Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: gorgeous

A Month’s Worth of Songs Worth Hearing

It’s been a long stretch since the last main update ran on this site. Part of the reason for its absence is a slow relocation from central Wisconsin to Madison and all of the accompanying transitional necessities. Part of it’s due to my own musical obligations (Heartbreaking Bravery remains a one-person operation). All of that said, the work and updates that keep this place afloat have continued in earnest. Below, there are over 200 songs that emerged over the past month (and a few additional weeks) that deserve to be heard. There will be a handful more that are touched on in the near future but for now, bookmark this page and explore the endless amount of reasons why the people who claim there’s no interesting music being made today have no idea what they’re talking about.

Patsy’s Rats, Fake Palms, Queen Moo, Swanning, Baby!, Lomelda, UV-TV, Jack Cooper, Gorgeous, Shannon Lay, Small Reactions (x2), Lina Tullgren, Atlas Wynd, Melina Mae, Jenny O., Terror Watts, Ephrata, Amy OBunny, Apollo Vermouth, Beachtape, Girl Ray, Speedy Ortiz, The Cribs, Cannery Terror, Arrows of Love (x2), Easy Love, Pardoner (x2), Walter Etc., Maneka, The Lovebirds, Birds, Becca Mancari, Holiday Ghosts, together PANGEA, Soft Fangs, Honey, Downtown Boys, The Districts, Club Night.

Monk Parker, Guided By Voices, Big Hush, Deerhoof, The Duke Spirit, Partner, Space Mountain, Surfer Rosie, The Mynabirds, Mini Dresses, Winter, Wieuca, Knifey, A. Savage, Katie Ellen, Guilt Mountain, EMA, Ayo River, Luke Sital-Singh, Black Beach, The Travelling Band, Curtis Harding, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Culture Abuse, Alvvays, The Sighs, Earth Girl Helen Brown, Holy Hum, Hypoluxo, The Fresh & Onlys, Dream Ritual, Guantanamo Baywatch, Brian Dewar, Warbly Jets, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Oh Sees.

Annie Hart (x2), Sløtface, Company of Thieves, Lushloss, Las Rosas, Boris, Shelley ShortCRITTÉ, Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease, Lambchop, Dina Maccabee, Hiss Golden Messenger, Looming, Faith Healer, Jogging House, Filthy Friends, TV Sets, Goat Girl, No Friends, Hairpins, The Warp/The Weft, Body Origami, Broken Social Scene, Shagg, Omni, Ice Balloons (x2), Max Chillen and the Kerbside Collective, Anna Tosh, Carmen Villain, Dabble, Hayden Calnin, Hand Habits, WHIMM, Grizzly Bear, Turnover, Coast Modern.

Sparks, Ian Randall Thornton, Har-Di-Har, Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs, The Shivers, Broncho, James Riotto, Naomi Punk, Tamino, Fassine, Shabazz Palaces, Jordan Klassen, Wet Dream, Offa Rex, Emily Reo, Kan Wakan, Night Talk, Cina Polada, Bombz, Cold Specks, Juiceboxxx, Pearl Earl, Zola Jesus, Absolutely NotNØMADS, Space Camp, Poppy Ackroyd, Oro Swimming Hour, Flesh WorldLød, Nassau, Living, The Anatomy of Frank, Quiet Hollers, Elle Mary & The Bad Men, Stone Irr, Lil Tits, Crooked Teeth.

King Borneo, Kazyak (x2), Swimming Tapes, Prism Tats (x2), Bloody Your Hands, Tom Hale, Fake Billy and the False Prophets, Electric Eye, Briana Marela, The Tambo Rays, Oly Sherman, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Everyone Is Dirty, Gladys Lazer, Fronds, Mappe Of (x2), Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Shout Out Louds, Heavenalive, Kabells, Flood Coats, Tempest le Mans, Spirit Award, Babygirl, Kinder, Weatherboy, Pawns, Memnon Sa, Mark Springer, Reese McHenry & Spider Bags, Triptides, Cadet Kelly.

The Weather Station, Will Hoge, A Valley Son, Shy, Low, Dent May, Parent, Jordan B. Wright, Kele OkerekeTed Leo, Blank Range, Tomo Nakayama, The Woggles, Whispertown, The Two Tens, Wild Honey, Sam ValdezSusanne Sundfør, Pill, Peakes, Muskets, THE VAN T’s, Ruby FrayRainer Maria, METZ, Lens Mozer, and Petite League.

Another Two Weeks Worth of Full Streams

In the weeks that followed this site’s recap of the great records to be released in the first quarter of 2017, a handful more found release. Many of these selections received a heavy amount of deserved acclaim throughout the course of their introductions and a few slipped by, largely unnoticed. All of them are outstanding. All of them are worth multiple listens. All of them can (and should) be accessed below. Enjoy!

