A week ago Fresh Snow, Wilding, The Great Albatross, YUNG, Heaven, CHIMNEY, and Happyness all released compelling music vidoes. Algiers was another one of those acts, returning with the characteristically powerful “The Underside of Power”, drawing once again from an acute understanding of history on both a micro and macro scale and incorporating that knowledge into something as aggressively resilient as it is familiarly sorrowful.
It’s the type of narrative and vision that Henry Busby and Marcus Tortorici bring to vivid life in the direction for the video for “The Underside of the Power”, aided by the intuitive lensing of Anthony Carella. Incorporating public domain footage of the Civil Rights Movement lends the video an air of immediacy, pushing the intensity levels to dangerous levels. Intensity has always been a key component of Algiers’ calling card and “The Underside of Power” doesn’t disappoint, significantly heightening the anticipation for Algiers’ forthcoming record of the same name.
Watch “The Underside of the Power” below and pre-order the record from Matador here.
In a three month span, an innumerable number of tour and press cycles can run their course. Fortunately, there are a handful of outlets in the world dedicated to capturing the live performances that power most of the cycles in the most artistic way possible. This post (and the following three) focuses on the best of the best in terms of live videos. Whether it’s a powerful piece of filmmaking (as is the case with the clip that kicks this off, which also doubles an an official music video), a great performance, or a combination of both, there’s quite a bit to admire about the selected videos. So, as always, lean back, relax, clear your mind, and Watch This.
1. Ron Gallo – Please Yourself
2. Meat Wave – To Be Swayed (Live! From the Rock Room)
3. Slothrust – Horseshoe Crab (Dangerbird)
4. Peaer – Pink Spit (Live! From the Rock Room)
5. Yucky Duster – Friend Zone + Gofer (The Special Without Brett Davis)
6. Cloud Nothings – Modern Act (KCSN)
7. Charly Bliss – Glitter (WFUV)
8. LVL UP – Hidden Driver (Do512)
9. Wetter – Do You Still Dance? (Radio K)
10. Forth Wanderers – Caramel Emotion (Allston Pudding)
11. Happyness – Through Windows (Do512)
12. Parlor Walls – Play Opposites (BreakThruRadio)
13. Weaves – One More (Audiotree)
14. Frankie Cosmos – Highways and Trees + O Dread C Town (La Blogotheque)
15. Ornament – Adapt or Leave (Boxfish Sessions)
16. IAN SWEET – 2soft2chew (Allston Pudding)
17. Kal Marks – Today I Walked Down to the Tree… (Boxfish Sessions)
18. Darkwing – Necropants (BreakThruRadio)
19. Gurr – Moby Dick (3voor12)
20. The Chinchees – Everyone Knows (Radio K)
21. Sløtface – Empire Records (3voor12)
22. Very Fresh – Schedule IV (BreakThruRadio)
23. Middle Kids – Edge of Town (The Current)
24. Emilyn Brodsky – Hands Off the Stove (BreakThruRadio)
25. Phoebe Bridgers – Smoke Signals (NPR)
Less than a week remains in 2017’s first quarter and the year’s already earned solid representation thanks to a slew of incredible releases. Below this paragraph are links to approximately 500 of the finest songs that the January-to-March period had to offer. A few of which are from widely renowned artists but the vast majority are from the artists who deserve more recognition than they receive.
Now, it’s practically impossible to imagine any one individual is going to sit down and listen to every single one of the songs here but that’s not exactly the purpose of these lists. This, as was the case with the others, is a capsule of a time period that offered up art that was (mostly) lost to the shuffle. It’s a representative account of what was happening behind-the-scenes while this site was in its extended hiatus.
Most importantly, it’s a way to recognize and honor the artists responsible for crafting pieces that both deserved and earned praise, even if it’s in a relatively minor form. This will likely be one of the longest lists of links to ever run on this site and it’s likely best to just click around until something strikes a chord. So, bookmark this page, dive in, and explore what the world’s produced over this first quarter and keep an eye on this site for a few short “best of” posts before Heartbreaking Bravery resumes its regular daily coverage. Enjoy.
