Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Bandcamp

Cleo Tucker – Call It Tie (Stream)

img_5887

Girlpool‘s a name that’s been printed on this site with alarming frequency and now the duo’s been actively pursuing solo routes in addition to maintaining the vehicle that brought them national attention. As great as all of the material that Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker have released, both together and on their own, Tucker’s latest, “Call It Tie”, feels genuinely different. A standalone single quietly uploaded to Tucker’s personal bandcamp, the song abandons the minimalist constraints that both Tucker and Tividad have made trademark approaches in favor of a sound that skews closer to Guided By Voices at their most charmingly lo-fi.

There’s an earthly magnetism that propels the surprisingly gnarled “Call It Tie” forward, creating an effect that’s as fascinating as it is breathtaking. It’s an important evolution for one of today’s finest songwriters, demonstrating an aspect of Tucker that was only occasionally allowed to peek through Girlpool’s best work. Dark, eerie, and incredibly downtrodden, “Call It Tie” is a direct pathway to a compellingly fractured psyche, a common trait among great artists. There’s not a moment here, from the hushed vocal delivery to the haunted extended outro, that doesn’t coax out maximum impact. It’s a startling work and proves Tucker’s an artist worth following to the end.

Listen to “Call It Tie” below and download it here.

HB1000: A Step Forward (Compilation)

hb-banner-2

When I started Heartbreaking Bravery nearly three years ago, I had no intention of pursuing it as a legitimate venture. Now, 1,000 posts, 50,000+ links, and countless words later, the site’s come to be the type of platform I’ve always loved seeing in the world. I could attempt to wax poetic on the nature of personal discovery and growth that running this place has afforded me but Heartbreaking Bravery was never about a single person, it’s always functioned best as a communal entity.

The ideas that formed the basic structure of Heartbreaking Bravery all came from artists producing exceptional work with little recognition. Repeatedly watching that transaction occur proved too disheartening. Whether it was the earliest years of Tenement, the later years of Good Grief, or virtually the entire run of Sleeping in the Aviary, there were always ceaselessly talented artists surrounding me that only ever seemed to receive the slightest of nods.

Heartbreaking Bravery originally aimed — and continues to aim — to provide a more level playing field to emerging artists, without reducing their worth to financial opportunity. Heartbreaking Bravery continues to value the community and intimacy that informs the DIY music world. Heartbreaking Bravery will continue to use the platform it’s been granted to elevate the idea of greater equality.

It’s in that spirit that I’m honored to present A Step Forward, a two-volume compilation spanning 100 tracks that exclusively features artists who are connected to this site’s history. Whether that was through a long history of collaboration or something as small as a twitter follow, the impact was not lost or left unappreciated. There’s a heavy emphasis on artists residing in the cities and states Heartbreaking Bravery has called home (Stevens Point, WI and Brooklyn, NY) and a small selection of songs that were premiered on this site.

100% of the proceeds of A Step Forward will be going to Rape Victim Advocates, a non-profit Chicago-based organization that’s doing vital (and, sadly, necessary) work for survivors of sexual assault. Read more about the organization here. It’s my sincerest hope that every publication that has the privilege of visibility manages to find ways to use any of their influence for productive good and to affect positive change. Please consider donating what you can to a meaningful cause.

Finally, I wanted to express gratitude to all of the artists (and any of their teams) involved — including the inimitable Phil McAndrew, who turned in the extraordinary album art — and all of the people that have allowed, even willed, this site to the point it’s at today. It likely would have disappeared without that support and I owe those people a debt of gratitude that could never be truly repaid. A special thanks to Fred Thomas, whose “What Changes When The Costumes Come Off” was written with the specifics of A Step Forward in mind.

Enjoy the compilation, support independent art, and join me, this site, these artists, and this cause in taking A Step Forward.

Tracklist below.

