Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Say Yes to Love

NXNE Day 4: Creep Highway, Perfect Pussy, Frankie Cosmos, Swearin’

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A note: All night tonight Heartbreaking Bravery will be running photo galleries from the recent Toronto trip. All of these galleries will have full reviews to accompany them in the near future. The preceding galleries all came with additional notes out of necessity but this will be the short reminder that runs with the remainder. Enjoy the photographs below and keep an eye out for the upcoming reviews.

NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)

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A necessary note: all tonight Heartbreaking Bravery will be running the photo galleries from the recent Toronto trip. All of these galleries will have separate reviews written for them at a later date. One of these will be a lengthy review of Perfect Pussy’s set at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern (or, more appropriately for the night in question, Budweiser Music House at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern), which was closer to a religious experience than anything else. That being the case, this will be one of the more extensive galleries as well.  Enjoy the photographs and keep both eyes out for the upcoming review, which (thanks to vocalist Meredith Graves) should provide some clarification on what’s ran as conjecture elsewhere.

Watch This: Vol. 31

In the midst of the NXNE coverage that will continue to run, there are times where a look back will provide a sense of gratitude. Sometimes something as trivial as investing in a new camera to move away from the old one manages to open a few new doors. With that in mind, this week’s Watch This, while a little late, is full of the gratitude mentioned above. It’s a unique entry in the series in the sense that a lot of it will serve as a preview for upcoming pieces. Each and every one of these was shot in Toronto- a few as part of the festival and a few outside of it. All of these shows were memorable for varying reasons and the last video included may very well wind up on the top of this site’s inevitable “Best Shows of the Year” list. So, sit back, select the HD option, pardon the sound, relax, and Watch This.

1. Spoon – Small Stakes (Live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern)

There may have been some unnecessary behind-the-scenes drama happening with Spoon’s involvement as a “secret” headliner on NXNE’s best bill during it’s third day- but the band puts on a hell of a performance. Boasting one of the more consistent discographies of the past ten years, songs like Kill the Moonlight highlight “Small Stakes” still sound as vibrant as they did when they were first released. Seeing a band of this magnitude play a venue as small as The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern was a surreal experience- it’s just hard not to wish it was under better circumstances.

2. Shannon & the Clams – Ozma (Live at Lee’s Palace)

In a short while, the Day 2 review will be going up on this site. A paragraph of this is dedicated to Shannon & the Clams’ near-perfect set at Lee’s Palace. “Ozma”, in particular, stood out- it’s one of those songs that deserves to be considered a classic generations down the line- and the band manages to do that statement more than a little justice in the below performance.

3. Pleasure Leftists (Live at Smiling Buddha)

During their time in Toronto, Pleasure Leftists played two incredible shows and neither were an official part of NXNE. On the first night, they co-headlined the Summer Melt unofficial festival with actual secret headliners Perfect Pussy (video of their set occupies this week’s fifth slot) and the next day they tore up Smiling Buddha’s stage as an opener for a bill that included Holy Fuck and METZ. Despite not being NXNE official, Pleasure Leftists wound up delivering two of the best sets- and standing out as one of the best live bands- of the entire trip. Watch the video below for reassurance.

4. Speedy Ortiz – No Below (Live at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern)

There are very few songs that hold as much emotion and contrast as Speedy Ortiz’s “No Below”. Here, they perform it with meaning and it resonates just as strongly as it ever has. When guitarist Devin McKnight jumps into that solo? Chills. It’s tough to illustrate how incredible this song and this performance is with something as simple as words- so stop reading and just watch the video.

5. Perfect Pussy – Advance Upon the Real (Live at Soy Bomb)

When someone came into the bar next to The Great Hall and asked Meredith Graves if Perfect Pussy wanted to be added onto a late bill that Pleasure Leftists were playing, her face lit up. It was impossible not to be right there with her. More details emerged: it was at a half pipe, a slew of local bands were playing, it would run late into the night. It sounded perfect in theory but did it hold up to its promise? Yes. Absolutely. After Pleasure Leftists scorched the floor around them, Perfect Pussy set up and delivered one of their most blistering sets to date. It’s tough not to just write a full review of this right now but that would take up way too much space and a full post dedicated to this show specifically is a much more appropriate place for that to reside. In the meantime, use this as a sneak peek and catch this band live as soon as humanly possible.

