it landed in my inbox. Easily my current front-runner for Album of the Year, it perfectly blends the most enticing elements of Big Star, Weezer, The Replacements, and Tony Molina. It’s an insane reel of highlights (something that was likely evidenced in the write-up for “First Monkey In Space” in this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016’s First Quarter list) but none of them are as strong as the soaring, battered “Star Wars”.

Both a scathing critique of the persistent, embarrassing bro culture and a celebration of the escape that can be found in the titular film, “Star Wars” hits hard in its narrative. Unflinchingly honest and remarkably huge, “Star Wars” is also a triumph in composition. Everything on Beloved incorporates decades worth of DIY punk history and wraps itself in a decidedly pop-leaning package. From the scrappy production to the monstrous hooks, each song could be considered a victory lap for an all-too-frequently overlooked genre. It’s a sentiment that holds especially true for “Star Wars”.

Beloved‘s a record that’s dominated by swing-for-the-fences selections and all of them connect, with “Star Wars” connecting the most emphatically. Blending tongue-in-cheek humor with impassioned feeling can frequently be an awkward blend but it suits “Star Wars” modesty to a tee. “All of my friends/are total fucking bros/wax museum/puppets with their strengths exposed” Troper bellows at the start of the final chorus, injecting his disdain with well-placed humor and a startling amount of intellect (which is another one of Beloved‘s strongest qualities).

Every single second of “Star Wars” is pure bliss for anyone who has even a passing interest in DIY punk, basement pop, or sloppy rock n’ roll. It’s exceptional songwriting that’s as thoughtful as it is catchy, lending an extreme amount of substance to something that could’ve succeeded without the impressive amount of care “Star Wars” winds up displaying. With a vocal melody that has legitimate staying power, a relatable message that resonates, scintillating guitar work, and a powerful turn-in from the rhythm section, “Star Wars” is an unstoppable force.

In the end, no amount of anger, dejection, or hopelessness can’t be at least somewhat remedied by the comfort of an old film. It’s a strange truth that a lot of us learn the hard way before recognizing the depths of escapism’s value. Mo Troper’s got it figured out, though, and now that truth has a fiery anthem as a welcome accompaniment. If there’s any justice, 39 years down the road some kid will be finding that escape by turning on this very song, which more than deserves to share its title with an old classic.

Listen to “Star Wars” below and pre-order Beloved from Good Cheer here.

Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter, Vol. II

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]

It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time. 

Watch the second collection of those videos below.

1. Julien Baker (Audiotree)
2. The Dirty Nil – Zombie Eyed (Little Elephant)
3. Amber Arcades (3voor12)
4. Big Ups (Do512)
5. Brooke Waggoner – Fresh Pair of Eyes (OurVinyl)
6. Quarterbacks (WSPN)
7. Natalie Prass – Tell Me (OurVinyl)
8. gobbinjr – bb gurl (Play Too Much)
9. Sweet Spirit – Breakthru Radio
10. Operators (KEXP)
11. Bill Ryder Jones – Wild Roses + Put It Down Before You Break It (La Blogotheque)
12. Two Gallants – My Love Won’t Wait (OurVinyl)
13. El Pino & The Volunteers (3voor12)
14. Mulligrub – Homo Milk + Man in the Moon
15. All Dogs – Skin (Little Elephant)
16. Gaelynn Lea – Submission
17. Ride (KEXP)
18. Glen Hansard – When Your Mind’s Made Up (NPR)
19. Justin Townes Earle – Mama’s Eyes (OurVinyl)
20. Posse – Cassandra B (Band In Seattle)
21. TUFT – Sheep (Jam in the Van)
22. The Nudes – Your Eyes (Ithaca Underground)
23. Wildhoney – Soft Bats (Audiotree)
24. Cayetana – Freedom 1313 (Little Elephant)
25. Daughter (BBC)

March 2016: The Music Videos

PWR BTTM I

While January and February certainly had their fair share of great music videos, March saw an influx of truly great clips find their way out into the world. From Johanna Warren‘s extraordinary “Great Lake” (which I was fortunate enough to premiere over at Consequence of Sound) to a new, patently excellent, video from PUP, the format’s found its stride. Apart from the music videos, there was an outstanding Vaadat Charigim mini-documentary chronicling their first US tour.

