Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Dylan Baldi

Cloud Nothings – Modern Act (Stream)

cloud-nothings

Two weeks may not seem like that long of a stretch but considering the rate new material surfaces, it can be a challenge to keep up to speed. As the previous posts have indicated, there was a lot of material to cover and not all of it can be granted the attention that its due. A large portion of songs, full streams, and music videos have already been posted but this post marks the beginning of a small onslaught of single-item features. Kicking things off: site favorites Cloud Nothings’ just-released triumph, “Modern Act”.

Once again operating as a quartet, Cloud Nothings seem to have rekindled a very specific spark that’s been dormant since Turning On. In the time that’s elapsed since that point, the band’s been responsible for some of the current decade’s finest records but all of them were gnarled, weary beasts, where “Modern Act” comes across as cautiously optimistic. There’s a lightness to the songwriting that all but evaporated as Cloud Nothings transitioned from a solo project to a full band endeavor.

Even ignoring the distortion and fuzz that so heavily informed Attack On Memory and especially Here And Nowhere Else, which is barely present in “Modern Act”, the songwriting structure seems to have rekindled some more playful sensibilities. Guitarist/vocalist Dylan Baldi remains one of the more engaging narrators currently playing out, anchoring “Modern Act” with the relatable, peculiarly grounded sentiments that have consistently provided the band with a point of appeal.

Drummer Jayson Gerycz remains one of the best things to happen to recent music and propels “Modern Act” with a characteristic amount of intuition, verve, and raw feeling. It provides a perfect counterbalance to Baldi mining the project’s earlier signposts and becomes the perfect catalyst for what could prove to be a career-defining stylistic marriage. Everything the band tries out here works to surprising degrees and “Modern Act” winds up as an unassuming career highlight as a result. If the rest of the band’s forthcoming Life Without Sound winds up being anywhere near this impressive, 2017 will be off to an incredible start.

Listen to “Modern Act” below and pre-order Life Without Sound here.

Watch This: Vol. 55

With a few days of silence and a Watch This-less Sunday firmly in the past, today’s left with a lot of material to catch up on. Two weeks has provided a lot of great performances spread across a sizable range of styles, from full set in-studio sessions to solo acoustic takes. All but one of the bands featured in what will be the first of three Watch This installments has previously been featured on the site- with a great band from Columbus being the lone debut. It’s a lot to admire, a lot to celebrate, and a lot to analyze. So, as always, sit back, adjust the settings, focus, and Watch This.

1. Big Ups (KEXP)

Big Ups‘ Eighteen Hours of Static was one of 2014’s first great releases. All wild-eyed ferocity and unrelenting momentum, it marked the emergence of one of the more exciting young bands. While it still stands as one of the more notable records of the year, it’s since been overshadowed by the band’s incendiary live performance (it’s not a mistake that they keep showing up in this series). Here, they light up KEXP’s studios with a characteristically fiery five-song performance that should only facilitate their ascension. This is a band that fully deserves their growing recognition, don’t make the mistake of letting them slip by unnoticed.

2. Frankie Cosmos – Embody (Radio K)

Frankie Cosmos provided one of the most lovely sets of NXNE a few months back and since then, they’ve only grown more poised. Greta Kline’s an enviably gifted and incredibly prolific songwriter with a high ceiling. Nearly every Frankie Cosmos release has been a gem and ensured the band’s continued recognition. Airy pop songs like the excellent “Embody”, which they perform here for Radio K, are perfectly crafted pieces of- to quote the song- grace and lightness. It’s a warm embrace from an old friend, providing comfort and reassurance in equal measure; simply sublime.

3. Spit (Live at Treehaus)

Spit‘s Getting Low was one of the year’s quiet self-released records, exceedingly excellent but completely unheralded. Easily one of the best submissions this site’s ever received, the project’s now evolved from a solo venture to a full band endeavor- and what a band. Completely expanding on the Exploding in Sound-style tendencies that Getting Low hinted at, they’ve come out of the gate swinging with vicious intent. Spit’s only got one real show under their belt and they’re already very much a band to watch. Fuzzed out and appropriately left of center, this is a band worth greeting with high expectations- with this full live show serving as definitive proof.

