Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: rock n soul

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.

Watch This: Vol. 30

Well, it finally happened. Waatch This is officially back on track and back to its regular every-Sunday rotation- and this week was particularly stacked. There was an incredible Serious Business feature from BreakThruRadio on Hive Bent, a beautiful Allston Pudding session with Saintseneca, and Mansions turned in what was arguably their best performance for an absolutely incendiary run for Little Elephant. None of them made this week’s installment. There were various reasons that kept each of them out and what wound up being featured was a fairly eclectic mix of full sets, single songs, old favorites, and at least one face that’s completely new to this site. So, sit back, relax, continue on with some day drinking, and Watch This.

1. Bob Mould – I Don’t Know You Anymore (The Current)

Bob Mould should be a household name by now. One of the most influential and well-respected songwriters to emerge from the 80’s/90’s DIY punk/hardcore heyday, he’s already amassed an army of untouchable classics that have his name on them and he’s in the midst of a staggering resurgence that’s currently seeing him match his past glory. Beauty & Ruin is one of 2014’s best and isn’t in danger of losing that position by year’s end. It’s driven by gems like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” which Mould recently deliver a commanding solo performance of for Minneapolis’ 89.3 The Current. That can be seen below.

2. Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked (Jam in the Van)

This isn’t the first time that this song’s appeared on this site and the feelings towards it haven’t changed. “Everything’s Fucked” is a song that aims to scorch the earth that surrounds it and shows a total disregard for anything attempting to get in its way. Here, the band delivers a fierce, ragged performance of it for Jam in the Van during their SXSW stay and hold absolutely nothing back. It’s a jolt of energy that’s strong enough to inject a jump-start into any dreary Sunday; keep it on file for those occasions.

3. Hop Along (unARTigNYC)

unARTigNYC is back in a big way this week: this is the first of three videos the channel posted that will be featured as the extended closing sequence for this week’s Watch This. Now, this will come with a touch of Deja Vu for any longtime readers of the site as Vol. 15 also featured a full Hop Along set that was also posted by unARTigNYC that was also captured at Saint Vitus. Lightning can strike twice. The only real differences are the sets and the fact that this was a Pitchfork showcase that also featured Pleasure Leftists, Frankie Cosmos, and the band occupying this installment’s fifth slot All of the new material Hop Along has been playing out is pointing towards one thing; whenever that record drops, it’s going to be a big deal that a lot of people will be very passionate about. Expect to see a stream of praise coming from sites like this one the moment that happens. For now, just enjoy the fact there are things like this out there to keep everyone excited (and deeply impressed).

4. Charles Bradley – The World Is Going Up In Flames (unARTigNYC)

Are there any stories in music from this decade more inspiring than the ascension of Charles Bradley? It’s sincerely doubtful. Plucked from obscurity during his days as a James Brown impersonator, he impressed all the right people and wound up signing a deal with Daptone Records, the most influential label in soul. Before that moment, and during the interim, the now-65 year old Bradley went through some extraordinarily harsh times. Almost dying and experiencing great personal tragedy didn’t deter him, though, and in 2011 his debut record No Time for Dreaming was met the same way his sophomore effort, 2013’s Victim of Love was: they both garnered immediate acclaimed and helped elevate Bradley to being one of the biggest names in his genre. Now affectionately known as “The Screaming Eagle of Soul”, Bradley has greeted any kind of interest with overwhelming appreciation and humility. If there’s one thing to feel good about in music, it’s his success- a success driven by charisma and raw natural talent.

