Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Art is Hard

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.

Gorgeous Bully – Just Like Before (Stream)

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Over the past few days Outer Spaces, Audreytina, Huh, Beach Skulls, Space Raft, and Frameworks all released exceptional music videos that are well worth seeing. Since the songs of the past few days were covered in the preceding post (and full streams will be covered in the post immediately following this one), the attention will be returned once more to an outstanding song: Gorgeous Bully’s “Just Like Before”.

Building off a breathtaking introduction, “Just Like Before” never loses hold of its vast scope. Instrumentally, the song straddles a near-impossible divide between being completely controlled and surging forward, threatening to break away from its confines at any moment. In that relative chaos, they weave a heartbreaking narrative that manages to embolden both the song’s restraint as well as its chaotic, brooding unwieldiness.

“Just Like Before”, against some odds, never finds itself toppling over; this is a masterfully executed piece of basement pop that thrives off its meticulous pacing and stormy atmospherics. It’s an astonishing track that ably demonstrates Gorgeous Bully’s continuing growth as an outfit. Every little subtlety and nuance the band packs into “Just Like Before” serves itself as much as it serves its surrounding components. From the start to the end, it’s a staggering triumph that proves Gorgeous Bully doesn’t intend on going away anytime soon.

Listen to “Just Like Before” below and pre-order their forthcoming 7″ here.

Bruising – Honey (Stream)

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: With the site now entering emergency year-end catch-up mode thanks to the cruel, mocking nature of time, tonight’s trio of posts will simply be short reviews of the song(s) in the headline(s) and an accompanying list of tracks that deserve to be heard.]

One of the finest emerging bands of 2015 has been Bruising, an act whose origins can be traced back to a Perfect Pussy shirt. While they’re steadily building momentum to what promises to be one of the more anticipated debut full-length efforts in recent memory, the slow stream of songs they’ve been releasing have merited a great deal of excitement on their own. Earlier this year, the act unveiled “Emo Friends” the A-side of their latest single, which saw them refining the things that helped them stand out. In the time elapsed since this site last covered single streams, the band released the b-side to that single, the propulsive “Honey”.

Built around incendiary guitar work and another compelling vocal performance from Naomi Baguley, the song exemplifies the band’s impossibly charming aesthetic. There’s some menace buried in a shoegaze-informed basement pop track that feels improbably light. Nearly paradoxically, there’s also some real weight to be found in “Honey”, thanks to the scathing lyrical kiss-offs and the hard-charging instrumental section. In all, it’s another triumphant effort from a band that’s already established themselves as a site favorite only a few songs into their career.

Listen to “Honey” below and pick up “Emo Friends b/w Honey” here. Underneath the embed, explore a list of great songs to have appeared over the course of the last several months.

Luxury Gbg – Strand
Bilge Rat – Jon Puked Last Night
Halfsour – Porch Sittin
Little Star – For Goth Easter
Living Hour – Seagull
Washer – Pet Rock vs. Healing Crystal
Soft Fangs – The Air
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Nobody Dies
La Sera – High Notes
The Dirty Nil – Zombie Eyed
Telepathic – Suit to Fit
Kal Marks – Dorothy
Pinkshinyultrablast – The Cherry Pit
Half Japanese – Hold On
The Foetals – The World Isn’t That Big
Way Out – Arrival
Acid Fast – Just Grin
Thom Fekete – Treason
The Castillians – Piggy in the Middle
Casket Girls – Western World
Massenger – Cristal Animal

Diet Cig – Dinner Date (Stream, Live Video)

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Following an unusual slow Tuesday, the mid-week mark kicked things back into high gear and offered up a bevvy of tantalizing releases in all of the three major categories. The full streams that were unveiled included Total Makeover’s spritely self-titled EP, Lost Film’s beautiful, low-key Imago, Donovan Wolfington’s level-elevating How To Treat The Ones You Love, and the exemplary The Last Dance, which is very likely the final release from the great Shady Hawkins. Music videos found strong representation via clips from Royal Headache, Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles, Karen O, The Smith Street Band (ft. Lucy Wilson), and Marching Church. Single streams had more than a few genuine gems in a haul that saw new material from TenementExpert Alterations, Childbirth, Vision, and Mothers to life- as well as the second half of Diet Cig‘s forthcoming 7″.

