Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Carl Saff

M. T. Foyer – All I Wanna Do Is Love You + Let’s Make Something Happen (Stream)

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A lot of great tracks have surfaced over the course of 2016 and new ones keep emerging. Trying to keep up with everything can occasionally be overwhelming but it’s bands like M. T. Foyer that make the sifting through the chaos worthwhile. While the band’s grabbed this post’s featured spot, it’d be remiss not to mention there were also great new tracks from site favorites Young Jesus, Clique, Boss Hog, Nail Polish, Paper Twin, Kitten Forever, and Lisa Prank as well.

While those titles linked above are all more than worth their salt, it’s the emergence of M. T. Foyer that earns top billing, thanks to the undeniable strength of their opening 1-2 punch: “All I Wanna Do Is Love You” and “Let’s Make Something Happen”. Anyone familiar with Michael Sienkowski’s past work probably shouldn’t be surprised by the band’s formidable early outing. Sienkowski was essential to Sleeping in the Aviary (a band that’s earned a surprising amount of words from this site, especially considering they’ve been defunct for years), helped develop Mike Krol into a powerhouse, and made some outstanding music as Whatfor.

M. T. Foyer is Sienkowski’s latest project and it continues his sterling track record with an impressive amount of panache. The band, a sextet, recently unveiled the inspired “All I Wanna Do Is Love You”, which updates the golden era of doo-wop and seamlessly molds the influence into something more quintessentially modern, and the breezy duet “Let’s Make Something Happen”.

“All I Wanna Do Is Love You” comes with all the punk bite and ’50s charm of Sleeping in the Aviary’s final studio record, You and Me, Ghost, while still firmly establishing Sienkowski’s singular voice. From the warped instrumentals to the song’s inherent, carefree purity, it’s never anything less than remarkable. Surging with energy, it’s the kind of adrenaline-inducing blast that captures attention. Right out of the gate, M. T. Foyer prove they’re serious contenders and seem to have a complete grip on their own identity.

Where “Let’s Make Something Happen” impresses is in the fact that it retains the identity that “All I Wanna Do Is Love You” while subverting the fundamental songwriting enough to signify that they’ll be far from a one-trick pony. Tapping into the kind of punk-tinged Americana dusting that Dusk is well on their way to perfecting, M. T. Foyer immediately expand their vision in a fairly unexpected — but entirely welcome — manner.

Both songs elevate the other, especially when packaged together. They’re impressive on their own, to be sure, but in providing such a stark, immediate contrast, the differences get enhanced. It’s a pivotal device that demonstrates not only the band’s sprawling talent but their impeccable taste. Nuanced, honest, and extraordinary, “All I Wanna Do Is Love You” and “Let’s Make Something Happen” make sure that M. T. Foyer’s introduction isn’t to be taken lightly; focus on this band and waltzing away with a whole handful of favorites is all but inevitable.

Listen to “All I Wanna Do Is Love You” and “Let’s Make Something Happen” below and keep an eye on this site for further updates on the band.


LVL UP – Hoodwink’d (Album Review, Stream)

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Ever since LVL UP let “Soft Power” loose on the world, it was clear that they were operating on another level entirely; a really good band achieving greatness. The three songs that followed- “I Feel Ok“, “DBTS“, and “Ski Vacation“, respectively- all continued to enhance the expanding promise of Hoodwink’d, the record they were previewing. Each of the four songs had a very distinct style, lending some additional credence to the individual members’ stylistic tendencies towards creating songs that work perfectly as standalone numbers but function best as a complementary package. To that end, it’s probably not surprising that Hoodwink’d feels like a career best-of retrospective, despite the fact it’s only the band’s second full-length.

When LVL UP started, their approach was to simply write good, short pop songs. It was a winsome trait that helped establish them as New York’s finest purveyors of outsider pop- and defined Step Brothers, their outstanding introductory effort. While Hoodwink’d still operates in similar territory (the title track is 39 seconds, after all), their sonic palette is broadened considerably and allows for a step up from the band’s previously lo-fi production tactics, which winds up providing the band with a greater sense of urgency. Frequently droll (and fiercely witty) lyrics collide with a sharp immediacy and a murderer’s row of spectacular melodies in just about every one of Hoodwink’d‘s 15 songs, simultaneously one of 2014’s most diverse and unified non-compilation records.

