Heartbreaking Bravery

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Living Body – Choose (Stream)

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Over the past few days streams from Stef Chura, Slothrust, Cheap Girls, Ex-Girlfriends, Loamlands, Del Caesar, Yuppies Indeed, Miniature Tigers, The Molochs, Louise Lemon, Dooms Virginia, Big K.R.I.T., Slow Bullet, Field Trip, Julia Holter, and a newly remastered presentation of Clem Snide’s “Parable” all surfaced, serving as strong statements for the artists. There were notable music videos that arrived via Minihorse, Shirley Collins, Mums, Nassau, and Kamikaze Girls. Full streams rounded out the new releases and included memorable titles from the likes of Kevin Devine, Hurry, Uni Ika Ai,  Just, The Dazies, Forest Veil, Personal Space, Jackson Reed, and Earwig. While all of those, as always, are worth exploring, this post’s feature was secured by Living Body’s enchanting “Choose”.

Living Body, a new band that consists of members of Juffage, Sky Larkin, and Vessels (among others), are only a few songs into their career. Yet “Choose”, their most recent single, sounds like the work of a band that’s already released a handful of critically acclaimed records. Incredibly self-assured, remarkably confident, and spellbinding beyond reason, “Choose” is an immediately unforgettable slow-burn of a number. Gorgeous horn charts, a sneakily effective vocal melody, and a genuine sense of identity elevate “Choose” to a level of transcendence that’s incredibly uncommon for new bands to achieve.

Structure and personality in music can carry a band some distance but Living Body separate themselves from many of their peers with direct, emotionally resonant lyricism. “Choose” is the sound of a hard-learned lesson that finds bandleader Jeff T. Smith quietly repeating the mantra “get out while you can” in the song’s painfully beautiful chorus, injecting it with an air of resignation and regret. There’s a lightness to the proceedings but it’s one that’s grounded in a harshly honest reality, evoking the best works of acts like Belle & Sebastian without ever sounding like a carbon copy.

Living Body have a very distinct identity and the extent of their grasp on that aspect of their music is astonishing. There’s a deliberate nature to “Choose” that never betrays the song’s warm nuance or its ability to breathe comfortably on its own. Make no mistake, though, from the contained euphoria of the intro through to the muted, gentle close, “Choose” is consistently breathtaking. One of 2016’s loveliest moments and most promising new bands all wrapped into one irresistible package.

Listen to “Choose” below and pre-order Body Is Working here.

Three Weeks, Eight Records

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Over the past three weeks there have been an impressively large volume of outstanding records to find their way out into the world. A large handful of them were covered in a recent round-up post but there were some that genuinely stood out. With the extent of material involved in this particular format, the best option was to highlight them in one post. While this decision will come at the expense of exhaustively exploring what makes these records so great, know that they’re all more than worth a heavy amount of investment. So, without further ado, here are eight incredible records from the past three weeks.

Lubec – Cosmic Debt

The first of several wild-eyed basement pop records to appear on this list, Lubec‘s Cosmic Debt really emphasizes the band’s frenetic approach to songwriting. Where Cosmic Debt stands out is its coherent fluidity, tethering all of their most erratic moments to an identity that’s teeming with purpose. Front to back, Cosmic Debt‘s an oddly exhilarating record, drawing strength from its cracks, swinging to the end.

Glider – Demos 

A collaborative, multi-country recording project, Glider’s existed in some form or another for years. The act, comprised of Tom Lobban and Louie Newlands, finally released the handful of demos they’ve been recording to the public. Demos features an extraordinary range of two gifted, versatile songwriters who pull cues from powerpop, post-punk, ambient, and a variety of other genres and work them into something legitimately memorable. One of 2016’s most extraordinary surprises.

Poppies – Double Single

“Egghead” and “Mistakes” constitute the entirety of Double Single but Poppies make every second of each song count. Wistful indie pop at its absolute finest, the band coaxes a subdued magic out of familiar terrain, enlivening both songs with a tantalizing personality. Neither song ever breaks above mid-tempo and the music draws the listener in with a calm assurance, suggesting a very bright future for the quartet.

Greys – Warm Shadow 

Having one 2016 triumph under the belt already in the excellent Outer Heaven, Greys seize the opportunity to capitalize on some growing momentum with another outstanding collection of tracks. Considerably poppier and more lo-fi than it’s counterpart from earlier this year, Warm Shadow succeeds as both a GBV-style look at the band’s approach and as an attention-grabbing record that’s incredibly hard to leave. While it may wind up as an anomaly or outlier of Grey’s already extremely impressive career, it’s bound to be one that’s looked upon with fond admiration.

Navy Gangs – Navy Gangs

Navy Gangs have been coming on strong this year, with their self-titled EP serving as the current culmination of some impressively intuitive decision-making. Battered, punk-informed basement pop will likely always be the calling card of Heartbreaking Bravery’s coverage and Navy Gangs experiment with that dynamic to quiet perfection on Navy Gangs. Immediately memorable and capable of rewarding close investment, Navy Gangs should go a long way in ensuring its namesake’s reputation as one of the finest acts in the market.

Sonic Avenues – Disconnector

Since before this site existed, Sonic Avenues have been a personal favorite. The band’s expertise lays in hyper, sugar-coated punk laced with classic pop sensibilities shot through with nods to noise and post-punk. Disconnector, their latest, finds the band continuing to perfect that mixture. Every song’s laced with an unwieldy adrenaline that renders Disconnector surprisingly forceful without ever losing sight of what makes the record — and the band — tick. Tightly wound and characteristically thrilling, it’s another cause for celebration.

Never Young – Singles Tape II: SoftBank

Easily one of 2016’s most ferocious, hyper-charged basement punk EP’s, Never Young‘s Singles Tape II: SoftBank is never anything less than exhilarating. All five of these songs grit their teeth, bare some fangs, and unleash a series of incrementally vicious bites. “I’m washing up with soap”, an unforgettable hook from “Soap”, not only manages to be one of the year’s strangest rallying cries but one of its strongest as well. To dive even further into the band’s extreme tenacity and overabundance of feeling (and “Soap”), just take a look at the last installment of Watch This. If that doesn’t sell this band — and this EP — properly, nothing will.

Crying – Beyond the Fleeting Gales

One of the most eclectic, unique, and electrifying releases in recent memory, Crying’s Beyond the Fleeting Gales calmly trouts out a series of never-ending ideas, all of which feel genuinely inspired. No band is currently attempting what Crying’s accomplished with this insane pastiche of a record. Each song varies wildly in the instrumental mixes incorporated into the mix, sounding like Sleigh Bells one second, New Order the next, and Tobacco the next. To its credit, Beyond the Fleeting Gales‘ restlessness never gets tiring. On the contrary, Crying have released what will likely not just be a career-defining record with Beyond the Fleeting Gales but one of 2016’s most genuinely inspiring works. Have a listen and start making music.