Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: I

The Best of the Rest: Honorable Mentions

More than two months have come and gone since the last post went live on this site. True to form, the collection of materials never ceased in that time. A disparity between collection and production grew more intimidating and adjustments were being made continuously as new angles for Heartbreaking Bravery were (and still are) being considered. This remains a one-person operation and it can be a daunting task to take on the level of commitment that was required to keep this place going in its established direction.

More than once, I contemplated just ending its existence but could never escape the thought that representing under-represented music remained a vital necessity, especially in a climate where our tastes are now curated and formed more by coldly computed algorithms than actual human interest. All of the year-end lists overlapped, certain streaming giants heightened the exclusivity of their arrangements with major distributors to the point representing emerging artists without major representation borders the impossible.

Those aspects of the industry need a corrective, something that my friends, contemporaries, and publications worthy of aspiration have all but made their mission (and to that end, I would like to extend another round of personal thanks to bandcamp, GoldFlakePaint, Post-Trashdimestore saints, The AlternativeThe Grey Estates, ROOKIE, She Shreds, Various Small Flames, Swell Tone, and a host of others, along with every alt-weekly in existence). As those correctives became noticeably more impassioned during the brief hiatus from publishing, I found myself getting progressively more inspired to continue on with Heartbreaking Bravery and found myself constantly combing through back catalogs of publications that clearly cared about unheralded voices.

Of course, there are still established voices of note making worthwhile art and they deserve representation (some even staked out their names through hard-fought battles instead of buying their way into recognition) and those artists will be mentioned. However, the scales here — just as was the case in the past — will never be exponentially weighted to favor that recognition. Something that will be profoundly clear below in the list I’ve compiled across these 2+ months of songs, music videos, and records worth experiencing. I don’t expect anyone to actually comb through all of these but please, click around, and hopefully those random clicks will lead to a discovery of a new favorite. Enjoy the list and keep an eye out for more posts in the days to follow.

SONGS

Courters, Mirah, Mush, The Cabin Fever, Unlikely Friends, The Number Ones, Hater, Moonwalks, Lost Boy ?, Gladshot, Kal Marks, The Royal They, Palm, Strand of Oaks, Rosie Carney, Littlefoot, Dirty Fences, Bee Bee Sea (x2), Spice Boys (x2), Leggy, Barren Womb, No Age (x2), Canshaker Pi, The Holy Dark, Oneida, Jane Church, The She’s (x2), Chastity (x2), Lemuria (x2, 3), The Fluids (x2, 3), CIVIC, Luxury Death, Lauren Ruth Ward, Vundabar, Kindling (x2, 3), Sunflower Bean, Curls, Guided By Voices, OCS, The Dazies (x2), Gleemer, HOLY (x2, 3), Big Heet (x2), QWAM, Common Holly (x2), Leah Calvert (x2), Superchunk, Curtis Harding (x2)

Bed Wettin’ Bad BoysNation of Language, A. Savage (x2), Hayley Hendrickx, Kevin Devine (ft. Half Waif), Screaming Females, Ryan Power, Passed Out, Pope, ShitKid (x2), Chemtrails (x2), Whelpwisher (x2), GROUNDS, Skye Wallace, Salad Boys, Cut Worms, Doe PaoroNilüfer Yanya, Protomartyr, Fuzzystar, Miss World (x2), Luggage, Cloud Nothings, St. Vincent, Johanna WarrenYØUTH (x2), M.A.G.S., Son Little, FRAME (x2), Adults, Makthaverskan, The Growlers, The Van T’s, ALCABEAN, Emerson Star, blis. (x2), Surf Rock Is Dead, Tennis Club, The Nickajack Men, Small Forward, Casper Skulls, NE-HI (ft. Jamila Woods), Gestures (x2), Mansions (x2)

Shopping, Monster Rally (x2), The Presolar Sands, Lola Pistola, Who Is She?, The Golden Boys, Lean Year, Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos, BIRDS, CO SONN, Lasse Matthiessen (ft. Sarah Hartman), ghostel, Holy Motors, Ty Segall (x2, 3), Sound of Ceres (x2), Bodies Be Rivers (x2), Jessica Boudreaux (x2), STRFKR, Lull, Invisible Minds, Keto, Goat Girl, Wax Mistress, Deathlist, Mr. Yolk, Poppy Ackroyd (x2), Anamon, Ephrata, The Tin Can Collective, The Violet Whispers, Mean Motor Scooter (x2), Plastic Flowers, Longface, lkffct, Twist, Worriers, Strange Ranger, Table Scraps, Hunter & Wolfe, The County Liners, Elan Noon, Karl Blau, Jesse Jo Stark, The Yada Yada Yadas

OxenFree, Petal (x2), ESSi, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tough Age, Gregg Kowalsky, The Saxophones, Century Thief, NADINE, Cina Polada, Line & Circle, Angelica Rockne (x2), Floral Print, Angel Olsen (x2), King Khan, Blush (x2), Fox Face, Runaway Brother, sleeping in, Pistoleros, Moderate Rebels (x2), Sam Michael Trowse, Duncan Kissinger, DMA’s, Peter Matthew Bauer (x2), PONY, Jennie Vee, Joey Sweeney, Mimicking Birds, Andrew Hung, They Might Be Giants (x2), Mavis Staples, Long Neck, Reptaliens, Plush, Krief, Half Waif, Twain, Jessie KivelMichael Jablonka, New PortalsAnne Müller, Birthing HipsAxel Flóvent, Mineral Girls, Major Love, Emily A. Sprague

And The Kids, Hidden Places, Warbly Jets, Mattiel, Joint Effort, Renata Zeiguer, Forced Random, Tobias Reif, Joey Sweeney, Gabrielle Shonk, Sarah Clanton, Dead Leaf Echo, Lankum, Whitney, The Echo Friendly, Meernaa, Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Iron Chic (x2), Gingerlys (x2, 3), Bad History Month, The Gloomies, Jordan Klassen, Bedouine, Daniel Tanghal, Graham Coxon, Cock & Swan, Marine, Aldous Harding, Circuit des Yeux, Glen Hansard, Michael Jablonka, Tempesst, Palo Duro, Small Leaks Sink Ships, FriendshipMÄRVEL, Mt. Doubt, Headroom, Lake Jons, Mister Heavenly, Pearla, Camp Cope, Bat Fangs, Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine, Crater, Memnon Sa

Mallrat, Ora Cogan (x2), Clara Stauch, Feather Beds, Grieving, Refrigerator, Lake Jons, The Clydes (x2), Jaye Bartell, Anna St. Louis, Arielle LaGuette, Erthling,, Execution/Rise, Wilderman, Dream Nails, Tree House, This Will Destroy You, Tracy Bonham (ft. Sadie Dupuis), First Aid Kit, Michael VM, Thom Gillies, Young Mister, Peacock Affect (x2), Kinjac (ft. Kathryn O’Shea), Baths, John K. Samson, Hey Elbow, Racquet, Kenneth Aaron Harris, Jerry Joseph, The Go! Team, Jesse Merchant, Ezra Feinberg, Water From Your Eyes, Airpark, Jerry David Decicca, Leon of Athens, Paddy Hanna, Ride, The Captain of Sorrow, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Purling Hiss

Tenderfoot, Everything By Electricity, I, Alexander, Prurient, S. CareyWalter Martin, Lowpines, Sulky Boy, Glass MuseumClub 8, Mildlife, Vern Matz, Mick Jenkins, Edan Laniado (ft. Orin Jacobson), Benjamin Jaffe, Tangerine, Stonefield, Haily Taylor, swim good now (ft. Half Waif & Georgian Bay), Tim Heidecker (x2), Anna Tivel, Maria Kelly, Balkan Bump (ft. Paul Bertin), Curtis Roush, Fruition, Telete, Loma, Pinkshinyultrablast, Gary War, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Coucheron, avalon, red steppes, LeyyaTrès OuiHit Like A Girl, EMA, Holly Miranda, ILUKA, Magic Wands, Garden City Movement, True Blue, Underwater BoysJason S. Matuskiewicz, giant gutter from outer space, Sundrops, SELLARS, Alice Boman, The Rentals, No Wine For Kittens, Tennis, Eric Slick, Cara Salimando, and Slothrust.

