Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Raising the Skate

Watch This: Vol. 127

Now that Watch This has resumed regular installments, the overwhelming amount of material on offer may necessitate more than one installment of the series. The 126th volume exclusively focused on individual performance sessions, while the five featured performances below are all full (or nearly full) sessions. The vast majority of the bands selected for feature below have already earned mountains of praise from this site (especially in the live department) and are providing even further justification for those earlier claims. Everything that’s here is here for a reason. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, relax, and Watch This.

1. Palm (Audiotree)

One of last year’s most buzzed-about live acts has been capitalizing on that momentum this year and recently got a chance to show off their deadly syncopation for Audiotree. Palm may still be a ways off from having the sort of name recognition as, say, Battles, but they’re well on their way to that point. Frenetic, razor-sharp, and endlessly intriguing, the band’s a sure bet to steal any show they play. As a shockingly young band, they’ve also got a terrifying amount of potential growth and exploration on the horizon. If they sustain their trajectory, their journey will be one of the most explosively rewarding of the next several years.

2. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (KDHX)

Utilizing a fairly stripped-down for this KDHX session, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down manage to find some new life in already vibrant material. The band runs through three songs for the radio program, straddling the divide between consummate professionals and friends just having fun. Everything they try here works beautifully and re-establishes Thao & The Get Down Stay Down as one of the more exemplary live acts that’s currently touring the circuit.

3. Posse (Band In Seattle)

Band In Seattle has been making a lot of strong moves lately and that streak’s extended with this session featuring Posse, who make the most of their spotlight by demonstrating their considerable range. From slow-burners to mid-tempo trots to furious noise-inflected basement pop, the band never sets forth a false foot. Impressive to the end, it’s a memorable showing from a band that’s looking poised to be on a lot of people’s radar very soon.

4. Speedy Ortiz (PressureDrop.tv)

Speedy Ortiz have been making the rounds again thanks to their latest release, the very strong Foiled Again EP. Accordingly, their schedule’s been a lot busier and afforded opportunities like this discography-spanning live session for PressureDrop.tv. In 10 songs, the band asserts their dominance as a live act with a practiced ease, underscoring their gnarled dynamic approach nicely.

5. Frankie Cosmos (KEXP)

For the past year or so, Frankie Cosmos — like a lot of acts that comprise The Epoch — have been quietly having a well-earned breakout moment. This year’s Next Thing was the band’s first official full band release and, arguably, their best. Previously the solo bedroom project of Greta Kline, Frankie Cosmos has long derived its powerful emotional pull from its live show, something that comes through with this beautifully-shot KEXP performance.

The Honorable Mentions of the 2015 Music Categories

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Before diving into the particulars of the forthcoming lists, it’s worth addressing the distinction made in the headline. Each of the categories that received a list in 2015 (music videos, songs, EP’s, albums, odds and ends) will be expanded upon in this post. However, there are still two forthcoming film lists but each of those will include the honorable mentions along with the featured rankings. An obscene amount of great material came out over the 12 months that comprised the past year so any attempts to cover everything would be futile. If anyone’s exhausted the below lists, a more comprehensive version can be found by exploring the following tags: stream, full stream, EP stream, and music video. Explore some of the top tier picks that didn’t make it onto the year-end lists via the tags below.

Music Videos

Screaming Females – Hopeless | Cayetana – Scott, Get the Van I’m Moving | Ephrata – Say A Prayer | ANAMIA – LuciaJoanna Newsom – Sapokinakan | Battles – The Yabba | FIDLAR – 40 Oz. On Repeat | PINS – Young Girls | Doomtree – Final Boss | Hundred Waters – Innocent | Celestial Shore – Now I Know | Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Sunday Candy | Modest Mouse – Coyotes | Girlpool – Before The World Was Big | Laura Marling – Gurdijeff’s Daughter | Bay Uno – Wait For Your Love | The Staves – Black & White | Young Buffalo – No  Idea | Avid Dancer – All Your Words Are Gone | Avi Buffalo – Think It’s Gonna Happen Again | Adir L.C. – Buyer’s Instinct | Midnight Reruns – Canadian Summer | Daughter – Doing The Right Thing | John Grant – Disappointing | Waxahatchee – Under A Rock | Wimps – Dump | Potty Mouth – Cherry Picking | Froth – Nothing Baby | The Libertines – Heart of the Matter | Car Seat Headrest – Something Soon | Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch | Savages – The Answer | Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin | Bully – Trying | Sheer – Uneasy  | Will Butler – Anna

