Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Jeff Burke

The 10 Best Music Videos of August

August blew threw 2017 with no hesitation and left an enormous pile of exceedingly great material in its wake. This post will key in on the ten best music videos to be released over that period of time (with the first week shaved off and a few days of September tacked on). A lot of site favorites make appearances below but a new name or two found a way to make a splash. Each of those artists and clips has earned the praise they’ve been given or are about to receive. 2o17’s been overflowing with great clips and these are only adding to the year’s abundant strength. Dive in and go exploring.

Mike Krol – Fifteen Minutes

Over the past several years, Mike Krol has made a habit out of reveling in the playfully sardonic. Turkey, Krol’s astonishing breakthrough record — and first release for Merge — laid those groundworks bare. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Krol’s next step was to go back in time, re-release his first two records (cult staples among a very specific sect of the DIY punk crowd) and make a bizarre, tongue-in-cheek music video starring a mannequin for a song that came out six years ago. It’s perfectly Krol.

Weaves – Walkaway

Weaves‘ self-titled was one of the best records of the past few years and the band’s been making good on that momentum that release generated with their advance singles for their forthcoming release. “Walkaway”, the most recent, is anthemic, empowering, and has the kind of staying power to remain on the college airwaves for years to come. The song also now boasts a beautiful clip featuring the band getting a touch of aggression out in a sweeping field. It’s a striking video that somehow manages to make the song feel even more titanic than usual.

Lost Balloons – Noose

One of 2017’s best surprises thus far has been the duo Lost Balloons who feature the talents of Jeff Burke and Yusuke Okada, two names a large handful of people in both America and Japan should already have memorized. The project’s debut effort, Hey Summer, was the type of unassuming basement pop record that tends to stick longer in people’s minds than most would expect and they’ve granted one of that album’s best songs a beautiful animated clip in “Noose”. It’s a gorgeous tapestry that’s worth admiring.

Radiator Hospital – Dance Number

It’s been a while since Radiator Hospital released their incredible Torch Song so news of a new record was incredibly welcome. Even better: the announcement came on the back of the release of this charmingly straightforward clip for the characteristically excellent “Dance Number”, which renews the case for Sam Cook-Parrott as one of this generation’s most emotionally affecting lyricists. Poignant, bittersweet, and undeniably catchy, it’s a great song bolstered by a surprisingly effective video.

Charly Bliss – DQ

No band’s name has appeared on this site more over the past two years than Charly Bliss. The band’s recently-released Guppy went a long way in ensuring their prominence and a handful of excellent clips and performances kept their name in the rotation. “DQ” now joins their ranks, standing as one of the band’s most playful — and personal — videos. Guitarist/vocalist Eva Hendricks co-directed the clip alongside Andrew Costa (who helmed quite a few of the band’s other videos), which features everything from trampolines to cows to football sleds to a dog that’s great at playing dead. As is always the case with the band, it’s an absolute blast and surprisingly hard to forget.

Kielo – Radiate

A while back Kielo released an absolutely breathtaking song/video combination in “In Water” and the Laura Schultz-led project has now doubled down on that measure with the spellbinding “Radiate”. Comprised largely of photography-centric cinematography, the clip allows the song to be elevated by calming visuals, creating an effect that’s both warm and inescapable. It’s a genuinely gorgeous thing to behold and deserves all of the views and listens that can possibly come its way.

Bully – Feel the Same

One of the more invigorating acts of the past few years, Bully have shown virtually no signs of slowing down. The band’s also growing a little more confrontational, as evidenced by their nearly-antagonistic clip for “Feel the Same”, which features nothing but a balloon expanding in a darkened empty room until it starts leaking a stream of yellow liquid. As simple as it is, the imagery is incredibly hard to shake and the concept sticks. It’s bold, it’s abrasive, and it fits the band like a glove.

Julia Louise – Brat

A new name to Heartbreaking Bravery, Julia Louise somehow managed to evade this site’s radar over the past few years. Still, it’s hard to imagine the songwriter could’ve had a better introduction-at-large than the clip for “Brat”, a song that subverts the limitations of emo and standard pop-punk to mesmerizing effect. Aided by strong visuals, a charismatic central performance from Louise and a sense of conviction, “Brat” is the sound (and look) of an artist coming fully into their own.

