Nearly a year ago, this site hosted the premiere of Honeyfitz’s oddly moving clip for “October Air“, which demonstrated a lot of promise. That promise has continued to build over that near-year, culminating in a forthcoming EP entitled Cutting Your Hair. It’s highlight, the elegiac “Haircut”, premieres here tonight.
Elihu Jones, the mastermind behind Honeyfitz, has refined both technique and control over time, honing what can prove to be an elusive craft. One of the more intriguing figures operating in the bedroom pop world, Jones has never shied away from confronting difficulty, something on full display in “Haircut”. Not only is this Honeyfitz’s finest moment to date, as beautiful as it is mournful, it’s also the most challenging. There’s a sense that Jones is probing at some demons in “Haircut” and it can be uncomfortable to contemplate even as the composition radiates a tranquil beauty.
Even though the track is two and a half minutes, by the time “Haircut” ends, it only seems as if the song’s been playing for mere seconds. There’s a magnetic pull that takes the listener deep into a painfully relatable world, touching on the ennui of young adulthood to mesmerizing effect. Everything here works gorgeously, from the shouted backing vocals that act as both punctuation marks and affirmations that hope exists to the instrumentation itself, which is the most richly layered work of Honeyfitz’s young discography.
“Haircut” is another perfect song to soundtrack a volatile spring, offering up glimpses of warmth in a struggle to escape barren desolation. A major triumph, “Haircut” is a song that deserves to be heard by the people who are willing to listen. A sublime work and a potent reminder of Jones’ burgeoning talent, it’s a song that doesn’t deserve to be missed.
Listen to (and watch a clip for) “Haircut” below and keep an eye on Honeyfitz’s bandcamp for more updates about Cutting Your Hair.
One of the most distinct pleasures of running something like Heartbreaking Bravery is the unsolicited submissions that wind up hitting home. Artists from all corners of the world, several of which using their own bedroom as their primary recording space, making music that deserves to be heard by so many more people than what music’s disheartening industry politics will ever allow. This site was created as a push-back against the idea that something needs to attract an excess of clicks to be featured and it’s why when something as oddly moving and quietly superlative as Honeyfitz’s “October Air” comes along, it gets its due celebration.
Elihu Jones, the mastermind behind Honeyfitz, has been making exceptional records for the past few years. Old Patterns, Honeyfitz’s forthcoming effort, looks to be the project’s finest to date and it’s highlighted by tracks like “In Circles“, “Dream Restless“, and “October Air”. The latter of that trio’s premiering here today with a gorgeous, simplistic hybrid clip that acts both as a hypnotic visualizer that underpins the passing of time as well as a straightforward lyric clip.
It’s elegant, clever, and uniquely absorbing in its construction but everything’s heightened by the song itself, which is sung with an urgent quaver and awash in pristine tones as much as it is noise damage. Clocking in at just under two minutes, it’s a testament to Honeyfitz’s penchant for coaxing maximal impact out of a minimal setup and it’s a beautiful window into one of today’s many great bedroom pop artists. This is exactly the type of effort that should receive a lot more praise.
Watch “October Air” below and pre-order Old Patterns here.
Making the deal even sweeter, the project’s offered up a gorgeous lyric clip to accompany the release of “I’m Fine” that was meticulously crafted using cut-outs of vintage issues of Life magazine. In that approach, “I’m Fine” gets the benefit of having an appreciative sense of history, which, in turn, winds up enlivening the entire affair. The song itself is an eloquently composed slice of muted basement pop, anchored by a frighteningly relatable sense of human longing.
From the warm synth beds to the imagery placement, there’s not a false note or move to be found anywhere in “I’m Fine”, which has an emotional resonance that’s impossible to ignore. Even with all of the ostensible anguish that drives the song’s narrative — and the wistful nostalgia that fuels the clip — as soon as it’s over, the only thing that seems to make sense is to go straight back to the beginning and experience every inch of “I’m Fine” all over again.
