Heartbreaking Bravery

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Phylums – Go Home (Stream)

phylums

Another day’s come and gone and another glut of excellent new releases has been left for exploration. Between Albert Hammond Jr.’s Momentary Masters and Seapony’s A Vision, the full stream category was richly represented. An impressive roster leaning more heavily on big names than usual comprised a strong showing for music videos with acts as varied as Major Lazer (ft. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley), Elbow, Samantha Crain, and Jason Isbell all making intriguing contributions.

The day’s single streams leaned fairly heavily on fiery punk-tinged numbers but did make room for one glitchy ambient outlier; Fine Print’s moody “Can’t Lie“. Womps’ gloriously ragged “Live A Little Less” offered no shortage of pure exhilaration and Ghetto Ghouls’ “Hezbollah” maximized lo-fi grit and manic energy to great effect. While each of the linked items is worthy of a click (and of passing along to your friends), today’s feature spot goes to the WI-based Phylums.

Normally, I do my best not to use any type of identifier for the artists that get covered in here unless it plays a special function in their art because music is a universal craft that can (and should) be defined by so much more than gender and/or location. “Go Home” will be a rare exception to this rule just because it adds a bit of a personal punch for someone that recently moved halfway across the country from the state Phylums call home.

Phylums also boast an impressive pedigree through their members’ respective back catalogs (any band that has any ties to The Goodnight Loving– one of the best bands to ever come out of WI- will always have my attention) and that’s guaranteed them the attention of anyone even tangentially aware of what’s happening in that state’s DIY punk scene. “Go Home” is the first look at their first full-length, affirming just about every suspicion that’s been leveled at the band since forming; this is genuinely great music.

Taking a handful of cues from Nuggets and blending in the slapdash approach of the members’ various other projects and past experience (including- but not limited to- Holy Shit!, WI’s finest hardcore band), the quartet have wound up settling into a jangly psych-tinged basement pop groove and are- probably unsurprising- already far outstripping most bands kicking around that genre.

What’s more, “Go Home” carries with it a genuine sense of place; “Go Home” sounds like a loving homage to the environment where Phylums create. There’s a feeling it evokes that’s indescribably familiar- a visual suggestion of sprawling expanses of some light urban decay, rolling, tree-lined highways, and a lot of dairy farms. I’ve played through “Go Home” more than a dozen times already and on each subsequent listen I’m a little more tempted to take the song up on its title’s command- then I just close my eyes and as the song washes over everything, I’m practically back in the throes of the state that raised me- and that’s about as meaningful as praise gets.

Listen to “Go Home” below and keep an eye on the always-remarkable Dirtnap for pre-orders (and another on this site for more updates).

Rebecca Ryskalczyk – We’re Brothers (Demo Stream)

rebecca

A lot’s happened over the past few days; some coverage has been delayed due to a duo of outstanding live shows. One of those shows (Jason Isbell’s incredible, moving set at Prospect Park earlier tonight) won’t receive a mention on this site beyond what was just written. The other, an intimate all-acoustic rooftop affair spearheaded by site favorite Johanna Warren, will surface in a visual spread sometime in the very near future. With both of those now in the past, it’s time to bring the site back up to the current release cycle.

In the interest of time, the artists that had interesting releases throughout the three main formats (single stream, full stream, and music video) will simply be listed without explanation as to what’s attached to their name. The vast majority of these were released two days ago and all of them are worth the click. Life’s surprising sometimes, so why not embrace the opportunity to provide a low-level risk and high-level payoff? There were the artists responsible for those treasures: Infinity Girl, HSY, O, Rrest, Futurebirds, Slonk Donkerson, Say Hi, Chelsea Wolfe, Steep Leans (x2), Cold Specks, Here We Go Magic, and EZTV.

Today’s feature piece actually comes from a few weeks back but hasn’t really shown up anywhere outside of its own release. It comes from the solo project of Bethlehem Steel‘s driving voice, Rebecca Ryskalcyzk. While the emerging songwriter’s still playing shows with her own vehicle, she’s also generously offering two new songs under her own name. Released under the title We’re Brothers, the pair of songs are arresting bare-bones guitar/vocal demos that have something inherently special happening at their core.

While it’s difficult to describe what exactly that is, it’s painfully obvious when the songs are in motion. “Brain Drugs” starts the small collection off and immediately sets the tone for what’s to follow; haunted, lo-fi, folk-leaning tapestries that seem to be settling in with their own demons rather than pushing for an escape. As mesmerizing as it is downtrodden, “Brain Drugs”- the opening track- is an intensely arresting piece of work that sets up the latter number perfectly (while also recalling, both in style and tone, one of the year’s best covers).

“Other Otters” follows, maintaining the deeply bruised feeling that lent its predecessor an acute sense of devastation. It’s a jarring sequence that drives a knife home in a powerful couplet towards the end: “the less I try/the more I’m terrified”- a perfect summation of a potentially damaging penchant for indecision. Ryskalyczk riddles both songs with a series of gut-punches that seem to be rooted in life’s minutiae while still managing to keep an eye on the big picture. It’s an impressive feat and an even more impressive collection.

Towards the bottom of Ryskalczyk’s bandcamp page that hosts this release, there’s a disclaimer that these songs will be “re-recorded for something more” and when that release rolls around, it’ll likely be worth a slew of purchases. Until they do surface, though, these demos carry more than enough weight to approach an unlikely perfection.

Listen to We’re Brothers below and pick it up over on bandcamp. Keep an eye on this site for more updates on both Ryskalyczk and Bethlehem Steel.