Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Funeral Advantage

Watch This: Vol. 98

The recent swell of outstanding live clips should be evident by now, with the overflowing packets of honorable mention selections that characterized the last two entries of this series. It’s not a trend that tapered off pushing forward, either, as the 98th installment of Watch This was a similarly contested battle. While the five clips featured below are well worth featuring, there were also deserving clips from Funeral Advantage, J Fernandez, DMA’s, Afterpartees, Gary Clark Jr., Glen Hansard, NovellerGreg Holden, Teen Men, Watkins Family Hour, Galgo, Grave Babies, and Wire. One of the more eclectic volumes of this series, the 98th entry includes a third consecutive appearance from a site favorite and the Watch This debut for a band comprised of some artists whose work influenced more than half of the bands that get written about on this site. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, wind down, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Cayetana – Madame B (Little Elephant)

The second Cayetana clip to be featured from their Little Elephant session finds the trio digging into “Madame B”– one of the best songs in their discography– and laying into it with an abundance of feeling. Throughout the clip, it’s easy to see each individual member get completely lost in the song at various points throughout, each seemingly succumbing to some sort of trance without ever losing any of the determination that characterizes their music.

2. Deerhoof (MOWNO)

Deerhoof is an insane band that’s always veered away from conventionality and their live show underlines both of those defining aspects. MOWNO was on hand to film some of their performance at the Teriaki festival in Le Mans and the results are incredibly engaging. Impassioned, off-kilter, and wild-eyed, not a second of this clip is worth missing. As inventive as it is fierce, this is the perfect presentation of Deerhoof’s current era.

3. Meat Wave – Too Much (Audiotree)

Returning once again to Meat Wave‘s Audiotree session, this particular performance finds the band reaching back to their shockingly under-discussed self-titled debut (which remains one of my favorite records of all time). Venomous, grim, and surprisingly atmospheric, it shows the band firing on all cylinders, showcasing an impressive dynamic sensibility in the process. Brooding and much darker than usual, “Too Much” is the sound of a band establishing its identity.

4. Lady Lamb – Millions of Eyes (OnAirstreaming)

“Billions of Eyes” was one of last year’s most charming songs and marked Aly Spaltro’s arrival at large. Since the release of that song, Spaltro’s Lady Lamb project severed “The Beekeeper” from its title, released a very well-received record (After) on Mom+Pop and set about touring on the release. Here, OnAirstreaming catches Spaltro delivering a rare solo performance of the song and clearly exhibits an endearing affection between the songwriter and the work. It’s strangely uplifting and immensely enjoyable.

5. Big Star’s Third – Blue Moon (The Current)

It’d be a maddening exercise in futility to try to cover the artists who have had their careers directly impacted by Big Star’s work. The powerpop icons have been continuously cited as an inspiration by all varieties of punk and pop bands since their emergence in the early ’70s. Everyone from The Replacements to Elliott Smith to Cheap Trick has written songs about the band or covered them directly. Members of the band recently toured with a collective of friends to perform Big Star’s seminal Third and, accordingly, provided the project with Big Star’s Third as a moniker. The Current recently hosted the project where they performed a gentle, honest version of “Blue Moon” and the end result is lovely beyond reason.

PWR BTTM – West Texas (Stream, Live Video)

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A lot can happen over the course of two days. Bringing an already stacked run of days to a close, Thursday and Friday continued to unearth a wealth of gems, including a trio of strong records from Naomi Pop, Funeral Advantage, and Gold Class. No less than 16 great new songs emerged from a variety of acts including Salad Boys, Laura Stevenson, SPORTSJosh Ritter, Field Trip, Ricked Wicky, Adir L.C., Boys, Chris Walla, Ghosts In Pocket, Psychic Handshake, Cœur de pirate, Mos Def (ft. Ski Beatz), Speedy Ortiz (covering The Cardigans), Shunkan, and Destroy This Place. Music videos made a strong impression as well, with outstanding new clips from Diet Cig, Alex G, WorriersThe King Khan & BBQ Show, DRINKS, Flowers of Evil, Ali Barter, and A Place to Bury Strangers. On top of all of that, the run of days also yielded another look at PWR BTTM’s extraordinary forthcoming record, Ugly Cherries, by way of “West Texas”.

Over the past three months, PWR BTTM have gone from a quick few mentions on this site to being one of its most celebrated featured acts. A lot of that can be traced back to the band’s incendiary live show but most of it has to do with the fact their recent songs have been nothing short of astonishing. The band’s upcoming full-length debut, Ugly Cherries, already had one of the years best songs (the record’s title track) released to kick off the rollout campaign and now it’s being followed by the equally powerful “West Texas”.

