Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: The Sidekicks

Big Ups – Two Parts Together (Album Review, Stream, Live Videos)

From the end of last week to the start of this one there was a smattering of outstanding records with many displaying the sheen of a genuine Album of the Year contender, a group that included new titles from Courtney Barnett, The Sidekicks, Colour Me WednesdayGRLWoodDeeper, Soccer Cousins, Macho Boys, Von K, and Feel Alright. Another one of those records came by way of what may wind up standing as Big Ups’ masterpiece, Two Parts Together.

Riding a string of acclaim for their previous few releases and their scintillating live show, Big Ups have managed to craft something masterful, challenging, and explosive, opting for more of a statement on their relentless pursuit of new highs instead of merely settling for a victory lap. This is as fearless and unhinged as the band has ever sounded, completely embracing their own distinct identity and molding it into something unexpected and deeply rewarding.

Every second of Two Parts Together feels thoughtful, even in the moments where it succumbs into chaos; there’s a calculation to Big Ups’ madness that keeps things from veering towards the unsustainable. Whether they’re indulging their most straightforward sensibilities (“Fear“, “PPP“), ambient interludes (“Tenmile”), verging into sections that betray a Rage Against The Machine influence (“Tell Them”), veer directly into avant garde breakdowns (“Trying To Love”), or delivering the most jaw-dropping song of their career (“Imaginary Dog Walker“), they’re delivering each moment with an astounding amount of conviction.

From wire to wire, Two Parts Together is Big Ups’ most complete and engaging work, a series of high points strung together and then defiantly tightroped. Easily one of the best records of the year, Two Parts Together also cements the band’s status as one of today’s more important bands. They’re on a streak that’s nearly unparalleled within the confines of their genre and they’re doing it in an extremely distinct way, delivering record after record that couldn’t possibly bear any other band’s name.

A new genre classic, Two Parts Together is the sound of a band whose confident that if they hurl themselves into the stratosphere, they’ll stick the landing. As much of a warning as a promise, Big Ups make no bones about this being their time. We should all count ourselves lucky that we’re around to watch, listen, and learn.

Listen to Two Parts Together below and pick it up from Exploding In Sound here. Beneath the record, watch the band rip through five tracks at a recent Madison, WI stop.

March’s Honorable Mentions

Only a few days into April (and a few posts away from resuming regular daily updates), it seems as good a time as any to look back at some of the outstanding tracks, clips, and records March had to offer. Since the first week of March was largely covered by the last big recap, the focus here is on the material to find release in the month’s subsequent three weeks. An incredible round of songs, some sterling music videos, and a few standout records managed to make their mark. Below is a compilation of items worth hearing and seeing, so don’t miss a beat and save this tab to explore to your heart’s content.

STREAMS

Mastersystem, Bad Breeding, Pllush, The Sidekicks, Tancred, Drens, Deeper, Hop Along, Iceage, Haley, Spielbergs, Wheelbarrel, Air Waves, Holy Now, Lawn, Yazan (x2), Sharaya Summers, Daniel Tanghal, Dose, Eureka California, Simeon Walker, John Parish, Sibille Attar, Moon Racer, Pre Nup, The Love-Birds, Oceanator, Archie and the Bunkers, Escondido, Death By Unga Bunga, Leisure Tank, The Magic Lantern, Coping Skills, Weller, Character Actor, Ruler, Emily Isherwood, Nice Try, Connections, Vlad Holida.

Lazy Legs, Cold Fronts, Craig Finn, Stimmerman (x2), Dear Nora, Kevin Devine, Brooke Annibale, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis (x2), Frederick The Younger, Co Sonn, Swear Tapes, Fiddlehead, boerd, King Tuff, Bernice, Miya Folick, Forest Ray, Aisha Burns, Wye Oak, Tangents, INVSN, DreamendSofia Härdig, No Thank You (x2), L.A. Girlfriend, John Prine, Paul De Jong, Mary Lattimore, Spritzer, Saba, Swell Spells, Erin Rae, Chakra Efendi, Greyhounds, Redolent, Ivan Moult, Neighbor Lady, Hiss Golden Messenger.

77:78, Deerest, Goat Girl, The Dead Tongues, currin (x2), Scratch, Ganser, Kathryn Joseph, Confuse-Ray, Slow Mass (x2), Pole Siblings, DMA’s, Adam Ackerman, Turtlenecked, Gold Connections, Sen Morimoto, War On Women, Kississippi, Belly, Dana Murray, Yolanda, The Cavemen, HAWK, Remission, Andy Cook, White China, LANKS, and A Deer A Horse.

MUSIC VIDEOS

Fenne Lily, Sulky Boy, Night Flowers, Bonny Doon, Oddnesse, Albert Hammond Jr, Tremends, Locate S, 1, Sun June, KNIFEY, Las Rosas, Mastersystem, Ought, Rozwell Kid, RF Shannon, Alex Lahey, Launder, Soccer Mommy, Speedy Ortiz, Wax Idols, Sleepy Zuhoski, Loma, Courtney Barnett, Francobollo, Flasher, Volage, Hinds, Porlolo, The By Gods, Frankie Cosmos, Okkervil River, Crooked Teeth, Laura Veirs, S. Carey, The Dazies, Sam Evian, Alice Bag, Jo Passed, Young Valley, Quiet As A Mouse, Canshaker Pi, Death By Unga Bunga, Sean McMahon, Vive la Void, Yuki Ame, Preoccupations, Moviestar, LICE, Tomma Intet, and Phosphenes.

