Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Viet Cong

Watch This: Vol. 85

Welcome to the 85th installment of Watch This, the annual Sunday series that celebrates some of the finest performance captures to find release over the past week. Courtney Barnett, Girlpool, and Torres all continue their respective strangleholds on this series’ feature spots. Heavy on full sets, every artist featured here has earned several words from this site in the past. Of course, as usual, there was stiff competition for the feature spots. Artists responsible for those performances included: Tahiti Boy & the Palmtree Family, Christopher Owens, Christopher Paul Stelling, Sorority Noise, Leon Bridges, Viet Cong, HEALTH, Calexico, Dave Monks, Sam Prekop + Archer PrewittMolina y Los Co´smicos, Forth Wanderers, Shana Cleveland and The Sandcastles, and footage from the FORM Acrosanti anti-festival. It’s another lineup that’s indicative of the five featured clips’ astounding strength. So, as always, grab a drink, sit back, adjust the volume to whatever best reflects your preference, and Watch This.

1. METZ – Spit You Out (3voor12)

METZ are one of the fiercest live bands on the planet right now so their inclusion here isn’t really all that surprising. What’s definitely unexpected, though, is the gorgeous scenery. Performing at the Best Kept Secret festival, the trio took to a house’s front yard and delivered an absolutely blistering rendition of METZ II highlight “Spit You Out”. It’s an exhilarating tour de force from one of this generation’s most exciting bands.

2. Girlpool (NPR)

By now it’s very likely that the trio of songs the duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad play here have graced this series more than any other songs. However, they’ve never been played on a stage even remotely similar to NPR’s vaunted Tiny Desk Concert series. Now, more than ever, it’s abundantly clear how ingrained these songs are in both members. Intuitive playing, effortless harmonies, and a genuine love for their work and each other once again carries their performances to near-transcendental heights.

3. Speedy Ortiz (unARTigNYC)

First thing’s first: this is not a complete video. Understandable, because the weather started threatening everyone’s equipment, not just Speedy Ortiz’s (who had several technical difficulties throughout a spirited, memorable set). I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for this show- held for free on a pier in Manhattan as part of Hudson River Parks’ Hudson RiverRocks concert series- and weathered a fairly brutal rainfall sans umbrella until the bitter end (the rain started- and the wind picked up- during a beautiful version of “Doomsday”, a song that still manages to elicit goosebumps and stands firm as a Song of the Decade contender). Although it’s not featured in the video, I’ll have a permanently embedded memory of the band losing pedal after pedal (and then amp and PA connections) during a particularly fierce take on “American Horror” that ended with Sadie Dupuis opting to take her guitar off and hold it above her head, allowing the feedback to ring out, like some ritualistic sacrifice to the gods. It was a stunning moment. Unfortunately, Waxahatchee’s set had to be cancelled due to lightning before it even started- but it would have been hard to have made much of an impression after what Speedy Ortiz accomplished in the face of what could have easily been disastrous.

4. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (Sunday  Sessions)

There’s something about Torres’ “A Proper Polish Welcome” being played as a solo piece that manages to come off as intrinsically haunted. One of the most arresting moments on one of the year’s best records, it’s lent an even greater pathos when it’s stripped bare. With Sunday Sessions placing all of the emphasis on Mackenzie Scott, the clip nears a strange voyeurism as Scott completely loses herself to both the song and the performance. Gripping and beautiful, it’s a masterclass in solo performance.

5. Courtney Barnett (Moshcam)

Courtney Barnett seems to be making a habit out of crashing Watch This‘ weekly party with astounding full sets and this excellent performance- beautifully lensed by Moshcam- sees the continuation of that pattern. This time around, the songwriter unloads a career-spanning powerhouse homecoming set to an appreciative audience. Barnett’s a preternaturally gifted performer and the band she’s assembled plays well to her seemingly endless strengths. A staggering 16-song set, this serves as one of the definitive documents of Barnett’s abilities and still-ascending level(s) of success.

