Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Craig Finn

Watch This: Vol. 101

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the nature of these upcoming posts, a truncated version of this introductory paragraph will be appearing over the next several installments of this series.] It’s been quite some time since the 100th edition of Watch This went up on this site. There have been a lot of factors going into the extended interim but, as usual, a focal point of that absence was to make sure the preparation work was kept up to date. A lot of extraordinary live videos have come out since then and to make this point abundantly clear, here’s a list of artists responsible for performances that didn’t quite make it into the featured five slots over the course of the past handful of weeks: Ride (x2), Josh Ritter (x2), Radkey, Marrow, Seratones, Hooton Tennis Club, Kurt Vile (x2), Indian Askin, Amason, Eden Mulholland, Bobby Bare Jr. (x2), Hanna Asbrook, Lucy & La Mer, Lee Corey Oswald (x2), Wastrels, The Cairo Gang, Wild Ones, Martin Courtney (x2), Small Black, Timeshares, Shopping (x2), The Jacques, Mac McCaughan & the Non-Believers, Raw Pony, Andrew Bird, Air Waves, Izzy True (x2), The Tallest Man On Earth, Elliot Moss, Hemming, Titus Andronicus, Kagoule, Django Django, Summer Cannibals, Lost Lander, Emilie & Ogden, Denai Moore, EL VY, Purple 7, John Grant, Caleb and Carolyn, Fraser A. GormanThe Besnard Lakes, Charly Bliss, Delta Spirit, Joanna Newsom, Oaks, Kevin Garrett, Brilliant Beast, Blitzen Trapper, The Saturday Tea, Other Lives, Rayland Baxter, Low, Speedy Ortiz, Chilly Gonzalez, Murder Shoes, Ava Luna, bAd bAd, Oberhofer (x2), Aye Nako, Jason Isbell, Superbee, Deerhunter, The Ghost Ease, Oscar, Rachel Goodrich, Small Feet, Lucero, Totally Mild, Ukryte Zalety Systemu, Soda Bomb, Jens Kuross, Caspian, Boytoy, Duncan Sheik, PISTA, Slim Twig, Shamir, Contrails, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Courtney Barnett, The Chameleons Vox, Vundabar, Vagabon, Craig Finn, and Soda Shop. Based on the strength of those clips, it’s probably unsurprising that some of the year’s best live captures have also surfaced in that time. Full sessions, single song performances, DIY videos, and impressive turn-ins from radio stations abound. So, as always, sit back, adjust the setting, crank the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Eskimeaux (Audiotree)

No record in 2015 has hit me as hard and as consistently as O.K.,  a deeply felt masterpiece from Eskimeaux. A record I’d liked upon first listen and warmed to progressively over time, it wasn’t until I saw those songs played live that everything seemed to click. Audiotree was fortunate enough to have the band in for a recent session and wound up with what may come to be regarded as the definitive live recording of this era of the band. The performances are uniformly strong and the songs remain spectacular. Simply put: this is unmissable.

2. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (BreakThruRadio) 

Likely the only 2015 record to rival O.K.‘s emotional impact is Julien Baker‘s arresting breakout effort Sprained Ankle. With a title track that easily ranks among the year’s finest songs, Baker’s latched onto something genuinely captivating. It’s myriad strengths were emphasized with a gorgeous music video and are once again brought to the fore with this painfully gorgeous live performance. It’s a triumph for one of music’s most promising emerging talents.

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3. Slothrust (Jam in the Van)

In a manner not too dissimilar from Eskimeaux, Slothrust was another band that sold me further on material I’d already liked via the strength of their live show, It’s not surprising, then, that their session for Jam in the Van winds up being one of that series’s strongest entries in months. Topping everything off is a typically strong take on “Crockpot”, which continues to stand as one of the strongest songs of recent memory.

4. Torres – Strange Hellos (Hooke Audio)

Has anyone appeared more times on Watch This throughout the course of 2015 than Torres? Mackenzie Scott’s project continues to turn in spellbinding performances at an alarming rate but, even with that being the case, this version of “Strange Hellos” manages to stand out. Shot as part of Hooke Audio’s live sessions series that challenges artist to re-interpret their material, “Strange Hellos” gets transformed into a jaw-dropping ambient number that may wield even more of a punch than the studio version. It’s a startling reminder of Sprinter‘s most powerful moments.

