Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: EiS

Stove – Graduate and Congratulate (Music Video)

STOVE

Over the first half of this week, some outstanding full streams were unveiled by Toby Coke, Unity, JANK, Good Throb, The Wilful Boys, and The I.l.y’s. While those six titles should be granted quite a bit of attention, this post’s featured spot falls out of that category entirely. Instead, the focus will jump to a personality-driven music video from site favorite Stove.

Any new material from the band that was responsible for this site’s pick for 2015’s song of the year will always be treated as welcome news. While the band’s on tour, that material will be available on a tape that they’ll have at their shows (which will be the only place they’re available). Fortunately for everyone who can’t make it out, they’re also offering up a music video for one of the tracks from that tape, “Graduate and Congratulate”.

The clip itself is about as bare-bones as it gets; a one-shot of Stove’s guitarist/vocalist Steve Hartlett navigating his way in and out of a house, taking a moment outside for a very quick beard trim and head shave session. Mouthing the words to the song, smoking a cigarette, and taking everything in stride, Hartlett exhibits the kind of hazy calm that fuels “Graduate and Congratulate”. It’s a simple clip but it’s deeply effective and a potent reminder of the band’s considerable control over all aspects of their craft. Dive in, give it a look/listen, and never stop making art.

Watch “Graduate and Congratulate” below and grab a copy of the Is A Toad In the Rain tape by checking out the band’s current tour.

Bueno – I Got Your Back (Stream)

bueno

The past two days have been eventful for nearly every major release category but standalone streams put up an incredibly impressive run thanks to great new tracks from Chris Staples, Toby Coke, Mozes and the Firstborn, Hater, Heaven For Real, Stephen Steinbrink, Year of Glad, IAN SWEET, Yeesh, Young Mister, Dumb Numbers, Tamper, Vomitface, Planning For Burial, Adam Torres, Private Joy, The Rantouls, Half Loon, LUKA, Pascal PinonDYAN, and Slow Hollows. Music videos offered up a strong class as well, including new pieces from Summer Cannibals, Nico Yaryan, Peter Bjorn And John, Allah-Las, Melaena Cadiz, Alice Bag, Shock Machine, John Southworth, and an astonishingly powerful entry into the format from TotemoGraveface, Lea, clipping., Neutrals, Shickey, RLYR, Control TopSpook the Herd, and a summer sampler from the remarkably consistent Z Tapes rounded out the full streams.

While all of those titles are more than worthy endeavors worth ever single moment of investment that they’ll be given (and likely even more), Bueno’s latest track grabs this post’s headline. Over the past several years, Bueno has gain an extremely dedicated following that have granted them an almost cult-like status among their converts. “I Get Your Back” justifies that adoration with a calmness that nears the serene. Incorporating an off-kilter powerpop sensibility into their typical ’90s-indebted slacker punk approach pays massive dividends here, as the erratic propulsion of “I Got Your Back” leads it into the kind of near-transcendental territory that’s hard to forget.

Listen to “I Got Your Back” below and pre-order Illuminate Your Room here.

Two Inch Astronaut – Good Behavior (Stream)

Two Inch Astronaut I

[EDITOR’S NOTE: With the site now entering emergency year-end catch-up mode thanks to the cruel, mocking nature of time, tonight’s trio of posts will simply be short reviews of the song(s) in the headline(s) and an accompanying list of tracks that deserve to be heard.]

Two Inch Astronaut have been squarely in this site’s crosshairs since 2014’s inspired Foulbrood, which wound up ranking as one of that year’s finest albums. In February, the band will be following that up with Personal Life, a record that the band’s been road-testing to impressive amounts of applause over the past few months. Apart from the live preview, the band’s now graciously offering up the record’s barbed lead-off single “Good Behavior” as a tantalizing preview of what they’ve got up their sleeve. Once again, there’s a formidable marriage of post-punk, basement pop, and outside hardcore influences to create something that, incredibly, is as accessible as it is complex. Leftield chord voicings collide with an impassioned vocal performance to demonstrate that this band’s only getting better as they go. Hairpin turns, heady arrangements, and a new studio member (Grass Is Green‘s Andy Chervenak) establish this song (and likely this record) as a legitimate behemoth.

