It’s been a while since anything went up on these pages and there are a lot of reasons behind yet another interim but, as ever, the work continues to be done behind the scenes. Five posts were scheduled to go up before that break and will be going live today. This is one of those posts.
On the last Cloud Nothings record, the band effectively presented an amalgamation of the project’s entire history, providing a fascinating bent to an excellent record. The band’s set to return with Last Building Burning, their forthcoming album. “The Echo of the World” is the first peek into what the record has to offer and suggests the band may have pared down their approach to presenting a career summation, this time congealing individual aspects that made their earlier work standout.
It’s an exhilarating and even exhausting listen — even at a relatively scant four minutes — but it provides the music itself a renewed sense of purpose, allowing guitarist/vocalist Dylan Baldi’s pained, existential screaming to once again be underscored by ambient, noise-driven guitar work and punched home by the relentless, unmatched drumming of Jayson Gerycz. “The Echo of the World” is an absolutely ferocious work that finds Cloud Nothings in full-on attack mode, baring newly-sharpened fangs. If this is an indicator of Last Building Burning‘s tone, we should all be looking forward to basking in its fire-lit glow.
Listen to “The Echo of the World” below and pre-order Last Building Burning from Carpark here.
On Friday, The Beths released one of 2018’s best albums so far in the astonishing Future Me Hates Me, a record overflowing with sugar-coated basement pop that comes with just enough bite to truly stand out. One of the strongest moments of that record — which, again, is uniformly great — comes by way of “You Wouldn’t Like Me”, which was recently given an Ezra Simons-helmed music video that stands as the band’s best clip to date.
Ceaselessly charming, gifted with a vibrant palette, and full of clever, tongue-in-cheek moments, the clip acts as a perfect summation of the band’s appeal. There’s something familiar about the surface but there’s a competing intricacy that suggests the individualized vision at The Beth’s core. Warm, welcoming, and ridiculously winsome, “You Wouldn’t Like Me” offers up a worst-case argument for its title, clearly outlining just how much about this band, this record, and this clip, is not only worth liking but outright loving.
Watch “You Wouldn’t Like Me” below and pick up a copy of Future Me Hates Me from Carpark here.
Following the release of 2011’s Attack on Memory, Cloud Nothings have released a small handful of critically-acclaimed, widely-adored records that kept them on the road and continuously pushed the band to evolve. Life Without Sound, their most recent effort, found them bridging the band’s history for their most definitive release to date. One of the several highlights on that record came in the form of “Enter Entirely”, which has just been a deep-saturation, nostalgia-drenched visual presentation. Simple, effective, intuitive, and surprisingly absorbing, it’s just another indication that the band’s going to continue making the exact right moves as they careen forward through what looks to be an impressive — even important — career.
Watch “Enter Entirely” below and pick up Life Without Sound here.
Oscillating between various riffs and figures — both vocal and instrumental — at a furious pace, “Walkie Talkie” takes aim and hits its mark, repeatedly, bludgeoning it into oblivion. It’s an incendiary piece of work from one of the most obscenely talented emergent bands and it’s the type of track that needs to be heard to be believed. Palm’s set to make a whole new slew of converts in the wake of “Walkie Talkie” and it’s hard to imagine they’ll be content with stopping; “Walkie Talkie” is a warning shot and it goes a long way in underscoring the notion that Palm seems destined for deadliness.
Listen to “Walkie Talkie” (and watch the band tear through the song at DBTS in 2015) below and pre-order Shadow Expert from Carpark here.
Two weeks may not seem like that long of a stretch but considering the rate new material surfaces, it can be a challenge to keep up to speed. As the previous posts have indicated, there was a lot of material to cover and not all of it can be granted the attention that its due. A large portion of songs, full streams, and music videos have already been posted but this post marks the beginning of a small onslaught of single-item features. Kicking things off: site favorites Cloud Nothings’ just-released triumph, “Modern Act”.
Once again operating as a quartet, Cloud Nothings seem to have rekindled a very specific spark that’s been dormant since Turning On. In the time that’s elapsed since that point, the band’s been responsible for some of the current decade’s finest records but all of them were gnarled, weary beasts, where “Modern Act” comes across as cautiously optimistic. There’s a lightness to the songwriting that all but evaporated as Cloud Nothings transitioned from a solo project to a full band endeavor.
