Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Carly Rae Jepsen

2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Amanda Dissinger)

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Heartbreaking Bravery recently went offline but all facets of the site are back to being fully operational. Apologies for any inconveniences. All posts that were slated to run during that brief hiatus will appear with this note.

Very few people have been as supportive of Heartbreaking Bravery as publicist, poet, writer, and all-around great person Amanda Dissinger. One of her last collections of poems, This Is How I Will Tell You I Love You, has served as a constant travel companion for me since receiving it in the mail. Last year, Dissinger contributed an essay about rediscovering a love for NYC through a series of shows. This year finds her fixating on a handful of songs and offering up a personal (and stylized) look back through some tumultuous times. Enjoy.  

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2016 was rough for all of us. We all know this and have talked about all the amazing things and people we lost last year and the feelings that we all started having super strongly 24/7: fear, anxiety, sadness, loss. And that’s not even addressing anything super personal yet.

2016 was a weird year for me. I went through a breakup. I dated a lot of incredibly emotionless and unworthy men. I made friends. I lost friends. I had a lot of boring days. I got really into pop country music to the confusion of everyone around me. I started eating a lot more french fries bc wtf. I started drinking. I wrote another book of poetry. I had some breakthroughs at work. And really, though it may be cliche, music helped me through it.

Specifically, making Spotify playlists for myself and for friends with names like “Heartbreak City” and the famous (10 followers y’all!) “Sad Gurl Club”- a playlist full of 40 hours of songs by mostly women musicians about heartbreak, falling in and out of love, and finally being seen and appreciated.

Here are six of those songs that got me thru really shitty times, really fun times (a heavy YOLO phase with my bff), emotional times and the in between. PS if you want a Spotify playlist HMU!

Shura – What’s It Gonna Be

This is the best song about a crush EVER (I’m just initiating you into the fact that I speak in ALL HYPERBOLES). I would listen to this song when I went on first dates and be like “I’m not gonna give you up! Not gonna let you love somebody else but me!” even before I ever met any of the guys, which was probably my first mistake but… it gave me confidence. This song is so dreamy and fun and makes you feel like you’re falling in love in the best way.

Rihanna – Needed Me

I had to include this song because it includes the best line of the year in “Didn’t I tell you I was a savage? Fuck your white horse and a carriage.” I became obsessed with Anti after the rest of the world did- in the fall I listened to it the whole way through and was like, this is truly amazing. So many of these songs are great- tbh they’re all hits- “Desperado!”, “Close to You!”, “Kiss it Better!”, but this song is in my opinion, the best, because it makes me feel powerful when I listen to it. Like, I’m the best that I’m gonna be, and I don’t need anyone but myself. also, didn’t I tell you that I was a savage!!

Carly Rae Jepsen – Fever

I’ve been a big CRJ fan for years now (and people say I look like her, so FYI), and after she released her amazing and game-changing Emotion last year, I didn’t think she could get any better. Dammit CRJ! Provin’ me wrong! All the songs on her B-Sides collection are gems, but “Fever” is the one that I listened to once 20 times in one night thinking about how I would too steal someone’s bike and ride all night if I still loved them and they didn’t love me. Also, if I could ride a bike. But this song makes me feel like I cannn ride a bike, so it’s magic!

Pinegrove – Size of the Moon

I, like everyone else, loved the Pinegrove record Cardinal this year. So many things about it were poetic to me, it was a record about coming of age and it had elements of Ben Kweller, so really what could be better? Those are all of my favorite things! This song is my favorite because the lyrics are so beautiful- and really “do you wanna dance?’ is the best opening line of a song- and also because the song lets you know that it’s okay to be afraid in general, without anything specific in mind. And sometimes it’s good to have that reassurance (I think, I’m not an expert, sorry, wtf).

Little Big Town – Better Man

This song being one of my favorite songs of the year/the song that I drunkenly scream “BEST SONG OF 2016” is the biggest proof that I am an unadulterated country lover. Also, I commonly think it’s hilarious to just sing songs really loudly around the apartment and try to get them stuck in my roommate’s head. Which I did with this one repeatedly (“I just MISSSSS YOU, I just WISSSSSHH you were a better man!!!”) This song is really good though you guys, it was written by Taylor Swift and is like the most Taylor Swift-y song of all time. It has kind of a simple, beautiful message about wishing someone was a little better of a partner for you and it has some killer vocal solos from the couples (are they two couples in this band, brb wikipedia-ing) in this band. Listen to this song once and you TOO will be getting it in your roommate’s head twenty four sev. you’re welcome.

Maren Morris – Once

If you talked to me for like more than 30 seconds this year, I probably said something to you about Maren Morris. I’m obsessed with her first album Hero and I even went to see her at Barclays opening for Keith Urban ALONE and sat next to a guy who glared at me while he was eating a large platter of chicken fingers. Anyway, all the songs on this album are amazing (if you’re looking for something upbeat, try “80s Mercedes” or “My Church”- they are stunnnas), but I’m a sucker for a good ballad, as a card carrying member of the Sad Gurls Club. This song is about remembering your past relationships and the good things about them as they end, and it’s a real tearjerker. I’m crying just talking about it! Perfect breakup song! (PS Maren I lovvveee you).

Well, that’s all I have for you… for now! Find me on twitter or something if you wanna complain about anything I wrote. But- here’s hoping 2017 will be better… er, at least have as much good music I guess.

