Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: heavy

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.

Liam Betson – Rapture in Heat (Stream)

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Towards the end of last month, Liam Betson quietly released the absolutely stunning The Cover of Hunter on the increasingly impressive Double Double Whammy, who are now in the midst of one of 2014’s hottest release streaks (one that’s set to continue with LVL UP’s impending Hoodwink’d). It’s a record that’s continuing to strike a deep chord with a lot of people across a variety of scenes. Trading in his Liam the Younger moniker in favor of his given name proved to be an effective move when provided with the context of the album, Betson’s rawest and most honest work to date.

While the entire record is good enough to rank among the very best of the year, it’s the closing track that provides The Cover of Hunter with its most startling moment. Opening with the line “Bobby, coming out is scary and any advice doesn’t feel right” all but guarantees the full attention of the listener. On a record where coming to terms with a variety of things is a recurring motif, “Rapture in Heat” is the one that confronts it the most directly, to an absolutely devastating effect. A tragic melody plays out in both the instrumental and vocal composition, even when the song switches gears from the piano-assisted beginning and turns into a mid-tempo basement pop number, there’s still a sense of loss that permeates through the song.

One look at the lyrics of the last stanza only confirms how weighty the subject matter that closes The Cover of Hunter out is. Any song that ends along the lines of “You want to be loved but say that you don’t” is capable of rendering discerning listeners temporarily speechless- and any song that does it half as well as “Rapture in Heat” will always be worth listening to. Ultimately, it’s the subtle bravery that defines “Rapture in Heat” which also helps it become something more transcendental and lends a powerful sense of closure to one of 2014’s best records.

Listen to “Rapture in Heat” below and order The Cover of Hunter from Double Double Whammy here.

Green Dreams – Rich Man/Poor Man (Review, Stream)

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Let’s start this off by getting unconventional: Green Dreams were the first band to send this site music for review/feature consideration. After being told to keep in touch following that initial exchange, they lived up to their promise of doing so. That led to subsequent coverage of a music video, an incendiary song, and that song’s inclusion on an early best-of playlist. Now, the 7″ that the song “Eye Contact” had been teased from is available for streaming in full- and it sees the band absolutely annihilating their previous high-water mark.

Each of the four tracks on Rich Man/Poor Man feature the band playing with a renewed sense of vigor, a tighter focus, and indulging their heavier hardcore tendencies. With pinpoint precision, the band bludgeons the unwitting into submission by virtue of the high-impact punishment they unleash here. From the opening duo of songs that gives this 7″ its name, the level of confidence on display is almost staggering- but that confidence is earned in full.  “Rich Man” sets the bar high with a furious hybrid of sludge, hardcore, and post-punk. Guitarist and vocalist Jesse Amesmith has never been in finer form, spitting each new lyric out with an astonishing sense of purpose. Equally impressive is the furious rhythm section interplay between drummer Trevor Amesmith and bassist Ben Kruger- something that comes into even sharper focus during the explosive final minute of “Poor Man”.

While the only essential additional thing to be said about Rich Man/Poor Man‘s excellent closing track is that it provides a great end cap to an extraordinary release, it’s probably worth noting that it’s still among the best songs to have been released this year. Even with that being the case, it’s certainly possible that one of the small handful of songs to top it is “Country Mouse”, the one that immediately precedes it. More than any other song on Rich Man/Poor Man “Country Mouse” radiates Green Dreams’ newly sharpened fierceness. Blasts of noise-punk that threaten to verge into the realm of total chaos and tear the song into multiple shreds keep intruding in on the verse while the chorus sounds like it’s fighting to hold itself together. Shards of feedback lash out at the high-intensity guitarwork and the whole thing winds up being an absolutely essential listen (a major tip of the hat is also due to Shaun Sutkus, who worked his usual recording room magic to help give this a subtle, extra kick).

All suspicions of this 7″ being a must-own have been confirmed. What will easily stand as one of 2014’s best at the end of the year is now available for purchase through Cherish Records or Green Dreams’ bandcamp. Don’t miss out on this. Grab a copy while they’re still available.

Listen to Rich Man/Poor Man below and pick it up by following the hyperlink above.

Young Widows – King Sol (Stream)

Due to some recurring technical problems (which have hopefully been permanently resolved) Heartbreaking Bravery was forced into a brief hiatus. During that time, a lot of worthwhile material was released. Even though the songs from Mikal Cronin, People’s TempleAmen DunesEx-Cult, Odonis Odonis, Hamilton LeithauserRuined Fortune, OFF!, Sheer Mag,  and the videos from King Khan & the Shrines, The Hold SteadyTokyo Police Club, and especially Fear of Men made strong impressions, none of them stood out as strongly as Young Widows’ breathtakingly massive “King Sol”.

Young Widows have been teasing material for Easy Pain for a while now and each new reveal has been more impressive than the last. This pattern holds especially true for “King Sol”, which just may be the best thing the band has ever done. A slow and suffocating sense of dread permeates throughout the track as it grows more menacing, making it reminiscent of Swans at their absolute best. It’s a monumental step for the band, deftly incorporating all of their strengths into a towering, masterfully produced, whole. “Set fire at the witching hour; and now I’m free” is a small part of the song’s terrifying conclusion before it gives way to an ambient epilogue. When all falls to a final quiet, it’s as if the band’s allowed a release from their stranglehold and are finally granting an intake of air. Once everything’s righted itself and their all-too-convincing world-building has slowly evaporated, one thing becomes abundantly clear: when Easy Pain finally gets released , it’ll be something to reckon with.

Hear “King Sol” below and pre-order Easy Pain from Temporary Residence ahead of its May 13th release date.