First Quarter Full Streams, Pt. 1

tysegl

Keeping the recent themes of the site going, this post will be dedicated to 75 of this year’s most fascinating records (along with an overlooked fourth quarter gem or two from last year getting their due). Covering a range of genres, as always, these records cover a lot of ground. A few find their niche in fierceness while others make a home in more tranquil realms. It’s impossible to stress how full of a year 2015’s already been for new music and if this crop of early offerings is any suggestion, we’re all in for one of the strongest stretches of new music in roughly a decade. As ever, don’t let the fact there’s no accompanying text with these releases detract from their value; a great deal of these have a good chance of ranking among 2015’s finest releases (NPR’s current roster of First Listen selections is an exhilarating reminder that we’re only just getting started). Click on the hyperlinks below (listed in no particular order) to hear the records and- if you find yourself drawn to any- make sure to pick one up from either the band or their label. Happy exploring.

1. California X – Nights in the Dark
2. Swings – Detergent Hymns
3. Ty Segall – Mr. Face
4. Mike Pace and the Child Actors – Best Boy
5. Little Brutes – Desire
6. Dazed Pilots – Drummers & Codies
7. The Sidekicks – Runners in the Nerved World
8. Menace Beach – Ratworld
9. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
10. Jack Name – Weird Moons
11. Sick Feeling – Suburban Myth
12. Bandit – Of Life
13. Culture Abuse – Spray Paint the Dog
14. The Rentiers – Here Is A List of Things That Exist
15. Kind of Like Spitting + Warren Franklin & the Foundations – It’s Always Nice to See You
16. Creative Adult + Wild Moth – Split
17. Sun Hotel – Rational Expectations
18. Clique/Loose Tooth/Ghost Gun/Mumblr – Split
19. Grand Vapids – Guarantees
20. Gal Pals – Velvet Rut
21. The King Khan & BBQ Show – Bad News Boys
22. Club K – Let M Shake
23. Astral Swans – All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson
24. ylayali – ylayali
25. M.A.G.S. – Cellophane
26. Leapling – Vacant Page
27. Feature Films – Feature Films
28. Walleater – I
29. Will Butler – Policy
30. toyGuitar – In This Mess
31. Bloodbirds – Album 2
32. Pistachio – Tehuantepec
33. Yeesh – No Problem
34. Seagulls – Great Pine
35. Snow Roller/Sioux Falls – Split EP
36. Evans the Death – Expect Delays
37. RA – Scandinivia
38. Lucern Raze – Stockholm One
39. Never Young – Never Young
40. Love Cop – Dark Ones
41. Darlings – Feel Better
42. Romantic States – Romantic States
43. A Place to Bury Strangers – Transfixation
44. Sunflower Bean – Show Me Your Seven Secrets
45. Ghastly Menace – Songs of Ghastly Menace
46. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
47. Anomie – Anomie
48. Reservoir – Cicurina Vol. 1
49. River City Extension – Deliverance
50. Ty Segall Band – Live in San Francisco
51. Six Organs of Admittance – Hexadic
52. Big Dick – Disappointment
53. Treasure Fleet – The Sun Machines
54. Jeff Rosenstock  – We Cool?
55. Husband – The Money
56. Divers – Hello Hello
57. Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
58. We Can All Be Sorry – Again
59. Cal Folger Day – Adornament
60. Outside – Outside
61. Fragie Gang – For Esme
62. Moor Hound – Missin’ Out b/w Married
63. Pile – You’re Better Than This
64. Sonny & the Sunsets – Talent Night at the Ashram
65. Platinum Boys – Future Hits
66. Grooms – Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
67. The Amazing – Picture You
68. Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This
69. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
70. Jack McKelvie & the Countertopss/Uh-Huh – Split
71. Young Buffalo – Split
72. Lieutenant – If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week
73. Sister Palace – Count Yr Blessings
74. Van Dammes – Better Than Sex
75. Sammy Kay – Fourth Street Singers

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 5

Speedy Ortiz III

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement.

Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time.

Pt. 5 will be the final installment of this series and the preceding galleries can be accessed via the links directly below. Enjoy!

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 1
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 2
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 3
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 4

 

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 2

METZ I

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. I

Frankie Cosmos III

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence likely showed. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision of photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!

