Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Harvest

The Libertines – Heart of the Matter (Stream)

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Not a lot of new material finds release on a major holiday, though sometimes an item or two manages to slip through the cracks and arrive to little fanfare. It also affords the unique possibility to scour the previous weeks’ offerings for the small releases. In the case of the latter, two submissions made it a little easier and produced two full-lengths worth exploring in Phooey!’s latest ambitious collection songs for my little brother and Govier’s understated gem Hermit Crab. As for the former, there was a lovely short documentary on St. Vincent and another exhilarating song to be released in advance of The Libertines’ comeback album.

Normally, the attention would have fallen to Govier or Phooey!’s releases, considering the considerable magnitude of the other two acts’ recognition levels but now seemed like a good a time as any to honor the profound impact The Libertines had on shaping my musical tastes and preferences. They’re responsible for two of the best full-lengths in the past 15 years in Up the Bracket (their fiery, us-against-everyone debut) and The Libertines (their shattering us-against-each-other diarist masterpiece). If the quartet would have bowed out after their self-titled, it would have been understandable- all of the reasons for the split had been aired and confined to the record. It’s that context which makes the news of their return the second most surprising thing about their recent reunion. The first? It’s mixture of vitality and preservation of quality.

Both of those elements can be witnessed in the band’s latest single, which was quietly released earlier this afternoon. “Heart of the Matter”, like the few tracks that have already acted as teasers in Anthems for Doomed Youth‘s rollout, is a rollicking mid-tempo number that packs a deceptively emotional punch. At this stage in the band’s push back towards reclaiming their relevancy, it’s abundantly clear that the band’s treating this like so much more than a staid cash-grab attempt. All of the their recent songs have sounded heartfelt but this one sounds deeply impassioned; they’ve got more things to say and are kicking things into high gear as a sort of self-flagellation for abandoning the project the first time around.

Swinging back and forth between the band’s most effective atmosphere (bittersweet) and one that’s characteristically chaotic, “Heart of the Matter” plays out like a well-earned, albeit surprisingly late, victory lap. That being said, it doesn’t feel like a legacy statement at all- it’s far too focused and hungry to be equated to an epilogue. Once again, the band finds a way to strike the perfect complementary balance between Pete Doherty’s gift for hard-won levity and Carl Barât’s penchant for commentary and determination, with the two trading off vocal leads like its second nature.

While “Heart of the Matter” feels like an on-the-nose title considering what’s ostensibly the band’s aim, it plays out so honestly that even that winds up carrying an additional meaning. Layered meaning has always been one of the biggest pulls of The Libertines’ sensibility, nullifying the more undesirable aspects of their roguish image and revealing a startling underlying intellect. It’s an element that’s still very present in their work and “Heart of the Matter” is the best example of the band’s current era to have been released to the public. Wry, meaningful, and an unshakable statement, it’s more than enough reason to be excited to have one of the last truly great rock n’ roll bands back in our midst.

Listen to “Heart of the Matter” below and pre-order Anthems for Doomed Youth here.

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 2

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Just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow, there will be a video mixtape compiling some of the most electrifying live performance clips of this past year in an effort to breathe some much-needed life back into the Watch This series that was once a regular staple. In the absolute blur that has been the past four months, this site held onto every scrap of notable material that came swinging through the winter breezes, even if they weren’t always posted about immediately. Watch This once stood as this place’s pulse, a heartbeat that directly emphasized a too-frequently overlooked part of musical culture: stunning live clips. Each week, five from that week would be compiled, written about, and strongly admired. Winsome performances and genuinely stunning a/v are the regular driving forces behind some of the very best the series has ever had to offer- and several of the 25 clips presented here (all selected because they represent the very best of what 2015’s had to offer) certainly fit that mold. Since that’s about as strong of a lead-in as I can manage, I’ll go ahead and leave off- once again- with the tag: sit back, turn the volume up, zero in, and Watch This.

1. Will Butler – Take My Side (Late Show with David Letterman)
2. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sound Opinions)
3. Tenement – Cage That Keeps You In (Don Giovanni Records)
4. Light FM – Pointless (3FM)
5. Parquet Courts – Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth (Coachella)
6. Twerps – Simple Feelings (Pitchfork)
7. NE-HI – Sunbleed (Radio K)
8. Torres – Sprinter (WNYC)
9. Nude Beach (KEXP)
10. Ride – Seagull (KCRW)
11. Unlikely Friends – Wasted It & Sunken Eyes (KEXP)
12. Cherry Glazerr – Had Ten Dollaz (KEXP)
13. Glen Hansard – Being In Love (Late Show with David Letterman)
14. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me (KEXP)
15. The Staves – Black & White + Teeth White (La Blogotheque)
16. Saintseneca – Fed Up With Hunger (Exclaim)
17. Kevin Morby – All My Life (Bandwith.fm)
18. Laura Marling – Walk Alone (NPR)
19. Avers – Harvest (Bandwith.fm)
20. Sand Creeps – No Idea Laughter (Radio K)
21. Creepoid (unARTigNYC)
22. Bully – I Remember (Pitchfork)
23. Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters (KCRW)
24. Kevin Devine – Go Haunt Someone Else (Little Elephant)
25. Courtney Barnett (NPR)

together PANGEA – Badillac (Music Video)

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Due to yesterday’s hundred-marker mixtape, a lot of great just-released content got glossed over. Today, the amendments kick in, provided via hyperlink. There were incredible songs from Left & Right, Wishbone, The History of Apple Pie, Whirr, The Shivas, and Spray Paint. On the more visual end of the spectrum there was a hypnotic video from Literature, a lovingly-lensed performance clip from emerging artist Greylag, and a typically goofy clip from site favorites Krill. Over the past two days, though, only one could snag today’s feature spot and that honor goes to together PANGEA’s ridiculously fun, homage-heavy clip for the title track off of their excellent LP from this year, Badillac.

It’s been a while since their last music video (which, incidentally, also secured a feature spot from this site) and the only real avenue to continue featuring the band has been Watch ThisConsidering just how well Badillac has held up as the year’s worn on, it just didn’t seem  right. Luckily, the band’s offered up a very good reason to give them another turn at bat; a note-perfect ode to classic horror films. There’s an attention to detail that helps this transcend the medium’s usual attempts at pastiche. All in all, it’s one of the more pleasant ways to spend a few minutes that’s been put forth this year- and that’s something that’ll always be next to impossible to argue against.

Watch “Badillac” here and make sure to order the record from Harvest here.