Fog Lake – Rattlesnake

Last year Fog Lake‘s “Rattlesnake” slithered its way into at least one best-of list that ran on this site. The song’s proven to have legitimate staying power and has now been granted a beautiful visual accompaniment. Calm, a little eerie, and deeply empathetic, “Rattlesnake” follows a man as he explores New York City, alone and content to wander. It’s incredibly affecting and stirs up a genuine, intangible reaction by simply disallowing the constraints of a discernible narrative and opting to focus on the emotional pull at the crux of being at home and separated from that home all at the same time.

See Through Dresses – Lucy’s Arm

A few months ago, See Through Dresses played an incendiary set as an opener for Charly Bliss in Minneapolis. The highlight of their set came via an impassioned run through “Lucy’s Arm”, a clear standout from their exceptional Horse of the Other World. The band’s wisely decided to go ahead and give the song the music video treatment, a decision that’s resulted in an arresting black-and-white clip with minimal effects. It’s a surprisingly effective clip that serves as an honorable testament to the song’s overwhelming power.

Seven Weeks, Fifteen Songs

This post will mark the last of the coverage overhaul necessitated by the seven week hiatus from regular coverage. Records have been covered, music videos have been covered, and a song and a pair of music videos have received standalone posts. Below are the 15 songs that stood out more than any others over that seven week time period and come from all sorts of sources and elicit all sorts of responses. Whether’s it’s the characteristically driving basement pop of Radioactivity or the hushed melancholy of Florist, there’s a lot on display. So quit waiting, jump in, and find a new favorite song. Enjoy.

1. Radioactivity – Sleep 

Every project Jeff Burke‘s been involved in over the past decade has demonstrated the man’s a singular songwriter with an enviable gift. One of Burke’s more recent projects, Radioactivity (pictured above), has at least one Album of the Decade contender under their belt and continues to press forward with the kind of propulsive momentum that drives most of their songs. “Sleep” is a perfect example of that dynamic, a miraculous slice of basement pop that reasserts Burke as one of the genre’s all-time greats.

2. Birdskulls – Over It

Few labels are amassing a discography as consistently impressive — or prolific — as Art Is Hard. Birdskulls‘ “Over It”, one of the labels latest offerings, goes a long way in solidifying Art Is Hard’s status at the forefront of the DIY-leaning punk world. A song that perfectly marries basement pop with basement punk, “Over It” comes overflowing with memorable hooks, biting attitude, and worn aesthetics typical of a band destined for a feverishly loyal following. Leave it on repeat.

3. Honeyrude – Flowers

“Flowers” has been in Honeyrude‘s back pocket since 2015 but the band’s recent upheaval and re-release of the song as part of The Color Blue pays massive dividends in practice. Louder, cleaner, bolder, and more refined, “Flowers” is allowed to fully bloom, exceeding its early potential. It’s a gorgeous moment from a band that continues to impress, its shoegaze inflections perfectly suited to the band’s identity. Warm and towering, it’s likely to stand as the band’s career highlight for some time.

4. Strange Relations – Say You

One of the small handful of bands on this list with a long-standing connection to this site, Strange Relations have been furthering themselves with each successive step they’ve taken. The band recently opened for Charly Bliss in Minneapolis and unveiled a lot of new material, including the brooding, kinetic “Say You”, one of the set’s many highlights. Since their past release, Strange Relations have grown more aggressive, more ambitious, and into a more fascinating band. “Say You” is definitive proof.

5. Dead Stars – Pink Clouds

Several years into a remarkably consistent career, Dead Stars have established themselves as one of the most reliable bands currently mining a ’90s slacker punk influence to great effect. Even with a whole host of outstanding songs to claim as their own, “Pink Clouds” manages to stand out. Easily a career high point for the band, the hard-charging number surpasses the most tantalizing  heights of their earlier work while staying true to the ethos and identity that made them so memorable in the first place.

6. Walter Etc. – April 41st

Walter Etc. has spent the past few months putting out a small string of impressive songs with “April 41st” being the crown jewel of the lot. A laid-back mid-tempo basement pop number that embraces carefree relaxation, the song still manages to find an impressive momentum by playing directly to its lackadaisical tendencies. Near non sequitur’s and a comfortably dazed narrative elevate the song’s aesthetic to strange heights and the best thing anyone could do is let its calm, unhurried spell take over completely.

7. Basement Revolver – Tree Trunks

2017’s already been overly generous in terms of memorable ballads, churning out some of the decade’s best over the first 2/3s of the year. Among those gems sits Basement Revolver‘s gorgeous “Tree Trunks”, a shoegaze-leaning piece of minimalist post-punk. Pop melodies and wiry instrumentation combine to hypnotic effect, while the production of the song’s second half propel it to stratospheric heights.

8. Pinact – Separate Ways

After a three-year wait, Pinact are back and sounding stronger than ever on “Separate Ways”. Bridging the gap between basement pop and pop-punk in exhilarating fashion, the song clamps its teeth down on a surging sense of momentum and finds a way to guide itself to a triumphant finish. It’s easily among the band’s finest work and bodes extremely well for what their future might  have in store. Youthful, vibrant, vicious, and more than a little fun, it’s an unlikely summer anthem.

9. Paul Westerberg – Hawk Ripping At Your Throat

A mysterious song surfaced on Soundcloud a few weeks back from an artist’s page listed as “User 964848511”. Closer inspection revealed it to be Paul Westerberg, operating in the same lo-fi mode that defined the earliest work of his most famous band, The Replacements. Unlike that early work though, “Hawk Ripping at Your Throat” is characterized by a somber, almost foreboding atmosphere. Slow, creeping, and full of white-knuckle suspense, it’s a potent reminder of Westerberg’s legendary talent.

10. Lomelda – Interstate Vision

Lomelda‘s next album will be the project’s first for the impressively consistent — and consistently excellent — Double Double Whammy label. One of the first looks at that record came via the gorgeous “Interstate Vision”, a gentle mid-tempo number with a muted sense of grandeur and a near-cinematic sweep. It’s a lovely song that plays up the projects strongest aesthetic choices as well as emphasizing an unassuming mastery of songwriting. By the track’s end, it’s easy to wish it hadn’t come to a close.

11. SOAR – Fatigue

Last year, SOAR managed to make a strong impression with the material that they were releasing. It seems that their momentum has carried over into 2017 and allowed the band to grow even more emboldened as “Fatigue” — their latest — is as hard-charging and unapologetic as anyone could have hoped. “Fatigue” also plays up their pop sensibilities to great effect, while continuing to mire it in coats of both grit and attitude. It’s a charming track and deserves a whole slew of listens.

12. En Route – I Am the Problem

One of 2017’s most outstanding small releases came recently via En Route’s then is a song EP, another strong record from a growing line of projects working in the space that allows for a happy marriage between bedroom pop and basement punk. “I Am the Problem” was the song chosen to tease the EP and it was an incredibly effective choice as the song carves out a memorable identity for En Route. All of the decisions here, while understated, serve to elevate a legitimately great song from a new band worth knowing.

13. Baby! – If I’m Sorry

Baby! has been releasing a string of ridiculously enticing singles over the past few months and “If I’m Sorry” is the best of an extremely tantalizing lot. Equal parts sweet and biting, “If I’m Sorry” is another mid-tempo slice of quiet perfection from a band that seems to be gearing up for bigger things. Every song they’ve released has been utterly captivating and “If I’m Sorry” takes that facet of their music to new levels. Winsome, pensive, and oddly uplifting, it cements Baby! as one of 2017’s most pleasant surprises.

 

14. Madeline Kenney – Always

For more than a few years, Madeline Kenney has been carving out a place into today’s pantheon of emerging acts who have a genuine shot at their work being not only remembered but coveted after they’ve relaxed into retirement. “Always” is not only another strong indicator of that end goal but the strongest work of Kenney’s career to date. Three and a half minutes of arresting dynamics, clever arrangements, perfect production, and outstanding songwriting. It’s a song that’ll always be worth keeping around.

15. Florist – What I Wanted to Hold

Last year, Florist released one of the year’s finest EPs in The Birds Outside Sang and they’re already gearing up for the release of what looks to be one of this year’s finest full-lengths, If Blue Could Be Happiness. “What I Wanted to Hold” is the song kicking off the roll out campaign for the record and it’s a stunner. In keeping with the band’s best work, “If I Wanted to Hold” is a delicate, wintry number that’s enhanced by its own fragility. Sincere, vulnerable, and searching, it’s one of the year’s most breathtaking songs.

The Seven Best Full Streams of the Past Three Weeks

Songs and music videos have had their turn in the spotlight so it’s time to shift the focus towards full streams. A stray EP or two and a handful of full-lengths have emerged over the past three week stretch that have managed to make a significant impression. A few fresh faces combined with a host of site staples to create the list, which features a few emergent acts alongside some established names. Exciting debuts brush up against spirited reaffirmations of talent and, in the end, we all win. Take a beat and make a mental note to make sure none of these records go unheard in the coming weeks. Dive in and enjoy. 

Poppies – Good

One of the most promising emerging bands in music, Poppies keep finding new ways to improve upon a growing, riveting discography. Both Double Single and “Told” were exceptional and the band’s music videos have been compelling. Good is the young project’s first statement release and it should go a long way in establishing them as the tantalizing act they’ve been from the outset. All five of Good‘s songs could reasonably called a highlight and continue the band’s unlikely run at unassuming perfection. Basement pop shot through with just a touch of twee, Good‘s perfectly suited for summer and seems destined to become part of the season’s 2017 soundtrack.

Palehound – A Place I’ll Always Go

Palehound have proved their salt on more than a few occasions now, amassing one outstanding record after another and cultivating one of the most inventive, outstanding discographies of any emergent act. A Place I’ll Always Go does the band’s new label, Polyvinyl, more than proud; it’s, by far, the best of the band’s records, which is no mean feat considering the company that it keeps. Nearly every song here registers as a career highlight and in “If You Met Her” the band invokes the defeated, melancholic spirit of Elliott Smith (never a comparison to be made lightly). Start to end, it’s an absolute triumph that easily ranks as one of 2017’s finest musical moments.

Corridor – Supermacado

More than four years into an increasingly promising career, Corridor have been restlessly perfecting their brand of skittering post-punk and sharpening it into a deadly weapon. Supermacado, the band’s latest record, serves as proof. Virtually every track on the record offers something different and the music is more than powerful enough to transcend any language barriers. It’s a masterful record from a band that seemingly refuses to do anything but improve. A fine problem to have, especially when it yields results as engaging and captivating as Supermacado. One of 2017’s most pleasant surprises, Supermacado is a strong enough record to warrant committing the name Corridor to memory.

Big Thief – Capacity

Masterpiece was one of last year’s finest records and definitively put Big Thief on the map. A little over a year later, the band’s already released an astonishing follow-up in Capacity, a towering work that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with their reputation-making debut. Not only did the band prove their consistency with Capacity, they delivered one of the most breathtakingly beautiful tracks of this current decade in “Mary“, a spellbinding meditation on longing and understanding the importance of the past. Hard-earned, weary, triumphant, resigned, burdened, and optimistic in turns, the band keeps their rustic sweep intact and delivers another masterful record.

Cool American – Infinite Hiatus

Earlier this year, Cool American released an incredible compilation of tracks entitled better luck next year vol 2: good job nice try, which remains one of the year’s best releases. Nathan Tucker, the brains behind Cool American, may have already topped it with Infinite Hiatus, the project’s most recent full-length. An inventive, energetic record full of sharp turns and exhilarating dynamic structures cements Tucker’s place as one of today’s most fascinating songwriters. Infinite Hiatus combines bedroom pop with basement punk in a manner more seamless than just about any record attempting a similar combination. Buoyed by Tucker’s distinct personality, Infinite Hiatus offers yet another reaffirmation that Cool American is one of the most consistent projects on the market.

Lexie – Record Time!

The involvement of Frankie Cosmos‘ mastermind Greta Kline in Lexie is bound to direct quite a bit of attention towards the band, which also includes two members of Warehouse. It’s also something of a comfort that Lexie sounds exactly like you’d expect: a more technically proficient and reverb-laden take on what Kline’s been accomplishing with Frankie Cosmos since day one. It’s not an empty recreation, though, the band manages to subvert expectations throughout Record Time! by offering a strain of wiry post-punk that comes as a pleasant surprise, allowing the record to feel varied enough to not only feel fresh but complete. Lightly subversive and characteristically gentle, Record Time! is sweet enough to warrant more than a few extra helpings.

