Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: solo

Dreaming Out Loud: Vol. 2 (Patrick Jennings)

Earlier this year, Ben Morey and Katie Preston broke ground on Dreaming Out Loud, an intimate live performance series for this site. Watching the two of them together made it clear that, no matter the future of this site’s editorial content, this was a series that needed to continue. Before too long, a few more appearances had been booked, including one from a man whose music has meant a lot to me over the course of this decade: Patrick Jennings.

Whether playing as a solo artist, with Middle Children, with PURPLE 7, or with Hot New Mexicans, Jennings has proved to have an innate sense of humility, honesty, and conviction. He’s been a crucial part of several of my favorite albums and songs of the past 13+ years and it was an honor to play host. Regrettably, both of my SD cards for my usual camera went haywire, leading to an impromptu iPhone filming session, making editing next to impossible. On the other hand, the raw, uncut nature of this volume of Dreaming Out Loud speaks to Jennings’ work as an artist, cat’s meows and all. A worthy trade-off.

During the filming, Jennings gave me the opportunity to pick the set list, leaving me frozen. If I’d taken that offer in full, Jennings and the band he had in tow would’ve missed their show that night by a few hours. Instead of requesting about four album’s worth of songs, he provided the courtesy of a three-song set spanning his discography. A new solo track, a Purple 7 gem, and the opener off Hot New Mexicans’ debut album, It’s Called Leaning Back. One full band, two in true solo acoustic fashion. Opting to kneel rather than sit, Jennings and co. provided a brief, mesmerizing run through one of the most remarkable catalogs in DIY punk.

Watch the performance below.

Dreaming Out Loud: Vol. 1 (Ben Morey and Katie Preston)

As some readers may have noticed, Heartbreaking Bravery’s editorial aspect has been waning in recent times. A large part of this is due to the fact that it’s still a single-person operation, which has resulted in scheduling conflicts. At some point it became clear that Heartbreaking Bravery simply couldn’t exist in the way it did in the past, which is why I started looking towards the future. When 2019 draws to a close, the flagship site will cease regular updates. The site will still remain active, at least for a time, but Heartbreaking Bravery will continue in other ways.

One of those ways is Dreaming Out Loud, an idea I’ve clung to for some time. After having good experiences conducting acoustic sessions for The Media (All Dogs, Mitski) and Consequence of Sound (Johanna Warren), the impulse to attach that format to Heartbreaking Bravery proved too irresistible. The name Dreaming Out Loud comes from the Tenement song, which has appeared in various versions throughout the band’s discography, as a way of honoring the impact that band had on my own musical development and the core of this site’s existence.

While Heartbreaking Bravery won’t solely be relegated to this series after the editorial function dies down, I’m hoping it becomes a definitive aspect of what this site leaves in its wake.

Ben Morey (Ben Morey and the Eyes) and Katie Preston (Pleistocene, solo) have the distinction of anchoring the first volume of the series. When Morey and Preston arrived at my apartment, the two had recently gotten engaged and were in the midst of a whirlwind tour that had taken on a freeing, celebratory bent. Preston accompanied Morey and Morey returned the favor as the two took turns trotting out new material. The session culminated by a stop at the lake for a gorgeous Everly Brothers cover that saw the two of them on equal ground, each happy to have found a worthy partner.

Watch Dreaming Out Loud: Vol. I below and subscribe to the Heartbreaking Bravery YouTube channel for future installments of the series.

Purchase Ben Morey’s With Birds here and Katie Preston’s Soap Opera here.

Versing – Call Me Out (Music Video)

The last week was a relatively quiet one for music videos but still made enough room for great clips from Caddywhompus, Lunch Ladies, Spinning Coin, The Dream Syndicate, Jeff Beam, Holy Hum, Lonely The Brave, Manchester Orchestra, Dream Wife, Swimming Tapes, Iron Chic, Carla del Forno, Elliott Brood, and Jessica Boudreaux. Joining their ranks as commendable efforts was the charmingly minimalist clip from Versing for their latest career highlight “Call Me Out”.

For a while now, Versing have been generating momentum and finding ways to accelerate it instead of opting for a route where its just sustained. Whether it’s opting for a tongue-in-cheek record name or just finding ways to improve, they seem intent on not just making a splash but staying in the water to kick up a series of waves. To that end, “Call Me Out” is a perfectly-timed release that hits all the right notes: simple, DIY, gripping, and adhering to a relatively straightforward, high-impact aesthetic while still finding enough room for a hallucinatory bent.

