Heartbreaking Bravery

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Quarterbacks – Pool (Stream)

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Continuing on with tonight’s coverage of last week’s events in music, this will be the second post dedicated to showcasing the very best single streams that emerged last week (there were technical complications that disallowed much of anything being posted).  With music videos already having earned their showcase and nearly a dozen songs being included in the last post, it’s time to double down on the songs that make up the remainder of last week’s haul. A few of the songs on display here rank among the best these bands have ever produced and deserve quite a bit of attention on their own merit- so, enough talking, let’s cut to the recap.

Dirty Dishes came charging out of the gate wild-eyed and swinging with the vicious post-punk burner “Red Roulette“, Kagoule set about achieving something similar via the decidedly off-kilter (and subtly menacing) “Gush“, and Happyness closed the 2014 chapter of the year’s best series- Art Is Hard’s Pizza Club- with the appropriately scuzzy “Jelly Boy (Jesus, Baby)“. Murder By Death made their return to the fore by virtue of the swirling “Strange Eyes“, Munroe made a deep impression with the starkly arresting “Bloodlet“, and Cloakroom advanced previous hints- in support of the increasingly problem claim- that Further Out will be one of 2015’s finest records via the unveiling of “Starchild Skull”. Mope Grooves cooked up the perfect sub-minute basement pop tune with the helpfully instructional “Don’t Sleep In Your Jeans“, Dick Diver released the triumphantly laid-back “Waste The Alphabet“, and site favorites Girlpool continued their impossibly winsome streak with the surprisingly searing “Alone at the Show“, one of the duo’s strongest songs to date.

Today’s feature falls to another site favorite, Quarterbacks, and their newest track, “Pool”. Quarterbacks had previously carved out a name for themselves via their excellent Double Double Whammy release, Quarterboy. Back when that was released, Quarterbacks (led by Dean Engle) was still very much a solo project but, somewhat curiously, for the project’s upcoming self-titled effort, it’s gone the full band route. Adding even more intrigue to this is the fact that the two songs (“Pool” and “Center“) to have been released from Quarterbacks so far already appeared on Quarterboy. Both songs take on a new vitality in the full band setting, though, rendering all of that background information fairly meaningless. “Pool”, in particular, is accentuated in fairly thrilling ways, with the rhythm section playing up the song’s manic neurosis. In typical Quarterbacks form, the whole thing’s over in under 90 seconds- but it still feels resoundingly complete. With the rate Engle & co. have been going, it’s well within the bounds of reason to fully expect Quarterbacks to emerge as one of 2015’s richest treasures. February 10 can’t get here soon enough.

Listen to “Pool” below and pre-order Quarterbacks from Team Love (who are releasing it in association with Double Double Whammy) here.

Laughing Fingers – Crutches (Stream)

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As previously mentioned, the site’s been dealing with some lingering technical issues so its been difficult to get in the regularly-scheduled posts. Last week saw nothing but a premiere and a few series features go up- nothing else. To make up for all of that missed time, tonight’s posts will be dedicated to last week’s best material in the three major categories. Music videos have been accounted for and now it’s onto the single songs. In keeping with the normal routine, there was an abundance of single streams so this will be the first of two posts dedicated to their coverage. A full stream post will follow and then this week’s coverage will be brought up to speed. Before all of that happens, there are a lot of songs to discuss- starting now.

Darlings showed they could balance their power with a staggering amount of casual finesse in the basement pop stopmper “I Love You Too“, Krill offered up an extremely tantalizing preview of their forthcoming album with the ragged “Torturer“, and The Golden Dregs strutted out some psych-pop via the subtly sun-splashed (and folk-inflected) “The Role of A Lifetime”. Reservoir showed an abundance of promise with the slow-building “Waves Erase“, Leggy continued a raucous streak with the decidedly punk “Grrrls Like Us“, Leapling unveiled the deeply intriguing “Silent Stone” from their upcoming Vacant Page LP, Twerps reassured everyone their Merge signing was no mistake via the shimmering “Shoulders“,  and Snow Ghosts tapped into something transcendental and impossibly compelling with their hypnotically brooding single, “Bowline“.