FULL STREAMS

Daniel Klag, Gentle Heat, Queen of Jeans, The Bordellos, Swampmeat Family Band, Erika Wennerstrom, Rat Kid Cool, T.C. Crosser, and half of the upcoming Nicole Dollanganger record.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Amelia Pitcherella)

amelia pitcherella
Photograph by Aubrey Richey

Over the past few years, I’ve run into the name Amelia Pitcherella dozens of times. At some point in 2015, it was a name that started appearing with greater velocity, at greater volume. Whether it was in bylines, comments left on mutual friends’ social media accounts, or just heard in passing, it became abundantly clear that we existed in the same niche corner of our own little musical world. We now write together at AdHoc and Pitcherella continues to freelance for publications like Impose. Lately, she’s also been creating some very striking music as Most Selfless Cheerleader, embracing an uncanny intimacy that will likely pay dividends as the project moves forward. I’m very excited to be welcoming her to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series and very pleased to see she’s turned her attention to one of last year’s finest records: All Dogs’ Kicking Every Day. Read about what the record meant to her below and remember to hold onto the records you love.

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Kicking Every Day

I was on a Megabus when an editor sent me the advance of All Dogs’ debut LP. On the cusp of a breakup, I hadn’t talked to my partner in a week and I had gone to my hometown of Philadelphia to see some friends because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was on my way back to Manhattan and feeling particularly unanchored. During my visit I had had trouble talking to people. I felt absent from myself.

My body responded to the record before I had the chance to process it intellectually. By the seventh track I was choking back tears. A few lines on “Leading Me Back to You” chilled me: “I can try not to think about you / but when I’m in my room / you are the light coming through the window / whether or not I want you to.” It wasn’t that they were particularly complex, just that they described honestly exactly what I’d been feeling, the pathetic omnipresence of a person who had made their complete physical exit from my life.

It was the simple candor of the lines that made them so affecting. And then Maryn Jones’ rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs” in the outro shocked me, wrenched me apart—it was like hearing that song for the first time. Jones’ voice on those lines is desperate and yet there’s this strain of pure unmistakable power in it. I watched the turnpike and started crying. Not a conservative cry—it was a full-blown, snotty bawl.

I was feeling totally humiliated by my own involuntary display, and then “Skin” came on. The lyrics are brash: “Don’t you ever say that I’m wrong ’cause I won’t take it / I will find a way to justify my pain.” Jones is self-deprecating, and she’s also aggressively unapologetic. She turns frustration into pure power. I sat on the bus and calmed myself with the thought that my crying a moment ago was all right, it was justified, and even if it wasn’t, I didn’t need justification. I was going through a lot. It was OK.

A week later, in July, I moved to Philly for the remainder of the summer. I was jobless but rent was absurdly cheap and I resolved to only write and make music for my two months there before finishing up my last semester of school. I was fighting depression and coping with the new loss of someone I’d spent close to two years with, and I figured this would be the last opportunity I had to get a feel for a place without having to worry too much about making ends meet. I was fortunate. That summer was a terrific fever dream. Every morning following my breakup, up until my last day in Philadelphia, I woke up with a new song in my head. When I tell people this, even I can’t wrap my head around it, but strange things happen when you’re left to yourself for weeks on end.

I got into the habit of going to shows and dance parties alone, and I met dozens of people who would come to influence me in the span of a few weeks. I was listening to my friends’ bands on rotation. The summer of 2015 was definitively the first time in my life that I felt like I belonged somewhere. As is the case anywhere, there are issues with the Philly music scene—still in large part a boys’ club, cliquey, no shortage of apologists—but it’s also growing into something really special. There are people who are working so hard to make Philadelphia shows and venues inclusive. Until this point, for whatever reason most of my friends making music happened to be men, and I was so pleased to see that finally change.

I went to All Dogs’ show at PhilaMOCA in August, where they were playing with The Sidekicks and Lithuania (who had just released one of my favorite albums of the year, Hardcore Friends), and talked with Nick and Maryn beforehand for a feature for Impose. I think for some time I had convinced myself that all the people doing good work lived on some other plane, as socially accessible as they may have still been to me. I’d only been interviewing for eight months or so, and each time I interviewed an artist up until then I’d been completely knotted up. But talking to the two of them, I felt comfortable interviewing for what might have been the first time. I was so appreciative of their total warmth and openness.

