Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Creepoid

Nothing Stops In November: The Month’s Streams

While only two premiere spots ran on this site over the course of November, there was more than enough new material being released to keep anyone attempting to track it all extremely occupied. A total of nearly 200 outstanding songs found their way out into the world and, just as the preceding posts did for full streams and music videos, this post will serve as a recap of the majority of those titles. If there were enough time to provide all of these tracks feature spots, they’d be receiving a lot more words. However, that shouldn’t distract from their merit; all of these tracks are more than worth hearing. So, bookmark the page, click around, and discover a few new favorites. 

Hater, Alyeska, Dama Scout, Fred Thomas, Turtlenecked, Pissed Jeans, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Wild Pink, PermitTy Segall, The Courtneys, Julien Baker, brunch., Holy Now, Breast Massage, Hideout (x2), Jitterz, Drakulas, Ted Leo, Peter Silberman, Creepoid, ot to, not to, Luxury Death, Leapling, Day Wave, No Sun, Matthew Squires, Skyway Man, Dominic, Tobin Sprout, D.A. Stern, Minor Moon, Dear Georgiana, Slumbers, FRIGS, Nadia Reid, Mark Sultan, Polyester, Imaginary People, Shiny Wet Machine.

Magic Magic Roses, Spelling Reform, The Velveteins, Rubblebucket, Cate Le Bon, A Valley Son (x2), Old Gray, The Besnard Lakes, Swampmeat, Heat, Fascinations Grand Chorus, Alexander F, Mica Levi, Steady Hands, Bell the Band, Urochromes, Idle Bloom, Mainland, Thelma, The Regrettes, Modern Baseball, Holiday Ghosts, Los Campesinos!, Fear of Me, Lilah Larson, Frederick the Younger, Silver Rose, Lucidalabrador, The Molochs, Molly Burch, Tim Cohen, Rainbrother, AD.UL.T. (x2), Decorum, MELT, Emmy the Great.

GOLDBLOOMS, The Adventures of the Silver Spaceman (x2), We Leave at Midnight (x2), Dooms Virginia, Rosebug, Paperhead, OhBoy!, whenyoung, Caitlin Pasko, Lampshades, Pie Face Girls, Brandon Can’t Dance, Kevin Krauter, Childcare, Mind Rays, Eric Matthews, The Velvet Ants, The Black Clouds, Diagrams, Marine, Corner Suns, So Stressed, Crash Club, Future Peers, Proper Ornaments, Trudy and The Romance, Will Johnson, Fond Han, Natalie Bouloudis, Jordan Burchel, Big Mother Gig, Elliot, Once & Future Band.

Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2, Pure Moods, Dude York, Sam Brockington, Del Caesar, John Travoltage, Camp Cope, Mutts, Pollen Rx, Cloakroom, Mr. Universe, Carroll, Purmamarca, Ben Pagano & The Space Machine, Tim Carr, Eat Fast, Landing, Louise Burns, Toothless, Plastic Pinks, Less Acrobats, Knifey, Known To Collapse, Cassels, Tracy Bonham, Brasstronaut, Satin Cowboys, Surf Rock Is Dead, Fruit Bats, Steph Barrak, Oliver Houston, The Sloppy Heads, Chavez, Aan, Sex Drive, The Saddest Landscape, Xiu XiuLiving Body, Lowly, JERK, Medium Mystic, Dutch Uncles, COTE, Koresma, Jailbox, Hajk, Archawah, Levek, and Grave School.

Japanese Breakfast – Jane Cum (Music Video)

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Pinegrove, Emily Jane White, Casket Girls, Tiergarten, The Veils, Porches, Christopher Tignor, The Stargazer Lilies, All People, Yusek, case/lang/veirs, The Two Tens, clipping., American Monoxide, Johnny Foreigner, Creepoid, and Sigur Rós all released strong music videos over the course of the past two weeks. Earning their keep in a whole slew of specific categories, each and every clip is worthy of a heavy amount of investment. That said, only one clip can wind up being the focal point of this piece and that distinction belongs to yet another offering from the inimitable House of Nod Productions, Japanese Breakfast’s “Jane Cum”.

Psychopomp, one of this year’s most pleasant surprises, put Japanese Breakfast — a project spearheaded by Little Big League‘s Michelle Zauner — on the map. The record was partially born from a tragedy that Zauner wrote eloquently about in the very first entry for the A Year’s Worth of Memories series. “Jane Cum”, another in a string of impressive videos from the record, continues to perfectly match Japanese Breakfast’s most cinematic sensibilities with House of Nod’s very specific vision, anchored once again by the deft directorial touch of Adam Kolodny.

Kolodny imbues “Jane Cum” with a B-grade slasher flick aesthetic, centering in on a narrative that involves a mysterious coven, ambiguous motivation, and unerring commitment. As always, it’s a beautifully lensed clip, elevating a continuously progressing tension to heights that near the unbearable. Appropriately, the clip never once loses a sense of mystery, even in its ultimate reveal a host of questions remain. All of the actors involved (including photographer Stephanie Griffin and Cadet Kelly’s Gabriela June Tully Claymore) give nuanced performances.

Beautifully paced, undeniably driven, and spectacularly composed, “Jane Cum” manages to easily climb the scope from notable to genuinely memorable. It’s a startling clip full of vivid imagery that owes debts to not just horror sub-genres but to classic film noir as well. At the center of it all is Zauner, injecting the affair with a sense of eerie calm that winds up being the clip’s definitive trait. Deeply compelling from start to finish, it’s a music video that provides a fine example of what can be achieved within the format under the right circumstances (and with the right collaborative partners). Take a deep breath and let its spell take you under.

Watch “Jane Cum” below and pick up Pyschopomp from Yellow K here.

PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries (Stream)

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Wednesday, for whatever reason, has become a traditionally stacked day for the release slate. Today’s already ushered in more than a dozen notable releases from all across the world, spanning about as much terrain musically as it does geographically. Music videos wound up with a fairly strong outing and included some stunning visuals that were brought into focus by the likes of Ducktails, Creepoid, Destroyer, and Albert Hammond Jr., constituting the strongest showing for the format in weeks.

