Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Texas Funeral

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Eric Slick)

eric slick

The first time I saw Eric Slick, he was manning the kit for Dr. Dog on their Shame, Shame tour and delivered a set that more than made up for just missing the cut-off at a sold-out LCD Soundsystem show. To date, that set remains one of my favorite memories and a benchmark for the realization that sometimes taking left turns winds up producing really memorable moments.

While Slick remains behind the kit for Dr. Dog, I’ve come to know him more for his work in his incendiary punk-tinged basement pop project, Lithuania (whose Hardcore Friends was one of the records from last year that I find myself coming back to the most). An enviably versatile musician and a genuine person, his impact on the music community is immeasurable.

For all those reasons and several more, I’m thrilled to be presenting a piece from Slick for A Year’s Worth of Memories that focuses in on touring, two acts that have been featured on this site numerous times, turning 28, and learning to come to terms with some aspects of his life via cognitive behavioral therapy. Read it below and always acknowledge the things that make you want to keep fighting.

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As I write this, I’m currently suffering from a modicum of symptoms supposedly related to early Lyme’s Disease. If I make mistakes, it’s because my cognitive functions are limited. Forgive me!

2015

My 28th Year, The Year Of the Sheep. It was supposed to be a year of calm, but if I could offer you a window into my 2015 psyche, you’d see a tangled mess of wires engulfed in flames. There were times when I wanted to jump out of my skin from repulsion and excitement, a dichotomy that would become a warm blanket for my brain-addled nightmare. You see, the 28th year is often the beginning of one’s Saturn return in astrology. I felt as if I were living on that distant planet.

However, I’m not here to wallow in my past sadnesses and failures. I believe that you can rise above mistakes like a kind of animatronic phoenix rising from the CGI ashes. Here’s a list of things that saved my soul in 2015.

Touring with Lithuania

I have a tendency to read a lot of self-help books, even though I don’t absorb much from them. Being on tour with my band Lithuania helped in gaining some sort of empirical life experience. Dominic Angelella and Ricardo Lagomasino (my bandmates) gave me non-judgmental advice and listened as I complained about everything. They also delivered some of the best performances I’ve ever witnessed as a fellow band member.  On one particularly memorable night, I walked offstage at The Soda Bar in San Diego and began crying on a dumpster. Ricardo had empathy for me in this unraveled state, so we walked to a nearby windowless Pizza Hut and shared a gluey Personal Pan Pizza and more importantly, our feelings.

We released an album called Hardcore Friends on Lame-O Records and toured with Hop Along, mewithoutYou, and Beach Slang. The lyrics were hard to sing and some of the lines would become downright prophetic. I guess we all wept a lot on those tours. In fact, I could be well qualified to become a professor in Lachrymology (the study of crying), although I’d have to go back and listen to a lot of Tool albums. I’m forever grateful for Dom and Ricardo, and I know a lot of people who feel similarly.

Hop Along

Speaking of crying, have you ever seen Hop Along? I can compare it to a few other acts I’ve seen: Bjork, Charles Bradley, Neutral Milk Hotel, Stevie Wonder. There are those who take and those who give. Hop Along is not only a gift, it’s a treasure. They’ve always been unnecessarily kind to us. I hope we can be unnecessarily kind to them too. The lyric “None of this is gonna happen to me” still makes me feel an immense and indescribable yearning every time I hear it.

Hop Along for President, 2016.

Pile’s You’re Better Than This

During the darkest moments, I would put on the new Pile record and pretend to punch the ceiling of my car. I didn’t actually punch it because I didn’t want to hurt my hand. You understand. The track “Mr. Fish” would become an anthem, a song of disillusionment and disassociation. There were days when I could relate to the main character, Darryl Fish. He speaks of wrestling formless tenants beneath his bed sheets, and missing the feeling of the sun’s warmth on his arms. What i’m trying to say is, shit got dark. Pile helped me climb my way out of it. I would repeat the album title like a mantra.