Even ignoring the distortion and fuzz that so heavily informed Attack On Memory and especially Here And Nowhere Else, which is barely present in “Modern Act”, the songwriting structure seems to have rekindled some more playful sensibilities. Guitarist/vocalist Dylan Baldi remains one of the more engaging narrators currently playing out, anchoring “Modern Act” with the relatable, peculiarly grounded sentiments that have consistently provided the band with a point of appeal.
Drummer Jayson Gerycz remains one of the best things to happen to recent music and propels “Modern Act” with a characteristic amount of intuition, verve, and raw feeling. It provides a perfect counterbalance to Baldi mining the project’s earlier signposts and becomes the perfect catalyst for what could prove to be a career-defining stylistic marriage. Everything the band tries out here works to surprising degrees and “Modern Act” winds up as an unassuming career highlight as a result. If the rest of the band’s forthcoming Life Without Sound winds up being anywhere near this impressive, 2017 will be off to an incredible start.
Listen to “Modern Act” below and pre-order Life Without Sound here.
Editor’s Note: There’s been a month-long gap in coverage, thanks to near-incessant travel and other extenuating circumstances. The following run of posts that contain this note will be posts that should have appeared sometime within the past several weeks. Use these posts as an opportunity to catch up to the present release cycle or to simply discover some new music. Either way, enjoy.
Ever since their emergence, Greys have held a spot as a site favorite. Whether it was their incendiary live performances, thought-provoking music videos, or their intelligent-but-immediate approach to noise-punk, the quartet always found a way to make a lasting impression. Last month, they unveiled the next extraordinary step of their ongoing evolution: their latest full-length, Outer Heaven.
In past interviews, guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter Shehzaad Jiwani has stated that Greys attempt to subvert the populist approach to noise-punk by placing the majority of the melodic emphasis on the instrumental portions and the majority of the dissonance in the vocal melodies. While that holds true for much of Outer Heaven, it’s easy to hear the two beginning to be pulled towards a more neutral marriage that ultimately propels the songs to even greater heights.
After a string of deliriously frantic singles, EP’s, and records, the band’s also more fully embracing a brave experimentation that sees them pushing their own tendencies in fascinating new directions. Whether it’s via simple production tricks like the vocal warping in “No Star” or the gentle, almost ballad-like qualities that they sporadically imbue into tracks like the psych-influenced “Erosion”.
By the time Outer Heaven‘s most jarring 1-2 punch hits (the frighteningly explosive “Sorcerer” and the record’s hazy final track, “My Life As A Cloud”), Greys have made it abundantly clear that this is a landmark release. Easily one of the year’s most fascinating releases to date, Outer Heaven is an important piece for Greys’ own progression and a listen that dares to be challenging. A singular listen from an unexpected source, this is a sharp record that fully rewards investment.
Listen to Outer Heaven below and pick it up from Carpark here.
In the last round of catching up from last week’s loaded slate of new releases, Heather Woods Broderick’s stunning clip for “Wyoming”. It’s the only video in yet another round of great songs. Sunflower Bean released the swirling, psych-damaged “I Hear Voices“, Nervous Trend unveiled their pummeling post-punk highlight “Shattered” (which came a hair’s breadth away from taking the feature spot), Digital Leather’s winning streak of synth-heavy basement pop hit new highs with “Cold Inside“, and Speedy Ortiz offered up a fascinating look at the minutiae of their songwriting process via an acoustic guitar/vocals demo of “Basketball“. Then, there was “Wyoming”.
Shot in a grainy 16mm black-and-white that favors long landscape shots, “Wyoming” finds an early strength in a mode of cinematography that creates a sense of eerie calm. As Broderick’s song slowly builds to its towering climactic moment, the clip’s palette blooms into a soft color. It’s an unexpected, and effective, moment that matches the song’s penchant for the otherworldly. As the camera follows Woods from climbing waterside ridges to the water itself, the clip deepens a sense of inexplicably serene calmness. Emotive storytelling via the film’s mechanics are favored over a clear narrative (in a manner not entirely dissimilar from Shane Carruth’s incredible Upstream Color). It’s a minimal, evocative piece of filmmaking that boasts imagery that’s hard to shake and elevates an already great song. After the flurry of posts about last week’s material, it also feels like the perfect end-cap to a particularly memorable storm. Don’t let this one drift off into the distance.
