Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Crying

Watch This: The Best of 2017’s First Quarter, Pt. III

The first two parts of this four-part series shedding light on some of the finest live videos to see the light of the day over 2017’s first three months largely focused on single song takes, with a few two-song performances for good measure. The latter two of this series turns the attention to full sessions. Part three, specifically, focuses on long takes of these sessions encompassed in a single video, an area that places like KEXP — who are featured here multiple times — have wisely made their calling card. All of the performances and bands featured in this third installment of this review are worthy of celebration. So, as always, get excited, try to keep calm, lean in, hit play, and Watch This.

PART III

1. Car Seat Headrest (KEXP)
2. PWR BTTM (NPR)
3. Sad13 (WKNC)
4. Cloud Nothings (KEXP)
5. Mannequin Pussy (Audiotree)
6. Hazel English (Rough Trade)
7. Alvvays (CBC Music)
8. Big Thief (NPR)
9. The Spirit of the Beehive (WKNC)
10. Jeff Rosenstock (Little Elephant)
11. Crying (Audiotree)
12. Priests (PressureDrop.tv)
13. Lee Fields & The Expressions (KEXP)
14. Horse Jumper of Love (Audiotree)
15. Angel Olsen (KEXP)
16. The Regrettes (PressureDrop.tv)
17. Thee Oh Sees (KEXP)
18. Mall Walk (PressureDrop.tv)
19. Los Campesinos! (KEXP)
20. Fai Baba (KEXP)
21. Terry Malts (PressureDrop.tv)
22. Haley Bonar (KEXP)
23. Let’s Eat Grandma (KEXP)
24. Valgeir Sigurðsson & Jodie Landau (KEXP)
25. Explosions In The Sky (Moshcam)

16 of ’16: The Best Albums of the Year

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At long last, we arrive at the end of the 2016 lists with this reflection of the year’s best albums. A lot of criteria need to be met for a record to make this list, for example: a record can’t be primarily composed of reworks of older material (this is the reason Talons’ sublime “Driving Home From Shows” didn’t make the songs list). To be eligible for a featured slot on this list, the record also can’t come from a clearly-established artist, which is the only reason Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Skeleton Tree is being excluded. The Radioheads and David Bowies of the music world all received more than enough positive press and this site has always aimed to give an additional leg up to emerging or unknown artists.

With all of that said, 2016 was an exceptional — and exceptionally diverse — year for music provided you knew where to look. As has been the case, no numerical assignments were given to the below selections. However, the field of titles was so abundantly strong that instead of merely selecting one Album of the Year, there are five. Those five records managed to stand out in an unbelievably exceptional year and picking one of the five to give a singular Album of the Year designation proved to be impossible. That being said, virtually all of the titles below are worth time, investment, and praise.

Once again, the majority of the embedded players belong to bandcamp so be mindful of where the records start (a small handful auto-start at odd points in the record). There’s a fairly wide-ranging display of music to be found below so dive on in and go exploring. Enjoy the list and stay tuned for the third edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories.

Bent Shapes – Wolves of Want

After a string of promising releases, Bent Shapes hit new heights with the galvanizing Wolves of Want, a pitch-perfect basement pop record teeming with memorable hooks. A lovingly crafted work, Wolves of Want finds the band hitting an eyebrow-raising stride and cranking out a formidable batch of songs good enough to grace any mixtape.

Crying – Beyond the Fleeting Gales

One of the most unique and compelling releases of the year, Crying took a bold new step with the riveting Beyond the Fleeting Gales. Taking their early approach and gleefully exploding it into something barely-recognizable, Beyond the Fleeting Gales winds up as one of 2016’s most refreshing, exhilarating, and utterly singular listens.

Mitski – Puberty 2

Embracing the bruising, unforgiving introspection of the breakout Bury Me at Makeout Creek, site favorite Mitski returned with a powerful and acute examination of identity. An artistic leap forward, Puberty 2 saw Mitski wielding an expanded musical palette to arresting effect. Warm, moving, and accepting, it’s not difficult to see why it was one of the year’s most beloved records.

Parquet Courts – Human Performance

Parquet Courts records have made a habit of appearing on year-end lists since the band’s formation several years back. While, admittedly, those were solid records, they don’t come anywhere close to Human Performance, the band’s crowning achievement. The band shed their blood all over this record and it shows in every beautiful, cracked, messy, ramshackle moment.

