Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: buildings

Steady Lean – Bandages + Some Better Somethin’ (Stream)


Photograph by John Michael Ferrer

Today was a great day for new releases, ushering in compelling songs from Bloody Your Hands, The I.L.Y’s, Land of Talk, Peeling, R.G. Lowe, and Twinsmith. There were also strong efforts to be found in the music video department, courtesy of artists like Beach Fossils, Heavy Heart, and The Charlatans. Rounding everything out were outstanding full streams from the likes of Buildings, Harmony Woods, Trophy Dad, The Broken Hearts, and Walter Martin. Most of those releases got a very strong push from at least one well-known outlet, while the excellent new online single from Joe Gutierrez’s solo project turned full band Steady Lean flew under the radar.

Over the past few years, Steady Lean’s sound’s been carefully cultivated and refined, morphing from simplistic bedroom folk trappings to a sound resembling some of the forward-thinking punk-tinged Americana artists like Fraser A. Gorman and Kevin Morby.  Bandages b/w Some Better Somethin’ keeps that trend very much alive, showcasing Steady Lean at their most raucous. “Bandages” serves as both a solid introduction for the pair of tracks and as an introduction-at-large for those unfamiliar with Steady Lean. An agreeably gritty, energetic number “Bandages” showcases Gutierrez’s growth as a songwriter.

Humorous stabs of tongue-in-cheek couplets are mixed with salient insight and a rambling narrative with ease, bringing to mind a coterie of songwriters who are frequently considered as all-time greats. “Some Better Somethin'” picks up where “Bandages” left off, again allowing Gutierrez to interject both a sense of world-weariness and urgency into the proceedings. It’s a solid pairing, each track complementing each other in minuscule ways and forming a greater whole. By far the project’s most exciting release to date, Bandages b/w Some Better Somethin‘ is bound to leave listeners eager to discover what might be laying just around the corner.

Listen to Bandages b/w  Some Better Somethin’ below and pick it up from the band here.

Cende – What I Want (Stream, Live Video)

A week or two ago, a handful of great songs found their way out into the world. These included tracks from Terror Watts, Benjamin Booker, Soul Low, Jodi, Baby!, Crushing, Art School Jocks, Buildings, Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, Lusid, and Lauren Ruth Ward. One of the tracks to make a significant impact came in the form of Cende‘s “What I Want”, which follows the gorgeous “Bed” as the release of the band’s forthcoming #1 Hit Song inches closer.

Masterfully composed and precisely executed, “What I Want” loses none of its drive but gains a tender sheen thanks to the backing vocals from Frankie Cosmos‘ Greta Kline. Cameron Wisch, Cende’s bandleader and principle songwriter, conjures up an airy atmospheric that Kline fills to perfection. When Kline’s vocals kick in for the first time, it’s a genuinely breathtaking moment, buoyed by a string arrangement that straddles the divide between sweet and melancholic beautifully, perfectly accentuating Kline’s contribution.

Following Kline’s verse is a bridge that demonstrate the band’s sheer talent, veering between power and innovation with ease. Staccato blasts are met with orchestral dissonance and the song transforms from a modest run into a seething behemoth before falling away to silence. It’s final segment, a volume swell that brings “What I Want” roaring back to life for a brief moment, is the final stroke of genius in what firmly stands as one of 2017’s most captivating releases, reaffirming that every second of “What I Want” is worth exploring.

Listen to “What I Want” (and watch the band run through the song at CMJ 2015) below and pre-order #1 Hit Song from Double Double Whammy here.

Angel Olsen – Sister (Music Video)

angel olsen

This week, barely half-over, has already seen the release of three remarkable split releases in the joint offerings from Bodies Be Rivers and Lacrymosa, Buildings and Volunteer, and — in what’s very possibly the split of the year — Continental Drift (that boasts songs from Mercury Girls, The Spook School, Tigercats, and Wildhoney). While that trio of titles should be inspirational for both musicians and listeners for some time, the last of these quartet of late-night posts once again falls to a clip. This time around, that clip comes in the form of site favorite Angel Olsen‘s latest slow-burner, “Sister”.

2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness remains one of the better records of recent memory, leaving Angel Olsen to face daunting expectation in crafting a follow-up. Any doubt that the songwriter wouldn’t be able to duplicate that peak have been all but eliminated by this point, thanks — in large part — to the breakout success of the brilliant “Shut Up Kiss Me“, which became an unlikely summer anthem immediately upon its release (and remains one of 2016’s most vivid and accomplished music videos).

Now, the songwriter’s following up that triumphant moment with another awe-inducing clip for the deeply impressive “Sister”, which runs for more than eight and a half minutes. Not a frame during that time span feels wasted, as Olsen once again occupies the driver’s seat (sharing directorial duties with Conor Hagen), forcibly taking control of several key creative aspects.

