Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Brittle Brian

Mock Orange – Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse (Album Review)

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Over the past several days a handful of great full streams have surfaced from the likes of Cat Be Damned, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, The Hotelier, Boys, Swanning, Supermoon, Wave ActionMagic Potion, Dead Waves, 50 Foot Wave, and Winston Hightower, in addition to an incredible four-way split between Pet Cemetery, Henoheno, Brittle Brian, and Francie Cool. While all of those have significant merit, none of them were as unexpected as Mock Orange’s tremendous new effort, Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse.

From the onset of Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse it’s clear that Mock Orange have expanded their ambition, tightened their grasp on dynamics, and honed the most compelling aspects of their craft. The record opens with the slow crescendo of the intro section of “I’m Leaving”, essentially providing a microcosm of the band’s intelligence (and penchant for subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor) right off the bat.

What follows is a cavalcade of riff-laden, punk-leaning, left field basement pop. Ultra-melodic and unflinchingly weird, Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse draws an incredible amount of strength from it’s self-assuredness in its own singular nature. Mock Orange have all but perfected a sound that’s indebted to a strain of ’90s alt. bands that have remained relatively unmined in the crowded field of emergent bands taking cues from that decade.

Bright tones and a propulsive energy define Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse even in its darkest moments, like on the bruising “Window”, imbuing the whole affair with a lively feeling that’s difficult to shake. The record rarely dips below mid-tempo, contenting itself with an operative mode that attacks far more frequently than it withdraws. “Some Say”, which arrives around the record’s halfway point, is as close to a ballad that Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse has to offer but still comes across as more outwardly aggressive than vulnerable.

“Intake” and “Tell Me Your Story” constitute the explosive 1-2 punch that closes Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse and betray the band’s debt of influence to Dinosaur Jr more than any of the eight preceding tracks. They’re gruff, bruised, gnarled slices of basement pop (in the case of the former) and basement punk (in the case of the latter) that show the band’s breadth of range in a dizzying sequence that puts the final punctuation mark on a great chapter in the band’s history. Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse is the best the band’s ever been and promises great things for their future. I, for one, look forward to the ride.

Listen to Put the Kid on the Sleepy Horse below and pick it up from the band here.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Julia Leiby)

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I first came across Julia Leiby’s writing thanks to their contributions over at Post-Trash, where they continuously demonstrated a keen grasp of music and excellent taste. Over the past few months, we’ve had some light interactions across various social media platforms. Usually, it’s something simple- but close to every single time, it’s connected back to music. Another photographer/music writer who also writes music, Leiby constantly endorses the artists she loves and frequently acts as a voice of support. I’m excited to be welcoming them to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series and am excited to be hosting their piece, a lovely look at four songs that defined each season of their 2015. Find out what those songs are below and never hesitate to reach out to the people who are positively impacting your life.

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Winter

Tiny Planets – Sports – from the album Sunchokes

I started booking house shows in the spring of 2014, with one show in April and then more once my junior year of college was underway. Together, my friend Mitch and I would put together a bill and run things, asking for donations, setting up, and hosting the bands. Winter of 2015 was a particularly brutal winter with temperatures in the low teens and seemingly never-ending blankets of snow. I was dealing with the end of something I wouldn’t really call a ‘relationship’ but it was important to me nonetheless.

I was sleeping in until almost noon every day, and I skipped a 9:20 AM class I had so often that the times I did go, we were covering material that was completely foreign to me. But, the shows were really what I looked forward to, and they were so stellar that winter. People came out in droves to see bands like The Obsessives, Sports, Eskimeaux, and Adult Mom play in houses. The shows were packed and went off with a hitch every time, save for when a moshing crowd broke the wobbly floor of the Pink Mistress show house. One of my favorite shows of that winter was when Sports played at Wolf Haus. Carmen, Jack, Benji, and James play emotional, catchy power pop, and they went to Kenyon College which is about two hours outside of Athens.

The song “Tiny Planets” is my favorite on their record that was out at the time, an ode to the joy, nervousness and confusion that comes with new love, as Carmen belts out triumphantly, “you’re the reason why/ I can never hide / lying side by side / this is worth a try.” That winter was a golden age for shows and being excited about live music in Athens.

Spring

Yowler – Yowler – from the album The Offer

When I was 18 years old, I went to my first house show ever at a place called The Dollhouse. There was no AC in the house, it had pink walls, and I was feeling so undone and out of place around punks much older than me. I can’t remember who else played the show, but Saintseneca headlined. I remember there was no actual drummer, just a man stomping on a wooden box, as Zac Little feverishly played guitar and Maryn Jones provided gorgeous harmonies. After this show, I was so excited to go to college in Ohio and experience the music scene there. Saintseneca was the only band I knew who were from there, and their existence validated my choice to leave my home state of Maryland.

I have been following Maryn Jones’ music virtually since then.

Three days before my birthday in February 2015 Maryn released The Offer, a beautiful, intimate record made of two elements, just Maryn’s sweet voice and quiet guitar. I would walk around in the late spring, when it was getting warmer, listening to this record and feeling so at peace. As the weather thawed, so did my mind. This record helped me pull out of a deep sadness I had felt for months and months, and probably was part of the reason why I decided to do a girls rock camp and started to play guitar in March of 2015.

Summer

Yolanda – Doubles (formerly O-FACE) – from the EP Mint

Summer of 2015 was, in a word, wild. I expected a quiet summer at home, working retail, going to shows, hanging out with my friend Sarah from high school, sleeping in as late as I could and letting the time pass like the breeze. Instead, I started a band, played two shows with bands that I deeply admired, went to New York for almost a week, and recorded a 5-track EP in a studio, all while meeting a lot of new people who left lasting impressions on me.

At the time, I was listening to the Mint EP by the Philly-by-way-of-Bard band O-FACE, who are now called Doubles. They have a song called “Yolanda” which is an upbeat song addressed to a partner or friend about not doubting yourself, and the chorus is exuberant; singer Preston practically yells “You’re the one for me”. I had so many crushes that summer, and I would listen to this song and melt into my feelings, all while feeling motivated and confident to make music for the first time ever.

Fall/Winter

Plant Boy – Brittle Brian – from the album Verisune

Although Verisune by Brittle Brian came out in July of 2015, I didn’t really delve deep into it until the fall when I was back at school in Athens. Continuing to run shows, I was invested in difficult classes and feeling really disheartened about my major/chosen profession of photoj. I felt a pit of dread in my stomach when I went to my once most anticipated class, my capstone class for photojournalism. I was also talking to someone who lived very far away and hanging onto the last strands and memories of what I had with them.

My friend Adam, who has his own project called Lemon Meringue Die, told me about Brittle Brian and I just keep coming back to this record. Victoria Rose writes sparse, experimental pop songs about Daniel Johnston, touching, and love in a creaky, high voice and though her subjects are heavy, the record is soothing and perfect for winding down after a tough or disappointing day. I would basically listen to this record constantly from September to December and I still throw it on these days too. I remember playing a pretty terrifying solo show (my first ever solo show) and then crying during the next band’s set because my friends didn’t come to see me play.

They went to a party instead.

I hit up my friend Evan to try to feel better and he said ‘just put on Brittle Brian and chill out’ and once I got home I did just that. Songs like “Plant Boy” are reminiscent of Alex G in their ability to take you to a place that is reflective, honest, and cathartic. We listened to this record when my band went on our first tour because my drummer loves her stuff too. Looking back on 2015, I can’t wait to see what records will define my 2016. I’m really excited about the music coming out this year and what the future will hold for me.

-Julia Leiby