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.

NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide (Mixtape)

It’s been 200 days since the idea of Heartbreaking Bravery was actually put into motion. In that time, multiple recurring features have been launched and it began to become something a little more than just a hobby. The more effort that was put into the content that went up, the greater the response was. Now, the site’s been viewed in nearly 80 countries, been granted media accreditation outside of the country, and helped form some meaningful relationships. Most importantly, though, it served- and will continue to serve- as a place of unwavering support for artists rooted in the DIY scene doing things on their own terms.

Now, anyone who has been paying attention to recent content will know that this site’s been running a lot of coverage in anticipation of this year’s NXNE. Anyone who’s been following the content for a long time will know that every 50 posts brings a new mixtape. This being the case, it only made sense to draw up a mixtape that served as an abbreviated listener’s guide for anyone who needed a crash course before heading to Toronto next month. That mix can be found below and features both long-held favorites and a few artists outside of this site’s normal comfort zone. All of the songs are worth a listen and the tracklist for the mix can be found below. Below all of that are hyperlinks to posts 100-199 (post 100 includes hyperlinks to the first 99). Enjoy.

Heartbreaking Bravery Presents: NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide

1. Swearin’ – What A Dump
2. Spoon – Don’t Make Me A Target
3. METZ – Wet Blanket
4. PS I Love You – Facelove
5. Greys – Use Your Delusion
6. Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits
7. Swans – My Birth
8. St. Vincent – Cheerleader
9. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
10. Odonis Odonis – I’d Prefer Walking
11. Eagulls – Nerve Ending
12. White Mystery – People Power
13. Beliefs – Long Wings
14. Run the Jewels – A Christmas Fucking Miracle
15. Pusha T – Nosetalgia
16. Mac DeMarco – Brother
17. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
18. Christian Hansen – Ma-Me-O
19. Mutual Benefit – Golden Wake
20. My Darling Fury – Blots in the Margin
21. Low – Murderer
22. Robert Ellis – Only Lies
23. Typhoon – Common Sentiments
24. Speedy Ortiz – No Below
25. Tim Hecker – Live Room

Here’s the last set of 100 articles, hyperlinked for convenience. Enjoy the exploration.