When they took the stage, they were electric. It was one of the most moving performances I’ve seen—maybe in part because Amanda, Jesse, Maryn, and Nick all have rather understated stage presences. They’re not there to create any kind of spectacle, but it’s so evident that they all care deeply for each other and for the music they’re making. I got chills during “Say”, when Maryn sang tenderly, “When you are not around / I am not alone.” Watching All Dogs play on my own that night, I realized—or, maybe more aptly, I decided—that this was why I had thrown myself into working in music. I wanted to write about moments like this, when an act has the power to completely overwhelm; and I wanted to write about people who weren’t men making music. All Dogs made me want to do music more than I wanted to do anything else.

I had been thinking a lot that summer about Leslie Jamison’s essay “The Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain”, in which she notes that people are too often revolted by displays of pain by women. By no fault of our own it too often comes off as a show, and we ourselves can come to doubt our own experiences. But Jamison ultimately believes it is crucial, or at the very least possible, to bear witness to pain and growing “a larger self around that pain—a self that grows larger than its scars without disowning them, that is neither wound-dwelling nor jaded, that is actually healing.”

All Dogs’ music strikes me as realizing that larger self. It doesn’t shy away from pathos—but the pure strength in it makes it bigger than the pain it addresses. After having listened to Kicking Every Day dozens of times over, I was confident now that it was possible to give the pain I was undergoing a place in my music and in my writing without bathing in it or stamping it out. Jones had mastered this.

When Stevie Nicks wrote the line, “You will never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you,” I wonder if some kind of doubt cropped up in her head. Did she question whether others would take her seriously? Regardless, she went ahead and wrote it anyway, and Jones took it 40 years later and made it her own, and her rendition gave me access to my own feelings, validated them. I’m endlessly grateful.

-Amelia Pitcherella

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Toby Reif)

toby reif

When I first found out about Toby Reif, it was through a staggering 2014 EP that blew me out of the water. I would quickly come to find that we had a handful of mutual friends and shared a similar musical perspective. In December of 2014, Reif quietly joined The Sidekicks- an event I’d only discover after being surprised by Reif’s appearance with them at the Silent Barn in August. What I didn’t know was that the events leading up to Reif becoming a full-fledged member of the band were fraught with a tumultuous uncertainty, even landing him in the hospital at one point. Here, Reif covers all that went into that part of his life and, now that things are on a more stable path, looks towards what might lie ahead. It’s an extraordinary story and a rousing look at personal perseverance, dumb luck, and an amount of sheer will and determination that’s nothing short of inspiring. Read it below and never stop fighting for the things you deserve.

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I’m going to cheat a little bit here and make this more of a two-years-in-review. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, the “music scene” always seemed like a far off, unobtainable thing that people who lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago got to participate in and people like me watched from afar via YouTube videos and message boards. I had played in small bands in Bellingham, WA for a few years, playing countless local shows to audiences of friends and always dreaming with bandmates about the possibility of touring, but the idea of going anywhere beyond our hometown seemed reserved for people already in those far off places.

January 2014 found me living on the basement floor of a four bedroom house in Seattle with old curtains stapled to the ceiling in place of walls and no furniture beyond a leaky air mattress (I would inflate it every night before going to sleep and wake up on the floor every morning) and a suitcase in place of a dresser. My band — The Palisades — had finally booked our first real tour, a thirty day trip that took us to the east coast and back, and broke up immediately upon returning.

During that month, we played a few good shows, a lot of really bad shows, totaled my parent’s minivan, and lost more money than I’ve had to my name since the tour. The move to Seattle was an attempt to “settle down”. Touring had been a fun little exercise, but at that point it felt like it was time to find one of those real jobs, the kind that provides silly things like a steady schedule, health insurance, and financial stability. As luck would have it, the job hunt went miserably and five months later I was still living in the basement (I did manage to get a good deal on a “scratch-and-dent” Ikea mattress, so I was off the floor).

I held a part-time job hanging posters for a small marketing company and even toured sporadically as a merch-guy/TM. It was around then that a friend of mine named Jason asked if I would be able to host a band from Ohio called The Sidekicks for a week or so while they worked on a new album in Seattle. I tried to play it cool, but I think I did a pretty bad job of hiding my excitement. Awkward Breeds, their third LP, remains one of my all-time favorite records, and the opportunity to be so close to the process of creating a follow up was not something I was going to pass on.

I had hosted a few touring bands over the years and had previously met Steve, lead singer of the Sidekicks, when Saintseneca (which he also plays in) stayed at my house, also arranged by Jason. It didn’t take a huge amount of convincing to get my three roommates, all musicians themselves, to help host the band for that week. Serendipitously, every other house Jason had lined up for the Sidekicks to stay with ended up bailing, leaving the band on our couches and floor for the full five weeks they were in the city. By the time their record was finished and they went back home to Ohio, I considered them all close friends and our four bedroom house felt empty with only four inhabitants.

Through another strange stroke of fortune, a month later my roommates and I were unable to renew the lease on our house. It was around that same time that I was invited to fill in on guitar for a week of shows with another Ohio band called Signals Midwest. I had hosted them on their past two west coast tours and became close friends with them, so it took no convincing at all for me to buy a plane ticket to Cleveland. It didn’t solve the issue of not having a home, but it did manage to put off the need for one by a few weeks.

