Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Dustin Lovelis

Girlpool – Before the World Was Big (Music Video)

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Allyssa Yohana’s tenderly constructed and affecting clip for the title track off of Girlpool’s upcoming Before The World Was Big was one of the most intrinsically human pieces of art unveiled over the last few days. In an age that so readily celebrates bombast, grandeur, and general post-production gloss to achieve greater accessibility, when something that feels as deeply personal as “Before The World Was Big Arrives” arrives it becomes even more arresting than it would have been stripped of industry context. That’s not to say there weren’t other pieces of multimedia that made an impression over the past few days. As always, there was a steady influx of material worth hearing, both in the single and full stream categories.

Representing the single streams were Heyrocco’s spiky basement pop rave-up “Loser Denial“, Looming’s compellingly dark “Onwards“,  Nots’ manic “Virgin Mary“, Mutoid Man’s oddly punishing “Reptilian Soul“, Future Death’s frenetic “Familial Tremors“, Sitcom’s intuitively layered “Ginger Ale“, The Velvet Teen’s triumphant return in “The Giving In”, and an absolute monster of a collaboration between Ghostface Killah, Adrian Younge, Raekwon, and RZA entitled “Return Of The Savage“. While the full streams didn’t quite match the sheer volume of that collection of songs, they matched their strength. Dustin Lovelis’ sprawling punk-leaning psych-pop Dimensions revealed all the makings of an unexpected contemporary classic, Nocturnal Sunshine’s brooding, glitchy self-titled, and Town Portal’s restless The Occident. For music videos, there was Girlpool’s “Before The World Was Big” and that was more than enough.

Girlpool have earned their fare share of written content on here over the years and a lot of the reasoning for that can be clearly evidenced in “Before The World Was Big”. Both in the song, which is an exquisitely rendered burst of well-placed nostalgia, and the video, which eschews any unnecessary distractions to present something heartfelt and honest. While the home-movie VHS aesthetic has been to death in music videos at this point, it can still maximize emotional impact when paired with the right content. Here, the visuals act in perfect tandem to their soundtrack, emphasizing both the yearning and uncertainty present in the lyrics while simultaneously relaying the duo’s joy of simply being together to share in their experiences. It’s a deceptively complex structure that winds up with an unshakable resonance thanks to the abundance of care and genuine feeling. It’s a short, sublime piece of work that feels perfectly representative of the band and their ideologies while retaining an atmosphere that suggests Before The World Was Big is going to be something truly special.

Watch “Before The World Was Big” and pre-order the album of the same name from Wichita here.

Tenement – Dull Joy (Stream)

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Predatory Highlights. June 2. Doon giovanni Records. We’ll get to all of this shortly but first, a recap, as it’s been some time since the last non-Watch This post ran on this site. Coming up over the next few days will be a run of songs and videos focusing on some of the best of what’s emerged since the start of this month. Each of the highlighted songs will come equipped with no less than 10 others worth hearing in the accompanying post(s). Up first: “Idiot“, an extraordinary laid-back basement pop tune from Dustin Lovelis’ upcoming Dimensions. There was also the The Go! Team’s revitalized, energetic “Ye Ye Yamaha“, Torres’ unpredictably frenetic “Cowboy Guilt” (furthering Sprinter‘s album of the year potential), PINS’ jaunty “Young Girls“, and Blonde Elvis’ fired up powerpop gem “Oh Mary“. To top everything off there was Fraternal Twins’ slow-burning “Skin Gets Hot“, The Japanese House’s hypnotic “Sister“, KEN Mode’s furious “These Tight Jeans“, No Joy’s hazy “Moon In My Mouth“, and The Lagoonas’ fiery basement punk gut-punch, “Color Spectrum“. While, as always, every single one of these tracks is worthy of a high investment level, the headline goes to a band that’s now intrinsically tied to this site: Tenement.

Before diving into the dissection of yesterday’s big news surrounding the band’s upcoming release, it’s worth noting (on a very personal level) that in my time writing, few things have meant more to me than being able to contribute a piece for the zine insert that came equipped with Bruised Music: Volume 1, the band’s collection of earlier material that came out last month. Tenement are a band that have meant varying degrees to various people but they’ve managed to affect my life for what’s nearing ten years through both their music and their continued kindness. I grew up alongside their progression and they’re directly responsible for introducing me to the greater DIY scene that this site was built to celebrate (which is a space that may not even exist without that influence). They’re the first band I can remember booking and they’re a band I’ve been referring to as “Wisconsin’s best band” since the first time I saw them live- so, naturally, their upcoming record’s been one I’ve been tracking closely. Yesterday, the trio blew the lid off of that record- which has been meticulously shaped over the course of the past three years- via a typically incredible AV Club premiere that came loaded with details.

Predatory Highlights will be released on June 2 via the band’s (relatively) new home, the increasingly vaunted Don Giovanni Records. It will be a double-album. It’s set to contain both the band’s towering pop sensibilities that Napalm Dream zeroed in on while also accentuating the curious experiments that provided Blind Wink with an immediate cult classic aesthetic. In short, Predatory Highlights will be the band’s most ambitious- and most visible- release to date. Kicking off its campaign with a track as immensely accessible as “Dull Joy” is a brilliant strategic move as it encapsulates the band’s most immediate elements while hinting at the stranger terrain they’re capable of covering. As much as ever, guitarist/vocalist Amos Pitsch is in fine form both lyrically and musically- the song structure’s bold, the chord progressions are thrillingly inventive, and the lyric copy still reads like classic, downtrodden Americana.

While most of it will strike listeners who are familiar with the band as vintage Tenement, they still find room for a curveball- and that moment provides “Dull Joy” it’s most exhilarating moment. After the band locks into its standard basement pop/hardcore/power punk groove, they launch into a bridge that goes into full-blown r&b/pop mode, complete with falsetto. For any other band, a moment that conventional would seem rote but here, it adds a new dimension to the band’s already staggering depth. Accentuating the impact of Pitsch’s characteristically brilliant turn-in is yet another formidable display of intuitive talent from the band’s rhythm section- bassist Jesse Ponkamo and drummer Eric Mayer- which remains one of the best currently operating. Everything comes together on “Dull Joy” to not only prove that Tenement’s continuously raising their own otherwise unreachable bar but that they’ve also still got plenty of tricks up their sleeves. It may still be early and this may be the very first glimpse of Predatory Highlight but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Tenement could have a future classic on their hands with what looks to be a monumental release. If it doesn’t wind up near the very top of this site’s Albums of the Year list when December rolls around, no one will be more surprised than me.

Listen to “Dull Joy” below and pre-order Predatory Highlights from Don Giovanni here.