Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Control

Pinegrove – Size of the Moon (Music Video)

There were a small handful of great releases to make their way out into the world over the past 24 hours, including great new tracks from RatboysCool American, Harmony Woods, Land of Talk, BodYAWN, Jimi Charles Moody, music videos by the likes of Kevin Morby, Hovvdy, Kamasi Washington, Hellrazor, Mt. Wolf, Bill Baird, Laser Background, and a pair of records from Oiseaux-Tempête and Entrail. Still, as good as all those titles were, it’s impossible to compete with the emotional heft generated by documenting a real-life affliction, especially when that documentation’s got the benefit of being set to one of last year’s finest songs: Pinegrove‘s “Size of the Moon”.

While this is, officially, an unofficial video, its also an unforgettable one. Chronicling the fight against Advanced Chronic Lyme’s Disease Monica Arbery — a sister of one of Pinegrove guitarist/vocalist Evan Stephen’s Hall’s friends — is currently waging, the video (directed by Arbery’s brother, Will) is a deeply human look at what it’s like to face down a debilitating disease.

In all of the laughter, all of the tears, all of the dancing, all of the resilience, and all of the strength present throughout “Size of the Moon”, the empathy driving this clip becomes readily apparent and, in turn, makes it an even more powerful document. Remarkable, compelling, and near impossible to shake, “Size of the Moon” gets at the heart of familial love in the face of struggle and makes its case with an abundance of conviction and feeling. Click play and then click over to the medical fund linked below to do something that will yield immediate productive good.

Watch “Size of the Moon” below, pick up Cardinal here, and donate to Monica Arbery’s medical fund here.

Hazel English – Control (Music Video)

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Following up the incredibly impressive lyric clip for “I’m Fine” and the incredibly tasteful studio clip for “It’s Not Real“, Hazel English continues an extraordinary run of videos with the gorgeous, Kate Cox-directed clip for “Control”. One of many highlights from the Never Going Home EP, the clip manages to balance retro and modern influences to sublime effect. Softly tinted and saturated, “Control” mostly just follows Hazel English’s central character through a routine day, punctuating moments of carefree joy with glimpses at a well-earned weariness.

By the end of the clip, “It’s Not Real” has managed to construct a world that seems lived-in and just out of reach, playing both to the wistful understatement that frequently defines the project’s songs and Hazel English’s own quiet assurance. It’s a small, miraculous clip dotted with some unforgettable imagery and continues to demonstrate Hazel English’s impressively tight grasp on the visual side of what’s proving to be an incredibly artistic endeavor. By the time the clip winds to a close, it’s nearly impossible to want to do anything other than direct it back to the start and let its spell deepen.

Watch “Control” below and order Never Going Home here.

PWR BTTM – Projection (Stream, Live Video)

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The last few days held a whole host of incredible new songs from the likes of Turtlenecked, ScotDrakula, Animal Lover, Dolores, Rips, Dott, Sex Stains, Devon Welsh, Dogbreth, Honey Bucket, Lumer, Atticus Ross and Leopold Ross, Raccoon Fighter, Jenn Champion, Field Mouse, Luke Winslow, The Pooches, Butch Bastard, Ravenna Woods, Young Summer, Bellows, Rosemary Fairweather, Alice MK, Grey Gersten, JEFF The Brotherhood, and Royal Oakie as well as a two-song sampler of the forthcoming record from Echo Courts. While all of those songs should receive listens, it’s an old favorite finally finding release to capture this post’s featured spot.

The first time I saw PWR BTTM was at Miscreant’s Northside showcase last year and it immediately ensured the band a hefty amount of future coverage (especially in the live department). Having been impressed by their earlier material, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect that day but it was one particular song that convinced me PWR BTTM was capable of achieving greatness: “Projection”.

Over time, “Projection” solidified its spot as my favorite song in the band’s arsenal. From Benjamin Hopkins’ remarkably tasteful guitar theatrics to a startlingly intimate lyric set to Liv Bruce’s intuitive drumming to the exchanged vocal leads, the song highlights several of PWR BTTM’s strongest aspects. From that first performance over a year ago, the band’s kept it as a live staple and subsequently afforded me the opportunity to document it several times over.

