Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: 2017

Landlines – Landlines (Album Review)

In the course of the past few days, only a small handful of truly great records have emerged. Washer unveiled a legitimate Album of the Year candidate with All Aboard, Total Yuppies revealed their exceptional Care EP, and Nassau continued to improve with Heron. On top of that trio of full streams, there was a sneak peek at the upcoming Pope record — and there was also the incredible self-titled effort from Landlines (a band that includes some member overlap with The Woolen Men).

Landlines is exactly the type of band and record that Heartbreaking Bravery was built to support. An absolutely monstrous effort from a legitimately great band that has minimal name recognition outside of their given region, both Landlines and Landlines deserve far more notice than either will likely receive without securing contracts with the right PR team. The recorded landed in the site’s inbox by way of the band directly, who seem committed to the DIY ethos that’s fairly apparent in their music.

In the accompanying bio that was patched over with the record, a lot of classic rock acts get name checked but Landlines can be accurately summed as existing in the central field between the triangular points represented by Pavement, Parquet Courts, and Flying Nun Records. These are wiry post-punk songs with slacker punk leanings, basement pop aesthetics, and aggressively clean tones. They’re cleverly arranged and expertly executed, running the gamut from the energetic onslaught of opener “Hanging Around” to the unapologetic powerpop of closer “Survived”.

A record that’s littered with smart observations, compelling musical ideas, and united by an incredibly convincing identity, Landlines actually manages to outstrip several records being discussed as Album of the Year candidates by a reasonable margin. Make no mistake, while this is a largely unassuming record it’s also one of the more tightly-crafted and complete releases of the past nine months. Landlines exude confidence throughout and deliver several knockout blows in their self-titled, which is comprised exclusively of songs worthy of mix tape inclusions. Hit play below and hit purchase when it ends.

Listen to Landlines below and pick the record up here.

Young Jesus – Young Jesus (Album Review)

Well, it took an excessively long while but as of this post this site’s officially back on track and will be resuming its regular daily (or near-daily) schedule moving forward. Making things even sweeter is the incredible release of site favorites Young Jesus‘ self-titled record, which was teased back with the premiere of the “Green” music video a short while back.

Of course, that’s not the only thing that was worth checking out to find release over the first two days of the week. There were also great songs from Jessica Lea Mayfield, Milan to Minsk, Open Mike Eagle, Mavis Staples, and Acid Tongue. A quartet of clips served the music video format well with incredibly strong entries from Colter Wall (who nearly snagged the feature spot), The Man From Managra, Naomi Punk, and Stillwave. Finally, there was a great record unveiled in ViewMaster’s Alternative Classics that was quietly released a few weeks ago but it is more than worth hearing.

Back to the subject at hand: Young Jesus (and, more specifically, Young Jesus). There are some bands that refuse to do anything but grow and push themselves to extend their comfort zone, heighten their ambitions, and take genuine risks. Young Jesus, for nearly a decade now, has been one of those acts. Young Jesus stands as the most definitive example of the band’s willingness to experiment while still retaining the melancholic pull that anchored their earlier works.

From the opening section of Young Jesus it becomes apparent that the band’s decided to fully embrace the noise sections that have become a defining characteristic of their spellbinding live show in recent years. These sections crop up in the opening trio of tracks — “Green”, “River”, and “Eddy” — and don’t really recede from the foreground throughout the rest of the record, spare for a few of Young Jesus‘ lightest moments. Impressively, these sections always sound more pointed than meandering, a testament to Young Jesus’ grip on dynamics, structure, and pace.

Guitarist/vocalist (and A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor) John Rossiter continues to turn in some of the more unexpectedly moving lyric sets while taking a small shift towards the poetic. As always, the band Rossiter has both partially retained and partially assembled are immensely impressive, navigating towering sections with ease and composing arrangements that seem very attuned to emotional response.

While the record may only run for 7 tracks, the band makes them count, particular in the final stretch of the record. “Desert” (formerly “Every Little Landscape”), “Feeling”, and “Storm” all rank among the year’s finest tracks. Each of them contain some of Rossiter’s finest work as a lyricist and Young Jesus’ most sprawling and absorbing work as a band.

Combined, these three tracks run for nearly half an hour and account for the bulk of the record, nearly doubling the combined time of the first four tracks. They also touch on virtually everything that’s ensured this band would be a staple of this site’s coverage. There’s a wellspring of genuine emotion driving these particular songs and it’s readily apparent, from the genuinely pained vocal delivery in the mid-section of “Feeling” to the aggressive bloodletting of a later section in “Storm” to the hushed introspection of “Desert”, every blow hits its mark.

