Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Drag

A Two Week Toll: Streams

It’s been a little over two weeks since this site’s run regular coverage. After the 1,000th post, there was a decision to be made over whether to continue on Heartbreaking Bravery in a severely limited capacity, a full capacity, or use the A Step Forward compilation as a final exclamation point. Before long, continuing on with a daily regiment felt like the right decision. This post and the dozen plus posts that will follow will all be a coordinated effort to get caught back up to the present release cycle.

The opening trio of posts will all feature a laundry list of items that are more than deserving of attention while the ensuing posts will be dedicated features for a singular item. A few Watch This installments will be posted and the rest of the coverage will be split into the three major tiers: streams, music videos, and full streams. Kicking things off is this collection of outstanding songs to have emerged during the brief hiatus. Dive in and go swimming.

Crying, Hellrazor, CasselsSlowcoaches, CoasterHalfsour, Private Interests, Minihorse, Very Fresh, Honeyblood, Fucked Up, Terry Malts, Kevin Devine, Joyride!, Teen SuicideLA BÊTE BLOOMS, The Exquisites, Penelope Isles, Nice Try, Dag, Jess Williamson, Chemtrails, Really Big Pinecone, John K. Samson, Soviet Soviet, American Wrestlers, Fake Limbs, The Tuts, Lubec, CarrollGirlboss, Gladkill, Hollow EverdazeBoogarinsLOKIT, Parlour Tricks, Vanishing Life, Wistappear, gobbinjr, Dmitry Evgrafov, Hidden Ritual, Lucidalabrador, Many Voices Speak, Future States.

Flamingosis, Sexy Jesus, Magana, Glacial Pace, Plastic Flowers, Super Unison, WTCHS, Tape Deck Mountain, Dexateens, Planes Mistaken for Stars, The Flat Five, HMLTD, Wovoka Gentle, Homebody, Pop & Obachan, Soft PyramidsFascinations Grand Chorus, Warhaus, Future DeathEmily ReoAffordable Hybrid, Light Fantastic, Temples, Michael ChapmanHiss Golden Messenger, The Dazies, Hippo CampusDoubles, LolahikoYouth Funeral, Lou Barlow, Pure Moods, Floating Room, James Parry, I’m Glad It’s You (x2), Communist Daughter, Henry Jamison, and J Mascis.

Watch This: Vol. 135

In just a little over two weeks an insane amount of quality live videos have emerged, featuring the following artists: Ezra Furman, Woods, Day Wave, Joy Again, You Won’t, Kevin Morby, Acapulco Lips, Sonya Kitchell, Houndmouth, Queen of Jeans (x2), Christian Lee Hutson, Terry, John Congleton and the Nighty Nite, Mothers, Robb Young and the Elms, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Kalispell (x2), Fear of MenOsekre & The Lucky Bastards, FitsEmily Blue, Henrietta, Adia Victoria, Ubetcha, The Staves (x2), Arc Flash, Michael Nau, Bewilder, The Jayhawks, Slingshot Dakota (x2), Whitney, Vagabon, Quilt, LAYNE, Rye Pines, Minor Victories, Allah-Las, Esme Patterson (x2, 3), Midijoyful, Secret Space, The Mono Jacks, A Dead Forest Index, Explosions in the Sky, Death Valley Girls, Half Waif, The Albert Square, Your Friend, Marlon Williams, Rogue Valley, Metronomy, Gregory Porter, Summer Twins (x2), Surgeons In Heat, Amy Klein, The Belvederes, Frameworks, Oddisee, CHILDREN, Doubles, Gwenno (x2), and Titus Andronicus.

Looking through all of those, it’s impossible to say that this is a bad time for live music (and for the documentation of live music). The overwhelming strength of that above list should indicate that this installment of Watch This will have some extraordinarily strong features. There’s some astonishing talent on display throughout the three full sessions and two individual clips listed below, which include one of the bands that was essential to the site’s foundation and a few fresh faces that have been turning all sorts of heads with their recent work. So, as always, push all the distractions aside, relax, lean in, and Watch This.