HB100: Heartbreaking Bravery: A Retrospective

HB101: Great Cynics – Whatever You Want (Music Video)
HB102: Watch This: Vol. 12
HB103: Bleeding Rainbow – Tell Me (Stream)
HB104: Beverly – Honey Do (Stream)
HB105: Brain F/ – Sicks (Stream)
HB106: Vertical Scratchers – Memory Shards (Stream)
HB107: Carsick Cars – Wild Grass (Stream)
HB108: Summer Twins – Carefree (Music Video)
HB109: Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked (Stream)
HB110: Perfect Pussy – I (Music Video)
HB111: Watch This: Vol. 13
HB 112: Mozes and the Firstborn – Bloodsucker (Music Video)
HB113: Cheap Girls – Knock Me Down (Stream)
HB114: Watch This: Vol. 14
HB115: Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits (Stream)
HB116: PAWS – Tongues (Stream)
HB117: Screaming Females – Lights Out (Live) (Stream)
HB118: Technicolor Teeth – Can You Keep Me Out of Hell (Stream)
HB119: Silence Dogood – Chairman of the Bored (Stream)
HB120: Watch This: Vol. 15
HB121: Nervosas at Center Street Free Space and Quarters Rock N Roll Palace – 3/1/14 (Live Review)
HB122: White Lung – Drown With the Monster (Music Video)
HB123: Tweens – Be Mean (Music Video)
HB124: La Sera – Losing to the Dark (Stream)
HB125: Creepoid – Baptism (Music Video)
HB126: Dum Dum Girls – Are You Okay (Short Film)
HB127: Watch This: Vol. 16
HB128: Green Dreams – Bug Sex (Music Video)
HB129: Playlounge – Waves and Waves and Waves (Stream)
HB130: Molybden – Woman Who Left Behind (7″ Review)
HB131: La Dispute – Rooms of the House (Album Review)
HB132: Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love (Album Review)
HB133: Watch This: Vol. 17
HB134: Mr. Dream – Cheap Heat (Stream)
HB135: Fucked Up – Paper the House (Music Video)
HB136: Bleeding Rainbow – Images (Music Video)
HB137: Sleep Party People – In Another World (Stream)
HB138: Help Save Fort Foreclosure (Indiegogo Campaign)
HB139: Tashaki Miyaki – Cool Runnings (Music Video)
HB140: Thee Oh Sees – The Lens (Music Video)
HB141: Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead (Music Video)
HB142: Green Dreams – Eye Contact (Stream)
HB143: Watch This: Vol. 18
HB144: Tumul – Nature Master (Music Video)
HB145: Young Widows – King Sol (Stream)
HB146: Priests – Right Wing (Stream)
HB147: Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m Giving Up On U2 (Stream)
HB148: Ernest Undead (Short Film)
HB149: Watch This: Vol. 19
HB150: First Quarter Finish (Mixtape)
HB151: Perfect Pussy at 7th St. Entry – 3/30/14 (Live Review)
HB152: Perfect Pussy at Township – 4/1/14 (Live Video)
HB153: The Sleepwalkers – Come Around (Music Video)
HB154: Watch This: Vol. 20
HB155: Tweens – Forever (Music Video)
HB156: Reigning Sound – Falling Rain (Stream)
HB157: New Swears – Midnight Lover (Music Video)
HB158: Shannon & the Clams – Mama (Stream)
HB159: Gold-Bears – For You (Stream)
HB160: PUP – Lionheart (Music Video)
HB161: The So So Glos – Speakeasy (Music Video)
HB162: Archie Powell & the Exports – Holes (Music Video)
HB163: Mean Creek – My Madeline (Music Video)
HB164: Watch This: Vol. 21
HB165: Greys – Guy Picciotto (Music Video)
HB166: PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart (Stream)
HB167: Perfect Pussy – Candy’s Room (Stream)
HB168: Watch This: Vol. 22
HB169: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 1
HB170: Girl Band – The Cha Cha Cha (Stream)
HB171: Cloud Nothings at High Noon Saloon – 5/2/14 (Pictorial Review)
HB172: Watch This: Vol. 23
HB173: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 2
HB174: Savages – Fuckers (Music Video)
HB175: Midnight Reruns at Polack Inn – 5/7/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB176: Watch This: Vol. 24
HB177: Watch This: Vol. 25
HB178: PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart (Music Video)
HB179: Priests – Doctor (Stream)
HB180: Lady Bones + Horsehands (Split Review)
HB181: Fucked Up – Sun Glass (Music Video)
HB182: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 3
HB183: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Jackson (Stream)
HB184: Dead Stars – Someone Else (Music Video)
HB185: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 4
HB186: Lower – Bastard Tactics (Music Video)
HB187: Bad History Month – Staring At My Hands (Stream)
HB188: White Lung – Face Down (Music Video)
HB189: Greys – Use Your Delusion (Stream)
HB190: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 5
HB191: The Rich Hands – Teenager (Stream)
HB192: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always (Music Video)
HB193: The Pharmacy – Masten Lake Lagoon (Stream)
HB194: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 6
HB195: Naomi Punk – Television Man (Stream)
HB196: Watch This: Vol. 26
HB197: Geronimo! – Euphoria (Stream)
HB198: Watch This: Vol. 27
HB199: PUP – Guilt Trip (Music Video)

Perfect Pussy – Candy’s Room (Stream)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Heartbreaking Bravery has been experiencing some technical difficulties that are currently in the process of being resolved. All apologies for the recent lack of content, expect it to be made up  for as soon as possible.