Since there were so many clips — and since so many were so exceptional — they’ll be split into two categories below. At the very bottom of the page will be the honorable mentions category and above that will be a slew of videos that have positioned themselves to be early year-end contenders. Since “Great Lake” was already mentioned above, it won’t be below. Similarly, since Yours Are the Only Ears’ aching, gorgeous video for “Low” is the only non-YouTube entry, it will simply be listed in this paragraph (but rest assured, it’s more than worth your time). For the sake of convenience, 31 music videos are featured- one for each day in March.

Watch some of the finest clips of a young 2016 via the embed (with an accompanying tracklist tucked underneath) and explore the laundry list of exceptional titles in the honorable mentions category below the player. Enjoy.

1. PWR BTTM – West Texas
2. Dilly Dally – Snakehead
3. Palehound – Molly
4. Foul Tip – Drifting
5. Greys – Blown Out
6. Big Ups – National Parks
7. PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will
8. The Crookes – The World Is Waiting
9. Mutual Benefit – Not for Nothing
10. Alex G – Mud
11. Free Cake For Every Creature – Talking Quietly of Anything With You
12. Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
13. El Perro Del Mar – In the Woods
14. Kevin Morby – Dorothy
15. Abi Reimold – Mask
16. Daughter – How
17. Eluvium – Life Through Bombardment Vol. 2
18. Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion
19. Nancy Pants – I’ve Got A Crush On You And Everybody Knows It 
20. Outer Spaces – I Saw You
21. Eleanor Friedberger – Never Is A Long Time
22. PJ Harvey – The Community of Hope
23. Sunflower Bean – Easier Said
24. James Edge and the Mindstep – On A Red Horse
25. Furnsss – Slow Dark Water
26. The Lemons – Ice Cream Shop
27. Quilt – Roller
28. Marissa Nadler – All the Colors of the Dark
29. PAWS – No Grace
30. Savages – Adore
31. Hayden Calnin – Cut Love

Honorable Mentions

Kino Kimino – Passion | Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales | NOTHING – Eaten by Worms | The Mynabirds – Velveteen | Miya Folick – Oceans | Laura Carbone – Swans | Wilder Adkins – Our Love Is A Garden | Head Wound City – Scraper | Fear of Men – Island | Thin Lips – Never AgainSioux Falls – Dom | La Sera – I Need An Angel | Tim Heidecker – In Glendale | DTCV – Capital Ennui | José González – With the Ink of a Ghost | B Boys – Get A Grip | Trevor Sensor – Pacing the Cage

Teen Suicide – The Big Joyous Celebration | Ladada – Old Wave | Dam Gila – The Undertow | Brodka – Horses | Ashley Shadow – Tonight | Hurry – Nothing to Say | Mumblr – Super! | Long Beard – Porch | We Are Scientists – Buckle | Steve Gunn – Conditions Wild | My Bubba – Charm | Amber Arcades – Right Now | Kwesi Foraes – Devils Child | Saul Williams – Down For Some Ignorance | NOTHING – Vertigo Flowers | The Amazons – Stay With Me | Holy Pinto – Hospital Room | Whitney – Golden Days | Luke Top – Chariot

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife | Eskimeaux – Drunk | Andy Shauf – The Magician | Innerspace Orchestra – One Way Glass | Crows – Whisper | Deep Sea Diver – See These Eyes | The Hunt – Hawk | Jerkagram – Cloud Builder | Julianna Barwick – Nebula | The Dirty Nil – Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü | Sarah Neufeld – We’ve Got A Lot | Cat’s Eyes – Drag | Zones – Tides | The Drones – Taman Shud | Andy Stott – ButterfliesThe Lemons – Shark BaitGrey Waves – Remember Me | Wood Lake – Hollow | Black Mountain – Florian Saucer Attack | Fleabite – Missing Everyone | Haelos – Separate Lives | Nada Surf – Rushing | PAWS – No Grace

Watch This: The Honorable Mentions of 2016’s First Quarter

It’s been quite some time since their was an installment of Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly (when on schedule) round-up of the finest work in the live video field. Coverage is generally split between individual performances and full sessions that are captured in places like basements and professional radio studios. Though there has yet to be a volume of Watch This in 2016, the information regarding the series was collected diligently while it remained quiet.

