Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Destruction Unit

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Phil McAndrew)

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Photograph by Shauna Roloff

Last year, Phil McAndrew (pictured above, behind the kit) delivered a heartfelt piece to the first edition of this series. At the core of that piece was a celebration of his younger brother, Ray, and the music he was making with Perfect Pussy. A little while later, he’d become much more than a supportive voice in the audience and create the distinctive comic accompaniment for Astonishing Adventures!, Perfect Pussy’s ferocious split with Joanna Gruesome. It was another small moment of  brilliance in what’s turning into an illustrious career in animation. Even while registering credits for places like MAD Magazine, IFC, Cartoon Network, Random House, and Workman Publishing, McAndrew’s found time to join a band and catch a slew of shows (a few of which I was fortunate enough to be able to take in with him). Below, he covers some of the artists that meant the most to him in 2015 and explores his reintroduction to making music. Read it below and then indulge your own creative sensibilities in any way you see fit.

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2015 was kind of a strange year with lots of ups and downs and sideways and diagonals and such. But if we’re talking strictly music stuff, it was a really excellent year, filled almost entirely with ups.

Thinking back on 2015, I’m flooded with music related memories that felt meaningful in one way or another. Scribbling drawings of my brother Ray and our friend Garret as they started writing the next Perfect Pussy album in my childhood bedroom. Directing a music video for my old friend Jeff York’s new band, Major Player. Hanging out alone late at night and turning the volume way up on new tunes from my brothers Tyler and Ray, who make music together as Toxic Parents and separately in a variety of bands and solo projects like Wealth, Crusher, Perfect Pussy, and MKSEARCH. Getting back into drawing weird flyers for bands my friends play in.

Getting to watch Sleater-Kinney play from backstage at Irving Plaza. Seeing more great shows than I can even count, in huge venues, in small venues, on a pier in Manhattan, in an old car wash, in burrito restaurants and skateboard shops and art spaces, and in basements in my neighborhood…. Sheer Mag, All Dogs, Rainer Maria, Destruction Unit, Really Big Pinecone, Izzy True, Downtown Boys, Fleabite, Harmonica Lewinski, Deerhoof, Warehouse, Pretengineer, Arm Candy, Speedy Ortiz, Olivia Neutron-John, Big Ups, Pity Sex, Aye Nako, Nine of Swords, Waxahatchee, Mannequin Pussy, and dozens of others.

The most meaningful thing that happened for me this year was that I myself started playing music again after a very long hiatus. I hadn’t played drums since sometime in 2010, when jobs and grad school and relationships scattered the members of the bands I used to play in to different states. Five years and two cross-country moves later, my friend and old next-door neighbor Mim asked if I’d be interested in taking over on drums in her band, The Nudes. Right around the same time, my friend and current roommate Shauna, started playing bass in the band (they’d never had a bassist before). I’ve loved The Nudes since I first saw them play when I moved back to upstate New York from Southern California in 2013, so I was pretty thrilled to be asked to play with them.

We’ve played a lot of shows since I joined The Nudes over the summer. My favorite show was here in Syracuse in October with local favorites Malvinas, fellow upstate New Yorkers Green Dreams, and the great Worriers, whose most recent album I can’t stop listening to. The show was packed and everyone was in high spirits. I saw so many smiles at this show. I saw people of all sizes and genders bouncing around together as the bands played, getting wiggly and weird and laughing. Nobody was dancing like a violent psychopath. Everything about this show felt right. It was all of the good things that I missed about playing in bands.

2014 was all about watching my brothers and friends do cool things and conquer the world, only participating in the music scene in my own small, non-musical ways. That continued into 2015, but to get back into playing music myself in a band I love with people I love was nothing less than magical.


-Phil McAndrew

 

CMJ: Day 5 (Pictorial Review)

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More than 100 photos into the pictorial review of this site’s CMJ coverage, this fourth gallery of photos covers the festival’s fifth day. As always, the videos from the fifth day have been compiled here and the official review can be read here. The full gallery has been moved to flickr and can be accessed by following this link.

