Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Castle Talk

Watch This: Vol. 27

It may have taken a bit of doing but, as of this posting, Watch This will officially be back on its regular schedule. To celebrate this, the 27th installment of the series played strictly by the rules- and somehow wound up being one of the strongest offerings of Watch This to date. All of these songs were live sessions that were posted online in the past seven days and virtually of them contain songs or artists that have previously earned feature articles on this site in the past. In short, there are plenty of familiar faces to be found in this 27th installment and a few of the year’s best records are well represented. Really, now that all the work’s been done and all the exposition’s out of the way, all that’s left to do is sit back, turn the volume up, and Watch This.

1. Ovlov – The Great Crocodile (Little Elephant)

What can be said? This Little Elephant session is just a gift that keeps on giving. It’s the third to earn a spot in Watch This and arguably the finest of those three. The song’s introduction is nearly two full minutes of surging basement punk that verges on post-hardcore territory. Everything after is just as exhilarating as what’s preceded it. All in all, it ends up being another incredible sampling from one of the most exciting young bands out there. Another thing worth noting: the bassist’s sick LVL UP sweatshirt (if that’s not a great representation of what this site’s all about, nothing is).

2. Angel Olsen – High & Wild (Jagjaguwar)

There haven’t been very many artists who have earned as many Watch This inclusions as Angel Olsen. This is no accident; her last record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, is a gorgeous work of art. As a performer, she radiates a quiet intensity that’s both transfixing and strangely devastating. “High & Wild” lives up to the precedent she’s set and, as such, was an easy selection for this installment. Burn Your Fire for No Witness has more than proven its staying power and Olsen’s capitalizing on that success by virtue of her live prowess. No complaints.

3. Yellow Ostrich – Shades (KEXP)

Yellow Ostrich scored a major coup with the acquisition of drummer Michael Tapper, who joined up shortly after leaving We Are Scientists. As a member of We Are Scientists, he was instrumental to their early success (With Love and Squalor is a vastly underrated 2000’s masterpiece) and now one of the driving forces behind Yellow Ostrich. “Shades” is one of the finest songs the band’s ever recorded and their performance of it for KEXP is a committed take. It’s borderline unclassifiable and it’s definitely worth paying attention to.

4. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me (Radio K)

First thought: “Is that a Smooth Brain shirt?!” Second thought: “Oh, yeah, Cleveland.” Third thought? “Good lord, this band slays live.” All that said, Here and Nowhere Else is an easy 2014 highlight and is fully expected to appear in the year-end conversations. It’s the second straight effort from the band that’s earned that distinction after being released in the first half of the year. As immense as their studio output has been, as this adeptly shows, they might be even better live.



5. Screaming Females – It All Means Nothing (Audiotree)

As promised earlier today, here’s the second Screaming Females video to be featured from the band’s recent stop at Audiotree. Now touring behind their excellent Steve Albini-produced live album, Live at the Hideout, they’re proving time and time again the recordings that made the cut for that record weren’t a fluke. Truly one of the best live acts currently touring, “It All Means Nothing” has been a consistent set highlight and ranks among the best moments in the band’s entire discography. They don’t hold back anything here and the result is another monster of a performance that’s worth several subsequent watches. Make sure to bookmark this one.


Watch This: Vol. 26

Well, it’s been a while but by the end of today Watch This will be back on track. This is, once again, thanks in no small part to an abundance of great material to have come out over the past week or so. With the influx of material being so strong, this will be the first of two Watch This posts to go live today. Both sections are going to be filled with bands that have never been featured and old favorites. In this installment, the newcomers get featured a little more heavily but there’s still enough room for a genre mainstay or two. All of it’s worth investing some time and, really, the best course of action? Lean into it- and Watch This.

1. Picastro – Mountain Relief (BreakThruRadio)

Kicking off the series this time around is Liz Hysen’s long-running Toronto-based project, Picastro. BreakThruRadio invited her in to film a performance and Hysen delivers an absolutely haunting rendition of “Mountain Relief”. There’s a short interview that follows the performance but the real takeaway from this is just how arresting “Mountain Relief” is. It’s on Picastro’s most recent record, You, which is more than worth anyone’s time.

2. Constant Lovers – 14 Missed Calls (KEXP)

It’s been a while since there’s been a KEXP session quite as lively as the insane one Constant Lovers just turned in. Among their set’s most intense moments was this fiery as hell take on “14 Missed Calls”. All intense guitar jabs and one of the fiercest vocal takes imaginable, “14 Missed Calls” proved to be one of the best parts of the last week in music. It’s a must-watch.

3. Menace Beach – Fortune Teller (3VOOR12)

One of the more intriguing acts of the last few years, Menace Beach have yet to release a record. This hasn’t stopped them from earning praise and coverage in a variety of major taste-making publications. The Leeds-based group has one hell of a pedigree between their two main members and rotating cast; nearly everyone involved has achieved some level of notoriety with at least one other project. From this video alone, it’s abundantly clear that this band knows what they’re doing. 


4. Black Lips – Smiling (KEXP)

There are some things that just don’t change- one of them is that Black Lips are a great live band. No matter how much the band varies their sound or how strong whatever record their touring behind is, their live shows consistently bring an incredible amount of energy to the table. While not all of that translates over to a taped session (a literal impossibility considering there’s no crowd interaction), it’s still fun enough to earn a spot here.


5. Screaming Females – Baby Jesus (Audiotree)

As is the case with Black Lips, Screaming Females have one of the best live sets in the game. Having torched the basement circuit with a vengeance, the New Brunswick act has seemingly set their sights on world domination. Pity anyone that gets in their way. This will be the first of two videos from their Audiotree session to be featured today because there’s no way they don’t both deserve to be featured. This is a masterclass.


Screaming Females – Lights Out (Live) (Stream)

screamales

Screaming Females are gearing up for the release of Live at the Hideout, the Steve Albini-produced document of their recent two-night stand in Chicago. In the press release for Live at the Hideout, there’s a mention of an incident that occurred sometime before the Chicago show, where there band’s vehicle spun out of control on the freeway and they were hit by an oncoming semi whose driver they had locked eyes with before impact. While the story does tie in to Live at the Hideout‘s renewed sense of purpose and freedom, what the release doesn’t mention is that the incident happened before their Milwaukee show (which also explains why that set was particularly lively).

Everything that the Milwaukee show was praised for seems to have tied over to Live at the Hideout and with Albini at the soundboard, there’s no possible way this will be a misfire. Don Giovanni’s offered a first glimpse at Live at the Hideout with “Lights Out” and it’s predictably brilliant; the band sounds as tight as possible, Paternoster shreds fearlessly, and Albini applies the trademark metallic sheen that helped make Ugly one of the band’s best efforts. If nothing else, the song’s worth listening to for the crowd’s elation- a reminder of just how far this band’s come over the past few years. For a few years, they were one of the most tenacious acts playing the basement circuit and now they’ve earned a kind of fervent dedication that’s only granted to legends. What makes this all the much sweeter is that they accomplished this without changing and by continuing on the path they set for themselves in the early stages of their career. That kind of dedication is a rarity and that brand of integrity deserves to be celebrated. Right now, there’s no better way to celebrate than to just listen to “Lights Out” below and eagerly await the final product.