Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Clearance

June’s First Half: Honorable Mentions (Songs, Music Videos, Full Streams)

The first half of June carried plenty of surprises. This month has been, notably, dominated by major hip-hop artists and included the release of several major records that have the capacity to hijack year-end lists. Those releases have never been the focal point of this site and this won’t be the post where that changes. Every item on this list, as always, deserves more attention than it’ll receive. Following this list, there will be a few other key releases that get highlighted but these songs, clips, and records deserve all the support they can get, including the below listings and anyone willing to click their links. Enjoy.

SONGS:

Rob Dickson, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Dead Sullivan, Henrik Appel, Cuesta Loeb, Protomartyr, Amos and Spencer, Fleabite, Thin Lips, Dumb, The Molochs, Spencer Radcliffe, Kevin Krauter, Bleeth, Everything By Electricity, Scattered Clouds, Susie Scurry, MOURN, The Rareflowers, Clean Spill, Guts Club, Darren Jessee, Orions Belte, Late Bloomer, Laurel Halo, The Ophelias, Freedom Baby, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Alexander BIggs, Manatree, Runtom Knuten, Manchester Orchestra, Sun June, Angelo De Augustine, Ancestors, ShitKid, Icecapades, Deafheaven, Baby Blue, Frida, Cigarettes After Sex, R+R=NOW, Van Common, Hana Vu, The Dirty Nil, Stalagmites, Wild Nothing, Birdtalker, Jon Spencer, Two Meters, Claw Marks, El Ten Eleven, Birds In Row, Color Tongue, serpentwithfeet, Estrons, Echo Courts, Lazyeyes, Death Grips, Mom Jeans, Gold Star, and a massive offering from Ben Seretan (which accompanies a behemoth multimedia art project that’s worth tracking).

MUSIC VIDEOS:

Clearance, Strange Relations, Death Bells, LIFE, oso oso, The Essex Green, White Woods, Devon Welsh, NEEDS, Thirsty Curses, lemin., Spiritualized, Cold Fronts, Empath, Dirty Projectors, Anna Calvi, VedeTT, The Beths, Cornelia Murr, King Princess, The Fur Coats, Stringer, The Due Diligence, NOTHING, Howard, White Denim, Animal House, and Sad Baxter.

FULL STREAMS: 

Miranda Winters, Petal, Spiritual Cramp, Deux Trois, Dark Thoughts, Dos Santos, Some Gorgeous Accident, Johnny Conqueroo, Tancred, Blushh, Juliana Daugherty, Giant Peach, Hala, Anthony Green, Two Meters, Cold Meat, June Gloom/Rock Solid, CASCINE and Stadiums & Shrines’ Dreams compilation, Palberta, Bloody Knives, Will Henriksen, Surf Dads, God Bless Relative, GRLWood, and Ana Egge.

The Five Best Music Videos of the Past Two Weeks

Two weeks may not seem like much of a span in the grand scheme of things but in terms of releases, it means a mountain of art to climb. During that journey, some sections manage to make more vivid impressions than others. This list specifically fixates on music videos and focuses on the clips that made a deep impression. Every artist in this list has been featured on this site in some way before but just because they’ve earned past accolades never ensures a repeat performance. A large amount of credit is due here to five artists who continuously push their own envelope. Take a breath and scroll down to explore their latest works.

1. Gurr – Hot Summer

Gurr made a big impression with 2016’s outstanding In My Head, a record overflowing with memorable basement pop. “Hot Summer” is the emergent act’s latest reminder of their undeniable talent, replete with a mesmerizing visual treatment. A series of vignettes all evoking vivid memories of past summer seasons while looking ahead to the summers that lie in wait, “Hot Summer” makes sure its title is apt. Both the clip and the video are triumphant gems and offer a welcome return for Gurr.

2. Clearance – Had A Fantastic

Over the past handful of years, Clearance have been kicking around the upper Midwest, touring when they can, and committing to their own improvement. That steadfast insistence has been paying dividends for each of the band’s releases and will see its current culmination in At Your Leisure (which will also be their first effort for Topshelf Records). “Had A Fantastic” is the first look at the record, a driving mid-tempo number that imbues their basement pop with post-punk influences. The compelling video (washed out in faded whites and yellows) is just the cherry on top.

