Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: intense

Pretty Pretty – Feels Like Rain (Stream)

prpr

Once again, the past few days have provided a decent amount of material making it difficult to figure out which to feature. Most notably, two vicious post-punk numbers from the likes of Cycle Schmeichel and BODY. The former is full of a restlessness that aids Cycle Schmeichel’s wiry post-punk tendencies well, while the latter is a foreboding piece of hard-charging, rapidly-building tension characterized by nervousness before allowing an exhilarating release. Both are among the best songs to have come out of this month thus far- and September’s already seen two of the strongest weeks for new music this year. On top of both of those, Pretty Pretty finally released their Sweater Leather 7″ tracks via their bandcamp, which they’d previously teased with the sugar-coated title trackSweater Leather not only manages to live up to the promise of that initial look but occasionally surpasses it, including “Feels Like Rain”- the closing track.

While “Feels Like Rain” isn’t quite as hard-charging as the trio of tracks that come before it (including easy standout “You Say“), it does manage to act as a perfect finale piece’ it summarizes nearly everything that precede that moment while serving as a reminder of Pretty Pretty’s specific strengths. From the call-and-response vocals to the vintage 90’s crunch in the guitar tones, it’s difficult not to see “Feels Like Rain”- and Pretty Pretty, by extension- for what it is: a perfect slice of sun-splashed punk-leaning popwerpop. There’s an underlying intelligence in the song’s composition that reveals itself in the details; the light riffing before the main guitar part kicks in, the subtly clever lyrics, and the general dynamics all point towards Pretty Pretty being a band that takes their songwriting very seriously. Fortunately, their efforts pay off in full and make Sweater Weather one of the more memorable 7″ releases of the year.

Listen to “Feels Like Rain” below and keep an eye on both Let’s Pretend and Mandible for the impending release of the physical copy.

Perfect Pussy – Leash Called Love (Stream)

Perfect Pussy XXXIV

For better or worse, Perfect Pussy has become inextricably linked to this site. Vocalist Meredith Graves was one of the first to know that it existed- and that’s no mistake. There’s a courageousness that both she and the rest of Perfect Pussy exhibit frequently in regards to topics that deserve to be talked about far more often. Whether it’s the name itself calling awareness to some of the more inherent problems of pornography, the infuriating persecution of femininity, the overwhelming lack of diversity present in today’s most celebrated music, the trials of both depression and body image, or the emphasis on individuality, they’re always willing to be vocally active about taking the most humane stand. There’s a no-nonsense, no-tolerance policy on any institution or school of thought promoting unjust oppression that attracted me to the band as it was something I wanted to incorporate and endorse on Heartbreaking Bravery. With Graves at the center, it only made sense to reach out to her after this site began- which wound up leading to what is still this site’s first and only interview piece (where, coincidentally, their split with Joanna Gruesome was first announced). After all, her band was a very explicit part of what inspired this place’s existence.

Since then, I’ve followed them to Chicago, Minneapolis, and Toronto, seen them play to crowds of 30 people and more than 3,000. I’ve abandoned my exclusion rule on first-person narratives specifically for them because the only way that I feel I can properly define their music is by my personal reactions to it. There’s a naked honesty to the band that hinges on Graves’ devastatingly impressive lyrical prowess but is enforced in full by the sonic brutality that surrounds them. Prose is met with raw power and neither lack immediacy or longevity, meaning that not only do the band’s values line up with this sites- their music is a perfect fit for what Heartbreaking Bravery tends to celebrate most emphatically. In a sense, they’ve become extended family and it’s been a privilege to watch them grow as this site has progressed alongside them.

All of that said, it only feels right to forego another general rule-of-thumb and shine a light on their recent Sugarcubes cover. It’s technically their first properly released cover as a full band, considering the still-outstanding “Candy’s Room” take was delivered by an abbreviated lineup of the band who rounded themselves out with outside help. Their are similarities between that cover and this stunning take on “Leash Called Love”, with Graves’ lightly distorted (and sweetly sung) vocals playing perfectly alongside a propulsive bed of noise that occasionally borders the irreverent, in essence becoming a note-perfect homage to both Sugarcubes and Björk in general. In a months-old text, Graves explained to me that during this particular recording she had no voice after four months of touring and was unable to hit any of the notes- the strain doesn’t show, though, and “Leash Called Loves” is the band’s breeziest work date, coming off as both light and sounding impressively effortless while still packing one hell of a punch. With Joanna Gruesome being the band on the other side of the split, the release is coming into its own after Perfect Pussy’s reveal, considering that they too have now managed to intertwine a sense of twee and fierce noise with both precision and panache.

