We’re more than a third of the way through 2019 and the editorial branch of this site has been far too dormant since 2018 received the Best Of recap treatment. Today will be dedicated to addressing that coverage gap with three look backs at the very best songs, music videos, and full streams that January, February, and March had to offer. Due to the sheer volume of highlighted material, these lists will (unfortunately) be static, presented on their own without any dedicated write-ups. Each of these releases is exceptional and may receive some more words further down the line but for now, simply revisit and enjoy: The Best of March 2019.
Any time there’s a band that convinces someone to start a label, there’s always an innate quality about them that justifies such a passionate response. It’s a theory that’s been held up in practice countless times over and applies to Gash — a power trio from Eau Claire, WI — who are largely responsible for stoking the fire of what would become Heavy Meadow Records. Curiously, the band’s forthcoming Haha will be Heavy Meadow’s third release but it also stands a reasonable chance of being the label’s earliest calling card.
Haha was recorded by Seth Tracy of Double Grave and “Always Pissed” is the first look at the record. Sludgy, grunge-adjacent, and teeming with slacker punk tendencies (deliberate pacing, sardonic humor, etc.), “Always Pissed” comes equipped with a heavy dose of reverb and attitude. Through the grime, there’s a pop song buried at the center, creating a competitive balance that winds up propelling the song into its own world. It’s dirty, it’s powerful, and it’s got a measure of casual brilliance. Turn it on and turn it up.
Listen to “Always Pissed” below and pre-order Haha from Heavy Meadow here.
The solo project of Lindsey Jordan, Snail Mail has been making a series of incredibly smart decisions over the past year, including their partnership with Matador Records. Another one of those decisions was enlisting Brandon Herman‘s talents for the clip, allowing the filmmaker to handle directorial, editorial, and DOP duties with aplomb. The project and the filmmaker have delivered a carefully constructed metaphor for the importance of fighting for yourself, even in the face of unfavorable odds and seemingly insurmountable pressure.
“Heat Wave” finds clever ways to make its timely heft an incredible amount of fun (without sacrificing an ounce of integrity). Centered on Jordan, wrapped up in a hockey-centric escapist fantasy, “Heat Wave” refuses to pull punches throughout a range of exceptional moments, from an anxiety-inducing confrontation to some cathartic moments of unbridled rage. By the clip’s finale, Jordan’s made sure that absolutely nothing’s left on the rink and that the songwriter can escape with both contentment and a touch of pride.
Uplifting and upsetting in turns, “Heat Wave” is an effective portrayal of the themes frequently deconstructed by the clip’s protagonist. It’s a gentle reminder of societal culpability and just as effective as a demonstration of how our own convictions are necessary for not just advancement but survival. The song’s a new highlight for the project and the clip is its best to date. We should all be grateful that Snail Mail’s being given the chance to accelerate.
Watch “Heat Wave” (and a live performance of the song) below and pre-order Lush from Matador here.
A new high-water mark for an exciting emerging artist, “Trouble Adjusting” keys in on several of the elements that made Folick’s best early work so invigorating. There’s a raw ferocity to “Trouble Adjusting”, present in everything from the scintillating guitar work to the way Folick practically spits out several lines of the verses, fangs bared and ready to go in for the kill. It’s a song that gains both energy and power as it hums along, transforming itself into a whirling mass of breakneck force like a wrecking ball swinging back on its axis before bearing down into its intended target. Melodic, memorable, and completely galvanized, “Trouble Adjusting” seems to suggest Folick’s bright future is there for the taking.
Listen to “Trouble Adjusting” below and keep an eye on this site for more details regarding the forthcoming Give It To Me EP.
Katie Crutchfield’s no stranger to this site, seemingly all of the songwriter’s projects having been covered in some capacity. Waxahatchee has become Crutchfield’s calling card in recent years and remains the most singularly focused of the musician’s artistic output. Here, Crutchfield and company rip through an enticing new song entitled “No Curse” for Weathervane’s outstanding Shaking Through series. It’s a potent reminder of the inherent power of one of this generation’s finest artists.
2. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Living in the City (The Current)
A handful of releases into an increasingly notable career, Hurray for the Riff Raff continue an impressively upward trajectory. Each consecutive record and performance seems to constitute a new career high for the project, which has never been anything less than commendable. “Living in the City” is just the latest upward rung on a never-ending ladder that seems poised to reach stratospheric heights. Looking down from where the act is now, it’s more than enough to induce a serious amount of vertigo.
3. Vundabar (Audiotree)
One of the more intriguingly frenetic punk bands of recent times, Vundabar have carved out a reputation for themselves by meticulously crafting unpredictable music. Recently, the band swung through Audiotree’s studio to record a session perfectly showcasing the tension and urgency the band’s so adept at creating. Every song in this session is eye-opening and executed to perfection without anyone in the band sacrificing even an ounce of conviction.
4. Nothing (Amoeba)
Watch This veterans, Nothing keep finding new ways to impress. In this Green Room session for Amoeba, the band sacrifices their signature onslaught of volume for something far more intimate and contained. In passing up one of their most noted trademarks, the band also ably demonstrates how good the songs lurking underneath have been since the beginning. Utterly transfixing and devastatingly sincere, this acoustic session stands as an entirely unlikely but wholly welcome new high for the band.
5. Allison Crutchfield (KEXP)
While Katie Crutchfield may have taken the opening slot on the features list in this volume of Watch This, Crutchfield’s twin sister is the one to close it out. As another musician whose projects have been well-documented on this site throughout a lengthy career, Allison Crutchfield seems poised to spearhead a sterling solo career. A lot of supporting evidence can be found to back that claim up, including this abbreviated set for KEXP, which finds the band (which includes Radiator Hospital‘s Sam Cook-Parrott) running through an impressive array of new songs with a sense of unified purpose.