Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Infinity Girl

One Great Week, Five Great Songs

September got off to an exceptionally strong start, with the month already yielding incredible new songs from the following laundry list of artists: Lost Boy ?, Wand, Lina Tullgren, Miss World, Dead Leaf Echo, Danielle Luppi & Parquet Courts, Death By Unga Bunga, Queen of Swords, Trudy and the RomanceSLØTFACE, Partner, Suno Deko, Gleemer, TFS, After Hours Radio, Prawn, Mal Devisa, Field Medic, Ryan Koenig, Raleigh, Tough Age, Mt. Doubt, Havah, Moses Sumney, Infinity Girl, Heaters, The Fluids, Ora Corgan (x2), Aiming for Enrike, SLONK, Sales, Earl Grey, St. Vincent, Gun Outfit, Rostam, Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Helio Sequence, Happy Hollows, and Silver Torches.

Somehow, despite the unreal amount of incredible tracks in that treasure trove, that was still just scratching the tip of the iceberg. Below were the five songs that leapt out most from an embarrassment of riches. Most of the names are familiar and some are acts in the midst of welcome resurgences. All of them are worth turning on and turning up, so push the volume levels up and go exploring. Enjoy.

1. Sports – Making It Right

A short while ago, Sports were hinting that their run might be over following the release of their excellent All of Something. Fortunately, as “Making It Right” makes abundantly clear, that wound up not being the case. They may even allude to that false alarm with the clever “you’re calling my bluff” line. In a little over 100 seconds, Sports proves that they’re not just back but that they’re at the absolute top of their game.

2. Slaughter Beach, Dog – Fish Fry

As Slaughter Beach, Dog, Modern Baseball‘s Jake Ewald has been releasing music that’s been on par with — or threatening to outstrip — that of his main vehicle. “”Fish Fry” is yet another deeply absorbing entry into Ewald’s solo discography. Characteristically unassuming, “Fish Fry” is as sharp as anything Ewald’s released. Putting the modern day ennui of young adulthood under the microscope, the loneliness on display in”Fish Fry” almost sounds romantic before the reality of it all sets in and it just comes across as painfully sad, enhancing the song’s already magnetic pull.

3. Magic Potion – Rest Yr Skull 

Magic Potion already have a quality EP and LP to their name and have only improved over time. The Rest Yr Skull 7″ is the next release on the table and the band have anchored it with the title track. Like a lot of bands on the consistently outstanding PNKSLM roster, the band pulls the majority of their influences from slacker punk and slacker pop movement of the ’90s, advancing the aesthetic with something intangibly modern. “Rest Yr Skull” is as fine of an example of that formula as anyone’s likely to hear all year, a charming slice of driving basement pop with an irresistible melody.

4. Bad History Month – Being Nothing

For a time, it looked as if Bad History Month may have disappeared for good. Luckily, “Being Nothing” arrived last week to dissuade anyone from that notion. A career highlight in a fascinating and deeply inventive discography, “Being Nothing” fully celebrates the oddities that have made the project’s past releases so essential. Folk-informed, noise-damaged, and utterly arresting, “Being Nothing” could not have come from anyone else. Psychedelic overtones push one of the most defiantly nonconformist songs of 2017 to even greater heights. It’s unmissable.

5. Radiator Hospital – Pastoral Radio Hit

“Pastoral Radio Hit” is the second glimpse at the forthcoming record from site favorites Radiator Hospital, whose “Dance Number” clip cracked the recent top 10 list for August. The song’s hard-charging at first blush, full of restraint at second, and brilliantly explores the dichotomy between the two at third. It’s an endlessly fascinating piece of music that lives up to its title and confirms that Radiator Hospital’s forthcoming Play The Songs You Like will be one of their discography’s most adventurous entries. Turn it up, put it on repeat, and find a new thing to love each time it winds to a close.

Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Music Video)

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After a relatively slow start, the Tuesday push of new releases saw the content push rapidly accelerating and left us with a little under three dozen items to cover. Once again, there were some strong full streams from great artists like Infinity Girl, Modern Merchant, Wild Moth, Peterborough Pirates, and The Invisible Strings (as well as the 16th LAMC split, this time between La Luz and Scully). A handful of great music videos made their way out into the world, coming from acts like Potty Mouth, Findlay Brown, The Good Life, Django Django, Sea of Bees, Whitewash, and Floating Points. Then, of course, came the slew of single streams that included outstanding new entries from a field consisting of no less than Spencer RadcliffeLow, Small Black, Sudakistan, Farao, Kevin Devine (covering The Cure), Varsity, Amanda X, Hurry Up, Blonde Summer, Library Voices, Antibodies, Active Bird Community, and Protomartyr. It was a lot to take in and literally everything linked above, as always, is worth checking out- but today’s focus falls to a name new to most but familiar to me: Mike Krol.

