Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: cassette

The Holy Circle – Polaris (Music Video Premiere)

holycircle

Over the years, the tremendous Accidental Guest Recordings label has shown a penchant to skew its focus towards darker works, whether it be via the blown-out, lo-fi feedback hisses of vicious hardcore, bleak post-punk, or found a way to manifest in bold, confrontational lyric sets. Recently, the label started revealing a clip to accompany every track from the forthcoming cassette from ambient/drone/darkwave act The Holy Circle.

Boasting members from acts like Locrian, the band’s deadly serious nature probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. What does manage to surprise, however, is how effectively hypnotic both the tracks and the clips from The Holy Circle have been. “Polaris”, the release’s final track (and video) may stand as the best current example of what the band is capable of achieving.

As an isolated song, “Polaris” teems with desolate atmospherics that manage to be both magnetic and otherworldly all at once. It’s a severely battered version of the ethereal and it becomes increasingly compelling for its cold detachment. Elevating those sensibilities is the simple, absorbing video that operates entirely via silhouettes and overlays. Over the course of the track, the minimal imagery obtains direct meaning and leads to a fiery, disconcerting climax without ever hitting the point of bombast.

Both a beautiful feat of high-impact minimalism and a powerful closing chapter to a quietly extraordinary release, “Polaris” is the kind of work that’s successful enough in accomplishing its goals that it’ll likely be analyzed and dissected even more over time. For now, it’s best to let the disquieting imagery and alluring tone induce a trance-like state before a final, self-contained disintegration puts a note of finality on the type of experience that should warrant multiple return visits.

Watch “Polaris” below and pick up their self-titled tape from Accidental Guest here.

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.

What A Difference A Month Makes (Full Streams)

Let’s get this out of the way at the top: there hasn’t been a post on this site for roughly a month. A large part of that development is due to the fact that for approximately half of that timeframe, I’ve been on the road and either playing or taking in shows (the majority of which will be receiving coverage here at some point in the near future). During that stretch, a lot of material has surfaced. From extremely strong post-punk debuts to an astonishing, simultaneous 35-record release, it’s been a fascinating month. Below is a collection of some of the finest releases that have emerged over the past several weeks. Enjoy.

Gland, Phosphene, Husdon Bell, No Ditching + Baby Ghosts, Mean Jeans, Dump Him, Free TimeTender Age, Hurry, J. Robbins, Hayden Calnin, Wood Lake, Animal Faces, A Giant Dog, Haybaby, Museum Mouth, JulianCrossed Wires, Hovvdy, Nearly Oratorio, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Plants & Animals, Pity Sex, Those Pretty Wrongs, Tyler Jordan and the Negative Space, Grubby Little Hands, Beach Skulls, Lenguas Largas, Sorority Noise, TV SetsDoctor Barber and Fog.

Spice BoysYoni & Geti, Klaus Johann Grobe, Quinn Walker (x35), Colleen Green, Modern Baseball, skating, The Duke Spirit, Kikagaku Moyo, Star Parks, Hydropark, Pinkwash, Stone Cold Fox, Half Waif, Lacerate, microsoft saint, Mo Kenney, Hey Lover, Cave States, CE Schneider Topical, Dietrich & Barnes, Britta Phillips, Praise, Boyscouts + Ylayali, Oliver Wilde, Flasher, Acapulco Lips, Constant CompanionGrayling, and an outstanding new Z Tapes compilation.

Lost Boy ? – Live at Shea Stadium – 6/20/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Lost Boy ? IV

Tomorrow there will be a slew of posts and content that cover a large handful of notable new releases and semi-regular progress will continue (again, there will likely be a greater emphasis on live documentation in the coming weeks since it’s more readily accessible). Today belongs to a playlist that will run some time after this review (likely later on in the evening) and a show review of a packed bill that went down at Shea Stadium on Saturday night.

Unicycle Loves You, Mumblr, Leapling, Clearance, and Lost Boy ? all played impassioned sets and although I only managed to catch the tail end of Unicycle Loves You (the only band I didn’t manage to capture on film, an oversight I’ll be actively seeking to amend in the coming weeks), they’re a band worth recommending without any hesitation. Site favorites Mumblr— who played the only show this site’s ever presented [additional color: Ben Grigg from Geronimo! was also in attendance, wearing a Meat Wave shirt to round out the circle.]– drove from Canada to deliver a blistering set that leaned heavily on considerably noisier work than they’ve produced in the past. The dimly-lit setup proved restrictive for photography but all the lights were on for Leapling.