1. Tenement – Feral Cat Tribe + Lost Love Star Lust (Set List)

Anyone that’s frequented this site over the time of its existence has seen an unprecedented amount of praise granted to Tenement, a band that was instrumental in providing the building blocks for this site. Over nearly 10 years, I’ve had the surreal privilege of watching the trio develop to the point they’re at today (Rolling Stone recently named them one of the 10 great modern punk bands and the New York Times dedicated an entire podcast installment to the band last year). Here, the band gets to flash their live chops in a session for Wisconsin Public Radio’s Set List series, offering up an impressively powerful pair of tracks that only hint at the band’s astonishing scope.

2. Car Seat Headrest – Fill In The Blank (The Current)

After 2015’s Teens of Style generated quite a bit of momentum for Car Seat Headrest, the solo-project-turned-full-band capitalized on that surge of recognition emphatically with this year’s Teens of Denial. Landing several high-profile festival appearances as a result, the band’s grown gradually tighter over their past few tours. This performance of “Fill In The Blank” for The Current demonstrates that growth and nicely captures the band’s irrepressible drive.

3. PWR BTTM – West Texas + Serving Goffman (WFUV)

Like Tenement, PWR BTTM have become a towering presence in terms of this site’s coverage tendencies, something that came as a direct result of the band’s fiery live show. Here, the band turn in characteristically bold performances of both “West Texas” and “Serving Goffman” for WFUV, perfectly summarized by the half-shocked, half-elated smile that Benjamin Hopkins throws the camera after some errant headphones threaten to momentarily overtake the song. There’s a genuine joy that exists in that moment which the duo have consistently brought to their shows, making them one of the finest live acts on the circuit.

4. Weaves – Human (Low Four)

Weaves have made a habit out of appearing on the Watch This series this year, thanks in large part to the release of their monumental self-titled debut. The quartet recently stopped by the Old Granada Studios to unleash a sharp burst of their hyper-spastic strain of punk-tinged basement pop by way of this inspired run through “Human”, offering a revealing glimpse at their members formidable chops. As fascinating as it is exhilarating, it’s a perfect example of what can be accomplished by thinking a little outside of the typical boundaries.

5. And The Kids – Kick Rocks + Picture (WFUV)

One of the bands that really started to make a push over the past year has been And The Kids, who have seized every opportunity they’ve been given with a startling amount of poise. WFUV recently had the band into their studio and the trio delivered in full, tearing through “Kick Rocks” and “Picture” in a way that likely left several of the studio members jaws agape. Complex and nuanced, the band flawlessly executes a series of hairpin turns, layered harmonies, and language shifts while throwing in a few sly smiles for good measure. It’s an unbelievably impressive performance and more than deserves to close out this edition of Watch This.

Doe – Last Ditch (Music Video)

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It’s been a solid week for music videos, a fact evidenced by strong clips from Alexis Taylor, DaughterPleistoceneFrankie Cosmos, The Medicine Hat, Teenage FanclubThe Channels, Okkervil River, Lisa Prank, Clipping., Busman’s HolidayThe Holy Circle, Daniel Woolhouse, Health&BeautyLuke Roberts, Opposite Sex, VATS, Slingshot DakotaAtoms and Void, Psychic Ills, Nice As FuckHead Wound City, Ziemba, Ryley Walker, and Jaala. Rounding things out with yet another highlight were site favorites Doe, thanks to their mesmerizing clip for Some Things Last Longer Than You highlight “Last Ditch”.

Some Things Last Longer Than You, Doe’s forthcoming full-length debut, will confidently stand as one of the year’s most solid records several months down the line. It’s a forceful beast that’s teeming with grit, determination, and conviction. Every song on the record feels like the band’s intent on throwing a knockout punch at any turn. These qualities, while characteristic of the entire record, hold especially true for “Last Ditch”.

A towering anthem of pent-up frustration, the prospect of a visual narrative to accompany the song left a lot of potential doors open. What the band opts for continues their subversive streak and demonstrates their understanding of just how effective that trait can be in the right hands. Instead of playing  into the song’s emphatic anger, the trio scales things way back in favor of a slice-of-life presentation that balances “Last Ditch” out beautifully.

Using overlays to the point of near exclusivity, “Last Ditch” gets to create an immersive world that makes peace with the mundane routines that comprise the majority of life. It’s deceptively simple and remarkably beautiful in its tacit tribute to uncompromising realism. The faded, low-saturation visual presentation also tinges the clip with a longing and nostalgia that suit “Last Ditch” to a quiet perfection. In all, “Last Ditch” is just another winsome notch in what should prove to be a monumental year for Doe, who will deserve every last good thing that comes their way.

