Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Tyler Ditter

Dusk – The Pain of Loneliness (Goes On and On) b/w Go Easy (7″ Review, Stream, Live Videos)

A solid round of full streams (or expanded samplers) have arrived over the past couple of days, coming from acts as varied as Say Sue Me, Bacchae, Spring Onion, Oceanator, The National Jazz Trio of Scotland, DEWR, Marbled Eye, and Playboy Manbaby. However, just as was the case in the last post, the focus here will shift to a release that’s been out for a bit but only recently became available for full streaming: Dusk’s new 7″ — and their first release for Dirtnap Records — The Pain of Loneliness (Goes On and On) b/w Go Easy.

Made up of a laundry list of some of central Wisconsin’s finest musicians, Dusk’s most unenviable task is likely distinguishing themselves from bassist/vocalist Amos Pitsch‘s main vehicle, Tenement. Making things a little hazier was the decision to tour the US as an expanded version of Tenement, suggesting that the distinction might not matter to them as much as the connection. It’d fit Pitsch’s history, which has long leaned more towards a familial collective than compartmentalized separation.

Still, even in the face of their similarities (and not to mention the fact that virtually every member of Dusk also spends time playing in other projects), Dusk sounds so wildly different from most of the band’s associated acts that they seem to have garnered a sterling reputation solely on their own merit. It’s been interesting to track their progress, with many people surprised to find out which members of the band they’ve seen and heard before, but it’s also been deeply worthwhile.

Dusk’s songs tilt in a more classically country-leaning direction than anything else, each release laced with the requisite amount of attitude to bring their singular charisma through the recordings. They inflect their songs with a little bit of a lot of genres, from Motown to soul to honky tonk to basement punk, creating something that’s simultaneously enigmatic and familiar. There’s a sense the band’s striving to create the sounds that they love and don’t hear enough anymore, re-contextualizing the influences of separate eras by viewing them through a decidedly modern lens.

They’ve tapped into something that’s given their name some weight and it shows again on their latest 7″, The Pain of Loneliness (Goes On and On) b/w Go Easy. Both songs are full of the well-worn charm and conviction of the band’s past releases but ably showcase how comfortably they’ve embraced their identity. The harmonies are as gorgeous and ever and they’re still finding ways to pull new tricks out of their sleeves, with guitarist/vocalist Tyler Ditter taking a turn on lead vocal duties in “Go Easy”.

Both tracks are imbued with the same kind of breezy, wide-open road feel that the band’s successfully touched on in the past. Pitsch lends a trademark bite to the A-side while Ditter anchors “Go Easy” with a honeyed sweetness that serves the band’s sound extremely well. Packaged together, it’s another strong entry in a discography that hasn’t stopped improving since the band’s staggeringly strong demo. Easily one of Wisconsin’s best acts, this kind of release suggests they’re well on their way to being regarded as far more than a local act.

Keep their name and their releases filed away somewhere safe, there’s no telling what they might wind up being worth.

Listen to The Pain of Loneliness (Goes On and On) b/w Go Easy below (and watch a package of videos of the band playing live beneath the stream) and pick it up from Dirtnap here.

The Honorable Mentions of August 2017

A lot has happened over the past month and the time to get this site back on track has nearly arrived. On a quick personal note: Heartbreaking Bravery is now based in Madison, WI and will likely expand on some forms of coverage — and feature selections — in the very near future. Before all of that can happen, it’s imperative that the events of the past month be taken into stock. We’re now arriving at a time where the AotY-caliber material descends like a waterfall and it can be overwhelming. To that end, this post will highlight all of the new songs, music videos, and records that made a sizable impression over the past month. A few more posts will follow but if anyone’s looking for a wide-ranging variety of outstanding new music, it’d be best to bookmark this page and spend hours clicking around. It’ll be worth the time.

RECORDS

The Obleeks, Honeyrude, Thanks for Coming, Duncan Fellows, UV-TV, SOAR, The Anatomy of Frank, Tyler Ditter, Big Fred, Half Gringa, Little Kid, Guggi Data, Dina Maccabee, Small Reactions, Noon, At Zero, Dude Elsberry, Guided By Voices, The Ocean Party, Rick AshtrayFrøkedal, Faith Healer, Winston Hightower, Rose Hotel, Maneka, Ice Balloons, Black Mekon, WALK, Luke Rathborne, Mosquitos, Limp Wrist, The Homeless Gospel Choir, Club Night, Sunrot, Judders, No Museums, DieAlps!, Howlin’ Banana, and Ruination.