Recently, PWR BTTM announced they would be partnering with the excellent Big Scary Monsters label for their European releases, beginning with an extended version of Ugly Cherries that will come equipped with “Projection” (it’ll be available as a standalone single in America). While the band offers a mischievous wink towards the song’s main influence with its title, the narrative of “Projection” takes a much more serious tone.

From its opening couplet onward, “Projection” offers a very acute look at the displacement its songwriters have been subjected to because of their identities and preferences, rendering it heartbreaking in its realism– something enhanced even more by the song’s direct approach.

With its reprise of “my skin wasn’t made for the weather”, it’d be easy for the song to tip towards defeatism and while that’s an element that never completely disappears, the music surrounding the narrative becomes a retaliatory burst of frustration that seems to energize the band; they’ve found an outlet through creating music that feels like home. In that regard, “Projection” could be viewed as somewhat celebratory, though its down-trodden narrative keeps it tethered to the earth.

In creating that dichotomy, PWR BTTM fully demonstrate their enviable gifts as songwriters who have an uncanny understanding of their identity as a band (with only one full-length under their belt, no less). “Projection” finds every element of their songwriting at a stratospheric peak, underlining the hefty emotional undercurrent that informs their work but frequently winds up getting overlooked.

It’s an extraordinary song that offers insight, frustration, joy, longing, and some of their finest composition work to date. Empathetic and earnest in its unblinking sincerity, “Projection” is the type of song that’s capable of making converts out of skeptics; a genuine work of art. Greet the song’s official arrival with the kind of understanding and care that should be granted to others throughout life, free of discriminatory practices, prejudices, and blind hatred. Grab a copy, reciprocate its warmth, and never let its message fall out of reach… then hit repeat.

Listen to “Projection” below — and watch an early live performance of the song — and keep an eye on this site for more news on any of PWR BTTM’s forthcoming releases.

Watch This: A Long List of Honorable Mentions from A Brief Stretch of Time

It’s been approximately a month and a half since the last volume of Watch This ran on this site. During the interim, there was a lull in coverage due to show coverage (the results of which will be appearing in the very near future) and then a spree to get the three main release categories — single streams, full streams, and music videos — caught back up to the current release cycle.

Now that everything’s back on pace, the Watch This series will be revived in a continuing series of posts that are spread out over the next week. During all of the time the series maintained radio silence, the material that was emerging was being taken into account on a near-daily basis. An intimidating amount of great live performance videos have surfaced in that time and will be split up into groups as those clips are recapped. Below is a list of strong candidates that have a lot to offer, either in the filmmaking department, through the band’s performances, or a mixture of both. So, as always, sit up, scroll down, and Watch This.

Gordi, The Black Angels (x2), The Coathangers, The Peekaboos, Andy Shauf (x2, 3), Sorority Noise, Sera Cahoone, Footings, Lina Tullgren, Abi Reimold, Your Friend (x2, 3, 4), Shearwater, Christian Lee Hutson, Indian Askin, Lady Pills, Valley Queen, Gary Clark Jr. (x2), Choir Vandals, Pearl Charles, New Madrid, Laura Sauvage, Simeon Beardsley, Colleen Green, Palm Springs, didi, Max Meser, Keeps, Pinkwash, Cate Le Bon, Namorado, Mount Moriah, Tacocat (x2. 3), Trixie Whitley, Bleached (x2, 3), Psychic Love

Clean Spill (x2, 3), The KillsRestorations (x2, 3), Band of Horses (x2), Sioux Falls, The Frights, Behold the Brave, SOAR, The Ultrasounds, Arnold Turbobust, Broken Beak, Korey Dane, Songhoy Blues, Tony Peachka, Beach Slang, Pinegrove (x2), Astronautalis, CocoRosie, Little Green Cars (x2), Golden Daze, Sex Tide, Audacity, Jalen N’Gonda, Sun Club, Laura Gibson, Born Ruffians (x2), Kurt Vile, Bird Laww (x2), Mail the Horse, Radical Face, Yeasayer, Nada Surf, Wimps, Museyroom, Bummer, Quiet Hollers

Deerhunter Rainwater Cassette Exchange, Kaiti Jones, Yak, Operators, Quilt, Laney Jones (x2), Slowdive (x2), Laurel, Penny and Sparrow, Model/Actriz, Savages, You Won’t (x2), Psybeams, Julia Pox, Lip Talk, Pure Bathing Culture, Amanda Bergman, Hinds (x2, 3), Battles, Parlour Tricks, Deerhunter, Jackie Islands, Flying Horseman, Wet Nurse, American Pinup, Blitzen Trapper, Davina and the Vagabonds, Cybee, Jon Latham, Jon Latham.

