Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Columbus

Wheelbarrel – Feast On Sand (EP Premiere)

The third piece (and second premiere) of sprawling, snarling post-punk to go up as a feature today, Wheelbarrel’s Feast On Sand may be the most unexpectedly brilliant of the lot. It’s a formidable and incredibly self-assured from a new Columbus, OH power trio and it packs enough power in its punch to leave just about anyone reeling. Opening with “Traced”, Wheelbarrel and Feast On Sand both get a memorable introduction, the song showcasing a lethal but surprisingly pensive strain of a sound that falls somewhere between Even Hand and Buildings.

From that point forward, the trio meticulously navigates a hybrid of post-punk, grunge, hardcore, basement pop, and a handful of other sub-genres while cultivating an uneasy atmosphere, bridging a melancholic sensibility with a carefully-repressed but still lurking anger. All of those elements of the band’s identity combine into something as mesmerizing as it is urgent. Each song breathing more depth into Feast On Sand‘s display of life, adding potency to an unexpected reckoning.

“Sacred Things”, the EP’s penultimate offering, contains the most haunted experiment of this quartet of tracks, marrying spoken word to a creeping minimalist that evokes the kind of hushed-breath dread typically found in arthouse horror films. When the song breaks from that pattern, it’s incredibly unnerving, the vocal delivery tilting from being mired in gloom to coy amusement to startling effect. It’s one of several great moments on Feast On Sand that suggests Wheelbarrel are going to have a strong shot at a visible future.

The EP ends on its title track, which expertly combines everything that’s come before it into a gripping victory lap that ably demonstrates not just Wheelbarrel’s arsenal but their identity. One EP in and it’s clear that Wheelbarrel already have a strong sense of themselves and a purpose to match, hitting stratospheric heights while keeping their attention fixated on the world’s dust and dirt. Modest, spellbinding, and brilliant, Feast On Sand stands as one of the strongest debuts of 2018’s first half. Dive in and explore.

Listen to Feast On Sand below and get a copy here.

All Dogs – How Long (Stream)

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As was mentioned in the preceding post, this has been a characteristically enormous week for new music and music videos (at least as far as 2015’s concerned). It makes sense, then, that the most traditionally packed main category (single streams) would log the most outstanding entries. All of the songs that caught my ears or piqued my interest have been hyperlinked below this post’s featured song- All Dogs‘ stunning “How Long”. The third song to be officially released from the band’s forthcoming full-length, Kicking Every Day, “How Long” continues their drastic expansion of dynamic range.

As has been previously noted, the dynamic shift was sparked by two crucial elements: the addition of ex-NONA guitarist Nick Harris and the retooling of the actual songwriting process, allowing the band to collaborate on a much more extensive level. Leading the charge, as always, is Maryn Jones, an enviably gifted songwriter that’s perfected an unshakable blend of humility, honesty, and yearning that can be absolutely devastating. Jones and Harris’ guitar work across all of the tracks in Kicking Every Day‘s rollout campaign have been nothing short of miraculous. Understated, complementary, and intuitive, their instrumental work has managed to maintain a surprisingly emotional heft that only deepens the inherent sadness that permeates the bulk of Jones’ discography (something also exhibited in her work with Saintseneca– who also have a forthcoming record this year- and as Yowler, a project that released a full-length earlier in 2015).

Backed by the rhythm section of Amanda Bartley (bass) and Jesse Wither (drums), all of All Dogs’ songs gain an intimidating set of teeth. Bruised and bristling, the band dives headfirst into Jones’ damaged introspection with a commendable fearlessness, amplifying a deeply personal struggle of self-worth. Putting herself under the knife, Jones is merciless in her meticulous scrutiny of her own value. In Fader’s premiere of the song, Jones issued a statement about “How Long” was “an extended question about when [she] would stop hating [herself].” It takes bravery to acknowledge your own faults and even more to do so on an extremely public level but in a recent conversation I was fortunate enough to have with Jones after Saintseneca’s impressive performance at Baby’s All Right, she revealed that the process of writing and playing music has been deeply therapeutic.

