Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Chvrches

Watch This: Vol. 138

While Car Seat Headrest, Abi Reimold, Lisa Prank, The Dove & The Wolf, Emma Russack, Black Thumb, Mindie Lind, Kiran Leonard, Laura Gibson, Wovenhand, CHVRCHES, Pig Snout, Metronomy, Clique, Skeleton Hands, Gang Gang Dance, Graveyard Club, Men of Paradise, Haux, Arc Iris, David Bazan, Pure Bathing Culture, Typesetter, Lisa Hannigan, and naps all had incredibly strong live video outings — culled from a variety of inspiring sources — last week, it would have been an exercise in futility to run them all together in a focal capacity. Even five featured slots can occasionally feel a touch excessive but it seems that anything less than five doesn’t typically do the format’s offerings justice.

The five clips featured today come from bands that have, in some form or another, garnered positive notices from this site in the past. Seeing these acts continue to grow, expand, succeed, and even flourish has been heartening. Seeing them excel in the live department remains galvanizing. There’s an expansive range from the selected acts (and their accompanying videos), in terms of style. All of them are worthy of praise. So, as always, sit back, tune up, lean in, and Watch This.

1.  Okkervil River (WFUV)

With their forthcoming Away nearing its release date, Okkervil River‘s been making some early rounds to promote the record.  It’s impossible to overstate how important Okkervil River were to the development of this site’s personal ethos, so any time the band makes a return it’s more than welcome. Here, they perform two songs from Away but continue to demonstrate their immense skill at re-interpreting their own material, offering an incredible version of “For Real” — easily one of the best songs since the turn of the century — that hints at their worldview. It’s an immensely impressive session and a memorable portrait of a band that’s never really gotten their due.

2. Worriers – Plans (Live From the Rock Room)

Last year’s Imaginary Life was Worriers‘ finest moment to date and the band still seems to be riding a surge of adrenaline and confidence from that small triumph. The quartet recently visited Live From the Rock Room to deliver a galvanizing rendition of “Plans”, one of that record’s many standouts. The band continues to be defined by both their intelligence and extreme amount of heart, both of which are fully on display in this clip.

3. Prism Tats (KEXP)

Prism Tats have been having a breakout year, releasing their formidable self-titled debut full-length on ANTI- Records and producing a string of praise-worthy music videos. They’ve been touring with some bands that have serious weight behind their names and making a small sea of fresh converts at just about every stop. Here, the band turns in a powerful session for KEXP, revealing their increasingly sharp interplay and knack for subdued, hook-heavy basement pop. The whole clip looks and sounds beautiful, standing as a strong example of what can be accomplished with the right people on both ends of the camera.

4. Big Thief (KDHX)

Masterpiece was an immediate standout upon its release and remains one of 2016’s finest records. It’s catapulted Big Thief into a new level of fame and the band’s responded in kind, continuously sharpening their craft and all but perfecting their penchant for sweeping, open-road anthems tinged with nostalgic hues. The band recently visited the KDHX studios and played through two songs, including the unforgettable and melancholic “Paul“. The band pairs it with a deeply felt run-through of “Vegas”, offering both a very strong reminder of Masterpiece‘s astonishing strength and their breathtaking prowess as a live unit.

5. Fresh  Snow – January Skies (Exclaim!)

For some time now, Fresh Snow have excelled in crafting aggressive, ambient tracks that come fully equipped with a decidedly punk influence. Their live show has been a consistent standout and the band holds nothing back for this atmospheric Exclaim! clip of the band playing “January Skies”. There’s a feeling of rawness through the whole affair that seems to be at odds with the serene lighting, creating a strange, unsettling feeling that elevates this far beyond the standard performance clip. There’s some magic at play here and it continues to cast out the kind of spell that simply can’t be refused.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Nicola Leel)

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Doe made several appearances on this site over 2015, from mixtapes to several Watch This appearances. Their subversive brand of pop-punk that owed more to the gritty roots of the latter than the polished gloss of the former landed with considerable force. After 2014’s brilliant First Four compilation, Doe followed it up with two memorably impressive entries for Fierce Panda’s singles series. Nicola Leel, the band’s central driving force, was kind enough to lend her talents to this series and submitted a piece that focuses on the inspiring strength and resilience of a few of the women who dominated the industry in 2015. Read it below and make sure you’re doing your part to combat sexism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

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The most impactful moments of 2015 for me were not my own, but those of all the women who went out of their way to make things better in the music industry, quite often putting themselves in the path of online abuse to do so. In previous years there were defining highlights, but in 2015 there seemed to be a constant stream of positive movements building to form a wider shift and pathway for change.

Seeing people like Sadie Dupuis, Lauren Mayberry and Girls Against taking active steps to change the culture of sexism was so important, creating a ripple effect so others were able to acknowledge their own experiences. To varying degrees, these women sent the message that what we’ve become used to is not acceptable. The mere act of speaking out against something from a position of power can and does have so much impact in filtering through to others.

