Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: New Jersey

Watch This: Vol. 26

Well, it’s been a while but by the end of today Watch This will be back on track. This is, once again, thanks in no small part to an abundance of great material to have come out over the past week or so. With the influx of material being so strong, this will be the first of two Watch This posts to go live today. Both sections are going to be filled with bands that have never been featured and old favorites. In this installment, the newcomers get featured a little more heavily but there’s still enough room for a genre mainstay or two. All of it’s worth investing some time and, really, the best course of action? Lean into it- and Watch This.

1. Picastro – Mountain Relief (BreakThruRadio)

Kicking off the series this time around is Liz Hysen’s long-running Toronto-based project, Picastro. BreakThruRadio invited her in to film a performance and Hysen delivers an absolutely haunting rendition of “Mountain Relief”. There’s a short interview that follows the performance but the real takeaway from this is just how arresting “Mountain Relief” is. It’s on Picastro’s most recent record, You, which is more than worth anyone’s time.

2. Constant Lovers – 14 Missed Calls (KEXP)

It’s been a while since there’s been a KEXP session quite as lively as the insane one Constant Lovers just turned in. Among their set’s most intense moments was this fiery as hell take on “14 Missed Calls”. All intense guitar jabs and one of the fiercest vocal takes imaginable, “14 Missed Calls” proved to be one of the best parts of the last week in music. It’s a must-watch.

3. Menace Beach – Fortune Teller (3VOOR12)

One of the more intriguing acts of the last few years, Menace Beach have yet to release a record. This hasn’t stopped them from earning praise and coverage in a variety of major taste-making publications. The Leeds-based group has one hell of a pedigree between their two main members and rotating cast; nearly everyone involved has achieved some level of notoriety with at least one other project. From this video alone, it’s abundantly clear that this band knows what they’re doing. 


4. Black Lips – Smiling (KEXP)

There are some things that just don’t change- one of them is that Black Lips are a great live band. No matter how much the band varies their sound or how strong whatever record their touring behind is, their live shows consistently bring an incredible amount of energy to the table. While not all of that translates over to a taped session (a literal impossibility considering there’s no crowd interaction), it’s still fun enough to earn a spot here.


5. Screaming Females – Baby Jesus (Audiotree)

As is the case with Black Lips, Screaming Females have one of the best live sets in the game. Having torched the basement circuit with a vengeance, the New Brunswick act has seemingly set their sights on world domination. Pity anyone that gets in their way. This will be the first of two videos from their Audiotree session to be featured today because there’s no way they don’t both deserve to be featured. This is a masterclass.


Watch This: Vol. 25

As promised, here’s the second part of today’s Watch This double-headed. It’s decidedly more minimal than the last installment in terms of performance content (two of the videos featured here are solo performances) but the featured videos are just as impressive. Ranging from yet another video from Chart Attack’s coverage of the Sonic Boom Records jaw-dropping lineup for Record Store Day 2014 to another Exploding in Sound BreakThruRadio takeover feature, it’s one of the broader installments this series has ever offered up. It’s a great way to showcase some of the best bands from the DIY circuit and all of it’s just begging to be viewed. So, stay reclined, erase the last semblances of that hangover, and make sure to Watch This.

1. Laura Stevenson – The Hole (Radio K)

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Laura Stevenson so magnetic- it could just be raw talent but it seems to go beyond even that to something more transcendental. The singer/songwriter found a home on New Jersey’s Don Giovanni, a label full of some of the fiercest basement punk bands currently going, while leaning closer to folk than anything else. Impossibly, it managed to be a fit that felt more naturalistic than not and their collaborations have resulted in a handful of incredible releases (the most recent of which, Wheel, was an easy 2013 highlight). Here, she sits down for a stunning rendition of “The Hole”. It’s a mesmerizing performance from a singular talent that’s worth bootlegging for inclusions on a million different homemade mixtapes.

2. Luke Lalonde – Needle (Chart Attack) 

This is the third performance from Toronto’s Sonic Boom Records to be featured over the past two installments of this series. It’s also, arguably, the most arresting. Born Ruffians have always been one of the more intriguing powerpop acts making music and to hear them stripped down to their barest form is surprisingly rewarding. Great songwriting’s always worth listening to.

3. Mutual Benefit – Golden Wake (Allston Pudding)

Love’s Crushing Diamond was a record that almost felt sacred while it wove itself in and out of dreamlike states. It was one of 2013’s most riveting listens, constantly coming off like the most reassuring hug. It was impossibly fierce in its gentleness, delicately assembled and expertly executed, it established Jordan Lee as an undeniable talent and ensured that just about everyone who should be paying attention to his project was doing just that. Allston Pudding was on hand to capture this video from Mutual Benfit’s first-ever sold out show and the results are entrancing.

4. Krill (BreakThruRadioTV)

There’s just something about Exploding in Sound’s roster that makes throwing caution to the wind feel appropriate. This is the second video to earn a Watch This feature from the label’s BreakThruRadio takeover. Like Kal Marks before them, Krill took this spot by force through a series of incredible featured performances. Serious Business being Serious Business, there are also a few revealing interview moments intercut with a few separate performance clips. It’s all great fun and worth paying attention to. Oh, and Krill, Krill, Krill Forever.

