Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Vetiver

The Best Songs of Q3 (2019)

Between June and August, an avalanche of great songs came crashing down into the world. From genuine song of the year contenders (Big Thief‘s “Not” chief among them) to bands striking gold multiple times (Lauran Hibberd, Pom Pom Squad, Kal Marks) there was a lot to consume. Here’s a playlist of the best of best, presented with no extra fanfare. All of these selections are bold enough to stand on their own.

Watch This: Vol. 136

The past week saw a lot of great live videos swimming to the shore from the depths of nowhere. There were outstanding featured performances in those clips from Adir L.C., The Curls, Lydia Loveless, Courtney Barnett, Ultimate Painting, Dogbreth, Los Blenders, Kinda Rad Kinda Sad, Summer Twins, Rich Girls, Slingshot Dakota, The Staves, Caveman, Eric Bachmann, Brendan Canning, Lisa Prank, Vetiver, Paridisia, Porches, Mimes of Wine, SALES, Typesetter, and Julien Baker. For the 136th installment of this series, the attention turns to a handful of folk-influenced artists who are either making their mark or reaping what they’ve sown throughout their careers. So, as always, sit back, adjust the settings, take a breath, and Watch This.

1. Margaret Glaspy (OpenAir)

Margaret Glaspy‘s had a deeply impressive 2016. The young songwriter released a breakthrough record, continuously boasts one of the better live shows on the market, and has handled the transition into the public eye with the poised confidence of a seasoned veteran. Here, Glaspy gives Colorado Public Radio’s OpenAir a powerful look at that live show, landing a few knockout punches throughout a rousing four-song performance.

2. Dusk – (Do the) Bored Recluse + Leaf (Set List)

No band has been written about or praised more by this site than Tenement, who have been the consummate example of what this site was built around supporting. Through that band’s decade-long existence, bandleader Amos Pitsch has been involved in a number of other projects but something about Dusk feels just a little bit different. The band’s comprised of several of the most impressive musical figures in Wisconsin’s relatively isolated Fox Valley area, whose singular visions act in complementary tandem. Beautiful harmonies, a sense of history, and a tenacious commitment help define the band’s identity. All of those traits are on full display for this gorgeous two-song turn-in for Wisconsin Public Radio’s excellent Set List series.

3. Green Dreams – Don’t Pray For Me (Katie Krulock)

Ever since the release of 2014’s excellent Rich Man, Poor Man, Green Dreams have been relatively quiet. All of that’s about to change as the band preps a new release, which the band provided a tantalizing glimpse at through the form of this live acoustic video. The typically ferocious project reveals their pensive side on the lilting “Don’t Pray For Me”, while still retaining the overwhelming narrative darkness that’s been so prominent in their past releases. Beautifully lensed and delicately performed, the video’s a powerful reminder of Green Dreams’ numerous gifts.

4. Bernie & the Wolf (DZ Records)

For more than three years, Bernie & the Wolf have quietly been perfecting a mix of influences and forming a sound that’s not too distant from the best of Saddle Creek’s offerings. Open, sprawling, and teeming with distinctly American influences (and history), their songs are immediately warmly familiar and entirely winsome. DZ Records recently capture the band delivering an impassioned set, keying in on “Ethyl”, “Catch Some”, and “Pretty On Me”, three genuine standouts from what promises to be one of the best releases of its given year.

5. Bon Iver (SPIN)

Typically, these spots are reserved for unheralded artists, independent-leaning moments, and videos where the performers aren’t hundreds of feet away. It takes a lot to overturn any of those qualifications and overturning all of them is essentially unprecedented. Even though Bon Iver’s Eaux Claires live unveiling of the forthcoming record — something I was fortunate enough to attend — was a genuinely Big Moment that will be exhaustively covered by nearly every serious music publication, the way it was introduced felt intrinsically connected to the foundations of this site.

As a person who’s lived the vast majority of life in a small Wisconsin town, watching someone like Justin Vernon selflessly elevate an enitre artistic community has been heartening. Watching him debut an entire album live, in front of a hushed audience of thousands, at a genre-balanced festival he founded in his own small Wisconsin hometown was actively inspiring. While Vernon’s rollout campaign for Bon Iver’s forthcoming 22, A Million was designed to benefit the projects’s chosen slot, it was also an effort to highlight the other artists (like Tenement and Tickle Torture) who were a part of the Eaux Claires festival.

In that methodology, Vernon’s added another heartfelt notch in his continuing efforts to expand Wisconsin’s woefully underrated music community by any means at his disposal. On top of all of that, though, the actual performance of 22, A Million was an unforgettable event that was enhanced by the location (Bon Iver’s music has always been perfectly suited to Wisconsin’s wilderness) and the weather.

Just before the set began, what had been a steady downpour of rain lasting hours had suddenly stopped and night had fully descended. Throughout the set, there was an eerie calm that was punctuated by the noise of crickets that had taken residence in and outside of the festival grounds, creating an ambient wellspring of noise that further enhanced the glitchy electronics that permeate throughout 22, A Million (they became especially evident during the quietest moments, rounding out those songs in an unforgettable fashion).

