Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Heal

Izzy True – Total Body Erasure (Stream)

izzy-true

Following a small gap in coverage (mostly due to travel and preliminary work on upcoming projects), there’s a lot of material to cover. Roughly five dozen excellent new tracks emerged over that course of time and a third of them will be presented throughout the initial round of review coverage. This particular list constitutes the middle third and contains excellent new numbers from J&L Defer, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Mothers, Bellows, Yohuna, Manuela, Black Marble, June Gloom, Yea-Ming and the Rumours, Juliana Wilson, Angelic Milk, Ubetcha, Creative Adult, Golden Suits, King Creosote, Sharks’ Teeth, Ryan Hemsworth, Ryley Walker, and Lizard Kisses.

The featured track belongs to A Year’s Worth of Memories alum Isabel Reidy’s project, Izzy True. After a dazzling EP, the project’s readying their debut full-length, Nope. Leading off the rollout campaign is the record’s brilliant lead-off single “Total Body Erasure”. Tapping into the swamp-punk, roots, Americana, folk, blues, and dirtied up rock n’ roll influences that made the Troll EP one of last year’s most compelling listens, “Total Body Erasure” also achieves the impressive feat of heightening the level of lyricism attached to the band by tackling a subject that manages to feel both intimate and political without one aspect ever outweighing the other.

It’s an astonishing piece of songwriting that suggests Reidy’s quickly becoming one of this generation’s finest young lyricists. If the rest of Nope can live up to the level set by its introductory piece, Izzy True has a legitimate shot at being one of 2016’s most notable breakout successes. All that’s left is to wait, see, and hit repeat on “Total Body Erasure” until that moment, during that moment, and well past that moment. Whichever way it shakes out ultimately won’t matter. What does matter is the strength of Reidy, Troll, and “Total Body Erasure”, which is more than enough to prove that we should all keep listening.

Listen to “Total Body Erasure” below and keep an eye on Don Giovanni for the pre-orders of Nope. 

Watch This: Vol. 102

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the nature of these upcoming posts, a truncated version of this introductory paragraph will be appearing over the next several installments of this series.] It’s been quite some time since the 100th edition of Watch This went up on this site. There have been a lot of factors going into the extended interim but, as usual, a focal point of that absence was to make sure the preparation work was kept up to date. Full sessions, single song performances, DIY videos, and impressive turn-ins from radio stations abound. So, as always, sit back, adjust the setting, crank the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Hop Along – I Saw My Twin (Ace Hotel)

Hop Along‘s Painted Shut served as the band’s long-overdue breakout moment and they’ve been taking full advantage of the right opportunities since its release. Here, they give a spirited, acoustic-led rendition of “I Saw My Twin” that demonstrates the depth of their considerable abilities. It’s another memorable moment in a growing string of impressive pieces for one of 2015’s most heartening success stories.

2. Strand of Oaks (3voor12)

In 2014, Strand of Oaks turned in some of the year’s most memorable performances and, as a result, became a staple of Watch This. Timothy Showalter’s project hasn’t slowed pace throughout the course of the past 11 months, continuing to be one of the best live bands on the touring circuit. All that being noted, this still somehow manages to feel slightly elevated from the project’s previous work. A soaring reminder from a serious talent.

3. John Grant (The Current)

A few years ago, John Grant emerged as a singular voice in an overcrowded field of songwriters struggling to achieve that status. Grant followed up that feat with a record that cemented his position as one of the most unflinchingly bold artists operating today. Here, he leads his band through two highlights off of that record, “Grey Tickles” and “Global Warming”. To say that they’re arresting performances would be an understatement.

4. Cloud Castle Lake – Genuflect 

Last month, Cloud Castle Lake froze my blood with their appearance at Honor Press’s secret CMJ showcase. Watching the band weave their intricate tapestries together felt akin to a religious experience. While this live take of “Genuflect” they uploaded to their YouTube acount doesn’t quite hit those heights, it comes close enough to warrant a spot here. Beautifully shot and flawlessly performed, it’s one of the strongest hints to date of what this band’s capable of accomplishing.