5. Radioactivity – Locked in My Head (Razorcake)

It’s been months since a video from Razorcake earned itself a spot in this series, which is a shame because of all the places that regularly wind up in one of these five slots, they’re likely the one that matches the DIY ethos this place celebrates most closely. That reasoning paired with a performance from Radioactivity was more than enough to land this a spot on the list. This is what this place is all about. Watch This and then go spin Radioactivity for the 800th time. It’s impossible to resist.

Screaming Females – Lights Out (Live) (Stream)

screamales

Screaming Females are gearing up for the release of Live at the Hideout, the Steve Albini-produced document of their recent two-night stand in Chicago. In the press release for Live at the Hideout, there’s a mention of an incident that occurred sometime before the Chicago show, where there band’s vehicle spun out of control on the freeway and they were hit by an oncoming semi whose driver they had locked eyes with before impact. While the story does tie in to Live at the Hideout‘s renewed sense of purpose and freedom, what the release doesn’t mention is that the incident happened before their Milwaukee show (which also explains why that set was particularly lively).

Everything that the Milwaukee show was praised for seems to have tied over to Live at the Hideout and with Albini at the soundboard, there’s no possible way this will be a misfire. Don Giovanni’s offered a first glimpse at Live at the Hideout with “Lights Out” and it’s predictably brilliant; the band sounds as tight as possible, Paternoster shreds fearlessly, and Albini applies the trademark metallic sheen that helped make Ugly one of the band’s best efforts. If nothing else, the song’s worth listening to for the crowd’s elation- a reminder of just how far this band’s come over the past few years. For a few years, they were one of the most tenacious acts playing the basement circuit and now they’ve earned a kind of fervent dedication that’s only granted to legends. What makes this all the much sweeter is that they accomplished this without changing and by continuing on the path they set for themselves in the early stages of their career. That kind of dedication is a rarity and that brand of integrity deserves to be celebrated. Right now, there’s no better way to celebrate than to just listen to “Lights Out” below and eagerly await the final product.

Watch This: Vol. 13

Again, sincerest apologies on the delay involving this 13th installment of Watch This. What would regularly run on Sunday was pushed back this week due to an obscene overabundance of material that needed some serious navigation. When the realization of the source of last week’s excess of material could be traced back to two events, things became a little more manageable. Now, at least for this week, there will be three standalone videos and the final two spots will be occupied by video playlists; one being the Marked Men weekend, the other being the Don Giovanni showcase. Brooklyn, you had a surreal wealth of incredible music this week, worthy of anyone’s envy. For all of those videos, as well as a few more, watch everything posted below.

1. Dog Day – Sandwich (exclaim!)

Kicking off the series this week is Dog Day, a quartet whose sound is steeped in shoegaze aesthetics without ever crossing the line into that genre. Instead, they offer up a very singular take on brooding post-punk that carries a lot of noise and no wave heft. As for the band’s performance, it’s detached to the point of being eerie, effectively elevating the sense of unease. A very strong, very curious, introduction to a band that has a decent shot of gaining a very faithful following.

2. Sandrider – Gorgon (KEXP)

HOLY FUCK.

3. Porches.  ft. Frankie Cosmos – Fog Dog (Live at Woodbury)

Porches. continue to impress every time the project surfaces. This fan-shot performance clip of “Fog Dog” may actually be the most arresting material to come from Porches. to date. It helps that Frankie Cosmos vocals lend the whole thing an almost unbearable lightness. A genuinely gorgeous piece of entertainment- and the ending? One of the most endearing things to have shown up in any kind of film this year.

4. The Marked Men Weekend (Live at St. Vitus)

So, the other weekend an enormous wealth of material consumed Brooklyn and lit the NYC punk community on fire three times over. A large, large, part of this was the three sets that reclusive basement punk icons The Marked Men graced the city with, bringing along an assortment of their friends to share the moment. All three of The Marked Men’s sets were captured in full by the always-reliable unARTigNYC, who also filmed single clips of the support acts; Tenement, Radiator Hospital, Worriers, Kim Phuc, Iron Chic, Future Punx, and Shellshag. Those clips appear in that order and are all worth watching (especially Tenement, who will get an emphasis on here whenever there’s an appropriate excuse, and Radiator Hospital, whose Something Wild was one of 2013’s very best).

5. The Don Giovanni Showcase

While The Marked Men weekend was happening over at St. Vitus, the Don Giovanni showcase was going strong just a stones throw away. There were a few bands that made appearances at both (Tenement, Worriers, and Shellshag) and made sure the wealth was lovingly spread across the city. Now, Don Giovanni’s a record label that’s earned a lot of mentions here by virtue of their roster, one of the strongest in DIY music. While not being able to attend was painful, it’s easy to tell that it was an incredible time from the videos that were presented by Don Giovanni themselves. Curiously, sets/songs from the explosive combination of Screaming Females and Tenement  were left out (though a performance of “Doom 84” in Cleveland has been tacked onto the playlist- along with the previously-mentioned Shellshag medley– because as long as this video playlist cheating is taking place, why not cheat a little more?) along with a few others but there’s still a lot to love here.

Contained in the playlist are the following: Nude Beach (who absolutely lit Quarters Rock N Roll Palace up in Milwaukee last July with Midnight Reruns and Tenement), Black Wine, Groucho Marxists, Priests (especially Priests, who, as one of the most original and exciting bands in music, are going to be given a lot more words here in the very near future), Vacation (a few members of which have found growing success in their other incredible band, Tweens), Worriers, Nuclear Santa Claust, California X, and, as mentioned, both Screaming Females and Shellshag. Watch it all below and buy a goddamn guitar already.