When Heartbreaking Bravery was formed, I did it with a manifest that I promised myself I’d do my best to adhere to. There have been a few occasions here and there where, for the presumed benefit of the piece, I’d subvert that initial set of rules. The subversion of a very particular set hit its apex when it became clear that, at least for a while, the band I would be tracking most closely was Perfect Pussy. I allowed myself the indulgence of using self-identifiers because I thought it was the most appropriate response to the band’s music; open, unfiltered, unflinchingly honest, earnest, enthusiastic, sincere, and devoid of pretense. That approach has (obviously) been kept but now I’m allowing myself a subversion of a different rule; this is going to be the first piece to be done exclusively on a cover song.

Before this goes any further, it’s worth pointing out that despite the headline above (and one that will undoubtedly appear in several more publications following the Rookie premiere that took place earlier today) that Perfect Pussy wasn’t the band responsible for this cover. Yes, Meredith Graves is at the center of the chaos unfurling around her, Shaun Sutkus was on board for production, mixing, and mastering duties, and Garrett Koloski provided some live drumming for this- but both Ray McAndrew and Greg Ambler were absent from this recording completely and both guitar duty and synth arrangement was handled by Friendless Bummer‘s Sam Sodomsky. It exists in the same wheelhouse as Perfect Pussy and will sound similar to anyone familiar with their work but, unless Graves has changer her mind since our brief discussion about this, it’s a one-off project with no real name; Perfect Pussy is just being used as an acceptable placeholder.

With that surprisingly large amount of exposition out of the way, let’s move onto why I’m even writing this to begin with: the cover. It’s a wide-eyed and startlingly explosive take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Candy Room”, a sorely underrated gem from Darkness on the Edge of Town. Besides being blindingly unexpected and volatile for the majority of its runtime, it boasts a lush and delicate intro piece that sees Graves reciting the lines “when I come knocking, she smiles pretty, she knows I wanna be Candy’s boy”, furthering a process of dispensing harmful gender roles in music, which hasn’t been a prominent part of the cultural landscape discussion in far too long. Less than twenty seconds in and there’s already a reminder that music, at it’s core, is a utopia where equality can be freely expressed and flourish, even readily achieved, when any background context is stripped away. While I certainly don’t think the intent of this version of “Candy’s Room” was that all-consuming, it still serves as an excellent example of that level of freedom.

After the gently intoned opening lines, the song explodes outwards, sending vicious shards of audio every which way. Again, Graves seizes the opportunity to position herself in the center, only this time instead of impassioned pleading, there’s an almost disorienting tranquility- and instead of screaming, she sings like a gentle army of the sweetest birds. Many will make the mistake of instantly assuming she’s been autotuned, as the multitracked vocals here do sound a little too perfectly arranged. In reality, Graves improvised the seven-part harmonies that adeptly define and characterize this cover- after a surgery to removed a few impacted wisdom teeth, no less. Make no mistake, though, Graves’ improbably cheerful and melodic vocal delivery contrasts with what’s happening around her as much as it possibly can; this is noise-punk at its most experimental and owes a greater debt to classic Japanese video games more than anything else. Sodomsky’s guitar work manages to be as simplistic as it is torrential (and the same can be said for his synth arrangements) while Koloski and Sutkus ably command their impressive control over what should be an insurmountable level of insanity.

In a move that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to those who heard Say Yes to Love, after the trio (which again, isn’t technically Perfect Pussy) navigates their way through the technicolor dream sequence that is the traditional bulk of their cover, they spend most of the final two minutes experimenting with manipulating feedback and decaying loops. It’s another jarring outro from a group of creatively restless and refreshingly fearless people who are intent on keeping everyone guessing as to what’s coming next. By the time everything’s been drowned out by the piercing epilogue (which features audio berthed from a pedal that operates on the basis of light-sensitivity), it can be chalked up as another impressive mark in the continuously-expanding win column for Graves, Koloski, and Sutkus while also being one hell of a profile-booster for Sodomsky.

Listen to “Candy’s Room” over at the inimitably great Rookie (which also contains an accompanying interview) and be warned: don’t leave this one on repeat. Each time it plays itself through, it gets that much harder to take off- it’s the most difficult-to-untangle web of audio hypnotics I’ve experienced in a very long time.