5. Waxahatchee – Bathtub (Don Giovanni)

It’s been a few years since Waxahatchee’s breakout debut, American Weekend, was first released. That the songs that lived so comfortably in that set still feel so resonant today is a strong indicator of their apparent timelessness. “Bathtub”, in particular, is a song that still cuts deeply anytime it’s played. Don Giovanni recently captured a performance of the song that’s played to a dead silent audience. A perfect document of a small, profoundly moving moment.

Watch This: Vol. 82

[Editor’s Note: This text originally appeared in the preceding volume of Watch This.]

Anyone that’s been keeping an eye on the site knows that it’s been a busy time for both myself and this place. Making the move to Brooklyn has afforded a much greater opportunity for live coverage and that’s something that’s been increasingly evident over the past few posts. There were still be regular coverage on streaming songs, albums, and videos and all of those categories will be caught up in the very near future.

Despite missing last week’s, Watch This isn’t going to go anywhere either. Ostensibly the beating heart of Heartbreaking Bravery, the weekly series devoted to featuring the best live capture releases of the week is one of this site’s defining features. With two weeks worth of releases to reflect on, there’ll be two installments of Watch This to run tonight. Both feature a variety of site favorites (both artists and sources), full sessions, and- as always- extraordinary performances on both sides of the camera. So, as ever, sit back, adjust the volume to your preference, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Vaadat Charigim (KEXP)

In 2013, Vaadat Charigim released a gem of a record in The World Is Well Lost that seemed to get lost in the mix. Whether that was due to the lyrics being sung in a language other than English (Hebrew, in this case) or the promotional campaign missing its mark is anyone’s best guess but what was abundantly clear, even then, was the band’s conviction. They recently released their sophomore effort, Sinking As A Stone, which sharpened a lot of the band’s best qualities. The band took to the KEXP studios and turned in a powerhouse performance that already seems to be creating converts.

2. Screaming Females – Ripe (TCGS)

Screaming Females are climbing up the “most words written about” ladder with a steadfast assurance around here and that’s not a mistake. Time and time again, the band deliver on unexpectedly profound levels. Whether they’re covering Taylor Swift or allowing themselves to be vulnerable enough to serve as central figures for a revealing Lance Bangs documentary. It’s a dynamic that’s guaranteed their position as a perennial Watch This staple and their uninhibited dedication to their craft (along with a very genuine love) manage to continuously seep through their work. Another name of vital importance to Watch This, comedian Chris Gethard, recently secured a deal that took his cable access show to (much) more expansive realms. Here, the two meet for a fiery, costumed performance of “Ripe“, a standout cut from 2015 highlight  Rose Mountain.

3. Strand of Oaks (NPR)

Timothy Showalter is the rare kind of musician who can be equally captivating both unaccompanied and within the context of a full band. HEAL was one of last year’s more unexpectedly brilliant records but it seemed like any time those songs were performed in a live setting, the studio recordings were blown out of the water. NPR’s excellent Tiny Desk Concert series recently had Showalter stop in on his lonesome and they were paid back with a stunning three song performance that should cement Showalter’s status as one of today’s most intrinsically compelling performers. Deeply felt and utterly captivating, this is a songwriting (and solo performance) masterclass.

4. Speedy Ortiz (KEXP)

Nearly every regular source that gets utilized for the curation of Watch This seemed to host Speedy Ortiz over the past month. A few of those videos made it into various installments while a few just barely missed the cut. None of them were anywhere close to as strong as this KEXP-hosted four song knockout. All of the songs in this session are executed with an excess of verve and passion, not in a manner all that dissimilar from the last time they came through the station. Playing nothing but highlights from this year’s outstanding Foil Deer, the session becomes a capsule document of a band in the throes of both artistic reinvention and breakout success.

5. Hop Along (WNYC)

The last artist on this list with a long history of Watch This appearances, Hop Along‘s most definitely the one to have experienced the most momentum in 2015. With the extraordinary Painted Shut (their first effort for Saddle Creek) elevating them from “best-kept secret” status to universal critical adoration, they’ve also managed to considerably expand their fan base. It’s difficult to think of a more deserving band when taking into account the exceptional levels of songwriting and their years spent relentlessly touring small bars and DIY venues. They’re making every possible effort at seizing a moment that’s rightfully theirs and WNYC became the latest channel to capture evidence. In three songs, the band manages to demonstrate every facet that earned them an unprecedented amount of loyalty and support in their early goings while simultaneously establishing what makes them such a cherished act in today’s musical landscape.