 

 

CMJ: Day 5 Review

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Going to an afterparty running on minimal sleep was probably not the best idea and staying out until six in the morning was probably an even worse one but music festivals are a good excuse to get together with groups of friends that stretch across the country. I don’t know how I managed to only miss one band I’d planned on seeing to start my last official day of CMJ but I’m thankful I woke up in time to catch the last half of Sheer Mag’s set at AdHoc’s Carwash, which wasn’t a part of CMJ but was one of the best showcases of the week.

Of course, showing up to Sheer Mag that late meant being relegated to the back of the crowd, so I allowed myself to gain a modicum of composure and catch at least a little breath after jogging a full mile to make sure I didn’t miss their set completely. My effort was rewarded with an energetic, shambolic closing run that saw the band affirming themselves as one of DIY punk’s top-tier live acts. Protomartyr, playing on yet another bill with Perfect Pussy this year, brought their usual Very Serious stoicism to the table and handled themselves as capably as ever.

Potty Mouth, a band I’ve been trying to see for several years, took the stage after Protomartyr and immediately launched into a memorable set that showcased their infectious basement pop and surging confidence. Their latest EP, Cherry Picking, is a career highlight and enhances their more sugary sensibilities to striking effect. There’s a palpable love that the band brings to their live show, slipping through the cracks and presenting itself in an assortment of irrepressible smiles. If the crowd reaction of the crowd during an inspired cover of “No One Else” was any indication, the crowd fed off the band’s high spirits and channeled them into some of their own.

Up next was Pity Sex, who were playing new material– all of which sounded like career-best work the band– ahead of their forthcoming release. The band’s always had serviceable pop sensibilities but they’ve been expanded and maximized in thrilling new ways on their most recent material while still managing to retain their heavy, wall-of-sound shoegaze influence. As much as Pity Sex were hitting all the right notes and giving the audience a great show, I’d seen them before and after what Dilly Dally pulled off on the second night of CMJ, I made a split-second decision and sprinted a mile to catch all of Dilly Dally‘s set at Baby’s All Right as part of BrooklynVegan’s CMJ showcase.

Dilly Dally, once again, lunged fearlessly into a breathtaking set that covered both a large section of Sore, one of this year’s best albums, and their early singles. Only this time, the band had the benefit of Baby’s iconic LED backdrop, which aided the noir-ish moodiness of their grunge-leaning basement punk to a sublime perfection. Every member of Dilly Dally’s stage presence makes them come across like a loose cannon but guitarist/vocalist Katie Monks is particularly unhinged, wielding an outsize persona with a disarming amount of control in a way that marries something decidedly scrappy with a sense of spellbinding grace.

It’s an extraordinarily difficult line to walk and the band all but runs the tightrope with a disconcerting ease. The band managed to elicit several chills throughout their set but perhaps the fiercest bouts came during their jaw-dropping Drake cover, which proved to be a highlight yet again. Gnarled and unbelievably heavy, it’s a complete curveball but it fits in seamlessly with the band’s aesthetic making it a dangerous addition to the arsenal of weapons at their disposal. Once again, they closed with the gorgeous “Desire“, leaving yet another audience stunned in their wake.

As soon as I’d caught up with Monks for a quick spell, I sprinted the mile back to AdHoc’s Carwash at Hand & Detail in an effort to see all of LVL UP‘s set. Arriving just a song or two into their set, I immediately squared away on the side of the stage and settled in for another powerhouse set from one of the bands that’d helped me get settled into NYC when I moved in June. Mining their discography for a well-rounded selection of songs for their setlist, the songs from Hoodwink’d seemed particularly resonant, with a large bulk of the audience audibly singing along.

Porches., a band that’s amassed a large following over the past few years, followed LVL UP with a set of soft, ’80s-indebted rock songs. It was a set that seemed to act as a bit of a breather after the unrelenting intensity of the opening batch of acts and before the onslaught of the bill’s final two acts: Perfect Pussy and Destruction Unit. I’m not sure I would have ever had moved to New York or even started this site had it not been for the influence of the former act, so seeing them play to an exceptionally responsive crowd was a very heartening moment. Also heartening was hearing the roars of approval that met vocalist Meredith Graves‘ vitriolic attacks against Chris Ott at the start of their set and the possibility of losing funding for Planned Parenthood before another round of the band’s newest song, “The Women”.

