Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: fuzz

Elephants – The Turtles Were Right (Song Premiere)

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Photograph by Sasha Pedro

Over the past few weeks, the submissions that have come into the site’s inbox have introduced me to some of the most fascinating music of 2014. Toby Reif and Space Mountain were two that immediately stood out- Elephants shortly followed. The Boston-based quartet’s upcoming record, Strange Waves, is one of 2014’s most vibrant and defiantly lively records. The band’s formula differs from the norm, most notably in the basslines acting as lead guitar riffs instead of driving the rhythm. It’s a kinetic approach and it suits the band (whose powerpop sensibilities come tinged with a surprisingly aggressive noise-punk bite) surprisingly well.

All of Strange Waves is a joy but no song on the record clicks everything into place with as much power and finesse as “The Turtles Were Right”. Sun-splashed melodies meet a restless bass figure, propulsive drumming, vicious guitar work, an abundance of energy, and a few joyful hand claps. Before long, the song establishes an alternating contrast pattern in mood with the verses taking on a pensive melodramatic feel before the rousing chorus picks everything up and pushes it forward. It’s also Elephants at their finest- it’s no surprise that “The Turtles Were Right” is the song that includes the lyric which gave Strange Waves its title. “The Turtles Were Right” cloaks its fuzz in an undeniable affability and the end result is something that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.

Listen to “The Turtles Were Right” below and keep an eye on Elephants’ bandcamp, which is where Strange Waves will be available to download on December 16 (the download will be free for the first day).

The History of Apple Pie – Jamais Vu (Music Video)

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This week was kicked off in powerful fashion thanks to the most recent additions to the never-ending avalanche of new releases. Mitski, Slothrust, and Jeff Rosentstock all had outstanding new songs, increasing the anticipation levels for each of their upcoming records. Mary Timony’s newest project, Ex Hex, have their upcoming record streaming in full over at NPR’s First Listen. On the music video side of things, Nothing offered up a sinister clip (directed by band member Domenic Palermo) composed of nothing but home invasion archival footage for a recently-remastered early acoustic version of “B&E“. There were also two visually stunning videos that surfaced from  Haley Bonar and The Bug, the former being a gentle oneiric caress and the latter being a masterfully composed nightmarish descent of towering proportions. The History of Apple Pie staked out a place in a similar camp with their visually meticulous clip for Feel Something highlight “Jamias Vu”.

Director Alistair Redding has said that the video for “Jamais Vu” took cues from French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard and indie darling Wes Anderson. From the Robert Yeoman framing symmetry to the highly stylized art production, both influences cut through the clip like a knife. It’d all be distracting if it didn’t wind up being a perfect complement to The History of Apple Pie’s particular brand of whimsy; their exceptional fuzz-cloaked outsider pop somehow given greater emphasis by the striking visual palette. They’re a band that seems to operate in multicolor already and they’ve found a perfect match in Redding’s distinct and well-versed grasp on varying filmic influences. At just past the minute-and-thirty mark, there’s a long shot that switches the focal emphasis to the environmental foreground (which is generally relegated to the backdrop), double-framing the character subjects and providing a perfect point of reference for the composition mastery on display in “Jamais Vu”. Guns fire stars, uniformly dapper battalions stride through fields and scout the woods, and the whole thing’s brilliantly soundtracked by the song it was designed to enhance. It’s a monstrously winsome work of multimedia perfection, with every element working together to hit a surprisingly comprehensive level of artistry. “Jamais Vu” is far too fun to miss.

Watch “Jamais Vu” below and order Feel Something from the excellent UK-based Marshall Teller Records here.

Allah-Las – Follow You Down (Music Video)

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Another day down, another great batch of streams and videos to show for it. First off: a full record stream from The Growlers, who have a career-best on their hands with Chinese Fountain. Representing the music video side of things, there was YAWN’s fascinating video for “Flytrap” and then a whole host of great single song streams. New Orleans duo Caddywhompus started to gain some attention on the back of “Stuck“, Glish made a deep impression with their towering “Pretty Car“, and Radical Dads carved out a place for themselves with the jumpy “In the Water“. Sonic Avenues’ second exclusive track for the deluxe version of their classic self-titled surfaced, as did great brand-new songs from FF, Doe, and Allo Darlin‘. However, despite all those great candidates for a feature, there was one thing that kept creeping back up; Allah-Las music video for “Follow You Down”.