EPs

Snail Mail – Sticki | Kindling – Galaxies | Eugene Quell – I Will Work The Land | Gumbus – Crimbus Rock | Rye Pines – Rye Pines | Feral Jenny – Greatest Hits | Slutever – Almost Famous | Gracie – Gracie | Nice Guys – Chips in the Moonlight | Anomie – Anomie | Kitner – Stay Sad | Animal Flag – EP 2 | Never Young – Never Young | Birches – Birches | Alimony Hustle – Gutter Gutter Strike Strike Gutter Gutter | The Lumes – Lust | Pretty Pretty – Talkin’ to the WallsVomitface – Another Bad Year | PALMAS – To the Valley | Greys – Repulsion | Wild Pink – Good Life | The Glow – Lose | Spirit of the Beehive – You Are Arrived (But You’ve Been Cheated) | Shady Hawkins – The Last Dance | Holy Esque – Submission | Ashland – Ashland | Isabel Rex – American Colliquialisms/Two Hexes | Pet Cemetery – Dietary Requirements | Milk Crimes – Milk Crimes | Rubber Band Gun – Making A Fool of Myself | Creative Adult – Ring Around the Room | Amber Edgar – Good Will Rise | La Casa al Mare – This Astro | Trophy Dad – Shirtless Algebra Fridays | Glueboy – Videorama | Birds in Row – Personal War | YVETTE – Time Management | Communions – Cobblestones | O-Face – Mint | Day Wave – Headcase | Granny – EGG | Van Dammes – Better Than Sex | Vallis Alps – Vallis Alps | Little Children – Traveling Through Darkness | Philadelphia Collins – Derp Swervin’ | The Tarantula Waltz – Lynx | Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs II | The Japanese House – Pools To Bathe In | Guerilla Toss – Flood Dosed | Los Planetas – Dobles Fatigas | See Through Dresses – End of Days | Earl Sweatshirt – Solace | Kississippi – We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed | Yumi Zouma – EP II | G.L.O.S.S. – Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit | Fresh Snow – WON | Girl Band – The Early Years | XXIX – Wafia | together PANGEA – The Phage | Ty Segall – Mr. Face | Young Guv – Ripe 4 Luv

Songs

Yowler – The Offer | Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo | Pleasure Leftists – Protection | Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold | Slight – Hate the Summer | Sports – The Washing Machine | Diet Cig – Sleep Talk | LVL UP – The Closing Door | Royal Headache – High | Tica Douglas – All Meanness Be Gone | Speedy Ortiz – Raising the Skate | Phooey! – Molly’s at the Laundromat | Adir L.C. – Buyer’s Instinct | Sweet John Bloom – Tell Me | Pile – Mr. Fish | Screaming Females – Hopeless | Ernie – Sweatpants | Bad Wig – Stargazer | Dusk – Too Sweet | Painted Zeros – Only You | Krill – Torturer | Young Jesus – Milo | Tenement – Ants + Flies | Midnight Reruns – Richie the Hammer | Melkbelly – Mt. Kool Kid | The Weasel, Marten Fisher – Empty Bucket List | Soul Low – Always Watchin’ Out | Eluvium – Neighboring In Telescopes | Algiers – Blood | Institute – Cheerlessness | Bruising – Think About Death | Vacation – Like Snow | Cende – Widow | Alex G – Brite Boy | Bully – Trying | Nicole Dollanganger – You’re So Cool | Sheer – Uneasy | Laura Stevenson – Claustrophobe | Kathryn Calder – New Millenium | The Foetals – Nothing | Lady Bones – Botch | Dogs On Acid – Let the Bombs Fall Off | Fraser A. Gorman – Shiny Gun | Bandit – The Drive Home | Mercury Girls – Golden | ThinLips – Nothing Weird | Wimps – Dump | S.M. Wolf – Help Me Out | Glueboy – Back to You | Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets | Ratboys – Tixis | PINS – Young Girls | Shilpa Ray – Johnny Thunders Fantasy Space Camp | White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die | Lady Lamb – Spat Out Spit | Washer – Joe | Pupppy – Puking (Merry Christmas) | Midwives – Back in the Saddle Again | Torres – Strange Hellos | METZ – Spit You Out | Jeff Rosenstock – You In Weird Cities | Little Wings – Hollowed Log | Bent Denim – Good Night’s Sleep | Waxahatchee – Under A Rock

Albums

Girlpool – Before The World Was Big | Screaming Females – Rose MountainYowler – The Offer | Saintseneca – Such Things | Bully – Feels Like | Tica Douglas – Joey | Evans the Death – Expect Delays | Torres – Sprinter | Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp | Fred Thomas – All Are Saved | Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching | Ratboys – AOID | Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter | METZ – II | Little Wings – ExplainsSlanted – Forever | Bent Denim – Romances You | Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – The High Country | White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again | The Armed – Untitled | Shilpa Ray – Last Year’s Savage | The Foetals – Meet the Foetals | Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style | Wimps – Suitcase | Westkust – Last Forever | Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie | Cloakroom – Further Out | Stove – Is Stupider | Johanna Warren – numun | Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer | Mikal Cronin – MCIII | Adir L.C. – Oceanside Cities | Negative Scanner – Negative Scanner | Pleasure Leftists – The Woods of Heaven | Haybaby – Sleepy Kids | Heather Woods Broderick – Glider | Lady Lamb – After | Pile – You’re Better Than This | Algiers – Algiers | Fraser A. Gorman – Slow Gum | POPE – Fiction | Petal Head – Raspberry Cough | Shannen Moser – You Shouldn’t Be Doing That

Odds and Ends

DBTS: BS2 | Spook the Herd – Freaks b/w Fermented | Kinjac – Possession b/w Possessed | Carbonleak – Waveland b/w Bearing | Vexx – Give and Take | Nervous Trend – Shattered | CCTV – 7″ | Puppy Problems – Practice Kissing | Flagland + Washer | MONO + The Ocean | Uh Huh + Jake McElvie & The Countertops | Alanna McArdle – Bedroom/Balloons | Chris Broom – Meade House Demos | Composite – Demos 2015 | The Library – 100% | Dark Thoughts – Two More Songs From… | Wendy Alembic – Collected Early Works | Toby Reif – 2015 Demos

Watch This: Vol. 82

[Editor’s Note: This text originally appeared in the preceding volume of Watch This.]