3. Dusk – Old Magnolia

Uniting with their videographer Finn Bjornerud once again, Dusk have turned in another clip that plays homage to their own reality. Fixating on more central Wisconsin locations, “Old Magnolia” also provides the opportunity for Ryley Crowe (one of the band’s five notable songwriters) to be featured front and center. Leaning hard into classic folk, country, and Americana influences, “Old Magnolia” may be the purest distillation of the band’s overarching identity to date. Warm, tender, and familiar, it’s another worthy addition to an already exceptional repertoire.

4. Sean Henry – The Ants

“The Ants” immediately comes across as one of Sean Henry‘s most arresting tracks but the video manages to elevate it from memorable to unforgettable. Tapping into the underlying dread and melancholy, “The Ants” becomes a creeping nightmare of a video. Off-kilter and defiantly strange, the clip finds Henry in the spotlight, donning a set of fake teeth and sulking around a cityscape as dusk turns to night turns to day. Weird, unavoidable, and mesmerizing, “The Ants” is as effective of a complement to its attached song as anyone’s likely to produce this year.

5. Fog Lake – Push

Coming just days after the release of Fog Lake‘s haunting “California” was “Push” and its accompanying music video. “Push” opens up in somewhat generic territory, ostensibly opting for an obvious melodramatic narrative before subverting its story to startling effect. That sudden change comes by way of one of the most brilliant transition edits the music video format’s offered in recent memory, as one scene hurtles into the next, literally altering the narrative (and the central character’s) timeline.

Sudden and extremely effective, that tactic’s employed multiple times, each instance magnifying the effect. It’s brilliant filmmaking from both director Noah Kentis and cinematographer Bella Gonzales. “Push”, as a standalone song, would have stood as another of Fog Lake’s hidden masterpieces. Combined with the video, it becomes the project’s high point. A perfect mixture of empathy, elegance, and artistry, “Push” is the kind of video that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.

 

Shea Stadium: It’s Not Over Yet

While the Kickstarter drive to help secure Shea Stadium was wildly successful in terms of generating fiscal resources (nearly $100,000) for the beloved DIY Brooklyn venue, their fight’s only just beginning. The musical haven and cultural staple of Brooklyn’s landlords essentially refused the option of renewal to those running its operation, citing plans to convert the lower space into a nightclub as a reason for withholding the required signature to keep Shea Stadium alive at 20 Meadow St.

However, the Kickstarter campaign wasn’t the only thing funding the venue’s efforts of a greater revival. All of the people who had a hand in running Shea Stadium are resolved, now more than ever, to keep Shea Stadium going. The relocation costs provide a much steeper challenge than what would’ve been required to keep the venue alive on 20 Meadow St. and while the Kickstarter certainly helped, Exploding In Sound Records (who have maintained a very close relationship with the venue over the years) recently announced Exploding In Sound: Live at Shea Stadium.

Exploding In Sound: Live at Shea Stadium‘s a compilation of the best live cuts from the venue by the bands that have had a working relationship with the label and all of the proceeds will be directed towards the re-opening of Shea Stadium. To offer a glimpse of what’s on the tape, the label’s offered up a characteristically invigorating Pile performance, which sees the band tearing through “Baby Boy”. It’s a tantalizing preview of what’s destined to be one of the year’s most essential compilations.


In joining the communal outpouring of affection that’s swelled up around Shea Stadium, I’ve compiled all of the Heartbreaking Bravery videos that I personally shot at the venue over the summer of 2015, a near 50-video playlist which includes performances from the following: Attic Abasement, Charly Bliss, Diet Cig, Pupppy, Rivergazer, Clearance, Leapling, Lost Boy ?, Mumblr, Eskimeaux, Mitski, PWR BTTM, Model Train Wreck, Fern Mayo, Fruit & Flowers, Boytoy, & Sharkmuffin. It’s those kind of acts that inspired a loyal following that eventually became something greater: a legitimate community that’s ready to rally behind what’s developed into one of New York’s most important — and necessary — musical institutions. Buy that Exploding In Sound compilation here and revisit some highlights from the venue circa summer 2015 below.

