Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Grow/Decompose

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (John Rossiter)

Young Jesus

Ever since the year of its release, I’ve been confidently referring to Young Jesus‘ staggering Home as an untouchable masterpiece. In the time that’s followed since its release, the band relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles, shifting its core lineup in the process. Guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter John Rossiter (pictured above, bottom left), remained the band’s driving force. Last year, the band released the outstanding Grow/Decompose — one of my favorite releases of the year — a record that I was very fortunate to be running premieres for in the lead-up to its unveiling. Towards the end of 2015, they swung through Wisconsin and delivered a set that left me absolutely floored. I met Rossiter for the first time that night and we exchanged road stories before parting ways. From that meeting alone, it was readily apparent that he was a genuine, kind person in addition to being an obscenely gifted songwriter. Those are just a few of the reasons that I’m thrilled to be bringing him into the fold of this series. Here, he recounts a show Young Jesus played in Gardena that left a lasting impression on more than one person. Read it below and stay safe in the pit.

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Gardena Utopia House Show

In early summer, I played a pretty fun set, lots of teens and SoCal punk dads hanging in this backyard in Gardena. While I was having a drink by the hot tub (cover on), a dude who must have been fourteen said, “you drink beer? Nice. I can’t wait til I have a beer today, haven’t had one since yesterday.” Which reminded me SO MUCH of being an awkward 14 year old trying to fit in I really felt an immense sense of empathy and joy.

The kids passing around the Svedka bottle intermittently making out, the mohawk’d kid with the Crass patch sewn on (in response to a punk dad asking, “nice patch, but what are you doing for change?” The kid says “EVERYTHING“). All the bands we’re introduced by a couple of adorable and shy 6 year olds. Somewhere between a house show and a suburban barbecue. Chips and guac. So many dogs on the grill. Dad going up to the mic saying “I got extra dogs up here if anyone wants more.”

The locals, this cool Cap’n Jazz/Do Make Say Think-sounding band Cotton Ships, closed the show, sun just went down, summertime in Los Angeles. People we’re psyched, some moshing,  more making out, smoking cigs. Really idyllic movie start of summer high school/college hangs. Total romance/bliss.

For their closer/encore the band breaks into a super heavy rap-metal cover and immediately EVERYONE starts moshing. We’re just in total shock, all smiles.  Eric (our keyboard player) flies into the pit looking like some indie Cosmo Kramer/Eric Wareheim combo bouncing around laughing hysterically. The mosh kinda breaks apart when a bunch of people fall down. The music stops. One kid is just lying on the ground repeating “ohmygod/ohmygod/ohmygod.” Some other kid walks away saying, “I’m gonna throw up, I SAW THE BONE DUDE!” The injured party looks at our guitar player and yells “THERE IS NO GOD!”

Kid had broken his leg, a decidedly cool ass way to start your summer.

The kid and his leg are fine. Saw him a month ago at our show at The Smell. Very sweet guy and absolutely confidently bipedal again. Not sure if he knows how rad I think his Gardena scene is. How perfect that night was. It’s rare to go back in time for a moment, glad I got to live in that Gardena Utopia Doghouse though.

-John Rossiter

15 of ’15: The Best Albums of 2015

Eskimeaux

2015, close to unanimously, was concerned to be one of the highest points for new music in recent memory. To that end, putting together this list was even more of a nightmarish task than narrowing the 2015 songs down to their 15 slots. There was even a brief moment where expanding this list to 50 slots seemed like a viable action. Ultimately, after literally hundreds of substitutions in the various positions (and countless exclusions and extractions), the formula remained intact. While it was painful to leave an extremely large handful of extraordinary records lingering just outside the perimeter, the 15 records below have earned their spots. Every single one of these has remained in near-constant rotation since the time of their release and will likely resonant well into 2016 and beyond. Dive on in below and reflect on the overwhelming strength of the past 12 months.

15. Meat Wave – Delusion Moon

One of a select few bands to play an instrumental part in the formative stages of this site’s focus (and one of the acts to play the first Heartbreaking Bravery showcase), Meat Wave came through in a big way in 2015. The trio released one of the year’s best oddities, signed to SideOneDummy, and unleashed a behemoth of an album in Delusion Moon. Billed as their first proper full-length (their vicious self-titled, limited-run cassette straddled the line between EP and full-length), Delusion Moon saw the band exploring their darker tendencies to great success. More fully exploring influences like Mission of Burma and Drive Like Jehu, the band acted as a nice counterpoint to the usual brand of ’90s revival and got some kicks in along the way.

14. PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries

No band’s live show was documented more exhaustively here over 2015 than PWR BTTM, who perfected a simplistic approach with enormous- and enormously successful- ideas. The duo (who is occasionally a trio) set their sights on exploring gender and personal identity and followed through with a startlingly brazen tenacity. Close to every song on Ugly Cherries, their extraordinary full-length debut, play out like the kind of anthems that 2015 desperately needed. For a record that’s quick to be gleefully tongue-in-cheek, Ugly Cherries also offers up some devastating personal moments, lending the band an emotional depth that makes their outsize spirit even more powerful.

13. Midnight Reruns – Force of Nurture

Force of Nurture, Midnight Reruns‘ astonishing sophomore effort, has one of the best A-sides I’ve ever heard. Not to discredit an extremely strong B-side, either, but the run the band puts together from “There’s An Animal Upstairs” to “Sky Blue Water” is just about flawless. All six of those songs were considered for this year’s list of the best songs of 2015 along with the record’s sprawling closer, “Great Southern Rail”, which boasts one of the year’s more jaw-dropping choruses. Bolstered by the involvement of one of the band’s earliest and most vocal supporters- The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, who produced the record- Midnight Reruns turned in their finest collection of songs to date.

12. Hop Along – Painted Shut

A statement that bears repeating: one of the most heartening aspects of 2015 was watching the deserved ascension of Hop Along, who have been cranking out exquisite material on an exceptionally high platform for several years. Driven by the distinctive, arresting voice of guitarist/vocalist Frances Quinlan and their own unique sensibilities, Hop Along crafted the strongest record of their discography. With new partner Saddle Creek firmly in their corner, the band came to vibrant life and stayed on form, delivering a set of knockout tracks that included “Waitress”, one of this year’s finest. A welcome breath of fresh air, Painted Shut marked the beginning of an exciting new era for one of today’s best bands.

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11. Royal Headache – High

Even as all the news of High being Royal Headache’s finest record (thankfully) receded, the power of their finest offering to date didn’t diminish. Following a brilliant debut, the band may have actually surpassed that record’s promise with their sophomore effort. Highlighted by songs like the towering, defiant title track and the surging “Another World“, High is a genre masterclass of the highest order. Buoyed by an infectious energy that’s constantly verging on manic, there’s never a moment during the record that doesn’t feel like it’s nearing a state of euphoria. When High is firing on all cylinders, as is the case for the vast majority of the record, the band’s as close to being virtually untouchable as is possibly imaginable.

10. Young Jesus – Grow/Decompose

Home, Young Jesus‘ breakout record and a candidate for album of the decade, set extraordinarily high expectations for whatever the band chose as its following release. Crafting a worthy follow-up seemed even more unlikely after the band moved out of Chicago and over to Los Angeles, reassembling their lineup in the process. By that token, Grow/Decompose isn’t just a deeply impressive record, it’s a miraculous one. Guitarist/vocalist John Rossiter sharpens his singular songwriting voice and leads his new outfit with a fiery determination. An immensely satisfying collection of songs, Grow/Decompose feels like a genuine album; structured and paced to near perfection, Grow/Decompose is a reinvigorating- and reinvigorated- frenzy.

9. Dogs On Acid – Dogs On Acid

Dogs On Acid, a band formed out of the ashes of much beloved acts Snowing and Algernon Cadwallader, expanded on one of the best 7″ releases of 2014 with one of the strongest full-length debuts in recent memory. Laced with knockout hooks at just about every turn, Dogs On Acid is a staggering show of power from a band that finds surprising ways to exceed its predecessors. Maximizing their pop sensibilities to astonishing effect, Dogs On Acid inject their first major effort with an insistent, propulsive energy that catapults each of its 10 tracks to unthinkable heights, keeping their punk roots in place along the way. Every song on Dogs On Acid is a genuine highlight, yet the whole affair still manages to come across as so much more than a collection of singles. Bold and brash, this is the kind of record that may never fall out of regular rotation.

