A few years ago, Peaer put out a ridiculously strong self-titled record that saw the trio nearly perfect a curious blend of math-rock, Midwestern emo, and east coast indie, all of which was shot through with an undeniably punk sensibility. They’ve toured hard since that record’s release and tightened the screws on that formula, amplifying certain aspects (a sludge/grunge influence has started to peek through with a little more regularity) and growing more surgical in their overall precision.
All of those qualities coalesce on Don’t, the first look the band’s offering at their upcoming A Healthy Earth, and it’s a doozy. The track starts off restrained, winds itself up, takes an enormous leap and starts swinging recklessly from the rafters. A startlingly clear track, “Don’t” showcases the absolute best qualities of Peaer and tees up A Healthy Earth with a palpable sends of purpose. Peaer have a lot left to say, we should be grateful that we’re in a position to listen.
Listen to “Don’t” below and pre-order a copy of A Healthy Earth from Tiny Engines here.
Once again, an increasingly busy schedule has led to a brief gap between posts and diminished the possibilities for year-end coverage. For that reason, there’ll only be three more Best Of pieces before the third round of A Year’s Worth of Memories. Sadly, this means some previous categories will be neglected but don’t let that diminish the importance of things like online singles, compilations, and the other odds and ends releases.
This list will focus on the EP’s that were released this year, which had to be at least four songs or exceed 10 minutes in length (which disqualified some genuinely tremendous releases). A lot of great material came out this year and these EP’s managed to emerge as standouts. For any potential bias to be eliminated, EP’s that premiered here were deemed ineligible (but should still be celebrated). Enjoy the list.
Jack – Resting Places
One of the more harrowing listens of 2016 was centered around the loss of a loved one. It was an event that seems to have transformed something in Brittany Costa, the mastermind behind Jack and Resting Places. This is an explosive EP and it deserved much more circulation than it received.
Krill – Krill
A posthumous release from one of the most fiercely beloved bands in DIY punk, Krill‘s self-titled swan song may also be their finest work. Bassist/vocalist employed baritone guitar lines to spectacular effect on Krill, something evident from the EP’s brilliant opening track (“Meat”). Precise and teeming with feeling, it’s one hell of a goodbye.
Eskimeaux – Year of the Rabbit
Following this site’s pick for 2015’s Album of the Year proved to be a shockingly easy feat for Eskimeaux, who quickly released a summery EP overflowing with memorable moments. Year of the Rabbit finds Eskimeaux deepening the best aspects of their music and refining some newer tricks. It’s a breezy listen that carries substantial weight.
Kynnet – …Taas ne Kynnet
A blast of fired-up basement pop from Finland, Kynnet once again proves to be an uncontainable force with …Taas ne Kynnet. This is hard-charging music that transcends the language divide and effortlessly engages listeners with its overwhelming immediacy. Give in or get out of the way because once …Taas ne Kynnet gets gets going, it’s not stopping.
Forth Wanderers – Slop
Headlined by its breathtaking title track, Slop is a warning shot from the increasingly ambitious Forth Wanderers. While “Slop” is undoubtedly the standout of the EP, the other three songs don’t ever come across as being overshadowed, revealing flashes of the band’s brilliance. Slop is a uniformly strong outing that packs a serious punch.
Happyness – Tunnel Vision On Your Part
Happyness teased Tunnel Vision On Your Part with “SB’s Truck“, a song based on the fascinating historical footnote that saw the unlikely pairing of Andre The Giant and Samuel Beckett. The band continues to do no wrong, turning in another immensely enjoyable collection of songs that further their growing reputation as master popsmiths.
Faye – Faye
An extraordinary debut from an extremely promising band, Faye‘s self-titled is a beautifully crafted work that capitalizes on the sort of subtleties that some veteran acts still have a difficult time navigating. Nearly half of this EP rightfully earned individual features before its release and the EP’s remainder lived up to the promise of those tracks.
Snail Mail – Habit
2016 saw Snail Mail start to break out and earn some overdue attention on a much larger scale. A lot of that can be attributed to the remarkable (and surprisingly affecting) Habit. Vulnerable, defiant, and tenaciously pointed, Habit‘s the kind of record that burrows under the skin and refuses to leave. A gem and a career best.
Hazel English – Never Going Home
There were few, if any records, released in 2016 lovelier than Hazel English‘s Never Going Home. A spellbinding mixture of dream pop, basement pop, and post-punk, Never Going Home‘s the kind of painfully beautiful work that deserves to be remembered. It’s a series of grace notes that openly offer contentment and warmth.
Fern Mayo – Hex Signs
Fern Mayo became a staple of this site’s coverage based on the white-knuckle intensity of their live show and in Hex Signsthey manage to harness that intimidating forcefulness. Easily the best work of the band’s burgeoning career, Hex Signs is a confrontational demonstration of the type of strength that refuses to be ignored.
don’t – forget it.
One of the unique thrills of music writing is the discovery of a young, unknown band from a relatively small area that are doing interesting, impressive things. don’t met all of those qualifications to such an excessive degree with forget it. that it became unforgettable. While possibly the least recognizable name on this list, they deserve the placement.
Patio – Luxury
Being able to watch a band evolve from their first show and thrive in the state of progression is a privilege. It’s even more of a privilege when the band in question is one like Patio, who excel at the formula that makes up Luxury: wiry post-punk that serves up as much dry wit as it does sheer attitude. What’s scary is they’re still only just getting started.
