Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Dirt Cult Records

Lady Bones – 24 Hour Party Girl (Stream)

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Now that the site’s caught up to the current release cycle on all fronts, their may not be as much material in the ensuing posts as some of the more recent entries. Even with that note, it’s extremely clear that 2015’s not going to bother to slow down its astonishing pace in regards to great new releases. While not a lot of publications or bands offered up new material over what seemed to be a slightly extended Labor Day weekend, there were still a few slivers of gold. The music video format found strong representation by way of Mick Jenkins’ stunning “P’s & Q’s” and Skating Polly’s delightfully whirlwind “Nothing More Than A Body“. Single streams saw another compelling duo ushered forth in Terrible Feelings’ new noir-tinged basement pop classic “Black Water” and Drowse’s slowly-unfurling, dread-induced “Melt“.

Full streams were in much larger supply, with no less than six outstanding titles vying for greater attention. Soul Low hit a new career with the surging, shambolic Sweet Pea EP, reaffirming their potential in the process. La Lenguas proved that “Love You All The Time” was no fluke by padding it out with two more stunners on their debut EP, Tears In My Milkshake. Rightfully-vaunted punk label Dirt Cult found another strong release in Blank Pages’ urgent No Reception EP while Heyrocco got their career off to an extraordinarily promising start with the powerful Teenage Movie SoundtrackBoth Communions and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin exceeded heightened expectations with The High Country and Communions, respectively, to bring everything home.

All of those songs, records, and music videos- as always- are worthy of praise and greater scrutiny. It’s Lady Bones’ latest, though, that earns this post’s featured spot. The band recently began teasing their upcoming Dying with a song, “Botch“, that suggested a bold atmospheric shift. Now, “24 Hour Party Girl” has arrived to confirm the band’s new era. Lady Bones had initially caught this site’s attention by virtue of an incredible split release with Horsehands. Any of the band’s more vibrantly bright tendencies evidenced in that first release have all but vanished, replaced instead with the dour relentlessness that drives bands like their labelmates (and site favorites) Kal Marks.

“24 Hour Party Girl”, like “Botch” starts murky and intent, working itself into a contained furor that seems as if its on the verge of toppling everything over at any given moment. Incredibly dynamic, restless, and unnervingly foreboding, the song’s unavoidable proof of the band’s sudden ascension to an unthinkable level. Coming in 15 seconds shy of five minutes, it hits its fiercest moments in its closing passage, erupting into a bruising, cathartic release. The guitar sings while the rhythm section punishes, bringing everything to an unexpectedly explosive finish, leaving nothing but smoke in its wake. Two songs in and Dying is already looking like a surprise candidate for Album of the Year.

Listen to “24 Hour Party Girl” below and pre-order Dying in advance of its June 3o release date from Midnight Werewolf here.

METZ – Spit You Out (Stream)

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While there may still be a large handful of full streams to mention from 2015’s beginnings, it’s a small enough array to justify pushing off to the side for just a while. Today officially marks the return to regular coverage as an every day staple and today, more than any other day, feels like the precise right time to kick things back into high gear. While there weren’t a lot of music video that managed to sink their way in, Holy Pinto’s laid-back animated clip for “Tooth” and Oddisee’s black-and-white journey in “CounterClockwise” still constitute a strong showing for the medium. Full streams packed a little more heat in numbers, with a pair of demos coming into sharp focus, courtesy of Composite and Dominadora, respectively (a personal thanks to Pansy Twist Distro‘s Amy for tips on both). In the non-demo corners of that particular sphere, there were treasures to be found in the spiked post-punk of Bad Future‘s Nightchurch, the joyfully scattershot eclecticism of The Danger Boys’ self-titled effort, the scrappy grit of the indie pop found on VARSITY‘s most recent full-length, and Telepathic’s reassuringly brilliant Powers of Ten EP, which lessens the pain caused by the sudden departure of site favorites Bleeding Rainbow (Telepathic features members of the band).

