Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: AV Club

Watch This: Vol. 144

To ease Watch This back into its regularly scheduled rotation, the following will focus on the two weeks that occurred after the last installment was published. In that time, Acapulco Lips (x2), Wasted On You, Chain of Flowers, Pinegrove, Peter Bjorn and John, Sunbathe, Good Personalities, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Claire Cottrill, The Brokedowns, Kississippi, Haley Bonar, Billie Marten, Bayonne (x2), Entrance, Lush (x2), The Blank Tapes, JFDR, The Frights, Teleman, The Districts, Doe, Marissa Nadler, Joshua Bell & Jeremy Denk, No Honeymoon, Aaron & Bryce Dessner with Ben Lanz and Boys Noize, BlackGlass, The Minders, Super Furry Animals, Kristin Kontrol, Tenement, Queen of Jeans, Michael Kiwanuka, Breanna Barbara, Corbu, All People, Boss Fight, Margo Price, Titus Andronicus, Brass Bed, Somos, Oliver John-Rodgers, Foxing, The Wombats, and PWR BTTM all found themselves at the center of outstanding performance clips. Competition that strong says more about the strength of the five featured clips that could be conveyed with mere words. All five bands have been featured on the site in the past and the performances range from genuinely exhilarating to utterly devastating. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the volume, block out any excess noise, focus, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Never Young – Soap (Prisma Guitars)

Immediately kicking things back into the highest gear possible is this Prisma Guitars session from site favorites Never Young. Easily one of the most explosive single-song performance clips to ever be featured throughout the 140+ installments of this series, the quartet careens through an adrenaline-inducing take on “Soap” that sees them giving the session their everything. Beautifully shot and presented with an enormous amount of conviction, this is exactly the type of clip that Watch This was built to celebrate.

2. Greys (KEXP)

Greys have made several appearances throughout this series’ run and touring on their recently-released Outer Heaven‘s allowing them even more opportunities to be featured. The band recently stopped by the KEXP studios for a full session that features songs from their past three releases, including their most recent work, Warm Shadow. As always, the band plays with a barely-contained energy, an incredible amount of tenacity, and a deep-seated passion that makes this another vital document of one of today’s most exciting acts.

3. Heliotropes – Primates (BreakThruRadio)

For a few years now, Heliotropes have been quietly carving out an impressive name for themselves, earning the respect of both critics and their peers. Creatively restless and endlessly intriguing, the band continues to impress with this BreakThruRadio performance of “Primates”. It’s a glimpse towards the future the band’s angling towards and it’s impossibly tantalizing. One of their finest songs to date, “Primates” keys in on the band’s wiriest post-punk tendencies and sporadically cuts them to shreds. If this is indicative of the rest of the band’s forthcoming material, start bracing for something genuinely explosive.

4. The Coathangers (KEXP)

The second KEXP session of this installment features The Coathangers, who have been touring hard behind their excellent Nosebleed Weekend. Celebrating both that record and the 20th anniversary of the label that released the record, Suicide Squeeze, finds the band in exceptionally high spirits. All of that culminated in an unshakable, infectious joy that drives this session, making it both immediately accessible and surprisingly memorable. The trio remains in fine form throughout the session, playing with ramshackle glee while maintaining an impressively tight grasp on the songs, creating what could be considered a definitive portrait.

5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Girl In Amber

After enduring unspeakable loss, Nick Cave allowed filmmaker Andrew Dominik into his creative process to create One More Time With Feeling, a documentary that follows both the creation of Skeleton Tree and Cave’s battle with grief in the wake of his youngest son’s tragic death. It’s excruciatingly heartrending from an outsider’s perspective and Dominik elegantly underscores how unthinkably difficult it’d be to be in that situation. In the third studio video to be released from the project, Cave continues to look completely lost and withdrawn, as if perpetually trying to wrestle his thoughts down.

“Girl In Amber” also expertly incorporates Dominik’s inspired direction and the technical wizardry that went into the 3D, black-and-white filming of One More Time With Feeling. The overall effect’s equal parts haunting and haunted, creating an unforgettable impression. This is a staggering work of bravery and artistry, each colliding with the other to produce something as singular as it is captivating. As the camera circles Cave, surveying his every movement and placing him at the center of swirling uncertainty, Cave repeats “don’t touch me” as the video cuts to black, providing one last breathtaking moment of a miniature masterpiece.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (David Anthony)

david
Photograph by Dan Wilcox

Last year, David Anthony (pictured above, second from left) turned in a heartfelt piece about seeing The National with his mom for the first edition of this series. This year, he’s taken the time out of his busy schedule balancing time between fronting the excellent Birches (featured in the above photo) and relentlessly featuring bands over at The AV Club, where he works as an assistant editor, to spotlight another important person in his life: Jamie Coletta. Here, he covers the trail of events that ultimately led to one of 2015’s most exhilarating live clips and ultimately reminds himself to be thankful for his current position, doing work he genuinely loves. Read it below and then find a reason to celebrate the things — and people —  that make life worthwhile.

