Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Martin Courtney

Nothing Stops In November: The Month’s Music Videos

November was a hectic month for a lot of reasons, politically and personally. Barely any posts ran over the past 30 days but, as always, the new releases were accounted for as they were unveiled. As December presses towards 2017, there will be a slew of new posts covering the best material to be released in November as well as the releases that appear throughout the month. Before those run, though, there’ll be extended recaps of some of the most exceptional releases in the three major categories (streams, music videos, and full streams). This post will cover the visual end of that spectrum and offers up a wide array of styles. Go exploring. 

Weyes Blood, Methyl Ethel, Ultimate Painting, Small Feet, Silver Rose, Adam & Elvis, The Franklys, Willie J HealeyLA BÊTE BLOOMS, Communions, Rick Rude, Slowcoaches, Landing, ROYA, NE-HI, Lost Under Heaven, Soft Lions, Shellshag, Littler, Mutts, No Nets, The Evaporators, Drive-By Truckers, Bing & Ruth, Leggy, Quilt, Lydia Loveless, Dizzyride, Bash & Pop, Kissing Party, Jamie T, Jeff Rosenstock, Martin Courtney, Thom Hell, Cass McCombs, Lou Barlow, Drugdealer (ft. Weyes Blood), Aathens.

Sammus (ft. Izzy True), July Talk, Howardian, Invisible Boy, The Empty Page, Ricky Eat Acid, Haybaby, Mikey Erg, Hodgy, Rogov, Marchildon!, Streets of Laredo, Pill Friends, Hello Shark, Owen, Bichkraft, Roosevelt, Margaret Glaspy, Clipping., The So So Glos, Joan of Arc, Jesca Hoop, Luke Temple, Lost in the Cosmos, Cut Off Your Hands, Dear Boy, The Molochs, ANOHNI, Monogold, Young Pioneers, Cherry Glazerr, Terra Lightfoot, The Smith Street Band, Waxlimbs, Hero Fisher (ft. Carol Batton), Delicate Steve.

Yael Naim, NONA, BADBADNOTGOOD (ft. Kaytranada), Uni Ika Ai, Vandaveer, Jarrod Milton, Mount Moriah, Jade Imagine, Brodka, Priests, Wolf People, The Severed Limb, and a trio of clips from Chastity.

Watch This: Vol. 137

While the past week wasn’t as exhaustive for live videos as it has been recently, there were still some impressive entries featuring a variety of great acts like Jenny Lewis, Same, The Fever, The Academic, Band of Horses, Typesetter, Astronomique, Future Generations, Martin Courtney, The Staves, Bleached, Adia Victoria, Ages and Ages, Caveman, Summer Twins, Mr. Airplane Man, Julia Holter, Warren Franklin & TFF, Israel Nash, Metric, Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, and Tamaryn. Even with all of those in the mix, there were still five genuine standouts, from site favorites to the perennially overlooked. So, as always, sit back, adjust the settings, block out any circumstantial distractions, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Big Eyes – Stake My Claim (BreakThruRadio)

Fresh off releasing one of the year’s best basement pop records, Big Eyes come through in a major way yet again via this performance of that record’s title track, “Stake My Claim”. While the band certainly has made a sizable impression thanks to their recorded work, they’ve been an even more dangerous force as a live act. After going through several mutations, the band’s finally landed on a unit that allows their sound to be as expansive — and as aggressive — as possible.

2. Boss Hog (KEXP)

One of many projects to include DIY punk icon Jon Spencer, Boss Hog first gained some notoriety in the late ’80s thanks to their sudden existence (they were created out of a need to fill a vacancy on a bill at CBGB’s), vocalist Christina Martinez playing that first show nude, and their relentlessly aggressive hybrid of punk sub-genres. The band’s been experiencing a resurgence lately, which led them to the KEXP studios for this gorgeously-lensed session presented in crisp black-and-white. From just about every angle, everything happening here is exhilarating.

