Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: full stream

Landlines – Landlines (Album Review)

In the course of the past few days, only a small handful of truly great records have emerged. Washer unveiled a legitimate Album of the Year candidate with All Aboard, Total Yuppies revealed their exceptional Care EP, and Nassau continued to improve with Heron. On top of that trio of full streams, there was a sneak peek at the upcoming Pope record — and there was also the incredible self-titled effort from Landlines (a band that includes some member overlap with The Woolen Men).

Landlines is exactly the type of band and record that Heartbreaking Bravery was built to support. An absolutely monstrous effort from a legitimately great band that has minimal name recognition outside of their given region, both Landlines and Landlines deserve far more notice than either will likely receive without securing contracts with the right PR team. The recorded landed in the site’s inbox by way of the band directly, who seem committed to the DIY ethos that’s fairly apparent in their music.

In the accompanying bio that was patched over with the record, a lot of classic rock acts get name checked but Landlines can be accurately summed as existing in the central field between the triangular points represented by Pavement, Parquet Courts, and Flying Nun Records. These are wiry post-punk songs with slacker punk leanings, basement pop aesthetics, and aggressively clean tones. They’re cleverly arranged and expertly executed, running the gamut from the energetic onslaught of opener “Hanging Around” to the unapologetic powerpop of closer “Survived”.

A record that’s littered with smart observations, compelling musical ideas, and united by an incredibly convincing identity, Landlines actually manages to outstrip several records being discussed as Album of the Year candidates by a reasonable margin. Make no mistake, while this is a largely unassuming record it’s also one of the more tightly-crafted and complete releases of the past nine months. Landlines exude confidence throughout and deliver several knockout blows in their self-titled, which is comprised exclusively of songs worthy of mix tape inclusions. Hit play below and hit purchase when it ends.

Listen to Landlines below and pick the record up here.

One Great Week, Five Great Records

A small handful of anticipated records were released over the past week, as well as a few surprises. From veteran acts to those looking to capitalize on heavily acclaimed debuts to new acts with no name recognition looking to make the mark, it was a typically diverse week in the world of music. Five of those records hit incredibly hard and will be expanded upon in the main section but don’t let that distract you from some incredible releases by the following: Small Circle, Dead Stars, Claire Nelson-Lifson, Partner, Tomberlin, Even As We Speak, Baby Jesus, L.A. Witch, and Small Souls, all of which nearly were featured themselves. As always, everything’s worth hearing, so block out any excess noise and surrender to the magnetic pull of each and every one of these releases.

1. Alvvays – Antisocialites

Alvvays had a lot to live up to after their breakthrough debut and they’ve more than delivered with Antisocialites, expanding on the ideas and the aesthetic of their winsome first record. All of the impossibly magnetic melodies are intact while the arrangements are a hair sharper this time around, the instrumental interplay and vocal decisions bolstering an immensely likable record. Sometimes the records we hope bands will make wind up being made and Antisocialites is one of those records. Hit play and fall in love.

2. Sundial Mottos – Sundial Mottos

Sundial Mottos are a new band, who just happen to feature A Years Worth of Memories contributor Alisa Rodriguez, as well as Midnight RerunsGraham Hunt and Brady Murphy. They also just happen to be extremely good and responsible for one of the best EP’s to come out of the Upper Midwest this year with their self-titled debut. Hunt remains one of the better lyricists working today and delivers another acutely-realized and lived-in narratives with the opener “Service Industry”, which also boasts some effective slide work. It’s an impressive start to an EP that never comes close to wearing out its welcome.

3. Strange Relations – Editorial You

Strange Relations have made a habit of snagging feature write-ups on this site — most recently with Editorial You‘s exceptional “Say You” — so it’s probably too much of a surprise to see their name here yet again. Editorial You, the band’s latest record is also, by far, the best work of their already formidable discography. The band’s grip on dynamics, arrangements, and atmospherics (and just about everything else that can make a record great) has grown and their mastery is on full display throughout the record. Easily one of the year’s most intriguing, inventive, and downright arresting records.

4. Beachtape – Hold Music

Beachtape, another band from the excellent Sweden-based punk label PNKSLM have been featured on Heartbreaking Bravery a few times before, always offering up hints at their identity. With Hold Music, the band finally feels complete. An astonishingly good EP that blends elements of dream-pop, surf, shoegaze, and basement punk into an extremely enticing tapestry, Hold Music is the type of EP that’s destined to turn quite a few heads. It’s hard not to imagine that if Beachtape continues down the path they’re on, a lot more people will know their name.

