Melodic, bitter, bright, and tongue-in-cheek, “Future Me Hates Me” showcases The Beths at their absolute best. Raising hell and denouncing anyone that gets in their way but sparing the worst of their jabs for themselves, “Future Me Hates Me” is a masterclass in self-deprecation. Subverting a cavalcade of pop-punk tropes and leaning on acts like the Pixies for cues as much as the best powerpop records, The Beths have crafted an anthem for the painfully self-aware.
Gaining steam as it strives forward, hopeful for more but resigned to the knowledge that a lifetime of perpetual disappointment might cultivate an unbreakable pattern, “Future She Hates Me” is a memorable run of pragmatic hopelessness packaged as a gift to the people who know exactly what that means. Turn it up and drown out any persistent negativity by celebrating that there are always measures (and means) of personal control that can be easily managed.
Listen to “Future Me Hates Me” below and pre-order the record here.
Following up their run through “Moby Dick” that was featured in the last installment of this series, another clip of Gurr playing in a bathroom stall finds its way to a featured slot. Just as endearing and just as heartfelt this round, the ascendant duo delivers a lively take of “Walnuss“. Building on a momentum swing, the band should find their name growing increasingly more recognizable as the year pushes forward.
2. Haley Bonar (NPR)
Haley Bonar has been featured on this series a few times in the past but the songwriter’s in rare form for this Tiny Desk Concert. A genuinely gorgeous run through a set of songs, Bonar exerts a nuanced control that enlivens every second of this session. One of the strongest Tiny Desks of the year, it’s a beautiful showcase of a musician whose finally starting to get due credit.
3. Feels (Pressuredrop.tv)
For the past few years, Feels have been steadily building up an impressive name for themselves through a solid discography and explosive live shows. The latter bit of that formula is expertly documented here in a fiery full session for Pressuredrop.tv. From song to song, Feels sink their teeth into their material and give it their all. As a result, they wind up with one of the more exhilarating full sessions in recent memory.
4. PWR BTTM – All the Boys (The Wild Honey Pie)
Over the past few years, PWR BTTM have become one of the most written-about artists on this site. One of the biggest reasons for this occurrence is the band’s incredible live show. While it’s been lovingly portrayed in the past by several outlets, none of those entries have come close to being as beautifully shot as this take of “All the Boys” for The Wild Honey Pie’s Buzzsessions. A gorgeously lensed clip, “All the Boys” also manages to capture the band’s infectious spirit and undeniable charisma, becoming one of the most definitive portrayals of the band to date.
5. Charles Bradley (Strombo Sessions)
Earlier this month, the music community was hit with tragic news: Charles Bradley, a figure that’s been embraced by an adoring public that stretch multiple genres, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. One of the most inspirational figures in music, the Screamin’ Eagle of Soul was also a regular staple of this series. As a result, there’s a twinge of heartbreak running through this beautiful full session for the Strombo Sessions. Bradley’s characteristic exuberance winds up tipping the scales back to something genuinely heartening before the clip hits its close and provides the proceedings with a sense of genuine triumph. As a whole, it’s a deeply important portrait of one of the most gifted songwriters — and pure performers — of recent memory. Give it the kind of love and attention it (and Bradley) deserves.
All of those titles are worthy of healthy investment but it was a single release from last week that slipped through the coverage cracks to earn today’s feature spot. Occasionally those gaps in coverage are caused by a clerical error, occasionally they’re caused by the wait for an announcement, sometimes (like in the case of this post), it’s a little bit of both. Last week Young Jesus released their latest single, Void As Lob, which pairs live staple “Baked Goods” with the more stream-of-conscious “Hinges”. Earlier today, they announced their Wisconsin date for their tour with fellow site favorites POPE, providing a perfect opportunity to bring up their latest release.
Void As Lob is the band’s first single since last year’s Grow/Decompose, which rightfully earned a place in this site’s Best Albums of 2015 list. The new single continues an astonishing winning streak that started with their breakout effort, Home (which remains a very real Album of the Decade candidate) , and has spanned four years, a cross-country move, a lineup shift, several tours, and an unpredictable rollercoaster of other peaks and valleys. “Baked Goods” and “Hinges”, in that respect, could have easily served as a victory lap but opt for a more challenging approach that makes it abundantly clear that Young Jesus is committed to perpetual growth.
The band’s guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter (and A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor) John Rossiter revealed that both “Baked Goods” and “Hinges” were the most personal he’s allowed himself to be in his songwriting in some time and that honesty’s evidenced and enhanced by his impassioned delivery, which cuts a touch more sharply than usual.
“Baked Goods” opens up the two-song collection with a narrative that invokes characters from the band’s past as it looks to the future, flashing a renewed emphasis on obtuse storytelling that’s punctuated by acute detail. Musically, it’s a sprawling odyssey that complements the song’s thematic structure to a tee, playing perfectly into Young Jesus’ penchant to defy genres with an instrumental tapestry that pulls from enough sources to sound legitimately singular.
“Hinges” sees the band continuing on in that function, only this time opting to scale back Rossiter’s songwriting flourishes in favor of something more unflinchingly immediate and bravely direct. After a somber piano figure opens the song, “Hinges” evolves into one of the band’s most impressive songs to date. Quiet and heartbreaking, “Hinges” hits its culmination with one simple line: I am ashamed to believe in myself. It’s a line that hits with enough blunt force to knock the wind out of just about anyone, all at once amplifying a host of darkly intimate moments.
As Void As Lob dies out in “Hinges” final moments, which exclusively focus on personal disintegration, the entire release feels like its much more than just two songs. In just over nine minutes, Young Jesus issue a searing statement of intent. Now that they’re firmly settled into their current iteration in their current home, they’re ready to look forward to the future, even if that requires tearing themselves apart. It’s a bold gambit but they’re talented enough to exercise total control and that control pays off beautifully. Void As Lob may only be comprised of two songs but it confidently stands as one of the most exquisite releases of 2016.
Listen to Void As Lob below and pick it up from the band here. Below the bandcamp embed, watch a live clip of the band performing “Baked Goods” last fall.