Strange Ranger – Sunbeams Through Your Head
Sunbeams Through Your Headmarked an exhilarating new chapter for Strange Ranger who, almost paradoxically, seemed galvanized in their decision to more fully embrace a downtrodden nature. It’s an EP characterized by moments either brave, bold, or beautiful. An extraordinarily compelling listen and the sound of a band hitting its stride.
Tony Molina – Confront the Truth
As someone who could claim in-your-face micro-punk as a specialty, Tony Molina‘s gorgeous Confront the Truth likely came as a shock to some. Anyone well-versed in Molina’s work could easily see how the songwriter could conjure up a gentle 7″ full of retro-leaning acoustic pop songs that invoked the spirit of the late ’60 and early ’70s. A sublime work.
Talons’ – Work Stories
One of the rare records where the distinction between album and EP becomes blurry, Work Stories nevertheless saw Talons’ extend a quiet streak of ridiculously impressive records. Hushed and haunted folk-inflected songs comprise Work Stories, each as breathtakingly gripping as the last. Work Stories is another piece of mastery.
While the intro to this piece stated that the majority of the odds and ends would be ignored, an exception is being made for the excessively great split EP that saw Mercury Girls (who also released the excellent Ariana 7″ in 2016), The Spook School, Wildhoney, and Tigercats each contribute two songs. Continental Drift doesn’t feel or operate like the majority of split releases by virtue of its exhaustively complete unification.
All four bands on Continental Drift can come across as singular acts, on closer inspection they begin to appear as slight mutations of each other, rendering this split an effortless listen. There could very well be a group of people that’d mistake Continental Drift as the work of one inhumanly talented band (though the shift in accents may provide a tipping point). Each of the four acts bring their best work to the table and make characteristically strong impressions.
Over Continental Drift‘s eight tracks, not only is there never a weak song, there’s never a weak moment. Each of these songs is tightly crafted and masterfully executed, providing each act with a highlight reel that could attract unfamiliar listeners to the rest of their respective discographies. There are so many soaring moments scattered throughout Continental Drift that the end result is stratospheric. In theory, this split was enticing but in its execution Continental Drift achieves a staggering amount of perfection.
As is typically the case, every single one of those entries above is worth exploring in greater detail and the fact that they’re not featured at length in this space shouldn’t diminish their impact. For this post’s featured title, the attention turns back to an old favorite: Tony Molina. Ever since turning in some spectacular work with Ovens, the project that earned Molina an early dose of notoriety and acclaim, the songwriter’s been on a hot streak.
2014’s Dissed & Dismissed,the last record to be released under Molina’s name, was an exhilarating collection of micro-punk numbers that were infused with expansive ideas and an earnestness that isn’t always present in the genre. Now, Molina’s returning with a new, eight-song 7″ release entitled Confront the Truth and is teasing the record with “See Me Fall”.
Stripping way back, “See Me Fall” occupies the space of Molina’s most plaintive offerings, a straightforward acoustic number anchored by a familiar sense of trepidation and longing. There’s still a classically-influenced solo to close the proceedings out — a Molina staple — but it’s more subdued than scintillating, demonstrating Molina’s increasingly acute sense of atmospherics.
While it may not be the celebrated songwriter’s most explosive track, “See Me Fall” still manages to become an immediate standout in an impressive discography. In just over a minute, Molina manages to evoke a quiet despair that elevates “See Me Fall” from being somewhat of a curiosity to being genuinely memorable. Vocals, acoustic guitar, and an abbreviated running time is an economic setup but, like so many times before, Molina turns a small scale into something grandiose. It’s a potent reminder of Molina’s considerable talent and a song that should be remembered fondly several years down the line.
Listen to “See Me Fall” below and pre-order Confront the Truth from Slumberland here.
July’s continued to bring out quality full streams in full force and the last few days of this week were no exception, bringing about worthy titles from Pre Nup, Yeesh, and The Saxophones as well as a Disposable America mixtape that’s directing all of the proceeds it earns towards the Pulse Tragedy Community Fund. As always, all of those titles should be more fully explored than time here allows and stand as highly recommended listens. Joining them in that regard is this post’s intended feature, the outstanding debut release from don’t, the cheekily-titled forget it.
Both the pop-punk and bedroom pop genres have been at their absolute best when they’ve proven to be subversive, opting out of merely imitating their expected beats. forget it succeeds in bridging the two genres by virtue of that type of subversion and becomes an unlikely standout in the process. In four short tracks, don’t offer up a variety of familiar points and then sets about demolishing their construction.
Whether it’s the synth that erupts at the chorus of “ambiguous” that transports the song into unexpected territory after a standard pop-punk build or the intense, sharp left forget it takes for its closing ballad, “your head”, that unexpectedly turns over the vocal lead and dramatically altars the momentum of the EP before exploding into a sort of euphoria, the band refuses to cater to an easy or predictable route.
Throughout it all, forget it remains deeply compelling not only by the virtue of its choices but in large part to the purity of the music it offers. Nearly every track’s narrative is populated and defined by some type of longing and elevated by its instrumental explorations. There’s not a moment on forget it that feels anything less than overwhelmingly honest and it draws a considerable amount of power from its sincerity.
In approximately 11 minutes, don’t go from being an unknown entity to one of 2016’s most exciting — and most promising — new acts. Don’t be surprised to see a quick succession of converts fiercely latching onto the band following this release or to hear their name come up in conversation a lot more readily. With a start this promising, it’s very easy to have a tremendous amount of hope for the future of music. Before that point hits, we should just be grateful to have been gifted such an incredible soundtrack for the ride.