While all of the main set can be heard and seen below in a video that SPIN livestreamed from the crowd, the encore set (which isn’t part of the video) provided what may have been the most defining moment of the festival.

Playing a selection of songs that wildly varied from their original versions, the band pulled out a fairly faithful rendition of “Creature Fear” that culminated in an apocalyptic wall of noise outro section. In the lead-up to those breathtaking final moments, a blisteringly intense lightning storm had erupted behind a heavy cloud, providing an unexpected assist that felt entirely in tune with the weekend’s joyous collaborative efforts. In that moment, the audience, the band, the city of Eau Claire, and Wisconsin itself became part of a unified moment that transcended easy category, leaving an indelible mark on Eau Claires, on Eaux Claires, and on everyone who took a moment to take in their surroundings.

Dilly Dally – Gender Role (Stream)

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One last big overhaul will be contained in this piece and 25 of the best songs from the first quarter of the year will follow. I wish I had time to give all of these songs the words and attention that they deserve but, unfortunately, time has dictated that this is the most effective mode of catching the site up to the present release cycles. All of the songs that were listed in this piece- and in pieces past- are worthy of inclusions to any collections. One of those many songs earns this piece’s headline: Dilly Dally’s electrifying new single, “Gender Role”.

It’s a song that capitalizes on the band’s built-in identity and aesthetic trends, with post-punk gloom reverberating through every single impassioned second. Already fully-formed just a few songs into their career, their warning shot- one that damn near topped our best 7″ Records of 2014 list- set the floor for “Gender Role”. In turn, “Gender Role” goes a long way in proving that the Candy Mountain 7″ was no fluke. Here, the band adds an adrenaline shot of genuine fury to the mix and it pays off to tremendous effect. Vocal wails, a formidable rhythm section, and incendiary guitar work act as a great reminder of Dilly Dally’s inherent strength and limitless potential, making “Gender Role” a fierce example of why Dilly Dally deserves to be on everyone’s radar.

Listen to “Gender Role” below and keep an eye on this site for continuing coverage of the band. Beneath that, enjoy a selection of 75 great songs from the first part of the year.

Buyer’s – Brand Loyalty
T-Rextasy – I Wanna Be A Punk Rocker
Heeney – Brooklyn Pop
Alex Napping – Trembles, Pt. 1
Chris Weisman – Cold Chimney
Los Angeles Police Department – Water and Wine
Robert Pollard – Up and Up and Up
Together PANGEA – I Looked In Too
Ryley Walker – Sweet Satisfaction
Jacco Gardner – Find Yourself
KDH – Beloved Devotion
Fond Han – Sub City Blues
Turn to Crime – Prince of Slackers
EULA – Like No Other
Nadine Shah – Fool
Bohannons – Black Cross, Black Shield
Algiers – But She Was Not Flying
Living Hour – Steady Glazed Eyes
Le Volume Courbe – The House
Slow Turismo – Corners
Antony Hegarty & Yoko Ono – I Love You Earth
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – The Sun Roars Into View
Jeff Rosenstock – Beers Again Alone
Surfer Blood – Dorian
Arm Candy – Lounge Lizard
ADVAETA – Angelfish
Family Bike – Idiot Boy
HSY – Sally
Never Young – Ur A Front
Fever & the Fret – Sasha in the Morning
Waxahatchee – Fish Eyes (Bottomless Pit)
The Nudes – Zima
Sammy Kay – Saints and Sinners
Vaadat Charigim – Ein Li Makom
Mall Walk – Criminal Code
Krill – Billy Madison Victory Song
JEEN. – NY Island
Holly Miranda – All I Want Is To Be Your Girl
Faith Healer – Canonized
Vetiver – Loose Ends
The Helio Sequence – Stoic Resemblance
So Stressed – Merv King & The Phantoms
Soft Cat – Diana
Kopecky – Quarterback
Bombay Harabee – Dotted Line
Paul De Jong – Auction Block
Fort Lean – Quiet Day
Peach Kelli Pop – Plastic Love
This is the Kit – Silver John
Oddisee – That’s Love
Spring King – They’re Coming After You
Wire – Split Your Ends
Public Access T.V. – Metropolis
Black Baron – Fluorescent Light
Docking – Meat Hook
The Nudes – The Internet
Bent Denim – Caitlin
Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
Simon Joyner – Nostalgia Blues
Tree Blood – I Want You to Cry
Houndstooth – Borderlands
Van Dale – Speak Yellow
Mute Forest – Infinity Pools
Aquarian Blood – Savage Mind
Shunkan – Our Names
Part Time – Fallin’ 4 U
Tom Levin – Thunder On
MNDR (ft. Killer Mike) – Lock & Load
Kathryn Calder – Song in Cm
The Cribs – An Ivory Hand
House of Wolves – Love
All People – Conversations
Lost Boy ? – About the Future

Speedy Ortiz – The Graduates
Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst
Dave Segedy – Walk Around