For years, Krol’s been involved with the DIY punk scene in the upper Midwest and found himself in frequent collaboration with the tragically under-appreciated (and sadly defunct) Minneapolis-via-Madison act Sleeping in the Aviary. It’s a collaboration that continues today (several of the band’s former members play on Krol’s upcoming Merge debut Turkey), which probably isn’t surprising considering how frequently they toured together (Sleeping in the Aviary was Krol’s backing band on more than one occasion) and the fact that Sleeping in the Aviary literally dedicated a song to Krol in its title on one of the best split 7″ records of the 2000’s.

Already a few great releases into his career, Krol’s deal with Merge has ensured a lot more eyes will be trained on his next few moves and so far, the songwriter hasn’t disappointed. After “This Is the News“, Turkey‘s fiery as hell lead-off track, it was abundantly clear that Krol’s wielding more power than ever- and doing it with an almost vengeful force. For his latest feat, he’s enlisted Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu to direct a screwball clip for Turkey highlight “Neighborhood Watch”. Adopting a vocal approach that has some uncanny similarities to Davey Jones of Lost Boy ? makes “Neighborhood Watch” sound immediately familiar (and endlessly enjoyable) on record, it’s the clip that pushes it over the edge. Emphasizing Krol’s penchant for irreverence and incorporating a barrage of winking edits, “Neighborhood Watch” infuses itself with enough self-effacing slapstick to make it one of 2015’s more enjoyable outings. For some tongue-in-cheek humor and yet another genuinely great song, this one’s going to be hard to beat.

Watch “Neighborhood Watch” below and pre-order Turkey from Merge here.

All Dogs – How Long (Stream)

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As was mentioned in the preceding post, this has been a characteristically enormous week for new music and music videos (at least as far as 2015’s concerned). It makes sense, then, that the most traditionally packed main category (single streams) would log the most outstanding entries. All of the songs that caught my ears or piqued my interest have been hyperlinked below this post’s featured song- All Dogs‘ stunning “How Long”. The third song to be officially released from the band’s forthcoming full-length, Kicking Every Day, “How Long” continues their drastic expansion of dynamic range.

As has been previously noted, the dynamic shift was sparked by two crucial elements: the addition of ex-NONA guitarist Nick Harris and the retooling of the actual songwriting process, allowing the band to collaborate on a much more extensive level. Leading the charge, as always, is Maryn Jones, an enviably gifted songwriter that’s perfected an unshakable blend of humility, honesty, and yearning that can be absolutely devastating. Jones and Harris’ guitar work across all of the tracks in Kicking Every Day‘s rollout campaign have been nothing short of miraculous. Understated, complementary, and intuitive, their instrumental work has managed to maintain a surprisingly emotional heft that only deepens the inherent sadness that permeates the bulk of Jones’ discography (something also exhibited in her work with Saintseneca– who also have a forthcoming record this year- and as Yowler, a project that released a full-length earlier in 2015).

Backed by the rhythm section of Amanda Bartley (bass) and Jesse Wither (drums), all of All Dogs’ songs gain an intimidating set of teeth. Bruised and bristling, the band dives headfirst into Jones’ damaged introspection with a commendable fearlessness, amplifying a deeply personal struggle of self-worth. Putting herself under the knife, Jones is merciless in her meticulous scrutiny of her own value. In Fader’s premiere of the song, Jones issued a statement about “How Long” was “an extended question about when [she] would stop hating [herself].” It takes bravery to acknowledge your own faults and even more to do so on an extremely public level but in a recent conversation I was fortunate enough to have with Jones after Saintseneca’s impressive performance at Baby’s All Right, she revealed that the process of writing and playing music has been deeply therapeutic.

Fortunately, Jones’ self-loathing is given a celebratory tint with a positive angle when framed in the greater context of All Dogs’ work and there’s a very palpable love for their craft that’s continuously evidenced by their breathtaking live show(s). Every now and then, that euphoric swell comes through in their most climactic moments and “How Long” boasts a few particularly great examples. As Jones stretches out and reaches for an answer in those explosive choruses, it’s almost as if the answer’s intangible and not an actual destination- rather, it’s something gleaned by the journey. While it may ultimately be a bittersweet path, at least it’s one shared in the company of genuinely supportive friends. It’s this particular dynamic that makes All Dogs a viable candidate for today’s best band; a willingness to fully explore life’s darkest corners but always retaliate against them while rallying around their central figure with unbridled force, grace, and determination. It’s also what makes “How Long” this week’s finest track.

