Heartbreaking Bravery

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Cancers – Moral Net (Stream)

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Cancers is a new duo project between two seasoned members of the DIY scene: Ella Kaspar and Lenny Miller. Originally conceived as a means of getting artistic freedom, the songs they’ve been unveiling so far have done nothing short of completely justifying their decision. Furthering their newfound artistic freedom, the duo’s chosen to release their upcoming full-length Fatten the Leeches via Kandy Kane Records, which they founded. Additionally, punk mainstays Dead Broke Rekerds will be lending a helping hand for the record’s cassette/vinyl release and distribution of Fatten the Leeches after being understandably taken with the material on display.

In advance of Fatten the Leeches, the band’s offered up two songs to stream; “Be Cool” and “Moral Net”. Both have been floating around for a while but recently received another push thanks to the record’s impending release date- which offers a perfect opportunity to seize something that previously managed to slip by this site’s radar. While “Be Cool” is undoubtedly a strong track, it’s “Moral Net” where the anticipation level for Fatten the Leeches gets kicked up a few levels. Spiky grunge-leaning shoegaze-centric guitars prop up Kaspar’s voice, which is brought out considerably in the mix. “Moral Net” swirls and slashes with the best of them and seems to be a relatively close cousin to Bleeding Rainbow. A variety of 80’s & 90’s influence permeate throughout the song’s brief runtime, supplying it with a feeling of subtle nostalgia despite the fact that, when it all comes together, it feels appropriately of the moment. It’s over before it should be and warrants a few consecutive listens. Don’t sleep on this band- or on this record.

Listen to “Moral Net” below and keep an eye out for its September 16 release date.

The Frankl Project – Day at the Races (Stream)

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Pop-punk has always been a deeply problematic genre. More than just about any other style of music that gained significant attention throughout the last decade and a half, pop-punk seemed to get too hung up on its own hallmarks. Elongated vowels, clichéd lyrics about love and heartbreak, a certain amount of bombast, and a total unwillingness to say- or attempt- something new. If anyone broke from the tried-and-true mold, they stuck out like a sore thumb- and became all the more interesting for it. Enter: The Frankl Project. Their most recent full-length, 2013’s excellent Standards, was one of that year’s best surprises thanks to an emphasis on grit and humility unheard elsewhere. All of the songs on that record were backed up by intelligence and conviction- and an ample amount of instrumental chops. It was an inward look at very specific types of collapse that never became overwrought or overstepped its bounds. By the time its dozen songs had played themselves out, it was fairly evident that it deserved to be embraced as either a genre classic or a very welcome step forward for a style that’d become so redundant.

Last month, during this site’s festival coverage period, the Cincinatti trio quietly released Little Wrecking Ball, an online-only two-song effort. While the title track works well as a lead-off (and on its own), it’s the second song of the pair that steals the show. Everything that made Standards so great has been pinpointed and emphasized, leaving no doubt that the band should be heading places. Furthering this theory is the fact that “Day at the Races” was recently hand-picked by Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace to  lead off the unsigned side of Xtra Mile Recordings fascinating (and absolutely vital) Smokin’ (Signed vs.  Unsigned) compilation. It’s easy to see what Grace finds so appealing here; the guitar tones are incendiary, the song structure is intelligent, the instrumental sections are uniformly excellent, the down-trodden lyrics are clever but contained, and the drop to half-time that closes everything out at the end is a thing of perfection. Moreover, when guitarist/vocalist Jacob Tippey sings, and this is key, it’s difficult not to believe everything he says. Tippey’s delivery is as purposeful as the music itself and pairing the two together makes for an explosive combination. Underneath his impassioned delivery, a menacing bassline (courtesy of Paul Schroder, who took the extraordinary shot that serves as the release’s cover) is joined by Joseph Frankl’s always-impressive drumming and Tippey’s inventive, meldoy-heavy guitarwork. All of those elements together make for a molotov cocktail of a tune that proves pop-punk can still be something worth listening to.

Listen to “Day at the Races” below and make sure to catch these guys next time they hit the road- their live act’s not one worth missing.

Songs in Screens: A Look Back (Music Video Mixtape)

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We’ve hit the approximate 2/3’s mark of the year 2014 and this very post is the 250th to run on this site. Over the course of its duration Heartbreaking Bravery has included a fairly strong emphasis on the music video and this year’s offerings made that commitment a complete non-issue by virtue of their excellence. Songs in Screens: A Look Back is a visual-based “mixtape” and serves as a reminder of a lot of the videos that earned acclaimed here- and a few that, whether due to time or an overabundance of other predetermined material, were egregiously overlooked. For all of the videos that have been featured, there will be a hyperlink leading to their respective write-ups. Those that didn’t receive a write-up will get a very brief one below the mix itself. All of these videos came out in 2014 and made an impression- and they all deserve to be remembered. Let’s give them the recognition that they deserve.

1. Perfect Pussy – I
2. Bleeding Rainbow – Images
3. Creepoid – Baptism

4. Thee Oh Sees – Drop

While Thee Oh Sees’ “The Lens” did land itself a nice write-up, “Drop” was unfairly pushed to the side during its release. Arguably the better of the two videos (and songs), it gets the most out of its constantly evolving, simplistically animated black-and-white presentation and felt like a more appropriate inclusion for this list.

5. together PANGEA – Offer
6. Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead
7. Potty Mouth – Black & Studs
8. Dead Stars – Summer Bummer

9. The Coasts – I Just Wanna Be A Star

It’s almost cruel that both this song and this video were overlooked due to festival coverage. Both are either perfect or near-perfect and embody just about everything this site loves most. “I Just Wanna Be A Star” is a joyous celebration on record and the video gets one hell of a performance out of its unlikely lead. Make sure to not skip this one.

10. PUP – Guilt Trip

11. Anna Calvi & David Byrne – Strange Weather

This spot was always intended to feature an anomaly- an act or style that doesn’t regularly earn a feature spot on this site. clipping. came a hair’s breadth away from claiming it with their mercilessly arresting video for “Work Work” but Anna Calvi & David Byrne made something so staggeringly beautiful and emotive with their video for their “Strange Weather” cover that it would’ve been criminal to ignore it. No video this year had cinematography this stunning- or a mood this anxious. A genuine work of art.

12. Beverly – Honey Do
13. Mean Creek – My Madeline
14. Fucked Up – Sun Glass
15. Mozes & the Firstborn – Bloodsucker
16. Tweens – Forever
17. PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart
18. Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite
19. The So So Glos – Speakeasy
20. Marvelous Mark – Bite Me
21. Savages – Fuckers

22. Lower – Soft Option

No video from 2014 had this amount of unrelenting tension. From its bare-bones premise to the engaging execution, it’s something with the potential to be permanently embedded into the brain of anyone lucky enough to come across it.

23. Greys – Guy Picciotto

24. Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma 

At this point, it’s fairly evident that Here and Nowhere Else will stand as one of 2014’s best records. The video for “Psychic Trauma” comes as a welcome reminder of that fact and features some basic (albeit eye-catching) visual effects. That combination’s enough to land it a spot in this list.

25. White Lung – In Your Home

Of all the 2014 music videos to be released so far, very few approach the levels of insanity attained by White Lung’s fiery “In Your Home”. Mixing a lot of the items featured prominently throughout this list (unexpected psychedelic imagery, contained animation, and the black-and-white aesthetic, especially) with something that’s uniquely their own, “In Your Home” stands tall as a testament to the fact that being weird is way more fun than being standard. And it offers up a perfect wrap for this mix. Roll credits.