Lost Balloons – Hey Summer

Jeff Burke and Yusuke Okada have made some serious names for themselves, playing in bands like The Marked Men, Suspicious Beasts, Radioactivity, and Blotto. Okada crafted his unimpeachable songwriting reputation in Japan while Burke cranked out a number of genre classics stateside. Both musicians excelled in crafting hyper-excitable basement pop laced with basement punk grit. The two recently joined forces to create Lost Balloons, a project that softens up their vicious attacks while retaining a significant amount of bite. Folk-inflected basement pop informed by decades worth of classic American music, Hey Summer is a record that’s as inviting as it is winsome. Both musicians should be proud to have it as part of their respective discographies.

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 7

PWR BTTM I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

The preceding galleries can be accessed via these links:

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4

Car Seat Headrest

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1

Radioactivity

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Music Video)

meatwave

It’s been an incredible week for new releases up to this point, so naturally it’s going out with a towering show of force. Fleurie’s glitchy Arrows EP and Craig Finn’s reinvigorated Faith in the Future provided the full streams with a memorable haul while Lou Barlow, Taxidermists, Dog Paper Submarine, and La Sera combined forces to ensure that the visual medium was extremely well-represented. Single songs had a jaw-dropping day yet again with two folk-heavy songs establishing themselves as unlikely song of the year contenders (Lost Balloons’ “Don’t Count On Me” and Futurebirds’ “Hotel Parties“, respectively) while also producing an extraordinary field that included highlights from Varsity, Shelf Life, Prison Whites, Dresses, Psychic Blood, The Intelligence, and Jacques Le Coque. In the middle of that whirlwind, site favorites Meat Wave also unveiled a stunning black-and-white clip for Delusion Moon highlight “Cosmic Zoo“.

A lot of words have been printed about Meat Wave on this site and that’s not a trend that’s likely to change; the band have been a steadfast part of my listening habits even before this site was brought into existence two years ago. The trio played our first showcase, were one of the only On the Up entries, and are responsible for the most-listened-to tape of my considerable collection. After approximately three years of yelling at people to listen to this band, a lot of them are finally starting to come around- a feat that’s no likely influenced by their new home, SideOneDummy. Now with the release of their forthcoming record- the fierce Delusion Moon– swiftly approaching, the band are offering up a video for one of its strongest moments: “Cosmic Zoo”. Andrew Robert Morrison once again takes the reins for the clip and offers up what may be the band’s most effective video to date, eschewing any real plot-based narrative in favor of focusing on the band’s humanity. Interspersing live clips with clips of the trio hanging out with their friends, the crisp, classically composed shots (a few of which echo the work of Anton Corbijn) are injected with an abundance of life. Accelerating the subtle emotional pull of the approach is the song itself, which is as gripping as the clip. It’s another reminder of Meat Wave’s tenacity but it’s also a demonstration of their more modest sensibilities. In short: it’s perfect.

Watch “Cosmic Zoo” over at Nerdist (where it was premiered by A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor Nina Corcoran) and pre-order Delusion Moon from SideOneDummy ahead of its September 18 release date here. Revisit the majority of the band’s set from the first Heartbreaking Bravery showcase below.

 

Watch This: Vol. 25

As promised, here’s the second part of today’s Watch This double-headed. It’s decidedly more minimal than the last installment in terms of performance content (two of the videos featured here are solo performances) but the featured videos are just as impressive. Ranging from yet another video from Chart Attack’s coverage of the Sonic Boom Records jaw-dropping lineup for Record Store Day 2014 to another Exploding in Sound BreakThruRadio takeover feature, it’s one of the broader installments this series has ever offered up. It’s a great way to showcase some of the best bands from the DIY circuit and all of it’s just begging to be viewed. So, stay reclined, erase the last semblances of that hangover, and make sure to Watch This.

1. Laura Stevenson – The Hole (Radio K)

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Laura Stevenson so magnetic- it could just be raw talent but it seems to go beyond even that to something more transcendental. The singer/songwriter found a home on New Jersey’s Don Giovanni, a label full of some of the fiercest basement punk bands currently going, while leaning closer to folk than anything else. Impossibly, it managed to be a fit that felt more naturalistic than not and their collaborations have resulted in a handful of incredible releases (the most recent of which, Wheel, was an easy 2013 highlight). Here, she sits down for a stunning rendition of “The Hole”. It’s a mesmerizing performance from a singular talent that’s worth bootlegging for inclusions on a million different homemade mixtapes.