MOURN – Otitis (Stream)

mrn

Yesterday this site’s coverage was exclusively dedicated to the premiere of Mutts’ incredible “Black Ties & Diamonds“, ensuring that there’d be quite a bit of material to catch up on today. There weren’t a lot of full streams to emerge but the ones that did made it count. Among them: Cloakroom‘s incredible new 7″, Michael Rault‘s sprightly psych-pop cassingle, Cross Wires’ spiky Your History Defaced EP, and Trust Punks’ snarling post-punk ripper Discipline. Each of those are good enough to have a shot at appearing in a few year-end lists and enhance each respective artist’s profile considerably.

In single stream territory, things got relentless with no less than 11 great songs fighting their way out into the world. These included another look at Cellphone‘s upcoming Excellent Condition with the blistering “No Wind In Hell“, Quarterbacks‘ completely revitalized full-band version of Quarterboy highlight “Center“, A Place To Bury Strangers’ unrelentingly aggressive industrial post-punk bruiser “Straight“, and Seagulls’ airy left-field pop number “You & Me”. Colleen Green teased the upcoming I Want To Grow Up with a career-best in the form of “Pay Attention“, Soft Fangs revealed the quietly mesmerizing “Dead Friends“, Elvis Perkins made an unexpected return with the lightly damaged pscyh-folk of “Hogus Pogus” in advance of the upcoming I Aubade, and Leapling celebrated their teaming with Exploding in Sound via the compelling bizzaro pop of “Crooked“. American Wrestlers teased their upcoming 7″ with the driving lo-fi psych-pop of “I Can Do No Wrong“, Noveller revealed the characteristically beautiful “Into The Dunes“, and Two Gallants unleashed a preview of their upcoming We Are Undone with the vicious title track.

Music videos were just as eventful thanks to efforts like Desperate Journalist‘s strikingly minimal clip for their arresting “Control“, an absolutely gorgeous turn-in for Blonde Redhead‘s “The One I Love“, and Belle & Sebastian’s playful nostalgia in the black-and-white-turned-multicolor “The Party Line“. Elvis Depressedly celebrated their Run For Cover Records signing with the endearingly weird video for “No More Sad Songs“, Dizzee Rascal continued his unlikely hot streak with the visual medium in the  supernatural-tinged kung fu revenge tale contained in “Pagans“, and Hey Elbow conducted an unnerving psychedelic visual collage experiment for “Martin“. Viet Cong created an intensely disquieting clip to serve as an accompaniment for their excellent “Continental Shelf“, TOONS went the simple-and-charming route with “Sittin’ Back“, and Angel Olsen deliver the absurdly stunning Rick Alverson-directed “Windows” (which featured startlingly gorgeous cinematography) to round things out in a manner so stunning that it very nearly earned today’s feature spot.

Enter: MOURN. The young band recently became one of Captured Tracks’ most exciting acquisition since site favorites Perfect Pussy. Immediately standing out thanks to their surprisingly young age(s), MOURN seems to have caught just about everyone off-guard thanks to the enviable strengths of their songs. None of those songs landed with as fierce of an impact as their barn-burning “Otitis”. Unfailingly bleak and deeply impassioned, “Otitis” never goes for anything but a merciless kill. All of this played into why the song was previously featured on this site in the 53rd installment of Watch This, where the song grew even sharper fangs. MOURN has been available digitally for some time and comfortably stands as one of 2014’s most exhilarating releases with “Otitis” being its definitive exclamation point. From the wiry verse progressions, to the cavalcade of sharp hooks, to the intuitive harmony work, to the intimidatingly dark chorus, “Otitis” has put MOURN firmly on the map. All of the excitement rests in watching where they go from here.

Listen to “Otitis” below and pre-order MOURN from Captured Tracks here.

Pile at The Burlington Bar – 10/10/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)

Pile X

After the start of the week was gifted a prolific run of great new content, Wednesday kept the trend alive. There was more than enough to warrant another two paragraphs- but today will be devoted to a live review, so, for convenience’s sake, three of today’s strongest item in each category will be listed now and the rest will be covered tomorrow. For full songs, it’s hard to do better than Viet Cong’s darkly hypnotic post-punk bruiser “Continental Shelf“, while nobody bested Roomrunner’s absolute ripper of an EP- Separate– in the full stream category. Kittyhawk rounded out things with their visually striking clip for “Welcome Home”, which probes darker territory than the music might suggest. Now, with all of that out of the way, onto the feature event: site favorites Pile and their show last Friday at The Burlington Bar in Chicago.