In a tried-and-true fashion, four of the members of Perfect Pussy allow themselves to cede into the background in favor of letting noise-master Shaun Sutkus manipulate the mood of the song, this time going for something intense and foreboding that re-contextualizes much of what came before it as Graves’ vocals get turned into a nightmarish, distorted ambient wall. It’s a jarring left turn that plays to the band’s penchant for subversion. Effectively breaking up the song into two halves, it’ll also go a long way in lending their side of the split an even more complete feel. With Joanna Gruesome’s “Psykick Espionage” now out in the world, it’s relatively safe to assume that this split will be among the best of the year and a must-own item thanks to not only the songs but Phil McAndrew’s incredible politically-minded artwork and his supplementary comic book that the split will ship with. As always, Captured Tracks will be responsible for Perfect Pussy’s side, and both Slumberland and Fortuna POP! will be representing Joanna Gruesome. All three labels will be going in together on the release, ensuring it the built-in audience that it deserves. If this doesn’t cement both Perfect Pussy and Joanna Gruesome as two of the best bands we currently have the honor of experiencing, I’m not sure what else possibly could.

Listen to “Leash Called Love” below and make sure to own a copy of the split as soon as that becomes a possibility.

Priests – Doctor (Stream)

Following a feature from The Washington Post, the fast-ascending Priests have dropped another track from their upcoming Don Giovanni debut, Bodies and Control and Money and Power. This follows the incendiary “Right Wing” and is just as off-the-rails as its predecessor. Sharp and serrated, it’s a thrillingly jagged manifest of frustration. In other words, it’s vintage Priests. Catchy beyond reason, the refrain “you put your fingers in other people’s mouths all day” teems with as much condescension as it does ambiguous sensuality. It’s a little abrasive, a little disconcerting, a little uncomfortable, and completely thrilling. Priests have always sounded best when they sounded like they’re diving towards a collision instead of away from it and “Doctor” may be the purest distillation of that to date. At this point, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Bodies and Control and Money and Power is going to be getting a lot of year-end press. Only two songs in and it’s already hard to argue against that. Get on board or get out of the way, this is happening.

Listen to “Doctor” below and hum it during virtually every future check-up.

Savages – Fuckers (Music Video)

Savages came out of an ominous mist last year and took everyone by surprise with a firm stranglehold on all the tastemaking sites for quite some time. Fortunately, for everyone, their stock hadn’t skyrocketed due to cheap PR ploys or novelty gimmicks; they earned their still-expanding level of admiration through sheer talent. It’s been exactly one year since Matador released Silence Yourself and the band’s deciding to celebrate with the release of the 12″ single “Fuckers” b/w a cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” (available via Matador/Pop Noire). The former of which now has an accompanying video built off and around stunning live footage. The band’s live sets have always been noted for being visually striking and the Giorgio Testi-directed clip plays that aspect for all its worth. “Fuckers”, on its own, is another triumph for the band- a cold-blooded 1o minute run that grows darker and more menacing as it goes along. For such a cold exterior, the lyrics are fairly warm and cautiously guide rather than berate. It offers a nice contrast that plays into the band’s aesthetic strengths. Put that together with the cinematic flourishes of the videos and it stands as a memorable piece of art.

Watch “Fuckers” below and give into its atmospheric magic.

First Quarter Finish (Mixtape)

hbb14

Well, Heartbreaking Bravery’s another 50 posts in, which means that it’s time for another mixtape- and the timing couldn’t be any better. As April springs forth, a new quarter begins and leaves the first part of the year behind, opening it up for examination. First Quarter Finish is a testament to the the startling strength of 2014’s first three months and is largely composed of music that’s been featured on this site. Perfect Pussy‘s “Driver” kicks things off in a typically frenzied fashion, reflecting the purpose of this collection as acutely as possible. Make no mistake, this is a batch of songs that traffic in very high intensity even in their quietest moments.

From tour-only tapes to standout cuts off early Album of the Year contenders like Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Here and Nowhere Else, and Rooms of the House to eerily hypnotic momentsderanged apathetic insanity, and a very long list of promising glimpses at upcoming records, it’s truly been a hell of a start and deserves celebration. Listen to the sounds of that celebration below (if the player is not appearing onscreen, it can also be accessed here).


TRACKLIST

1. Perfect Pussy – Driver
2. La Sera – Losing to the Dark
3. Cheap Girls – Knock Me Down
4. Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked
5. Crow Bait – 83
6. Big Air – Cemetery With A View
7. PAWS – Tongues
8. Brain F≠ – Sicks
9. Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m Giving Up On U2
10. Playlounge – Waves and Waves and Waves
11. Vertical Scratchers – Memory Shards
12. Angel Olsen – Forgiven/Forgotten
13. Silence Dogood – Chairman of the Bored
14. Priests – Right Wing
15. Green Dreams – Eye Contact
16. Fucked Up – Paper the House
17. Creepoid – Baptism
18. La Dispute – Woman (in Mirror)
19. Sleep Party People – In Another World
20. Odonis Odonis – Order in the Court
21. PILE – Special Snowflakes
22. Young Widows – King Sol
23. Protomartyr – Scum, Rise!
24. Technicolor Teeth – Tomb
25. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me