From the immediate outset, it becomes apparent that “Follow You Down” isn’t going to be overtly conventional. Mixing the band’s trademark 60’s garage-grit revivalism with a quasi-Western, the video coaxes as much intrigue out of that contrast as possible. With both mediums emphasizing the lo-fi (and the low-key) aspects of the band’s presentation, things in the Sasha Eisenman-directed clip get fairly ridiculous pretty quickly- but that doesn’t stop it from being compelling or losing any momentum. The actual story in the video’s a fairly straightforward narrative that plays out, in full accordance with their chosen style, like a great Western- right down to the quietly tragic/humorous ending. “Follow You Down” on its own was a fun rock n’ soul-tinged throwback but the video manages to give it new life. All in all, it’s an absolute blast and goes quite a ways in proving that sometimes the best videos come out of a band letting their guard down and allowing themselves to have fun.

Watch “Follow You Down” below and order the just-released Worship the Sun (which “Follow You Down” is taken off of) over at Allah-Las’ bandcamp.

Pretty Pretty – Feels Like Rain (Stream)

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Once again, the past few days have provided a decent amount of material making it difficult to figure out which to feature. Most notably, two vicious post-punk numbers from the likes of Cycle Schmeichel and BODY. The former is full of a restlessness that aids Cycle Schmeichel’s wiry post-punk tendencies well, while the latter is a foreboding piece of hard-charging, rapidly-building tension characterized by nervousness before allowing an exhilarating release. Both are among the best songs to have come out of this month thus far- and September’s already seen two of the strongest weeks for new music this year. On top of both of those, Pretty Pretty finally released their Sweater Leather 7″ tracks via their bandcamp, which they’d previously teased with the sugar-coated title trackSweater Leather not only manages to live up to the promise of that initial look but occasionally surpasses it, including “Feels Like Rain”- the closing track.

While “Feels Like Rain” isn’t quite as hard-charging as the trio of tracks that come before it (including easy standout “You Say“), it does manage to act as a perfect finale piece’ it summarizes nearly everything that precede that moment while serving as a reminder of Pretty Pretty’s specific strengths. From the call-and-response vocals to the vintage 90’s crunch in the guitar tones, it’s difficult not to see “Feels Like Rain”- and Pretty Pretty, by extension- for what it is: a perfect slice of sun-splashed punk-leaning popwerpop. There’s an underlying intelligence in the song’s composition that reveals itself in the details; the light riffing before the main guitar part kicks in, the subtly clever lyrics, and the general dynamics all point towards Pretty Pretty being a band that takes their songwriting very seriously. Fortunately, their efforts pay off in full and make Sweater Weather one of the more memorable 7″ releases of the year.

Listen to “Feels Like Rain” below and keep an eye on both Let’s Pretend and Mandible for the impending release of the physical copy.

Songs of Summer: 2014 (Mixtape)

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Another hundred posts in and this site’s still humming along. As tradition dictates, today is one of the only days that doesn’t get dedicated to the outstanding just-released content (though there was an incredible amount, which will be covered tomorrow)- and features a digital mixtape instead. There was a lot of talk over what the song of the summer was and no real general consensus in any type of forum. In the spirit of that surprisingly diverse conversation, the mixtape features the songs that resonated throughout this place most strongly during what proved to be an incredibly memorable summer (covering both NXNE and Pitchfork festivals among the many highlights). As the season approaches its end, it only felt right to shine a light on some of those songs one more time before the year draws to a close.

A few of these have been featured in previous playlists but that should only stand as a testament to their longevity. While a few weren’t even released in summer, they definitely struck a deeper chord as the surroundings finally caught up to the mood they inhabited. Every single one of them can be streamed below (a tracklist is also provided) and, being that this marks another hundred posts- and in the event anyone was curious in catching something they missed, hyperlinks to posts No. 200-299 are given beneath the tracklist. So, turn the volume all the way up and enjoy some great music while the warm weather’s still here.