Watch “I’m Fine” below and pre-order Never Going Home here.
Over the past two days, there haven’t been an overwhelming amount of interesting music videos. The ones that have made an impression, though, made that impression count. Whether it was Car Seat Headrest‘s wry lyric clip for “Fill in the Blank” (a song that features a tremendous outro sequence that allows the song to slowly disintegrate), DTCV‘s Steven Soderbergh(!)-directed, commentary heavy clip for “Histoire seule“, Audacity‘s delightfully scrappy “Dirty Boy“, The Julie Ruin’s Katie Crutchfield-featuring “I Decide“, and Acapulco Lips’ amusingly Gothic “Awkward Waltz“, there were treasures to be found.
The focus, once more, falls to a modest music video from another extremely strong (and, thus far, woefully overlooked) cut from this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016‘s First Quarter list: Hudson Bell‘s invigoration “Box of Bones”. The Chris Cranford-directed clip for the song is as immediate and direct as the track itself, avoiding getting hung up on unnecessary flourishes and keeping its more absurd elements completely grounded. Compelling, surprisingly nuanced, and artfully crafted, “Box of Bones” manages to lace its accessibility with some powerful imagery while retaining just enough weirdness to keep it from being too easily digestible (or disposable). All told, it’s a thrilling look at Hudson Bell’s current state of mind and a very tantalizing teaser for the act’s forthcoming record, Yerba Buena, which may finally net the project the attention and acclaim it truly deserves.
Listen to “Box of Bones” below and pre-orded Yerba Buena ahead of its release here.
MOURN hit this site with the force of a runaway train and created a crater in the wake of Captured Track’s unveiling of the live clip of “Otitis” that accompanied their signing announcement. Now, the band’s following up their acclaimed self-titled release with a spiky single, Gertrudis, headlined by the almost-title track “Gertrudis, Get Through This!”. As has been the case with the preceding posts, this wasn’t the only release that merited a reasonable amount of attention to have appeared throughout the past week. Chuck Ragan released an incredibly effective artistic lyric video for “Vagabond“, his collaboration with Lucero’s Ben Nichols, Jon Snodgrass, and Chad Price while World Cafe released the full recording of their recent Hop Along session (which made an appearance in the last Watch This). Tomorrow’s Tulips hit a career high with their meticulously constructed video for “When” and Rice Milk’s hypnotic burst of minimalist basement pop, “Take My Weight“.
While each of those four selections deserve to be heard (and seen), it’s MOURN that earn the title feature this time around on the sheer magnitude of “Gertrudis, Get Through This!”. From the opening cadence that gets fired off like a countdown to the anthemic chorus, this exudes powerhouse. Sharp and intuitive, the track serves as a blistering reminder of the band’s unique strengths, providing an extra exclamation point to their spectacular self-titled effort. Fiery and unyielding, “Gertrudis, Get Through This!” bodes well for the band’s future and seems to indicate their resistance to any outside pressure. Call it a declaration or call it a manifest, just make sure to also call it what it truly is: a great song.
Listen to “Getrudis, Get Through This!” below and pick up Gertrudis from iTunes here.
A small handful of great clips have managed to appear over the past few days. Those videos include Inheaven’s deeply unsettling “Slow“, Alabama Shakes’ gorgeous, 2001-indebted “Sound & Color“, TULA’s uncompromisingly stunning “River“, Toro Y Moi’s grocery store adventure “Lilly“, Lonnie in the Gardens’ stark, contrasting “Natasha“, Derider’s foreboding, effects-laden “Rusty Nail“, and The Teen Age’s grotesquely clever narrative experiment “Low Cunning“. All seven of those entries are fine examples of the format but today’s focus falls to an even more niche field: the lyric video. It’s difficult to make one that’s compelling enough to act as a standalone (the only two that immediately come to mind from last year are Lady Lamb’s “Billions of Eyes” and HDTV’s gloriously insane “Wrong Hole“) but Titus Andronicus prove to be more than up to the challenge with their clip for the characteristically frantic (and typically brilliant) “Dimed Out”.