By the time Young Jesus winds to a close it almost feels akin to a great piece of epic literature, with its oscillating emotions, sweeping narratives, and central ideology. It’s a massive work from a band that’s quietly become one of America’s best and it deserves to have a legacy in its wake. Both a bold step forward for a band deeply uninterested in repeating former motions and one of the years finest — and most fascinating — efforts. An essential addition to any music lover’s collection.

Listen to Young Jesus below — and watch a series of videos of the band playing live underneath the bandcamp player — and pick it up from the band here.

The 10 Best Music Videos of August

August blew threw 2017 with no hesitation and left an enormous pile of exceedingly great material in its wake. This post will key in on the ten best music videos to be released over that period of time (with the first week shaved off and a few days of September tacked on). A lot of site favorites make appearances below but a new name or two found a way to make a splash. Each of those artists and clips has earned the praise they’ve been given or are about to receive. 2o17’s been overflowing with great clips and these are only adding to the year’s abundant strength. Dive in and go exploring.

Mike Krol – Fifteen Minutes

Over the past several years, Mike Krol has made a habit out of reveling in the playfully sardonic. Turkey, Krol’s astonishing breakthrough record — and first release for Merge — laid those groundworks bare. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Krol’s next step was to go back in time, re-release his first two records (cult staples among a very specific sect of the DIY punk crowd) and make a bizarre, tongue-in-cheek music video starring a mannequin for a song that came out six years ago. It’s perfectly Krol.

Weaves – Walkaway

Weaves‘ self-titled was one of the best records of the past few years and the band’s been making good on that momentum that release generated with their advance singles for their forthcoming release. “Walkaway”, the most recent, is anthemic, empowering, and has the kind of staying power to remain on the college airwaves for years to come. The song also now boasts a beautiful clip featuring the band getting a touch of aggression out in a sweeping field. It’s a striking video that somehow manages to make the song feel even more titanic than usual.

Lost Balloons – Noose

One of 2017’s best surprises thus far has been the duo Lost Balloons who feature the talents of Jeff Burke and Yusuke Okada, two names a large handful of people in both America and Japan should already have memorized. The project’s debut effort, Hey Summer, was the type of unassuming basement pop record that tends to stick longer in people’s minds than most would expect and they’ve granted one of that album’s best songs a beautiful animated clip in “Noose”. It’s a gorgeous tapestry that’s worth admiring.

Radiator Hospital – Dance Number

It’s been a while since Radiator Hospital released their incredible Torch Song so news of a new record was incredibly welcome. Even better: the announcement came on the back of the release of this charmingly straightforward clip for the characteristically excellent “Dance Number”, which renews the case for Sam Cook-Parrott as one of this generation’s most emotionally affecting lyricists. Poignant, bittersweet, and undeniably catchy, it’s a great song bolstered by a surprisingly effective video.

Charly Bliss – DQ

No band’s name has appeared on this site more over the past two years than Charly Bliss. The band’s recently-released Guppy went a long way in ensuring their prominence and a handful of excellent clips and performances kept their name in the rotation. “DQ” now joins their ranks, standing as one of the band’s most playful — and personal — videos. Guitarist/vocalist Eva Hendricks co-directed the clip alongside Andrew Costa (who helmed quite a few of the band’s other videos), which features everything from trampolines to cows to football sleds to a dog that’s great at playing dead. As is always the case with the band, it’s an absolute blast and surprisingly hard to forget.

Kielo – Radiate

A while back Kielo released an absolutely breathtaking song/video combination in “In Water” and the Laura Schultz-led project has now doubled down on that measure with the spellbinding “Radiate”. Comprised largely of photography-centric cinematography, the clip allows the song to be elevated by calming visuals, creating an effect that’s both warm and inescapable. It’s a genuinely gorgeous thing to behold and deserves all of the views and listens that can possibly come its way.

Bully – Feel the Same

One of the more invigorating acts of the past few years, Bully have shown virtually no signs of slowing down. The band’s also growing a little more confrontational, as evidenced by their nearly-antagonistic clip for “Feel the Same”, which features nothing but a balloon expanding in a darkened empty room until it starts leaking a stream of yellow liquid. As simple as it is, the imagery is incredibly hard to shake and the concept sticks. It’s bold, it’s abrasive, and it fits the band like a glove.

Julia Louise – Brat

A new name to Heartbreaking Bravery, Julia Louise somehow managed to evade this site’s radar over the past few years. Still, it’s hard to imagine the songwriter could’ve had a better introduction-at-large than the clip for “Brat”, a song that subverts the limitations of emo and standard pop-punk to mesmerizing effect. Aided by strong visuals, a charismatic central performance from Louise and a sense of conviction, “Brat” is the sound (and look) of an artist coming fully into their own.