Anyone that’s been keeping an eye on the site knows that it’s been a busy time for both myself and this place. Making the move to Brooklyn has afforded a much greater opportunity for live coverage and that’s something that’s been increasingly evident over the past few posts. There were still be regular coverage on streaming songs, albums, and videos and all of those categories will be caught up in the very near future.

Despite missing last week’s, Watch This isn’t going to go anywhere either. Ostensibly the beating heart of Heartbreaking Bravery, the weekly series devoted to featuring the best live capture releases of the week is one of this site’s defining features. With two weeks worth of releases to reflect on, there’ll be two installments of Watch This to run tonight. Both feature a variety of site favorites (both artists and sources), full sessions, and- as always- extraordinary performances on both sides of the camera. So, as ever, sit back, adjust the volume to your preference, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Vaadat Charigim (KEXP)

In 2013, Vaadat Charigim released a gem of a record in The World Is Well Lost that seemed to get lost in the mix. Whether that was due to the lyrics being sung in a language other than English (Hebrew, in this case) or the promotional campaign missing its mark is anyone’s best guess but what was abundantly clear, even then, was the band’s conviction. They recently released their sophomore effort, Sinking As A Stone, which sharpened a lot of the band’s best qualities. The band took to the KEXP studios and turned in a powerhouse performance that already seems to be creating converts.

2. Screaming Females – Ripe (TCGS)

Screaming Females are climbing up the “most words written about” ladder with a steadfast assurance around here and that’s not a mistake. Time and time again, the band deliver on unexpectedly profound levels. Whether they’re covering Taylor Swift or allowing themselves to be vulnerable enough to serve as central figures for a revealing Lance Bangs documentary. It’s a dynamic that’s guaranteed their position as a perennial Watch This staple and their uninhibited dedication to their craft (along with a very genuine love) manage to continuously seep through their work. Another name of vital importance to Watch This, comedian Chris Gethard, recently secured a deal that took his cable access show to (much) more expansive realms. Here, the two meet for a fiery, costumed performance of “Ripe“, a standout cut from 2015 highlight  Rose Mountain.

3. Strand of Oaks (NPR)

Timothy Showalter is the rare kind of musician who can be equally captivating both unaccompanied and within the context of a full band. HEAL was one of last year’s more unexpectedly brilliant records but it seemed like any time those songs were performed in a live setting, the studio recordings were blown out of the water. NPR’s excellent Tiny Desk Concert series recently had Showalter stop in on his lonesome and they were paid back with a stunning three song performance that should cement Showalter’s status as one of today’s most intrinsically compelling performers. Deeply felt and utterly captivating, this is a songwriting (and solo performance) masterclass.

4. Speedy Ortiz (KEXP)

Nearly every regular source that gets utilized for the curation of Watch This seemed to host Speedy Ortiz over the past month. A few of those videos made it into various installments while a few just barely missed the cut. None of them were anywhere close to as strong as this KEXP-hosted four song knockout. All of the songs in this session are executed with an excess of verve and passion, not in a manner all that dissimilar from the last time they came through the station. Playing nothing but highlights from this year’s outstanding Foil Deer, the session becomes a capsule document of a band in the throes of both artistic reinvention and breakout success.

5. Hop Along (WNYC)

The last artist on this list with a long history of Watch This appearances, Hop Along‘s most definitely the one to have experienced the most momentum in 2015. With the extraordinary Painted Shut (their first effort for Saddle Creek) elevating them from “best-kept secret” status to universal critical adoration, they’ve also managed to considerably expand their fan base. It’s difficult to think of a more deserving band when taking into account the exceptional levels of songwriting and their years spent relentlessly touring small bars and DIY venues. They’re making every possible effort at seizing a moment that’s rightfully theirs and WNYC became the latest channel to capture evidence. In three songs, the band manages to demonstrate every facet that earned them an unprecedented amount of loyalty and support in their early goings while simultaneously establishing what makes them such a cherished act in today’s musical landscape.