A little over a week remains in 2017’s first quarter so it felt appropriate — especially considering the recent hiatus — to reflect on some of the best material to have been released over the course of these past three months. What started yesterday with the list of notable full streams will bleed into the following days. Today’s post shifts the focus to some of the most memorable music videos to have surfaced since the start of the year. All of the below videos piqued attention for one reason or the other, either on the film or music side, and deserve as many views as they can possibly receive. So dive in, click around, and explore. Good things await.
Once again, an increasingly busy schedule has led to a brief gap between posts and diminished the possibilities for year-end coverage. For that reason, there’ll only be three more Best Of pieces before the third round of A Year’s Worth of Memories. Sadly, this means some previous categories will be neglected but don’t let that diminish the importance of things like online singles, compilations, and the other odds and ends releases.
This list will focus on the EP’s that were released this year, which had to be at least four songs or exceed 10 minutes in length (which disqualified some genuinely tremendous releases). A lot of great material came out this year and these EP’s managed to emerge as standouts. For any potential bias to be eliminated, EP’s that premiered here were deemed ineligible (but should still be celebrated). Enjoy the list.
Jack – Resting Places
One of the more harrowing listens of 2016 was centered around the loss of a loved one. It was an event that seems to have transformed something in Brittany Costa, the mastermind behind Jack and Resting Places. This is an explosive EP and it deserved much more circulation than it received.
Krill – Krill
A posthumous release from one of the most fiercely beloved bands in DIY punk, Krill‘s self-titled swan song may also be their finest work. Bassist/vocalist employed baritone guitar lines to spectacular effect on Krill, something evident from the EP’s brilliant opening track (“Meat”). Precise and teeming with feeling, it’s one hell of a goodbye.
Eskimeaux – Year of the Rabbit
Following this site’s pick for 2015’s Album of the Year proved to be a shockingly easy feat for Eskimeaux, who quickly released a summery EP overflowing with memorable moments. Year of the Rabbit finds Eskimeaux deepening the best aspects of their music and refining some newer tricks. It’s a breezy listen that carries substantial weight.
Kynnet – …Taas ne Kynnet
A blast of fired-up basement pop from Finland, Kynnet once again proves to be an uncontainable force with …Taas ne Kynnet. This is hard-charging music that transcends the language divide and effortlessly engages listeners with its overwhelming immediacy. Give in or get out of the way because once …Taas ne Kynnet gets gets going, it’s not stopping.
Forth Wanderers – Slop
Headlined by its breathtaking title track, Slop is a warning shot from the increasingly ambitious Forth Wanderers. While “Slop” is undoubtedly the standout of the EP, the other three songs don’t ever come across as being overshadowed, revealing flashes of the band’s brilliance. Slop is a uniformly strong outing that packs a serious punch.
Happyness – Tunnel Vision On Your Part
Happyness teased Tunnel Vision On Your Part with “SB’s Truck“, a song based on the fascinating historical footnote that saw the unlikely pairing of Andre The Giant and Samuel Beckett. The band continues to do no wrong, turning in another immensely enjoyable collection of songs that further their growing reputation as master popsmiths.
Faye – Faye
An extraordinary debut from an extremely promising band, Faye‘s self-titled is a beautifully crafted work that capitalizes on the sort of subtleties that some veteran acts still have a difficult time navigating. Nearly half of this EP rightfully earned individual features before its release and the EP’s remainder lived up to the promise of those tracks.
Snail Mail – Habit
2016 saw Snail Mail start to break out and earn some overdue attention on a much larger scale. A lot of that can be attributed to the remarkable (and surprisingly affecting) Habit. Vulnerable, defiant, and tenaciously pointed, Habit‘s the kind of record that burrows under the skin and refuses to leave. A gem and a career best.
Hazel English – Never Going Home
There were few, if any records, released in 2016 lovelier than Hazel English‘s Never Going Home. A spellbinding mixture of dream pop, basement pop, and post-punk, Never Going Home‘s the kind of painfully beautiful work that deserves to be remembered. It’s a series of grace notes that openly offer contentment and warmth.
