Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Get Lost

One Great Week, Five Great Songs

September got off to an exceptionally strong start, with the month already yielding incredible new songs from the following laundry list of artists: Lost Boy ?, Wand, Lina Tullgren, Miss World, Dead Leaf Echo, Danielle Luppi & Parquet Courts, Death By Unga Bunga, Queen of Swords, Trudy and the RomanceSLØTFACE, Partner, Suno Deko, Gleemer, TFS, After Hours Radio, Prawn, Mal Devisa, Field Medic, Ryan Koenig, Raleigh, Tough Age, Mt. Doubt, Havah, Moses Sumney, Infinity Girl, Heaters, The Fluids, Ora Corgan (x2), Aiming for Enrike, SLONK, Sales, Earl Grey, St. Vincent, Gun Outfit, Rostam, Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Helio Sequence, Happy Hollows, and Silver Torches.

Somehow, despite the unreal amount of incredible tracks in that treasure trove, that was still just scratching the tip of the iceberg. Below were the five songs that leapt out most from an embarrassment of riches. Most of the names are familiar and some are acts in the midst of welcome resurgences. All of them are worth turning on and turning up, so push the volume levels up and go exploring. Enjoy.

1. Sports – Making It Right

A short while ago, Sports were hinting that their run might be over following the release of their excellent All of Something. Fortunately, as “Making It Right” makes abundantly clear, that wound up not being the case. They may even allude to that false alarm with the clever “you’re calling my bluff” line. In a little over 100 seconds, Sports proves that they’re not just back but that they’re at the absolute top of their game.

2. Slaughter Beach, Dog – Fish Fry

As Slaughter Beach, Dog, Modern Baseball‘s Jake Ewald has been releasing music that’s been on par with — or threatening to outstrip — that of his main vehicle. “”Fish Fry” is yet another deeply absorbing entry into Ewald’s solo discography. Characteristically unassuming, “Fish Fry” is as sharp as anything Ewald’s released. Putting the modern day ennui of young adulthood under the microscope, the loneliness on display in”Fish Fry” almost sounds romantic before the reality of it all sets in and it just comes across as painfully sad, enhancing the song’s already magnetic pull.

3. Magic Potion – Rest Yr Skull 

Magic Potion already have a quality EP and LP to their name and have only improved over time. The Rest Yr Skull 7″ is the next release on the table and the band have anchored it with the title track. Like a lot of bands on the consistently outstanding PNKSLM roster, the band pulls the majority of their influences from slacker punk and slacker pop movement of the ’90s, advancing the aesthetic with something intangibly modern. “Rest Yr Skull” is as fine of an example of that formula as anyone’s likely to hear all year, a charming slice of driving basement pop with an irresistible melody.

4. Bad History Month – Being Nothing

For a time, it looked as if Bad History Month may have disappeared for good. Luckily, “Being Nothing” arrived last week to dissuade anyone from that notion. A career highlight in a fascinating and deeply inventive discography, “Being Nothing” fully celebrates the oddities that have made the project’s past releases so essential. Folk-informed, noise-damaged, and utterly arresting, “Being Nothing” could not have come from anyone else. Psychedelic overtones push one of the most defiantly nonconformist songs of 2017 to even greater heights. It’s unmissable.

5. Radiator Hospital – Pastoral Radio Hit

“Pastoral Radio Hit” is the second glimpse at the forthcoming record from site favorites Radiator Hospital, whose “Dance Number” clip cracked the recent top 10 list for August. The song’s hard-charging at first blush, full of restraint at second, and brilliantly explores the dichotomy between the two at third. It’s an endlessly fascinating piece of music that lives up to its title and confirms that Radiator Hospital’s forthcoming Play The Songs You Like will be one of their discography’s most adventurous entries. Turn it up, put it on repeat, and find a new thing to love each time it winds to a close.