5. Perfect Pussy (unARTigNYC)

Perfect Pussy, the band whose name makes Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan blush every time she says it, headlined the recent Pitchfork showcase at Saint Vitus. They also now have a commanding lead as the band featured most on this site, which should mean that close to everything’s already been said about them here. While that might be the case, I’m not even close to done talking about Perfect Pussy and I doubt I’ll ever be. Part of the reason for this is their high-velocity live show. Each of their shows is its own beast, though they all seem to clock in at around 20 minutes, which are infused with the most blistering whirlwind of sound and unrepentant aggression anyone could imagine (this fact has caused a lot of confusion from people who aren’t familiar with hardcore and the people that don’t understand how quickly high-intensity physical exertion can lead to dangerous levels of exhaustion). Vocalist Meredith Graves greets the triviality of those complaints the only way she knows how: with a smile (for proof of this, check the :40 mark for a memorable quip). Her lyrics are some of the most unflinchingly honest I’ve ever encountered and, impossibly, stand as both a complement and contrast to the band’s performance. In prose, Perfect Pussy can come off as slightly withdrawn and full of guarded desperation- but even then, it’s so forward that it feels like that same gut-punch the live show so readily and consistently provides. Here, the band’s in fine form, Graves is the physical manifestation of an internal maelstrom or three; Shaun Sutkus project a steely, detached calm to provide some stability behind his setup of synths; the rhythm section of Greg Ambler and Garrett Koloski both make sure they’re as physically present as Graves is and guitarist Ray McAndrew keeps his head down while providing an additional thrashing body. If it sounds chaotic, it’s because it is- it’s also all so improbably controlled that it makes their sets unforgettable affairs- no matter how long or short they wind up being. Add all of these qualities to the fact that Graves is currently one of the most outspoken public figures in an ongoing fight against multiple kinds of oppression and Perfect Pussy winds up exactly where they should be: as one of the most important bands that we’ve got. See them (and support them) as soon as humanly possible.

The Pharmacy – Masten Lake Lagoon (Stream)

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Burger’s at it again. This time in the form of The Pharmacy’s incredible new record/tape/whatever, Spells. To celebrate its existence in the world, the label’s streaming “Masten Lake Lagoon” an undeniable basement pop tune. Weaving in some classic psych elements while retaining a rock n’ soul style always seems to come effortlessly to The Pharmacy, who are now five full-lengths deep and following up what was their previous high point, Stoned & Alone, with a brand new one. Spells is one hell of a record and the decision to stream “Masten Lake Lagoon” was the right one; it’s the record’s defining moment. Just as perfect for a sunny day is it is a stormy night spent with friends, “Masten Lake Lagoon” is a triumph no matter when it’s spun.

Listen to “Masten Lake Lagoon” below and use it to soundtrack a camping trip this summer.

Mozes and the Firstborn – Bloodsucker (Music Video)

Mozes and the Firstborn quietly released one of the best debut records of last year on Burger as a cassette and few people noticed. Now, though, on the brink of releasing that same record in all major audio formats (and in the midst of a tour with together PANGEA), lots of people’s heads are turning. All it takes is one listen to just about any song off of Mozes and the Firstborn to know that this quartet of kids from the Netherlands has tapped into something special. Serious songwriting chops paired with enviable pop sensibilities and enough dirtied up grit to make any Ty Segall acolyte blush. All of this is why this site’s already spent a fair amount of words on the band. They’re a band worth celebrating and undoubtedly deserve the praise and affection that will be coming their way.

Today, the band outdid themselves. Already prone to sneaking in nods to film (their name is a reference to the animated religious film The Prince of Egypt), they elevated their filmic tendencies by releasing a music video for “Bloodsucker” that’s a loving ode to The Big Shave, the 1967 short film that launched Martin Scorsese’s career. Only this time, instead of the principle subject shaving the bottom half of his face off, the band and director, Jeroen Dankers, give the stark story a blackly comic twist that prompts as much laughter as it does disgust. It’s an audacious move and may even become an iconic clip in certain circles. While the video’s dedication to a faithful aesthetic recreation of its source material is impressive, it’s the song that pushes this over the edge. “Bloodsucker” is the kind of vintage powerpop that’s incredibly difficult to get successful without sounding strained but is a style Mozes and the Firstborn manage to pull off effortlessly. With “Bloodsucker” backing the increasingly garish imagery that accompanies it, they create an incredibly memorable piece of art that deserves to be seen. Watch “Bloodsucker” below, pre-order Mozes and the Firstborn from Burger, and don’t take any brushes with fate for granted.