MUSIC VIDEOS 

David Ramirez, The Coathangers, VARSITY, Potty Mouth, Cody & Danz, St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Phoebe Bridgers, Black Kids, Los Angeles Police Department, Omni, Melkbelly, Mauno (x2), Curtis Harding, Trupa Trupa, Amy O, Jessica Lea Mayfield, OxenFree (x2), Ritual Talk, Palehound, Small Reactions, Land of Talk, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, People Like You, Hurray For The Riff Raff, CHUCK (x2), Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs, Oak House, Liars, ayo river (x2), Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

Kane Strang, Peach Pit, Manchester Orchestra, Elettrodomestico, Black Lips, Circuit des YeuxSløtfaceFilthy Friends, Hellrazor, Quiet Hollers, Fake Palms, Partner, Folkvang, The By Gods, Sorority Noise, Cloud Nothings, Young Boys, Annie HartDaniele Luppi & Parquet CourtsThe Safes, Small Culture, The Mynabirds, Sparks, Gallery 47, ALA.NI, Poppies, BABY!, Briana Marela, Pile, Hope, Ellen and the Degenerates, Wild Honey, Early Riser, Baby Jesus, Cassels (x2), Midnight Sister, Alex Lahey, Sono Oto.

Frankie Rose, The Homeless Gospel Choir, Shabazz Palaces, Warm Body, doubleVee, Sound of Ceres, Beliefs, Rainbrother, Arrows of Love, WAND, Demure for Sure, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Dead Heavens, DieAlps!, Grey Gersten, Ride, Wolf Parade, Kevin Morby, Prism Tats, Cristobal and the Sea, Becca Mancari, The New Pornographers, Surrounder, Houg, Mount Kimbie, High Bloom, Ian Randall Thornton, Michael Charles Smith, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire, Rookin, Ibeyi, Marlon Williams, Black Beach, At The Drive In, Douse, Anthony, Open Mike Eagle, Your Old Droog, Girl Ray, and Superet.

SONGS

Beachtapes (x2), Partner, The Willowz, Julie & The Wrong Guys, Slothrust, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Dream Wife, Karl Blau, Petite League, Florist (x2), Lean Year, Worst Place, Fits, METZ, Prom Queen, Lina Tullgren, Strawberry Runners, Slaughter Beach, Dog, A. Savage, Covey, Dava Gavanski, Bully, Cherry, floral print, Floating Action, Anti Pony, Soft Fangs, Queen Moo, Strawberry Runners, VV Torso, ORB, Gleemer, Holy Wars, Ephrata, Ben Grigg, Reptaliens, Sam Evian, Looming.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, Holiday Ghosts (x2), OCS, Pardoner, Friendship, Top 8, Strange Relations, Lomelda, The Tin Can Collective, Graham Hunt, Mini Dresses, Versing, Caracara, A Giant Dog, Makthaverskan, Pool Holograph, Jack Cooper, Noah Engel (x2), Tall Friend, Mercy Weiss, Monogold, Sick Feeling, Temple of Angels, Duds, Allah-Las, Mutts, Hand Habits, Silver Torches, Twist, Honeyrude, Tapeworms, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ripped Genes, Liars (x2), Dead Stars (x2), Philip Selway.

Jude Shuma, The Persian Leaps, Rick Ashtray, Small Circle (x2), Twain, Car Seat Headrest, Everyone Is Dirty, Protomartyr, Black Beach, Smoke Rings, John Dylan, Maneka, Club Night, Nassau, Plastic Pinks, David Ramirez (x2), Weird Owl, Cults, Hercules & Love Affair, Charles Howl, The Duke Spirit, BIRDS, Pale Honey, The Dream Syndicate, Cina Polada, Alex Calder, Ruby Fray, Camp Counselor, Linda Perhacs, IDYLLS, The Dig, Nora Jane Struthers and the Party Line, WHIMM, PictureHouse, Duncan Kissinger.

S. Carey, The Dodos, Pinkshinyultrablast, Yumi Zouma, Deerhoof, Son Little, Haunted Summer, Quicksand, The Cribs, Death From Above, Mirah, Walter Etc., Ben Stevenson, L.A. Witch, Trevor Sensor, Francis, Wild Ones, Blank Range (x2), Cloning the Mammoth, King Khan, STACEY, The Darts, The Duke of Surl, Siv Jakobsen, North Lynx, Looms, Sauropod, Plateau Below, Out Lines, Joey Sweeney, Deradoorian, Parentz, Norma, Surf Rock Is Dead, Freedom Baby, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die.

