Heartbreaking Bravery

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A Look Back at the Past Two Weeks: Streams, Music Videos, and Full Streams

The past two weeks of material, once more, have been loaded with exceptional works. Each of the major categories saw the influx of notable items keep the same ridiculous pace that 2018 has set across multiple genres. No matter the level of notoriety or recognition, every week this year has brought in a slew f entries that have ranged from wildly entertaining to legitimately unforgettable. With that being the case, featuring everything is an impossible task. This post serves as a reminder and reference point for a slew of those songs, clips, and records worth remembering.

Songs

Gia Margaret, Mooner, Snow Roller, Izzy True, Babehoven, Richard Rose, Honyock, ASM, Tokyo Police Club (x2), Tony Molina, Dead Soft, SIGNAL, Evan Jewett, Advance Base, Gold Star, Beak>, Astronauts, etc., LT Wade, The Rizzos, perfume-v, Dyan, DelafyeFrøkedal, Quiet Hollers, Saul Williams, Super Paradise, Westerman, Tunng, Ohmme, United Ghosts, El Ten Eleven, Lucero, Koschika, Claw Marks, Miss World, Mister Lies, Menace Beach, Bleeth, Taylor Janzen, Wild Pink, Lewis Burg, Brother Reverend, Swamp Dogg, Darren Jesse, The Coup, La Force, Verse Metrics, Ancestors, Joe Kaplow, and David Bazan.

Music Videos

Waxahatchee, Saintseneca, Curling, Steady Holiday, Fred Thomas, Trust Fund, Jeff Rosenstock, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Night Shop, The Goon Sax, Cat Power, Queen of Jeans, The Beths, Macajey, Slang, Frankie Cosmos, Devon Welsh, Saintseneca, Bully, Estrons, The Molochs, GRLWood, Jane Church, Sad Baxter, Richard Reed Parry, Dama Scout, The Black Delta Movement, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Campdogzz, Harrison Lipton, The Velveteins, Lala Lala, PR Newman, and Couch Jackets.

Full Streams

Harvey Trisdale, trulyyrs, Cold Lunch, Spissy, Shapes In Calgary, Cruel Diagonals, Delhia de France, and Wilder Maker.

 

Mike Krol – An Ambulance (Stream)

A whole pile of incredible songs emerged this week, including new entries from: Florry, Mothers, Henry Chadwick, Sauropod, Notches, Strawberry Mountain, Lost Boy ?, Muncie Girls, Harvey Trisdale, Thin Lips, Sketti Tangles, Gon von Zola, Michael Michael Motorcycle, Found Wild, Joey Sweeney, Rosie Thorne, Claw Marks, Paul Collins, Bilge Rat, Memory Bells, The Chills, Jane’s Party, and Leland and the Silver Walls. They’re all worth a listen. Another artist to join the party was site favorite Mike Krol.

Just a few years ago, Krol put out the incredible Turkey, a record teeming with blistering basement pop strong enough to land it a spot as Heartbreaking Bravery’s pick as one of 2015’s best albums. Krol hasn’t released much of anything in the interim that’s followed but did see a spike in popularity after an unexpected, joyous appearance as an in-show character on Steven Universe. Rebecca Sugar’s show — and the fervent fan base its amassed — seems in perfect keeping with Krol’s sensibilities, which manage to simultaneously suggest immediacy and thoughtfulness.

Which brings us to “An Ambulance”, a characteristically scintillating surge of punk-tinted basement pop from an artist that’s built a career out of mastering that exact genre. From the jump, “An Ambulance” flaunts its blown-out giddiness, exploding in an adrenaline rush of melodic aggression. A catchy-as-hell guitar riff forms the foundation for one of the summer’s best hooks, accelerating the song from a controlled cruise to reckless abandonment. The song’s vintage Krol, suffusing the past with credible meaning and blowing the doors to the future wide open.

Listen to “An Ambulance” below and pre-order An Ambulance b/w Never Know from Merge here.

