Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Animal Lover

Green Dreams – Here At Castle Makeout (Album Review)

green dreams

At the end of last week, a solid haul of full streams emerged and included impressive new titles from Brat Kings, Tape Waves, Birdboy, Daisy Victoria, Cleo Tucker, Sharks’ Teeth, and Nathan Bowles. The record to grab this post’s featured spot came from site favorites Green Dreams, who are riding a creative rebirth and utilizing the impressive behind-the-boards talents of some of their friends from Perfect Pussy.

Following a steady build that was comprised of a demo, an EP, and a 7″ (all very strong), Green Dreams have finally settled into a lineup and sunk their teeth into a full-length, Here At Castle Makeout. Opening with “Be Here Now”, it’s clear from the outset, the band hasn’t lost a step. Shaun Sutkus, Ben Moley, and Meredith Graves all keyed into the band’s most ferocious qualities and amplify them in various production capacities, sculpting the sound quality into a near-feral, lo-fi attack that perfectly amplifies Green Dreams’ untethered aggression.

Of course, their combined efforts would only carry the music so far if the songs were limp and, unsurprisingly, Green Dreams seem continuously incapable of writing anything that’s less than potent. Half-efforts just simply aren’t in the trio’s constitution. After “Be Here Now” sets the tone for Here At Castle Makeout with a melodic strain of damaged noise-punk that closes out with a section of ambient noise that’s overlaid with Jane Fonda’s famous screed against prejudiced bigotry in Colin Higgins’ classic Nine to Five. It’s a moment that touches on the band’s well-placed sense of frustration and anger, providing the rest of the record with a tenacious sense of purpose in its earliest stages.

From that point forward, the record never ceases in delivering punishing blows that are teeming with feeling. “100 Days” stands out as an early highlight, perfectly balancing the band’s bruising wall-of-noise with guitarist/vocalist (and principle songwriter) Jesse Amesmith’s frantic vocals, which swing from tempered to unhinged on a dime. In a record full of exhilarating moments, “100 Days” may be the most definitive example of what the band can accomplish when they strip themselves of any reservations and go on the offensive.

Of course, “100 Days” isn’t the only immediately effective moment on Here At Castle Makeout and the record continues doling out moments of fury as it progresses, slowly transforming itself into not only a bone-rattling noise-punk record but a blistering political statement. “Body Magic”, another track that implements outside dialogue, not only contains a message of self-worth that touches on several key aspects in a short amount of time (among them: body-positivity, disallowing the tendency to be defined by others, and the callousness of sexual assault). There’s an abundance of feeling in these songs that’s impossible to ignore and makes several of the narratives that litter Here At Castle Makeout cut incredibly deep.

Several of those themes that “Body Magic” hits so succinctly are prevalent throughout Here At Castle Makeout, whether they’re refined into one specific topic or continue to combine them into pointed, wide-range commentary. All of them — and a few more related topics — are driven home in the record’s astonishing final quarter, which slows the tempo but ups the immediacy, creating a breathtaking run of songs that refuse to be ignored. By the time the woozy acoustic epilogue rolls in, it’s easy to taste the smoldering wreckage left in its wake.

Here At Castle Makeout is a furious record that knows it’s overwhelming amount of anger comes from the right place. It’s an unwieldy piece of noise-punk that’s informed by both pop and hardcore, which is elevated by the sheer strength of Green Dreams’ convictions. Easily their most impressive work to date, Here At Castle Makeout is the type of record that seems destined to gain strength as more people give in to its force. One of 2016’s finest — and timeliest — records, Here At Castle Makeout deserves every bit of praise that’ll undoubtedly come its way.

Listen to Here At Castle Makeout below and pick it up here.

Miya Folick – Pet Body (Music Video)

miya folick

Animal Lover, OMNI, September Girls, Lion’s Den, Silent Pictures, and WL all released startlingly great music videos over the past 24 hours. As good as all of those were (and they were quite good), the one that charged the hardest came courtesy of Miya Folick. After releasing one of the last year’s strongest EP’s in Strange Darling, Folick has wasted no time in releasing a follow-up effort. “Pet Body”, a standalone single, ranks among the songwriter’s fiercest moments and has a suitably aggressive video to match.

“Pet Body” eschews the tantalizingly subdued tendencies of Strange Darling in favor of a much rawer approach, flashing its fangs and sinking them in deep. A hyper-charged sugar-rush of spiky basement pop, “Pet Body” manages to be both accessible and substantial, cementing Folick’s reputation as a songwriter to watch. The music video that Folick’s released alongside the song is a joyous collage of animated imagery that complements the overwhelming immediacy of “Pet Body” with panache. Packaged all together, “Pet Body” is winsome, exhilarating, and an unexpected anthem for summer’s remainder. Greet it with a warm embrace and hold on for the ride.