From the drum shuffle that kicks everything off in “Angel From Space” to the fuzz-heavy feedback that draws the whole thing to its close, LVL UP inject Hoodwink’d with the sort of brazen confidence that usually suggests a band operating at the height of their powers. Throw in a sense of subtle ennui (usually manifested in the vocal performances), a seriously impressive slew of impassioned arrangements, and a staggering amount of personality and Hoodwink’d becomes even more compelling. Importantly, it should heavily resonate with a few of this generation’s subsets by virtue of being an astonishingly accurate presentation of the aspects by which they’re generally defined. All of that is circumstantial, though, and would never have come into play if it weren’t for one inescapable fact: this is an astoundingly great record.

Virtually every aspect of the band’s early promise is capitalized on in thrilling fashion, with each member consistently turning in career-best performances all throughout Hoodwink’d. These are songs that feel completely of-the-moment but have a sense of an indefinable timelessness, hinting that this may be a record with the kind of longevity most bands spend entire careers trying to produce. Whether it’s the fractured basement pop of “I Feel Extra-Natural” (which is one of several songs to feature auxiliary vocal work from Elaiza Santos), the relatively downtrodden “Hex“, or the unease-and-resolve back-and-forth of “Medication“, none of the material on display feels even remotely esoteric. Moreover, LVL UP seem to have pinpointed a new propensity for absurdly engaging material that also heavily rewards investment. All of which is just to simply state, once again (and this can’t be emphasized enough), this is an astoundingly great record

From song-to-song, there are no weak links to be found. It’s a masterpiece in miniature, something that perfectly reflects the punk-leaning micro-pop songs that are responsible for the bulk of the record. Everything that LVL UP put into Hoodwink’d seems to serve several purposes with an unfailing consistency. Even examining the aspects of the record that most cast off as unimportant, like sequencing and mastering, it’s difficult to find any glaring flaws. Sure, the brand of music the band traffics in will probably always fall into critical acclaim more easily than commercial success but that’s frequently the price of artistic integrity- something LVL UP has in spades. Ultimately, what LVL UP have wound up with isn’t just a career-making exclamation point, it’s a record that may very well wind up being viewed as one of 2014’s most definitive entries into today’s constantly shifting musical landscape- and it’s an absolute stunner.

Listen to Hoodwink’d below and order it from one of today’s best labels, Double Double Whammy (who teamed up with Exploding in Sound for this release), here.

Two Inch Astronaut – Foulbrood (Stream)

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Today saw the relentlessness of just-released feature-worthy material continuing with ease- a fact that was noted in this site’s previous post. It’s worth repeating now because there was so much great material to cover, the only sensible thing to do was to split today’s feature spots into two sections; music videos and streams. Zulu Pearls’ “Lightweight” wound up highlighting the former category in a very formidable grouping while the latter will be going to Two Inch Astronaut’s extraordinary “Foulbrood”. That “Foulbrood” is the one earning the bulk of today’s words in the stream section, that shouldn’t take away from an extremely impressive pack that included the first look at Warm Soda bandleader Matthew Melton‘s upcoming solo record, a slow-burning preview of Fax Holiday’s Brang In Blood 7″, and a full stream of The History of Apple Pie’s stunning sophomore effort, Feel Anything. Then, of course, there was the hard-hitting “Foulbrood”.

Two Inch Astronauts’ Bad Brother was one of 2013’s best (and most overlooked) records, blending aggressive post-hardcore tendencies into a package that explored the gray area between basement pop and basement punk with surgical precision. Finding an abundance of nuance in its unwieldy chaos lent it an almost unnerving longevity; repeat visits were rewarded with new discoveries in a myriad of areas (production, composition, dry wit, etc.), its minutiae combined into a fascinating sprawl. “Foulbrood” takes that template and maximizes all of its strongest aspects, turning the song into a towering preview of the upcoming record of the same name (that’s the artwork above, courtesy of Ari Klein). Explosive beyond measure, Two Inch Astronaut have somehow managed to refine an already intensely sharp chemistry, elevating their music to exhilarating new heights. Unflinchingly melodic and unfailingly fierce, “Foulbrood” stands among the very best songs of the year with the kind of steady confidence that great bands are often defined by. If Foulbrood can live up to its title, it’s not difficult to imagine the same will be said of the record. November 25 can’t get here soon enough.

Listen to “Foulbrood” below and pre-order the record from the band’s bandcamp.