Watch This: Vol. 131

Over the course of the past two full weeks, there has been a brief reprieve from the Watch This series, which normally runs in weekly installments. Part of the reasoning behind its recent absence has been explained in previous posts (it was mostly a matter of scheduling) but returns now in a two-part installment to cover those complete weeks. The week that’s currently in session will be accounted for on Sunday and unaffected by these installments. Laura Stevenson, NUEXTango Alpha Tango and the Malady of Sevendials, The Dirty Nil, Charles Bradley, Bruiser Queen, Spooky Ghosts, The Goon Sax, Weakened Friends, Bombay, Money, Beach Slang, Adia Victoria, Protomartyr, and Maritime were the featured artists that comprised roughly half of the honorable mentions in the covered time frame, fully illustrating the strength of the featured cuts. So, as always, sit up, adjust the settings, focus, and Watch This.

1. Summer Cannibals (PressureDrop.tv)

PressureDrop.tv has been responsible for a lot of the more memorable full sessions of recent memory but the series recently topped themselves with this no-holds-barred session from site favorites Summer Cannibals. None of the other performers on the series’ enviable roster of guests have matched the sheer velocity of Summer Cannibals’ energy here and the visuals match that propulsion. Nearly every second of the performance feels perfectly complementary and suggests that PressureDrop.tv just might be realizing their full potential.

2. free cake for every creature – All You Gotta Be When You’re 23 Is Yourself (BreakThruRadio)

free cake for every creature have appeared on this site numerous times but with each successive link, they’ve bettered themselves and hit yet another apex with this BreakThruRadio performance of “All You Gotta Be When You’re 23 Is Yourself”, a standout from their most recent release. Conjuring up a spell of subdued magic, the band effortlessly breezes through the track and closes it out with a soft smile.

3. Clearance – You’ve Been Pre-Approved (Constellation Chicago) 

One of last year’s more overlooked releases came in the form of Clearance‘s excellent Rapid Rewards [full disclosure: my photography is used for the back art] and the record’s allure has actually grown since its release. A large part of that is thanks to Mike Bellis’ knowledgeable songwriting, which is front and center in this recent solo take of one of that record’s many highlights, “You’ve Been Pre-Approved”.

4. Tancred (Little Elephant)

Something is happening in these Tancred videos for Little Elephant that both suggests they’re unfinished and creates a curious pull that’s not entirely dissimilar from quicksand. The performance from the band, as ever, is sharp as hell but the audio sounds canned, as if only an overhead mic was picking the band up. That effect winds up working in tandem with the band’s influences astonishingly well, creating a damaged VHS sound quality that transforms this session into a surprisingly gratifying Easter egg.

5. Julien Baker (Exclaim!)

If a pro-shot Julien Baker session emerges over the course of any given week, it’s probably safe to assume that it’ll find representation in this series. Baker’s an innately talented performer and a mesmerizing lyricist that’s already managed to carve out a space next to Elliott Smith as one of the most effective and intimate narrators of tragedy that the music world’s had in quite some time. All of those qualities infuse this recent two-song performance for Exclaim! with a hypnotic sadness that manages to be both reassuring and heartrending all at once.

Splitting at the Break: The Live Videos of 2016’s First Half

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2016 is just about at its midway mark and there hasn’t been any live coverage on this site since before the year turned over. There have been a number of extenuating circumstances preventing the live documentation that has been captured this year from being posted (travel, time, other commitments, etc.) but that changes today. Below are ten video packets from ten shows that I was fortunate enough to catch — and shoot — this year.

Normally, as a general rule of thumb, I avoid posting anything from shows I play but am making an exception for the Jungles package because the band’s woefully under-represented in America for their undeniable strength as a live act.  A few other packets may be missing an artist or two but what’s below is the vast majority of what I’ve seen over the past six months.

Whether it’s Meat Wave ripping through a crushing new song on a (freakishly sunny) winter day in Chicago, Beach Slang covering The Replacements two times over, or Torres making everyone’s hairs stand on end with an unforgettable one-song encore, these are worth a look and were a privilege to experience. A photo gallery will be coming within the next few days but for now, enjoy the footage.

American Wrestlers, Eternal Summers, Palehound, and Torres. 

Julien Baker and Charly Bliss. 

Muuy Biien, Meat Wave, The Spits, and Black Lips. 

Runners, Beech Creeps, and Heavy Times. 

Jungles. 