A Step Forward: Vol. 1*

1. Vacation – Caked Joy Rag (Demo)
2. Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Demo)
3. Dead Stars – So Strange (Demo)
4. Mo Troper – After the Movies (Demo)
5. Fern Mayo – The Sweets (Demo)
6. Hater – Like Hours (Demo)
7. Sharkmuffin – Only Mondays (Demo)
8. Fits – Ice Cream On A Nice Day (Demo)
9. Missy – Patience (Demo)
10. Kodakrome – Skeletons (Demo)
11. Slight – Run (Demo)
12. Long Neck – Goldfinch (Demo)
13. Phyllis Ophelia – Probably Not (Demo)
14. Lever – Cure (Demo)
15. Puppy Problems – Destroyer (Demo)
16. Battle Ave. – Black Jeans (Demo)
17. Yours Are The Only Ears – Alone Bear (Demo)
18. Attendant – Some Other Language (Demo)
19. MKSEARCH – Little Song (Demo)
20. Sulky Boy – Birches (Demo)
21. Heavy Looks – Those Guys (Demo)
22. darn it. – (again) pt. II
23. Phooey! – On an On
24. Arm Candy – Big Clunker
25. DTCV – Le Vampire
26. Clearance – The Queen of Eyes
27. Leggy – I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy
28. Big Air – Hit Me in the Mouth
29. Terry Malts – Look (At the Mess That We’re In)
30. Ubetcha – Musician
31. Two Inch Astonaut – Suckers Share
32. Whelpwisher – Bucket for the Sky
33. Petite League – Magic Johnson
34. The Meltaways (ft. Kate M) – Wrong Words
35. Calumet – Indian Summer
36. Mulligrub – Little Fist
37. Ben Seretan – Stay In Touch
38. Mumblr – Friendship Stew
39. Human People – Useless Things
40. Bethlehem Steel – Florida Two
41. Painted Zeros – Sweet Briar Rose
42. Spit – Paul Westerberg
43. Crusher – Running
44. Pupppy – Stand By Me
45. Aberdeen – Once You Fall In Love
46. Tica Douglas – Enough
47. Peaer – Multiverse
48. The Weasel, Marten Fisher – What Is Love
49. Young Jesus – Mirroring
50. Space Mountain – Earthrise

A Step Forward: Vol. II*

1. Bellows – Bank Checks
2. Cave Curse – Arcadia
3. Fred Thomas – What Changes When the Costumes Come Off
4. Apollo Vermouth – He Sees You, He Loves You
5. Green Dreams – Psychic Woes (Alternate Mix)
6. Lost Boy ? – Have You Seen My Brain (Space Cat Sessions)
7. Mikaela Davis – Pure Divine Love (Early Mix)
8. Nano Kino – Recovery (Early Mix)
9. Trophy Dad – Addison (Early Mix)
10. Alanna McArdle – Less Than (Early Mix)
11. VVHILE – Don’t Belong (Live)
12. Liam Betson – Mispronounced (Live)
13. BAG-DAD – Bruv (Live)
14. Slothrust – Keg Party (Live)
15. The Nudes – Nowhere to Be
16. Sat. Nite Duets – Cemetery Steve
17. Slanted – Fake Party
18. Patio – Gold
19. Greys – No Star
20. No Hoax – Date With Death
21. Dirty Dishes – Red Roulette
22. Yeesh – On Some Dirt
23. Pile – Cut From First Other Tape
24. Even Hand – Nightsmoke the Fuss
25. PURPLE 7 – Wise Up
26. Bad Wig – Machinehead
27. Mary Lynn – Space
28. Pleistocene – CMJ Compilation 1996
29. Color TV – Anybody’s Girl
30. Jacky Boy – Bad
31. Trust Fund – Would That Be An Adventure?
32. Good Grief – City People
33. Adir L.C. – Hangover
34. Milk Crimes – H8RZ
35. À La Mode – Total Doom
36. Inside Voices – Nomad: Begin
37. Doe – Corin
38. Kindling – Became
39. Bueno – Blown Out
40. Horse Teeth – Dark & Gloomy
41. Ron Gallo – Put the Kids to Bed
42. Sun’s Out Bummed Out – Cut All My Hair
43. Eric Slick – The Dirge
44. Fruit & Flowers – Turqoise
45. Shilpa Ray – Hymn
46. Jack – Sister System
47. Strange Ranger – Whatever You Say
48. Johanna Warren – A Bird in the Crocodile’s Mouth
49. Oceanator – Nowhere Nothing
50. Fresh Snow – Eat Me In St. Louis (Bryan W. Bray – Eaten by the Cetacean Mix)

Vol. I

Tracks 1-21: Demos
Tracks 22-50: New Songs

Vol. II

Tracks 1-4: New Songs (cont’d)
Tracks 5-14: Alternate Mixes and Live Songs
Tracks 15-49: Old Favorites
Track 50: Remix

 

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.

Rebecca Ryskalczyk – We’re Brothers (Demo Stream)

rebecca

A lot’s happened over the past few days; some coverage has been delayed due to a duo of outstanding live shows. One of those shows (Jason Isbell’s incredible, moving set at Prospect Park earlier tonight) won’t receive a mention on this site beyond what was just written. The other, an intimate all-acoustic rooftop affair spearheaded by site favorite Johanna Warren, will surface in a visual spread sometime in the very near future. With both of those now in the past, it’s time to bring the site back up to the current release cycle.

In the interest of time, the artists that had interesting releases throughout the three main formats (single stream, full stream, and music video) will simply be listed without explanation as to what’s attached to their name. The vast majority of these were released two days ago and all of them are worth the click. Life’s surprising sometimes, so why not embrace the opportunity to provide a low-level risk and high-level payoff? There were the artists responsible for those treasures: Infinity Girl, HSY, O, Rrest, Futurebirds, Slonk Donkerson, Say Hi, Chelsea Wolfe, Steep Leans (x2), Cold Specks, Here We Go Magic, and EZTV.

Today’s feature piece actually comes from a few weeks back but hasn’t really shown up anywhere outside of its own release. It comes from the solo project of Bethlehem Steel‘s driving voice, Rebecca Ryskalcyzk. While the emerging songwriter’s still playing shows with her own vehicle, she’s also generously offering two new songs under her own name. Released under the title We’re Brothers, the pair of songs are arresting bare-bones guitar/vocal demos that have something inherently special happening at their core.

While it’s difficult to describe what exactly that is, it’s painfully obvious when the songs are in motion. “Brain Drugs” starts the small collection off and immediately sets the tone for what’s to follow; haunted, lo-fi, folk-leaning tapestries that seem to be settling in with their own demons rather than pushing for an escape. As mesmerizing as it is downtrodden, “Brain Drugs”- the opening track- is an intensely arresting piece of work that sets up the latter number perfectly (while also recalling, both in style and tone, one of the year’s best covers).

“Other Otters” follows, maintaining the deeply bruised feeling that lent its predecessor an acute sense of devastation. It’s a jarring sequence that drives a knife home in a powerful couplet towards the end: “the less I try/the more I’m terrified”- a perfect summation of a potentially damaging penchant for indecision. Ryskalyczk riddles both songs with a series of gut-punches that seem to be rooted in life’s minutiae while still managing to keep an eye on the big picture. It’s an impressive feat and an even more impressive collection.

Towards the bottom of Ryskalczyk’s bandcamp page that hosts this release, there’s a disclaimer that these songs will be “re-recorded for something more” and when that release rolls around, it’ll likely be worth a slew of purchases. Until they do surface, though, these demos carry more than enough weight to approach an unlikely perfection.

Listen to We’re Brothers below and pick it up over on bandcamp. Keep an eye on this site for more updates on both Ryskalyczk and Bethlehem Steel.

Vacation – Like Snow (Stream, Live Video)

Vacation I

Now that the music videos are (very nearly) brought completely up to date, it’s time to turn the attention towards the single streams. Unsurprisingly, considering the length and breadth typically contained in the medium, this has been the most difficult format to corral into upkeep. This week’s already seen the release of YAWN’s characteristically hazy, pysch-tinged “Day Trip“, Air Waves’ compellingly insistent mid-tempo number “Milky Way“, Dirty Ghosts’ delightfully skittish “Cataracts“, and Jesse Payne’s rustic-leaning folk dirge “Ravens“.

While all of those had other platforms for introduction, today’s feature came courtesy of Don Giovanni’s quiet, generous upload of Vacation‘s forthcoming Non-Person to their soundcloud. Having recently seen (and been subsequently blown away by) the band, it’s not surprising that one of the best new songs of their live set would so easily translate into one of the best songs of the year. I have no idea whether or not Vacation intends on releasing “Like Snow” as a single or if they’re planning on relegating it to the confines of the record but it’ll likely flourish either way.