Perfect Pussy at Township – 4/1/14 (Live Video)

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There are times when I’ve broken one of Heartbreaking Bravery’s most defining tenets (no self-identifiers: the music is more important than the reviewer) in an effort to illuminate something. This will be one of those times for several reasons: 1) This post may mark the last time a point n’ shoot is used for content on Heartbreaking Bravery. 2) This is the first time, and certainly not the last time, a (new) self-shot full set will be appearing on this site. 3) Perfect Pussy have already qualified as exempt from this rule for reasons explained here (and then again here). 4) By posting this, I’m hoping to stabilize a bridge between a focus on music and a focus on film (look for more on that later). 5) It’s the only way I could think of delivering these points as honestly as possible. 6) I firmly believe in a support structure between DIY publications and fully intend on this being the first part of a collaboration piece.

With all of that out of the way, there’s only a few things left to say before the video(s) themselves: Yes, this is a severely blown out recording with some seriously damaged audio quality. Yes, there is an unexpected break that results in a twenty second delay between the monstrous second half of “Interference Fits”. Yes, there are times where the band goes completely out of frame. Yes, that was because I kept getting hit hard enough by the wildly enthusiastic crowd around me to be literally upended into the stage multiple times over (and, yes, I loved every second of it, bloodied up leg, beer-soaked jacket, bruised hips and all). Yes, this isn’t the greatest live presentation in the world- far from it, in fact- and yes, this is primarily being posted because it’s something I fiercely love (and has people that I love dearly in it). No, that doesn’t affect my judgment at all- these were all instances of friendships born out of love for their art and through mutual understanding/support. Yes, there will be a review of this entire show (along with more photographs)- but not on Heartbreaking Bravery (more to come on that later). Yes, I really am posting this right after the Minneapolis review– and yes, all of this can be seen in two parts below.

Enjoy.


Perfect Pussy at 7th St. Entry – 3/30/14 (Live Review)

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First of all, deepest apologies for the delay in content. It’s been an incredibly busy week and there hasn’t been much time to post anything between driving over 1,300 miles, prepping all of the content that came out of that trip, and the crippling side effects of getting a total of nine hours sleep over four days’ time. There was a reason for all of that insanity and the reason, for anyone even remotely familiar with this site, won’t come as a surprise.

It had only been two short months since the last time the coverage of Perfect Pussy’s incendiary Chicago set, which was something that played a definite factor in the decision to drive from central Wisconsin to Minneapolis to Chicago over three days to see them play two more sets. While there will be more to come on the second Chicago show, this piece will be devoted to their Minneapolis stop at the legendary 7th St. Entry, which more than lived up to its reputation.

Not only was the drive down much more pleasant than the potentially life-threatening Chicago trip back in January but there was actually time to spare before the opening acts, ensuring both time to settle in and the ability to see all three bands on a characteristically impressive bill. First up were local stalwarts The Miami Dolphins. All wiry nerve and frenetic energy, the quartet ripped through one of the most memorably spastic sets there’s been in quite some times. Seamlessly transitioning between a shrill metallic dissonance falling somewhere between Shellac and Sonic Youth at their most aggressive, the completely left-field work of The Minutemen at their strangest, and moments of both staggering heaviness and genuinely bouncy surf-inflected powerpop sounds like a mess on paper. Luckily, the written word doesn’t dictate motion. The Miami Dolphins’ set managed to be unpredictably thrilling and left a deep impression- they control their future by the sheer virtue of fearless originality. There’s not many things in music that are more commendable than pulling that feat off.