Fog Lake – Rattlesnake

Last year Fog Lake‘s “Rattlesnake” slithered its way into at least one best-of list that ran on this site. The song’s proven to have legitimate staying power and has now been granted a beautiful visual accompaniment. Calm, a little eerie, and deeply empathetic, “Rattlesnake” follows a man as he explores New York City, alone and content to wander. It’s incredibly affecting and stirs up a genuine, intangible reaction by simply disallowing the constraints of a discernible narrative and opting to focus on the emotional pull at the crux of being at home and separated from that home all at the same time.

See Through Dresses – Lucy’s Arm

A few months ago, See Through Dresses played an incendiary set as an opener for Charly Bliss in Minneapolis. The highlight of their set came via an impassioned run through “Lucy’s Arm”, a clear standout from their exceptional Horse of the Other World. The band’s wisely decided to go ahead and give the song the music video treatment, a decision that’s resulted in an arresting black-and-white clip with minimal effects. It’s a surprisingly effective clip that serves as an honorable testament to the song’s overwhelming power.

The 5 Best Records of August

Over the course of August (save for a few days towards the very beginning), a lot of exceptional records were released. The five featured below managed to stand out in a genuinely crowded field, which is never an easy task. From breezy basement pop records to an enormous shoegaze-leaning effort, all of these are more than worthy of a purchase. Don’t just read the words beneath the titles and above the embeds and give them enough revisits to make them familiar. Enjoy the trip.

Amy O – Elastic

The pinnacle of summer-friendly listening, Amy O‘s Elastic came brimming with irresistible charm. Sunny melodies, narratives that seemed charming at first blush and slowly revealed their fangs, and some genuinely inspired instrumental work powered this little release and allowed it to showcase its deceptive vigor. From standout opener “Lavender Night” to the sweet-then-punchy closer, there is not a false moment on Elastic. An utterly winsome record for every second it’s playing, Elastic is one of 2017’s finest surprises.

Walter Etc. – Gloom Cruise

Another of 2017’s more charming breakthrough efforts came from Walter Etc. who crafted and delivered a beautiful, unassuming basement pop record in Gloom Cruise. Demonstrating a wide array of influences, the band nonetheless finds a way to form an identity unique to them throughout the course of the 10 exceptional songs that comprise the record. Hooks that are equally unassuming and irresistible absolutely litter Gloom Cruise, which is buoyed by its sense of melody. While the record wouldn’t sound too out of place had it been released a decade ago, it’s hard to imagine it would’ve sounded too out of place had it been released a decade from now either. A thrilling listen.

Petite League – Rips One Into the Night

A long-time site favorite, Petite League went all in for Rips One Into the Night. From the noticeable advance push for the record to the contents of the record itself, the Lorenzo Cook-led project seized the type of fearlessness that fits their conviction perfectly. Rips One Into the Night is the band’s strongest effort to date, driven by acutely-realized narratives about young adulthood and the boldest arrangements of the project’s career, the record grips as much as it entices. Risks get taken — especially in the record’s explosive final section — and the rewards reveal themselves tenfold. The furthest thing from a swing and a miss imaginable.

Gorgeous Bully – Great Blue

Tattered basement pop at its absolute peak, Gorgeous Bully‘s Great Blue draws an incredible amount of strength from both its presentation and the songs at its core. Noise-damaged and incredibly sharp, Great Blue hums along and never really stops finding ways to build momentum throughout the course of its run-time. A dozen songs, all of which finding fascinating ways to incorporate punk influences, it presents Gorgeous Bully at their absolute best. Ragged, dogged, and tenacious, Great Blue is a record that finds compelling ways to make an unforgettable mark.

Cloakroom – Time Well

Cloakroom‘s name has been appearing on this site since around the time it came into existence nearly four years ago. Over that time, the band’s managed to find exciting ways to develop, whether it was by expanding their range or furthering their ambitions. Time Well finds them in a different league entirely. This is an absolutely massive record, equally content to soothe and pulverize, embrace and eschew accessible melodies, disorient and hypnotize. Easily the heaviest — and most audacious — work of the band’s already formidable career, Time Well should go down as one of the best efforts from any of the countless shoegaze-leaning bands of this decade.

Seven Weeks, Fifteen Songs

This post will mark the last of the coverage overhaul necessitated by the seven week hiatus from regular coverage. Records have been covered, music videos have been covered, and a song and a pair of music videos have received standalone posts. Below are the 15 songs that stood out more than any others over that seven week time period and come from all sorts of sources and elicit all sorts of responses. Whether’s it’s the characteristically driving basement pop of Radioactivity or the hushed melancholy of Florist, there’s a lot on display. So quit waiting, jump in, and find a new favorite song. Enjoy.