3. Mumblr – Mudmouth + Domingo (Out of Town Films)

After the beginning of their career brought about a handful of upbeat, party-leaning (but surprisingly introspective) anthems the quartet went through some sort of awakening. A lot of their more recent material has approached being confrontational thanks to a newfound darkness and a staggering amount of patience. The band’s been stretching their influences in surprising ways and nearly all of them are present in this beautifully-shot two song turn-in for Out of Town Films, which doubles as a definitive showcase for this era of one of the more fascinating bands making music right now.

4. Tigercats – Rent Control (Fortuna POP!)

Every once in a while, a spectacularly made live video surfaces and causes people to question its validity as a live presentation. In many cases, most assume it’s just a particularly convincing music video. This is the fate that awaits Tigercats’ scintillating new “Rent Control”, which is one of the more memorable entries in that niche format in recent memory. Set in a house overflowing with people (presumably friends of the band), there’s a liveliness that informs “Rent Control” and elevates it past similar efforts. The song itself is an exuberant burst of indie pop and every aspect of the clip ties together beautifully, ensuring it a spot on this list.

5. Japanese Breakfast (Audiotree)

Michelle Zauner anchored one of my personal favorite entries in this entire series’ run in Little Big League‘s extraordinary “Year of the Sunhouse” clip from Little Elephant and has remained a powerhouse performer in the time that’s passed since that clip. Zauner’s other project, Japanese Breakfast, has been turning quite a few heads since the release of their excellent Psychopomp. The band recently wrapped a tour with Mitski and Jay Som, taking control of every opportunity to better their already-formidable live show. Their recent session for Audiotree demonstrated the band’s continuously evolving live show and curiously quiet strengths. The entire session is masterful both in performance and presentation, leaving behind an artifact that should be visited and revisited for quite some time.

Watch This: Vol. 109

Since the preceding post covered the time lapse between the last run of Watch This and tonight’s posts, this introductory paragraph will lean slightly harder on the material that’s actually come out in that interim. Two weeks can feel like an overwhelming amount of time when faced with the endless expanse of releases in any format and the live video is no exception. It can occasionally be difficult to narrow down these selections to just five when considering them all, which was the case this week as worthy efforts surfaced from the following artists: Shopping, Hooton Tennis Club, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Bad Bad Hats, Kurt Vile, Flavor Crystal, Hinds, Joanna Newsom, Courtney Barnett, FIDLAR, Fury Things, Black Box  Revelation, Eliot Sumner, Low, Glen Hansard, Martin Courtney, Deaf Wish, Raury, Zanders, Six Organs of Admittance, Oscar, Protomartyr, Palm, Sun Club, Julia Holter, Woozy, Caleb and Carolyn, The Tambourine Girls, Little May, Forever Pavot, Mellow Diamond, why+the+wires, Iguana Death Cult, and Okkervil River. Obviously, with a list like that, the below selections are comprised of clips that truly managed to stand out, for one reason or another. So, as always, lean in, relax, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

1. Car Seat Headrest (KEXP)

Car Seat Headrest was another band from 2015 that had gained previous traction and capitalized in blinding fashion, showing a complete disregard for the thought of looking back. Understandably, KEXP invited them into their studio for a session and the band delivered one of 2015’s most towering sets in recent memory. At a monstrous running time that exceeds most full-length efforts, it’s actually a fairly intimidating ask- or, it would be if the music (and performance) wasn’t so immediately likable. Will Toledo’s got an enviable gift for pop songwriting and for subverting expectations, leading the charge in a session that more than justifies the swirling interest surrounding the band.

2. Dilly Dally (BreakThruRadio)

If this site’s love for Dilly Dally hasn’t been made abundantly clear by now, this very sentence will probably at least give you a small indication. After torching the stages of Santos Party House and Baby’s All Right during CMJ, the band’s kept pace with their music and maintained a deliriously frantic touring schedule. All of that time playing out is paying off, tightening the screws on their already-formidable live show. It’s evident in every live clip that surfaces, including this revealing session with BreakThruRadio that includes some endearing interview segments. Turn it up and fall in love.

