Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Field Trip

Living Body – Choose (Stream)

living body

Over the past few days streams from Stef Chura, Slothrust, Cheap Girls, Ex-Girlfriends, Loamlands, Del Caesar, Yuppies Indeed, Miniature Tigers, The Molochs, Louise Lemon, Dooms Virginia, Big K.R.I.T., Slow Bullet, Field Trip, Julia Holter, and a newly remastered presentation of Clem Snide’s “Parable” all surfaced, serving as strong statements for the artists. There were notable music videos that arrived via Minihorse, Shirley Collins, Mums, Nassau, and Kamikaze Girls. Full streams rounded out the new releases and included memorable titles from the likes of Kevin Devine, Hurry, Uni Ika Ai,  Just, The Dazies, Forest Veil, Personal Space, Jackson Reed, and Earwig. While all of those, as always, are worth exploring, this post’s feature was secured by Living Body’s enchanting “Choose”.

Living Body, a new band that consists of members of Juffage, Sky Larkin, and Vessels (among others), are only a few songs into their career. Yet “Choose”, their most recent single, sounds like the work of a band that’s already released a handful of critically acclaimed records. Incredibly self-assured, remarkably confident, and spellbinding beyond reason, “Choose” is an immediately unforgettable slow-burn of a number. Gorgeous horn charts, a sneakily effective vocal melody, and a genuine sense of identity elevate “Choose” to a level of transcendence that’s incredibly uncommon for new bands to achieve.

Structure and personality in music can carry a band some distance but Living Body separate themselves from many of their peers with direct, emotionally resonant lyricism. “Choose” is the sound of a hard-learned lesson that finds bandleader Jeff T. Smith quietly repeating the mantra “get out while you can” in the song’s painfully beautiful chorus, injecting it with an air of resignation and regret. There’s a lightness to the proceedings but it’s one that’s grounded in a harshly honest reality, evoking the best works of acts like Belle & Sebastian without ever sounding like a carbon copy.

Living Body have a very distinct identity and the extent of their grasp on that aspect of their music is astonishing. There’s a deliberate nature to “Choose” that never betrays the song’s warm nuance or its ability to breathe comfortably on its own. Make no mistake, though, from the contained euphoria of the intro through to the muted, gentle close, “Choose” is consistently breathtaking. One of 2016’s loveliest moments and most promising new bands all wrapped into one irresistible package.

Listen to “Choose” below and pre-order Body Is Working here.

Gumbus – Crimbus Rock (EP Review, Stream)

IMG_5391

It’s been a while since this site has dove into full streams (or single streams, for that matter) and that will all be resolved over the weekend. Starting here, with an extremely strong self-released effort from a just-announced band comprised of  two members who have had an impressive number of projects featured on this site before: Casey Weissbuch (pictured above) and Joseph Frankl. Weissbuch’s spent time in a deeply impressive array of acts that include Mitski, Diarrhea Planet, Colleen Green, and a large handful of others (in addition to spearheading Infinity Cat’s cassette series), while Frankl’s made his name as a member of The Frankl Project and as a solo artist.

Weissbuch’s also been making some formidable moves as a solo act under the moniker Slanted. He takes the lead here and in a lot of ways, Gumbus feels like an extension of that project. Unsurprisingly– given the two members collective skill sets, aesthetic choices, and pedigrees– Crimbus Rock, their debut, is an exhilarating jolt of adrenaline. Utilizing a palette of influences that skews heavily towards the alternative movement of the ’90s, the duo digs deep into effortlessly melodic basement pop songs. Over the course of five songs (which never extend beyond the 2:20 mark), Gumbus recall everyone from Blue Album-era Weezer to Ovens.

While none of the songs are a marked deviation from any of their counterparts on the collection, each contains enough of an identity to avoid repetition and to deepen Crimbus Rock‘s claim to being a coherent whole. It’s a remarkable collection that feels like a logical step forward for both Weissbuch and Frankl, demonstrating their astounding grip on composition and flying by while packing enough punch to ensure it’s not quickly forgotten (a trait that makes it a perfect companion to the just-released Downies EP, featured below). This isn’t a huge release but it is micro-punk at its finest and it comes from two artists who deserve even more attention than  they’ve already received. Don’t make the mistake of letting this one fade away unnoticed.

Listen to Crimbus Rock below and download the EP over at Gumbus’ bandcamp. Underneath the player, explore some other recent collections worth hearing.

Downies – Downies
Spencer Radcliffe – Looking In
Gang Signs – Geist
Little Fevers – Field Trip
Erasers – Stem Together
Last Good Tooth – And All Things On the Scales
Fern Mayo – Happy Forever
Bad Canoes – Bad Canoes
Allison Weiss – New Love
Jungle Giants – Speakerzoid
Girls Names – Arms Around A Vision
Yvette – Time Management
Glenn Mercer – Incidental Hum
Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight
Obnox – Wiglet

PWR BTTM – West Texas (Stream, Live Video)

PWR BTTM III

A lot can happen over the course of two days. Bringing an already stacked run of days to a close, Thursday and Friday continued to unearth a wealth of gems, including a trio of strong records from Naomi Pop, Funeral Advantage, and Gold Class. No less than 16 great new songs emerged from a variety of acts including Salad Boys, Laura Stevenson, SPORTSJosh Ritter, Field Trip, Ricked Wicky, Adir L.C., Boys, Chris Walla, Ghosts In Pocket, Psychic Handshake, Cœur de pirate, Mos Def (ft. Ski Beatz), Speedy Ortiz (covering The Cardigans), Shunkan, and Destroy This Place. Music videos made a strong impression as well, with outstanding new clips from Diet Cig, Alex G, WorriersThe King Khan & BBQ Show, DRINKS, Flowers of Evil, Ali Barter, and A Place to Bury Strangers. On top of all of that, the run of days also yielded another look at PWR BTTM’s extraordinary forthcoming record, Ugly Cherries, by way of “West Texas”.

