That reintroduction comes with the arrival of Ex-Vöid, a power trio that falls neatly in line with where McArdle and Owen Williams left off with their old project, bringing the exact same kind of kinetic energy back to the table. Twee indie pop sensibilities once again infiltrating a noisy post-punk lens in “Boyfriend”, the band’s irresistible new single. Taking cues from a perfectly curated list of sources, from Sarah Records to Flying Nun, Ex-Vöid rekindle a spark that was seemingly extinguished when they departed Joanna Gruesome.
“Boyfriend” is short but it’s sharp, sinking its hooks in deep enough to leave the kind of marks that lead to fondly-recognized scars. The into is a cavalcade of noise but that disintegrates into sunny melodies in an instant, the band launching into that familiar but distinct sound, bridging their influences to their own singular identity. It’s a thrilling listen that offers up a few more surprises as it goes, offering up enough grace notes to portend a bright future for a voice that we should all be glad has rejoined the table.
Listen to “Boyfriend” below and pre-0rder Ex-Vöid from Don Giovanni.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]
It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time.
Watch the second collection of those videos below.
1. Julien Baker (Audiotree) 2. The Dirty Nil – Zombie Eyed (Little Elephant) 3. Amber Arcades (3voor12) 4. Big Ups (Do512) 5. Brooke Waggoner – Fresh Pair of Eyes (OurVinyl) 6. Quarterbacks (WSPN) 7. Natalie Prass – Tell Me (OurVinyl) 8. gobbinjr – bb gurl (Play Too Much) 9. Sweet Spirit – Breakthru Radio 10. Operators (KEXP) 11. Bill Ryder Jones – Wild Roses + Put It Down Before You Break It (La Blogotheque) 12. Two Gallants – My Love Won’t Wait (OurVinyl) 13. El Pino & The Volunteers (3voor12) 14. Mulligrub – Homo Milk + Man in the Moon 15. All Dogs – Skin (Little Elephant) 16. Gaelynn Lea – Submission 17. Ride (KEXP) 18. Glen Hansard – When Your Mind’s Made Up (NPR) 19. Justin Townes Earle – Mama’s Eyes (OurVinyl) 20. Posse – Cassandra B (Band In Seattle) 21. TUFT – Sheep (Jam in the Van) 22. The Nudes – Your Eyes (Ithaca Underground) 23. Wildhoney – Soft Bats (Audiotree) 24. Cayetana – Freedom 1313 (Little Elephant) 25. Daughter (BBC)
Every Sunday, Watch This features five of the given week’s best live performance videos. These can be full performances hosted by radio stations, individual songs shot by individual people, or just about anything in between. Normally, these have skewed more towards the raucous but this will be one of the rare entries of the series that’s much more attuned to the quieter side of things. Even the bulk of this week’s honorable mentions where much quieter than usual and, as usual, it was a strong week that included a handful of gems from the likes of Frankie Cosmos, Abi Reimold, Speedy Ortiz, Chumped, Lauryn Peacock, Nuu, The Wooden Sky, La Luz, Charlie Parr, LOTT, Matt Hectorne, and Wolf Alice. Between those combined efforts and the five featured clips below, it’s been another very strong week for live music. By all accounts, it’s a lot to go over. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, zone in, and Watch This.
1. Izzy True – Future War (Don Giovanni)
One of the year’s more astonishing EP’s, Izzy True’s Troll, marked the arrival of a significant songwriting talent: Isabel Reidy. Having the benefit of a wealth of experience fronting bands, Reidy’s turned solo and the effects have been spellbinding. In this Don Giovanni-presented clip, Reidy performs an arresting version of “Future War”, exuding a calm confidence that should go a long way in ensuring the emerging songwriting a long future.
2. Natalie Prass – Why Don’t You Believe In Me + Never Over You (La Blogotheque)
Having already earned a few entries in Watch This, Natalie Prass‘ innate gift as a performer shouldn’t be so continuously surprising but every time one of Prass’ more intimate videos surfaces, it’s jarring. There’s something inherently special about Prass’ recent work and the songwriter wields that considerable gift with a poised assurance that quickly translates into mesmerizing performances. Here, in what’s easily one of La Blogotheque’s finest uploads this year, Prass and a guitarist deliver extraordinary takes on “Why Don’t You Believe In Me” and “Never Over You” in a warmly lit clip that feels perfectly suited to Prass’ aesthetic.
3. Try the Pie – Old Wounds (Katie Krulock)
Domesticationcontinued Saliinas’ staggering winning streak with aplomb earlier this year and it’s remained a favorite among most of those who have heard it since its time of release. It’s an incredible collection of songs and most of them pack a serious punch, something that gets emphasized when they’re stripped bare. A solo take on “Old Wounds” exposes the naked emotion that acts as one of the song’s more prominent driving forces. It’s a gripping look into the mechanics of one of today’s more promising acts.
4. Screaming Females – Little Anne (Don Giovanni)
Having long established themselves as a staple of Watch This, Screaming Females continue to find inventive ways to get into this series. When they’ve earned a feature spot they’ve done it through exceptionally varied modes: DIY clips, full performances, radio sessions… essentially every single mode of performance video that’s been included throughout Watch This‘ existence. In this week’s second clip to arrive courtesy of Don Giovanni, Marissa Paternoster- a once in a generation talent- performs “Little Anne” solo, centered and sitting between a silent rhythm section. Paternoster’s ability to command attention is on full display here and the end result is something that’s surprisingly tough to shake.
5. Eskimeaux (NPR)
The Epoch collective has been responsible for an extraordinary body of work that only manages to keep improving. Continuing a number of seriously incredible projects (and records) among their ranks, Eskimeaux’s O.K.is the crown jewel. Easily one of 2015’s best records, it’s a sharply intuitive examination of personal grief, longing, and conflict. While every song on the record’s a perfectly crafted piece of music containing layers of impressive instrumentation and multitudes of meaning, three of the finest are “Folly”, “A Hug Too Long”, and “I Admit I’m Scared”. All three get performed here for NPR’s deservedly vaunted Tiny Desk series, creating an effective snapshot of a band- and collective- in the midst of something that feels otherworldly.
It’s been a hectic two weeks. One move to Brooklyn and nearly a dozen live reviews later, there’s barely been time to run anything other than specialty coverage. In the interim since the move, I’ve been accumulating the pieces of media that have managed to catch my attention. This particular post will be dedicated to the music videos that managed to fight their way onto my radar, with the feature falling squarely on Bully’s endearing clip for Feels Like‘s hell-raising “Trying” (and an accompanying list of every other title via a list of hyperlinks).
As mentioned above, most of the coverage has been geared towards live documentation, including a fierce in-store set from Bully, who managed to inject that same raw intensity into their latest clip. Shot in a straightforward black-and-white, the official visual representation of “Trying” manages to nicely echo the band’s very apparent 90’s influence. Utilizing a lot of shaky devices to compelling effect (the quick zoom, in particular, is utilized astoundingly well), the video’s central narrative finds an uplifting exuberance in its simplicity; Bully break into an amusement park and a pair of security guards attempt to track them down. There’s a very visible affection for the project on display throughout, exuding a very sincere giddiness that ultimately elevates “Trying” into one of the years most memorably fun videos. It’s a testament to the band’s intrinsic charisma as much as it is to their career savvy. Put simply: this isn’t something worth missing.
Watch “Trying” below and order a copy of Feels Likehere. Beneath the embed, there are links to several other videos that came out in the past two weeks that are worth watching.
After almost four full months, regular Watch This coverage is ready to resume. Once again, every Sunday, there will be an examination of five of the preceding week’s strongest live video clips. The live video’s a historically under-appreciated form of multimedia but one of the most difficult to master. Fortunately, this week had no shortage of strong examples, making it difficult to narrow it down to just five selections. While Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ lovingly tender Warren Zevon cover and Chastity Belt’s KEXP session aren’t featured in the ensuing collection, they’re both deserving of multiple watches. Joining those two videos in that distinction are the five clips listed below, which cover a very broad genre spectrum. All of them are worthy of praise. So, as always, sit down, lean back, forget about your troubles, and Watch This.
1. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me (Coachella)
Here and Nowhere Else still sounds as vital and as necessary as it did since it was released. “I’m Not Part Of Me”, the album’s closing track (and one of our best songs of 2014), still packs an enormous punch and that’s an aspect of the song that only gets enhanced in the live setting. Dylan Baldi remains a fascinating songwriter (and underrated composer) and Jayson Gercyz still seems nearly inhuman behind the kit, making this Coachella performance a must-watch.
2. Natalie Prass – Why Don’t You Believe In Me (Bruxelles Ma Belle)
Natalie Prass’ self-titled record was one of the first major surprises of 2015 and, accordingly, was met with universal acclaim. Here, Prass strips the fleshed-out arrangements of the record back to a bare-bones dual guitar setup. Softly lensed and starkly intimate, Bruxelles Ma Belle captures what may be one of Prass’ most captivating performances yet. R&B-inflected folk cascades across a deserted dining hall and fills every inch of the unlikely venue with feeling, rendering this clip unmissable.
3. Public Service Broadcasting – Go! (WNYC)
Occasionally a band will appear off to the edges on my radar and I’ll forget to check them out before a reminder surfaces in plain view. Public Service Broadcasting were one of those acts and this performance of “Go!” was one hell of a reminder. Starting off as a keys-and-sample led ambient piece before erupting into a monstrous, inventive, forward-thinking beast of a genre-defying song, “Go!” encapsulates close to everything an act primed for a breakout should have. Impassioned, deeply-felt, smartly crafted, and musically boundless, “Go!” provides a feeling of genuine exhilaration. Taking cues from decades’ worth of musical trends, deviations, and subversions, “Go!” quickly becomes unforgettable.
4. Happyness (KEXP)
Weird Little Birthday was a strange release that never seemed to garner the levels of attention it deserved. Whether this was due to the spaced-out release schedule, the rollout campaign, or just issues with timing is anyone’s best guess but those that were fortunate enough to hear it all seemed to be fully on board (it very nearly cracked this site’s best albums of 2014 list). The band recently stopped by KEXP’s offices to deliver a deeply intriguing set that doubled as a demonstration of the band’s seemingly limitless potential. Running the gamut from spaced-out ambient territory to 90’s-leaning slacker pop, it’s the type of performance strong enough to create converts and reinforce the convictions of the already faithful.
5. John Davey – Burning and Bright (GemsOnVHS)
When Heartbreaking Bravery was built part of its structure was a keen focus on immensely promising artists who had yet to receive a higher level of recognition. John Davey fits squarely into this category and, as such, has already received coverage on the site. Here, GemsOnVHS turns their cameras on Davey as he makes his way through the gripping “Burning and Bright”, intercutting sweetly homespun footage of the various stages of a shared meal with the performance to create their best video since the stunning Molly Parden turn-in. Imbued with a familial sense that’s emphasized by the song, it’s a genuinely gorgeous final product that also, incidentally, brings this 69th installment of Watch This to a warm, fitting close.
Keeping the recent themes of the site going, this post will be dedicated to 75 of this year’s most fascinating records (along with an overlooked fourth quarter gem or two from last year getting their due). Covering a range of genres, as always, these records cover a lot of ground. A few find their niche in fierceness while others make a home in more tranquil realms. It’s impossible to stress how full of a year 2015’s already been for new music and if this crop of early offerings is any suggestion, we’re all in for one of the strongest stretches of new music in roughly a decade. As ever, don’t let the fact there’s no accompanying text with these releases detract from their value; a great deal of these have a good chance of ranking among 2015’s finest releases (NPR’s current roster of First Listen selections is an exhilarating reminder that we’re only just getting started). Click on the hyperlinks below (listed in no particular order) to hear the records and- if you find yourself drawn to any- make sure to pick one up from either the band or their label. Happy exploring.