Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: blood

The Honorable Mentions of the 2015 Music Categories

Saintseneca I

Before diving into the particulars of the forthcoming lists, it’s worth addressing the distinction made in the headline. Each of the categories that received a list in 2015 (music videos, songs, EP’s, albums, odds and ends) will be expanded upon in this post. However, there are still two forthcoming film lists but each of those will include the honorable mentions along with the featured rankings. An obscene amount of great material came out over the 12 months that comprised the past year so any attempts to cover everything would be futile. If anyone’s exhausted the below lists, a more comprehensive version can be found by exploring the following tags: stream, full stream, EP stream, and music video. Explore some of the top tier picks that didn’t make it onto the year-end lists via the tags below.

Music Videos

Screaming Females – Hopeless | Cayetana – Scott, Get the Van I’m Moving | Ephrata – Say A Prayer | ANAMIA – LuciaJoanna Newsom – Sapokinakan | Battles – The Yabba | FIDLAR – 40 Oz. On Repeat | PINS – Young Girls | Doomtree – Final Boss | Hundred Waters – Innocent | Celestial Shore – Now I Know | Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Sunday Candy | Modest Mouse – Coyotes | Girlpool – Before The World Was Big | Laura Marling – Gurdijeff’s Daughter | Bay Uno – Wait For Your Love | The Staves – Black & White | Young Buffalo – No  Idea | Avid Dancer – All Your Words Are Gone | Avi Buffalo – Think It’s Gonna Happen Again | Adir L.C. – Buyer’s Instinct | Midnight Reruns – Canadian Summer | Daughter – Doing The Right Thing | John Grant – Disappointing | Waxahatchee – Under A Rock | Wimps – Dump | Potty Mouth – Cherry Picking | Froth – Nothing Baby | The Libertines – Heart of the Matter | Car Seat Headrest – Something Soon | Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch | Savages – The Answer | Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin | Bully – Trying | Sheer – Uneasy  | Will Butler – Anna

EPs

Snail Mail – Sticki | Kindling – Galaxies | Eugene Quell – I Will Work The Land | Gumbus – Crimbus Rock | Rye Pines – Rye Pines | Feral Jenny – Greatest Hits | Slutever – Almost Famous | Gracie – Gracie | Nice Guys – Chips in the Moonlight | Anomie – Anomie | Kitner – Stay Sad | Animal Flag – EP 2 | Never Young – Never Young | Birches – Birches | Alimony Hustle – Gutter Gutter Strike Strike Gutter Gutter | The Lumes – Lust | Pretty Pretty – Talkin’ to the WallsVomitface – Another Bad Year | PALMAS – To the Valley | Greys – Repulsion | Wild Pink – Good Life | The Glow – Lose | Spirit of the Beehive – You Are Arrived (But You’ve Been Cheated) | Shady Hawkins – The Last Dance | Holy Esque – Submission | Ashland – Ashland | Isabel Rex – American Colliquialisms/Two Hexes | Pet Cemetery – Dietary Requirements | Milk Crimes – Milk Crimes | Rubber Band Gun – Making A Fool of Myself | Creative Adult – Ring Around the Room | Amber Edgar – Good Will Rise | La Casa al Mare – This Astro | Trophy Dad – Shirtless Algebra Fridays | Glueboy – Videorama | Birds in Row – Personal War | YVETTE – Time Management | Communions – Cobblestones | O-Face – Mint | Day Wave – Headcase | Granny – EGG | Van Dammes – Better Than Sex | Vallis Alps – Vallis Alps | Little Children – Traveling Through Darkness | Philadelphia Collins – Derp Swervin’ | The Tarantula Waltz – Lynx | Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs II | The Japanese House – Pools To Bathe In | Guerilla Toss – Flood Dosed | Los Planetas – Dobles Fatigas | See Through Dresses – End of Days | Earl Sweatshirt – Solace | Kississippi – We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed | Yumi Zouma – EP II | G.L.O.S.S. – Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit | Fresh Snow – WON | Girl Band – The Early Years | XXIX – Wafia | together PANGEA – The Phage | Ty Segall – Mr. Face | Young Guv – Ripe 4 Luv

