Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Somos

Watch This: Vol. 144

To ease Watch This back into its regularly scheduled rotation, the following will focus on the two weeks that occurred after the last installment was published. In that time, Acapulco Lips (x2), Wasted On You, Chain of Flowers, Pinegrove, Peter Bjorn and John, Sunbathe, Good Personalities, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Claire Cottrill, The Brokedowns, Kississippi, Haley Bonar, Billie Marten, Bayonne (x2), Entrance, Lush (x2), The Blank Tapes, JFDR, The Frights, Teleman, The Districts, Doe, Marissa Nadler, Joshua Bell & Jeremy Denk, No Honeymoon, Aaron & Bryce Dessner with Ben Lanz and Boys Noize, BlackGlass, The Minders, Super Furry Animals, Kristin Kontrol, Tenement, Queen of Jeans, Michael Kiwanuka, Breanna Barbara, Corbu, All People, Boss Fight, Margo Price, Titus Andronicus, Brass Bed, Somos, Oliver John-Rodgers, Foxing, The Wombats, and PWR BTTM all found themselves at the center of outstanding performance clips. Competition that strong says more about the strength of the five featured clips that could be conveyed with mere words. All five bands have been featured on the site in the past and the performances range from genuinely exhilarating to utterly devastating. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the volume, block out any excess noise, focus, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Never Young – Soap (Prisma Guitars)

Immediately kicking things back into the highest gear possible is this Prisma Guitars session from site favorites Never Young. Easily one of the most explosive single-song performance clips to ever be featured throughout the 140+ installments of this series, the quartet careens through an adrenaline-inducing take on “Soap” that sees them giving the session their everything. Beautifully shot and presented with an enormous amount of conviction, this is exactly the type of clip that Watch This was built to celebrate.

2. Greys (KEXP)

Greys have made several appearances throughout this series’ run and touring on their recently-released Outer Heaven‘s allowing them even more opportunities to be featured. The band recently stopped by the KEXP studios for a full session that features songs from their past three releases, including their most recent work, Warm Shadow. As always, the band plays with a barely-contained energy, an incredible amount of tenacity, and a deep-seated passion that makes this another vital document of one of today’s most exciting acts.

3. Heliotropes – Primates (BreakThruRadio)

For a few years now, Heliotropes have been quietly carving out an impressive name for themselves, earning the respect of both critics and their peers. Creatively restless and endlessly intriguing, the band continues to impress with this BreakThruRadio performance of “Primates”. It’s a glimpse towards the future the band’s angling towards and it’s impossibly tantalizing. One of their finest songs to date, “Primates” keys in on the band’s wiriest post-punk tendencies and sporadically cuts them to shreds. If this is indicative of the rest of the band’s forthcoming material, start bracing for something genuinely explosive.

4. The Coathangers (KEXP)

The second KEXP session of this installment features The Coathangers, who have been touring hard behind their excellent Nosebleed Weekend. Celebrating both that record and the 20th anniversary of the label that released the record, Suicide Squeeze, finds the band in exceptionally high spirits. All of that culminated in an unshakable, infectious joy that drives this session, making it both immediately accessible and surprisingly memorable. The trio remains in fine form throughout the session, playing with ramshackle glee while maintaining an impressively tight grasp on the songs, creating what could be considered a definitive portrait.

5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Girl In Amber

After enduring unspeakable loss, Nick Cave allowed filmmaker Andrew Dominik into his creative process to create One More Time With Feeling, a documentary that follows both the creation of Skeleton Tree and Cave’s battle with grief in the wake of his youngest son’s tragic death. It’s excruciatingly heartrending from an outsider’s perspective and Dominik elegantly underscores how unthinkably difficult it’d be to be in that situation. In the third studio video to be released from the project, Cave continues to look completely lost and withdrawn, as if perpetually trying to wrestle his thoughts down.

“Girl In Amber” also expertly incorporates Dominik’s inspired direction and the technical wizardry that went into the 3D, black-and-white filming of One More Time With Feeling. The overall effect’s equal parts haunting and haunted, creating an unforgettable impression. This is a staggering work of bravery and artistry, each colliding with the other to produce something as singular as it is captivating. As the camera circles Cave, surveying his every movement and placing him at the center of swirling uncertainty, Cave repeats “don’t touch me” as the video cuts to black, providing one last breathtaking moment of a miniature masterpiece.