Watch This: Vol. 62

[Please refer to Vol. 59 for the introductory paragraph.]

1. Lower – Bastard Tactics (Radio K)

Seek Warmer Climes was a restless and unforgiving record that found Lower making huge strides and revealing a widescreen ambition. “Bastard Tactics” was one of the standout moments and a song that suggested the band was in search of something more. Radio K let the band invade its studios and filmed them as they tore the subtly foreboding “Bastard Tactics” to shreds.

2. Perfect Pussy (Pitchfork)

No band has meant more to this site than Perfect Pussy. No band has been covered on this site more than Perfect Pussy. Why? Time plays a factor; the band was just starting to emerge when the site was just starting. Perfect Pussy’s politics match up with what this site strives to enforce either implicitly or explicitly. Their music exists on a spectrum that this site was built to support and the band readily embraces a DIY ethos that this site was built to celebrate. They’ve become one of the most divisive bands of the last several years and incited a staggering amount of vitriol over policies built off of an empathetic foundation. Vocalist Meredith Graves has emerged as one of the stronger voices in a variety of things that can no longer be neglected and has penned some of the most memorable lyrics of the past two years. While a lot of these statements are extremely subjective, one thing isn’t: this band lives for the live setting. No matter how battered they are mentally or physically, no matter how much adversity they’re (somewhat inexplicably) forced to face, and no matter how downright exhausted they are, one thing never changes: they transform into extremes of themselves after all of their amps are up and running. Graves may be on the verge of losing her voice because of her repeatedly public exorcisms (which are often violent) of extremely personal information while on stage and things may sound like their threatening to fall apart at any given second but that’s part of what makes the band fascinating. There’s a palpable sense of danger and uncertainty that the band conjures up while they’re on whatever stage they’re given and, no matter how rough things get, they’ve never failed to come out of the other side grinning through their collective grimace, that much stronger for the battle. Their marathon set for Pitchfork Paris? No exception.

3. Strand of Oaks – Mirage Year (Out of Town Films)

Strand of Oaks’ Heal was as immersive and elegiac as just about anything to have been released over the past 12 months. Easily the band’s finest work to date, it saw them expanding on early promise in leaps and bounds. “Mirage Year” was one of the most startlingly gorgeous moments on an already unreasonably strong album. Out Of Town Films set up camp and turned their lenses on the band as they set to work on delivering a jaw-dropping performance that only gets stronger as it goes, with everything culminating in a breathtaking guitar freakout that brings the song to a smoky close. Add in some top-tier cinematography and the end result’s not only inexplicably moving- it’s also one of the best live clips this series has ever had in its ranks.  Watch it below.

4. Ought (Pitchfork)

Was there any record more unexpected this year than Ought’s More Than Any Other Day? More importantly, how many were as brilliant? For just about 46 minutes, the band fearlessly collapses the connections between post-punk, electro-pop, noise-punk, and brit-pop while exploring the lightly-treaded territories that best suit their whimsy. More than just about any record, More Than Any Other Day sounded like a mission statement that was shot straight through with youthful abandon, disregard for conventionalism, and a slightly askew professionalism. Endearingly spastic and undeniably strange, their set for Pitchfork Paris becomes hypnotic and nearly impossible to evade once it’s in motion. Piercing and precise, the band’s already shockingly close to a willfully weird perfection.

5. La Sera – Hour of the Dawn (Last Call With Carson Daly)

In 2013, Mikal Cronin made his name known by virtue of releasing the perfect summer album in MCII. La Sera came dangerously close to achieving the same thing this year with the towering Hour of the Dawn. Last Call With Carson Daly has been the most music-centric late night network television program going for some time now, allotting multiple-song performances to their featured artists on a regular basis. As was previously mentioned, even in crowded company, La Sera’s stood out as one of the best the show’s ever seen. “Hour of the Dawn” is the second of the three songs to be featured in one episode- and in this setting, it comes vibrantly alive.

[Due to some technical issues, this video can only currently be seen here.]