Now three songs (and memorable videos) into the rollout campaign for the forthcoming My Woman, Olsen continues to show flashes of underlying brilliance that’s been simmering underneath the surface. In “Sister” this comes by way of the realization that Olsen’s created something that doesn’t just serve as a portrait for the artist’s internal dialogues and conflicts but as a celebration of the environment that provides a comforting home for those thoughts.

“Sister” has a very formidable strength in its commitment to its primary setting, the sprawling desert landscapes that compose the bulk of the clip’s screen time. In establishing that setting, the final moments of the main narrative that see Olsen plunging into a pool become a cleansing that scans as both euphoric and rejuvenating. It’s a clever bit of juxtaposition that gains impact because of the patience exerted over nearly seven and a half minutes of traversing arid topography.

Tying everything together is the clip’s humanizing end tag of b-roll footage that spotlights a curious bystander that momentarily interrupted the shooting of “Sister”, providing an interaction that winds up being deeply endearing. It’s a moment of human interaction that pulls the clip away from the isolation it relentlessly showcased, injecting some levity into the video’s otherwise relentless, albeit quiet, intensity. The whole thing, once again, stands as a triumph and poises Olsen to be one of the most talked-about musicians of the year.

Watch “Sister” below and pre-order My Woman from Jagjaguwar here.

LVL UP – Pain (Stream, Live Video)

LVL UP XXV

Over the course of the day, a whole host of great material has found its way out into the greater world. Included in this wealth of worthy new releases included streams from Steve Adamyk Band, Slow Down Molasses, Happy Diving, Buildings, Beach Slang, PJ Harvey, Flock of DimesItsaca, The Holy CircleBodies Be Rivers, The Moles, and a Littler cover of a Muffs classic with all of the proceeds of the cover going to Campaign Zero. Additionally, there were exceptional full streams from the following: Gay Sin, Heliotropes, Blue Smiley, and Pure Disgust. Finally, the music video format saw excellent new entries from the likes of Sneeze, Honeyblood, Sleeping Beauties, and Hinds.

Really, though, ever since Sub Pop’s announcement of their newest acquisition, this day has all but belonged to LVL UP. The band’s been working on their full-length follow-up to Hoodwink’d — this site’s pick for 2014’s Album of the Year — steadily for well over a year. Today, they unveiled the first track to be heard from that record, which will be titled Return to Love, with the perpetually shifting “Pain”.

Easily one of the finest songs Mike Caridi has contributed to the band to date (which is no mean feat), “Pain” is simultaneously one of the band’s most ambitious and arresting songs, demonstrating the breadth of their expanded scope in one fell swoop. Opening with a melancholic ambient swirl, “Pain” quickly ups the tempo and quickly begins presenting scathing, intimate questions like “where is the one who loved you, unconditionally?” and never lets down the intensity for a moment.

Ultimately, the song settles into the self-defeating mantra of “Never Find Love” before a volcanic eruption of feedback, distortion, and noise subsumes the song and quickly transforms it into a seething maelstrom of formidable power, reaching a level of darkness of which their most recent release — the excellent Three Songs EP — hinted towards. The quartet really lays into that final section during their sets (“Pain” has been a live staple for some time) and tap into some intangible quality that seems to elevate them as a unit, locking into some sort of terrifying trance and playing off of each other with startling precision.

“Pain”, likely more than most of their recent songs, pays homage to the band’s past while remaining determined to look towards the future. In striking that balance, LVL UP has managed to produce a song that does more than justify their Sub Pop signing, set up Return to Love‘s release, and remind people of why they came to be such a force. It becomes a transportive experience that nears moments of transcendence.  Should the rest of Return to Love live up to the standard set by its first single, the band may find themselves following up a miniature masterpiece (Hoodwink’d) with the real thing.

Listen to “Pain” below (and watch a slightly blown-out video of the band running through an earlier version of the song last year at Palisades below the embed) and pre-order Return to Love from Sub Pop here.

Splitting at the Break: A Visual Retrospective of 2015’s First Half (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Krill II

Over the first course of the year, I’ve made several major life decisions with the largest being a move to Brooklyn. Saving up for that paired with a work schedule that at one point had me logging roughly 75 hours a week meant sacrificing a lot of the things I love. None of those things hurt more than the severely limited number of shows I was able to attend. However, it was likely that same scarcity that made the shows included in this piece so memorable. From conducting an artist profile on Johanna Warren for Consequence of Sound (where a few of these photographs were first printed and where you can also find auxiliary video of Warren performing) to finally seeing a few site favorites- like Saintseneca, Krill, and Vacation- for the first time after years of waiting.