4. Day Creeper – The Way You’re Told (The Mug and Brush Sessions)

Columbus, OH has been producing incredible bands at an alarming rate for some time now, with Day Creeper situated firmly in that pack. With a live show that’s just as ferocious as their recorded output, they’re always a great candidate for a feature performance- and the band absolutely lights up The Mug and Brush Sessions’ studio.
“The Way You’re Told” also serves as a tantalizing glimpse at the band’s upcoming Central States. If the rest of the record’s as good as this performance, they’ll have a serious contender on their hands.

5. Cloud Nothings – Now Hear In (Exclaim!)

A lot’s been made of Dylan Baldi’s vocal takes for Cloud Nothings. In most assessments, Jayson Gerycz’s drumming usually works its way into the central conversation (and rightfully so) but one thing that’s continuously evaded scrutiny is Baldi’s inventive guitar work. Stripped all the way back to a solo acoustic performance, it’s an aspect that’s allowed greater focus and opens up the impressive levels of songwriting happening in Cloud Nothings at present. Here, Baldi’s both restrained and subtly aggressive, providing a commanding performance that contributes to Cloud Nothings’ status as one of today’s most exciting bands.

Watch This: Vol. 46

Part two of this week’s recap (there really was an absurd amount of great material to go through), this installment of Watch This features videos that emerged during the past few days. Between a handful of full sets, a few videos from places that have become series staples, and, above all else, great performances. Everything on display here is worth taking some time to enjoy and a handful of them will likely warrant return visits. All in all, this set seems like a very fitting way to cap off what’s been one of the strongest weeks for new content that we’ve had this year. So, sit back, open the blinds, turn the volume all the way up, focus, and Watch This.

1. The Midwest Beat – Vortex Hole (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Vortex Hole” was recently featured here as a stream in support of The Midwest Beat’s excellent new full-length, Free of Being. In the video below, the Milwaukee-via-Madison band gets invited to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel studio to tear through the live version. They tear through it with an enviable amount of verve and a peculiar madcap glee that somehow transforms the performance into something endlessly fascinating. It’s one hell of a rendition.

[Due to a temporary embed issue, this video can currently only be seen here]

2. Cloakroom – Asymmetrical (unARTigNYC)

“Asymmetrical” is a characteristically slow-burning song from Cloakroom, who seem to be exploring the middle ground between shoegaze and post-hardcore with a frightening amount of precision and clarity. Easily one of the most fascinating bands to have begun a steady emergence over the past handful of months, Cloakroom still retains a sense of mystery- something that factors directly into their music. This is an astonishing performance from a band that’s worth getting to know.

3. The New Pornographers (NPR)

It’d be easy to argue that, at this point, The New Pornographers are an institution. Between their own releases and their various members solo releases, they’ve put out some of the most highly acclaimed music of this young century. It’s a formidable body of work and  the fact that their most recent effort, Brill Bruisers, both lives up to and earns its spot among their long list of triumphs is fairly astonishing. This full, lovingly shot, NPR performance spans their discography and showcases one arguably indisputable fact: they deserve their acclaim and status.

4. Beverly – Not Ours (BreakThruRadio)

Beverly, the duo made up of Frankie Rose and Drew Citron, released one of the definitive records of the summer with Careers. Ever since that release, footage of the band’s tight-knit live show’s been popping up with an alarming frequency. While Rose is taking some time off to focus on her own solo project, there are still old sessions coming out of the woodwork. Here’s a lighthearted stunner from the always-excellent BreakThruRadio.

5. Cloud Nothings (Pitchfork)

There aren’t many moments in life that are better than watching a great band with extraordinary people on a perfect day. Cloud Nothings were an easy highlight of Pitchfork’s second day and now their whole set can be relived in full. Culling mostly from their 2014 highlight Here and Nowhere Else, their set went a long way in re-establishing the fact that they’re now a power trio (a term that they fully live up to). Not a lot of bands can lose a member and immediately re-define themselves without losing their personality but it’s evident that Cloud Nothings haven’t lost a step.

Pitchfork Festival: Day 2 (Review)

p4k logo

Days 2 and 3 of the Pitchfork Festival were spent seeing the festival shows themselves, rather than the after shows. Who needed after shows when the lineups for both days were so unbelievably stacked? Day 2 started with Cloud Nothings laying into a very frantic set that recalled their recent High Noon Saloon appearance. Drawing entirely from Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else, their set translated well to an outdoor festival setting. With the additional benefit of good weather, the day was off on the right foot. Before their set ended, it was off to catch Mas Ysa ending his, an impressive display of eclecticism and eccentric electronic work. It was a decided change of pace from Cloud Nothings’ assault just moments before- but it kept the audience just as engaged.