3. The Lumes – Nervous + Satan (The Daily Indie)

Every so often, a relatively unknown band crops up on my radar and blows me away with how complete they seem and The Lumes definitely qualifies as one of those bands. A lightly menacing post-punk trio that excels in atmospheric work, they’ve managed to carve out a thoughtful identity that feels more singular than it should just two releases into their career. Here, they perform vicious takes on “Nervous” and “Satan”, the tracks that bookend their outstanding Lust EP. The trio gives their all in both performances and ultimately secures a spot on this installment of Watch This thanks to their overwhelming strength.

4. Woozy – Hush (Little Elephant)

It’s been a while since Little Elephant’s hosted a session as strong as the one Woozy’s provided, committing another jewel to that particular crown with this committed take on “Hush”. Marrying genres with ease and integrating surprisingly explosive moments in fits and starts, “Hush” may actually be one of the band’s most definitive songs. Leaning heavily into their post-punk and grunge angles, they still find ways to surprise in territory that’s generally far more straightforward. Ultimately, it’s another extremely impressive showing from a band that seems surprisingly determined to top themselves with each successive outing.

5. Bandit – The Drive Home + Dragon (Audiotree)

Closing out this run of Watch This is a performance that feels like a genuine finale, courtesy of Bandit’s beautiful renditions of two Of Life‘s highlights: “The Drive Home” and “Dragon”. The former of those two songs received one of the most gorgeous music videos of the year and has the capacity to overwhelm listeners with genuine feeling, amplifying atmospheric currents as it progresses. “Dragon” is a track that operates in a similar vein and, packaged together, they manage to elevate each other’s best qualities, which is why- in spite of a deeply impressive full session– this performance is being highlighted individually. Exemplifying all of Bandit’s finest qualities as both a band and as a live act, Audiotree struck gold with the band’s turn-in of these two songs, leaving behind something that the studio might be talking about for quite some time.

Watch This: Vol. 101

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the nature of these upcoming posts, a truncated version of this introductory paragraph will be appearing over the next several installments of this series.] It’s been quite some time since the 100th edition of Watch This went up on this site. There have been a lot of factors going into the extended interim but, as usual, a focal point of that absence was to make sure the preparation work was kept up to date. A lot of extraordinary live videos have come out since then and to make this point abundantly clear, here’s a list of artists responsible for performances that didn’t quite make it into the featured five slots over the course of the past handful of weeks: Ride (x2), Josh Ritter (x2), Radkey, Marrow, Seratones, Hooton Tennis Club, Kurt Vile (x2), Indian Askin, Amason, Eden Mulholland, Bobby Bare Jr. (x2), Hanna Asbrook, Lucy & La Mer, Lee Corey Oswald (x2), Wastrels, The Cairo Gang, Wild Ones, Martin Courtney (x2), Small Black, Timeshares, Shopping (x2), The Jacques, Mac McCaughan & the Non-Believers, Raw Pony, Andrew Bird, Air Waves, Izzy True (x2), The Tallest Man On Earth, Elliot Moss, Hemming, Titus Andronicus, Kagoule, Django Django, Summer Cannibals, Lost Lander, Emilie & Ogden, Denai Moore, EL VY, Purple 7, John Grant, Caleb and Carolyn, Fraser A. GormanThe Besnard Lakes, Charly Bliss, Delta Spirit, Joanna Newsom, Oaks, Kevin Garrett, Brilliant Beast, Blitzen Trapper, The Saturday Tea, Other Lives, Rayland Baxter, Low, Speedy Ortiz, Chilly Gonzalez, Murder Shoes, Ava Luna, bAd bAd, Oberhofer (x2), Aye Nako, Jason Isbell, Superbee, Deerhunter, The Ghost Ease, Oscar, Rachel Goodrich, Small Feet, Lucero, Totally Mild, Ukryte Zalety Systemu, Soda Bomb, Jens Kuross, Caspian, Boytoy, Duncan Sheik, PISTA, Slim Twig, Shamir, Contrails, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Courtney Barnett, The Chameleons Vox, Vundabar, Vagabon, Craig Finn, and Soda Shop. Based on the strength of those clips, it’s probably unsurprising that some of the year’s best live captures have also surfaced in that time. Full sessions, single song performances, DIY videos, and impressive turn-ins from radio stations abound. So, as always, sit back, adjust the setting, crank the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Eskimeaux (Audiotree)

