Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: piano

Alexis Taylor – I’m Ready (Stream)

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Editor’s Note: There’s been a month-long gap in coverage, thanks to near-incessant travel and other extenuating circumstances. The following run of posts that contain this note will be posts that should have appeared sometime within the past several weeks. Use these posts as an opportunity to catch up to the present release cycle or to simply discover some new music. Either way, enjoy.

Hot Chip‘s excellent The Warning can rightfully be regarded as a classic record of a certain age and, at some point, it may even be viewed as definitive. A large part of its success can be directly attributed to principal songwriter Alexis Taylor, who maintained a strong grasp on a project that’s ideas frequently came across as boundless. The warmth that Hot Chip exuded was often slightly undercut by his penchant for the bittersweet but that still doesn’t make the reveal of  the devastating “I’m Ready” any less jarring.

Taylor’s newest project, and the first under his own name, is a solo piano venture that trims out any excess in favor of an intimacy that’s startlingly direct. Taylor opens the track with a wistful line that registers as more of a question than a statement, wavering in a relative uncertainty: “Don’t you know I’m ready?” As the song progresses, Taylor builds up a heartbreaking case for self-worth as an air of ambiguity increasingly deflates any projected confidence.

No track in 2016 has stopped me cold and stolen my breath faster than “I’m Ready”, which somehow manages to incorporate silence as an effective instrument (even when it draws to an unceremonious close, the noises of everyday life seem like an integral part of Taylor’s statement). There’s beauty to be found in all of the cracks and bruises that life administers in varying portions and “I’m Ready” combines them all into something heartrending and poignant. Simply put, “I’m Ready” is unforgettable.

Listen to “I’m Ready” below and pre-order Piano here.

Watch This: Vol. 49

To start: this won’t be today’s last post. This will be this week’s Watch This, though, as next Sunday’s going to be devoted to work for an upcoming feature. Additionally, last week brought forth an embarrassment of riches and one Watch This just wasn’t enough to cover everything. All of that is to say that this will be another non-conventional installment that will offer a small break from the regularly scheduled every-Sunday appearance of this series. In the 49th installment, the performances take place in everything from small shops to late night talk shows and festival aftershows. Every performance is committed and provides some insight into the level of dedication these bands put into their live set. It’s all worth taking a few beats to take in- so, as always- sit back, focus in, turn the volume up, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Ty Segall – Manipulator (KCRW)

It’s strange to see the Ty Segall Band playing in an environment this contained- and it’s evident the band’s doing their best not to jump out of their skin while they tear through the title track off this year’s excellent Manipulator. Even if the band can’t exercise their usual being-shocked-to-death style movements as freely as they’d be able to without the restraints of their headphones, this is still one hell of a performance- and a great reminder to see them as many times as possible.

2. Mountain Bike – Good for Nothing (Bruxelles Ma Belle)

As what will likely be an introduction to Mountain Bike for many, it’d be impossible to ask for something more artfully executed than their recent session for Bruxelles Ma Belle. Shot in a small store, the band delivers a performance of the excellent “Good for Nothing” with an infectious amount of verve. Gorgeously lensed and perfectly executed, it’s enough to suggest that Mountain Bike are just getting started.

3. Posse – Shut Up (Pitchfork)

Any time a band shares the stage with METZ (whose performance at this show was featured in yesterday’s Watch This), it’s going to be difficult for that band to hold their own. That Posse manages to do so while playing a much more downtrodden, folk-influenced variant of post-punk is a feat that can’t be overlooked. “Shut Up” is an arresting performance of hypnotic proportions and, by being just that, easily secured Posse an entry in this volume.

4. The So So Glos – Diss Town (Last Call With Carson Daly)

How the hell does Blowout keep sounding better? The So So Glos‘ breakthrough effort from last year was full of a joyous strain of music that perfectly married basement punk with basement pop and having neither influence outshadow the other. Live, the band manages to up the already considerable levels of energy, turning their shows into mass singalongs that border the cathartic (which is why this band has been showing up in this series since the very first installment). Everyone’s in on it together, the band, the audience, and the people the band brings in- like the trumpet player and the person in the wings who looks like he’s having the time of his life less than a minute into this no-brakes performance of “Diss Town”. Don’t be the only one left out of the party- everyone’s always invited.

[Due to some temporary embed issues this video can only be seen here.]

5. Mount Eerie – Emptiness (Pinball Sessions)

P.W. Elverum has been making breathtaking music for several years now, under a variety of different guises. Mount Eerie has always been the one that’s stood out, thanks in part to Elverum’s fearlessness in regards to form and expectations. From relentlessly heavy sections that threaten to take post-rock into the realms of doned-out doom to the blissfully melancholic, it’s anything but predictable. Seeing Elverum strip away all of the ambient soundscapes to deliver a solo piano performance is an arresting experience for a myriad of reasons, each pointing to one simple fact: this is an artistic voice that still warrants our full attention.

Lemuria – Brilliant Dancer (Music Video)

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Lemuria’s Brilliant Dancer was featured way back when as one of 25 Best Demo’s, EP’s, 7″ Singles, and Compilations of 2013. Now, the song that the 7″ took its name from has a delightfully engaging, low-budget video to accompany it. Directed by Phillip Freedenberg, the clip combines DIY-friendly art, no-frills special effects, basic visual tricks, and some lovingly shot live footage into something strange and memorable. “Brilliant Dancer” is an overwhelmingly simplistic clip that comes laced with the effect of an old home video, triggering a strange nostalgia that gives it a surprising amount of emotional impact. By the time the collage-heavy presentation wraps itself up, the video winds up approaching becoming both a distinctively unique entry and a timeless piece of multimedia. All in all, it’s one of the better surprises of the past few months.

Watch “Brilliant Dancer” below and make a music video this month.