Due to the overwhelming bevvy of material that’s surfaced over the past three months, the below collection while simply be given via hyperlinks. There’s a lot of information to digest here and — due to the nature of press cycles when bands are on tour — several acts will be listed more than once. Like the recent round-ups, this will be literally impossible to watch in one sitting. The best way to view this material will be to simply bookmark this page and explore the content at random, all of which is definitely worthy of some investment.

More round-ups will follow focusing on the best of the best of the 2016 Watch This field of candidates. Until then, enjoy these examples of excellency in the live video format.

Deep Sea Diver, Lip Talk, Strange Attractor, Potty Mouth, Expert Alterations, Nathaniel Rateliff, Shearwater, Shade, Indian Askin, Mount Moriah, The Wild Reeds, Ty Segall & The Muggers, Kevin Morby, Margaret Glaspy, Seratones, Kakkmaddafakka, Dr. Dog, Valley Queen (x2), Bantam Lyons, Rob Sutherland, Cosmonaut, Alabama Shakes, Long Beard, I Am Oak, Albert Hammond Jr., Amber Arcades, Victoria Reed, Dilly Dally, Sunflower Bean (x2), Fauna Shade, SEGO, Lissie, Declan McKenna, Billie Marten, Adult
Mom

Matt Vasquez, Bird Courage, Nap Eyes, Fraternal Twin, Giant Peach, Lola Marsh, Minnoe, Civic, Kamasi Washington, John Rossiter, Bummed Out Still Glowing,
Little Hurricane, The Perennials, Timothy Bloom, Duncan Sheik, Dilly Dally, Oscar, Langhorne Slim, Rob Courtney, Hinds, Into It. Over It., Bombino, Frank Bell, Ancient Whales (x2), Ripper, Eerie Wanda, The Dazies, Vinyl Thief, Alright Panther (x2), Julia Holter, BRAEVES, Stone Cold Fox, Painted Zeros, The Hunna, Kate Davis, Molly Parden

Super Furry Animals, Dogbreth, Tommy Emmanuel, All Dogs, Rupert Angeleyes, Korey Dane, Comfy, Jeanne Added, The PinesAxel Flóvent, Naked Naps, Ezra Furman & The Boyfriends, Queen of Jeans, Darlene Shrugg, Sun Club (x2), Born Ruffians, Narc Twain, Pale Spectre, Canshaker Pi, No Parents, Idlewild, Woodpigeon, Rubblebucket, WEEED
Homme, Stumpf, J Fernandez, She-Devils, Emilie & Ogden, Fufanu, Most Selfless Cheerleader, Lael Naele, Pinegrove, Keenan O’Meara, Parquet Courts, Avantist, Low Culture

Chris Bathgate, Bombay, Julia Holter, Young Jesus, Heartless Bastards, Wussy, Futurebirds, Ben Folds, Bye Beneco, Posse, E.M.I.L., Battleme, Chill Moody, Mass Gothic, Escondido (x2Feral Moan, Savages, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Help the Doctor, lowercase roses, Leyya, Hinds, M. Ward, LIGHTS, The Pony (x2), Armani White, Forth WanderersOiseaux-Tempête (ft. G.W. Sok and Gareth Davis), Sonya Kitchell, Chris Bathgate, Emily Mure, Emily Wells, Torii, SWMRS, IAN, Dot.s, Chilly Gonzales, The Flips

Lanterns on the Lake, The Wombats, Rationale, Zula, Marc Scibilia, This Is The Kit, Looming, Bayonne, Crater, The Entrepreneurs, O, Sleep Storm, T. Hardy Morris, SkyBlew, John Coffey, Basia Bulat, Violent Femmes, Jeremy Messersmith, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, Trixie Whitley, Aubrie Sellers, The Bottle Rockets, Max Meser, Tall Heights, Chilly Gonzales & Kiaserr Quartet