Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: L

Charly Bliss – Live at McCarren Park – 8/12/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Charly Bliss LIV

Last night, this site ran a summary of what went down at Sharkmuffin’s release show last Friday. About halfway through that post, a lot of ecstatic praise gets directed towards Charly Bliss, who have somehow only managed to get better since releasing what might be the best EP of the decade so far. Since the release of that EP, their name has shown up here quite a few times and guitarist/vocalist Eva Hendricks was even kind enough to submit a wonderful piece to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series. When they were announced as the pre-film band for SummerScreen, Brooklyn’s best film and concert series, I immediately cleared any lingering conflicts to make sure I could be in attendance. Their slot came right before Labyrinth, which won a poll to emerge as the “Audience Favorite” pick- ensuring that the quartet would be playing to a large crowd.

Before the show, Hendricks was wracked with nerve while the band’s other guitarist/vocalist, Spencer Fox, remained nonchalant. It took them less than a minute of diving into “Percolator”, the first song of their set, to find a middle-ground in giddy energy. One of the things that I’ve come to love the most about Charly Bliss is that when they play live, they’re clearly doing what they love and coaxing the most out of it that they possibly can. Instead of coming across as showy or theatrical, their stage antics feel grounded in an honesty that makes them even more compelling. It doesn’t fade, either, it builds as it goes until the band collectively approaches a white-hot intensity that makes the band members actually exploding seem about as likely as their amps blowing.

Unmistakably a Charly Bliss set (read: unbelievably great), the outdoor, family-friendly setting suited their sunnier sensibilities to perfection and the sound carried extraordinarily well. Small children danced, a handful of senior citizens cracked smiles, and a man on a bench outside the gates couldn’t help himself from shaking his head in admiration- and then in tempo- by the time the band hit “Love Me“, their perennial closer (and one of this site’s picks for last year’s best songs). From the audience’s increasingly positive reactions to the post-set autograph requests, it was abundantly clear that they’d made more than a few converts- and they did it on their own terms, doing one of the things that they love most. It’s exactly the kind of thing that this site was built to celebrate. As classic as Jim Henson’s Bowie-fueled fever dream has come to be, it wasn’t even close to the evening’s finest moment. Great weather, a great set riddled with great songs, and a sense of genuine camaraderie tipped the scales and everything- as it has so frequently in the past year- came up Charly Bliss.

A gallery of photos from Charly Bliss’ set can be seen here and a video embed containing a few songs from the set can be found below.


Watch This: Vol. 47

Welcome to the 47th installment of Watch This, the weekly series that celebrates five of the best live videos to emerge from the past seven days. These videos can be pulled from anywhere but need to have one unifying factor; they need to feature great performances. In the last full week of September, things were no different. This week’s entries cover a unique spread that reaches to the furthest corners of the genres that usually get covered on this site. From KEXP sessions to another outstanding take for Little Elephant, this week had quite a bit of material that warranted quite a bit of attention. Mining both the mainstays and the furthest reaches of various resources resulted in an eclectic mix of bands- and live videos- well worth the time. So, sit back, unwind, turn the volume up, lean in, and Watch This.

1. Cymbals Eat Guitars (KEXP)

2014 may not see a record more personal than Cymbals Eat Guitars’ LOSE. Their third full-length was directly informed by the loss of a close friend, something that’s heavily referenced throughout the course of the album. While it’s strange to say a record’s life-affirming in the face of such heavy subject matter, it’s equally difficult to argue against with songs like “Jackson” (easily one of the year’s best songs) and “Warning“. As exhilarating as those songs are on LOSE, they’re given new life in a live setting- with the emotional resonance firmly in tact.

2. Little Big League – Deer Head (Little Elephant)

Over the past week, no band has earned more feature spots that Little Big League. After last week’s Watch This segment, they went ahead and released the stunning “Property Line” in advance of their upcoming record, Tropical Jinx. “Deer Head” is another take from their Little Elephant session and shows the band in fine form, navigating their way through the song’s transitions with no shortage of verve. Put simply, this is just another strong example of why Little Big League are one of today’s most exciting young bands.

3. Free Cake For Every Creature (WKNC)

Skewed outsider pop can be a beautiful thing that brings out the best of the people that lend it any amount of investment. Free Cake For Every Creature have experienced an outpouring of support from people that have the power to bring them a staggering amount of recognition. It’s easy to see why; the band crafts music that’s relatable, endearingly fractured and absurdly catchy. Everyday problems ground the lyrics while a jittery nervousness propels the off-kilter arrangements. Packaged together, it becomes endlessly fascinating and rewards investment with a surprisingly assured ease. Their WKNC session confirms what an increasing number of people already know: this is music worth celebrating.

4. Tycho (KEXP)

Tycho are an anomaly. They defy an easy convention, are defined by their no-wave and post-punk influences as much as they are by their tendencies towards electro and dance-punk. Here, KEXP invites them in for a session and the band quickly finds their way into impenetrable grooves, aided by the backdrop of a projection display of what appears to be random archival footage. While most bands operating in similar territories could easily coast on impressive music ability alone, what makes Tycho stand out is their music’s penchant for being engaging so instantaneously. This is a masterclass in compelling song dynamics, innate ability, and genre defiance.

5. Earth (unARTigNYC)

Nearly everything that can be said about Earth has already been spoken, shouted, whispered, or printed. The doom-y ambient overlords have staked out a reputation as one of the most influential acts in music by virtue of an immensely impressive discography that touches on a variety of increasingly prominent genres. As mesmerizing as ever and more accessible than any point in their career, the trio recently stopped by St. Vitus to deliver a characteristically foreboding set as part of the David Lynch Foundation benefit. As always, t’s a fascinating exercise in tension and restraint, steadily building towards a climactic moment that never seems to come.