8. Tenement – Predatory Headlights

For close to 10 years, I’ve provided near-incessant documentation of Tenement, chronicling their forward motion with increasing intensity as the years progressed. When Heartbreaking Bravery was initially designed, it was constructed with the intention of highlighting bands that weren’t being granted the press that they deserved. In 2015, the world at large finally started catching on to a band that’s meant more to the development of my personal interests in music than any other (I didn’t include their Bruised Music compilation in the oddities list because I contributed a lengthy piece to the record’s insert that expands on that fact). Predatory Headlights, the trio’s latest opus, was a definitive collection of the band’s current era, unafraid of demolishing genre barriers and bold experimentation. Over its intimidating 28 tracks, the album steadily emerges as a genuine- and singular- masterpiece.

7. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle

For Julien Baker‘s breathtaking breakout record, the young songwriter (previously best known as one of the driving forces behind Forrister) dived fearlessly into a despairing examination of her own psyche. A preoccupation with mortality that was heavily informed by the laws of religion dominates nearly every song on this surprisingly brave collection. From the description of the car wreck in the opener’s first verse all the way through to the passage in “Go On”- Sprained Ankle‘s mesmerizing closing track and one of 2015’s finest songs– about consuming bleach, there’s barely a moment of reprieve. Built almost exclusively around Baker’s voice and acoustic guitar, Sprained Ankle feels progressively more personal as it goes along, each song functioning as a plea, a warning, and a sustained moment of clarity. Tragic and beautiful, Baker’s conjured up a collection of deeply personal songs that feel genuinely sacred.

6. All Dogs – Kicking Every Day

Ever since their earliest releases, All Dogs have been steadily crafting great material and building momentum. Kicking Every Day, the band’s startlingly defiant full-length debut, continues that pattern with an astounding amount of grace. Even with their lineup at full strength following the addition of guitarist Nick Harris (which is paying massive dividends), guitarist/vocalist Maryn Jones’ songs feel more naked than ever, imbuing Kicking Every Day with a voyeuristic look at its principal songwriter’s inner turmoil and unflinching resolve. After the anticipation levels for this record came close to hitting a fever pitch with the release of “That Kind of Girl” (which ranked highly on the songs of the year list), the prospect of a record as extravagantly strong as Kicking Every Day didn’t seem so distant. The record ultimately surpassed those expectations thanks to both the instant acclaim it so richly deserved and its ability to strike all the right chords.

5. Sweet John Bloom – Weird Prayer

Losing Four Eyes, a band that put out one of the best 7″ records of this decade, was a tough pill to swallow. Fortunately, that band found a natural successor in Sweet John Bloom. Continuing to revel in the same brand of endearingly scrappy basement pop and pulling members from a few other outstanding bands, Sweet John Bloom managed to make a mark. Weird Prayer, their first fully fledged full-length, reveals impressive new depths to the band. Employing a rotating cast of songwriters, the record gives ample space to flesh out each one’s distinct personality. From lovely slow-burning tracks like “Bury Ruby” to incendiary highlights like “Tell Me”, Weird Prayer is an enviable showcase that, bizarrely, seems like a victory lap for its various members. There’s a memorable moment or three on each of these 15 tracks, most of which find intriguing dichotomies to exploit over the course of their brief running times. Littered with surprising moments at close to every corner, it’s one of 2015’s most exhilarating releases.

4. Dilly Dally – Sore

Back in 2014, Dilly Dally unleashed a pair of 7″ records that nearly walked away with the top spot in this site’s rankings. In 2015 they followed up their flawless early run with a brilliant standalone single and a bruising full-length teeming with vicious grunge-informed, punk-leaning basement pop numbers. Grimly determined and scuzzy as hell, Sore lands with the force of an atomic bomb. There was a reason that no band earned as many feature pieces on this site over the course of 2014 than Dilly Dally and, even stripped of the brilliant singles that earned those spots, Sore would have registered as a knockout. While the record’s many searing highlights (“Desire“, “Purple Rage“, “The Touch“, etc.) gave the record its fangs, its elegiac closer provided it with both an unexpected emotional depth and a staggering moment of finality (both of which went a long way in securing its ranking as one of 2015’s finest tracks). While Dilly Dally just about stole CMJ and released a small army of outstanding music videos, Sore was their definitive 2015 moment. It’s the kind of record that inspires kids to go out and start bands of their own, making it one of the most powerful releases in recent memory.

