Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: album

The Best Full Streams of June’s First Half

In the opening half of June, a large handful of worthwhile records found their way into the public consciousness. Most of the five below (with one notable exception), only gained traction among niche audiences but were imbued with the kind of power that can make those numbers grow in increments. All of them, as ever, are more than worthy of purchasing from the band or label responsible for their release. A handful lived up to the hype and at least one seemed to appear from the ether. Give them all the kind of investment they deserve.

Snail Mail – Lush

Easily the highest-profile record on this list, site favorites Snail Mail made good on their early promise with a Matador debut. Debuting at a heartening 56 on the Billboard charts, Lush catapults the project into the public eye. Riding a wave of acclaim for their strong early work, sterling live show, smart marketing, and the strength of their advance singles ensured that Lush would be greeted with fanfare. That it’s devoid of any glaring weaknesses or gaps leaves the record as a testament to Lindsey Jordan’s abilities as a songwriter but more importantly, establishes Snail Mail as a genuine artist.

Flasher – Constant Image

Constant Image, the debut full-length from Flasher is one hell of a coming out party. Taut, hyper-melodic, and genre-blurring, the record’s a perfect encapsulation of a band that’s fully aware they’re coming into their own. Everything from the production to the sequencing here serves a larger whole rather than relegating distinctive sections. Every song on Constant Image is a career high for a band that’s already amassed a fairly impressive discography over a few short releases. Constant Image shouldn’t just put their name on the map but lock itself into the kind of heavy rotation slot that doesn’t get vacated.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are an act that’s been featured on this site multiple times for a handful of years, which makes it all the more surprising that Hope Downs is their first official album. What’s not as surprising, especially given that time to figure things out, is that it arrives fully-formed and eschews all of the easy traps lesser-versed bands fall into so frequently. The band knows there’s an advantage to risk-taking that doesn’t overreach and has figured out how to fully lock into their open-road identity. Hope Downs applies that wisdom spectacularly and winds up as an Americana-tinged triumph.

The Knees – Stammer

Likely the least recognizable release on this list, The Knees’ Stammer more than earns a spot among its contemporaries. Two songs of great, delirious post-punk that find fascinating ways to ramble with purpose. Aimless bridges on the title track add an impressive amount of hazy atmosphere, while the ridiculously fun “abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz” offers up a galvanizing version of a childhood classic. Subversive, unexpected, brimming with confidence, and delivered with a tenacious conviction, Stammer is one of the great unexpected surprises of 2018’s middle stretch. Give it a listen and leave it on repeat.

Dusk – Dusk

Dusk is a tricky record to judge on merit, as it’s essentially a glorified repurposing of a demo that was released by the earliest iteration of the band. Four songs are added (including one that’s an alternate take on a song from bassist/vocalist Amos Pitsch‘s other project, Tenement) and provide a layered depth which is welcome but where Dusk earns its spot on the list in its reinvention. Every single one of these songs benefits from what the band has become and to present them as a collective reintroduction makes sense, considering those changes have been so drastic.

As a collective, Dusk leans into soul as much as classic country, congealing all of their influence into something that’s become reminiscent of The Band, which is a far cry from their first recording. All of the songs here prove worthy of longevity, enhancing an aspect of timelessness. Dusk’s a remarkable band that’s found their power through evolution, settling into a final form that’s got a whole host of material up its sleeve. For now, we should all be more than content to sink into the spells these songs weave and be grateful to have another genuinely great record to add to our collections.

The Very Best of the Very Rest: The Best Full Streams of 2017’s Final Stretch

Making one last recap run before the year-end lists go up, now that the year has officially expired, this post will serve solely to focus on the most exceptional records to come into focus over 2017’s final stretch. Often, these records get overshadowed precisely because of the competitive spotlit-nature of those year-end lists. More times than not, this batch of records also — much like Oscar season in the realm of film — contain the records labels hold back in hopes they’ll still be fresh in people’s minds while compiling those lists. Ignoring those for smaller releases that come across like distant memories can be harder than most think, which is why the below selections cater to the records that would have earned themselves serious year-end consideration no matter when they were released. So, make sure these are queued up to their opening track and listen to 21 records that don’t just deserved to be played, but remembered.

