Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Cambridge

Watch This: Vol. 48

The 48th installment of Watch This reads like a laundry list of this site’s favorite places to cull videos from; Allston Pudding, The Chris Gethard Show, and Little Elephant among them. Live versions of songs that have previously been fawned over resurface with new levels of urgency and old treasures prove their longevity. Every performance that gets featured here is impassioned and clearly illustrates the respective band’s obvious connections to their own music (with a strain of apathy-fueled music growing steadily prominent, this is- unfortunately- more of a rarity than common occurrence). Trying to wax poetic about most of these videos in this paragraph would most likely just wind up doing them a disservice, so: sit back, turn the volume up, ignore the time, lean in, and Watch This.

1. Little Big League – Property Line (Little Elephant)

There hasn’t been a band in quite a while to pull off what Little Big League achieves by virtue of this placement; this is their third consecutive video to appear in this series- in as many weeks- and they’re all from the same Little Elephant session. So, some straight talk: “Property Line” is one of the year’s best songs and the band’s current career-best effort.  Even though the live version doesn’t have the benefit of those chill-inducing horns, it retains its formidable pull. As always, the band reveals themselves to be an excellent live act and provides several reasons to get excited about their upcoming LP, Tropical Jinx.

2. Sweet John Bloom – Aging In Place (Allston Pudding)

Allston Pudding’s made a habit of making impressive live videos- this outstrips all of their previous work with an assured ease and a new level of confidence that suits them well. An extraordinary live-edit that features a stunning performance from emerging act Sweet John Bloom to promote their upcoming full-length, Weird Prayer. Expertly marrying high-energy basement pop with deliriously frantic post-punk, it’s inclusion would have been an easy decision as an isolated standalone- the additional edits towards the video’s close put it way over the top and render it one of the more artistically inclined live videos to ever appear in this series. Don’t skip out on this one.

3. Protomartyr (La Blogotheque)

Protomartyr’s Under Color of Official Right was one of the highlights of 2014’s first quarter and it’s held its ground ever since its release. Here, the band teams up with La Blogotheque to film stripped-back live performances of “What the Well Said” and “Scum, Rise!” in the moats of Saint-Malo, a port city in France. It’s a fitting backdrop for the band’s take on post-punk, something that bears the influence of their Detroit home. Unsurprisingly, it’s spectacularly shot and bizarrely compelling, continuing La Blogotheque’s unique penchant for producing live footage that excels on those levels.

4. Jeff Rosentstock & Friends – Hey Allison! (TCGS)

Don Giovanni comedy darling Chris Gethard hosts a show. These shows host live acts. It seems that nearly every time a video of these performances surfaces, it earns a spot in this series. Jeff Rosenstock‘s “Hey Allison!” has already emerged as one of the more relentless earworms of the past few weeks and the live version is an all-out blitz. Anytime anyone puts this much heart into music this good, it’s going to earn a write-up. The Chris Gethard Show also has the unique advantage of utilizing a crowd of misfits being encouraged to be as weird as possible, turning single song performances into outright events. There are few things more encouraging than watching a band and an audience enjoy each other’s company in equal measure at an absurdly high degree. This is can’t-miss entertainment.

5. METZ – Get Off! (Pitchfork)

METZ was one of the more unforgettable debuts of the past few years and the band’s live show, easily one of the best around, pushes those songs to exhilarating heights. Employing humanism and sonic annihilation at roughly the same pace, anytime the band takes the stage it’s a small victory for everyone involved. Here, they tear through a fired-up version of “Get Off” and incite some fierce reactions from an adoring crowd. METZ themselves remain as entertaining as ever, putting just about everything they have on the line every time they take the stage- and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.

Lady Bones + Horsehands (Split Review)

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There are times when great music comes out of nowhere and seizes everything in its path without warning, leaving the listener scrambling to catch up with the destruction it left left in its wake. It doesn’t happen very frequently but when it does, it’s sure as hell worth writing about. Enter: Lady Bones and Horsehands, two Massachusetts bands who came together to release a split last year. Unfortunately, the band only managed to get that split out digitally initially. That didn’t stop either from trying to get it out into the world in a physical format, though, which is why (as of last month) the four songs from that split now exist in the world on a few cassettes.

As for the songs themselves? They’re everything anyone should want out of a DIY basement punk release: they’re impassioned, left-field, aggressive, catchy, and bordering on unclassifiable. All four nearly run the risk of toppling themselves over with great songwriting and clever arrangements. Lady Bones’ side kicks things off and the band wastes no time in hurtling themselves towards whatever the nearest object is to them. The nonstop riffing of “Courtesy Moans” growls and races in equal measure, baring an intimidating set of fangs while lodging its claws (read: hooks) deep. “Courtsey Moans” also sets up the woozy “Hoovah” perfectly, which carries over the decidedly darker tone of its immediate predecessor (one that matches the incredible artwork for the release, pictured up above). While “Hoovah” manages to maintain the pace and atmosphere of the split, it also succeeds in showcasing Lady Bones’ range, offering up a slightly more varied take on their approach without losing any impact. If anything, a lesson that can be taken away from this is that it only takes two songs to hear the sound of a band arriving.

Horsehands’ side more than holds up, plummeting the dark atmosphere into even greater depths while continuing to expand the release’s sonic palettes. It’s still an unmistakably Boston kind of sound but, as “Flagstone Sonogram” proves, that’s not something the band holds sacred. Coming off as nightmarish as it is poppy, the song’s the audio equivalent of a kaleidoscopic fever dream that’s terrifying in the moment but revisited fondly later. Again, impressive musicianship is on full display as the arrangements weave in and out of each other with tact and grace, creating a unique sound that complements Lady Bones’ songs without overwhelming them. “Hot Pants Nose Bleed” hits a lot more directly than “Flagstone Sonogram”. proving Horsehands to be another band with dynamic range and an able command over it. It’s a short, sharp blast that rounds out four songs that play into each others strengths as well as any four possibly could while also being incredible as standalones. It’s not difficult to imagine these bands having as much clout as, say, any of the flagship bands over at Exploding in Sound, in the very near future.

Listen to both sides below and make sure both of these bands are on the radar because this is music worth hearing.