Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Amoeba

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.

Watch This: Vol. 146

Continuing on with this week’s two-part installment of Watch This — and officially catching Heartbreaking Bravery back up to both the current release cycle and regular coverage — this volume of the series features a wide range of selections. From the remarkable efforts put forth that centered on performances from Good Personalities, Man Is Not A Bird, Family Mansion, Pinegrove, Naked Giants, Okkervil River (x2), Benjamin Francis LeftwichÖsp, Dramady, Castle Ruins, Henry Jamison, The Felice Brothers, and Bob Mould to the featured items, there’s a depth to the range of options that nicely illustrates what Watch This can offer on a weekly basis. Live edits, full sessions, abbreviated sessions, and an out-and-out concert all make appearances below, from veteran artists and tantalizing new names. So, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, forget any troubles, focus, and Watch This.

1. Mulligrub – Canadian Classic

All the way back in August 2014, Mulligrub found their way into a feature spot on this site thanks to the sheer strength of “Canadian Classic“. The trio’s made consistent appears on Heartbreaking Bravery following that event and “Canadian Classic” has more than proven to have staying power. The band recently unveiled a live edit clip for the song, which finds them playing the song in a balloon-filled room, cutting shots of the members goofing off for the camera to round the visual accompaniment out. It’s an endearing clip and a potent reminder of the telling endurance of “Canadian Classic”.

2. Lucy Dacus (Amoeba)

Touring behind this year’s excellent No Burden, Lucy Dacus continues to impress in the live setting. The latest example of the emerging songwriter’s charismatic prowess comes from Amoeba, who present a gripping three song performance with a loving tenderness that suits the material well. Dacus has had a very strong 2016, steadily increasing favor among critics and fans alike by bridging a fierce intellect with an easy relatability. Every song on display in this session is incredibly formidable enough to suggest Dacus will go on to have a storied career. For now, this is a perfect document of an exciting era for one of today’s brightest emerging songwriters.

3. Gurr – Moby Dick (Auf Klo)

The past few months have seen no shortage of great exuberant indie pop. One of the headlining acts of that haul has quickly become Gurr, a duo who excel at conjuring up sun-speckled bursts of warm tones, reassuring vocals, and carefree sensibilities. In this charming run through “Moby Dick” for Auf Klo, the young musicians find themselves sequestered away in a bathroom stall, trading smiles and playing “Moby Dick” to their hearts content. There’s a clear camaraderie between the pair and that familiarity and connection enhances every second of this clip, right down to the final, celebratory flush.

4. Worriers – Good Luck + Yes All Cops (Live! From the Rock Room)

Worriers have earned themselves a loyal following for several reasons. Whether their crowd’s at their show’s for the pointed social politics, the jangly tension, the ramshackle energy, all of those reasons, or another reason entirely doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the band continuously offers several strong angles into their world and commit to those angles with a fierce conviction. It’s a trait that translates to their live show, which is lovingly captured in this memorable two-song session for Live! From the Rock Room.

5. Okkervil River 

This year’s allowed the opportunity to expand on what Okkervil River meant to the foundation of Heartbreaking Bravery and their key role in forming some of the ideas that would eventually drive the site into existence. Away, the band’s most recent release, has followed a post-release formula all too familiar for the band: fawning critical embrace, relative commercial indifference. Here, the band offers up a recent concert that showcases not only their range and uncanny ability to re-work old songs into fascinating new presentation but their jaw-dropping discography as well. The end result: an honest portrait of one of this young century’s most important bands.

Watch This: A Full Session of Full Sessions

As was mentioned in the last post to run on this site, Watch This — the (usually) weekly series celebrating the very best in newly-released live video presentation — experienced an extended hiatus in the wake of incessant traveling and the frantic catch-up mode that traveling necessitated. Over the course of the next week, there’ll be a small handful of collections to get the series back on track.

The collection below contains 25 of the best full sessions released over the past month and a half. KEXP, Audiotree, and NPR (understandably) dominate the selections as they’re all operating at a gold standard level for full session presentation. The final result is a compilation that features an arsenal of site favorites and nears the 11 hour mark in running time. To that end, it’s likely best viewed in small bursts so a page bookmark is recommended. Everything, in true Watch This fashion, is worth seeing (and hearing). So, as always, sit up straight, adjust the settings to your preference, and Watch This.