Playing a staggering amount of new material, Leapling seemed eager to test out their new songs and their focus seems to have sharpened in the brief interim that’s followed Vacant Page, a record that’s only been out for just over four months. Unfailingly sharp, the trio (a new lineup for the group) came off as having a practiced finesse and tapped into an exciting rawness when they embraced their noisier tendencies. Clearance would take the stage following Leapling’s run, further enhancing an off-kilter raucousness that Leapling had touched upon in their closing number.

The Chicago-based quartet leaned heavily on a Pavement influence to unusually exhilarating results, crafting something that nonetheless managed to feel like part of a unique identity. Scuzzy, surprisingly heavy, and just a little post-punk, Clearance have managed to cultivate a style of basement pop that translates perfectly to the live setting. Hitting all the right notes and building momentum as their set progressed, the band definitely left a mark on Shea Stadium and created a few converts in the process, all the while setting the stage for Lost Boy ?.

Following the unlikely saga of the 2014 tape release of Canned (I’m one of the few people that have stubbornly held onto an incorrectly sequenced cassette copy) with the official release of the record in 2015, Lost Boy ? have managed to keep their name in circulation for a while. If the record had been streaming at the end of last year, it would have been towards the absolute top of the specialty release list. A long-time favorite, the band delivered on every conceivable level with a high-energy set that made room to incorporate a few surprise guests (among them, Titus Andronicus’ Patrick Stickles and Eric Harm).

Partially a celebration for Cammed, the cassette release of the Canned demos, the band also revealed a few new songs that were delivered with the same kind of manic energy that characterizes the bulk of their discography. Played with a sly smile and no shortage of determination, it came off as a proper headlining set that a lot of people wished would just keep going. Even after the band made their stage exit following a fiery performance of “Taste Butter”, the night felt far from over (likely thanks to the energy incited by Lost Boy ?).

In the last surprise of the evening, those that stuck around and saw Lost Boy ?’s set through were rewarded with an impromptu Neil Young cover set that saw members of Lost Boy ? and Titus Andronicus teaming up for ramshackle takes on some of the songwriter’s early career highlights. As far as epilogues go, it felt fittingly communal; a moment shared between friends who were all pursuing the same common interest(s). After a long take on “Down By The River” that saw Stickles take over on bass duties- and absolutely go off on a few furious, fuzzed-out solos- the night had drawn to a conclusion that mirrored the preceding events; subtly chaotic, fairly unexpected, and just about perfect.

A gallery of photographs from each band can be seen below and a video player containing performances from Mumblr, Leapling, Clearance, and Lost Boy ? has been included beneath the gallery. Enjoy.

 


Even Hand – Even Hand (Album Review, Stream)

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Over the years it’s become increasingly evident that their are some cassettes that it’s next to impossible to eject from a deck once they’ve completed their rotation- not because of technical difficulty but because of how good the record on the tape is. Stupid Bag Records have had a direct hand in quite a few of them (every Swearin’ tape, Acid Fast’s Rabid Moond, Dead Dog’s Precious Child, etc.) and recently, one of their releases possessing that insane amount of gravitational pull was given an LP release over at the always-outstanding Mandible Records: Even Hand’s self-titled full-length debut.

Even Hand boasts a sound that feels like it’d fit comfortably between both Sunny Day Real Estate and The Wrens at their respective peaks, without sacrificing an inch of their DIY punk roots, which is an impressive achievement, to say the least. In a small way, it makes them a sort of spiritual kin to Haunted Heads, even if Even Hand’s a little more wiry and more in line with the Steve Albini school of thought when it comes to presentation. That keen attention to detail is something that serves them well throughout the course of Even Hand and helps the record feel like an absolutely vital release.

Starting with a trio of songs that establishes both the band’s sound and the tone of the record, Even Hand wastes no time in commanding the listener’s attention. “Glacial Blue”, the record’s opening track, recalls a much more precise and mannered Parquet Courts without losing any of the nervy tension that dominates the kind of wry post-punk  both bands traffic in. “The More It Shows” reveals the band’s just as comfortable delivering charged-up bruisers as they are at displaying raw nerve. “Your Wall” rounds out the opening blitz with a lilting melody and a slow-burning sonic template that’s indebted to the very best of emo’s golden era without being completely defined by that genre.