Curiously, the full stream category was completely absent from the day’s proceedings (so far, at least) but that did make room for another impressive haul of singles. Donovan Wolfington got a little heavier and a lot more focused with “Ollie North“, Manatree ushered in some tropical tones through their sccuzzed-up indie pop number “Animal Qualities“, Wand and Sunflower Bean continued to revel in psychedelia with “Stolen Footprints” and “The Stalker“, respectively.

Ultimate Painting continued sharpening their shambolic, widescreen Americana via “(I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues“, Tenement released the winningly scrappy demo take of Predatory Headlights standout “Hive of Hives“, and Cold Beat continued to create compelling tapestries by merging distinctly left-field influences once again in the tension/explosion masterclass “Cracks“. Fake Palms let loose the pulverizing “Sparkles“, Palehound released another stunner in “Healthier Folk“, Antarctigo Vespucci continued subverting expectations and delivering at an unreasonably high level with “Impossible To Place“, Diät resurfaced with the urgent, punishing “Toonie“, Autobahn brought out a similarly menacing gut-punch through “Society“, and Chelsea Wolfe deepened the foreboding overtones of those last two numbers with the slow-burning “After the Fall“.

While any number of those songs could have been selected as the feature for today’s post, the distinction goes to a duo that’s earned some coverage here in the past: PWR BTTM. Today the band not only announced their upcoming record and the necessary details but released the title track as well. Father/Daughter and Miscreant will be joining forces once again to release the excellent Ugly Cherries on September 18. And while “Ugly Cherries” is fairly representative of the full-length’s best qualities, there are still a variety of surprises and nuances to explore once the record drops.

Until then, though, we’ve got “Ugly Cherries” to place under a lens and obsess over.  If the song sounds familiar, it may be due to the fact that it’s been a staple of the band’s live set for quite some time- or maybe you’ve heard it playing as the theme song for the excellent live series that’s hosted by Play Too Much. Maybe you just think the chord progression lead-in is “Undone — The Sweater Song” (it’s not but you’d probably be forgiven for the confusion). Any way that it gets processed, though, the simple unavoidable fact is that it’s an absolute powerhouse of a song, swinging for the fences and connecting with a startling emphasis.

PWR BTTM, a band that consists of Benjamin Hopkins and Liv Bruce, have developed the kind of rapport that most bands can only dream about achieving. From their impressive musical synchronicity (they frequently switch guitar, drum, and vocal positions) right down to the atypically engaging stage banter that peppers their energetic live show, there’s an intrinsic connection that’s both palpable and natural- something that translates to the studio versions of the songs.

“Ugly Cherries” hits some of the duo’s favorite beats (gender identity, examination, doubt, shamelessly bombastic shredding, and acceptance, among them) without ever losing its sense of urgency or vitality. As a powerful display of finesse and deceptive strength, it’s a near-perfect mission statement for the band. As a warning shot for the record that’s now on its way out into the world, it might be enough to incite a riot. I’m almost positive they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Listen to “Ugly Cherries” below and order the record from site favorite(s) Father/Daughter Records (in association with Miscreant Records) ahead of its September 18 release date by following the label hyperlinks.

Sweet John Bloom – Weird Prayer (Album Review, Stream)

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As has been mentioned multiple times over, this site saw a recent shift from standard coverage to specialty coverage thanks to a move. In the few weeks that have passed in that time, a slew of exciting new releases made their way out into the world. One of the finest- and, frankly, most overlooked- was Sweet John Bloom’s fiery Weird Prayer. That record will be the focus of this piece, while a list of 50 excellent full streams to have recently appeared will be included beneath the embedded bandcamp player. Before immediately going there, though, let’s focus on the matter at hand: Sweet John Bloom’s full-length debut.

Formed out of the ashes of several other bands (including Four Eyes, who released one of the best 7″ records in recent memory with Towards the End of Cosmic Loneliness), Sweet John Bloom already had a fairly impressive pedigree out of the gate. It’s not surprising that the band managed to click as tightly as they have, especially considering their respective former bands had all established a familiarity by virtue of shared spaces (bills, scenes, etc.). Even with all of that taken into account, Weird Prayer‘s pure strength still manages to surpass expectations.

A collection of 15 dirtied up, punk-leaning basement pop songs, the record not only succeeds in effortlessly conveying the band’s identity but in coming off as a genuine record; something that’s meant to be heard in full. Naturally sequenced and expertly paced, it’s a considerable achievement for a first at-bat operating with this medium as a collective unit. Each section of Weird Prayer comes off as considered as it does impassioned, rendering the whole thing an invigorating shot of adrenaline. Vocal leads are traded with ease, there’s a killer melody buried in just about every passage, and the flawless production makes sure to include enough bursts of weirdness- like the absolutely stunning outro to “Night Thing”- to keep the whole thing zipping along at a startling clip.

For as willfully rough as Weird Prayer sounds, it’s also a record that’s partially defined by finesse. Deceptively elegant guitar figures play with the limits of restraint even as they’re pushed to the red. The rhythm section work always serves a purpose beyond just simply being a base and the lyricism, while occasionally buried with the vocals in the mix, is frequently poignant. Sweet John Bloom also manage to find as much success experimenting with their more gentle sensibilities as they do when they give in to their desire to be abrasive.

“Blood Moon” sees the band finding the perfect balance between the gentle/abrasive dichotomy and, in the context of the record, the song feels even livelier and massive than it did as a standalone single. It’s one of several songs on the record that go beyond anthemic to the realms of catharsis without ever succumbing to over-simplification. It’s part of why the record never loses an unfailing sense of urgency that goes well beyond most of the songs’ inherent immediacy, which sets up a tall order for Weird Prayer‘s final stretch.