Any band that creates a record on the level of The Monitor(i.e., an unimpeachable masterpiece) is going to have to deal with a career of heightened expectations. More than a few songwriters have buckled under that weight- but the ones that haven’t all share a similar quality: unerring ambition. Patrick Stickles belongs to that select group of perennially unsatisfied minds. And, yes, Local Business may have seemed diminutive in comparison to its immediate predecessor but it still held up as a complete, compelling work. For Stickles & co.’s forthcoming record, the stakes have been raised yet again- this time in the form of a double-album rock opera staged in five acts, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, that seems to hinge on a through-line that heavily reflects on identity and manic depression. The band’s assembled a murderer’s row of guests for the record, ranging from The So So Glos to Owen Pallett to Lost Boy ?, and just unveiled the surprisingly gripping Stickles-directed lyric video for lead-off single “Dimed Out”. Lyric clips are very rarely executed as well as Stickles manages here (the instruction manual section is particularly golden) and the whole thing’s teeming with the band’s uncontainable energy providing it with an extra jolt of headlong exhilaration.
Watch “Dimed Out” below and pre-order The Most Lamentable Tragedy from Merge here.
Live music videos never seem to get the emphasis they deserve. It’s part of why Watch This was created; to celebrate stunning documents of equally stunning performances. A good band can make a great record but a truly great band usually excels in the live setting. With 2014 winding to a close (and with another 100 posts in the past), it seemed appropriate to start reflecting on some of the year’s best offerings. Lists of LP’s, EP’s, 7″ releases, and more will be forthcoming but today the focus will fall on live clips. And, yes, 2014’s not quite over yet and there will be a few weeks worth of live clips to consider (in addition to the past few weeks, which will be focused on in the posts immediately following this one) and “best” is still subjective- but the videos contained in this mix were simply too good to just feature once. If there’s enough material, an appendix will be added around the start of next year.
To be eligible for this video mixtape, the videos involved had to have been previously featured in Watch This and not contain an interview sequence. Full sets were ruled out as well (with a lone exception being made for one of 2014’s best videos in any capacity to provide a sense of closure to the proceedings). These videos were pulled in from as many places as possible with only Chart Attack, La Blogotheque, and Little Elephant making repeat entries (with two each). From the painfully gorgeous (Mutual Benefit, Angel Olsen) to sublime perfection (Radiator Hospital, Little Big League) to the absurdly impressive (Kishi Bashi) to the most electric late night performance of 2014 (Ty Segall), there’s a little something for everyone. 25 clips are included and listed below, with a hyperlink provided to their respective installments in Watch This‘ always expanding catalog. Since this brings the site to another 100 post mark, hyperlinks will be provided to posts 300-399 for anyone interested in checking out past material. With all of this exposition out of the way, there’s really only one thing left to do: sit back, focus up, and Watch This.