5. Lomelda – Thx

One of the more gently unassuming songwriters of the past few years, Lomelda, found a nice push in signing to Double Double Whammy (a label already responsible for the release of several of the years best records including Cende and Great Grandpa) for Thx, one of this year’s finest bedroom pop records. Wielding an incredibly enticing sense of melody and a penchant for relatable narratives, Thx quietly swings for the fences and finds itself lost in thought as it rounds the bases. An absolutely soundtrack for the colder seasons.

Three Weeks Down: A Handful of Full Streams

The previous two posts have fixated on some of the great material from streams and music videos. All that’s left to cover is the full streams of EPs, splits, comps, and full-length efforts that have emerged in the three weeks or so that Heartbreaking Bravery has been on hiatus. Bookmark this page, rifle through the titles on display, and walk away with a handful of outstanding new music. Enjoy.

Jason Loewenstein, Wishing Rock, Psychic Judge, Guggi DataAgent blå, Milk, Palm, Gland, Dion Lunadon, Konrad, Popular Adultstrü, Vs., Dead Heavens, Gringo, Bad Channels, Poppy, Ackroyd, Early Riser, Boogarins, Steady Sun, Superchunk, Ulrika Spacek, Ethan Daniel Davidson, PANXKING, Mare Island, Molly Nilsson, Terror Watts, Tough Age, CHIMNEY, Empty Heads, Hulaboy and Safe Distance, Marias, Leather Girls, CreaturoS, Swoon Lake, Rachel Baiman, and ROYA as well as the excellent Athens Vs. Trump compilation.

Hazel English – Just Give In / Never Going Home (Album Review)

Good records never stop getting released and in the past week there have been tantalizing full streams bearing the names of acts like Sister JamesYoung Pioneers, High Sunn, Foxholes, Friendship, Bonzie, Pallas, China Gate, Dream Machine, The Pink Tiles, and Alaskalaska. One of the most intriguing releases of that time-slot belongs to a record that this site’s already covered a good portion of in great detail: Hazel English‘s extraordinary double-EP package Just Give In / Never Going Home.

The project’s first EP, Never Going Home, was good enough to land itself a spot on Heartbreaking Bravery’s Best EP’s of 2016 list and, if Just Give In would have been released on its own instead of as a package, the feat likely would’ve been repeated this year. Since that half of the equation has already been accounted for and exhaustively covered, the attention here will mostly focus on the package release’s other half: Just Give In.

Most of the songs released from the more recent half have already been featured over the past few months as well, either as an individual song or as a characteristically striking music video. “Fix“, “More Like You“, and “Love Is Dead”  all earned headlines while English consistently earned feature slots in this site’s Watch This series. The remaining songs that haven’t been covered as in-depth as the others are as follows: “Other Lives”, “Birthday”, and bonus track “That Thing”.

“Other Lives” kicks the entire affair off with the kind of pulsating, sweetly melancholic energy that’s come to define English’s material. It’s a typically breathtaking track that breathes a gentle life into the proceedings, setting a hypnotic tone at the record’s onset. English delivers a wistful vocal paired with a downtrodden but resilient narrative that never allows itself to feel too burdened. It’s in that divide where English has found a calling and “Other Lives” stands as yet another definitive example.

“Birthday” finds English in a slightly peppier mode than usual but still finds a way to incorporate a dream-like structure that enhances the song’s more ambient elements. It’s tightly composed and masterfully executed, cementing English’s growing reputation as a songwriter of an extremely high caliber. Just as importantly, “Birthday” plays up Just Give In‘s quiet optimism, its sequencing allowing for maximum impact, suggesting English’s talents extend beyond the songwriting realm.

Just Give In / Never Going Home‘s gem of a closer finds English embracing an ’80s influence in the most definitive manner imaginable. Elevating the warm synth beds to the forefront and utilizing them as the driving force of “That Thing” opens up some room to demonstrate just how versatile English’s music has become since the songwriter’s debut. “That Thing” also perfectly wraps the record, providing it with a perfect dichotomy; the song looks towards the possibilities for the future while celebrating the past. Overall, the release should stand as a monumental effort for English and hopefully propel the songwriter to even greater heights.

Listen to Just Give In / Never Going Home below and pick it up from Polyvinyl here.

Miya Folick – Trouble Adjusting (Stream)

Last Friday held no shortage of excellent new releases in all three major format categories: single tracks, music videos, and full streams. On the songs front there were strong showings from No Vacation, Mogwai, Boxed In, and Walktell. Memorable music videos emerged from the likes of Bellows, Wolf GirlElf Power, Mt. Doubt, Milk, Wovoka Gentle, PLGRMS, Annie Hardy, and Sammy Brue. The Drafts, Double Grave, Bendigo Fletcher, Elf Power, The Moonlight Love, and Steve Von Till rounded things out by unveiling notable records. Miya Folick ultimately reclaimed a feature slot with the driving “Trouble Adjusting”.