All of PWR BTTM’s usual characteristics are on display throughout the song, from the inventive structures to the sharp playing to a lyric set that pushes honesty to a level that feels defiantly confrontational. Benjamin Hopkins and Liv Bruce trade vocal leads with a fluidity that betrays the duo’s already uncanny connection and the song makes the absolute most of its runtime, landing every blow it throws with a vicious intensity. Harmonic riffing, power drumming, and a bevvy of immediacy help make “West Texas” a standout track but, as is nearly always the case with PWR BTTM, their melodic and lyrical sensibilities push this into a realm that not a lot of other bands have even attempted to occupy. Sardonic, sincere, and singular, it’s another perfect example of why PWR BTTM deserves as much conversation as possible.

Listen to “West Texas” below and pre-order the record from Father/Daughter and/or Miscreant ahead of its September 18 release. Beneath that, watch a video of the band performing the song (along with “Short-Lived Nightmare”) at Shea Stadium.

Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold (Stream, Live Video)

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Now that we’re nearing the final quarter of the year, the already-stacked release schedules are starting to get even more dense as a lot of bands and labels make power play bids for album of the year consideration. One of the titles slated for that wave of new material is Saintseneca‘s just-announced Such Things, an announcement which came with an accompanying single: “Sleeper Hold”. Before getting around to that song, though, it’s worth taking a step back to cover a handful of other notable releases that are well worth your attention.

For single streams, there was Dogs On Acid‘s shape-shifting “Ideal Decanter“, Atlantic Thrills’ surf-indebted (and retro-leaning) basement pop highlight “Bed Bugs“, Connie Constance’s glitchy, slow-burning “Euphoric“, Orchid Mantis’ tantalizing “It Was Gone“, and Century Thief’s slowly unfurling “Pillar“. Additionally, there were outstanding new songs from the likes of Swings, Funeral Advantage, Promised Land Sound, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and Sea Lion. Full streams, while not even close to matching the numbers of the single streams, unearthed one of the year’s best albums in Pleasure LeftistsThe Woods of Heaven and another beautiful full-length in Totally Mild’s Down Time. Sleepy’s extraordinary self-titled EP (another potential year-end contender) rounded the category out with style. Two music videos- Ali Barter’s “Hypercolour” and Valley Maker’s “Only Friend“- made sure that the visual format was very well represented.

Back to the feature: Saintseneca’s latest, “Sleeper Hold”, an even punchier take on the band’s Appalachian folk than anything found on their last record, the exemplary Dark Arc. Having just seen the band take apart Baby’s All Right a little over a week ago, the new material that was played live has been resonating for a short while. “Sleeper Hold”, the lead-off single to the band’s forthcoming Such Things, capitalizes on that resonance by virtue of strength and polish. Immediately employing the under-utilized and extremely effective dynamic of a back-and-forth vocal lead between the band’s two primary voices (those of Zac Little and Maryn Jones), “Sleeper Hold” strikes a refreshingly bold look for the band.

All of the hallmarks that made their previous work so compelling are still firmly in tact, from the smart compositions to Little’s twisted, hyper-literary wordplay. Some of the surprising amount of weight to be found on “Sleeper Hold” is due to the conceptual design of Such Things, which largely grapples with the purposefulness of existence. “Sleeper Hold”, in particular, is about the designs of perception and consciousness. For such heavy material, the music itself is impossibly light, buoyant, and deceptively carefree. Every element of “Sleeper Hold” works incredibly well and reaffirms Saintseneca’s status as one of today’s finest acts. Propulsive, smart, and irresistible, “Sleeper Hold” is the perfectly crafted warning shot of what promises to be one of this year’s finest albums.    

Listen to “Sleeper Hold” below and pre-order Such Things from ANTI- ahead of its release date here. Underneath the player, watch a recent video of the band performing the song at Baby’s All Right.

Dilly Dally – Desire (Stream)

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While the slowly circulating news that The Weakerthans have decided to call it a day after a storied career has cast an unavoidable pall on the day, it seemed more appropriate than ever to celebrate the new music that’s been steadily surfacing over the past few days. All Dogs (deservedly) were the only band to get coverage yesterday and there’d only been specialized and series posts in the days leading up to the release of their extraordinary “That Kind of Girl”. In an effort to shed some light on some of the memorable entries to have surfaced in the time since the last standard post, a collection of songs will be posted below the included embed of today’s featured track: Dilly Dally’s “Desire.

Literally every song Dilly Dally has released to the public has earned glowing praise from this site and “Desire” ensures that streak’s not broken. Released in tandem with the announcement of the band’s forthcoming debut full-length, Sore, and the band’s signing to Partisan Records, it’s another piece of stunning noir-punk that comes laced with an emphatic gloom that only elevates the track’s foreboding atmosphere. It’s a dynamic that the band’s managed to perfect in just a small handful of songs (most of them appearing on two jaw-dropping 7″ records from 2014) and capitalizes on once more in “Desire”.