Pile, Aye Nako, Your Pest Band, Caddywhompus, Chingada, Deathlist, Single Mothers, Growl, Midnight Reruns, Salvation, Arc Flash, Soccer Mommy, Oak House, Julia Lucille, Most Selfless Cheerleader, Thanks for Coming, Deep State, Russel the Leaf, Seasurfer, Supermilk, Guided By Voices, White Walls, Futuro, Cassandra Jenkins, Little Star, Souvenir Driver, Exasperation, Midnight Shack, Wire, Sam Himself, Ubetcha, Alimony Hustle, Bilge Rat, Death By Internet, Loose Tooth, Gorgeous, Brunch Club, The Craters, and Black Helicopter as well as compilations from NOAR AVUD, Superfriend, and Typical Girls.

Night School – Birthday (Stream)

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It’s very rare that a song comes along in the middle of the night and manages to be so good that it warrants an immediate write-up. There’s no accounting for what kind of material will emerge over the next 24 hours but if any of it manages to be better than Night School’s “Birthday”, rest assured, it will get a write-up at some point. That said, it’d be criminal not to feature “Birthday”, an explosive pop-indebted shoegaze tune that comes courtesy of Graveface Records.

Before going any further, some exposition should be noted: one of the three members of Night School, who will be releasing their debut EP Heart Beat on October 7, used to be in Whirr. While there are similarities between the two acts, they only run at surface level. Night School’s latched onto something that feels new; a welcome expansion in the increasingly accommodating field of shoegaze sub-genres. There are shades of Phil Spector interwoven with sounds that pull from all over both his catalog and the continuously evolving field of DIY punk. Thankfully, this doesn’t result in “Birthday” sounding like a complete and total mess- instead it gets presented as some kind of damaged dream that Alexandre Morte and the rest of her band are desperate to hold on to. Battered guitars create a wall of sound that’s as lush as it is intimidating, the rhythm section powers everything forward with gnashing teeth, and the vocals are practically floating as they create an introspective atmosphere that, impossibly, contrasts and complements the sonic chaos taking place beneath. It’s a gorgeous, towering piece of work that should turn a lot more heads in the days to come. If the rest of Heart Beat winds up being this good, Night School may just be on the verge of releasing something truly great.

Listen to “Birthday” below and take part in Graveface’s intriguing “glorified pre-order” kickstarter campaign here.

PUP – Guilt Trip (Music Video)

They did it again. Emphatically. It’s been a while since a band made music videos this consistently great that were so separated stylistically. First, there was the relentless, cathartic bloodshed of “Reservoir” [which I named the best music video of 2013 over at PopMatters]. That was then followed by the one-shot video for “Lionheart” that undoubtedly hit a personal nerve for a lot of people. Somewhere along the way, PUP was finally released internationally and the band started picking up the wider recognition it deserved. Even with all of that taken into consideration, the band may have outdone themselves with the utterly stunning “Guilt Trip” music video.

Enhancing the cinematic elements of their previous clips tenfold, it tells an unlikely origin story that’s as visceral as it is bleakly compelling. Chandler Levack and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux take the helm as the directing team and fill each frame with a sense of purpose to the point that it’s almost jarring, as that’s a style that’s increasingly fallen out of practice in the format as of late. Additionally, from the gorgeous first shot all the way through to the last, this is some of the best cinematography to have emerged this year in any format. From bullying to underage drinking to blood pacts to a dead cop to the most perfect conflict resolution imaginable, every single new scene and development lands with as much impact as the visuals themselves (keep an eye out for the images that happen in a silent, tension-filled interim, they’re among the most arresting of the past few years).

By the time the brilliant epilogue shot hits, acting as both a summary and a metaphor, it’ll be easy to feel absolutely spent. An entire adolescense, from the most harrowing moments to the most zealously joyful, can be found in these three minutes and 50 seconds. The way these images are presented resonates so profoundly that it’s almost difficult to separate them from real memories. Perfectly realized and featuring four unbelievably strong performances from its young cast, “Guilt Trip” doesn’t just have a shot at being the best video of this year- but one of the best of the decade.

Watch “Guilt Trip” below and relive the highs and lows of childhood all over again.