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Amanda Dissinger)

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Photograph by Dean Stafford

I don’t actually remember how I first met Amanda Dissinger but I’ve become increasingly grateful for that moment. Ever since that initial introduction, she’s been ceaselessly supportive of just about everything I’ve decided to do and has been a constant voice of reason. It’s why whenever I travel, I take the gorgeous collection of poetry she released last year, This Is How I Will Tell You I Love You, with me as a road companion. We call each other “the best” in an eternal loop with no trace of irony. If she sends me a promotional email for one of the several artists she does publicity for at Terrorbird Media, there’s a decent chance it’ll just devolve into a long string of short email blasts about what’s happening in our lives. For a very brief time, we shared door duties at Baby’s All Right and allowed ourselves to be inspired by the surroundings it offered. Not just one of my favorite authors but one of my absolute favorite people, it’s an honor to be hosting her writing on this site. Below, she tackles a night with Dilly Dally and Julien Baker that rekindled her love for the city where she resides. Read it below and then find a reason to celebrate your own surroundings.

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2015 was a weird year for me. I wrote a book, fell in love, moved to a new apartment, recovered from a weird mysterious muscle illness, and got to work with many rad bands in my full time job. I made new friends, I lost friends, I traveled all over the country, etc. etc. Though it may sound cliché, music is mostly what got me through it all. This year, I got to see some of my very favorite acts in the whole world- from my high school loves Death Cab for Cutie, new favorites like Weaves, and dozens of amazing bands that I do press for from Heaters to Total Makeover to Keeps, and friends’ bands like Big Ups and Charly Bliss.

I got to travel to Toronto for NXNE (by myself) and become immersed in the awesome scene there that’s spearheaded by the amazing Buzz Records and bands like Odonis Odonis, Greys, and Dilly Dally (more on them later). I went with coworkers to Raleigh, NC for Hopscotch Festival and while I had no expectations going in about the town, I became enamored with it, and with its diverse venues and friendly natives. I fell head over heels for Austin, TX and the lively music scene there, encouraged by my boyfriend, a wonderful musician, and the venues he frequents- Cheer Up Charlies, The Mohawk, and Barbarella (for dancing to ’80s music only).

However, this year in music can be best summed up by one cold night in November, when I got to see two of my favorite new artists perform in a back-to-back marathon concert night. In 2015, all of my favorite albums were released by females or female-fronted bands. I loved Carly Rae Jepsen’s whimsical Emotion, the ass-kicking albums by Bully, All Dogs, and Hop Along, and the catchy-as-hell releases from Bad Bad Hats and Laura Stevenson. Above all though, two albums that represented the polarity of my feelings — and the two that I loved the most — were Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle (representing my vulnerable, emotional and nostalgic self) and Dilly Dally’s blistering, raucous Sore, showcasing the assertive, in-your-face person that I aspire to be.

Miraculously, I got to see four of the artists that made my favorite albums in one week in November in a way that only New York sometimes operates- Tuesday: Bad Bad Hats at Baby’s All Right, Wednesday: Carly Rae Jepsen at Irving Plaza, and Saturday: Dilly Dally at Baby’s, followed by Julien Baker at Mercury Lounge. Though I was recovering from a gnarly cold that week, I still absolutely 100% needed to run around like a chicken with my head cut off and see both of these artists responsible for music that touched me so deeply.

Before that night, I had seen Dilly Dally about three times since 2013. My friends in Toronto who run the aforementioned Buzz Records release constantly hypnotizing and brave music from incredible bands (like all the ones I mentioned above- Weaves, Greys, Odonis and Odonis, as well as bands like The Beverleys, HSY, and so many more). They are all smart, incredibly nice and wonderful people. They’re also my favorite label and everything they touch turns to gold.

By now most people have heard the thrilling ’90s tinged Sore, and I’ve probably listened to it about 1000 times since its release in October. I was thrilled to see a headlining set from them after the album release, especially since I only caught a bit of them at CMJ at like 1am at Santos Party House. At Baby’s, they were at their best, impressing the really large and enthralled crowd who packed the small, sweaty room to hear melodic yet hard-edged tracks like “Green” (one of my favorites since their 7” of it), the pulsating “Desire”, and “Purple Rage”.

I caught most of their set and hopped over on the train with a few people I ran into at the show to see Julien Baker, whose album absolutely devastated me like nothing else I can remember, both on first listen and the many subsequent listens. Singing about addiction, heartbreak, and loneliness, Sprained Ankle stops you in your tracks- after I heard the whole thing in mid-October, I couldn’t listen to anything else.

Once Baker started her set at Mercury Lounge that night, the crowd went so silent that you could hear a feather drop in the room. Her songs were filled with lust and love and memories and I stopped breathing, I’m sure. Her songs are meandering and honest and fearless. In one of my favorites, “Everybody Does”, she sings “you’re gonna run/it’s alright everybody does/you’re gonna run when you find out who I am.” Though her set was too short, I was already 100% certain that everyone I know needed to see her live and hear her album and I am 100% certain that her performance broke my heart.

While it’s a bit sappy, the night reminded me of the reason why I moved to New York. Though I’m still relatively young, I recently lost interest in going out as much as I did when I was 19 or 20 and hopping to two or three shows a night. I felt alienated from the crowd and from the people around me, people who I used to be friends with and see all the time. Before that night, I would go out, stay at a show for an hour or so and immediately go home, lonely and disinterested.

That night in November reminded me of why New York can be so magical, and it gave me something I really needed. It made me realize that sometimes cool things don’t have to be terrible, and sometimes things can change, and the music, the people, and you can all be better than ever.

-Amanda Dissinger