Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Amy Klein

Watch This: Vol. 135

In just a little over two weeks an insane amount of quality live videos have emerged, featuring the following artists: Ezra Furman, Woods, Day Wave, Joy Again, You Won’t, Kevin Morby, Acapulco Lips, Sonya Kitchell, Houndmouth, Queen of Jeans (x2), Christian Lee Hutson, Terry, John Congleton and the Nighty Nite, Mothers, Robb Young and the Elms, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Kalispell (x2), Fear of MenOsekre & The Lucky Bastards, FitsEmily Blue, Henrietta, Adia Victoria, Ubetcha, The Staves (x2), Arc Flash, Michael Nau, Bewilder, The Jayhawks, Slingshot Dakota (x2), Whitney, Vagabon, Quilt, LAYNE, Rye Pines, Minor Victories, Allah-Las, Esme Patterson (x2, 3), Midijoyful, Secret Space, The Mono Jacks, A Dead Forest Index, Explosions in the Sky, Death Valley Girls, Half Waif, The Albert Square, Your Friend, Marlon Williams, Rogue Valley, Metronomy, Gregory Porter, Summer Twins (x2), Surgeons In Heat, Amy Klein, The Belvederes, Frameworks, Oddisee, CHILDREN, Doubles, Gwenno (x2), and Titus Andronicus.

Looking through all of those, it’s impossible to say that this is a bad time for live music (and for the documentation of live music). The overwhelming strength of that above list should indicate that this installment of Watch This will have some extraordinarily strong features. There’s some astonishing talent on display throughout the three full sessions and two individual clips listed below, which include one of the bands that was essential to the site’s foundation and a few fresh faces that have been turning all sorts of heads with their recent work. So, as always, push all the distractions aside, relax, lean in, and Watch This.

1. Tenement – Feral Cat Tribe + Lost Love Star Lust (Set List)

Anyone that’s frequented this site over the time of its existence has seen an unprecedented amount of praise granted to Tenement, a band that was instrumental in providing the building blocks for this site. Over nearly 10 years, I’ve had the surreal privilege of watching the trio develop to the point they’re at today (Rolling Stone recently named them one of the 10 great modern punk bands and the New York Times dedicated an entire podcast installment to the band last year). Here, the band gets to flash their live chops in a session for Wisconsin Public Radio’s Set List series, offering up an impressively powerful pair of tracks that only hint at the band’s astonishing scope.

2. Car Seat Headrest – Fill In The Blank (The Current)

After 2015’s Teens of Style generated quite a bit of momentum for Car Seat Headrest, the solo-project-turned-full-band capitalized on that surge of recognition emphatically with this year’s Teens of Denial. Landing several high-profile festival appearances as a result, the band’s grown gradually tighter over their past few tours. This performance of “Fill In The Blank” for The Current demonstrates that growth and nicely captures the band’s irrepressible drive.

3. PWR BTTM – West Texas + Serving Goffman (WFUV)

Like Tenement, PWR BTTM have become a towering presence in terms of this site’s coverage tendencies, something that came as a direct result of the band’s fiery live show. Here, the band turn in characteristically bold performances of both “West Texas” and “Serving Goffman” for WFUV, perfectly summarized by the half-shocked, half-elated smile that Benjamin Hopkins throws the camera after some errant headphones threaten to momentarily overtake the song. There’s a genuine joy that exists in that moment which the duo have consistently brought to their shows, making them one of the finest live acts on the circuit.

4. Weaves – Human (Low Four)

Weaves have made a habit out of appearing on the Watch This series this year, thanks in large part to the release of their monumental self-titled debut. The quartet recently stopped by the Old Granada Studios to unleash a sharp burst of their hyper-spastic strain of punk-tinged basement pop by way of this inspired run through “Human”, offering a revealing glimpse at their members formidable chops. As fascinating as it is exhilarating, it’s a perfect example of what can be accomplished by thinking a little outside of the typical boundaries.

5. And The Kids – Kick Rocks + Picture (WFUV)

One of the bands that really started to make a push over the past year has been And The Kids, who have seized every opportunity they’ve been given with a startling amount of poise. WFUV recently had the band into their studio and the trio delivered in full, tearing through “Kick Rocks” and “Picture” in a way that likely left several of the studio members jaws agape. Complex and nuanced, the band flawlessly executes a series of hairpin turns, layered harmonies, and language shifts while throwing in a few sly smiles for good measure. It’s an unbelievably impressive performance and more than deserves to close out this edition of Watch This.

Future Biff – I Crashed Your Car (EP Review)

Geronimo!