In most cases where an album’s almost exclusively built on raucous barn-burners, the weight eventually builds and the load becomes unsustainable; there’s a reason why rollercoasters don’t extend for hours and why successful action films need exposition. Weird Prayer deals nicely with this by offering a gradual come-down by easing off the gas pedal and utilizing a tempo that creeps in a little under the established average for most of its closing numbers. Even then, Sweet John Bloom don’t cede their penchant for a confrontational aesthetic; the 1-2 punch of “Death; and Everything’s Paid For” and “Trust  Me” feels particularly vital and bristles with a world-conquering energy. Fittingly, “Aging In Place”- the first song to be shared from Weird Prayer– brings everything home in a finale that’s both familiar and intensely rousing; an exhilarating end-cap to one of the year’s finest records.

Pick up Weird Prayer from Tiny Engines here and listen to it by clicking play below. Underneath the bandcamp player, browse 50 other great recent full streams.

Radioactivity – Silent Kill
J Fernandez – Many Levels of Laughter
Fight Amp – Constantly Off
Yukon Blonde – On Blonde
Sissy – Gave Birth To A Mum
Expert Alterations – Expert Alterations
Spray Paint – Punters On A Barge
Ballroom – Ballroom
Bad Boys – Demo
Year of Glad – Year of Glad
Little Children – Travelling Through Darkness
The Fur Coats – Short-Brain
Magic Potion – Melt
Oscar – Beautiful Words
Sea Cycles – Ground & Air
Prinzhorn Dance School – Home Economics
Senpai – Hell In My Head b/w Mind Honey
Arm Candy – Arm Candy
Institue – Catharsis
Chris Weisman – Chaos Isn’t Single
Max Gowan – Big People
Falling Stacks – No Wives
Hints – No Regrets In Old English
No Joy – More Faithful
Pleistocene – Space Trap
Long Neck – Heights
No Friends – I’m Not Real
Marvelous Mark – Bite Me
HDSPNS – HDSPNS
KEN Mode – Success
Walleater – I/II
Sweatshop Boys – Always Polite, Never Happy
Wavves x Cloud Nothings – Wavves x Cloud Nothings
Tough Age – I Get The Feeling Central
Sea of Bees – Build A Boat To The Sun
C H R I S T – T O W E R
Alden Penner – Canada In Space
Teen Daze – Morning World
Fell To Low – Low In The Dust
Palm – Ostrich Vacation
Bully – Feels Like
Bruise – demos.
The Armed – Untitled
Cold Cave – Full Cold Moon
Self Defense Family – Heaven Is Earth
Wild Pink – Good Life
Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs III
Creepoid – Cemetery Highrise Slum
Gnarwhal – Shinerboy
Lady Bones – Dying

Happy Diving – So Bunted (Stream)

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Once more, with feeling: I’ve been caught up in travel arrangements over the past week and a half but I haven’t let new music escape me during that time. I’ve kept a detailed record of everything that’s caught my attention and, unsurprisingly, the bulk of those materials were single tracks. As was the case in the previous two posts, a list of 15 of the strongest highlights to emerge throughout that time frame have been included below the embed of the song earning the feature spot. In this case, that song’s a blistering reminder of the myriad strengths of site favorites Happy Diving.

The band’s exhilarating debut for Father/Daughter Records (another site favorite), Big World, established the band’s identity as well as their reputation for crafting feedback-heavy downer pop. Taking just as many cues from 90’s alt. as shoegaze, the band have conjured up yet another sharp blast of reverb-laden melancholy with “So Bunted”, the title track from a forthcoming 7″ that also marks their first release for the increasingly impressive Topshelf Records (Happy Diving’s signing follows a series of impressive moves from the label and the acquisition of Happy Diving rates as one of their strongest). Effortlessly pairing melancholy with urgency has always been one of the band’s strongest draws and “So Bunted” is a masterclass in that particular dynamic, creating a compelling whirlwind of soaring guitars and bleak emotions. Not a single moment of the track’s 134 seconds are wasted and if this is indicative of what Happy Diving has in store for Topshelf, then we’re all in for one hell of a ride.

Listen to “So Bunted” below and pre-order the 7″ from Topshelf directly here. Beneath the embed are 15 more songs that deserve paragraphs worth of praise and to be added to just about any collection.

Broen – Iris
Jessie Jones – Sugar Coated
FFS – Call Girl
Creepoid – Shaking
Weaves – Tick
Cyberbully Mom Club – No-Fun
Oscar – Stay
HEALTH – Stonefist
Ducktails – Surreal Exposure
Hibou – Dissolve
The Armed – Paradise Day
theweaselmartenfisher – Draw Back Your Bow
The Rashita Joneses – My Finger
Operation Simon – Innervation
Blacklisters – Cash Cow

Dogbreth – Hoarder House (Stream)

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Dogbreth’s been one of my favorite bands ever since I discovered their incredible 2013 full-length, Sentimental Health. New material since then has been scarce, with only one song from 2014 (the great “Close With You“) appearing in between that time and last month, which saw the release of “Hoarder House”. Somehow, in the frantic shuffling of catch-up material, that song got lost- a garish oversight that will be amended with this post. Before exploring that track further, just like the past handful of posts, we’ll take a look at 10 great songs to have earned releases in the past few weeks. Those songs included, but weren’t limited to, Temple’s teeth-gnashing “Like Nothing In This Life“, Sea Lion’s devastating “Room“, Total Babes’ basement pop gut-punch “Blurred Time“, Creepoid’s hypnotic slow-burner “Dried Out“, and Eternal Summers’ typically gorgeous “Gold and Stone“. Sweetening the deal were Little Wings’ compellingly rustic “Where“, Blis.’s impassioned “Floating Somewhere High and Above“, Mini Dresses’ lilting “Are You Real“, Liza Anne’s noir-leaning “Take It Back“, and Annabel’s soaring career highlight “Another Day, Another Vitamin“. All of those releases are worth adding to your collection but this post’s focal point belongs squarely to Dogbreth, who have yet to have any sort of coverage on this site.