After the brief trip through the Midwest with them, they extended an invitation for me to come along on a month-long tour with them in Europe a few months later, which I promptly accepted. That whole real-job lifestyle that had brought me to Seattle in the first place was slipping further and further away, and September began with me on a plane to Germany with four friends from Ohio. I was laying on the floor of a cramped apartment in Hamburg, Germany, when I received a message from Matt Climer, drummer of The Sidekicks. Their previous guitarist and vocalist had just quit and they needed someone in Columbus by January to learn three records of material and tour for as much of 2015 as possible.

It only took two days of consideration to agree.

Upon returning to Seattle, I sold most of my belongings and in December I was on a flight to Columbus with a guitar, a suitcase, and a backpack. January 2015 found me living on a couch in Columbus, Ohio as a member of a band I had loved since I was in high school. The beginning of the year was not without it’s hurdles.

On January 10th, less than two weeks before we were due to start six weeks of touring in support of our new record, I collapsed on the floor of my room at 3am.

My roommate drove me to the OSU Medical Center Emergency Room, where six hours later a surgeon chopped my almost-exploded appendix out of my body. It was up in the air whether or not I would be able to go on the tour with the band I had just moved across the country to join. I was released from the hospital the next day, but a week later I was still struggling to hold a guitar.

The band was ready to find a new guitarist for the tour, but I assured them that I would be ready, and on the 23rd, I played my first show with the Sidekicks at a sold-out Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn alongside Cayetana, All Dogs, and Roger Harvey. I kept my guitar against my side for most of the show because it still hurt to have anything resting on my stomach and I was still taking pain meds, but I’ll never forget the feeling of playing some of my favorite songs to an audience I never could have imagined having a year prior.

The night was a blur, and the pace barely slowed for the remainder of the year. In the weeks following that Brooklyn show, we traveled with LVL UP through the Midwest and down the east coast, pursued by a blizzard that would end up chasing us all the way through Texas. When LVL UP finished their leg of the tour, we met up with Cayetana in Nashville and they joined us through the Southwest and up the West Coast.

We returned home from that tour and within two months were headed overseas for a UK tour with Great Cynics. After that, we set out for two weeks on the East Coast with All Dogs, three weeks in Australia supporting The Smith Street Band and Andrew Jackson Jihad, and then returned home to spend two more weeks out with Saintseneca in support of their new record. In what felt like a blink of an eye, that touring-band life that I had wanted for so long and had given up on simply fell into my lap.

January 2016 has found me in a new apartment in Philadelphia, where I’m finally learning how to balance having a life in and out of a band. I just found a steady job that allows for time-off to tour and has even mentioned the possibility of that grown-up touring musician holy grail: health insurance. In six weeks I’m leaving on another five week Sidekicks trip, this time with The World Is A Beautiful Place…, Into It Over It, and Pinegrove, and I am currently finishing up what I hope will become my side project’s first LP.

While I’d like to pretend like I have a firm grasp on my expectations for 2016, the past 24 months have shown me that I have no business pretending to know what will happen next in the next 12. At this risk of sounding exceedingly cheesy, all I can do now is thank the people that have helped me get to where I am now and look forward to whatever happens next.

-Toby Reif

Watch This: Vol. 110

Now that Watch This is caught up to its usual weekly routine, the rest of the week will be spent dragging the coverage for other formats up to the present release cycle. Following that round of catching up, the site will be turning its focus towards year-end lists and the second edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories. Before we hit that point, though, it feels more necessary than ever to shine a light on some of the best live capture performances from this past week. Again, a strong week’s relegated a slew of extremely strong candidates to the honorable mentions, which include performances from Palehound, The Courtneys, Green Dreams, Vinyl Williams, Albert Hammond Jr., Futurebirds, The Bottle Rockets, Husbands, Noah Gunderson, Caleb and Carolyn, Donovan Wolfington, The Dick and Jane Project, Doe Paoro, Gudrid Hansdottir, Youth Lagoon, Shopping, and Battles.  Site favorites abound in the featured section and the whole thing wraps with one of the year’s finest– and most unexpected– live clips.  So, as always, kick back, focus up, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

1. The Sidekicks – Hell Is Warm (Radio K)

In “Hell Is Warm” The Sidekicks have written themselves a shockingly strong opening number, so it should come as no surprise that it’s been leading off a lot of their recent sets. By that same token, it makes perfect sense as an exhilarating standalone number.  Here, the quartet tears through the song in a session hosted by Radio K, delivering a blistering version that  arguably improves on the excellent studio take.

2. Bad Canoes – Radio Without Rules (Don Giovanni)

Some people are natural performers who imbue every project they appear in with a radical charisma that elevates everything in their reach. Marissa Paternoster is one of those performers.  In the deliriously scrappy Bad Canoes, Paternoster’s divorced from her guitar and allowed free reign over the stage, careening around with a reckless abandon as the rest of Bad Canoes alternates between contained proto-punk and building up a swirling wall of chaos. Packaged together, it’s electrifying.

