Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Small Houses

Watch This: Vol. 150

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As stated in the preceding post, a lot’s been happening in the world of Heartbreaking Bravery (both in its interior machinations and mitigating exterior factors). Its public upkeep has been largely neglected but behind the scenes, the work continues to be ceaseless. Watch This, the typically weekly series that celebrates the greatest live videos of the given week, has been on somewhat of a hiatus. To amend that, for this 15oth installment, this will extend far beyond the series’ usually confined scope.

In the previous 50 markers for Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s original live videos have been featured. With matters of scheduling, it’s been impossible to keep that pace but bookmark the site’s YouTube channel for upcoming clips of acts like LVL UP, Alex G, Nobunny, The Hussy, and more (with a few long-archived clips finally making their way to air). So, instead of personally-generated footage, this will celebrate not five but 50 of the finest live clips to have appeared since the last Watch This ran at the end of October.

Single song performances, full sessions, individually-helmed efforts, and professionally-captured studio takes all appear. With this amount of material featured, it’d be a hyper-herculean task to take everything in all at once. The best route may simply be to bookmark the page, the clip, or fast-forward at will (though everything featured is more than worth the effort). So, as always, sit back, grab a drink, adjust the settings, focus, and Watch This.

The tracklist for Watch This: Vol. 150 can be found below the embed.

1. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Driver/Killer Whales (Fallon)
2. Monica LaPlante – Hope You’re Alone (The Current)
3. Cymbals Eat Guitars (KEXP)
4. Casper Skulls – Love Brain (Exclaim!)
5. Um Are – Dark Entry (Boxfish Sessions)
6. LVL UP (KEXP)
7. Jack – Blue (I Like It Session)
8. Islands – Fear (Do512)
9. Jeff Rosenstock – Wave Goodnight To Me (Radio K)
10. Mercury Girls (WKNC)
11. The Peep Temple – Constable (3RRR)
12. Total Slacker – Don’t Ever Fade Away (BreakThruRadio)
13. And The Kids (WKNC)
14. Special Death – Perfume (DZ Records)
15. Spit – Days In Dreams (The Loft Sessions)
16. Drive-By Truckers (NPR)
17. Daisy Chains – Prove It (Radio K)
18. Lee Ranaldo – Electric Trim (La Blogotheque)
19. Bellows (Audiotree)
20. The Just Luckies – Conventions (DZ Records)
21. Lady Lamb – Spat Out Spit (Buzzsession)
22. Fraternal Twin – Big Dipper (Allston Pudding)
23. Pinegrove (NPR)
24. John K. Samson – Reconstruction Site (ANTI- Records)
25. Small Houses – Telling It Wrong (Sofar Sounds)
26. Wilco – If Ever I Was A Child (La Blogotheque)
27. Sad13 (PressureDrop.tv)
28. Sidney Gish – Hexagons and Other Fun Materials (Boxfish Sessions)
29. Julien Baker – Rejoice (KVRX)
30. Snail Mail (Michael Andrade)
31. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Nobody Dies (NPR)
32. Swimsuit Addition – Uptick (DZ Records)
33. Frankie Cosmos – What If (Allston Pudding)
34. Cayetana (Audiotree)
35. Courtney – Going Out Tonight (DZ Records)
36. Bethlehem Steel – Figure It Out (I Like It Session)
37. Atlas Crash – V.O.L.E. (Sofar Sounds)
38. Kishi Bashi (KEXP)
39. Ben & The Saints – Gold Rush (Sofar Sounds)
40. Wrekmeister Harmonies (Audiotree)
41. MASZER (KEXP)
42. Field Mouse (Audiotree)
43. Mall Walk (PressureDrop.tv)
44. Hovvdy – Problem (KVRX)
45. Purling Hiss (PressureDrop.tv)
46. Fufanu (KEXP)
47. Bear Vs. Shark (Audiotree)
48. Okkervil River (KEXP)
49. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Magneto (Andrew Dominik)
50. Explosions in the Sky (NPR)

Watch This: Resuscitations, Pt. I

Two Watch This posts will run tonight, bringing the series back up to the current release cycle. After more than 100 entries and several long-form packages, Watch This has only managed to expand in both scope and range. The underlying principle remains steadfast: this is a project to celebrate the very best in live performance video, one of the most under-recognized and under-appreciated multimedia art forms in the music and film world. An intense amount of craft is required to make a live video memorable (or, failing that craft, a formidable level of personality) and some of the people who are brave enough to make entries turn in unforgettable work.

Below are 25 great performances from 25 artists who are worth exploring. Whether it’s PUP tearing through the strongest opening 1-2 punch any record’s boasted this year, Courtney Barnett putting her heart into a gentle solo rendition of “Depreston“, Midnight Reruns unveiling a new song, or Small Houses putting a warm spin on a Weakerthans classic, there are a lot of moments to appreciate embedded into this compilation. Old favorites and emerging acts found themselves posited as the centerpiece(s) of artful documentation and this installment of Watch This is a presentation of those documents. So, as always, turn up the volume, calm down, lean in, and Watch This.