Hellrazor, Phooey! (a.k.a. ФУИ), Mumblr, Yung, Leapling, Wavepool, Spit-Take, Amy Klein, Wilt, Modern Rituals, In School, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Morgan Elizabeth Heringer, Vogue Dots, Liquids, Wild at Heart, Summer Peaks, Hand Grenade Job, Young Moon, Oneirogen, Cucumbers, Trinkit, and  the second Dumpster Tapes Monster compilation comprised one of the most impressive multi-day hauls of full streams that’s happened in quite some time. However good all of those titles were, none of them could have prepared many for the sudden emergence of Future Biff, a new Chicago act that features all of Geronimo! (pictured above) along with Meat Wave‘s Ryan Wizniak.

Nearly all of Future Biff contributed to the 2015 edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories, a fact that has literally no bearing on the assessment of their unexpected, extraordinary I Crashed Your Car EP. The band’s fronted by Geronimo! keys man Ben Grigg, whose also been putting out incredibly compelling solo work as benjamin783 and who handles bass duties as well as vocals for this release, which immediately ensures that Future Biff won’t be a retread of the band that left a crater-sized hole in this site’s heart after hanging up their cables last year.

Opening with the rousing “Built To Last”, Future Biff teases that they’ll be a much different kind of beast than Geronimo!, providing emphasis on both a strong melodic sensibility, grounded basement pop compositions, and swirling, feedback-laden chaos. Only “Redline”, I Crashed Your Car‘s jittery final track, passes the two and a half minute mark, allowing the EP to be a blazing force of pure destruction. All five of the songs seem surprisingly purposeful, undoubtedly aided by the benefit of having a joint drumming attack anchored by two of the finest percussionists on the circuit.

Even with all of the singular talent involved in Future Biff, the project feels like it belongs to Grigg, whose long had a penchant for writing sharply intuitive, scrappy punk-tinged basement pop. It’s a trait that shines through I Crashed Your Car with an emphatic abundance. Fiery, propulsive, and unavoidable, Grigg steers the band through the carnage of one of 2016’s finest EP’s with a demented smile. Give in or get out of the way.

Listen to I Crashed Your Car below and pick it up from the band here.

Trophy Dad/Barbara Hans (Split Single Review)

trophydad

After a quiet holiday, the releases nearly doubles from their daily average. There were great songs Amy Klein, Honeysuck, Lisa Prank, Ranch Ghost, Rosemary Fairweather, and Savoy Motel, Mesmerizing music videos were unveiled by Pinegrove, Jackal Onasis, PLGRMS, and Slow Club. Impressively, there was a shocking amount of full streams that appeared from the following artists: Erin Tobey, ghostbusters VHS, Bag-Dad, Psychic Ills, Skatebored, Rae Fitzgerald, Dream Wave, Mourn, Pudge, Whelpwisher, the A-side of Cult Values’ self-titled, PUP (easily one of this year’s finest records), and a vinyl issue of Tenement’s self-titled cassette (easily one of last year’s finest releases). Since the Tenement self-titled was extensively covered at the time of its initial cassette release, the feature spot today falls to an astonishing split single between Trophy Dad and Barbara Hans.

The split opens with Trophy Dad (pictured above), who are continued to ride a wave of momentum they generated with last year’s excellent Shirtless Algebra Fridays. 2o15 felt, in a lot of ways, like a breakout year for the quartet with Shirtless Algebra Fridays serving as their crown jewel, indicating a growing level of confidence. That trend continues its upward ascension on “Addison”, an explosive song that approaches the six minute mark without ever losing its energy or pacing. “Addison” opens with a beautiful piano outro before blooming into a Waxahatchee-esque verse section, building to a breathtaking crest before falling away into a hypnotic middle section. Just as it seems “Addison” is content to ride out in a storm’s wake, a solo erupts and viciously cuts any semblance of serenity to shreds before returning to the more median operative mode that the first verses called home.

Bundt Cakes“, the song that Barbara Hans contribute to the split, is a far spikier and complements the impressive dynamics of “Addison” nicely. Barbara Hans specialize in basement pop rave-ups and stompers and “Bundt Cakes” may be their best to date, incessantly surging forward towards some unknown ending like its destined for a fiery wreck and openly embraced its own death. Just as it seems Barbara Hans are content to coast on their own adrenaline-generating powerpunk, they veer sharply left into a chaotic outro that could ostensibly resemble a free-form Sonic Youth noise session. It’s a thrilling end to an exhilarating song and makes a sizable impression. Paired with “Addison”, it experiences a natural elevation (and “Addison”, in turn, does the same). It’s the perfect capper to one of the best split singles of the year. Don’t miss out.

Listen to Trophy Dad/Barbara Hans below and pick it up here.