The final half of June wasn’t quite as loaded as its immediate predecessor but it came surprisingly close. A deluge of material found release in every major format. Iconic acts remixed prominent genre figures, legends were paid tribute, and a handful of new faces made a deep impression. Below is the chronicling of everything that made a notable splash. Three individual installments focusing on some additional highlights from this stretch will follow this post shortly. For now (and for however many times anyone feels like clicking over) enjoy the best of the rest.
The band first teased this release more than a full year ago by uploading an early, unfinished version of “Mount Kool Kid” to their bandcamp. That version’s been pulled in the time that’s elapsed since its quiet release and its absence has finally been amended with the release of the band’s latest 7″. “Mount Kool Kid” remains an absolute beast of a song, echoing shades of the very best noise, basement punk, and hyper-spastic pop acts in one fell swoop.
Even though it wears all of those influences proudly, “Mount Kool Kid” is still very distinctly Melkbelly. The enhanced production brings out a near-feral rawness in the track that was previously buried, albeit still evident. Everything hits tremendously hard in this more polished version, utilizing Albini-esque tactics for the drum sounds and providing some layers that allow it a more expansive sound.
The flip-side of the 7″ is “Elk Mountain”, which dials back the ferocity to expand on the band’s penchant for grunge and sludge-leaning moments. While the tempo recedes, the abundance of feeling remains in tact. Not a moment of “Elk Mountain” is anything less than exhilarating. Guitarist/vocalist Miranda Winters helps set these songs apart by infusing them with a surprising amount of delicacy that elevates both of these tracks into the realm of the sublime.
Both “Mount Kool Kid” and “Elk Mountain” are incredibly dynamic, compelling tracks that near the four-minute mark. For virtually every second of their run-time, there’s an admirable choice that manifests in the songs. Whether it’s a drastic tempo change, a vocal run, a runaway drum break, or a sudden commitment to overwhelming heaviness, those choices enliven both tracks, leaving Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain as one of the best 7″ releases anyone’s likely to hear in 2016. So, stop reading, hit play, surrender to the band’s chaos and get swept up in the frenzy.
Listen to Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain below and pick up a copy here.
It’s been quite some time since there was a regular installment of Watch This, a fact that was mostly due to travel in the pursuit of live coverage. That same pursuit pushed back this installment a few days as the post that precedes this one — and its accompanying preparation — took weekend priority. Now that it’s been posted, the wheel of Watch This can resume spinning freely (and will soon resume their position as a Sunday staple). As way of compensation for the delay, there’ll be two volumes of Watch This posted tonight. This post wJuill focus on standalone performances while the forthcoming post will tackle full sessions.
1. PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will (q on cbc)
After tearing apart the 7th St. Entry last Friday and earning the bulk of this site’s previous post, PUP have essentially guaranteed themselves a featured spot any time one of their live videos surfaces from a pro-shot source. Here, the quartet takes on the most intimidatingly-named song of the year with fervor, delivering a characteristically impassioned run that seems to lay everything on the line. It’s fiery, it’s ferocious, and it’s a very worthy addition to the Watch This catalog.
2. Speedy Ortiz – Dot X (Stereogum)
Speedy Ortiz recently unveiled a great new EP, the cheekily-named Foiled Again, which saw the band hitting the road and continuing to sharpen their already formidable live show. Stereogum recently caught them ripping their way through “Dot X”, a standout from Foil Deer. The band’s in rare form here, looking comfortable as they navigate the song’s hairpin dynamic turns with ease. It’s a compelling look at a great band that’s still in an impressive stride.
3. Lady Lamb – Spat Out Spit (Audiotree)
After a long stretch away, Lady Lamb returns to a standalone Watch This featurewith a masterful run through “Spat Out Spit” that was lovingly captured by Audiotree. The song remains as unavoidable as it was on the day it was released and Lady Lamb’s Aly Spaltro’s only grown more confident as a performer in that time. Using “Spat Out Spit” as evidence, it’s not a surprise that Lady Lamb’s stages keep getting bigger.
4. Charles Bradley – Nobody But You (The Current)
Few people have had a run as inspiring as Charles Bradley over the past several years. The man’s gone from a literal nobody to a living legend at an age where most people would be contemplating retirement. Instead of giving up, Bradley’s had an extended coming out party that’s earned him legions of adoring fans, the respect of everyone, and a long string of impressive distinctions. Just as heartening as Bradley’s story is his music (as well as his prowess as a live performer). The Current captured him beautifully via this heartfelt run through “Nobody But You”.
5. Julien Baker – Photobooth (The AV Club)
Normally, this series doesn’t focus on covers. However, Julien Baker isn’t a normal artist and The AV Club’s Undercover series isn’t your run-of-the-mill covers generator. Both the series and the artist draw the best out of each other on this occasion, as Baker turns in a heartbreaking rendition of the admired Death Cab for Cutie slow-burner “Photobooth”. Baker applies her trademark devastation to the song and lets shattering emotion bleed through every single one of the songs crevices. Breathtaking, gentle, and undeniably beautiful, it’s both a declaration and reaffirmation of Baker’s talent as well as the worth of the Undercover series. Don’t miss out.