HB1000: A Step Forward (Compilation)

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When I started Heartbreaking Bravery nearly three years ago, I had no intention of pursuing it as a legitimate venture. Now, 1,000 posts, 50,000+ links, and countless words later, the site’s come to be the type of platform I’ve always loved seeing in the world. I could attempt to wax poetic on the nature of personal discovery and growth that running this place has afforded me but Heartbreaking Bravery was never about a single person, it’s always functioned best as a communal entity.

The ideas that formed the basic structure of Heartbreaking Bravery all came from artists producing exceptional work with little recognition. Repeatedly watching that transaction occur proved too disheartening. Whether it was the earliest years of Tenement, the later years of Good Grief, or virtually the entire run of Sleeping in the Aviary, there were always ceaselessly talented artists surrounding me that only ever seemed to receive the slightest of nods.

Heartbreaking Bravery originally aimed — and continues to aim — to provide a more level playing field to emerging artists, without reducing their worth to financial opportunity. Heartbreaking Bravery continues to value the community and intimacy that informs the DIY music world. Heartbreaking Bravery will continue to use the platform it’s been granted to elevate the idea of greater equality.

It’s in that spirit that I’m honored to present A Step Forward, a two-volume compilation spanning 100 tracks that exclusively features artists who are connected to this site’s history. Whether that was through a long history of collaboration or something as small as a twitter follow, the impact was not lost or left unappreciated. There’s a heavy emphasis on artists residing in the cities and states Heartbreaking Bravery has called home (Stevens Point, WI and Brooklyn, NY) and a small selection of songs that were premiered on this site.

100% of the proceeds of A Step Forward will be going to Rape Victim Advocates, a non-profit Chicago-based organization that’s doing vital (and, sadly, necessary) work for survivors of sexual assault. Read more about the organization here. It’s my sincerest hope that every publication that has the privilege of visibility manages to find ways to use any of their influence for productive good and to affect positive change. Please consider donating what you can to a meaningful cause.

Finally, I wanted to express gratitude to all of the artists (and any of their teams) involved — including the inimitable Phil McAndrew, who turned in the extraordinary album art — and all of the people that have allowed, even willed, this site to the point it’s at today. It likely would have disappeared without that support and I owe those people a debt of gratitude that could never be truly repaid. A special thanks to Fred Thomas, whose “What Changes When The Costumes Come Off” was written with the specifics of A Step Forward in mind.

Enjoy the compilation, support independent art, and join me, this site, these artists, and this cause in taking A Step Forward.

Tracklist below.

A Step Forward: Vol. 1*

1. Vacation – Caked Joy Rag (Demo)
2. Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Demo)
3. Dead Stars – So Strange (Demo)
4. Mo Troper – After the Movies (Demo)
5. Fern Mayo – The Sweets (Demo)
6. Hater – Like Hours (Demo)
7. Sharkmuffin – Only Mondays (Demo)
8. Fits – Ice Cream On A Nice Day (Demo)
9. Missy – Patience (Demo)
10. Kodakrome – Skeletons (Demo)
11. Slight – Run (Demo)
12. Long Neck – Goldfinch (Demo)
13. Phyllis Ophelia – Probably Not (Demo)
14. Lever – Cure (Demo)
15. Puppy Problems – Destroyer (Demo)
16. Battle Ave. – Black Jeans (Demo)
17. Yours Are The Only Ears – Alone Bear (Demo)
18. Attendant – Some Other Language (Demo)
19. MKSEARCH – Little Song (Demo)
20. Sulky Boy – Birches (Demo)
21. Heavy Looks – Those Guys (Demo)
22. darn it. – (again) pt. II
23. Phooey! – On an On
24. Arm Candy – Big Clunker
25. DTCV – Le Vampire
26. Clearance – The Queen of Eyes
27. Leggy – I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy
28. Big Air – Hit Me in the Mouth
29. Terry Malts – Look (At the Mess That We’re In)
30. Ubetcha – Musician
31. Two Inch Astonaut – Suckers Share
32. Whelpwisher – Bucket for the Sky
33. Petite League – Magic Johnson
34. The Meltaways (ft. Kate M) – Wrong Words
35. Calumet – Indian Summer
36. Mulligrub – Little Fist
37. Ben Seretan – Stay In Touch
38. Mumblr – Friendship Stew
39. Human People – Useless Things
40. Bethlehem Steel – Florida Two
41. Painted Zeros – Sweet Briar Rose
42. Spit – Paul Westerberg
43. Crusher – Running
44. Pupppy – Stand By Me
45. Aberdeen – Once You Fall In Love
46. Tica Douglas – Enough
47. Peaer – Multiverse
48. The Weasel, Marten Fisher – What Is Love
49. Young Jesus – Mirroring
50. Space Mountain – Earthrise