Mannequin Pussy – Romantic

Another record on this list that saw a band make a staggering leap forward, Romantic was — by some distance — the most impressive work of Mannequin Pussy‘s burgeoning career. One of 2016’s most ferocious records, Romantic saw the band firing on all cylinders on levels that may have even surprised their most devoted fans. It’s a molotov cocktail of a record; hit play and get obliterated.

Big Thief – Masterpiece

One of the year’s most welcome surprises, Big Thief‘s Saddle Creek debut Masterpiece found the band conjuring up the open-road spirit that their label built its name peddling. Gorgeous songwriting, unavoidable emotional intensity, and a clear commitment to the material defined Masterpiece. When all was said and done, the record succeeded in living up to its ostensibly tongue-in-cheek title.

Swim Team – Swim Team

One of the strongest records to come out of Infinity Cat‘s cassette series, Swim Team‘s self-titled is a gamut run trough the punk sub-genres that have defined the past three decades. All of them are successful and infused with the kind of grit and determination that characterize great bands. It’s an unforgettable warning shot from a band that seems hell-bent on using the past to elevate the future.

Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

Easily one of the year’s most celebrated releases, Teens of Denial earned every trickle of positive press that came its way. A landmark record from a project that could have withered under a massively-increased spotlight instead finds Car Seat Headrest operating on an entirely new level. Epics, ballads, and stormy punk numbers abound, illuminating one of 2016’s best coming-of-age stories in virtually any format.

Greys – Outer Heaven

2016 found Greys continuing to determinedly  push their boundaries outward and succeeding with the kind of wild abandon that defines their adrenaline-inducing live show. Outer Heaven was their biggest moment and saw the band effectively blend their delirious energy with a refined sense of atmosphere that enhanced already-great songs. An absolute triumph from one of today’s more fascinating acts.

Hovvdy – Taster

A remarkable, understated, near-flawless record, Hovvdy‘s Taster never received the recognition it was due. Front to back, there are no false moments on this record, only a series of unassuming grace notes that bind it into a gentle, spellbinding whole. Punk-informed bedroom pop, Taster is the product of meticulous dedication to craft and an enormous reserve of genuine feeling. It’s sincerity is a large part of its strength and its strength is overwhelming. Give it innumerable listens and the estimation it deserves.

John K. Samson – Winter Wheat

A painfully beautiful record, Winter Wheat marked the welcome return of John K. Samson. The former Weakerthans bandleader turned in another sorrowful, damaged collection of songs that contained enough glimmers of hope (apart from the devastating opener, which nearly made this year’s song’s list but was abandoned in favor of the record’s emotionally shattering closer) to make the impact even more severe. An atmospheric masterstroke from one of our greatest living songwriters, Winter Wheat is as comfortingly calm as it is completely unforgettable.

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

Mo Troper – Beloved

In focusing on the dark corners while establishing that darkness wouldn’t exist without some lightness as well, Mo Troper winds up wearing a very tattered heart on his sleeve. While that heart may be showing a considerable amount of scars, it’s still valiantly beating. Pathos, gravitas, and an incredibly inviting structure all combine to make Beloved a must-own but it’s Mo Troper himself who makes this record a masterpiece.

Original feature review here.

PUP – The Dream Is Over

PUP‘s The Dream Is Over, the band’s jaw-dropping sophomore outing, was a release where nearly every song was considered for this year’s best songs list. In the end, the record proved so uniformly excellent across the board that it became literally impossible to define a standout. This is as a complete a punk record that anyone will be likely to hear for a very long time. Narrative focus, overall consistency, composition, conviction, production, sequencing, pacing… in every conceivable aspect, PUP absolutely demolished what were already ridiculously high expectations. One of the most defiant, triumphant releases in recent memory, The Dream Is Over was the shock to the system that the punk genre has sorely needed for years. Unbelievably consistent and weirdly empowering, PUP were able to put their name on one of the most vital records of 2016.