Mitski – Happy (Music Video)

Mitski IV

Over the past handful of days, several notable music videos have found release. Yoni & Geti (who almost claimed this post’s featured spot thanks to the editing alone), Band of Horses, Mumblr, Dead Stars, Fear of Men, Gemma Ray, Nicholas Allbrook, Atoms and Void, SomosCate Le Bon, Omni, Thin Lips, Braids, and The Good Life Ben Seretan, all had clips deserving of multiple looks and Steve Gunn offered up an endearing lyric video. There was even a Henry Rollins-starring trailer for a new Dinosaur Jr record. Ultimately, it was the latest clip from Mitski that earned this post’s feature.

Following the unforgettable “Your Best American Girl” clip would’ve been a daunting task for any artist (or filmmaker) but “Happy” accomplishes it with astonishing ease. Directed by the inimitable Maegan Houang — whose work has been praised on this site before and likely will again — “Happy” creates a challenging narrative that touches on everything from personal intimacy to self-doubt to self-loathing to gender politics and race relations (among others).

Exquisitely shot and paced, the story unfolds delicately, revealing a growing wound between a woman and her military husband. Suspicions are confirmed and the wound grows deeper, creating a tightly-wound level of tension that’s only drawn tighter as the clip progresses. Fueling the atmosphere is Houang’s assured direction, giving nods to legendary filmmakers like Wong Kar-wai and Alfred Hitchcock along the way, layering on the cues to subtly underscore the passage of time.

Everything in “Happy” feels like it’s heading towards some climactic moment, a confrontation that exists on a purely personal basis. While that climactic moment does arrive, “Happy” manages to successfully subvert those expectations while remaining true to the heart of the video. At first blush, the final sequence may not seem overtly personal but dig deep enough and it becomes heartbreaking in its symbolism.

Those final moments are full of untold tragedy, harsh reality, and keen awareness. It’s terrifying and confrontational all at once, full of a well-placed rage that imbues the entire affair with a passion that retroactively alters every one of the clip’s preceding vignettes. One of the most satisfying narrative presentations the format’s had in recent memory, “Happy” winds up being more than masterful; it’s legitimately memorable. Easily one of 2016’s finest clips, “Happy” demonstrates Mitski’s taste and convictions in equal measure, ultimately culminating in one of the artist’s finest offerings to date.

Watch “Happy” below and pre-order Puberty 2 here.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Jamie Coletta)

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One of the people that I bonded with the most over a sheer love of music was SideOneDummy‘s publicity genius, Jamie Coletta. Connecting over everything from our incredibly extensive appreciation for Meat Wave to things as trivial as The Office’s use of silence, it’s been a joy to get to know her over the past year. The world could stand to use more people with her levels of passion and understanding.  Having just run David Anthony’s piece on Coletta, it felt appropriate to run her piece for this series next. Here, she reflects on becoming Microwave‘s manager and her appreciation for her family. Read it below and continue pursuing the things worthy of your unfettered belief.

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Taking Chances

Last year, with the help of Brian Kraus at Alternative Press, I stumbled upon a band from Atlanta, GA called Microwave. All it took was one night and a gram of California’s finest for me to fall completely in love with their debut album Stovall. I remember sitting on my bed, stoned to oblivion, realizing I had just listened to the entire album without stopping once. You guys realize how terrible most bands early/self-releases sound, right? Usually you get through a couple songs and keep their name in the ether of your memory but that’s about it. You never listen to the whole thing without skipping. That’s just ludicrous.

Well that night, I did.

I immediately scoured the internet assuming I’d find one of my A&R peers already on the case, but as you likely know the end of this story since I’ve told it about a million times, I found nothing. I started talking to them casually a few weeks later (truth be told, it was a conversation about The Office that sealed the deal) and before you knew it, we were family. They performed on Audiotree Live in December of 2014. Up until then, things seemed to be moving at a normal pace for a band of their size, but once the Audiotree session went live, everything changed.