Fern Mayo – Hex Signs
Fern Mayo became a staple of this site’s coverage based on the white-knuckle intensity of their live show and in Hex Signsthey manage to harness that intimidating forcefulness. Easily the best work of the band’s burgeoning career, Hex Signs is a confrontational demonstration of the type of strength that refuses to be ignored.
don’t – forget it.
One of the unique thrills of music writing is the discovery of a young, unknown band from a relatively small area that are doing interesting, impressive things. don’t met all of those qualifications to such an excessive degree with forget it. that it became unforgettable. While possibly the least recognizable name on this list, they deserve the placement.
Patio – Luxury
Being able to watch a band evolve from their first show and thrive in the state of progression is a privilege. It’s even more of a privilege when the band in question is one like Patio, who excel at the formula that makes up Luxury: wiry post-punk that serves up as much dry wit as it does sheer attitude. What’s scary is they’re still only just getting started.
Strange Ranger – Sunbeams Through Your Head
Sunbeams Through Your Headmarked an exhilarating new chapter for Strange Ranger who, almost paradoxically, seemed galvanized in their decision to more fully embrace a downtrodden nature. It’s an EP characterized by moments either brave, bold, or beautiful. An extraordinarily compelling listen and the sound of a band hitting its stride.
Tony Molina – Confront the Truth
As someone who could claim in-your-face micro-punk as a specialty, Tony Molina‘s gorgeous Confront the Truth likely came as a shock to some. Anyone well-versed in Molina’s work could easily see how the songwriter could conjure up a gentle 7″ full of retro-leaning acoustic pop songs that invoked the spirit of the late ’60 and early ’70s. A sublime work.
Talons’ – Work Stories
One of the rare records where the distinction between album and EP becomes blurry, Work Stories nevertheless saw Talons’ extend a quiet streak of ridiculously impressive records. Hushed and haunted folk-inflected songs comprise Work Stories, each as breathtakingly gripping as the last. Work Stories is another piece of mastery.
While the intro to this piece stated that the majority of the odds and ends would be ignored, an exception is being made for the excessively great split EP that saw Mercury Girls (who also released the excellent Ariana 7″ in 2016), The Spook School, Wildhoney, and Tigercats each contribute two songs. Continental Drift doesn’t feel or operate like the majority of split releases by virtue of its exhaustively complete unification.
All four bands on Continental Drift can come across as singular acts, on closer inspection they begin to appear as slight mutations of each other, rendering this split an effortless listen. There could very well be a group of people that’d mistake Continental Drift as the work of one inhumanly talented band (though the shift in accents may provide a tipping point). Each of the four acts bring their best work to the table and make characteristically strong impressions.
Over Continental Drift‘s eight tracks, not only is there never a weak song, there’s never a weak moment. Each of these songs is tightly crafted and masterfully executed, providing each act with a highlight reel that could attract unfamiliar listeners to the rest of their respective discographies. There are so many soaring moments scattered throughout Continental Drift that the end result is stratospheric. In theory, this split was enticing but in its execution Continental Drift achieves a staggering amount of perfection.
Now that the impressive slate of recent music videos and full streams have been exhaustively covered, it’s time to turn the attention towards individual songs. At the end of the week there were strong offerings from Dyan, Dentist, Cat Be Damned, and Kino Kimino. However, it was a curiosity from Happyness that managed to hit hardest, so it claims this posts feature spot.
Resuming the kind of carefree coasting that’s made their output so far so irresistibly charming, Happyness once again manages to hit a variety of sweet spots as they combine appealing bits of Americana, slacker pop, and proto-punk into a characteristically inviting tapestry. “SB’s Truck” is the kind of song that invites you to get lost and then world-builds so effectively that when it finally ends, it’s somewhat of a disappointment because, well, it ends.
Dissect the song’s narrative and it continues to reward; the song’s built around the little-known fact that celebrated playwrite Samuel Beckett used to give André Rene Roussimoff (more commonly known as André the Giant) to school as a boy because he was too big to fit into a car. It’s the kind of story that exudes the warmth that so frequently defines Happyness’ work. The pairing of the narrative with Happyness’ musical sensibilities is, in a word, perfect.
