Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: IAN SWEET

Half Waif – Back In Brooklyn (Stream, Live Video)

After what seemed like an eternity, Heartbreaking Bravery is returning to regular daily (or near-daily) coverage and this run begins with a recap of the excellent tracks, clips, and full streams that found release over the past two days. On the songs front there were notable tracks from Porlolo, WAND, Lonely Parade, Emma Russack & Lachlan Denton, Bent Denim, Peach Kelli Pop, Numb.er, Quarterbacks, Omni, Phalcons, Llovers, Wax Idols, Eureka California, Tickle Torture, Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders, Decisions, Mary Lattimore, and Terra Pines.

On the visual front, there were impressive clips that came from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, A Place To Bury Strangers, CAICOS, stuart A. staples, IAN SWEET, Mike Donovan, and Superorganism. Dark Times, War On Women, Changeling, Leila Abdul-Rauf, Andrew Younker, and Paisley Fields rounded things out with some exceptional full streams. All of those are worthy of investments but none hit quite as hard as the third and final single from Half Waif’s forthcoming Lavender, “Back In Brooklyn”.

Being the first song to be featured after a long interim with sporadic updates, it might seem unwise to break form but the song’s laced with so much personal meaning that I’m breaking one of the cardinal rules of this site and switching to a first person narrative. It’s one of the only ways that I can think of to suit the song’s central premise and its near-confrontational intimacy, which was written about eloquently over at The Talkhouse by the project’s mastermind, Nandi Rose Plunkett.

Plunkett and I shared a frighteningly similar experience of our stints living in Brooklyn, managing to take the city for all its worth, simultaneously, as so many of its expats have done and will continue to do. There’s a sense that its world is a separate one, operating at a more intense velocity than the cities that swirl around its gravitational pull. It’s jarring to come into but it’s easy to accept, instinctively knowing that the best way to navigate its chaos is to completely submit yourself to its constant whims, no matter how painful or uplifting.

Coming to know the city as a home takes some time but once you do, it becomes a part of you that’s impossible to shake. It’s harshness and demand stoking various levels of anxiety and fear, while its open embrace of its residents can provide a warmth that’s worthy of moments of pining. All of this, the endless duality and dichotomies that the city births in anyone that manages to claim it as a temporary home, is painfully evident in “Back In Brooklyn”, which nearly wrecked me the first few times I was fortunate enough to watch Half Waif play it live (one of those instances is captured below).

It’s the most plaintive moment on Lavender — easily one of the best records I’ve heard this year — and it’s the most arresting. Plunkett’s narration across the record’s one of the most unsparingly honest perspectives I’ve come across in recent memory, looking at everything through the lens of someone lost in their own thoughts while the road flies by their van windoes. Sideways glances and subtle allusions are shelved in favor of an intense directness that can occasionally approach the overwhelming, it’s nakedness on full display. Longing and love are its most prominent intersections but they’re anchored by a rare understanding, which can make the material — as is the case with “Back In Brooklyn” — frighteningly real.

During its three-plus minute run time, on every pass I’ve given the song, it’s transported me back to the city, reminded me of all of the things, places, and people I loved, all of the moments with them I cherished, and all of the moments where I felt lost or afraid. It’s an immense work that’s delivered with a well-worn affection and laced with the knowledge that once you leave, its shape shifts and changes, rendering some of the things you held onto unrecognizable. Honest, unflinching, empathetic, and deeply moving, “Back In Brooklyn” isn’t just breathtaking, it’s a small miracle in a minor key.

Listen to “Back In Brooklyn” (and watch a recent live performance of the song) below and pre-order Lavender from CASCINE here.

Watch This: The Best of 2017’s First Quarter, Pt. I

In a three month span, an innumerable number of tour and press cycles can run their course. Fortunately, there are a handful of outlets in the world dedicated to capturing the live performances that power most of the cycles in the most artistic way possible. This post (and the following three) focuses on the best of the best in terms of live videos. Whether it’s a powerful piece of filmmaking (as is the case with the clip that kicks this off, which also doubles an an official music video), a great performance, or a combination of both, there’s quite a bit to admire about the selected videos. So, as always, lean back, relax, clear your mind, and Watch This.