From there, Even Hand manages to steadily build it’s momentum while carving out new niche areas of all the genres that factor into what make them such an engaging band on record. While the furiously paced”Down the Lighted Strip” may be the record’s most definitive moment, it’s Even Hand‘s quietest moment that manages to stand out most. “Leaning Home” is the track in question and it arrives at roughly the 3/4’s mark of the record, providing bandleader Mike Borth an arresting solo moment. Everything goes quiet for “Leaning Home” and Borth makes the most of it, providing Even Hand with some of his sharpest guitar work and a set of lyrics that cuts deep by confronting familial conflict in a manner that feels intensely personal. It’s the record’s longest song (though it doesn’t feel like it) and earns every last second of its runtime.

Appropriately, it’s followed by an ambient stretch before “All Tenses All Time” kicks things back into overdrive and showcases the natural ability of Even Hand’s rhythm section, with Dominic Armao lending the record no shortage of propulsive bass line and drummer Dan Edelman providing a deeply impressive set of chops at a pace that frequently borders the manic. Both Armao and Edelman give the record a lot of its heart while Borth shapes it with an enviable sense of personality. All three pull out a variety of stops for the closing track, “I’m Not Concerned”, giving listeners one final reminder of what each is capable of on their own- and what the band’s capable of as a collective. “I’m Not Concerned” winds up being an appropriate final highlight on a record littered with other ones- and when it’s over, all that’s really left to do is let it play itself over again. Even Hand is a record that deserves to be heard- as many times as possible.

Listen to Even Hand below and make sure to not live life without either owning the cassette or the LP.

Cancers – Moral Net (Stream)

Cancers
Cancers is a new duo project between two seasoned members of the DIY scene: Ella Kaspar and Lenny Miller. Originally conceived as a means of getting artistic freedom, the songs they’ve been unveiling so far have done nothing short of completely justifying their decision. Furthering their newfound artistic freedom, the duo’s chosen to release their upcoming full-length Fatten the Leeches via Kandy Kane Records, which they founded. Additionally, punk mainstays Dead Broke Rekerds will be lending a helping hand for the record’s cassette/vinyl release and distribution of Fatten the Leeches after being understandably taken with the material on display.

In advance of Fatten the Leeches, the band’s offered up two songs to stream; “Be Cool” and “Moral Net”. Both have been floating around for a while but recently received another push thanks to the record’s impending release date- which offers a perfect opportunity to seize something that previously managed to slip by this site’s radar. While “Be Cool” is undoubtedly a strong track, it’s “Moral Net” where the anticipation level for Fatten the Leeches gets kicked up a few levels. Spiky grunge-leaning shoegaze-centric guitars prop up Kaspar’s voice, which is brought out considerably in the mix. “Moral Net” swirls and slashes with the best of them and seems to be a relatively close cousin to Bleeding Rainbow. A variety of 80’s & 90’s influence permeate throughout the song’s brief runtime, supplying it with a feeling of subtle nostalgia despite the fact that, when it all comes together, it feels appropriately of the moment. It’s over before it should be and warrants a few consecutive listens. Don’t sleep on this band- or on this record.

Listen to “Moral Net” below and keep an eye out for its September 16 release date.

NXNE: Day 3 (Review, Photos, Videos)

Spoon XI

Since there were a lot of personal allowances factoring into Day 3 for me, I’ll forego the usual narrative rule and allow myself the use of first-person for this paragraph (and the last). My entire decision to attend NXNE hinged on the lineup for what would be the only show I would see on June 20, 2014; the show at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern- which was re-branded Budweiser Music House at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern thanks to some (admittedly frustrating) corporate sponsorship. What was initially supposed to be an incredible lineup featuring site favorites Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Cong, Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, and, of course, Perfect Pussy, generated even more interest when word leaked out that Spoon was added on late as a secret headliner. This would cause some complications and push the venue past capacity towards the end of the night- but also ensured that as many people bore witness to Perfect Pussy delivering one of the most genuinely unforgettable sets I’ve ever seen (this being the case, it will be covered as a full review in an additional piece). It was the night’s defining moment but didn’t detract from what would be several outstanding performances from each of the other featured bands.