Pile are best defined as an elusive band. It’s difficult to pin them on a spectrum or predict their movements; entire songs play out like sweeping overtures, taking sharp lefts when it’d be easier to just keep going straight ahead. While their tour schedule makes sure that it’s relatively easy to find the band playing somewhere, it’s the music that becomes the dominant force in the band-listener connection- a feat more rare than most realize. So, while the band managed to overcome not one but two major van issues (not having one and then having their loaner break down), their absence leading up to the show added a weird mythos to the entire experience. Granted, most of that time they were holed up in Omaha recording a new record- and if the band was clicking for that session as hard as they were at Burlington, everyone’s in for something spectacular.

Opening the show were locals Ling Ling and Fake Limbs, who were forced into a brief delay and a slot switch due to some extenuating circumstances. Fake Limbs delivered a characteristically blistering set, proving for the zillionth time over that they’re one of the Midwest’s most exciting (and most intriguing) hardcore acts. Pulling mostly from last year’s masterful The Power of Patrician Upbringing, vocalist Stephen Sowley led his band through their left-field noise-indebted racket with an abundance of charisma both on and (mostly) off stage, while everyone flashed serious chops throughout a set of genuinely great songs. Engaging throughout, their set had no weak moments and when the guitar cut out in the very last stretch of the last song, it somehow managed to feel appropriate- one half-expected to see smoke billowing out of the cab’s grill.

Ling Ling had a lot to follow after Fake Limbs essentially dismantled the expectations of the uninitiated and set an obscenely high bar. For their part, the band held their own through committed performances that offered a different take on hardcore, this time more rooted in the clean, metallic sounds that Shellac made their stock and trade. Kicking up the levels of  unabridged aggression, their set kept a pace that kept most of their audience involved- though by the end of their curiously long set, it was clear that some of Burlington’s patrons were growing increasing anxious for the appearance of the main act. While Ling Ling did manage to bow out on the strongest note of their set, there was no doubt that this was a night that belonged to Pile.

After the necessary set up and take down, Pile took the dimly-lit stage and- with no fanfare- tore into a jaw-dropper of a set that left no shred of doubt that Pile are a band worth catching as many times as possible. Song after song, Pile offered an embarrassment of riches that became welcome reminders of their discography’s deeply impressive scope. The audience seemed to warm up with the band as they plunged further into their set; by the time the chill-inducing 1-2 punch of “Special Snowflakes” and “Pets” hit, a previously stagnant Burlington had become a heaving mass of bodies, railing into each other with no intent of physical violence but caught up in a shared moment of unbridled catharsis. Following that turning point, the band reciprocated the audience’s energy by growing increasingly animated- and impassioned- while continuing to blaze through a set of songs that’d make most aspiring musicians blush. It was an incredibly potent reminder of Pile’s unlikely, but entirely deserved, impact. This is one of the most interesting bands going today and the fact that their music is forging such visceral connections within their audience makes them a band that’s worth embracing as tightly as possible.

Below, watch a clip of the band playing “Pets” and scan through a photo gallery of Pile’s headlining set.

 

Songs of Summer: 2014 (Mixtape)

hbsos

Another hundred posts in and this site’s still humming along. As tradition dictates, today is one of the only days that doesn’t get dedicated to the outstanding just-released content (though there was an incredible amount, which will be covered tomorrow)- and features a digital mixtape instead. There was a lot of talk over what the song of the summer was and no real general consensus in any type of forum. In the spirit of that surprisingly diverse conversation, the mixtape features the songs that resonated throughout this place most strongly during what proved to be an incredibly memorable summer (covering both NXNE and Pitchfork festivals among the many highlights). As the season approaches its end, it only felt right to shine a light on some of those songs one more time before the year draws to a close.

