Heartbreaking Bravery

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Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes/Fits (Split EP Review)

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Photograph by Stephanie Griffin // INDAFF

In the past week and a half a lot of full streams worth hearing have emerged, including titles from Feral Jenny, Ranch Ghosts, Lisa Prank, Sur Back, Stephen Steinbrink, Therm, CLAWS, Johanna Samuels, LUKA, Durand Jones and the Indications, Retail Space, and The Mystery Lights. Along with those there was also a Sundress Records compilation (Sunken Meadows – Vol. 1), a Vacant Stare compilation (Live From The Grassy Knoll Vol. 1), and a compilation from a long string of Kentucky-based musicians aptly titled We Have A Bevin Problem. Most importantly, that stretch of time also saw the release of Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes/Fits, a split EP boasting two of today’s most promising emerging acts.

Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes kick the proceedings off with the forceful basement pop of “Dad Got Me A Lefty Desk” that finds its strength in seamlessly alternating between razorwire breakdowns and propulsive, bass-driven main section. The vocals are impassioned and the band seems committed to sounding as menacing as their genre restrictions allow. The song’s over in two minutes and sets up “Mas and/or Menos” nicely, which opens with a tantalizingly off-kilter introduction before branching into the realms of disjointed post-punk. The band uses the spareness of the verses to their advantage here, injecting the chorus sections with an adrenaline that makes the track feel genuinely explosive; it’s a brilliant dynamic play that’s made all the better by “Mas and/or Menas” being, quite simply, a great song.

Fits waste no time on their side, kicking the transition off with “Fits”, which had a nice premiere piece over at Stereogum that dissected the band’s shockingly strong lineage (Fern Mayo, PWR BTTM, gobbinjr, Big Ups, and Museum of Recycling are all directly connected). Unsurprisingly, given the band’s pedigree, each of the songs on their side of the split are absolute triumphs. Sharp and sharp-witted, Cummins (who penned an extraordinary piece for the most recent crop of A Year’s Worth of Memories) leads their band through a trio of galvanized basement pop, never getting too cloy or too dour but always finding a way to effectively bridge the two.

All three of the band’s tracks on the split clock in at under 100 seconds yet land with such a fierce impact that they immediately register as complete entities worth even more than however many revisits they’ll undoubtedly earn. By the time “Why Did U @ Me” hurtles itself over a cliff and into some unknown abyss, Fits more than cement this split’s status as one of the very best of not just 2016 but of this decade. Everything on display here is a feat of strength and vision, ensuring both Yes Yes A Thousand Times Yes and Fits a discography entry that’s alternately inspired and inspiring. Hop on now and hold on tightly for what promises to be an exhilarating ride.

Listen to the split below and pick it up here.

Truman & His Trophy – Truman Kills A Bug (EP Review)

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Trust Fund, Petite LeagueShelf Life, Ghost Camp, Jackal Onasis, Ben Seretan, Sass Dragons, Toys That Kill, Naked Hour, Hardly Boys, Molar/Pale Kids, Vallens, Grey Bath, Laptop Funeral, Comprador, and Guts Club were among the bands that churned out excellent full streams in the last week and a half. Another band that added their name to that very impressive list: Truman & His Trophy. Now, several readers of this site will likely recognize Chris Sutter and Ryan Wizniak as members of Meat Wave but Truman & His Trophy precedes the formation of that band. They’re also responsible for one of the most gloriously insane concept albums of all time (the header photo’s a good indication of the band’s vision).

After the release of the aforementioned concept record — 2011’s Bottom George Pizza Planet — the band played a few shows and mostly fizzled out, rarely coming out of hiding to play a show. A new record seemed like it could be out of the question, especially in the wake of Meat Wave’s surprising (but extremely well-deserved) success. No one was expecting the band to make a power move this year but the band revels in exploiting the unexpected and gifted the world the ferocious Truman Kills A Bug EP just a short while ago.

Largely picking up where they left off, the band dives back into their seemingly alien take on the kind of punk that’s frequently tied to Steve Albini; cold, vicious, and punishingly direct. For as outlandish as the narratives can get in the land of Truman (and his trophy), the music remains startlingly effective. There’s always been a lot to love about this band and Truman Kills A Bug offers plenty of reminders over why the band became such a fiercely beloved local act in the first place. It’s raw, deceptively intelligent, and always leaves you wanting more. All you need to do to squash that longing is hit repeat.

Listen to Truman Kills A Bug below and pick it up from the band here.

Sun’s Out Bummed Out – Cut All My Hair (Song Premiere)

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One of this site’s first posts of the year was an introduction to the tantalizing hyper-skittishness of Ubetcha and it set the tone for the months to follow. 2016 has been extraordinarily generous in its offerings from new acts making their way out into the world for the first time. From the triumphantly withdrawn powerpop of Mo Troper’s Beloved to the razor-sharp cacophony of Cadet Kelly, the past six months have been overflowing with acts who already seem primed to break out into larger roles. Sun’s Out Bummed Out — the new project from Blind Lovejoy‘s Laura Daegling — can now be added to that growing list.

“Cut All My Hair”, taken from the project’s debut digital single, is Sun’s Out Bummed Out’s first song and demonstrates a sense of identity and understanding that a lot of seasoned bands fail to achieve. From a wispy opening section, the song blossoms into something that embraces an array of influences from the wave of psych and proto-punk that came in on the heels of the British Invasion to the kind of bedroom pop that carries greater weight and greater substance than what the genre’s most streamlined offerings typically provide.

Beyond the ancillary production and general aesthetic, Daegling proves to be a very adapt lyricist, deftly navigating the spaces between self-doubt and begrudging confidence. Of course, the narrative of “Cut All My Hair” wouldn’t be half as effective if it wasn’t grounded by a head-turning sincerity in its fiercest moments. Whether the song’s tipping towards hope or despair, there’s never a lack of conviction; Daegling keeps the song’s loftiest goals within arm’s reach before finally bringing the song home in an effective and affecting cyclical moment.

By that climactic final moment, Sun’s Out Bummed Out seems more than ready to be termed a legitimate force. Every single facet of the song seems necessary to its success, each piece perfectly aligned to constitute a whole that nears the transcendent. It’s a beautiful piece of music from a commanding voice that demands to be heard. One can only hope that a very big audience decides to quiet down enough to listen.

Listen to “Cut All My Hair” below and keep an eye on the site for further updates on Sun’s Out Bummed Out.