Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Attack on Memory

Watch This: Vol. 46

Part two of this week’s recap (there really was an absurd amount of great material to go through), this installment of Watch This features videos that emerged during the past few days. Between a handful of full sets, a few videos from places that have become series staples, and, above all else, great performances. Everything on display here is worth taking some time to enjoy and a handful of them will likely warrant return visits. All in all, this set seems like a very fitting way to cap off what’s been one of the strongest weeks for new content that we’ve had this year. So, sit back, open the blinds, turn the volume all the way up, focus, and Watch This.

1. The Midwest Beat – Vortex Hole (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Vortex Hole” was recently featured here as a stream in support of The Midwest Beat’s excellent new full-length, Free of Being. In the video below, the Milwaukee-via-Madison band gets invited to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel studio to tear through the live version. They tear through it with an enviable amount of verve and a peculiar madcap glee that somehow transforms the performance into something endlessly fascinating. It’s one hell of a rendition.

[Due to a temporary embed issue, this video can currently only be seen here]

2. Cloakroom – Asymmetrical (unARTigNYC)

“Asymmetrical” is a characteristically slow-burning song from Cloakroom, who seem to be exploring the middle ground between shoegaze and post-hardcore with a frightening amount of precision and clarity. Easily one of the most fascinating bands to have begun a steady emergence over the past handful of months, Cloakroom still retains a sense of mystery- something that factors directly into their music. This is an astonishing performance from a band that’s worth getting to know.

3. The New Pornographers (NPR)

It’d be easy to argue that, at this point, The New Pornographers are an institution. Between their own releases and their various members solo releases, they’ve put out some of the most highly acclaimed music of this young century. It’s a formidable body of work and  the fact that their most recent effort, Brill Bruisers, both lives up to and earns its spot among their long list of triumphs is fairly astonishing. This full, lovingly shot, NPR performance spans their discography and showcases one arguably indisputable fact: they deserve their acclaim and status.

4. Beverly – Not Ours (BreakThruRadio)

Beverly, the duo made up of Frankie Rose and Drew Citron, released one of the definitive records of the summer with Careers. Ever since that release, footage of the band’s tight-knit live show’s been popping up with an alarming frequency. While Rose is taking some time off to focus on her own solo project, there are still old sessions coming out of the woodwork. Here’s a lighthearted stunner from the always-excellent BreakThruRadio.

5. Cloud Nothings (Pitchfork)

There aren’t many moments in life that are better than watching a great band with extraordinary people on a perfect day. Cloud Nothings were an easy highlight of Pitchfork’s second day and now their whole set can be relived in full. Culling mostly from their 2014 highlight Here and Nowhere Else, their set went a long way in re-establishing the fact that they’re now a power trio (a term that they fully live up to). Not a lot of bands can lose a member and immediately re-define themselves without losing their personality but it’s evident that Cloud Nothings haven’t lost a step.

Watch This: Vol. 36

While today’s Watch This marathon still won’t be over with this installment, it is drawing to a close. Several of the very best performance clips were reserved for both the 36th and 37th installments of the series. A lot of site favorites are included, giving performances that completely validate their status as such. Everything from Marissa Paternoster’s outstanding solo project to Lydia Loveless’ first spot to PUP delivering a blistering take on the song that drives the best music video of the year-so-far, it’s a lot to celebrate. So sit back, refocus, and Watch This.

1. Noun – I Don’t Love Anybody (Don Giovanni)

Marissa Paternoster’s experienced no shortage of success with her main project, Screaming Females, but her finest album to date may very well be the debut full-length for her solo project, Noun. While that record, Holy Hell, isn’t as revered as Screaming Females’ most popular works, it stands up right alongside them as a full-bodied work. Here Paternoster strips back and takes an all-acoustic attic run through “Make Me”, solidifying her status as one of the most magnetic performers out there today.

2. Beverly (BreakThruRadioTV)

Ex-Vivian Girls/Dum Dum Girls member Frankie Rose and Drew Citron teamed up earlier this year under the name Beverly and surprised just about everyone with one of the more definitive summer records, Careers. In this performance for BreakThruRadio, the pair have a full band backing them and prove to be much more than just a great studio act. Careers highlights “You Can’t Get It Right” and “Honey Do” (which also has a lovely music video) are featured here and sound as perfect as ever. 

3. Radical Dads – Know-It-All (TCGS)

Riff-happy trio Radical Dads were one of the last bands to earn a spot on The Chris Gethard Show and it’s easy to see how they wound up there; this is boldly aggressive and intriguing work along the lines of Sonic Youth while doing away with their particular strain of detached NYC cool. Bananas dance, rimshots ring out, guitars get thrashed on, and everyone gets into it- it’s just about impossible not to.

4. Lydia Loveless (NPR)

Lydia Loveless has been making quite a name for herself these past few years and has continuously lived up to the attention she’s been given. Possessed with a gift of a voice and genre sensibilities that rival and recall both Neko Case and Gillian Welch, the young songwriter’s well on her way to leaving behind a legendary discography of her own. Loveless and her band recently took over NPR’s Tiny Desk Session and, more than likely, converted a whole lot of people while doing so. 