Fortunately, Jones’ self-loathing is given a celebratory tint with a positive angle when framed in the greater context of All Dogs’ work and there’s a very palpable love for their craft that’s continuously evidenced by their breathtaking live show(s). Every now and then, that euphoric swell comes through in their most climactic moments and “How Long” boasts a few particularly great examples. As Jones stretches out and reaches for an answer in those explosive choruses, it’s almost as if the answer’s intangible and not an actual destination- rather, it’s something gleaned by the journey. While it may ultimately be a bittersweet path, at least it’s one shared in the company of genuinely supportive friends. It’s this particular dynamic that makes All Dogs a viable candidate for today’s best band; a willingness to fully explore life’s darkest corners but always retaliate against them while rallying around their central figure with unbridled force, grace, and determination. It’s also what makes “How Long” this week’s finest track.

Listen to “How Long” below and pre-order Kicking Every Day from Salinas here. Underneath the player, browse through a list of the week’s best songs. Enjoy.

PWR BTTM – Dairy Queen
Grape St. – Sharp Dressed Man
Helen – Violet
Big Air – Stay the Night
Alex G – Bug
Jacuzzi Boys – Sun
Wavves – Heavy Metal Detox
Majical Cloudz – Silver Car Crash
Blank Realm – Palace of Love
Timmy’s Organism – Get Up, Get Out
Destroyer – Times Square
Dialect – Chewing Springs/Quietly in the House
Fern Mayo – Going Somewhere
Amy Bezunartea – Oh The Things A Girl Must Do
Kindling – Hate the Police
Scully – Don’t Want That
Tempers – Undoing
Lucero – Can’t You Hear Them Howl
Aneurysm – Stop This Ride
Chance the Rapper & Noname Gypsy – Israel (Sparring)
Ausmuteants – Mates Rates
Numero Group – Spirit Darts
Tideland – All I Know
Thee AHs – John
Palm – Crank
together PANGEA – If You’re Scared
Doe – No Wonder
Gracie – Jesse
Frankie Broyles – Capturer
Marineros – Secretos
Century Palm – Valley Cyan
Threading – Never
Infinity Girl – Young
Last Good Tooth – Our Little Machine
Lost Film – Try
Thayer Sarrano – Touch My Face
Aircraft – Stick
The High Learys – Letter to Alice
Wild Moth – You Found Out
Surf Rock Is Dead – Anymore
Modern Merchant – Be That As It May

Pleasure Leftists – Protection (Stream, Live Video)

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At just past midweek, the content that’s been publicly issued over the past few days has struck the right notes far more often than it’s fallen flat. All three major categories (full stream, single stream, and music video) will be covered via recap. Two single streams and one music video will offer up the headlines, with this post’s feature falling solely to Pleasure Leftists‘ current career highlight, “Protection”. Back in June of last year, the band performed a scorching version of the song (video included below) in Toronto as part of a memorable opening set, eliciting both applause and chills.

Ever since that performance, “Protection” has been my favorite Pleasure Leftists song and the reference point I’d frequently cite to justify my excitement over the band’s forthcoming record. As the new songs have ushered in, that excitement’s only managed to swell to intimidating proportions. Anything less than spectacular would feel like a letdown but- thankfully- the preview material’s only reinforced the opinion that The Woods of Heaven would be a serious year-end contender.

Now that “Protection” has found an official release, those chills that the band first inspired more than a year ago have resurfaced with a vengeance. Everything that made “Protection” such an unforgettable punch the first time around has been sharpened, groomed into something clear-eyed and dangerous. While the band certainly takes cues from the industrial contrasts that inspired the best post-punk in the genre’s formative years, they’ve also managed to imprint a distinctly modern bite on a familiar formula. Cold, wounded, euphoric, relentless, resilient, and inspired, “Protection” is the sound of a once-great band surpassing their perceived potential and reaching something otherworldly.