++

The short answer to this question [what was the most meaningful moment for you in 2015] would be one name: Jamie Coletta. There are many great people who work in the music industry — and, though i hope they are being weeded out, a bunch of shitty ones — but few are as passionate as Jamie.

It all started when, in the winter of 2014, she emailed me about a tour she was working on, featuring Andrew Jackson Jihad, The Smith Street Band, Jeff Rosenstock, and Chumped. She asked if the site I work for — The A.V. Club — would be interested in presenting the tour and, given my love of these artists, it was an opportunity I was happy to jump at.

It’d be ridiculous for me to claim credit for Jamie’s work, as she did all the heavy lifting, but together we hatched a plan to get the bandsto do one giant, raucous session when they rolled through Chicago. The result is a wacky video that sees AJJ and Jeff putting together a mashup of songs previously covered in the A.V. Undercover series. While there have been many great Undercovers over the years, none mean as much to me as this one. There was such a pure exuberance in the room that emanates in the video, with the bands rushing through songs, switching instruments, and giving all of themselves in the performance.

This entire experience is something that still doesn’t feel real to me. Even though I only played a tiny role in making it all happen, I’m thankful every day for Jamie giving me the chance to work with some of my favorite bands on this wild thing. And, watching the video now, it still strikes me how lucky I am to even have the chance to work with such amazing people. It’s a feeling that I hope doesn’t fade any time soon.

-David Anthony

 

Tenement – Dull Joy (Stream)

Tenement I

Predatory Highlights. June 2. Doon giovanni Records. We’ll get to all of this shortly but first, a recap, as it’s been some time since the last non-Watch This post ran on this site. Coming up over the next few days will be a run of songs and videos focusing on some of the best of what’s emerged since the start of this month. Each of the highlighted songs will come equipped with no less than 10 others worth hearing in the accompanying post(s). Up first: “Idiot“, an extraordinary laid-back basement pop tune from Dustin Lovelis’ upcoming Dimensions. There was also the The Go! Team’s revitalized, energetic “Ye Ye Yamaha“, Torres’ unpredictably frenetic “Cowboy Guilt” (furthering Sprinter‘s album of the year potential), PINS’ jaunty “Young Girls“, and Blonde Elvis’ fired up powerpop gem “Oh Mary“. To top everything off there was Fraternal Twins’ slow-burning “Skin Gets Hot“, The Japanese House’s hypnotic “Sister“, KEN Mode’s furious “These Tight Jeans“, No Joy’s hazy “Moon In My Mouth“, and The Lagoonas’ fiery basement punk gut-punch, “Color Spectrum“. While, as always, every single one of these tracks is worthy of a high investment level, the headline goes to a band that’s now intrinsically tied to this site: Tenement.

Before diving into the dissection of yesterday’s big news surrounding the band’s upcoming release, it’s worth noting (on a very personal level) that in my time writing, few things have meant more to me than being able to contribute a piece for the zine insert that came equipped with Bruised Music: Volume 1, the band’s collection of earlier material that came out last month. Tenement are a band that have meant varying degrees to various people but they’ve managed to affect my life for what’s nearing ten years through both their music and their continued kindness. I grew up alongside their progression and they’re directly responsible for introducing me to the greater DIY scene that this site was built to celebrate (which is a space that may not even exist without that influence). They’re the first band I can remember booking and they’re a band I’ve been referring to as “Wisconsin’s best band” since the first time I saw them live- so, naturally, their upcoming record’s been one I’ve been tracking closely. Yesterday, the trio blew the lid off of that record- which has been meticulously shaped over the course of the past three years- via a typically incredible AV Club premiere that came loaded with details.

Predatory Highlights will be released on June 2 via the band’s (relatively) new home, the increasingly vaunted Don Giovanni Records. It will be a double-album. It’s set to contain both the band’s towering pop sensibilities that Napalm Dream zeroed in on while also accentuating the curious experiments that provided Blind Wink with an immediate cult classic aesthetic. In short, Predatory Highlights will be the band’s most ambitious- and most visible- release to date. Kicking off its campaign with a track as immensely accessible as “Dull Joy” is a brilliant strategic move as it encapsulates the band’s most immediate elements while hinting at the stranger terrain they’re capable of covering. As much as ever, guitarist/vocalist Amos Pitsch is in fine form both lyrically and musically- the song structure’s bold, the chord progressions are thrillingly inventive, and the lyric copy still reads like classic, downtrodden Americana.

While most of it will strike listeners who are familiar with the band as vintage Tenement, they still find room for a curveball- and that moment provides “Dull Joy” it’s most exhilarating moment. After the band locks into its standard basement pop/hardcore/power punk groove, they launch into a bridge that goes into full-blown r&b/pop mode, complete with falsetto. For any other band, a moment that conventional would seem rote but here, it adds a new dimension to the band’s already staggering depth. Accentuating the impact of Pitsch’s characteristically brilliant turn-in is yet another formidable display of intuitive talent from the band’s rhythm section- bassist Jesse Ponkamo and drummer Eric Mayer- which remains one of the best currently operating. Everything comes together on “Dull Joy” to not only prove that Tenement’s continuously raising their own otherwise unreachable bar but that they’ve also still got plenty of tricks up their sleeves. It may still be early and this may be the very first glimpse of Predatory Highlight but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Tenement could have a future classic on their hands with what looks to be a monumental release. If it doesn’t wind up near the very top of this site’s Albums of the Year list when December rolls around, no one will be more surprised than me.