A few of these have been featured in previous playlists but that should only stand as a testament to their longevity. While a few weren’t even released in summer, they definitely struck a deeper chord as the surroundings finally caught up to the mood they inhabited. Every single one of them can be streamed below (a tracklist is also provided) and, being that this marks another hundred posts- and in the event anyone was curious in catching something they missed, hyperlinks to posts No. 200-299 are given beneath the tracklist. So, turn the volume all the way up and enjoy some great music while the warm weather’s still here.

Stream Songs of Summer: 2014 below and feel free to navigate through any of the listed hyperlinks.

1. Lost Boy ? – Hollywood
2. LVL UP – Soft Power
3. Radiator Hospital – Cut Your Bangs
4. The Coasts – I Just Wanna Be A Star
5. The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More
6. Tweens – Forever
7. The Sleepwalkers – My Best Was Never Good Enough
8. Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03
9. The Freezing Hands – Good Morning Takeout
10. Happyness – Anything I Do Is All Right
11. Dead Stars – Summer Bummer
12. Joanna Gruesome – Jerome (Liar)
13. Perfect Pussy – Leash Called Love (Sugarcubes Cover)
14. Eugene Quell – Hell Presidente
15. Happy Diving – Weird Dream
16. Mean Creek – My Madeline
17. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning
18. Left & Right – Low Expectations
19. Mulligrub – Canadian Classic
20. Dude York – Believer
21. Cayetana – Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving
22. Lenguas Largas – Kawasaki Dream
23. Wyatt Blair – Girls!
24. Jawbreaker Reunion – Empire
25. Reigning Sound – Falling Rain