Watch “Last Ditch” below and pre-order Some Things Last Longer Than You from Old Flame here (if you’re in the US) and from Specialist Subject here (if you’re in the UK).

Watch This: Vol. 129

Hello and welcome to the 129th installment of Watch This. Just like the previous 128 entries in this series, this volume will focus on the finest live performance videos to be released in a set time frame (this time around being the normal version: this singular, immediate week).  As is usually the case, there was quite a bit of material to sift through that included strong showings from the likes of Margaret Glaspy, Antiphons, The Tallest Man On Earth, Ty Segall & Cory Hanson, Day Wave, Whitney Rose, Beach Slang, Naked Naps, Seratones, Amber Arcades, Hannah Georgas, Boogarins, Alessio Bax, Zach Puls, Totally Mild, Chick Corea & Gary Burton, Venus II, Dream On Nilsson, Dolfish, Dr. Dog, and Bowerbirds. A lot of gems can be found by exploring that list just as the five featured clips offer up an arsenal of astonishing talent on both sides of the camera. So, as always, kick back, crank the volume, get prepared, and Watch This.

1. Bully (Bonnaroo)

After purring out one of last year’s finest records, Bully have been hitting both the road and the festival circuit with staggering force. Feels Like, the record that spawned an extremely promising career, conjured up enough momentum that the band’s carried it to what’s essentially a victory lap. Fortunately for everyone, they’re playing their shows as if they still need to be the first to cross some unseen finish line.

2. Fruit + Flowers – Drug Tax (BreakThruRadio)

For well over a year, Fruit + Flowers have been drawing near to the cusp of becoming a breakout band and in that time, they’ve sharpened their live show to a fine point. That dedication shows in this steely-eyed performance of “Drug Tax” the band delivered for BreakThruRadio, tapping into the kind of fiery determination that a bigger scale — a scale that they deserve — necessitates. Expect to be hearing their name more at some point in the near future.

3. The She’s (PressureDrop.tv)

For as much as it gets featured on this site, the fact remains: good, carefree basement pop — the kind that comes equipped with a band’s singular identity — is surprisingly hard to create. Since they formed, The She’s have been working resiliently to perfect both their approach and that very niche genre. This inspired full session for PressureDrop.tv shows that they’re as close to achieving that goal as anyone.

4. SAVAK – Reaction (BreakThruRadio)

Session musicians are frequently overlooked despite being the backbone of the recording industry. SAVAK is a supergroup of relatively unheralded background players whose cumulative credits include roles in Obits, Holy Fuck, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, The Cops, Nation of Ulysses, and more. Apart from their former projects and united under one flag, they’ve clicked and transformed into a wrecking crew. This run through “Reaction” is proof.

5. The Thermals (KEXP)

Very few bands boast a discography as absurdly strong as The Thermals, one that’s highlighted by The Body, The Blood, The Machine (which itself is one of the finest records of the past 16 years), yet they’ve managed to retain a nearly unparalleled drive that’s constantly reflected in their work. The band’s live show is when that aspect evolves from an endearing trait to an unavoidable reality. KEXP recently hosted the band (with the very welcome addition of Summer Cannibals‘ Jessica Boudreaux) in their studios and filmed them ripping through some highlights of their most recent effort, We Disappear. A loving document of one of the great DIY-leaning punk acts, it more than earned its spot on this list. Enjoy.

Dogheart – Real Mood (EP Review)

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Editor’s Note: There’s been a month-long gap in coverage, thanks to near-incessant travel and other extenuating circumstances. The following run of posts that contain this note will be posts that should have appeared sometime within the past several weeks. Use these posts as an opportunity to catch up to the present release cycle or to simply discover some new music. Either way, enjoy.

Now a handful of releases into their career, Dogheart continue to steadily improve and Real Mood is the current culmination of that improvement. Restrained basement pop that packs a serious amount of punch exists squarely in this site’s pleasure center and Dogheart have been releasing gems for that particular niche genre for the past three years. While a lot of those recordings have been impressive, the band’s staked out a strong footing for Real Mood that feels just a little bit stronger.