Mr. Martin & The Sensitive Guys, BAG-DAD, Haunter, Miserable Friend, and Heavycritters. 

Yoko and the Oh No’s and PWR BTTM. 

Micah Schnabel, Dyke Drama, Potty Mouth, and Beach Slang. 

Yowler, Eskimeaux, and Frankie Cosmos. 

Oops and Dilly Dally. 

Major Leagues – Dream States (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.

Major Leagues have been quietly perfecting their own distinct take on jangly basement pop for a few years now and Dream States stands as their most definitive statement to date. After a certain amount of time playing together, great bands begin to develop the kind of chemistry that sets them apart from both their peers and the bands who have only just begun emerging. Dream States sees that chemistry in full bloom as one near-perfect song gives way to another, leaving behind a realistic possibility that Dream States may come to be regarded as a minor classic.

Every individual piece that’s on display throughout the EP’s all-too-brief run registers as a standout, teasing potential flawlessness until the very last seconds (and then leaving you wondering if that it was something the band actually achieved). Each of the six songs that comprise Dream States are intelligently composed, dynamic, accessible, and immediate. None of them fall apart when placed under heavy scrutiny and they each make enough impact to leave a lasting impression and linger long after they’ve ended.

Dream States is an astonishing release that should go a long ways in ensuring Major Leagues experience a (well-deserved) growth in terms of name recognition. It’s a listen that’s unlikely to grow stale anytime soon and one that all but guarantees return trips. The EP rewards investment but doesn’t necessitate it, which will likely leave the entire affair as a remarkably agreeable release among a very large section of people. Bright, charming, and brilliant, Dream States is the kind of release that should still be receiving praise well into the next few years.   

Listen to Dream States below and pick it up from the band here.

2015: The Best of Watch This

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When Watch This was conceived it was done with the intent to not only critically examine the balance of filmmaking and live performance but celebrate the art of the live video, a format which seems to have fallen to the wayside despite being more fruitful than it’s been since it was introduced. There’s real power behind the clips that manage to seamlessly merge the best qualities of everything that goes into the best live performance videos and they can yield genuinely unforgettable moments (when everything kicks back in on “Waitress”, the held falsetto in “A Proper Polish Welcome”, and a whole host of other chill-inducing moments are scattered throughout this compilation). Those moments are the beating heart behind this series construction and they’re what sustains the project as it presses forward.

Well over 300 live clips were covered on this site in 2015 and this is a collection of 25 that genuinely stood out for one reason or another, whether it was the sheer joy in a performance (Diet Cig), the performer’s ability to freeze blood (Julien Baker, Dilly Dally, SOAK), the trio of artists who appeared on Watch This the most throughout this year (Courtney Barnett, Girlpool, and Torres), an electrifying presentation and performance (July Talk), or a clip that’s a fully functional masterclass in every category that elevates a clip from astonishing to transcendental (Glen Hansard). All of those and more have been plugged into this packet, which culminates in a tour de force reminder of the overwhelming power of what can be achieved on a live platform from the resurgent Sleater-Kinney as one final exclamation point for a truly extraordinary year. So, as always, sit up, focus, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

Watch the 2015 edition of the best-of compilation for Heartbreaking Bravery’s definitive recurring series, Watch This, below. The track list is available under the embed.

1. Hop Along – Waitress (World Cafe)
2. July Talk – Paper Girl (Audiotree)
3. Ronny – Why Do You Have Kids (Gems On VHS)
4. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (BreakThruRadio)
5. Mikal Cronin – Say (WFUV)
6. Molly Parden – Weather (GemsOnVHS)
7. Eskimeaux – Folly (This Has Got To Stop)
8. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock (Pitchfork)
9. METZ – Spit You Out (3voor12)
10. Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky (KEXP)
11. Saintseneca – How Many Blankets Are In the World? (ANTI-)
12. Diet Cig – Harvard (In the Attic)
13. SOAK – B a Nobody Blud (La Blogotheque)
14. Dilly Dally – Burned by the Cold (Strombo Sessions)
15. Alex G + Girlpool – Brite Boy (SPIN)
16. Footings (Jenn Harrington)
17. Mike Krol – Suburban Wasteland + Neighborhood Watch (KEXP)
18. Beach Slang – Get Lost (Cozy Couch Sessions)
19. Public Service Broadcasting – Go! (WNYC)
20. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Beast (ANTI-)
21. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (La Blogotheque)
22. Algiers – Blood (WFUV)
23. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (NPR)
24. Glen Hansard – McCormack’s Wall (ANTI-)
25. Sleater-Kinney (NPR)