A Step Forward: Vol. II*

1. Bellows – Bank Checks
2. Cave Curse – Arcadia
3. Fred Thomas – What Changes When the Costumes Come Off
4. Apollo Vermouth – He Sees You, He Loves You
5. Green Dreams – Psychic Woes (Alternate Mix)
6. Lost Boy ? – Have You Seen My Brain (Space Cat Sessions)
7. Mikaela Davis – Pure Divine Love (Early Mix)
8. Nano Kino – Recovery (Early Mix)
9. Trophy Dad – Addison (Early Mix)
10. Alanna McArdle – Less Than (Early Mix)
11. VVHILE – Don’t Belong (Live)
12. Liam Betson – Mispronounced (Live)
13. BAG-DAD – Bruv (Live)
14. Slothrust – Keg Party (Live)
15. The Nudes – Nowhere to Be
16. Sat. Nite Duets – Cemetery Steve
17. Slanted – Fake Party
18. Patio – Gold
19. Greys – No Star
20. No Hoax – Date With Death
21. Dirty Dishes – Red Roulette
22. Yeesh – On Some Dirt
23. Pile – Cut From First Other Tape
24. Even Hand – Nightsmoke the Fuss
25. PURPLE 7 – Wise Up
26. Bad Wig – Machinehead
27. Mary Lynn – Space
28. Pleistocene – CMJ Compilation 1996
29. Color TV – Anybody’s Girl
30. Jacky Boy – Bad
31. Trust Fund – Would That Be An Adventure?
32. Good Grief – City People
33. Adir L.C. – Hangover
34. Milk Crimes – H8RZ
35. À La Mode – Total Doom
36. Inside Voices – Nomad: Begin
37. Doe – Corin
38. Kindling – Became
39. Bueno – Blown Out
40. Horse Teeth – Dark & Gloomy
41. Ron Gallo – Put the Kids to Bed
42. Sun’s Out Bummed Out – Cut All My Hair
43. Eric Slick – The Dirge
44. Fruit & Flowers – Turqoise
45. Shilpa Ray – Hymn
46. Jack – Sister System
47. Strange Ranger – Whatever You Say
48. Johanna Warren – A Bird in the Crocodile’s Mouth
49. Oceanator – Nowhere Nothing
50. Fresh Snow – Eat Me In St. Louis (Bryan W. Bray – Eaten by the Cetacean Mix)

Vol. I

Tracks 1-21: Demos
Tracks 22-50: New Songs

Vol. II

Tracks 1-4: New Songs (cont’d)
Tracks 5-14: Alternate Mixes and Live Songs
Tracks 15-49: Old Favorites
Track 50: Remix

 

Watch This: Vol. 140

As was mentioned in the preceding post, the amount of praise-worthy live clips that were released last week were staggering. RaktaClique, L.A. Witch, Ausmuteants, Adryn, Nina Diaz, Alice Phoebe Lou, and Half Waif were all responsible for impressive entries while the five featured spots below all were claimed by outstanding full sessions. Every single one of these five artists have made a prior appearance on Watch This but the range of their music is surprisingly expansive and contain unknown depths worth meticulously exploring. So, as always, sit back, adjust the settings, relax, block out any distractions, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Oscar (WKNC)

After developing a strong reputation for razor-sharp pop sensibilities, Oscar‘s taken a sharp left and fully embraced the punk tendencies that occasionally peeked through the recorded material. This three songs session for WKNC finds the project in full attack mode, playing with a newfound fervor that’s sharpened into an aggression that seems to have enlivened the live performances with a vengeance.