1. Summer Cannibals – Go Home (KEXP)
2. Sunflower Bean – Easier Said (The Current)
3. Meat Wave – Delusion Moon (Ratio Beerworks)
4. Small Houses – Watermark (Onder Ivloed)
5. PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will + DVP (Stiegl)
6. Bird Laww – In My Sleep (Public Radio /\)
7. The Black Angels – Better Off Alone (Jam in the Van)
8. Mise En Scene – Show Me You’re Real (BreakThruRadio)
9. Wolf Solent – Countless Minds (Sea Records)
10. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (The Current)
11. The Coathangers – Make It Right (Paste)
12. Midnight Reruns – Warm Days (Set List)
13. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw + Doroth (The Daily Indie)
14. Katie Von Schleicher (Jenn Harrington)
15. Emily Yacina – Soft Stuff (This Has Got To Stop)
16. Bob Mould – Voices In My Head (Sound Opinions)
17. Palehound – Healthier Folk (Radio K)
18. Hemming – All I Want (Weathervane)
19. Odio Paris – En Junio (BalconyTV)
20. Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Radio K)
21. Journalism – Watching & Waiting (BreakThruRadio)
22. David Bazan – Oblivion (Little Elephant)
23. Murder By Death – Shiola (Paste)
24. Lucy Dacus – Green Eyes, Red Face (BreakThruRadio)
25. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Clean Slate (3RRR)

Arriving at the Fall (Mixtape)

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Another 50 posts in means it’s time for another kind of mixtape. With summer having just ceased its stranglehold under the weight of fall’s swift descent, it seemed appropriate to go the seasonal route. This collection isn’t confined to an allotted release schedule, it’s sole function and narrative standpoint is of an emotional nature. Fall’s always held a special sort of magic, from the sepia tones to an inescapable nostalgic hue.

It’s a harbinger of winter’s bleakness and a subtle coda of summer’s optimism. For every hardship, there’s an answer; for every temperature drop there’s the comfort of a sweater. An unavoidable reminder of time’s passage (speaking both small and large-scale), it also tends to conjure up enhanced emotional connections; a tapestry that’s inscribed in faded lettering: we’re in this together and we need to make the most of it before everything disappears.

So, as summer slowly disappears into the rear-view and the firepit waiting for extra kindling, it only felt right to try and put the seasonal stretch’s conflicted emotional pull to music. Damaged romanticism, moments of introspection, glimpses of hope, bursts of sadness, and the shrapnel of chaos and acceptance permeate this collection. Consider it music for raking, long solitary walks, companionship, study sessions, or a soundtrack for a few cups of tea (spiked at will). I’ll simply leave it here as a gift for the taking.

With nothing but open road ahead, all that’s left to do is to take a breath and enjoy the fall.

SIDE A 

Eskimeaux – Folly
Sparklehorse – Gold Day
Heatmiser – Christian Brothers
Beach Slang – Get Lost
Tenement – Hard to Say
Small Houses – Staggers and Rise
Mikal Cronin – Piano Mantra
All Dogs – Leading Me Back to You
Neko Case – Behind the House (Demo)
The Dutchess & the Duke – I Am Just A Ghost 
Dead Man’s Bones – Pa Pa Power
The Kinks – Strangers
Tom Waits – Fawn

SIDE B

Okkervil River – Just Give Me Time
Hop Along – Waitress 
Young Jesus – Family and Friends 
Girlpool – Crowded Stranger 
Jason Isbell – Flying Over Water
The Modern Machines – Treadmill Waltz
Waxahatchee – Noccalula
John K. Samson – Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San
The Band – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Live)
Screaming Females – It’s Nice
Low – When I Go Deaf
Vic Chesnutt – When the Bottom Fell Out

Male Bonding – A Kick to the Face (Stream)

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In the last batch of posts, there were recaps built around some of last week’s finest musical moments. There was a brief delay in regularly-scheduled content that necessitated an outpouring of material to keep this site’s regular coverage humming along. Similarly, this post will concentrate on the music moments worth celebrating to have emerged from the Monday-Thursday range. Following this post will be two more entries dedicated to some of the stronger musical content that emerged on Friday. With all of that out of the way, it’s time to dive on into the three major categories: single streams, full streams, and music videos.