ExSage, The Sighs, The War On Drugs, DDCT, Hudson Bell, The Side Eyes, EMA, Knighstown, Fuzz Queen, LOSANGE, Andi, Loyal Lobos, OMD, Hypnotic Kingdom, Happy Hollows, After Hours Radio, Peter Oren, Andrew Weatherall, A Valley Son, Far Lands, Tree House, Faith Healer, Diamond Thug, DestroyerMÄRVEL, Seasonal Beast, clipping., Cape FrancisGunn-Triscinski Duo, Four Tet, Smash Boom Pow, Acid Tongue, Black Pistol Fire, NVDES, Midnight Sister, Kid Midnight (Charly Bliss Remix), MOURN, and Petal.

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4

Car Seat Headrest

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1

Radioactivity

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

Dusk – Too Sweet (Music Video)

dusk

Capping off tonight’s run of the best music videos of the past few months is Dusk— one of the year’s best new bands– with 2015 highlight “Too Sweet“. Over the course of the past 10 years of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet most of Dusk’s members and share bills with their bands. The most notable of these directly affiliated bands is Tenement, a band I’ve written about on this site in great detail thanks to their key role in my artistic and personal development. As a kid who was just figuring out how to play guitar, I remember stepping foot into The BFG (a DIY punk house venue that the band used to run) and being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of records that the house had amassed, each showing the residents’ eclectic tastes.

I’d later come to find that a bulk of these belonged to Tenement guitarist/vocalist (and Dusk bassist) Amos Pitsch, who had a penchant for old soul and country records from the likes of artists like Sam Cooke and The Louvin Brothers. Those influences would gradually present themselves in subtle ways on Tenement songs (which have been erring closer to the band’s jazz influences) but they’d never featured as prominently as they do with Dusk, who also seem to share a very serious kinship with acts like The Band. After coming out of the gate with “(Do the) Bored Recluse“, the band followed up with “Too Sweet” arriving perfectly at a marriage between classic country and classic soul without ever sounding remotely inauthentic.

That sense of authenticity, the complete rejection of cheap revivalism, is evidenced again in the song’s Finn Bjornerud-directed music video, which simply features the band playing the song in an average living room (like their affiliates, Dusk has a tendency to find the beauty in the everyday rather than try to capture grandeur or bombast). A few striking compositions are spliced in here and there– including an absolutely gorgeous silhouette shot of a soft-lit Ryley Crowe playing pedal steel and a beautiful final group shot cleverly framed by an archway– but more often than not, the clip opts to celebrate the communal act of playing music surrounded by people you love.

Led by Julia Blair’s attention-ensuring crooning, a cavalcade of impressive backing vocal harmonies, and committed performances from all the featured players, “Too Sweet” feels like more than just a music video, it skews closer to a mission statement; celebrate the things you have and strive to elevate the people around you. Defiantly honorable to the end, “Too Sweet” is the most perfect encapsulation of Dusk to date and suggests that the band, thankfully, is only just getting started.

Watch “Too Sweet” below, pick up a copy of the 7″ here, and explore a list of some of the best music videos of the past few months underneath the embed.

Bing & Ruth – Broad Channel
Summer Twins – Ouija
Total Makeover – Self-Destructive
Francis – Follow Me Home
EL VY – No Time to Crank the Sun
Half Japanese – That Is That
James Clark Hangover – Maria
Oscar – Breaking My Phone
Wray – Hypatia
NZCA Lines – Persephone Dreams
Overlake – Travelogue
Rah Rah – Be Your Man
Paul Bergmann – You May Never Know
Pink Lung  – Chinese Watermelons
Laura Stevenson – Jellyfish
Ben Millburn – Don’t You Wait
Big Harp – DIEV
Busdriver – Much
Erica Glyn – The Killing Moon
Neonderthal – The Ride
Jackson Boone – Runaway
Freddie Gibbs – Fuckin’ Up the Count
Lowly – S.W.I.M.
Joey Kneiser – The Wilderness
Tuff Sunshine – Fire in the Hero Building
The Rashita Joneses – White Wave
The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally
Kenrick Lamar – These Walls (ft. Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat)

Dusk – Too Sweet (Stream)

dusk

Even though more than two dozen of the past week’s items have been covered, there’s still a large handful of releases that haven’t been mentioned. Dusk’s B-side to “(Do The) Bored Recluse” led a formidable pack of noteworthy new songs and full streams. In the former caAtegory, there were memorable new numbers from Florist, Tigue, The Coathangers, Pinegrove, Foxing, Tenement, Historian, Monella, and Total Abuse, as well as a respectable Fugazi cover from The Dirty Nil. The full streams were well-represented with an eclectic trio of releases from Weyes Blood, Operator, and Bad Wig. All of those are, as always, worthy of investment- but it was Dusk’s latest that felt most deserving of this post’s headline.

