Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Twerps

Watch This: Vol. 71

To say “it’s been a week” would be putting it mildly. The statement held especially true for the incredible live footage that has been consistently published throughout the week’s duration. In the preceding installment of this series, it was stated that there could have easily been two features instead of one. This week that number increases to three. Every single day, a masterful new video was ushered out into the world. A large handful of those were impeccably produced; gorgeous in vision and stunning in terms of sound, boasting a memorable performance all the while. Lady Lamb, Speedy Ortiz, Jeff Rosenstock, Two Gallants, Mikal Cronin, T. Hardy Morris & the Hardknocks, Twerps, Vijay Iyer Trio, The Technicolors, and Surfer Blood all had live clips introduced that earned their endless replay value. Nearly every single one of those names has been mentioned on this site before (albeit some for entirely different projects) and that trend holds steady for the five clips that are featured below.  So, as always, turn the volume up, shut out all of your looming distractions, lean in, and Watch This.

1. DOE (BreakThruRadio)

Every time DOE’s released something, it’s caught my ear. It’s been immensely satisfying to watch their recognition slowly expand as time progressed. Of course, part of the reasoning behind that growth may be their own self-improvement. Their recent session for BreakThruRadio further illustrates that this band’s primed for a breakout. While the featured song, the hard-charging “Redo/Improve”, is a monstrously catchy bit of punk-inflected basement pop, one of the most welcoming elements of this clip is the band’s winsome affability in the interview segment. Of course, that’s almost immediately forgotten once it splinters off into a brief live clip of the latter two songs included in the clip because DOE’s the kind of band that demands attention when they’re in live mode. Just hit play and start waiting for their name to slowly climb the festival bill font-scale ladder.

2. Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion (Fitz Ross)

86’d in ’03” was one of this sites favorite songs from last year, as reflected in one of the stranger best of lists. Bent Shapes could have been content to coast on that release for a while but the band’s work ethic ensures that they’ll likely be working until they can’t push themselves any further (hell, even that not might be enough). Impressively, there’s never a decline in quality; they’re writing some of the finest punk-tinged powerpop of today. “New Starts In Old Dominion” is clear evidence that the band’s talents extend past their recorded output and into what they’re able to accomplish live. When a party is this good, it’s not worth being late.

3. Torres – Cowboy Guilt (Public Radio International)

Few records have managed to grip me as strongly as Torres’ Sprinter. Every song on the record contains subtle melody hooks that have the ability to become inescapable over time. “Cowboy Guilt” is a perfect example of this particular dynamic. The guitar riffs, the vocal melody, and the subtle synth work all slowly expand their claws and lodge their way into a territory reserved for things that are next to impossible to forget. None of that shifts in the live setting, even though a few of the arrangements do differ slightly from the studio version. The contrast is part of what makes this particular clip feel so alive; humanity is impossible to fake.

4. Will Butler – What I Want (WFUV)

Policy is one of 2015’s most curios releases and the oddities that made it so compelling are also likely the reason it didn’t find much of an audience. Teeming with droll humor, impressive composition skills, and a surprising amount of pathos, “What I Want” is an incredibly intimate look at the way Butler’s songs operate. Confined to the WFUV studio with only a piano at his disposal, Butler is cast in the intimidating glare of a sole spotlight. His response? Delivering an unlikely, powerful performance that reaffirms the flashes of talent he consistently provides in his main vehicle (you know the one). It’s genuinely stunning.

5. Field Mouse – A Place You Return To In A Dream (Radio K)

Field Mouse have been consistently churning out impressive post-punk for a few years now and seem to only get stronger as they go- the aim of every band with honorable convictions. They recently stopped in the Radio K studios to turn in a blistering take of “A Place You Return To In A Dream”, which leans heavily on the band’s shoegaze influences without eschewing any of their deceptively intuitive pop sensibilities. Surging guitars, soft backing vocals, and committed performances make sure this clip reaches exhilarating levels.