Mo Troper – Exposure & Response

Weaves – Wide Open

Climax Landers – Climax Landers

Whelpwisher – Notice to Airmen

Even Hand – Phototropic

Radiator Hospital – Play The Songs You Like

Fits – All Belief Is Paradise

Bethlehem Steel – Party Naked Forever

Lithuania – White Reindeer

Coma Cinema – Loss Memory

Goon – Happy Omen

Tosser – Tosser

Upper Wilds – Guitar Module 2017

Dumb Things – Dumb Things

The Miami Dolphins – Water You Waiting For

Pope – True Talent Champion

Holiday Ghosts – Holiday Ghosts

Prom Queen – Doom-Wop

Dharma Dogs – Music for the Terminally Besotted

Mathhaverskan – III

Slaughter Beach, Dog – Birdie

Nothing Stops In November: The Month’s Full Streams

A lot changed over the course of November, on national, global, and intimate scales. The results of the latter category led to a near-absence of posts over the past 30 days on this space. No matter how much the personal landscape changed, the tracking of new releases remained a constant. While the last post documented some of the best music videos to emerge over the course of that run, the attention here falls to the full streams that were unveiled in that same interim.

As is typically the case with these types of roundups, everything here deserves more praise than it can possibly receive here and is likely best sifted through at a leisurely pace. Feel free to bookmark the page and make return visits to hear some outstanding music because these aren’t releases that people will want to miss. Dive in and enjoy. 

Permit, Lawn, Swampmeat, Minihorse, Deerhoof, RetailThe Momotarōs, Spelling Reform, Very Fresh, Dark Blue, Skin Lies, Nine of Swords, Harmony Tividad, Miracle Sweepstakes, Monomyth, Pure Moods, if i die in mississippi, Mustardmind, Frank Weysos, Tuffy, Dr. Dog, Jess Williamson, Pastel Felt, Floating Room, Mark Sultan, Landing, Psychic Love, His Clancyness, Blank Range, Dogs At Large, Mr. Universe, Carroll, Warm Ouroboros, NGHTCRWLRS, Ava Mendoza/Maxime Petit/Will Guthrie, You Blew It.

Burial, Justin Carter, Cold Country, Gloria, Brave Timbers, Split Single, Amp, Deadaires, Cameron AG, Estrons, The Superweaks, My Education, Genders, Elle, Perfect Human, Fujiya & Miyagi, The Immoderate Past, Holy Golden, and Quit + Wuss. An outstanding GoldFlakePaint compilation and an exceptional Z Tapes compilation rounded things out in memorable fashion.

Future Biff – I Crashed Your Car (EP Review)

Geronimo!

Hellrazor, Phooey! (a.k.a. ФУИ), Mumblr, Yung, Leapling, Wavepool, Spit-Take, Amy Klein, Wilt, Modern Rituals, In School, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Morgan Elizabeth Heringer, Vogue Dots, Liquids, Wild at Heart, Summer Peaks, Hand Grenade Job, Young Moon, Oneirogen, Cucumbers, Trinkit, and  the second Dumpster Tapes Monster compilation comprised one of the most impressive multi-day hauls of full streams that’s happened in quite some time. However good all of those titles were, none of them could have prepared many for the sudden emergence of Future Biff, a new Chicago act that features all of Geronimo! (pictured above) along with Meat Wave‘s Ryan Wizniak.

Nearly all of Future Biff contributed to the 2015 edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories, a fact that has literally no bearing on the assessment of their unexpected, extraordinary I Crashed Your Car EP. The band’s fronted by Geronimo! keys man Ben Grigg, whose also been putting out incredibly compelling solo work as benjamin783 and who handles bass duties as well as vocals for this release, which immediately ensures that Future Biff won’t be a retread of the band that left a crater-sized hole in this site’s heart after hanging up their cables last year.

Opening with the rousing “Built To Last”, Future Biff teases that they’ll be a much different kind of beast than Geronimo!, providing emphasis on both a strong melodic sensibility, grounded basement pop compositions, and swirling, feedback-laden chaos. Only “Redline”, I Crashed Your Car‘s jittery final track, passes the two and a half minute mark, allowing the EP to be a blazing force of pure destruction. All five of the songs seem surprisingly purposeful, undoubtedly aided by the benefit of having a joint drumming attack anchored by two of the finest percussionists on the circuit.

Even with all of the singular talent involved in Future Biff, the project feels like it belongs to Grigg, whose long had a penchant for writing sharply intuitive, scrappy punk-tinged basement pop. It’s a trait that shines through I Crashed Your Car with an emphatic abundance. Fiery, propulsive, and unavoidable, Grigg steers the band through the carnage of one of 2016’s finest EP’s with a demented smile. Give in or get out of the way.

Listen to I Crashed Your Car below and pick it up from the band here.