A new high-water mark for an exciting emerging artist, “Trouble Adjusting” keys in on several of the elements that made Folick’s best early work so invigorating. There’s a raw ferocity to “Trouble Adjusting”, present in everything from the scintillating guitar work to the way Folick practically spits out several lines of the verses, fangs bared and ready to go in for the kill. It’s a song that gains both energy and power as it hums along, transforming itself into a whirling mass of breakneck force like a wrecking ball swinging back on its axis before bearing down into its intended target. Melodic, memorable, and completely galvanized, “Trouble Adjusting” seems to suggest Folick’s bright future is there for the taking.

Listen to “Trouble Adjusting” below and keep an eye on this site for more details regarding the forthcoming Give It To Me EP.

Ratboys – Elvis in the Freezer (Music Video)

In the past four days, a small handful of exceptional records have been released by artists like Tica Douglas, Jodi, Christopher Gold & the New Old Things, Taiwan Housing Project, Great Deceivers, Street Eaters, Show of Bedlam, Nick Pope, and Old Maybe. While all of those are worthy of celebration, this post’s feature fell to a different format: the music video. Ratboys‘ “Elvis in the Freezer” proved far too exceptional to let pass without a closer look.

Director Kenna Hynes was at the helm for the “Elvis in the Freezer” clip and Hynes’ deft touch ensures that the clip’s not only wildly engaging but both heartrending to the point of being emotionally shattering and just heartwarming enough to keep it vibrant. The crux of the story presented in the clip for “Elvis in the Freezer” is simple: a cat dies and a good friend comes to console its owner. What’s impressive is the way Hynes frames this story, utilizing a variety of effects to heighten each emotional beat. From the slo-mo reversals of the opening sequence all the way through the clever Julia Steiner (Ratboys’ guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter) reveal.

As the clip works its way through each new movement, the song lends the sequences some additional dramatic heft. “Elvis in the Freezer” is the type of track that lets anyone paying attention to Ratboys know that the band’s evolving in increasingly successful ways, sharpening their strengths and injecting a greater sense of ambition into their work. Here, the song works wonders as the soundtrack to a familiar, everyday story that’s undoubtedly struck a major cord with an array of viewers. Both the song and the clip are heartfelt, bittersweet, and memorable pieces of work that deserve to be remembered. Thankfully, “Elvis in the Freezer” is very hard to shake.

Watch “Elvis in the Frezzer” below and pre-order GN from Topshelf here.

Crushing – Crushing (EP Review)

During the back half of last week, a small collection of great full streams surfaced from artists like Wooden Wand, Max Gowan, Us Weekly, Piss Test, Gnarwhal, Hour of the Time Majesty Twelve, and HOTKID. While all of those were compelling listens that deserve no shortage of time or attention, it was Crushing‘s self-titled EP that made an impression deep enough to secure this post’s featured slot.

The songs that teased Crushing may have piqued some interest but now that the EP’s finally arrived in full, it’s fair to say that it wildly exceeded expectations. From the onset of EP opener “Oi Jealousy”, the band delivers with a combined level of confidence, conviction, and articulation that’s hard for most seasoned bands to possess. Each one of these basement pop tracks is razor-sharp, utilizing the genre’s history to its advantage. Whether it’s the incorporation of both dream-pop and powerpop aesthetics on “Sleeping Bag” to the bedroom pop trappings on “Telling Lies” to the more straightforward punk styling of “Oi Jealousy” and “Emery Board”, the band runs the gamut of what’s come to shape basement pop.

Everything works, no matter how many angles the band pulls from or at, managing to congeal those influences into a coherent whole that’s significantly more powerful than its individual parts. By the time it’s all over and the smoke’s cleared, it’s hard not to want to go straight back to the beginning and put a match up to the powder keg for one more explosion. One of 2017’s most unexpected surprises, Crushing is an incredible work from a band that’s carved out a strong identity. Both the band and their self-titled effort should stand as examples of 2017’s finest.

Listen to Crushing below and pick it up here.

Steady Lean – Bandages + Some Better Somethin’ (Stream)


Photograph by John Michael Ferrer

Today was a great day for new releases, ushering in compelling songs from Bloody Your Hands, The I.L.Y’s, Land of Talk, Peeling, R.G. Lowe, and Twinsmith. There were also strong efforts to be found in the music video department, courtesy of artists like Beach Fossils, Heavy Heart, and The Charlatans. Rounding everything out were outstanding full streams from the likes of Buildings, Harmony Woods, Trophy Dad, The Broken Hearts, and Walter Martin. Most of those releases got a very strong push from at least one well-known outlet, while the excellent new online single from Joe Gutierrez’s solo project turned full band Steady Lean flew under the radar.