It’s another dark brooder that earned this post’s feature spot, though; Laughing Fingers’ “Crutches”. Restless and bleak, “Crutches” emphasizes the singular talents of Chris Broom and Ian Taggart (the duo who make up Laughing Fingers) in the best ways possible. Heavy on atmosphere without skimping on melody or structure, Laughing Fingers created something that feels akin to the smoke that hovers over a battlefield. It boasts a relentlessly cynical worldview that accepts everything is cyclical in lyric copy, it’s the uncertainty of the music that pushes the song to a grandiose disquiet. At times, it’s almost as if “Crutches” moves in slow motion, allowing everything in the outside world to unfurl or unwind as it grapples with an intense internal battle. Everything ends when it turns to chaotic to contain; even the staccato stabs can’t hide the fact that everything’s about to fall completely apart, providing an extremely disconcerting end-cap to the song’s veiled intensity. In short: Laughing Fingers are a band who aren’t afraid to make something like “Crutches”- and “Crutches” is the kind of song that deserves to be dissected. Don’t be surprised if this song (or Two EP‘s) burrows itself out a permanent place in a lot of people’s collections.

Listen  to “Crutches” below and order Two EP‘s from Death Rehearsal here.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Billions of Eyes (Music Video)

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Due to some lingering technical issues (most notably the loss of a laptop), there’s been a brief delay in regularly-scheduled content. Last week alone was devoid of anything other than Watch This installments, a lone song premiere, and a few 2014 pictorial reviews. To amend that, the next three posts will be focused exclusively on the best of the best to have surfaced last week in the three major categories: music video, single stream, and full stream. Following that will be a recap of this week-thus-far and the second-to-last pictorial review. With all of that exposition out of the way, it’s time to move on to the first major topic: last week’s music videos.

Last week’s haul of new clips did make for some interesting debate over which to feature, as they were all deserving. Ultimately, there was no wrong answer and it seemed most appropriate to go with an artist who’d previously never been covered on the site, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, who crafted something deeply alluring with the “Billions of Eyes” video. Joining the ranks of “Billions of Eyes” were an unbelievable cast of gems that included: Trust Fund‘s impossibly endearing “Cut Me Out“,  The Midwestern Charm‘s screwball revenge thriller “General Drag“, Alex G‘s charmingly off-kilter “Harvey“, HOLY’s staunchly lo-fi “Silver of Your Heart“, The Dead Ships’ blurred adventure trip “Canyon“, Belle & Sebastian’s characteristically soft-edged “Nobody’s Empire“, and I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness’ usual disquiet manifesting in “You Are Dead to Me“. All great clips that will reward anyone able to cut out a half an hour of viewing time in their day-to-day.

Now, back to the featured highlight: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s infectiously punchy indie pop and the effortlessly brilliant “Billions of Eyes”. In the clip, Winston Smith-esque collages meet the pop-art sensibility of Wes Anderson in an immediately engaging video that blurs the lines between traditionalism and modernism. It’s difficult to call “Billions of Eyes” a music video or a lyric video definitively because, more than any other clip in recent memory, there’s an emphasis on the strongest elements of both categories. It’s a sly trick that almost diverts attention away from how well-crafted and intuitively paced “Billions of Eyes” winds up being. Ferocious editing sneaks in and consumes the whole affair in the final act, well after the tastefully-presented home video footage has been established. Never anything less than thrilling, it’s as fine of an introduction-at-large that Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (or anyone else) could have possibly hoped for- and it’s one of 2014’s most refreshing videos. If the rest of After (due out via Mom + Pop on March 3) can live up to this extraordinarily high precedent, anyone fortunate enough to hear it will be in for quite the ride.

Watch “Billions of Eyes” below and pre-order After here.

 

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 3

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One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!