Whether “SB’s Truck” comes to be regarded as a summer anthem for the literary-minded or eventually, inevitably, becomes a celebrated anomaly of the band’s catalog doesn’t hold any importance. What counts is that for the four and a half minutes the song exists, nothing else seems to matter. A restrained piece of subdued, inspired brilliance, “SB’s Truck” shows that Happyness aren’t going away anytime soon and that they’re still finding ways to improve.
Listen to “SB’s Truck” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the band.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]
It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time.
Watch the first collection of those videos below.
1. Charly Bliss (Audiotree) 2. Julien Baker (NPR) 3. Happyness (KEXP) 4. Car Seat Headrest (NPR) 5. PWR BTTM (KEXP) 6. Kal Marks – Coffee (Allston Pudding) 7. Fern Mayo (BreakThruRadio) 8. Wolf Alice (NPR) 9. Coke Weed (WKNC) 10. Frankie Cosmos – Outside With the Cuties (Pitchfork) 11. All Dogs – Sunday Morning (Little Elephant) 12. Eskimeaux (BreakThruRadio) 13. Sóley (KEXP) 14. Ty Segall & The Muggers – Candy Sam (Conan) 15. Pinegrove – Need 2 (Little Elephant) 16. Beach House – Irene (Pitchfork) 17. Petal – Sooner (WXPN) 18. Ratboys – Collected (DZ Records) 19. together PANGEA – Blue Mirror (Consequence of Sound) 20. VANT – Parking Lot + Do You Know Me (3voor12) 21. Long Beard (BreakThruRadio) 22. Courtney Barnett – Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party (Colbert) 23. Michael Rault – Nothing Means Nothing (Out of Town Films) 24. Sleater-Kinney – Modern Girl (Austin City Limits) 25. Bo Ningen (KEXP)
Occasionally there are weeks where there are simply too many excessively strong live performance clips to highlight with just one entry and this week’s established itself as being of that caliber. It’s a rarity that there are exceptions to the setup of five featured clips and an honorable mentions list of hyperlinked material because it’s generally best to err on the side of brevity for these things. I’m not sure I can conjure up a more ringing endorsement than that for the 10 featured clips that will be running tonight and. as usual, that still leaves out a select few one-time feature candidates. Those performances came from the following acts: The Tallest Man On Earth, All Get Out, Mitski, The Superweaks, Glen Hansard, People Like You, and Screaming Females. The excellent nature of those videos also serve a dual purpose as an indicator of the featured clips’ level(s) of quality. So, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, adjust the screen, lean in, focus, and Watch This.
1. Bully – Bully (Sound Opinions)
A few months ago, Bully lit up Rough Trade and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re an incredible live band. It’s no surprise that this one-off for Sound Opinions crackles with a significant amount of energy. Led by Alicia Bognanno’s stop-you-in-your-tracks vocals it’s- predictably- a seriously impressive example of the band’s considerable amount of charisma and prowess in the live setting. It’s also unmissable.
2. Happyness (NPR)
Over the past few years, Happyness have built themselves a devoted following with their slightly askew approach to a very particular brand of 90’s indebted alt-punk. Now a small handful of records into their career, the trio stopped by NPR’s offices to deliver one of the year’s more memorable Tiny Desk sessions. Wry, wiry, and more than a little droll, they’re a perfect complement to a relaxed Sunday evening.
3. Murder By Death (Audiotree)
For whatever reason, now a large handful of releases into a remarkably consistent discography, Murder By Death still feel at least a little bit like a well-kept secret. This year’s excellent Big Dark Love flew mostly under the radar but saw the band perfecting a mix of their earlier works, which were dominated by a Southern Gothic sensibility, and their more current works, which I’ve frequently described as campfire-haze. Audiotree brought them in for a five-song session that let the band loose in a live setting, where they’ve always had the most pull. Unsurprisingly, the end result is breathtaking.