Listen to “Protection” below and pre-order The Woods of Heaven ahead of its late August release from Deranged here. Beneath the embed, watch the band performing the song live in Toronto last year and explore some of the week’s best songs beneath the video.

Yung – Blue Uniforms
Grubs – Windwaker
Wolf Eyes – Enemy Ladder
Split Screens – Black Pines
Hypocrite In A Hippy Crypt – Better Days
Potty Mouth – Cherry Picking
Kinsey – Wide Awake
Blacklisters – I Knock Myself Out
Lou Barlow – Moving
Princess Reason – Drag + Blur
Spencer Radcliffe – Mia
Long Beard – Porch
Steve Lewis – Off This Rock
The Ukiah Drag – Criminal Authority
Ex-Cult – Stick The Knife In
Beach Slang – Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas
Swimm – Belly
Boytoy – Postal
Low – What Part Of Me
Piles – Olivia
Tijuana Panthers – Set Forth
Heat Dust – Seeking A Paraxis
Chain of Flowers – Crisis
Something Anorak – I Don’t Want To Work It Out
The Most Serene Republic – Ontario Morning
Widowspeak – Dead Love (So Still)
Fake Problems – Holy Attitude
Fine Print – Tell Me
Briana Marela – Take Care of Me
TRAAMS – Succulent Thunder Anthem
Sales – Big Sis
Fresh Snow – Proper Burial
Shelf Life – Sinking Just Right

Watch This: Vol. 63

[Please refer to Vol. 59 for the introductory paragraph.]

1. White Reaper (BreakThruRadio)

BreakThruRadio has a wonderful habit of hosting bands that just can’t help but lose their minds a little when they play. White Reaper look like they’re practically jumping out of their skin here, with everyone seemingly set to their most vicious attack mode. It’s difficult to tell what’s more electrified; their guitars (and synth) or the people controlling them. A few brief-but-entertaining interview segments are included and they accentuate just how ridiculously energetic White Reaper are when they perform. All of the evidence is below.

2. Day Creeper – Turning Into A Man (The Mug and Brush Sessions)

The Columbus-based Day Creeper already appeared once on this series previously and made a pretty deep impression. They’re back now, with a casual vengeance and just as much grit. “Turning Into A Man” emphasizes their more creative tendencies while also allowing a more unobstructed view of some surprisingly strong lyricism. While this was said once already, it deserves repeating: Day Creeper are a band worth watching.

3. Big Ups – Not Today (BreakThruRadio)

Big Ups are making a dangerous push towards being the most featured band on Watch This, which- considering their typically blistering performances- isn’t all that surprising. Eighteen Hours of Static was one of 2014’s first truly great albums and the band’s only been building momentum since its release. They’re building up a head of steam as they charge headfirst towards the new year, pity anyone who gets in their way. In yet another monster performance for BreakThruRadio, they flick back and forth between detached empathy and boiled-over frustration with a terrifying precision, casually teasing their fast-clip tension/explosion dynamic. At this point, it doesn’t seem like there’s all that much out of their reach- and that’s partially in thanks to performances like this one.

4. Allo Darlin’ (KEXP)

It’s always a pleasure to hear something as downright winsome as We Come From the Same Place. Allo Darlin’ have created something that feels timeless and sounds ridiculously lovely. There’s a certain soft romanticism (often marginally damaged) that plays a central figure to the best indie pop and that holds true for We Come From the Same Place– a record that could (arguably) wind up standing as a genre classic. In the interview segments, the band’s personable. In the performance set pieces, they’re nearly transcendent.