Over the past three months, PWR BTTM have gone from a quick few mentions on this site to being one of its most celebrated featured acts. A lot of that can be traced back to the band’s incendiary live show but most of it has to do with the fact their recent songs have been nothing short of astonishing. The band’s upcoming full-length debut, Ugly Cherries, already had one of the years best songs (the record’s title track) released to kick off the rollout campaign and now it’s being followed by the equally powerful “West Texas”.

All of PWR BTTM’s usual characteristics are on display throughout the song, from the inventive structures to the sharp playing to a lyric set that pushes honesty to a level that feels defiantly confrontational. Benjamin Hopkins and Liv Bruce trade vocal leads with a fluidity that betrays the duo’s already uncanny connection and the song makes the absolute most of its runtime, landing every blow it throws with a vicious intensity. Harmonic riffing, power drumming, and a bevvy of immediacy help make “West Texas” a standout track but, as is nearly always the case with PWR BTTM, their melodic and lyrical sensibilities push this into a realm that not a lot of other bands have even attempted to occupy. Sardonic, sincere, and singular, it’s another perfect example of why PWR BTTM deserves as much conversation as possible.

Listen to “West Texas” below and pre-order the record from Father/Daughter and/or Miscreant ahead of its September 18 release. Beneath that, watch a video of the band performing the song (along with “Short-Lived Nightmare”) at Shea Stadium.

Watch This: Vol. 74

Over the course of the past few weeks, the influx of outstanding live videos has been staggering. Last week the series was put on a brief hold due to other personal obligations but even then, there was the threat of multiple installments for that particular Sunday. Amassing those with the live clips that followed in the subsequent week brings us to this point: there’s simply too much great material to feature to justify relegating anything exceeding the limit of five to the introductory paragraph(s). With this being the case, there will be seven- yes, seven– installments of Watch This to go live throughout the day (and possibly night).

To that end, this very introduction will be running prior to volumes 74-80 to reduce the levels of overall exposition to provide an emphasis on the material at hand. Site favorites Girlpool and Waxahatchee were seemingly everywhere this week, securing multiple entries throughout this run while Faits Divers spread-out documentation of a set from Ought (another site favorite) managed to do the same. As always, each video featured is an exemplary showcase for both artist and host, covering a wide range of sounds and styles. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume to your preferred settings, sit up straight, lean in (or back), and Watch This.

1. Girlpool (Consequence of Sound)

Over the past year, Girlpool have been experiencing a quiet, rapid ascension in notoriety thanks to a singular take on songwriting. More than just about any other band operating, the duo have established a legitimate identity that manages to feel both familiar and singular. Here, in a lovingly shot session for Consequence of Sound, they provide some insight to their process and deliver two characteristically strong performances of Before The World Was Big‘s title track and “I Like That You Can See It”. It’s a powerful reminder of their seemingly limitless strengths and a perfect document of a young band on the cusp of reaching spectacular heights.

2. Diet Cig – Harvard (Play Too Much)

There’s a joy inherent to Diet Cig‘s music that translates so effortlessly into their live presentation that practically guarantees them a Watch This feature spot every time a video surfaces. Over Easy remains one of the year’s best- and most endlessly listenable- releases, while Diet Cig’s live show continues to gain velocity. It’s an explosive combination that renders the duo one of the more exciting prospects in today’s music. Manic energy, genuine passion, and their visible love for their craft are given a defining image towards the clip’s closing minutes as guitarist/vocalist strikes a power stance, perched on the top of her amp and Noah Bowman’s bass drum, practically bursting with joy. All together, it’s the exact kind of thing this site was built to celebrate.

3. Screaming Females – Shake It Off (AV Club)

Back in the 22nd volume of Watch This, The AV Club’s Undercover series took all five spots in a featured retrospective. One of those five selections was Screaming Females‘ incendiary Sheryl Crowe cover. The band and the series recently partnered up again, the band once again applying their unlikely brand to an even more unlikely cover; Taylor Swift’s inescapable “Shake It Off”. Played (mostly) straight with a fiery verve, the standout moment- unsurprisingly- is a deviation that allows guitarist/vocalist Marissa Paternoster to tear into a solo after a perfect breakdown. It’s one of the year’s most unexpectedly endearing moments.

4. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (La Blogotheque)

Courtney Barnett‘s Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit will almost certainly hold true as one of 2015’s most delightful titles. As enjoyable as the record is, though, there are moments of arresting pathos and gravitas that appear throughout. One of the most fascinating is Barnett’s treatsie on suburban malaise; “Depreston”. Barnett recently met up with the usually-great La Blogotheque for a performance capture that manages to transcend the bulk of the series’ considerable output. Simply put: it’s unforgettable.

5. Hop Along (KEXP)

One of the year’s most welcome breakout success stories was that of Hop Along’s sudden increase in exposure, recognition, and acclaim (all of which the band’s deserved since before the release of Get Disowned). Instead of being daunted by the attention, the band seems to be thriving off it- pushing themselves to go even further. That drive’s reflected in this full session for KEXP that finds Frances Quinlan and co. front and center for a lively outdoor showcase featuring songs from both Get Disowned and 2015 Album of the Year candidate Painted Shut. As if all of that wasn’t enough reason to watch (and the fact that the band’s live show’s been so powerful that they’ve been a staple of this series since it started), this set also features a back-to-back pairing of “Waitress” and “Tibetan Songs”, which will always be a moment far too perfect for words.