After Perfect Pussy whipped the audience into a fervor, Destruction Unit took some time to set up, fell into a haze of feedback, called for the lights to be dimmed to their absolute minimum, and launched into what almost felt like an improvisational set of punishing noise-punk armed with a lot of hardcore influences. Cribbing heavily from their latest release, the band seemed to be pushing themselves and the crowd to the limits with bruising explorations that felt somewhat reminiscent of an exorcism. Ending with a long stretch of heightening feedback, as soon as the standby switches got flipped on their equipment, I was sprinting back to Baby’s All Right to catch another set from Meat Wave.

Arriving at Baby’s All Right as the band was setting up for the second time in 10 hours was a good feeling, even as the exhaustion of the week started to take hold. Meat Wave, as has been noted multiple times before, was a tremendously important band in the early development and direction of this site. As they went off on the Baby’s stage, their audience gradually grew in size and became increasingly vocal throughout, injecting some supplementary adrenaline into what was already a particularly charged set (which always seems to be the case with Meat Wave). “Cosmic Zoo” and a revamped “Brother” were easy highlights and saw the band locked into something that felt close to feral.

For the first time since the Worriers set that kicked the week off, I decided to take a step back and skip a set to have my second meal in 30 hours to ensure I didn’t keel over later on in the night. Two slices of a pizza, a soda, and an inNo Crying In Baseballning of baseball later, I was back at the lip of the Baby’s stage watching Mothers set up, anxious to see if they could match up with their advance buzz. The quartet met expectations and then cleanly surpassed them with a set of intricate, knotty indie pop songs that are equally unpredictable and enticing. Closing with the irresistible “No Crying In Baseball“, the band had all but convinced any skeptic that they were ready for the spotlight.

Once Mothers had unplugged, I was off to The Silent Barn for the secret Honor Press (Meredith Graves’ label) was hosting and got there just in time to catch a set from Aye Nako, who I’d been wanting to see for some time. After catching a few quick words with a delirious-but-composed (and clearly excited) Graves, I squared away in the Barn and was met with a thrilling set from the quartet. Sharp, concise, basement punk played with a snarl, it felt effectively venomous but never aggressively confrontational, making it accessible enough to pull in a fairly large audience.

Afterwards, it was time for what Graves (and, to be totally honest, myself) considered the pièce de résistance: Cloud Castle Lake. The Dublin-based band made their way over to the States for CMJ and used this showcase as their final stop. It wasn’t long before the band settled into its first groove and it was all over from that point forward. No band that week would come even remotely close to matching the layered spell Cloud Castle Lake cast on its small, awed audience.

Every member of the band flashed serious chops on their respective instrument(s) and the band conjured up towering tapestries that were extraordinarily moving, both in a physical and emotional sense. With everyone dancing, swinging their hips, and looking dazed as the band made their way through an endless stretch of intricate passages, I looked down to an overwhelmed Graves, who was seated against the wall, clutching her knees to her chest, and looking out at the band with pride and wonder. As a whole, it felt surprisingly transcendent and occasionally verged on a religious experience. No other band, save for maybe Dilly Dally, gave me as many chills in a single set.

Taking all of that into account, it probably wasn’t surprising when various members of Perfect Pussy seemed to have a little trepidation about following that kind of set. They needn’t have worried too much; the band’s third set of the week was arguably their strongest, an emotionally-fueled tour de force that saw all four present members playing out of their minds. Guitarist Ray McAndrew, for instance, broke strings on two separate guitars before finding some luck with a third. Thrashing their way through a raucous set, to what was easily one of the smallest (and most intensely invested) crowds I’d seen all week, they managed to provide an unforgettable endcap to the day’s incessant tide of truly memorable moments.