While it may not be much, this is still a collection that has deeply personal value. It’s a reflection of a region I called home for the entirety of my life and it’s a place I will miss when I leave it in just over a week. I’ll always be grateful that I was provided the opportunities to attend the shows contained in the multimedia portion of this post- and for the friends I made who were connected to those shows in literally any way. Writers, bands, editors, promoters, venue owners, label execs, or even just fans, they helped make some of these places feel like home. So, take a trip below with shots (and some videos) of: NE-HI, Oozing Wound, Protomartyr, Perfect Pussy, TRITA, Disasteratti, Buildings, Adron, Johanna Warren, Mutts, Two Inch Astronaut, Krill, Speedy Ortiz, Fox Face, The Midwest Beat, Mexican Knives, Vacation, FIDLAR, METZ, Saintseneca, and Murder By Death. The regional focal post of Heartbreaking Bravery may be shifting drastically in the months to come but a large part of its heart will always be lodged in the Upper Midwest.

Hope you enjoy.

NE-HI // OOZING WOUND // PROTOMARTYR // PERFECT PUSSY

 


TRITA // DISASTERATTI // BUILDINGS


ADRON // JOHANNA WARREN

MUTTS

TWO INCH ASTRONAUT // KRILL // SPEEDY ORTIZ



FOX FACE // THE MIDWEST BEAT // MEXICAN KNIVES // VACATION

 




FIDLAR // METZ

SAINTSENECA // MURDER BY DEATH


The Fjords – All In (Music Video)

fjords

There are times when all it takes for a talented, relatively under-recognized band to break out is a perfect music video. “All In” is one of those videos and should ensure that The Fjords name is firmly on the map. It wasn’t the only music video to impress over the past week or so, though, so, before heaping the necessary praise on that particular clip that it deserves, it’s time to give some others their due. Mark Ronson’s collaboration with Mystikal, “Feel Right“, was given an additional burst of unexpected energy through an unbelievably fierce performance from an unlikely star, White Poppy catered to their haziest impulses with “Confusion“, Buildings embraced lo-fi in “Watershed“, Short Skirts went the visual collage route with “Far Side of Mexico“, Jose Gonzalez continued one of 2015’s most unconventional visual narratives in “Open Book“, and Birdskulls found the perfect visual aesthetic for their 90’s-grunge worship with “Good Enough“. All of those are worth multiple watches, which also holds true for the title in this post’s headline.

As far as thesis shots go, opening on a machine designed to blur the gap between technology and reality tends to yield strong results. “All In” is no exception and winds up taking a startling route to a fiery, hyper-violent finish. After establishing the protagonist of “All In” has all the trappings of an outcast (a video game addiction, model trains, an artistic mind), the plot eventually reveals itself while steadily accumulating compelling subtext. In some extremely strong visual work, we see the protagonist (a young, unnamed boy) construct a backpack for his vintage video game system and fashion a belt for some of his more violently-minded game cartridges before walking over to confront a large gang of older oppressors loitering outside of a hot dog stand. He collects himself, calmly confronts their leader- one who laughs when he’s suddenly face to face with a plastic gun controller- and, after a brief moment of eerie silence, pulls the trigger.

What follows is an extraordinarily violent bloodbath that could be seen as a cautionary tale for technological advancements (in a manner that’s not entirely dissimilar from Alex Garland’s excellent Ex Machina) or a concerned treatsie on evolution. It’s jarring imagery with a heavy concept, to be sure, but it’s pulled off in a manner that feels more grounded than bombastic, lending it an overlying sense of genuine horror. A child is forced into gradually losing the remainder of his innocence, one murder victim at a time, without ever being portrayed as anything other than coldly detached in the process. “All In”, an extremely strong piece of heavily atmospheric electro-pop, provides the perfect soundtrack for the incredibly disconcerting sequence. As people are gunned down in what feels less like a revenge fantasy and more like a pointed statement, The Fjords found a perfect vehicle to act as an introduction-at-large for their shadowy, foreboding soundscapes. The song and the clip complement each other to a startling perfection, right down to the closing shot that preserves a sliver of the protagonist’s humanity. Brilliantly edited, superbly directed, and gorgeously lensed, it’s another clip for the ages- and it’s the new standard-holder for how to make an entrance.

Watch “All In” below and order All In here.

Greys – Guy Picciotto (Music Video)

Greys’ If Anything (due out June 17 via Carpark) is already one of the most anticipated full-lengths of the remaining year. This is thanks, in no small part, to lead-off preview track “Guy Picciotto”. Amanda Fotes has now provided that track with a video that rivals the songs sense of chaos and tension. Presented in a muted palette (incidentally- and possibly intentionally- it looks like it was tuned through a gray filter), the video revolves around the band throwing a Marshall cab off of the roof an ostensibly abandoned building in a desolate part of some unnamed city. There are a few moments where some footage of the band playing gets spliced in and Fotes disorients the linearity of the act by positioning the members on both the roof and the ground during the amp’s descent. It takes the amp the duration of the song to reach impact and there’s a sly bit of cleverness to that ultimate, climactic moment. It’s all over in well under two minutes and more than worth anyone’s time. Watch it below and keep an eye out for both If Anything and the band’s reportedly insane live show. Enjoy.