Watch “Pet Body” below and download the song here.

Animal Lover – Caramel Again (Music Video Premiere)

Animal Lover

Every now and then a song (or music video) comes along that carefully creeps its way into the brain of the listener (or viewer). With the music video for their new single, “Caramel Again”, Animal Lover take an impressive stab at occupying that space. The Emily Downes video opts for atmospherics rather than a clear-cut narrative, stringing together a series of warped, disquieting imagery.

“Caramel Again” is further elevated by the song that serves as its core engine, a creeping acoustic track that’s reminiscent of some of Tenement’s more experimental work. Packaged together, “Caramel Again” becomes a surprisingly foreboding work, with both of its core functions feeding into the other to create something that feels like raw expression rather than calculated construction. It’s an incredibly impressive work from a band that will undoubtedly be fascinating to watch as they move forward.

Watch “Caramel Again” below and pre-order Stay Alive from Forward here.

PWR BTTM – Projection (Stream, Live Video)

PWR BTTM III

The last few days held a whole host of incredible new songs from the likes of Turtlenecked, ScotDrakula, Animal Lover, Dolores, Rips, Dott, Sex Stains, Devon Welsh, Dogbreth, Honey Bucket, Lumer, Atticus Ross and Leopold Ross, Raccoon Fighter, Jenn Champion, Field Mouse, Luke Winslow, The Pooches, Butch Bastard, Ravenna Woods, Young Summer, Bellows, Rosemary Fairweather, Alice MK, Grey Gersten, JEFF The Brotherhood, and Royal Oakie as well as a two-song sampler of the forthcoming record from Echo Courts. While all of those songs should receive listens, it’s an old favorite finally finding release to capture this post’s featured spot.

The first time I saw PWR BTTM was at Miscreant’s Northside showcase last year and it immediately ensured the band a hefty amount of future coverage (especially in the live department). Having been impressed by their earlier material, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect that day but it was one particular song that convinced me PWR BTTM was capable of achieving greatness: “Projection”.

Over time, “Projection” solidified its spot as my favorite song in the band’s arsenal. From Benjamin Hopkins’ remarkably tasteful guitar theatrics to a startlingly intimate lyric set to Liv Bruce’s intuitive drumming to the exchanged vocal leads, the song highlights several of PWR BTTM’s strongest aspects. From that first performance over a year ago, the band’s kept it as a live staple and subsequently afforded me the opportunity to document it several times over.

Recently, PWR BTTM announced they would be partnering with the excellent Big Scary Monsters label for their European releases, beginning with an extended version of Ugly Cherries that will come equipped with “Projection” (it’ll be available as a standalone single in America). While the band offers a mischievous wink towards the song’s main influence with its title, the narrative of “Projection” takes a much more serious tone.

From its opening couplet onward, “Projection” offers a very acute look at the displacement its songwriters have been subjected to because of their identities and preferences, rendering it heartbreaking in its realism– something enhanced even more by the song’s direct approach.

With its reprise of “my skin wasn’t made for the weather”, it’d be easy for the song to tip towards defeatism and while that’s an element that never completely disappears, the music surrounding the narrative becomes a retaliatory burst of frustration that seems to energize the band; they’ve found an outlet through creating music that feels like home. In that regard, “Projection” could be viewed as somewhat celebratory, though its down-trodden narrative keeps it tethered to the earth.

In creating that dichotomy, PWR BTTM fully demonstrate their enviable gifts as songwriters who have an uncanny understanding of their identity as a band (with only one full-length under their belt, no less). “Projection” finds every element of their songwriting at a stratospheric peak, underlining the hefty emotional undercurrent that informs their work but frequently winds up getting overlooked.

It’s an extraordinary song that offers insight, frustration, joy, longing, and some of their finest composition work to date. Empathetic and earnest in its unblinking sincerity, “Projection” is the type of song that’s capable of making converts out of skeptics; a genuine work of art. Greet the song’s official arrival with the kind of understanding and care that should be granted to others throughout life, free of discriminatory practices, prejudices, and blind hatred. Grab a copy, reciprocate its warmth, and never let its message fall out of reach… then hit repeat.

Listen to “Projection” below — and watch an early live performance of the song — and keep an eye on this site for more news on any of PWR BTTM’s forthcoming releases.