Eskimeaux – Broken Necks (Music Video)

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I don’t know how this site has gone 650 posts without ever giving a headline slot to Eskimeaux, whose phenomenal 2015 effort– the coyly titled O.K. has been in near-constant rotation over the course of the past few months.  Gabrielle Smith’s Epoch project has appeared on this site a handful of times and even led off the recently published fall mix. Sooner or later something was bound to crack the feature-less streak and today it arrived in the form of a casually brilliant music video. While the medium did have a fairly strong week, it was the clip for “Broken Necks” that wound up here for reasons that skewed both objective and subjective.

Objectively, it’s a work of technical brilliance from House of Nod, who continue to impress while operating on an exceptionally high tier. Crisp editing (the stop motion is particularly enjoyable), gorgeous visuals, measured pacing, & committed performances all heighten an intentionally loose narrative that capitalizes on the song’s curious exuberance while still carving out space for its inherent bleakness (something that’s punctuated by Smith’s surprisingly capable deadpan moments). Accentuating that whimsicality are the several mini-sequences that play out like gifs, a move that could have proven too twee had it not been effectively balanced out by some astoundingly graceful long shots.

On the subjective side of things, this is a video that illustrates several of the things I love about the place I’ve come to call home for a little over a season. As run-down as it can seem, New York City (and especially Brooklyn) readily facilitates art. It’s evident in everything from the structural layout of the buildings to the graffiti that adorns their walls. For the lack of a better term, there is a strange sort of magic that the area carries, something that’s been heightened by its residents. A lot of the locations that were used in this video have come to have very significant meaning to me and I consider myself fortunate to know a handful of the people involved in the project on both sides of the lens. In that sense, not only does it succeed on its basic functions but it also operates as a living document of a specific place in time.

With all of the reasons listed above infused into one 207-second presentation, “Broken Necks” can’t help but feel (almost excessively) vibrant. It’s the perfect companion piece for O.K.‘s dueling emotional modes and a strong showcase for both Eskimeaux and House of Nod. By virtue of being so thrillingly alive and refreshingly original, “Broken Necks” surpasses merely being notable and draws closer to being unforgettable. A charming and remarkably endearing showcase of wit, composition, and genuine talent, it deserves as many views as possible.

Watch “Broken Necks” below and pick up a copy of O.K. from site favorites Double Double Whammy here. Beneath the music video watch a live performance of the song. Underneath both clips, explore a list of other great music videos to find release this week.

Puppy Problems – Daisy
Hethers – Guiding Light
J Fernandez – Between the Channels
Tuff Sunshine – Dreamin
Magnet School – British Monuments
Dogs In Ecstasy – Do Me Ronnie
Beliefs – 1992
Bully – Too Tough
No Joy – Judith
Ricked Wicky – Poor Substitute
Moby & The Void Pacific Choir – The Light Is Clear In My Eyes
Sarah Bethe Nelson – Fast Moving Clouds
Other Lives – Easy Way Out
Algiers – And When You Fall
Samson the Truest – Afterall
Mal Blum – Robert Frost
Math the Band the Band – Didn’t Have Time to Think
Destruction Unit – Salvation
Idles – The Idles Chant

Shannon & the Clams – It’s Too Late (Stream)

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After a strong start to the week, this Tuesday saw the flood of releases pumping the brakes a little but still delivering a handful of great songs and music videos. The former category saw the release of Summer Twins’ “Demons“, Lou Barlow’s “Wave“, Julien Baker’s “Something“, Woozy’s “Venom“, and Destruction Unit’s “The Upper Hand“, while the latter category lodged fascinating new entries from Kagoule, Brick + Mortar, and Gangrene (ft. Sean Price and Havoc). While all of those managed to pack a formidable amount of strength, today’s focus fell to an old site favorite: Shannon & the Clams.