Everything Dog Heart tries out over the course of these six tracks works, usually they’re subtle flourishes that wind up unifying Real Mood. The EP also works, and was clearly conceived, as a whole. While individual songs could be stripped out for mixtapes and retain their power, packaged together they each become more powerful. What’s most surprising about the EP is how understated and grounded its songs wind up being, adding a layer of intrigue that readily invites returns.

Real Mood is a strong collection of songs that stealthily gain impact, creating the kind of pull that’s hard to ignore. It’s an impressive feat and it transforms Real Mood from what could have easily been a relatively minor release into something that registers as important. Don’t miss out on the party.

Listen to Real Mood below and pick it up from the band here.

March 2016: The Music Videos

PWR BTTM I

While January and February certainly had their fair share of great music videos, March saw an influx of truly great clips find their way out into the world. From Johanna Warren‘s extraordinary “Great Lake” (which I was fortunate enough to premiere over at Consequence of Sound) to a new, patently excellent, video from PUP, the format’s found its stride. Apart from the music videos, there was an outstanding Vaadat Charigim mini-documentary chronicling their first US tour.

Since there were so many clips — and since so many were so exceptional — they’ll be split into two categories below. At the very bottom of the page will be the honorable mentions category and above that will be a slew of videos that have positioned themselves to be early year-end contenders. Since “Great Lake” was already mentioned above, it won’t be below. Similarly, since Yours Are the Only Ears’ aching, gorgeous video for “Low” is the only non-YouTube entry, it will simply be listed in this paragraph (but rest assured, it’s more than worth your time). For the sake of convenience, 31 music videos are featured- one for each day in March.

Watch some of the finest clips of a young 2016 via the embed (with an accompanying tracklist tucked underneath) and explore the laundry list of exceptional titles in the honorable mentions category below the player. Enjoy.

1. PWR BTTM – West Texas
2. Dilly Dally – Snakehead
3. Palehound – Molly
4. Foul Tip – Drifting
5. Greys – Blown Out
6. Big Ups – National Parks
7. PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will
8. The Crookes – The World Is Waiting
9. Mutual Benefit – Not for Nothing
10. Alex G – Mud
11. Free Cake For Every Creature – Talking Quietly of Anything With You
12. Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
13. El Perro Del Mar – In the Woods
14. Kevin Morby – Dorothy
15. Abi Reimold – Mask
16. Daughter – How
17. Eluvium – Life Through Bombardment Vol. 2
18. Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion
19. Nancy Pants – I’ve Got A Crush On You And Everybody Knows It 
20. Outer Spaces – I Saw You
21. Eleanor Friedberger – Never Is A Long Time
22. PJ Harvey – The Community of Hope
23. Sunflower Bean – Easier Said
24. James Edge and the Mindstep – On A Red Horse
25. Furnsss – Slow Dark Water
26. The Lemons – Ice Cream Shop
27. Quilt – Roller
28. Marissa Nadler – All the Colors of the Dark
29. PAWS – No Grace
30. Savages – Adore
31. Hayden Calnin – Cut Love

Honorable Mentions

Kino Kimino – Passion | Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales | NOTHING – Eaten by Worms | The Mynabirds – Velveteen | Miya Folick – Oceans | Laura Carbone – Swans | Wilder Adkins – Our Love Is A Garden | Head Wound City – Scraper | Fear of Men – Island | Thin Lips – Never AgainSioux Falls – Dom | La Sera – I Need An Angel | Tim Heidecker – In Glendale | DTCV – Capital Ennui | José González – With the Ink of a Ghost | B Boys – Get A Grip | Trevor Sensor – Pacing the Cage

Teen Suicide – The Big Joyous Celebration | Ladada – Old Wave | Dam Gila – The Undertow | Brodka – Horses | Ashley Shadow – Tonight | Hurry – Nothing to Say | Mumblr – Super! | Long Beard – Porch | We Are Scientists – Buckle | Steve Gunn – Conditions Wild | My Bubba – Charm | Amber Arcades – Right Now | Kwesi Foraes – Devils Child | Saul Williams – Down For Some Ignorance | NOTHING – Vertigo Flowers | The Amazons – Stay With Me | Holy Pinto – Hospital Room | Whitney – Golden Days | Luke Top – Chariot