Watch “Wyoming” below and order Glider from Western Vinyl here.
After a small run of music video collections, this post will have the site caught up to the current week’s releases (which will be covered in the ensuing posts). A lot has happened over the course of April and there’s been a plethora of attention-ensuring music videos. Before diving too far into the clip that earned this headline, though, there are other selections that should be noted. The titles that belong to this category include: Built To Spill’s charmingly goofy “Never Be The Same“, Ava Luna’s sketch adventure “Steve Polyester“, Mac McCaughan’s hypnotically swirled “Wet Leaves“, Moaning’s playfully destructive “The Same“, Rozwell Kid’s gruesomely clever “Kangaroo Pocket“, Nots’ intensely damaged “White Noise“, Public Access T.V.’s meticulously crafted “Metropolis“, Elvis Depressedly’s searing, deeply felt”Thou Shall Not Murder“, Calexico’s surprisingly tender “Falling From The Sky“, The Lagoonas’ skate-heavy “Weird Friends“, and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s typically irreverent “Emperor’s New Chair“. A handful of those clips are relatively straight-laced and most could easily be categorized as off-kilter- but none of them (at least in that regard) manage to stack up to Speedy Ortiz‘s “The Graduates”.
Foil Deer continues Speedy Ortiz’s ascension by being a work that felt complete while offering up some of the band’s best standalone songs to date. One of the songs was the defiantly defeatist anthem “The Graduates”. Now, the band- which has always specialized in creating videos that double as absurdist trips– has unleashed the most wildly imaginative clip of their career. The Matthew Caron-helmed clip for “The Graduates” opens on singer/vocalist Sadie Dupuis carefully creating a drug in a laboratory setting before providing some exposition via the song’s first verse and sharing her craft with her bandmates, who take turns ingesting the googly-eye objects one by one. Before long, the band’s hallucinating a literal white rabbit and scheming an expansion to ensure everyone get to revel in the experience.
What follows is an almost uncomfortably disquieting scenario where the band quietly slips the (possibly metaphorical) drug to the patrons of a crowded restaurant (a scene that includes one-time contributors Christine Varriale and Nina Corcoran, who both frequently contribute to the great Allston Pudding). Things take a turn when the white rabbit reappears and is immediately engulfed in a sea of adoration, with the exception of one individual living out this quasi-nightmarish scenario who flees the diner and collapses into a towering snowbank. As a complete product, it’s endearingly bold and reinforces Speedy Ortiz’s strengthening visual aesthetic without underplaying any of their emotional resonance. It also looked like it was an absolute joy to make and the best possible way to kill a brutal snow day in Boston.
Watch “The Graduates” below and pick up a copy of Foil Deer from Carpark here.
After almost four full months, regular Watch This coverage is ready to resume. Once again, every Sunday, there will be an examination of five of the preceding week’s strongest live video clips. The live video’s a historically under-appreciated form of multimedia but one of the most difficult to master. Fortunately, this week had no shortage of strong examples, making it difficult to narrow it down to just five selections. While Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ lovingly tender Warren Zevon cover and Chastity Belt’s KEXP session aren’t featured in the ensuing collection, they’re both deserving of multiple watches. Joining those two videos in that distinction are the five clips listed below, which cover a very broad genre spectrum. All of them are worthy of praise. So, as always, sit down, lean back, forget about your troubles, and Watch This.
1. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me (Coachella)
Here and Nowhere Else still sounds as vital and as necessary as it did since it was released. “I’m Not Part Of Me”, the album’s closing track (and one of our best songs of 2014), still packs an enormous punch and that’s an aspect of the song that only gets enhanced in the live setting. Dylan Baldi remains a fascinating songwriter (and underrated composer) and Jayson Gercyz still seems nearly inhuman behind the kit, making this Coachella performance a must-watch.