 

Saintseneca – River (Music Video)

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Yesterday’s post covered a lot of music video content from the past few weeks and this one expands where that one left off, touching on the remainder of that content. As was the case in that post, a list of titles will be included underneath this post’s featured video: Saintseneca‘s “River”. With the release of Such Things rapidly approaching, the band’s in mid-swing as far as their rollout campaign is concerned- and while the momentum they’re building is drawing to its inevitable conclusion as a knockout blow, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the finesse in the execution of the arc. “River”, as a clip, is a particularly graceful moment that allows the band to slip in a meta-narrative about the band’s personal growth.

Going back to a DIY visual aesthetic reminiscent of old VHS movies and evoking a strong sense of nostalgia, “River” also features a lot of subjects in perpetual motion. Largely comprised of BMX and skateboard footage, the clip subtly hints at the larger looming thematic elements of the record that Zac Little exhaustively detailed in an interview with Stereogum. It’s a simple clip that acts more as meditation than as story and it’s oddly elegant, underscoring the band’s newfound rough-hewn spikiness. Gnarled and beautiful, it’s an effective piece of work that stands out as one of the year’s more deceptively thoughtful clips. Now bust out a bike or a skateboard and take advantage of the weather while it’s still nice.

Watch “River” below and pre-order Such Things from ANTI- ahead of its release here. Below the video explore a few of the format’s more memorable entries from the past two weeks.

Ought – Sun’s Coming Down
Sleepy Hahas – Deep River
Bad Bad Hats – Shame
Tuff Sunshine – Rattlin’ Man
PWR BTTM – 1994
Diet Cig – Sleep Talk
Surrender the Spirit – Control
Deerhunter – Breaker
Wavves – Way Too Much
Woolen Men – Temporary Monument
Cuntz – Nah Man
Society – Protocol
Speedy Ortiz – Swell Content
Toro Y Moi – Half Dome
The Miami Dolphins – Drooling
Salad Boys – First Eight
Allison Weiss – Who Are We
PUJOL – Sleepy Doni
Baroness – Chlorine & Wine
Inheaven – Bitter Town
The Stavves – Steady
Yassou – To Sink
Shelf Life – Sinking Just Right
Fort Lean – Might’ve Misheard
Dam Gila – History
Kafka Tamura – Lullabies
Hammock – Blankets of Night

MOURN – Otitis (Stream)

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Yesterday this site’s coverage was exclusively dedicated to the premiere of Mutts’ incredible “Black Ties & Diamonds“, ensuring that there’d be quite a bit of material to catch up on today. There weren’t a lot of full streams to emerge but the ones that did made it count. Among them: Cloakroom‘s incredible new 7″, Michael Rault‘s sprightly psych-pop cassingle, Cross Wires’ spiky Your History Defaced EP, and Trust Punks’ snarling post-punk ripper Discipline. Each of those are good enough to have a shot at appearing in a few year-end lists and enhance each respective artist’s profile considerably.

In single stream territory, things got relentless with no less than 11 great songs fighting their way out into the world. These included another look at Cellphone‘s upcoming Excellent Condition with the blistering “No Wind In Hell“, Quarterbacks‘ completely revitalized full-band version of Quarterboy highlight “Center“, A Place To Bury Strangers’ unrelentingly aggressive industrial post-punk bruiser “Straight“, and Seagulls’ airy left-field pop number “You & Me”. Colleen Green teased the upcoming I Want To Grow Up with a career-best in the form of “Pay Attention“, Soft Fangs revealed the quietly mesmerizing “Dead Friends“, Elvis Perkins made an unexpected return with the lightly damaged pscyh-folk of “Hogus Pogus” in advance of the upcoming I Aubade, and Leapling celebrated their teaming with Exploding in Sound via the compelling bizzaro pop of “Crooked“. American Wrestlers teased their upcoming 7″ with the driving lo-fi psych-pop of “I Can Do No Wrong“, Noveller revealed the characteristically beautiful “Into The Dunes“, and Two Gallants unleashed a preview of their upcoming We Are Undone with the vicious title track.