It Came From Plan-It-X 2014 is the compilation that “Hoarder House” belongs to, a collection of 40 songs from as many artists who share a relation to the legendary DIY-friendly label. Dogbreth’s contribution provides the release one of its finest moments (site favorites Free Cake For Every Creature and Martha can also claim this distinction) while simultaneously proving that they’ve been refining their sound since their last major release. Echoing shades of the increasingly formidable Salinas roster (Radiator Hospital, in particular), “Hoarder House” is incendiary punk-tinged basement pop. Hooks pile on top of each other until the song threatens to topple itself over, cutting off at a precise moment that seems to be designed to even further its impact. Quick-witted lyrics collide with a surging musical landscape that never shies away from dynamic expansion. Economical and highly affecting, “Hoarder House” accomplishes in under two minutes what a lot of others can’t in three or more. There’s a real sense of place and genuine feeling behind “Hoarder House”, balancing out its accessibility with an impressive amount of verve, setting the anticipation levels for the band’s next release rocketing up to obscene heights. Until that day rolls around, whenever it is, the most anyone can do is just keep hitting repeat.

Listen to “Hoarder House” below and order It Came From Plan-It-X 2014 from Plan-It-X’s bandcamp page.

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 2

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Just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow, there will be a video mixtape compiling some of the most electrifying live performance clips of this past year in an effort to breathe some much-needed life back into the Watch This series that was once a regular staple. In the absolute blur that has been the past four months, this site held onto every scrap of notable material that came swinging through the winter breezes, even if they weren’t always posted about immediately. Watch This once stood as this place’s pulse, a heartbeat that directly emphasized a too-frequently overlooked part of musical culture: stunning live clips. Each week, five from that week would be compiled, written about, and strongly admired. Winsome performances and genuinely stunning a/v are the regular driving forces behind some of the very best the series has ever had to offer- and several of the 25 clips presented here (all selected because they represent the very best of what 2015’s had to offer) certainly fit that mold. Since that’s about as strong of a lead-in as I can manage, I’ll go ahead and leave off- once again- with the tag: sit back, turn the volume up, zero in, and Watch This.

1. Will Butler – Take My Side (Late Show with David Letterman)
2. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sound Opinions)
3. Tenement – Cage That Keeps You In (Don Giovanni Records)
4. Light FM – Pointless (3FM)
5. Parquet Courts – Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth (Coachella)
6. Twerps – Simple Feelings (Pitchfork)
7. NE-HI – Sunbleed (Radio K)
8. Torres – Sprinter (WNYC)
9. Nude Beach (KEXP)
10. Ride – Seagull (KCRW)
11. Unlikely Friends – Wasted It & Sunken Eyes (KEXP)
12. Cherry Glazerr – Had Ten Dollaz (KEXP)
13. Glen Hansard – Being In Love (Late Show with David Letterman)
14. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me (KEXP)
15. The Staves – Black & White + Teeth White (La Blogotheque)
16. Saintseneca – Fed Up With Hunger (Exclaim)
17. Kevin Morby – All My Life (Bandwith.fm)
18. Laura Marling – Walk Alone (NPR)
19. Avers – Harvest (Bandwith.fm)
20. Sand Creeps – No Idea Laughter (Radio K)
21. Creepoid (unARTigNYC)
22. Bully – I Remember (Pitchfork)
23. Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters (KCRW)
24. Kevin Devine – Go Haunt Someone Else (Little Elephant)
25. Courtney Barnett (NPR)

Downies – Widow (Stream)

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Photo by Seth Applebaum

For a while now, I’ve been teasing Heartbreaking Bravery’s brief transition to full-blown catch-up mode. And, well, that time has come. Each of the ensuing posts will contain so much more than just the song, video, or album in the headline. Single songs will each come equipped with a list of 75 other great tunes to have appeared in 2015. A new music video mixtape will be arriving shortly as well as several other mixtapes to re-ignite the Watch This series, which time dictated be temporarily relegated to the sidelines. A lot of things will be heading in a lot of directions in the coming months so coverage may be sporadic but I will be damned if I let this site out of my thoughts and intentions for even a second.

With all of that noted, it’s time to get back to what drives this site’s existence: legitimately great art propelled by a DIY ethos. A lot of incredible music has emerged over the past several weeks with gems arriving every day (extremely recent company includes Eskimeaux, Sharpless, Flagland, Flyying Colours, Mitski, Upset, and so many more) so selecting one to feature has become an unenviable task- but sometimes history makes it easy. I was fortunate enough to hear some roughs of a band called Downies towards the start of the year and it immediately became one of my favorite releases, something that came as no surprise considering the group’s pedigree (I’ve yet to come across a LVL UP-affiliated project that I dislike, which can also be said of Porches.). Pushing things over the edge was the fact that Downies came off like a version of Purple 7 that was even more pop-happy but sacrificed none of that band’s considerable punch.

That exhilarating dynamic is perhaps most present in “Widow”, the band’s recently-unveiled warning shot. On its surface, it’s a frantically paced gut-punch that’s forceful enough to stop just about anyone in their tracks. Live, it’s a firecracker that seems hell-bent on total destruction. Stripped back to its bare essentials, it’s a song driven by a troubled subtext that’s directly hinted at in the title. Even setting aside the dissections of its particulars, “Widow” is a staggering show of force from a band that deserves to be ushered in with a high level of excitement.

Listen to “Widow” below and keep an eye on this site for continuing coverage of the band and the upcoming EP that houses this song. Beneath that is a list of 75 incredible songs that I wish I could attribute more words to, as they truly deserve to be held in praise, but- at this point- there’s simply too many items that have amassed. Soon, the site will be caught up and current releases will be accounted for as they enter the fold. For now, enjoy “Widow” and a long list of treasures.