2. Weaves – One More + Coo Coo (q on cbc)

Just a short while ago, Weaves dropped their debut full-length, which immediately registered as one of 2016’s standout moments for music. Since then, the band’s been on absolute tear, continuing to demonstrate their outsize talent as a live act.  Two of Weaves‘ earliest standouts were “One More” and “Coo Coo”, both of which were recently performed for the cameras and microphones of q on cbc. Even in a space as restrictive for movement as a radio studio booth, the band runs at these songs with just about everything they can muster, leaving a jaw-dropping session in their wake.

3. Margaret Glaspy (NPR)

Margaret Glaspy‘s very quickly becoming a staple of the Watch This series as the songwriter continues to fervently tour behind the incredible Emotions And Math. Glaspy’s distinctive brand of songwriting makes her uniquely suited for the trappings of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series. As ever, Glaspy proves to be a commanding presence, flashing serious levels of skill as a lyricist, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. It’s another casually masterful run through genuinely exceptional material from one of 2016’s brightest emerging talents.

4. Clearance (Store Brand Soda)

Ever since the lead-up to the release of Rapid Rewards Clearance have been a band that’s been closely monitored by this site. Their particular incorporation of ’90s influences informs their music in a way that fits a very niche category: punk-inflected basement pop. In a recent session for Store Brand Soda, the band tore through two highlights from their discography and an inspired Soft Boys cover, once again illuminating their numerous strengths in a characteristically carefree fashion.

5. Benjamin Clementine (OpenAir)

Few artists have a presence as immediately striking as Benjamin Clementine‘s, who delivered one of this year’s most unforgettable NPR sessions. Clementine recently stopped by CPR’s OpenAir program to deliver another trio of quietly intense slow-burners that are carried by the weight of not just his vocals but his convictions. These are songs that carry the weight of history on their shoulders, filtered through the perspective of a man who’s climbed a steep uphill battle and fought through an onslaught of hardships. That journey has shaped Clementine into a songwriter that can silence the rowdiest of rooms with ease and leave behind a trail of converts. It’s the type of experience that should not be missed.

Dirty Dishes – Lackluster (Music Video)

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In the opening days of this week, there has been a bounty of impressive streams from the likes of Hot Shorts, Clearance, Johanna Warren, No Nets, The Glazzies, Phyllis Ophelia, Vexx, Black Thumb, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, No Age, Teenage Fanclub, Ulrika Spacek, Fond Han, Holy Sons, The Black Black, Wovenhand, Richard Edwards, Crying, Dan Edmonds, Orchin, Infinity Crush, Flock of Dimes, Sharon Van Etten, Delicate Steve, Computer Magic, Power Animal, Lowly, Miracle Sweepstakes, Lilac Daze, J&L Defer, John Travoltage, Smokey Brights, Elijah Ford, Brother Moses, Inner Oceans, and Slaughter Beach, Dog.

While all of those deserve all of the listens they’ll inevitably receive (and likely many more), this post’s featured spot falls to one of last year’s most intriguing breakout acts: Dirty Dishes. The project of Jenny Tuite, Dirty Dishes garnered a sizable amount of acclaim for the astonishing Guilty, a brooding record full of sharp-edged post-punk. More than a full year after its release, Guilty‘s retained a significant amount of bite, which winds up lending to the vitality of the recently released clip for “Lackluster”, one of the record’s many highlights.

“Lackluster” coaxes maximum impact out of a minimal setup. The majority of the video consists of psychedelic projection overlays that are intercut with footage of Tuite performing the song in front of that backdrop. In conjuring up an effectively eerie atmosphere — one that’s furthered by the decision to transition between straight-ahead shots and spliced-in close-up footage of the backdrop and what appear to be some outside sources — the clip manages to elevate the song (and vice versa).

Everything here, all of the subtle effects and edits, the song, the pacing, the dynamic approach of the structure itself, work in tandem to create something unforgettable and wholly hypnotic. It’s a masterclass in DIY artistry and a gripping reminder of Guilty‘s staggering power. Jump into the waters and get lost to the waves.

Watch “Lackluster” below and pick up Guilty here.

