Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Delay

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.

All Dogs – That Kind of Girl (Stream, Live Video)

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It’s been a handful of days since a non-series or specialized coverage piece has run on this site so it seems fitting that the song that’s breaking the silence is not just one of the best songs of 2015 but a song that was praised effusively here last fall, when the band responsible- All Dogs– was road-testing new material. It’s been nearly a year since that initial exposure and a few of those still-unreleased songs haven’t faded from memory; there’s something about the upcoming material All Dogs have been harboring that’s impossible to shake. No song has managed to stick harder than “That Kind of Girl”, the first song to be released from their debut full-length, Kicking Every Day, and the song that closed the band’s inspired set in Milwaukee last August.

Before All Dogs played Milwaukee, I had a chance to sit down with the band for an interview/performance piece for The Media in which guitarist/vocalist Maryn Jones revealed that the biggest differentiating factor between the band’s extraordinary self-titled 7″ and Kicking Every Day was the fact that the band (which now includes former NONA guitarist Nick Harris) wrote the songs together rather than expanding on a pre-existing outline. Jones and I recently met back up again when one of her other bands, site favorites Saintseneca, opened for Murder By Death in Milwaukee. At that time, she was looking forward to pushing the release of the All Dogs record- something that carried a clear amount of meaning for the enviably gifted songwriter- while voicing some trepidation over trying to balance tours between her three remarkable projects (Jones also released an absolutely stunning solo record this year under her Yowler moniker).

While that may seem like an unnecessary anecdote, it served as an acutely realized moment of exposition. It’s that duality of enthusiasm and doubt that functions as the crux of some of Jones’ strongest work. A staggering body of work that’s most recent official addition is the surging “That Kind of Girl”. The song itself comes off as a blistering moment of personal triumph, a well-meaning kiss off to a former paramour. It’s a genuinely inspiring tour de force not just for Jones but for the band that surrounds her (one that includes bassist Amanda Bartley and Delay drummer Jesse Wither in addition to Harris) and allows the enterprising songwriter to conjure up a seemingly endless string of emotive hurricanes.

In approximately two and a half minutes, each individual member gets a powerful showcase for what they bring to the band as individual players. For Harris, it’s sharp, intuitive guitar playing, for Bartley, it’s a subtly menacing urgency, and Wither lends the band a considerable punch with powerhouse drumming. It’s the elevated dynamics- already at least somewhat evidenced by “Georgia“, the band’s Le Sigh mixtape contribution- that will make Kicking Every Day one of the most exhilarating releases of 2015. Even if Kicking Every Day‘s August 28 release date still means an excruciating month and a half of waiting, a towering, empathetic, humanist anthem isn’t a bad way to set things in motion. Until that date hates, the best thing- the only thing– to do is just keep hitting repeat.

Listen to “That Kind of Girl” below and keep an eye on Salinas for pre-orders. A live video of the band performing the song- as well as a video of Jones performing a devastating solo take of Kicking Every Day track “Leading Me Back To You” (a song that’s being rescued from Jones’ and Bartley’s old project, Wolfs)- have been included beneath the soundcloud embed. For those of you in Brooklyn, you can catch the band at The Silent Barn on August 22 with The Sidekicks. In the meantime, enjoy the song and the footage below.


Watch This: Vol. 57

Over the past few days, there haven’t been any posts (discounting today’s Watch This marathon) because material’s been uncharacteristically scarce. That said, it wasn’t a total drought. The Dying Arts released an aesthetic-defining video for “Bed Spins“, SUSAN unveiled the hard-charging “Pancake“, RONiiA (a collaborative project featuring members of Dark Dark Dark and Marijuana Deathsquads) teased their upcoming record with the haunting “Fool’s Game“, and Cellphone provided an advance stream for their excellent upcoming record, Excellent Condtion. All of those are secondary to what today’s all about, though- live performances will always be the focal spot for Sunday’s posts and the third round of today’s series marathon holds a few gems. A lot of familiar faces compose this list, from icons to upstarts, with everyone turning in memorable performances- with the second appearance of a song that’s already appeared once today closing things out in style. So, as always, adjust the settings, lean in, tune everything else out, and Watch This.