As was discussed in the preceding two posts, there’s been a serious lull of inaction on this site as of late as far as posting is concerned. A large reason for that was the fact that the majority of that coverage gap was spent traveling thousands of miles to document sets from bands like Oops, Dilly Dally, Yowler, Eskimeaux, Frankie Cosmos, Beach Slang, Potty Mouth, Dyke Drama, PWR BTTM, and more.
The resulting documentation will be posted at some point in the near future but the hefty amount of visual content (not to mention the act of traveling itself) necessitated a publishing break. However, as usual, every new piece of incoming information was accounted for in the interim. Full streams and music videos have already been covered so it’s time that the attention was turned towards individual songs.
A list of some of the finest new tunes to have emerged over the past month can be found below. Since there are so many, it may be best to bookmark this page and explore its contents at a more leisurely pace to avoid being overwhelmed. Jump on in and go swimming.
While January and February certainly had their fair share of great music videos, March saw an influx of truly great clips find their way out into the world. From Johanna Warren‘s extraordinary “Great Lake” (which I was fortunate enough to premiere over at Consequence of Sound) to a new, patently excellent, video from PUP, the format’s found its stride. Apart from the music videos, there was an outstanding Vaadat Charigimmini-documentary chronicling their first US tour.
Since there were so many clips — and since so many were so exceptional — they’ll be split into two categories below. At the very bottom of the page will be the honorable mentions category and above that will be a slew of videos that have positioned themselves to be early year-end contenders. Since “Great Lake” was already mentioned above, it won’t be below. Similarly, since Yours Are the Only Ears’ aching, gorgeous video for “Low” is the only non-YouTube entry, it will simply be listed in this paragraph (but rest assured, it’s more than worth your time). For the sake of convenience, 31 music videos are featured- one for each day in March.
Watch some of the finest clips of a young 2016 via the embed (with an accompanying tracklist tucked underneath) and explore the laundry list of exceptional titles in the honorable mentions category below the player. Enjoy.
1. PWR BTTM – West Texas 2. Dilly Dally – Snakehead 3. Palehound – Molly 4. Foul Tip – Drifting 5. Greys – Blown Out 6. Big Ups – National Parks 7. PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will 8. The Crookes – The World Is Waiting 9. Mutual Benefit – Not for Nothing 10. Alex G – Mud 11. Free Cake For Every Creature – Talking Quietly of Anything With You 12. Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore 13. El Perro Del Mar – In the Woods 14. Kevin Morby – Dorothy 15. Abi Reimold – Mask 16. Daughter – How 17. Eluvium – Life Through Bombardment Vol. 2 18. Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion 19. Nancy Pants – I’ve Got A Crush On You And Everybody Knows It 20. Outer Spaces – I Saw You 21. Eleanor Friedberger – Never Is A Long Time 22. PJ Harvey – The Community of Hope 23. Sunflower Bean – Easier Said 24. James Edge and the Mindstep – On A Red Horse 25. Furnsss – Slow Dark Water 26. The Lemons – Ice Cream Shop 27. Quilt – Roller 28. Marissa Nadler – All the Colors of the Dark 29. PAWS – No Grace 30. Savages – Adore 31. Hayden Calnin – Cut Love
A few years ago, Royal Headache came barreling out of nowhere and struck with enough blunt momentum to create a crater that pulled a large handful of notable minds into their world. In the time that’s followed the release of their incredible self-titled record, they’ve managed to create a fascinating story by carving out their own epilogue and assemble what promises to be their finest release to date. Due out in August, High has already generated a significant amount of anticipation on the strength of its fiery title track (which is holding strong as one of 2015’s best songs). Those expectations get pushed even further up the spectrum with “Another World”.
In a week of some seriously extraordinary releases (see the list of links at the bottom for proof), Royal Headache once again managed to conjure up a true standout that sees them surging towards the barriers of their own perceived limitations and doing everything they can to dismantle them with sheer momentum. It’s their most tightly-crafted song to date, rife with memorable hooks and genuinely explosive moments. As a new song with an open future, it would have been exhilarating in its promise- as a part of the band’s extended death rattle (the band’s vocalist was allowed to depart under the conditions that he stay on to complete the record and the subsequent promotional tour), it’s unforgettable. Wild-eyed, manic, impassioned, and deeply felt, “Another World” is another peak for a band that will be leaving us far too soon- but doing so at the height of their powers, on their own terms, and at the absolute top of the mountain.
Listen to “Another World” below and pre-order High from What’s Your Rupture? here. Beneath the embed, explore a list of great songs to have surfaced throughout the week (if for some reason you’ve been doubting the overwhelming strength of this year’s release crop, remember that the below list is comprised of individual songs that all found release in the same week).