Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Silver Spring

5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 2

The 5 to See series continues from where it left off since Vol. 1. Now that the cases to see METZ, Swearin’, PS I Love You, Greys, and Perfect Pussy have been made, it’s time to lean in to Volume 2. A brief description of the featured band will be provided and accompanied by a video. All of this will lead up to the festival itself, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in style. Keep tabs on all of this and make the necessary adjustments when faced with schedule conflicts. Now that the exposition’s out of the way, let’s get to the bands.

1. Mac DeMarco

What to Know: Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days is his best work to date and his live shows continuing to earn raves. He’s a living archetype: the slacker sleazeball personified. It’s part of what makes him and his music so effortlessly endearing. Take the normal manic pace of a festival into account and DeMarco’s set may easily be the most enjoyable bit of escapism that NXNE has to offer.

What to Watch:

2. Pet Sun 

What to Know: At this point, there isn’t much to know about Pet Sun other than that the Hamilton-based band has released an incredibly promising demo and that decent live footage of the band is hard to come by. That said, as lo-fi as recent clips of the band have been, they’ve indicated that the band’s capitalizing on their early promise- possibly exceeding it- and that it’s pretty clear they put on one hell of a live show.

What to Watch:

3. Speedy Ortiz

What to Know: Whether they liked it or not, the band was positioned at the forefront of a 90’s revival on the backs of 2013’s incredible Major Arcana. Since then, they’ve been anything but quiet, capitalizing on opportunities to create new music and demonstrate a knack for trustworthy politics. Oh, it also helps that somewhere along the way they became a tenacious live band. Expect their set to be as much of a force as they’ve proven themselves to be.

What to Watch:

4. Beliefs

What to Know: Beliefs, like Vol. 1 features METZ, will have the advantage of playing to a hometown crowd. Coincidentally, the band also put out an incendiary split 7″ with Greys (another Vol. 1 feature). Their sound lands between the most industry-conscious no-wave of the 80’s and the most incandescent shoegaze of the 90’s. Put all of that together and it’s very clear things are going their way- which always makes for good sets. Don’t miss theirs.

What to Watch:

5. Swans

What to Know: What hasn’t been said already? There’s a very real possibility that Swans are the darkest and most nightmarish band going right now. Micahel Gira & co. have been mining utterly intense levels of dread for so long that it’s difficult to imagine any one of their members exposed to sunlight. Their past two records, The Seer and To Be Kind, may just be their two finest. Nothing at NXNE will come to being even remotely close to this ominous (has anyone ever created music this terrifyingly apocalyptic before?)- and it’s very possible that nothing will come close to being this oddly beautiful as well. Swans’ music forces the listener into self-examinations, self-actualization, and total transcendence. Make sure to be wherever they are when they play. This is just about guaranteed to be the most bruising, massive set of the entire festival.

What to Watch:

Watch This: Vol. 21

Well, it’s already been too long since the last one of these- the most personal installment of the series to ever have run– went live. This week’s all about making up for lost time which is why between this posting and Sunday, there will be three Watch This pieces posted. It’s been nearly a month since new material was posted so this volume will be dedicated to covering that space. There were more than a few videos to choose from due to the delay but the five below, whether they be a full set, short documentary, or just a single song, were five of the videos that most closely adhere to the spirit of this place. So kick off the new week in style, crank up the volume, and Watch This.

1. Tacocat (Full KEXP Session)

Tacocat’s recent self-titled record, NVM. is already shaping up to be one of the definitive 2014 summer records, filled to the brim with sunshine-inflected basement pop. In this recent KEXP session, the band plays four songs and enthusiastically responds to a fair few interview sections in an incredibly winning middle segment. All of the songs are played loose and with a sense of purpose. Never anything less than a delight, this round of songs for KEXP is just another notch in the band’s increasingly impressive belt.

2. Speedy Ortiz –  Silver Spring (Allston Pudding)

It didn’t take long for Speedy Ortiz to be thrown into the driver’s seat of the current 90’s revival crop. Major Arcana made it incredibly easy by distilling seemingly everything great from the alternative culture of that time period into something that was undeniably modern. This also allowed Sadie Dupuis a platform to tear down oppressive institutions and schools of thought, which is something that’s (dishearteningly) still sorely needed. Importantly, that also kept the band in the public eye and was likely one of the reasons for their continuously elevating success. Another reason? Their live show, which plays perfectly into their aesthetic- feeling over technicality had been lacking as of late, so praise be to Speedy Ortiz for trying their hand at restoring the balance. This version of “Silver Spring” should make just about anyone understand.

3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Blameless (KEXP)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have remained an anomaly by virtue of the band’s undeniably erratic trajectory. When they were introduced to the world at large, they were at the forefront of a newly-emphasized class of buzz bands that were supported by hype and high expectations. After their debut record won them a vastly expanded following, they disappeared for a while before returning with what many thought was a lackluster sophomore effort. Retreating again after that, the band went through same changes, Alec Ounsworth started making solo music, and seemed fated to fade into a distant memory or relative obscurity. Now, Ounsworth is back, playing songs out solo under the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah moniker- and if this utterly gorgeous performance of new song “Blameless” is any indication, it looks like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah just might be coming up a whole lot more in conversation again.

4. Pookie & the Poodlez (Jam in the Van)

Another year, another Burgerama, and another of what will hopefully be one of many more Jam in the Vans from that festival. Pookie & the Poodlez (which is essentially just the Nobunny touring band switched around) rip through three gleefully obnoxious basement pop rippers. It’s all in the spirit of fun and fits perfectly into the Burger aesthetic, serving up a near-definitive representation of what kind of weirdness the label’s all about. Insanely catchy and absolutely carefree, it’s enough to spark hope for many more Burgerama Jam in the Van’s.

5. RIP 285 Kent (Pitchfork)

Definitely coming in as an outlier for the Watch This series, this Pitchfork documentary’s earned itself an inclusion on the basis of necessity; this is one of the most important short-form discourses on what a DIY space can mean to a community and what it can become. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a major area or the smallest town, there are valid points littered throughout RIP 285 Kent. Yes, there may be some esoteric language in terms of location and development pace but the underlying messages are ones worth noting. Additionally, it’s a close examination of a DIY space that was important to a scene that was important. Everyone from Deafheaven to Lodro to DIIV to Fucked Up get featured via live clips and a great deal of insight is offered from everyone who’s directly involved/responsible (like Ric Leichtung) and anyone who was tangentially involved (like Dan Deacon). It’s also a reminder to celebrate the things worth celebrating while they’re around. It’s worth several watches and bookmarking for future reference. All of those reasons are why it’s earned its spot as the closer for this 21st installment of Watch This.