Listen to “How Long” below and pre-order Kicking Every Day from Salinas here. Underneath the player, browse through a list of the week’s best songs. Enjoy.

PWR BTTM – Dairy Queen
Grape St. – Sharp Dressed Man
Helen – Violet
Big Air – Stay the Night
Alex G – Bug
Jacuzzi Boys – Sun
Wavves – Heavy Metal Detox
Majical Cloudz – Silver Car Crash
Blank Realm – Palace of Love
Timmy’s Organism – Get Up, Get Out
Destroyer – Times Square
Dialect – Chewing Springs/Quietly in the House
Fern Mayo – Going Somewhere
Amy Bezunartea – Oh The Things A Girl Must Do
Kindling – Hate the Police
Scully – Don’t Want That
Tempers – Undoing
Lucero – Can’t You Hear Them Howl
Aneurysm – Stop This Ride
Chance the Rapper & Noname Gypsy – Israel (Sparring)
Ausmuteants – Mates Rates
Numero Group – Spirit Darts
Tideland – All I Know
Thee AHs – John
Palm – Crank
together PANGEA – If You’re Scared
Doe – No Wonder
Gracie – Jesse
Frankie Broyles – Capturer
Marineros – Secretos
Century Palm – Valley Cyan
Threading – Never
Infinity Girl – Young
Last Good Tooth – Our Little Machine
Lost Film – Try
Thayer Sarrano – Touch My Face
Aircraft – Stick
The High Learys – Letter to Alice
Wild Moth – You Found Out
Surf Rock Is Dead – Anymore
Modern Merchant – Be That As It May

Heat – This Life (Music Video)

heat

This summer, Thursday’s have offered up a glut of outstanding material vying for coverage and today’s field was no different. Since there are nearly two dozen titles to touch on, they’ll be listed by virtue of artist and the represented format before moving onto the featured item. As usual, the single streams category proved to have the most productive release slate and included great new tracks from Hazel English, Sleepy, Infinity Girl, The Chills, Dark Palms, Wavves, Night Flowers, Willis Earl BealBlank Realms, and Air Waves. Music videos found some entertaining life via clips from Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Pet Cemetery, Kalle Mattson, Pink Frost, The Atom Age, and Pearl Charles. Topping everything off was a strong group of full releases that included releases from Worriers, Nice Legs, Fox Academy, Fog Lake, Suis La Lune, and Two White Cranes.

A lot of those band names are new to the site and Heat, who have today’s feature spot, are yet another new addition. Still riding high on the surge of last year’s excellent- and overlooked- Rooms EP, the band are now offering up a stark black-and-white clip for the release’s lead-off track. Using a minimalist approach to the visuals, director Jimmi Francoeur takes a few cues from some of Anton Corbijn’s formative work to create a sleek, engaging performance-sync clip. A room setup that’s clever in both construction and lighting lends an air of sophistication to the visually striking clip, while still allowing the bulk of the emphasis to fall on “This Life” itself, a punk-indebted powerpop number that cribs influences from a variety of other genres and sculpts it into something that manages to be both familiar and refreshing. In short: it’s a knockout from a band that deserves more attention than they’ve received.

Watch “This Life” below and pick up Rooms here.

Rebecca Ryskalczyk – We’re Brothers (Demo Stream)

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A lot’s happened over the past few days; some coverage has been delayed due to a duo of outstanding live shows. One of those shows (Jason Isbell’s incredible, moving set at Prospect Park earlier tonight) won’t receive a mention on this site beyond what was just written. The other, an intimate all-acoustic rooftop affair spearheaded by site favorite Johanna Warren, will surface in a visual spread sometime in the very near future. With both of those now in the past, it’s time to bring the site back up to the current release cycle.

In the interest of time, the artists that had interesting releases throughout the three main formats (single stream, full stream, and music video) will simply be listed without explanation as to what’s attached to their name. The vast majority of these were released two days ago and all of them are worth the click. Life’s surprising sometimes, so why not embrace the opportunity to provide a low-level risk and high-level payoff? There were the artists responsible for those treasures: Infinity Girl, HSY, O, Rrest, Futurebirds, Slonk Donkerson, Say Hi, Chelsea Wolfe, Steep Leans (x2), Cold Specks, Here We Go Magic, and EZTV.