Listen to “Good Behavior” below and pre-order Personal Life here. Underneath the embed, explore a list of great songs to have appeared over the course of the last several months.

ARIGATO MASSAÏ (ft. Fannie Linneros) – We Love
Quilt – Eliot St.
Flowers – Ego Loss
Bandit – Flake
MONEY – I’ll be the Night
Pusha T (ft. The-Dream) – M.F.T.R.
Holy Esque – Silences
PWRHAUS – How I Feel About You
Timber Bones – Travelling Song
Sonya Kitchell – Mexico
Running – Reclaimed Would
Public Memory – Lunar
Eddi Front – Goldie
Atlantic Thrills – Vices
Prawn – Seas
Spring King – Who Are You
TV Baby – Half A Chance
Cassie Ramone – Run Run Rudolph
Eleanor Friedberger – He Didn’t Mention His Mother
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Aerobed
Mammatus – Ornia

CMJ: Day 4 (Pictorial Review)

Palehound I

With the first two galleries now up and running, the night continues on with the third. On the fourth official day of CMJ, once again, videos of the bands were posted shortly after the official review went live. Rounding everything out is this photo gallery. Enjoy.

Stove – Wet Food (Stream, Live Video)

STOVE

Continuing on with the round-up of the great material to be released over the past week, Steve Hartlett’s post-Ovlov project gets the top billing of a very strong crop. That crop included notable clips from Needs, Lionlimb, and Adir L.C. as well as impressive full streams from Lumpy & The Dumpers, The Winter Passing, and Dead Katz. All of those were rounded out by a characteristically strong grouping of new songs, which came courtesy of Run The Jewels, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, TortoiseSelf Defense Family, The Rashita Joneses, and Ex Hex’s outstanding cover of The Real Kids’ “All Kindsa Girls“.

The (actual) loss of Ovlov was a tough one to shake, though some of its members immediately applied some anesthetic to the wound by diving headfirst into new projects. Most notable was Hartlett’s initially solo expedition, which was then turned into a full band, Stove. Unsurprisingly, Stove retain a lot of the elements that made Ovlov such a respected name. If anything, Stove advances the band’s melodic sensibilities and veers closer towards basement pop than its predecessor; “Wet Food”, the latest song to be unveiled from the band’s forthcoming debut Is Stupider, is the perfect example.

“Wet Food” starts simply, anchored by Hartlett’s pleading vocals and outwardly-reaching guitar figure before exploding into a wall of sound that’s– almost paradoxically– welcoming and intimidating. It’s a scintillating masterclass in dynamics that continues Hartlett’s natural progression as a songwriter, augmented by a decisive sense of identity. Surging, pointed, and exhilarating, “Wet Food” stands as one of the finest entries in Hartlett’s enviable discography. More than that, though, it stands as one of the most tantalizing songs of the year.

Listen to “Wet Food” below and pre-order Is Stupider here. Beneath the embed watch a video of the band performing the song live on day 2 of Exploding In Sound’s extended weekend celebration earlier this year.

Exploding In Sound’s Extended Weekend: Days 1 & 2 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Stove X

It’s not even close to a secret that this site has harbored an excessive amount of love for Exploding In Sound, a DIY label that focuses on forward-thinking acts that have roots that run deep in late 80’s and early 90’s alternative punk scenes. Over the years, they’ve amassed a deeply impressive roster of acts that consistently garner critical acclaim, effectively rendering the label one of today’s leading taste-makers in music that frequently aims for left-of-center and connects with conviction. If anyone’s earned an extended weekend celebration that serves a dual purpose as a showcase, it’s Exploding In Sound- and that’s exactly what they’ve just done.