MUSIC VIDEOS 

Twist, CIVIC, Hovvdy (x2), Human People, The Van T’s, Sorry (x2), Petite League, Anna Burch, Shannon & The Clams, Gleemer, OxenFree, Club Night, Moaning, Common Holly, Prom Queen, Liza Anne, Shopping, Good Boy, Robot, The Tin Can Collective, Wavves & Culture Abuse, The Spook School, The Breeders, Oh Sees (x2), Quicksand, Phoebe Bridgers, Vagabon, Deerhoof, Open Mike Eagle (ft. Sammus), Kevin Krauter, Bully (x2), Sego (x2), Pure Violet (x2), Sweater, Marlon Williams (ft. Aldous Harding), The Go! Team, Airpark, Francobollo, Lionlimb, Table Scraps, Anamon, AllegrA, Angel Olsen, PINS, Reptaliens, Flat Worms, Lost Boy ?, L.A. Witch, Anna Tosh

Darkbird, The Prids (x2), Longface (x2, 3), The She’s, Demons, Mt. Doubt, Cherry, Palm, Olden Yolk, Miya Folick, Walrus, Yumi Zouma, Stella Donnelly, Johnny Marr and Maxine Priest, Hatchie, Everyone Is Dirty, The Cheap Thrills, Jesca Hoop, Becca Mancari (x2, 3), The Coathangers, Julie & The Wrong Guys, Madeline Kenney (x2), Miss World, Born Ruffians, Varvara, Soft Fangs, Paul Cherry, Aesop Rock, Typhoon, Hayley Hendrickx, Winter and Trabants, Worriers, Escobar, The Velveteins, The Go! Team, Beatriz, Beliefs (x2), Calexico, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Tim Kuhl, Stillwave, TR/ST, Dream WifeBjörk, Malk, Weaves (x2), Courtney Barnett + Kurt Vile

Avery Tare, Wiki, SAVAK, Trupa Trupa (x2), Tune-Yards, Mauno (x2), Beechwood, Ron Gallo, David Ramirez, MAUDLIN, Hearken, Porches, Julien Baker, Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Magic Lantern, Canshaker Pi, Django Django, Shame (x2), Ocean Wisdom, Legendary Shack Shakers, Duncan Lloyd, Littlefoot, BOYO (x2), Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs (x2), Wolf Parade, Good Boy, Three Conductor, Se’A (ft. Cellus Hamilton), Single Mothers, Pretty Lights, Charles Howl, NE-HI, Melkbelly, Ought, Steady Sun, Fake Palms, Candace (x2), Dude York, Big K.R.I.T., Blasteroid, Jessica Lea MayfieldMoral High Horses, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, M.R. Bennett

Sprinters, The Horrors, Molly Burch, Tempesst, Montero, VOWWS, Mondo Cozmo, Deca, Strawberry Runners, Dutch Party, Gun Outfit, The Coathangers, Panteon, Nicole Atkins, Moses Sumney, Lower Pink, Sloan Peterson, Lina Tullgren, Monk Parker, Birthing Hips, Guantanamo Baywatch, Derde Verde, Wild Ones, Liars, BADBADNOTGOOD, Wes Montgomery, Alissia, Fufanu, Pale Grey, liv, Turnover, AmplineDan Deacon, The Morelings, The Exbats, The Weather Station, ELETTRODOMESTICO (x2), The Ah, Brenda, Death By Unga Bunga, Billy Woods, Lionlimb, King Krule, New Candys, Hoops, Outsider, Joy Again, Heaven, Romantic States, Quicksand, The Darts

Alex Lahey, Suno Deku, H.C. McEntireFirst Aid Kit, India Ramey, Grounds, Prom Queen, The Soft Moon, High Waisted, Flying Lotus, Alexandra Savior, Underwater Boys, Courtship Ritual, Dude York, St. Vincent, Hunter & Wolfe, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Cloakroom, Ephrata, Kat Myers & The Buzzards, Holy Wars, Soft Swells, Downtown Boys, Prude Boys, Odonis Odonis, CHUCK, Broken Social Scene, Baronen & Satan, Dances, Glitches, Chelou, Teenage Feelings, The Staves, Cool American, Mikko Joensuu, Son Lux, Twinsmith, NEWMEN, Shipping Forecast, HALFNOISE, Sound of Ceres, WHIMM, Mono Club, Michael Nau, Diet Cig, Astronautalis, Tycho, Stillwave, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Ice Balloons, Sparks, Torres, Freedom Fry, and Howard Ivans.

FULL STREAMS

Panoptique Electrical, Gingerlys, Fox Face, Surrounder, The Drafts, First BaseMatty Ann, Slothrust, STRFKR, Floral Print, Miss World, dreambeaches, Slight, Foolish Atoms, Permahorn, Bloodsport: The Movie, The Band, Idle Empress, Littlefoot, Dead Hero, Courtney Farren, Bartees & The Strange Fruit, Shamir, Superchunk, Birthing Hips, Gestures, EiS: Live At Shea Stadium, deathlist, Casper Skulls, Jessica Boudreaux, CD-ROM, Colby Miller, Patsy, Robot Apocalypse, False Flag, Bad Daddies, SAVAK, Spiritual Cramp, Covey, WHIMM, Brainstory, Deva Mahal, Angelica Rockne, The Sight, High Waisted, Slanted, Pool Holograph, Mansions, Pura Mania

Mister Heavenly, Lady Parts, Suno Deku, Sob Stories, The Persian Leaps, After Hours Radio, No Vacation, Forest Swords, RAZZ, FURY, Big Heet, Bad Galaxy, King Khan, Rakta, Leor Miller and Francie Cool, Haunted Summer, The Hague, Thought Balloon, Blasteroid, The Telly, Gunn-Truscinski Duo, Longface, Cina Polada, Strawberry Runners, Shoeb Ahmad, Fairy Godmother, Beliefs, Becca Richardson, Roz and the Rice Cakes, Sad Baxter, Hidden Bay Records, Zapoppin’, Rainwater, The Mountain Goats, Sauna Accident, Prawn, Raleigh, Exquisite Ghost, M.R. Bennett, Paperhaus, Nervous Dater, Fool Heavy, Intergalactic Lovers, Omni, and Landlady.