Songs

Yowler – The Offer | Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo | Pleasure Leftists – Protection | Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold | Slight – Hate the Summer | Sports – The Washing Machine | Diet Cig – Sleep Talk | LVL UP – The Closing Door | Royal Headache – High | Tica Douglas – All Meanness Be Gone | Speedy Ortiz – Raising the Skate | Phooey! – Molly’s at the Laundromat | Adir L.C. – Buyer’s Instinct | Sweet John Bloom – Tell Me | Pile – Mr. Fish | Screaming Females – Hopeless | Ernie – Sweatpants | Bad Wig – Stargazer | Dusk – Too Sweet | Painted Zeros – Only You | Krill – Torturer | Young Jesus – Milo | Tenement – Ants + Flies | Midnight Reruns – Richie the Hammer | Melkbelly – Mt. Kool Kid | The Weasel, Marten Fisher – Empty Bucket List | Soul Low – Always Watchin’ Out | Eluvium – Neighboring In Telescopes | Algiers – Blood | Institute – Cheerlessness | Bruising – Think About Death | Vacation – Like Snow | Cende – Widow | Alex G – Brite Boy | Bully – Trying | Nicole Dollanganger – You’re So Cool | Sheer – Uneasy | Laura Stevenson – Claustrophobe | Kathryn Calder – New Millenium | The Foetals – Nothing | Lady Bones – Botch | Dogs On Acid – Let the Bombs Fall Off | Fraser A. Gorman – Shiny Gun | Bandit – The Drive Home | Mercury Girls – Golden | ThinLips – Nothing Weird | Wimps – Dump | S.M. Wolf – Help Me Out | Glueboy – Back to You | Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets | Ratboys – Tixis | PINS – Young Girls | Shilpa Ray – Johnny Thunders Fantasy Space Camp | White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die | Lady Lamb – Spat Out Spit | Washer – Joe | Pupppy – Puking (Merry Christmas) | Midwives – Back in the Saddle Again | Torres – Strange Hellos | METZ – Spit You Out | Jeff Rosenstock – You In Weird Cities | Little Wings – Hollowed Log | Bent Denim – Good Night’s Sleep | Waxahatchee – Under A Rock

Albums

Girlpool – Before The World Was Big | Screaming Females – Rose MountainYowler – The Offer | Saintseneca – Such Things | Bully – Feels Like | Tica Douglas – Joey | Evans the Death – Expect Delays | Torres – Sprinter | Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp | Fred Thomas – All Are Saved | Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching | Ratboys – AOID | Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter | METZ – II | Little Wings – ExplainsSlanted – Forever | Bent Denim – Romances You | Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – The High Country | White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again | The Armed – Untitled | Shilpa Ray – Last Year’s Savage | The Foetals – Meet the Foetals | Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style | Wimps – Suitcase | Westkust – Last Forever | Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie | Cloakroom – Further Out | Stove – Is Stupider | Johanna Warren – numun | Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer | Mikal Cronin – MCIII | Adir L.C. – Oceanside Cities | Negative Scanner – Negative Scanner | Pleasure Leftists – The Woods of Heaven | Haybaby – Sleepy Kids | Heather Woods Broderick – Glider | Lady Lamb – After | Pile – You’re Better Than This | Algiers – Algiers | Fraser A. Gorman – Slow Gum | POPE – Fiction | Petal Head – Raspberry Cough | Shannen Moser – You Shouldn’t Be Doing That

Odds and Ends

DBTS: BS2 | Spook the Herd – Freaks b/w Fermented | Kinjac – Possession b/w Possessed | Carbonleak – Waveland b/w Bearing | Vexx – Give and Take | Nervous Trend – Shattered | CCTV – 7″ | Puppy Problems – Practice Kissing | Flagland + Washer | MONO + The Ocean | Uh Huh + Jake McElvie & The Countertops | Alanna McArdle – Bedroom/Balloons | Chris Broom – Meade House Demos | Composite – Demos 2015 | The Library – 100% | Dark Thoughts – Two More Songs From… | Wendy Alembic – Collected Early Works | Toby Reif – 2015 Demos