No record in 2015 has hit me as hard and as consistently as O.K.,  a deeply felt masterpiece from Eskimeaux. A record I’d liked upon first listen and warmed to progressively over time, it wasn’t until I saw those songs played live that everything seemed to click. Audiotree was fortunate enough to have the band in for a recent session and wound up with what may come to be regarded as the definitive live recording of this era of the band. The performances are uniformly strong and the songs remain spectacular. Simply put: this is unmissable.

2. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (BreakThruRadio) 

Likely the only 2015 record to rival O.K.‘s emotional impact is Julien Baker‘s arresting breakout effort Sprained Ankle. With a title track that easily ranks among the year’s finest songs, Baker’s latched onto something genuinely captivating. It’s myriad strengths were emphasized with a gorgeous music video and are once again brought to the fore with this painfully gorgeous live performance. It’s a triumph for one of music’s most promising emerging talents.

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3. Slothrust (Jam in the Van)

In a manner not too dissimilar from Eskimeaux, Slothrust was another band that sold me further on material I’d already liked via the strength of their live show, It’s not surprising, then, that their session for Jam in the Van winds up being one of that series’s strongest entries in months. Topping everything off is a typically strong take on “Crockpot”, which continues to stand as one of the strongest songs of recent memory.

4. Torres – Strange Hellos (Hooke Audio)

Has anyone appeared more times on Watch This throughout the course of 2015 than Torres? Mackenzie Scott’s project continues to turn in spellbinding performances at an alarming rate but, even with that being the case, this version of “Strange Hellos” manages to stand out. Shot as part of Hooke Audio’s live sessions series that challenges artist to re-interpret their material, “Strange Hellos” gets transformed into a jaw-dropping ambient number that may wield even more of a punch than the studio version. It’s a startling reminder of Sprinter‘s most powerful moments.

5. Girlpool (Pressure Drop)

If anyone’s appeared on the 2015 run of Watch This as many (or more) times than Torres, it’s site favorites Girlpool. Harmony Lebel-Tividad and Cleo Tucker put together one hell of a run this year, highlighted by their extraordinary full-length debut Before The World Was Big. In a nine-song session, the duo makes their way through the majority of that record and “Soup”, one of the new numbers they’ve been road-testing on their last few tours. As ever, the performances are assured and showcase the near telepathic connection the band’s developed over the past few years. They’re an act that seems poised to get stronger as they go, which is more than a little impressive considering they’re already one of the best bands currently making music- and this Pressure Drop session serves as proof.

Sheer – Uneasy (Music Video)

sheer

Only two days into the week and it’s already overflowing with new material. Fall’s referred to as Awards Season by a sect of people primarily concerned with film but the same logistical rules tend to apply to the the music releases as well. A good placement on any notable publication’s year-end list is a huge PR boost and– depending on the publication– it can open a lot of avenues to the artists as well. This generally causes numbers to balloon in fall, in hopes that those releases stay fresh in the minds of people who have the power to genuinely affect their career trajectory.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, that the past few days have seen artists like Wildhoney, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, Pet Cemetery, Martitime, Woozy, and Labasheeda all unveil full lengths. In addition to that Paper Trail Records released a staggering compilation, new songs from Sudakistan, METZ, Bethlehem Steel, Very Fresh, Casket Girls, Django Django, Cross Record, Martin Courtney, JEFF The Brotherhood, and Cass McCombs surfaced. While those are all worth taking in at least once, it’s a new name earning this post’s primary focus: Sheer.