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 2

static

Just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow, there will be a video mixtape compiling some of the most electrifying live performance clips of this past year in an effort to breathe some much-needed life back into the Watch This series that was once a regular staple. In the absolute blur that has been the past four months, this site held onto every scrap of notable material that came swinging through the winter breezes, even if they weren’t always posted about immediately. Watch This once stood as this place’s pulse, a heartbeat that directly emphasized a too-frequently overlooked part of musical culture: stunning live clips. Each week, five from that week would be compiled, written about, and strongly admired. Winsome performances and genuinely stunning a/v are the regular driving forces behind some of the very best the series has ever had to offer- and several of the 25 clips presented here (all selected because they represent the very best of what 2015’s had to offer) certainly fit that mold. Since that’s about as strong of a lead-in as I can manage, I’ll go ahead and leave off- once again- with the tag: sit back, turn the volume up, zero in, and Watch This.

1. Will Butler – Take My Side (Late Show with David Letterman)
2. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sound Opinions)
3. Tenement – Cage That Keeps You In (Don Giovanni Records)
4. Light FM – Pointless (3FM)
5. Parquet Courts – Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth (Coachella)
6. Twerps – Simple Feelings (Pitchfork)
7. NE-HI – Sunbleed (Radio K)
8. Torres – Sprinter (WNYC)
9. Nude Beach (KEXP)
10. Ride – Seagull (KCRW)
11. Unlikely Friends – Wasted It & Sunken Eyes (KEXP)
12. Cherry Glazerr – Had Ten Dollaz (KEXP)
13. Glen Hansard – Being In Love (Late Show with David Letterman)
14. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me (KEXP)
15. The Staves – Black & White + Teeth White (La Blogotheque)
16. Saintseneca – Fed Up With Hunger (Exclaim)
17. Kevin Morby – All My Life (Bandwith.fm)
18. Laura Marling – Walk Alone (NPR)
19. Avers – Harvest (Bandwith.fm)
20. Sand Creeps – No Idea Laughter (Radio K)
21. Creepoid (unARTigNYC)
22. Bully – I Remember (Pitchfork)
23. Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters (KCRW)
24. Kevin Devine – Go Haunt Someone Else (Little Elephant)
25. Courtney Barnett (NPR)

Sheer Mag – Button Up (Stream)

sm

Continuing on in the quest to get the site caught up on all the things that caught my attention in 2015 affords some unique opportunities. One of them is the chance to celebrate a few of the truly great items that surfaced over the course of this year’s first three months. By the end of tonight, all of those will be featured in some form- be it a list inclusion, a mix, or some words. In this post, there won’t be a lot of material from the past two weeks (with the notable exception of a jaunty tune from The Splits and an absolute stunner of a track from one-time site contributor Johanna Warren) but it should still serve as a healthy reminder of 2015’s formidable early strengths. One of those songs, Sheer Mag’s “Button Up” will be receiving the greatest amount of focus. Below that, as has been custom, are 75 outstanding songs from this year’s first quarter. Now, back to this post’s main draw.

Sheer Mag have been picking up a great amount of notoriety in important circles since the release of their 7″ from last year, which was strong enough to land on the site’s Best 7″ Records of 2014 list. “Button Up”, the band’s first new material since that EP, is a refinement of everything that’s made Sheer Mag so exciting from the beginning. “Button Up” retains the band’s appealing lo-fi punch but their pop sensibilities are sharper than ever, rendering “Button Up” an unlikely heavyweight. Impossibly crunchy guitars, powerful vocals, and a sense of joy permeate throughout this track and provide Sheer Mag with a valid claim as one of the most exciting upcoming bands on the market. If the rest of their upcoming 7″ can hit similar peaks, it’s not unlikely that they’ll be appearing on quite a few December lists (ours included).

Listen to “Button Up” below and keep an eye on this site for more coverage surrounding the band’s upcoming release. Beneath the embed are 75 outstanding songs from 2015’s opening stretch.