PART I

1. Ron Gallo – Please Yourself
2. Meat Wave – To Be Swayed (Live! From the Rock Room)
3. Slothrust – Horseshoe Crab (Dangerbird)
4. Peaer – Pink Spit (Live! From the Rock Room)
5. Yucky Duster – Friend Zone + Gofer (The Special Without Brett Davis)
6. Cloud Nothings – Modern Act (KCSN)
7. Charly Bliss – Glitter (WFUV)
8. LVL UP – Hidden Driver (Do512)
9. Wetter – Do You Still Dance? (Radio K)
10. Forth Wanderers – Caramel Emotion (Allston Pudding)
11. Happyness – Through Windows (Do512)
12. Parlor Walls – Play Opposites (BreakThruRadio)
13. Weaves – One More (Audiotree)
14. Frankie Cosmos – Highways and Trees + O Dread C Town (La Blogotheque)
15. Ornament – Adapt or Leave (Boxfish Sessions)
16. IAN SWEET – 2soft2chew (Allston Pudding)
17. Kal Marks – Today I Walked Down to the Tree… (Boxfish Sessions)
18. Darkwing – Necropants (BreakThruRadio)
19. Gurr – Moby Dick (3voor12)
20. The Chinchees – Everyone Knows (Radio K)
21. Sløtface – Empire Records (3voor12)
22. Very Fresh – Schedule IV (BreakThruRadio)
23. Middle Kids – Edge of Town (The Current)
24. Emilyn Brodsky – Hands Off the Stove (BreakThruRadio)
25. Phoebe Bridgers – Smoke Signals (NPR)

Lost Boy ? – Born 2 Lose (Stream)

Lost Boy ? IV

As this week drew to a close, the final few days offered up outstanding music videos from M.T. Foyer (who nearly claimed this post’s featured spot), IAN SWEET, Lomelda, Sleepy, M Ross Perkins, ANOHNI, Beach Slang, and Merchandise. Additionally, there were all of the tracks that were covered in the preceding post and a small handful of full streams that will be covered in the post that follows this one. While those were dedicated to other quality releases, the focal point of this particular entry in the ongoing saga of coverage falls to site favorites Lost Boy ? who released both a riff-happy new full-length and a track online, “Born 2 Lose”, to mark the occasion.

For years now, the Davey Jones-led project has been releasing astonishing material, including one of the best records of this current decade in Canned. Lost Boy ?’s established, distinctive brand of basement pop is on full display in “Born 2 Lose”, which follows a string of excellent songs to tease Goose Wazoo without ever veering so far into familiarity that it becomes predictable. The ways this project shifts and moves from song to song remains one of Lost Boy ?’s most compelling aspects, furthering a singular identity in the process.

Riding the crest of a mid-tempo pace that manages, impossibly, to come off as both relaxed and surging, “Born 2 Lose” establishes a fascinating tone from the outset and never wavers. Jones’ vocals continue to betray a rotating cast of outsider influences that inform Lost Boy ?’s music in meaningful ways, from form and structure to narrative content.
All of those traits combine into an endlessly fascinating — and ridiculously enjoyable — basement pop track that continues to effortlessly navigate some of the dichotomies that have rendered Lost Boy ? one of the more memorable acts currently operating in the genre.

Don’t miss a chance to explore why this band’s endeared themselves to so many people (a sizable quantity of them being musicians responsible for similarly impressive material). “Born 2 Lose” is an upbeat anthem for the downtrodden, providing empathetic comfort in generous doses. Sometimes that’s exactly the type of thing the world needs and Lost Boy ? continues to deliver in earnest. Make sure to give this one the kind of investment it genuinely deserves.

Listen to “Born 2 Lose” below and order Goose Wazoo here.