Doe – Some Things Last Longer Than You

Meticulously composed and teeming with unchecked aggression and greater meaning, Doe have offered up something that’s impossible to ignore. At every corner, there’s a breathtaking moment that continuously heightens the overabundance of impact present in Some Things Last Longer Than You. Whether the listener tethers themselves to the record’s multi-tiered narrative functions or to the artistry present in the composition, they’ll walk away contemplating its awe-inspiring depth. In short: Some Things Last Longer Than You isn’t just one of the year’s best records, it’s a full-blown masterpiece.

Original feature review here.

Weaves – Weaves

It’s not just that no one does what Weaves are doing as well as they do, it’s that no one else is even making an attempt. Should Weaves inspire some attempts at this particular eclectic blend of songwriting styles, genres, and cornerstones, this record will retain — and most likely remain in — a position as the gold standard. Grab onto something close and hold on tightly because Weaves is an unpredictable, exhilarating, and ultimately deeply satisfying thrill ride that knows no borders or boundaries. Greet it with an anxious smile and give in to its myriad charms.

Original feature review here.

LVL UP – Return to Love

All told, Return to Love is a document of a band determined to continuously better themselves, a new career high, and a bona fide statement release from one of this generation’s most consistently exciting acts. It’s a series of sustained, connected grace notes that never wavers, even as it openly acknowledges it doesn’t have all of the answers. Not a single second of its run time is wasted and each of the songs are memorable for a wildly varying list of reasons. LVL UP aren’t the type of band to be dissuaded from taking action by a daunting challenge and Return to Love is an assured, steadfast piece of proof.

To put it as succinctly as possible: it’s a masterpiece.

Original feature review here.

Nine more worth hearing:

Tancred – Out of the Garden
Pinegrove – Cardinal
Oh Boland – Spilt Milk
Dark Thoughts – Dark Thoughts
Eluvium – False Readings On
Told Slant – Going By
Mothers – When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired
Jean-Michael Blais – II
Minor Victories – Minor Victories

Other honorable mentions:

Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing | Yucky Duster – Yucky Duster | Vanity – Don’t Be Shy | Kane Strang – Blue Cheese | Steve Adamyk Band – Graceland | Lydia Loveless – Real | Touché Amoré – Stage Four | Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math | Jeff – Rosenstock – WORRY. | Lucy Dacus – No Burden | Summer Cannibals – Full Of ItNopes – Never Heard Of It | Florist – The Birds Outside Sang | Susan – Never Enough | Abi Reimold – Wriggling | Mal Devisa – Kiid | Julianna Barwick – Will | Mutual Benefit – Skip A Sinking Stone | Big Ups – Before A Million Universes | Diarrhea Planet – Turn To Gold | Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp | AJJ – The Bible 2 | Angel Olsen – My Woman | Drive-By Truckers – American Band | Charles Bradley – Changes

Three Weeks, Eight Records

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Over the past three weeks there have been an impressively large volume of outstanding records to find their way out into the world. A large handful of them were covered in a recent round-up post but there were some that genuinely stood out. With the extent of material involved in this particular format, the best option was to highlight them in one post. While this decision will come at the expense of exhaustively exploring what makes these records so great, know that they’re all more than worth a heavy amount of investment. So, without further ado, here are eight incredible records from the past three weeks.

Lubec – Cosmic Debt

The first of several wild-eyed basement pop records to appear on this list, Lubec‘s Cosmic Debt really emphasizes the band’s frenetic approach to songwriting. Where Cosmic Debt stands out is its coherent fluidity, tethering all of their most erratic moments to an identity that’s teeming with purpose. Front to back, Cosmic Debt‘s an oddly exhilarating record, drawing strength from its cracks, swinging to the end.

Glider – Demos 

A collaborative, multi-country recording project, Glider’s existed in some form or another for years. The act, comprised of Tom Lobban and Louie Newlands, finally released the handful of demos they’ve been recording to the public. Demos features an extraordinary range of two gifted, versatile songwriters who pull cues from powerpop, post-punk, ambient, and a variety of other genres and work them into something legitimately memorable. One of 2016’s most extraordinary surprises.

Poppies – Double Single

“Egghead” and “Mistakes” constitute the entirety of Double Single but Poppies make every second of each song count. Wistful indie pop at its absolute finest, the band coaxes a subdued magic out of familiar terrain, enlivening both songs with a tantalizing personality. Neither song ever breaks above mid-tempo and the music draws the listener in with a calm assurance, suggesting a very bright future for the quartet.