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife | Eskimeaux – Drunk | Andy Shauf – The Magician | Innerspace Orchestra – One Way Glass | Crows – Whisper | Deep Sea Diver – See These Eyes | The Hunt – Hawk | Jerkagram – Cloud Builder | Julianna Barwick – Nebula | The Dirty Nil – Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü | Sarah Neufeld – We’ve Got A Lot | Cat’s Eyes – Drag | Zones – Tides | The Drones – Taman Shud | Andy Stott – ButterfliesThe Lemons – Shark BaitGrey Waves – Remember Me | Wood Lake – Hollow | Black Mountain – Florian Saucer Attack | Fleabite – Missing Everyone | Haelos – Separate Lives | Nada Surf – Rushing | PAWS – No Grace

Watch This: Vol. 103

[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. 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. Soul Low – Always Watchin’ Out (Radio K)

Soul Low have slowly been building up an impressive discography and staking out a respectable spot in Wisconsin’s music scene. “Always Watchin’ Out”, the lead-off track from this year’s Sweet Pea EP, is their finest moment to date. Radio K recently had the band swing by their studio to deliver a blistering take on the song, which packs even more punch live than it does on record.

2. Mikaela Davis (Consequence of Sound)

One of the most unexpected sets I saw over the course of 2015 came from harpist Mikaela Davis, who was part of Johanna Warren’s NYC release show for nūmūn. It was also one of the most beautiful. In the basement, it was just Davis– apart from a few songs she shared with Warren– playing solo. Consequence of Sound invited Davis and her full band into their treehouse for a captivating two song session that showcases the emerging songwriter’s prestigious talents.

3. PUJOL (WKNC)

Every now and then, it’s necessary to just cut loose and blow off some steam. In those moments, there are few acts who seem more naturally suited to be the soundtrack than Pujol. No-frills rock n’ roll at its finest, it’s the musical equivalent of the kind of party that doesn’t leave a trace of bitter aftertaste. In this three song spree for WKNC, the trio rips through a few highlights that are surprisingly substantial for how light and airy they appear at first glance.

4. Timeshares – Heavy Hangs (Little Elephant)

When Timeshares at their absolute best, they recall the finest moments of bands like Lucero and The Drive-By Truckers. They’ve never been better than “Heavy Hangs”, an impassioned cut from 2015’s Already Dead, the strongest record of their career. Shedding any hints of Fat Wreck influence in favor of a Southern drawl served them well on record but it works even better in performance.

5. Day Wave (KEXP)

Just as Pujol seemed perfectly suited to those perfect kind of parties, Day Wave’s locked into breezy, consequence-free days. KEXP had the band come in for a session and the young quartet capitalized in full. Here, they deliver a five song showcase of their latest material that feels as comfortably lived-in as it feels refreshing. There’s not a weak track or performance here, just an emerging act intent on making the most of any opportunity that comes their way.

Meat Wave – Delusion Moon (Stream)

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Few bands have meant more to this site and its early development than Meat Wave. They’ve been granted one of the only On the Up feature spots, they’ve offered premieres, and they played the first (and, so far, only) Heartbreaking Bravery showcase. The band’s earned quite a bit of coverage over here and today’s news ensures that’s a continuing development.

Before delving into their new song, though, I’d like to take a minute to congratulate them on signing to SideOneDummy, a highly revered- and influential- punk label. The trio’s new home looks like a promising one and will undoubtedly push their name recognition to (deservedly) greater heights. Meat Wave weren’t the only band with a noteworthy release today, so a few more bands will be highlighted before circling back to the main attraction.

Cosmicide released a deeply cinematic clip for “A New Disaster” and four artists teased two splits (Jeff the Brotherhood and Colleen Green and Audacity and together PANGEA, respectively). Cassels revealed their bruising Hating Is Easy EP while both Little My and Derider pulled back the curtains on their forthcoming albums. Once again, single streams made up the bulk of the day’s items and included a few genuine stunners.