5. La Sera – Losing to the Dark (Last Call With Carson Daly)

Rounding out La Sera’s triumphant Watch This trifecta is a wild-eyed run through one of 2014’s most unexpectedly ferocious lead-off singles, the errant firework that is “Losing to the Dark“.  As rabid as the song sounds on record, Katy Goodman and her band kick it up a few levels live- to the point where it almost seems like the entire band is trying to outrun themselves for fear of being trampled by their own creation. All manic adrenaline and seething resentment, it transforms itself into both a shot in the arm and a knife to the jugular. Vicious guitar riffs make the incisions and by the end of it all, the band’s already laughing everyone out of the room- and, somehow, the only viable option is to beg for seconds.

[Due to some technical issues, this video can only currently be seen here.]

Watch This: Vol. 55

With a few days of silence and a Watch This-less Sunday firmly in the past, today’s left with a lot of material to catch up on. Two weeks has provided a lot of great performances spread across a sizable range of styles, from full set in-studio sessions to solo acoustic takes. All but one of the bands featured in what will be the first of three Watch This installments has previously been featured on the site- with a great band from Columbus being the lone debut. It’s a lot to admire, a lot to celebrate, and a lot to analyze. So, as always, sit back, adjust the settings, focus, and Watch This.

1. Big Ups (KEXP)

Big Ups‘ Eighteen Hours of Static was one of 2014’s first great releases. All wild-eyed ferocity and unrelenting momentum, it marked the emergence of one of the more exciting young bands. While it still stands as one of the more notable records of the year, it’s since been overshadowed by the band’s incendiary live performance (it’s not a mistake that they keep showing up in this series). Here, they light up KEXP’s studios with a characteristically fiery five-song performance that should only facilitate their ascension. This is a band that fully deserves their growing recognition, don’t make the mistake of letting them slip by unnoticed.

2. Frankie Cosmos – Embody (Radio K)

Frankie Cosmos provided one of the most lovely sets of NXNE a few months back and since then, they’ve only grown more poised. Greta Kline’s an enviably gifted and incredibly prolific songwriter with a high ceiling. Nearly every Frankie Cosmos release has been a gem and ensured the band’s continued recognition. Airy pop songs like the excellent “Embody”, which they perform here for Radio K, are perfectly crafted pieces of- to quote the song- grace and lightness. It’s a warm embrace from an old friend, providing comfort and reassurance in equal measure; simply sublime.

3. Spit (Live at Treehaus)

Spit‘s Getting Low was one of the year’s quiet self-released records, exceedingly excellent but completely unheralded. Easily one of the best submissions this site’s ever received, the project’s now evolved from a solo venture to a full band endeavor- and what a band. Completely expanding on the Exploding in Sound-style tendencies that Getting Low hinted at, they’ve come out of the gate swinging with vicious intent. Spit’s only got one real show under their belt and they’re already very much a band to watch. Fuzzed out and appropriately left of center, this is a band worth greeting with high expectations- with this full live show serving as definitive proof.

4. Day Creeper – The Way You’re Told (The Mug and Brush Sessions)

Columbus, OH has been producing incredible bands at an alarming rate for some time now, with Day Creeper situated firmly in that pack. With a live show that’s just as ferocious as their recorded output, they’re always a great candidate for a feature performance- and the band absolutely lights up The Mug and Brush Sessions’ studio.
“The Way You’re Told” also serves as a tantalizing glimpse at the band’s upcoming Central States. If the rest of the record’s as good as this performance, they’ll have a serious contender on their hands.

5. Cloud Nothings – Now Hear In (Exclaim!)

A lot’s been made of Dylan Baldi’s vocal takes for Cloud Nothings. In most assessments, Jayson Gerycz’s drumming usually works its way into the central conversation (and rightfully so) but one thing that’s continuously evaded scrutiny is Baldi’s inventive guitar work. Stripped all the way back to a solo acoustic performance, it’s an aspect that’s allowed greater focus and opens up the impressive levels of songwriting happening in Cloud Nothings at present. Here, Baldi’s both restrained and subtly aggressive, providing a commanding performance that contributes to Cloud Nothings’ status as one of today’s most exciting bands.