As previously stated– and evidenced by this very post– any time anything Tenement-related surfaces, there’s a decent chance it’s going to get featured. There has been no other band I’ve recommended more times over the course of the past eight years and the band’s many side projects have warranted a great deal of attention; Dusk is no different. A collective of some of the sharpest musical minds in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley area, Dusk magnify Tenement’s relatively contained classic country influence into something effortlessly convincing.

“Too Sweet” sees the vocal lead shifting from Amos Pitsch to Julia Blair, who has no trouble carving out a commanding presence as the song’s central player. Nuanced pedal steel work and an impressive keys figure drive the song’s open-road feel, while Pitsch’s layered backing vocals inject the song with the kind of character that’s come to define his main vehicle. All the while, the rhythm section remains focused, covering up the song’s saccharine sensibilities with a coating of grit; a trick that plays directly into the song’s lyrical content.

It’s a clear-eyed love song that’s covered in bruises and it exhibits an incredible amount of promise for the members’ latest undertaking. “Too Sweet” also cements (Do The) Bored Recluse b/w Too Sweet‘s status as one of this year’s finest 7″ releases. Make sure it’s in as many collections as possible by following the order link below; this isn’t something to be missed.

Listen to “Too Sweet” below and pick up a copy of the 7″ from Forward! Records here.

Dusk – (Do The) Bored Recluse (Stream)

dusk

Chances are, if you’ve read this site on even a casual basis, you’ve read a handful of words about the importance of Tenement. It’s possible anyone digging deeper has caught a few mentions of bands like Technicolor TeethBlack Thumb, or darn it., in addition to the more detailed tracking of Amos Pitsch‘s main vehicle. Now, the prolific multi-instrumentalist is back with a new outfit, made up of people involved with the previously mentioned bands (as well as Holy Sheboygan!). As has been the case with all of Pitsch’s projects, it’s taken an astonishingly short amount of time for Dusk to register as noteworthy.

Even separating the collective pedigrees of its ragtag members from the project, the music they’re making feels vital. “(Do The) Bored Recluse” is a perfect jumping off point for the band and they couldn’t have timed its release more perfectly. Dominated by warm analog tones and a punk-tinged country feel, the song’s a perfect soundtrack for the part of the world that’s transitioning from summer to fall, evoking images of leaf-strewn roads and unkempt patios. In managing to come off as both incredibly driven and surprisingly easygoing, “(Do The) Bored Recluse” strikes another delicate balance and expertly coasts to its conclusion.

A perfect piece of punchy Americana, “(Do The) Bored Recluse” isn’t just a great song; it’s one of the year’s most effective warning shots and a tantalizing signal of some extraordinary things to come. Keep both eyes peeled on this project, you won’t be disappointed.

Listen to “(Do The) Bored Recluse” below and pre-order the 7″ from Forward! Records here. Underneath the embed, explored a handful of other great songs to find release over the past three weeks.

Pom Poms – Betty
Beach Baby – Limousine
Radiator Hospital – Will You Find Me
Sea Ghost – Cowboy Hat
Beach Slang – Anything, Anything (Dramarama)
Saintseneca – Bad Ideas
Oscar – Breaking My Phone
Protomartyr – I Forgive You
Technicolor Teeth – Dying Leaves (Demo)
Wildhoney – Thin Air
Tobias Reif – Demo
DMAs – Lay Down
Lags – War Was Over
Girls Names – I Was You
Paul Bergmann – You May Never Know
Aneurysm – Veronica
Julien Baker – Brittle Boned
Rare Monk – Warning Pulse
Breakfast Muff – I Want To Want To
Big Eater – Lazy Days
Dan Friel – Rattler
Indiago – Been So Long
Gláss – Glass(-accent)
Gun Outfit – Dream All Over
Kirk Knight (ft. Noname Gypsy & Thundercat) – Dead Friends

Tenement – Live at The Acheron – 6/25/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Tenement III

Toys That Kill played an invigorating set at The Acheron on June 23. Two days later, Tenement did the same on a bill where they weren’t even technically the headliner (that distinction went to Warthog, whose set I didn’t manage to catch). Nancy kicked the show off with a costumed, attitude-heavy set. Really, the night seemed to belong to the middle three bands: two of the best acts in hardcore and, of course, Tenement– a band that’s been written about on here with alarming- but entirely justified- regularity.