3. Wimps – Dump (Band In Seattle)

One of the most purely entertaining videos of the past few months has been for Wimps‘ all-too-relatable “Dump“, a 2015 standout. The trio’s most  recent effort, Suitcase, is a brilliant collection of basement pop gems that coast by effortlessly but carry enough weight to be memorable. Here, the band takes their brand of goofy irreverence and sharpen it for a memorable run through “Dump”, unable to suppress some very heartfelt smiles along the way.

4. Alex G + Girlpool – Brite Boy (SPIN)

Alex G‘s “Brite Boy” hasn’t left my mind since writing up the song’s heartbreaking video earlier this week. Here, in a performance for SPIN, the song takes on an additional glow thanks to the support provided by site favorites Girlpool. Ostensibly a song about isolation, loneliness, and loss, it somehow transforms into an even more heartrending experience as Girlpool’s Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad join in for the song’s backing vocal part, before joining each other in a half-choreographed, half-spontaneous dance during the song’s instrumental outro that’s surprisingly moving. Affectionate, human, and strangely devastating, it’s a performance that seems poised to circulate for many years to come.

5. Dilly Dally – Burned by the Cold (Strombo Sessions)

Few songs have hit me harder this year than “Burned by the Cold”, the album closer from Dilly Dally‘s astonishing Sore. Easily one of my favorite songs of 2015 (more on that later), the song showcases the band’s commitment to range and capacity for subversion. From a purely logistical standpoint, it seemed unlikely that the band would ever latch onto the song for their live set and that it was doomed to a life of record confinement. Thankfully, George Stroumboulopoulos’ home, where The Strombo Show is filmed, comes equipped with a piano. Dilly Dally recently appeared on the show as guests and gifted everyone with this stunning rendition of “Burned by the Cold”, which is presented here in crisp black-and-white, enhancing the song’s wintry aesthetic. It’s because of performances like this one that Watch This came into existence and it’s a beautiful coda for Dilly Dally’s extraordinary year.

All Dogs – Live at Silent Barn – 8/22/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

All Dogs X

Very few records to have come out of 2015 have earned as many individual words as All Dogs’ Kicking Every Day, a triumphant debut full-length from one of this site’s personal favorites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with All Dogs in the past and the multimedia piece I was allowed to conduct for The Media wound up producing some of my personal favorite memories. Seeing them in a venue that’s so intrinsically connected to The Media– one of today’s most important publications- was tantalizing enough to make it one of the shows I’d prioritized as soon as it was announced. The lineup surrounding All Dogs was no slouch either, bringing in Florist, Fleabite, and The Sidekicks as support. All of those bands pedigrees packaged together ensured that All Dogs would be playing to a full house and the groundswell of national attention for Kicking Every Day pushed that guarantee a step further.

As a lead-in to the evening’s proceedings, Florist felt like the perfect fit. Surrounded by friends, rejoined by Felix Walworth on drums (who’d been missing from the lineup at their Baby’s show due to touring), and playing a wealth of new material, they managed to entrance the crowd early on and hold their attention to the end. Like the best acts operating in their stylistic vein, Florist managed to make the room extremely intimate and created a palpable sense of togetherness by reducing the audience to a hushed silence. Fleabite, a quarter fronted by A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor Ali Donohue, quickly took the noise levels in the opposite direction but maintained an established sense of intensity.

Having released one of this year’s stronger 7″ records in TTYL (which boasts a cover where Donohue is wearing an All Dogs shirt, no less), the band seemed invigorated. Every song felt meaningful and the band played with conviction, whether it was an old standby or a new piece while embracing feedback with an almost gleeful zest. Before too long following the close of their set, The Sidekicks were up and repeatedly jumping. Another band riding high on the wave of an excellent release- Runners In the Nerved World, their first for Epitaph- the band played with an unparalleled gusto.

Driven in large part by the dual guitar onslaught of Steve Ciolek (who also plays in Saintseneca with All Dogs’ Maryn Jones) and Toby Reif (whose self-titled solo EP stands as one of last year’s best surprises), the band quickly proved to be a deeply formidable live presence. Playing with energy, grace, and a clear love for what they do, every song felt like an all-or-nothing rallying cry and pulled an already involved audience even further in. Closing out with the supercharged Awkward Breeds highlight “DMT” had everyone roaring and likely cemented the status of a large handful of converts while simultaneously providing a perfect build to the night’s headliner.

I’ve spent a lot of paragraphs on this site- and others- detailing what makes All Dogs such an inherently special band and nearly all of them get brought to the forefront in their live performance. Maryn Jones, the band’s guitarist/vocalist, is one of this generation’s finest humanists, constantly painting conflicted portraits of a deeply personal nature that examine and scrutinize faults in a manner that can occasionally feel defiantly celebratory. A lot of these dissections are universally relatable and, as such, can act as a form of therapy (for both Jones, who puts herself under the knife with reckless consistency, and the listener). The band Jones is surrounded by- bassist Amanda Bartley, guitarist Nick Harris, and drummer Jesse Wither- know how to perfectly accentuate Jones’ tales and sensibilities to emphasize both the finer and larger points being made.