1. Lucy Dacus (Audiotree)
2. Palehound (NPR)
3. Eleanor Friedberger (KEXP)
4. Seratones (NPR)
5. And the Kids (Audiotree)
6. Florist (NPR)
7. Sunflower Bean (KEXP)
8. Mall Walk (KEXP)
9. PWR BTTM (TCGS)
10. Hockey Dad (3voor12)
11. Diarrhea Planet (KEXP)
12. Blue Crime (3voor12)
13. Bob Mould (KEXP)
14. Yuck (KEXP)
15. Car Seat Headrest (KEXP)
16. Quilt (KEXP)
17. Deep Sea Diver (KEXP)
18. Acid Dad (Audiotree)
19. The Ergs! (TCGS)
20. Pinegrove (Audiotree)
21. Operators (KEXP)
22. Strand of Oaks (KEXP)
23. Julien Baker (Amoeba)
24. Benjamin Clementine (NPR)
25. Jason Isbell (Front Row)

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 3

static

Over the past few days, this site’s been running a campaign to get one of its most important cornerstones back. When the Watch This series was first brought into existence, it was done out of admiration- but also frustration. For whatever reason, great live footage never quite gets its due. Outside of rare exceptions (Scorsese’s The Last Waltz comes to mind), it’s an overlooked format. Reduced to miniature, it has an almost non-existent footprint. Yet, the very best of these clips hinge on the abilities of both filmmaker(s) and the central subject and are treasured fiercely by the people invested in either side. There’s a common ground between film and music that these clips manage to accentuate and exploit when they’re operating at their highest level, they represent multimedia formatting at its finest. Watch This was designed to amend the medium’s inexplicable reduction, Every Sunday, the installment would feature five of the strongest live clips of the week in some small effort to amend the egregious exclusion of a central focus for live footage.

Since 2015 started, like everything else, I’ve been amassing a list of some of the strongest entries in this category and this post marks the last of the trilogy making up the 15 or so weeks that made up 2015’s first quarter. There’s a heavy emphasis on interview-heavy clips and full sets, with healthy numbers for KEXP, BreakThruRadio, and Pitchfork. DIY culture is mostly fully embedded in Pupppy’s set at the endearingly named Dong Island and the whole playlist is bookended by two of the finest live videos of the year. Each of those two clips comes courtesy of NPR, with a full Sleater-Kinney set providing an exhilarating opening and a devastating Torres lullaby clip bringing the proceedings to a hushed, haunting close. Regular Watch This will resume on Sunday and continue weekly. Now, the video player below contains hours worth of material so it’s not something that’s probably going to be watched start-to-finish- but it can certainly be bookmarked and all of it is worth seeing (and, just as importantly, hearing). So, with all that mind, sit back, crank the volume, take a drink, settle in, and Watch This.

1. Sleater-Kinney (NPR)
2. Bully – Trying (Pitchfork)
3. Mike Pace and the Child Actors (TCGS)
4. Fred Thomas (BreakThruRadio)
5. Swervedriver – Autodidact (KEXP)
6. Menace Beach (3voor12)
7. Waxahatchee – Coast to Coast (Pitchfork)
8. Literature (BreakThruRadio)
9. Fat Supper – Mind Your Head #14 (MOWNO)
10. Francisco The Man (KEXP)
11. Nots (BreakThruRadio)
12. Title Fight – Mrahc (Pitchfork)
13. White Reaper – The Cut (BreakThruRadio)
14. GRMLN – Night Racer (Amoeba)
15. Girl Band (KEXP)
16. METZ – Nervous System (Pitchfork)
17. Popstrangers (BreakThruRadio)
18. Laura Stevenson – Bells And Whistles (Space Jam Sessions)
19. Jenny Lewis – Just One of the Guys (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
20. Strand of Oaks – For Me (Amoeba)
21. Pupppy (Dong Island)
22. Krill – Foot (WKNC)
23. Museum Mouth (WKNC)
24. La Luz – Call Me In The Day (KEXP)
25. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (NPR)

