Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Cincinatti

The Frankl Project – Day at the Races (Stream)

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Pop-punk has always been a deeply problematic genre. More than just about any other style of music that gained significant attention throughout the last decade and a half, pop-punk seemed to get too hung up on its own hallmarks. Elongated vowels, clichéd lyrics about love and heartbreak, a certain amount of bombast, and a total unwillingness to say- or attempt- something new. If anyone broke from the tried-and-true mold, they stuck out like a sore thumb- and became all the more interesting for it. Enter: The Frankl Project. Their most recent full-length, 2013’s excellent Standards, was one of that year’s best surprises thanks to an emphasis on grit and humility unheard elsewhere. All of the songs on that record were backed up by intelligence and conviction- and an ample amount of instrumental chops. It was an inward look at very specific types of collapse that never became overwrought or overstepped its bounds. By the time its dozen songs had played themselves out, it was fairly evident that it deserved to be embraced as either a genre classic or a very welcome step forward for a style that’d become so redundant.

Last month, during this site’s festival coverage period, the Cincinatti trio quietly released Little Wrecking Ball, an online-only two-song effort. While the title track works well as a lead-off (and on its own), it’s the second song of the pair that steals the show. Everything that made Standards so great has been pinpointed and emphasized, leaving no doubt that the band should be heading places. Furthering this theory is the fact that “Day at the Races” was recently hand-picked by Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace to  lead off the unsigned side of Xtra Mile Recordings fascinating (and absolutely vital) Smokin’ (Signed vs.  Unsigned) compilation. It’s easy to see what Grace finds so appealing here; the guitar tones are incendiary, the song structure is intelligent, the instrumental sections are uniformly excellent, the down-trodden lyrics are clever but contained, and the drop to half-time that closes everything out at the end is a thing of perfection. Moreover, when guitarist/vocalist Jacob Tippey sings, and this is key, it’s difficult not to believe everything he says. Tippey’s delivery is as purposeful as the music itself and pairing the two together makes for an explosive combination. Underneath his impassioned delivery, a menacing bassline (courtesy of Paul Schroder, who took the extraordinary shot that serves as the release’s cover) is joined by Joseph Frankl’s always-impressive drumming and Tippey’s inventive, meldoy-heavy guitarwork. All of those elements together make for a molotov cocktail of a tune that proves pop-punk can still be something worth listening to.

Listen to “Day at the Races” below and make sure to catch these guys next time they hit the road- their live act’s not one worth missing.

Tweens – Forever (Music Video)

From the top: apologies are in order for one of the longest hiatuses this place has been pushed into since it came into being last October. There were conflicts that needed resolving (and some that continue to need resolving) that forced a delay. These situations always carry a duality of good and bad with them and the former category is what will be emphasized here. Yes, there was lots of lost time- but that just means a collection of riches to post about in several long sprees. The days following this post should see multiple articles until the 1:1 day-post ratio is restored. While soundcloud is still experiencing issues from the heartbleed virus, the first batch of new content will be largely occupied by the music videos that have come out in the past week or so and Tweens‘ “Forver” may just be the best of the bunch.

Tweens is also now officially out on Frenchkiss records and slays just as hard as everyone expected it would. Filled to the brim with a glam-spiked retro sugar-rush, the trio’s debut is the fullest realization of their alluring basement pop aesthetic to date. While the whole thing is worth wearing out over the course of however long the warm weather lasts, “Forever” is one of the record’s most scorching high points- and the Joe Castrucci-directed music video captures its mood perfectly. Putting a fun twist on the prom theme, the video revels in its clever concept and offers up an endless barrage of great moments (personal favorite: a cop chases a skateboarder who eventually drops a case worth of PBR’s into a freezer and all are taken immediately). While all the low-stakes insanity unfolds on the dance floor, the band’s on stage urging everyone on and having the time of their lives.

Tweens is the feel-good record of the year and “Forever” continues its roll out campaign in grand tradition. Watch it below and pick it up as soon as possible- it’s a must-own.

Watch This: Vol. 6

Another year comes to a close and offers up a luxury; a chance to go back for looks at videos this site never got to cover because it came into existence far too late. In this week’s addition of Watch This, all of the videos featured are standout takes from earlier on in the year that deserved a spotlight they weren’t able to receive the first time around. So, take a break between football games this Sunday and give these a watch; they’re all worth it. Regularly-scheduled time-sensitive posts will resume on Watch This next Sunday. Until then, enjoy some of the best live videos that 2013’s first stretch had to offer. 

1. Savages – Husbands (KEXP Session)

Savages landed in the US with a considerable amount of fanfare, a lot of which can be attributed to stunning live performances like this take on Silence Yourself standout “Husbands” for KEXP. The decision to release the clip in black-and-white only furthered the band’s sense of mystery (and aggression). There may not have been a better KEXP session all year.


2. The Frankl Project – Dissatisfaction at its Finest (Blue Recipe Radio Session)

One of the year’s most pleasant surprises came from a small Cincinatti power trio that were once considered to be more ska than anything else. The Frankl Project’s Standards is a testament to DIY ethics and self-reliance. Additionally, it happens to be one of the better records of 2013 and possibly the best the pop-punk genre had to offer. This Blue Recipe Radio Session included two other standouts (“My Hands” and “Alive on the Road”), so be sure to give all three a watch- it’s passionate, exhilarating material.


3. Amanda Shires – Bulletproof (Rhythm N’ Blooms)

A wildcard among this deck, Amanda Shires’ “Bulletproof” earns its spot on the strength of the second verse alone. What starts off as an ostensibly twee tune about a good-luck charm suddenly turns dark and examines humanities darkest tendencies; a desire for exploitation, violence, and empowerment. When Shires (now officially Amanda Isbell) hits the line “bring out the switchblades”, after a brief pause, it’s delivered with such a frightening amount of verve that it’s hard not to be completely taken. Definitely a talent to watch.


4. Mozes and the Firstborn – Time’s A Headache (Live at Biscuit Studios)

There may not have been a better live video that Heartbreaking Bravery encountered all year. It’s not much more than the band playing a standout cut from their self-titled debut effort in a basement but holy hell, do they ever play that song. The young Antwerp hell-raisers lay into “Time’s A Headache” with everything they’ve got to the delight of the crowd gathered around them in the basement where this was shot. There were a myriad of discoveries to make in 2013 but Mozes and the Firstborn (and this video) were among the very best of the “hidden gems” category.


5. Midnight Reruns – Grand Slam / Basement Guy (TCD’s Take One Session)

This marks the third time Midnight Reruns have appeared on a Watch This and it’s very unlikely it’ll be the last. This band simply isn’t getting the recognition it deserves and anything this site can do to further their exposure, it will do. ThirdCoastDigest started a video series earlier on this year called Take One where local area WI bands play an acoustic version of a song or two for their cameras; despite outstanding efforts from the likes of Midwestern Charm and Vic & Gab, the most intoxicating session belong to Milwaukee’s Midnight Reruns. “Basement Guy” and “Grand Slam” both take on noticeably different forms from their LP versions and are just as strong, if not stronger, for it. Get a jump on the inevitable and stop sleeping on these guys- they’re a band worthy talking about as early as possible.