2015: The Best of Watch This

sntsnca

When Watch This was conceived it was done with the intent to not only critically examine the balance of filmmaking and live performance but celebrate the art of the live video, a format which seems to have fallen to the wayside despite being more fruitful than it’s been since it was introduced. There’s real power behind the clips that manage to seamlessly merge the best qualities of everything that goes into the best live performance videos and they can yield genuinely unforgettable moments (when everything kicks back in on “Waitress”, the held falsetto in “A Proper Polish Welcome”, and a whole host of other chill-inducing moments are scattered throughout this compilation). Those moments are the beating heart behind this series construction and they’re what sustains the project as it presses forward.

Well over 300 live clips were covered on this site in 2015 and this is a collection of 25 that genuinely stood out for one reason or another, whether it was the sheer joy in a performance (Diet Cig), the performer’s ability to freeze blood (Julien Baker, Dilly Dally, SOAK), the trio of artists who appeared on Watch This the most throughout this year (Courtney Barnett, Girlpool, and Torres), an electrifying presentation and performance (July Talk), or a clip that’s a fully functional masterclass in every category that elevates a clip from astonishing to transcendental (Glen Hansard). All of those and more have been plugged into this packet, which culminates in a tour de force reminder of the overwhelming power of what can be achieved on a live platform from the resurgent Sleater-Kinney as one final exclamation point for a truly extraordinary year. So, as always, sit up, focus, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

Watch the 2015 edition of the best-of compilation for Heartbreaking Bravery’s definitive recurring series, Watch This, below. The track list is available under the embed.

1. Hop Along – Waitress (World Cafe)
2. July Talk – Paper Girl (Audiotree)
3. Ronny – Why Do You Have Kids (Gems On VHS)
4. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (BreakThruRadio)
5. Mikal Cronin – Say (WFUV)
6. Molly Parden – Weather (GemsOnVHS)
7. Eskimeaux – Folly (This Has Got To Stop)
8. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock (Pitchfork)
9. METZ – Spit You Out (3voor12)
10. Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky (KEXP)
11. Saintseneca – How Many Blankets Are In the World? (ANTI-)
12. Diet Cig – Harvard (In the Attic)
13. SOAK – B a Nobody Blud (La Blogotheque)
14. Dilly Dally – Burned by the Cold (Strombo Sessions)
15. Alex G + Girlpool – Brite Boy (SPIN)
16. Footings (Jenn Harrington)
17. Mike Krol – Suburban Wasteland + Neighborhood Watch (KEXP)
18. Beach Slang – Get Lost (Cozy Couch Sessions)
19. Public Service Broadcasting – Go! (WNYC)
20. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Beast (ANTI-)
21. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (La Blogotheque)
22. Algiers – Blood (WFUV)
23. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (NPR)
24. Glen Hansard – McCormack’s Wall (ANTI-)
25. Sleater-Kinney (NPR)

 

Watch This: Vol. 86

It’s been an insane stretch of days, minimizing this site’s output and causing some scheduling neglect. Today will be dedicated to the compensation of that brief absence, beginning with a slightly delayed Watch This. All of the performance captures in the 86th installment of this series surfaced between last Monday and last Sunday, leaving the past few days’ clips eligible for volume 87. Only one of these bands has previously appeared in a Watch This installment, providing a definite change of pace from the past few entries, which have been dominated by site favorites. There are, as always, some genuine treasures to be found here along with a very reassuring sense that we’re living in a golden age of accessibility and forward thinking in multimedia. So, as always, sit back, focus up, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

1. The Muscadettes – Growing Pains (Exclaim!)

Bright and scrappy, when done well, can issue a very palpable sense of place. In the case of this strong performance of “Growing Pains”, The Muscadettes embrace the lo-fi nature of their surf-inflected basement pop and wind up with something that feels more lived-in than nostalgic, while still maintaining a throwback sensibility that suits them to perfection. It’s a perfect summer soundtrack delivered with a bite that’s rare in a genre that’s traditionally (and inherently) laid-back.