Pusha T was forced to play a shortened set after a late arrival but no one seemed to mind; there were more than a few people on the verge of losing their minds during his short time onstage. My Name Is My Name, one of last year’s stronger highlights, was well represented (predictably, “Nosetalgia” received the biggest reception- no surprise Kendrick appearance, though) as was his back catalog. Pusha handled the lion’s share of the performing himself and showcased the dazzling skill and charisma anyone that’s been paying attention to him since Clipse knows that he’s capable of. It was a standout set, even if it didn’t take up the full time slot. tUnE-yArDs played to another very packed crowd that proved to be just as entranced and receptive as Pusha T’s. Merrill Garbus and company played  off of each other expertly, offering up enviable displays of both percussive and vocal prowess. It felt appropriate in the setting and completely of the moment. Their last two songs drew two of the loudest cheers of the festival.

Next up on the schedule was Danny Brown, green-tipped hair and all, who absolutely invigorated what was starting to feel like a lull in the day’s actions. Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves was also on hand to watch this set and talked about punk, energy, unpredictably, danger, catharsis, and how Brown’s set embodied just about all of it. Brown’s last two records (XXX and Old, respectively) are two of the finest entries in hip-hop for the decade-so-far and his live show lived up to- and possibly surpassed- that recorded output. At this point he’s no longer a star in the making- he’s a bona fide star. Look out for whatever comes out of his camp next (fingers crossed on what seems to be a possibly impending collaboration with The Avalanches) because it’ll be more than worth paying attention to.

After Brown’s rousing set, it was back across the grounds for St. Vincent, still riding his on this year’s outstanding self-titled record. Annie Clark led her band through a set that leaned heavily on that record while occasionally glancing back (“Cheerleader“, in particular, was awe-inducing), always leaving at least one foot planted in her increasing fondness for futurist aesthetics. When she broke from that mold, though, the effects became staggeringly visceral. One of the most unexpected (and aggressive) moments of the festival, for instance, came when Clark led her band down into a free-for-all noise jam that bordered on chaos as it became increasingly heavier. Towards the end of this, Clark threw her guitar to the stage and started abusing it before crawling over to the bass drum, headbutting it repeatedly, rhythmically, before retreating and staying down, holding her head, clearly in some anguish. She would stay in that position for some time before a stagehand came and draped another guitar over her after receiving assurance that she was okay. It was a moment driven by pure, total feeling– and it was spectacular.

Neutral Milk Hotel put on some extraordinary shows after their surprise reunion last year (their Covington, KY show was particularly memorable) and they haven’t really stopped since. True to their wishes, the display screens for the festival were temporarily killed for their set. No cameras, no footage, just music and a shared experience. And what an experience it was. Literally thousands of people sang along in unison to personal favorites off of the band’s landmark achievement, In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea, and several jaws dropped when they went for their relatively deep cuts (“Ruby Bulbs” was as emotional as ever and “Ferris Wheel on Fire” remains transcendent in a live setting). It was mixed well, the band played with as much force as they did meaning and everyone in the audience was smiling, enjoying a moment that would have seemed impossible just a year and a half ago. It was the obvious choice to end the evening and felt akin to magic. Day 3 would have a lot to live up to.

Below watch a video of Cloud Nothings playing “I’m Not Part of Me” that was recently posted by the hosts of the festival themselves.

Watch This: Vol. 27

It may have taken a bit of doing but, as of this posting, Watch This will officially be back on its regular schedule. To celebrate this, the 27th installment of the series played strictly by the rules- and somehow wound up being one of the strongest offerings of Watch This to date. All of these songs were live sessions that were posted online in the past seven days and virtually of them contain songs or artists that have previously earned feature articles on this site in the past. In short, there are plenty of familiar faces to be found in this 27th installment and a few of the year’s best records are well represented. Really, now that all the work’s been done and all the exposition’s out of the way, all that’s left to do is sit back, turn the volume up, and Watch This.