Clearance – Owner/Operator (Stream)

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Since Friday, there have been notable streams from IAN SWEET, Fake Palms, American Wrestlers, Space Mountain, John K. Samson, Tanukichan, What Moon Things, Peace Be Still, Axis: Sova, Twist, The Veils, Quarterbacks, J&L Defer, Bon Iver, Cheshires, Black Thumb, CHUCK, Suntrodden, Makeout Point, Shapes In Calgary, Adam Torres, Dowsing, and Hiva Oa that have all appeared. On top of that, there were great music videos that came courtesy of Pleasure Leftists, Jake S-M, Breathe Panel, Emma Russack, Winter, Ka, and Pfarmers. Full streams that came via Bueno, Swimsuit Addition, Echo Courts, Big Bliss, The Channels, Cassels, BJ Barham, Dolfish, and Red Heat closed the haul of new material out in a memorable fashion.

All of those entries impressed on multiple levels but it was the latest offering from site favorites Clearance that earned this post’s featured position. “Owner/Operator” is the band’s second individual release — following the excellent “Are You Aware” — since their outstanding Rapid Rewards LP and sees the quartet continuing to find fascinating ways to balance a carefree atmosphere with urgent conviction. The song will be featured as part of their forthcoming Are You Aware 7″, which seems poised to stand as one 2016’s finest releases for that format.

A large part of those expectations can be accredited to the successes of “Owner/Operator”, a breezy and bristling three-and-a-half minute number that both refines and advances Clearance’s songwriting. From the structure to the dynamic nuances, there’s an uncommon liveliness that electrifies the proceedings, pushing a good song into the realms of greatness. Surprisingly memorable, weirdly powerful, and unashamedly casual, “Owner/Operator” is an unlikely slacker pop anthem for the basement punk crowd.

Listen to “Owner/Operator” below and pre-order Are You Aware from Tall Pat here.

Watch This: Vol. 131

Over the course of the past two full weeks, there has been a brief reprieve from the Watch This series, which normally runs in weekly installments. Part of the reasoning behind its recent absence has been explained in previous posts (it was mostly a matter of scheduling) but returns now in a two-part installment to cover those complete weeks. The week that’s currently in session will be accounted for on Sunday and unaffected by these installments. Laura Stevenson, NUEXTango Alpha Tango and the Malady of Sevendials, The Dirty Nil, Charles Bradley, Bruiser Queen, Spooky Ghosts, The Goon Sax, Weakened Friends, Bombay, Money, Beach Slang, Adia Victoria, Protomartyr, and Maritime were the featured artists that comprised roughly half of the honorable mentions in the covered time frame, fully illustrating the strength of the featured cuts. So, as always, sit up, adjust the settings, focus, and Watch This.

1. Summer Cannibals (PressureDrop.tv)

PressureDrop.tv has been responsible for a lot of the more memorable full sessions of recent memory but the series recently topped themselves with this no-holds-barred session from site favorites Summer Cannibals. None of the other performers on the series’ enviable roster of guests have matched the sheer velocity of Summer Cannibals’ energy here and the visuals match that propulsion. Nearly every second of the performance feels perfectly complementary and suggests that PressureDrop.tv just might be realizing their full potential.

2. free cake for every creature – All You Gotta Be When You’re 23 Is Yourself (BreakThruRadio)

free cake for every creature have appeared on this site numerous times but with each successive link, they’ve bettered themselves and hit yet another apex with this BreakThruRadio performance of “All You Gotta Be When You’re 23 Is Yourself”, a standout from their most recent release. Conjuring up a spell of subdued magic, the band effortlessly breezes through the track and closes it out with a soft smile.

3. Clearance – You’ve Been Pre-Approved (Constellation Chicago) 

One of last year’s more overlooked releases came in the form of Clearance‘s excellent Rapid Rewards [full disclosure: my photography is used for the back art] and the record’s allure has actually grown since its release. A large part of that is thanks to Mike Bellis’ knowledgeable songwriting, which is front and center in this recent solo take of one of that record’s many highlights, “You’ve Been Pre-Approved”.

4. Tancred (Little Elephant)

Something is happening in these Tancred videos for Little Elephant that both suggests they’re unfinished and creates a curious pull that’s not entirely dissimilar from quicksand. The performance from the band, as ever, is sharp as hell but the audio sounds canned, as if only an overhead mic was picking the band up. That effect winds up working in tandem with the band’s influences astonishingly well, creating a damaged VHS sound quality that transforms this session into a surprisingly gratifying Easter egg.

