Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Bad Canoes

Watch This: Vol. 110

Now that Watch This is caught up to its usual weekly routine, the rest of the week will be spent dragging the coverage for other formats up to the present release cycle. Following that round of catching up, the site will be turning its focus towards year-end lists and the second edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories. Before we hit that point, though, it feels more necessary than ever to shine a light on some of the best live capture performances from this past week. Again, a strong week’s relegated a slew of extremely strong candidates to the honorable mentions, which include performances from Palehound, The Courtneys, Green Dreams, Vinyl Williams, Albert Hammond Jr., Futurebirds, The Bottle Rockets, Husbands, Noah Gunderson, Caleb and Carolyn, Donovan Wolfington, The Dick and Jane Project, Doe Paoro, Gudrid Hansdottir, Youth Lagoon, Shopping, and Battles.  Site favorites abound in the featured section and the whole thing wraps with one of the year’s finest– and most unexpected– live clips.  So, as always, kick back, focus up, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

1. The Sidekicks – Hell Is Warm (Radio K)

In “Hell Is Warm” The Sidekicks have written themselves a shockingly strong opening number, so it should come as no surprise that it’s been leading off a lot of their recent sets. By that same token, it makes perfect sense as an exhilarating standalone number.  Here, the quartet tears through the song in a session hosted by Radio K, delivering a blistering version that  arguably improves on the excellent studio take.

2. Bad Canoes – Radio Without Rules (Don Giovanni)

Some people are natural performers who imbue every project they appear in with a radical charisma that elevates everything in their reach. Marissa Paternoster is one of those performers.  In the deliriously scrappy Bad Canoes, Paternoster’s divorced from her guitar and allowed free reign over the stage, careening around with a reckless abandon as the rest of Bad Canoes alternates between contained proto-punk and building up a swirling wall of chaos. Packaged together, it’s electrifying.

3. Wimps – Dump (Band In Seattle)

One of the most purely entertaining videos of the past few months has been for Wimps‘ all-too-relatable “Dump“, a 2015 standout. The trio’s most  recent effort, Suitcase, is a brilliant collection of basement pop gems that coast by effortlessly but carry enough weight to be memorable. Here, the band takes their brand of goofy irreverence and sharpen it for a memorable run through “Dump”, unable to suppress some very heartfelt smiles along the way.

4. Alex G + Girlpool – Brite Boy (SPIN)

Alex G‘s “Brite Boy” hasn’t left my mind since writing up the song’s heartbreaking video earlier this week. Here, in a performance for SPIN, the song takes on an additional glow thanks to the support provided by site favorites Girlpool. Ostensibly a song about isolation, loneliness, and loss, it somehow transforms into an even more heartrending experience as Girlpool’s Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad join in for the song’s backing vocal part, before joining each other in a half-choreographed, half-spontaneous dance during the song’s instrumental outro that’s surprisingly moving. Affectionate, human, and strangely devastating, it’s a performance that seems poised to circulate for many years to come.

5. Dilly Dally – Burned by the Cold (Strombo Sessions)

Few songs have hit me harder this year than “Burned by the Cold”, the album closer from Dilly Dally‘s astonishing Sore. Easily one of my favorite songs of 2015 (more on that later), the song showcases the band’s commitment to range and capacity for subversion. From a purely logistical standpoint, it seemed unlikely that the band would ever latch onto the song for their live set and that it was doomed to a life of record confinement. Thankfully, George Stroumboulopoulos’ home, where The Strombo Show is filmed, comes equipped with a piano. Dilly Dally recently appeared on the show as guests and gifted everyone with this stunning rendition of “Burned by the Cold”, which is presented here in crisp black-and-white, enhancing the song’s wintry aesthetic. It’s because of performances like this one that Watch This came into existence and it’s a beautiful coda for Dilly Dally’s extraordinary year.

Gumbus – Crimbus Rock (EP Review, Stream)

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It’s been a while since this site has dove into full streams (or single streams, for that matter) and that will all be resolved over the weekend. Starting here, with an extremely strong self-released effort from a just-announced band comprised of  two members who have had an impressive number of projects featured on this site before: Casey Weissbuch (pictured above) and Joseph Frankl. Weissbuch’s spent time in a deeply impressive array of acts that include Mitski, Diarrhea Planet, Colleen Green, and a large handful of others (in addition to spearheading Infinity Cat’s cassette series), while Frankl’s made his name as a member of The Frankl Project and as a solo artist.

Weissbuch’s also been making some formidable moves as a solo act under the moniker Slanted. He takes the lead here and in a lot of ways, Gumbus feels like an extension of that project. Unsurprisingly– given the two members collective skill sets, aesthetic choices, and pedigrees– Crimbus Rock, their debut, is an exhilarating jolt of adrenaline. Utilizing a palette of influences that skews heavily towards the alternative movement of the ’90s, the duo digs deep into effortlessly melodic basement pop songs. Over the course of five songs (which never extend beyond the 2:20 mark), Gumbus recall everyone from Blue Album-era Weezer to Ovens.

While none of the songs are a marked deviation from any of their counterparts on the collection, each contains enough of an identity to avoid repetition and to deepen Crimbus Rock‘s claim to being a coherent whole. It’s a remarkable collection that feels like a logical step forward for both Weissbuch and Frankl, demonstrating their astounding grip on composition and flying by while packing enough punch to ensure it’s not quickly forgotten (a trait that makes it a perfect companion to the just-released Downies EP, featured below). This isn’t a huge release but it is micro-punk at its finest and it comes from two artists who deserve even more attention than  they’ve already received. Don’t make the mistake of letting this one fade away unnoticed.

Listen to Crimbus Rock below and download the EP over at Gumbus’ bandcamp. Underneath the player, explore some other recent collections worth hearing.

Downies – Downies
Spencer Radcliffe – Looking In
Gang Signs – Geist
Little Fevers – Field Trip
Erasers – Stem Together
Last Good Tooth – And All Things On the Scales
Fern Mayo – Happy Forever
Bad Canoes – Bad Canoes
Allison Weiss – New Love
Jungle Giants – Speakerzoid
Girls Names – Arms Around A Vision
Yvette – Time Management
Glenn Mercer – Incidental Hum
Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight
Obnox – Wiglet