5. PUP – Guilt Trip (KEXP)

“Guilt Trip” already stands out for having one of the most stunning music videos to come out of this decade but, as great as that video was, the song really comes to life in a live setting. While the rest of the band’s KEXP session was admittedly outstanding, “Guilt Trip” was just a few levels above the rest of the batch. This is one of the best performances the station’s seen since Cloud Nothings’ towering Attack On Memory session (which still stands as KEXP’s high-water mark) and, just like the video, deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.   

Pitchfork Festival: Day 2 (Review)

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Days 2 and 3 of the Pitchfork Festival were spent seeing the festival shows themselves, rather than the after shows. Who needed after shows when the lineups for both days were so unbelievably stacked? Day 2 started with Cloud Nothings laying into a very frantic set that recalled their recent High Noon Saloon appearance. Drawing entirely from Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else, their set translated well to an outdoor festival setting. With the additional benefit of good weather, the day was off on the right foot. Before their set ended, it was off to catch Mas Ysa ending his, an impressive display of eclecticism and eccentric electronic work. It was a decided change of pace from Cloud Nothings’ assault just moments before- but it kept the audience just as engaged.

Pusha T was forced to play a shortened set after a late arrival but no one seemed to mind; there were more than a few people on the verge of losing their minds during his short time onstage. My Name Is My Name, one of last year’s stronger highlights, was well represented (predictably, “Nosetalgia” received the biggest reception- no surprise Kendrick appearance, though) as was his back catalog. Pusha handled the lion’s share of the performing himself and showcased the dazzling skill and charisma anyone that’s been paying attention to him since Clipse knows that he’s capable of. It was a standout set, even if it didn’t take up the full time slot. tUnE-yArDs played to another very packed crowd that proved to be just as entranced and receptive as Pusha T’s. Merrill Garbus and company played  off of each other expertly, offering up enviable displays of both percussive and vocal prowess. It felt appropriate in the setting and completely of the moment. Their last two songs drew two of the loudest cheers of the festival.

Next up on the schedule was Danny Brown, green-tipped hair and all, who absolutely invigorated what was starting to feel like a lull in the day’s actions. Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves was also on hand to watch this set and talked about punk, energy, unpredictably, danger, catharsis, and how Brown’s set embodied just about all of it. Brown’s last two records (XXX and Old, respectively) are two of the finest entries in hip-hop for the decade-so-far and his live show lived up to- and possibly surpassed- that recorded output. At this point he’s no longer a star in the making- he’s a bona fide star. Look out for whatever comes out of his camp next (fingers crossed on what seems to be a possibly impending collaboration with The Avalanches) because it’ll be more than worth paying attention to.

After Brown’s rousing set, it was back across the grounds for St. Vincent, still riding his on this year’s outstanding self-titled record. Annie Clark led her band through a set that leaned heavily on that record while occasionally glancing back (“Cheerleader“, in particular, was awe-inducing), always leaving at least one foot planted in her increasing fondness for futurist aesthetics. When she broke from that mold, though, the effects became staggeringly visceral. One of the most unexpected (and aggressive) moments of the festival, for instance, came when Clark led her band down into a free-for-all noise jam that bordered on chaos as it became increasingly heavier. Towards the end of this, Clark threw her guitar to the stage and started abusing it before crawling over to the bass drum, headbutting it repeatedly, rhythmically, before retreating and staying down, holding her head, clearly in some anguish. She would stay in that position for some time before a stagehand came and draped another guitar over her after receiving assurance that she was okay. It was a moment driven by pure, total feeling– and it was spectacular.

Neutral Milk Hotel put on some extraordinary shows after their surprise reunion last year (their Covington, KY show was particularly memorable) and they haven’t really stopped since. True to their wishes, the display screens for the festival were temporarily killed for their set. No cameras, no footage, just music and a shared experience. And what an experience it was. Literally thousands of people sang along in unison to personal favorites off of the band’s landmark achievement, In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea, and several jaws dropped when they went for their relatively deep cuts (“Ruby Bulbs” was as emotional as ever and “Ferris Wheel on Fire” remains transcendent in a live setting). It was mixed well, the band played with as much force as they did meaning and everyone in the audience was smiling, enjoying a moment that would have seemed impossible just a year and a half ago. It was the obvious choice to end the evening and felt akin to magic. Day 3 would have a lot to live up to.

Below watch a video of Cloud Nothings playing “I’m Not Part of Me” that was recently posted by the hosts of the festival themselves.

Cloud Nothings at the High Noon Saloon – 5/2/14 (Pictorial Review)

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On Friday Night, the High Noon Saloon played host to Fire Retarded, Protomartyr, and Cloud Nothings for one hell of a show. Fire Retarded were as spastic as anyone could ask for, flexing some serious punk muscle, while Protomartyr found their footing in smoldering intensity. Cloud Nothings more than proved they’d earned their headlining slot; their set played out like a constant highlight reel. These thoughts will be expanded more later elsewhere- but for now, take a look at the first set of official Heartbreaking Bravery photography (and expect a lot more of this to be featured on the site in the upcoming months). Enjoy.