EDITOR’S NOTE: This series of posts reflects back on some of the best material to be released over the past few weeks. Each post with this heading is a part of this series. After this series has concluded regular coverage will resume.
House of Nod Productions has earned a lot of praise from this site in the past and their incredible winning streak continues with their latest effort: a rapidly-paced clip for Bellows‘ outstanding “Thick Skin”. One of the many highlights that comprise the Oliver Kalb-led project’s most recent release, Fist & Palm, “Thick Skin” gains even more strenght in its incredible visual presentation.
Combining time lapses, archival footage of nature, nods to the French New Age movement, live captures, and some ridiculously impressive Edgar Wright-esque hyper-editing, the Rob Kolodny-directed clip underscores the swirling, colorful aspects that define Fist & Palm, Bellows’ most exceptional work to date. It’s been a monumental year for the project, which saw their visibility steadily increasing (and included a very gracious contribution to the A Step Forwardcompilation that marked this site’s 1000th post) and the project’s sound growing increasingly more refined.
“Thick Skin” capitalizes on that chaos with an extremely acute accuracy while still managing to ground the proceedings enough to keep the clip strangely relatable. “Thick Skin” is a constantly shifting whirlwind that never loses a sense of overwhelming poetry, even as it continuously expands outward. Maintaining a remarkably consistent tonality through something that relies that heavy on extremely varied imagery is no easy feat but Kolodny continues to make it seem effortless, coaxing an impressive amount of magic out of an enchanting tapestry.
Watch “Thick Skin” below and pick up a copy of Fist & Palm from Double Double Whammy here.
The featured track belongs to A Year’s Worth of Memories alum Isabel Reidy’s project, Izzy True. After a dazzling EP, the project’s readying their debut full-length, Nope. Leading off the rollout campaign is the record’s brilliant lead-off single “Total Body Erasure”. Tapping into the swamp-punk, roots, Americana, folk, blues, and dirtied up rock n’ roll influences that made the Troll EP one of last year’s most compelling listens, “Total Body Erasure” also achieves the impressive feat of heightening the level of lyricism attached to the band by tackling a subject that manages to feel both intimate and political without one aspect ever outweighing the other.
It’s an astonishing piece of songwriting that suggests Reidy’s quickly becoming one of this generation’s finest young lyricists. If the rest of Nope can live up to the level set by its introductory piece, Izzy True has a legitimate shot at being one of 2016’s most notable breakout successes. All that’s left is to wait, see, and hit repeat on “Total Body Erasure” until that moment, during that moment, and well past that moment. Whichever way it shakes out ultimately won’t matter. What does matter is the strength of Reidy, Troll, and “Total Body Erasure”, which is more than enough to prove that we should all keep listening.
Listen to “Total Body Erasure” below and keep an eye on Don Giovanni for the pre-orders of Nope.
Hard to believe that there already have been 91 segments of Watch This, but here we are- another week in and five more live clips to feature. For this particular run, full sets get the bulk of the attention while a site favorite and a new name to both this series and this site round things out. Courtney Barnett has been awarded enough spots here over the past few months so we’ll forego featuring yet another incredible turn-in from the rising songwriter to make way for some fresher faces. Barnett led a small but formidable pack of artists who just missed the cut this week, a list that included Elvis Depressedly, Bad Bad Hats, Iceage (x2), Small Feet, lowercase roses, and Hailey Wocjik. All of those, of course, are worth your time and (as is increasingly the case with live videos) deserve more attention than they’re getting. Watch them now or save them for later but make sure you reel in the five clips below because they all boast something inherently special happening on either side of the lens. So, as always, grab a snack, settle in, adjust your screen, focus up, and Watch This.
1. Bellows (WKNC)
Appearing just after a knockout set at Baby’s All Right, this WKNC session finds Oliver Kalb delivering a beautiful solo session of the songs he writes under the moniker Bellows. Frail, unassuming, and utterly captivating, the four songs contained in the clip wield a certain intangible quality that immediately transforms this particular performance into one of the most arresting WKNC has ever produced. Kalb’s vocal tendencies (soft, wavering) bring to mind Sufjan Stevens but where Stevens so frequently opts for grandeur- even in his more intimate moments- Kalb keeps things pinned to a mundane reality. By the time each song’s been sung, both Kalb and WKNC wind up with a staple deserving of a proud placement in their respective canons.
2. Ego Death – Sunlight/Graveyard (Radio K)
No matter how many times it happens, there are few things that can compare to the exhilarating wave of excitement that hits upon discovering a new band that immediately crosses off a long list of preference check marks. Punk attitude, guitar scuzz, nods to the spikier wave of late 80’s and early 90’s alternative genres, and a strong basement pop sensibility are all big ones for this site and Ego Death makes their way through each with ease in this performance of “Sunlight/Graveyard” for Radio K. Gruff, fearless, and extremely dynamic, this is a band to watch and a song worth hearing. You know what to do.
3. Disco Doom (Exploding In Sound)
Having wrapped an extraordinarily successful extended weekend showcase (keep an eye on this site for more on that soon), Exploding In Sound Records is sitting pretty high at the moment. One of the band’s most fascinating acquisitions, Disco Doom, couldn’t make it stateside for the affair but the label continuously showers them with an excess for love. The reasoning behind that devotion becomes abundantly clear to anyone who has the good fortune of familiarizing themselves with the band- or even to anyone who so much as bothers to click play on this video. All of the hallmarks that create a common thread between the Exploding In Sound roster are evident but the band also brings in more than a few nods to bands like Pavement and Dinosaur Jr, immediately carving out a select niche spot in the process. Don’t sleep on this one.
4. Screaming Females – Normal (Razorcake)
Over the past few years, site favorites Screaming Females have essentially become the patron saints of DIY punk. Throw in the fact that they’re an incomparably fierce live act and it’s probably not much of a surprise they’ve appeared on this series with a relative regularity since it kicked off. While a few of those clips have been absolutely stunning in terms of execution, there’s something that just feels right about a DIY clip of the trio in action. Razorcake– one of the premier spots for DIY coverage- recently caught the band in action at the rightfully celebrated Vince Lombardi High School (or, more commonly, VLHS) ripping through Castle Talk highlight “Normal” with their usual verve and fervor. It’s also easily one of the best live representations of the band to date.
5. Ty Segall (3voor12)
A lot of digital ink’s been spilled over the complete levels of insanity that animate Ty Segall’s live show (especially when it’s with Ty Segall Band, as it is here) and all of it’s correct. I was fortunate enough to catch the band on their Slaughterhouse tour, which was pushed even further and felt more like a gleefully indulgent victory lap after Segall and his cohorts capped off a monstrous year that saw the release of no less than three highly acclaimed full-lengths (Slaughterhouse, Twnis, and the White Fence collaborative effort Hair). Segall’s just about kept pace since then, only offering a reprieve in advance of a titanic double-album- last year’s excellent Manipulator– and the live shows have managed to grow even more deliriously fierce. With such a huge catalog to pull from, Segall and his band (which includes Mikal Cronin, one of today’s finest songwriters), just about any one of his/their sets could be called “discography spanning” and not even touch on half of the releases. This set, artfully shot by 3voor12 at Amsterdam’s famed Paradiso, certainly qualifies. It’s (unsurprisingly) a wild-eyed barn-burner of a set that hits the fifth gear in its closing stretch, once again reaffirming Segall’s status as one of today’s most invigorating live performers. Don’t be surprised if people are still talking about these shows decades down the line.