1. Radioactivity – Sleep 

Every project Jeff Burke‘s been involved in over the past decade has demonstrated the man’s a singular songwriter with an enviable gift. One of Burke’s more recent projects, Radioactivity (pictured above), has at least one Album of the Decade contender under their belt and continues to press forward with the kind of propulsive momentum that drives most of their songs. “Sleep” is a perfect example of that dynamic, a miraculous slice of basement pop that reasserts Burke as one of the genre’s all-time greats.

2. Birdskulls – Over It

Few labels are amassing a discography as consistently impressive — or prolific — as Art Is Hard. Birdskulls‘ “Over It”, one of the labels latest offerings, goes a long way in solidifying Art Is Hard’s status at the forefront of the DIY-leaning punk world. A song that perfectly marries basement pop with basement punk, “Over It” comes overflowing with memorable hooks, biting attitude, and worn aesthetics typical of a band destined for a feverishly loyal following. Leave it on repeat.

3. Honeyrude – Flowers

“Flowers” has been in Honeyrude‘s back pocket since 2015 but the band’s recent upheaval and re-release of the song as part of The Color Blue pays massive dividends in practice. Louder, cleaner, bolder, and more refined, “Flowers” is allowed to fully bloom, exceeding its early potential. It’s a gorgeous moment from a band that continues to impress, its shoegaze inflections perfectly suited to the band’s identity. Warm and towering, it’s likely to stand as the band’s career highlight for some time.

4. Strange Relations – Say You

One of the small handful of bands on this list with a long-standing connection to this site, Strange Relations have been furthering themselves with each successive step they’ve taken. The band recently opened for Charly Bliss in Minneapolis and unveiled a lot of new material, including the brooding, kinetic “Say You”, one of the set’s many highlights. Since their past release, Strange Relations have grown more aggressive, more ambitious, and into a more fascinating band. “Say You” is definitive proof.

5. Dead Stars – Pink Clouds

Several years into a remarkably consistent career, Dead Stars have established themselves as one of the most reliable bands currently mining a ’90s slacker punk influence to great effect. Even with a whole host of outstanding songs to claim as their own, “Pink Clouds” manages to stand out. Easily a career high point for the band, the hard-charging number surpasses the most tantalizing  heights of their earlier work while staying true to the ethos and identity that made them so memorable in the first place.

6. Walter Etc. – April 41st

Walter Etc. has spent the past few months putting out a small string of impressive songs with “April 41st” being the crown jewel of the lot. A laid-back mid-tempo basement pop number that embraces carefree relaxation, the song still manages to find an impressive momentum by playing directly to its lackadaisical tendencies. Near non sequitur’s and a comfortably dazed narrative elevate the song’s aesthetic to strange heights and the best thing anyone could do is let its calm, unhurried spell take over completely.

7. Basement Revolver – Tree Trunks

2017’s already been overly generous in terms of memorable ballads, churning out some of the decade’s best over the first 2/3s of the year. Among those gems sits Basement Revolver‘s gorgeous “Tree Trunks”, a shoegaze-leaning piece of minimalist post-punk. Pop melodies and wiry instrumentation combine to hypnotic effect, while the production of the song’s second half propel it to stratospheric heights.

8. Pinact – Separate Ways

After a three-year wait, Pinact are back and sounding stronger than ever on “Separate Ways”. Bridging the gap between basement pop and pop-punk in exhilarating fashion, the song clamps its teeth down on a surging sense of momentum and finds a way to guide itself to a triumphant finish. It’s easily among the band’s finest work and bodes extremely well for what their future might  have in store. Youthful, vibrant, vicious, and more than a little fun, it’s an unlikely summer anthem.

9. Paul Westerberg – Hawk Ripping At Your Throat

A mysterious song surfaced on Soundcloud a few weeks back from an artist’s page listed as “User 964848511”. Closer inspection revealed it to be Paul Westerberg, operating in the same lo-fi mode that defined the earliest work of his most famous band, The Replacements. Unlike that early work though, “Hawk Ripping at Your Throat” is characterized by a somber, almost foreboding atmosphere. Slow, creeping, and full of white-knuckle suspense, it’s a potent reminder of Westerberg’s legendary talent.

10. Lomelda – Interstate Vision

Lomelda‘s next album will be the project’s first for the impressively consistent — and consistently excellent — Double Double Whammy label. One of the first looks at that record came via the gorgeous “Interstate Vision”, a gentle mid-tempo number with a muted sense of grandeur and a near-cinematic sweep. It’s a lovely song that plays up the projects strongest aesthetic choices as well as emphasizing an unassuming mastery of songwriting. By the track’s end, it’s easy to wish it hadn’t come to a close.