2. Flesh World (KEXP)

Flesh World’s The Wild Animals In My Life rattled the people invested invested in the post-punk genre to their core when it found release earlier this year, furthering the band’s standing among a very specific sect. The band recently swung by the KEXP studios where they filmed a session that looks, sounds, and feels appropriately grim. It’s a five-song performance that demonstrate the band’s strength and scope while also making yet another case for why they’re one of the more celebrated emerging acts in their genre.

3. Pree (BreakThruRadio)

Every once in a while a band comes along that defies genre conventions and plays some tantalizingly unconventional music with unbridled passion. Usually these bands err more towards noise freakouts and jarring prog-leaning excursions than anything else. Pree take that concept and subvert it into something that’s practically unrecognizable. Defiantly sunny and unabashedly pop, their performance(s) in this BreakThruRadio session are instantly memorable and effortlessly arresting. Don’t miss out.

4. Ronny – Why Do You Have Kids? (GemsOnVHS)

GemsOnVHS continues to deliver noteworthy performance captures in entirely unpredictable ways, turning to electro-damaged folk artist Ronny for their latest session. Unfailingly gorgeous and unexpectedly spellbinding, this performance of “Why Do You Have Kids?” is a curveball that subsists entirely on left-field grace notes. Intensely compressed and delivered with a startling amount of conviction, it’s a genuine stunner and a perfect introduction to a fascinating artist.

5. Algiers (KEXP)

Having already established themselves as site favorites and secured a few different spots on various Watch This installments, Algiers’ live prowess shouldn’t come as a surprise. The band’s self-titled album is one of 2015’s most breathtaking releases, deftly combining centuries worth of musical influence into something that doesn’t just feel bold but perfectly timed and possibly even necessary. Alternately haunted and haunting, unerringly soulful, and unbelievably gripping, their session for KEXP is one of the strongest the studio has seen in years.

Watch This: Vol. 77

Over the course of the past few weeks, the influx of outstanding live videos has been staggering. Last week the series was put on a brief hold due to other personal obligations but even then, there was the threat of multiple installments for that particular Sunday. Amassing those with the live clips that followed in the subsequent week brings us to this point: there’s simply too much great material to feature to justify relegating anything exceeding the limit of five to the introductory paragraph(s). With this being the case, there will be seven- yes, seven- installments of Watch This to go live throughout the day (and possibly night).

To that end, this very introduction will be running prior to volumes 74-80 to reduce the levels of overall exposition to provide an emphasis on the material at hand. Site favorites Girlpool and Waxahatchee were seemingly everywhere this week, securing multiple entries throughout this run while Faits Divers spread-out documentation of a set from Ought (another site favorite) managed to do the same. As always, each video featured is an exemplary showcase for both artist and host, covering a wide range of sounds and styles. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume to your preferred settings, sit up straight, lean in (or back), and Watch This.

1. Telekinesis (KEXP)

It takes a rare kind of personality to make a completely solo set utterly captivating and Michael Benjamin Lerner has always been one of the people capable of delivering on those levels. That fact’s clearly evidenced in this outdoor set for KEXP, where there’s a clear love for his craft. All of it translates into a vibrant, effortless showcase for his Telekinesis project, including an absolutely mesmerizing cover of Wire’s “Outdoor Miner” to get things moving.

2. Algiers – Blood (WFUV)

Few emerging bands have given more reason for excitement than the boundary-pushing Algiers. Infusing a vast array of influences into something that feels wholly original, the band’s ascent has been rapid and- more importantly- justified. With the political bent of their music on complete display in the intro of “Blood” furthering the cause for excitement not just on a career level but inciting a deeper fascination on the performance level as well, the cards are lining up for Algiers’ future. Bringing everything to a haunting, weathered realization is the bulk of the performance itself- a jaw-dropping display of raw, innate talent.

3. Ought – Pleasant Heart (Faits Divers)

Ought’s More Than Any Other Day was one of this site’s picks for the best albums of 2014 and the album hasn’t lost a step since its release. As great as that record was (and it was great), the band’s always excelled more as a live act, thanks to their kinetic motion. All of the best live bands recognize that the greatest advantage of playing the songs is the freedom to warp, subvert, and bend their own art rather than keeping it static. Ought’s never backed away from experimenting with the space they’re given in that setting and Faits Divers has provided exhilarating proof with an inspired take of “Pleasant Heart”.