Therapy

You can pretend to be Zen all you want. I did. I spent the majority of 2011-2015 believing I had my life figured out, meditating regularly and over-preaching to people in my life that probably didn’t want to hear it. The reality is that nobody has anything figured out. Life is this incredible, amorphous blob that spews out chaos after chaos. It can be harrowing to realize this, but it can also be the beginning of personal freedom.

I started cognitive behavioral therapy in March 2015 and had to go face to face with a lot of issues that I wasn’t quite prepared to deal with. I still go to therapy whenever I can. My musician friend Chris Cohen once told me that, “Life doesn’t get easier, you just get better at dealing with it.” He told me this in 2013, but it resonates now more than ever. So here’s to 2016.

-Eric Slick

Watch This: Vol. 82

[Editor’s Note: This text originally appeared in the preceding volume of Watch This.]

Anyone that’s been keeping an eye on the site knows that it’s been a busy time for both myself and this place. Making the move to Brooklyn has afforded a much greater opportunity for live coverage and that’s something that’s been increasingly evident over the past few posts. There were still be regular coverage on streaming songs, albums, and videos and all of those categories will be caught up in the very near future.

Despite missing last week’s, Watch This isn’t going to go anywhere either. Ostensibly the beating heart of Heartbreaking Bravery, the weekly series devoted to featuring the best live capture releases of the week is one of this site’s defining features. With two weeks worth of releases to reflect on, there’ll be two installments of Watch This to run tonight. Both feature a variety of site favorites (both artists and sources), full sessions, and- as always- extraordinary performances on both sides of the camera. So, as ever, sit back, adjust the volume to your preference, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Vaadat Charigim (KEXP)

In 2013, Vaadat Charigim released a gem of a record in The World Is Well Lost that seemed to get lost in the mix. Whether that was due to the lyrics being sung in a language other than English (Hebrew, in this case) or the promotional campaign missing its mark is anyone’s best guess but what was abundantly clear, even then, was the band’s conviction. They recently released their sophomore effort, Sinking As A Stone, which sharpened a lot of the band’s best qualities. The band took to the KEXP studios and turned in a powerhouse performance that already seems to be creating converts.

2. Screaming Females – Ripe (TCGS)

Screaming Females are climbing up the “most words written about” ladder with a steadfast assurance around here and that’s not a mistake. Time and time again, the band deliver on unexpectedly profound levels. Whether they’re covering Taylor Swift or allowing themselves to be vulnerable enough to serve as central figures for a revealing Lance Bangs documentary. It’s a dynamic that’s guaranteed their position as a perennial Watch This staple and their uninhibited dedication to their craft (along with a very genuine love) manage to continuously seep through their work. Another name of vital importance to Watch This, comedian Chris Gethard, recently secured a deal that took his cable access show to (much) more expansive realms. Here, the two meet for a fiery, costumed performance of “Ripe“, a standout cut from 2015 highlight  Rose Mountain.

3. Strand of Oaks (NPR)

Timothy Showalter is the rare kind of musician who can be equally captivating both unaccompanied and within the context of a full band. HEAL was one of last year’s more unexpectedly brilliant records but it seemed like any time those songs were performed in a live setting, the studio recordings were blown out of the water. NPR’s excellent Tiny Desk Concert series recently had Showalter stop in on his lonesome and they were paid back with a stunning three song performance that should cement Showalter’s status as one of today’s most intrinsically compelling performers. Deeply felt and utterly captivating, this is a songwriting (and solo performance) masterclass.

4. Speedy Ortiz (KEXP)

Nearly every regular source that gets utilized for the curation of Watch This seemed to host Speedy Ortiz over the past month. A few of those videos made it into various installments while a few just barely missed the cut. None of them were anywhere close to as strong as this KEXP-hosted four song knockout. All of the songs in this session are executed with an excess of verve and passion, not in a manner all that dissimilar from the last time they came through the station. Playing nothing but highlights from this year’s outstanding Foil Deer, the session becomes a capsule document of a band in the throes of both artistic reinvention and breakout success.