The Cribs – I See Your Pictures Every Day
Football, etc. – Open
Princess – Black Window
Novella – Land Gone
Eric Chenaux – Skullsplitter
Pinkshinyultrablast – Land’s End
Vagaband – Gabrielle
HOLY – Demon’s Hand
Tall Tales and the Silver Lining – This Time Around
Divers – Breathless
Michael Stec – Party Dress
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Philadelphia Story
Cyberbully Mom Club – Anabelle (Love Soft)
Passenger Peru – Break My Neck
The Splits – I Know
Alice – Nightmare
Lightning Bolt – The Metal East
Guantanamo Baywatch – Too Late
Maribou State – Rituals
Dastardly – The Hollow
Aero Flynn – Twist
The Minus 5 – The History You Hate
Braids – Miniskirt
Faith Healer – Universe
Karen Meat & the Computer – If I Were Yours
Chris Weisman – Backpack People
Jeff Rosenstock – You, In Weird Cities
The Dodos – Retriever
Busses – Wizard of the Eye
Obnox – Cynthia Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Twerps – I Don’t Mind
Sonny & the Sunsets – Happy Carrot Health Food Store
The Muscadettes – Pearl and Oyster
Waxahatchee – Air
Matthew E. White – Rock N’ Roll Is Cold
Nic Hessler – Hearts, Repeating
Grooms – Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
Pops Staples – Somebody Was Watching
Moon King – Roswell
Caught On Tape – Full Bleed
Oscar – Daffodil Days
EULA – Noose
Inventions – Springworlds
Dirty Dishes – Guilty
Johanna Warren – True Colors
Happyness – Don’t Know Why (Norah Jones)
JEFF The Brotherhood – Coat Check Girl
Johnny Marr – Struck
Leapling – N.E.R.V.E.
The Juliana Hatfield Three – Ordinary Guy
Tyler Ditter – Echo Off the World
Fruit Bomb – Normcore Girlfriend
Dorthia Cottrell – Kneeler
In Tall Buildings – Unmistakable
Kind of Like Spitting – Stress Cadet
Fort Lean – I Don’t Mind
Native Lights – Black Wall Street
Wire – Joust & Jostle
Marika Hackman – Monday Afternoon
Football, etc. – Sunday
Sammy Kay – Highs and Lows
Wolf Solent – Hold On
Solvey – Solvey
All Boy/All Girl – Glitters
Threading – Ember
Lucern Raze – Someone Like You
Pelican Movement – Light Like Before
Carmen Villain – Quietly
Ghastly Menace – Real Life
Irontom – In the Day and the Dark
Sun Hotel – After Peggy Tells Her Parents They Never Had Any Trouble In Their Relationship
Wand – Self Hypnosis in 3 Days
Quarterbacks – Night Changes (One Direction cover)
Lost Boy ? – Love You Only
Broken Water – High-Lo

First Quarter Clips, Pt. 1 (Video Mixtape)

static

As was laid out in yesterday’s mixtape, for the next few days this site will be in strict catch-up mode. Mixtapes of some of the best material to emerge in the first three months of 2015 will be running until everything’s brought up to the present-day release cycle. A few items here and there will be granted individual focus pieces but don’t let that distract from the importance of the songs and clips in all of the past and forthcoming lists (as well as the one on display here). It’s been a strong year for music videos across several genres, which is something this package of clips is intended to emphasize. From site favorites Mumblr‘s stroke of brilliance in incorporating actual live footage from their previous shows into “Got It” to the Bob’s Burgers tribute to Sleater-Kinney to the searing, soulful “Keep In Mind (Asshole)”, there’s a lot here to admire. Dive in below and explore a few of this year’s richest treasures.

COLLECTION I

1. Mumblr – Got It
2. Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters
3. Heaters – Levitate Thigh
4. Menace Beach – Tastes Like Medicine
5. California X – Hadley, MA
6. Protomartyr – Want Remover
7. Destruction Unit – Final Flight
8. MOURN – Your Brain Is Made of Candy
9. Young Guv – Crushing Sensation
10. Cyberbully Mom Club – Bobby Pins
11. King Tuff – Headbanger
12. Sleater-Kinney – A New Wave
13. Cayetana – Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving
14. Ex Hex – Don’t Wanna Lose
15. Franky Flowers – Fell In Love
16. Gal Pals – Do You Ever?
17. Celestial Shore – Weekenders
18. Twerps – Stranger
19. Kuroma – Simon’s in the Jungle
20. Kool Stuff Katie – Cars
21. Fear of Men – America
22. This is the Kit – Bashed Out
23. Tori Vasquez – Keep In Mind (Asshole)
24. Only Real – Can’t Get Happy
25. The Dodos – Competition

Laughing Fingers – Crutches (Stream)

laughfing

As previously mentioned, the site’s been dealing with some lingering technical issues so its been difficult to get in the regularly-scheduled posts. Last week saw nothing but a premiere and a few series features go up- nothing else. To make up for all of that missed time, tonight’s posts will be dedicated to last week’s best material in the three major categories. Music videos have been accounted for and now it’s onto the single songs. In keeping with the normal routine, there was an abundance of single streams so this will be the first of two posts dedicated to their coverage. A full stream post will follow and then this week’s coverage will be brought up to speed. Before all of that happens, there are a lot of songs to discuss- starting now.