Stream Songs of Summer: 2014 below and feel free to navigate through any of the listed hyperlinks.

1. Lost Boy ? – Hollywood
2. LVL UP – Soft Power
3. Radiator Hospital – Cut Your Bangs
4. The Coasts – I Just Wanna Be A Star
5. The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More
6. Tweens – Forever
7. The Sleepwalkers – My Best Was Never Good Enough
8. Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03
9. The Freezing Hands – Good Morning Takeout
10. Happyness – Anything I Do Is All Right
11. Dead Stars – Summer Bummer
12. Joanna Gruesome – Jerome (Liar)
13. Perfect Pussy – Leash Called Love (Sugarcubes Cover)
14. Eugene Quell – Hell Presidente
15. Happy Diving – Weird Dream
16. Mean Creek – My Madeline
17. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning
18. Left & Right – Low Expectations
19. Mulligrub – Canadian Classic
20. Dude York – Believer
21. Cayetana – Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving
22. Lenguas Largas – Kawasaki Dream
23. Wyatt Blair – Girls!
24. Jawbreaker Reunion – Empire
25. Reigning Sound – Falling Rain

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HB200: NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide (Mixtape)
HB201: Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Calgary Hill (Music Video)
HB202: Swearin’ at Memorial Union Terrace – 5/30/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB203: Watch This: Vol. 27
HB204: Watch This: Vol. 28
HB205: Pretty Pretty – Leather Weather (Stream)
HB206: Haunted Heads – VV (Stream)
HB207: Marvelous Mark – Bite Me (Music Video)
HB208: Mean Creek – Anxiety Girl (Music Video)
HB209: Bob Mould – I Don’t Know You Anymore (Music Video)
HB210: Parquet Courts – Black and White (Music Video)
HB211: Greys – Use Your Delusion (Music Video)
HB212: Beverly – Honey Do (Music Video)
HB213: Jawbreaker Reunion – Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club (Review)
HB214: Green Dreams – Rich Man Poor Man (Review)
HB215: Watch This: Vol. 29
HB216: Watch This: Vol. 30
HB217: La Sera – Fall in Place (Music Video)
HB218: Lemuria – Brilliant Dancer (Music Video)
HB219: The Midwestern Charm – Growing Pains (Trailer)
HB220: NXNE: Day 1 (Pictorial Review)
HB221: Watch This: Vol. 31
HB222: NXNE: Day 2 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB223: NXNE Day 3: Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Coing (Photo Gallery)
HB224: NXNE Day 3: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Spoon (Photo Gallery)
HB225: NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)
HB226: NXNE Day 4: Creep Highway, Perfect Pussy, Frankie Cosmos, Swearin’ (Photo Gallery)
HB227: NXNE Day 5: Courtney Barnett, Army Girls (Photo Gallery)
HB228: Soybomb HQ: Cellphone, Ice Cream, Pleasure Leftists, Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)
HB229: Smiling Buddha: Pleasure Leftists, Holy Fuck, METZ (Photo Gallery)
HB230: NXNE: Day 3 (Review, Videos, Photos, Videos)
HB231: NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Review, Photos)
HB232: NXNE Day 4 + 5 (Review, Photos)
HB233: Perfect Pussy at Soybomb HQ – 6/21/14 (Review, Video)
HB234: METZ at Smiling Buddha – 6/22/14 (Review, Video)
HB235: Deafheaven at Bottom Lounge – 7/18/14 (Review, Photos)
HB236: Pitchfork Festival Day 2 (Review)
HB237: Pitchfork Festival Day 3 (Review)
HB238: Pitchfork Festival Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Review)
HB239: Watch This: Vol. 32
HB240: Watch This: Vol. 33
HB241: Watch This: Vol. 34
HB242: Watch This: Vol. 35
HB243: Watch This: Vol. 36
HB244: Watch This: Vol. 37
HB245: LVL UP – Soft Power (Stream)
HB246: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning (Stream)
HB247: Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite (Music Video)
