Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Cascades

Watch This: Vol. 137

While the past week wasn’t as exhaustive for live videos as it has been recently, there were still some impressive entries featuring a variety of great acts like Jenny Lewis, Same, The Fever, The Academic, Band of Horses, Typesetter, Astronomique, Future Generations, Martin Courtney, The Staves, Bleached, Adia Victoria, Ages and Ages, Caveman, Summer Twins, Mr. Airplane Man, Julia Holter, Warren Franklin & TFF, Israel Nash, Metric, Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, and Tamaryn. Even with all of those in the mix, there were still five genuine standouts, from site favorites to the perennially overlooked. So, as always, sit back, adjust the settings, block out any circumstantial distractions, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Big Eyes – Stake My Claim (BreakThruRadio)

Fresh off releasing one of the year’s best basement pop records, Big Eyes come through in a major way yet again via this performance of that record’s title track, “Stake My Claim”. While the band certainly has made a sizable impression thanks to their recorded work, they’ve been an even more dangerous force as a live act. After going through several mutations, the band’s finally landed on a unit that allows their sound to be as expansive — and as aggressive — as possible.

2. Boss Hog (KEXP)

One of many projects to include DIY punk icon Jon Spencer, Boss Hog first gained some notoriety in the late ’80s thanks to their sudden existence (they were created out of a need to fill a vacancy on a bill at CBGB’s), vocalist Christina Martinez playing that first show nude, and their relentlessly aggressive hybrid of punk sub-genres. The band’s been experiencing a resurgence lately, which led them to the KEXP studios for this gorgeously-lensed session presented in crisp black-and-white. From just about every angle, everything happening here is exhilarating.

3. Mumblr – Mudmouth + Domingo (Out of Town Films)

After the beginning of their career brought about a handful of upbeat, party-leaning (but surprisingly introspective) anthems the quartet went through some sort of awakening. A lot of their more recent material has approached being confrontational thanks to a newfound darkness and a staggering amount of patience. The band’s been stretching their influences in surprising ways and nearly all of them are present in this beautifully-shot two song turn-in for Out of Town Films, which doubles as a definitive showcase for this era of one of the more fascinating bands making music right now.

4. Tigercats – Rent Control (Fortuna POP!)

Every once in a while, a spectacularly made live video surfaces and causes people to question its validity as a live presentation. In many cases, most assume it’s just a particularly convincing music video. This is the fate that awaits Tigercats’ scintillating new “Rent Control”, which is one of the more memorable entries in that niche format in recent memory. Set in a house overflowing with people (presumably friends of the band), there’s a liveliness that informs “Rent Control” and elevates it past similar efforts. The song itself is an exuberant burst of indie pop and every aspect of the clip ties together beautifully, ensuring it a spot on this list.

5. Japanese Breakfast (Audiotree)

Michelle Zauner anchored one of my personal favorite entries in this entire series’ run in Little Big League‘s extraordinary “Year of the Sunhouse” clip from Little Elephant and has remained a powerhouse performer in the time that’s passed since that clip. Zauner’s other project, Japanese Breakfast, has been turning quite a few heads since the release of their excellent Psychopomp. The band recently wrapped a tour with Mitski and Jay Som, taking control of every opportunity to better their already-formidable live show. Their recent session for Audiotree demonstrated the band’s continuously evolving live show and curiously quiet strengths. The entire session is masterful both in performance and presentation, leaving behind an artifact that should be visited and revisited for quite some time.

Dark Blue – Delco Runts (Stream)

dark blue

[EDITOR’S NOTE: With the site now entering emergency year-end catch-up mode thanks to the cruel, mocking nature of time, tonight’s trio of posts will simply be short reviews of the song(s) in the headline(s) and an accompanying list of tracks that deserve to be heard.]

John Sharkey III once led Puerto Rican Flowers, a band that earned an almost excessively devoted following thanks to a small string of incredible records. The band’s eventual demise was a crippling blow but opened up the floor for new opportunities, one of which was quickly seized and invested in until the project, Dark Blue, began accruing an impassioned following of its own. Last year, the band put out the monumental Pure Reality, which was highlighted by songs like the brilliant “Here On My Street” which incorporated a greater emphasis on Sharkey’s formidable pop sensibilities.

In January the band will be returning with Vicious Romance b/w Delco Runts, a 7″ that recently got off to an extremely promising start with the record’s driving B-side. “Delco Runts” sees the trio continuing to expand their more pop-leaning influences without ever sacrificing their post-punk roots. Damaged, romantic, and wide-eyed, “Delco Runts” is a bruiser with a backwards grin, dissecting moments of youth with all the panache of the best tragicomedies. Eventually, “Delco Runts” builds itself into a heartbreaking conclusion that feels lived-in and brutally honest before dropping into a mournful outro section that lends the song some additional emotional weight, ensuring the song a valued place in what’s shaping up to be a formidable discography.

Listen to “Delco Runts” below and pre-order Vicious Romance b/w Delco Runts here. Underneath the embed, explore a list of great songs to have appeared over the course of the last several months.

Royal Brat – Shadethrower
Francis – Follow Me Home
Nathaniel Bellows – Oh, Now
Connie Constance – Answer
Cian Nugent – Things Don’t Change That Fast
Deleter – Seclusion
The Missendens – Rolling Start
Mount Moriah – Cardinal Collector
Crescendo – Repulsor
jj – Paranoid
Fews – The Zoo
Tangerine – Tender
Kiska – Long Divide
Butchers Blind – Black & White Dreams
Total Abuse – DNA Evidence
Bianca Casady – Poor Deal
Barren Womb – White Raven
High Highs – Cascades
The Secret Storm – The Dragon
Palm – Doggy Doctor
Val Hollie – Stepping Outside