LVL UP – Return to Love (Album Review)

LVL UP II

A great week was all but capped off by a tantalizing array of new material, including streams from Dark Blue, Teksti-TV 666, Black Honey, Alien Boy, Teen Vice, Acrylics, and Itasca. Neaux held down the fort for the music video format while excellent full streams from the likes of Static Animal, Anthony Jay Sanders, and betty becky came to light. Dillo Milk’s tremendous second compilation, Dillo Milk 2, rounded things out in memorable fashion.

As enticing as it was to go into detail on any of those entries listed above, this post was always going to belong to LVL UP. When Heartbreaking Bravery first started, they were the ideal example of the type of band this space was designed to celebrate. A scrappy, frequently overlooked powerhouse that earned critical acclaim and adoration in certain circles, had strong communal values, a distinctly DIY ethos, and a knack for intelligent, intuitive songwriting. The fact that they were playing basement pop — the genre that would arguably come to define this site’s coverage — almost became secondary to those other characteristics.   

Less than a week and a half elapsed from the first post to be published on this site before LVL UP’s was printed. Even if that mention was only a tangential one, it was designed to posit the band as reference point for feature coverage. Before long, they became an intrinsic part of Heartbreaking Bravery’s allotted feature segments. Very few bands have appeared in that capacity at a greater volume of frequency than LVL UP have managed to attain over their past several releases.

Hoodwink’d
, their outstanding sophomore full-length, topped this site’s best albums of 2014 list. Three Songs, the quartet’s most recent short-form release, ranked highly in the best EP’s of 2015 list. “Hidden Driver“, “Spirit Was“, “Pain“, and “The Closing Door“, the four songs to tease the just-released Return to Love, all earned features on their own considerable merit. With that kind of rollout campaign, a full review of Return to Love became an inevitability. Predictably, the rest of the record somehow found a way to surpass what were once thought to be unreasonably high expectations.

“Hidden Driver”, Return to Love‘s incendiary opener, sounded like it was all but ready to hurtle itself into an untested abyss when it was first unveiled. It’s an explosive work and it sets up the noticeably more aggressive nature of Return to Love, which asks a lot bigger questions than its predecessors. From the outset, Return to Love grapples with non-traditional instances of love and spirituality, something the band discussed at length in Loren DiBlasi‘s revealing MTV profile piece that went up earlier today.

In that interview, guitarist/vocalist Dave Benton (who penned “Hidden Driver”) posited God as a feeling, rather than as an all-knowing omnipresence. So, when the unforgettable chorus of “Hidden Driver” hits, the meaning becomes slightly more clear. It’s the first instance of a slew of moments that litter Return to Love in which the band confront the spiritual realm with the kind of bold decisiveness that powers the record.

Blur“, one of two songs to be revised from Three Songs for Return to Love, increases the velocity of the momentum and allows Mike Caridi to take over for a moment. Characteristically riff-happy and tethered to an enviable pop sensibility, “Blur” scales back from the otherworldly concerns of “Hidden Driver” to examine the minutiae of a fractured relationship and its lingering effects.

Only two songs into the record and LVL UP have already struck a delicate balance of external and internal questioning, providing an early hint that Return to Love is a record that’s defined by a commitment to exploring their own curiosity. Complementing that theme is the renewed emphasis on keys, which prove to be immensely effective and elevate the record’s frequently subdued nature, especially as Return to Love explores new musical territory.

A great example of that exploration comes in the form of the record’s third track, which turns the spotlight back to Benton. “She Sustains Us” is one of Return to Love‘s more definitive moments as it opens up the band’s sound, considerably expands their musical boundaries, establishes new tendencies, and examines the ideas of love and spirituality from a singular perspective while remaining subversive in the way those topics are typically approached. Beautiful harmonies flitter in and out of “She Sustains Us” and continues the the band’s tradition of adding compelling touches of overt femininity in their work.

The ensuing quartet of tracks constitute Return to Love‘s beating heart and have all either been revealed as part of the record’s introductory campaign or have been staples of the band’s galvanizing live sets for a year or more. “Pain” — a critical part of that run of songs and one of the record’s many standouts — sees Mike Caridi getting off some cutting asides while still managing to invoke a small semblance of lightness. The narrative of “Blur” is unapologetic in its casual brutality, wishing nothing but the worst for a person who harmed a loved one. Somehow, the spry nature of the music surrounding those biting lyrics keep the sentiment from becoming overly malicious.

There’s always been an underlying humanism and empathy to LVL UP’s work, even at its most detached. “Spirit Was”, “The Closing Door”, and “Five Men On the Ridge” all reap the benefits of that genuine, open-hearted approach which continues to stand in contrast to so many otherwise similarly-minded acts. All of those songs also ably demonstrate LVL UP’s acutely-realized atmospheric design (the plinking piano figure of “Spirit Was” being a perfect example) and their newfound heaviness (when the band comes crashing in at full force towards the start of the redesigned “The Closing Door”, the sudden impact becomes ridiculously powerful).

Five Men on the Ridge“, easily one of Return to Love‘s heaviest numbers, transitions the record into its final run of tracks with an impressive mixture of grace and relentless intensity. It’s a song that’ll be new to just about everyone that hasn’t been fortunate enough to catch the band live but it takes on new life in the context of the record. One of bassist/vocalist Nick Corbo’s strongest contributions to date, the song finally infuses Return to Love‘s line of questioning with a well-earned sense of dread; there are likely some big questions that are better left unanswered.

Corbo immediately follows that jarring moment of bleakness with one of Return to Love‘s most meditative pieces, “Cut from the Vine”, which finds the songwriter returning to a characteristic theme: the distinctly human connection to nature. It’s something that Corbo’s explored on previous records and discussed semi-frequently in interviews (as well as casual conversation). While all of the past instances of this recurrent theme in Corbo’s songwriting have been engaging, “Cut from the Vine” is truly exceptional.

With the slow-burn of “Cut from the Vine”, the record’s final Caridi track — “I” — is positioned perfectly. Return to Love‘s penultimate number restores a sense of urgency and elevates its immediacy, recalling the band’s past work with enough panache and untethered momentum to rank as one of Return to Love‘s most exhilarating offerings. At a brisk two minutes (not counting the fascinating ambient epilogue that features drummer Greg Rutkin’s distorted ramblings about a beach), it’s the record’s shortest song and its sharpest kick, all but cementing Return to Love as one of 2016’s fiercest highlights.

All of that said — meaning every single paragraph of this feature review — nothing could’ve been adequate preparation for Return to Love‘s bruising, doom-leaning, chant-laden finale, “Naked In the River with the Creator”. Corbo takes the reigns once again and steers the focus back to nature, love, and spirituality in one fell swoop. “Naked in the River with the Creator” was one of three songs on Return to Love that was initiated by the excellent Song A Day for A Week series and its final form is astonishing.

Nearly seven and a half minutes in length, “Naked in the River with the Creator” suggests that Return to Love still hasn’t revealed the extent of the band’s ambitions. Opening with the slowest tempo of the record, somber vocals awash in a gently haunting organ figure, the effect is genuinely startling. Even more startling is when the bottom drops out and plunges the band into a quasi-nightmarish trip into a metal-informed trance that evokes a state of possession.