Over five days in Brooklyn and Boston, the cities where the vast majority of the label’s acts are based, the label hosted five packed shows. While I wish I could have caught all of them, I only managed to take in the first two- both of which reaffirmed my adoration for the work the label- selflessly run by Dan Goldin- is doing. The run of shows started on June 20th at Baby’s All Right with a characteristically stacked lineup that included a variety of site favorites: Washer, Two Inch Astronaut, Grass Is Green, Pile, and Porches.

Every single band that took the stage at Baby’s laid their hearts on the line, playing with an unusual vigor that suggested they were doing all they could to make the label proud. That commitment wasn’t the only recurring thread either; nearly every single band played a new song or a song that hadn’t found official release (a trend that would continue to the next night’s showcase at Palisades). Washer got things started with a ferocious set that leaned heavily on new/unreleased material but still allowed “Joe“, one of 2015’s strongest highlight, to close their time out. Two Inch Astronaut followed in a similar manner, almost exclusively playing songs from their forthcoming record (which is being recorded right now) and locking into off-kilter grooves so tightly that their precision was nearly unsettling.

Grass Is Green re-emerged after a long dormant period, likely due to guitarist Devin McKnight’s commitment to two other acts affiliated with Exploding In Sound (Philadelphia Collins and Speedy Ortiz) and started slow but worked themselves into a fervor. After finding their strengths in the barbed dynamics and unrelenting guitar attack, the songs went from sounding placated to downright vicious and it was a thrilling transformation to watch unfold. It also set the stage for what was arguably the evening’s main draw: Pile. Last fall, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Pile in Chicago while they toured on the 7″ that wound up topping this site’s list for the format and, as a result, knew exactly what the band were capable of delivering. Or at least I thought I did, until Pile went ahead and exceeded those expectations.

Over the course of what felt like a headlining set, Pile managed to whip the previously gentle crowd into a mad frenzy, with several people in the front having to brace themselves by pushing back on the stage to create a supportive balance. As the band had before- and as it always does on record anyway- “Special Snowflakes” (an easy contender for song of the decade) sent chills running down my spine on more than a few occasions, as did You’re Better Than This highlight “Mr. Fish“. By the time the band was signaled offstage, the majority of the crowd was in a state of rapture. Porches. brought the first night to a graceful close in a hail of light effects, their signature brand of pop (light and sensual), and conviction. All of the songs they teased from their forthcoming record easily ranked among their best work and as they were packing up, the entire room seemed more than a little satisfied.

The second night, held at Palisades, felt a little truer to the label’s grimier sensibilities and a DIY ethos was on full display throughout the night. To kick things off, Exploding In Sound presented one of their better coups: Palm. After Palm’s revelatory set at DBTS a few months back, anything less than spectacular would have been a disappointment but the band seemed even more masterful this time around, immediately eliminating any doubts. A live band through and through, they navigated every hairpin shift with an uncanny togetherness that bordered the telepathic. Unsurprisingly, it was a crowd-pleasing start and things only got more intense going forward.

Stove, a band born out of the ashes of Ovlov, took the stage next. While the current iteration of Stove features Washer as their rhythm section, the sound (understandably) veers closer to where Ovlov left off. With Steve Hartlett in command once again, the quarter offered up enough riches to constitute a treasure, from the micropop of “Stupider” to the sprawling track contained in the video embed beneath this post’s photo gallery. With several plans for a release (or a handful of releases) in the works, the band played like it was fighting for its life, providing for more than a few moments of genuine exhilaration. Towards the end of the set, Hartlett also ceded the spotlight to Washer, who played one of their songs with the benefit of a dual-guitar attack surrounding them in bass/vocals/drums mode. The set wound up being one of the strongest highlights of either night and all but guaranteed Stove as a name that will be appearing with an alarming regularity in the near future.

