Heartbreaking Bravery

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Bent Denim – Diamond Jubilee (EP Premiere)

Very few music videos that have appeared as features on this site have resonated like Bent Denim’s “Good Night’s Sleep“, which remains a deeply affecting viewing experience. That song was a very strong highlight of Romances You, a record great enough to leave those of us that heard it eagerly awaiting a follow-up. Today, the band delivers on the promise of that record in kind by way of their new EP, Diamond Jubilee.

A name taken from a roadside casino the band spotted during a detour they took while traveling to attempt to sneak into Fort Maccomb (best known for its appearance at the end of True Detective’s first season), Diamond Jubilee ignores easy flash in favor of something far more substantial. As early premieres from Stereogum and GoldFlakePaint seemed to indicate, Diamond Jubilee continues the band’s penchant for rich narratives and melancholic atmospherics.

Both “All My Friends Are Dead” and “Miss You, Kid” were both fairly well-covered at the time of their release and it’s easy to see why. Each of the EP’s opening two tracks conjures up something warm and familiar, carrying a tinge of wistful nostalgia while both emphasizing and accentuating a much deeper emotional pull. Lo-fi elements converge with much bigger ideas and coast along a middle ground that brings out the best of each side. Tender melodies wash over the listener and then disappear into the sand, leaving a faint imprint that carries the promise of a welcome return.

As strong as both “All My Friends Are Dead” and “Miss You, Kid” are, the back stretch of Diamond Jubilee is what transforms the EP into one of the year’s best. From the opening piano figure of “False Leads to Dead Ends” to the gentle cadence of “Daisy” to the title track’s hazy epilogue, Bent Denim continues the most sublime stretch of their catalog to date. Those final three songs lead into each other seamlessly, strengthening the transcendental effect Bent Denim’s capable of producing when they’re at their best and, make no mistake, Diamond Jubilee is the most remarkable work of their career.

Heartrending and heartbreaking in equal measure, Diamond Jubilee finds Bent Denim hitting their stride. In collaborating with Young & Sick‘s Nick van Hofwegen, who contributes backing vocals across the record, the band also opens up their sound ever so slightly, taking it to breathtaking heights. Largely a sobering meditation on everything from conflicting ideologies to facing down mortality, Diamond Jubilee winds up being inexplicably moving. Unassuming and unforgettable, Diamond Jubilee is an EP worth holding onto long after its final notes ring out.

Listen to Diamond Jubilee below and keep an eye out for its official release tomorrow.

Sat. Nite Duets – Deep Peace (Music Video Premiere)

A lot of outstanding records were released last year and a handful of them wound up getting pushed to the wayside in favor of titles by more recognizable names. Among the best of those critically acclaimed outcasts was Sat. Nite Duets‘ Air Guitar, an innovative and explosive genre-demolishing blast that proved guitars could still be vital. Air Guitar was full of highlights, from the surging, giddy “Attached to the Lamp” to the acoustic-driven, nostalgic-leaning pop of “Sober July”.

One of Air Guitar‘s most unassuming moments came in the form of “Deep Peace”, the record’s melancholic penultimate track. While “Deep Peace” never seemed to be a song that was crying out for the music video treatment, Sat. Nite Duets have made a career out of eschewing the obvious decisions in favor of something more exploratory. Wrangling the talents of a trio of directors using the names Pizza Rat, Lord Stephen, and L.H. Burmesch, Sat. Nite Duets are given an appropriately minimalist turn for the visual treatment provided to “Deep Peace”, which is premiering below.

Recorded in Sat. Nite Duets member Ben Gucciardi’s Oconomowoc cabin last winter, “Deep Peace” is a decidedly low-key affair. Allowing the time stamp on some grainy home video footage to humorously jump backwards and forwards in time, the subjects of the film never really change, either slyly hinting at immortality — something that could be supported by the frequent cuts to the band surrounding a birthday cake adorned with an intense amount of candles — or just reveling in the simplistic absurdity of the anachronism. It’s a warm, tongue-in-cheek aspect of a similarly warm video.

More than anything, “Deep Peace” serves as a welcome reminder that sometimes the best thing about making music is simply getting to spend time with your friends. It’s immediately clear that the band enjoyed putting this together and there’s not even a trace of conflict to be found in “Deep Peace”, which turns out to be an incredibly apt title. “Deep Peace” is a familial affair that offers up an abundance of small riches, all anyone has to do is take the time to look.

Watch “Deep Peace” below and pick up Air Guitar from Father/Daughter here.

Crushing – Crushing (EP Review)

During the back half of last week, a small collection of great full streams surfaced from artists like Wooden Wand, Max Gowan, Us Weekly, Piss Test, Gnarwhal, Hour of the Time Majesty Twelve, and HOTKID. While all of those were compelling listens that deserve no shortage of time or attention, it was Crushing‘s self-titled EP that made an impression deep enough to secure this post’s featured slot.