Over the past few years, Steady Lean’s sound’s been carefully cultivated and refined, morphing from simplistic bedroom folk trappings to a sound resembling some of the forward-thinking punk-tinged Americana artists like Fraser A. Gorman and Kevin Morby.  Bandages b/w Some Better Somethin’ keeps that trend very much alive, showcasing Steady Lean at their most raucous. “Bandages” serves as both a solid introduction for the pair of tracks and as an introduction-at-large for those unfamiliar with Steady Lean. An agreeably gritty, energetic number “Bandages” showcases Gutierrez’s growth as a songwriter.

Humorous stabs of tongue-in-cheek couplets are mixed with salient insight and a rambling narrative with ease, bringing to mind a coterie of songwriters who are frequently considered as all-time greats. “Some Better Somethin'” picks up where “Bandages” left off, again allowing Gutierrez to interject both a sense of world-weariness and urgency into the proceedings. It’s a solid pairing, each track complementing each other in minuscule ways and forming a greater whole. By far the project’s most exciting release to date, Bandages b/w Some Better Somethin‘ is bound to leave listeners eager to discover what might be laying just around the corner.

Listen to Bandages b/w  Some Better Somethin’ below and pick it up from the band here.

Pleistocene – Your New Life (Music Video)

Over the past week, there have been outstanding records by Real Life Buildings, Yellow Paper Planes, Molly Drag, Bluffs, pickle darling, Guilty Optics, Eric Slick, Good Good Blood, cooking, Sundae Crush, Monograms, Exhibition, Go By Ocean, dead man hammock, Kelly Moran, BENT, Raj and the 100’s, Tara Jane O’Neil, and Priests all finding release. Records weren’t the only things making an impact over the stretch. There were more than a few great music videos to surface and one of them came from site favorites Pleistocene.

In the most recent edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories Pleistocene bandleader Katie Preston talked a great deal about camaraderie and fostering healthy relationships, especially through shared interest. Those values are all reflected in the band’s new BUBL-T-directed music video for “Your New Life”, Spear‘s excellent lead-off track. The clip turns the focus onto the world of roller derby, where physical toughness is brought out with feverish intensity.

In addition to that toughness, there’s a dedication to the sport’s virtues that turn the people who immerse themselves in that world from casual spectators to role players to near-obsessives. There’s an undeniable ferocity to the game that manifests itself in the players, who, in turn, support each other. Since it’s not the most visible sport, that kinship intensifies considerably.

All of the values that are clearly evident in the sport wind up being analogous to the ones that Pleistocene have preached over the course of their discography, whether it be the inherent power of sisterhood, the willingness to stay resilient, or the importance of camaraderie. “Your New Life” distills everything into an energetic, effective, honest, and oddly moving portrayal of one of the great fringe sports. It’s a powerful piece from a band that, like derby, a lot more people should grant investment.

Watch “Your New Life” below and pick up a copy of Spear from the band here.

Hazel English – More Like You (Stream)

Now that everything’s caught back up to the current release cycle, expect posts nearly every day to recap what’s been happening. Thursday brought in a small trove of treasures from great new tracks by the likes of Sharkmuffin, Christopher Paul Stelling, Walter Martin, Adult Mom, Gallery 47, The Bonnevilles, BNQT, So Many Wizards, Saudade Sisters, and Do Make Say Think to great music videos from John K. Samson, Tara Jane O’Neil, and JFDR to outstanding records by Workhorse, Lugaweight, and Mimi Raver.

Shortly following a characteristically excellent clip, Hazel English has returned with another winsome piece of music just in time to soundtrack all of our warm weather parties. “More Like You”, the project’s latest, is teeming with a familiar carefree aesthetic, something played up in the wistful, nostalgia-inducing home movie leanings of its music video. As always, it’s a warm piece of music, buoyed by the same empathetic warmth that’s quietly made Hazel English one of our most consistent emerging songwriters.

“More Like You” is unassuming, unpretentious, and gently atmospheric, conjuring up a world that’s easy to get lost in and difficult to leave. While the vocals remain pensive, they also retain the sunny optimism that’s always provided Hazel English’s music with a sturdy core. It’s that paradigm that makes Hazel English such a fascinating artist and what makes “More Like You” so alluring. There’s a hint of mystery nestled into the familiarity, rendering the comfortably breezy “More Like You” yet another triumph.

Listen to “More Like You” below and pre-order Just Give In/Never Going Home from Polyvinyl here.