3. Mike Krol – Turkey

The sudden resurgence of the (unfortunately) still-deceased Sleeping in the Aviary was an extremely unexpected and welcome development. While they did release an extraordinary demos and rarities collection, the band’s best moment came when the majority of its lineup wound up backing Mike Krol for his latest venture. No record in 2015 felt even close to as unhinged as Turkey, Krol’s first effort for Merge and most deranged outing to date. With a runtime that doesn’t even scratch 19 minutes, Krol and the band he’s assembled run through nine songs at a pace so frantic it’s practically delirious. Every single moment of Turkey is informed by a surging level of energy that it seems like the record might derail itself at any given moment, toppling over because of its own excessive velocity. Miraculously, it manages to sustain that momentum through nine songs of rabid basement pop that draws inspiration from a variety of genres from the past handful of decades, zeroing in on things like ’50s pop and classic soul. Everything on Turkey also benefits from being shot through with Krol’s deadpan comedic sensibility, tongue planted firmly in cheek. By the time the record’s penultimate track hits- the absolutely massive “Less Than Together“- the record’s momentum is white hot. “Piano Shit” winds things down at the very end and allows the listener to review the demolished left in Turkey‘s wake as it coasts to the finish.

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2. Nicole Dollanganger – Natural Born Losers

One of the happier coincidences this site got to experience in 2015 was the realization that the glowing review of Nicole Dollanganger‘s breathtaking Natural Born Losers was its 666th post. An appropriate fact, given the record’s deep obsession with angels, devils, and the spiritual realm. In its opening lines (“I shot an angel with my father’s rifle”), Natural Born Losers flaunts its aim with a threatening gracefulness, ready to turn on a dime at any moment. Dollanganger’s narratives throughout the course of the record are startling exercises in hyper-violence and dueling desires. Whether it’s a BDSM-informed romp as lensed through an experience with an abusive police officer or an extremely disarming sample taken from the animated 1993 cult classic The Halloween Tree, Dollanganger’s either making fresh incisions or pulling gaping wounds even further apart. However, for being so deeply unsettling in its prose, the music that accompanies all of Dollanganger’s nightmarish imagery is as elegant and haunting as her vocals. A lot of Natural Born Losers hinges on exploring some of the weightiest dichotomies in existence and the degree of success to which it achieves in striking fascinating middle grounds in those battles is revelatory. Even more impressive is the fashion in which Dollanganger binds this collection of songs together, especially considering how effectively the record’s haunting line defines (or redefines) everything that’s happened since its steely-eyed opening moment. Put simply: Natural Born Losers is a modern masterpiece.

1. Eskimeaux – O.K.

Eskimeaux‘s O.K. managed to impress on first listen but it wasn’t until seeing the band live that all of its pieces fell more fully into place. That show inspired a return visit to this collection which, in turn, brought about a subsequent revisit (and then that pattern fell into a routine that still hasn’t ceased). On each successive listen, more of O.K. sprang to life. Gabrielle Smith’s project has been making material that’s been more than worthwhile for a large handful of years now but O.K., the project’s most fully-realized outing, saw Smith step across a threshold and into something sublime. A meticulously crafted record, every last one of its countless gears clicks in ways that surprise and delight in equal measure, rewarding heavy investment with a casual ease and providing O.K. with one of its cleverest tricks. In maintaining their casual sensibilities, the record becomes an enjoyable cursory listen but that casualness is surprisingly deceptive.

O.K.‘s a very complex record when it’s dissected into its formative pieces, whether they’re the gorgeous vocal layers that comprise one of the record’s most gorgeous moments on “A Hug Too Long” or Felix Walworth’s explosively idiosyncratic snare work on “Folly“, each finding a way to stand out as an impressive moment in both the small schemes of the songs and the grand sweep of the album. From a lyrical standpoint, Smith packs this record full with bittersweet realizations, internal frustrations, and slivers of a defiant sense of hope that’s steadfast in its refusal to bow to a harsher reality. Even the record’s darkest moment- the brooding “Pocket Full of Posies”, which nearly unseated “A Hug Too Long” in the songs list- subtly acknowledges the inherent innocence of things that are frequently viewed as evil. Even then, O.K.‘s worldview is far from simply being optimistic, it’s far too weary to assume that the best mode of operation is to look for the best in everything; its earned its sophisticated wariness.