March 2016: The Full Streams

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Once more, a lot of material has surfaced since this site’s last regular update. A few premieres are in the (very) near future, though, as are a series of recaps. A few of those — like this very piece — will be limited to March, while the others will cover the first, very rich, quarter of 2016. Since so much has amassed in that period of time, a lot of these will simply be presented as lists with hyperlinks. As much as I wish I could grant all of these individual pieces the attention they genuinely deserve, the most I can do at this point is make sure they don’t go completely unnoticed. Now that all of that’s covered, please enjoy this list of March’s finest full streams (the best approach to consumption would be to bookmark the page and explore it at will). Keep an eye on this site for a lot more in a very short span of days as it claws its way back into regular coverage.

Tacocat – Lost Time | The Sun Days – Album | Bent Shapes – Wolves of Want | Littler – Of Wandering | Tancred – Out of the Garden | Mermaidens – Undergrowth | Orations – Incantation | Bruise Bath – The First Two | Soft Fangs – The Light | Slingshot Dakota – Break | Museyroom – Pearly Whites | Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing | Music Band – Wake Up Laughing | Hit Bargain – Hit Bargain | Audacity – Hyper Vessels | Woods – City Sun Eater in the River of Light | B Boys – No Worry No Mind | Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp | Holiday Home – Greetings From | Govier – Predator | The Wandering Lake – From James’ Garden / Ashame | Meatbodies – Valley Girl Hibernation

Oddissee – Alwasta | Shya – Trying | Say No! To Architecture – SN!TA | John Congleton & The Nighty Nites – Until the Horror Goes | Pissed Off – 😡 2 | Lil Yachty – Lil Boat | SMILE – Rhythm Method | Tournament – Teenage Creature | Night Idea – Breathing Cold | Human People – Sleep Year | Foul Tip – Forever Driftin’ | Fat Tony – Look | Public Memory – Wuthering Drum | Snow Roller – What’s the Score? | Beat Awfuls – Nothing Happens | RJD2 – Dame Fortune | Dumpster Tapes – Monster Compilation: Vol. 2

CMJ: Day 4 (Pictorial Review)

Palehound I

With the first two galleries now up and running, the night continues on with the third. On the fourth official day of CMJ, once again, videos of the bands were posted shortly after the official review went live. Rounding everything out is this photo gallery. Enjoy.

Sweet John Bloom – Weird Prayer (Album Review, Stream)

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As has been mentioned multiple times over, this site saw a recent shift from standard coverage to specialty coverage thanks to a move. In the few weeks that have passed in that time, a slew of exciting new releases made their way out into the world. One of the finest- and, frankly, most overlooked- was Sweet John Bloom’s fiery Weird Prayer. That record will be the focus of this piece, while a list of 50 excellent full streams to have recently appeared will be included beneath the embedded bandcamp player. Before immediately going there, though, let’s focus on the matter at hand: Sweet John Bloom’s full-length debut.

Formed out of the ashes of several other bands (including Four Eyes, who released one of the best 7″ records in recent memory with Towards the End of Cosmic Loneliness), Sweet John Bloom already had a fairly impressive pedigree out of the gate. It’s not surprising that the band managed to click as tightly as they have, especially considering their respective former bands had all established a familiarity by virtue of shared spaces (bills, scenes, etc.). Even with all of that taken into account, Weird Prayer‘s pure strength still manages to surpass expectations.

A collection of 15 dirtied up, punk-leaning basement pop songs, the record not only succeeds in effortlessly conveying the band’s identity but in coming off as a genuine record; something that’s meant to be heard in full. Naturally sequenced and expertly paced, it’s a considerable achievement for a first at-bat operating with this medium as a collective unit. Each section of Weird Prayer comes off as considered as it does impassioned, rendering the whole thing an invigorating shot of adrenaline. Vocal leads are traded with ease, there’s a killer melody buried in just about every passage, and the flawless production makes sure to include enough bursts of weirdness- like the absolutely stunning outro to “Night Thing”- to keep the whole thing zipping along at a startling clip.

For as willfully rough as Weird Prayer sounds, it’s also a record that’s partially defined by finesse. Deceptively elegant guitar figures play with the limits of restraint even as they’re pushed to the red. The rhythm section work always serves a purpose beyond just simply being a base and the lyricism, while occasionally buried with the vocals in the mix, is frequently poignant. Sweet John Bloom also manage to find as much success experimenting with their more gentle sensibilities as they do when they give in to their desire to be abrasive.

