Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Heliotropes

Watch This: Vol. 144

To ease Watch This back into its regularly scheduled rotation, the following will focus on the two weeks that occurred after the last installment was published. In that time, Acapulco Lips (x2), Wasted On You, Chain of Flowers, Pinegrove, Peter Bjorn and John, Sunbathe, Good Personalities, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Claire Cottrill, The Brokedowns, Kississippi, Haley Bonar, Billie Marten, Bayonne (x2), Entrance, Lush (x2), The Blank Tapes, JFDR, The Frights, Teleman, The Districts, Doe, Marissa Nadler, Joshua Bell & Jeremy Denk, No Honeymoon, Aaron & Bryce Dessner with Ben Lanz and Boys Noize, BlackGlass, The Minders, Super Furry Animals, Kristin Kontrol, Tenement, Queen of Jeans, Michael Kiwanuka, Breanna Barbara, Corbu, All People, Boss Fight, Margo Price, Titus Andronicus, Brass Bed, Somos, Oliver John-Rodgers, Foxing, The Wombats, and PWR BTTM all found themselves at the center of outstanding performance clips. Competition that strong says more about the strength of the five featured clips that could be conveyed with mere words. All five bands have been featured on the site in the past and the performances range from genuinely exhilarating to utterly devastating. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the volume, block out any excess noise, focus, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Never Young – Soap (Prisma Guitars)

Immediately kicking things back into the highest gear possible is this Prisma Guitars session from site favorites Never Young. Easily one of the most explosive single-song performance clips to ever be featured throughout the 140+ installments of this series, the quartet careens through an adrenaline-inducing take on “Soap” that sees them giving the session their everything. Beautifully shot and presented with an enormous amount of conviction, this is exactly the type of clip that Watch This was built to celebrate.

2. Greys (KEXP)

Greys have made several appearances throughout this series’ run and touring on their recently-released Outer Heaven‘s allowing them even more opportunities to be featured. The band recently stopped by the KEXP studios for a full session that features songs from their past three releases, including their most recent work, Warm Shadow. As always, the band plays with a barely-contained energy, an incredible amount of tenacity, and a deep-seated passion that makes this another vital document of one of today’s most exciting acts.

3. Heliotropes – Primates (BreakThruRadio)

For a few years now, Heliotropes have been quietly carving out an impressive name for themselves, earning the respect of both critics and their peers. Creatively restless and endlessly intriguing, the band continues to impress with this BreakThruRadio performance of “Primates”. It’s a glimpse towards the future the band’s angling towards and it’s impossibly tantalizing. One of their finest songs to date, “Primates” keys in on the band’s wiriest post-punk tendencies and sporadically cuts them to shreds. If this is indicative of the rest of the band’s forthcoming material, start bracing for something genuinely explosive.

4. The Coathangers (KEXP)

The second KEXP session of this installment features The Coathangers, who have been touring hard behind their excellent Nosebleed Weekend. Celebrating both that record and the 20th anniversary of the label that released the record, Suicide Squeeze, finds the band in exceptionally high spirits. All of that culminated in an unshakable, infectious joy that drives this session, making it both immediately accessible and surprisingly memorable. The trio remains in fine form throughout the session, playing with ramshackle glee while maintaining an impressively tight grasp on the songs, creating what could be considered a definitive portrait.

5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Girl In Amber

After enduring unspeakable loss, Nick Cave allowed filmmaker Andrew Dominik into his creative process to create One More Time With Feeling, a documentary that follows both the creation of Skeleton Tree and Cave’s battle with grief in the wake of his youngest son’s tragic death. It’s excruciatingly heartrending from an outsider’s perspective and Dominik elegantly underscores how unthinkably difficult it’d be to be in that situation. In the third studio video to be released from the project, Cave continues to look completely lost and withdrawn, as if perpetually trying to wrestle his thoughts down.

“Girl In Amber” also expertly incorporates Dominik’s inspired direction and the technical wizardry that went into the 3D, black-and-white filming of One More Time With Feeling. The overall effect’s equal parts haunting and haunted, creating an unforgettable impression. This is a staggering work of bravery and artistry, each colliding with the other to produce something as singular as it is captivating. As the camera circles Cave, surveying his every movement and placing him at the center of swirling uncertainty, Cave repeats “don’t touch me” as the video cuts to black, providing one last breathtaking moment of a miniature masterpiece.

LVL UP – Pain (Stream, Live Video)

LVL UP XXV

Over the course of the day, a whole host of great material has found its way out into the greater world. Included in this wealth of worthy new releases included streams from Steve Adamyk Band, Slow Down Molasses, Happy Diving, Buildings, Beach Slang, PJ Harvey, Flock of DimesItsaca, The Holy CircleBodies Be Rivers, The Moles, and a Littler cover of a Muffs classic with all of the proceeds of the cover going to Campaign Zero. Additionally, there were exceptional full streams from the following: Gay Sin, Heliotropes, Blue Smiley, and Pure Disgust. Finally, the music video format saw excellent new entries from the likes of Sneeze, Honeyblood, Sleeping Beauties, and Hinds.