The latter half of “Naked in the River with the Creator”, with its repeated mantras of chants like the opening “white river, black water, gaining purpose, moving stronger, ash rising, bright father, dogs running the earth’s daughter” becomes both deeply disconcerting and oddly chilling. As directly as the band confronted spirituality throughout Return to Love, “Naked in the River with the Creator” all but exists on a different plane of existence. It’s a shocking departure from a band not typically known for taking risks and the dividends it pays are enormous, fully positioning LVL UP’s Sub Pop as not only a genre classic but as one of the legendary label’s best releases in years.

All told, Return to Love is a document of a band determined to continuously better themselves, a new career high, and a bona fide statement release from one of this generation’s most consistently exciting acts. It’s a series of sustained, connected grace notes that never wavers, even as it openly acknowledges it doesn’t have all of the answers. Not a single second of its run time is wasted and each of the songs are memorable for a wildly varying list of reasons. LVL UP aren’t the type of band to be dissuaded from taking action by a daunting challenge and Return to Love is an assured, steadfast piece of proof.

To put it as succinctly as possible: it’s a masterpiece.

Listen to Return to Love below and pick it up from Sub Pop here.

Yankee Bluff – I (EP Review)

Dogs On Acid II

To close out last week, a variety of great songs got released from the likes of Jeff Rosenstock, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, The Channels, YJY, Morgan Delt, Color Tongue, Pill, Multicult, Alphabetic, dreambeaches, and DYAN. While all of those tracks were certainly worthy of a great deal of attention, this featured spot goes to the surprise debut from Yankee Bluff, a band that was born out of the ashes of site favorites Dogs On Acid (pictured above), who announced both this new project and their end in a recent Facebook post.

While losing Dogs On Acid is tough to swallow, the sudden appearance of Yankee Bluff helps smooth out the transition. Helping matters even further is the fact that their debut EP, I, easily ranks as one of the format’s finest entries of the year. Beginning with “Agessi”, demonstrates the songwriters’ increasing knack for nuanced basement pop and distances them even further from their emo roots.

Anchored by a compellingly battered production aesthetic, everything in comes across as surprisingly grounded without sacrificing some towering pop-leaning hooks. As the EP progresses, a folk undercurrent slowly emerges, recalling some of Tenement‘s more Americana-informed works. By the time hits its halfway point, Yankee Bluff have fully announced themselves as a democratic collective, allowing each member’s respective voice the opportunity to become distinctive, bringing their contemporaries in LVL UP to mind.

There aren’t any weak patches throughout the EP, with each song demonstrating a new angle that Yankee Bluff manages to successfully explore, a trait that will undoubtedly work to their advantage down the line. Whether they’re latched onto the near-anthems that Dogs On Acid cranked out a startling rate or the slow-burning acoustic act that defines the EP’s penultimate track, they also manage to cultivate a singular identity and establish themselves as a very serious force.

Ultimately, stands as an unlikely — and unexpected — triumph. In the wake of losing one of the best bands of the past few years, we’ve been gifted a band that’s very capable of taking up the mantle. is as good of a debut as anyone’s likely to hear this year and opens up the doors for even more impressive material in the coming years.

As Dogs On Acid recedes into the distance, it’ll be incredibly reassuring to have the privilege of watching their spiritual successor keep their flame alive and burning while forging an entirely new path. Even at the start of the party, there’s already an abundance of riches. Pick them up and hold them close, value them with the respect they deserve, and don’t make the mistake of letting them disappear without acknowledgement. After all, nothing lasts forever.

Listen to below and pick it up here.

Izzy True – Total Body Erasure (Stream)

izzy-true

Following a small gap in coverage (mostly due to travel and preliminary work on upcoming projects), there’s a lot of material to cover. Roughly five dozen excellent new tracks emerged over that course of time and a third of them will be presented throughout the initial round of review coverage. This particular list constitutes the middle third and contains excellent new numbers from J&L Defer, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Mothers, Bellows, Yohuna, Manuela, Black Marble, June Gloom, Yea-Ming and the Rumours, Juliana Wilson, Angelic Milk, Ubetcha, Creative Adult, Golden Suits, King Creosote, Sharks’ Teeth, Ryan Hemsworth, Ryley Walker, and Lizard Kisses.

The featured track belongs to A Year’s Worth of Memories alum Isabel Reidy’s project, Izzy True. After a dazzling EP, the project’s readying their debut full-length, Nope. Leading off the rollout campaign is the record’s brilliant lead-off single “Total Body Erasure”. Tapping into the swamp-punk, roots, Americana, folk, blues, and dirtied up rock n’ roll influences that made the Troll EP one of last year’s most compelling listens, “Total Body Erasure” also achieves the impressive feat of heightening the level of lyricism attached to the band by tackling a subject that manages to feel both intimate and political without one aspect ever outweighing the other.

It’s an astonishing piece of songwriting that suggests Reidy’s quickly becoming one of this generation’s finest young lyricists. If the rest of Nope can live up to the level set by its introductory piece, Izzy True has a legitimate shot at being one of 2016’s most notable breakout successes. All that’s left is to wait, see, and hit repeat on “Total Body Erasure” until that moment, during that moment, and well past that moment. Whichever way it shakes out ultimately won’t matter. What does matter is the strength of Reidy, Troll, and “Total Body Erasure”, which is more than enough to prove that we should all keep listening.

Listen to “Total Body Erasure” below and keep an eye on Don Giovanni for the pre-orders of Nope. 

First Quarter Full Streams, Pt. 1

tysegl

Keeping the recent themes of the site going, this post will be dedicated to 75 of this year’s most fascinating records (along with an overlooked fourth quarter gem or two from last year getting their due). Covering a range of genres, as always, these records cover a lot of ground. A few find their niche in fierceness while others make a home in more tranquil realms. It’s impossible to stress how full of a year 2015’s already been for new music and if this crop of early offerings is any suggestion, we’re all in for one of the strongest stretches of new music in roughly a decade. As ever, don’t let the fact there’s no accompanying text with these releases detract from their value; a great deal of these have a good chance of ranking among 2015’s finest releases (NPR’s current roster of First Listen selections is an exhilarating reminder that we’re only just getting started). Click on the hyperlinks below (listed in no particular order) to hear the records and- if you find yourself drawn to any- make sure to pick one up from either the band or their label. Happy exploring.