+++

HB200: NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide (Mixtape)
HB201: Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Calgary Hill (Music Video)
HB202: Swearin’ at Memorial Union Terrace – 5/30/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB203: Watch This: Vol. 27
HB204: Watch This: Vol. 28
HB205: Pretty Pretty – Leather Weather (Stream)
HB206: Haunted Heads – VV (Stream)
HB207: Marvelous Mark – Bite Me (Music Video)
HB208: Mean Creek – Anxiety Girl (Music Video)
HB209: Bob Mould – I Don’t Know You Anymore (Music Video)
HB210: Parquet Courts – Black and White (Music Video)
HB211: Greys – Use Your Delusion (Music Video)
HB212: Beverly – Honey Do (Music Video)
HB213: Jawbreaker Reunion – Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club (Review)
HB214: Green Dreams – Rich Man Poor Man (Review)
HB215: Watch This: Vol. 29
HB216: Watch This: Vol. 30
HB217: La Sera – Fall in Place (Music Video)
HB218: Lemuria – Brilliant Dancer (Music Video)
HB219: The Midwestern Charm – Growing Pains (Trailer)
HB220: NXNE: Day 1 (Pictorial Review)
HB221: Watch This: Vol. 31
HB222: NXNE: Day 2 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB223: NXNE Day 3: Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Coing (Photo Gallery)
HB224: NXNE Day 3: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Spoon (Photo Gallery)
HB225: NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)
HB226: NXNE Day 4: Creep Highway, Perfect Pussy, Frankie Cosmos, Swearin’ (Photo Gallery)
HB227: NXNE Day 5: Courtney Barnett, Army Girls (Photo Gallery)
HB228: Soybomb HQ: Cellphone, Ice Cream, Pleasure Leftists, Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)
HB229: Smiling Buddha: Pleasure Leftists, Holy Fuck, METZ (Photo Gallery)
HB230: NXNE: Day 3 (Review, Videos, Photos, Videos)
HB231: NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Review, Photos)
HB232: NXNE Day 4 + 5 (Review, Photos)
HB233: Perfect Pussy at Soybomb HQ – 6/21/14 (Review, Video)
HB234: METZ at Smiling Buddha – 6/22/14 (Review, Video)
HB235: Deafheaven at Bottom Lounge – 7/18/14 (Review, Photos)
HB236: Pitchfork Festival Day 2 (Review)
HB237: Pitchfork Festival Day 3 (Review)
HB238: Pitchfork Festival Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Review)
HB239: Watch This: Vol. 32
HB240: Watch This: Vol. 33
HB241: Watch This: Vol. 34
HB242: Watch This: Vol. 35
HB243: Watch This: Vol. 36
HB244: Watch This: Vol. 37
HB245: LVL UP – Soft Power (Stream)
HB246: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning (Stream)
HB247: Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite (Music Video)
HB248: Terry Malts – Let You In (Stream)
HB249: Dead Stars – Summer Bummer (Music Video)
HB250: Songs in Screen: A Look Back (Music Video Mixtape)
HB251: The Frankl Project – Day at the Races (Stream)
HB252: Cancers – Moral Net (Stream)
HB253: Watch This: Vol. 38
HB254: Mannequin Pussy – Kiss (Stream)
HB255: Vacation – Every Direction (Stream)
HB256: The Midwestern Charm – Bloodbath (Stream)
HB257: Dude York – Believer (Stream)
HB258: PURPLE 7 – Wise Up (Stream)
HB259: Lost Boy ? – Hollywood (Stream)
HB260: Mulligrub – Canadian Classic (Stream)
HB261: Purling Hiss – Learning Slowly (Stream)
HB262: Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Gates of Hell (Music Video)
HB263: Two Houses – Disappointer (Stream)
HB264: Cayetana – Scotty Get the Van, I’m Moving (Stream)
HB265: Shy Boys – Life Is Peachy (Music Video)
HB266: Low Expectations – Left & Right (Stream)
HB267: Sonic Avenues – Bored With Love (Stream)
HB268: Joanna Gruesome – Jerome (Liar) (Stream)
HB269: The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More (Stream)
HB270: Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03 (Stream)
HB271: Watch This: Vol. 39
HB272: Ex-Breathers – Pocket (Stream)
HB273: Liam Betson – Rapture in Heat (Stream)
HB274: Allison Crutchfield – Berlin (Stream)
HB275: The Ar-Kaics – Be My Baby (Stream)
HB276: Even Hand – Even Hand (Album Review, Stream)
HB277: Naomi Punk – Firehose Face (Music Video)
HB278: Kindling – Sunspots (Stream)
HB279: Places to Hide – Nowhere Bound (Stream)
HB280: We Need Secrets – How You Remember (Stream)
HB281: LVL UP – I Feel Ok (Stream)
HB282: Girl Tears – Candy Darling (Stream)
HB283: Ex Hex – Beast (Stream)
HB284: The Freezing Hands – Good Morning Takeout (Stream)
HB285: Follies – I Make Sense (Stream)
HB286: Happy Diving – Weird Dream (Stream)
HB287: Big Ups – Justice (Music Video)
HB288: Radiator Hospital – Bedtime Story (Music Video)
HB289: Space Raft at Crunchy Frog – 8/16/14 (Pictorial Review)
HB290: Watch This: Vol. 40
HB291: The Seeers – Without Lites (Stream)
HB292: Dark Blue – Here On My Street (Stream)
HB293: Lenguas Largas – Kawasaki Dream (Stream)
HB294: Wyatt Blair – Girls! (Stream)
HB295: Perfect Pussy – Leash Called Love (Stream)
HB296: Eternal Summers – Window (Stream)
HB297: Watch This: Vol. 41
HB298: Eugene Quell – A Great Useleness (Review, Stream)
HB299: LVL UP – DBTS (Stream)

NXNE: Day 3 (Review, Photos, Videos)

Spoon XI

Since there were a lot of personal allowances factoring into Day 3 for me, I’ll forego the usual narrative rule and allow myself the use of first-person for this paragraph (and the last). My entire decision to attend NXNE hinged on the lineup for what would be the only show I would see on June 20, 2014; the show at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern- which was re-branded Budweiser Music House at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern thanks to some (admittedly frustrating) corporate sponsorship. What was initially supposed to be an incredible lineup featuring site favorites Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Cong, Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, and, of course, Perfect Pussy, generated even more interest when word leaked out that Spoon was added on late as a secret headliner. This would cause some complications and push the venue past capacity towards the end of the night- but also ensured that as many people bore witness to Perfect Pussy delivering one of the most genuinely unforgettable sets I’ve ever seen (this being the case, it will be covered as a full review in an additional piece). It was the night’s defining moment but didn’t detract from what would be several outstanding performances from each of the other featured bands.