Fog Lake – Captain (Album Stream, Review)

Over the first week or so of June, there were a lot of quality full streams: Slanted, Elsa Lester, Weekend Lovers, Guts Club, Bleakness, Heart of Snake, Sinister Purpose, Kilcid, and The Foreign Films all played significant roles in that development. Another artist making an entry was site favorite Fog Lake, who has quietly releases some of the most inspired work of the past few years.

The ambient-leaning bedroom pop project of Aaron Powell, Fog Lake has built a measure of success around a heartening mixture of word-of-mouth notoriety and carefully selected collaborators. Captain, easily the most towering of the project’s works, is Fog Lake’s latest and features a mastering credit from Warren Hildebrand (who records as Foxes In Fiction and runs the revered Orchid Tapes label).

From Captain‘s opening salvo, “Dinosaur”, it becomes clear that Powell’s tapped into an intangible, ethereal mode that invokes an equal measure of calmness, solitude, and a very specific, distinct brand of yearning. Lush arrangements somehow only enhance the considerable loneliness that can be heard in everything from Captain‘s gorgeous piano figures to Powell’s vocal delivery, lending significant impact to narratives that seem to continuously dissect internal struggle.

Even when Captain is at it’s most jubilant — the mid-tempo romp that “Seratonin” establishes for the record’s middle stretch almost seems necessary after the unrelenting devastation of “California” — Powell never settles into carefree perspectives, opting instead to continue to pry into the psyche and surgically wounds and the scars they’ve left behind. The cumulative effect of that persistence in shining lights on those cobwebs can become as overwhelming as the music, which remains brilliant throughout the record’s duration, is intoxicating.

When Powell shifts the tempo and atmospherics down for Captain‘s closing run of songs, it’s a decision that feels natural; the process is attuned to the landscape. Ultimately, Captain winds up being Fog Lake’s most staggering work in an already incredible — and far too frequently overlooked — discography. Make no mistake, this is one of the year’s best records by a significant margin and should hopefully play a factor in widening Fog Lake’s name recognition. This is as good a guide as anyone will find all summer.

Listen to Captain below and pick it up here.

Cagework – Good Ideas (Stream)

A little over a week had passed in July and the month had already seen some memorable music videos from artists like: JIANT, Sonny Falls, Moaning Lisa, Francobollo, Jay Rock, Tiny Eyes, Frontperson, Carcinoma, Pale Grey, and Elise Davis. While all of those entries managed to carve their places as standouts, Cagework’s fiery “Good Ideas” proved too formidable not to feature.

A perfect halfway point between post-punk and basement pop, “Good Ideas” surges and seethes with an abundance of clarity. Tenacious, scintillating, and insanely addictive, “Good Ideas” quickly reveals all of the reasons why its title is so apt. An adrenaline-fueled three minute explosion, it’s the kind of song that makes people sit up and take notice of an artist and their existing discography. While all of Cagework’s previous material is well worth the listen, the future that “Good Ideas” seems to be indicating looks even more promising.

Listen to “Good Ideas” below and pick it up here.

Gash – Always Pissed (Song Premiere)

Any time there’s a band that convinces someone to start a label, there’s always an innate quality about them that justifies such a passionate response. It’s a theory that’s been held up in practice countless times over and applies to Gash — a power trio from Eau Claire, WI — who are largely responsible for stoking the fire of what would become Heavy Meadow Records. Curiously, the band’s forthcoming Haha will be Heavy Meadow’s third release but it also stands a reasonable chance of being the label’s earliest calling card.

Haha was recorded by Seth Tracy of Double Grave and “Always Pissed” is the first look at the record. Sludgy, grunge-adjacent, and teeming with slacker punk tendencies (deliberate pacing, sardonic humor, etc.), “Always Pissed” comes equipped with a heavy dose of reverb and attitude. Through the grime, there’s a pop song buried at the center, creating a competitive balance that winds up propelling the song into its own world. It’s dirty, it’s powerful, and it’s got a measure of casual brilliance. Turn it on and turn it up.

Listen to “Always Pissed” below and pre-order Haha from Heavy Meadow here.