These performances kicked off with Greys, who wasted no time in setting the night’s tone; fiery, intense, full of verve, and impassioned as hell. Every band would live up to this and deliver their own variation on it but few would have a moment as incendiary as the perfect, manic transition of “Guy Picciotto” into “Use Your Delusion“. Greys’ set was twice as fiery as they were at their impressive Day 1 appearance and despite their set being shorter, the reception was still incredibly strong. Once again, their cover of Mission of Burma’s “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate” proved to be a set highlight that helped sustain their incessant momentum. By the time they exited the stage, they’d done everything a young band was supposed to- and likely won a few more converts along the way.

Benjamin Booker took up the torch that was set ablaze by Grey’s and held it at a slight disadvantage; people haven’t heard his debut album- or really know who he is at all. Greys at least had the benefit of a local draw- but Booker had the support of a stellar bill around him and knew he’d have quite a bit to live up to. He delivered, on all accounts. After his incredible appearance on Letterman, though, it was hard to expect anything less. His New Orleans roots were clearly evidenced in his music’s tendency to lean towards being a punk-tinged rock n’ soul throwback (or, in less confusing terms, everything The Black Keys are supposed to be). With a self-titled debut due out on ATO Records, expectations for Booker are high- and if that’s fazing him, he didn’t let it show. It was a triumphant set that hit all the right notes and created a lasting impression. Booker’s last song, in particular, was a noisy, chaotic stunner that was the heaviest song in the set- a trend that would be enforced by every band on the bill. That last song also prompted the very first “one more song” chant of the evening, while Booker’s dropped guitar was left onstage feeding back. He’s a rare talent that has genre sensibility in spades, and infuses his music with a deeply-felt blues. It won’t be long before his name’s appearing in a lot more places.

By the time Calgary’s Viet Cong took the stage, the venue had started to get a little crammed. Viet Cong’s Cassette has been generating a lot of interest in a lot of circles- and given people who loved the short-lived band Women something to love again. After seeing their live performance; it’s earned. All of the critical acclaim and adulation that the band’s certainly going to be receiving throughout the year- it’s all earned. Deftly combining spiky post-punk with a commitment to creative minimalism while emphasizing a tone more somber than celebratory, they’ve landed on a recipe for success. An apathetic demeanor slips in and out of their music, lending it a certain tension and dread that some bands spend their entire existences trying to find. While these songs sound great on record, they breathe in an arresting new way in a live setting. No matter what small setbacks their set experienced (sound difficulties were another unfortunate trend of the evening), the band found ways to manage them. Most memorably, after guitarist Scott Munro broke a string, vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel spearheaded a tribal minute-and-a-half song and followed it with a bit of snark: “If it was [other guitarist] Danny breaking a string on the spot, I wouldn’t have made up a song on the spot, I would have called him a showoff.” It was a welcome bit of unexpected humor from an almost terrifyingly precise band. Viet Cong ended their set in a blaze of fury and chaos and left no uncertainty to the fact that this is a band fully intent on heading places.

Returning to the playfulness of Viet Cong’s broken string reprieve was Speedy Ortiz, who took the stage all smiles and full of quick jokes. Throughout their set they would introduce songs as being about some of the following: The Toronto Raptors, birthdays of band members (that weren’t celebrating their birthdays), and LMFAO- who they gave a well-informed history lecture on (specifically the fact that the duo share a family relation- they’re uncle and nephew). Best of all, though, was their song about “beating Viet Cong up behind the Horseshoe Tavern” after expressing excitement over sharing a bill with sharing so many of their friends- and promising to beat up the ones who weren’t already. On a separate instance, they spent a solid two minutes trying to figure out where the term “hoser” originated from and if it was derogatory or not and eventually deciding it was something to do with gardening or hoses. As great as it is to reminisce about great banter, the fact that Speedy Ortiz delivered one of the most complete sets of the evening- if not the festival- should not be understated. “Doomsday”, “Bigger Party”, and a chill-inducing “No Below” all stood out as highlights in a particularly explosive set. Guitar heroics and sharp drumming were on full display. While sound continued to be an issue, they managed their levels as well as they could and played their hearts out. It was the kind of set that inspires people to starts bands.