11. SOAR – Fatigue

Last year, SOAR managed to make a strong impression with the material that they were releasing. It seems that their momentum has carried over into 2017 and allowed the band to grow even more emboldened as “Fatigue” — their latest — is as hard-charging and unapologetic as anyone could have hoped. “Fatigue” also plays up their pop sensibilities to great effect, while continuing to mire it in coats of both grit and attitude. It’s a charming track and deserves a whole slew of listens.

12. En Route – I Am the Problem

One of 2017’s most outstanding small releases came recently via En Route’s then is a song EP, another strong record from a growing line of projects working in the space that allows for a happy marriage between bedroom pop and basement punk. “I Am the Problem” was the song chosen to tease the EP and it was an incredibly effective choice as the song carves out a memorable identity for En Route. All of the decisions here, while understated, serve to elevate a legitimately great song from a new band worth knowing.

13. Baby! – If I’m Sorry

Baby! has been releasing a string of ridiculously enticing singles over the past few months and “If I’m Sorry” is the best of an extremely tantalizing lot. Equal parts sweet and biting, “If I’m Sorry” is another mid-tempo slice of quiet perfection from a band that seems to be gearing up for bigger things. Every song they’ve released has been utterly captivating and “If I’m Sorry” takes that facet of their music to new levels. Winsome, pensive, and oddly uplifting, it cements Baby! as one of 2017’s most pleasant surprises.

 

14. Madeline Kenney – Always

For more than a few years, Madeline Kenney has been carving out a place into today’s pantheon of emerging acts who have a genuine shot at their work being not only remembered but coveted after they’ve relaxed into retirement. “Always” is not only another strong indicator of that end goal but the strongest work of Kenney’s career to date. Three and a half minutes of arresting dynamics, clever arrangements, perfect production, and outstanding songwriting. It’s a song that’ll always be worth keeping around.

15. Florist – What I Wanted to Hold

Last year, Florist released one of the year’s finest EPs in The Birds Outside Sang and they’re already gearing up for the release of what looks to be one of this year’s finest full-lengths, If Blue Could Be Happiness. “What I Wanted to Hold” is the song kicking off the roll out campaign for the record and it’s a stunner. In keeping with the band’s best work, “If I Wanted to Hold” is a delicate, wintry number that’s enhanced by its own fragility. Sincere, vulnerable, and searching, it’s one of the year’s most breathtaking songs.

Zebra Katz – Blk & Wht (Music Video)

Over the past several days, there have been pieces touching on some of the best material to be released over the seven weeks that preceded the current week. Two of those were individually-focused pieces. Zebra Katz’s astonishing Ada Bligaard Søby-directed clip for “Blk & Wht” will serve as the focal point of the third and final individual release to earn a standalone featured slot. Originally premiered by Nowness with an eye-opening interview about the clip with its director.

All throughout “Blk & Wht” there is a creeping sensation that’s impossible to shake, the suspense is taut and the drama is palpable. At any moment, it seems as it something’s about to go horrendously wrong. At the center of this swirling mass of inevitable chaos and horror are a group of refugees, who have banded together to try to heighten their chances of survival. Lending a great deal of credibility to their committed performances is the harrowing fact that all of them have experienced the terror presented in “Blk & Wht” on their own journeys.

Those very people — as well as the song — served as the main inspiration behind the “Blk & Wht” clip, allowing Søby to concentrate on the experiences of the refugees both in and around Copenhagen. Every actor and actress in “Blk & Wht” agreed to travel out to a forest and revisit one of the darkest periods of their lives and it shows; empathy and genuine terror intertwine throughout every ambient frame of “Blk & Wht”. It’s a striking, startling vision and it’s impossible to shake. Hit play below and get swept up in the refugee’s dishearteningly commonplace nightmare.

Watch “Blk & Wht” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on Zebra Katz.

Seven Weeks, Five Music Videos

Seven weeks is a long time to abandon regular coverage but that interim’s come to a close and the time’s now come to feature some of the very best material of that span. Putting aside that obscenely perfect Charly Bliss video (and another video that will be featured in the very near future), the below selections stood out as the five best clips to emerge over those seven weeks. Old favorites and new faces collide, while everything from unhinged animation to quiet contemplation secure the focal point. So, dive in and explore some of the best examples that the medium has to offer and revisit them at will. Enjoy.