NEEDS – Rescue Don
Walleater – Swallow You
Turn To Crime – Without A Care
Built to Spill – Never Be the Same
Thin Lips – Nothing Weird
Hollow Sunshine – Careful Travel
Toro Y Moi – Run Baby Run
Dutch Uncles – Realm
Cillie Barnes – Earthquake Season at the Crystal Convention
No Joy – Everything New
Inheaven – Regeneration
Crying – Patriot
Torres – Sprinter
Hop Along – Powerful Man
Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders – Kiss the Daddy
Dolores Haze – I Got My Gun
The Teen Age – Low Cunning
Funeral Advantage – I Know Him
Shadow Age – Silaluk
YAST – When You’re Around
Mittenfields – Optimists
Coeds – Sensitive Boys
PJ Bond – The Better Option
Pfarmers – The Ol’ River Gang
Round Eye – City Livin’
Val Son – Sundays
Lowin – Best Laid Plans
Alright – Watercolors
The Midwestern Charm – Can’t Stand It
The Bloodhounds – La Coahuila
Broken Water – Wasted
Trans Van Santos – The Flight
Weed – Yr Songs
Elliot Moss – Best Light
Girls Names – Zero Triptych
Communions – Out of My World
Two Sheds – Get It Out
Free Cake For Every Creature – The Day To Day
Elvis Perkins (ft. Alec Ounsworth) – Mexican Ritual
Loose Tooth – Pickwick Average
Barbazons – Bad Catholics
Eternal Summers – Together Or Alone
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Step Brother City
Mall Walk – Container
Verses Narrow – Passive
Nevada Nevada – Anger Tango
Annabel – Everything
Triumph of the Wild – Brown Dog Blues
Mitski – Square (Live Solo Piano)
Chick Quest – Somebody Call A Doctor
Downtown Boys – Future Police
Honey Butter (ft. Chris Savor) – Times
Tanlines – Invisible Ways
Heaters – Mean Green
Warm Soda – I Wanna Go Fast
Diamond Youth – Thought I Had It Right
LA Font – Whisperer
Palma Violets – English Tongue
Prinzhorn Dance School – Reign
FFS – Piss Off
Avid Dancer – Not Far To Go
Cheatahs – Murasaki
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire
Flyying Colours – Running Late
Eskimeaux – I Admit I’m Scared
Sharpless – Franz Kafka (Home Movies)
Flagland – Awesome Song, Kerry Jan
Tomboy – Tomboy Anthem
The Moi Non Plus – Away With Words
Upset – Glass Ceiling
Panther Ray – Get to You
The Weaks – Frances Quinlan Will Have Her Revenge on Philadelphia
Ka – Pruitt Igoe
Dogs On Acid – Substitute (The Who)
Creepoid – American Smile

14 of ’14: The Best Albums of 2014

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One last time for one last 2014 list: “best” is in no way an attempt to be an objective statement. The terminology is shorthand to reflect personal taste and is not to be construed as anything more. Also, for the purposes of a more personal summary in this year-end coverage period, this site’s regular restriction on first person will be lifted. In 2014, I listened to more music that was released throughout the year than any other in my life. Numbering well upwards of a thousand releases, it proved impossible to keep tracks on everything (I’m already certain a few of these lists are missing more than a few titles that I genuinely loved)- but there were a few items that were worth remembering. Below are 14 records that managed to carve their way into my esteem both instantaneously and through the process of time. Below that is what turned into the most extensive list I’ve ever assembled, one that acts as an unnecessary validation that good music is being created at an excessively high volume (all of which is hyperlinked to either a full stream or a representative portion). We’re living in a golden age for access and music continues to reap the benefits allowed by technology.  In that spirit, it’s worth noting that a lot of the names included below won’t always be the most recognizable- this is due to both that volume and the fact this site’s built on a foundation that ensures bands who are marginalized will be given the consideration they deserve. So, with all of that noted, it’s time to move on to the main attraction: 14 of ’14: The Best Albums of 2014.

14. Taulard – Les Abords Du Lycée

2014’s most unexpected gem, Les Abords Du Lycée, is a mesmerizing listening that drives home taut organ/drums/vocals post-punk with a startling amount of verve. Endlessly charismatic and unpredictable, the dozen tracks on display here constantly twist and turn, never once daring to let the listener catch their breath. Mood and tempo changes abound on one of 2014’s most fearlessly unique records. Even for those who aren’t even remotely well-versed in the French language, Les Abords Du Lycée should be a thrilling listen; something like unbridled passion can always translate well enough to near the universal.

13. La Dispute – Rooms of the House

What’s easily one of 2014’s boldest concepts roots La Dispute’s mesmerizing Rooms of the House, a record that shows La Dispute’s rapid maturation with a weary grace. Centered around a meticulously brilliant narrative device, it’s a record that stunned me on my first few listens before growing into an inescapable force of nature that refused to leave my thoughts. As bleak as anything the post-hardcore has ever produced, Rooms of the House finds its strength through focus and restraint, zeroing in on difficult topics with a keen eye and an abundance of determination. Blisteringly personal and nearly voyeuristic, it stands as one of 2014’s fiercest artistic statements.

12. Two Inch Astronaut – Foulbrood

Two Inch Astronaut’s Foulbrood has come up more than a few times on the site over the past handful of months thanks to its casual brilliance. Wielding an enticing palette of influences ranging from Drive Like Jehu to their contemporaries in Exploding in Sound, Two Inch Astronaut managed to conjure up one of the most impressive sophomore efforts of the year. The title track, “Part of Your Scene“, and “Dead White Boy” all earned themselves individual write-ups on the basis of their appealingly off-kilter and ragged identity. Foulbrood‘s a record that knows exactly what it wants to be and goes straight for the throat, sending a trail of viscera flying it its wake.

11. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

One of the things I kept coming back to throughout the course of music in 2014 was Jayson Gerycz’s drumming on this record. Not just because it’s a staggering individual performance but because there’s an undefinable, inherent quality that exists within that drumming which drives this record to obscene heights. Impossibly, stripped of the drumming, the record succeeds wildly in an acoustic setting and demonstrates Dylan Baldi’s increasing proficiency as a songwriter, a vocalist, and a guitarist. After losing a member in guitarist Joe Boyer, Cloud Nothings somehow managed to transform themselves into an act that was simultaneously heavier and poppier than when they were a quartet. Importantly, this is a record that’s built to last and it’s only grown on me as the year’s progressed (and that trend’s not showing any signs of slowing).