1. California X – Nights in the Dark
2. Swings – Detergent Hymns
3. Ty Segall – Mr. Face
4. Mike Pace and the Child Actors – Best Boy
5. Little Brutes – Desire
6. Dazed Pilots – Drummers & Codies
7. The Sidekicks – Runners in the Nerved World
8. Menace Beach – Ratworld
9. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
10. Jack Name – Weird Moons
11. Sick Feeling – Suburban Myth
12. Bandit – Of Life
13. Culture Abuse – Spray Paint the Dog
14. The Rentiers – Here Is A List of Things That Exist
15. Kind of Like Spitting + Warren Franklin & the Foundations – It’s Always Nice to See You
16. Creative Adult + Wild Moth – Split
17. Sun Hotel – Rational Expectations
18. Clique/Loose Tooth/Ghost Gun/Mumblr – Split
19. Grand Vapids – Guarantees
20. Gal Pals – Velvet Rut
21. The King Khan & BBQ Show – Bad News Boys
22. Club K – Let M Shake
23. Astral Swans – All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson
24. ylayali – ylayali
25. M.A.G.S. – Cellophane
26. Leapling – Vacant Page
27. Feature Films – Feature Films
28. Walleater – I
29. Will Butler – Policy
30. toyGuitar – In This Mess
31. Bloodbirds – Album 2
32. Pistachio – Tehuantepec
33. Yeesh – No Problem
34. Seagulls – Great Pine
35. Snow Roller/Sioux Falls – Split EP
36. Evans the Death – Expect Delays
37. RA – Scandinivia
38. Lucern Raze – Stockholm One
39. Never Young – Never Young
40. Love Cop – Dark Ones
41. Darlings – Feel Better
42. Romantic States – Romantic States
43. A Place to Bury Strangers – Transfixation
44. Sunflower Bean – Show Me Your Seven Secrets
45. Ghastly Menace – Songs of Ghastly Menace
46. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
47. Anomie – Anomie
48. Reservoir – Cicurina Vol. 1
49. River City Extension – Deliverance
50. Ty Segall Band – Live in San Francisco
51. Six Organs of Admittance – Hexadic
52. Big Dick – Disappointment
53. Treasure Fleet – The Sun Machines
54. Jeff Rosenstock  – We Cool?
55. Husband – The Money
56. Divers – Hello Hello
57. Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
58. We Can All Be Sorry – Again
59. Cal Folger Day – Adornament
60. Outside – Outside
61. Fragie Gang – For Esme
62. Moor Hound – Missin’ Out b/w Married
63. Pile – You’re Better Than This
64. Sonny & the Sunsets – Talent Night at the Ashram
65. Platinum Boys – Future Hits
66. Grooms – Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
67. The Amazing – Picture You
68. Pops Staples – Don’t Lose This
69. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
70. Jack McKelvie & the Countertopss/Uh-Huh – Split
71. Young Buffalo – Split
72. Lieutenant – If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week
73. Sister Palace – Count Yr Blessings
74. Van Dammes – Better Than Sex
75. Sammy Kay – Fourth Street Singers

Watch This: Vol. 38

Well, it’s been a long battle but it seems like the impossible has finally arrived and Watch This has been brought back up to speed. To celebrate, the 38th installment will feature no single performance but rather small (or full) sets from a set of five. All of the artists that appear in this list could rightfully be considered site favorites (and, hell, one of them has essentially become Heartbreaking Bravery’s flagship band) and will undoubtedly be featured more in the future. In the case of Courtney Barnett, an isolated performance from her included set has already been given a spot in a past Watch This– but packaged together with the rest of an extraordinary performance, it proved too tantalizing to pass up (this may very well be the only repeat performance Watch This ever runs). All of that being the case, this is quite a lot to take in- so, lean back, settle in, turn the speakers up, and Watch This.

1. Bleeding Rainbow (KEXP)

Kicking off a trio of KEXP sets is a band who recently earned a spot towards the top of the Music Video Mixtape,  Bleeding Rainbow. Bringing four of their best songs out for the occasion, the shoegaze-leaning quartet drives home just how forceful these songs are capable of being. It’s a startling performance from a band that continues to pick up momentum. Don’t get caught in their way.

2. Fear of Men (KEXP)

Fear of Men’s Loom was an important step for a band that had long been deserving of a push forward. In the live setting, the songs get an even airier texture than they do on record, lending it a wide-open feel that propels them to greater heights. All four songs deserve repeat viewings in their own right but are even better when played as a set. A very welcome reminder of a record worth more discussion that it’s received.

3. Courtney Barnett (KEXP)

As stated in the video’s introduction, A Sea of Split Peas was one of 2014’s great surprises; a star-making effort from a relative unknown. Here, KEXP celebrates it as fully as possible, turning their lenses (and audio equipment) onto this massive eight-song set from The Triple Door as part of their VIP Club concert series. As it progresses, Barnett grows more comfortable and more confident, eventually bringing everything home with the can’t-fail 1-2 combination of “Avant Gardener” and “History Eraser”. Don’t miss it.

4. Saintseneca (NPR)

Dark Arc, Saintseneca‘s ANTI- debut, made a lot of people (finally) sit up and take notice of them- and even lent the members other respective projects (All Dogs and The Sidekicks, especially) some well-deserved exposure. For a band built from that background, something like this- an NPR Tiny Desk Session feature- feels like nothing short of a major triumph. There are very few things that feel more right than a band worthy of a major break actually catches one. To top everything off, this particular session is an absolute stunner and stands as one of NPR’s best sessions in recent memory.  

5. Perfect Pussy (Pitchfork)

Close to everything that could be said about Perfect Pussy’s set at Pitchfork has already been covered– but, if the opportunity to write even more about this band presents itself, I’ll jump at it. While live footage capture can never come close to doing the experience of actually seeing a band like Perfect Pussy justice, it’s difficult to argue against when its presented so beautifully. The more I watch these videos, the more I come back to a recurring thought: music and musicians, at large, are split into two groups- the technicians vs. the feelers. In the former category, bands will often sacrifice energy to present their music with as much polished precision as possible, whereas in the latter category, perfect technique is an acceptable casualty because it stands in the way of unfiltered passion. I will always stand on- and stand up for- the side of the latter. It’s a position that Perfect Pussy fully embodies and it makes their sets that much more thrilling (there’s a reason I’ve gone well out of my way to see them no less than eight times this year-so-far). So, while Meredith Graves‘ voice is noticeably raw (she’d been on a 12+ hour sabbatical from speaking the night before after noticing it was shot and fearing she might lose it completely), it’s also a small testament to courage. Ultimately, it’s exactly the kind of thing that gives a performance like this an incredible amount of character- and it has the potential to inspire legions of aspiring musicians to get behind a microphone so they can pour their hearts out.

Songs in Screens: A Look Back (Music Video Mixtape)

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We’ve hit the approximate 2/3’s mark of the year 2014 and this very post is the 250th to run on this site. Over the course of its duration Heartbreaking Bravery has included a fairly strong emphasis on the music video and this year’s offerings made that commitment a complete non-issue by virtue of their excellence. Songs in Screens: A Look Back is a visual-based “mixtape” and serves as a reminder of a lot of the videos that earned acclaimed here- and a few that, whether due to time or an overabundance of other predetermined material, were egregiously overlooked. For all of the videos that have been featured, there will be a hyperlink leading to their respective write-ups. Those that didn’t receive a write-up will get a very brief one below the mix itself. All of these videos came out in 2014 and made an impression- and they all deserve to be remembered. Let’s give them the recognition that they deserve.

1. Perfect Pussy – I
2. Bleeding Rainbow – Images
3. Creepoid – Baptism

4. Thee Oh Sees – Drop

While Thee Oh Sees’ “The Lens” did land itself a nice write-up, “Drop” was unfairly pushed to the side during its release. Arguably the better of the two videos (and songs), it gets the most out of its constantly evolving, simplistically animated black-and-white presentation and felt like a more appropriate inclusion for this list.