Ought’s sprawling “Beautiful Blue Sky” nearly wound up with today’s feature, while it fended off strong competition from the likes of Sharkmufffin’s fiery “Mondays“, Reservations’ noir-tinted “Planet“, NE-HI’s punchy “Drag“, Girls Names’ compellingly bleak “A Hunger Artist“, and Helen’s surprisingly massive “Motorcycle“. Comfy’s sunny basement pop tune “Neck Hz“, GospelbeacH’s breezy backwoods number “Sunshine Skyway“, and Elway’s revitalized “Albuquerque Low” all added up to the format’s considerable tally.

Then, of course, there was “Delusion Moon”. Anyone who heard what Meat Wave accomplished with their self-titled (to date, the only tape I’ve worn thin) or their EP from earlier this year, Brother, knows just how much weight this band throws into its punches. “Delusion Moon” is the title track from the band’s forthcoming record and follows “Erased” in its rollout campaign.

While details on the record were scarce when the latter was introduced, a few things have been clarified for this round. Delusion Moon‘s intended to run as a whole (something that’s hinted at by the ending/starting(?) notes of “Delusion Moon”) and is a quasi-conceptual record that was written during a strange period of guitarist/vocalist Chris Sutter’s life. There’s a palpable sense of brooding on “Delusion Moon” that seems like it may turn out be one of the record’s more defining characteristics.

The rhythm section of bassist Joe Gac and drummer Ryan Wizniak continues to be one of the more formidable forces playing shows today. A quantifiable powerhouse, the duo lends Sutter’s playing an additional element of urgency, capitalizing on its inherent immediacy with brute strength. All of this is evidenced in the astonishing “Delusion Moon” and will likely culminate in the band reaching the levels of success they’ve deserved since the very beginning. More and more, Meat Wave are starting to look like the future of basement punk. If that’s the case, we’re all in very good hands.

Listen to “Delusion Moon” and keep both eyes on this site for any upcoming announcements regarding the forthcoming record, which is due out on September 18.

White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die (Stream)

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2015 already seems like its building towards a tidal wave of great releases that will consume everything in its path and today’s another one offering some formidable contributions. Since there weren’t too many full streams worth noting, it seems like that’d be an ideal starting point. While the medium may not have had the most impressive numerical outing, Big Moth more than filled the void with the self-titled EP. Hints of basement pop, basement punk, and the golden age of emo/post-hardcore resonate throughout the release (in a manner not too dissimilar from Attendant’s Freaking Out), securing it a spot as one of 2015’s finest debuts to date. For music videos, there was an inspired trio of clips: the infectiously joyous “East Coast Cities” (a giddy highlight off of Crabapple’s excellent Is It You), clipping.’s brilliant, striking “Intro“, and TV On the Radio’s soulful, delicate “Trouble“.

Unsurprisingly, single streams- once again- came out swinging. Which is as good a place as any to point out that the decisions for which item to headline have been nightmarish mental bloodbaths (in the best way possible). Roughly half of what’s linked to in this post that isn’t directly embedded below put up a fight to earn this piece’s central focus. From Pupppy‘s droll mid-tempo masterpiece “Or Maybe We’re Not” to The Midwestern Charm‘s re-release of fiery Growing Pains highlight “General Drag” (a live video of which exists in our archives), there were almost too many great songs to consider. Joining their ranks were Birds of Night’s compellingly moody “Asleep in the Pine”, The Dead Ships’ dark, frenetic “Floorboards“, and the retro-psych of Fauna Shade’s ridiculously enjoyable “Marzipan“. Completing the batch were Mac DeMarco’s touring band’s band (Walter TV) and their “Surf Metal“, Day Wave’s typically introspective “Drag“, and the unnervingly hypnotic ambient folk of Wilsen’s “Garden“.

As difficult as it was, a decision had to be made and White Reaper wound up outsprinting everyone else with the frantic, frenzied assault of their debut full-length’s lead-off single “Make Me Wanna Die”. After last year’s outstanding self-titled EP and a handful of mentions on this site, expectations for their first LP were raised. Add in the fact that the band signed to Polyvinyl (joining a slew of site favorites in the process), and the anticipation heightens. “Make Me Wanna Die” both justifies those high levels of anticipation and delivers a devastating gut-punch to any doubts surrounding the record’s early expectations. Fuzzed-out, punchy, and more manic than ever, the band also somehow found a way to refine their pop sensibilities, creating something that easily ranks among the year’s best. From the jaunty synth hook to the blistering pace, White Reaper appear to not only be in complete control of their craft but at the current height of their powers. Catchy as hell and packed with meaning, “Make Me Wanna Die” is a monstrous first look at what could be one of the surprise albums of 2015. After the drums kick in cloaked in a wall of noise and the count-off hits, it’s nothing but a whirlwind of surging lo-fi heat that strikes the perfect balance between scuzz-punk and powerpop. If the rest of the amusingly-titled White Reaper Does It Again lives up to what the band achieves here, it’ll be one hell of a thrill ride.