All the labels and managers I thought would have initially been interested started calling, and I encouraged the band to feel out all of their options. I knew I wanted to sign them to SideOneDummy but wanted to make sure they felt comfortable before making a decision. At that point, I had never even considered managing a band before. The idea was just so far from my brain.

I met Microwave at SXSW in Austin, TX in March of 2015. We met the first day I arrived and spent every single day of the festival together. I’ve met a lot of people in my life but never have I clicked with a group of people as fast as I did with these guys. That week ended up being crucial in our future as a team. They locked in their booking agents and we started talking about bigger picture goals together.

Before we parted ways, it was like we all just knew. Still, I hadn’t even muttered the words “manager” yet. I sat in the airport waiting for my flight to depart when a manager friend of mine called to ask about their situation. It was the light bulb I needed. After reflecting on that week together and re-listening to Stovall another couple hundred times, I brought it up with the guys and that was that. The adventure of my life began.

Since then, I obviously signed Microwave to SideOneDummy Records. I worked with them to release a split 12’’ with a band from Buffalo, NY called Head North, their first proper release on the label. I also confirmed their first full US support tour with Have Mercy, Transit, and Somos. By the end of 2015, I locked in what will be their biggest touring opportunity to date, supporting The Wonder Years and letlive.  this spring.

If you had told me a year ago today that I would start managing a band and help propel them towards this kind of success by years end, I wouldn’t have believed you. This whole process has taught me the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone, and I can’t wait to step even farther with these guys in 2016.

Feeling Whole Again

Let me preface this by saying that my family has always been incredibly supportive of me and my endeavors. While at times, especially the beginning, I’m sure they felt skeptic and fearful as I boarded a one-way plane to Los Angeles to work in the “music business” with “punk bands,” they’ve always shown extreme pride and enthusiasm for the life I have built here. But this year, two of them in particular stood out to me in their unwavering display of support.

My brother is four years younger than I am, studying to be a physician’s assistant, and lives in Coventry, Rhode Island. He has two fantastic dogs, a Siberian Husky named Luca (yes, he named his dog after a Brand New song) and a White German Shepherd named Jet (okay, to be fair, this is my mom’s dog but my brother moved and couldn’t bare to separate him from his best friend, Luca). He’s almost as obsessed with The Office as I am, which makes for the easiest gift-giving process of all time.

Like the rest of my family, my brother has always been supportive but this past year, he really took it up a notch. He joined the SideOneDummy Vinyl Club, pre-ordered records (even bought multiple variants of some), stopped into his local record store to check for our releases, and decorated his home with some of his favorite S1D releases. I can’t really explain why but this has had a profound effect on me this year. Every time our warehouse manager would tell me something like “Jamie, your brother just bought two flags and another Microwave variant,” I felt whole.

My sister is two years older than I am, works in social media marketing, and lives in Seattle, WA. She has an incredible wanderlust, having traveled all over Europe and about to embark on a three week solo adventure to Australia and New Zealand. For all intensive purposes, she is my polar opposite in life. As we grew up, we started to notice our characteristic differences, and at times we let it get the best of our relationship. But today, as adults, we find our common ground and a lot of times, it’s music.

My sister almost never misses a SideOneDummy band when they come through Seattle. She’s even gone to see bands she barely knows. She lets them sleep on her floor and get bitten by her dog. My bands are like extensions of my family. They’re my best friends. So whenever I would get a text from her with a photo of them on stage, or hear from them saying that she was super cool and welcoming, I felt connected.

You see, I have this picture (see: the photograph at the top of the page). I’ve kept it in my wallet for years. There’s my older sister (left) and I with our baby brother. I grab it at times when I feel scared, alone, homesick, nostalgic. I hold it in my hand all folded up and squeeze it tight. That picture makes me feel whole. It takes me back to a time of innocence, a time where even if things may not have been so great, it didn’t matter. I had them and we had each other. When you live 3,000 miles away from your family, it’s these little moments I hold onto the most. So sure, my brother simply buys stuff from the record label I work for and my sister steps over sweaty dudes to get her coffee. To anyone else, this may mean nothing. To me, we’re back in that picture again, arm-in-arm, without a care in the world.

-Jamie Coletta