1. Audacity – Counting the Days (Jam in the Van) — vol. 24
2. Greys – Guy Picciotto (Chart Attack) — vol. 24
3. Radiator Hospital – Fireworks (BNTYK) — vol. 51
4. Ovlov – Where’s My Dini? (Little Elephant) — vol. 23
5. Frankie Cosmos – Embody (Radio K) — vol. 55
6. Mean Creek – My Madeline (Wondering Sound) — vol. 19
7. Joanna Gruesome – Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers (BTR) — vol. 51
8. Sweet John Bloom – Aging In Place (Allston Pudding) — vol. 48
9. Emilyn Brodsky – Someone Belongs Here (TCGS) — vol. 28
10. Mitski – First Love // Late Spring (bandwidth) — vol. 43
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street (ACL) — vol. 54
12. Sharon Van Etten – Serpents (Pitchfork) — vol. 40
13. Mutual Benefit – C.L. Rosarian (Bruxelles Ma Belle) — vol. 19
14. Angel Olsen – Enemy (La Blogotheque) — Vol. 11
15. Kishi Bashi – Philosophize In It! Chemicalize In It! (WNYC) — vol. 29
16. Little Big League – Year of the Sunhouse (Little Elephant) — vol. 45
17. Screaming Females – It All Means Nothing (Audiotree) — vol. 27
18. Ty Segall – Feel (Conan) — vol. 40
19. Dilly Dally – Candy Mountain (Chart Attack) — vol. 51
20. Cloud Nothings – Now Hear In (Amoeba) — vol. 57
21. MOURN – Otits (Captured Tracks) — vol. 53
22. Courtney Barnett – History Eraser (KEXP) — vol. 34
23. Lee Fields – Don’t Leave Me This Way (La Blogotheque) — vol. 54
24. Jenny Lewis – Slippery Slopes (KCRW) — vol. 52
25. Saintseneca (NPR) — vol. 38
A lot has happened in the four-day leave that this site took- a leave that officially ends with this post- and there are so many things to cover. It’d be foolish to pretend that this week didn’t just belong to Sleater-Kinney, who released a career-spanning box set, a new single (that was accompanied by a lyric video), and announced their official return. As tempting as it was to take a stab at waxing poetic over everything that band and their return means, their reputation’s already been earned and a million similarly-minded sites will be doing that in the weeks to come. Instead, today’s light will be shined elsewhere and ultimately fall on the band that’s earned the most mentions on this site without ever getting the feature spot. Before Girlpool gets their well-deserved due, though, all three of the regular fields will be recapped, in the order that follows: single stream, full stream, and music video.
Legendary Wings teased their upcoming basement punk ripper Do You See with the excellent “Weather Advisory” while Kal Marks did the same for their forthcoming EP with the forward-thinking bruiser “Zimmerman“. Portastatic proved they haven’t lost a step with the surprisingly great indie pop tune “Hey Salty” and Mitski‘s lead-up campaign for Bury Me At Makeout Creek remained perfect with the entrancing “I Will“. VLMA’s “Slime” and Cellphone‘s “Bad Medusa” were both post-punk stompers good enough to snag each act a handful of new followers. Chris Weisman celebrated the completion of his long-gestating album Monet In The 90‘s by previewing the record with the quietly mesmerizing “Working On My Skateboarding“. Vacation put forth an incredible Jesus And Mary Chain cover, Dirt Dress continued their impressive evolution with “Twelve Pictures“, and Caddywhompus continued extending what have become increasingly massive creative strides with the near-perfect “Entitled“. Davila 666 unveiled the tantalizing “Primero Muertas” in advance of their upcoming record, Pocos Años, Muchos Daños, just as Parts & Labor offered a glimpse at their upcoming record, Receivers, with the outstanding “Nowehre’s Nigh“. Art Is Hard’s Pizza Club series entered its final stretch with Broadbay’s newest noise-punk excursion “Plasticine Dream“, Primitive Parts made a rousing case for being a band to watch out for with “The Bench“, and Wildhoney became the latest act on the stacked Deranged roster to start breaking through on the strength of their towering shoegaze number “Fall In“. Circulatory System turned a few heads with the noise-damaged psych-pop of “It Never Made A Sound” and site favorites Saintseneca released a lovely Lucinda Williams cover. To round things out in the more ambient-leaning fields, there was a stunner from James Blake and a gentle new piece from The Greatest Hoax that easily swam its way into the realms of the sublime.