Listen to “Make Me Wanna Die” below and pre-order White Reaper Does It Again from Polyvinyl ahead of its July 17 release date here.

Watch This: Vol. 20

In one of the more recent pieces to run on here, I bid adieu to a camera that’s served me well over the years. There were vague allusions to various sets that I’ve been lucky enough to catch with that camera scattered throughout the piece- and while this may be dangerously close to tipping into the self-serving spectrum I do my best to avoid on here (and the fact that the audio quality is far from the best), it only seemed appropriate to showcase a few of the more memorable captures over the years. To that end, this installment of Watch This will likely wind up as the one the more unique entries in the series.  One last look at the past before pushing towards what’s ahead.

No matter what it was, whether it be powerpop legends The Figgs playing Tenement’s living room, Thee Oh Sees taking apart one of Wisconsin’s best venues, Desaparecidos returning to the stage for the first time as an official band again, Okkervil River playing to a criminally sparse outdoors crowd in the middle of an absolutely gorgeous day, The Mountain Goats taking a victory lap, The Antlers entrancing a room of strangers on a stormy nightMutts stripping way back for a radio performance, or finding myself in a bar, restaurant, or basement with the likes of Big Eyes, Technicolor Teeth, The Cost of Living, Buffalo Moon, Sycamore Smith & the Gray Beast, The Midwestern Charm, Ramma LammaThe Sleepwalkers, Wett Nurse (shrouded in an impossible amount of fog, at that), Heavycritters – and yes, Perfect Pussy (along with a handful of others)- filming these has always been something that’s been extraordinarily gratifying.

It’s never to fulfill a sense of pride, it’s never for bragging rights, it’s always, in each and every instance, to support an artist that I love or that deserves as much support as they can possibly get. Established or not, this is my way of giving thanks and hopefully extending their music out to other places that may never have heard them otherwise. This holds true for my writing on Heartbreaking Bravery as well. One of the most important things anyone can do is support the art they believe in and this place will always live by that law. So, watch this or don’t, but it’ll always be here as both a reminder of some very personal memories and a showcase for some bands who deserved more attention than they ever received. Sit back, support local music, support local music, support local music, support local music (SERIOUSLY, SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC), and Watch This.

1. Tenement – Morning Mouth (Live at the Afterdark)

This video will be the only one that actually predates the Canon PowerShot I’d been using to shoot these videos over the past several years (this set was shot on a low-end handheld Sony camcorder), it’s included because it serves as a beginning for a myriad of things: my introduction to Tenement (who would subsequently open up an entire world of music to me through their kindness), the beginnings of when I became serious about film, and the start of when I became serious about booking shows. Their five-song set, to a crowd of people they invited up onto a small stage to make them feel more at home, blew my mind and has stuck with me for approximately six years now. My opinion on this band hasn’t changed as I’ve filmed set after set after set, year in and year out- they’re one of the best, if not the absolute best, band currently going. I’ll forever be grateful to them for a number of reasons and delivering this set will always be one of them.

2. Good Grief – Holy Smokes! (Live in Stevens Point, WI)

There isn’t always a lot of options for live music in the middle of nowhere but at the height of Good Grief’s run, there were a few spells where there seemed to be an incredible show happening every other week. I attended every single one I possibly could, not just because of an undying love for live music and the DIY community but because Good Grief had tapped into something genuinely special during their time as a band. It was evidenced by the mass basement singalongs, by Mutts coming all the way from Chicago to play an unforgettable cover of a song from their final record, by the people who had little to no connection with the band who showed up at nearly every show- right up through their final marathon set at K Bueno (this is a band that will likely always have the distinction of being the only one I ever see tearing things up inside of a Shopko that was giving away free hot dogs, chips, and soda)- with a smile on their face and a beer in their hands, and by the fact that more times than not, the first time I would hear a song played for the first time, I would get chills (“Lab Rats” is still one of the most incredible pieces of music I’ve ever heard and a lock as an entry for my 50 Favorite Songs of All Time list). “Holy Smokes!” was never officially recorded, as far as I know this is the only known recording of it, which is why it takes this spot on the list- a look at some incredible music, and some incredible musicians, that too much of the world missed out on.