Directed by Daniel Salas, “Call Me Out” is little more than the band playing “Call Me Out” in a field, while simple border effects sweep in and out of the shot. It’s a clever conceit that allows the band to play up their identity and it’s elevated by everyone’s commitment to the idea. Of course, it helps that “Call Me Out” — a shoegaze-leaning basement punk ripper — is the best song from the band’s discography thus far, elevating the clip even further. When all is said and done and the clip winds to a close, it’s hard not to want to just go back and let it run from the start all over again.

Watch “Call Me Out” below and pre-order Nirvana from the band here.

Ought – Live at Secret Project Robot Art Experiment – 10/2/15 (Pictorial Review)

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Pile, LVL UP, and Ought have been shown no shortage of love on this site in the past so when it was announced that all three would be sharing a bill, plans were made accordingly. All three showed up in some way or another over the spread of the various best-of lists that this site ran at the end of 2014 and all three have released strong new material since the start of this year. More importantly than any of that, though, is the fact that all three are renowned live acts.

Before his October 2 performance, I’d never seen Rick Maguire (Pile’s guitarist/vocalist) perform without his main vehicle and had only heard whispering of what that experience entailed. While the set I got was just Rick performing solo, it was in a different, more expansive, capacity. Maguire’s recently introduced a looping pedal to his solo shows and wields that freedom to maximum effect, without ever losing the innate ability to completely command the attention of a room. Pulling from several patches of Pile’s discography and showcasing a tight-knit control over all aspects of his musicality, Maguire tapped into something transfixing, rendering most of the audience speechless.

LVL UP took the stage shortly after Maguire ambled off, intent on testing out some new material. Capitalizing on the overall moodiness of their Three Songs 7″, they pushed even further into territory that seemed increasingly concerned with dynamics (and atmospherics). While old standbys still rang effectively (something that’s especially true for “Soft Power”), it was the new material that prompted the most intrigue. Darker, heavier, and more freewheeling than anything in the band’s discography, their set operated at a tantalizing glimpse of their next release, which promises to be nothing less than fascinating.

After LVL UP’s final static-laced, feedback-heavy noise freakout, there was an almost maddening break of 40 minutes before Ought took the stage, generating more than a little restlessness among the crowd. Any pent-up negative feelings had all but dissipated by the time Ought’s wheels had started running. While it did take the band about a song or two to really click, they were locked into something fierce before too long.

Building energy and momentum as their hour-long set progressed, the members of the band each got increasingly more aggressive with their presence, slowly building the audience to a heightened pitch that was egged on by “Beautiful Blue Sky” before being cracked wide open into complete madness with “Today More Than Any Other Day”. At that point, the audience had morphed their dancing into a chaotic swirl of bodies that saw a large portion of the people positioned towards the front pushed over the lip of the stage at one point (to his credit, Ought’s guitarist/vocalist– Tim Darcy– did issue a concerned, seamless, mid-vocal “calm down now”, without ever breaking from the trappings of the song).

By that point it was a madhouse of energy that saw the sold-out Secret Project Robot Art Experiment (Secret Project Robot, alternately) feeding into the mutual frenzy created and sustained by audience and band. Then about an hour after they started, the band closed their main set with a vicious, explosive, extended take on More Than Any Day highlight “Gemini” that saw them drag out the song’s staccato bursts to a strangely hypnotic effect.

Naturally, the crowd pleaded for an encore and likely got even more than they bargained for with an especially fiery rendition of “New Calm, Pt. 2” that loosed Darcy free from the restrictions of his guitar strap when a friend tapped in, allowing him to completely lose his mind on stage while the fresh burst of energy from the substitute guitarist elevated the song to ridiculous heights. It was a perfect closer to a night defined by nervous energy, injecting the proceedings with a shot of adrenaline that sparked an already energized crowd to liberate themselves from any remaining inhibitions while simultaneously reinforcing Ought’s position as one of today’s more exciting live prospects. Buy tickets if the tour comes to a nearby town, this is something everyone deserves to experience.

Scan through an extensive photo gallery of the show here.