Already several releases deep into a legendary career that’s amassed the band a feverish cult following, Shannon & the Clams are showing no signs of slowing down. On “It’s Too Late”, the characteristically charismatic second single off the band’s forthcoming Gone by the Dawn, the band demonstrates a casual mastery of their craft. Utilizing the many strengths of Shannon Shaw (the band’s bassist/vocalist) to perfection, “It’s Too Late”- over the course of it’s two-minutes-and-change run-time- sees Shannon & the Clams taking what feels like a well-earned victory lap. There are no stakes on “It’s Too Late”, just an almost sheepish carefree vibe that suits the band’s retro-leaning mold to a tee. Irresistibly light, fun, and perfect for the last days of summer, “It’s Too Late” is the band’s latest nod, wink, and smile. Don’t let this one disappear.

Listen to “It’s Too Late” here and pre-order Gone by the Dawn from Hardly Art ahead of its September 11 release date here.

Fakers – $600 (Stream)

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Losing The Henry Clay People was a painful blow. The last two full-lengths the band released were among some of the best in recent memory. On what would prove to be the band’s swan song, 25 For the Rest of Our Lives, they hit a high in the second song: “The Fakers“. Fortunately, for everyone, the spirit of that band lives on through some of the members’ next project, who are- appropriately- named Fakers. The bite’s in tact and the verve comes through in full on the band’s first release, “$600”.

All snarling guitars, sneered vocals, and propulsive rhythm section work, it’s a vicious demonstration of not just the band’s potential but their power. Couplets like “you asked me how it felt/I said it felt like shit” resonate as heavily as anything guitarist/vocalist achieved as The Henry Clay People’s chief lyricist and the music around Siara’s wry observations remains razor sharp. By the time “$600” draws its last breath, one thing’s very clear: this band’s set on surpassing the expectations that greeted their initial announcement. Keep both eyes on their progress and expect to hear a lot more about this project in the future.

Listen to $600 below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on their upcoming Personality Voices 7″ and more. Underneath the embed, enjoy links to 10 other excellent songs to have come out in the past two weeks.


Total Makeover – Different Shapes
The Foetals – Fine
William Alexander – You Can Take It
Tempest – Tidal Wave
Palehound – Molly
Vundabar – Oulala
Sharkmuffin – First Date
Destruction Unit – If Death Ever Slept
Comfy – Poetic
No Win – Heart Knowing Rest

First Quarter Clips, Pt. 1 (Video Mixtape)

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As was laid out in yesterday’s mixtape, for the next few days this site will be in strict catch-up mode. Mixtapes of some of the best material to emerge in the first three months of 2015 will be running until everything’s brought up to the present-day release cycle. A few items here and there will be granted individual focus pieces but don’t let that distract from the importance of the songs and clips in all of the past and forthcoming lists (as well as the one on display here). It’s been a strong year for music videos across several genres, which is something this package of clips is intended to emphasize. From site favorites Mumblr‘s stroke of brilliance in incorporating actual live footage from their previous shows into “Got It” to the Bob’s Burgers tribute to Sleater-Kinney to the searing, soulful “Keep In Mind (Asshole)”, there’s a lot here to admire. Dive in below and explore a few of this year’s richest treasures.

COLLECTION I

1. Mumblr – Got It
2. Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters
3. Heaters – Levitate Thigh
4. Menace Beach – Tastes Like Medicine
5. California X – Hadley, MA
6. Protomartyr – Want Remover
7. Destruction Unit – Final Flight
8. MOURN – Your Brain Is Made of Candy
9. Young Guv – Crushing Sensation
10. Cyberbully Mom Club – Bobby Pins
11. King Tuff – Headbanger
12. Sleater-Kinney – A New Wave
13. Cayetana – Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving
14. Ex Hex – Don’t Wanna Lose
15. Franky Flowers – Fell In Love
16. Gal Pals – Do You Ever?
17. Celestial Shore – Weekenders
18. Twerps – Stranger
19. Kuroma – Simon’s in the Jungle
20. Kool Stuff Katie – Cars
21. Fear of Men – America
22. This is the Kit – Bashed Out
23. Tori Vasquez – Keep In Mind (Asshole)
24. Only Real – Can’t Get Happy
25. The Dodos – Competition