What makes O.K. truly stand out, though, is its overwhelming amount of empathy for everything that’s fortunate enough to have worked its way into the record. Easily one of the most readily apparent humanist statements that music yielded this year (which is especially easy to see when the record’s put under a microscope), O.K. draws its strength from its sense of value. It’s a view that resonates throughout the record’s 11 brilliantly crafted songs, providing them with a deeper sense of purpose than most bands can manage. Additionally, all of the inspired decisions that comprise O.K. are augmented by some of the most extraordinary production work of the past several years, stealthily enhancing the cumulative effect of the songs. An awe-inspiring breakthrough for one of today’s most promising acts, O.K. is the kind of record that’s worth preserving for future generations. Find someone deserving to share this with and give in to its inescapable beauty.

Young Jesus – Holy Ghost (Music Video Premiere)

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Several months ago, this site offered up the premiere of the album teaser for Young Jesus’ outstanding Grow/Decompose, which remains one of this year’s finest releases. Now that the record’s out in the world and the band’s about to go on tour in support of Grow/Decompose, they’ve sent another item through the pipeline: the compelling animated video for “Holy Ghost”.

Once again, the direction and art comes courtesy of Young Jesus’ guitarist/vocalist (and principal songwriter) John Rossiter, who continues to impress with an ever-evolving collage of artistic mediums, all held within one frame as the irrepressible energy of “Holy Ghost” pushes the art to its furthest corners. It’s a staggering reminder of the band’s formidable talent, which remains largely overlooked. However, the band’s ready to combat that with some additional firepower that’s arrived in the form of their new label, Gigantic Noise, which will be reissuing Grow/Decompose on vinyl in early 2016.

With the impending reissue, approaching year-end lists, and the band’s gripping live show all factoring into the mix, Young Jesus seems set for a very promising year. They’re fully capable of infusing every facet of their band with the artistry that permeates “Holy Ghost”, making them one of music’s best-kept secrets. Don’t miss out on the reissue, this video, or any of the band’s upcoming tour dates, which can be found below the video.

Watch “Holy Ghost” below and pick up a copy of Grow/Decompose here.

10/26 | Billings, MT @ Railyard Ale House
10/27 | Salt Lake City, UT @ Diabolical Records
10/28 | Denver, CO @ SC Music Collective
10/30 | Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
10/31 | Maquoketa, IA @ Codfish Hollow Barnstormers (w Nathaniel Rateliff, The Night Sweats)
11/01 | Madison, WI @ Mickey’s (w/ The Ferns)
11/02 | Milwaukee, WI @ TBA
11/04 | Chicago, IL @ Township
11/06 | Chicago, IL @ Club Soda
11/07 | Memphis, TN @ P+H Cafe (w/ Terry Prince and The Principles)
11/08 | Nashville, TN @ Exponent Manor
11/09 | Chattanooga, TN @ JJ’s Bohemia (w/ Elk Milk)
11/10 | New Orleans, LA @ Dragon’s Den (w/ Sharks’ Teeth, High)
11/12 | Lafayette, LA @ Wild Salmon (w/ NEAT)
11/13 | Houston, TX @ TBA (w/ Belvoir)
11/14 | Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlies
11/15 | Denton, TX @ Lion’s Den
11/17 | Tucson, AZ @ Gary’s Place
11/18 | Corona, CA @ TBA

Lady Bones – Botch (Stream)

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Lady Bones have had this site’s attention ever since sending over a copy of their split with Horsehands last year, and while that release presented Lady Bones as a band with enormous potential, it still would have been hard to predict the direction they take for their latest single, “Botch”. Before diving into their bold stylistic revision, there’s quite a bit of material to catch up on that came out this week. Both this post and the ensuing post will have a handful of songs and full streams that will be featured and, as ever, all of them will be worth hearing. For the sake of time, they’ll all be listed with no other context given than that they’re exceptional pieces of art that deserve attention. Full streams: Toner’s self-titled, Needle Exchange’s Is This My Program?, Really Big Pinecone’s Embrace the Boss, Vexx’s Give and Take, The Barbazons’ Avec Plaisir, Nicolas Jaar’s Nymphs II, Diamond Youth’s Nothing Matters, Liza Anne’s Two, and Young Jesus’ Grow/Decompose (which will likely be making a few more appearances on here as time drags on). Songs: Sorority Noise’s “Art School Wannabe“, Expert Alterations’ “Midnight Letters“, Deaf Wish’s “Eyes Closed“, Anna B Savage’s “III“, Bad Meds’ “Hoax Apocalypse“, Vundabar’s “Chop“, and Ratboys’ “Tixis“. Seek all of them out; they’re linked here for a reason. “Botch” is also the featured song for a reason: it’s a monumental step forward for one of today’s more compelling bands.