Casting A Glance (Video Mixtape)

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Well, here we are, 500 posts down the line from the Audacity music video feature post that kicked everything off. A lot of things have happened in the course of this site’s existence and its changed my life for the better, introducing me to wonderful people behind bands I genuinely love. Watch This has ran for more than 70 installments, thousands of records and songs have been mentioned (and thousands of photos have been taken), and the site even hosted a showcase in the middle of nowhere. Writers, musicians, directors, artists, publicists, and label executives who help make or promote incredible art all came together and contributed an incredible collection of pieces at the end of last year to celebrate some important things that happened in their life. Somehow, over the course of the preceding 499 posts, people began expressing care for what essentially remains a place for me to share the art I love and give it a sharper focus. Included in that spectrum are the following 25 music videos. None of them have appeared on the site before and all of them have only recently surfaced (please skip over the Inheaven clip if you’re seizure-prone, which is a type of video I do my best to avoid posting here but was so fascinated by that one I thought it warranted a rare exception). From bleary-eyed foxes to murderous teens to gorgeous animation to slasher film homages to stunning cinematography (that Bandit clip is particularly breathtaking), there’s a lot of ground to cover in this list- and, as always, an abundance of art to appreciate.

In keeping with tradition, this being a post that falls on an increment of 100, underneath the tracklist below the embed, there will be hyperlinks to the preceding 100 posts for anyone who’d like to revisit past articles (and as a helpful archival tool). Click play on the embed, peruse articles past, and, most importantly, enjoy. Thanks to everyone who’s helped keep this site alive; your encouragement’s more appreciated than you know.

1. Courtney Barnett – Dead Fox
2. Mikal Cronin – Turn Around
3. Bully – I Remember
4. Downtown Boys – Wave of History
5. Chastity Belt – Joke
6. PINS – Young Girls
7. Surfer Blood – I Can’t Explain
8. Inheaven – Regeneration (Alternate Version)
9. Nic Hessler – I Feel Again
10. Hop Along – Powerful Man
11. Hurry – Oozing Positivity
12. Kopecky – Quarterback
13. Michael Rault – Too Bad So Sad
14. Landshapes – Ader
15. Arborist – Twisted Arrow
16. Soley – Halloween
17. Brian Lopez – Modern Man
18. Tiny Fingers – The Fall
19. Empty Heads – Deceiver
20. Speedy Ortiz – Raising the Skate
21. Los Angeles Police Department – Insecurity
22. Giant Sand – Transponder
23. The Underground Railroad to Candyland – Yer Not The Only One
24. Winter – Crazy
25. Bandit – The Drive Home