A set as jumpy and insanely bug-eyed as The Miami Dolphins’ one, especially when used in the opening slot, has multiple benefits- one of them being that it can cover a wide range as a set-up for the ensuing act. Condominium‘s abrasive hardcore noise somehow seemed to dovetail quite nicely with their preceding act despite occupying two very different ends of the hardcore spectrum. Their unifying ground may have come via what seems to be a distinctly unique debt to the readily apparent influence of Steve Albini but the level of intensity both brought to their live sets wound up being what pushed them into a comfortable coexistence (and wound up heightening the expectations for Perfect Pussy’s set). They played as loud as possible and approached frightening with their militaristic precision but really seemed to live for the moments of pure noise (usually generated by guitarist Greg Stiffler’s penchant for maximum-impact feedback sections). More than anything, they obliterated any lingering doubts (if their were any to begin with) that their Sub Pop signing and subsequent release was a fluke.  Last Sunday their set seemed to indicate that they were far from done. Expect to be hearing about them quite a bit more in the coming years.

After two incredibly loud sets (neither lacking in the intensity department), the stage had been set and the bar had been raised. Perfect Pussy came out, sans vocal amp, set up and looked downright tranquil for a few moments to the point where it became an effectively eerie calm-before-the-storm situation, all members looking down at their feet or out at the void that exists pasts the blinding stage lights. Meredith Graves, one of the most seductively intimidating and forceful performers on the face of the planet, paced silently.  Then, it happened. Drummer Garrett Koloski counted the band in and they took off with enough velocity to send the crowd into immediate hysterics. All of the band poured every inch of themselves into their near-twenty minute set (a marathon by their past standards) and absolutely tore through the majority of Say Yes to Love while also making sure I have lost all desire for feeling wasn’t completely neglected either.

Both the band and the audience fed off of each other in another strong example of the most supportive symbiotic relationships imaginable, reaching a fever pitch during the band’s last stretch that kicked off with the back half of the unbelievably gorgeous-turned-unbelievably fierce “Interference Fits” (a highlight even without an introduction containing a dedication worth eternal gratitude for).  Shaun Sutkus’ body shook violently, as if he was possessed, guitarist Ray McAndrew couldn’t stop thrashing around even during the very few song breaks that the band allows, and bassist Greg Ambler seemed to be everywhere at once. At several points, being on the stage looked about as risky as being in the center of the audience. That potential danger seemed second nature to everyone between those four walls, though, as it was nearly impossible to find anyone in 7th St. Entry without a massive grin on their face.

Feeding into that relentless energy and making Perfect Pussy’s set even more memorable was the fact that it sounded incredible (seriously, major props to whoever was behind the soundboard, bands that loud and chaotic are not easy to mix- especially when the singer’s notorious for wanting to drown the vocals in swells of interference and pure feedback). Actually hearing Graves yell things like “Ain’t that a big drag?!” over the staggering wall of noise her bandmates conjure up around her was nearly as cathartic on its own as the presentation as a composite whole. There were times where it really was all whirlwind, heat, and flash. Photographers staked out their ground early only to be swallowed up in the chaos surrounding them, beer was spilled on just about everyone, converts were made and the band was onstage, doing what they love, clearly having the time of their lives, unafraid to show their adoration for anyone in the audience reacting to something they created.

By the time Sutkus’ epilogue showcase had finally run itself into silence, McAndrew, Ambler, Koloski, and Graves had all exited the stage, visibly exhausted but still feeling the overwhelming excitement that comes with being at the center of a groundswell. They may have their detractors, they may also have the accompanying anxieties of being a band that’s incredibly visible so early on, and they may very well have escalating levels of doubt- but one thing’s for sure- they put on one hell of a show. All fingers crossed that this thing they’re at the center of lasts as long as it possibly can- and that they get every ounce of enjoyment out of it as humanly possible. They deserve it.

Photographs below.

 

 



 

First Quarter Finish (Mixtape)

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Well, Heartbreaking Bravery’s another 50 posts in, which means that it’s time for another mixtape- and the timing couldn’t be any better. As April springs forth, a new quarter begins and leaves the first part of the year behind, opening it up for examination. First Quarter Finish is a testament to the the startling strength of 2014’s first three months and is largely composed of music that’s been featured on this site. Perfect Pussy‘s “Driver” kicks things off in a typically frenzied fashion, reflecting the purpose of this collection as acutely as possible. Make no mistake, this is a batch of songs that traffic in very high intensity even in their quietest moments.