Over the near two years of this site’s existence, there’s been a tremendous amount of focus on acts incorporating elements of shoegaze, grunge, early ’90s slacker punk, and basement pop. So a band that filters all of the former elements through the guise of the latter is going to have my full, undivided attention. Enter: Sheer. “Uneasy”, the music video for their forthcoming record of the same name, is Sheer’s first major piece of publicity having formed just a touch over a year ago.

The band comes off as fully formed,  bringing a strong sense of identity to the Colin McCaffrey-directed clip for “Uneasy”. Nothing feels out of place and the band’s sense of control over every aspect of their craft is impressive. Primarily a performance edit for the verses, McCaffrey heightens the band’s atmospheric half-time drop in the chorus by augmenting it with some stunning visuals and seamlessly merging the two for the song’s breathtaking bridge. Soft transitions, lens flares, and a faded color palette all lend to the palpable sense of damaged romanticism in “Uneasy”. It’s a startlingly beautiful look at a band that’s well on their way to becoming a much bigger name right out of the gate.

Watch “Uneasy” below and pre-order the band’s debut from The Native Sound here.

Melkbelly – Mnt. Kool Kid (Stream)

melkbelly
Photograph by Taylor Schneider

At the midweek marker, remarkable releases have continued to be doled out at a breakneck pace. In some ways, that overwhelming magnitude contributes to a slew of smaller releases getting overlooked at their time of release. Today’s featured items was one of those- and it was strong enough to fight off this recent batch to secure the majority of the focus. That, by no means, should detract from the value of the field it’s included in, which continues to cement 2015’s status as one of the strongest years for new music in recent memory. Full streams had the quietest output for the day, yielding only La Misma’s great full-length Kanizadi. Music videos had a heavier crop, boasting strong new clips from Made Violent, Microwave, SadGirl, Little Wings, and Martin Courtney. As always, the individual streams seemed to make the most sizable dent with formidable entries from the likes of GrubsFern Mayo, YungEx-BreathersMidday Veil, Modern Baseball, Drug Church, Brian Carpenter & The Confessions, and Battles.

While everything in the linked above paragraph is worth a click, it’s when Melkbelly‘s latest wound up making its way here that the feature spot really clicked. The band’s not the most well-known act but has secured some high-profile support lately- most notably via this excellent Talkhouse piece from Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis. While the piece used the band’s recent outstanding Bathroom at the Beach 7″ as its focal point, they’ve managed to quietly unveil another new standalone track on their bandcamp (a place that’s composed entirely of standalone entries). “Mnt. Kool Kid” sacrifices some of the band’s immediate melodicism in favor of emphasizing their more aggressive noise tendencies. Over four minutes, the band rides the crest of a stark, menacing bass hum and uses it as a catapult for both a brief, outsider pop section and a towering main section that manages to come off as, almost paradoxically, a more expansive and contained version of Lightning Bolt at their best.

Bruising at every turn, “Mnt. Kool Kid” is a commanding show of force that highlights all of Melkbelly’s strongest looks and continues to see the quartet tightening their craft into something that feels genuinely powerful. Unflinching, unmoored, and unforgettable “Mnt. Kool Kid” is the sound of a band continuing to lock into a groove that should set them spinning to an explosive finish. For now, be content to sit back and watch the band burn everything they pass; sometimes the passages to the climactic moments wind up carrying even more meaning than the resolution. A song this good doesn’t deserve to succumb to a fate where it largely passes by unnoticed.

Listen to “Mnt. Kool Kid” below and get lost in an exhilarating course correction. Keep an eye on this site for further Melkbelly updates.