Meanwhile, Sleater-Kinney dominated the mainstream, returning after a ten year hiatus. A band that spent their formative years championing discussion of the female experience, S-K reached a wider audience than ever before and were embraced by long term fans and new listeners.

In the UK and beyond, festival organizers were forced to answer for themselves when people started flagging the abysmal representation of women on bills. Edited posters of what the line ups looked like without the men called to light something that had been happening for years – women were being ignored. Suddenly this wasn’t OK anymore.

This is just a tiny snippet of what was going on – and I’m not saying 2015 was the year things got fixed by any means, but huge steps were made in the right direction and moments like these paved the way for more to come. It really felt that across the board sexism and misogyny became less tolerated, experiences of such were more widely talked about, pressure was put on individuals — and the industry as a whole — to make changes. Here’s to more of that in 2016 and beyond.

-Nicola Leel

Dilly Dally – Purple Rage (Stream)

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It’s been a busy week on multiple levels. Accordingly, there’s been a small gap in coverage. Of course, the release schedule towards this time of year clicks into fifth gear and unleashes a cavalcade of new material upon an unsuspecting public. All three formats had multiple entries worth multiple listens and looks. Chief among them, as usual, was the individual song slate. Since covering all of the great songs to have come out over the past few days would be pointless from a pragmatic standpoint, they’ll be listed below- and it has been a strong few days for this particular category. A large handful of the songs contained in the list below the song in the headline would have been featured on any given day over the past handful of months. That, of course, also bolsters the strength of the song that can lay claim as this post’s focal point: Dilly Dally’s fierce “Purple Rage”.

Over the past year, Dilly Dally have established themselves as a serious force, becoming one of this site’s most celebrated acts in the process. After coming dangerously close to topping the year-end list for 7″ releases, the band immediately set about crafting a debut full-length to capitalize on a shockingly strong statement and lay waste to the notion that whatever magic they tapped into for those first two releases couldn’t be sustained. Just about everything the band’s released this year has earned serious praise here and “Purple Rage” arguably tops them all. From the coy title- a winking nod towards the Prince classic- to the total embrace of anger (an aspect that informs and drives a lot of the band’s music), “Purple Rage” has all the makings of a knockout blow. In its execution, it exceeds those elements and becomes a jaw-dropping showstopper that showcases the band at their most relentlessly bruising.

Even its mechanics are notable; anger’s an emotion that rises and guitarist/vocalist Katie Monks’ vocals mirror that rise at the song’s outset, growing (subtly) more impassioned as the song progresses. Once again, the lead guitar tones seem to cut through the mix with a vengeance, all at once occupying a space that feels vibrant, eerie, and menacing. The rhythm section’s practically required to be frighteningly propulsive considering the song’s subject matter and it elevates the song to a higher level by both adhering to and subverting those expectations throughout the song’s three minute run-time. Every element acts in perfect complement to the others, conjuring up a foreboding, and maybe even threatening, atmosphere. It’s the kind of song that pierces immediately and then gleefully rips open the wound it created. Manic, wild-eyed, resilient, and unforgiving, “Purple Rage” is another meticulously crafted and deeply felt examination of base human instinct, allowing it to reside comfortable in an already shockingly brilliant discography. Should the rest of Sore live up to its previews, the band may have a viable Album of the Year contender on their bloodied up hands.

Listen to “Purple Rage” below and pre-order Sore ahead of its release date here. Below the player, explore a long list of some of the week’s most notable songs.

Saintseneca – River
Big Air – Vibe Patrol
Greys – Repulsion
Blessed Feathers – Wyoming/Dakota
Cold Sweats – Waste of A Day
Shunkan – The Pink Noise
Wildhoney – Laura
The Beverleys – Visions
Carroll – Green Acres
Season of Mist – Night Drive
Kisses – The Nile
Long Beard – Hates the Party
Language-Arts – Neighbor
Cuntz – Chinese Dream Boat
Sweet Talk – Witness
Shadow in the Tracks – Timeless
Braided Veins – A Means To An End
Little Fevers – Can’t Get Enough
Zola Jesus – Circles
Mansionair – Speak Easy
Fresh Snow (ft. Damian Abraham) – Don’t Fuck A Gift Horse in the Mouth
Beach Slang – Young Alive
Shmu – Pictionary
Youth Lagoon – Rotten Human
Hinds – Garden
Inheaven – Better Town
Chromatics – Shadow
Hiccup – Fuckup
Amy Bezunartea – Something To Show You
Roger Harvey – Lovers Can Be Monsters
Amanda X – Quilted
The Cribs – Wish I Knew You In the 90’s
Driftoff – Straphanger
The Mantles – Police My Love
Run Forever – Weight Under Me
The Diamond Center – Messenger of Wonder
Operator – I, Banana
Obnox – See Me
Chvrches – Clearest Blue