Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Tom Brosseau

Watch This: Vol. 149

The past week was teeming with outstanding live videos. Japanese Breakfast, Margaret Glaspy, Tacocat, Dolfish, The Conquerors, Liz Cooper & The Stampede, Nassau, Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam (x2), Computer Magic, Alex Izenberg, The Lemon Twigs, Runaway Brother, Julia Jacklin, Jay Smart, Full Body, Conor Oberst, Ira Wolf, The Blank Tapes, Donovan Wolfington, The Malady of Sevendials, Sammus, Tom Brosseau, Casper Skulls, Jordie Lane & the Sleepers, King Charles, Diet Cig, Gallery 47, Pat Otto, Lilian, Kyle Craft, and Thirdstory all offered up incredible entries and, in the process, pointed to the overwhelming strength of the five clips featured below. New faces and old favorites abound in full sessions, late night triumphs, and single song performances. So, as always, sit up, lean in, focus, adjust the settings, block out any distractions, and Watch This.

1. Real Life Buildings (WKNC)

A New York institution for some years now, Real Life Buildings’ members have been extremely active in the DIY punk scene and accumulated an impressive pedigree. It’s easy to forget that fact when they play, though, as their music sounds so complete. Here, the project takes to the WKNC studios and delivers an inspired set of slightly askew basement pop. It’s a series of thrilling moments from a band that more than deserves their continuously growing reputation as one of the state’s finest acts.

2. Yohuna – Apart (Radio K)

In Patientness, the Johanne Swanson-led Yohuna delivered one of the year’s most quietly compelling releases. Operating as a trio for the live shows, Yohuna recently stopped by the Radio K studios and offered up a gripping take on “Apart”, one of the many highlights from Patientness. Calm, collected, and enticing, it’s a perfect example of the project’s innate level of talent.

3, Porches – Car (KEXP)

When Watch This was in its earliest stages, Porches. would make infrequent appearances that mostly came courtesy of fan-shot footage of solo performances. In that time, the project’s reach has considerably widened, the period at the end of the name’s been all but abandoned, and it’s successfully transitioned into a full band that boasts an incredible cast of musicians. Porches hit a career highlight with “Car” and they recently gifted KEXP with this arresting run through the song. Good luck escaping the vice grip of that miraculous hook.

4. Julia Jacklin – Pool Party (The Current)

The ascendant Julia Jacklin’s been making quite a splash lately, drawing comparisons to the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, and Leonard Cohen. Just a few seconds into this gorgeous run through “Pool Party” and it’s abundantly clear that Jacklin’s tapped into that intangible element that can propel talented people to new levels of fame. A beautiful performance of a gorgeous song, it’s hard not to just leave the clip on repeat.

5. Mitski – Your Best American Girl (Colbert)

Anytime anyone from the DIY circuit starts succeeding on a grander level, it’s a heartening development, especially in the cases of artists that stay true to their convictions. Watching Mitski sit in with Stephen Colbert’s house band and lead them through selections from a discography that’s been well-covered here in the past served as a moment of triumph. The cherry on top? A full, heartfelt rendition of “Your Best American Girl” — one of 2016’s best songs — with the house band urging the song forward. All told, it was a well-earned, inspiring moment from an artist whose work deserves to be celebrated.

Tony Molina – See Me Fall (Stream)

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Over the past few days Fraternal Twin, Slothrust, Russian Tsarlag, Pamphleteers, Bottle Rocket, Francie Moon, Tobias Jesso Jr., Leo, Drive-By Truckers, The Lampshades, Votaries, Earwig, Erica Freas, and Resina have all been responsible for outstanding new tracks. Music videos from Gurr, Hazel English, Culture Abuse, Kal Marks, The Regrettes, The Britanys, Damaged Bug, Whitney, and Beekeepers all held up to the excessively high standard set up by the new numbers. Topping everything off were exceptional full streams that came courtesy of Johanna Warren, Cymbals Eat GuitarsFond Han, Tapehead, and Tom Brosseau.