“Blood Moon” sees the band finding the perfect balance between the gentle/abrasive dichotomy and, in the context of the record, the song feels even livelier and massive than it did as a standalone single. It’s one of several songs on the record that go beyond anthemic to the realms of catharsis without ever succumbing to over-simplification. It’s part of why the record never loses an unfailing sense of urgency that goes well beyond most of the songs’ inherent immediacy, which sets up a tall order for Weird Prayer‘s final stretch.

In most cases where an album’s almost exclusively built on raucous barn-burners, the weight eventually builds and the load becomes unsustainable; there’s a reason why rollercoasters don’t extend for hours and why successful action films need exposition. Weird Prayer deals nicely with this by offering a gradual come-down by easing off the gas pedal and utilizing a tempo that creeps in a little under the established average for most of its closing numbers. Even then, Sweet John Bloom don’t cede their penchant for a confrontational aesthetic; the 1-2 punch of “Death; and Everything’s Paid For” and “Trust  Me” feels particularly vital and bristles with a world-conquering energy. Fittingly, “Aging In Place”- the first song to be shared from Weird Prayer– brings everything home in a finale that’s both familiar and intensely rousing; an exhilarating end-cap to one of the year’s finest records.

Pick up Weird Prayer from Tiny Engines here and listen to it by clicking play below. Underneath the bandcamp player, browse 50 other great recent full streams.

Radioactivity – Silent Kill
J Fernandez – Many Levels of Laughter
Fight Amp – Constantly Off
Yukon Blonde – On Blonde
Sissy – Gave Birth To A Mum
Expert Alterations – Expert Alterations
Spray Paint – Punters On A Barge
Ballroom – Ballroom
Bad Boys – Demo
Year of Glad – Year of Glad
Little Children – Travelling Through Darkness
The Fur Coats – Short-Brain
Magic Potion – Melt
Oscar – Beautiful Words
Sea Cycles – Ground & Air
Prinzhorn Dance School – Home Economics
Senpai – Hell In My Head b/w Mind Honey
Arm Candy – Arm Candy
Institue – Catharsis
Chris Weisman – Chaos Isn’t Single
Max Gowan – Big People
Falling Stacks – No Wives
Hints – No Regrets In Old English
No Joy – More Faithful
Pleistocene – Space Trap
Long Neck – Heights
No Friends – I’m Not Real
Marvelous Mark – Bite Me
HDSPNS – HDSPNS
KEN Mode – Success
Walleater – I/II
Sweatshop Boys – Always Polite, Never Happy
Wavves x Cloud Nothings – Wavves x Cloud Nothings
Tough Age – I Get The Feeling Central
Sea of Bees – Build A Boat To The Sun
C H R I S T – T O W E R
Alden Penner – Canada In Space
Teen Daze – Morning World
Fell To Low – Low In The Dust
Palm – Ostrich Vacation
Bully – Feels Like
Bruise – demos.
The Armed – Untitled
Cold Cave – Full Cold Moon
Self Defense Family – Heaven Is Earth
Wild Pink – Good Life
Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs III
Creepoid – Cemetery Highrise Slum
Gnarwhal – Shinerboy
Lady Bones – Dying

Lady Bones – 24 Hour Party Girl (Stream)

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Now that the site’s caught up to the current release cycle on all fronts, their may not be as much material in the ensuing posts as some of the more recent entries. Even with that note, it’s extremely clear that 2015’s not going to bother to slow down its astonishing pace in regards to great new releases. While not a lot of publications or bands offered up new material over what seemed to be a slightly extended Labor Day weekend, there were still a few slivers of gold. The music video format found strong representation by way of Mick Jenkins’ stunning “P’s & Q’s” and Skating Polly’s delightfully whirlwind “Nothing More Than A Body“. Single streams saw another compelling duo ushered forth in Terrible Feelings’ new noir-tinged basement pop classic “Black Water” and Drowse’s slowly-unfurling, dread-induced “Melt“.

Full streams were in much larger supply, with no less than six outstanding titles vying for greater attention. Soul Low hit a new career with the surging, shambolic Sweet Pea EP, reaffirming their potential in the process. La Lenguas proved that “Love You All The Time” was no fluke by padding it out with two more stunners on their debut EP, Tears In My Milkshake. Rightfully-vaunted punk label Dirt Cult found another strong release in Blank Pages’ urgent No Reception EP while Heyrocco got their career off to an extraordinarily promising start with the powerful Teenage Movie SoundtrackBoth Communions and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin exceeded heightened expectations with The High Country and Communions, respectively, to bring everything home.