A night defined by aggression, tension, cathartic release, and genuine surprise (perhaps best summarized by a brief, impromptu cover of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff”) was highlighted by Ivy, Big Zit, and Tenement. Ivy played as ferociously as possible and Big Zit took that manic energy and injected their own brand of frenetic weirdness. Tenement (with Tyler Ditter filling  in on bass for Jesse Ponkamo) delivered a bruising set- that can be seen in full below- that served as a powerful reminder of why Tenement’s one of the best bands currently operating.

A gallery of photos of Ivy, Big Zit, and Tenement can be seen below. A pair of performances from Ivy can be seen beneath the gallery as well as the full Tenement set. Enjoy.


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

Watch This: Vol. 20

In one of the more recent pieces to run on here, I bid adieu to a camera that’s served me well over the years. There were vague allusions to various sets that I’ve been lucky enough to catch with that camera scattered throughout the piece- and while this may be dangerously close to tipping into the self-serving spectrum I do my best to avoid on here (and the fact that the audio quality is far from the best), it only seemed appropriate to showcase a few of the more memorable captures over the years. To that end, this installment of Watch This will likely wind up as the one the more unique entries in the series.  One last look at the past before pushing towards what’s ahead.

No matter what it was, whether it be powerpop legends The Figgs playing Tenement’s living room, Thee Oh Sees taking apart one of Wisconsin’s best venues, Desaparecidos returning to the stage for the first time as an official band again, Okkervil River playing to a criminally sparse outdoors crowd in the middle of an absolutely gorgeous day, The Mountain Goats taking a victory lap, The Antlers entrancing a room of strangers on a stormy nightMutts stripping way back for a radio performance, or finding myself in a bar, restaurant, or basement with the likes of Big Eyes, Technicolor Teeth, The Cost of Living, Buffalo Moon, Sycamore Smith & the Gray Beast, The Midwestern Charm, Ramma LammaThe Sleepwalkers, Wett Nurse (shrouded in an impossible amount of fog, at that), Heavycritters – and yes, Perfect Pussy (along with a handful of others)- filming these has always been something that’s been extraordinarily gratifying.

It’s never to fulfill a sense of pride, it’s never for bragging rights, it’s always, in each and every instance, to support an artist that I love or that deserves as much support as they can possibly get. Established or not, this is my way of giving thanks and hopefully extending their music out to other places that may never have heard them otherwise. This holds true for my writing on Heartbreaking Bravery as well. One of the most important things anyone can do is support the art they believe in and this place will always live by that law. So, watch this or don’t, but it’ll always be here as both a reminder of some very personal memories and a showcase for some bands who deserved more attention than they ever received. Sit back, support local music, support local music, support local music, support local music (SERIOUSLY, SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC), and Watch This.

1. Tenement – Morning Mouth (Live at the Afterdark)

This video will be the only one that actually predates the Canon PowerShot I’d been using to shoot these videos over the past several years (this set was shot on a low-end handheld Sony camcorder), it’s included because it serves as a beginning for a myriad of things: my introduction to Tenement (who would subsequently open up an entire world of music to me through their kindness), the beginnings of when I became serious about film, and the start of when I became serious about booking shows. Their five-song set, to a crowd of people they invited up onto a small stage to make them feel more at home, blew my mind and has stuck with me for approximately six years now. My opinion on this band hasn’t changed as I’ve filmed set after set after set, year in and year out- they’re one of the best, if not the absolute best, band currently going. I’ll forever be grateful to them for a number of reasons and delivering this set will always be one of them.