5. Hop Along (WNYC)

The last artist on this list with a long history of Watch This appearances, Hop Along‘s most definitely the one to have experienced the most momentum in 2015. With the extraordinary Painted Shut (their first effort for Saddle Creek) elevating them from “best-kept secret” status to universal critical adoration, they’ve also managed to considerably expand their fan base. It’s difficult to think of a more deserving band when taking into account the exceptional levels of songwriting and their years spent relentlessly touring small bars and DIY venues. They’re making every possible effort at seizing a moment that’s rightfully theirs and WNYC became the latest channel to capture evidence. In three songs, the band manages to demonstrate every facet that earned them an unprecedented amount of loyalty and support in their early goings while simultaneously establishing what makes them such a cherished act in today’s musical landscape.

Watch This: Vol. 74

Over the course of the past few weeks, the influx of outstanding live videos has been staggering. Last week the series was put on a brief hold due to other personal obligations but even then, there was the threat of multiple installments for that particular Sunday. Amassing those with the live clips that followed in the subsequent week brings us to this point: there’s simply too much great material to feature to justify relegating anything exceeding the limit of five to the introductory paragraph(s). With this being the case, there will be seven- yes, seven– installments of Watch This to go live throughout the day (and possibly night).

To that end, this very introduction will be running prior to volumes 74-80 to reduce the levels of overall exposition to provide an emphasis on the material at hand. Site favorites Girlpool and Waxahatchee were seemingly everywhere this week, securing multiple entries throughout this run while Faits Divers spread-out documentation of a set from Ought (another site favorite) managed to do the same. As always, each video featured is an exemplary showcase for both artist and host, covering a wide range of sounds and styles. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume to your preferred settings, sit up straight, lean in (or back), and Watch This.

1. Girlpool (Consequence of Sound)

Over the past year, Girlpool have been experiencing a quiet, rapid ascension in notoriety thanks to a singular take on songwriting. More than just about any other band operating, the duo have established a legitimate identity that manages to feel both familiar and singular. Here, in a lovingly shot session for Consequence of Sound, they provide some insight to their process and deliver two characteristically strong performances of Before The World Was Big‘s title track and “I Like That You Can See It”. It’s a powerful reminder of their seemingly limitless strengths and a perfect document of a young band on the cusp of reaching spectacular heights.

2. Diet Cig – Harvard (Play Too Much)

There’s a joy inherent to Diet Cig‘s music that translates so effortlessly into their live presentation that practically guarantees them a Watch This feature spot every time a video surfaces. Over Easy remains one of the year’s best- and most endlessly listenable- releases, while Diet Cig’s live show continues to gain velocity. It’s an explosive combination that renders the duo one of the more exciting prospects in today’s music. Manic energy, genuine passion, and their visible love for their craft are given a defining image towards the clip’s closing minutes as guitarist/vocalist strikes a power stance, perched on the top of her amp and Noah Bowman’s bass drum, practically bursting with joy. All together, it’s the exact kind of thing this site was built to celebrate.

3. Screaming Females – Shake It Off (AV Club)

Back in the 22nd volume of Watch This, The AV Club’s Undercover series took all five spots in a featured retrospective. One of those five selections was Screaming Females‘ incendiary Sheryl Crowe cover. The band and the series recently partnered up again, the band once again applying their unlikely brand to an even more unlikely cover; Taylor Swift’s inescapable “Shake It Off”. Played (mostly) straight with a fiery verve, the standout moment- unsurprisingly- is a deviation that allows guitarist/vocalist Marissa Paternoster to tear into a solo after a perfect breakdown. It’s one of the year’s most unexpectedly endearing moments.

4. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (La Blogotheque)

Courtney Barnett‘s Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit will almost certainly hold true as one of 2015’s most delightful titles. As enjoyable as the record is, though, there are moments of arresting pathos and gravitas that appear throughout. One of the most fascinating is Barnett’s treatsie on suburban malaise; “Depreston”. Barnett recently met up with the usually-great La Blogotheque for a performance capture that manages to transcend the bulk of the series’ considerable output. Simply put: it’s unforgettable.

5. Hop Along (KEXP)

One of the year’s most welcome breakout success stories was that of Hop Along’s sudden increase in exposure, recognition, and acclaim (all of which the band’s deserved since before the release of Get Disowned). Instead of being daunted by the attention, the band seems to be thriving off it- pushing themselves to go even further. That drive’s reflected in this full session for KEXP that finds Frances Quinlan and co. front and center for a lively outdoor showcase featuring songs from both Get Disowned and 2015 Album of the Year candidate Painted Shut. As if all of that wasn’t enough reason to watch (and the fact that the band’s live show’s been so powerful that they’ve been a staple of this series since it started), this set also features a back-to-back pairing of “Waitress” and “Tibetan Songs”, which will always be a moment far too perfect for words.

Hop Along – Texas Funeral (Stream)

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Over the past year-and-a-half I’m not sure any band at this point has come up in coverage without snagging a headline feature than Hop Along. While they’ve appeared in various Watch This installments and a handful of mixtapes (including the best-of for 2015’s first quarter), they’ve never actually had an individual focus piece. That changes today. First, though, as was earlier relayed, are ten songs to have emerged this April that are absolutely worth hearing. Among them: Grounders’ psych-pop dream “No Ringer“, Saul Williams’ characteristically vicious “Burundi“, Honey Radar’s tantalizingly lo-fi “Per Schooner Agro“, Cyberbully Mom Club’s hazy new demo “Make Time“, and Vomitface’s pummeling post-punk number “Never Make It“. In addition to those five there was Diamond Youth’s powerpop rave-up “In the Clouds“, Wild Yaks’ defiantly triumphant “Paradise“, Estates’ searing “Not Now“, The Holy Circle’s mesmerizing “Basel (About What Was Lost)“, and site favorites Vaadat Charigim‘s typically extraordinary “Hashiamum Shokea“. While all of those deserve a slew of plays, it’s high time to give Hop Along their proper due and “Texas Funeral” provides the perfect opportunity.

After making a memorable impression on the DIY circuit and cultivating a small but extraordinarily passionate following, the band signed to Saddle Creek for the release of their forthcoming record, Painted Shut. The lead-up to the record’s been extremely promising with both songs preceding “Texas Funeral”- “Powerful Man” and “Waitress“- easily ranking among the year’s very best. “Texas Funeral” joins their company with a practiced finesse that even furthers Painted Shut‘s likelihood at being something truly special, even in regards to this year’s already formidable stockpile of musical highs. The band’s last record, 2012’s staggering Get Disowned, showed glimmers of bigger things to come- hinting that the band was capable of producing a classic.

Ever since then, guitarist/vocalist Frances Quinlan and company have been refining their sound and delivering heartfelt sets that have occasionally taken on a monumental feel. It’s a peak that “Texas Funeral” hits again and again, emphasizing both Hop Along’s considerable growth and undeniable talent. Quinlan, in particular, sounds more assured than ever, with her vocals (sometimes sung, frequently nearly-screamed) hitting stratospheric heights. Unpredictable, exhilarating, vibrant, and unapologetically alive “Texas Funeral” makes it sound like Hop Along is in the throes of a victory lap, bringing to mind the feel and aesthetic of another Saddle Creek record on more than a few occasions- Rilo Kiley’s career highlight The Execution Of All Things (one of the best records of last decade). With an exasperated youthfulness on full display and a keen eye for life’s minutiae, Hop Along seem to have tapped into something genuinely thrilling with “Texas Funeral”- and at this point it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to expect that the rest of Painted Shut will follow suit.

Listen to “Texas Funeral” below and make sure to pre-order a copy of Painted Shut from Saddle Creek here.