Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Castle Face Records

Watch This: Vol. 59

Video mixtapes aside, it’s been quite a while since a standard volume of Watch This has been posted. This is due to some lingering technical complications but, rest assured, everything that’s been posted over the past few weeks has been studied and collected. It’s why tonight will see the posting of five new installments of the (usually weekly) series. Great live music collides with outstanding documentation in each and every one of the forthcoming entries. Ranging from full sets to DIY takes to stunning single song performances, the contents of this post- and the posts following- cover a wide breadth. All of it’s worth remembering. For the sake of time, convenience, and to avoid all of the inevitable redundancy, this current installment (Vol. 59) will be the only one to contain a written lead-in. All of tonight’s subsequent posts will follow the same pattern that the series has implemented all along: 5 great live-take videos that have emerged since Watch This‘ last five entries. So, as always, relax, turn on the speakers, turn up the volume, lean back, and Watch This.

1. Benjamin Booker – Have You Seen My Son? (WNYC)

Benjamin Booker had a breakout 2014 that saw him light up a number of festivals, earn the ardent support of outlets like NPR, and release a fairly extraordinary self-titled LP on a revered label. While all of that adds up to an impressive tally, it’s the live department where Booker and his cohorts excel. Teeming with determination and moxy, the trio also knows how to let its hair down and are capable of just going off at any given moment. For WNYC, they make their way through a raucous set that includes Benjamin Booker highlight “Have You Seen My Son?”- and it’s undeniably powerful.

2. AJ Davila Y Terror Amor (KEXP)

Beibi was one of the best records to be released by Burger Records this year- yet it never quite received the love it deserved. AJ Davila (also of Davila 666) put together a rousing collection of songs with the Terror Amor collective. KEXP recently brought the band in for a session and they made the absolute most out of the time they were given. Infectiously catchy and exploding with personality, this session doubles as a perfect introduction to the band for the uninitiated.

3. OBN IIIs (WKNC)

OBN IIIs are an absolute force to be reckoned with in the live department. It’s become nearly indisputable (especially following the incendiary Live in San Francisco) and isn’t all that surprising, considering the band’s collective pedigree. Here, they tear through a blistering 10-minute set for WKNC with ease and the overall performance eventually becomes something like a battering ram. If there’s smoke by the end of “Standing”, it’s either coming from the gun that OBN IIIs are holding in one hand or because of the lit fuse in the other.

4. Ex Hex (KEXP)

Mary Timony’s newest project, Ex Hex, was one of 2014’s more pleasant surprises. Rips, the band’s full-length debut lived up to its bold title with an excess of finesse. Yet, for as good as the record is, seeing the band live is an entirely different experience. Everything takes on a more visceral edge and their performances turn into showcases for tasteful showmanship. KEXP invited the band into their studios to film a live session that turns into a comprehensive document on how to do things right.

5. Lightning Bolt (unARTigNYC)

Much was made over the closing of beloved venue Death By Audio. The final weeks of shows there turned into hot-ticket events for everyone eager to preserve its memory. Tribute pieces trickled out and their were definitive look-backs that were published. Death By Audio took it upon themselves to create a documentary of the venue’s final days. A slew of think-pieces arrived and were guided by the hands of very capable writers. Another pair of hands held the camera that filmed the last performance in the venue from legendary noise-punk duo Lightning Bolt. Most of the set on display in this video captures the raw fury that’s constantly present in their music but takes a sharp left turn a little before the 9-minute mark where the video ceases becoming a document and starts becoming a statement. For more than 20 minutes, unARTigNYC loops drummer Brian Chippendale’s heartfelt two-word salute to Vice, the establishment credited with Death By Audio’s corporate takeover. “Fuck Vice”, over and over, an inescapable mantra that fully captures the mindset of a legion of people; some close to the venue and some far removed. “Fuck Vice”, over and over, looped into oblivion. “Fuck Vice”, over and over, until there is nothing left. “Fuck Vice”, over and over, echoing out into eternity. “Fuck Vice”, over and over, until everything fades to black.

Big Lonely – Dirty Clocks (Music Video)

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Continuing on with tonight’s round-up of some of the best material to have emerged over the course of the past two days, there’s another small handful of things to celebrate. Music videos were strongly represented by the surgical precision of Primitive Parts‘ post-punk party “TV Wheels” and Meatbodies‘ raw lo-fi visual experimentation in “Rotten“. Washer unleashed another blast of frenetic chaos with the jittery “Rinse & Spit” and Ex-Cult previewed their upcoming record with the relentless post-punk frenzy of “Cigarette Machine“. Rounding things out was the full stream of Curse Purse’s harsh and willfully destructive self-titled EP. All four are worth some investment but it was a clever video from Big Lonely that wound up standing out and snagging this particular feature spot.

Immediately setting itself up as a hockey video, “Dirty Clocks” opens on a line of people decked out in the Toronto Maple Leafs blue and white. Any ideas of this being a traditional team-worship type of video are immediately thrown out of the window with the first quick cut, which reveals a man taking money at the door of a fairly nondescript house. It doesn’t take too long for the premise to kick itself into motion, quickly establishing a battle royale in the world of underground table top hockey. According to the press copy, this is largely a piece about loss, which does come through- particularly in the video’s closing scene- but it does also have its celebratory elements. No matter the outcome, it’s a shared experience, one that reaches a fever pitch near the climactic moment. The character set up as the hero may lose to prove a very humanizing point but there’s still a dedication for the craft that comes through via some surprisingly beautiful cinematography. Alcohol is spilled, voices are lost, friends are hugged, and the powerpop song propelling everything forward even leans into a blistering section that nears post-hardcore. Everything is cleverly constructed and cued to perfection. It’s eloquently staged and delivered in earnest, rendering “Dirty Clocks” a fascinating piece of work from a band that seems hell-bent on making all of the right moves.

Watch “Dirty Clocks” below and keep an eye on Big Lonely, this kind of ambition usually yields great dividends.

Thee Oh Sees – The Lens (Music Video)

Thee Oh Sees may be on an indefinite hiatus but that hasn’t stopped them from releasing new music. “The Lens” was the first song the band released to tease next month’s The Drop, their last release for the foreseeable future. It’s a weird psych-heavy slow-burner from a band more prone to ferociously energetic freakouts and now “The Lens” has a video to further its weirdness. Managing to work in a visual aesthetic that appears to be some sort of halfway point between Terry Gilliam’s animation work and The Beatles’ visual psychedelia, the song’s queasiness eventually takes full effect as the animation lets one hallucinatory image gently ease into another. It’s as bizarrely hypnotic as the song itself and vaguely NSFW, so watch it with caution. “The Lens” can be seen below and The Drop is due out on 4/19 via Castle Face Records. Keep an eye out.