At this point, Torres has become a staple of this series thanks to 2015 highlight Sprinter and its accompanying post-release campaign. Valeria Toumayan was recently on hand to capture what stands as Torres’ ninth entry in Watch This and sees the young songwriter once again returning to the chilling “A Proper Polish Welcome” (that floating falsetto towards the end of the song kills me every time) as well as the gripping “Harshest Light”. Gorgeous and quietly devastating, this DIY presentation is a bold reaffirmation of Torres’ singular gifts as a solo performer and has a personal feel that perfectly aligns the approaches of the subject and the filmmaker.
5. METZ (KEXP)
METZ are a serious force in the live department. All three occasions I’ve been fortunate enough to catch the trio, they’ve delivered an unforgettable performance that whipped the audience into a feverish frenzy. On the first occasion, it was a small arts center in Champaign-Urbana, on the second it was a blistering homecoming show at a punk bar in Toronto, and- most recently– a midsize venue where the crowd killed the band’s power after being pulled onstage. While all the lights, amps, and various other electronics remain intact for this KEXP session, the band still throws down a blistering set (especially for a radio session) that acts as testimony to their relentless tenacity.
Every Sunday, Watch This runs on this site to celebrate some of the finest performance captures to have surfaced over the past seven days. Here and there, exceptions are made to facilitate some genuinely great performances (this is one of those weeks) but the central focus remains the same: the celebration of a confusingly under-discussed presentation format that allows great filmmaking to intersect with great performances. As has been the case over recent weeks, a lot of clips didn’t wind up in the featured five slot (including some performances from artists who did make it into those positions), which is telling of the quality of those clips that are discussed in greater extent. Those artists include: Jack and Eliza, Nic Hessler, Happyness, Titus Andronicus (x2), SOAK, Oscar, The Sun Parade (x2), On and On, The Wilderness (x2), Restorations, Drenge (x2), Mommy Long Legs, and site favorites Tenement. All of those are worth the clicks but today’s all about the five clips below the introductory paragraph. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, clear your mind of clutter, focus up, and Watch This.
1. Happyness – It’s On You (WFUV)
Happyness have earned their fair share of love on this site and they continue to impress here, in a spirited rendition of “It’s On You”, for Watch This staple WFUV. One of the reasons WFUV keeps showing up in these lists is the way they present the performances; a black backdrop means no visual distractions. It’s a tactic that’s proven troublesome for some bands but Happyness have always been capable of spinning minimalist tendencies into gold and this performance is one of those times.
2. Eskimeaux – Sleeppy Bear (Portals)
On very rare occasions, the format of Watch This will ever-so-slightly deviate from its traditional setup to accommodate an item that was lost in the preceding weeks’ shuffle. Despite Eskimeaux making an increasing number of appearances on the site as of late, the stunning performance clip Portals produced of “Sleepy Bear” somehow became one of those items. Far too lovely to let fall to the wayside, “Sleepy Bear” places all of its emphasis on Gabrielle Smith- the driving creative force behind Eskimeaux- and the results are spellbinding.
3. Diet Cig (BreakThruRadio)
This isn’t the first time Diet Cig have shown up and raised hell on Watch This and it’s seriously unlikely that it’ll be the last. A duo of firecrackers, the band’s entertainment value seems to continuously escalate as the velocity of their headfirst dive into embracing a gleeful insanity increases. As always, their performances here come off like an unexpectedly forceful gut-punch followed by a mischievous, half-apologetic smile.
4. Titus Andronicus – Fatal Flaw (WNYC)
At present, Titus Andronicus have two out-and-out masterpieces under their belt. The Most Lamentable Tragedy, the band’s just-released double album, is the first time they’ve matched the heights of The Monitor and part of that is thanks to a similarly sprawling ambition that’s equaled by the frighteningly honest conviction of bandleader Patrick Stickles. Of course, it wouldn’t have landed in that position without genuinely great songs in its bold narrative arc. The band recently stopped by WNYC’s studios to deliver a performance of a few of those songs, delivering the strongest performance in this particularly raucous take on single “Fatal Flaw”.