As for full streams, most of the talk in regards to this week will be dominated by the year-end-bound RTJ2, which is to be fully expected when a sophomore effort absolutely topples its heavily acclaimed predecessor- but don’t let that distract from a slew of other investment-worthy releases. Lace Curtains’ A Signed Piece of Paperalso managed to exceed the record it follows in terms of artistic merit- which is a trait that it shares with The Twilight Sad’s Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave. The Unicorns’ Nick Thorburn made his uniquely charming score for the SERIAL podcastavailable via bandcamp and Fleeting Youth Records made their essential 33-track Blooming (A Fuzz-Fucked Compilation) mixtape (which more than lives up to its name) available for streaming via soundcloud. French For Rabbits premiered their arresting folk-inflected Spiritsover at Stereogum while NPR’s First Listen series hosted the premiere of Medicine‘s extraordinary Home Everywhere. The Omecs crafted a winsome throwback punk record which they’re now streaming on their bandcamp. Another record to be released via bandcamp, spit’s Getting Low, came dangerously close to being today’s feature by virtue of being a masterful work from an extremely promising songwriter (John Romano) that expertly straddles a curious line between Exploding in Sound and Orchid Tapes. Easily one of this month’s most fascinating records, it’s currently available over at bandcamp for a generous name-your-price fee. Don’t hesitate; this is music worth being in a wide array of collections.
In the music video category, Hurry had a blast with their clever clip for “Oh Whitney“, Dilly Dally got shrouded in smoke for “Candy Mountain“, and S gave the Tacocat bassist some peace of mind in the video for “Vampires“. Ought danced their hearts out in “New Calm, Pt. 2“, Thurston Moore conducted a nightmarish clip for “Speak to the Wild” (Los Angeles Police Department’s woodland excursion for “Enough Is Enough” was far less menacing), and Split Single inverted normalcy with their positioning for “Monolith“. Broken Water set things up with no shortage of caution in “Love and Poverty“, The Coathangers cheekily provided what’s ostensibly both a puppet-centric video and a left-field visual tour diary in “Drive“, and Beverly cemented their beautiful stylistic approach to the music video format with “Yale’s Life“. DTCV mined a bevvy of filmic influences and utilized them to perfection for “Electrostatic, Inc.” while Public Access TV took a similar route for “In The Mirror“. Allo Darlin’ kept things amusingly (and effectively) simple for “Bright Eyes“, Nano Kino set the airy “New Love” to a hypnotic visual collage, and Mannequin Pussy remained as energetic and unapologetic as ever with their lo-fi production for “My Baby (Axe Nice)“.
Now, that’s a lot of material to go through for just about anyone but none of those items hit with as hard of an impact as Girlpool‘s absolutely devastating animated video for “Plants and Worms”. From this video alone, it’s shockingly easy to see why such a huge subset of journalists and musicians have latched onto Girlpool so fiercely; their world-weariness, entirely relatable socio-political commentary, and compositional skills all suggest both an age and stage of career that’s vastly accelerated from the actuality of their current positions. The duo, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad (17 & 18 years of age, respectively), are moving at an accelerated pace- release follows release, idea follows idea, and there’s barely any time for an active listener to breathe. Impressively, all of those pieces carry their own distinct identity and they’re frequently accompanied by weighty topics that most songwriters experience an immense struggle to present without tipping into the cloying or cliché. It can be hard to resist the temptation of excess when dealing with important messages and this is where Girlpool excels; not only are their thoughts presented articulately- they’re presented in a manner that’s plaintive enough to be devoid of any easy derision. There’s a deep-rooted humanism and empathy that’s present in their work which is something that will always be admirable- and in their deceptively minimal compositions, the music carries the burden of the weight of those topics to a degree that seems to mirror the band’s inherent level of mutual support.
For “Plants and Worms” they wound up pairing with illustrator Catleya Sherbow, whose art here also acts as a double for Girlpool’s processes. In the Rookie premiere of “Plants and Worms”, Tucker and Tividad give an interview that lends some insight to their history, ideals, and intentions, while revealing that “Plants and Worms” is about accepting the world and how much it has to offer once fear and trepidation is reduced to the point of near-elimination. Neither get any more specific than that- but they don’t need to because the illustration makes a variety of specific instances of everyday fear entirely evident: body image issues, self-image, depression, loneliness, and self-destruction. In Sherbow’s illustrations, everything’s presented as it would be in a children’s book; there’s a soft quality that undercuts the severity of the video’s implications providing a thoughtful contrast that suggests the darkest aspects of the song are universal- but also definitively states that they can be overcome. It’s a crushingly powerful video that becomes impossible to shake after one watch and positions Girlpool in the unlikely position of being a young duo who could (reasonably) become two of this generation’s sharpest social commentators. “Plants and Worms” is likely just the beginning- and it’s already too important to miss.