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HB400: Watch This: Best of 2014 (Video Mixtape)
HB401: 2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 1
HB402: Elephants – The Turtles Were Right (Song Premiere)
HB403: 2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 2
HB404: Watch This: Vol. 59
HB405: Watch This: Vol. 60
HB406: Watch This: Vol. 61
HB407: Watch This: Vol. 62
HB408: Watch This: Vol. 63
HB409: 2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 3
HB410: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Billions of Eyes (Music Video)
HB411: Laughing Fingers – Crutches (Stream)
HB412: Quarterbacks – Center (Stream)
HB413: Even Hand – Drifting (Album Review, Stream)
HB414: Male Bonding – A Kick to the Face (Stream)
HB415: All Dogs – Georgia (Stream)
HB416: La Dispute – Woman (Reading) (Music Video)
HB417: 2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 4
HB418: Watch This: Vol. 64
HB419: Mulligrub – Sprite Zero (Music Video)
HB420: 2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 5
HB421: 14 of ’14: The Best Music Videos of 2014
HB422: 14 of ’14: The Best Splits of 2014
HB423: 14 of ’14: The Best Online Singles and Other Assorted Oddities of 2014
HB424: 14 of ’14: The Best 7″ Records of 2014
HB425: 14 of ’14: The Best Songs of 2014
HB426: 14 of ’14: The Best EP’s of 2014
HB427: 14 of ’14: The Best LP’s of 2014
HB428: 2014: A Year’s Worth of Memories, Pt. 1
HB429: 2014: A Year’s Worth of Memories, Pt. 2
HB430: 2014: A Year’s Worth of Memories, Pt. 3
HB431: 2014: A Year’s Worth of Memories, Pt. 4
HB432: 2014: A Year’s Worth of Memories, Pt. 5
HB433: 2014: A Year’s Worth of Memories, Pt. 6
HB434: 2014: A Year’s Worth of Memories, Pt. 7
HB435: Mikal Cronin – Made My Mind Up (Stream)
HB436: Pile – Mr. Fish (Stream)
HB437: Diet Cig – Over Easy (EP Review, Stream)
HB438: Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best (Music Video)
HB439: Ben Seretan – Ben Seretan (Album Review, Stream)
HB440: Girlpool: Things Are OK (Documentary Review, Stream)
HB441: Tenement – Morning Mouth (Stream)
HB442: Music Frozen Dancing at The Empty Bottle – 2/28/15 (Pictorial Review)
HB443: Kodakrome (Demo Review, Stream)
HB444: Yowler – The Offer (Stream)
HB445: First Quarter Songs, Pt. 1 (Mixtape)
HB446: First Quarter Clips, Pt. 1
HB447: First Quarter Full Streams, Pt. 1
HB448: First Quarter Full Streams, Pt. 2
HB449: Death Grips – On GP (Music Video)
HB450: First Quarter Clips, Pt. 2 (Video Mixtape)
HB451: Tica Douglas – Joey (Album Review, Stream)
HB452: Avid Dancer – All Your Words Are Gone (Music Video)
HB453: Denai Moore – Blame (Music Video)
HB454: Screaming Females (Documentary Review, Stream)
HB455: First Quarter Clips, Pt. 3 (Video Mixtape)
HB456: First Quarter Clips, Pt. 4 (Video Mixtape)
HB457: Young Jesus – Grow/Decompose (Album Teaser Premiere)
HB458: Geronimo! – Buzz Yr Girlfriend: Vol. 4 – Why Did You Leave Me? (EP Review, Live Videos)
HB459: Fred Thomas – Every Song Sung To A Dog (Stream)
HB460: Run the Jewels – Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck) (Music Video)
HB461: Downies – Widow (Stream)
HB462: Waxahatchee – Under A Rock (Music Video)
HB463: Sheer Mag – Button Up (Stream)
HB464: Dilly Dally – Gender Role (Stream)
HB465: 2015: First Quarter Highlights (Mixtape)
HB466: Meat Wave – Sham King (Music Video)
HB467: METZ – Spit You Out (Stream)
HB468: Fake Palms – Sun Drips (Stream)
HB469: White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die (Stream)
HB470: Liam Betson – Rapture In Heat (Music Video)
HB471: Watch This: 2015, Vol. 1
HB472: Watch This: 2015, Vol. 2
HB473: Watch This: 2015, Vol. 3
HB474: Watch This: Vol. 68
HB475: Tenement – Dull Joy (Stream)
HB476: Hop Along – Texas Funeral (Stream)
HB477: Washer – Joe (Stream)
HB478: Bruising – Think About Death (Stream)
HB479: Connor La Mue – Stargazer (Stream)
HB480: Pleistocene – Liberteen (Stream)
HB481: Dogbreth – Hoarder House (Stream)
HB482: Watch This: Vol. 69
HB483: Courtney Barnett – Kim’s Caravan (Music Video)
HB484: Left & Right – 5 Year Plan (Music Video)
HB485: Speedy Ortiz – The Graduates (Music Video)
HB486: Bent Denim – Good Night’s Sleep (Music Video)
HB487: Meat Wave – Erased (Stream, Live Video)
HB488: Titus Andronicus – Dimed Out (Lyric Video)
HB489: Midnight Reruns – Ain’t Gonna Find (Stream)
HB490: Watch This: Vol. 70
HB491: Meredith Graves – Took the Ghost to the Movies (Stream, Photos)
HB492: A Third of the Way: Full Streams, 2015
HB493: Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter (Album Review, Stream)
HB494: Watch This: Vol. 71
HB495: White Reaper – I Don’t Think She Cares (Stream)
HB496: Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets (Stream)
HB497: Young Jesus – Milo (Stream)
HB498: T. Hardy Morris – My Me (Stream)
HB499: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Line On You (Stream)

Watch This: Vol. 71

To say “it’s been a week” would be putting it mildly. The statement held especially true for the incredible live footage that has been consistently published throughout the week’s duration. In the preceding installment of this series, it was stated that there could have easily been two features instead of one. This week that number increases to three. Every single day, a masterful new video was ushered out into the world. A large handful of those were impeccably produced; gorgeous in vision and stunning in terms of sound, boasting a memorable performance all the while. Lady Lamb, Speedy Ortiz, Jeff Rosenstock, Two Gallants, Mikal Cronin, T. Hardy Morris & the Hardknocks, Twerps, Vijay Iyer Trio, The Technicolors, and Surfer Blood all had live clips introduced that earned their endless replay value. Nearly every single one of those names has been mentioned on this site before (albeit some for entirely different projects) and that trend holds steady for the five clips that are featured below.  So, as always, turn the volume up, shut out all of your looming distractions, lean in, and Watch This.

1. DOE (BreakThruRadio)

Every time DOE’s released something, it’s caught my ear. It’s been immensely satisfying to watch their recognition slowly expand as time progressed. Of course, part of the reasoning behind that growth may be their own self-improvement. Their recent session for BreakThruRadio further illustrates that this band’s primed for a breakout. While the featured song, the hard-charging “Redo/Improve”, is a monstrously catchy bit of punk-inflected basement pop, one of the most welcoming elements of this clip is the band’s winsome affability in the interview segment. Of course, that’s almost immediately forgotten once it splinters off into a brief live clip of the latter two songs included in the clip because DOE’s the kind of band that demands attention when they’re in live mode. Just hit play and start waiting for their name to slowly climb the festival bill font-scale ladder.

2. Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion (Fitz Ross)

86’d in ’03” was one of this sites favorite songs from last year, as reflected in one of the stranger best of lists. Bent Shapes could have been content to coast on that release for a while but the band’s work ethic ensures that they’ll likely be working until they can’t push themselves any further (hell, even that not might be enough). Impressively, there’s never a decline in quality; they’re writing some of the finest punk-tinged powerpop of today. “New Starts In Old Dominion” is clear evidence that the band’s talents extend past their recorded output and into what they’re able to accomplish live. When a party is this good, it’s not worth being late.