4. Waxahatchee – Stale By Noon (Wichita)

A lot of Katie Crutchfield’s most inspired songs, from “Noccalula” to “Singer’s No Star“, have been piano-based. “Stale By Noon” is one of the most recent entries into that repertoire, providing Ivy Tripp with one of its most arresting moments. Allison Crutchfield’s presence somehow makes this particular rendition feel even more intensely personal. Lit by candles and aided by nothing but each other, their instruments, and an adoring audience, this intimate performance of “Stale by Noon” is a powerful testament of both Crutchfield’s unwavering magnetism.

5. Fred Thomas – Bad Blood (BreakThruRadio)

All Are Saved was my all-too-late introduction to Fred Thomas and it’s also holding firm as one of my favorite releases of 2015. It’s unflinchingly earnest and utterly sincere, grounded in a damaged humanism that makes it easily relatable. Close to every song on the record contains a moment of breathtaking clarity that deals heavily with some of life’s more conventionally unappealing minutiae. “Bad Blood” is a sustained series of those moments, captured here by BreakThruRadio in a clip that manages to secure an emphasis in all of the right places, doing its part to secure Thomas’ spot as one of the strongest songwriters operating today.

Meat Wave – Sham King (Music Video)

meatwave

Now that the site’s all caught up on songs, it only seemed natural to overhaul the music videos as well. Here, the formatting will be slightly different than it has in the past for this format, with 35 excellent clips being linked beneath the main feature, Meat Wave’s slasher-indebted short that accompanies the bruising “Sham King” off their tremendous EP from this year, Brother. Before going any further, it’s worth noting that Meat Wave is one of the few bands that will always have a special place carved out in reference to this site, having played the first-ever Heartbreaking Bravery Presents to help this place celebrate its first anniversary (several months after they were featured as part of the site’s On the Up series). Their self-titled record is still one of the best things to have come out of this decade, so any time the band does anything of note, it’s probably a safe bet it’ll secure a feature spot here. Which leads us back to the focus of this piece: “Sham King”.

In the Andrew Robert Morrison-directed clip for “Sham King”, a lot of things are at stake. Most notably, the bands lives. A grim reaper figure, complete with a scythe atop a bicycle, mercilessly stalks the power trio through dead, snow-capped streets. During the opening chase, Morrison (who also edited the video) injects the clip with a serious sense of dissonance with furiously paced loop-back smash cuts, lending the affair an added sense of disquiet. Before long, death zeroes in on guitarist/vocalist Chris Sutter, who leads the masked figure on a chase through an abandoned warehouse. Vantage points switch and become a narrative function as the viewer’s occasionally allowed to take on the first-person viewpoint from behind the killer’s mask, effectively rocketing up the video’s sense of tension. When one side emerges victorious, a solo is mimed in front of a towering wall of various amps before giving way to the video’s final shot- which ranks among one of my favorite images from the year.

Watch the madness of “Sham King” unfold below and pick up the Brother EP here. Beneath the clip, watch 35 other great videos from the past few weeks. Expect regular coverage to resume throughout this new week and going into the future.

Day Creeper – Luxury Condominium
Ryan O’Reilly – Northern Lights
Little Death Machine – Pale
Hallelujah the Hills – Destroy This Poem
Algiers – Irony. Utility. Pretext
Dan Deacon – When I Was Done Dying
The Go! Team – What D’you Say?
King Tuff – Madness
Modest Mouse – Lampshades of Fire
Chastity Belt – Cool Slut
The Bandicoots – Mind Your Manors
Stella – Last Minute Boy
Hey Elbow – Ruth
Coliseum – Sunlight In A Snowstorm
Ceremony – The Separation + The Understanding
Built to Spill – Living Zoo
Pile – Rock And Roll Forever With The Customer In Mind
Albert DeMuth – Finally Found A Job
Gymshorts – Hey Parents
Oscar – Daffodil Days
Modern Vices – Smoke Rings
The Great Albatross – Righteous Man
Turnover – New Scream
Oh Land – Half Here (Live One Take)
KEN Mode – Blessed
A Place To Bury Strangers – What We Don’t See
The Smashing Pumpkins – Drum + Fife
Pinact – Anxiety
Laura Marling – Gurdjieff’s Daughter
Inheaven – Regeneration
Hot Chip – Need You Now
Great Cynics – Lost In You
Le Volume Courbe (ft. Kevin Shields) – The House
Algiers – Blood
Courtney Barnett – Depreston