Greys – Warm Shadow 

Having one 2016 triumph under the belt already in the excellent Outer Heaven, Greys seize the opportunity to capitalize on some growing momentum with another outstanding collection of tracks. Considerably poppier and more lo-fi than it’s counterpart from earlier this year, Warm Shadow succeeds as both a GBV-style look at the band’s approach and as an attention-grabbing record that’s incredibly hard to leave. While it may wind up as an anomaly or outlier of Grey’s already extremely impressive career, it’s bound to be one that’s looked upon with fond admiration.

Navy Gangs – Navy Gangs

Navy Gangs have been coming on strong this year, with their self-titled EP serving as the current culmination of some impressively intuitive decision-making. Battered, punk-informed basement pop will likely always be the calling card of Heartbreaking Bravery’s coverage and Navy Gangs experiment with that dynamic to quiet perfection on Navy Gangs. Immediately memorable and capable of rewarding close investment, Navy Gangs should go a long way in ensuring its namesake’s reputation as one of the finest acts in the market.

Sonic Avenues – Disconnector

Since before this site existed, Sonic Avenues have been a personal favorite. The band’s expertise lays in hyper, sugar-coated punk laced with classic pop sensibilities shot through with nods to noise and post-punk. Disconnector, their latest, finds the band continuing to perfect that mixture. Every song’s laced with an unwieldy adrenaline that renders Disconnector surprisingly forceful without ever losing sight of what makes the record — and the band — tick. Tightly wound and characteristically thrilling, it’s another cause for celebration.

Never Young – Singles Tape II: SoftBank

Easily one of 2016’s most ferocious, hyper-charged basement punk EP’s, Never Young‘s Singles Tape II: SoftBank is never anything less than exhilarating. All five of these songs grit their teeth, bare some fangs, and unleash a series of incrementally vicious bites. “I’m washing up with soap”, an unforgettable hook from “Soap”, not only manages to be one of the year’s strangest rallying cries but one of its strongest as well. To dive even further into the band’s extreme tenacity and overabundance of feeling (and “Soap”), just take a look at the last installment of Watch This. If that doesn’t sell this band — and this EP — properly, nothing will.

Crying – Beyond the Fleeting Gales

One of the most eclectic, unique, and electrifying releases in recent memory, Crying’s Beyond the Fleeting Gales calmly trouts out a series of never-ending ideas, all of which feel genuinely inspired. No band is currently attempting what Crying’s accomplished with this insane pastiche of a record. Each song varies wildly in the instrumental mixes incorporated into the mix, sounding like Sleigh Bells one second, New Order the next, and Tobacco the next. To its credit, Beyond the Fleeting Gales‘ restlessness never gets tiring. On the contrary, Crying have released what will likely not just be a career-defining record with Beyond the Fleeting Gales but one of 2016’s most genuinely inspiring works. Have a listen and start making music.

A Two Week Toll: Streams

It’s been a little over two weeks since this site’s run regular coverage. After the 1,000th post, there was a decision to be made over whether to continue on Heartbreaking Bravery in a severely limited capacity, a full capacity, or use the A Step Forward compilation as a final exclamation point. Before long, continuing on with a daily regiment felt like the right decision. This post and the dozen plus posts that will follow will all be a coordinated effort to get caught back up to the present release cycle.

The opening trio of posts will all feature a laundry list of items that are more than deserving of attention while the ensuing posts will be dedicated features for a singular item. A few Watch This installments will be posted and the rest of the coverage will be split into the three major tiers: streams, music videos, and full streams. Kicking things off is this collection of outstanding songs to have emerged during the brief hiatus. Dive in and go swimming.

Crying, Hellrazor, CasselsSlowcoaches, CoasterHalfsour, Private Interests, Minihorse, Very Fresh, Honeyblood, Fucked Up, Terry Malts, Kevin Devine, Joyride!, Teen SuicideLA BÊTE BLOOMS, The Exquisites, Penelope Isles, Nice Try, Dag, Jess Williamson, Chemtrails, Really Big Pinecone, John K. Samson, Soviet Soviet, American Wrestlers, Fake Limbs, The Tuts, Lubec, CarrollGirlboss, Gladkill, Hollow EverdazeBoogarinsLOKIT, Parlour Tricks, Vanishing Life, Wistappear, gobbinjr, Dmitry Evgrafov, Hidden Ritual, Lucidalabrador, Many Voices Speak, Future States.