A few lineup changes in (several of which due to the success some of the members had found with their other band, Tweens) and the band’s evolved from a trio to a quartet; they’ve never sounded sharper. Emphasizing the basement pop bent that’s always been at the root of their sound (check the excellent “Party Over” for proof), they’ve managed to refine just about every angle of their attack.

As furious as ever, they’ve found a new nuance with their current iteration; one that sees Jerri Queen stepping out from behind the kit to take over on guitar/vocal duty. Queen proves to be more than capable, producing some of the band’s best work to date. “Like Snow” feels perfectly representative as it careens forward with a white-knuckle intensity after a clean, gentle open.

The now-two guitar attack seems intent on burning everything that surrounds the song while the intro- “I’m always waiting for the day/like snow, I melt away”- gets used as the song’s refrain and injects a heavy dose of dynamics into the proceedings, ensuring a drastic tempo change that lends itself to the vibrancy of both modes. Everything the band tries on “Like Snow” works to perfection and pushes a lot of doors for future prospects wide open in the process. Don’t make the mistake of letting this one pass by unnoticed.

Listen to “Like Snow” below and pre-order Non-Person from Don Giovanni here. Beneath the embed, watch a live clip of the band ripping through the song in Milwaukee, WI.

Meat Wave – Erased (Stream, Live Video)

meatwave

Since this site started, I’ve been fortunate enough to make some direct connections with bands I’ve had a genuine, long-standing love for. One of the acts that stands out most, especially in those respects, is the Chicago-based Meat Wave. Back in October, we were lucky enough to host Meat Wave as part of the first-ever Heartbreaking Bravery Presents and in the time that’s followed, the band’s (unsurprisingly) been generating quite a bit of noise. A sold-out show in Brooklyn with Perfect Pussy here, one of 2015’s best EP‘s there, headlining a VICE house party in London, dropping an endearingly scrappy slasher clip for a song… the band’s had a pretty good year. Now, with new material from a forthcoming record starting to surface, it’s only set to get better.

“Erased”, the band’s latest, is a glimpse at what the band’s got in store for the future. They’ve retained their Wipers-leaning bent but transformed it into something even more tenacious. Sounding more intensively focused and bold than ever, “Erased” gets taken up a few levels thanks to one of guitarist/vocalist’s Chris Sutter’s most snarling performances (and a characteristically powerhouse turn-in from the band’s rhythm section, made up of drummer Ryan Wizniak- who also played with Sutter in the excellent Truman & His Trophy– and bassist Joe Gac). Off-kilter and absolutely unhinged, “Erased” sounds downright feral while elevating all of the elements that have made Meat Wave one of the most formidable bands in the Midwest. It’s a tantalizing step forward for the band and it remains as powerful- and as deceptively catchy- as it was when the band used it to open their set back in October. Video of that performance can be found below the embedded stream. As for the album, keep an eye on this site for any further details- they’ll be posted as they’re received.

Listen to (and watch the live video of) “Erased” below.

Washer – Joe (Stream)

washer

A lot of songs have come out over the past two weeks or so and it’s provided this site with a lot of material, much of which will be covered in some capacity today. As has been the case with the last few posts, the introductory paragraph will belong to the songs worth hearing while the rest will be devoted to the spiky, punk-happy basement pop track that earned this post’s headline. Before getting to that, though, there’s a lot more worth a decent amount of attention including Mitski‘s absolutely brilliant cover of One Direction’s “Fireproof” as well as Free Cake For Every Creature’s beautiful cover of Saturday Looks Good To Me’s “Untitled“. A few songs joining that unexpected piece of magic were Girlpool’s arresting reflection on youth via “Before The World Was Big“, Mittenfield’s jaunty basement pop tune “We’ve Become Numbers“, Downtown Boys’ propulsive “Wave of History“, and R. Ring’s minimalist post-punk monster “Loud Underneath“. Additionally, there was Nick Diamonds’ absurdly catchy “Witch Window“, Wild Moth’s towering “Mirror“, Fight Amp’s insistent “Ex Everything“, and Institute’s post-punk powerhouse “Perpetual Ebb“. As ever, all of these songs warrant some serious attention but it was Washer’s “Joe”, taken from their forthcoming split with Exploding in Sound labelmates Flagland (whose “Awesome Song, Kerry Jan” remains one of this year’s best songs) that earned this post’s headline.