Watch This: Vol. 57

Over the past few days, there haven’t been any posts (discounting today’s Watch This marathon) because material’s been uncharacteristically scarce. That said, it wasn’t a total drought. The Dying Arts released an aesthetic-defining video for “Bed Spins“, SUSAN unveiled the hard-charging “Pancake“, RONiiA (a collaborative project featuring members of Dark Dark Dark and Marijuana Deathsquads) teased their upcoming record with the haunting “Fool’s Game“, and Cellphone provided an advance stream for their excellent upcoming record, Excellent Condtion. All of those are secondary to what today’s all about, though- live performances will always be the focal spot for Sunday’s posts and the third round of today’s series marathon holds a few gems. A lot of familiar faces compose this list, from icons to upstarts, with everyone turning in memorable performances- with the second appearance of a song that’s already appeared once today closing things out in style. So, as always, adjust the settings, lean in, tune everything else out, and Watch This.

1. Curtis Harding – Next Time (3voor12)

Soul Power was one of 2014’s more overlooked records after failing to gain the kind of sustained traction it deserved after Burger did everything in their power to push it into the world. Harding and his band recently stopped by the 3voor12 studios in the Netherlands to deliver a stunning session that was highlighted by this performance of “Next Time”. It’s a perfectly-timed reminder of both Harding’s strength as a songwriter and Soul Power‘s timeless nature. Throwback rock n’ soul has rarely sounded this good.

2. Girlpool – Ideal World (The Media)

Yes, Girlpool‘s been earning themselves an avalanche of kind words from this site lately- and, no, that’s not going to change anytime soon. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad have tapped into something undeniable and genuinely important, advancing a few small movements that are worth all the support in the world. “Ideal World” is a new song that capitalizes on the duo’s strengths; harmonies, wiry compositions, arresting minimalism, and raw, heartfelt emotion. Better still, this video comes courtesy of The Media (full disclosure: a publication that this one’s collaborated with in the past), a publication that sets an example- and a standard- worth striving to follow.

3. Sloan (KEXP)

There may not be a band that’s earned more mentions as an influence without being actively featured on this site more times than Sloan. One of powerpop’s most iconic bands, they’ve produced their share of stone cold classics (Twice Removed and One Chord To Another, especially) and have refused to slow down since becoming one of the 90’s more beloved acts. KEXP recently had them in studio and the band tore through four songs from their recent double-record Commonwealth. It’s yet another example of the band aging gracefully at a practically impossible level and never once losing stride.

4. Delay  (Razorcake)

Delay’s Plain Language was one of the better records of the 2000s and while the band’s output following that release was good, they never quite managed to reach the heights of their career-best. That changed this year, with the release of the dynamic Circle Change (both were released by the unfailingly great Salinas Records). One thing that’s never been in doubt: the band’s live show. Razorcake were on hand to capture a few moments from the band’s recent set at The Wulf Den- none better than the video presented here, which includes impassioned turns from the front two and some powerhouse drumming from Jesse Withers (also of site favorites All Dogs).

5. Cloud Nothings – Now Hear In (Amoeba)

There’s only been one full post that’s happened without mention of Cloud Nothings’ “Now Hear In”, sure, but it’s just too good of a song to not feature at any given opportunity. This week’s Watch This marathon was kicked off with an installment that ended with Cloud Nothings’ bandleader Dylan Baldi delivering an impressive solo acoustic take on the song but here, the whole band gets in on the action. Filmed by Amoeba during the band’s in-store performance, no one holds anything back. Drummer Jayson Gerycz, one of the most formidable talents in today’s music, is near inhuman in the rapid-fire pulverization he delivers from behind the kit- locking in perfectly with bassist TJ Duke. Baldi remains a total anomaly, straddling the line between aggression and apathy in equal measure while becoming a genuinely arresting presence onstage. Cloud Nothings have always been a force to be reckoned with live and they only seem to be getting better as they go, rendering this a clip worth intensive analysis for any aspiring musician. Cloud Nothings have a few tour dates coming up; get to one of their shows as soon as possible- a full set of performances like these deserves as big of an audience as possible.