As is wont to happen over a period of time, there were some fairly extraordinary songs that surfaced in this week’s first stretch. Some of the more favorable ones included the following: Gal Pals’ zippy throwback basement pop stomper “Ex-Marionette“,  Evans The Death’s absolutely monumental “Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face” (a legitimate song of the year candidate), Los Angeles Police Dept.’s severely bummed out holiday tune “Oh Lonely Night“, Menace Beach‘s latest stunning Ratworld teaser “Tastes Like Medicine“, No Monster Club’s defiantly vibrant (and tantalizingly weird) bedroom pop earworm “Arms Across America“, The Julie Ruin’s mesmerizing “Blueberry Island“, Kind of Like Spitting’s revitalizing “Bullied By A Bee“, the best remix from Perfect Pussy’s Shaun Sutkus to date (this time of Rubblebucket’s “Carousel Ride”), and an absolute monster cover of Wipers’ “Mystery” from site favorites Meat Wave.

Music videos fared just as well, with a few very resonant clips. There was Small Houses’ engaging visual journey for “Staggers and Rise“, Cave People’s wearily homespun “Brace“, and Literature’s woozily kaleidoscopic “New Jacket“. Additionally, there was Anti Pony’s seductively colorful “I Go Places“, WRAY’s effortlessly propulsive “Bad Heart“, Laura Marling’s autumnal and slow-galloping “Short Movie“. Rounding things out were Breakfast In Fur’s jaunty graphics experiment “Shape“, Erase Errata’s near-static stunner “My Life In Shadows“, and a resoundingly powerful reminder that TV On the Radio got where they were by virtue of making excellent decisions; “Lazerray” is yet another towering culmination of several wise moves.

Full streams were, comparatively, a little shorter in supply- but there were still a few gems that were unearthed and brought to life. Lazy threw caution and fear out of the window with their Soft Sheets 7″, Trauma Harness unveiled a severely damaged basement punk triumph with their discography-spanning Advent Calendar, and TIT (a collaborative effort between Digital Leather and The Hussy) offered up a stream of their psych-drenched self-titled 12″. Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle provided a quietly intense and arresting live recording of one of his extremely intimate house shows (and appropriately titled the recording House Show). There was also a very personal release from Jarad Charles Lee Francis Olson that tethers a wide-reaching array of genre influences into something unwaveringly hypnotic and, ultimately, tragic (while still managing to subtly incorporate a devious streak of dark humor) in the My Cats Are My Dogs EP.

Even with all of that to consider, today’s feature fell to an anomaly of a track- Male Bonding’s standalone single, “A Kick to the Face”. The title’s an immediate eyebrow-raiser and the accompanying title track lives up to its promise. All scorched-earth and fury, it’s an exploration of an abusive relationship that simultaneously rails against the fact that they’re a common occurrence and empathizes with the abused. Structurally, it’s constantly shifting and punctuated by brief bursts of searing intensity before sharply settling back into its normal pace, providing a near-perfect reflection of the song’s central topic. It’s a brave track that suggests Male Bonding’s ambitions may be higher than they initially let on- and it’s one hell of an appetizer for whatever the band’s cooking up next.

Listen to “A Kick to the Face” below and keep an eye on this site for any notable future items from the band.

Chandos – ..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top’ (Stream)

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With the entirety of yesterday’s post dedicated to Mitski’s miracle of a record, Bury Me At Makeout Creek, there’s quite a bit to catch up on today. There were a bevvy of single streams that included Le Rug’s blown-out rager “Dudley“, Ghastly Menace’s vibrant pop confection “Closing“, and The Dodos’ triumphant return single “Competition“. There was also a sprawling, punchy piece of anthemic open-road folk in the form of Small Houses’ outstanding “Staggers and Rise” as well as another look at YAWN bandleader Adam Gil’s solo project, Dam Gila, via “Home Again“. Rounding things out for the single stream category was a demo from The Guests (a new band featuring members of Sheer Mag), a typically bold Liars b-side, and a Girlpool cover of one of the most achingly romantic songs ever recorded.

In the realms of the music video there was an equally plentiful pool of treasures that included Diarrhea Planet’s oddly compelling fantasia in “Kids“, Metronomy’s stunning woodland-set magic surrealism in “The Upsetter“, and Spider Bags’ subtly nightmarish visual effects collage “Eyes of Death“. Additionally, there was Dream Generation’s stark “The Spirit of America“, She Keeps Bees’ gorgeous “Owl“, Owen Pallett’s inexplicably powerful “In Conflict“, and Corners’ masterfully executed “The Spaceship“. As if that wasn’t enough, the full streams that appeared over the past few days matched the rough output of both the single song and music video output with some truly outstanding efforts coming to light- like Caddywhompus‘ strong bid for Album of the Year contention with Feathering A Nest. The Paperhead emerged with their latest throwback-heavy gem, Africa Avenue, while Parkay Quarts built on their renewed buzz with the wiry Content Nausea. Open Wide released a demo of quietly stunning folk-leaning ballads, Ex Cops threw a darkly-tinted dance party with Daggers, The Jazz June resurfaced with some shockingly strong material in After the Earthquake, and Nots left burn marks with the scalding punk tantrums of We Are Nots.