These performances kicked off with Greys, who wasted no time in setting the night’s tone; fiery, intense, full of verve, and impassioned as hell. Every band would live up to this and deliver their own variation on it but few would have a moment as incendiary as the perfect, manic transition of “Guy Picciotto” into “Use Your Delusion“. Greys’ set was twice as fiery as they were at their impressive Day 1 appearance and despite their set being shorter, the reception was still incredibly strong. Once again, their cover of Mission of Burma’s “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate” proved to be a set highlight that helped sustain their incessant momentum. By the time they exited the stage, they’d done everything a young band was supposed to- and likely won a few more converts along the way.

Benjamin Booker took up the torch that was set ablaze by Grey’s and held it at a slight disadvantage; people haven’t heard his debut album- or really know who he is at all. Greys at least had the benefit of a local draw- but Booker had the support of a stellar bill around him and knew he’d have quite a bit to live up to. He delivered, on all accounts. After his incredible appearance on Letterman, though, it was hard to expect anything less. His New Orleans roots were clearly evidenced in his music’s tendency to lean towards being a punk-tinged rock n’ soul throwback (or, in less confusing terms, everything The Black Keys are supposed to be). With a self-titled debut due out on ATO Records, expectations for Booker are high- and if that’s fazing him, he didn’t let it show. It was a triumphant set that hit all the right notes and created a lasting impression. Booker’s last song, in particular, was a noisy, chaotic stunner that was the heaviest song in the set- a trend that would be enforced by every band on the bill. That last song also prompted the very first “one more song” chant of the evening, while Booker’s dropped guitar was left onstage feeding back. He’s a rare talent that has genre sensibility in spades, and infuses his music with a deeply-felt blues. It won’t be long before his name’s appearing in a lot more places.

By the time Calgary’s Viet Cong took the stage, the venue had started to get a little crammed. Viet Cong’s Cassette has been generating a lot of interest in a lot of circles- and given people who loved the short-lived band Women something to love again. After seeing their live performance; it’s earned. All of the critical acclaim and adulation that the band’s certainly going to be receiving throughout the year- it’s all earned. Deftly combining spiky post-punk with a commitment to creative minimalism while emphasizing a tone more somber than celebratory, they’ve landed on a recipe for success. An apathetic demeanor slips in and out of their music, lending it a certain tension and dread that some bands spend their entire existences trying to find. While these songs sound great on record, they breathe in an arresting new way in a live setting. No matter what small setbacks their set experienced (sound difficulties were another unfortunate trend of the evening), the band found ways to manage them. Most memorably, after guitarist Scott Munro broke a string, vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel spearheaded a tribal minute-and-a-half song and followed it with a bit of snark: “If it was [other guitarist] Danny breaking a string on the spot, I wouldn’t have made up a song on the spot, I would have called him a showoff.” It was a welcome bit of unexpected humor from an almost terrifyingly precise band. Viet Cong ended their set in a blaze of fury and chaos and left no uncertainty to the fact that this is a band fully intent on heading places.

Returning to the playfulness of Viet Cong’s broken string reprieve was Speedy Ortiz, who took the stage all smiles and full of quick jokes. Throughout their set they would introduce songs as being about some of the following: The Toronto Raptors, birthdays of band members (that weren’t celebrating their birthdays), and LMFAO- who they gave a well-informed history lecture on (specifically the fact that the duo share a family relation- they’re uncle and nephew). Best of all, though, was their song about “beating Viet Cong up behind the Horseshoe Tavern” after expressing excitement over sharing a bill with sharing so many of their friends- and promising to beat up the ones who weren’t already. On a separate instance, they spent a solid two minutes trying to figure out where the term “hoser” originated from and if it was derogatory or not and eventually deciding it was something to do with gardening or hoses. As great as it is to reminisce about great banter, the fact that Speedy Ortiz delivered one of the most complete sets of the evening- if not the festival- should not be understated. “Doomsday”, “Bigger Party”, and a chill-inducing “No Below” all stood out as highlights in a particularly explosive set. Guitar heroics and sharp drumming were on full display. While sound continued to be an issue, they managed their levels as well as they could and played their hearts out. It was the kind of set that inspires people to starts bands.