3. Torres – Cowboy Guilt (Public Radio International)

Few records have managed to grip me as strongly as Torres’ Sprinter. Every song on the record contains subtle melody hooks that have the ability to become inescapable over time. “Cowboy Guilt” is a perfect example of this particular dynamic. The guitar riffs, the vocal melody, and the subtle synth work all slowly expand their claws and lodge their way into a territory reserved for things that are next to impossible to forget. None of that shifts in the live setting, even though a few of the arrangements do differ slightly from the studio version. The contrast is part of what makes this particular clip feel so alive; humanity is impossible to fake.

4. Will Butler – What I Want (WFUV)

Policy is one of 2015’s most curios releases and the oddities that made it so compelling are also likely the reason it didn’t find much of an audience. Teeming with droll humor, impressive composition skills, and a surprising amount of pathos, “What I Want” is an incredibly intimate look at the way Butler’s songs operate. Confined to the WFUV studio with only a piano at his disposal, Butler is cast in the intimidating glare of a sole spotlight. His response? Delivering an unlikely, powerful performance that reaffirms the flashes of talent he consistently provides in his main vehicle (you know the one). It’s genuinely stunning.

5. Field Mouse – A Place You Return To In A Dream (Radio K)

Field Mouse have been consistently churning out impressive post-punk for a few years now and seem to only get stronger as they go- the aim of every band with honorable convictions. They recently stopped in the Radio K studios to turn in a blistering take of “A Place You Return To In A Dream”, which leans heavily on the band’s shoegaze influences without eschewing any of their deceptively intuitive pop sensibilities. Surging guitars, soft backing vocals, and committed performances make sure this clip reaches exhilarating levels.

2015: First Quarter Highlights (Mixtape)

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After three months and some change of the site being forced into more inactivity than production, single streams are about to be caught up to what’s happening (as it happens). More than 300 songs have been touched upon in the past week and 25 more will find features tonight (26 if you count this special mention of “The Waters of Babylon“, the crown jewel of Will Butler’s fascinating project for The Guardian). A few of these songs may have appeared in some small form here over the course of the year but each deserves a more central feature spot. Not all of these are songs that are new to the fold either, a few of them have appeared in some fashion in years past and earned a re-release (or, in Tenement‘s case, a remaster) in 2015’s first quarter. If a song has already been featured in full (as is the case for Mikal Cronin’s “Made My Mind Up” and Fred Thomas’ “Every Song Sung To A Dog”), they’re ineligible for this particular mix- but are still very much in the running as Song of the Year candidates. A handful of others on this list join them in that candidacy, with Hop Along‘s exceptionally strong lead-off single from their upcoming record, Painted Shut, being a particularly formidable example. All together, these songs are intended to represent the abundance of quality that the year’s yielded in its opening quarter. Set aside some time and revisit a handful of this year’s best offerings.

1. Hop Along – Waitress

By releasing their most accomplished song to date, Hop Along did far more than justify their signing to Saddle Creek; they provided a jaw-dropping dose of adrenaline to the year’s first few months. If Painted Shut doesn’t elevate this band’s recognition to stratospheric heights (something early reactions have indicated it seems poised to do), it’ll be one of 2015’s biggest stunners. Also one of 2015’s biggest stunners? “Waitress”. Frances Quinlan & co.’s finest moment to date.

2. Pocket Hercules – Well-Adjusted

A small but staggering release, Pocket Hercules’ self-titled effort came with no shortage of great moments. Chief among them was “Well-Adjusted”, which served as the introduction to Pocket Hercules for many and flatly laid out every bit of what makes the band so fascinating; off-kilter guitar work, exhilarating dynamics, left field arrangements, and deceptively brilliant arrangements. Hear the whole tapestry unfold below.

3. Makthaversan – Witness

Makthaverskan hadn’t carved out much of a foothold in the US until Run For Cover wisely picked the band up last year and re-released what deserves to be considered a contemporary classic. Every since then, the band’s been capitalizing on the groundswell of momentum that the signing kicked into motion. Teasing some material that could be just around the corner, “Witness” is an arresting reaffirmation of a band that deserves the attention they’re getting.

4. Slutever – Open Wide

Ever since their split with Girlpool, Slutever haven’t been content to sit back- and that restlessness led to not only one the year’s best early EP’s but one of its best songs as well. “Open Wide” allows Slutever to demonstrate how affecting they are when laying into a mid-tempo number with as much passion as humanly possible. It’s a quick-witted song that packs a serious punch, easily securing it a spot on this list.

5. Tenement – Spaghetti Midwestern

No, “Spaghetti Midwestern” is not a new song. In its earliest iteration, the tune was packaged on what remains one of my personal all-time favorite splits back in 2009 (Used Kids held down the other side of that split). It’s a song that’s held a lot of meaning for me over the years and it was one of the earliest indications of Tenement’s still-limitless potential. Even though it’s only a remaster, it would feel wrong to exclude it here- it deserves to be celebrated at every opportunity that the possibility of celebration is presented. This list is no exception.