Watch “Plants and Worms” below and pre-order Girlpool (the EP which “Plants and Worms” is taken from) from Wichita here.
Noisy blues-punk trio Mutts have had a very peculiar career trajectory. Building up a healthy amount of support in their hometown of Chicago while winning over countless others on the back of a relentless tour schedule, they’ve become another reason to celebrate the Midwest. Releasing a full-length a year since 2011’s Pray for Rain, they’ve managed to sustain an astoundingly prolific pace without losing any of their impact or hindering a natural musical progression. As a result, their last effort- 2013’s Object Permanence– wound up being their strongest (and bravest) release to date. A lot of Mutts’ recent material has hinged on pianist/vocalist Mike Maimone’s decision to come out, rendering a lot of the band’s lyrics devastatingly intimate and intensely personal. While their upcoming Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4may shy away from the early Tom Waits lounge-stylings of Object Permanence, the lyrical (and musical) aggression of the band’s earlier works are given a fierce emphasis.
That retained fierceness is probably most evident on the ragged, confrontational “Everyone Is Everyone”, which features Maimone tearing into the politics of equality and derogatory terminology with everything in his arsenal. As always, the rhythm section of Bob Buckstaff and Chris Pagnani prove that they’re one of the more formidable tandems in music. While it’s not a surprise that “Everyone Is Everyone” is a monstrous slice of revved-up blues-indebted noise-punk, what is interesting to note is the psychedelic strain that courses through the song’s veins. It’s a particular influence that’s been ingrained into the Mutts’ DNA for some time but this is the first time that it’s been displayed so prominently. That psychedelic influence helps define Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 and is an incredibly natural fit for the band, who will be self-releasing that record on December 9- and they’ll be having a Gapers Block-presented party a few days beforehand to celebrate the release. Before all of that madness kicks in, though, it’s well worth taking a few moments to give some attention to the brilliantly designed lyric video for “Everyone Is Everyone”- a video that definitively showcases Mutts as a band unafraid to say what’s on their mind, in as powerful of a way as they possibly can.
Watch “Everyone Is Everyone” below and be sure to pre-order Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 from Mutts’ bandcamp.
2013 was a standout year for a lot of things, inventive lyric videos among them. From Neko Case to Okkervil River to Vampire Weekend, there were a plethora of extraordinary examples of the format. This week has already seen Tokyo Police Club step up to the plate and absolutely crush it. Adding to the unlikely string of successes this year comes an extraordinarily beautiful from Majical Cloudz, who are responsible for one of the year’s most stunning albums.
One of Impersonator‘s biggest strengths is that it always came across as so fucking personal. There were more than a few moments on that record that felt as if frontman Devon Walsh was allowing uninhibited voyeurism into his entire being. Songs like “Childhood’s End”, “This is Magic”, and, especially, “Bugs Don’t Buzz” were the kind of bare-all exercises that had the impact to freeze virtually anyone that was lucky enough to be listening; they were allowed in.
“Savage”, which has been making the rounds for a month or so now, didn’t wind up on Impersonator but carries the same emotional resonance as the best songs on that record. Today the band unveiled a lyric video in keeping with their stark bare-bones aesthetic. All that’s featured in the video for “Savage” is an unnamed person (presumably Walsh, who also directed the video) scrawling the lyrics to the song out by hand as they happen. There’s no way to accurately predict just how this band’s penchant for tight-roping the line between ferocity and understatement is going to affect any potential listeners but as long as they keep doing it this successfully (in both songs and musicvideos), they’ll be a band worth following.