A little over a month ago, the band unveiled career highlight “Sleep Talk“, which prompted a great deal of intrigue and excitement in regards to the duo’s future. As the first half of a two-song split, “Sleep Talk” seemed to open up limitless possibilities for the directions the band could take. “Dinner Date”, instead of aiming to push forward, feels content to circle back to the approach that dominated Over Easy, which has held strong as one of this year’s best EP’s. However, “Dinner Date” avoids redundancy by augmenting the band’s more direct methods with an air of resignation in place of the carefree attitude that dominated their first release.

While there’s still more than a few barbed winks scattered throughout “Dinner Date”, it’s easy to hear a steady maturation creeping into Diet Cig’s work; they’re playing with a bolstered confidence level and are proving they’re unafraid of tinkering with a winning formula in the process. Rounding out the relatively adventurous atmospherics of “Sleep Talk” with the startling immediacy of “Dinner Date” not only allows both tracks to emphasize their partner’s best qualities, it also leaves the band with another year-end contender for the 7″ category. Brash, bold, and oddly beautiful, it’s another strong step in an increasingly promising career.

Listen to “Dinner Date” below and pre-order the 7″ ahead of its September 18 release date from site favorites Father/Daughter (for the US) or another site favorite, Art Is Hard (for the UK). Underneath the embedded player, revisit a video of the band performing the song a few months ago at the Father/Daughter Northside showcase.

Diet Cig – Sleep Talk (Stream)

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And the hits just keep on coming. While Wednesday was packed to the gills with great new content, today’s haul may make it look slim in comparison. A few music videos made their marks and included the likes of Cotillon’s hazy “Convenience“, Julia Holter’s tender “Feel You“, and In Tall Buildings’ deceptively intuitive “Flare Gun“. Full streams made just as strong of an impression through incredible demos from Dan Webb & the Spiders and Chondria, while Seulah and Bad Bad Hats capped off the format’s Thursday run with a pair of intriguing long-players (Phase III and Psychic Reader, respectively).

As for single streams, the week managed to get even stronger via the staggering amount of genuinely great new songs that were made publicly available. Yuck sounded reinvigorated on “Hold Me Closer“, Wild Moth revealed a set of ever-sharpening teeth with “Buried“, Le Tour embraced their most eclectic sensibilities in “Friend“, and Long Limbs gave Art Is Hard another notch in their white-hot winning streak through the release of “Past Tense“. Heaters continued to dive down the nightmarish psychedelic rabbit hole they’ve been traversing in “Propane“, FUR struck the perfect balance between power pop and indie pop with the charming “Creature“, Glass Vault produced some compelling dream pop with “Sojourn“, SOCIETY released the transcendental, genre-demolishing “Protocol“, and James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg’s ethereal acoustic duet “Up of Stairs” ensured the day was packed with intensive listening.

While, as always, all of those titles hyperlinked above are worth the traveling that accompanies a click, today’s feature (once again) falls on two familiar faces: Diet Cig. Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman already made a strong impression with what proved to simultaneously be one of the most hyper-charged and carefree releases of 2015, Over Easy, which has continued receiving attention and picking up accolades as time surges forward. Now, they’re set to capitalize on that momentum with a just-announced 7″ that’s headlined by “Sleep Talk”.

Guitarist/vocalist has always reveled in a blunt honesty that’s delivered with a coy wink and the opening lines of “Pillow Talk” provides that approach with an ample spotlight. As a narrative wind-up, those insights quickly slide the scale from sly to scathing until the moment of truth hits, accompanied by a frenzied burst of downstrokes and power drumming. It’s a moment of self-acceptance that feels like it’s bordering on catharsis, underlined by the couplet that toppled the breaking point: “Only here under obligation/it’s hard to pretend this is a vacation.”

What follows is a surprisingly wrenching tale of self-exploration that’s anchored in the ruins of a relationship. Just as a charging middle section seems like it’s threatening to speed off into a reckless oblivion, “Sleep Talk” scales itself back for an absolutely gorgeous final figure. Luciano’s vocals are overlayed to provide a slightly unsettling (but frighteningly compelling) chorus effect as a bed for the most expressive and refined guitar playing of Diet Cig’s (admittedly limited) discography to date.

It’s a genuinely stunning moment in a great song that suggests Diet Cig may have much bigger things in store for the horizon. As the last refrain of “If I told you I loved you/I don’t know who/it would scare away faster” comes cascading down, it becomes very clear that “Sleep Talk” isn’t just going to stand as a defining moment in the emerging band’s career but as a deeply personal monument to a lot of people harboring varying levels of insecurity. This is damaged romanticism at its absolute finest and yet another perfect example of why people should be paying even closer attention to a band that’s not even close to getting their due.

