Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: duo

Watch This: Vol. 44

Welcome to a late-night installment of Watch This, the 44th in the weekly series that celebrates the best live performances to surface in the previous week. This time around, there’s a split between full sets, late night performances, and DIY presentations that all include bands that have previously earned themselves features (or extended mentions) on this site. Whether it’s another jaw-dropping full set from White Lung or a revitalized Death From Above 1979 diving headfirst into their single, these are all worth watching. Normally Watch This is posted much earlier on Sunday, so in the spirit of today’s delay, the featured videos get darker in atmosphere as they progress. Day turns to night and Volume 44 gets to lay claim to five great performances. So, sit back, relax, take a drink, ease up, and Watch This.

1. Death From Above 1979 – Trainwreck 1979 (The Late Show with David Letterman)

The Physical World, Death From Above 1979’s long-awaited follow-up to the classic You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, may have disappointed a few people with absurd expectations. Most of them were hung up on their own projections of what they thought the band should be instead of letting them come out of hibernation to evolve naturally. It’s hard to think that any of them would be disappointed by a performance like this one, which winds up being part of a late surge of memorable talk show performances.

2. Benny the Jet Rodriguez – Alley Cat (Razorcake)

Is the sound on this the greatest? No. Does it need to be? Same answer. Is this a great take on a great song from a great record? Absolutely. Does the combination of logos, titles, and credits make it difficult to definitively credit? Extremely. How are more people not talking about Benny the Jet Rodriguez and Home. Run? That’s impossible to say- but it needs to change. When should that change start? Right now. Does every city deserve a venue like VLHS? Definitely.

3. Diarrhea Planet (KEXP)

Diarrhea Planet may have released a very good record the other year that holds up as a standalone piece but their reputation was almost entirely built by virtue of their excitable live shows. This KEXP session goes a long way in confirming any of the uninitiated’s suspicions that they have a penchant for the irreverent and wild- and that’s all that really needs to be said. Just watch the video.

4. White Lung (unARTigNYC) 

This isn’t the first full White Lung set to earn itself a feature on Watch This. Hell, it’s not even the first one that comes courtesy of unARTigNYC. All that said, the band keeps managing to get better, a feat of borderline absurdity considering they’re already one of the better live acts out there today. Easily the best-looking and best-sounding White Lung set to find its way onto Watch This, their recent set at Palisades found them in their fieriest form (especially after a very tense moment towards the start of the set that found vocalist Mish Way pushed to the point of physically accosting and ultimately ejecting an audience member)- absolutely laying waste to a selection of songs that leaned heavily on 2014 standout Deep Fantasy. Even if the whole set was emotionally charged thanks to the severely unfortunate circumstances, it provided a handful of thrilling moments and cemented White Lung’s status as one of today’s most exciting bands.

5. Nothing (KEXP)

Nothing are notorious for eardrum-obliterating volume levels when they play live, which seems fitting for a band so prone to relentless heaviness. Here, they hold nothing back and give KEXP one of the station’s more memorable sessions- creating an entrancing sprawl that sides towards the heavily atmospheric. Guilty of Everything was a high point of mid-2014 and is well-represented here. Apart from a few fairly awkward interview exchanges (which is probably putting it mildly), the individual song performances are weirdly mesmerizing. All in all, it’s hard to ask for a better way to cap off another great week of documented live music.

Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03 (Stream)

bshapes

Bent Shapes are a Massachusetts-based duo made up of Andrew Sadoway and Ben Potrykus, who, as of two weeks ago, are directly responsible for one of 2014’s finest powerpop songs this side of Vertical Scratchers. The song in question is called “86’d in ’03” and it serves as the title track for a fascinating lathecut plexi disc release, courtesy of People In A Position to Know Records (a niche label that specializes in limited run releases).  On “86’d in ’03”, Sadoway holds down the rhythm section duties while Potrykus flies off the handle with a gleeful abandon on guitar/vocal duties. It’s a jaunty bit of perfectly-timed summer music that builds momentum as it goes and doesn’t shy away from a handful of classic influences, giving the line “Self-aware but not too cool to care” a hefty bit of additional meaning.

From start to finish, not a single moment of the song’s two minutes are wasted. Full of nuance, verve, and, yes, self-awareness, it’s a clever bit of irreverence that feels like a perfect antidote to a ceaseless wave of increasingly apathetic music that’s gaining popularity and acclaim at an alarming rate. Everything here brims with an unfiltered passion and, more importantly, everything the band tries out through the song’s short run time doesn’t just click- it snaps into place with an emphatic force. While the song does recall a wide variety of bands, it’s still very clearly Bent Shapes and if this is the direction they’re heading, then a lot of people aren’t going to want to hesitate in giving them their full attention.