2. Luke Lalonde – Needle (Chart Attack) 

This is the third performance from Toronto’s Sonic Boom Records to be featured over the past two installments of this series. It’s also, arguably, the most arresting. Born Ruffians have always been one of the more intriguing powerpop acts making music and to hear them stripped down to their barest form is surprisingly rewarding. Great songwriting’s always worth listening to.

3. Mutual Benefit – Golden Wake (Allston Pudding)

Love’s Crushing Diamond was a record that almost felt sacred while it wove itself in and out of dreamlike states. It was one of 2013’s most riveting listens, constantly coming off like the most reassuring hug. It was impossibly fierce in its gentleness, delicately assembled and expertly executed, it established Jordan Lee as an undeniable talent and ensured that just about everyone who should be paying attention to his project was doing just that. Allston Pudding was on hand to capture this video from Mutual Benfit’s first-ever sold out show and the results are entrancing.

4. Krill (BreakThruRadioTV)

There’s just something about Exploding in Sound’s roster that makes throwing caution to the wind feel appropriate. This is the second video to earn a Watch This feature from the label’s BreakThruRadio takeover. Like Kal Marks before them, Krill took this spot by force through a series of incredible featured performances. Serious Business being Serious Business, there are also a few revealing interview moments intercut with a few separate performance clips. It’s all great fun and worth paying attention to. Oh, and Krill, Krill, Krill Forever.

5. Radioactivity – Locked in My Head (Razorcake)

It’s been months since a video from Razorcake earned itself a spot in this series, which is a shame because of all the places that regularly wind up in one of these five slots, they’re likely the one that matches the DIY ethos this place celebrates most closely. That reasoning paired with a performance from Radioactivity was more than enough to land this a spot on the list. This is what this place is all about. Watch This and then go spin Radioactivity for the 800th time. It’s impossible to resist.

Radioactivity – Radioactivity (Album Review)

Radioactivity - s/t cover art

The Marked Men’s 2006 masterpiece Fix My Brain was one of the decade’s only indisputable basement pop classics. While their unexpected follow-up Ghosts was good, it failed to reach the heights of its predecessor. Afterwards, The Marked Men slowly disappeared, playing only a scant few dates a year, if that. Earlier this year the Denton, TX band headlined Dirtnap Records’ massive 14 year anniversary shows in Seattle and Portland, reminding everyone that they were still on the top of their respective games. Which brings us to the here and now; Marked Men members Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan’s new band, Radioactivity.

Radioactivity have just released their self-titled debut record and it more than lives up to the promise of their involvement. While Ghosts was an admirably slight misstep, Radioactivity feels like the more natural successor to Fix My Brain. Even though Radioactivity isn’t a Marked Men release, it has all of that band’s vintage staples in tact. Vocal melodies are crisp and catchy while the guitar-riff heavy arrangements offer up plenty of memorable hooks. All of this is anchored by a propulsive rhythm section that props up Radioactivity‘s most thrilling moments.

Generally when a band manages to put out a release that’s more than a dozen tracks deep there’s bound to be a weak track or two. Radioactivity avoids this trap in thrilling fashion, offering up 13 standout tracks that don’t deserve to be skipped over. From opening track “Sickness” to their final moment on “Trusted You”, Radioactivity pilots their way through an absurd amount of peaks and ultimately wind up with a new classic on their hands. It will be a legitimately stunning development if this record isn’t featured on several year-end lists, especially when taking into account some of the more specialized publications.

Trying to pinpoint all of the highlights on Radioactivity would be an exercise in gross futility because they’re peppered all over every manic track. Radioactivity’s energy throughout this, while not unexpected, is worth marveling over. All 13 tracks are emphasized by perfect sequencing and elevated by the record’s masterful pacing. Moment after moment is full of a rejuvenated sense of purpose, displaying a sense of uninhibited joy. This is a whirlwind masterclass in a certain style of songwriting and deserves to be in as many collections as possible.

Fix My Brain defined a genre for more than a few people and stood in a class of its own. After a seven year wait for something as worthy, Radioactivity’s self-titled debut has finally proved there can be something that joins its ranks. While it’s still Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke, the band do qualify as a new project despite all the similarities to its predecessor. Whether or not Radioactivity can improve on their astounding start is anyone’s best guess but a lot of people will be anxious to find out. After all, Ryan and Burke have proved they can duplicate their successes. If anyone’s capable of pulling off the miraculous twice, it’d be them.

Radioactivity can be purchased from the always reliable Dirtnap and can be streamed below.