Listen to “Sleep Talk” below and pre-order the 7″ from site favorite(s) Father/Daughter (in conjunction with Art Is Hard) ahead of its September 18 release date here. Beneath the embed watch a live clip of the duo performing the records B-side, “Dinner Date”.

2015: Halfway Home (Mixtape)

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Only a little past its halfway point, 2015’s already been an absurdly strong year for music. Numerically staggering, it’s yielded a handful of classics across a variety of genres and a plethora of outstanding small releases. While this mix skews more towards the latter than, say, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s still worth noting how kind this year’s release schedule has been across the board. To reflect on some of this year’s best offerings so far- and to celebrate this site’s 550th post- a mixtape’s been curated for your enjoyment. Nearly all of these songs and artists have been featured on the site previously, lending this particular mix a more retrospective feel than a few of the past entries in the mixtape series, but they’re all worth celebrating as much as possible. Ranging from folk and ambient flourishes to heavy 90’s influences to thoroughly modern post-punk to spritely basement pop, there’s an entry for just about every genre marker that receives regular coverage on the site.

So, without further ado, here’s a mixtape of some of 2015’s strongest highlights (at least so far, there are still quite a few promising items for the year’s latter half). The tracklist for 2015: Halfway Home can be found beneath the embed. Enjoy.



1. Girlpool – Before The World Was Big

2. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock
3. Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets
4. Royal Headache – Hgih
5. Radioactivity – Pretty Girl
6. Diet Cig – Breathless
7. Washer – Joe
8. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best
9. Mikal Cronin – Made My Mind Up
10. Torres – Sprinter
11. Jason Isbell – 24 Frames (Live)
12. theweaselmartenfisher – Empty Bucket List
13. Pupppy – Puking (Merry Christmas!)

14. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Beast
15. Fraser A. Gorman – Shiny Gun
16. Young Jesus – Milo
17. Girls Names – Reticence
18. Institute – Cheerlessness
19. Happy Diving – So Bunted
20. Downies – Widow
21. Meat Wave – Erased
22. Connor La Mue – Stargazer
23. Bruising – Think About Death
24. Meredith Graves – Took The Ghost to the Movies
25. Yowler – The Offer

Sulky Boy – Things Betwixt (Stream)

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Over the course of the past week, I’ve been collecting music as it comes while also preparing for a move halfway across the country. A lot of things have caught my attention in that time and tonight I’ll be highlighting three tracks, each coming equipped with a list of 15 highlights that- if time wasn’t an issue- would all have been expanded on a lot further than just a link. Unfortunately, time can be a severe limitation and- all things considered- forces this brief reformatting of the site’s usual design. On the upside, the three songs that do get featured are three of the strongest in recent memory, starting with “Things Betwixt”, an extremely limited lathe cut from Dan Taylor’s Sulky Boy project.

Like seemingly everything else coming out of Art Is Hard these days, “Things Betwixt” is scrappy, winsome, and effortlessly charming. Weathered, familiar, and presented with a vision that feels singular, it’s the kind of song that has the potential to build a career. With Sulky Boy well on its way to achieving a much greater visibility. Rambling along at a mid-tempo pace, it feels almost as if the whole thing is a stream-of-consciousness outpouring that manages to convey the lengths of Taylor’s considerable charisma. Ostensibly a song about loss, it’s grounded in Taylor’s weary vocal delivery, rendering it an unflinching look at what it means to be human. Presented as part of Art Is Hard’s The Hard Cut Record Club series- and complete with an inspired art design- it’s one of 2015’s more stunning niche releases.

Listen to “Things Betwixt” below and keep an eye on Art Is Hard’s store for more releases (the limited run of “Things Betwixt” is already sold out). Beneath the embed, enjoy a list of 15 songs to emerge from the past week and a half that deserve hearing.