Flamingosis, Sexy Jesus, Magana, Glacial Pace, Plastic Flowers, Super Unison, WTCHS, Tape Deck Mountain, Dexateens, Planes Mistaken for Stars, The Flat Five, HMLTD, Wovoka Gentle, Homebody, Pop & Obachan, Soft PyramidsFascinations Grand Chorus, Warhaus, Future DeathEmily ReoAffordable Hybrid, Light Fantastic, Temples, Michael ChapmanHiss Golden Messenger, The Dazies, Hippo CampusDoubles, LolahikoYouth Funeral, Lou Barlow, Pure Moods, Floating Room, James Parry, I’m Glad It’s You (x2), Communist Daughter, Henry Jamison, and J Mascis.

Strange Ranger – Sunbeams Through Your Head (EP Review)

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Over the past two days, there were a handful of exceptional new tracks from the likes of Purling Hiss, Kississippi, Kevin Morby, Pop & Obachan, benngrigg, Busman’s Holiday, Trails and Ways, Emilyn Brodsky, Sun AngleTouché Amoré, Crying, Suburban Living, Kim Gordon, Henry Jamison, Light Fantastic, Levitations, Softspot, Rick Barry, and Shana Falana. Additionally, there were outstanding music videos from Martha (who also found room for an amusing Radiator Hospital cameo), Sex Stains, The White Stripes, Adam Torres, Wolf People, Chromatics, The Kills, Matt Kivel, and Nøise. Rounding everything out were incredible full streams via Oh Boland, Low Culture, Sat. Nite Duets, Left & Right, Human People, LA Font, Bad Kids To The Front, Cheshires, and Toy Cars.

While more than a handful of those were considered for this post’s featured spot, Strange Ranger secured the position by virtue of releasing an EP that contains a few of the finest songs to have been released all year. One of those, the record’s opening and title track, earned a healthy amount of recent praise. “Sunbeams Through Your Head” set an impressive, melancholic tone for its namesake which was released in full earlier today.

Following the haunted title track, Sunbeams Through Your Head could have gone a number of directions but chose to expand on its thesis statement. The EP’s second track, “Life Would Be Cooler”, is by far its longest and one of its most gripping. “Life Would Be Cooler” also turns out to be surprisingly economical in its narrative, painting a portrait of an intense (and intensely damaged) longing in less than 60 words, closing with a devastating plea that drives a staggering amount of genuine feeling home.

It’s an opening salvo that packs an emotional wallop but Strange Ranger stays on course for the next barrage of tracks, remaining unapologetic for their overwhelmingly weary nature and casting an atmospheric pall in the process. In a strange way, it’s almost moving, listening to the band support their most downtrodden tendencies with intuitively empathetic moments in the instrumental composition. “Dolph”, “Whatever You Say”, and especially the gorgeous, instrumental “Thru Your Head” all contain breathtaking moments of a deeply felt compassion.

Everything that the EP works towards comes splintering apart, quite literally, in the manic closing track, “oh oh oh oh”. From the outset of the record’s final statement, the vocals are cracking to the point of breaking as a mournful organ line runs underneath the pained theatrics. Those are the song’s only two elements and they grow more pronounced as the narrative grows more hopeless. Eventually the narrative’s abandoned altogether, buckling underneath its own weight and disappearing into the ether, as the organ figure delivers a somber eulogy. It’s a challenging, mesmerizing way to close out an incredible EP and allows Sunbeams Through Your Head to linger long after it’s gone. It’s company worth keeping.

Listen to Sunbeams Through Your Head below and download it here.

Dirty Dishes – Lackluster (Music Video)

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In the opening days of this week, there has been a bounty of impressive streams from the likes of Hot Shorts, Clearance, Johanna Warren, No Nets, The Glazzies, Phyllis Ophelia, Vexx, Black Thumb, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, No Age, Teenage Fanclub, Ulrika Spacek, Fond Han, Holy Sons, The Black Black, Wovenhand, Richard Edwards, Crying, Dan Edmonds, Orchin, Infinity Crush, Flock of Dimes, Sharon Van Etten, Delicate Steve, Computer Magic, Power Animal, Lowly, Miracle Sweepstakes, Lilac Daze, J&L Defer, John Travoltage, Smokey Brights, Elijah Ford, Brother Moses, Inner Oceans, and Slaughter Beach, Dog.