10. Ought – More Than Any Other Day

As beguiling as it is bewitching, Ought’s brit-pop influenced post-punk masterpiece was a record that sounded triumphant right out of the gate. Slowly, that triumph turned to transcendence and the songs contained within More Than Any Other Day became unavoidable mission statements. In terms of scope, the majority of More Than Any Other Day feels as epic as LCD Soundsystem operating at their best. Both acts share a penchant for sprawling structures and self-containment, bridging a gap between intimacy and grandeur with a knack for deceptive, intricate songwriting. Anthemic and mundane, More Than Any Other Day was like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, waiting for the resuscitated with a sly grin and a memorable, tossed-off joke. Excessively charming and utterly winsome, it’s a record that felt (and still feels) necessary.

9. Jawbreaker Reunion – Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club

“E.M.O.”, Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club‘s thrilling centerpiece, recently appeared in this site’s best songs of 2014 list- but the song’s only one part of a much larger picture. At once, one of the year’s most joyous and pissed off releases, Jawbreaker Reunion tore through a variety of serious issues with aplomb on their absolutely stunning debut effort. Other than distilling songs like “Laughing Alone Eating a Salad” with a wicked sense of humor, the whole affair’s imbued with an enviably powerful sense of songcraft. Lo-fi, DIY, punk, and teeming with an understanding of classic pop, Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club was one of 2014’s boldest introductions- it was also one of its best.

8. PURPLE 7 – Jewel Finger

PURPLE 7 boasts a lineup that’s accompanied by an impressive pedigree. Members of the band have previously played in bands like Defiance, Ohio, Landlord, and Hot New Mexicans (whose self-titled record ranks among my all-time favorites and currently leads my “best of decade” selections). Unsurprisingly, their debut LP effort hits a lot of sweet spots, including a gritty middle point between basement punk and basement pop. Simply put, this is a stunning collection of songs that was overlooked by most to a baffling degree after its release. Grounded, humble, and heartfelt, Jewel Finger is one of the records that reminds me of the reasons I started this site. This is music that deserves to be celebrated.

7. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Arguably 2014’s first truly great release, Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness saw the songwriter transition from a promising talent into one of the year’s most arresting figures. Embracing a fuller sound and a newfound confidence, Burn Your Fire For No Witness broke Angel Olsen’s career wide open with an onslaught of genuinely haunting tunes. Whether they were relentlessly spare or soaked in noir-ish tendencies, they were uniformly captivating; both the storm and the eerie silence before. Raw, tender, and occasionally antagonistic, Burn Your Fire For No Witness was one thing above all else: unforgettable.

6. Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE

From the devastating opening lines all the way through to the climactic finish, LOSE holds its ground as one 2014’s most frighteningly personal albums. Largely influenced by the death of a friend close to the band, it’s a meditation on loss and the surrounding aspects of something so tragic. Easily Cymbals Eat Guitars’ finest work to date both lyrically and musically, it’s a powerful (and powerfully moving) listen. “Warning”, in particular, cuts deep- which is one of the reasons why it wound up on the best songs of 2014 list just a few days ago. Incredibly impassioned and brave in its sincerity, LOSE finds a level of catharsis in its emotional turbulence, lending it a charge that renders it one of the year’s most human (and most important) releases.

5. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love

Perfect Pussy, for better or worse, have become intrinsically linked with this site. From Meredith Graves’ insistence on tangential involvement (which I’ll forever be grateful for) to the fact that the band’s greater ascension matched up with the very start of this site, they’re a band I’ve gone step for step with since bringing Heartbreaking Bravery into existence. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t been so fiercely drawn to the things that they were doing, though, which is why I approached them in the first place. Ever since those beginnings, it’s been a privilege to watch them progress, to travel at lengths to watch them play, and to see them release a record as enormously powerful as Say Yes To Love, a collection which houses my favorite song of 2014 (and possibly of this decade so far). Unapologetic, personal, damaged, resilient, powerful, feral, oddly triumphant, and unbelievably intense, Say Yes To Love operates as a perfect reminder for all of the reasons why I fell in love with this band- and why I’ll continue to pay close attention to their movements.

4. Iceage – Plowing Into The Field of Love

No band in 2014 made a more stunning artistic leap than Iceage, who went from a static blur to matching the swaggering heights of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds after discovering their voice. Plowing Into The Field Of Love was a startlingly radical change of pace for Iceage, who imbue the record with a curious restraint and a sense of deeply haunted Americana. Southern Gothic touch points are littered throughout the record’s bleak landscape, while making room for plaintive ornamentation in the form of brass, string, and piano figures. Darker and more self-aware than anything in the band’s career, Plowing Into The Field Of Love earned them quite a few words of praise from this very site. Augmented by some legitimately extraordinary music videos, Plowing Into The Field Of Love proved to be an unexpectedly rattling experience. Easily one of the year’s most divisive records (as is the case with any left turns this sharp), it suggested Iceage’s ambitions ran way deeper than anyone expected and, subsequently, that they had the know-how to see those ambitions to fruition. In chasing their whimsy they wound up with something I wouldn’t fault anyone for calling a masterpiece.

3. Mitski – Bury Me At Makeout Creek

My connection with Mitski’s music is something that will always hold a very personal resonance. I’ll leave most of the reasoning behind that statement to a forthcoming piece but it’s worth noting in regards to a record that’s so unabashedly self-exploratory. Bury Me At Makeout Creek was an enthralling re-introduction for Mitski, who saw it rightfully skyrocket her name recognition. Top to bottom, it’s an extraordinary effort that re-defined her artistic capabilities after a string of meticulously composed records that leaned on chamber pop tendencies. Here, that past gets blown to bits almost immediately. One of my favorite experiences in music listening all year came when “Texas Reznikoff” explodes in its final section- another came while listening to one of the best songs I’ve heard this decade (for obvious reasons, considering that statement). Where Bury Me At Makeout Creek manages to approach the transcendental is in the process of allowing listeners to hear an artist coming into their own. Part of Mitski’s identity is laid bare by Bury Me At Makeout Creek: it’s the unwillingness to accept identity as a static object and the desire to question its cumulative elements. That search is what gives Bury Me At Makeout Creek its bruised heart- and it’s why musicians will use it as a source of inspiration for several years to come.

