Heartbreaking Bravery

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Left & Right – Low Expectations (Stream)

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Infinity Cat’s quietly been building themselves been building themselves a roster worth the envy of most other labels. While bands like Diarrhea Planet and JEFF The Brotherhood ensure their name is kept in circulation, it’s the smaller artists like Left & Right that keep the label vital. It’s not a mistake that Superchunk and Archers of Loaf are both referenced in Left & Right’s bio, nor is it a mistake that “Low Expectations” has been circulating around some of the higher-profile taste-making music sites; it’s a sharp song, finely tuned and full of 90’s lo-fi outsider pop hallmarks.

What sets “Low Expectations” apart from an increasingly crowded quasi-revivalist field is the delivery. Left & Right have never been short on passion and it’s still peaking through their work with Five Year Plan, the third entry in Infinity Cat’s Cassette Series (following efforts from both Music Band and Guerilla Toss). There’s a certain sense of history that’s paired with a modernism that helps keep their work grounded and distances it from the risk of feeling dated. Left & Right do anything but live up to the song’s title- the anticipation for the September 9 release of Five Year Plan is through the roof.

Listen to “Low Expectations” below and get a free download of the song by pre-ordering Five Year Plan from Infinity Cat here.

Shy Boys – Life Is Peachy (Music Video)

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Between Saintseneca’s “Happy Alone” and Perfume Genius’ “Queen“, Christopher Good’s already responsible for two of the most arresting music videos of the year. A few days ago the Director/Editor/Producer unveiled his most recent effort, a constantly-evolving visual puzzle for Shy Boys’ characteristically surf-tinged “Life Is Peachy”. Playing with the linearity of time, the video hinges on a repeated chase involving a thief and a dental patient. It’s an intriguing concept and Good gives it his typically artful execution. As the single chase scene repeats, tiny details are added and subtracted. One mirror evolves into three, red evolves into blue, and a “Wanted” poster is brought full circle by a series of Polaroids. It’s the perfect balance of accessible simplicity and subtle high-concept, essentially becoming a mirror of the song. Everything’s always in motion, everything builds momentum, and it all comes together with a satisfying close. Music videos are rarely more clever than they are here, which is something that’s deserving of celebration.

Watch “Life Is Peachy” below and order it from High Dive here.

Cayetana – Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving (Stream)

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Cayetana have been making a major push recently after developing a reputation for themselves based on the strength of their live show and incessant touring. Recently, the band went on tour with The Menzingers who also brought along site favorite Lemuria and PUP, raising their profile- and expectations for their new material- to staggering heights. If that pressure was weighing on the band, it doesn’t show- the first glimpse they’ve offered at new material, “Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving” is an exhilarating leap forward for a band that seems ready for national attention.

Boasting one of the catchiest vocal melodies of the year, the song’s a super-charged blast of basement pop that sounds both completely unhinged and gleefully effortless. Cayetana appear to be in full control of their craft, which bodes well for Nervous Like Me (due out September 9 on Tiny Engines), which “Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving” is taken from. Veering back and forth between an insanely fun sugar-rush during the verse and a decidedly more contemplative (and somber) passage offers up a contrast that keeps the listener on their toes and keeps the song fascinating. It’s an extremely tantalizing first look at Nervous Like Me and will be whipping audiences into a frenzy for as long as it’s played.

Listen to “Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving” below and keep both eyes peeled for Nervous Like Me.

Two Houses – Disappointer (Stream)

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Let’s Pretend Records are one of the most consistent record labels in America, yet their releases are niche enough that they haven’t had an act break through to a wider audience. While it’s unlikely that day will ever come (though it’d be welcome if it did), they’re probably better off for it. Between Vacation, Dead Dog, Treasure Fleet, PURPLE 7, Tight BrosVånna Inget, Kicking Spit, and Nervosas, they’ve had a direct hand in some of the very best records of the last few years. Now, to extend their unlikely winning streak, the label’s partnering up with Rad Girlfriend Records to release Two Houses’ Disappointer 7″.

Operating in a left-field punk-leaning basement pop vein (a la Cheap Girls, Sundials, The Sidekicks, etc.), the Chicago-based trio’s crafted an unlikely collection of songs, highlighted by the title track. While all of the songs include unexpected passages, it’s “Disappointer” that twists and turns the most, making room for atmospheric riffing, surprisingly effective syncopation, and a very strong lyrical outing that underscores how arresting blending miniature vignettes into something whole can really be. It’s an incredibly strong moment that defines what’s easily the band’s finest offering yet.

Listen to “Disappointer” below and pick up a copy of the EP here.

Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Gates of Hell (Music Video)

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Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs have always had a real sense of fun about them, which was clearly evident during their NXNE shows. Fortunately, that awareness continues to tie over to their music videos. Last week the band released a clip for the title track off of their just-released full-length, Gates of Hell, which stands as their finest effort to date. “Gates of Hell” as a song finds the band emphasizing their powerpop sensibilities without losing any of their basement punk grit. Guitar riffs and organ jabs are exchanged at a perfectly-paced tempo and the final breakdown builds to a rousing finish. It’s a great song that gets even better when paired with a deranged music video. “Gates of Hell”, the video, finds the band members positioned as part of a black magic occult. Tinted in a rusty sepia and clothed in robes throughout, this would look like a low-budget black metal music video if the audio was muted. It’s a clever, nuanced video that’s full of the same borderline self-deprecating humor that drives the song itself. Packaged together, it’s a welcome bit of irreverence from a band that’s not afraid of distancing itself from similarly-minded acts who can occasionally take themselves too seriously.

Watch “Gates of Hell” below and order the record from the always-reliable Southpaw Records.

Purling Hiss – Learning Slowly (Stream)

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In a quest to continue making up for the time lost to the month-long festival coverage dedication, several gems have been unearthed. Most of these songs have been in heavy rotation since first appearing and several even soundtracked the long festival editing process. Purling Hiss’ “Learning Slowly” earned its position as one of the most-heavily played while the NXNE and Pitchfork spots were being finalized. Jagged and hypnotic, “Learning Slowly” is a personal best for Purling Hiss and one hell of a tease for the band’s upcoming Weirdon.

Purling Hiss have made a career out of spiky lo-fi basement punk and “Learning Slowly” sees them continuing steadily on their quest to perfect the genre. Easily their most accessible- and catchiest- song to date, “Learning Slowly” could prove to be an effective warning shot for a (deservedly) broader audience. Fortunately, the band’s kept both their character and integrity in tact, which will likely take Weirdon a long way. Purling Hiss has a few things to say- and as “Learning Slowly” seems to indicate, they’re all worth listening to.

Listen to “Learning Slowly” below and keep an eye out for Weirdon‘s eventual release via Drag City.