In terms of composition and dynamics, the band’s grown in leaps and bounds since the addition of Harris and the decision to start writing together as a band, a trait that’s easily evidenced in the disparity between the band’s still-great 7″ (which served as the basis for one of this site’s first-ever reviews) and the borderline masterpiece that is Kicking Every Day. When the band did reach back to the 7″ in their set, the songs sounded startlingly massive and the new textures made them feel more vital than ever (this was especially true for “Say” which, as it had last year in Milwaukee, sent chills running down my spine). A slew of Kicking Every Day‘s preview tracks’ emotional impact was maximized by both the setting and their execution in the live setting.

The three songs that received features here-“That Kind of Girl“, “Skin“, and “How Long“- all hit their marks with an unapologetic accuracy, heightened by an almost intimidating amount of volume. Every member of the band was in fine form throughout, with each member alternately appearing to lose themselves in the song at hand or take complete and total control of its delivery. Jones’ vocals, perennially light but always suggesting an unbearable weight, sounded as masterful as ever and the band rallied around her tales of damage, self-loathing, defeat, clarity, and uncertainty with unprecedented force.

After a marathon set that covered the band’s still-young discography, the band packed up and left the stage. There was no call for an encore because, at least for a moment, it seemed like All Dogs had said everything they possibly could. While the band will likely always have something more to say, their exit seemed necessary; these songs are so intimately personal that listening to them at length can make for a crippling experience. Thankfully, while the emotional resonance still held fast, it was hard to feel anything other than uplifted. Every band that’d played before them had brought something new to the table and All Dogs wove all of those strengths into a beautiful tapestry that covered the Silent Barn like a blanket for their time onstage, bringing everyone together under an intangible communal cloak and keeping them warm with good intentions. I’m not sure there’s a more perfect way to spend an evening.

Find a photo gallery of the show here and watch a video containing performances from each of the bands that played the show below.

First Quarter Full Streams, Pt. 1

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Keeping the recent themes of the site going, this post will be dedicated to 75 of this year’s most fascinating records (along with an overlooked fourth quarter gem or two from last year getting their due). Covering a range of genres, as always, these records cover a lot of ground. A few find their niche in fierceness while others make a home in more tranquil realms. It’s impossible to stress how full of a year 2015’s already been for new music and if this crop of early offerings is any suggestion, we’re all in for one of the strongest stretches of new music in roughly a decade. As ever, don’t let the fact there’s no accompanying text with these releases detract from their value; a great deal of these have a good chance of ranking among 2015’s finest releases (NPR’s current roster of First Listen selections is an exhilarating reminder that we’re only just getting started). Click on the hyperlinks below (listed in no particular order) to hear the records and- if you find yourself drawn to any- make sure to pick one up from either the band or their label. Happy exploring.

1. California X – Nights in the Dark
2. Swings – Detergent Hymns
3. Ty Segall – Mr. Face
4. Mike Pace and the Child Actors – Best Boy
5. Little Brutes – Desire
6. Dazed Pilots – Drummers & Codies
7. The Sidekicks – Runners in the Nerved World
8. Menace Beach – Ratworld
9. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
10. Jack Name – Weird Moons
11. Sick Feeling – Suburban Myth
12. Bandit – Of Life
13. Culture Abuse – Spray Paint the Dog
14. The Rentiers – Here Is A List of Things That Exist
15. Kind of Like Spitting + Warren Franklin & the Foundations – It’s Always Nice to See You
16. Creative Adult + Wild Moth – Split
17. Sun Hotel – Rational Expectations
18. Clique/Loose Tooth/Ghost Gun/Mumblr – Split
19. Grand Vapids – Guarantees
20. Gal Pals – Velvet Rut
21. The King Khan & BBQ Show – Bad News Boys
22. Club K – Let M Shake
23. Astral Swans – All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson
24. ylayali – ylayali
25. M.A.G.S. – Cellophane
26. Leapling – Vacant Page
27. Feature Films – Feature Films
28. Walleater – I
29. Will Butler – Policy
30. toyGuitar – In This Mess
31. Bloodbirds – Album 2
32. Pistachio – Tehuantepec
33. Yeesh – No Problem
34. Seagulls – Great Pine
35. Snow Roller/Sioux Falls – Split EP
36. Evans the Death – Expect Delays
37. RA – Scandinivia
38. Lucern Raze – Stockholm One
39. Never Young – Never Young
40. Love Cop – Dark Ones
41. Darlings – Feel Better
42. Romantic States – Romantic States
43. A Place to Bury Strangers – Transfixation
44. Sunflower Bean – Show Me Your Seven Secrets
45. Ghastly Menace – Songs of Ghastly Menace
46. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
47. Anomie – Anomie
48. Reservoir – Cicurina Vol. 1
49. River City Extension – Deliverance
50. Ty Segall Band – Live in San Francisco
51. Six Organs of Admittance – Hexadic
52. Big Dick – Disappointment
53. Treasure Fleet – The Sun Machines
54. Jeff Rosenstock  – We Cool?
55. Husband – The Money
56. Divers – Hello Hello
57. Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
58. We Can All Be Sorry – Again
59. Cal Folger Day – Adornament
60. Outside – Outside
61. Fragie Gang – For Esme
62. Moor Hound – Missin’ Out b/w Married
63. Pile – You’re Better Than This
64. Sonny & the Sunsets – Talent Night at the Ashram
65. Platinum Boys – Future Hits
66. Grooms – Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
67. The Amazing – Picture You
68. Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This
69. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
70. Jack McKelvie & the Countertopss/Uh-Huh – Split
71. Young Buffalo – Split
72. Lieutenant – If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week
73. Sister Palace – Count Yr Blessings
74. Van Dammes – Better Than Sex
75. Sammy Kay – Fourth Street Singers