5. Julien Baker (Exclaim!)

If a pro-shot Julien Baker session emerges over the course of any given week, it’s probably safe to assume that it’ll find representation in this series. Baker’s an innately talented performer and a mesmerizing lyricist that’s already managed to carve out a space next to Elliott Smith as one of the most effective and intimate narrators of tragedy that the music world’s had in quite some time. All of those qualities infuse this recent two-song performance for Exclaim! with a hypnotic sadness that manages to be both reassuring and heartrending all at once.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Ben Grigg)

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Photograph by Mark Federighi

We lost a lot of great bands in 2015 to varying degrees of mourning and despair. Krill’s final bow obviously struck a nerve but it’s important to remember that they weren’t the only band to step down. While Ovlov managed to find a spiritual continuation via Stove, Geronimo! — who I penned a hybrid eulogy/review for back in March, just a small handful of months after they played this site’s first showcase — have taken a somewhat different path. Guitarist/vocalist Kelly Johnson and keys master Ben Grigg have been devoting their time to various new projects. All of them will undoubtedly be worth hearing. Grigg was kind enough to reflect on the loss of Ovlov and what it meant to him to be at their final show. Read it below and make sure you see your friends’ bands while they’re still around.

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2015 was a year of change for me. Every year changes people, but last year was a big one for me. The band I had played in since 2007, Geronimo!, called it quits, I left the comfort of a familiar job for the intimidating challenge of a new one, and I moved into a house far from my old neighborhood to the west side of Chicago. The good thing about change though is that it usually forces growth. You lose some comfort for the sake of coming closer to who you want to be. That’s the hope at least.

Pretty soon after our band played its last show, the realization set in that I had no plans for my free time. Intellectually, I had known the that this would happen, but I was not prepared for the reality of it. I would come home after work and have nothing to do. Every day of the week. I found myself contemplating what the hell I was doing with my life. Shit.

Suddenly, amidst all the free time and emo soul searching, I developed an itch to get a plane ticket and travel out to Brooklyn for a weekend. It became imperative. At the time, it wasn’t clear to me why I had to do this. But, with some distance, I can see what was going on in my head. Without playing shows, I wasn’t getting out east to see the friends I had made through past tours. I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get out there again and somehow it seemed like a way to get some closure on that part of band life.

As luck would have it, some pals of mine in a band called Clearance from Chicago were playing in June at Shea Stadium. It seemed like as good a time as any. I joked to the guys in Clearance that I’d see them In Brooklyn but I doubt they believed me. A few days later, Ovlov announced that they would be playing their last show that same weekend, also at Shea. That sealed the deal. I bought plane tickets.

Getting to see Ovlov one last time was especially meaningful to me.We first played with them back in 2011 on an east coast tour and got along with them pretty immediately. On that tour they invited us to their friend’s beach house in Rhode Island. Drinks that night famously consisted almost entirely of Beer 30. We had to leave pretty early the next morning for a long drive to the next show, but awoke to find a bunch of groceries meant for us and a hilariously illegible note from Ovlov and their friend Gator. It was about the coolest thing that had happened to us as a band. Over the next four years, we played with Ovlov many more times and got to know them. They felt like our first real band friends.

I don’t have too many vivid memories from watching them play that last show at Shea. It’s more of a mixture of visceral fleeting moments. Feeling the floor moving, getting my ears blasted, chanting along to “I can’t wait to watch TV”. It was the perfect goodbye to Ovlov, and somehow, in the most cliche way possible, a goodbye to a part of my life. I’ll be in other bands, hopefully I’ll come out to the east coast again and see a lot of the same people. But, that experience, that specific part of my life was gone.

That night, I stayed up with friends waiting until the wee hours of the morning when my flight left LaGuardia. These are the kind of friends that I had the privilege of making from being in a band. The kind that will stay up until 5am after a show to see you off. It was the perfect end to the weekend. All things told, I got to reconnect and hang out with a ton of people that had made my experiences playing in Geronimo so meaningful. It was all I could have hoped for and it made me feel so damn thankful to have had the opportunity to play music and meet all these great people.

By the end of the year, I was back playing music with friends in Chicago. With any luck, 2016 will be a year of first shows, not last ones. New growth. Every year can’t be a 2015, but it’s good to have them every now and then.

-Ben Grigg

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4

Car Seat Headrest

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.