2. Radiator Hospital – Torch Song

After the exhilarating highs of Something Wild, Radiator Hospital had a tall order for their follow-up. Fortunately (and unsurprisingly), they obliterated those towering expectations with Torch Song. Sounding more confident- and more polished- than ever before, Torch Song cemented Sam Cook-Parrott’s status as one of this generation’s keenest emerging voices. Paying attention to the minutiae of everyday experiences and injecting them with a self-deprecating sense of poetry laced with pessimism, the songs contained on this record all aim to cut and find their mark with an incredible amount of ease. Having already established themselves as one of today’s more formidable units musically, Torch Song has the added benefit of having four loaded personalities find each other in total harmony, each acting as a complement to the other. Personal diatribes, small journeys of self-discovery, and a sense of empathy inform Torch Song and help cultivate its unassuming charm. There’s not a weak track among the record’s 15 songs and it maintains an assured sense of pace throughout its relatively breezy runtime. By the time it draws to a close, it stands as one of the most fully-formed and rewarding records of recent memory.

1. LVL UP – Hoodwink’d

I don’t think any record resonated more for me throughout the course of 2014 than LVL UP’s Hoodwink’d, which I revered with literally no reservations. 2014’s strongest sophomore effort, Hoodwink’d saw LVL UP expanding most of the elements that made Space Brothers such an incredible release and retained all the others. Unreasonably refined and exceedingly personable, LVL UP have always found a strength in accentuating their members’ unique personalities and that trend got pushed to the forefront for their second full-length (which was co-released by Double Double Whammy and Exploding in Sound). Utilizing a distinctly unique take on their 90’s influences, the band also reveled in the benefits of a cleaner production that allowed them to sound more massive than they ever have in the past. No release felt more timely than Hoodwink’d, either, with the record practically serving as a stand-in voice for a disenfranchised sect of people. Alternately crushingly heavy, viciously poppy, relentlessly personal, and completely worn-out, Hoodwink’d never loses sight of its own mechanics. There’s a level of mutual understanding on display here that separates it from the rest of the year’s releases. Everyone feeds off each other, everyone supports each other, and everyone contributes to one hell of a set without even coming close to overstaying their welcome. Conversely, Hoodwink’d also ranks as one of the year’s most welcoming releases, radiating an empathetic warmth in its tone (and in its tones). As an entry in LVL UP’s catalog, it’s their career best. As a general 2014 release, it’s the best thing I had the privilege of hearing all year.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: All of the titles below without an accompanying link can be streamed in the order they’re listed via the embedded spotifly player below the list.]