The songs that teased Crushing may have piqued some interest but now that the EP’s finally arrived in full, it’s fair to say that it wildly exceeded expectations. From the onset of EP opener “Oi Jealousy”, the band delivers with a combined level of confidence, conviction, and articulation that’s hard for most seasoned bands to possess. Each one of these basement pop tracks is razor-sharp, utilizing the genre’s history to its advantage. Whether it’s the incorporation of both dream-pop and powerpop aesthetics on “Sleeping Bag” to the bedroom pop trappings on “Telling Lies” to the more straightforward punk styling of “Oi Jealousy” and “Emery Board”, the band runs the gamut of what’s come to shape basement pop.

Everything works, no matter how many angles the band pulls from or at, managing to congeal those influences into a coherent whole that’s significantly more powerful than its individual parts. By the time it’s all over and the smoke’s cleared, it’s hard not to want to go straight back to the beginning and put a match up to the powder keg for one more explosion. One of 2017’s most unexpected surprises, Crushing is an incredible work from a band that’s carved out a strong identity. Both the band and their self-titled effort should stand as examples of 2017’s finest.

Listen to Crushing below and pick it up here.

Lydia Loveless – Desire (Stream)

Before last week drew to a close, its final days offered up a large handful of excellent tracks from the likes of Oxbow, Superorganism, Girl Ray, Catch Prichard, Elder, Thunder Dreamer, Knox Fortune, The New Rebecca, Sleep Party People, Joey Agresta, Husky, OHME, Ultraviolence, and Kelly McFarling. Thankfully, that run of days also had something else up its sleeve: Lydia Loveless‘ “Desire”, a powerful entry into the acclaimed songwriter’s discography that was paired with a surprisingly gripping take on Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”.

Several years have passed since Lydia Loveless’ emergence and, time and time again, the songwriter’s proven to be one of today’s most formidable talents. Each of Loveless’ past handful of releases have been met with a heavy amount of anticipation and the songwriter’s still finding ways to surprise. Case in point: Desire b/w Sorry. While the gripping Justin Bieber cover constituting the B-side has been rightfully receiving a lot of press, “Desire” has been — somewhat unfairly — overshadowed, which is a shame because it ranks as one of the finest entries into Loveless’ increasingly impressive discography.

“Desire” is a swirling mix of aggression, melancholy, Southern rock, Americana, country, and punk-tinged rock n’ roll. In short, it’s one of Loveless’ most definitive songs. Shot through with the songwriter’s unmistakable voice, world-weary wit, and fierce power, it’s a five and a half minute reminder of Loveless’ seemingly innumerable strengths. Each decision, from ornate guitar figures to vocal sustain to the characteristically gritty instrumental tones, all serve a higher purpose rendering “Desire” an exhaustively complete work. “Sorry” may be the icing on the cake but “Desire” more than earns its place as the main attraction.

Listen to “Desire” below and download Desire b/w Sorry here.

The Last Dinosaur – Atoms (Music Video)

Last week’s front-half came loaded with solid material and the back stretch proved to be just as strong, if not stronger. Outstanding songs from High Sunn, Jason Loewentstein, Milk, Sharkmuffin, Romantic States, Midday Swim, Walrus, Chris Bathgate, Abram Shook, Sebastian Blanck, Hikes, Daudi Matsiko, Wavves, Tim Woulfe, and Mount Song all made their way to the surface and each one brought something exhilarating to the table. Today’s feature falls to a separate format, shifting the focus back towards music videos: The Last Dinosaur’s atmospheric “Atoms”.

Occasionally, a video will surface from an act that’s not known and wind up having the power to freeze blood. It’s not something that happens often but it’s something that happened with The Last Dinosaur’s muted, elegiac clip for “Atoms”. Comprised of a seamless compilation of other people’s discarded Super 8 footage, the clip takes a deeply personal angle as the song, a hushed meditation on mortality and other limitations, underscores each frame with devastating clarity. Ambient, folksy, and more than a little haunting, it’s an unforgettable clip from an artist proving to be fully capable of taking the next big step. Watch it before it fades away.

Watch “Atoms” below and download it here.

Cloud Nothings – Enter Entirely (Music Video)

The last half of last week turned up a handful of great music videos from the likes of Japanese Breakfast, Starcrawler, Adult Mom, gobbinjr, Black Lips, Boogarins, Honus Honus, Gillian Welch, Tiny Eyes, Pallas, Walter Martin, Littler, and Sprinters. As always, there was a range of innovation present in those clips and each of them is well worth watching. Another chance to take a look back at one of 2017’s best records so far — Cloud Nothings‘ Life Without Sound — proved too tempting and the featured slot fell to the long-time site favorites.

Following the release of 2011’s Attack on Memory, Cloud Nothings have released a small handful of critically-acclaimed, widely-adored records that kept them on the road and continuously pushed the band to evolve. Life Without Sound, their most recent effort, found them bridging the band’s history for their most definitive release to date. One of the several highlights on that record came in the form of “Enter Entirely”, which has just been a deep-saturation, nostalgia-drenched visual presentation. Simple, effective, intuitive, and surprisingly absorbing, it’s just another indication that the band’s going to continue making the exact right moves as they careen forward through what looks to be an impressive — even important — career.

Watch “Enter Entirely” below and pick up Life Without Sound here.