Between June and August, an avalanche of great songs came crashing down into the world. From genuine song of the year contenders (Big Thief‘s “Not” chief among them) to bands striking gold multiple times (Lauran Hibberd, Pom Pom Squad, Kal Marks) there was a lot to consume. Here’s a playlist of the best of best, presented with no extra fanfare. All of these selections are bold enough to stand on their own.
Riding a string of acclaim for their previous few releases and their scintillating live show, Big Ups have managed to craft something masterful, challenging, and explosive, opting for more of a statement on their relentless pursuit of new highs instead of merely settling for a victory lap. This is as fearless and unhinged as the band has ever sounded, completely embracing their own distinct identity and molding it into something unexpected and deeply rewarding.
Every second of Two Parts Together feels thoughtful, even in the moments where it succumbs into chaos; there’s a calculation to Big Ups’ madness that keeps things from veering towards the unsustainable. Whether they’re indulging their most straightforward sensibilities (“Fear“, “PPP“), ambient interludes (“Tenmile”), verging into sections that betray a Rage Against The Machine influence (“Tell Them”), veer directly into avant garde breakdowns (“Trying To Love”), or delivering the most jaw-dropping song of their career (“Imaginary Dog Walker“), they’re delivering each moment with an astounding amount of conviction.
From wire to wire, Two Parts Together is Big Ups’ most complete and engaging work, a series of high points strung together and then defiantly tightroped. Easily one of the best records of the year, Two Parts Together also cements the band’s status as one of today’s more important bands. They’re on a streak that’s nearly unparalleled within the confines of their genre and they’re doing it in an extremely distinct way, delivering record after record that couldn’t possibly bear any other band’s name.
A new genre classic, Two Parts Together is the sound of a band whose confident that if they hurl themselves into the stratosphere, they’ll stick the landing. As much of a warning as a promise, Big Ups make no bones about this being their time. We should all count ourselves lucky that we’re around to watch, listen, and learn.
Listen to Two Parts Together below and pick it up from Exploding In Sound here. Beneath the record, watch the band rip through five tracks at a recent Madison, WI stop.
Melodic, bitter, bright, and tongue-in-cheek, “Future Me Hates Me” showcases The Beths at their absolute best. Raising hell and denouncing anyone that gets in their way but sparing the worst of their jabs for themselves, “Future Me Hates Me” is a masterclass in self-deprecation. Subverting a cavalcade of pop-punk tropes and leaning on acts like the Pixies for cues as much as the best powerpop records, The Beths have crafted an anthem for the painfully self-aware.
Gaining steam as it strives forward, hopeful for more but resigned to the knowledge that a lifetime of perpetual disappointment might cultivate an unbreakable pattern, “Future She Hates Me” is a memorable run of pragmatic hopelessness packaged as a gift to the people who know exactly what that means. Turn it up and drown out any persistent negativity by celebrating that there are always measures (and means) of personal control that can be easily managed.
Listen to “Future Me Hates Me” below and pre-order the record here.
Teeming with imagery that hosts a handful of connections to other iconic visuals, the band completely eschews any inhibitions of operating on anything other than a ridiculously grand scale. That grandeur pays dividends, ushering in a bold new era for a band that once seemed content to operate on nearly anarchic terms. In “The Day The Music Dies” they take their mission to the church, light some fires, present a united front, and preach from a pulpit.
All of the confrontational immediacy is escalated by the track itself, which is lent a surprising amount of heft by some incredibly effective horn charts. Fascinating at just about every turn, riddled with allusions to Gothic-tinged entertainment (Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood acting as a more recent reference point), “The Day The Music Dies” finds Iceage comfortable in continuing to expand their boundaries, making Boundless — the band’s forthcoming full-length — one of the more intriguing prospects on the release calendar. The ride to get to that release, should “The Day The Music Dies” be a solid indicator, will be worth taking.
Watch “The Day The Music Dies” below and pre-order Beyondless from Matador here.
Only a few days into April (and a few posts away from resuming regular daily updates), it seems as good a time as any to look back at some of the outstanding tracks, clips, and records March had to offer. Since the first week of March was largely covered by the last big recap, the focus here is on the material to find release in the month’s subsequent three weeks. An incredible round of songs, some sterling music videos, and a few standout records managed to make their mark. Below is a compilation of items worth hearing and seeing, so don’t miss a beat and save this tab to explore to your heart’s content.
Now, despite all the content that’s already gone up tonight, there’s still a lot that went down over the past week and a half while the site was dealing with technical complications. To that end, the approach in coverage is going to be slightly different this time around. Full streams, single streams, and music videos will all be covered- but they’ll be branched off into categories. Each entry will get a line or two and then when everything’s been accounted for, there’ll be a feature spot granted to Beliefs’ ridiculously entertaining clip for “Tidal Wave”. So, without further ado…
Okay, so the bold font probably wasn’t necessary but it’s late- and this is a really great video. Beliefs first gained an uptick in notoriety when they paired with the similarly-minded Greys for one of 2013’s best splits. Since then, they’ve been on a tear, steadily building a name for themselves on the strength of their powerful new material and formidable live show. If “Tidal Wave” is any indication, they may be able to add great music videos to that list as well. While it mostly finds inspiration in the trends of classic clips from the 80’s and 90’s there’s a certain playfulness here that’s missing from a lot of homage-style videos. That playfulness comes to a head nearly halfway through when they manage to seamlessly work in something genuinely unexpected and ridiculously perfect. It’s too good of a moment to spoil completely but it’s also one of the more endearingly appreciative moments of recent memory. By the time all the effects have worn down and “Tidal Wave” reaches its tongue-in-cheek epilogue, it becomes abundantly clear that this band has big things in mind for Leaper (the forthcoming album “Tidal Wave” is taken from) and for themselves. Beliefs aren’t a band intent to keep quiet and if they keep going at the pace they are, we’re all in for one hell of a ride.
Watch “Tidal Wave” below and pick up Leaper from Hand Drawn Dracula as soon as it’s available.