All of those items are worth sitting down and spending time with but it was recent Carpark Records acquisition Chandos’ “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” that gets today’s feature spot. It’s a vicious piece of sharp, 90’s-indebted punk, equal parts Acid Fast, PS I Love You, and Speedy Ortiz, “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” flies along, never bothering to do anything but build momentum through its myriad twists and sharp left turns. Tempos shift, personality gets exuded, and Chandos (formerly Chandeliers) wind up with something that sounds as raw as it does inspired. On Carpark’s ridiculously impressive roster, Chandos falls somewhere between Cloud Nothings and Popstrangers, which is really just shorthand for saying that Chandos’ upcoming record- Rats In Your Bed– is well worth an extremely high level of anticipation. If “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” is any indication, Chandos is in the midst of a creative peak that will likely yield the band’s strongest material to date. If everything clicks as well as it does in this song, Rats In Your Bed could very well be the first great release of 2015 when it’s released on January 27. Mark the calendar now.

Listen to “..Pretty Sure it’s ‘Tang Top'” below and pre-order Rats In Your Bed from Carpark here.

Watch This: Vol. 19

No, this isn’t some sort of high-level deception designed to trick someone into thinking today is Sunday. It’s not. So why’s this the first Watch This to get a Saturday feature? The answer’s pretty simple, actually. It’s hard to write an article on a drive from central WI to Minneapolis. It’s probably even harder to get one in when a Perfect Pussy show is going on, especially when The Miami Dolphins and Condominium are the supporting acts. Coverage of that will be arriving shortly after the fact but it will take up most of Sunday- hence the early Watch This post. Now, since the consistency of just about everything has been thrown into total disarray by something as harmless as logic, this Watch This will be making a fleet little sidestep as well; the emphasis will be placed largely on acoustic (or practically acoustic) performances from singer-songwriters worth knowing- though there is one notable exception. With all that in mind, kick back, relax, plug in, turn up, do whatever needs doing, and start Saturday off on the right foot. Seriously, Watch This.

1. Mean Creek – My Madeline (Wondering Sound)

Mean Creek have been making a dent in all of the right places recently and if the subsequent attention they’re receiving because of it is phasing them, it’s really not showing. Here, they take to Wondering Sound (a relatively new site that’s finding themselves in a similar position by virtue of an enviable cast of writers and a fair amount of eclecticism) to perform a stripped-down version of “My Madeline”. It’s easy to see what an increasing number of people are getting worked up over; this is great music evoking decades of American classics at just the right time.

2. Kevin Devine – Bubblegum (BalconyTV)

2013 was a busy year for Kevin Devine- the man released two full-lengths and was touring incessantly. Recently, Devine took to a wintry balcony to perform a ballad version of the title track from Bubblegum, one of that pair of releases (and one of the year’s best). While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of his performance of “Brother’s Blood” at Banquet Records, not much does. It’s still miles above what most others toiling around in that genre are doing and well worth a few watches. Get on it.

3. Small Houses – Revel, Revel (GemsOnVHS)

There are few performers anyone can hope to come across that are as arresting as Jeremy Quentin, who performs under the moniker Small Houses- sometimes with a band, sometimes on his lonesome. Having seen him perform both solo and with a band to very different crowds (once was a very intimate living room show, the other as the first act on a bill that included Tenement and Used Kids), it’s easy to testify to his raw natural talent and innate ability to draw in just about anyone. “Revel, Revel”, lensed lovingly by GemsOnVHS, is even more proof of this and confirms Quentin as one of the best folk artists this generation has to offer.

4. Mutual Benefit – C.L. Rosarian (Bruxelles Ma Belle)

Love’s Crushing Diamond was one of last year’s small delights, a sprawling record full of intricately woven tapestries that comforted as much as they provided pause. It was an extended moment of stunning clarity and found people rallying around it with dedication so fierce it became inspirational. In this video, Jordan Lee and his touring companions present a downright gorgeous version of “C.L. Rosarian”, hitting one grace note after another. By the video’s end it’s transformed from a performance to something more transcendent and inexplicably moving; something to get completely lost in after being enveloped by its embrace.

5. Cheatahs (KEXP)

The KEXP performances that have really jumped out and held the viewer/listener in a stranglehold since Cloud Nothings perfected what could be done with the format have been few and far between. For their part, Cheatahs make one of the more valiant efforts that small studio room has seen since that nearly two-years old session and nearly pull it off. While the final stretch does lose some of the session’s early momentum, the entire thing’s still incredibly impressive and more than enough to crash its way into this volume of Watch This. Keep an eye out for this band, they may have just enough elements working in their favor to do some serious damage.