 

 

Watch This: Vol. 49

To start: this won’t be today’s last post. This will be this week’s Watch This, though, as next Sunday’s going to be devoted to work for an upcoming feature. Additionally, last week brought forth an embarrassment of riches and one Watch This just wasn’t enough to cover everything. All of that is to say that this will be another non-conventional installment that will offer a small break from the regularly scheduled every-Sunday appearance of this series. In the 49th installment, the performances take place in everything from small shops to late night talk shows and festival aftershows. Every performance is committed and provides some insight into the level of dedication these bands put into their live set. It’s all worth taking a few beats to take in- so, as always- sit back, focus in, turn the volume up, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Ty Segall – Manipulator (KCRW)

It’s strange to see the Ty Segall Band playing in an environment this contained- and it’s evident the band’s doing their best not to jump out of their skin while they tear through the title track off this year’s excellent Manipulator. Even if the band can’t exercise their usual being-shocked-to-death style movements as freely as they’d be able to without the restraints of their headphones, this is still one hell of a performance- and a great reminder to see them as many times as possible.

2. Mountain Bike – Good for Nothing (Bruxelles Ma Belle)

As what will likely be an introduction to Mountain Bike for many, it’d be impossible to ask for something more artfully executed than their recent session for Bruxelles Ma Belle. Shot in a small store, the band delivers a performance of the excellent “Good for Nothing” with an infectious amount of verve. Gorgeously lensed and perfectly executed, it’s enough to suggest that Mountain Bike are just getting started.

3. Posse – Shut Up (Pitchfork)

Any time a band shares the stage with METZ (whose performance at this show was featured in yesterday’s Watch This), it’s going to be difficult for that band to hold their own. That Posse manages to do so while playing a much more downtrodden, folk-influenced variant of post-punk is a feat that can’t be overlooked. “Shut Up” is an arresting performance of hypnotic proportions and, by being just that, easily secured Posse an entry in this volume.

4. The So So Glos – Diss Town (Last Call With Carson Daly)

How the hell does Blowout keep sounding better? The So So Glos‘ breakthrough effort from last year was full of a joyous strain of music that perfectly married basement punk with basement pop and having neither influence outshadow the other. Live, the band manages to up the already considerable levels of energy, turning their shows into mass singalongs that border the cathartic (which is why this band has been showing up in this series since the very first installment). Everyone’s in on it together, the band, the audience, and the people the band brings in- like the trumpet player and the person in the wings who looks like he’s having the time of his life less than a minute into this no-brakes performance of “Diss Town”. Don’t be the only one left out of the party- everyone’s always invited.

[Due to some temporary embed issues this video can only be seen here.]

5. Mount Eerie – Emptiness (Pinball Sessions)

P.W. Elverum has been making breathtaking music for several years now, under a variety of different guises. Mount Eerie has always been the one that’s stood out, thanks in part to Elverum’s fearlessness in regards to form and expectations. From relentlessly heavy sections that threaten to take post-rock into the realms of doned-out doom to the blissfully melancholic, it’s anything but predictable. Seeing Elverum strip away all of the ambient soundscapes to deliver a solo piano performance is an arresting experience for a myriad of reasons, each pointing to one simple fact: this is an artistic voice that still warrants our full attention.

Mitski – iPhone Voice Memo 10/4/14 (Stream)

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Today was a day that seemed to be defined by a quiet nature, something that was born out of the still fall weather and a severe lack of noteworthy releases (especially considering the steady overabundance of material throughout the past two weeks). Sure, there were premieres of things like Dirt Dress’ “Revelations“, Low Culture’s “Reservations“, and Young Mammals’ Alto Seco that were egregiously overlooked over the course of the past few days that could have easily earned a feature spot today- but nothing felt as appropriate as Mitski‘s demo.

Quietly released on tumblr (and currently without an official title), the song’s an embodiment of the DIY aesthetic that Heartbreaking Bravery was designed to showcase. Self-recorded onto an iPhone as a voice memo, it strips Mitski’s music- something that’s becoming increasingly production-friendly- back to barebones, completely opening up a brave vulnerability that brings the act of listening to the song uncomfortably close to voyeurism. Unsurprisingly, the song itself is absolutely stunning and continues to add new depths to Mitski’s undeniable talent. Haunting, compelling, and melancholic in equal measure, the song’s a window into the songwriting process of one of today’s most fascinating emerging artists and pushes the anticipation for the upcoming Bury Me At Makeout Creek to absurd heights (despite the fact it won’t be included on the record). Most importantly, it’s a stunning song that deserves the attention of as many listeners as possible.

Listen to the song below and pre-order Bury Me At Makeout Creek from Double Double Whammy here. For those interested in hearing more of Mitski in solo acoustic mode, watch the video below the embed of a recent solo set at Dong Island (courtesy of Dong Island).