5. Girlpool (Pressure Drop)

If anyone’s appeared on the 2015 run of Watch This as many (or more) times than Torres, it’s site favorites Girlpool. Harmony Lebel-Tividad and Cleo Tucker put together one hell of a run this year, highlighted by their extraordinary full-length debut Before The World Was Big. In a nine-song session, the duo makes their way through the majority of that record and “Soup”, one of the new numbers they’ve been road-testing on their last few tours. As ever, the performances are assured and showcase the near telepathic connection the band’s developed over the past few years. They’re an act that seems poised to get stronger as they go, which is more than a little impressive considering they’re already one of the best bands currently making music- and this Pressure Drop session serves as proof.

Watch This: Vol. 95

Over the past few weeks, this site hasn’t been keeping its daily update regimen due to ongoing business largely unrelated to the site. While there may not be immediate posts, the content is still being collected as it appears. A handful of catch-up posts will be running on the site tonight and tomorrow starting with this slightly belated installment of Watch This, which runs on Sunday and celebrates the best performance captures to have been released in the given week. Two weeks ago this collection was a more subdued, low-key affair than usual and some of that’s carried over to this entry. Considering the advent of fall, it almost feels appropriate that the bulk of the standout performances find themselves locked into an autumnal mode. Only one of the videos featured today is a full, electric band while the rest are solo performances that carry a considerable amount of weight. All of them are worth a high degree of investment. So, as always, lean back, adjust the screen, set the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Izzy True – Absolute Troll (Don Giovanni)

Once again, Watch This finds itself kicking off with an Izzy True clip that comes courtesy of Don Giovanni. Isabel Reidy’s solo project conjured up a very subtle kind of beauty on this year’s outstanding Troll, the young songwriters arrival-at-large. Proving once again to be a commanding presence, Reidy delivers a fierce performance of the EP’s almost-titular track, providing enough artistic flourish to render the performance deeply compelling.

2. Nils Frahm – 4’33” (John Cage Cover Version) (Pitchfork)

“4’33″” is one of the most divisive pieces of music in history. Conceived by John Cage as a commentary on the nature of silence and the human inability to ever fully experience it at its purest state, it’s measures consisted of nothing but rests. Nils Frahm, an accomplished ambient figurehead, took the crux of Cage’s piece and expanded on it in a piece that functions more as a rumination or homage than it does as a straight cover. Unsurprisingly, it’s elegiac, sincere, and more than a little stunning.

3. Craig Finn (KEXP)

Throughout the years, Craig Finn’s won accolades and legions of fans for his work in The Hold Steady and (the still vastly under-appreciated) Lifter Puller. More recently, he’s stepped out on his own as a solo artist, offering up largely acoustic works that zero in on his recent work’s inherent tenderness. Warm and rustic, this quartet of songs feels like a collection of devotionals; Finn’s offering up personal prayers in the dressings of song. Unflinchingly honest and completely uninhibited, this session’s a perfect example of a songwriter whose found completely comfort in their own voice.

4. Beach Slang – Get Lost (Cozy Couch Sessions)

Few bands have made as immediate of an impression as Beach Slang managed to with their first few releases. Drawing deserved comparisons to acts like The Replacements tend to achieve those kinds of results and that particular influence hasn’t ever shown as strong as it does here, in a solo acoustic rendition of “Get Lost”. Rough in all the right places, the whiskey-soaked ballad takes on a broken new life where the cracks grow deeper and the uncertainty stretches out towards eternity- and Cozy Couch affectionately captures its bruised heartbeat with a startling amount of empathy.

5. Ought – Men For Miles (3voor12)

Over the past year or so, this site’s written a lot about Ought, who are currently celebrating the release of a strong sophomore effort, Sun Coming Down. One of the record’s fiercest highlights is the insistent “Men For Miles”, which 3voor12 captured the band performing at Into the Great Wide Open. Operating with all of their typical wiry verve intact, the quartet also delivers a blistering take on their kinetic, melancholic “Passionate Turn”- another one of Sun Coming Down‘s more triumphant moments. Played back-to-back with an uncommon level of passion, the two-song take is enough to cement the band’s status as one of today’s most electric live acts.

Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Music Video)

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It’s been an incredible week for new releases up to this point, so naturally it’s going out with a towering show of force. Fleurie’s glitchy Arrows EP and Craig Finn’s reinvigorated Faith in the Future provided the full streams with a memorable haul while Lou Barlow, Taxidermists, Dog Paper Submarine, and La Sera combined forces to ensure that the visual medium was extremely well-represented. Single songs had a jaw-dropping day yet again with two folk-heavy songs establishing themselves as unlikely song of the year contenders (Lost Balloons’ “Don’t Count On Me” and Futurebirds’ “Hotel Parties“, respectively) while also producing an extraordinary field that included highlights from Varsity, Shelf Life, Prison Whites, Dresses, Psychic Blood, The Intelligence, and Jacques Le Coque. In the middle of that whirlwind, site favorites Meat Wave also unveiled a stunning black-and-white clip for Delusion Moon highlight “Cosmic Zoo“.

A lot of words have been printed about Meat Wave on this site and that’s not a trend that’s likely to change; the band have been a steadfast part of my listening habits even before this site was brought into existence two years ago. The trio played our first showcase, were one of the only On the Up entries, and are responsible for the most-listened-to tape of my considerable collection. After approximately three years of yelling at people to listen to this band, a lot of them are finally starting to come around- a feat that’s no likely influenced by their new home, SideOneDummy. Now with the release of their forthcoming record- the fierce Delusion Moon– swiftly approaching, the band are offering up a video for one of its strongest moments: “Cosmic Zoo”. Andrew Robert Morrison once again takes the reins for the clip and offers up what may be the band’s most effective video to date, eschewing any real plot-based narrative in favor of focusing on the band’s humanity. Interspersing live clips with clips of the trio hanging out with their friends, the crisp, classically composed shots (a few of which echo the work of Anton Corbijn) are injected with an abundance of life. Accelerating the subtle emotional pull of the approach is the song itself, which is as gripping as the clip. It’s another reminder of Meat Wave’s tenacity but it’s also a demonstration of their more modest sensibilities. In short: it’s perfect.

Watch “Cosmic Zoo” over at Nerdist (where it was premiered by A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor Nina Corcoran) and pre-order Delusion Moon from SideOneDummy ahead of its September 18 release date here. Revisit the majority of the band’s set from the first Heartbreaking Bravery showcase below.

 

Meat Wave – Delusion Moon (Music Video)

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Clean slates are always an intriguing thing to fill and this week’s off to a strong start with great entries into all of the site’s regularly-covered formats. i tried to run away when i was 6’s “June July May“, Craig Finn’s “Maggie, I’ve Been Searching for Our Son“, and Palehound’s “Cushioned Caging” constituted a very strong field of representatives for the single song stream while there were fascinating clips to be found in Gold Class’ “Life As A Gun” and Springtime Carnivore’s “Other Side of the Boundary“. Full streams also found life via the first installment of Apollonian Sound’s charity singles series (featuring Algebra II and site favorites Radiator Hospital), Adult Dude’s fiery Adult Moods, and Los Manglers’ vibrant Between Worlds.

Today’s feature spots casts its lens on Meat Wave, a band that’s played a pivotal role in the development of this site and the music it covers. Their first record, an incredible self-titled effort, was the very first tape I ever wore thin in various spots. The trio was also one of the only bands to secure an On the Up inclusion (an assessment that’s continuing to come to fruition in some genuinely unexpected- and exhilarating- ways) and took part in the first Heartbreaking Bravery showcase. Now, they’ve signed to SideOneDummy and are upping the anticipation for an incredible record entitled Delusion Moon that will be out on September 18.

Meat Wave’s most recent move in the rollout campaign for Delusion Moon came earlier today with the unveiling of the video for the record’s vicious title track. Just as the song drives home a foreboding feeling with no shortage of a venomous menace, the video aims to unsettle in a similar fashion. Utilizing strobes and some inventive film editing, the Andrew Robert Morrisson-directed clip finds value and inspiration in aggressive minimalism, much like the music of its subjects. It’s a deeply disorienting watch, opting for a bold cognitive dissonance that’s presented in a way that feels removed from countless other clips’ meager attempts at producing similar results. Ultimately, “Delusion Moon” is defined by its convictions and the end result is a striking, memorable triumph.

Watch “Delusion Moon” below and pre-order the record from SideOneDummy.