Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Currents

Three Weeks Down: A Handful of Full Streams

The previous two posts have fixated on some of the great material from streams and music videos. All that’s left to cover is the full streams of EPs, splits, comps, and full-length efforts that have emerged in the three weeks or so that Heartbreaking Bravery has been on hiatus. Bookmark this page, rifle through the titles on display, and walk away with a handful of outstanding new music. Enjoy.

Jason Loewenstein, Wishing Rock, Psychic Judge, Guggi DataAgent blå, Milk, Palm, Gland, Dion Lunadon, Konrad, Popular Adultstrü, Vs., Dead Heavens, Gringo, Bad Channels, Poppy, Ackroyd, Early Riser, Boogarins, Steady Sun, Superchunk, Ulrika Spacek, Ethan Daniel Davidson, PANXKING, Mare Island, Molly Nilsson, Terror Watts, Tough Age, CHIMNEY, Empty Heads, Hulaboy and Safe Distance, Marias, Leather Girls, CreaturoS, Swoon Lake, Rachel Baiman, and ROYA as well as the excellent Athens Vs. Trump compilation.

Courtney Barnett – Kim’s Caravan (Music Video)

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Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit has managed to standout from an already over-crowded 2015 since its release. It reaffirms Barnett’s clout as a songwriter by effectively expanding her range. “Kim’s Caravan”, a sprawling treatsie on Austarlia’s increasingly ravaged landscape, being the record’s most arresting example. Recently, it was given a Bec Kingma-directed clip that more than did the song’s serious subject matter justice. Before diving too far into that video’s innumerable strengths, it’s worth noting that the past few weeks have been full of great clips. To help get the site caught back up, the next few posts will be devoted to those clips- just like the handful preceding Watch This were connected to songs.

Each of these posts will come with a featured video and ten accompanying clips, all of which are worthy of heavy investment. Starting off this round of music videos are Eternal Summers’ stop-motion “Together Or Alone“, Mittenfields’ color-damaged clip for “Optimists“, Sheer Mag’s characteristically scrappy “Fan the Flames“, currents’ deranged revenge fantasy “Build Ups“, and The Wooden Sky’s low-key dancefloor romance “Saturday Night“. Whitewash’s hallucinatory “Tentacle”, Peach Kelli Pop’s blissed-out sugar rush “Princess Castle 1987“, Night School’s incredibly lo-fi singalong “Unkind“, Coeds’ stock visual-effects experiment “Sensitive Boys“, and Never Young’s intensely dark “Like A Version” round out this post’s offerings. While, as mentioned, they’re all worth repeat viewings, this post’s focus belongs to Barnett’s stark, mesmerizing clip for “Kim’s Caravan”.

While it may be too early to brandish a term like masterpiece, it’s certainly tempting. Kingma’s vision- especially when paired with Joshua Aylett’s photography direction- recalls fellow Australian filmmaker John Hillcoat (The Proposition may actually be the closest companion to “Kim’s Caravan”). An almost harsh sense of rural lyricism is on full display as the clip traces over desolate scenery, downtrodden inhabitants, and Barnett herself to create a bold artistic statement. Coming on the heels of the nonchalant “Pedestrian At Best“, “Kim’s Caravan” takes on the feeling of an epic. After establishing a palpable sense of loss, the clip arrives at an arresting climax that includes what will likely go down as one of 2015’s most unforgettable shots. Packaged all together it’s just about enough to knock the wind out of anyone lucky enough to lose themselves to the video’s spell.

Watch “Kim’s Caravan” below and order Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit here.

Even Hand – Drifted (Album Review, Stream)

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Now that all of last week’s best single streams and music videos have been given their due, it’s time to move onto a slightly more challenging beast: the full stream. There’s been a monstrous surge of outstanding new releases (often on the small-scale side of things) as 2014 enters its final weeks. Among these were: Dusk (a new project featuring members of Tenement, Black Thumb, and darn it., as well as a handful of other contributors) and their new country-soaked demo reel, Lemuria‘s contribution to the Turnstile Comix series, Currents’ unpredictably intense Mondegreen, Semicircles exquisitely delicate Blown Breeze, Grown Grass And We Are Part of the Earth, King of Cats’ entertainingly spastic Working Out, Big Lonely‘s impressive full-length debut Close Your Eyes, Keep Talking, and Space Mountain‘s unfailingly gripping Wilderness Explorer. All of them stand out as great December releases but there’s one that surfaced seemingly out of the blue worth paying quite a bit of attention to: Even Hand’s sophomore effort, Drifted.

A few months ago, there was a review posted on this site of Even Hand’s arresting self-titled debut, a brilliant record that brought to mind acts as varied as Shellac, The Wipers, and Sunny Day Real Estate. The band fought fairly hard to release it on vinyl this year after it’s original 2013 cassette run on the severely under-appreciated Stupid Bag Records (an excellent label run by Jeff Bolt of Swearin’). Even Hand, by all accounts, was a galvanizing debut. The band’s follow-up exceeds it in fairly stunning fashion. More risks are taken throughout the record and there’s an unrelenting intensity that binds the whole thing together. From the hypnotic instrumental that sets things in motion all the way through the record’s epic closer, the serrated “Lover’s Oath”, Drifted morphs into something that starts feeling like less of a record and more of a show-of-force mission statement.

Even more than the aggressively atmospheric Even Hand, Drifted finds its voice via a balance between abrasion, precision, atmosphere, and unfiltered emotion. Each of these 11 tracks is tied to a loose narrative that operates around a very human frustration with certain social functions and their maladaptation. One of the most striking examples of this device is the vignettes that bandleader Mike Borth presents with “Kid Unkind”, which suggests that the promise of social improvement is just a bittersweet projection that holds nothing but harsh realities at its moment of realization. That pattern of cruel repetition is emphasized with vivid detail in the spoken word stream-of-conscious style ranting in the restlessly foreboding “The Palace Holographic / Dust Bath”, which suggests that the end result will always be the same while Borth punctuates its message with razor-sharp visual imagery that include things like “rapid-cycling trees in a violence of leaves” and “shallow canals, drooling over portraits that hate [him], worshipping darkness”. It’s an existential nightmare ready to swallow any listener whole with virtually no remorse or regret- and, like the rest of Drifted, it’s brilliant in a myriad of subtle, detail-oriented ways.

In terms of technical accomplishment, Drifted also outpaces its predecessor in a number of departments; the sequencing flows just a touch more naturally, the production- as ever- is staggering, the work provided by the rhythm section of Dan Edelman and Dominic Armao is the best of the band’s still-young career, and it feels remarkably unified. It’s an anxious and unnerving masterwork of brutally cynical proportions- and, importantly, it’s a record that belongs in as many collections as possible. Crow Bait‘s Mike Bruno got it right by recently ranking this as one 2014’s best releases– hopefully the rest of the world gives Drifted the attention it deserves and considers doing the same.

Listen to Drifted below and keep an eye on Stupid Bag for the eventual tape release here.