Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Jarett Dougherty

Screaming Females – Empty Head (Stream)

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All of the evidence Screaming Females have been providing us of late seem to indicate that their upcoming album, the exquisitely titled Rose Mountain, could easily become their finest work to date. While most people seem intent on calling Ugly their crowning achievement, the debate over their previous “best record” had been endless. Even with Ugly in the mix, the separation between that record and, say, Power Move, isn’t all that sizeable. All of their records are absurdly strong pieces of work that feel gargantuan and genuinely complete, yet the songs they’ve been teasing Rose Mountain seem to exceed even that absurdly high level. “Ripe“, “Wishing Well“, and even “Let Me In” (the B-side to “Wishing Well”) all rank among the best songs the band’s ever done and that winning streak’s being extended with their most recent teaser track, “Empty Head”.

As was the case with “Wishing Well” and “Ripe”, the band seems to have opted to eschew their more abrasive tendencies to create something that pushes their arresting melodic sensibilities to new extremes. Bandleader Marissa Paternoster seems to be dragging her main project towards the realms that occupied the extraordinary Holy Hell, the last album from her solo project, Noun. There’s an undeniable pop bent to “Empty Head”, which features yet another chorus that finds the band swinging for the fences and connecting with a startling emphasis. It’s a less intimidating affair than a lot of the band’s past work but yet another indication that basements simply won’t be enough to contain this band or their sound. If Ugly was their breakthrough effort, expect Rose Mountain to push them into even higher echelons. Just don’t expect them to lose sight of their roots. For all they’ve accomplished in terms of stature, Screaming Females are still a band who are very comfortable with where (and who) they are.

Listen to “Empty Head” below, with it’s brilliant Paternoster time-lapse art video, and order Rose Mountain as soon as it’s out from Don Giovanni.

Watch This: Vol. 26

Well, it’s been a while but by the end of today Watch This will be back on track. This is, once again, thanks in no small part to an abundance of great material to have come out over the past week or so. With the influx of material being so strong, this will be the first of two Watch This posts to go live today. Both sections are going to be filled with bands that have never been featured and old favorites. In this installment, the newcomers get featured a little more heavily but there’s still enough room for a genre mainstay or two. All of it’s worth investing some time and, really, the best course of action? Lean into it- and Watch This.

1. Picastro – Mountain Relief (BreakThruRadio)

Kicking off the series this time around is Liz Hysen’s long-running Toronto-based project, Picastro. BreakThruRadio invited her in to film a performance and Hysen delivers an absolutely haunting rendition of “Mountain Relief”. There’s a short interview that follows the performance but the real takeaway from this is just how arresting “Mountain Relief” is. It’s on Picastro’s most recent record, You, which is more than worth anyone’s time.

2. Constant Lovers – 14 Missed Calls (KEXP)

It’s been a while since there’s been a KEXP session quite as lively as the insane one Constant Lovers just turned in. Among their set’s most intense moments was this fiery as hell take on “14 Missed Calls”. All intense guitar jabs and one of the fiercest vocal takes imaginable, “14 Missed Calls” proved to be one of the best parts of the last week in music. It’s a must-watch.

3. Menace Beach – Fortune Teller (3VOOR12)

One of the more intriguing acts of the last few years, Menace Beach have yet to release a record. This hasn’t stopped them from earning praise and coverage in a variety of major taste-making publications. The Leeds-based group has one hell of a pedigree between their two main members and rotating cast; nearly everyone involved has achieved some level of notoriety with at least one other project. From this video alone, it’s abundantly clear that this band knows what they’re doing. 


4. Black Lips – Smiling (KEXP)

There are some things that just don’t change- one of them is that Black Lips are a great live band. No matter how much the band varies their sound or how strong whatever record their touring behind is, their live shows consistently bring an incredible amount of energy to the table. While not all of that translates over to a taped session (a literal impossibility considering there’s no crowd interaction), it’s still fun enough to earn a spot here.


5. Screaming Females – Baby Jesus (Audiotree)

As is the case with Black Lips, Screaming Females have one of the best live sets in the game. Having torched the basement circuit with a vengeance, the New Brunswick act has seemingly set their sights on world domination. Pity anyone that gets in their way. This will be the first of two videos from their Audiotree session to be featured today because there’s no way they don’t both deserve to be featured. This is a masterclass.