1. Curtis Harding – Next Time (3voor12)

Soul Power was one of 2014’s more overlooked records after failing to gain the kind of sustained traction it deserved after Burger did everything in their power to push it into the world. Harding and his band recently stopped by the 3voor12 studios in the Netherlands to deliver a stunning session that was highlighted by this performance of “Next Time”. It’s a perfectly-timed reminder of both Harding’s strength as a songwriter and Soul Power‘s timeless nature. Throwback rock n’ soul has rarely sounded this good.

2. Girlpool – Ideal World (The Media)

Yes, Girlpool‘s been earning themselves an avalanche of kind words from this site lately- and, no, that’s not going to change anytime soon. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad have tapped into something undeniable and genuinely important, advancing a few small movements that are worth all the support in the world. “Ideal World” is a new song that capitalizes on the duo’s strengths; harmonies, wiry compositions, arresting minimalism, and raw, heartfelt emotion. Better still, this video comes courtesy of The Media (full disclosure: a publication that this one’s collaborated with in the past), a publication that sets an example- and a standard- worth striving to follow.

3. Sloan (KEXP)

There may not be a band that’s earned more mentions as an influence without being actively featured on this site more times than Sloan. One of powerpop’s most iconic bands, they’ve produced their share of stone cold classics (Twice Removed and One Chord To Another, especially) and have refused to slow down since becoming one of the 90’s more beloved acts. KEXP recently had them in studio and the band tore through four songs from their recent double-record Commonwealth. It’s yet another example of the band aging gracefully at a practically impossible level and never once losing stride.

4. Delay  (Razorcake)

Delay’s Plain Language was one of the better records of the 2000s and while the band’s output following that release was good, they never quite managed to reach the heights of their career-best. That changed this year, with the release of the dynamic Circle Change (both were released by the unfailingly great Salinas Records). One thing that’s never been in doubt: the band’s live show. Razorcake were on hand to capture a few moments from the band’s recent set at The Wulf Den- none better than the video presented here, which includes impassioned turns from the front two and some powerhouse drumming from Jesse Withers (also of site favorites All Dogs).

5. Cloud Nothings – Now Hear In (Amoeba)

There’s only been one full post that’s happened without mention of Cloud Nothings’ “Now Hear In”, sure, but it’s just too good of a song to not feature at any given opportunity. This week’s Watch This marathon was kicked off with an installment that ended with Cloud Nothings’ bandleader Dylan Baldi delivering an impressive solo acoustic take on the song but here, the whole band gets in on the action. Filmed by Amoeba during the band’s in-store performance, no one holds anything back. Drummer Jayson Gerycz, one of the most formidable talents in today’s music, is near inhuman in the rapid-fire pulverization he delivers from behind the kit- locking in perfectly with bassist TJ Duke. Baldi remains a total anomaly, straddling the line between aggression and apathy in equal measure while becoming a genuinely arresting presence onstage. Cloud Nothings have always been a force to be reckoned with live and they only seem to be getting better as they go, rendering this a clip worth intensive analysis for any aspiring musician. Cloud Nothings have a few tour dates coming up; get to one of their shows as soon as possible- a full set of performances like these deserves as big of an audience as possible.

All Dogs at Bremen Cafe – 8/19/14 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

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[AUTHOR’S NOTE: First off, just to get this out of the way at the top, this post probably would not have been possible without The Media, a site whose praises deserve to be sung as loudly- and frequently- as possible. Being able to be a part of that place, even just for an issue, was an honor. The fact that I got to spotlight was All Dogs, a band that put out a 7″ last year that I felt very strongly about, ensured that it won’t be an experience I’ll be forgetting anytime soon. All that said, I wound up with an over-abundance of content that, for obvious reasons, couldn’t all be worked into The Media piece. It’d be criminal to let a lot of the material that didn’t run go to waste, so it’ll be running here today. Enjoy.]

All Dogs put out one of this site’s favorite 7″ records of last year, so when word came that they’d be stopping at Bremen Cafe in Milwaukee, not going wasn’t an option. As time progressed and more things got worked out, excitement and anticipation for the show grew incrementally. After the band agreed to an interview (hyperlinked towards the end of the Author’s Note) and guitarist/vocalist Maryn Jones was gracious enough to agree to a small set of acoustic performances, All Dogs’ self-titled 7″ was back to being in near-constant rotation- and wound up being the go-to soundtrack for every editing session this site went through for a few weeks.