Swearin’ was next at bat and wound up being as perfect as ever. They’re a band that’s meant a lot to a lot of people and the support surrounding them was clear. The only thing that even partially marred what was another flawless set was the continuing prevalence of frustratingly low levels for the vocals (this would ultimately come to a head with Perfect Pussy and will factor heavily into the ensuing post). With a discography-spanning set that was equally kind to What A Dump, their self-titled, and Surfing Strange, the band took advantage of the night’s atmosphere and played harder than ever. All of their songs came with a hint of either menace or vulnerability, depending on which route they decided to go (“Empty Head” was the highlight in the case of the latter, while “Dust in the Gold Sack” was the former’s high point). Wasting little to no time on banter, they tore into every song of their set with an intensity more common of a hardcore band than one playing 90’s-leaning basement pop. It was another extraordinary set that hit its peak with the 1-2 What A Dump double punch of “Irrational” and “What A Dump”. By the time guitarist/vocalist Kyle Gilbride’s straplock came rocketing out into the audience during those heavy “Kill ‘Em With Kindness” breakdowns, the band looked like they were ready for anything- and kept the evening pushing forward at breakneck pace.

Original headliners Perfect Pussy played next- and, as mentioned previously, will be covered in full in the post that follows this one. A quick summation for the sake of providing Spoon’s review context: Perfect Pussy played most of their set before a bass head caught fire, no one came to help them despite their most earnest pleas, bassist Greg Ambler snapped his bass and left it to the audience, guitarist Ray McAndrew joined Ambler as he walked off, Shaun Sutkus’ synths and Garrett Koloski’s drumming urged on vocalist Meredith Graves as she slowly sunk to the floor repeating an important mantra with every inch of herself over the chaos, looking very much on the verge of tears and in a state of overwhelmed frustration, the audience reacted- some with unbridled vitriol in an urge to see Spoon (an unbelievably disgusting chant of “Fuck off and die” was repeated several times by at least one individual)- some in an outright trance waiting to see what would happen. They were abruptly escorted off the stage, one-by-one, and Spoon’s set-up time began shortly after. It was a moment of unhinged insanity that bled passion and wound up feeling like a religious experience.

By the time Spoon took the stage, the venue had started spilling out past maximum capacity and the vocal problem was fixed after some communication between the stage and the soundboard revealed the vocals were being run through line 2 rather than the acoustic channel (whether or not this was true for the entire evening is unclear- but it certainly was for Spoon). By the time Spoon took the stage, the mood still felt hostile after the aftermath of the unforgettable ending of Perfect Pussy’s set and made the atmosphere uncomfortable. With the privilege of some inside information regarding the behind-the-scenes going-on’s of the night, it became increasingly difficult to stick around for Spoon’s entire set. Spoon, for their part, played extraordinarily well- each a magnetic presence with Britt Daniel, especially, exuding charisma and star magnetism. After approximately five (admittedly excellent) songs, the preceding events kicked in and I left my spot at the front of the stage for someone who wanted it more- and to check in on my friends (and was subsequently assured everyone was alright and led to a story that will- again- factor into the ensuing write-up). After watching a few more songs from the wings, I wound up meeting up with Speedy Ortiz who spun even more horror stories about the events of the evening. Speedy Ortiz would wind up waiting hours past Spoon’s closing time to load their equipment out thanks to what was essentially, frankly, a disgusting technical condition. After hearing every side from every angle, one thing was clear; it was a frustrating evening for just about anyone that played- but everyone played with everything they had, leaving it, at it’s worst and at it’s best, an incredibly memorable evening for everyone involved.

Videos and links to the photo galleries of Day 3 below.