2. Natalie Prass – Why Don’t You Believe In Me (Bruxelles Ma Belle)
Natalie Prass’ self-titled record was one of the first major surprises of 2015 and, accordingly, was met with universal acclaim. Here, Prass strips the fleshed-out arrangements of the record back to a bare-bones dual guitar setup. Softly lensed and starkly intimate, Bruxelles Ma Belle captures what may be one of Prass’ most captivating performances yet. R&B-inflected folk cascades across a deserted dining hall and fills every inch of the unlikely venue with feeling, rendering this clip unmissable.
3. Public Service Broadcasting – Go! (WNYC)
Occasionally a band will appear off to the edges on my radar and I’ll forget to check them out before a reminder surfaces in plain view. Public Service Broadcasting were one of those acts and this performance of “Go!” was one hell of a reminder. Starting off as a keys-and-sample led ambient piece before erupting into a monstrous, inventive, forward-thinking beast of a genre-defying song, “Go!” encapsulates close to everything an act primed for a breakout should have. Impassioned, deeply-felt, smartly crafted, and musically boundless, “Go!” provides a feeling of genuine exhilaration. Taking cues from decades’ worth of musical trends, deviations, and subversions, “Go!” quickly becomes unforgettable.
4. Happyness (KEXP)
Weird Little Birthday was a strange release that never seemed to garner the levels of attention it deserved. Whether this was due to the spaced-out release schedule, the rollout campaign, or just issues with timing is anyone’s best guess but those that were fortunate enough to hear it all seemed to be fully on board (it very nearly cracked this site’s best albums of 2014 list). The band recently stopped by KEXP’s offices to deliver a deeply intriguing set that doubled as a demonstration of the band’s seemingly limitless potential. Running the gamut from spaced-out ambient territory to 90’s-leaning slacker pop, it’s the type of performance strong enough to create converts and reinforce the convictions of the already faithful.
5. John Davey – Burning and Bright (GemsOnVHS)
When Heartbreaking Bravery was built part of its structure was a keen focus on immensely promising artists who had yet to receive a higher level of recognition. John Davey fits squarely into this category and, as such, has already received coverage on the site. Here, GemsOnVHS turns their cameras on Davey as he makes his way through the gripping “Burning and Bright”, intercutting sweetly homespun footage of the various stages of a shared meal with the performance to create their best video since the stunning Molly Parden turn-in. Imbued with a familial sense that’s emphasized by the song, it’s a genuinely gorgeous final product that also, incidentally, brings this 69th installment of Watch This to a warm, fitting close.
As was laid out in yesterday’s mixtape, for the next few days this site will be in strict catch-up mode. Mixtapes of some of the best material to emerge in the first three months of 2015 will be running until everything’s brought up to the present-day release cycle. A few items here and there will be granted individual focus pieces but don’t let that distract from the importance of the songs and clips in all of the past and forthcoming lists (as well as the one on display here). It’s been a strong year for music videos across several genres, which is something this package of clips is intended to emphasize. From site favorites Mumblr‘s stroke of brilliance in incorporating actual live footage from their previous shows into “Got It” to the Bob’s Burgers tribute to Sleater-Kinney to the searing, soulful “Keep In Mind (Asshole)”, there’s a lot here to admire. Dive in below and explore a few of this year’s richest treasures.
1. Mumblr – Got It 2. Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters 3. Heaters – Levitate Thigh 4. Menace Beach – Tastes Like Medicine 5. California X – Hadley, MA 6. Protomartyr – Want Remover 7. Destruction Unit – Final Flight 8. MOURN – Your Brain Is Made of Candy 9. Young Guv – Crushing Sensation 10. Cyberbully Mom Club – Bobby Pins 11. King Tuff – Headbanger 12. Sleater-Kinney – A New Wave 13. Cayetana – Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving 14. Ex Hex – Don’t Wanna Lose 15. Franky Flowers – Fell In Love 16. Gal Pals – Do You Ever? 17. Celestial Shore – Weekenders 18. Twerps – Stranger 19. Kuroma – Simon’s in the Jungle 20. Kool Stuff Katie – Cars 21. Fear of Men – America 22. This is the Kit – Bashed Out 23. Tori Vasquez – Keep In Mind (Asshole) 24. Only Real – Can’t Get Happy 25. The Dodos – Competition