Beliefs – Tidal Wave (Music Video)

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Now, despite all the content that’s already gone up tonight, there’s still a lot that went down over the past week and a half while the site was dealing with technical complications. To that end, the approach in coverage is going to be slightly different this time around. Full streams, single streams, and music videos will all be covered- but they’ll be branched off into categories. Each entry will get a line or two and then when everything’s been accounted for, there’ll be a feature spot granted to Beliefs’ ridiculously entertaining clip for “Tidal Wave”. So, without further ado…

SINGLE STREAMS

Pet Cemetery – Giants: The newest near-perfect post-punk entry into Art Is Hard’s perfect Pizza Club series. | Deer Tick – White Havoc: A fuzzed-out Holiday stomper courtesy of one of today’s more intriguing acts. | Sun Hotel – Tropic of Cancer: An incredibly compelling and slightly damaged folk-leaning exploration. | Abi Reimold – Workshop: A folksy DIY pop masterpiece that doubles as a perfect contribution to a great compilation series. | The Soft Moon – Black: Nightmarishly menacing ambient music that tilts into industrial territory. | Sleater-Kinney – Surface Envy: Video game guitar lines. Corin Tucker’s vocals. Total madness. Sleater-Kinney is back. | Victoria+Jean – Holly: Seductive art-pop that flirts with expectations and capitalizes on tension. | Menace Beach – Blue Eye: An ambient noise exercise that only gains intrigue as it quietly builds towards its finish. | Deerhoof – Exit Only (Perfect Pussy Remix): A terrifying reimagining of an already terrifying song, courtesy of Shaun Sutkus. | Moon Duo – Animal: Menacing and minimal psych-punk that isn’t afraid to bare its fangs. | Grand Vapids – Aubade: Indie pop that isn’t afraid to subvert or challenge aesthetic expectations. | Howlin’ Rain – Wild Bush: A pastoral folk throwback jam that wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. | California X – Red Planet: Another triumphant, scorched-earth preview of what looks to be a career-best effort. | The Sidekicks – Jesus Christ Supermalls: Subtle, stunning, and lovely. The Sidekicks‘ finest work to date. | Seagulls – Swimmin’: Unbelievably winsome and completely enchanting folk-centric indie pop. | Elephant Micah – Slow Time Vultures: Gently gorgeous and effortlessly arresting ambient folk reminiscent of Vic Chesnutt. | Future of What – Daydream 99: Boldly stylish indie pop that crafts its own brand of magic. |

FULL STREAMS

The Goodbye Party – Silver Blues:  The latest DIY punk-pop gem to grace the impossibly reliable Salinas roster. | Littler – Get A Life: Relentlessly propulsive weirdo punk. | Bonny Doon – Fred’s House Demo: An impossibly overlooked (and impossibly great) folk-tinted basement pop masterpiece. | School ’94 – Like You: Graceful indie pop with gargantuan scope that still manages to come across as refreshingly breezy. | Forth Wanderers – Tough Love: Defiant and subtly venomous basement pop with an unbelievable amount of inherent charm. | SUSAN – Just Call It: Surf-indebted basement pop with enough punk bite to please a purist. | Githead – Waiting For A SignLeftifeld post-punk and new wave from a quasi-supergroup that features members of Wire, Compact, and Scanner. | Furnsss – Silent Gold: Deranged slacker punk and basement pop for the actively lethargic. | Thelma & The Sleaze – Heart Like A Fist: Incendiary basement punk with a heaping of 80’s hardcore influence. | Cave People – Older: Treble-heavy basement pop that leans towards sentiment and presents a genuinely memorable vision. | Terrorista – Purple Tape: Hard-charging basement punk that thrives on the notion that everything could fall apart at any second.

MUSIC VIDEOS

Young Statues – Run The River Dry: Visually stunning and endlessly intriguing, “Run The River Dry” shines a bright light on Young Statues’ promising future in the visual format. | Christian Lee Hutson – Late November: A simple concept that becomes a wrenching experience as it transforms into something inexplicably moving. | Flashlight O – TV Time: Staunchly DIY and weirdly hypnotic in its collage-heavy presentation. | Highway Cross – Open Eyes: Furiously paced and brilliantly edited, this is a perfect example of how emphasizing details can pay off in unexpectedly huge ways. | Luluc – Tangled Heart: Beautifully arranged and enhanced with simple, creative effects, “Tangled Heart” winds up feeling like something worth treasuring. | Johnny Marr – Dynamo: The iconic guitarist has always had a visual flair but those tendencies reach new, modern heights with this clip. | Run The Jewels – Oh My Darling (Don’t Cry): Like the group, this is a video driven by outsize personality- it’s unabashedly weird and it’s absolutely glorious. | Bass Drum of Death – For Blood: Bikers and gangs collide in deliriously entertaining fashion throughout this brilliantly executed tracking shot clip. | Blonde Redhead – Dripping: A sensual and highly stylized video that wields atmospherics and soft touches to stunning effect. | Communions – Love Stands Still: Classically composed and unwaveringly endearing; a perfect reflection of Communions’ indie pop. | A Place To Bury Strangers – Straight: A hallucinatory collage of striking imagery backed by one of the band’s most insistent songs to date. | Liars – Mask Maker (Extended Version): Characteristically bizarre and replete with a whole mess of yarn. | Tinkerbelles – When Puppies Cry: Extraordinarily damaged basement punk made weirder by one of the most insanely warped clips of 2014.

TIDAL WAVE

Okay, so the bold font probably wasn’t necessary but it’s late- and this is a really great video. Beliefs first gained an uptick in notoriety when they paired with the similarly-minded Greys for one of 2013’s best splits. Since then, they’ve been on a tear, steadily building a name for themselves on the strength of their powerful new material and formidable live show. If “Tidal Wave” is any indication, they may be able to add great music videos to that list as well. While it mostly finds inspiration in the trends of classic clips from the 80’s and 90’s there’s a certain playfulness here that’s missing from a lot of homage-style videos. That playfulness comes to a head nearly halfway through when they manage to seamlessly work in something genuinely unexpected and ridiculously perfect. It’s too good of a moment to spoil completely but it’s also one of the more endearingly appreciative moments of recent memory. By the time all the effects have worn down and “Tidal Wave” reaches its tongue-in-cheek epilogue, it becomes abundantly clear that this band has big things in mind for Leaper (the forthcoming album “Tidal Wave” is taken from) and for themselves. Beliefs aren’t a band intent to keep quiet and if they keep going at the pace they are, we’re all in for one hell of a ride.

Watch “Tidal Wave” below and pick up Leaper from Hand Drawn Dracula as soon as it’s available.

Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning (Music Video)

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With another traditionally huge Monday just about in the books, it’s time to recap a large portion of the great material that was released. NPR’s First Listen series was typically stocked and contained Bedhead‘s discography as well as the upcoming records from Big K.R.I.T. and Hookworms. There was also the aggressively bleary noise-psych of Energy Slime’s debut 7″, New Dimensional. Stereogum played host to a slew of impressive song premieres: Lemuria‘s sprightly “Froggy Smoke“, Chief Scout’s kinetic basement pop stunner “Oh Shit“, Whirr‘s newest heavy-hitter “Ease“, and Cloakroom‘s Matt Talbott-assisted “Dream Warden“. In other reaches of the internet, The Sidekicks announced a new record and signing with Epitaph with the typically excellent “Deer” and Diarrhea Planet continued to up the anticipation for their upcoming EP, Aliens in the Outfield, with the absolutely stunning closer- and very likely their career-best- “Peg Daddy“. Empty Apartments’ punchy lo-fi treasure “Lefty (Cardboard Box)“, Terrorista’s jumpy basement punk brawler “Darren vs Bag“, and The Coathangers‘ savage Gun Club cover all also found their way into the world.

To round things out there were also outstanding new music videos that included a tantalizing introduction to what will be a multi-part series from Kevin Devine via “She Can See Me“, an intense visual stimuli overload in the form of Naomi Punk‘s “Television Man” video, Desert Sharks’ revenge fantasy in “crazycrazy“, and Elbow’s artful ode to motorcross in the artfully composed “New York Morning“. There was also The Twilight Sad‘s gorgeous black-and-white clip for “Last January“, Yesway’s hauntingly minimalistic “Let Go“, and Appomattox‘s celebratory career-ending exclamation point in the skate-heavy video for “Yr Soul“. While all of those operated on various levels of unique excellence, it’s tough to outmaneuver that towering scope of one of the year’s most powerful albums- especially when the music video for one of its best songs feels so perfectly assembled.

LOSE is a record that carries the burden of the heavy emotions that come with the loss of a close friend. “Warning” is one of its few moments of total exhilaration; a release of the pent up frustration, angst, despair, and complete helplessness in the face of death. It’s a staggeringly powerful moment on the record and hits stratospheric heights when paired with- and accompanied by- the record’s implicit narratives. In the brilliantly directed music video, Cymbals Eat Guitars are reverted back to youth via teenage stand-ins who deliver some commendably impassioned (and entirely convincing) performances as they mimic the song. A sense of well-placed nostalgia is subtly added in through quick cuts revealing some classic posters and albums that likely served as influences for the band (and for Benjamin High, whose early departure was the event that inspired much of LOSE). “Warning” is lovingly edited and gorgeously lensed, it’s a video that manages to evoke a deeply-felt well of emotions. It’s a surprisingly moving complement to a song- and record- that deserved nothing less.

Watch “Warning” below and buy LOSE directly from Barsuk here.