Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Cross Country

Melkbelly – Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain (7″ Review)

melkbelly

When last week came to an end, it gifted the world great new tracks from the likes of ESP Ohio, Cross Country, Marissa Nadler, Field Music, Pamphleteers, Fond Han, WTCHS, Death By Unga Bunga, Grandaddy (x2), Sonic Avenues, Black Marbles, Hello Shark, Peaer, Pony Hunt, Oathbreaker, Computer Magic, Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Sean Rowe, Ricky Eat Acid, and Francie Moon. Those weren’t the only things this week’s left in its wake. Along with those titles, there was also (finally) the release of the Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain 7″ from Melkbelly.

The band first teased this release more than a full year ago by uploading an early, unfinished version of “Mount Kool Kid” to their bandcamp. That version’s been pulled in the time that’s elapsed since its quiet release and its absence has finally been amended with the release of the band’s latest 7″. “Mount Kool Kid” remains an absolute beast of a song, echoing shades of the very best noise, basement punk, and hyper-spastic pop acts in one fell swoop.

Even though it wears all of those influences proudly, “Mount Kool Kid” is still very distinctly Melkbelly. The enhanced production brings out a near-feral rawness in the track that was previously buried, albeit still evident. Everything hits tremendously hard in this more polished version, utilizing Albini-esque tactics for the drum sounds and providing some layers that allow it a more expansive sound.

The flip-side of the 7″ is “Elk Mountain”, which dials back the ferocity to expand on the band’s penchant for grunge and sludge-leaning moments. While the tempo recedes, the abundance of feeling remains in tact. Not a moment of “Elk Mountain” is anything less than exhilarating. Guitarist/vocalist Miranda Winters helps set these songs apart by infusing them with a surprising amount of delicacy that elevates both of these tracks into the realm of the sublime.

Both “Mount Kool Kid” and “Elk Mountain” are incredibly dynamic, compelling  tracks that near the four-minute mark. For virtually every second of their run-time, there’s an admirable choice that manifests in the songs. Whether it’s a drastic tempo change, a vocal run, a runaway drum break, or a sudden commitment to overwhelming heaviness, those choices enliven both tracks, leaving Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain as one of the best 7″ releases anyone’s likely to hear in 2016. So, stop reading, hit play, surrender to the band’s chaos and get swept up in the frenzy.

Listen to Mount Kool Kid b/w Elk Mountain below and pick up a copy here.

À La Mode – Total Doom (Stream)

a la mode

Tuesday saw the release of a slew of notable streams from Francie Moon, Cross Country, Left & Right, Kevin Devine, Curse of Lono, Sighs, Springtime Carnivore, Wovenhand, Avid Dancer, Communions, Peeling, Slow Mass, Bellows, Savoy Motel, and Dangers. In addition to that bounty, there were some strong music videos arriving from the likes of Adir L.C., Dust From 1000 Yrs, Bunny, Sam Evian, Joan Shelley, and Minden. A pair of excellent full streams in Sex Stains‘ self-titled and Skyjelly‘s package product were just the cherry on top.

While many of those acts have earned praise from this site in the past, today’s feature — once again — falls to a group of fresh faces. À La Mode only have one self-titled EP to their name but are prepared to change that in the very near future. Following their 2014 self-titled effort, the band’s made some enormous strides forward and arrive completely revitalized with the first single, “Total Doom”, from their forthcoming debut full-length, Perfection Salad.

Opening with an electronic, dance-ready beat turns out to be somewhat of a misdirect with the band throwing their weight into a more traditional setup after the introduction. At no point does the band lose the sense of fun it established at the top, though, and when the synth returns for the chorus it gives a remarkably bleak sentiment an abundance of life. Longing is a well-worn topic but what makes it a continuing source of fascination is that it can be tailored to match their author’s individuality. Here, chronic unrequited longing is given a bedfellow in all-consuming doom.

The dichotomy of vibrancy and gloom is crucial to the track’s success and helps “Total Doom” become an immediate standout. Exceptionally clever songwriting can go a long way in securing longevity and À La Mode offer it in excess for a little over two minutes. From those deceptive opening bars to the damaged, weirdly triumphant closing moments, “Total Doom” is nothing less than an exhilarating breath of fresh air.

Easily one of the most pleasant surprises of recent memory, À La Mode have set an extraordinarily high bar for their upcoming record. If that record comes anywhere close to achieving the peaks they do on “Total Doom”, they’ll have one of 2016’s most inspired records. In any respect, they’ll be a band to watch as the year goes forward. Until then, the best thing to do is to celebrate the overwhelming strength of “Total Doom” and give in to its considerable charm.

Listen to “Total Doom” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on Perfection Salad.