Heartbreaking Bravery

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Wheelbarrel – Feast On Sand (EP Premiere)

The third piece (and second premiere) of sprawling, snarling post-punk to go up as a feature today, Wheelbarrel’s Feast On Sand may be the most unexpectedly brilliant of the lot. It’s a formidable and incredibly self-assured from a new Columbus, OH power trio and it packs enough power in its punch to leave just about anyone reeling. Opening with “Traced”, Wheelbarrel and Feast On Sand both get a memorable introduction, the song showcasing a lethal but surprisingly pensive strain of a sound that falls somewhere between Even Hand and Buildings.

From that point forward, the trio meticulously navigates a hybrid of post-punk, grunge, hardcore, basement pop, and a handful of other sub-genres while cultivating an uneasy atmosphere, bridging a melancholic sensibility with a carefully-repressed but still lurking anger. All of those elements of the band’s identity combine into something as mesmerizing as it is urgent. Each song breathing more depth into Feast On Sand‘s display of life, adding potency to an unexpected reckoning.

“Sacred Things”, the EP’s penultimate offering, contains the most haunted experiment of this quartet of tracks, marrying spoken word to a creeping minimalist that evokes the kind of hushed-breath dread typically found in arthouse horror films. When the song breaks from that pattern, it’s incredibly unnerving, the vocal delivery tilting from being mired in gloom to coy amusement to startling effect. It’s one of several great moments on Feast On Sand that suggests Wheelbarrel are going to have a strong shot at a visible future.

The EP ends on its title track, which expertly combines everything that’s come before it into a gripping victory lap that ably demonstrates not just Wheelbarrel’s arsenal but their identity. One EP in and it’s clear that Wheelbarrel already have a strong sense of themselves and a purpose to match, hitting stratospheric heights while keeping their attention fixated on the world’s dust and dirt. Modest, spellbinding, and brilliant, Feast On Sand stands as one of the strongest debuts of 2018’s first half. Dive in and explore.

Listen to Feast On Sand below and get a copy here.

Big Ups – Imaginary Dog Walker (Stream, Live Video)

Over the course of last week, there were some great songs released by the likes of WussyTrü, Jordan Lovelis, Claire Morales, Laughed the Boy, R+R=Now, DIET, Escobar, Little Junior, Sonny Elliot, Two Meters, Dizzy, Raleigh, Wild Pink, Optiganally Yours, Avantist,  and Chris Farren. Big Ups joined in on the fun with their towering “Imaginary Dog Walker”, which has become a consistent highlight of their live shows and serves as the current high water mark for their formidable discography.

A band that’s continuously brimmed with an indistinguishable intensity from the outset, Big Ups’ attack has grown refined over the course of a handful of records. All of them are teeming with cathartic releases and bear evidence that their understanding of their own dynamics has deepened over the course of that run. It’s an understanding that hits a new apex with “Imaginary Dog Walker”, the band using silence and restraint like a weapon, holding the listener hostage and forcing them to really listen.

Brash, abrasive, and extremely disquieting, “Imaginary Dog Walker” is a perfect demonstration of the band’s growth and a fearless monument to their formidable talent. Opening with a small sampling of glitch-pop, “Imaginary Dog Walker” quickly segues into the kind of forward-thinking hardcore that enlivened the band’s past two records (both of which stand as tall now as they did on the day of their release). Soon enough, the band’s back to masterfully navigating a creeping tension, the music acting as a lit fuse of a bomb that always seems like its a second away from detonating.

When “Imaginary Dog Walker” does work itself up into its first genuine frenzy, it’s hard to tell if it’s the moment of release or just the song playing an effective trick. In an impressive feat, that moment manages to belong equally to both outcomes, ushering in both a cavalcade of high-wire frustrations that erupt and a false ending, quickly cutting back into the quieter tendencies of the song’s opening stretch. All the while, the narrative waxes poetic on life and destruction, playing into the unpredictably vicious swings of the music with a honed precision.

In its final minute, the song becomes a towering behemoth, “we walk the dogs” is screamed over and over becoming more of a mantra than a chorus. All the while, the guitar work — which remains some of the most inventive in the genre — and the rhythm section collide into a bludgeoning force, conjuring up a hypnotic storm. It’s dark, it’s eerie, and it’s masterful, it’s also one of the best songs to come out of 2018. Lend it as many listens as possible.

Listen to “Imaginary Dog Walker” (and watch a live video of the song) below and pre-order Two Parts Together from Exploding In Sound.

sewingneedle – two three four (Song Premiere)


Photograph by Vanessa Valadez

Last week, sewingneedle unveiled the enigmatic music video for their excellent “feel good music” and today they’re following up that clip with the album opener of their forthcoming user error, “two three four”. The song exists in the same bleary vein as “feel good music”, finding ways to relentlessly attack from an extremely specific angle, as dark as it is energized, falling neatly in line with some of the finest acts on Exploding In Sound’s roster (Two Inch Astronaut, Kal Marks, Pile, etc).

“two three four” goes a long way in setting the tone for the band’s formidable user error, dropping the listener into a world of shadowy corners that give cover to lurking demons. The clean guitar tones add some enhancement to an already abrasive sensibility, allowing the moments of blistering distortion to gain even more magnitude. Half-open questions are cried out in nervous anticipation, directed at next to no one, the music surging underneath with the insistent counting tethering the entire affair back to the dreck of life’s monotony.

All of it congeals into a formidable piece of post-punk, elevated by its own commitment to noise. Intentionally ugly and undeniably compelling, “two three four” serves as a heavy reminder of the predetermined regulations we’re expected to navigate through our existence. It’s a song that has a lot on its mind and aptly conveys those thoughts using minimalist tactics in a clever twist, suggesting that operating outside of the lines can lead to memorably great results.

When the track races towards its finish, one thing does become abundantly clear among the songs frustrated uncertainty: sewingneedle are done existing in the background. This is a band that’s ready to make a statement by creating their own moment of reckoning. user error is that reckoning and “two three four” only hints at its astounding depths. While the record will arrive soon to address the curious in full, “two three four” is good company to keep. Leave it on repeat and let it play.

Listen to “two three four” below and pre-order user error here.