As is typically the case, every single one of those entries above is worth exploring in greater detail and the fact that they’re not featured at length in this space shouldn’t diminish their impact. For this post’s featured title, the attention turns back to an old favorite: Tony Molina. Ever since turning in some spectacular work with Ovens, the project that earned Molina an early dose of notoriety and acclaim, the songwriter’s been on a hot streak.

2014’s Dissed & Dismissed, the last record to be released under Molina’s name, was an exhilarating collection of micro-punk numbers that were infused with expansive ideas and an earnestness that isn’t always present in the genre. Now, Molina’s returning with a new, eight-song 7″ release entitled Confront the Truth and is teasing the record with “See Me Fall”.

Stripping way back, “See Me Fall” occupies the space of Molina’s most plaintive offerings, a straightforward acoustic number anchored by a familiar sense of trepidation and longing. There’s still a classically-influenced solo to close the proceedings out — a Molina staple — but it’s more subdued than scintillating, demonstrating Molina’s increasingly acute sense of atmospherics.

While it may not be the celebrated songwriter’s most explosive track, “See Me Fall” still manages to become an immediate standout in an impressive discography. In just over a minute, Molina manages to evoke a quiet despair that elevates “See Me Fall” from being somewhat of a curiosity to being genuinely memorable. Vocals, acoustic guitar, and an abbreviated running time is an economic setup but, like so many times before, Molina turns a small scale into something grandiose. It’s a potent reminder of Molina’s considerable talent and a song that should be remembered fondly several years down the line.

Listen to “See Me Fall” below and pre-order Confront the Truth from Slumberland here.

Mannequin Pussy – Romantic (Stream)

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There were outstanding music videos from Potty Mouth (which very nearly claimed this post’s feature spot), Jeff Rosenstock, WL, Haley Bonar, No Nets, T-Rextasy, Public Access TV, Tom Brosseau, NOTHING, Cass McCombs, Candy, Sargent, Maxwell Drummey, This Is The Kit, and Jonny Fritz to emerge over the past 48 hours. Joining those clips were quality full streams that came courtesy of Hiding Place, Mozes and the Firstborn, Slow Mass, Dust From 1000 Yrs, Wovenhand, BLKKATHY, and Whiskey Myers. All of them deserve all of the attention that they’ll inevitably receive but today’s featured spot falls to an old site favorite: Mannequin Pussy.

Following some seriously impressive turns at the start of their career, Mannequin Pussy have hit an astonishing career high with “Romantic”. Opening with a surge of unexpected momentum amid a wall-of-sound shoegaze-friendly opening figure that seems intent on decimating in its path, the band suddenly veers back into a section that’s more delicate than anything in their discography (so far, at least). What follows is a back-and-forth battering ram of dynamic dichotomies in both the music and the narrative.

“I get along with everyone I meet, I’m so sweet” is the unassuming opening line of “Romantic”, which sets an uncertain tone that quickly fixates on much darker undertones. There’s a desperate, pleading moment before the chorus that brings the dramatic stakes of the narrative to light and once the intentions of the band’s statements become clear, the music gains a staggering amount of force. While the narrative hits upon some difficult subject matter, the emotive backdrop of the vocal delivery and instrumental figures never lose themselves to easy trappings. It’s a deeply impressive work from a young basement punk band that’s been finding exciting ways to surprise their audience. If “Romantic” is any indication, that audience should be getting a whole lot bigger in the very near future.

Listen to “Romantic” below and pre-order the record here.

Mercury Girls – Holly (Stream)

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A very full week of new material was essentially topped off over the past few days with excellent new songs from Fond Han (who nearly claimed this post’s featured spot), Bad Sports, Black Marble, TwistCarl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, JEFF The BrotherhoodTennis, Swimsuit AdditionHamilton Leithauser + Rostam, His ClancynessDuchess Says, benjamin783, Tom Brosseau, and Happy Place. There were also great music videos that were offered up by the likes of Trust Fund, Hazel English, Izzy True, Attic AbasementVomitfaceBeach Slang, Katie Dey, Jude Shuma, and, jordaan mason.  While the full streams weren’t as plentiful as they were at the start of the week dozer, Porridge RadioDrowse, Skux, Creative Adult, and Cay Is Okay managed to end the category on a series of strong notes.