Protomartyr – A Private Understanding 

While it’s true Protomartyr have sculpted a career and reputation on being consistently excellent, very few people could have anticipated the staggering leap forward “A Private Understanding” represented in both scope and ambition. Easily the most impressive moment of the band’s already distinguished career, “A Private Understanding” came with an intensely arresting visual accompaniment. Centering on a hypnotic central performance the clip for “A Private Understanding” grabs existential crisis by the throat and squeezes until existential crisis is all that’s left. Equal parts Michael Haneke and Roy Andersson, it’s a coy and relentlessly bleak triumph.

Jen Cloher – Regional Echo

“Regional Echo” and the similarly dreamlike “Forgot Myself” clip both nearly made this list with the former getting the push thanks in large part to its more pronounced melancholy. Jen Cloher may be a faintly familiar name to some thanks to her considerably more famous partner, Courtney Barnett, but the songwriter’s forthcoming self-titled full-length’s seeking to lessen that dynamic and allow Cloher’s songwriting merits to be the guitarist/vocalist’s calling card. “Regional Echo” is a trance-inducing clip, teeming with soft lyricism and no shortage of conviction. It’s a gorgeous video and a strong testament to Cloher’s considerable talent.

M.A.G.S. – Demon

Over the past few years, restraint’s been a tough task for a lot of music videos to master, much less turn into a form of aggression. There have been some high-profile examples in recent time (and Minor Victories more than proved it can still be done with brute strength in a modern setting over the course of last year).  It’s barely been attempted in more DIY-leaning settings, which makes M.A.G.S.‘ gripping clip for “Demon” even more surprising. Everything from the Academy ratio the clip’s presented in to the classically iconic imagery of the pink room manages to both ensnare attention and heighten the immediacy of the clip. It’s an unexpected, unassuming glimpse at brilliance.

Soccer Mommy – Allison

“Allison”, both as a song and as a video, calmly continues Soccer Mommy‘s string of seemingly continuous grace notes. A gently mesmerizing clip that seems to reflect the tranquility of the water it was shot beside, the visuals of Allison work as a perfect complement to the source material. Touching on everything from a search for peace to the decision to move forward, “Allison” coaxes maximum impact out of its minimalist confines, conjuring up a lasting impression that lingers well after the clip winds to its hushed close. The musical equivalent of a tenderly loved and well-worn blanket, it’s hard to come away from “Allison” without immediately wanting to be wrapped back up again.

Julie & The Wrong Guys – You Wanted What I Wanted

Every once in a while, there’s a band that comes along and unleashes absolute hell in the form of their introduction-at-large. One of the latest examples of this is the incendiary “You Wanted What I Wanted” form Julie & The Wrong Guys, a gnarled, battered monster of a post-punk track. Appropriately, the video for “You Wanted What I Wanted” features deranged, quasi-nightmarish imagery, fusing traditional and digital animation with a ramshackle glee as the song hurtles towards an explosive climax that further proves Julie & The Wrong Guys are coming out of the woodwork to make their name known. Punk bite, pop hooks, smart visuals, and a whole lot of attitude all combine to ensure that Julie & The Wrong Guys is a name worth committing to memory.

A Month’s Worth of Records Worth Hearing

Just like the songs and music videos that came filtering out over the extended interim of this site’s regular coverage hiatus, killer records didn’t stop revealing themselves over that stretch of time. While, by their very nature, the titles that jumped out proved to be fewer than their more individually-minded counterparts, there was still a lot of outstanding material packed into the compilations, splits, EPs, 7″s, and full-lengths listed below. While this list — or any list — can’t claim to be truly representative of everything that came out, these acts are responsible for some of the best titles to have crossed this site’s path over the past six weeks:

Lushloss, Wet Lips, Talking Dog, Johnny Utah, See Through Dresses, Tundrastomper, Demure for Sure, VOIGHT-KAMPFF, STRFKR, City of Caterpillar, Horse Girl, Crumb, Friends of Cesar Romero, The Deslondes, Juiceboxxx, Ben Morey & The Eyes, The Crashers, Colour of Spring, Lillian King, Nearby Pastures, Cody & Danz, Siobhan Wilson, Fallow Land, Teddy and the Rough Riders, tunic, Flowers of Evil, Dream Version, Dove Lady, Eerie Gaits, Pill, Pawns, The Good Graces, Liam J Hennessy, [.que], Triptides, Aviator, and splits from Jeff Rosenstock and SkaSucks, Hinds and Los Nastys, Black Beach and Nice Guys, as well as an outstanding new compilation entry from Genius Loci.