The Best Songs of June 2018’s Final Half

A ridiculous amount of great songs came out over the final half of June 2018, roughly tripling the output of music videos and records. In accordance, the below list will be expanded from the preceding features’ three-slot format to a selection of nine. As usual, there’s a fairly vast palette of styles and influences to sample, each song offering up a distinctly unique thrill. Dive into the fray and get swept up in the chaos.

Whitney Ballen – Go

The first look at the fantastic forthcoming You’re A Shooting Star, I’m A Sinking Ship. Ballen uses a hushed vocal — one that’s curiously reminiscent of Nicole Dollanganger — on “Go” like a weapon, drawing the listener into a difficult narrative that acts as an effective counterweight to the casually optimistic sheen embedded into the musical arrangement. A fascinating presentation of the dichotomies resonating at the center of most mental health struggles, “Go”, while brilliant, only scratches the surface of Ballen’s capabilities.

Curling – Still Green

Following their appearance in the Best Songs list for June 2018’s first half, Curling come back to top themselves with “Still Green.” A basement pop rave-up that exudes the intensely relatable weariness of the slacker punk movement of the early ’90s, “Still Green” incorporates enough modern bent to ensure it won’t fall prey to accusations of tired revivalism. There’s an abundance of life thriving at the song’s surface and Curling makes sure each of the song’s 164 seconds land with maximum impact.

Ovlov – Stick

Not to be outdone by Curling’s repeat heroics as a featured act, Ovlov notch their third consecutive feature nod with the brooding, explosive “Stick”. All three songs to tease the band’s upcoming Tru have made a formidable case that we’re on the verge of hearing one of the year’s best records. While the first two — “Spright” and “Short Morgan” — relied on volume and power, “Stick” ensures that Tru won’t be a one-note affair. Unexpected, oddly moving, and incredibly engaging, “Stick” is a song that deserves to be left on repeat.

Sean Henry – Imperfection

Sean Henry‘s past work has been unfairly overlooked for all the usual, dispiriting reasons but the songwriter’s latched on to something with Fink that just might be strong enough to overcome those intangible obstacles. “Imperfection” was the final track to be released ahead of Fink‘s unveiling and it ably showcases an artist in full control of their creative powers. From the production choices to the delivery itself, “Imperfection” winds up coming surprisingly close to standing as a direct opposite of its own title.

Dentist – Corked

A familiar name to the site, Dentist have been steadily working towards their big moment, earning every lesson and success that’s come their way. In that pursuit, they’ve released a handful of great songs but “Corked”, their latest, doesn’t just set a new high but a new precedent. The band’s lit onto something that feels wholly their own and are prepared to accelerate their pacing from a jog to a sprint. “Corked”, as fine a basement pop song as anyone’s likely to hear this season, is a tantalizing indicator of what Dentist has in store for the future.

Slothrust – Peach

Slothrust‘s another name that’s been printed on these pages a handful of times and “Peach” is the latest reason to type it out. The lead-off single from The Pact, “Peach” is a galvanizing burst of the band’s singular brand of slacker pop. More immediate and self-contained than a lot of the trio’s earlier work, “Peach” makes a morsel feel like a mouthful, before becoming an entire meal. It’s the band’s shortest single to date but it lingers when it’s gone. Don’t miss this one.

Jonathan Something – Fine

Clocking in at just under two minutes, Jonathan Something’s “Fine” still finds time to stand out. A throwback pop song that reveals an astonishing array of influences (everything from Motown to disco to powerpop), “Fine” manages to feel comfortably familiar and thrillingly new over the course of its brief run time. Jonathan Something delivers it all with poise, conviction, and a sincerity that translates into one of the year’s most purely enjoyable songs.

Tony Molina – Wrong Town

A master of the micro song, Tony Molina has found a niche way to thrive since the earliest Ovens songs. Even as Molina’s edges have softened, there’s been a profound sense of assurance that’s cut through the noise. In addition to that gentle confidence, there’s always been a palpable sense of place; Molina knows the places worth belonging to even as his narratives question definitive decision-making. “Wrong Town” is the latest in a string of tender, ’60s-influenced folk-adjacent pieces. Warm and heartrending, “Wrong Town” deserves a visit.