Watch This: Vol. 19

No, this isn’t some sort of high-level deception designed to trick someone into thinking today is Sunday. It’s not. So why’s this the first Watch This to get a Saturday feature? The answer’s pretty simple, actually. It’s hard to write an article on a drive from central WI to Minneapolis. It’s probably even harder to get one in when a Perfect Pussy show is going on, especially when The Miami Dolphins and Condominium are the supporting acts. Coverage of that will be arriving shortly after the fact but it will take up most of Sunday- hence the early Watch This post. Now, since the consistency of just about everything has been thrown into total disarray by something as harmless as logic, this Watch This will be making a fleet little sidestep as well; the emphasis will be placed largely on acoustic (or practically acoustic) performances from singer-songwriters worth knowing- though there is one notable exception. With all that in mind, kick back, relax, plug in, turn up, do whatever needs doing, and start Saturday off on the right foot. Seriously, Watch This.

1. Mean Creek – My Madeline (Wondering Sound)

Mean Creek have been making a dent in all of the right places recently and if the subsequent attention they’re receiving because of it is phasing them, it’s really not showing. Here, they take to Wondering Sound (a relatively new site that’s finding themselves in a similar position by virtue of an enviable cast of writers and a fair amount of eclecticism) to perform a stripped-down version of “My Madeline”. It’s easy to see what an increasing number of people are getting worked up over; this is great music evoking decades of American classics at just the right time.

2. Kevin Devine – Bubblegum (BalconyTV)

2013 was a busy year for Kevin Devine- the man released two full-lengths and was touring incessantly. Recently, Devine took to a wintry balcony to perform a ballad version of the title track from Bubblegum, one of that pair of releases (and one of the year’s best). While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of his performance of “Brother’s Blood” at Banquet Records, not much does. It’s still miles above what most others toiling around in that genre are doing and well worth a few watches. Get on it.

3. Small Houses – Revel, Revel (GemsOnVHS)

There are few performers anyone can hope to come across that are as arresting as Jeremy Quentin, who performs under the moniker Small Houses- sometimes with a band, sometimes on his lonesome. Having seen him perform both solo and with a band to very different crowds (once was a very intimate living room show, the other as the first act on a bill that included Tenement and Used Kids), it’s easy to testify to his raw natural talent and innate ability to draw in just about anyone. “Revel, Revel”, lensed lovingly by GemsOnVHS, is even more proof of this and confirms Quentin as one of the best folk artists this generation has to offer.

4. Mutual Benefit – C.L. Rosarian (Bruxelles Ma Belle)

Love’s Crushing Diamond was one of last year’s small delights, a sprawling record full of intricately woven tapestries that comforted as much as they provided pause. It was an extended moment of stunning clarity and found people rallying around it with dedication so fierce it became inspirational. In this video, Jordan Lee and his touring companions present a downright gorgeous version of “C.L. Rosarian”, hitting one grace note after another. By the video’s end it’s transformed from a performance to something more transcendent and inexplicably moving; something to get completely lost in after being enveloped by its embrace.

5. Cheatahs (KEXP)

The KEXP performances that have really jumped out and held the viewer/listener in a stranglehold since Cloud Nothings perfected what could be done with the format have been few and far between. For their part, Cheatahs make one of the more valiant efforts that small studio room has seen since that nearly two-years old session and nearly pull it off. While the final stretch does lose some of the session’s early momentum, the entire thing’s still incredibly impressive and more than enough to crash its way into this volume of Watch This. Keep an eye out for this band, they may have just enough elements working in their favor to do some serious damage.

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.

Molybden – Woman Who Left Behind (7″ Review)

Molybden - "Woman Who Left Behind" 7"
There are very few new releases that have existed decidedly outside of the punk spectrum to catch this site’s attention. Molybden’s Woman Who Left Behind found itself squarely in that category when it first came in as a submission. Molybden is the solo project of Tess Seip, an artist who was raised in Marfa, TX. Normally geographic identifiers that small don’t warrant a mention and should be held to the barest of minimums in reviews. So why mention it now? Marfa, TX was the small town where both No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were filmed. Anyone familiar with those two films will likely attest to both having stunning visuals and desolate landscapes. That desolation both informs and permeates though all four songs on Woman Who Left Behind.

Rarely more than an instrument and Seipp’s voice, Woman Who Left Behind is a release full of sparing and haunting folk songs. Seipp’s natural ability to command with a minimal palette is evidenced immediately with the title track that leads off the collection. Her voice is masterfully controlled, arresting and enticing all at once. There are shades of Cat Power, Feist, and Joanna Newsom inflected throughout Woman Who Left Behind. Using multi-track vocals and just a touch of reverb, Seipp’s slightly left-of-center lyrics gain an emphasized introspective context. When everything finally trails off in “Bloodshed”, the most haunting track of the four, and the acoustic is swapped out for a piano, the four songs feel like a surprisingly complete collection. All told, Woman Who Left Behind is one of the more singular collections to be released so far this year and should help Seipp continue her steady ascension. Hear it below and order the physical copy from Berniece Rode Records via Molybden’s bandcamp.