The Seven Best Full Streams of the Past Three Weeks

Songs and music videos have had their turn in the spotlight so it’s time to shift the focus towards full streams. A stray EP or two and a handful of full-lengths have emerged over the past three week stretch that have managed to make a significant impression. A few fresh faces combined with a host of site staples to create the list, which features a few emergent acts alongside some established names. Exciting debuts brush up against spirited reaffirmations of talent and, in the end, we all win. Take a beat and make a mental note to make sure none of these records go unheard in the coming weeks. Dive in and enjoy. 

Poppies – Good

One of the most promising emerging bands in music, Poppies keep finding new ways to improve upon a growing, riveting discography. Both Double Single and “Told” were exceptional and the band’s music videos have been compelling. Good is the young project’s first statement release and it should go a long way in establishing them as the tantalizing act they’ve been from the outset. All five of Good‘s songs could reasonably called a highlight and continue the band’s unlikely run at unassuming perfection. Basement pop shot through with just a touch of twee, Good‘s perfectly suited for summer and seems destined to become part of the season’s 2017 soundtrack.

Palehound – A Place I’ll Always Go

Palehound have proved their salt on more than a few occasions now, amassing one outstanding record after another and cultivating one of the most inventive, outstanding discographies of any emergent act. A Place I’ll Always Go does the band’s new label, Polyvinyl, more than proud; it’s, by far, the best of the band’s records, which is no mean feat considering the company that it keeps. Nearly every song here registers as a career highlight and in “If You Met Her” the band invokes the defeated, melancholic spirit of Elliott Smith (never a comparison to be made lightly). Start to end, it’s an absolute triumph that easily ranks as one of 2017’s finest musical moments.

Corridor – Supermacado

More than four years into an increasingly promising career, Corridor have been restlessly perfecting their brand of skittering post-punk and sharpening it into a deadly weapon. Supermacado, the band’s latest record, serves as proof. Virtually every track on the record offers something different and the music is more than powerful enough to transcend any language barriers. It’s a masterful record from a band that seemingly refuses to do anything but improve. A fine problem to have, especially when it yields results as engaging and captivating as Supermacado. One of 2017’s most pleasant surprises, Supermacado is a strong enough record to warrant committing the name Corridor to memory.

Big Thief – Capacity

Masterpiece was one of last year’s finest records and definitively put Big Thief on the map. A little over a year later, the band’s already released an astonishing follow-up in Capacity, a towering work that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with their reputation-making debut. Not only did the band prove their consistency with Capacity, they delivered one of the most breathtakingly beautiful tracks of this current decade in “Mary“, a spellbinding meditation on longing and understanding the importance of the past. Hard-earned, weary, triumphant, resigned, burdened, and optimistic in turns, the band keeps their rustic sweep intact and delivers another masterful record.

Cool American – Infinite Hiatus

Earlier this year, Cool American released an incredible compilation of tracks entitled better luck next year vol 2: good job nice try, which remains one of the year’s best releases. Nathan Tucker, the brains behind Cool American, may have already topped it with Infinite Hiatus, the project’s most recent full-length. An inventive, energetic record full of sharp turns and exhilarating dynamic structures cements Tucker’s place as one of today’s most fascinating songwriters. Infinite Hiatus combines bedroom pop with basement punk in a manner more seamless than just about any record attempting a similar combination. Buoyed by Tucker’s distinct personality, Infinite Hiatus offers yet another reaffirmation that Cool American is one of the most consistent projects on the market.

Lexie – Record Time!

The involvement of Frankie Cosmos‘ mastermind Greta Kline in Lexie is bound to direct quite a bit of attention towards the band, which also includes two members of Warehouse. It’s also something of a comfort that Lexie sounds exactly like you’d expect: a more technically proficient and reverb-laden take on what Kline’s been accomplishing with Frankie Cosmos since day one. It’s not an empty recreation, though, the band manages to subvert expectations throughout Record Time! by offering a strain of wiry post-punk that comes as a pleasant surprise, allowing the record to feel varied enough to not only feel fresh but complete. Lightly subversive and characteristically gentle, Record Time! is sweet enough to warrant more than a few extra helpings.

Lost Balloons – Hey Summer

Jeff Burke and Yusuke Okada have made some serious names for themselves, playing in bands like The Marked Men, Suspicious Beasts, Radioactivity, and Blotto. Okada crafted his unimpeachable songwriting reputation in Japan while Burke cranked out a number of genre classics stateside. Both musicians excelled in crafting hyper-excitable basement pop laced with basement punk grit. The two recently joined forces to create Lost Balloons, a project that softens up their vicious attacks while retaining a significant amount of bite. Folk-inflected basement pop informed by decades worth of classic American music, Hey Summer is a record that’s as inviting as it is winsome. Both musicians should be proud to have it as part of their respective discographies.