While all of those deserve all of the listens they’ll inevitably receive (and likely many more), this post’s featured spot falls to one of last year’s most intriguing breakout acts: Dirty Dishes. The project of Jenny Tuite, Dirty Dishes garnered a sizable amount of acclaim for the astonishing Guilty, a brooding record full of sharp-edged post-punk. More than a full year after its release, Guilty‘s retained a significant amount of bite, which winds up lending to the vitality of the recently released clip for “Lackluster”, one of the record’s many highlights.

“Lackluster” coaxes maximum impact out of a minimal setup. The majority of the video consists of psychedelic projection overlays that are intercut with footage of Tuite performing the song in front of that backdrop. In conjuring up an effectively eerie atmosphere — one that’s furthered by the decision to transition between straight-ahead shots and spliced-in close-up footage of the backdrop and what appear to be some outside sources — the clip manages to elevate the song (and vice versa).

Everything here, all of the subtle effects and edits, the song, the pacing, the dynamic approach of the structure itself, work in tandem to create something unforgettable and wholly hypnotic. It’s a masterclass in DIY artistry and a gripping reminder of Guilty‘s staggering power. Jump into the waters and get lost to the waves.

Watch “Lackluster” below and pick up Guilty here.

Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter, Vol. VII

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]

It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time. 

Watch the seventh and final collection of those videos below.

1. Two Inch Astronaut – At Risk Student (bandwidth.fm)
2. Bob Mould – You Say You (WFUV)
3. The Intelligence (KEXP)
4. Lever – The Task (DZ Records)
5. The Thermals – Always Never Be (Jam in the Van)
6. Saintseneca – Bad Ideas (KUTX)
7. Young Jesus – Oranges (Slanted Manor)
8. Eleventh Dream Day – Go Tell It (Sound Opinions)
9. Julia Holter – Betsy on the Roof (Strombo Sessions)
10. Mothers – It Hurts Until It Doesn’t (Do512)
11. Lucy Dacus – Strange Torpedo (Radio K)
12. Blah Blah Blah – Crying (DZ Records)
13. The Frights – Kids (Allston Pudding)
14. Caveman – Never Going Back (Jam in the Van)
15. Dan San (3voor12)
16. Test Apes (KEXP)
17. All Dogs – Farm (Slanted Manor)
18. Kitten Forever – Brainstorm (Radio K)
19. Bully – Milkman (KUTX)
20. Tancred (Audiotree)
21. PWR BTTM (NPR)
22. Pinegrove – Waveform (BrooklynVegan)
23. Mansfield.Tya – Le dictionnaire Larousse (Faits Divers)
24. Cross Record – Steady Waves (KUTX)
25. Charles Bradley (NPR)

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Bella Mazzetti)

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Back in 2014, Jawbreaker Reunion‘s unbelievable Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club secured an impressive ranking on this site’s year-end list and landed “E.M.O.” (a song that can still manage to elicit chills after innumerable listens) in the songs list. In 2015, they secured a spot on the odds and ends list for their memorable split with PWR BTTM. This year, while still young, they’ve landed another potential year-end list contender with the extraordinary “Cosmos“, which is even more impressive considering they recently downsized to a trio following Tom Delaney’s departure. Bella Mazzetti, who has handled guitar, bass, and vocal duties for the band, is one of their driving creative forces. Last year I was fortunate enough to see Mazzetti play a few shows and take in a few shows as well. Below, she lays out the soundtrack of her 2015, month by month, pairing it with important life events. Read it below, listen along (bonus points if you can complete the seemingly impossible task of finding the stream for Flower Housewife’s “Hampton”), and then make your own soundtrack as 2016 pushes forward.

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My 2015 Musical Calendar 

Here is a list of songs, new and old, that defined my year.

January, “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus

The sound of dancing on a hardwood floor in Philadelphia. The sound of a flat tire on the way home.