Albums from 2014 that deserve to be heard:  Mean Creek – Local Losers | Happyness – Weird Little Birthday | Dark Blue – Pure Reality | Band Practice – Make Nice | Little Big League – Tropical Jinx | Happy Diving – Big World | Tweens – Tweens | Big Ups – Eighteen Hours of Static | Geronimo! – Cheap Trick | Greys – If Anything | Alvvays – Alvvays | White Lung – Deep Fantasy | Caddywhompus – Feathering A Nest | Left & Right – Five Year Plan | Ty Segall – Manipulator | Brain F/ – Empty Set | We Need Secrets – Melancholy and the Archive | Makthaverskan – II | Playlounge – Pilot | Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath | MOURN – MOURN | Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 | The History of Apple Pie – Feel Something | Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! | Trace Mountains – Buttery Sprouts | Dead Stars – Slumber | Fear of Men – Loom | PAWS – Youth Culture Forever | Swans – To Be Kind | The Yolks – King of Awesome | Crabapple – Is It You? | The Coasts – Racilia | Purling Hiss – Weirdon | Reigning Sound – Shattered | Creepoid – Creepoid | Saintseneca – Dark Arc | Mannequin Pussy – Gypsy Pervert | Fucked Up – Glass Boys | Music Band – Can I Live | Glish – Glish | Liam Betson – The Cover of Hunter | Frankie CosmosZentropy, Donutes, Affirms Glinting | Girl Tears – Tension | Martha – Courting Strong | Hurry – Everything/Nothing | The Spirit of the Beehive – The Spirit of the Beehive | Protomartyr – Under Official Color of Right | The Gary – Farewell Foolish Objects | Spit – Getting Low | Nothing – Guilty of Everything | Sharpless – The One I Wanted To Be | Legendary Wings – Do You See | Therapy? – Act of Contrition | Chris Weisman – Monet in the 90’s | Mumblr – Full of Snakes | Cayetana – Nervous Like Me | Free Cake for Every Creature – “pretty good” | Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Party Jail | S – Cool Choices | Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place | Sneeze – Wilt | Quarterbacks – Quarterboy | The Twilight Sad – No One Wants To Be Here And No One Wants To Leave | Filmstrip – Moments of Matter | Bleeding Rainbow – Interrupt | La Sera – Hour of the Dawn | Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica | Gold-Bears – Dalliance | Sharon Van Etten – Are We There | Nude Beach – ’77 | A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos | The Gotobeds – Poor People Are Revolting | Nots – We Are Nots | Alex G – DSU | Lower – Seek Warmer Climes | Young Widows – Easy Pain | CreaturoS – Popsicle | Mr. Gnome – The Heart Of A Dark Star | Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal | Ex Hex – Rips | Trust Punks – Discipline | Failures’ Union – Tethering | Odonis Odonis – Hard Boiled Soft Boiled | Beverly – Careers | The Number Ones – The Number Ones | Tigers Jaw – Charmer | Tiger High – Inside The Acid Coven | Straight Arrows – Rising | Dead Soft – Dead Soft | The Lemons – Hello, We’re The Lemons | Baked – Debt | MAZES – Wooden AquariumSleepyhead – Wild Sometimes | Native America – Grown Up Wrong | The Wans – He Said, She Said | Trophy Wife – All the Sides | Doe – First Four | Lushes – What Am I Doing | Ultimate Painting – Ultimate Painting | Haley Bonar – Last War | The Casket Girls – True Love Kills The Fairy Tale | Slothrust – Of Course You Do | Sorority Noise – Forgettable | Team Spirit – Killing Time | Feral Trash – Trashfiction | Blank Pages – Blank Pages | Mr. Dream – Ultimate In Luxury | Carsick Cars – 3 | SUNN O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials | This Will Destroy You – Another Language | Vanna Inget – Ingen Botten | The Real Energy – Beyond Delay | Muuy Bien – DYI | Young Ladies – We Get By | Eureka California – Crunch | Negative Scanner – Negative Scanner | Violent Change – A Celebration Of Taste | Black Wine – Yell BossImpo & The Tents – Peek After A Poke | Tomorrows Tulips – When | Mountain Bike – Mountain Bike | The Lees of Memory – Sisyphus Says | Telepathic Lines – Telepathic Lines | The Shivas – You Know What To Do | Allah-Las – Worship the Sun | Das Rad – Radiation | The Coathangers – Suck My Shirt | Crow Bait – Sliding Through The Halls Of Fate | together PANGEA – Badillac | Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita | PUJOL – Kludge | FF – Lord | Aj Davila Y Terror Amor – Beibi | Emilyn Brodsky – Emilyn Brodsky Eats Her Feelings | Young Statues – Flatlands Are Your Friend | Cancers – Fatten the Leeches | Sam Coffey + The Iron Lungs – Gates of Hell | Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas | The Ar-Kaics – The Ar-Kaics | Beach Day – Native Echoes | Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers | Dude York – Dehumanize | Gino & The Goons – Shake It! | Kevin Morby – Still Life | Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin | Wyatt Blair – Banana Cream Dream | Queen Jesus – Darkness Yea, Yea | Joel Jerome – Psychedelic Thrift Store Folk | Espectrostatic – Escape From WitchtropolisCheap Girls – Famous Graves | Davila 666 – Pocos Anos, Muchos Danos | Parts & Labor – Receivers | Nick Thorburn – Music From SERIAL | DTCVHilarious Heaven, The Early Year | Bellows – Blue Breath | Teenager – E P L P | Spider Bags – Frozen Letter | The Paperhead – Africa Avenue | Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea | The Jazz June – After The Earthquake | Michael Sincavage – Empty Apartments (Supporting Actors) | Restorations – LP3 | MONO – The Last Dawn, Rays of Darkness | Matthew Melton – Outside of Paradise | The Vaselines – V For Vaselines | Total Control – Typical System | The Velveteens – Sun’s Up | Step-Panther – Strange But NiceExit Verse – Exit Verse | Slippertails – There’s A Disturbing Trend | Globelamp – Star Dust | Champ – Champ | Le Rug – Swelling (My Own Worst Anime) | VLMA – VLMA | Turn To Crime – Can’t Love | ScotDrakula – ScotDrakula | Warehouse – Tesseract | Muhammadali – Future Songs | Unwelcome Guests – Wavering | Baby Ghosts – Maybe Ghosts | White Mystery – Dubble Dragon | Constant Lovers – Experience Feelings | Future Islands – Singles | Maica Mia – Des Era | Tacocat – NVM | Popstrangers – Fortuna | Curtis Harding – Soul Power | New Swears – Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whatever | The Miami Dolphins – Becky | Thee Oh Sees – Drop | Fasano – The Factory LP | Dum Dum Girls – Too True | Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos | Metronomy – Love Letters | Great Cynics – Like I Belong | Neighborhood Brats – Recovery | Connections – Into Sixes | Three Man Cannon – Pretty Many People | Grouper – Ruins | YOB – Clearing The Path To Ascend | Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything | Apollo Brown – Thirty Eight | Hookworms – The Hum | Wrekmeister Harmonies – Then It All Came Down | Lee Fields & The Expressions – Emma Jean | What Moon Things – What Moon Things | Guided By VoicesMotivational Jumpsuit, Cool Planet | Gem Club – In Roses | Saturday’s Kids – The Lunatic | King of Cats – Working Out | Shopping – Tvff Noogies | The Love Triangle – Clever Clever | Nightmare Boyzzz – Bad Patterns | Future Virgins – Late Republic | Parasol – Not There | Lenguas Largas – Come On In | Cocktails – Adult Life | Generation Loss – Generation Loss | Feral Future – Haematic | Posse – Soft Opening | Diners – Always Room | Mimicking Birds – EONS | The Freezing Hands – Coma Cave ’13 | Amanda X – Amnesia | Predator – The Complete EarthWatery Love – Decorative Feeding | The Estranged – The Estranged | Steve Adamyk Band – Dial Tone | The Cry! – Dangerous Game | Ruined Fortune – Ruined Fortune | Good Throb – Fuck Off | The Elsinores – Dreams of Youth | The Bugs – The Right Time | Vacation Club – Heaven Is Too High | Freinds of Cesar Romero – Cinco Seis | Leather – Easy | Los Pepes – Los Pepes For Everyone | Juanita Y Los Felos – Nueva Numancia | Dan Webb and the SpidersEine Kleine Akustichmusik, Now It Can Be Told | Bozo Moto – BozoMoto | Low Life – Dogging | Moth – First Second | Rhythm of Cruelty – Dysphoria | Siamese Twins – Still Corner | Departure Kids – On The Go | Blessed State – Head Space | Flagland – Love Hard | Manateees – Sit N Spin | White Ass – White Ass | Ausmuteants – Order Of Operation | The Gutters – Eventually | Hysterese – Hysterese | The Ricky C Quartet – Recent Affairs | Hoax Hunters – Comfort & Safety | Arctic Flowers – Weaver