6. PWR BTTM – Hold Yer Tongue

Another song to be taken from an incredible split release, PWR BTTM’s “Hold Yer Tongue” was one of the more fiery introductions to a band I’ve ever heard. Towering in dynamic scope and lightly intimidating in lyrical content, “Hold Yer Tongue” hits a series of sweet notes that cement the band’s status as one of today’s most exciting emerging acts. With the volume- and seemingly everything else- dialed up to 11, “Hold Yer Tongue” is a show of force that lingers long after the song’s come to a close.

7. Beach Slang – Too Late to Die Young

After building a reputation on the backs of fiery blasts of scrappy punk, a tender, heart-on-sleeve acoustic number is an interesting choice for Beach Slang. Evoking more than a few shades of The Replacements at their most vulnerable, “Too Late to Die Young” suggests that the band’s songwriting abilities may go even further than the levels hinted at on their first few EP’s. Gentle and oddly moving, “Too Late to Die Young” is a song that elevates an already great band’s potential.

8. Johanna Warren – Figure 8

No record has captivated me this year in a way even remotely similar to Johanna Warren’s nūmūn. Delicate, provocative, and quietly intense, it’s as if Warren was intent on world-building at a cinematic level. One of the record’s most gently arresting moments is the Elliott Smith homage, “Figure 8”. Layered vocals, fingerpicked acoustic guitar, and subtle, brilliant production all render this into something spellbinding that verges on the otherworldly. Haunting, damaged, and beautiful- it’s not difficult to think “Figure 8” would have made its source of inspiration proud.

9. Alex G – Change

Another song on this list that’s existed prior to this year, “Change” went through a little more than a remaster and has- in essence- taken life as a new song. Granted, it’s not too dissimilar from the previous version of “Change” but it has a newfound vibrancy and expanded aesthetics that effectively retroactively render the original “Change” to demo status. Alex G continues to make waves and generate interest and the reworkings of earlier material make his talent abundantly clear, with “Change” now positioned at the front of the charge.

10. Trust Fund – Essay to Write

A band doesn’t earn the title of site favorite without continuously impressing and, after “Essay to Write” (as well as the rest of the band’s most recent record), it’s fair to apply that tag to Trust Fund. Striking a perfect balance between optimistic and down-trodden, without losing an ounce of their identity, Trust Fund enhance an already appealing identity with one of their most compelling outings to date.

11. Cyberbully Mom Club – Friends

Shari Heck’s Cyberbully Mom Club got a shot in the arm with a full band upheaval of what was once strictly a solo project. Taking on a spiky basement punk tone, “Friends” exists in the sweet spot that this site touches upon most frequently. Strong melodies resonate throughout “Friends” and there’s a real sense of drive that pushes the song forward, allowing it to reflect an endearing new spark in the Cyberbully Mom Club project.

12. Peach Kelli Pop – Princess Castle 1987

Jaunty, supercharged, and hyper as hell, “Princess Castle 1987” is a perfectly-timed reminder of the sheer power possessed by Burger mainstay Peach Kelli Pop. With video game love in full effect, “Princess Castle 1987” is punctuated by retro influences but still manages to come off as fiercely modern. Sharp and exhilarating, it’s an extremely promising warning shot for the material from the project that’s yet to come.

13. American Wrestlers – Kelly

Clever in terms of production and overwhelmingly strong in terms of songwriting, “Kelly” is as good as understated basement pop gets. Decidedly grimy aesthetics inform the character of the verses before the band cleans them up with a monster of a chorus, leading a rousing stylistic back-and-forth that somehow manages to find the perfect complementary balance. “Kelly” isn’t just one of the year’s catchiest songs- it’s also one of its deadliest.

14. Chastity Belt – Joke

Chastity Belt is a name that’s been showing up on bigger publications with increasing regularity and that ascension in popularity is only outmatched by one thing: the band’s own internal ascension in terms of both identity and songwriting. NPR even feature the record “Joke” was taken from on its much-celebrated First Listen series. While that record still stands as a great record, “Joke” is its best moment- one that finds Chastity Belt comfortably settling into their comfort zone and exploiting it for all its worth. Chastity Belt’s never sounded more comfortable and they’ve definitely never sounded this powerful.

15. CARE – Pamela

Easily one of the best submissions to land in my inbox all year, CARE’s “Pamela” is a multicolored, multi-faceted indie pop tune that comes laced with trappings indicative of a DIY ethos. Heavily melodic, reverb-tinged, and sharply energetic, “Pamela” comes off with a wide-eyed intensity that only furthers CARE’s promise. Length never becomes an issue as the song floats along effortlessly at its own pace and consumes the listener’s attention in the process.

16. Krill – Foot

Last time Krill earned a feature in this list, all I said was “Krill forever”. This time around, all I’m going to say is Krill forever.

17. METZ – Acetate

METZ’s self-titled record remains one of my favorites from this decade for the amount of punch it managed to pack in a relatively short running time. Live, the band’s an unstoppable force and they’ve delivered two of the most memorable sets I’ve ever seen (the latter being part of this site’s NXNE coverage, despite not actually being a part of NXNE). “Acetate” is the first look at the band’s upcoming record and it seems as if the band’s intent on raising even more hell than they did the first time around. Get on board or get the hell out of their way because if “Acetate” is any indication, their only direction is full-steam ahead.

18. Dogs On Acid – Flushed

It’s been a good past few months for Dogs On Acid. At the end of last year, the band’s self-titled earned a spot on this site’s Best 7″ Records of 2014 list and since then, they’ve signed to Asian Man Records. “Flushed” is the first look at new material from the band and it’s immensely promising. All of the band’s early charms are still fully in tact and they’ve tightened their grasp on dynamics. Whip-smart lyrics and a fine balance between basement punk and basement pop elevate the band to heights that others spend careers struggling to reach.

19. Pupppy – Beans 

One of 2015’s most intriguing emerging acts is Pupppy, whose recent endorsement from Father/Daughter Records bodes very well for what they have in store for the remainder of the year. As a first glimpse, “Beans” does exactly what it should; introduces us to a band that’s good enough to spur a desire to get to know them better and achieves this on the back of an absurdly enjoyable single. Light in all the right places, with just enough fuzz to give it a jolt of energy, “Beans” is one of 2015’s loveliest surprises.

20. Lost Boy ? – Hemmorage

Had Canned been available to stream anywhere at the end of last year, it would have been towards the very top of our Best Albums of 2014 list. Up until recently, it’s only existed on cassette tape- and that tape’s become a permanent staple of my collection. It’s irreverent, it’s damaged, it’s off-kilter, and it’s the band’s finest work by a long shot- no easy feat, considering their discography’s been unblemished. “Hemmorage” is one of the many songs on Canned that work their way into the listener’s subconscious, loaded with memorable hooks and exceedingly intuitive songwriting. “Hemmorage” is all verve, all bite, and it’s damn near perfect.

21. Joanna Gruesome – Last Year

Joanna Gruesome are a band that continue to defy expectations and a band that continue to get progressively better with each release. They were all over our year-end coverage in December and January, which is a trend that could easily be repeated this year, especially if- fittingly enough- “Last Year” is any indication. Maxing out the band’s penchant for noise, “Last Year” features some boldly atonal selections that come off like an especially jarring uppercut. Vocalist Alanna McArdle has never sounded more pissed off as she does in the first verses or more at peace than she does in the sections that follow. Electrifying and deeply impressive, this is the kind of music that deserves to be celebrated as loudly as possible.

22. Westkust – Swirl

A sister band of Makthaverskan, Westkust excel in similar territories but with a noticeably heavier bent. Decades worth of influential genre touch points can be readily found on “Swirl”, the song that firmly announced the band’s arrival. Shoegaze guitars, post-punk bass, no wave synths, and new wave production aesthetics all make “Swirl” impossibly accessible and, more importantly, they’re blended in a way that makes the track unmissable.

23. Speedy Ortiz – Raising the Skate

In a few weeks’ time Speedy Ortiz will release their heavily anticipated Foil Deer full-length. In advance of the record, they released three songs. All three were absolute monsters deserving of year-end mentions. While both songs that aren’t “Raising the Skate” are genuinely that strong, “Raising the Skate” gets the nod hear for a few things: one of the year’s best choruses, the best use of production the band’s ever managed, and its sense of liveliness. More than just about any other song, “Raising the Skate” is a song that makes it sound like Speedy Ortiz is allowing themselves to revel in the sheer joy of making music.

24. Fred Thomas – Bad Blood

All Are Saved is one of 2015’s strongest records so far and nothing that’s come out this year has been as devastating as Fred Thomas’ “Every Song Sung To A Dog“, a direct ode to a dog that Thomas had loved for years while he watched him slowly die over time. No record this year will have an opening track as song and, hell, their might not even be a song over the next eight months that’s even remotely comparable. So, that by the time “Bad Blood” rolls around and All Are Saved hasn’t buckled under the weight of its opening track is a testament to its strength. “Bad Blood”, perhaps more than any other song on All Are Saved. indulges Thomas’ more experimental side but loses none of the songwriters considerable appeal. Immediate and attention-grabbing “Bad Blood” is one of 2015’s more unique entries and it lands with the force of a million consecutive blows, joining a small slew of others that help cement All Are Saved‘s position as an unlikely classic.

25. Bill Fay – Something Else Ahead

Not a lot of people can sound as despairing as Bill Fay. Utilizing a lifetime’s worth of experiences and weary tones to maximum effect, the legendary songwriter made a small return earlier this year with the haunting “Something Else Ahead”, a gorgeous tune that balances the lines of hope and hopelessness as effectively as Tom Waits does at his absolute best. It’s a fitting conclusion to this list and a promising look ahead towards what Fay has planned for the rest of the year. Relegated to only one place for streaming, it wasn’t exactly omnipresent when it surfaced- don’t make the mistake of allowing that seclusion to let it go unheard. Follow the link below to get your heart held and broken.

Listen to “Something Else Ahead” over at NPR.