5. together PANGEA – Offer
6. Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead
7. Potty Mouth – Black & Studs
8. Dead Stars – Summer Bummer

9. The Coasts – I Just Wanna Be A Star

It’s almost cruel that both this song and this video were overlooked due to festival coverage. Both are either perfect or near-perfect and embody just about everything this site loves most. “I Just Wanna Be A Star” is a joyous celebration on record and the video gets one hell of a performance out of its unlikely lead. Make sure to not skip this one.

10. PUP – Guilt Trip

11. Anna Calvi & David Byrne – Strange Weather

This spot was always intended to feature an anomaly- an act or style that doesn’t regularly earn a feature spot on this site. clipping. came a hair’s breadth away from claiming it with their mercilessly arresting video for “Work Work” but Anna Calvi & David Byrne made something so staggeringly beautiful and emotive with their video for their “Strange Weather” cover that it would’ve been criminal to ignore it. No video this year had cinematography this stunning- or a mood this anxious. A genuine work of art.

12. Beverly – Honey Do
13. Mean Creek – My Madeline
14. Fucked Up – Sun Glass
15. Mozes & the Firstborn – Bloodsucker
16. Tweens – Forever
17. PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart
18. Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite
19. The So So Glos – Speakeasy
20. Marvelous Mark – Bite Me
21. Savages – Fuckers

22. Lower – Soft Option

No video from 2014 had this amount of unrelenting tension. From its bare-bones premise to the engaging execution, it’s something with the potential to be permanently embedded into the brain of anyone lucky enough to come across it.

23. Greys – Guy Picciotto

24. Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma 

At this point, it’s fairly evident that Here and Nowhere Else will stand as one of 2014’s best records. The video for “Psychic Trauma” comes as a welcome reminder of that fact and features some basic (albeit eye-catching) visual effects. That combination’s enough to land it a spot in this list.

25. White Lung – In Your Home

Of all the 2014 music videos to be released so far, very few approach the levels of insanity attained by White Lung’s fiery “In Your Home”. Mixing a lot of the items featured prominently throughout this list (unexpected psychedelic imagery, contained animation, and the black-and-white aesthetic, especially) with something that’s uniquely their own, “In Your Home” stands tall as a testament to the fact that being weird is way more fun than being standard. And it offers up a perfect wrap for this mix. Roll credits.

Pitchfork Festival Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Review)

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It’s only fitting that the run of festival coverage ends with Perfect Pussy, a band that’s earned more words from this site than any other. They’ve been a part of the site since it’s very beginnings (vocalist Meredith Graves, now firmly positioned as this site’s patron saint, was one of the very first to know that it even existed). They’re one of the only bands that inspired me to break a narrative rule in order to use first-person by virtue of being so endearingly sincere about issues that are important to myself and to this site. I have lost desire for all feeling and Say Yes to Love earned two of the strongest reviews that this site’s ever given and their showstopping NXNE performance prompted the most personal thing I’ve ever written for any outlet. I have seen this band’s ascension and felt confident in my position to ally myself with them, even in the face of a staggering amount of backlash. Over the past 7 months, I’ve been fortunate enough to seen them play 8 sets (and in everything from a halfpipe in a bike shop to a fairly extravagant ballroom) and fully intend on raising that number at the next available opportunity. Of those 8 appearances, none felt as important as their showcase on Day 3 of the Pitchfork Music Festival.

I’d spent a large portion of the festival, and the moments leading up to their set, with a nerve-wracked Graves and watching her steady transformation throughout their set was nothing short of inspiring. All of her fears seemed to be coming to a head before their set even started when the sound crew ran into a technical issue with her vocal amp. This prompted a brief delay as a visibly distressed Graves did everything she could to attempt to assist them in resolving the issue as the rest of the band quietly set up around her. It was a matter of minutes before the issue was resolved and the band was allowed to breathe a collected sigh of relief. They took a minute (maybe less) to collect themselves sidestage before walking back out and picking up their instruments in front of a crowd of roughly 3,000 people, all of which anxious to have their opinions dissuaded or reaffirmed.

What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary: as the band tore through song after song with an indescribable amount of passion and meaning, the sound proved to be perfect. Graves was audible, no instrument overpowered another, and each member gave the performances of their lives. I’ve never seen Garrett Koloski, easily one of the most underrated and overlooked drummers out there, hit his drums with more fierceness or look more determined. Synth and noise mastermind Shaun Sutkus seemed like he was completely disconnected from everything but hitting every nuanced motion with an uncanny precision while occasionally being driven by the music into frantic, spastic movements. Bassist Greg Ambler ran into no problems with his cab, head, or levels and took the opportunity to thrash around without consequence, pummeling his bass to the point of abuse without missing a note. Guitarist Ray McAndrew transformed into a mode that bordered the animialistic, growing increasingly intense as the set’s momentum picked up before it’s final breaking point at the very end.

As for Graves… there are no words that can do justice to just how commanding of a performer she is. It’s an intrinsic quality that’s completely intangible and it was one of the things that made me fall for this band in the first place; her face is usually contorted in a manner that expresses the meanings she’s trying to convey because she can’t help it- she feels this music so completely that it seems to pour out through every fiber of her being. As a performer, it’s tough to tell if she animated the songs or the songs animate her, and watching her use her conviction to convince a crowd of thousands (easily one of the largest the band has ever played to) as they brought her to ecstatic tears was one of the proudest moments of my life. Every flower that was thrown at her (and there were several), and every tear that she shed, was earned- a culmination of understanding, validation, and the feeling of a moment.

Watching Graves’ transformation from fighting against some severe nerves and her total certainty that everything would go wrong (which, unfortunately, has seemed to be a trend at several of their recent shows) to the flower-adorned vocalist in the throes of one of the best sets I’ve ever seen, suddenly recognizing that everything was falling into place, prompted a feeling that’s literally impossible to put into words. It brought out the life in her, it brought out the life in the audience, and it sure as hell brought out the life in me- it’s those exact moments of subtle minutiae that I built this site to celebrate and to see it happen to someone who has become one of my closest friends was unforgettable. Being surrounded by strangers, all having extremely intense reactions that paralleled mine was an experience in camaraderie that all festivals are supposed to foster; where the setting suddenly doesn’t matter and everyone’s putting their all into the performance happening on the stage in front of them.

I“, “Driver“, “Bells”, “Interference Fits“, “Big Stars”, “III”, “Advance Upon the Real”, the songs came one after another, with no interruptions from the band other than an occasional thank you. The order didn’t matter because no one had time to react; every song felt like a perfectly-timed triumph that whipped the audience into a frenzy (shouting “Since when do we say yes to love?” during “Interference Fits” with 3,000 strangers and a few close friends broke the plane of ecstasy right into total catharsis). All of the front rows were doing their best to hold onto something, anything, for dear life as a mosh pit threatened to consume them. Railings were saviors, heads were kicked in, elbows were thrown, and everybody made sure that if someone else was in trouble, they were given the attention that they needed to prevent anything damaging from happening. Everything and everyone was unified in a staggering display of the exact kind of support the band does their best to endorse. No oppression, only care.