Gia Margaret – Birthday

Gia Margaret‘s “Birthday” is a genre-demolishing track that’s been roping listeners into its orbit since its initial release. Bits of dream pop, shoegaze, and shoegaze find fascinating new intersections throughout the song, which is anchored by Margaret’s soft, spellbinding vocal performance. From front to back, “Birthday” is breathtaking in its unexpected scope and considerable beauty. A transcendent, mesmerizing work.

 

The Best Records of June 2018’s Final Half

The final two weeks of June saw a lot of records find their way out into the world but there was a core trio that managed to make a sizable impression. Some site favorites make their returns and the featured records run the gamut of punk from pop-leaning rave-ups to atmospheric mood pieces to subversive, thrash-leaning hardcore. All three are worth all the spins they can get and can be explored below.

Proud Parents – Proud Parents

The Dirtnap records debut for one of southern Wisconsin’s best bands, Proud Parents make good on their newly expanded platform with their strongest release to date. Appropriately self-titled, Proud Parents does feel a lot like an introduction-at-large, clearly showcasing the band’s carefree sensibilities with one irresistible earworm after the other. There’s a strain of ease that runs throughout the highly addictive Proud Parents, which is one of the best releases from the basement pop genre to emerge in 2018.

Therese Litner – May

Driving post-punk that cribs from a wider range of genres than one might expect is typically a compelling through line and Therese Litner’s outstanding May takes that formula to insane heights. Brooding, restrained, and refined, each of May‘s four tracks finds a way to be incredibly gripping. All of it coalesces into a bold finished product that reveals new intricacies on each successive listen. May, for all of its modesty, is a towering EP from an exhilarating voice.

No Problem – Let God Sort’Em Out

The samples that arrived early were extraordinarily promising but listening to Let God Sort’Em Out, the latest from No Problem, it’s hard to think they did the finished product justice. An absolute monster of a release, Let God Sort’Em Out stands a very good shot at standing out as one of the most subversive basement punk records of the past few years. Touching on everything from grime to powerpop to hardcore, No Problem may have just unleashed a future cult classic.

The Best Music Videos of June 2018’s Final Half

The last two weeks of June were filled with visual delights but there were three entries into one format’s storied history that found ways to stand out. For a few of them, it was about form, for others it was about boundary-pushing subversion. Curiously, two of these three clips were more lyric videos than narrative-driven, while the exception of the three took its askew narration to stratospheric heights. Get acquainted with all three videos below.

Mitski – Nobody

There are a lot of music video directors out there that can consistently find new ways to turn heads and A Year’s Worth of Memories alum Christopher Good has existed comfortably in their ranks for a while now. Still, it’s always heartening to see those types of artists find a collaborator who’s fully up to the task of creating something memorable. Throughout the course of Mitski‘s “Nobody” clip, it’s a joy to watch the two push each other’s creative spirit to stratospheric heights. An oddball collage full of vibrant colors that cloak a despairing center that expounds on searching and reconciling identity, “Nobody” is as eye-catching as it is thoughtful. Far and away one of the year’s most memorable — and playfully bizarre — music videos.

Hala – Sorry 

Occasionally, a strong (or strange) narrative isn’t needed to bolster an already strong song. Sometimes it’s simpler to just come up with a straightforward conceit and commit to it with as much honesty as possible. That’s the case in the clip for Hala‘s “Sorry”, which utilizes some framing and presentation tactics pulled straight from Shane Meadows’ playbook. The Ian Ruhala-directed clip is as about straightforward as they come, relying on an engaging central performance, some cleverly placed subtitles, and a great song to carry it to the realms of greatness.

