Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Django Django

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.

Sheer – Uneasy (Music Video)

sheer

Only two days into the week and it’s already overflowing with new material. Fall’s referred to as Awards Season by a sect of people primarily concerned with film but the same logistical rules tend to apply to the the music releases as well. A good placement on any notable publication’s year-end list is a huge PR boost and– depending on the publication– it can open a lot of avenues to the artists as well. This generally causes numbers to balloon in fall, in hopes that those releases stay fresh in the minds of people who have the power to genuinely affect their career trajectory.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, that the past few days have seen artists like Wildhoney, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, Pet Cemetery, Martitime, Woozy, and Labasheeda all unveil full lengths. In addition to that Paper Trail Records released a staggering compilation, new songs from Sudakistan, METZ, Bethlehem Steel, Very Fresh, Casket Girls, Django Django, Cross Record, Martin Courtney, JEFF The Brotherhood, and Cass McCombs surfaced. While those are all worth taking in at least once, it’s a new name earning this post’s primary focus: Sheer.

Over the near two years of this site’s existence, there’s been a tremendous amount of focus on acts incorporating elements of shoegaze, grunge, early ’90s slacker punk, and basement pop. So a band that filters all of the former elements through the guise of the latter is going to have my full, undivided attention. Enter: Sheer. “Uneasy”, the music video for their forthcoming record of the same name, is Sheer’s first major piece of publicity having formed just a touch over a year ago.

The band comes off as fully formed,  bringing a strong sense of identity to the Colin McCaffrey-directed clip for “Uneasy”. Nothing feels out of place and the band’s sense of control over every aspect of their craft is impressive. Primarily a performance edit for the verses, McCaffrey heightens the band’s atmospheric half-time drop in the chorus by augmenting it with some stunning visuals and seamlessly merging the two for the song’s breathtaking bridge. Soft transitions, lens flares, and a faded color palette all lend to the palpable sense of damaged romanticism in “Uneasy”. It’s a startlingly beautiful look at a band that’s well on their way to becoming a much bigger name right out of the gate.

Watch “Uneasy” below and pre-order the band’s debut from The Native Sound here.

Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Music Video)

mikekrol

After a relatively slow start, the Tuesday push of new releases saw the content push rapidly accelerating and left us with a little under three dozen items to cover. Once again, there were some strong full streams from great artists like Infinity Girl, Modern Merchant, Wild Moth, Peterborough Pirates, and The Invisible Strings (as well as the 16th LAMC split, this time between La Luz and Scully). A handful of great music videos made their way out into the world, coming from acts like Potty Mouth, Findlay Brown, The Good Life, Django Django, Sea of Bees, Whitewash, and Floating Points. Then, of course, came the slew of single streams that included outstanding new entries from a field consisting of no less than Spencer RadcliffeLow, Small Black, Sudakistan, Farao, Kevin Devine (covering The Cure), Varsity, Amanda X, Hurry Up, Blonde Summer, Library Voices, Antibodies, Active Bird Community, and Protomartyr. It was a lot to take in and literally everything linked above, as always, is worth checking out- but today’s focus falls to a name new to most but familiar to me: Mike Krol.

For years, Krol’s been involved with the DIY punk scene in the upper Midwest and found himself in frequent collaboration with the tragically under-appreciated (and sadly defunct) Minneapolis-via-Madison act Sleeping in the Aviary. It’s a collaboration that continues today (several of the band’s former members play on Krol’s upcoming Merge debut Turkey), which probably isn’t surprising considering how frequently they toured together (Sleeping in the Aviary was Krol’s backing band on more than one occasion) and the fact that Sleeping in the Aviary literally dedicated a song to Krol in its title on one of the best split 7″ records of the 2000’s.

Already a few great releases into his career, Krol’s deal with Merge has ensured a lot more eyes will be trained on his next few moves and so far, the songwriter hasn’t disappointed. After “This Is the News“, Turkey‘s fiery as hell lead-off track, it was abundantly clear that Krol’s wielding more power than ever- and doing it with an almost vengeful force. For his latest feat, he’s enlisted Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu to direct a screwball clip for Turkey highlight “Neighborhood Watch”. Adopting a vocal approach that has some uncanny similarities to Davey Jones of Lost Boy ? makes “Neighborhood Watch” sound immediately familiar (and endlessly enjoyable) on record, it’s the clip that pushes it over the edge. Emphasizing Krol’s penchant for irreverence and incorporating a barrage of winking edits, “Neighborhood Watch” infuses itself with enough self-effacing slapstick to make it one of 2015’s more enjoyable outings. For some tongue-in-cheek humor and yet another genuinely great song, this one’s going to be hard to beat.

Watch “Neighborhood Watch” below and pre-order Turkey from Merge here.

Girls Names – Reticence (Stream)


Girls Names

A Brief recap at the top: over the past week and a half I’ve been preparing for a move from Wisconsin to New York, collecting songs as they appeared. Fifteen of the finest from that stretch will appear beneath the embed of the featured song; Girls Names’ “Reticence”. A wiry post-punk number that takes a hairpin turn into something a lot more full-bodied than the opening guitar figure would suggest.

What follows is a brutally unforgiving run through a desolate atmosphere before veering into a sharp left and tapping into outsider pop that leans heavily towards a new wave tendencies. As that section blooms into something otherworldly it refuses to stop unfurling, laying itself out in a tantalizing sprawl before getting cut off at the head. With next to no warning, the track reverts back to the bleak, foreboding section that dominated its first half. As an exercise in dynamics, it’s stunning. As a teaser for the band’s upcoming Arms Around A Vision, it’s enough to elevate the anticipation into the stratosphere. As a standalone song? It’s damn near miraculous.

Listen to “Reticence” below and pre-order Arms Around A Vision from Tough Love ahead of its October 2 release here. Beneath the embed, explore a list of 15 other highlights from the past week and a half.

Dan Svizeny – Dreams Came True
Lee Bannon – Disneµ Girls
Django Django – Slow West
Failure – Mulholland Drive
The Fall – Auto Chip 2014-2016
Jaill – Getaway
Glint – While You Sleep
Beirut – No No No
Ludvig Moon – Swim Dream
Camera Shy – Colors Radiate
White Reaper – Sheila
Albert Hammond Jr – Losing Touch
Grass House – Learning to Less Feel
Bad Bad Habits – Psychic Reader
Jordan Lane Price – Sponge