Less Win – Bayonet
The Boys – Us
Ampline – It Will Evaporate
Negative Scanner – Would You Rather
Jawbreaker Reunion – Your X
Beach Moon/Peach Moon – Philosophy At 23 At 24
Nervosas – Night Room
The Fresh & Only’s – Sunglasses
It Looks Sad. – Creature
Edward R. – Wolves and the Water
Jade The Moon – 5 6 7 8
Gnarwhal – Have Fun Tomorrow From Ozzy/Stella
Heaven’s Gate – Amanda Berry
Future Death – Cerebral Scuzz
Phil Cook – Great Tide

White Reaper – I Don’t Think She Cares (Stream)

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It’s been a while since regular coverage of new releases cropped up on this site (part of which was due to other obligations), which is why the majority of tonight will feature an influx of posts touching on some of the pieces of art that made the past week so great. For this post and the majority of the posts that will be following this entry, the focus will remain on songs. All of them are songs worth adding to your collection and the first of which, Jason Isbell’s breathtaking “24 Frames“, boasts a lyric set so tremendous that it’s difficult not to expect his forthcoming record will be a critical darling. Dignan Porch’s “Out of the Picture” continued Art Is Hard’s white-hot winning streak, Sam Evian’s “Cherry Tree” further illustrated the respective individual talents that Celestial Shore‘s been producing, Angelic Milk put the listening world on notice with the razor-sharp shard of basement pop in “IDK How“, and A$AP Rocky furthered his case to be considered one of rap’s most compelling acts with an unlikely collaboration that features Rod Stewart, Miguel, and Mark Ronson (the endlessly smooth “Everyday“). Public Access T.V.’s tantalizingly light “All We Want“, Envy’s sprawling “Footsteps in the Distance“, Dikembe’s slow-burning “Surfed in the Loft“, and Magic Potion’s endearing basement pop tune “Booored” round off the first featured set. As always, I wish I could devote more than just a few words to each title but there simply isn’t enough time to cover everything in more exhaustive detail. At this point in time, the system in which the headline is determined is nearing a lottery system- and White Reaper beat the odds this time out.

Make Me Wanna Die” had already made a sizable impression and stoked the fires of anticipation for White Reaper’s upcoming full-length; “I Don’t Think She Cares” ensures that trajectory continues its ascension. “I Don’t Think She Cares” is another furious burst of basement punk with strong pop sensibilities coated in layers of fuzz, providing the song an even stronger punch. Incendiary riffing, absurdly melodic synth lines, and a vocal take so impassioned you can practically feel Tony Esposito violently shaking, it’s another perfect representation of the band’s supercharged aesthetic. Clocking in at a precise two minutes, it makes the most out of every single second, expanding the song into something surprisingly dynamic for such an abbreviated running time. Decades worth of punk cornerstones, past and present, collide in an exhilarating, celebratory whirlwind. Now two songs into their rollout campaign, White Reaper Does It Again is shaping up to be a potential career-maker for the emerging upstarts. All that’s left is to see if the main course can live up to the appetizers.

Listen to “I Don’t Think She Cares” below and pre-order White Reaper Does It Again from Polyvinyl.

Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter (Album Review, Stream)

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Joanna Gruesome‘s a name that’s been appearing on this site consistently throughout its duration and Peanut Butter‘s ensured that trend’s been one that continued throughout 2015’s first stretch. Weird Sister was one of the best records of 2013 and it came out just before Heartbreaking Bravery started operating, which meant they likely factored into the decision to create (and sustain) this space. In 2014, their Astonishing Adventures split with Perfect Pussy nearly topped our best splits of 2014 list (where Peanut Butter standout “Psykcick Espionage” made its debut) and they’ve earned themselves several standalone features through their music videos as well as their recorded output. In short, the band had a lot to live up to with Peanut Butter and they answered those expectations with a deafening roar.

Embracing the dynamics that made them such a compelling act out of the gate, they’ve managed to refine their approach and incorporate a much heavier emphasis on dissonance. Peanut Butter is Joanna Gruesome’s heaviest, noisiest, and most accomplished work to date, extending a narrative arc of continuous improvement. For a band that already packed a punch, throwing in stabbing noise freakouts that punctuate a large number of Peanut Butter‘s tracks might seem unnecessarily excessive. What sets Joanna Gruesome apart from some of their like-minded kin when it comes to this department is their unwavering understanding of restraint. “I Wanna Relax” starts with sheer white noise- but it’s cut off at the head almost as soon as it appears, effectively rendering it a jarring warning of the content that lies ahead.

Joanna Gruesome didn’t set out to pull punches on Peanut Butter and much of the record comes off like an assault. Impressively, even with the strengthened bent on atonality, the band hasn’t sacrificed any of their melody- they’ve enhanced it. “Last Year”, the record’s opening track, is one of the best examples of this duality and sets the tone for the nine tracks that follow. Never dipping under mid-tempo, the band keeps things at a sprint throughout the record, never allowing the listener a reprieve. The closest they come is the band’s surprisingly gentle closer, “Hey! I Wanna Be Yr Best Friend”, which feels like the transcendental calm that descends after a violent storm.