Onlyness – Comfortable

Paring things back even further than “Sorry” is the clip for Onlyness’ “Comfortable”, which effectively utilizes a single image and some light effects work to enhance an incredible song. The lyric placement over that image adds just enough atmosphere to propel this past the normally tepid world that lyric videos tend to occupy. One could nearly make the argument “Comfortable” is more of a visual art piece than a committed music video. The clip makes maximum use out of its minimal construction to lend more depth to an already gorgeous song’s artistry and, more often than not, that’s more than enough.

The Final Half of June 2018: Streams, Music Videos, and Full Streams

The final half of June wasn’t quite as loaded as its immediate predecessor but it came surprisingly close. A deluge of material found release in every major format. Iconic acts remixed prominent genre figures, legends were paid tribute, and a handful of new faces made a deep impression. Below is the chronicling of everything that made a notable splash. Three individual installments focusing on some additional highlights from this stretch will follow this post shortly. For now (and for however many times anyone feels like clicking over) enjoy the best of the rest.

STREAMS

Saintseneca, Rat Columns, Free Cake For Every Creature, Chakra Efendi, Weller, Angelo De Augustine, Van Dale, Murder By Death, Alien Boy, Saturday Night, Many Voices Speak, Mogwai, Basement Revolver, Bad Bad Hats, Sudakistan, Teksti-TV 666 (x2), Eric Bachmann, Silverbacks, Signal, The Rareflowers, The Rock’N’Roll HiFives, The Cradle, Emma Ruth Rundle, Steady Holiday, El Ten Eleven, Joey Sweeney, Marissa Nadler, Bad Western, Wild Pink, Jason Isbell, Sego, The Mountain Goats, A Place to Bury Strangers/Slowdive, Oh Sees, Daniel Bachman, Sleep Party People, Bellows, Taylor Janzen, Purling Hiss, Hater, Lou Rogai, LT Wade, Send Medicine, TMBOY, J. Marco, Michael Nau, Night Flight, and Lokoy.

MUSIC VIDEOS

SilverbacksTrü, Ohmme, Tomberlin, Claire Morales, Batz, blushh, Los Blancos, Flasher, Talos, Strange Rooms, Self Defense Family, Hifiklub & Lee Ranaldo, Deerhoof, Amen Dunes, Jay Rock, Zzzwalk, Domenico Lancellotti, Joan of Arc, Yumi Zouma, Who Is She?, Russian Baths, Life In Vacuum, IRMA VEP, Ocean Potion, Shy Boys, Drawing Boards, Cicada Rhythm, and Delta Sleep.

FULL STREAMS

Dumb, Henrik Appel, The Innocence Mission, Self Defense Family, Lily Konigsberg, Western Medication, Katie Herzig, No Love, Modern Rituals, Converge, Avid Dancer, Dott, and a Built to Spill covers compilation.

Tokyo Driftwood – Q&A (Music Video Premiere)

Ryan Dieringer is a name that’s appeared on this site in a few past thanks to working collaboratively with Tica Douglas. Dieringer steps a little bit further into the spotlight here as half of a duo project called Tokyo Driftwood. Sam McDougle makes up the other half of the project, which leans in on a genre intersection that finds room for folk, powerpop, and slacker punk. “Q&A” is a perfect example of the band at their best and they’re premiering the video for the track today.

Directed by Noah Hutton, “Q&A” takes a clever line on the nature of casting calls and the arbitrary decision-making of the entertainment business. Casual but pointed, the clip’s a perfect tongue-in-cheek complement to a song driven by a narrative that shreds the nature of interview to pieces. It’s over in less than three minutes and its minimal conceit gets paid off in a way that has thee potential to rattle around in viewer’s brains days after their first viewing.

Modest, mundane, and exceptionally crafted “Q&A” suggests Tokyo Driftwood will be a project that’s worth following. All of their pieces are in place and the duo might be ahead of their own curve, all that’s left is for an audience to find Tokyo Driftwood’s curious pace. It’s the kind of journey that inevitably yields an embarrassment of riches; “Q&A” already qualifies as an unexpected gem. An honest work from a promising act, “Q&A” is a perfect gateway.

Watch “Q&A” below and pre-order No Soap, Radio b/w Q&A here.