Last year, the band’s split with Big Ups made a strong impression and one of Washer’s contributions (“Rot”) even wound up with a feature piece on this site. While “Rot” was a strong offering, the band pushes themselves to greater heights with the manic energy of “Joe”, which is the duo’s best offering to date. The band’s refined their sensibilities and created something that manages to be simultaneously immediate and challenging. Washer’s never sounded as urgent or as engaging as they do on “Joe”, which immediately starts at a sprint before diving headfirst into some heavier territory for the outro. The playing is as frenetic as its ever been and despite how accessible “Joe” is, it’s still capable of rewarding a deeper level of investment due to some surprising nuances both in the production and the composition. It’s an easy highlight on what will surely stand as one of 2015’s best splits by the time December rolls around- which, considering Exploding in Sound’s recent track record, is the farthest possible thing from a surprise. Don’t miss out.

Listen to “Joe” below and pre-order the split from Exploding in Sound’s bandcamp here.

Even Hand – Drifted (Album Review, Stream)

evenhand

Now that all of last week’s best single streams and music videos have been given their due, it’s time to move onto a slightly more challenging beast: the full stream. There’s been a monstrous surge of outstanding new releases (often on the small-scale side of things) as 2014 enters its final weeks. Among these were: Dusk (a new project featuring members of Tenement, Black Thumb, and darn it., as well as a handful of other contributors) and their new country-soaked demo reel, Lemuria‘s contribution to the Turnstile Comix series, Currents’ unpredictably intense Mondegreen, Semicircles exquisitely delicate Blown Breeze, Grown Grass And We Are Part of the Earth, King of Cats’ entertainingly spastic Working Out, Big Lonely‘s impressive full-length debut Close Your Eyes, Keep Talking, and Space Mountain‘s unfailingly gripping Wilderness Explorer. All of them stand out as great December releases but there’s one that surfaced seemingly out of the blue worth paying quite a bit of attention to: Even Hand’s sophomore effort, Drifted.

A few months ago, there was a review posted on this site of Even Hand’s arresting self-titled debut, a brilliant record that brought to mind acts as varied as Shellac, The Wipers, and Sunny Day Real Estate. The band fought fairly hard to release it on vinyl this year after it’s original 2013 cassette run on the severely under-appreciated Stupid Bag Records (an excellent label run by Jeff Bolt of Swearin’). Even Hand, by all accounts, was a galvanizing debut. The band’s follow-up exceeds it in fairly stunning fashion. More risks are taken throughout the record and there’s an unrelenting intensity that binds the whole thing together. From the hypnotic instrumental that sets things in motion all the way through the record’s epic closer, the serrated “Lover’s Oath”, Drifted morphs into something that starts feeling like less of a record and more of a show-of-force mission statement.

Even more than the aggressively atmospheric Even Hand, Drifted finds its voice via a balance between abrasion, precision, atmosphere, and unfiltered emotion. Each of these 11 tracks is tied to a loose narrative that operates around a very human frustration with certain social functions and their maladaptation. One of the most striking examples of this device is the vignettes that bandleader Mike Borth presents with “Kid Unkind”, which suggests that the promise of social improvement is just a bittersweet projection that holds nothing but harsh realities at its moment of realization. That pattern of cruel repetition is emphasized with vivid detail in the spoken word stream-of-conscious style ranting in the restlessly foreboding “The Palace Holographic / Dust Bath”, which suggests that the end result will always be the same while Borth punctuates its message with razor-sharp visual imagery that include things like “rapid-cycling trees in a violence of leaves” and “shallow canals, drooling over portraits that hate [him], worshipping darkness”. It’s an existential nightmare ready to swallow any listener whole with virtually no remorse or regret- and, like the rest of Drifted, it’s brilliant in a myriad of subtle, detail-oriented ways.