Today’s feature piece actually comes from a few weeks back but hasn’t really shown up anywhere outside of its own release. It comes from the solo project of Bethlehem Steel‘s driving voice, Rebecca Ryskalcyzk. While the emerging songwriter’s still playing shows with her own vehicle, she’s also generously offering two new songs under her own name. Released under the title We’re Brothers, the pair of songs are arresting bare-bones guitar/vocal demos that have something inherently special happening at their core.

While it’s difficult to describe what exactly that is, it’s painfully obvious when the songs are in motion. “Brain Drugs” starts the small collection off and immediately sets the tone for what’s to follow; haunted, lo-fi, folk-leaning tapestries that seem to be settling in with their own demons rather than pushing for an escape. As mesmerizing as it is downtrodden, “Brain Drugs”- the opening track- is an intensely arresting piece of work that sets up the latter number perfectly (while also recalling, both in style and tone, one of the year’s best covers).

“Other Otters” follows, maintaining the deeply bruised feeling that lent its predecessor an acute sense of devastation. It’s a jarring sequence that drives a knife home in a powerful couplet towards the end: “the less I try/the more I’m terrified”- a perfect summation of a potentially damaging penchant for indecision. Ryskalyczk riddles both songs with a series of gut-punches that seem to be rooted in life’s minutiae while still managing to keep an eye on the big picture. It’s an impressive feat and an even more impressive collection.

Towards the bottom of Ryskalczyk’s bandcamp page that hosts this release, there’s a disclaimer that these songs will be “re-recorded for something more” and when that release rolls around, it’ll likely be worth a slew of purchases. Until they do surface, though, these demos carry more than enough weight to approach an unlikely perfection.

Listen to We’re Brothers below and pick it up over on bandcamp. Keep an eye on this site for more updates on both Ryskalyczk and Bethlehem Steel.

Royal Headache – High (Stream)

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Before jumping into the songs that have emerged over the past two days (& in subsequent posts, the material that’s surfaced over the past week), I’d like to start by issuing an apology to anyone that’s checked this space expecting new material recently (and, in a way, to the expectations I set for myself). I’m in the middle of navigating a move from the middle of Wisconsin to Brooklyn, so coverage will be more sporadic than usual. Once the move’s been established, though, the landscape will be a lot more vibrant than it has been in the past; everything will even out eventually. I’m not here to dwell on exposition, though, I’m here to share the things- on this specific occasion, songs from the past two days- that caught my attention.

The Hussy’s “Appleseeds” provided a blistering reintroduction to one of Wisconsin’s best bands while “Bill Murray” continued theweaselmartenfisher‘s quiet output of the kind of brilliant writing that makes him one of the state’s best songwriters. There were a handful of artists that produced sterling ambient-leaning tracks, including MAS YSA, XYLØ, Ancient Ocean, and Sitcom while Tokyo Police Club member Dave Monks and  held down the mid-tempo terrain (with “The Rules” and “Slower Now“, respectively). Territory a bit more harsh was dominated by Infinity Girl, Dope Body, Buck Biloxi and the Fucks, and Empty Flowers. All of those songs, as always, are worth several listens, but this post’s feature belongs to the return of Royal Headache.

After unleashing one of the more impassioned debuts of recent memory, Royal Headache hit a snag. Their vocalist, Shogun, announced his intentions to quit the band. The rest of Royal Headache agreed under the stipulation that shogun stay to complete their second album. A tour’s forthcoming but at this point, the band’s living out an epilogue. If “High” is anything to go by, that epilogue may be more exhilarating than virtually all of the preceding content. I’ll admit, “Down the Lane” ranks among my all-time favorite songs (and Royal Headache will always have a valued place in my collection) but “High” doesn’t seem to be a static title; it’s a statement about the band’s creativity level while it extends its bittersweet death rattle.

“High” opens with an emphasis on a slightly cleaned-up production aesthetic, replete with swirling organs and a pulse-accelerating dynamic. Shogun launches off into what comes off as something approaching a mantra, providing an unavoidable clarity in regards to his feelings for an unnamed central character. As gritty as the verse winds up being, it’s when the chorus erupts into a full bloom that “High’ transcends genre limitations to become something genuinely breathtaking. Just as suddenly as it appears, the exquisite guitar work dissolves back into the pedal-to-the-floor hum of its verse sections. As it jumps back and forth, “High” establishes a surprisingly taut- and subtle- level of tension while simultaneously careening off into an otherworldly catharsis. It’s not just one of the band’s finest works; it’s one of the best songs of 2015.

Listen to “High” below and pre-order High from What’s Your Rupture? here.