Darlings showed they could balance their power with a staggering amount of casual finesse in the basement pop stopmper “I Love You Too“, Krill offered up an extremely tantalizing preview of their forthcoming album with the ragged “Torturer“, and The Golden Dregs strutted out some psych-pop via the subtly sun-splashed (and folk-inflected) “The Role of A Lifetime”. Reservoir showed an abundance of promise with the slow-building “Waves Erase“, Leggy continued a raucous streak with the decidedly punk “Grrrls Like Us“, Leapling unveiled the deeply intriguing “Silent Stone” from their upcoming Vacant Page LP, Twerps reassured everyone their Merge signing was no mistake via the shimmering “Shoulders“,  and Snow Ghosts tapped into something transcendental and impossibly compelling with their hypnotically brooding single, “Bowline“.

It’s another dark brooder that earned this post’s feature spot, though; Laughing Fingers’ “Crutches”. Restless and bleak, “Crutches” emphasizes the singular talents of Chris Broom and Ian Taggart (the duo who make up Laughing Fingers) in the best ways possible. Heavy on atmosphere without skimping on melody or structure, Laughing Fingers created something that feels akin to the smoke that hovers over a battlefield. It boasts a relentlessly cynical worldview that accepts everything is cyclical in lyric copy, it’s the uncertainty of the music that pushes the song to a grandiose disquiet. At times, it’s almost as if “Crutches” moves in slow motion, allowing everything in the outside world to unfurl or unwind as it grapples with an intense internal battle. Everything ends when it turns to chaotic to contain; even the staccato stabs can’t hide the fact that everything’s about to fall completely apart, providing an extremely disconcerting end-cap to the song’s veiled intensity. In short: Laughing Fingers are a band who aren’t afraid to make something like “Crutches”- and “Crutches” is the kind of song that deserves to be dissected. Don’t be surprised if this song (or Two EP‘s) burrows itself out a permanent place in a lot of people’s collections.

Listen  to “Crutches” below and order Two EP‘s from Death Rehearsal here.

Wyatt Blair – Girls! (Stream)

wyatt blair

During the brief hiatus that this site recently took (more will be revealed for the reasons behind that at a later date) there was a lot of incredible music that got put out into the world. Merge offered up a stream of Underlay, the upcoming EP from Twerps, Midwives and Foreign Lawns both hosted streams of their just-released split cassette via their respective bandcamps, The Dirty Nil rounded out the songs on their 7″ with the typically aggressive (and typically excellent) “Guided by Vices“, and a host of other great new songs were made available from the likes of The Lemons, Run The Jewels, S, Tyrannosaurus Dead, CassavetesThe Unicorns, King Tuff, and Only Real.

Once again, though, the release grabbing a feature spot here is one that’s connected to Burger Records, whose winning streak is threatening to surpass its already absurd white-hot peak. Not only does Wyatt Blair’s Banana Cream Dream deserve this spot thanks to the strength of “Girls!”- it also deserves it because it’s another release that’s for a very good cause. Every copy that’s sold of Banana Cream Dream will help raise money for the “My Friends Place” charity, which helps homeless children in Los Angeles secure food and shelter.

Genuinely helpful effects aside, “Girls!” is a song as outrageously fun as Banana Cream Dream‘s artwork (pictured above), taking off at a sprint and exuding a sense of joy that keeps it vital. It’s outsider basement pop at its finest and has the potential to be one of Burger Records’ more definitive songs. Palm-mutes, exuberant melodies, and an unstoppable momentum keep the listeners attention and it plays with vocal samples to great effect. All in all, “Girls!” is a song as good as the cause that this release is endorsing, which means it deserves to be heard thousands of times over.

Listen to “Girls!” below and help out an important charity by picking up a copy of Banana Cream Dream here.