Heartbreaking Bravery

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Two Inch Astronaut – Dead White Boy (Stream)

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A few notheworthy full-lengths emerged over the course of this week’s closing stretch. Two of the finest, Vagabon’s Persian Garden and VVHILE’s More, barely registered as blips on most site’s radars. Both stand as a very strong testament to the increasingly powerful (and ever-expanding) DIY punk scene and are well worth quite a few listens- and quite a bit of investment. Even with both of those records absolutely stacked with noterworthy songs, Two Inch Astronaut‘s third look at Foulbrood– following the title track and “Part of Your Scene“- managed to stand out.

It’s difficult to imagine Foulbrood not being heralded as one of the year’s best records around the time of its release. A case could be made for a little over half of the songs on the record being in the ranks of the year’s finest. “Dead White Boy”, in its nearly eight minute sprawl, is one of those songs. One of the record’s most definitive songs, it brings in cues from post-hardcore, math, shoegaze, and post-punk to create something deceptively subtle and naturally hypnotic. Teeming with restless lyrics that delve into some of the uncertainties of mortality, it’s one of the band’s most successful lyrical outings as well as one of their most arresting musically.

Veering from passage to passage, “Dead White Boy” also manages to succeed in terms of narrative-worthy dynamics. Alternately visceral and beautiful, it’s a unique entry in the band’s catalog and expertly taps into a somber mood that’s entirely new for Two Inch Astronaut and a surprisingly good look for a band hell-bent on remaining unpredictable. From the gorgeous falsettos in a sea of murky chaos to the unexpectedly jarring ending to the delicate bridge, there are no false notes here- not even the ones approaching atonality. Guitars surge, vocals soar, the bass courses, and the drums are next-level (all of which is par for the course for an Exploding in Sound-approved band but taken to extremes here). Everything clicks into place to create one of Two Inch Astronaut’s most engaging tapestries to date- and this is still only a hint of what Foulbrood has to offer.

Listen to “Dead White Boy” below and pre-order Foulbrood on Two Inch Astronaut’s bandcamp.

Toby Coke – Face Taker (Stream)

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Over the past few days, the truly great single song offerings have been fairly scant. Sure, there was another career-high effort from Crying and another outstanding entry in Art Is Hard’s Pizza Club series- but apart from the monstrous Two Inch Astronaut slow-burner (more to come on that in a short while), the well seemed to have been fairly tapped. Enter: Toby Coke. Back in December, this site ran a “Best Of” that included some extremely low-key releases, like the solo venture from The Frankl Project drummer (and occasional vocalist) Joseph Frankl. That solo venture, BREAKERS, was seeped in impact-heavy shoegaze that proved tantalizing enough to stand out from a lot of other artists operating in that genre.

Now, Frankl’s changed guises and switched over to Toby Coke, an equally promising project. “Face Taker” is the first look at the new project and it’s a masterfully composed stunner. Written about the extremely controversial Monsanto corporation, it also immediately aligns Toby Coke’s politics with other commendably active, difference-making artists. “Face Taker” itself is a lo-fi, mid-tempo, shoegaze-leaning post-punk gut-punch. Intensely melodic and completely unapologetic in its viciousness, there isn’t a moment that goes by without a noteworthy hook or a clever turn of phrase. It’s too impossibly great to ignore and ranks among the year’s best songs; a gut-punch thrown from the ether. Don’t let it pass by without the attention it deserves.

Listen to “Face Taker” below and purchase it at bandcamp, with all proceeds going to The Edible Schoolyard Project.