Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Randy

Watch This: Vol. 39

Now that Watch This is actually up to speed and back to its regular Sunday rotation, the five videos to earn spots will likely be a little more varied than usual. That’s certainly the case for the 39th installment, which features another set of videos from Pitchfork, two full sets from KEXP, and a handful of stunning performances. From hazy folk-leaning psychedelia to frantic, unhinged post-punk, there’s a little something for everyone. So, grab a cup of coffee, let it cool to optimum drinking temperature, take a sip, cue up the speakers, and Watch This.

1. Speedy Ortiz (Pitchfork)

There were a lot of great sets at NXNE and Pitchfork, several of which came from Speedy Ortiz. The band’s live show has been growing increasingly sharp and Pitchfork had their film crew on hand to capture incendiary performances of “Oxygal”, “Tiger Tank”, and “Everything’s Bigger”.  All three of the videos contained in this playlist sound as good as they look, which is more than a little impressive. Once again, the clips are stunning and the takeaway is simple: don’t pass up any opportunity to see this band live.

2. Idiot Genes (Allston Pudding)

Allston Pudding continues an impressive video streak with this take of Idiot Genes blazing through “Randy” and “Drunk Consistently” at their practice space. Playing to nobody but a film crew can occasionally affect a band’s energy but it’s a non-issue for the post-punk rippers. Both performances are as weird and engaging as the band themselves, making for necessary viewing.

3. Woods (KEXP)

Very few bands have a discography as consistent as Woods’, especially taking into account how far along into their career they are. Here, the band stops by KEXP for a full set highlighting their most recent effort, the quietly remarkable With Light and With Love. All of the songs here drift by in a dreamlike state, tinged with bits of Americana, folk, psych, and subtle hints of post-punk. It’s as fascinating as it is entrancing and definitely not worth missing.

4. Happy Fangs (BreakThruRadio)

“Excuse me, do you have a minute to talk about rock n’ roll?” was the strangest introduction anyone had to offer at NXNE and it came courtesy of Happy Fangs’ singer, who was armed with a business card and no shortage of determination. That same confidence ties over to her performance as the San Francisco-based trio’s relatively fearless vocalist, which is a fact that’s clearly evidenced in this session for BreakThruRadio that features a fiery performance (from all members) of the attention-demanding “Hiya Kaw Kaw”.  

5. Parquet Courts (KEXP)

Sunbathing Animal is in a prime position to appear on a slew of year-end lists and Parquet Courts are likely aware of that fact. They’re certainly playing with the verve of a band that’s on an ascending trajectory of interest and acclaim. Recently, the band stopped by KEXP and delivered a blistering five song set that only re-affirmed their status as one of the more exciting bands around. All wiry post-punk, unease, and nerve, Parquet Courts seem to have no intention of stopping and are content to just keep humming along, never looking back to see who (or what) they’ve left in the dust. 

The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More (Stream)

yolks

Towards the end of last month, Chicago’s The Yolks released the extraordinary Kings of Awesome on Randy Records, which is a record that’s now also being released as a cassette through the infallible Burger Records. One listen to “You Don’t Live Here No More” and it’s plain to see why Burger jumped at the chance to partner up with Randy for a joint release; in 84 seconds, the band evokes decades worth of great American music from 50’s soul to 60’s r&b drenched pop to 90’s outsider pop. While there’s a definite analog sound at play here, it still doesn’t feel like a true throwback- the band’s too aware of the present to come across as antiquated.

In addition to all of that, the lyrics follow a typical blues pattern: there’s a repeated heartbreak-heavy phrase that gets twisted after two lines and adorned with the obligatory “baby” on the second through-line. Yet somehow, the repetition’s not something that calls attention to itself, it feels organic enough that it just glides by, largely unnoticed thanks to the extraordinarily catchy vocal melody and clean, surf-indebted guitar work. When the song finally breaks open as the drums kick in, it’s clear that The Yolks know exactly what they’re doing- and everyone’s all the better for it.

Listen to “You Don’t Live Here No More” below and make sure to either grab the LP from Randy Records here or the cassette from Burger here.