 

Arriving at the Fall (Mixtape)

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Another 50 posts in means it’s time for another kind of mixtape. With summer having just ceased its stranglehold under the weight of fall’s swift descent, it seemed appropriate to go the seasonal route. This collection isn’t confined to an allotted release schedule, it’s sole function and narrative standpoint is of an emotional nature. Fall’s always held a special sort of magic, from the sepia tones to an inescapable nostalgic hue.

It’s a harbinger of winter’s bleakness and a subtle coda of summer’s optimism. For every hardship, there’s an answer; for every temperature drop there’s the comfort of a sweater. An unavoidable reminder of time’s passage (speaking both small and large-scale), it also tends to conjure up enhanced emotional connections; a tapestry that’s inscribed in faded lettering: we’re in this together and we need to make the most of it before everything disappears.

So, as summer slowly disappears into the rear-view and the firepit waiting for extra kindling, it only felt right to try and put the seasonal stretch’s conflicted emotional pull to music. Damaged romanticism, moments of introspection, glimpses of hope, bursts of sadness, and the shrapnel of chaos and acceptance permeate this collection. Consider it music for raking, long solitary walks, companionship, study sessions, or a soundtrack for a few cups of tea (spiked at will). I’ll simply leave it here as a gift for the taking.

With nothing but open road ahead, all that’s left to do is to take a breath and enjoy the fall.

SIDE A 

Eskimeaux – Folly
Sparklehorse – Gold Day
Heatmiser – Christian Brothers
Beach Slang – Get Lost
Tenement – Hard to Say
Small Houses – Staggers and Rise
Mikal Cronin – Piano Mantra
All Dogs – Leading Me Back to You
Neko Case – Behind the House (Demo)
The Dutchess & the Duke – I Am Just A Ghost 
Dead Man’s Bones – Pa Pa Power
The Kinks – Strangers
Tom Waits – Fawn

SIDE B

Okkervil River – Just Give Me Time
Hop Along – Waitress 
Young Jesus – Family and Friends 
Girlpool – Crowded Stranger 
Jason Isbell – Flying Over Water
The Modern Machines – Treadmill Waltz
Waxahatchee – Noccalula
John K. Samson – Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San
The Band – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Live)
Screaming Females – It’s Nice
Low – When I Go Deaf
Vic Chesnutt – When the Bottom Fell Out

Watch This: Vol. 95

Over the past few weeks, this site hasn’t been keeping its daily update regimen due to ongoing business largely unrelated to the site. While there may not be immediate posts, the content is still being collected as it appears. A handful of catch-up posts will be running on the site tonight and tomorrow starting with this slightly belated installment of Watch This, which runs on Sunday and celebrates the best performance captures to have been released in the given week. Two weeks ago this collection was a more subdued, low-key affair than usual and some of that’s carried over to this entry. Considering the advent of fall, it almost feels appropriate that the bulk of the standout performances find themselves locked into an autumnal mode. Only one of the videos featured today is a full, electric band while the rest are solo performances that carry a considerable amount of weight. All of them are worth a high degree of investment. So, as always, lean back, adjust the screen, set the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Izzy True – Absolute Troll (Don Giovanni)

Once again, Watch This finds itself kicking off with an Izzy True clip that comes courtesy of Don Giovanni. Isabel Reidy’s solo project conjured up a very subtle kind of beauty on this year’s outstanding Troll, the young songwriters arrival-at-large. Proving once again to be a commanding presence, Reidy delivers a fierce performance of the EP’s almost-titular track, providing enough artistic flourish to render the performance deeply compelling.