HB248: Terry Malts – Let You In (Stream)
HB249: Dead Stars – Summer Bummer (Music Video)
HB250: Songs in Screen: A Look Back (Music Video Mixtape)
HB251: The Frankl Project – Day at the Races (Stream)
HB252: Cancers – Moral Net (Stream)
HB253: Watch This: Vol. 38
HB254: Mannequin Pussy – Kiss (Stream)
HB255: Vacation – Every Direction (Stream)
HB256: The Midwestern Charm – Bloodbath (Stream)
HB257: Dude York – Believer (Stream)
HB258: PURPLE 7 – Wise Up (Stream)
HB259: Lost Boy ? – Hollywood (Stream)
HB260: Mulligrub – Canadian Classic (Stream)
HB261: Purling Hiss – Learning Slowly (Stream)
HB262: Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Gates of Hell (Music Video)
HB263: Two Houses – Disappointer (Stream)
HB264: Cayetana – Scotty Get the Van, I’m Moving (Stream)
HB265: Shy Boys – Life Is Peachy (Music Video)
HB266: Low Expectations – Left & Right (Stream)
HB267: Sonic Avenues – Bored With Love (Stream)
HB268: Joanna Gruesome – Jerome (Liar) (Stream)
HB269: The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More (Stream)
HB270: Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03 (Stream)
HB271: Watch This: Vol. 39
HB272: Ex-Breathers – Pocket (Stream)
HB273: Liam Betson – Rapture in Heat (Stream)
HB274: Allison Crutchfield – Berlin (Stream)
HB275: The Ar-Kaics – Be My Baby (Stream)
HB276: Even Hand – Even Hand (Album Review, Stream)
HB277: Naomi Punk – Firehose Face (Music Video)
HB278: Kindling – Sunspots (Stream)
HB279: Places to Hide – Nowhere Bound (Stream)
HB280: We Need Secrets – How You Remember (Stream)
HB281: LVL UP – I Feel Ok (Stream)
HB282: Girl Tears – Candy Darling (Stream)
HB283: Ex Hex – Beast (Stream)
HB284: The Freezing Hands – Good Morning Takeout (Stream)
HB285: Follies – I Make Sense (Stream)
HB286: Happy Diving – Weird Dream (Stream)
HB287: Big Ups – Justice (Music Video)
HB288: Radiator Hospital – Bedtime Story (Music Video)
HB289: Space Raft at Crunchy Frog – 8/16/14 (Pictorial Review)
HB290: Watch This: Vol. 40
HB291: The Seeers – Without Lites (Stream)
HB292: Dark Blue – Here On My Street (Stream)
HB293: Lenguas Largas – Kawasaki Dream (Stream)
HB294: Wyatt Blair – Girls! (Stream)
HB295: Perfect Pussy – Leash Called Love (Stream)
HB296: Eternal Summers – Window (Stream)
HB297: Watch This: Vol. 41
HB298: Eugene Quell – A Great Useleness (Review, Stream)
HB299: LVL UP – DBTS (Stream)

Happy Diving – Weird Dream (Stream)

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This week has had no shortage of great material to choose from thanks to great new songs from the likes of Glish (whose upcoming self-titled is among the year’s best releases), Miss Destiny, Straight Arrows, Colleen Green, Cozy, and VCR. There were also eye-catching music videos from the likes of site favorites Creepoid and Happyness to round things out on the visual end of the spectrum. One of the most arresting things to be introduced into the world, though, was Happy Diving’s lo-fi basement punk rager “Weird Dream”.

Bookending a song with sheets of feedback is a bold move that normally indicates a fair amount of aggression. It’s a trick that Dinosaur Jr. has used to great effect and a proclivity that Happy Diving seems to have picked up (among a few others that offer a strong connection between the two bands). From the scorching guitar work to the scuzzy production, “Happy Diving” isn’t content to drift by without landing a cavalcade of punches. As damaging as it is damaged, the song’s one hell of an introduction to a band on the verge of releasing their debut record, Big World, through a label as revered as Father/Daughter Records. If “Weird Dreams” does prove to be truly indicative of what Big World has in store, October 21 can’t get here fast enough.