As the band wound their set down with Sutkus’ noise, sweat-and-tear-strained mascara was running down Graves’ unbelieving face; a lasting image of gratitude. She took out a camera to take a snapshot of an adoring audience, still in stunned disbelief, visibly overwhelmed, as everyone else quietly packed up, unable to contain smiles of their own. Nothing had gone wrong. Nothing had broken. Nothing had stopped the band- and it’s extremely unlikely anything could have stopped them after a certain point, anyway. As everyone left, Sutkus stayed, still completely entranced by the moment, doing one of his best noise deconstructions to date, as people in the audience caught their breath and looked on, either in awe, wonderment, or a state of complete and total confusion. Perfect Pussy had said just about everything they’d ever wanted to say with that set, in exactly the way it should be said. Actions became words, words became daggers with pinpoint accuracy, and no one could be bothered to tear themselves away. Each one of their thirty minutes (a marathon set, by their standards) was paid back in full by an unrelenting applause- and somewhere, off in the corner of my mind, that applause has refused to cease. Hats off to the band, hats off to the film crew (who provided some stunning visuals), hats off to the sound crew, and hats off to the audience who finally gave the band exactly the kind of recognition they deserve.

NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide (Mixtape)

It’s been 200 days since the idea of Heartbreaking Bravery was actually put into motion. In that time, multiple recurring features have been launched and it began to become something a little more than just a hobby. The more effort that was put into the content that went up, the greater the response was. Now, the site’s been viewed in nearly 80 countries, been granted media accreditation outside of the country, and helped form some meaningful relationships. Most importantly, though, it served- and will continue to serve- as a place of unwavering support for artists rooted in the DIY scene doing things on their own terms.

Now, anyone who has been paying attention to recent content will know that this site’s been running a lot of coverage in anticipation of this year’s NXNE. Anyone who’s been following the content for a long time will know that every 50 posts brings a new mixtape. This being the case, it only made sense to draw up a mixtape that served as an abbreviated listener’s guide for anyone who needed a crash course before heading to Toronto next month. That mix can be found below and features both long-held favorites and a few artists outside of this site’s normal comfort zone. All of the songs are worth a listen and the tracklist for the mix can be found below. Below all of that are hyperlinks to posts 100-199 (post 100 includes hyperlinks to the first 99). Enjoy.

Heartbreaking Bravery Presents: NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide

1. Swearin’ – What A Dump
2. Spoon – Don’t Make Me A Target
3. METZ – Wet Blanket
4. PS I Love You – Facelove
5. Greys – Use Your Delusion
6. Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits
7. Swans – My Birth
8. St. Vincent – Cheerleader
9. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
10. Odonis Odonis – I’d Prefer Walking
11. Eagulls – Nerve Ending
12. White Mystery – People Power
13. Beliefs – Long Wings
14. Run the Jewels – A Christmas Fucking Miracle
15. Pusha T – Nosetalgia
16. Mac DeMarco – Brother
17. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
18. Christian Hansen – Ma-Me-O
19. Mutual Benefit – Golden Wake
20. My Darling Fury – Blots in the Margin
21. Low – Murderer
22. Robert Ellis – Only Lies
23. Typhoon – Common Sentiments
24. Speedy Ortiz – No Below
25. Tim Hecker – Live Room

Here’s the last set of 100 articles, hyperlinked for convenience. Enjoy the exploration.


HB100: Heartbreaking Bravery: A Retrospective

HB101: Great Cynics – Whatever You Want (Music Video)
HB102: Watch This: Vol. 12
HB103: Bleeding Rainbow – Tell Me (Stream)
HB104: Beverly – Honey Do (Stream)
HB105: Brain F/ – Sicks (Stream)
HB106: Vertical Scratchers – Memory Shards (Stream)
HB107: Carsick Cars – Wild Grass (Stream)
HB108: Summer Twins – Carefree (Music Video)
HB109: Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked (Stream)
HB110: Perfect Pussy – I (Music Video)
HB111: Watch This: Vol. 13
HB 112: Mozes and the Firstborn – Bloodsucker (Music Video)
HB113: Cheap Girls – Knock Me Down (Stream)
HB114: Watch This: Vol. 14
HB115: Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits (Stream)
HB116: PAWS – Tongues (Stream)
HB117: Screaming Females – Lights Out (Live) (Stream)
HB118: Technicolor Teeth – Can You Keep Me Out of Hell (Stream)
HB119: Silence Dogood – Chairman of the Bored (Stream)
HB120: Watch This: Vol. 15
HB121: Nervosas at Center Street Free Space and Quarters Rock N Roll Palace – 3/1/14 (Live Review)
HB122: White Lung – Drown With the Monster (Music Video)
HB123: Tweens – Be Mean (Music Video)
HB124: La Sera – Losing to the Dark (Stream)
HB125: Creepoid – Baptism (Music Video)
HB126: Dum Dum Girls – Are You Okay (Short Film)
HB127: Watch This: Vol. 16
HB128: Green Dreams – Bug Sex (Music Video)
HB129: Playlounge – Waves and Waves and Waves (Stream)
HB130: Molybden – Woman Who Left Behind (7″ Review)
HB131: La Dispute – Rooms of the House (Album Review)
HB132: Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love (Album Review)
HB133: Watch This: Vol. 17
HB134: Mr. Dream – Cheap Heat (Stream)
HB135: Fucked Up – Paper the House (Music Video)
HB136: Bleeding Rainbow – Images (Music Video)
HB137: Sleep Party People – In Another World (Stream)
HB138: Help Save Fort Foreclosure (Indiegogo Campaign)
HB139: Tashaki Miyaki – Cool Runnings (Music Video)
HB140: Thee Oh Sees – The Lens (Music Video)
HB141: Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead (Music Video)
HB142: Green Dreams – Eye Contact (Stream)
HB143: Watch This: Vol. 18
HB144: Tumul – Nature Master (Music Video)
HB145: Young Widows – King Sol (Stream)
HB146: Priests – Right Wing (Stream)
HB147: Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m Giving Up On U2 (Stream)
HB148: Ernest Undead (Short Film)
HB149: Watch This: Vol. 19
HB150: First Quarter Finish (Mixtape)
HB151: Perfect Pussy at 7th St. Entry – 3/30/14 (Live Review)
HB152: Perfect Pussy at Township – 4/1/14 (Live Video)
HB153: The Sleepwalkers – Come Around (Music Video)
HB154: Watch This: Vol. 20
HB155: Tweens – Forever (Music Video)
HB156: Reigning Sound – Falling Rain (Stream)
HB157: New Swears – Midnight Lover (Music Video)
HB158: Shannon & the Clams – Mama (Stream)
HB159: Gold-Bears – For You (Stream)
HB160: PUP – Lionheart (Music Video)
HB161: The So So Glos – Speakeasy (Music Video)
HB162: Archie Powell & the Exports – Holes (Music Video)
HB163: Mean Creek – My Madeline (Music Video)
HB164: Watch This: Vol. 21
HB165: Greys – Guy Picciotto (Music Video)
HB166: PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart (Stream)
HB167: Perfect Pussy – Candy’s Room (Stream)
HB168: Watch This: Vol. 22
HB169: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 1
HB170: Girl Band – The Cha Cha Cha (Stream)
HB171: Cloud Nothings at High Noon Saloon – 5/2/14 (Pictorial Review)
HB172: Watch This: Vol. 23
HB173: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 2
HB174: Savages – Fuckers (Music Video)
HB175: Midnight Reruns at Polack Inn – 5/7/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB176: Watch This: Vol. 24
HB177: Watch This: Vol. 25
HB178: PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart (Music Video)
HB179: Priests – Doctor (Stream)
HB180: Lady Bones + Horsehands (Split Review)
HB181: Fucked Up – Sun Glass (Music Video)
HB182: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 3
HB183: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Jackson (Stream)
HB184: Dead Stars – Someone Else (Music Video)
HB185: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 4
HB186: Lower – Bastard Tactics (Music Video)
HB187: Bad History Month – Staring At My Hands (Stream)
HB188: White Lung – Face Down (Music Video)
HB189: Greys – Use Your Delusion (Stream)
HB190: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 5
HB191: The Rich Hands – Teenager (Stream)
HB192: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always (Music Video)
HB193: The Pharmacy – Masten Lake Lagoon (Stream)
HB194: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 6
HB195: Naomi Punk – Television Man (Stream)
HB196: Watch This: Vol. 26
HB197: Geronimo! – Euphoria (Stream)
HB198: Watch This: Vol. 27
HB199: PUP – Guilt Trip (Music Video)