Listen to “86’d in ’03” below and order it directly from PIAPTK Records here before they disappear for good.

Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m Giving Up On U2 (Stream)

Image of Antarctigo Vespucci - Soulmate Stuff PRE-ORDER

Well, it finally happened. Antarctigo Vespucci, the duo made up of Chris Farren (Fake Problems) and Jeff Rosenstock (Bomb the Music Industry!, solo) finally put some music out into the world. Unsurprisingly, considering the parties involved, it absolutely slays. “I’m Giving Up On U2” is every bit as enjoyable as the title suggests and sounds like early Weezer in the best way possible. There’s an infectious sense of celebration present, which is unsurprising considering how much this sounds like two great friends (who happen to be great musicians) just kicking back and having fun with each other. There’s no indication that the duo was ever aware of any expectations and as a result, wind up with something that sounds exhilarating; there are no restrictions evident in “I’m Giving Up On U2”, just a refresher on what freedom can sound like.

Going back to the early Weezer comparison, all of the hallmarks of that band’s golden era are present: the falsetto’ed backing vocals, the wiry guitar work, the thick palm mutes, the sunny melody, a subtle bit of production work, a hard-charging chorus, a massive overall sound, the ability to come across as intelligent while remaining absurdly catchy, and a delightfully askew sense of humor. There hasn’t been a song that felt as perfect for soundtracking a new start in quite some time. If all of the band’s debut, Soulmate Stuff (due out in early June via Really Records) winds up sounding like this, then it has the potential to be a serious gate-crasher come December. This is no joke- despite maybe also being the best joke of all.

Listen to “I’m Giving Up On U2” below and pre-order Soulmate Stuff here.


Big Air – Cemetery With A View (Song Premiere)

Buds

There are times a band just clicks. First it clicks with itself and then it clicks with its audience. Big Air are one of those bands. It’s hard not to be floored by just how good this band is directly out of the gate. While both guitarist/vocalist Rob Dobson and drummer Greg Sloan have already put in a fair amount of time on former like-minded projects, it’s hard to predict chemistry. From the sounds of things, incompatibility was never an issue; the two play off each other as well as any duo going today. They’re only a few weeks away from self-releasing an outstanding debut cassette entitled Buds (that’s the official album art up above), an extraordinary seven-song achievementBig Air were gracious enough to allow Heartbreaking Bravery the premiere of that collection’s lead-off track, “Cemetery With A View”. The song itself  is a hard-charging blast of whip-smart lyrics and off-kilter indie punk that teems with powerpop sensibilities, a la current-era Superchunk (and classic-era Guided by Voices).

From the squalls of feedback that open it to the propulsive riffing throughout, there’s no shortage of the kind of vibrant energy that allows people to feel truly alive. It’s a great indicator of both Big Air’s sound and of Buds‘ overall tone. Unsurprisingly, the band’s already finding themselves in great company; their next few shows will be alongside acts like Grass Is Green, Speedy Ortiz, Drowners, Nude Beach, and The Men. Big Air’s clearly not fucking around and Buds is one of the first must-purchase prospects of 2014.

Keep up with the band on their facebooktwitter, and tumblr because Buds will be available for purchase on February 4th and those sites will likely be the most direct method of purchase. Stream “Cemetery With A View” below and see what all the fuss is about.

The Hussy – EZ/PZ (Stream)

Madison, WI duo The Hussy are a band that instantly became a fixture in the local scene shortly after their conception nearly five years ago. In that time Bobby Hussy and Heather Sawyer have worked tirelessly to refine their sound, cultivating it into a finessed attack that hits all the sweet spots. Countless singles and three full-lengths later, they’ve become one of the state’s most celebrated acts, both live and recorded.

They’re a band that truly deserves a break, yet they’ve only been quickening their manic pace. After last year’s towering Pagan Hiss (easily their finest recording and one of the year’s best efforts), they’ve already announced plans for a few 2014 releases, with a 4th LP more likely than not (even with the LP release of Bobby’s other band, Fire Retarded). One of those smaller releases is a 7″ on Windiam Records, who just made “EZ/PZ, a song from that 7”, available for streaming on their soundcloud. “EZ/PZ” itself is a short, no-frills blast that the duo recorded on a Tascam 388 and it proves that the band hasn’t lost a step.

Listen to “EZ/PZ” below.