1. Ovlov – The Great Crocodile (Little Elephant)

What can be said? This Little Elephant session is just a gift that keeps on giving. It’s the third to earn a spot in Watch This and arguably the finest of those three. The song’s introduction is nearly two full minutes of surging basement punk that verges on post-hardcore territory. Everything after is just as exhilarating as what’s preceded it. All in all, it ends up being another incredible sampling from one of the most exciting young bands out there. Another thing worth noting: the bassist’s sick LVL UP sweatshirt (if that’s not a great representation of what this site’s all about, nothing is).

2. Angel Olsen – High & Wild (Jagjaguwar)

There haven’t been very many artists who have earned as many Watch This inclusions as Angel Olsen. This is no accident; her last record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, is a gorgeous work of art. As a performer, she radiates a quiet intensity that’s both transfixing and strangely devastating. “High & Wild” lives up to the precedent she’s set and, as such, was an easy selection for this installment. Burn Your Fire for No Witness has more than proven its staying power and Olsen’s capitalizing on that success by virtue of her live prowess. No complaints.

3. Yellow Ostrich – Shades (KEXP)

Yellow Ostrich scored a major coup with the acquisition of drummer Michael Tapper, who joined up shortly after leaving We Are Scientists. As a member of We Are Scientists, he was instrumental to their early success (With Love and Squalor is a vastly underrated 2000’s masterpiece) and now one of the driving forces behind Yellow Ostrich. “Shades” is one of the finest songs the band’s ever recorded and their performance of it for KEXP is a committed take. It’s borderline unclassifiable and it’s definitely worth paying attention to.

4. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me (Radio K)

First thought: “Is that a Smooth Brain shirt?!” Second thought: “Oh, yeah, Cleveland.” Third thought? “Good lord, this band slays live.” All that said, Here and Nowhere Else is an easy 2014 highlight and is fully expected to appear in the year-end conversations. It’s the second straight effort from the band that’s earned that distinction after being released in the first half of the year. As immense as their studio output has been, as this adeptly shows, they might be even better live.



5. Screaming Females – It All Means Nothing (Audiotree)

As promised earlier today, here’s the second Screaming Females video to be featured from the band’s recent stop at Audiotree. Now touring behind their excellent Steve Albini-produced live album, Live at the Hideout, they’re proving time and time again the recordings that made the cut for that record weren’t a fluke. Truly one of the best live acts currently touring, “It All Means Nothing” has been a consistent set highlight and ranks among the best moments in the band’s entire discography. They don’t hold back anything here and the result is another monster of a performance that’s worth several subsequent watches. Make sure to bookmark this one.


Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me (Stream)

I'm Not Part Of Me

Only a short while ago, this song elicited a wave of excitement for Cloud Nothings’ upcoming follow-up to their early best-of-decade candidate Attack on Memory. Back when that live recording was posted, though, details on the upcoming record were scant. Today the band over-corrected that detail in stunning fashion, sharing that it’d be named Here and Nowhere Else, while also announcing that it would be released on April 1, 2014 via new label Mom + Pop records- and by sharing what looks to be one of the records many highlights. While second guitarist Joe Boyer has been forced to leave the band due to some legal troubles that preclude him from touring, the band seems to have found ways to fine-tune their sound into something that doesn’t call too much attention to his absence. It’s a sound that matches their strengths as well as possible while suggesting a few new influences that should make this record one of 2014’s more interesting releases. “I’m Not Part of Me” also boasts a chorus section that will immediately get lodged in the brain of anyone who’s paying attention. Cloud Nothings come across as particularly committed in “I’m Not Part of Me” and continue to heighten the growing interest in Here and Nowhere Else. Listen to “I’m Not Part of Me” (and then listen to it a few more times) below.