Hot off of a US tour with Basement in support of an extraordinary 7″, LVL UP took to the stage with an unparalleled hunger and seemed extremely intent on proving their worth. Opening with the live debut of a monstrous behemoth of a new song (again, included in the video embed below the photo gallery) that segued straight into “Ski Vacation” left most of Palisades sold out audience breathless- and likely more than a little speechless. Keeping up a pace that was dangerously close to reckless provided a handful of reminders of why the quartet’s become one of this site’s most celebrated bands. Even putting aside the top ranking that Hoodwink’d earned last year, the band continues to occupy a very niche space in an already niche pocket that directly correlates with what this site was designed to support. All of their best qualities were brought to the forefront on the Palisades stage and by the time everyone’s clothes had grown a shade or two darker in the sweltering heat of the venue, LVL UP had managed the impossible and endeared themselves even further to an already adoring crowd.

After a set that felt genuinely huge despite a mid-bill placing, it would be tough for most acts to follow up with anything worth remembering- but most acts aren’t Big Ups (a band whose shirts were being proudly worn by a few members of the bands playing the show). Of the 10 bands that played the first two nights, this was the one I was most excited to see, having never previously caught a set in person despite praising their live show a number of times via Watch This. Animalistic in nature and deeply impassioned in the throes of execution, Big Ups’ live show is nothing short of incendiary. Pair it with an obscenely strong discography that includes Eighteen Hours of Static, one of 2014’s finest releases, and the band’s a veritable Molotov cocktail. Tension and release, whisper and explosion, the band balances volatile dichotomies with ease and constantly hits their mark. A magnetic live presence carries them to the pantheon of today’s greatest live acts with ease and their set was a perfect example of how much they’re able to coax out of decidedly minimal trappings. By the time the quartet was letting their final bursts of feedback draw back to silence, they’d comfortably delivered another powerhouse set that would put most other bands to shame.

With all four bands racketing up the evening’s consistency level, a lot of pressure can fall on a headlining act. Then again, Exploding In Sound’s resources are surprisingly vast and its talent pool runs extraordinarily deep. Those resources and that talent pool also include Krill, who have steadily amassed a cult following and are enjoying a period of heightened interest and universal acclaim following their excellent A Distant Fist Unclenching. The trio had been in excellent form on both occasions I was fortunate enough to catch one of their shows earlier on in the year but something about this particular set felt different. The band’s been slowly working on new material as some of the members move from Boston to NYC and they used the occasion to showcase some of what they’ve been shaping while making sure to make enough space for recent career highlights like “Torturer” (their opener), “Brain Problem“, and “Tiger” (their closer). At one point, for a brief run of song, bassist/vocalist Jonah Furman swapped out his bass for a guitar (one that was immediately put through a rigorous effects setup) to add a new depth and several more layers of dimension to the band’s already impressive dynamic approach. In all, the set played like a greatest hits victory lap, with the band playing in a manner that felt deeply impassioned and incredibly alive. A triumph from start to finish, the band went above and beyond exceedingly high expectations to guarantee everyone that their headliner placement was the correct call.

Ten great bands, two great venues, and one incredible label all came together over the course of two days to create and support something that felt inherently special, something bigger than any one of its individual parts. A sense of camaraderie was constantly present, musicians from other internationally acclaimed bands drove several hours to see some of these shows and all of the most uplifting, prevalent themes seem to have carried all the way through the five-day weekend. While I can’t definitively speak to the final three nights, the first two reinforced every aspect of what makes Exploding In Sound such an incredible cultural institution. On top of all that, these first two nights felt like so much more than a night out with good friends listening to great music; this was something that had historical value. As is always the case with any of Exploding In Sound’s projects, it was an honor and a privilege to watch it in motion.

View a photo gallery of the show here and a video containing performances from each of the bands that played at Palisades. Enjoy.

 

Exploding in Sound Northside Showcase 2015 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

IMG_3315

A few short days ago Aviv played host to one of Northside Festival’s most stacked showcases for one of Brooklyn’s most revered labels, Exploding in Sound, who were acting in collaboration with Gimme Tinnitus and Ipsum. Boasting no less than 10 bands, the showcase eventually transitioned into an endurance test that was made even more brutal by the severe humidity (as well as the seemingly continuous increase in attendance). Pairing those items with the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day meant- regrettably- being forced to miss the showcase’s latter half. All apologies to Wildhoney, Mannequin Pussy, Clean Girls, Sleepies, and Palm (each a fine band well worth seeking out).