All of those songs, records, and music videos- as always- are worthy of praise and greater scrutiny. It’s Lady Bones’ latest, though, that earns this post’s featured spot. The band recently began teasing their upcoming Dying with a song, “Botch“, that suggested a bold atmospheric shift. Now, “24 Hour Party Girl” has arrived to confirm the band’s new era. Lady Bones had initially caught this site’s attention by virtue of an incredible split release with Horsehands. Any of the band’s more vibrantly bright tendencies evidenced in that first release have all but vanished, replaced instead with the dour relentlessness that drives bands like their labelmates (and site favorites) Kal Marks.

“24 Hour Party Girl”, like “Botch” starts murky and intent, working itself into a contained furor that seems as if its on the verge of toppling everything over at any given moment. Incredibly dynamic, restless, and unnervingly foreboding, the song’s unavoidable proof of the band’s sudden ascension to an unthinkable level. Coming in 15 seconds shy of five minutes, it hits its fiercest moments in its closing passage, erupting into a bruising, cathartic release. The guitar sings while the rhythm section punishes, bringing everything to an unexpectedly explosive finish, leaving nothing but smoke in its wake. Two songs in and Dying is already looking like a surprise candidate for Album of the Year.

Listen to “24 Hour Party Girl” below and pre-order Dying in advance of its June 3o release date from Midnight Werewolf here.

Blue Smiley – OK (Album Stream)

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Single streams and music videos, while making up the bulk of this site’s recent coverage, weren’t the only categories to boast some genuinely remarkable titles over the past week or so. Full streams still accounted for a handful of genuine treasures, which included the following: Summer Camp’s heavily damaged and electro-tinged rave-up Bad Love, Ratboys’ endearingly ragged basement pop triumph AOID, Hollow Sunshine’s punishing shoegaze-heavy post-punk knockout Bring Gold, and So Stressed‘s unflinchingly modern post-hardcore masterpiece The Unlawful Trade of Roman-Greco Art. A much less publicized record, Blue Smiley’s OK, received a shot in the leg by way of the announcement of a physical release.

The band had previously released OK (not to be confused with Eskimeaux’s brilliant O.K.) as a name-your-price download on their bandcamp but it’s finally seeing an official release through Third Floor Tapes. The record itself is a short burst of fuzz-damaged eclecticism that swings between noise-punk and basement pop with a practiced finesse. It’s a deeply impressive work that showcases the band’s innate ability to craft intensely dynamic songs with surprisingly contained run-times. A perfect example of this is “Flower”, which transitions from a heavy shoegaze bent to off-kilter outsider pop on a dime. None of the 10 tracks here waste a single second and the end result is an exhilarating ride that veers off in a handful of unexpected directions, rarely bothering to come back to their starting points. Not only is it one of 2015’s most fascinating releases- it’s also worthy of purchasing when it gets the releases it so richly deserves.

Listen to OK below and keep an eye on Third Floor Tapes for the record’s release on June 1.

La Lenguas – Love You All the Time (Stream)

la leng

Going forward with the onslaught of posts designed to cover some of last week’s most notable music releases, this batch includes full streams and single songs alike, providing an illustrative scope of 2015’s continued kindness in the process. Family Bike’s Everything You Own Is Anagrammed proved to be as hellishly ferocious as expected while Old Table’s Save the Environment continued to expand on that band’s early promise by virtue of being a masterful collection of outsider pop songs. Ultimate Painting’s “Break the Chain” offered an unexpectedly tantalizing glimpse at the band’s upcoming Green Lanes and theweaselmartenfisher continued a masterful run of eclectic covers with a deeply heartfelt rendition of Cat Power’s “Nude As The News“. La Lenguas offers up this collection’s pièce de résistance with “Love You All the Time”.

The first single to be released from the band’s upcoming Tears In My Milkshake, the song’s a sharply crafted blast of doo wop-inflected basement pop that’s reminiscent of latter era of site favorites Sleeping in the Aviary stripped of some of their fuzz. Propulsive and direct, the song’s sound structure and throwaway metaphors suggest that La Lenguas have tapped into a vein of music that’s been, somewhat frustratingly, undermined (at least at this level) over the past few years. There’s a giddy, frenetic energy that courses through the blood of “Love You All the Time”, rendering the tune endlessly playable. Bass runs, sharp melodies, and medium-fi production combine to form a retro aesthetic that suits the band perfectly and helps shape a song that feels like it’ll be part of one of 2015’s most enjoyable collections. Come join the party.

Listen to “Love You All the Time” and pick up the band’s debut EP, Tears In My Milkshake, from Burger.