From tour-only tapes to standout cuts off early Album of the Year contenders like Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Here and Nowhere Else, and Rooms of the House to eerily hypnotic momentsderanged apathetic insanity, and a very long list of promising glimpses at upcoming records, it’s truly been a hell of a start and deserves celebration. Listen to the sounds of that celebration below (if the player is not appearing onscreen, it can also be accessed here).


TRACKLIST

1. Perfect Pussy – Driver
2. La Sera – Losing to the Dark
3. Cheap Girls – Knock Me Down
4. Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked
5. Crow Bait – 83
6. Big Air – Cemetery With A View
7. PAWS – Tongues
8. Brain F≠ – Sicks
9. Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m Giving Up On U2
10. Playlounge – Waves and Waves and Waves
11. Vertical Scratchers – Memory Shards
12. Angel Olsen – Forgiven/Forgotten
13. Silence Dogood – Chairman of the Bored
14. Priests – Right Wing
15. Green Dreams – Eye Contact
16. Fucked Up – Paper the House
17. Creepoid – Baptism
18. La Dispute – Woman (in Mirror)
19. Sleep Party People – In Another World
20. Odonis Odonis – Order in the Court
21. PILE – Special Snowflakes
22. Young Widows – King Sol
23. Protomartyr – Scum, Rise!
24. Technicolor Teeth – Tomb
25. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me

Watch This: Vol. 18

Well, it’s finally happened. Watch This, after a few rough weeks of illnesses and technical difficulties, is back in its regularly-scheduled-programming mode and the offerings on display for the 18th installment all feel like vintage Watch This material. Yes, a lot of it ties back to SXSW but it’s going to be impossible to escape that for a while- consider it an opportunity for reflection for those lucky enough to go, and a peek inside for those who were pining to go. Now all that’s left to do is sit back, set aside the March Madness bracket for, and Watch This.


1. Cosmonauts – What Me Worry (Sailor Jerry)

Sailor Jerry continues to impress this week with a great presentation of Burger favorites Cosmonauts at SXSW. It’s hard to shake the feeling that this won’t be the last week a clip from SXSW 2014 gets posted, it’s also difficult to imagine this is the last appearance for a Sailor Jerry video as well. Cosmonauts, for their part, deliver a surprisingly absorbing performance of “What Me Worry”, a catalog highlight.

2. Nothing – Downward Years to Come (Live at Saint Vitus)

Speaking of things that are likely to continue making an appearance: yet another video from Saint Vitus/unARTigNYC. This time around, Nothing are the center of attention and give “Downward Years to Come” their all. Nothing were another band that reportedly had a very memorable SXSW run, generating a lot of conversation (particularly after what was said to be an incredibly fierce set on a pedestrian bridge) and making converts of seemingly anyone who crossed their path. After watching this video, it’s not difficult to imagine how that happened.

3. Nü Sensae – Eat Your Mind (Far From Home)

Nü Sensae seem like a band on a mission in the gorgeous video from the Far From Home series, sinking their teeth into “Eat Your Mind” for all of its worth. It’s an opportunity to showcase a great new(ish) band, one of their best songs, and a great new(er) video series; it’s everything Watch This is about. Watch it below and then maybe go take a shower- there’s enough dirt in the bass tone alone to make some kind of cleansing process a necessity.  

4. Perfect Pussy (NPR)

What? There was a high-quality professionally-shot-and-edited video of a Perfect Pussy set and it more than earned its spot on this list. It’s difficult to envision this lovefest between that band and this space ending anytime soon. For now, just reap the rewards that it offers up- like this video. Watch it. Watch it again. And then go listen to Say Yes to Love for the 50th time. It’ll be worth it. Promise. Watch it here.

5. LVL UP – *_* (Live at Seaside Lounge)

Despite having already been featured on this site (and listed in the 25 Best list for 2013), it’s worth stressing that this is a band to know. “*_*” barely eclipses a minute but it’s one of the greatest a-little-more-than-a-minute’s anyone could ever hope for. Watch it and then go buy some ice cream (and also some of their laudable merchandise).