In terms of technical accomplishment, Drifted also outpaces its predecessor in a number of departments; the sequencing flows just a touch more naturally, the production- as ever- is staggering, the work provided by the rhythm section of Dan Edelman and Dominic Armao is the best of the band’s still-young career, and it feels remarkably unified. It’s an anxious and unnerving masterwork of brutally cynical proportions- and, importantly, it’s a record that belongs in as many collections as possible. Crow Bait‘s Mike Bruno got it right by recently ranking this as one 2014’s best releases– hopefully the rest of the world gives Drifted the attention it deserves and considers doing the same.

Listen to Drifted below and keep an eye on Stupid Bag for the eventual tape release here.

Laughing Fingers – Crutches (Stream)

laughfing

As previously mentioned, the site’s been dealing with some lingering technical issues so its been difficult to get in the regularly-scheduled posts. Last week saw nothing but a premiere and a few series features go up- nothing else. To make up for all of that missed time, tonight’s posts will be dedicated to last week’s best material in the three major categories. Music videos have been accounted for and now it’s onto the single songs. In keeping with the normal routine, there was an abundance of single streams so this will be the first of two posts dedicated to their coverage. A full stream post will follow and then this week’s coverage will be brought up to speed. Before all of that happens, there are a lot of songs to discuss- starting now.

Darlings showed they could balance their power with a staggering amount of casual finesse in the basement pop stopmper “I Love You Too“, Krill offered up an extremely tantalizing preview of their forthcoming album with the ragged “Torturer“, and The Golden Dregs strutted out some psych-pop via the subtly sun-splashed (and folk-inflected) “The Role of A Lifetime”. Reservoir showed an abundance of promise with the slow-building “Waves Erase“, Leggy continued a raucous streak with the decidedly punk “Grrrls Like Us“, Leapling unveiled the deeply intriguing “Silent Stone” from their upcoming Vacant Page LP, Twerps reassured everyone their Merge signing was no mistake via the shimmering “Shoulders“,  and Snow Ghosts tapped into something transcendental and impossibly compelling with their hypnotically brooding single, “Bowline“.

It’s another dark brooder that earned this post’s feature spot, though; Laughing Fingers’ “Crutches”. Restless and bleak, “Crutches” emphasizes the singular talents of Chris Broom and Ian Taggart (the duo who make up Laughing Fingers) in the best ways possible. Heavy on atmosphere without skimping on melody or structure, Laughing Fingers created something that feels akin to the smoke that hovers over a battlefield. It boasts a relentlessly cynical worldview that accepts everything is cyclical in lyric copy, it’s the uncertainty of the music that pushes the song to a grandiose disquiet. At times, it’s almost as if “Crutches” moves in slow motion, allowing everything in the outside world to unfurl or unwind as it grapples with an intense internal battle. Everything ends when it turns to chaotic to contain; even the staccato stabs can’t hide the fact that everything’s about to fall completely apart, providing an extremely disconcerting end-cap to the song’s veiled intensity. In short: Laughing Fingers are a band who aren’t afraid to make something like “Crutches”- and “Crutches” is the kind of song that deserves to be dissected. Don’t be surprised if this song (or Two EP‘s) burrows itself out a permanent place in a lot of people’s collections.

Listen  to “Crutches” below and order Two EP‘s from Death Rehearsal here.

Space Mountain – California Blue (Stream)

spacemountain

Yes, Space Mountain sounds an awful lot like Trace Mountains– and not just in name. Make no mistake, though, while Dave Benton (also of LVL UP) and Cole Kinsler do share similar voices, similar solo project names, similar aesthetics, and similar deliveries- Space Mountain is still very much Kinsler’s own project. There’s a very strong identity that infuses both “California Blue” and “Love Song“, the two tracks Kinsler’s using to tease the forthcoming Wilderness Explorer. All things considered, the Space Mountain project may actually be veering closer towards Spit‘s incredible Getting Low. “California Blue” toys with a lot of different kinds of damage; personal, aesthetic, and structural being chief examples. It’s effortlessly compelling and carves out a place as an artist to watch for Space Mountain with genuine ease. Enchantingly layered and utterly heartfelt, this is the kind of lo-fi, left-of-center bedroom music well worth anyone’s devotion.

Listen to “California Blue” below and pre-order Wilderness Explorer from Space Mountain’s bandcamp.