Pretty Pretty – Feels Like Rain (Stream)

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Once again, the past few days have provided a decent amount of material making it difficult to figure out which to feature. Most notably, two vicious post-punk numbers from the likes of Cycle Schmeichel and BODY. The former is full of a restlessness that aids Cycle Schmeichel’s wiry post-punk tendencies well, while the latter is a foreboding piece of hard-charging, rapidly-building tension characterized by nervousness before allowing an exhilarating release. Both are among the best songs to have come out of this month thus far- and September’s already seen two of the strongest weeks for new music this year. On top of both of those, Pretty Pretty finally released their Sweater Leather 7″ tracks via their bandcamp, which they’d previously teased with the sugar-coated title trackSweater Leather not only manages to live up to the promise of that initial look but occasionally surpasses it, including “Feels Like Rain”- the closing track.

While “Feels Like Rain” isn’t quite as hard-charging as the trio of tracks that come before it (including easy standout “You Say“), it does manage to act as a perfect finale piece’ it summarizes nearly everything that precede that moment while serving as a reminder of Pretty Pretty’s specific strengths. From the call-and-response vocals to the vintage 90’s crunch in the guitar tones, it’s difficult not to see “Feels Like Rain”- and Pretty Pretty, by extension- for what it is: a perfect slice of sun-splashed punk-leaning popwerpop. There’s an underlying intelligence in the song’s composition that reveals itself in the details; the light riffing before the main guitar part kicks in, the subtly clever lyrics, and the general dynamics all point towards Pretty Pretty being a band that takes their songwriting very seriously. Fortunately, their efforts pay off in full and make Sweater Weather one of the more memorable 7″ releases of the year.

Listen to “Feels Like Rain” below and keep an eye on both Let’s Pretend and Mandible for the impending release of the physical copy.

Smiling Buddha: Pleasure Leftists, Holy Fuck, METZ (Photo Gallery)

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A note: All night tonight Heartbreaking Bravery will be running photo galleries from the recent Toronto trip. All of these galleries will have full reviews to accompany them in the near future. The preceding galleries all came with additional notes out of necessity but this will be the short reminder that runs with the remainder. Enjoy the photographs below and keep an eye out for the upcoming reviews. Neither of the final two galleries (Soybomb HQ and Smiling Buddha) were part of NXNE- but both were definite highlights.

Soybomb HQ: Cellphone, Ice Cream, Pleasure Leftists, Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)

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A note: All night tonight Heartbreaking Bravery will be running photo galleries from the recent Toronto trip. All of these galleries will have full reviews to accompany them in the near future. The preceding galleries all came with additional notes out of necessity but this will be the short reminder that runs with the remainder. Neither of the final two galleries (Soybomb HQ and Smiling Buddha) were part of NXNE- but both were definite highlights. Enjoy the photographs below and keep an eye out for the upcoming reviews.

Pretty Pretty – Leather Weather (Stream)

Pretty Pretty XI

Pretty Pretty has been a name that’s appearing with greater frequency in the “bands to follow” conversation. Apart from their blistering 2012 demo, the band hasn’t released any music. That’s changing soon with the release of their upcoming Leather Weather 7″. From the early sounds of it- and from the way the band’s been playing live– their band’s not going anywhere soon. They’ve upped their fidelity and tightened up their songcraft, as a result their music feels more vibrantly alive than sterile. “Leather Weather” was an easy highlight from their recent set with Swearin’ and the recorded version holds up. All sunny melodies and hard-charging punk-tinged powerpop, the song’s sharp teeth show through its disarming smile. A guitar solo cuts its way into the mix at around the halfway point and reinvigorates the whole thing just as it should be getting old. Following that, the song’s explosive second half indulges in spoken overdubs, a primal bridge, and general fierceness. By the time it plays itself out, the song feels vital enough to make this a must-buy release whenever Mandible and Let’s Pretend deem it fit for release. Keep both eyes peeled for that one- until then just play the title track as many times as possible (and revisit their demo for maximum enjoyment).

“Leather Weather” can be heard below.

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.