Part of what makes Joanna Gruesome’s storm so electric is the way vocalist Alanna McCardle weaves her ideologies into her narratives, subtly drawing the line to gender expectations through tales of difficult relationships and personal angst. Throughout Peanut Butter McCardle grapples with what and what isn’t good, torturing herself by questioning her own motivations. At times, the self-examination is brutal but it’s softened by the band’s pop sensibilities, which are continuing to produce some of the most gorgeous moments of any band currently making music. Terrifying, exhilarating, and unfailingly brilliant, Peanut Butter isn’t just Joanna Gruesome’s current crown jewel, it’s also one of the brightest spots of a year that’s already overflowing with greatness. To further illustrate that last point, a list of titles worth hearing will be included at the very bottom of this page (which also acts as an addendum to the preceding post).

Before you scan through those titles, though, make sure to listen to Peanut Butter over at NPR’s First Listen (the Spotify embed will take the place of that link once the record goes live).

Pre-order Peanut Butter from the always-great Slumberland here.

Now, as promised, an accompanying list of some other previously unlisted 2015 titles that are more than worth your attention.

Johanna Warren – nūmūn
Pfarmers – Gunnera
Sick Sad World – Fear and Lies
Glockabelle – Wolf BBQ
Fraternal Twin – Skin Gets Hot
Coliseum – Anxiety’s Kiss
DTCV – Uptime!
Clean Girls – Despite You
Turnover – Peripheral Vision
Battle Ave – Year of Nod
Tres Padres – Father’s Day / A Lot to Maintain
Vomitface – Another Bad Year
Eskimeaux – O.K.
Crocodiles – Boys
Novella – Land
Blanck Mess – Dumb Flesh
Miss June – Matriarchy
Art Is Hard – Family Portrait Pt. II

Bruising – Think About Death (Stream)

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Any band that’s origin story can be traced back to a Perfect Pussy t-shirt’s going to be one that will have at least some of my attention. That’s getting a little ahead of schedule, though, so we’ll come back to that later. Just as all of the preceding posts have done, this one will start with 10 tracks well worth hearing. Among them are two tracks from Thee Oh Sees mastermind John Dwyer from both his main vehicle (“Withered Hand“) and his new(er) Damaged Bug project (“Jet In Jungle“)- both of which sound like some of the songwriter’s most vital material yet. Slow Down Molasses indulged their atmospheric sensibilities with “Home“, Protomartyr turned in their most biting lyric track to date with “Blues Festival“, and Spray Paint continued to sound downright feral with “Day of the Rope“. Miniboone unveiled a surprisingly punchy indie pop tune in “Any Other City“, Your Old Droog unleashed a masterclass in throwback hip-hop with “Hidden Persuaders“, and Honeyblood turned vicious in “The Black Cloud“. Rounding everything out was Oddissee’s typically inviting “Belong To The World” and Paul de Jong’s typically inventive “Hollywald“. All ten are worth attempts at total immersion but the focus for this particular post falls on yet another duo: Bruising.

The duo, as mentioned above, formed in a Leeds nightclub after guitarist/vocalist Naomi Baguley saw Ben Lewis wearing a Perfect Pussy shirt (the band this site has covered to exhaustive detail). If that meet-cute scenario wasn’t enough, the band they formed now has a makeshift home in site favorites Art Is Hard, a label that’ll be releasing the second volume of their excellent Family Portrait series on May 11. Topping everything off, the song they’re contributing to the series- “Think About Death”- is precisely the kind of song this site was created to celebrate. Clearly clinging to a DIY ethos while bringing in elements of twee, powerpop, basement punk, and shoegaze to create something that feels new and exhilarating, the band’s latched on to a kind of near-magic that’ll serve them extraordinarily well going forward. As ambitious as it is easygoing, “Think About Death” is an absolute triumph for a band that seems to have already figured out exactly who they are what the want to achieve. One climactic moment crashes in after another, with gentle vocals floating over impassioned drumming and urgent guitarwork, weaving one of the year’s most captivating tapestries. Only a few songs into their career, Bruising have already emerged as one of the most exciting young bands of today- a point driven emphatically home by “Think About Death”.

Listen to “Think About Death” below and pre-order Family Portrait Pt. II from Art Is Hard here.