Perfect Pussy – I (Music Video)

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There are very few names that have been as instrumental to Heartbreaking Bravery’s (admittedly limited) early success and continuing expansion as Perfect Pussy‘s Meredith Graves. Endlessly supportive and impossibly kind, she’s lent an unwavering support that’s both humbling and welcome. For this reason and this reason alone, I’m going to abandon at least one rule of the hidden manifest I’ve held Heartbreaking Bravery to up until this 110th post; the use of a first-person narrative. I’m breaking this rule specifically for this post because these words will be about Perfect Pussy’s new music video as much as they’ll be about sincerity. Sincerity, compassion, and empathy were at the heart of our last discussion and were three of the things that attracted me to the band begin with. There’s an unflinching honesty that, as evidenced by the almost immediate backlash following their success, alienated about 1 person for every 10 that it’s inspired.

In terms of sentiment, the lyrical content on I have lost all desire for feeling elevates itself past the bleeding-heart realm into a full-on self-performed open heart surgery that cuts off halfway through, laying everything bare for onlookers. It’s not kitschy, it’s fucking brave. Detractors like to speculate that it’s all just an act, grossly unaware of how little of a veil there is that separates the band from its audience. There’s a heart on display that’s beating furiously and unapologetically, allowing anyone paying attention to interpret its motions as they will. Operating without a filter and embracing as much positive energy as humanly possible, the band’s already managed to establish a reputation for themselves on the strength of a four song demo and fierce touring.

All of those early trademarks- the empathy, compassion, sincerity, (positive) energy, fearlessness, and upfront honesty come together in Lukas Hodge’s clip for I have lost all desire for feeling‘s explosive opening track, “I”. Hodge opens the video with an endearing black-and-white shot of the band, all smiles, descending a staircase and led by an umbrella-toting Graves. Before the jump cut out of the stairwell hits an abbreviated quick cut sequence, Graves shoots the audience the kind of smile that seems to say “thank you” and “I love you” all at once, to anyone that cares. It’s a brief second that feels like it’s worth a lifetime, aptly illustrating a moment of  something  approaching self-actualization. It’s unlikely there will be anything as intimate captured this year.

Following the contained beauty of the band’s introduction, the video ably jumps between three scenarios; the live performance footage, the band shooting firecrackers off in a beautiful wide-open field, and walking around various city locations. All of “I” is lensed with a subtly soft, warm hue that maximizes the clip’s easy naturalistic feel. Though, there aren’t moments lacking in artistic merit in the face of that naturalism. While it’s difficult to tell whether or not it actually was raining, the band (and certainly the director) were likely aware of how significant something as simple as the umbrellas has been throughout musically-inclined film projects. From Mary Poppins to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to, more recently, How I Met Your Mother, umbrellas have acted as beloved staples (and important plot devices) in culturally resonant art. While a two minute music video is obviously going to have to deal with some limitations, “I” already feels like one of the more definitive presentations of a very specific subculture within the confines of punk.

Before the video’s explosive confetti-strewn climax, Hodge manages to articulately convey the band’s frantic passion through exposition. By splicing together the outside footage with the performance, it’s easy to grasp the band’s personality which makes the final payoff that much more exhilarating. You want the people that greet you with a warm embrace to succeed, especially when their end goal doesn’t carry any inherently negative or mean-spirited consequence. That’s a space reserved for the kind of people who embrace the lighthearted fun that’s on display throughout “I”. By the time “I” hits its relentless stride and the band’s surrounded by friends, everyone under a shower of confetti and clothed in silly string, the moment feels deserved. Driving this point home, Hodge allows his camera to linger on a small group of hands that are raised up, as if in elated prayer, and a once small-but-significant moment acts as a stand-in for a much larger one; those few enlightened hands have now turned into thousands, each of which (mine included) more than happy to attempt to push the band to even greater successes and heights.

While Graves may still be on the operating table, picking herself apart and attempting to figure out how to live the most worthwhile life possible, there are people in her corner. There are people that know Perfect Pussy are a band that’s worth believing in, not just because they’re making great music but because they’re making sincere music, the kind that directly opposes the apathy that’s descended like a darkness and all but consumed the forefront of the DIY/basement punk scene. There’s an intrinsic value to Perfect Pussy’s commitment to honesty. At a time when things as basic as desire and enthusiasm are positioned as things that can damage credibility, I’ll be on the side of the band that comes into that fold and fucking destroys the misguided preconceptions about them. Perfect Pussy are a band that kids can look to and be assured that it’s okay to be excited about art and the importance of that should not be lost.

“I” will likely always be Perfect Pussy’s best calling card, distilling the band’s indomitable passion into a blistering 120 seconds (complete with an arresting mantra that perfectly captures the band’s paradoxical marriage of aspects gentle and forceful). Somewhere, in those two glorious minutes, an entire subculture’s esoteric pretense was stripped away. Somehow, Lukas Hodge managed to create a video that managed to push the band’s ideals further while presenting an accurate portrayal of their collective identity. Someday some fifteen year old kid is going to see that video and learn a myriad of things; that it’s okay to be who you are, that art/punk/noise/hardcore/whatever-the-fuck is one of the most gratifying experiences you can possibly have, that gender should never matter in music, that youth can be retained, and that sincerity is something that should never be overvalued.

Even if Graves & co. are pinching themselves now, in the midst of a rapid ascension to the kind of levels where all of their moves will be met with scrutiny, they’re not the sort to pay attention to any of the critical responses. That’s the final key to their success; by blocking out all of the outside opinion- apart from the reactions they get from shows, people buying merch through their bandcamp, or personal messages- they’re free to cater to the things they believe in. Luckily for us, those beliefs are worth celebrating. Nearly everything that I’ve written above (in addition to the twenty or so times I watched “I” today) has led me to a realization. Perfect Pussy have officially become a personal item for me. This isn’t a band I want to push- it’s one I need to. They’re doing important things, whether they know it or not, with a high enough profile that those things may have an actual impact and cause some positive reform in increasingly stale scenes. While Heartbreaking Bravery certainly won’t be the most visible source lending their aesthetics and creative decisions vocal support, it’s still worth discussing.

For a reminder of all of this, watch “I” below and pre-order a deluxe copy of Say Yes to Love over at Captured Tracks.