Proud Parents – Take My Hand (Music Video)

proud parents

Before the long weekend gave us all a nice reprieve, there were music videos to peruse after being released by Blowout, Fascinations Grand Chorus, Yung, Nick Waterhouse, Hockey Dad, Yumi Zouma, and Bat For Lashes. There were also some excellent full streams that emerged and came courtesy of IAN SWEET, The Pooches, Ratboys and Dowsing, Adam Torres, Sneeze, Natural Sway, Tough Tits, July Talk, Dennis Callaci, Yohuna, Allah-Las, Shapes In Calgary, and the miami dolphins. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there was also an incredibly endearing clip from Proud Parents that found its way out into the world.

The band’s got an impressive pedigree among its four members, who are all connected to other prominent projects in the Wisconsin DIY punk circuit. All of that experience — and the knowledge that’s gained via that experience — has shaped Proud Parents into one of the finest basement pop acts in the upper Midwest. A lot of that’s been gained through an open-hearted identity that’s on full display in “Take My Hand”.

A staunchly independent endeavor, “Take My Hand” has a charmingly simple conceit: ramble around, mouth the song, and play with a small army of dogs. By forgoing a more ambitious narrative in favor of something far more grounded, Proud Parents are able to create a compelling hangout clip that remains an absolute joy even after a handful of plays. In playing to their strengths, “Take My Hand” emerges as a definitive portrait of a band that’s more than ready to get their considerable due.

Watch “Take My Hand” below and pick up Sharon Is Karen here.

IAN SWEET – #23 (Music Video)

ian sweet

Over the past several days, there have been excellent music videos to surface from Caspian, DJ Shadow, The Hairs, Clipping., Pleistocene, WL, Pop & Obachan, Donovan Wolfington, Chromatics, Matt Kivel, Dogbreth, Hiss Golden Messenger, Joyce Manor, The Cradle, The Avalanches, Barren Womb, and Walker Lukens. A few of those will undoubtedly be appearing on some year-end lists but that doesn’t mean that the rest should be ignored. All of those titles are worthy endeavors that deserve a certain amount of investment.

As good as all of those clips wound up being, this post’s feature was secured by IAN SWEET‘s endearing, Michael Jordan-influenced “#23”. Tenderly shot and directed by Eleanor Petry, “#23” imbues the subdued tone of the song into a clip that jumps, seamlessly, back and forth from a pick-up game in a park to a varied romp through Coney Island. There’s a lyrical poetry to the imagery that winds up complementing the best song of IAN SWEET’s emergent career.

In four minutes, IAN SWEET (and Petry) conjure up a narrative that feels alternately introspective and fearlessly outgoing, demonstrating a range of humanity that should serve the band well down the line. There’s a keen awareness to the entire affair that’s infused with a heavy amount of empathy, allowing “#23” to radiate a kind of warmth that’s been increasingly rare in the landscape of the punk-tinged basement pop genre. Should the rest of their forthcoming Shapeshifter live up to this precedent, we may very well be looking at — and listening to — one of the finest records of 2016.

Watch “#23” below and pre-order Shapeshifter from Hardly Art here.

Clearance – Owner/Operator (Stream)

clearance

Since Friday, there have been notable streams from IAN SWEET, Fake Palms, American Wrestlers, Space Mountain, John K. Samson, Tanukichan, What Moon Things, Peace Be Still, Axis: Sova, Twist, The Veils, Quarterbacks, J&L Defer, Bon Iver, Cheshires, Black Thumb, CHUCK, Suntrodden, Makeout Point, Shapes In Calgary, Adam Torres, Dowsing, and Hiva Oa that have all appeared. On top of that, there were great music videos that came courtesy of Pleasure Leftists, Jake S-M, Breathe Panel, Emma Russack, Winter, Ka, and Pfarmers. Full streams that came via Bueno, Swimsuit Addition, Echo Courts, Big Bliss, The Channels, Cassels, BJ Barham, Dolfish, and Red Heat closed the haul of new material out in a memorable fashion.

All of those entries impressed on multiple levels but it was the latest offering from site favorites Clearance that earned this post’s featured position. “Owner/Operator” is the band’s second individual release — following the excellent “Are You Aware” — since their outstanding Rapid Rewards LP and sees the quartet continuing to find fascinating ways to balance a carefree atmosphere with urgent conviction. The song will be featured as part of their forthcoming Are You Aware 7″, which seems poised to stand as one 2016’s finest releases for that format.