As usual, there was a glut of incredible songs worth touching on, a few of which nearly snagged tonight’s headline. A pairing of elder statesman from the independent scene had a good day out with both Conor Oberst’s Desaparecidos marking their official return with “City on the Hill” to tease a forthcoming record (Payola) and Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan providing a reminder of why he remains one of the more influential voices in music with the lightly damaged (and wholly brilliant) “Box Batteries“.  Moon King provided alluring lilt with “Impossible“,  Town Portal took off the safety with the gnarled “Bonus Trigger“, Blank Pages blurred the line between basement pop and post-punk with “No Reception“, and 15 year-old wunderkind Billie Marten turned in a haunting folk stunner with “Heavy Weather“. Howard also turned in an arresting folk tune by way of “Religion” while Battle Ave carved out an atmospheric niche with the downtrodden “Aleph“. A trio of punk scrappers rounded things out with Hinds (formerly known as Deers) unveiling the finalized version of the slow-burning “Trippy Gum“, The Teen Age elevating the anticipation for their forthcoming record with the driving “Pieces“, and Loose Tooth wreaking all kinds of havoc with their latest, the rousing “Skinny Chewy“.

Even with all of those items coming out swinging, the day- and this piece’s focus- belongs to METZ. Arriving only a day after “Acetate” fearlessly pummeled its way onto the site’s First Quarter Highlights mixtape, “Spit You Out” comes flying off the handle, kicking down any doors that are in its path. One of the biggest criticisms METZ– the band’s acclaimed debut- faced was that it was too one-note; song structures were too similar and the band couldn’t shake its comfort zone. At the same time, praise for their live show began appearing in just about any publication that paid the band any mind. Personally, I loved the no-bullshit approach bent of their debut but “Spit You Out” does suggest the band might have latched onto something tremendously exciting by deviating from their more conventional tendencies (which aren’t really all that conventional anyway). One thing the characteristically hell-raising does do better than any of its predecessors is imitate the band’s exhilarating live show. Riding one of the band’s strangest riffs throughout the course of the song, guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins sounds as manic as ever- only relenting for a thrilling extended section that feels tuned in to what the band aims for live. Apart from that, there are a few other production flourishes here and there that suggest II, the appropriately-named album to which “Acetate” and “Spit You Out” belong, could be one of 2015’s finest releases. Noise solos, a tambourine that somehow manages to sound menacing, and a whole lot of attitude combine to serve as a warning: METZ aren’t planning on going anywhere until they finish what they started.

Listen to “Spit You Out” below and pre-order II from Sub Pop here.

Two Inch Astronaut – Dead White Boy (Stream)

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A few notheworthy full-lengths emerged over the course of this week’s closing stretch. Two of the finest, Vagabon’s Persian Garden and VVHILE’s More, barely registered as blips on most site’s radars. Both stand as a very strong testament to the increasingly powerful (and ever-expanding) DIY punk scene and are well worth quite a few listens- and quite a bit of investment. Even with both of those records absolutely stacked with noterworthy songs, Two Inch Astronaut‘s third look at Foulbrood– following the title track and “Part of Your Scene“- managed to stand out.

It’s difficult to imagine Foulbrood not being heralded as one of the year’s best records around the time of its release. A case could be made for a little over half of the songs on the record being in the ranks of the year’s finest. “Dead White Boy”, in its nearly eight minute sprawl, is one of those songs. One of the record’s most definitive songs, it brings in cues from post-hardcore, math, shoegaze, and post-punk to create something deceptively subtle and naturally hypnotic. Teeming with restless lyrics that delve into some of the uncertainties of mortality, it’s one of the band’s most successful lyrical outings as well as one of their most arresting musically.

Veering from passage to passage, “Dead White Boy” also manages to succeed in terms of narrative-worthy dynamics. Alternately visceral and beautiful, it’s a unique entry in the band’s catalog and expertly taps into a somber mood that’s entirely new for Two Inch Astronaut and a surprisingly good look for a band hell-bent on remaining unpredictable. From the gorgeous falsettos in a sea of murky chaos to the unexpectedly jarring ending to the delicate bridge, there are no false notes here- not even the ones approaching atonality. Guitars surge, vocals soar, the bass courses, and the drums are next-level (all of which is par for the course for an Exploding in Sound-approved band but taken to extremes here). Everything clicks into place to create one of Two Inch Astronaut’s most engaging tapestries to date- and this is still only a hint of what Foulbrood has to offer.