Eschewing any semblance of sunnier sensibilities to take a plunge into a realm that sees them shoulder to shoulder with Kal Marks and Pile at their darkest, Lady Bones seem to have tapped into something that many bands have attempted (and failed) to capture. Embracing bleak, Gothic-tinged post-punk to an unprecedented degree, Lady Bones sound completely rejuvenated. It takes them less than sixty seconds to establish this sea change before exploding out into an impassioned furor. For three and half minutes the band provides a masterclass in refined dynamics (with an emphasis on tension) and engage in a total rebirth. There’s an unbridled passion that runs deep in “Botch” that seems set to tie over to the band’s upcoming full-length, the provocatively titled Dying. As a standalone single, “Botch” has enough punch to brand the name Lady Bones into the memory of just about anyone who crosses its path- but where the mystery kicks in is how it fits into the larger puzzle. If all of Dying can sustain this level of grim determination and near-feral energy, then Lady Bones may have a bona fide album of the year contender on their hands. With a battering ram of a track like “Botch”, it’s only a matter of time before they start turning some heads.

Listen to “Botch” below and pre-order Dying ahead of its June 3o release date from Midnight Werewolf here.

Young Jesus – Milo (Stream)

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If it wasn’t fairly clear that Grow/Decompose was one of this site’s favorite records of 2015, allow me to clarify: Grow/Decompose easily ranks among the best things I’ve heard over the past two years and this post won’t be the last time it sees coverage here. Premiering the record’s teaser trailer was an honor and the trailer itself was a great indication of the band’s growing ambition. Hellhole Supermarker will be releasing the record on May 13 but “Milo” definitely warrants a closer look before the rest of the songs are revealed. Before exploring that song, though, there are several other brilliant tracks from this past week that deserve to be heard. Those songs? Whitewash’s “Member“, Seacycles’ “Commando“, Pale Honey’s “Lonesome“, Everything Everything’s “Regret“, Communions’ “Summer Oath“, Daughn Gibson’s “It Was Everything“, Sea of Bees’ “Dad“, Prurient’s “Frozen Niagra Falls (Portion One)“, and Oscar’s “Beautiful Words“. All of them are linked for a reason; they’re compelling pieces of art that deserve to be celebrated as much as possible. Another one of those pieces, of course, is Young Jesus’ “Milo”.

As Grow/Decompose‘s penultimate track, “Milo” already occupied traditionally fertile ground for emotive slow-burners- especially ones that reach breathtakingly climactic moments. As signal-bearers go, that’s a strange mark but “Milo” comfortably occupies a space with the most exemplary tracks to fall into that niche category. Grow/Decompose, much like Home– the band’s previous masterpiece, is a record that makes no qualms about being emotionally-driven. While Home certainly felt personal, “Milo” takes that sense of voyeurism to new heights in the quiet, arresting opening. “He sees your daughter in a sundress/eating oranges alone. He feels the love of a father/a love his brother ignored. But he is fumbling with a bottle/because it makes sense just to hold. But don’t you worry while he’s using/it just makes everything slow.” is about as devastating as introductory scene-setters can possibly manage to be. John Rossiter, the band’s guitarist/vocalist, delivers those opening lines in a broken, vulnerable tone that makes them feel uncomfortably realistic, haunted, and lived-in. The instrumental break that follows feels near-euphoric but is tethered to a sense of weariness that prevents it from feeling too celebratory. It’s an extraordinary track that acts as Grow/Decompose‘s narrative endpoint before “Dirt“, the record’s sprawling epilogue, closes things out. Even though “Dirt” is strong enough in its own right, it allows space for “Milo” to resonate and for the listener to recollect themselves after the severe gut-punch of “Milo”, one of the band’s best tracks in an already astounding catalog of stunners.

Listen to “Milo” below and pre-order Grow/Decompose ahead of its release from Hellhole Supermarket here.     