Listen to “Weird Dream” below and make sure to pre-order Big World directly from Father/Daughter Records here.

We Need Secrets – How You Remember (Stream)

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At the end of last month, We Need Secrets (the project of Halifax-based Chad Peck) released Melancholy and The Archive, a shoegaze-heavy debut LP that’s been four years in the making. Anytime that amount of time’s invested in a single release, expectations are going to be considerably heightened. Fortunately, Melancholy and The Archive immediately obliterates any lingering doubts with its scorched-earth opener “How You Remember”.

Ferocious and delicate in equal measure, the oneiric “How You Remember” demonstrates Peck’s near-alarming levels of understanding in regards to genre, composition, and control. Even from the record’s first few seconds, a brief stretch of quiet ambient noise that gets obliterated when everything kicks in, it’s evident that there’s something rare happening with the music in Melancholy and The Archive. Effortlessly commanding attention, Peck (who plays next to every instrument throughout the record) holds nothing back from the get-go, going full-throttle and never letting up over the course of the record. It’s a wonder his name’s not one that’s gained greater familiarity, which is a possibility that’s not entirely out of the question if We Need Secrets is consistently held to a standard this fully-realized.

Listen to “How You Remember” below and then let the rest of the record play through- it’s easily one of 2014’s most stunning surprises. Order it here.

Places to Hide – Nowhere Bound (Stream)

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Places To Hide have been locked into a spot worth envying for some time now, appearing- and frequently headlining- absolutely stacked bills with the finest bands from rosters like Salinas and Double Double Whammy. Everyone seems to be on their side or putting in a good word or five for the Atlanta-based quartet and that loyalty’s being repaid in full, courtesy of the band’s distinctly original take on a peculiar 90’s bent, basement pop, and scuzz-punk- all filtered through an impressive lo-fi sensibility.

Near the end of July, the band unveiled the Wild N Soft EP, offering up the careening push-and-pull of “Nowhere Bound” as a free preview on their bandcamp. Encapsulating just about everything that’s helped transform the band into something approaching the territories of “underground’s best-kept secret”, “Nowhere Bound” is a malaise-filled rager worthy of the band’s discography. Vocals are traded, a haunting wordless melody sets the song’s tone, off-kilter instrumental work clashes and complements in a manner that recalls Speedy Ortiz at their absolute finest, and sections of blistering fuzz punctuate what otherwise sounds deceptively lazy (a hallmark of late 80’s/early 90’s SST). Combine all of those elements and inject them with a keen awareness for the modern musical landscape and it’s no surprise that Places To Hide have become as celebrated as they are.

Hear “Nowhere Bound” below and expect to be reading their name a few more times on this site.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always (Music Video)

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have endured one of the stranger career arcs of recent memory but, thankfully, that hasn’t stopped them from making music. If the backlash and critical comedown they faced after the buzz from their much-adored self-titled debut had deterred them, they wouldn’t be on the verge of releasing what looks to be a fairly incredible record. The band had already shared a track featuring The National’s Matt Berninger which didn’t skimp on scuzz, which is a trend that continues on “As Always”. Additionally, they’ve released an alluring music video to accompany “As Always” that accentuates the song’s sense of unease to near-perfection.

Anchored by an engaging central performance from Will Daniels, the David M. Helman-directed clip blurs the boundaries between the naturalistic and surreal to great effect. Tracking the protagonist through a night on the town that’s filled with a quiet discontentment, it manages to become both a frightening character study as well as a cautionary warning. With the atmosphere of the clip heightened by the decision to present much of its arresting imagery through hazy exteriors, it becomes a magnetic force through its artfully positioned movements. By the climactic finish, just how harrowing everything that preceded it becomes clear- and everyone involved has something they have every right to be proud of.

Watch “As Always” below and make sure to pick up the band’s forthcoming album, Only Run, when it’s self-released on June 3.