Really, though, ever since Sub Pop’s announcement of their newest acquisition, this day has all but belonged to LVL UP. The band’s been working on their full-length follow-up to Hoodwink’d — this site’s pick for 2014’s Album of the Year — steadily for well over a year. Today, they unveiled the first track to be heard from that record, which will be titled Return to Love, with the perpetually shifting “Pain”.

Easily one of the finest songs Mike Caridi has contributed to the band to date (which is no mean feat), “Pain” is simultaneously one of the band’s most ambitious and arresting songs, demonstrating the breadth of their expanded scope in one fell swoop. Opening with a melancholic ambient swirl, “Pain” quickly ups the tempo and quickly begins presenting scathing, intimate questions like “where is the one who loved you, unconditionally?” and never lets down the intensity for a moment.

Ultimately, the song settles into the self-defeating mantra of “Never Find Love” before a volcanic eruption of feedback, distortion, and noise subsumes the song and quickly transforms it into a seething maelstrom of formidable power, reaching a level of darkness of which their most recent release — the excellent Three Songs EP — hinted towards. The quartet really lays into that final section during their sets (“Pain” has been a live staple for some time) and tap into some intangible quality that seems to elevate them as a unit, locking into some sort of terrifying trance and playing off of each other with startling precision.

“Pain”, likely more than most of their recent songs, pays homage to the band’s past while remaining determined to look towards the future. In striking that balance, LVL UP has managed to produce a song that does more than justify their Sub Pop signing, set up Return to Love‘s release, and remind people of why they came to be such a force. It becomes a transportive experience that nears moments of transcendence.  Should the rest of Return to Love live up to the standard set by its first single, the band may find themselves following up a miniature masterpiece (Hoodwink’d) with the real thing.

Listen to “Pain” below (and watch a slightly blown-out video of the band running through an earlier version of the song last year at Palisades below the embed) and pre-order Return to Love from Sub Pop here.

Rod – Cemetery (Stream)

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Great new tracks from Chook Race, TERRY, Milemarker, Heliotropes, Night School, Big Neck Police, TTNG, Morgan Dealt, Parlour, Waxahatchee, and Jay Arner surfaced over the past several days, making a considerable impression. While all of them essentially guaranteed a short, healthy stretch of new releases, it was the latest from Rod that hit hardest. The band’s next up on the release calendar for Good Cheer, who have been having a remarkable 2016 run (one that’s been highlighted by Mo Troper‘s astonishing Beloved) and “Cemetery” — Rod’s latest — makes sure their impressive pace is maintained.

In under 100 seconds, Rod makes their presence known via soaring, venomous basement pop that feels like it’s always on the verge of spontaneous combustion and doing everything in its power to keep everything under control. As the vocals switch back and forth between pointed singing and vicious screaming, the velocity of “Cemetery” increases to dangerous levels. The hard-charging guitars contort and stab as the propulsive rhythm section work transforms the song into a white-hot wrecking ball of pure feeling. It’s an exhilarating look at what’s sure to be an extremely formidable — and very intimidating — record.

Listen to “Cemetery” below and keep an eye on Good Cheer Records’ store page — and this site — for further updates on the band.

Birth (Defects) – Hanshin (Stream)

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Deerhoof, Mumblr, TUNS, Speedy Ortiz, Toys That Kill, Erin Tobey, Moonface and Siinai, Heliotropes, Martha, Decorations, Nassau, Pink Mexico, Psychic Ills, The Julie Ruin, PAWS, benjamin783, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Mikey Erg, Cass McCombsDavid Åhlén, Mourn, Fleurie, ARMSGrieving, Lake JonsWildes, Madeline Kenney, and The By Gods all released impressive songs at either the end of last week or the start of this one. The Sidekicks got in on the action with a lovely cover of a Chris Bell classic. As good as all of those were, Birth (Defects) claimed this post’s feature spot with a fierce new addition to an increasingly impressive discography.

Birth (Defects), Sean Gray‘s continuously evolving noise/hardcore project, have been consistently impressive ever since they made their introductory rounds. Now, fresh off the addition of Roomrunner guitarist Jeff Byers, the band’s striking their way back out into the world with the vicious “Hanshin”. Inspired by the love that Gray (who also heads Is This Venue Accessible) has for Japanese baseball team the Hanshin Tigers, the song hits harder than anything Birth (Defects) has released in their still-young career.

More importantly, “Hanshin” shows Birth (Defects) have latched onto a distinct identity that’s firmly rooted in their own convictions. Elevating “Hanshin” even further is the grime-coated production of Perfect Pussy‘s Shaun Sutkus (who also has a noise project of his own, Pretengineer), who’s perfectly suited to Birth (Defects)’s brand of noise-damage. Everything that the band’s thrown into “Hanshin” clicks effortlessly, each part complementing and elevating all of its surrounding elements. Brash, unapologetic, and ferocious, “Hanshin” is the best Birth (Defects) have ever sounded and sets the band up nicely for an exhilarating run. Keep up or get left in the dust.

Listen to “Hanshin” below and keep an eye on Reptilian Records for the release of the forthcoming 7″.