At the end of 2015, Mercury Girls found themselves poised at the top of this site’s odds and ends list, thanks to their scintillating demo and live tracks compilation. Since then, they’ve been on a tear, readying their forthcoming full-length and finding time to participate in a four-way split and release an extraordinary 7″ in the process. Earlier on in the week, the band offered a glimpse at that forthcoming four-way split (with The Spook School, Wildhoney, and Tigercats rounding out the other three slots) by way of “Holly”, another sweeping gem of a song that masterfully blends the best of post-punk and powerpop into something that manages to become bittersweet and triumphant simultaneously.

“Holly” also sees the band’s knack for playing off each other increasing to a velocity that’s practically unmatched, generating the kind of momentum that will cause enough impact to knock out just about anybody. Whether it’s the surging guitars, the soaring vocals, the punchy rhythm section, or the band’s astonishing knack for composition, the band continues to seem mistake-free, casually igniting a fire that seems like it could burn forever. Mercury Girls, now several small releases into their career, have yet to release a track that feels anything less than miraculous.

In roughly three minutes, the band conjure up a winsome atmosphere, flawlessly navigate some galvanizing dynamic shifts, and offer up the kind of cohesive, grand-scale artistry that only the best bands ever manage to achieve. With “Holly”, Mercury Girls continue their breathless pursuit of perfection and — importantly — are showing no signs of diminishing returns (which is a fate that relentlessly plagues their niche genre). Inspired, breathtaking, and warm enough to be its own blanket, “Holly” has the capacity to inspire people to start their own bands. When all’s said and done, no compliment can be higher than that one.

Listen to “Holly” below and pre-order Continental Drift here.

Birth (Defects) – Demands (Stream)

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In just under two weeks a small army of notable songs have been unveiled, including new titles from acts like Cowtown, The Pills, The Amazing, Trust Punks, Descendents, Tempesst, Ultimate Painting, Cave Curse, Trevor Sensor, Katie Burden, Tom Brosseau, Opposite Sex, True Neutral Crew, Crocodiles, Grieving, Henry Chadwick, Shapes In Calgary, Goblin Cock, and Saints Patience. That run of songs all but closes out the list of the finest tracks to cross this site’s path over the interim, with one notable exception: Birth (Defect)’s near-feral “Demands”.

A brief talk with Birth (Defects)’s vocalist (as well as social activist, Is This Venue Accessible mastermind, Accidental Guest head, and all-around great human) Sean Gray revealed that “Demands” was the first song the band ever wrote. Gray still considers it the band’s finest offering and, with this new version recorded by Perfect Pussy‘s Shaun Sutkus and rounded out by the band’s recently-expanded lineup, it’s not difficult to see why that’s the case.

Like nearly all great hardcore bands of any breed, Birth (Defects) draw considerable power from frustration and that frustration has never manifested more clearly than in the staccato stabbings of “Demands”, which complements the band’s most recent offering — the incendiary “Hanshin“, which will be the track’s flip-side on the forthcoming 7” — to perfection.

Through aggressive, chaotic caterwauling, Birth (Defects) carve out a home in a dark corner and sink their heels in deep, recoiling while simultaneously positioning themselves for attack. Feedback runs through everything, providing an air of discordance that drives up a sense of tension that never evaporates and lingers on after the final snare blast. Somehow, as raw and primordial as it seems on the surface, “Demands” can’t help but feel weirdly triumphant. It’s the sound of a band who have embraced their voice and are intent on projecting it through a row of sharpened teeth. The end result? A third-degree bite mark that deserves to be worn like a badge of honor.

Listen to “Demands” below and pre-order the 7″ from Reptilian here.