February, “Know Yourself” by Drake

Sounds like releasing a split, celebrating Valentine’s Day, pretending to be happy about it. Getting pulled over in -10 degree weather to change a headlight and feeling an overwhelming sense of love for my bandmates.

March, “Puddle of Love” by The Bottom

Running away to basement shows in other towns. Meeting new people, making new friends, seeing old friends. Singing on stage with Eskimeaux and dancing my butt off to Crying.

April, “Broken Necks” by Eskimeaux

Crying in my carrel while listening to this song, breaking up, figuring out how to be my own person. Finishing and handing in a 90 page thesis, seeing Paul Baribeau with my best friends on that same day.

May, “sad cartoons” by No Friends

Celebrating my 22nd birthday by listening to this No Friends album and drinking in the sun. Being Taking Back Sunday for Punk Rock Prom and meeting someone new. Graduating from college. Fuck.

June, “Parking Lot Palms” by IJI

Sounds like playing the Northside showcase for Miscreant Records, driving all around the mid-Hudson valley. Breaking my tailbone while hiking.

July, “Be Your Own 3 AM” by Adult Mom

Being bed-ridden for the whole month and watching all of Glee. Being brought cupcakes and nursed back to health but still trying not to catch feelings.

August, “Better than Anything Else” by Paul Baribeau

Sounds like trying to record an album and playing shows in Brooklyn. Driving home from the city and listening to this song. Changing my mind.

September, “Hampton” by Flower Housewife

Sounds like a new band line up. Starting a new job, becoming friends with this artist and then joining their band. Driving through new towns.

October, “Keeping Up” by Arthur Russell

Spontaneity. Driving to the city to see the Double Double Whammy CMJ showcase. Booking Meredith Graves to talk about restorative justice at Bard. Making plans. Spending Halloween drunk in Asbury Park with my best friends. Screaming Females covering X.

November, “You Are What Eats You” by Palm

Saying “I love you.” Actually recording an album. Playing with All Dogs and Long Beard. Feeling good about making music with people I care about.

December, “Time, As a Symptom” by Joanna Newsom

Seeing Joanna Newsom play this in Philadelphia. Preparing for JBR’s first tour. Dr. Lady. The best dang New Year’s kiss in the world. Looking back at the year that brought good and profound change. Thanks for sharing it.

-Bella Mazzetti

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 1

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Familiar faces. Single Songs. Full sets. New bands. It’s been 15 weeks since the last Watch This ran on this site and that’s far, far too long. To help get things up to date, the next three days will see a trilogy of video mixtapes containing 25 of the best live clips to surface from 2015 so far. Next week, the installment will resume its normally paced functions- but for now, clear out some time and get lost in the exciting performances compiled in the embed below. Lean back, turn the volume up, breathe deep, and Watch This.

1. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock (Pitchfork)
2. Tenement – Dreaming Out Loud (Don Giovanni Records)
3. Crying – Sick (BreakThruRadio)
4. Beach Slang (NPR)
5. Speedy Ortiz – The Graduates (Pitchfork)
6. Francisco the Man – In the Corners (Audiotree)
7. Single Mothers – Overdose (Radio K)
8. Sleater-Kinney – Modern Girl (Sound Opinions)
9. Nude Beach + Jody Stephens – My Life Is Right (Don Giovanni Records)
10. Mutts – Five of a Kind (Audiotree)
11. Sun Club – Beauty Meat (Audiotree)
12. Crow Bait – Separate Stations (Don Giovanni Records)
13. Courtney Barnett – An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York (Pitchfork)
14. Matthew E. White – Rock & Roll Is Cold (The Current)
15. Makthaverskan – Witness (Pitchfork)
16. Chief Scout – Rollercoaster (Audiotree)
17. Mal Blum – San Cristóbal (Don Giovanni Records)
18. DYGL – Let’s Get Into Your Car (Out of Town Films)
19. American Aquarium – Losing Side of Twenty Five (Jam in the Van)
20. Charles Bradley – The World (Is Going Up In Flames) (Coachella)
21. Sue the Night – The Whale (3FM)
22. Kevin Devine – Bubblegum (Little Elephant)
23. Ride – Vapour Trail (Coachella)
24. The Dodos (KEXP)
25. Cloakroom – Lossed Over + Moon Funeral (Little Elephant)

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