2. Nils Frahm – 4’33” (John Cage Cover Version) (Pitchfork)

“4’33″” is one of the most divisive pieces of music in history. Conceived by John Cage as a commentary on the nature of silence and the human inability to ever fully experience it at its purest state, it’s measures consisted of nothing but rests. Nils Frahm, an accomplished ambient figurehead, took the crux of Cage’s piece and expanded on it in a piece that functions more as a rumination or homage than it does as a straight cover. Unsurprisingly, it’s elegiac, sincere, and more than a little stunning.

3. Craig Finn (KEXP)

Throughout the years, Craig Finn’s won accolades and legions of fans for his work in The Hold Steady and (the still vastly under-appreciated) Lifter Puller. More recently, he’s stepped out on his own as a solo artist, offering up largely acoustic works that zero in on his recent work’s inherent tenderness. Warm and rustic, this quartet of songs feels like a collection of devotionals; Finn’s offering up personal prayers in the dressings of song. Unflinchingly honest and completely uninhibited, this session’s a perfect example of a songwriter whose found completely comfort in their own voice.

4. Beach Slang – Get Lost (Cozy Couch Sessions)

Few bands have made as immediate of an impression as Beach Slang managed to with their first few releases. Drawing deserved comparisons to acts like The Replacements tend to achieve those kinds of results and that particular influence hasn’t ever shown as strong as it does here, in a solo acoustic rendition of “Get Lost”. Rough in all the right places, the whiskey-soaked ballad takes on a broken new life where the cracks grow deeper and the uncertainty stretches out towards eternity- and Cozy Couch affectionately captures its bruised heartbeat with a startling amount of empathy.

5. Ought – Men For Miles (3voor12)

Over the past year or so, this site’s written a lot about Ought, who are currently celebrating the release of a strong sophomore effort, Sun Coming Down. One of the record’s fiercest highlights is the insistent “Men For Miles”, which 3voor12 captured the band performing at Into the Great Wide Open. Operating with all of their typical wiry verve intact, the quartet also delivers a blistering take on their kinetic, melancholic “Passionate Turn”- another one of Sun Coming Down‘s more triumphant moments. Played back-to-back with an uncommon level of passion, the two-song take is enough to cement the band’s status as one of today’s most electric live acts.

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 1

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Familiar faces. Single Songs. Full sets. New bands. It’s been 15 weeks since the last Watch This ran on this site and that’s far, far too long. To help get things up to date, the next three days will see a trilogy of video mixtapes containing 25 of the best live clips to surface from 2015 so far. Next week, the installment will resume its normally paced functions- but for now, clear out some time and get lost in the exciting performances compiled in the embed below. Lean back, turn the volume up, breathe deep, and Watch This.

1. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock (Pitchfork)
2. Tenement – Dreaming Out Loud (Don Giovanni Records)
3. Crying – Sick (BreakThruRadio)
4. Beach Slang (NPR)
5. Speedy Ortiz – The Graduates (Pitchfork)
6. Francisco the Man – In the Corners (Audiotree)
7. Single Mothers – Overdose (Radio K)
8. Sleater-Kinney – Modern Girl (Sound Opinions)
9. Nude Beach + Jody Stephens – My Life Is Right (Don Giovanni Records)
10. Mutts – Five of a Kind (Audiotree)
11. Sun Club – Beauty Meat (Audiotree)
12. Crow Bait – Separate Stations (Don Giovanni Records)
13. Courtney Barnett – An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York (Pitchfork)
14. Matthew E. White – Rock & Roll Is Cold (The Current)
15. Makthaverskan – Witness (Pitchfork)
16. Chief Scout – Rollercoaster (Audiotree)
17. Mal Blum – San Cristóbal (Don Giovanni Records)
18. DYGL – Let’s Get Into Your Car (Out of Town Films)
19. American Aquarium – Losing Side of Twenty Five (Jam in the Van)
20. Charles Bradley – The World (Is Going Up In Flames) (Coachella)
21. Sue the Night – The Whale (3FM)
22. Kevin Devine – Bubblegum (Little Elephant)
23. Ride – Vapour Trail (Coachella)
24. The Dodos (KEXP)
25. Cloakroom – Lossed Over + Moon Funeral (Little Elephant)