Listen to “Dead White Boy” below and pre-order Foulbrood on Two Inch Astronaut’s bandcamp.

LVL UP – Big Snow (Stream)

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What a day. There was no obvious choice for a feature until LVL UP’s “Big Snow” premiered over at Impose. On the surface, that’s a bland statement- but looking at the company that “Big Snow” joined today, it’s one hell of a testament to LVL UP.  In the single song department there were some legitimately great songs: Run The Jewels’ pulverizing new (Zach De La Rocha-featuring) scorcher “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)“, Dollface’s impossibly breezy indie pop gem “Churchyard“, Daddy Issues’ distortion-laden post-punk dirge “Ugly When I Cry“, and  a bracing new Crow Bait song- “Separate Stations“- that incorporates members of Iron Chic. There was also Dasher’s foreboding noise-punk minimalism piece, “Teeth“, as well as Vetter Kids’ “I’m Just Your Newest Bluest” which is a perfect representation of the band’s modernist take on classic 90’s emo and noise-punk. “A Million Random Digits” proved that …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are far from being done while Wedding Dress’ “Somewhere Darker” makes it clear that Wedding Dress are anxious to make their introduction to the world.

Cellphone also posited themselves as a band ready to make a notable entrance with an enticing and mysterious trailer to promote their upcoming Excellent Condition. Denmark’s Mimas returned to the fold in a big way with the characteristically impressive live-edit clip for “Kissinger’s Jaw” (fans of Exploding in Sound who aren’t well-versed in Big Scary Monsters would do well to take note of this one) and Tangerine released a delightful video for another indie-pop keeper, “You’ll Always Be Lonely”. Ex Hex got in on the action as well, releasing a knockout video for Rips highlight (one of many) “Waterfall“. For full streams there were stunners from The Grayces, Thurston Moore, and a mildly insane (and wildly heavy) split between Big Neck Police and Dog.

Everything hyperlinked in the two paragraphs above stands as both a great way to share music worth listening to and acts as a very long-winded way of saying that featuring “Big Snow” wasn’t a foregone conclusion- at least not until the riff kicked in at the :26 mark. It’s the third song to be streamed from a just-released split between LVL UP, Krill, Ovlov, and Radiator Hospital. “Big Snow” is a song that’s actually been featured on this site before in an admittedly roundabout way- it was the feature piece in the band’s Serious Business session that was featured on Watch This. Even with Hoodwink’d being one of this site’s top contenders (if not top contender) for Album of the Year honors, “Big Snow” manages to stand out as one of the best songs to spring out of the band’s discography.

Having just seen LVL UP take the roof off of Chicago’s Beat Kitchen (pictured above, more to come on that later), it’s allowed the cementing of some previously-held opinions in regards to how the band functions. First and foremost; this is a truly collaborative effort with everything working as a complement to its surrounding elements at an obscenely high level. Second, this music works best as a victory lap for the disenfranchised; it’s both a rousing call to action and a well-meaning embrace for the people who were told they’d never live up to their potential or lived on the fringes of culture. LVL UP’s never been one to shy away from the unconventional (or the irreverent) and that’s a trait that takes bravery to embody. “Big Snow” hints at all of these elements and includes a rare treat; every one of the band’s vocalists (Dave Benton, Nick Corbo, and Mike Caridi, respectively) joins in for one last rousing harmony run before that surging, blissed-out guitar riff rallies the song to its fade-out finish. If Hoodwink’d wasn’t already proof, “Big Snow” certainly cements what’s become an unavoidable fact: LVL UP are one of today’s best bands and they deserve all the accolades that are bound to fall their way.

Listen to “Big Snow” below and pre-order the split it’s on from Double Double Whammy here.