2. Good Grief – Holy Smokes! (Live in Stevens Point, WI)

There isn’t always a lot of options for live music in the middle of nowhere but at the height of Good Grief’s run, there were a few spells where there seemed to be an incredible show happening every other week. I attended every single one I possibly could, not just because of an undying love for live music and the DIY community but because Good Grief had tapped into something genuinely special during their time as a band. It was evidenced by the mass basement singalongs, by Mutts coming all the way from Chicago to play an unforgettable cover of a song from their final record, by the people who had little to no connection with the band who showed up at nearly every show- right up through their final marathon set at K Bueno (this is a band that will likely always have the distinction of being the only one I ever see tearing things up inside of a Shopko that was giving away free hot dogs, chips, and soda)- with a smile on their face and a beer in their hands, and by the fact that more times than not, the first time I would hear a song played for the first time, I would get chills (“Lab Rats” is still one of the most incredible pieces of music I’ve ever heard and a lock as an entry for my 50 Favorite Songs of All Time list). “Holy Smokes!” was never officially recorded, as far as I know this is the only known recording of it, which is why it takes this spot on the list- a look at some incredible music, and some incredible musicians, that too much of the world missed out on.

3. Midnight Reruns – Too Tall (Live at Frank’s Power Plant)

Like Tenement before them, this was the first time I saw Midnight Reruns (coincidentally, if anyone asks me who I think the best bands in the state are, those are usually the first two names out of my mouth) and even just a few minutes into the first song, it was apparent it’d be far from the last. They tore that place to shreds and threw out a fiery Wreckless Eric cover in the middle of an all-out blitz of a set that showcased Graham Hunt’s beyond-his-years songwriting ability and the band’s undeniable musicianship. They’ve (somehow) only steadily improved since then and have built an impressive expanding fanbase including members of The Replacements, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, ThirdCoastDigestBrooklynVegan, and Milwaukee Record, who just ranked their debut s/t (still less than half a year old) as the 16th best record to come out of Milwaukee since 2010. Word on the street is the material they’re currently working on blows even that out of the water. Keep both eyes out and both ears open for this one.

4. Sleeping in the Aviary – So Lonely (Live in Stevens Point, WI)

Apart from Good Grief, Used KidsThe Goodnight Loving, and Hot New Mexicans (especially The Goodnight Loving and Hot New Mexicans), there are few bands that can come even remotely close to Sleeping in the Aviary as far as the “bands I wish would reunite” conversation goes. The only places I ever saw Sleeping in the Aviary play, curiously enough considering their level of name recognition, were basements (with one surprisingly touching exception being the vinyl LP release party for Expensive Vomit In A Cheap Hotel at the High Noon Saloon, thrown five years after the records initial release) . In one way or another, I was a part of each and every one of those shows and they wound up being a few of the most memorable nights of my life thanks to both the people around me and Sleeping in the Aviary themselves. Ever the manic pranksters, they would usually come armed with cardboard cutouts, bubble machines, various props, or adult-themed piñatas. They’d also always play with a reckless abandon and unparalleled fierceness while still clinging onto a carefree nature and clearly having the time of their lives doing it. Kyle Sobczak was a late addition to the group but provided them with a few of their most memorable songs in their final stretch. “So Lonely” is one of them- and, as mentioned before, being in the middle of nowhere means that when a basement show happens with a band of Sleeping in the Aviary’s caliber comes to play, things tend to go off the rails pretty quickly. No one has seen the regular lead personality, Elliott Kozel, since he disappeared into that crowd… (entirely untrue as clearly evidenced in the video- but still, a great myth to try to start).

5. Charley & the Cynics – St. Christopher (Live at the Crunchy Frog)

Writing an In Memoriam piece for Charlotte was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I debated whether or not to include this as the fifth slot or keep it stored away due to its extremely personal nature but I realized that the few videos I did manage to capture of Charley & the Cynics during her time here had a profound effect on why I kept filming and knew it had to occupy this spot. After her untimely passing it was next to impossible to bring myself to watch the videos of her that I’d previously put up out of both respect and unfailing admiration. It’s not like I knew Charlotte all that well; I won’t pretend I did and I won’t glamorize her or try to turn her into some flawless saintly figure. I did know her well enough, though- well enough to consider her a friend and well enough to know that she was a generally positive person who always seemed to treat others with both care and affection, which is something I try to extend to everyone that gets coverage on this site. After enough time had passed, I could watch these videos without needing to spend a night drinking afterwards and I realized that they’re the crux of why I film to begin with: to celebrate the people and music I love while they’re around. Ever since the full extent of that realization hit me, these videos of Charlotte have factored into every time I’ve plugged in a camera charger, every time I’ve replaced an SD card, every time I’ve spent hours making sure an upload doesn’t crash, every time I’ve pointed a lens at a stage, she has been there as a reminder to capture the things that are important while you still can. That lesson is something I’ve carried with me every day and something that’s been a part of the majority of my decisions within music journalism. For that and for all the times I’ve been reminded of that, I’m thankful- and I keep filming.