Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Floating

Strange Ranger – Sunbeams Through Your Head (Stream)

strange ranger (2)

While the full streams and music videos to close out last week were accounted for in the preceding post, there were still streams from The Exquisites, Nots, Human People, Gurr, Sun Angle, Lubec, Hippocampus, Goes Cube, Klozapin, Toy Cars, Muuy Biien, Public Access TV, Yuppies Indeed, Lizzy Rose, KROY, Early Morning Rebel, Grapell, and Personal Space that deserved a whole lot of credit. While this post exists in part to amend that oversight, it has a dual purpose in putting the focus on Strange Ranger — who were formerly releasing music under the moniker Sioux Falls — and their extraordinary new track, “Sunbeams Through Your Head”.

Opening with a haunted segment driven by a glacial guitar figure and haunting falsetto, “Sunbeams Through Your Head” immediately stands out. There’s an intangible quality to the intro that’s progressively expanded on throughout the course of the song, which runs just under the two minute mark. While it boast a short run time, there’s nothing easy or simplistic about the song’s ensuing tapestries of ambient overlays and meticulous instrumentation (some of it being slightly reminiscent of Told Slant‘s recent masterwork, Going By).

Not a single moment of “Sunbeams Through Your Head” is anything less than gripping, allowing the listener to be slowly submerged into a serene parallel universe. Even as the song gains intensity in its latter moments, there’s a peaceful quality that manifests itself at every turn, creating an absorbing experience that borders the transcendent. Dynamic, gorgeous, and absolutely breathtaking, it’s difficult to imagine that there could be anything better than “Sunbeams Through Your Head” to serve as the start of the band’s newest chapter. If nothing else, it’s a potent reminder that theirs is a story that deserves to be followed.

Listen to “Sunbeams Through Your Head” below and pre-order the record here.

Birth (Defects) – Demands (Stream)

birth defects

In just under two weeks a small army of notable songs have been unveiled, including new titles from acts like Cowtown, The Pills, The Amazing, Trust Punks, Descendents, Tempesst, Ultimate Painting, Cave Curse, Trevor Sensor, Katie Burden, Tom Brosseau, Opposite Sex, True Neutral Crew, Crocodiles, Grieving, Henry Chadwick, Shapes In Calgary, Goblin Cock, and Saints Patience. That run of songs all but closes out the list of the finest tracks to cross this site’s path over the interim, with one notable exception: Birth (Defect)’s near-feral “Demands”.

A brief talk with Birth (Defects)’s vocalist (as well as social activist, Is This Venue Accessible mastermind, Accidental Guest head, and all-around great human) Sean Gray revealed that “Demands” was the first song the band ever wrote. Gray still considers it the band’s finest offering and, with this new version recorded by Perfect Pussy‘s Shaun Sutkus and rounded out by the band’s recently-expanded lineup, it’s not difficult to see why that’s the case.

Like nearly all great hardcore bands of any breed, Birth (Defects) draw considerable power from frustration and that frustration has never manifested more clearly than in the staccato stabbings of “Demands”, which complements the band’s most recent offering — the incendiary “Hanshin“, which will be the track’s flip-side on the forthcoming 7” — to perfection.

Through aggressive, chaotic caterwauling, Birth (Defects) carve out a home in a dark corner and sink their heels in deep, recoiling while simultaneously positioning themselves for attack. Feedback runs through everything, providing an air of discordance that drives up a sense of tension that never evaporates and lingers on after the final snare blast. Somehow, as raw and primordial as it seems on the surface, “Demands” can’t help but feel weirdly triumphant. It’s the sound of a band who have embraced their voice and are intent on projecting it through a row of sharpened teeth. The end result? A third-degree bite mark that deserves to be worn like a badge of honor.

Listen to “Demands” below and pre-order the 7″ from Reptilian here.

Sleep Party People – In Another World (Stream)

SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE - In Another World

Very rarely has Heartbreaking Bravery stepped outside the confines of the DIY punk community. Even the bigger acts that have been celebrated in this space have had ties to the basements that birthed this continuously-evolving faceless collective. Usually when there’s an interloper it’s an artist that has some inclinations towards a fierceness characteristic of that community or that fierceness is an inherent part of their work. There’s a reason for this- Heartbreaking Bravery has a conscious identity primarily revolving around the bands that deserve to be celebrated in their early stages and no scene seemed to embody that spirit more than the one that’s most frequently covered here. Every once in a while, though, there comes a band, video, or song that’s good enough to challenge or infiltrate that identity. Sleep Party People is one of those bands and “In Another World” is certainly one of those songs.

Sleep Party People’s We Were Drifting On A Sad Song, an enticing mixture of ambient, pop, electronica, psychedelia, and moments of transcendental heaviness, was one of 2013’s more challenging records just by virtue of being so fearlessly unique. One of the most prominent features of that record came in the form of Brian Batz’s strangely unnerving electronically-manipulated vocals.  That the Copenhagen artists vocals appear to be relatively unfiltered throughout “In Another World” instantly make them more arresting, if only because the move is so unexpected. Batz’s vocals aren’t the first attention-catching thing here, though. “In Another World” (the first track to be teased from the upcoming floating starts with a haunted acoustic guitar medley underneath a warm phonograph crackle before being joined by a hypnotic drum part, ultimately winding up in peak DangerMouse/Gorillaz territory.

Shortly after that soundbed’s established, a creeping sense of uncertainty sets in as Batz gently lays his falsetto over the noise as additional production (courtesy of Mikael Johnston and Jeff Saltzman) creeps in and out of the mix- sometimes quite literally, as the brilliant sound design has it panning from left speaker to right, fluctuating in volume. It’s an experience that’s impossible to pull away from- its entrails reach out and surround in a foreboding paralytic embrace. Piano lines appear and vanish, the bass rises and falls with frightening conviction, the vocals remain disconcertingly calm and what should wind up being a vaguely nightmarish experience somehow becomes one of quiet catharsis.

This is music that matters and doesn’t deserve to be overlooked. Listen to it below and stare forever at the obscenely gorgeous cover art.