Cloud Nothings Preview New Record in Brooklyn

“This is the best song they’ve ever written. This song right here? So fucking good.” That quote comes from an anonymous concertgoer right before Cloud Nothings kick into “I’m Not Part of Me” capping off an 8-song run of entirely new songs at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn. From the (admittedly muffled) sounds of “I’m Not Part of Me”, whoever said that just might be onto something. The song is one of the band’s most dynamic and melodic, as scorching as anything on Attack On Memory while blending in a sense of new-found freedom that elevates it into wide-lens majesty. While the four songs from Attack On Memory that follow it sound as extraordinary as ever, the seven songs that precede “I’m Not Part of Me” sit comfortably alongside the final stretch.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this yet-to-be-named record is the fact that it seems to comfortably marry their newer darker tendencies with the undeniable pop sensibilities of frontman Dylan Baldi’s earlier Cloud Nothings work back when it was a solo venture. Both sides of the band seem to have been maximized to make a deeper impact- and it works. Everything on display here feels like a band that’s coming into their own, finding unparalleled success in the pursuit of evolving their voice. This is absolute must-listen material across the board. When the record finally does arrive, there’s little to no doubt that it’ll make a strong, bruising case for year-end honors. Consequence of Sound is hosting the exclusive Soundcloud stream of the set, which can be accessed here.

UPDATE: The stream has unfortunately been taken down for the foreseeable future. Apologies for any raised hopes. Salute anyone that’s holding out for the string of miracles that would be necessary to bring the stream back. Join them in their impassioned rain dances, just for the hell of it. Who knows, could end up doing the trick. In any case, those raised hopes previously mentioned? Absolutely warranted. Expect a monster of a record. This won’t be the last post about this record in this space. Guaranteed.

Watch This: Vol. 4

As the year winds down it can be fun to look back. Especially for places like this that only came into existence recently and didn’t have the chance to share some noteworthy items due to their time-sensitive nature. That’s to say; today’s Watch This is going to differ a little from the first three. This round will be focused on and dedicated to some really impressive solo performances that happened in 2013. From Katie Crutchfield to Amos Pitsch, this Sunday round-up features some of this site’s favorite songwriting talents. Take some time out this Sunday to relax and review some of the year’s best moments.

1. Waxahatchee (NPR Tiny Desk Session)

There haven’t been very many things in recent memory that have been satisfying to watch progress as the ascension of the Crutchfield’s. Arguably, it was Katie’s Waxahatchee project that gave them their biggest early push towards their current notoriety. This session, courtesy of NPR, feels a little bit like validation. Then again, it’s hard to feel anything that doesn’t directly correlate with what Katie pours into these songs. One of the most arresting songwriters of our generation.


2. Tenement – Hard to Say (Live at Nicey’s)

How Heartbreaking Bravery feels about this band is no secret (seriously, best band in existence, 2014 can’t get hear fast enough) so anytime something like this happens it’s worth featuring. The “this” in question being a solo set from frontman Amos Pitsch, an endlessly gifted and absurdly talented songwriter/all-around musician.  This video finds Pitsch playing this Blind Wink standout at an after-show that, incidentally, also featured Waxahatchee. Both artists deserve all the acclaim that’s sure to follow them.


3. Mikal Cronin – Don’t Let Me Go (Off the Record Session)

Mikal Cronin’s MCII absolutely dominated this summer- and for good reason. Nearly every track on his recent masterpiece evoked very specific feelings that felt most appropriate in a summer setting. One of MCII‘s most stunning moments was also one of the collection’s most vulnerable; the bare-bones “Don’t Let Me Go.” Here, given a live hue, the song becomes an even more personal (and gorgeous) paean to quietly determined resolve.


4. Noun – Misery (Live at Golden Tea House)

Screaming Females have been riding a wave of deserved success following last year’s astonishing Ugly, which would account for much of why Paternoster’s solo project has been a little more quiet than usual. While Noun certainly has been a less productive cabinet for Paternoster recently, it’s something deserving of just as much attention as her main vehicle. No new material has been released since Noun’s inspired Holy Hell LP, apart from a very limited reissue of the massive Forgotten Grin tape. Luckily for everyone, Don Giovanni Records was on hand to film a Noun set last month and footage surfaced yesterday of a new song called “Misery”, providing room for hope that Noun’s not quite done yet.


5. Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma (They Shoot Music)

There are very few 2014 LP’s that will be more heavily anticipated than Cloud Nothings’ purportedly noisier, weirder, and more atonal follow-up to their 2011 best-of-decade contender Attack On Memory. Dylan Baldi & co. haven’t allowed much insight to this new record, apart from a few surprise showings at festivals and a mysterious teaser. Oh, there was also the time Baldi showed up to deliver an extraordinarily promising solo acoustic performance of the record’s likely lead-off single, tentatively titled “Pyschic Trauma”. Between this and the two upcoming Tenement collections alone, 2014 should be one hell of a year for music.