Opening with a cacophony of feedback and relative atonality, the song quickly settles into a serrated attack that waxes poetic on basic human impulse. Katie Monks has one of the most heart-stopping voices in music and the music Dilly Dally continues to conjure up around its central draw manages to simultaneously play into its darker sensibilities and elevate it into something that’s nearly transcendental. After a few lineup changes, the band’s found a powerful rhythm section that anchors the expressive nature of the band’s deceptively sharp guitar work (courtesy of Liz Ball, who’s always been essential to the band’s success).

Monks stated recently that Sore‘s central narrative hinged on the recurring thematic of rebirth and that “Desire” was- explicitly- about sexual release. “Desire” subtly incorporates both to create something that feels abnormally genuine and oddly harrowing. In a statement released to Fader- who premiered “Desire” earlier today- Monks expounded on the two threads and equated them with a struggle to find happiness while extolling the virtues of the fight required to obtain what proves to be an elusive emotion for so many. Grounded in bleak reality and stretching outwards towards a hopefulness, “Desire” quickly becomes one of the band’s strongest efforts in a discography that’s already obscenely strong for being so limited.  If this recent run of releases is indicative of the strength of the remaining releases on 2015’s slate, we’re in for one hell of a back stretch.

Listen to “Desire” below and keep an eye on this site for further updates on Sore in the lead-up to its October 9 release date. Beneath the embed, explore a list of other memorable songs to have surfaced in the past several days.

Happy Diving – My Zone
Yung – Burning Bodies
Swervedriver – Winter Depths
Nolita View – Departed
Advance Base – Pamela
The Lees of Memory – Let’s Turn Our Love Up Loud
Jaye Bartell – Lilly
Natural Snow Buildings – Sun Tower
Salad Boys – Dream Date
Menace Beach – Super Transporterreum
Best Behavior – Star Signs
Diane Coffee – Mayflower
Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake?
Amy Bezunartea – New Villain
Lost Boy ? – Big Business Monkey (Daniel Johnston cover)
Antarctigo Vespucci – Lost My Mind
Funeral Advantage – Gardensong
FIDLAR – West Coast
toe – The World According To
Helta Skelta – 55mm
Babes – I’ve Got A Reason To Keep On Living
Joe Jackson – A Little Smile
Youth Lagoon – The Knower
ON AND ON – Behind The Gun

Raury – Devil’s Whisper (Music Video)

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It’s only been a few days since the last mass music video roundup but that’s still enough time for a handful of gems to sneak through the tunnel and into the light. Those clips were as follows: Staring At Lakes’ powerful, compassionate “Consanguinea“, Wolf Alice’s hard-charging “Fluffy“, HONNE’s heavily atmospheric “Top To Toe“, TOPS’ lovingly retro “Sleeptalker“, Ratatat’s animated “Abrasive“, Foals’ gripping “What Went Down“, Funeral Advantage’s tantalizingly hazy “Sisters“, and Tangerine’s charming home video experiment “Tiny Islands“.  While all of those are worth a watch (or several), this post’s feature is branching off into somewhat unexpected territory and places a spotlight squarely on Raury and the young songwriter’s extraordinary clip for “Devil’s Whisper” (itself a bookend to one of his older singles, “God’s Whisper“).

Musically, the track encapsulates centuries worth of heritage touch points, spinning them into something that feels startlingly original (and in a manner not too dissimilar from site favorites Algiers). Visually, it’s a masterpiece. Backed by a strong narrative that could be seen as deeply allegorical and bolstered by committed performances from the cast and crew, “Devil’s Whisper” feels like the culmination of pop’s progression (though “Devil’s Whisper” probably wouldn’t immediately be categorized as such). What starts as celebratory quickly turns nightmarish before finally settling into boldly confrontational. There are transitions between psyches, gorgeous landscape shots, stunning edits, and a lot of raw talent that find themselves in plain view here, making “Devil’s Whisper” essential viewing. Don’t make the mistake of missing out on what could very well be the future of pop music. Fingers crossed, at least.

Watch “Devil’s Whisper” below and keep an eye on this site for more news on the artist’s upcoming releases.

Downies – Widow (Stream)

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Photo by Seth Applebaum

For a while now, I’ve been teasing Heartbreaking Bravery’s brief transition to full-blown catch-up mode. And, well, that time has come. Each of the ensuing posts will contain so much more than just the song, video, or album in the headline. Single songs will each come equipped with a list of 75 other great tunes to have appeared in 2015. A new music video mixtape will be arriving shortly as well as several other mixtapes to re-ignite the Watch This series, which time dictated be temporarily relegated to the sidelines. A lot of things will be heading in a lot of directions in the coming months so coverage may be sporadic but I will be damned if I let this site out of my thoughts and intentions for even a second.