The Seven Best Music Videos of the Past Three Weeks

Moving forward with tonight’s proceedings, the focus shifts from the best songs to have crossed this site’s path over the last three weeks to the music videos that have made that brief hiatus even more endurable. Directors whose works that have been tirelessly praised on these pages in the past are represented as are some of this year’s finest records. Lyric clips, meditative clips, experimental clips, animated clips, and just about everything in between populate this list and, as always, everything on display is worth several viewings. So stop reading this introduction, hit play, and give everything a good look.  

Yucky Duster – The Ropes

One of the finest pop bands currently on the circuit, Yucky Duster have made one outstanding move after another and managed to continuously improve in the process. Never anything less than spirited, the band constantly provides reasons to remain optimistic about the future of music. In the clip for “The Ropes” they distill their identity into a singular animated clip and the colorful effect, characteristically, is enough to leave just about anyone wanting more of whatever the band decides to offer.

Deep State – Heavy Lunch

Thought Garden has occupied a status as one 2017’s most overlooked records since its release but the clip for “Heavy Lunch” gave it a recent push that helped a few people amend that disheartening oversight. Largely comprised of one man dancing through abandoned industrial complexes, “Heavy Lunch” serves as both a potent reminder of freedom and a subtle narrative about societal oppression. Much like the song (and record) itself, it’s as gripping as it is exhilarating. Hopefully Deep States‘ run is far from over.

Vagabon – Fear & Force

Vagabon‘s been enjoying an overdue — and richly deserved — breakout year thanks to the success of Infinite Worlds. “Fear & Force” was one of that release’s strongest highlights and the project recently provided the song a gorgeous visual treatment that play with the trope of partners arguing in small, effective ways. Avoiding all of the cliches that come with the narrative, “Fear & Force” makes its strongest break at the end, choosing to focus on the optimism that can occur in the aftermath of the worst arguments rather than the dread and despair it so frequently invokes before inevitably fading into regrettable memory.

Single Mothers – People Are Pets

Lyric videos are a dime a dozen these days so it’s especially difficult to craft one that can posit itself as a genuine standout. Single Mothers‘ clip for the especially raucous “People Are Pets” manages the feat with stylistic aplomb. Using text and imagery that plays into the song’s relentless urgency, “People Are Pets” finds clever methods to enhance its overall effect in surprisingly memorable fashion. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the song the clip’s supporting is an absolute monster. Hit play and keep those eyes wide.

Rozwell Kid – Wendy’s Trash Can

SideOneDummy‘s been putting a lot of thought into their music videos as of late, cultivating a snarky streak of tongue-in-cheek clips that are brimming with manic energy and joy. The latest in this run: Rozwell Kid‘s transition-heavy clip for their career highlight “Wendy’s Trash Can”. Originally released as a 10-hour loop, the label was also kind enough to offer up the condensed version. Watching it for the umpteenth time, it’s hard not to think that maybe they didn’t need to- “Wendy’s Trash Can” is infectious enough that most people will probably just keep hitting repeat anyway.

Cayetana – Bus Ticket

Cayetana took a major stride forward with their most recent release, the astonishing New Kind of Normal. Everything they’ve released in conjecture with that record has inspired varying degrees of awe but the “Bus Ticket” clip may be the finest of the bunch. Perfectly encapsulating the internal struggles that inform the record’s overarching narrative about coping with mental health, the band’s wound up with a definitive release that shows off all of their colors, remaining empathetic at every turn. Despairing, defiant, overjoyed, resilient, content, struggling, or argumentative, all “Bus Ticket” offers in the end is understanding and acceptance.

Kevin Morby – City Music

Christopher Good has been putting together an unreal run as a director as of late and his frequent collaborator Tipper Newton, whose narration opens “City Music”, has been putting together an impressive streak of her own, ranging from the outstanding powerpop project Color TV to a small part in Love and a recurring role in The Mindy Project (not to mention starring in Good’s excellent short, Brad Cuts Loose). Kevin Morby’s been on a bit of a run himself, releasing yet another strong record shortly after a triumph last year in Singing Saw — which saw him team up with Good for the exceptional “Dorothy” clip, which stood as a career highlight for both parties — a record he may have topped with City Music.

The clip’s full of the hallmarks that have put both the director and the musician on the map, infusing traditionalism with a provocative forward-thinking bent that infuses the proceedings with an unpredictable liveliness that electrifies the whole affair. “City Music”, by the time it comes to its celebratory end, feels like a lived-in fever dream, offering both a reconciliatory warmth and something that feels just alien enough to remain intriguingly alien. An undoubtedly ambitious project that never entirely reveals its hand, “City Music” is one of the most fascinating and investment-worthy clips of 2017.