A large part of those expectations can be accredited to the successes of “Owner/Operator”, a breezy and bristling three-and-a-half minute number that both refines and advances Clearance’s songwriting. From the structure to the dynamic nuances, there’s an uncommon liveliness that electrifies the proceedings, pushing a good song into the realms of greatness. Surprisingly memorable, weirdly powerful, and unashamedly casual, “Owner/Operator” is an unlikely slacker pop anthem for the basement punk crowd.

Listen to “Owner/Operator” below and pre-order Are You Aware from Tall Pat here.

Space Mountain – Never Lonely (Stream)

spacemountain

Over the past week or so there have been new songs to stream offered up from a varied cast of characters that included Infinity Crush, Secret Crush, Microwave, Slothrust, Screaming Females, The Only Ocean, The Submissives, Nots, Navy Gangs, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Aldous Harding, Steady Lean, Fir Cone Children, and IAN SWEET. In addition to those songs there was also a collaborative gem unveiled by Cole Kinsler‘s Space Mountain project that featured a thrilling guest vocalist turn from Forth Wanderers‘ Ava Trilling.

Way back in 2014, Kinsler’s project was making a solid impression and it’s been a privilege to watch (and listen to) Space Mountain grow in both scope and conviction. Recently, that project hit an exhilarating peak with the driving, mid-tempo “Never Lonely”. Easily the act’s finest work to date, it’s enriched by a communal spirit that brings Trilling’s memorable vocals into the fold.

Never before has Space Mountain sounded as expansive or as thoughtful, a mixture that pays massive dividends. By finding a way to bridge both the carefree, open-road atmosphere that permeates throughout some of the most timeless folk records and the dynamics that typically characterize a roster like Exploding In Sound’s, “Never Lonely” creates something that feels refreshing in its modernity while digging its heels deep into the past.

An impressive track at every turn, “Never Lonely” raises the anticipation level for the forthcoming Big Sky full-length a considerable amount. More than that, it demonstrates that Kinsler’s impressive first few works under this moniker were more developmental than most listeners likely realized. If the rest of the record can live up to the standard set by “Never Lonely”, Big Sky may just be one of the year’s finest surprise discoveries.

Listen to “Never Lonely” below and pre-order Big Sky here.

Bueno – I Got Your Back (Stream)

bueno

The past two days have been eventful for nearly every major release category but standalone streams put up an incredibly impressive run thanks to great new tracks from Chris Staples, Toby Coke, Mozes and the Firstborn, Hater, Heaven For Real, Stephen Steinbrink, Year of Glad, IAN SWEET, Yeesh, Young Mister, Dumb Numbers, Tamper, Vomitface, Planning For Burial, Adam Torres, Private Joy, The Rantouls, Half Loon, LUKA, Pascal PinonDYAN, and Slow Hollows. Music videos offered up a strong class as well, including new pieces from Summer Cannibals, Nico Yaryan, Peter Bjorn And John, Allah-Las, Melaena Cadiz, Alice Bag, Shock Machine, John Southworth, and an astonishingly powerful entry into the format from TotemoGraveface, Lea, clipping., Neutrals, Shickey, RLYR, Control TopSpook the Herd, and a summer sampler from the remarkably consistent Z Tapes rounded out the full streams.

While all of those titles are more than worthy endeavors worth ever single moment of investment that they’ll be given (and likely even more), Bueno’s latest track grabs this post’s headline. Over the past several years, Bueno has gain an extremely dedicated following that have granted them an almost cult-like status among their converts. “I Get Your Back” justifies that adoration with a calmness that nears the serene. Incorporating an off-kilter powerpop sensibility into their typical ’90s-indebted slacker punk approach pays massive dividends here, as the erratic propulsion of “I Got Your Back” leads it into the kind of near-transcendental territory that’s hard to forget.

Listen to “I Got Your Back” below and pre-order Illuminate Your Room here.