Music videos were just as eventful thanks to efforts like Desperate Journalist‘s strikingly minimal clip for their arresting “Control“, an absolutely gorgeous turn-in for Blonde Redhead‘s “The One I Love“, and Belle & Sebastian’s playful nostalgia in the black-and-white-turned-multicolor “The Party Line“. Elvis Depressedly celebrated their Run For Cover Records signing with the endearingly weird video for “No More Sad Songs“, Dizzee Rascal continued his unlikely hot streak with the visual medium in the  supernatural-tinged kung fu revenge tale contained in “Pagans“, and Hey Elbow conducted an unnerving psychedelic visual collage experiment for “Martin“. Viet Cong created an intensely disquieting clip to serve as an accompaniment for their excellent “Continental Shelf“, TOONS went the simple-and-charming route with “Sittin’ Back“, and Angel Olsen deliver the absurdly stunning Rick Alverson-directed “Windows” (which featured startlingly gorgeous cinematography) to round things out in a manner so stunning that it very nearly earned today’s feature spot.

Enter: MOURN. The young band recently became one of Captured Tracks’ most exciting acquisition since site favorites Perfect Pussy. Immediately standing out thanks to their surprisingly young age(s), MOURN seems to have caught just about everyone off-guard thanks to the enviable strengths of their songs. None of those songs landed with as fierce of an impact as their barn-burning “Otitis”. Unfailingly bleak and deeply impassioned, “Otitis” never goes for anything but a merciless kill. All of this played into why the song was previously featured on this site in the 53rd installment of Watch This, where the song grew even sharper fangs. MOURN has been available digitally for some time and comfortably stands as one of 2014’s most exhilarating releases with “Otitis” being its definitive exclamation point. From the wiry verse progressions, to the cavalcade of sharp hooks, to the intuitive harmony work, to the intimidatingly dark chorus, “Otitis” has put MOURN firmly on the map. All of the excitement rests in watching where they go from here.

Listen to “Otitis” below and pre-order MOURN from Captured Tracks here.

Pitchfork Festival: Day 3 (Review)

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After the threat of a storm cleared up, Day 3 was given a gentle opening courtesy of Mutual Benefit. Jordan Lee’s project released one of last year’s best records in Love’s Crushing Diamond which was featured heavily throughout their set. More than a few moments warranted an unexpected chill down the spine, a very rare feat for a band so unassuming. It was genuinely difficult to leave but it proved a little more difficult to pass up the opportunity to catch the end of Speedy Ortiz’s set while securing a good spot for Perfect Pussy. Speedy Ortiz played with their usual amount of verve, injecting their songs with off-kilter humor and small surprises. “Bigger Party“, their recent Adult Swim-endorsed single, drew a strong reaction- as did fan favorites “American Horror” off of this year’s great Real Hair EP and “Indoor Soccer” off of their excellent early EP, Sports. When everything ended in a cataclysm of precisely-controlled noise, it seemed like Speedy Ortiz were exactly where they belonged.

Once more, Perfect Pussy‘s set felt too important to be given a brief summary so it will be given a separate, full review after the Day 3 recap. Rest assured: it was an extraordinary performance that felt like a defining moment for the band. Just like a few days prior, the band following Perfect Pussy were divisive metal act Deafheaven. While Deafheaven did feel slightly out of place in the broad daylight, it did provide the festival some unexpected balance- and it was mixed to near-perfection. Drawing what was easily one of the most diverse crowds of the festival, watching the passerby reactions to the band’s signature sound was nearly as intriguing as the band themselves. Having already seen them two nights ago in a more appropriate setting, it was off to catch the heavily-acclaimed Isaiah Rashad, who delivered his set with a comfortable confidence. While Rashad’s lyrics often hit the same beat, that repetition is easily distracted from by some innovative production work. Rashad himself was an engaging presence that kept the crowd involved with natural charisma, star magnetism, and some festival-appropriate choruses. It was a nice break from the high-level intensity of the previous three acts and wound up striking the perfect balance between relaxing and exciting, offering festivalgoers a chance to catch their breath while their attention remained invested in the performance.