5. SOAK – Wait (WFUV)
When SOAK last appeared on Watch This, the young songwriter was centered in a clip that will undoubtedly be featured again as part of this site’s annual year-end roundup celebrating the best of the series. Here, in a breathtaking performance for WFUV, the same grace, devastation, and haunted frailty that made SOAK’s first Watch This entrance so compelling is brought to the fore with a similar effortlessness. It’s absolutely mesmerizing.
After almost four full months, regular Watch This coverage is ready to resume. Once again, every Sunday, there will be an examination of five of the preceding week’s strongest live video clips. The live video’s a historically under-appreciated form of multimedia but one of the most difficult to master. Fortunately, this week had no shortage of strong examples, making it difficult to narrow it down to just five selections. While Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ lovingly tender Warren Zevon cover and Chastity Belt’s KEXP session aren’t featured in the ensuing collection, they’re both deserving of multiple watches. Joining those two videos in that distinction are the five clips listed below, which cover a very broad genre spectrum. All of them are worthy of praise. So, as always, sit down, lean back, forget about your troubles, and Watch This.
1. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me (Coachella)
Here and Nowhere Else still sounds as vital and as necessary as it did since it was released. “I’m Not Part Of Me”, the album’s closing track (and one of our best songs of 2014), still packs an enormous punch and that’s an aspect of the song that only gets enhanced in the live setting. Dylan Baldi remains a fascinating songwriter (and underrated composer) and Jayson Gercyz still seems nearly inhuman behind the kit, making this Coachella performance a must-watch.
2. Natalie Prass – Why Don’t You Believe In Me (Bruxelles Ma Belle)
Natalie Prass’ self-titled record was one of the first major surprises of 2015 and, accordingly, was met with universal acclaim. Here, Prass strips the fleshed-out arrangements of the record back to a bare-bones dual guitar setup. Softly lensed and starkly intimate, Bruxelles Ma Belle captures what may be one of Prass’ most captivating performances yet. R&B-inflected folk cascades across a deserted dining hall and fills every inch of the unlikely venue with feeling, rendering this clip unmissable.
3. Public Service Broadcasting – Go! (WNYC)
Occasionally a band will appear off to the edges on my radar and I’ll forget to check them out before a reminder surfaces in plain view. Public Service Broadcasting were one of those acts and this performance of “Go!” was one hell of a reminder. Starting off as a keys-and-sample led ambient piece before erupting into a monstrous, inventive, forward-thinking beast of a genre-defying song, “Go!” encapsulates close to everything an act primed for a breakout should have. Impassioned, deeply-felt, smartly crafted, and musically boundless, “Go!” provides a feeling of genuine exhilaration. Taking cues from decades’ worth of musical trends, deviations, and subversions, “Go!” quickly becomes unforgettable.
4. Happyness (KEXP)
Weird Little Birthday was a strange release that never seemed to garner the levels of attention it deserved. Whether this was due to the spaced-out release schedule, the rollout campaign, or just issues with timing is anyone’s best guess but those that were fortunate enough to hear it all seemed to be fully on board (it very nearly cracked this site’s best albums of 2014 list). The band recently stopped by KEXP’s offices to deliver a deeply intriguing set that doubled as a demonstration of the band’s seemingly limitless potential. Running the gamut from spaced-out ambient territory to 90’s-leaning slacker pop, it’s the type of performance strong enough to create converts and reinforce the convictions of the already faithful.
5. John Davey – Burning and Bright (GemsOnVHS)
When Heartbreaking Bravery was built part of its structure was a keen focus on immensely promising artists who had yet to receive a higher level of recognition. John Davey fits squarely into this category and, as such, has already received coverage on the site. Here, GemsOnVHS turns their cameras on Davey as he makes his way through the gripping “Burning and Bright”, intercutting sweetly homespun footage of the various stages of a shared meal with the performance to create their best video since the stunning Molly Parden turn-in. Imbued with a familial sense that’s emphasized by the song, it’s a genuinely gorgeous final product that also, incidentally, brings this 69th installment of Watch This to a warm, fitting close.