Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: PS Eliot

Swearin’ – Live at Memorial Union Terrace – 5/30/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)

Swearin' XLII

There are very few bands that will warrant the subversion of this site’s manifest. One of the rules that this place tends to hold sacred is that the music in question is more important than an individual reaction to it (this eliminates the assumptions involved in writing from a first person perspective). That said, there are a few bands that have managed to flip that script based on the sheer reverence their music has earned. Perfect Pussy and Tenement are the most notable to have it done it so far but today Swearin’ joins their ranks. There’s just something about the band that resonates with me on a really intense personal level. It’s at the point where it’s impossible to distance or separate myself from that reaction. Taking myself out of the equation would, in some way, feel more dishonest than just trying to get across how this band affects me personally- because any time that happens it’s worth dissolving barriers for.

Some exposition: What A Dump, the band’s first demo cassette, is one of my favorite releases of all time. There’s literally nothing in my fairly expansive library that comes even remotely close to matching it for number of plays at this point. Swearin’, the band’s first full-length, is in the top ten of that particular list as well. Despite this being the case, up until last Friday night, I’d never seen the band play live. So, when the opportunity to see the band play for free on a terrace overlooking Lake Mendota came, I dropped everything and jumped at the chance. By the end of that night my enthusiasm and affection for the band and its members had only grown more emphatic. An additional bonus was the fact that the show gave me a chance to finally catch Pretty Pretty live as well, who lived up to their strong early reputation.

Both bands played shortly after the sun finally set on Madison with Pretty Pretty giving a commanding performance that emphasized their strengths as a live act. The Columbus trio”s punk-tinged powerpop never got tiresome and their set only got more impassioned as it went on, gaining a startling momentum until it finally got to a place where the only thing left to do was call it quits for the evening and let Swearin’ take over. Swearin’, for their part, commanded the hell out of their sizeable audience (it’s nice to see free music outdoors on a perfect night proving to be as big of a draw as it’s ever been) and lived up to every ridiculous, lofty expectation I’d been forming for years. A lot of their songs are practically sacred to me at this point and they only grew more vital in the live setting. When their discography spanning set came to a close, strings had been broken, feelings had been poured out, notes had been missed, beer had flowed frrely, an infinite amount of mosquitoes had been swatted, and everyone was all smiles. From “Here to Hear” to “Crashing” to “Dust in the Gold Sack” to “What A Dump” to “Kill ‘Em With Kindness” there was never a moment that felt less than incendiary. My friend Justin summed the whole thing up aptly and admiringly with a simple “Fuckin’ Swearin'”. How right he is.

A video of Swearin’ kicking off their set with “Here to Hear” can be seen below. Below that video is an extensive image gallery of the show. Take a look at both, then make sure to catch them in person whenever they’re in town. It’ll be worth it.

Watch This: Vol. 16

Well, the stars didn’t quite align and this is, once again, a few days past-due. That’s the bad news. The good news? A bout with poor health (while admittedly not producing much content) did prompt a few brainstorming sessions. As a compromise for this edition’s lateness, it’ll be another spotlight piece (in the way of Vol. 9). Except this time, instead of BNTYK, the attention’s been turned to the Pink Couch Sessions series ([PCS] for short). While this site’s already praised IYMI for a myriad of reasons, and included a few [PCS] pieces here and there, giving them their own Watch This just felt necessary. While there were a few pretty extraordinary videos that were left out, Saintseneca, Big EyesHop Along, and Waxahatchee, have all been covered recently- or covered enough- that it felt justifiable to spread the focus elsewhere. After all, Heartbreaking Bravery would be nothing if it wasn’t constantly looking for new music to showcase. All that’s left is to find a drink, sit back, and watch this.

1. P.S. Eliot – We’d Never Agree

Before Katie Crutchfield started Waxahatchee and Allison Crutchfield was at the center of Swearin’, they were both in P.S. Eliot. This version of “We’d Never Agree” served as an introduction to the band for a fair few people and was a very early indicator of the extent of their respective talents. Katie’s front and center here, as arresting as she’s ever been.

2. Teenage Cool Kids – Landlocked State

Making their second straight appearance in a Watch This features edition, Teenage Cool Kids run though “Landlocked State”. The acoustic format allows the emphasis to be placed on the band’s extraordinary lyrical ability, always one of their strongest elements. They’ve rarely sounded better.

3. Sundials – Crosby Sucks

Midwestern winters can exacerbate already considerable levels of discontentment. There are four things that help pass the time when this happens: music, friends, drinking, and hockey. “Crosby Sucks”, in addition to being a showcase for Sundials’ great left-field basement pop, is a perfect distillation of all four.

4. The Sidekicks – 1940’s Fighter Jet

Steve Clolek has been making quite a name for himself lately. As a member of Saintseneca, his profile’s rising- and as a residual effect of that, The Sidekicks are also getting a fair amount of attention. They deserve it, too. Awkward Breeds was one of 2012’s best records and “1940’s Fighter Jet” was one of its most stunning moments.  Clolek delivers an even more powerful solo version here.

5. Busman’s Holiday – Mr. Spaceman

There are few things that would’ve been more appropriate for a [PCS] grand finale than this rousing take on “Mr. Spaceman” courtesy of Busman’s Holiday. Hitting all the sweet spots of a variety of genres spanning from chamber pop to twee to folk-punk, this is the kind of performance that can make a convert out of just about anyone. The melody, the strings, and the snare work all come together to create something magical.