PUP – Guilt Trip (Music Video)

They did it again. Emphatically. It’s been a while since a band made music videos this consistently great that were so separated stylistically. First, there was the relentless, cathartic bloodshed of “Reservoir” [which I named the best music video of 2013 over at PopMatters]. That was then followed by the one-shot video for “Lionheart” that undoubtedly hit a personal nerve for a lot of people. Somewhere along the way, PUP was finally released internationally and the band started picking up the wider recognition it deserved. Even with all of that taken into consideration, the band may have outdone themselves with the utterly stunning “Guilt Trip” music video.

Enhancing the cinematic elements of their previous clips tenfold, it tells an unlikely origin story that’s as visceral as it is bleakly compelling. Chandler Levack and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux take the helm as the directing team and fill each frame with a sense of purpose to the point that it’s almost jarring, as that’s a style that’s increasingly fallen out of practice in the format as of late. Additionally, from the gorgeous first shot all the way through to the last, this is some of the best cinematography to have emerged this year in any format. From bullying to underage drinking to blood pacts to a dead cop to the most perfect conflict resolution imaginable, every single new scene and development lands with as much impact as the visuals themselves (keep an eye out for the images that happen in a silent, tension-filled interim, they’re among the most arresting of the past few years).

By the time the brilliant epilogue shot hits, acting as both a summary and a metaphor, it’ll be easy to feel absolutely spent. An entire adolescense, from the most harrowing moments to the most zealously joyful, can be found in these three minutes and 50 seconds. The way these images are presented resonates so profoundly that it’s almost difficult to separate them from real memories. Perfectly realized and featuring four unbelievably strong performances from its young cast, “Guilt Trip” doesn’t just have a shot at being the best video of this year- but one of the best of the decade.

Watch “Guilt Trip” below and relive the highs and lows of childhood all over again.

Mozes and the Firstborn – Bloodsucker (Music Video)

Mozes and the Firstborn quietly released one of the best debut records of last year on Burger as a cassette and few people noticed. Now, though, on the brink of releasing that same record in all major audio formats (and in the midst of a tour with together PANGEA), lots of people’s heads are turning. All it takes is one listen to just about any song off of Mozes and the Firstborn to know that this quartet of kids from the Netherlands has tapped into something special. Serious songwriting chops paired with enviable pop sensibilities and enough dirtied up grit to make any Ty Segall acolyte blush. All of this is why this site’s already spent a fair amount of words on the band. They’re a band worth celebrating and undoubtedly deserve the praise and affection that will be coming their way.

Today, the band outdid themselves. Already prone to sneaking in nods to film (their name is a reference to the animated religious film The Prince of Egypt), they elevated their filmic tendencies by releasing a music video for “Bloodsucker” that’s a loving ode to The Big Shave, the 1967 short film that launched Martin Scorsese’s career. Only this time, instead of the principle subject shaving the bottom half of his face off, the band and director, Jeroen Dankers, give the stark story a blackly comic twist that prompts as much laughter as it does disgust. It’s an audacious move and may even become an iconic clip in certain circles. While the video’s dedication to a faithful aesthetic recreation of its source material is impressive, it’s the song that pushes this over the edge. “Bloodsucker” is the kind of vintage powerpop that’s incredibly difficult to get successful without sounding strained but is a style Mozes and the Firstborn manage to pull off effortlessly. With “Bloodsucker” backing the increasingly garish imagery that accompanies it, they create an incredibly memorable piece of art that deserves to be seen. Watch “Bloodsucker” below, pre-order Mozes and the Firstborn from Burger, and don’t take any brushes with fate for granted.