While I didn’t stick the whole thing through my perseverance through the show’s first half was rewarded with strong sets from each band. Done and Nonsense immediately set about establishing a few of the lineup’s connecting threads, from off-kilter musicality to piercing volume to an unavoidable sense of subtle dread. Kindling (a band fronted by A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor Stephen Pierce) pushed the levels of deafening volume to their absolute limits during a gripping set that provided the perfect bridge between the first and last two acts of the showcase’s front half.

Both Kal Marks and Washer have received a fair amount of press from this site and were two of the showcase’s biggest draws. Neither disappointed. Kal Marks delivered a set that exhibited the band’s brutal strength and unfailingly bleak atmosphere- a very distinctive trait that remains unreasonably compelling. Deeply personal and deeply felt, their set was among the best I’ve seen this year. Not to be outdone, Washer came out of the gate swinging and had a neat trick up their sleeve. Frenetic and impassioned, their set was one highlight after the next, peaking with a surprise solo from Ovlov’s Steve Hartlett (Washer and Hartlett constitute the performing band for the latter’s current project, Stove).

Overall, the first half was an exceedingly impressive display for both the bands and the labels/publications involved in the showcase. By all accounts, the second half of the showcase kept the momentum’s pace surging forward. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be taking advantage of future opportunities to cover each and every one of them at some point in the near future. Until then, enjoy a few photos and videos of Done, Nonsense, Kindling, Kal Marks, and Washer below.

Done

Done

Nonsense

Nonsense

Kindling

Kindling



Kal Marks

Kal Marks



Washer

Washer

Splitting at the Break: A Visual Retrospective of 2015’s First Half (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Krill II

Over the first course of the year, I’ve made several major life decisions with the largest being a move to Brooklyn. Saving up for that paired with a work schedule that at one point had me logging roughly 75 hours a week meant sacrificing a lot of the things I love. None of those things hurt more than the severely limited number of shows I was able to attend. However, it was likely that same scarcity that made the shows included in this piece so memorable. From conducting an artist profile on Johanna Warren for Consequence of Sound (where a few of these photographs were first printed and where you can also find auxiliary video of Warren performing) to finally seeing a few site favorites- like Saintseneca, Krill, and Vacation- for the first time after years of waiting.

While it may not be much, this is still a collection that has deeply personal value. It’s a reflection of a region I called home for the entirety of my life and it’s a place I will miss when I leave it in just over a week. I’ll always be grateful that I was provided the opportunities to attend the shows contained in the multimedia portion of this post- and for the friends I made who were connected to those shows in literally any way. Writers, bands, editors, promoters, venue owners, label execs, or even just fans, they helped make some of these places feel like home. So, take a trip below with shots (and some videos) of: NE-HI, Oozing Wound, Protomartyr, Perfect Pussy, TRITA, Disasteratti, Buildings, Adron, Johanna Warren, Mutts, Two Inch Astronaut, Krill, Speedy Ortiz, Fox Face, The Midwest Beat, Mexican Knives, Vacation, FIDLAR, METZ, Saintseneca, and Murder By Death. The regional focal post of Heartbreaking Bravery may be shifting drastically in the months to come but a large part of its heart will always be lodged in the Upper Midwest.

Hope you enjoy.

