Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Appleseeds

Royal Headache – High (Stream)

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Before jumping into the songs that have emerged over the past two days (& in subsequent posts, the material that’s surfaced over the past week), I’d like to start by issuing an apology to anyone that’s checked this space expecting new material recently (and, in a way, to the expectations I set for myself). I’m in the middle of navigating a move from the middle of Wisconsin to Brooklyn, so coverage will be more sporadic than usual. Once the move’s been established, though, the landscape will be a lot more vibrant than it has been in the past; everything will even out eventually. I’m not here to dwell on exposition, though, I’m here to share the things- on this specific occasion, songs from the past two days- that caught my attention.

The Hussy’s “Appleseeds” provided a blistering reintroduction to one of Wisconsin’s best bands while “Bill Murray” continued theweaselmartenfisher‘s quiet output of the kind of brilliant writing that makes him one of the state’s best songwriters. There were a handful of artists that produced sterling ambient-leaning tracks, including MAS YSA, XYLØ, Ancient Ocean, and Sitcom while Tokyo Police Club member Dave Monks and  held down the mid-tempo terrain (with “The Rules” and “Slower Now“, respectively). Territory a bit more harsh was dominated by Infinity Girl, Dope Body, Buck Biloxi and the Fucks, and Empty Flowers. All of those songs, as always, are worth several listens, but this post’s feature belongs to the return of Royal Headache.

After unleashing one of the more impassioned debuts of recent memory, Royal Headache hit a snag. Their vocalist, Shogun, announced his intentions to quit the band. The rest of Royal Headache agreed under the stipulation that shogun stay to complete their second album. A tour’s forthcoming but at this point, the band’s living out an epilogue. If “High” is anything to go by, that epilogue may be more exhilarating than virtually all of the preceding content. I’ll admit, “Down the Lane” ranks among my all-time favorite songs (and Royal Headache will always have a valued place in my collection) but “High” doesn’t seem to be a static title; it’s a statement about the band’s creativity level while it extends its bittersweet death rattle.

“High” opens with an emphasis on a slightly cleaned-up production aesthetic, replete with swirling organs and a pulse-accelerating dynamic. Shogun launches off into what comes off as something approaching a mantra, providing an unavoidable clarity in regards to his feelings for an unnamed central character. As gritty as the verse winds up being, it’s when the chorus erupts into a full bloom that “High’ transcends genre limitations to become something genuinely breathtaking. Just as suddenly as it appears, the exquisite guitar work dissolves back into the pedal-to-the-floor hum of its verse sections. As it jumps back and forth, “High” establishes a surprisingly taut- and subtle- level of tension while simultaneously careening off into an otherworldly catharsis. It’s not just one of the band’s finest works; it’s one of the best songs of 2015.

Listen to “High” below and pre-order High from What’s Your Rupture? here.

On the Up: Nervosas

Nervosas have had a whirlwind year since releasing their self-titled 2xLP debut album via Let’s Pretend Records. They went from a tucked-away secret to a band whose name seemingly dominated year-end conversations in more than a few specialty circles for the latter half of the year. Nearly every distro that Nervosas or any of their previous releases were available in are currently out of stock. After word got out about how good Nervosas really was, there was a grassroots word-of-mouth brushfire that propelled the band towards the upper echelons of punk.

Their trajectory has been one of the most impressive for any band this year and there’s reason to believe that their profile may eventually spill out towards even greater recognition. Nervosas’ sound skews towards Savages, who have experienced their fair share of success this year, only their take is less deliberate and quite a bit more fiery than their UK counterparts. Obvious no-wave influences are present but Nervosas are toying with them in ways that feel both new and unexpected. Nervosas itself is blinding and relentless but has an undeniable powerpop hue to it, not too dissimilar to how The Clash and The Replacements worked the genre into their music.

While Let’s Pretend (who have had an incredible past few years and emerged as one of basement punk’s leading taste-makers) have temporarily sold out of Nervosas material, the demo tape can still be purchased via Cowabunga! and the self-titled can be picked up over at No Breaks. Both tapes deserve to be secured immediately not just because of their quality but because of their scarcity; they’re great additions to any serious music collection and will undoubtedly be gone before long. These Ohio punk are showing no signs of slowing down and have positioned themselves nicely for a huge breakthrough.

Nervosas will be touring throughout 2014, including a March 1st double-header in Milwaukee that will find them playing with Appleseeds, Strange Matter, Crowdpleaser, Slut River, and two Heartbreaking Bravery favorites; Technicolor Teeth and Midwives. The early show (with Appleseeds, Strange Matter, and Crowdpleaser) will be at Center Street Free Space while the late show will take place at Quarter’s Rock N’ Roll Palace. Both are can’t-miss activities.

Listen to Nervosas self-titled full-length below.