3. Midnight Reruns – Too Tall (Live at Frank’s Power Plant)

Like Tenement before them, this was the first time I saw Midnight Reruns (coincidentally, if anyone asks me who I think the best bands in the state are, those are usually the first two names out of my mouth) and even just a few minutes into the first song, it was apparent it’d be far from the last. They tore that place to shreds and threw out a fiery Wreckless Eric cover in the middle of an all-out blitz of a set that showcased Graham Hunt’s beyond-his-years songwriting ability and the band’s undeniable musicianship. They’ve (somehow) only steadily improved since then and have built an impressive expanding fanbase including members of The Replacements, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, ThirdCoastDigestBrooklynVegan, and Milwaukee Record, who just ranked their debut s/t (still less than half a year old) as the 16th best record to come out of Milwaukee since 2010. Word on the street is the material they’re currently working on blows even that out of the water. Keep both eyes out and both ears open for this one.

4. Sleeping in the Aviary – So Lonely (Live in Stevens Point, WI)

Apart from Good Grief, Used KidsThe Goodnight Loving, and Hot New Mexicans (especially The Goodnight Loving and Hot New Mexicans), there are few bands that can come even remotely close to Sleeping in the Aviary as far as the “bands I wish would reunite” conversation goes. The only places I ever saw Sleeping in the Aviary play, curiously enough considering their level of name recognition, were basements (with one surprisingly touching exception being the vinyl LP release party for Expensive Vomit In A Cheap Hotel at the High Noon Saloon, thrown five years after the records initial release) . In one way or another, I was a part of each and every one of those shows and they wound up being a few of the most memorable nights of my life thanks to both the people around me and Sleeping in the Aviary themselves. Ever the manic pranksters, they would usually come armed with cardboard cutouts, bubble machines, various props, or adult-themed piñatas. They’d also always play with a reckless abandon and unparalleled fierceness while still clinging onto a carefree nature and clearly having the time of their lives doing it. Kyle Sobczak was a late addition to the group but provided them with a few of their most memorable songs in their final stretch. “So Lonely” is one of them- and, as mentioned before, being in the middle of nowhere means that when a basement show happens with a band of Sleeping in the Aviary’s caliber comes to play, things tend to go off the rails pretty quickly. No one has seen the regular lead personality, Elliott Kozel, since he disappeared into that crowd… (entirely untrue as clearly evidenced in the video- but still, a great myth to try to start).

5. Charley & the Cynics – St. Christopher (Live at the Crunchy Frog)

Writing an In Memoriam piece for Charlotte was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I debated whether or not to include this as the fifth slot or keep it stored away due to its extremely personal nature but I realized that the few videos I did manage to capture of Charley & the Cynics during her time here had a profound effect on why I kept filming and knew it had to occupy this spot. After her untimely passing it was next to impossible to bring myself to watch the videos of her that I’d previously put up out of both respect and unfailing admiration. It’s not like I knew Charlotte all that well; I won’t pretend I did and I won’t glamorize her or try to turn her into some flawless saintly figure. I did know her well enough, though- well enough to consider her a friend and well enough to know that she was a generally positive person who always seemed to treat others with both care and affection, which is something I try to extend to everyone that gets coverage on this site. After enough time had passed, I could watch these videos without needing to spend a night drinking afterwards and I realized that they’re the crux of why I film to begin with: to celebrate the people and music I love while they’re around. Ever since the full extent of that realization hit me, these videos of Charlotte have factored into every time I’ve plugged in a camera charger, every time I’ve replaced an SD card, every time I’ve spent hours making sure an upload doesn’t crash, every time I’ve pointed a lens at a stage, she has been there as a reminder to capture the things that are important while you still can. That lesson is something I’ve carried with me every day and something that’s been a part of the majority of my decisions within music journalism. For that and for all the times I’ve been reminded of that, I’m thankful- and I keep filming.