NE-HI // OOZING WOUND // PROTOMARTYR // PERFECT PUSSY

 


TRITA // DISASTERATTI // BUILDINGS


ADRON // JOHANNA WARREN

MUTTS

TWO INCH ASTRONAUT // KRILL // SPEEDY ORTIZ



FOX FACE // THE MIDWEST BEAT // MEXICAN KNIVES // VACATION

 




FIDLAR // METZ

SAINTSENECA // MURDER BY DEATH


Molly – People (Music Video)

mlly

Going forward with last week’s coverage, there will be a trio of posts with a music video taking up residence in the headline accompanied by a few auxiliary items. Starting that run off is Molly’s incendiary basement pop number “People” and its montage-heavy video. Before diving further into that clip, though, the attention will be refocused on two great songs and one great record. For the songs, Sea Ghost unveiled the hazy indie pop of “BBQ” while Gnarwhal unleashed the intimidatingly feral “Anal Riffage“. For the full streams, there was Little Wings’ deeply felt and winningly shambolic outsider folk record Explains.

Molly get the featured spot thanks to the complementary rapid-fire pace of both “People” and their new clip for the song. Constructed to create what essentially amounts to an immersive people-watching experience may have been a bit on-the-nose if it wasn’t executed with such stunning panache. Mixing in some minimal artistic renderings to overlay what appears to be stock crowd footage, the Julian Nielsen-directed clip finds its rhythm (and it’s charm) on a commendable commitment to simplicity. As the track surges forward, growing more intense, the animations follow suit. By the time it winds down to a close, footage slowing in reverse, it’s left a considerable mark. With Peach Melba already streaming in its entirety, it’s safe to say that the band’s potential isn’t falsified by a pairing this strong. Molly are most definitely a band worth keeping both eyes on.

Watch “People” below and pre-order Peach Melba directly from the band here.

Lady Bones – Botch (Stream)

lbo

Lady Bones have had this site’s attention ever since sending over a copy of their split with Horsehands last year, and while that release presented Lady Bones as a band with enormous potential, it still would have been hard to predict the direction they take for their latest single, “Botch”. Before diving into their bold stylistic revision, there’s quite a bit of material to catch up on that came out this week. Both this post and the ensuing post will have a handful of songs and full streams that will be featured and, as ever, all of them will be worth hearing. For the sake of time, they’ll all be listed with no other context given than that they’re exceptional pieces of art that deserve attention. Full streams: Toner’s self-titled, Needle Exchange’s Is This My Program?, Really Big Pinecone’s Embrace the Boss, Vexx’s Give and Take, The Barbazons’ Avec Plaisir, Nicolas Jaar’s Nymphs II, Diamond Youth’s Nothing Matters, Liza Anne’s Two, and Young Jesus’ Grow/Decompose (which will likely be making a few more appearances on here as time drags on). Songs: Sorority Noise’s “Art School Wannabe“, Expert Alterations’ “Midnight Letters“, Deaf Wish’s “Eyes Closed“, Anna B Savage’s “III“, Bad Meds’ “Hoax Apocalypse“, Vundabar’s “Chop“, and Ratboys’ “Tixis“. Seek all of them out; they’re linked here for a reason. “Botch” is also the featured song for a reason: it’s a monumental step forward for one of today’s more compelling bands.

Eschewing any semblance of sunnier sensibilities to take a plunge into a realm that sees them shoulder to shoulder with Kal Marks and Pile at their darkest, Lady Bones seem to have tapped into something that many bands have attempted (and failed) to capture. Embracing bleak, Gothic-tinged post-punk to an unprecedented degree, Lady Bones sound completely rejuvenated. It takes them less than sixty seconds to establish this sea change before exploding out into an impassioned furor. For three and half minutes the band provides a masterclass in refined dynamics (with an emphasis on tension) and engage in a total rebirth. There’s an unbridled passion that runs deep in “Botch” that seems set to tie over to the band’s upcoming full-length, the provocatively titled Dying. As a standalone single, “Botch” has enough punch to brand the name Lady Bones into the memory of just about anyone who crosses its path- but where the mystery kicks in is how it fits into the larger puzzle. If all of Dying can sustain this level of grim determination and near-feral energy, then Lady Bones may have a bona fide album of the year contender on their hands. With a battering ram of a track like “Botch”, it’s only a matter of time before they start turning some heads.

Listen to “Botch” below and pre-order Dying ahead of its June 3o release date from Midnight Werewolf here.