With all of that noted, it’s time to get back to what drives this site’s existence: legitimately great art propelled by a DIY ethos. A lot of incredible music has emerged over the past several weeks with gems arriving every day (extremely recent company includes Eskimeaux, Sharpless, Flagland, Flyying Colours, Mitski, Upset, and so many more) so selecting one to feature has become an unenviable task- but sometimes history makes it easy. I was fortunate enough to hear some roughs of a band called Downies towards the start of the year and it immediately became one of my favorite releases, something that came as no surprise considering the group’s pedigree (I’ve yet to come across a LVL UP-affiliated project that I dislike, which can also be said of Porches.). Pushing things over the edge was the fact that Downies came off like a version of Purple 7 that was even more pop-happy but sacrificed none of that band’s considerable punch.

That exhilarating dynamic is perhaps most present in “Widow”, the band’s recently-unveiled warning shot. On its surface, it’s a frantically paced gut-punch that’s forceful enough to stop just about anyone in their tracks. Live, it’s a firecracker that seems hell-bent on total destruction. Stripped back to its bare essentials, it’s a song driven by a troubled subtext that’s directly hinted at in the title. Even setting aside the dissections of its particulars, “Widow” is a staggering show of force from a band that deserves to be ushered in with a high level of excitement.

Listen to “Widow” below and keep an eye on this site for continuing coverage of the band and the upcoming EP that houses this song. Beneath that is a list of 75 incredible songs that I wish I could attribute more words to, as they truly deserve to be held in praise, but- at this point- there’s simply too many items that have amassed. Soon, the site will be caught up and current releases will be accounted for as they enter the fold. For now, enjoy “Widow” and a long list of treasures.

NEEDS – Rescue Don
Walleater – Swallow You
Turn To Crime – Without A Care
Built to Spill – Never Be the Same
Thin Lips – Nothing Weird
Hollow Sunshine – Careful Travel
Toro Y Moi – Run Baby Run
Dutch Uncles – Realm
Cillie Barnes – Earthquake Season at the Crystal Convention
No Joy – Everything New
Inheaven – Regeneration
Crying – Patriot
Torres – Sprinter
Hop Along – Powerful Man
Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders – Kiss the Daddy
Dolores Haze – I Got My Gun
The Teen Age – Low Cunning
Funeral Advantage – I Know Him
Shadow Age – Silaluk
YAST – When You’re Around
Mittenfields – Optimists
Coeds – Sensitive Boys
PJ Bond – The Better Option
Pfarmers – The Ol’ River Gang
Round Eye – City Livin’
Val Son – Sundays
Lowin – Best Laid Plans
Alright – Watercolors
The Midwestern Charm – Can’t Stand It
The Bloodhounds – La Coahuila
Broken Water – Wasted
Trans Van Santos – The Flight
Weed – Yr Songs
Elliot Moss – Best Light
Girls Names – Zero Triptych
Communions – Out of My World
Two Sheds – Get It Out
Free Cake For Every Creature – The Day To Day
Elvis Perkins (ft. Alec Ounsworth) – Mexican Ritual
Loose Tooth – Pickwick Average
Barbazons – Bad Catholics
Eternal Summers – Together Or Alone
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Step Brother City
Mall Walk – Container
Verses Narrow – Passive
Nevada Nevada – Anger Tango
Annabel – Everything
Triumph of the Wild – Brown Dog Blues
Mitski – Square (Live Solo Piano)
Chick Quest – Somebody Call A Doctor
Downtown Boys – Future Police
Honey Butter (ft. Chris Savor) – Times
Tanlines – Invisible Ways
Heaters – Mean Green
Warm Soda – I Wanna Go Fast
Diamond Youth – Thought I Had It Right
LA Font – Whisperer
Palma Violets – English Tongue
Prinzhorn Dance School – Reign
FFS – Piss Off
Avid Dancer – Not Far To Go
Cheatahs – Murasaki
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire
Flyying Colours – Running Late
Eskimeaux – I Admit I’m Scared
Sharpless – Franz Kafka (Home Movies)
Flagland – Awesome Song, Kerry Jan
Tomboy – Tomboy Anthem
The Moi Non Plus – Away With Words
Upset – Glass Ceiling
Panther Ray – Get to You
The Weaks – Frances Quinlan Will Have Her Revenge on Philadelphia
Ka – Pruitt Igoe
Dogs On Acid – Substitute (The Who)
Creepoid – American Smile