During that time, a press email came out detailing an upcoming release from a project called Yowler, which turned out to be a solo vehicle for Jones- and a likely continuation of her excellent early solo material. Somehow, this all came to light during a time that also saw the emergence of Saintseneca’s Tiny Desk Session for NPR (easily one of this year’s finest offerings), all of which pointing to Jones being one of the busiest- and best- songwriters/musicians that we currently have. All of that combined prompted a trip through her discography, which included some absolute gems like the tape from the now-defunct Wolfs (which All Dogs’ bassist, Ama,nda Bartley was also in). As a result of the culmination of all of this, expectations couldn’t have possibly been higher for the band’s live show.

After taking up temporary residence in Ground Zero (one of Milwaukee’s best basement venues) for the interview session, it was into the band’s van and off to Bremen Cafe. While there wasn’t too much time to spend doing anything other than helping clear out space and running out to get food before the show kicked off, it didn’t seem to matter. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits and a lot of old friends were able to exchange a few words before the show kicked off with a ferocious set from Failed Mutation– who proved to be next to impossible to photograph thanks to their incessant levels of energy. From their live show alone, it wasn’t very difficult to see why they’ve earned a reputation as being one of Milwaukee’s best hardcore bands in an increasingly over-crowded scene (it also probably doesn’t hurt to have members of Tenement and Holy Shit! in your band). Failed Mutation wound up packing an absurd amount of spastic energy into a set that probably only ran 15 minutes, all of which was expertly controlled- likely thanks to each individual members discipline and experience. It was a hell of a way to jump-start what would prove to be a surprisingly formidable bill.

Next up was Sin Bad, a relatively new band that features members of both Night Animals and Rich People. Having never heard Sin Bad, it was difficult to gauge whether trepidation or excitement was winning out as Failed Mutation loaded out. Any notions of disappointment were immediately dispelled following the first few seconds of their first song. Boasting a sound not too dissimilar from All Dogs (with maybe just a few dashes more of a sound found pretty frequently on Don Giovanni Records) and an energy that was relatively comparable to Failed Mutation meant their second slot was a perfect transition between the opener and the headliner, while also simultaneously allowing them a more unfettered interest from the sizable and appreciative crowd. By the time Sin Bad’s set was over, it was very clear they’d left an impression and made converts out of several of the previously unaware.

When Sin Bad had packed up and left the stage open for All Dogs, a strange nervousness crept back in- as it usually does prior to seeing a band (especially for the first time) that’s come to mean something on a personal level. Again, it didn’t take very long for that anxiety to abate. It took All Dogs (in a now-cemented four person lineup that includes NONA guitarist Nick Harris and, as always, Delay‘s Jesse Withers) less than three songs to inspire chills. Starting strongly with both “Farm” (from their outstanding split tape with Slouch) and the shortest song from the 7″, “Snow Fences”, they’d guaranteed the investment of everyone watching. Then on the third song, they offered up the first look at their new material, which they’d previously promised sounded like a much fuller and more fleshed-out version of themselves. Not only did that promise hold up, the expectations that came with it were annihilated as that song, currently written down on the setlist as “Skin”, showcased a heavier side of the band that had been previously been hinted at with their current career-best effort, “Say”.

From that point forward, the band tore through a set with a practiced confidence and relative ease, never once seeming anything less than completely genuine and extremely impassioned. Everything clicked, sounding fantastic in the notoriously loud Bremen Cafe. Making the performance even more memorable was the fact that the crowd was reciprocating virtually all of All Dogs’ energy, creating this back-and-forth that pushed both sides to near-perfect places. A few more songs from the split, the 7″, and (hopefully) the upcoming record, and the band had already nearly obliterated every lofty expectation- and then the band switched into high gear for an unforgettable 1-2 gut punch of an ending. That “Say” became the second song of their set to warrant chills and total immobility probably isn’t too surprising, as the studio version of the song is nearly capable of the same effect- but the band’s closing number, a song so recent that they still haven’t given it a title, went a long way in indicating that their upcoming work will be their best material to date. Both, combined, provided an unpredictably intense (even considering the members’ inability to contain their smiles) ending to an extraordinary set from a band who will almost certainly produce a discography of material worth owning on every possible format.

Below, watch a stunning solo acoustic performance of Wolfs’ “Leading Me Back to You” and All Dogs rip through their currently untitled set closer. A photo gallery of both the interview/performance session and the late show can be viewed beneath the videos.

Keep an eye out for all of the emerging details on All Dogs’ upcoming debut LP, which will be released on the always-extraordinary Salinas Records.