Swearin’ was next at bat and wound up being as perfect as ever. They’re a band that’s meant a lot to a lot of people and the support surrounding them was clear. The only thing that even partially marred what was another flawless set was the continuing prevalence of frustratingly low levels for the vocals (this would ultimately come to a head with Perfect Pussy and will factor heavily into the ensuing post). With a discography-spanning set that was equally kind to What A Dump, their self-titled, and Surfing Strange, the band took advantage of the night’s atmosphere and played harder than ever. All of their songs came with a hint of either menace or vulnerability, depending on which route they decided to go (“Empty Head” was the highlight in the case of the latter, while “Dust in the Gold Sack” was the former’s high point). Wasting little to no time on banter, they tore into every song of their set with an intensity more common of a hardcore band than one playing 90’s-leaning basement pop. It was another extraordinary set that hit its peak with the 1-2 What A Dump double punch of “Irrational” and “What A Dump”. By the time guitarist/vocalist Kyle Gilbride’s straplock came rocketing out into the audience during those heavy “Kill ‘Em With Kindness” breakdowns, the band looked like they were ready for anything- and kept the evening pushing forward at breakneck pace.

Original headliners Perfect Pussy played next- and, as mentioned previously, will be covered in full in the post that follows this one. A quick summation for the sake of providing Spoon’s review context: Perfect Pussy played most of their set before a bass head caught fire, no one came to help them despite their most earnest pleas, bassist Greg Ambler snapped his bass and left it to the audience, guitarist Ray McAndrew joined Ambler as he walked off, Shaun Sutkus’ synths and Garrett Koloski’s drumming urged on vocalist Meredith Graves as she slowly sunk to the floor repeating an important mantra with every inch of herself over the chaos, looking very much on the verge of tears and in a state of overwhelmed frustration, the audience reacted- some with unbridled vitriol in an urge to see Spoon (an unbelievably disgusting chant of “Fuck off and die” was repeated several times by at least one individual)- some in an outright trance waiting to see what would happen. They were abruptly escorted off the stage, one-by-one, and Spoon’s set-up time began shortly after. It was a moment of unhinged insanity that bled passion and wound up feeling like a religious experience.

By the time Spoon took the stage, the venue had started spilling out past maximum capacity and the vocal problem was fixed after some communication between the stage and the soundboard revealed the vocals were being run through line 2 rather than the acoustic channel (whether or not this was true for the entire evening is unclear- but it certainly was for Spoon). By the time Spoon took the stage, the mood still felt hostile after the aftermath of the unforgettable ending of Perfect Pussy’s set and made the atmosphere uncomfortable. With the privilege of some inside information regarding the behind-the-scenes going-on’s of the night, it became increasingly difficult to stick around for Spoon’s entire set. Spoon, for their part, played extraordinarily well- each a magnetic presence with Britt Daniel, especially, exuding charisma and star magnetism. After approximately five (admittedly excellent) songs, the preceding events kicked in and I left my spot at the front of the stage for someone who wanted it more- and to check in on my friends (and was subsequently assured everyone was alright and led to a story that will- again- factor into the ensuing write-up). After watching a few more songs from the wings, I wound up meeting up with Speedy Ortiz who spun even more horror stories about the events of the evening. Speedy Ortiz would wind up waiting hours past Spoon’s closing time to load their equipment out thanks to what was essentially, frankly, a disgusting technical condition. After hearing every side from every angle, one thing was clear; it was a frustrating evening for just about anyone that played- but everyone played with everything they had, leaving it, at it’s worst and at it’s best, an incredibly memorable evening for everyone involved.

Videos and links to the photo galleries of Day 3 below.

NXNE Day 3: Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Cong (Photo Gallery)
NXNE Day 3: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Spoon (Photo Gallery)

NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)

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A necessary note: all tonight Heartbreaking Bravery will be running the photo galleries from the recent Toronto trip. All of these galleries will have separate reviews written for them at a later date. One of these will be a lengthy review of Perfect Pussy’s set at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern (or, more appropriately for the night in question, Budweiser Music House at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern), which was closer to a religious experience than anything else. That being the case, this will be one of the more extensive galleries as well.  Enjoy the photographs and keep both eyes out for the upcoming review, which (thanks to vocalist Meredith Graves) should provide some clarification on what’s ran as conjecture elsewhere.