Listen to “Dull Joy” below and pre-order Predatory Highlights from Don Giovanni here.

Watch This: Vol. 22

At the very start of the last article to be posted on here, it was mentioned that Heartbreaking Bravery was going through some technical problems and that they’d be made up for sometime relatively soon. That day is today. Some of the issues plaguing the site are still being resolved, today they’ll be circumnavigated unless they’re fixed at some point throughout the course of the several upcoming posts. Also worth pointing out is that the post with that disclaimer was the first one to be exclusively done on a cover. Normally, this place will do its best to feature originals over covers but with “Candy’s Room” being as good as it was, it’s offered a perfect segue to a Watch This that focuses solely on one of the best outlets for covers: The AV Club’s Undercover series. With a new season lingering around the corner, it’s a great time to look back at some of the most memorable installments of that series- it’s also a great way to illustrate the full scope of the kind of music this place will cover when given the chance. This will be the first of a few Watch This installments getting posted today and it’d be difficult to ask for a better way to ease back into things. As always, sit back, float off, do whatever feels natural- just make sure to Watch This.

1. Mac DeMarco – Undone (The Sweater Song)

Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days is one of the very best records to have had a 2014 release so far, operating as both a reminder of his talents and personality. Here, the cover he and his band offer up of this Weezer classic does roughly the same thing; twice as roughshod as the original but brimming with a cathartic recklessness, it’s a perfectly positioned tribute that does both bands justice. There’s an ample amount of slacker goofiness but when the band kicks it into fifth gear for the last few minutes, it becomes its own beast.

2. The Swell Season – Two-Headed Boy

Did anyone in 2012 think they’d be able to see Neutral Milk Hotel ever play this song again? The prospect of a reunion was about as far-fetched as My Bloody Valentine releasing their follow-up to Loveless, so fans scrambled to find worthy covers. Before 2013 happened, there was nothing better than this; an Oscar-winning rags-to-riches duo (Glen Hansard- who came back to the series to take part in another classic– and Marketa Irglova) bringing in their full band and doing more than a little justice to a song several revered as holy.  An awe-inspiring take that rivals Neutral Milk Hotel’s heavily emotive calling card classic.

3. Screaming Females – If It Makes You Happy

This was a no-brainer (so much so that it almost missed the cut completely). The explosive chorus, the guitar fireworks (that riff! that solo! just goddamn), the unrelenting passion, powerhouse vocals, and left-field song choice make this can’t-miss material. More than a year after this was posted, it still has the ability to spark all the same feelings it did on the very first view. This is just about as inspirational as it gets. Take note.

4. Ben Folds – Say Yes

It’s still a little difficult to articulate how much Elliott Smith meant to a certain corner of the music world. He departed entirely too early, leaving behind a rich and unimpeachable discography that cemented his legacy. The bulk of his material can still be extraordinarily difficult to listen to and literally impossible to not be affected by. Here, Ben Folds, his friend and former tourmate, tackles the relatively optimistic “Say Yes” with reverence and grace. Even now, more than ten years down the line, Smith’s songs remain as poignant and moving as ever- even in the hands of someone else.

5. Wye Oak (feat. Jonathan Meiburg) – Strangers

There are few songs that hold as much meaning as The Kinks’ “Strangers”. It’s a perfect song, one full of the kind of humanity that encapsulates something as elusively intrinsic as a worthwhile existence. In short, between Jenn Wasner, Andy Stack, and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg (another performer who would show up to the series again later to deliver a second classic) the song takes on an epic, wide-open feel. In fact, their take on this song was so devastatingly gorgeous that they became one of the first bands to be asked back– and then following that, the first to have their session(s) pressed to a 7″.  As hyperbolic as it may sound, it’s hard to argue against “Mother” being one of the greatest covers of all time.

AV Club Premieres Acid Fast’s “Tangle”

 photo AcidFast_old_zpsabfbd01c.jpg

Acid Fast has already been proclaimed a band On the Up by this very site and recent indicators, as well as  a clear growing public interest, have fully supported that claim. The most recent notable item in a string of them comes via the AV Club’s premiere of Rabid Moon track “Tangle”. While it’s true Rabid Moon will be made physically available by the band’s label Protagonist Music on January 7th, the record has already been quietly released on tape courtesy of Swearin’ drummer Jeff Bolt and his centralized label Stupid Bag Records.

Rabid Moon 
is easily one of the finest releases of the past year and it’s certain to be viewed that way by many next year. There’s the same kind of indie-punk fire brewing in them as there is in the majority of artists that can be heard on Don Giovanni or Salinas Records’ respective rosters. No matter what format it’s available on, it’s a necessary purchase and holds up well to repeated listens. To hear “Tangle” and collect some exposition involving the dearly-missed Big Kids head on over to the AV Club premiere. Click play at the bottom of the article and hit repeat.