NXNE Day 3: Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Cong (Photo Gallery)
NXNE Day 3: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Spoon (Photo Gallery)

NXNE Day 3: Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Cong (Photo Gallery)

Viet Cong II

Once again, an apology for a delay in posting is necessary. Radio silence in regards to new content has gone on far longer than it should have. It should be noted, though, that during this latest silent interim, photographs were being assembled, run through, and edited in a variety of programs. Looking through the old posts, an unusual loading time was noticeable for the featured photography. In an attempt to amend this, all night tonight Heartbreaking Bravery will be running photo galleries. Now that Days 1 and 2 are both firmly in the past and set in stone, everything posted will be broken up into galleries that will have full reviews written for them in the near future.  Day 3 will be an exception due to the fact it yielded the most photographs. To that end, the first of these photo galleries will focus on the first half of the show that wound up being the festival’s main draw for a great many people and the gallery devoted to the second half of this particular lineup will run soon after- with one exception. There will be an entire gallery dedicated to Perfect Pussy’s set (easily the year’s most memorable) as well as a full review. So, without further ado, here are a selection of photographs from The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern (which was re-named Budweiser Music House at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern for the evening). Enjoy the visuals now and expect the written content to appear next week.

 

Swearin’ – Live at Memorial Union Terrace – 5/30/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)

Swearin' XLII

There are very few bands that will warrant the subversion of this site’s manifest. One of the rules that this place tends to hold sacred is that the music in question is more important than an individual reaction to it (this eliminates the assumptions involved in writing from a first person perspective). That said, there are a few bands that have managed to flip that script based on the sheer reverence their music has earned. Perfect Pussy and Tenement are the most notable to have it done it so far but today Swearin’ joins their ranks. There’s just something about the band that resonates with me on a really intense personal level. It’s at the point where it’s impossible to distance or separate myself from that reaction. Taking myself out of the equation would, in some way, feel more dishonest than just trying to get across how this band affects me personally- because any time that happens it’s worth dissolving barriers for.

Some exposition: What A Dump, the band’s first demo cassette, is one of my favorite releases of all time. There’s literally nothing in my fairly expansive library that comes even remotely close to matching it for number of plays at this point. Swearin’, the band’s first full-length, is in the top ten of that particular list as well. Despite this being the case, up until last Friday night, I’d never seen the band play live. So, when the opportunity to see the band play for free on a terrace overlooking Lake Mendota came, I dropped everything and jumped at the chance. By the end of that night my enthusiasm and affection for the band and its members had only grown more emphatic. An additional bonus was the fact that the show gave me a chance to finally catch Pretty Pretty live as well, who lived up to their strong early reputation.

Both bands played shortly after the sun finally set on Madison with Pretty Pretty giving a commanding performance that emphasized their strengths as a live act. The Columbus trio”s punk-tinged powerpop never got tiresome and their set only got more impassioned as it went on, gaining a startling momentum until it finally got to a place where the only thing left to do was call it quits for the evening and let Swearin’ take over. Swearin’, for their part, commanded the hell out of their sizeable audience (it’s nice to see free music outdoors on a perfect night proving to be as big of a draw as it’s ever been) and lived up to every ridiculous, lofty expectation I’d been forming for years. A lot of their songs are practically sacred to me at this point and they only grew more vital in the live setting. When their discography spanning set came to a close, strings had been broken, feelings had been poured out, notes had been missed, beer had flowed frrely, an infinite amount of mosquitoes had been swatted, and everyone was all smiles. From “Here to Hear” to “Crashing” to “Dust in the Gold Sack” to “What A Dump” to “Kill ‘Em With Kindness” there was never a moment that felt less than incendiary. My friend Justin summed the whole thing up aptly and admiringly with a simple “Fuckin’ Swearin'”. How right he is.

A video of Swearin’ kicking off their set with “Here to Hear” can be seen below. Below that video is an extensive image gallery of the show. Take a look at both, then make sure to catch them in person whenever they’re in town. It’ll be worth it.

The Rich Hands – Teenager (Stream)

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It’s been far too long since a Burger band’s been covered on here in something other than a Watch This feature, which is a damn shame because they’re still the flagship label for scrappy DIY basement pop bands and cassette culture. Luckily, The Rich Hands are here to right this wrong. Their sophomore effort is entitled Out of My Head and it’s full of gnarled pop jams. Burger’s gone ahead and shared one of the best from this release, “Teenager”, on their soundcloud. It’s an all-out blitz of a tune that comes inflected with OG punk undertones, from the snotty, simplistic melody straight through to the tuff guy exteriors, it’s a well-informed earworm that closes itself out with a perfectly placed half-time transition. Be prepared to hum this one to no one in particular for the next few days.

Listen to “Teenager” below and get to the nearest party as soon as possible.