Dum Dum Girls kept that balance exactly where it should have been with their peculiar brand of easygoing, subtly psych-glam-inflected, dream-pop. Everyone seemed to be in a sedated trance only a few songs in, eyes fixated to the stage, where the the band was running through a set emphasizing their most recent material (most notably this year’s enchanting Too True). They’ll be back in the Midwest before too long and, as evidenced by just a handful of songs, are definitely worth seeing (catch them at the High Noon Saloon on October 23). After a brief reprieve, it was time to catch a few songs from ScHoolboy Q, a figurehead of the increasingly influential Black Hippy crew. Q’s Habits & Contradictions was one of hip-hop’s defining records just a few years ago and it’s power- and Q’s stature- have only grown since. He lived up to every expectation and delivered a set just as lively as both Pusha T and Danny Brown’s attention-demanding performances from the previous day.  It was another strong example of the festival’s genre sensibility for the category and it was nothing short of thrilling to see Q take full advantage of his slot.

What followed ScHoolboy Q was an impromptu-heavy stunner of a set from Canadian duo Majical Cloudz. Devon Walsh and Matthew Otto are responsible for Impersonator, a haunting and minimal triumph of a record that stands as one of the best releases of the decade so far. It’s a record whose success no one could have predicted the extent of- just as no one could have predicted that less than two songs into their set, Otto’s keyboard (responsible for the bulk of the band’s music) would die completely. After frantic, futile attempts were made at a fix, the band embraced the dire conditions and weathered them with no shortage of bravery. Their first post-instrument-death piece was an a cappella rendition of “Bugs Don’t Buzz“, an immediately arresting performance that set the tone for what was to come. From that point forward, Walsh would graciously extend the microphone to anyone that wanted to sing one of their songs, beatbox, or even tell a joke- all while making sure the performance was kept relatively reigned in. More vocal-only renditions of songs from Impersonator were given- and loops were used whenever possible- and, for the grand finale, they took the now-useless keyboard and smashed it to smithereens in a moment of pure catharsis. It was genuinely unforgettable and wound up being a perfect transition to the next band on the schedule.

The recently reunited (and massively influential) Slowdive thankfully encountered no technical difficulties and sounded as perfect as they ever have, cranking their amps up to their breaking points and calmly making their way through a set of several now-legendary songs. Appropriately, their audience was in an entranced awe thanks to the still-spellbinding music emanating from the stage, as affecting now as it was two decades ago. This performance was one of the band’s only US dates and they made every moment of it count. After Slowdive wrapped up, there was just enough time for a brief break before Grimes took over and played to an absolutely packed crowd. Visions is now over two and a half years in the past but it’s proved formidable enough to keep serious attention focused on Clair Boucher, the artist behind the project. Grimes’ only release since then was last month’s “Go“, which earned a large amount of attention and acclaim. From the crowd’s reaction to Grimes’ set (which often felt more appropriate for a pop star than an emerging electronic artist, right down to the fan allowing Boucher’s hair to blow in the wind) it was abundantly clear that the public opinion of her has grown drastically since the release of Visions. “Oblivion” had a lot of people screaming and the audience seemed more than a little reluctant to see her leave but there was still one performer to go: Kendrick Lamar.

At this point, Kendrick is one of the few people in music who don’t need an introduction- and that showed in his set. Mostly pulling from the already-considered-stone-cold-classic good kid, m.A.A.d city he delivered one of the festivals most confident sets, while managing to keep it from tipping over into easy braggadocio, proving to be more than worthy of the festival’s ultimate headlining slot. His audience was huge and rapturous; it seemed like half of the Day 3 attendees were there solely to see the man himself. He didn’t disappoint those expectations- or even come close. Everyone who could drink was drinking, everyone who could dance was dancing, and no one was walking away disappointed. Songs like “Swimming Pools (Drank)” elicited mass crowd shout-a-longs and Lamar used his time as well as he possibly could. He’s clearly one of the biggest names in music (this is thanks in part to the fact he’s now earned a bottomless well of guest verses for just about everyone) and has no intentions of going anywhere but up. There were very few choices that would have felt more appropriate to bring everything home. It was the best-case-scenario closing to a festival that continues to get more impressive- and if that keeps up, it won’t be worth missing by the time it rolls around next year.