Young Jesus – Grow/Decompose (Album Teaser Premiere)

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Back in September, the newly-relocated Young Jesus teased their forthcoming record with a punchy tune called “G”, which earned quite a few kind words from this site. It was a riveting look at what the band had in store after their last full-length, which is one of the finest records to have come out of the upper Midwest in the last several years (and a record I have no problem calling a masterpiece). Home was Young Jesus’ first major statement and it wound up doubling as a victory lap for their time in Chicago. Now based in Los Angeles, the band’s fine-tuned their sound and there’s a staggering maturity that’s present in Grow/Decompose, which is due out May 13 via Hellhole Supermarket. A few days ago, the band uncovered a little more of Grow/Decompose by unveiling the record’s opening track, a fragile acoustic-driven number that builds in intensity entitled “E.M.P.“. It’s a telling glimpse at what will undoubtedly stand as one of this year’s many great releases.

Today, it’s my honor to present the album teaser for Grow/Decompose, which stays in keeping with the band’s DIY ethos while simultaneously emphasizing their growing ambitions. Set to the melancholic instrumental “Father Son”, the teaser was animated and shot by guitarist/vocalist John Rossiter, whose unique artistic vision is on full display. As calming landscapes and swirls of colors fly by, a message begins to appear: WE ALL DISSOLVE TO THICKER DIRT THAN WE HAVE EVER KNOWN AND IN THE DIRT THERE GROWS A VINE GOD LABELED HOLY GHOST. It’s an arresting message that comes with a twinge of a more foreboding nature as “Father Son” begins to dissolve into an increasingly atonal warning. Mesmerizing, surreal, and deeply intriguing, the teaser’s a fine match for the record it’s promoting. Unyielding in its artistry and set in its convictions, it’s everything that makes Young Jesus one of the most exciting bands out there- and it’s just part of what will make Grow/Decompose a record that will be remembered fondly for years to come.

Watch the teaser for Grow/Decompose below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the record.

Young Jesus – G (Stream)

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In 2012, Chicago quartet Young Jesus quietly self-released Home, which was astounding on first listen and improved with subsequent listens. Now, with the benefit of distance, it’s easy to cite it as one of the best records of the decade’s first half. Earning its longevity through a delicate balance of the genuinely mournful and the defiantly celebratory, it occasionally wound up coming off as a much more self-aware and contained version of Funeral. There was nothing overly bombastic about it- or anything that suggested grandeur that neared the over-reaching. While those elements were certainly present, they were given equal footing with an underlying minimalism; burying large ideas in a decidedly niche presentation without ever losing their focus.

After the release (and extremely warm reception of Home by the people fortunate enough to hear it), the band fell understandably silent- emerging out of the shadows to play a one-off show on the rarest of occasions. Following up near-perfection isn’t an enviable task- or one that can be taken lightly. Thankfully, the clouds have been slowly parting and the band’s begun to make some calculated moves, the most notable of which is their relocation to Los Angeles. Another that deserves some serious consideration is the addition of a keyboardist, which allows them to broaden an already impressive sonic palette.

“G”, the first song to be teased from the band’s upcoming Grow/Decompose (that’s the artwork, up above) gets one thing out of the way very quickly; this is still a band that’s defined by the city that birthed them. There’s a very prevalent strain of relatively downtrodden post-punk that’s helped characterize Chicago over the past several years that’s been best exemplified by bands like Young Jesus and Shy Technology. That they haven’t sacrificed that sound in the wake of their move is a welcome affirmation of their own identity. All of the other key elements of their best works remain in tact as well, from impressive arrangements and individual song structures to the never-ending arsenal of memorable turns of phrases that can be found in their typically extraordinary lyric sets.

If there was any doubt of the band losing any of its punch after re-assembling out West, “G” annihilates those notions almost as soon as it starts playing. Opening with a character-heavy dialogue (another of the band’s more prominent traits) of: “Neil sits alone outside in a motel in the summer, he checks his phone, checks when a friend is coming over” it’s abundantly clear that the band’s lost none of their verve in what, by all logic and reason, should be a transitory stage. By the time they land on the line “he makes a joke about how fucking ain’t for lovers” in the midst of unraveling Neil’s existential crisis under a microscopic lens, “G” has already entered the conversation for their best song. Unfailingly melodic, unrelentingly impassioned, and frightening personable, this is Young Jesus at their best and bodes well for what’s to come.

While Grow/Decompose has yet to land an official release date, it seems to be safe to say that whenever that occasion does arise, it’ll be a great day for music.

Stream “G” below, download Home (an essential must-own) on their bandcamp, and check back here for additional updates in the coming weeks (or months).