Heartbreaking Bravery

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The Pharmacy – Masten Lake Lagoon (Stream)

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Burger’s at it again. This time in the form of The Pharmacy’s incredible new record/tape/whatever, Spells. To celebrate its existence in the world, the label’s streaming “Masten Lake Lagoon” an undeniable basement pop tune. Weaving in some classic psych elements while retaining a rock n’ soul style always seems to come effortlessly to The Pharmacy, who are now five full-lengths deep and following up what was their previous high point, Stoned & Alone, with a brand new one. Spells is one hell of a record and the decision to stream “Masten Lake Lagoon” was the right one; it’s the record’s defining moment. Just as perfect for a sunny day is it is a stormy night spent with friends, “Masten Lake Lagoon” is a triumph no matter when it’s spun.

Listen to “Masten Lake Lagoon” below and use it to soundtrack a camping trip this summer.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always (Music Video)

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have endured one of the stranger career arcs of recent memory but, thankfully, that hasn’t stopped them from making music. If the backlash and critical comedown they faced after the buzz from their much-adored self-titled debut had deterred them, they wouldn’t be on the verge of releasing what looks to be a fairly incredible record. The band had already shared a track featuring The National’s Matt Berninger which didn’t skimp on scuzz, which is a trend that continues on “As Always”. Additionally, they’ve released an alluring music video to accompany “As Always” that accentuates the song’s sense of unease to near-perfection.

Anchored by an engaging central performance from Will Daniels, the David M. Helman-directed clip blurs the boundaries between the naturalistic and surreal to great effect. Tracking the protagonist through a night on the town that’s filled with a quiet discontentment, it manages to become both a frightening character study as well as a cautionary warning. With the atmosphere of the clip heightened by the decision to present much of its arresting imagery through hazy exteriors, it becomes a magnetic force through its artfully positioned movements. By the climactic finish, just how harrowing everything that preceded it becomes clear- and everyone involved has something they have every right to be proud of.

Watch “As Always” below and make sure to pick up the band’s forthcoming album, Only Run, when it’s self-released on June 3.

The Rich Hands – Teenager (Stream)

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It’s been far too long since a Burger band’s been covered on here in something other than a Watch This feature, which is a damn shame because they’re still the flagship label for scrappy DIY basement pop bands and cassette culture. Luckily, The Rich Hands are here to right this wrong. Their sophomore effort is entitled Out of My Head and it’s full of gnarled pop jams. Burger’s gone ahead and shared one of the best from this release, “Teenager”, on their soundcloud. It’s an all-out blitz of a tune that comes inflected with OG punk undertones, from the snotty, simplistic melody straight through to the tuff guy exteriors, it’s a well-informed earworm that closes itself out with a perfectly placed half-time transition. Be prepared to hum this one to no one in particular for the next few days.

Listen to “Teenager” below and get to the nearest party as soon as possible.

5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 5

Continuing the 5 to See series isn’t proving much of a challenge; as mentioned before, NXNE has gone all out for their 20th anniversary, booking an absolutely packed lineup that’ll more than likely result in a long list of schedule conflicts. This series is designed to help navigate those conflicts, positing the strengths of an artist while providing an informational sample in addition to a live video. It’s also worth noting that the further this rabbit hole gets explored, there will be less emphasis on Heartbreaking Bravery’s regular genre specialties.  This is something that’s already becoming evident from the selections of the last few entries and will continue to be evident with the fifth installment. From the only hip-hop act to ever earn a feature here to some startlingly gorgeous folk-inflected acts, here’s the newest class of the 5 to See family.

1. My Darling Fury

What to Know: Easily destined to be several festivalgoers favorite NXNE discovery, this folk-leaning quintet is an essential stop for many reasons. Among them: masterful songwriting, an incredible central voice, their ability to adeptly blend an intelligent mix of genres into something that feels unique, and songs that are downright gorgeous. Haunting harmonies and clever lyrics put them way over the top and should catapult them to the top of any acoustic-lovers list. The video below should dispel virtually any lingering uncertainty.

What to Watch:

2. Craft Spells

What to Know: Craft Spells have excelled in making music that blurs the lines between dream-pop and powerpop for the last few years and are gearing up for the release of Nausea, their sophomore effort. If an early look at Nausea was any indication, Craft Spells are currently settling into their strengths as a band and operating more confidently than they ever have before. It’s the perfect music for the spring-to-summer transition and their set should leave a lot of people with perma-grins on their faces.

What to Watch:

3. Robert Ellis

What to Know: An acclaimed songwriter and guitarist, Ellis’ career was built on word-of-mouth and his place as a cult staple in the folk, bluegrass, and alt. country scenes was won through a combination of undeniable talent and smart touring decisions. A gifted fingerpicker and lyricist, Ellis’ set has been leaving those fortunate enough to see him slack-jawed for the past few years and his most recent record, The Lights From the Chemical Plant, garnered universal acclaim. For an indication of what he has to offer, watch the stunning performance clip included below.

What to Watch:

4. Courtney Barnett

What to Know: Barnett’s droll tongue-in-cheek witticisms have earned the songwriter quite a bit of praise lately. “Avant Gardener” has become nearly inescapable and the wide-open feel of that particular song can be found in most of Barnett’s other stream-of-conscious ramblings. All dirtied up and sharp, the Australian act’s set is likely going to wind up as one of the most hotly-tipped of NXNE. Don’t miss out on an artist who’s currently making all the right moves.

What to Watch:

5. Run the Jewels

What to Know: Killer Mike and El-P are two of the most critically acclaimed MC’s out there. Wildly imaginative and often unrelentingly dark, the two came together for a project called Run the Jewels last year and turned the hip-hop world on its head. To date, this is the only rap/hip-hop project to have earned coverage on Heartbreaking Bravery and their material is strong enough to have earned that distinction in full. Additionally, their live sets have been pretty well-documented as things that frequently topple over into events so out of control that they border on absurdity. It’d be foolish not to fully expect this to be one of NXNE’s most memorable moments.

What to Watch: