Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: JEFF The Brotherhood

Mercury Girls – Holly (Stream)

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A very full week of new material was essentially topped off over the past few days with excellent new songs from Fond Han (who nearly claimed this post’s featured spot), Bad Sports, Black Marble, TwistCarl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, JEFF The BrotherhoodTennis, Swimsuit AdditionHamilton Leithauser + Rostam, His ClancynessDuchess Says, benjamin783, Tom Brosseau, and Happy Place. There were also great music videos that were offered up by the likes of Trust Fund, Hazel English, Izzy True, Attic AbasementVomitfaceBeach Slang, Katie Dey, Jude Shuma, and, jordaan mason.  While the full streams weren’t as plentiful as they were at the start of the week dozer, Porridge RadioDrowse, Skux, Creative Adult, and Cay Is Okay managed to end the category on a series of strong notes.

At the end of 2015, Mercury Girls found themselves poised at the top of this site’s odds and ends list, thanks to their scintillating demo and live tracks compilation. Since then, they’ve been on a tear, readying their forthcoming full-length and finding time to participate in a four-way split and release an extraordinary 7″ in the process. Earlier on in the week, the band offered a glimpse at that forthcoming four-way split (with The Spook School, Wildhoney, and Tigercats rounding out the other three slots) by way of “Holly”, another sweeping gem of a song that masterfully blends the best of post-punk and powerpop into something that manages to become bittersweet and triumphant simultaneously.

“Holly” also sees the band’s knack for playing off each other increasing to a velocity that’s practically unmatched, generating the kind of momentum that will cause enough impact to knock out just about anybody. Whether it’s the surging guitars, the soaring vocals, the punchy rhythm section, or the band’s astonishing knack for composition, the band continues to seem mistake-free, casually igniting a fire that seems like it could burn forever. Mercury Girls, now several small releases into their career, have yet to release a track that feels anything less than miraculous.

In roughly three minutes, the band conjure up a winsome atmosphere, flawlessly navigate some galvanizing dynamic shifts, and offer up the kind of cohesive, grand-scale artistry that only the best bands ever manage to achieve. With “Holly”, Mercury Girls continue their breathless pursuit of perfection and — importantly — are showing no signs of diminishing returns (which is a fate that relentlessly plagues their niche genre). Inspired, breathtaking, and warm enough to be its own blanket, “Holly” has the capacity to inspire people to start their own bands. When all’s said and done, no compliment can be higher than that one.

Listen to “Holly” below and pre-order Continental Drift here.

Glueboy – Yikes (Album Review)

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The past few Friday’s haven’t offered much in the way of new material but this week proved to be an exception, gifting the world new tracks from Earth Girls, Anti Pony, JEFF The Brotherhood, Slow MassSLØTFACE, Kindling, Emma Ruth Randle, Looming, Divan, Sheer, Criminal Hygiene, Raury, Buzz Kull, Gothic Tropic, The Raveonettes, Scarlett Saunders, Banks & Steelz (ft. Kool Keith), Sharks Teeth, and Bueno. Additionally, there were full streams from Steve Adamyk Band, Eric Slick, Hollow Sunshine, and an entrancing music video from Massive Attack.

While all of those proved to be worthy titles, it’s Glueboy‘s sophomore full-length debut, Yikes, that earns this post’s featured spot. Following two promising releases, the band fully capitalizes on their potential and lets loose from the record’s onset with the fiery “Foot Soldier”. After a deceptive 40 second buildup, “Foot Soldier” takes off at full sprint and from that moment forward, Yikes never looks back.

Importantly — and largely thanks to the mixing and mastering team of Flagland‘s Nick Dooley and Big Ups‘ Amar Lal — this is the best Glueboy’s ever sounded on record. Following 2015’s impressive Videodrama EP, the band sounds revitalized, attacking every square inch of these songs with a newfound conviction. It’s a trait that’s evident from Yikes‘ opening run of songs and that sense of galvanization never wavers. Whether it’s guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Marty’s frantic, deeply-felt vocal work, bassist/vocalist Coby Chafets’ increasingly sharp lyric sets, or the additional sense of purpose that seems to have elevated Eli Sills’ drumming.

Everything clicks, congealing into a whirling dervish of a record that feels volatile and grounded simultaneously. Even when the band’s being boldly transparent in their influences (the vocal pattern and general construction of “Telescreen”, for example, is incredibly reminiscent of Titus Andronicus’ “Dimed Out“), there’s a genuine spark behind their playing that essentially erases any room for complaint. Helping matters along is that those moments are few and far between, allowing the rest of Yikes to firmly establish the band’s own singular identity.

Yikes also winds up benefiting from its members’ intrinsic musicality [disclosure: I lived with Chafets for half of 2015 and had several opportunities to join in jam sessions with all of the band’s members] and their comprehensive understanding of their chosen genre. Taken as a whole, the level of musicianship Marty, Chafets, and Sills imbue Yikes with is incredibly impressive, conjuring up levels of energy that oscillate but never come anywhere close to stagnancy.

Helping Yikes maintain its pace is the fact that only two of the songs eclipse the three minute mark, keeping things lively. Nearly every song in the collection comes in at a furious tempo, with the band seemingly intent on finding catharsis through destruction. Remarkably, the trio seems to actually achieve that goal at nearly every turn. Personal confessions, declarations, and half-buried desires litter Yikes‘ narrative landscape and breathe an additional level of life into the proceedings, coming to a climactic moment that serves as the record’s finale.

At the end of “Falling Down” everything finally threatens to go off the rails for good, splintering apart into near-chaos as the band lays seemingly everything on the line. Chafets (who trades vocal leads with Marty throughout the record) screams his larynx raw in the song’s closing passage, with the band around him erupting into a hardcore spree before cutting out abruptly. It’s an extraordinary ending to a record that should prove to be monumental to the band’s evolution as well as their reputation. Earnest, uncompromising, and endlessly fascinating, Yikes is more than just a much-needed jolt of pure basement pop adrenaline- it’s one of the year’s best surprises.

Listen to Yikes below and pick up a copy here.

PWR BTTM – Projection (Stream, Live Video)

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The last few days held a whole host of incredible new songs from the likes of Turtlenecked, ScotDrakula, Animal Lover, Dolores, Rips, Dott, Sex Stains, Devon Welsh, Dogbreth, Honey Bucket, Lumer, Atticus Ross and Leopold Ross, Raccoon Fighter, Jenn Champion, Field Mouse, Luke Winslow, The Pooches, Butch Bastard, Ravenna Woods, Young Summer, Bellows, Rosemary Fairweather, Alice MK, Grey Gersten, JEFF The Brotherhood, and Royal Oakie as well as a two-song sampler of the forthcoming record from Echo Courts. While all of those songs should receive listens, it’s an old favorite finally finding release to capture this post’s featured spot.

The first time I saw PWR BTTM was at Miscreant’s Northside showcase last year and it immediately ensured the band a hefty amount of future coverage (especially in the live department). Having been impressed by their earlier material, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect that day but it was one particular song that convinced me PWR BTTM was capable of achieving greatness: “Projection”.

Over time, “Projection” solidified its spot as my favorite song in the band’s arsenal. From Benjamin Hopkins’ remarkably tasteful guitar theatrics to a startlingly intimate lyric set to Liv Bruce’s intuitive drumming to the exchanged vocal leads, the song highlights several of PWR BTTM’s strongest aspects. From that first performance over a year ago, the band’s kept it as a live staple and subsequently afforded me the opportunity to document it several times over.

Recently, PWR BTTM announced they would be partnering with the excellent Big Scary Monsters label for their European releases, beginning with an extended version of Ugly Cherries that will come equipped with “Projection” (it’ll be available as a standalone single in America). While the band offers a mischievous wink towards the song’s main influence with its title, the narrative of “Projection” takes a much more serious tone.

From its opening couplet onward, “Projection” offers a very acute look at the displacement its songwriters have been subjected to because of their identities and preferences, rendering it heartbreaking in its realism– something enhanced even more by the song’s direct approach.

With its reprise of “my skin wasn’t made for the weather”, it’d be easy for the song to tip towards defeatism and while that’s an element that never completely disappears, the music surrounding the narrative becomes a retaliatory burst of frustration that seems to energize the band; they’ve found an outlet through creating music that feels like home. In that regard, “Projection” could be viewed as somewhat celebratory, though its down-trodden narrative keeps it tethered to the earth.

In creating that dichotomy, PWR BTTM fully demonstrate their enviable gifts as songwriters who have an uncanny understanding of their identity as a band (with only one full-length under their belt, no less). “Projection” finds every element of their songwriting at a stratospheric peak, underlining the hefty emotional undercurrent that informs their work but frequently winds up getting overlooked.

It’s an extraordinary song that offers insight, frustration, joy, longing, and some of their finest composition work to date. Empathetic and earnest in its unblinking sincerity, “Projection” is the type of song that’s capable of making converts out of skeptics; a genuine work of art. Greet the song’s official arrival with the kind of understanding and care that should be granted to others throughout life, free of discriminatory practices, prejudices, and blind hatred. Grab a copy, reciprocate its warmth, and never let its message fall out of reach… then hit repeat.

Listen to “Projection” below — and watch an early live performance of the song — and keep an eye on this site for more news on any of PWR BTTM’s forthcoming releases.

Sheer – Uneasy (Music Video)

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Only two days into the week and it’s already overflowing with new material. Fall’s referred to as Awards Season by a sect of people primarily concerned with film but the same logistical rules tend to apply to the the music releases as well. A good placement on any notable publication’s year-end list is a huge PR boost and– depending on the publication– it can open a lot of avenues to the artists as well. This generally causes numbers to balloon in fall, in hopes that those releases stay fresh in the minds of people who have the power to genuinely affect their career trajectory.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, that the past few days have seen artists like Wildhoney, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, Pet Cemetery, Martitime, Woozy, and Labasheeda all unveil full lengths. In addition to that Paper Trail Records released a staggering compilation, new songs from Sudakistan, METZ, Bethlehem Steel, Very Fresh, Casket Girls, Django Django, Cross Record, Martin Courtney, JEFF The Brotherhood, and Cass McCombs surfaced. While those are all worth taking in at least once, it’s a new name earning this post’s primary focus: Sheer.

Over the near two years of this site’s existence, there’s been a tremendous amount of focus on acts incorporating elements of shoegaze, grunge, early ’90s slacker punk, and basement pop. So a band that filters all of the former elements through the guise of the latter is going to have my full, undivided attention. Enter: Sheer. “Uneasy”, the music video for their forthcoming record of the same name, is Sheer’s first major piece of publicity having formed just a touch over a year ago.

The band comes off as fully formed,  bringing a strong sense of identity to the Colin McCaffrey-directed clip for “Uneasy”. Nothing feels out of place and the band’s sense of control over every aspect of their craft is impressive. Primarily a performance edit for the verses, McCaffrey heightens the band’s atmospheric half-time drop in the chorus by augmenting it with some stunning visuals and seamlessly merging the two for the song’s breathtaking bridge. Soft transitions, lens flares, and a faded color palette all lend to the palpable sense of damaged romanticism in “Uneasy”. It’s a startlingly beautiful look at a band that’s well on their way to becoming a much bigger name right out of the gate.

Watch “Uneasy” below and pre-order the band’s debut from The Native Sound here.

Meat Wave – Delusion Moon (Stream)

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Few bands have meant more to this site and its early development than Meat Wave. They’ve been granted one of the only On the Up feature spots, they’ve offered premieres, and they played the first (and, so far, only) Heartbreaking Bravery showcase. The band’s earned quite a bit of coverage over here and today’s news ensures that’s a continuing development.

Before delving into their new song, though, I’d like to take a minute to congratulate them on signing to SideOneDummy, a highly revered- and influential- punk label. The trio’s new home looks like a promising one and will undoubtedly push their name recognition to (deservedly) greater heights. Meat Wave weren’t the only band with a noteworthy release today, so a few more bands will be highlighted before circling back to the main attraction.

Cosmicide released a deeply cinematic clip for “A New Disaster” and four artists teased two splits (Jeff the Brotherhood and Colleen Green and Audacity and together PANGEA, respectively). Cassels revealed their bruising Hating Is Easy EP while both Little My and Derider pulled back the curtains on their forthcoming albums. Once again, single streams made up the bulk of the day’s items and included a few genuine stunners.

Ought’s sprawling “Beautiful Blue Sky” nearly wound up with today’s feature, while it fended off strong competition from the likes of Sharkmufffin’s fiery “Mondays“, Reservations’ noir-tinted “Planet“, NE-HI’s punchy “Drag“, Girls Names’ compellingly bleak “A Hunger Artist“, and Helen’s surprisingly massive “Motorcycle“. Comfy’s sunny basement pop tune “Neck Hz“, GospelbeacH’s breezy backwoods number “Sunshine Skyway“, and Elway’s revitalized “Albuquerque Low” all added up to the format’s considerable tally.

Then, of course, there was “Delusion Moon”. Anyone who heard what Meat Wave accomplished with their self-titled (to date, the only tape I’ve worn thin) or their EP from earlier this year, Brother, knows just how much weight this band throws into its punches. “Delusion Moon” is the title track from the band’s forthcoming record and follows “Erased” in its rollout campaign.

While details on the record were scarce when the latter was introduced, a few things have been clarified for this round. Delusion Moon‘s intended to run as a whole (something that’s hinted at by the ending/starting(?) notes of “Delusion Moon”) and is a quasi-conceptual record that was written during a strange period of guitarist/vocalist Chris Sutter’s life. There’s a palpable sense of brooding on “Delusion Moon” that seems like it may turn out be one of the record’s more defining characteristics.

The rhythm section of bassist Joe Gac and drummer Ryan Wizniak continues to be one of the more formidable forces playing shows today. A quantifiable powerhouse, the duo lends Sutter’s playing an additional element of urgency, capitalizing on its inherent immediacy with brute strength. All of this is evidenced in the astonishing “Delusion Moon” and will likely culminate in the band reaching the levels of success they’ve deserved since the very beginning. More and more, Meat Wave are starting to look like the future of basement punk. If that’s the case, we’re all in very good hands.

Listen to “Delusion Moon” and keep both eyes on this site for any upcoming announcements regarding the forthcoming record, which is due out on September 18.

Sheer Mag – Button Up (Stream)

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Continuing on in the quest to get the site caught up on all the things that caught my attention in 2015 affords some unique opportunities. One of them is the chance to celebrate a few of the truly great items that surfaced over the course of this year’s first three months. By the end of tonight, all of those will be featured in some form- be it a list inclusion, a mix, or some words. In this post, there won’t be a lot of material from the past two weeks (with the notable exception of a jaunty tune from The Splits and an absolute stunner of a track from one-time site contributor Johanna Warren) but it should still serve as a healthy reminder of 2015’s formidable early strengths. One of those songs, Sheer Mag’s “Button Up” will be receiving the greatest amount of focus. Below that, as has been custom, are 75 outstanding songs from this year’s first quarter. Now, back to this post’s main draw.

Sheer Mag have been picking up a great amount of notoriety in important circles since the release of their 7″ from last year, which was strong enough to land on the site’s Best 7″ Records of 2014 list. “Button Up”, the band’s first new material since that EP, is a refinement of everything that’s made Sheer Mag so exciting from the beginning. “Button Up” retains the band’s appealing lo-fi punch but their pop sensibilities are sharper than ever, rendering “Button Up” an unlikely heavyweight. Impossibly crunchy guitars, powerful vocals, and a sense of joy permeate throughout this track and provide Sheer Mag with a valid claim as one of the most exciting upcoming bands on the market. If the rest of their upcoming 7″ can hit similar peaks, it’s not unlikely that they’ll be appearing on quite a few December lists (ours included).

Listen to “Button Up” below and keep an eye on this site for more coverage surrounding the band’s upcoming release. Beneath the embed are 75 outstanding songs from 2015’s opening stretch.

The Cribs – I See Your Pictures Every Day
Football, etc. – Open
Princess – Black Window
Novella – Land Gone
Eric Chenaux – Skullsplitter
Pinkshinyultrablast – Land’s End
Vagaband – Gabrielle
HOLY – Demon’s Hand
Tall Tales and the Silver Lining – This Time Around
Divers – Breathless
Michael Stec – Party Dress
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Philadelphia Story
Cyberbully Mom Club – Anabelle (Love Soft)
Passenger Peru – Break My Neck
The Splits – I Know
Alice – Nightmare
Lightning Bolt – The Metal East
Guantanamo Baywatch – Too Late
Maribou State – Rituals
Dastardly – The Hollow
Aero Flynn – Twist
The Minus 5 – The History You Hate
Braids – Miniskirt
Faith Healer – Universe
Karen Meat & the Computer – If I Were Yours
Chris Weisman – Backpack People
Jeff Rosenstock – You, In Weird Cities
The Dodos – Retriever
Busses – Wizard of the Eye
Obnox – Cynthia Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Twerps – I Don’t Mind
Sonny & the Sunsets – Happy Carrot Health Food Store
The Muscadettes – Pearl and Oyster
Waxahatchee – Air
Matthew E. White – Rock N’ Roll Is Cold
Nic Hessler – Hearts, Repeating
Grooms – Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
Pops Staples – Somebody Was Watching
Moon King – Roswell
Caught On Tape – Full Bleed
Oscar – Daffodil Days
EULA – Noose
Inventions – Springworlds
Dirty Dishes – Guilty
Johanna Warren – True Colors
Happyness – Don’t Know Why (Norah Jones)
JEFF The Brotherhood – Coat Check Girl
Johnny Marr – Struck
Leapling – N.E.R.V.E.
The Juliana Hatfield Three – Ordinary Guy
Tyler Ditter – Echo Off the World
Fruit Bomb – Normcore Girlfriend
Dorthia Cottrell – Kneeler
In Tall Buildings – Unmistakable
Kind of Like Spitting – Stress Cadet
Fort Lean – I Don’t Mind
Native Lights – Black Wall Street
Wire – Joust & Jostle
Marika Hackman – Monday Afternoon
Football, etc. – Sunday
Sammy Kay – Highs and Lows
Wolf Solent – Hold On
Solvey – Solvey
All Boy/All Girl – Glitters
Threading – Ember
Lucern Raze – Someone Like You
Pelican Movement – Light Like Before
Carmen Villain – Quietly
Ghastly Menace – Real Life
Irontom – In the Day and the Dark
Sun Hotel – After Peggy Tells Her Parents They Never Had Any Trouble In Their Relationship
Wand – Self Hypnosis in 3 Days
Quarterbacks – Night Changes (One Direction cover)
Lost Boy ? – Love You Only
Broken Water – High-Lo

Screaming Females (Documentary Review, Stream)

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Since this site resumed regular coverage, there’s been a few excellent music-focused documentaries that have earned coverage. Girlpool, Pops Staples, The Epoch, and Butch Walker were the central subjects of all the preceding 2015 docs but tonight’s film brings Screaming Females‘ more recent paths to light. It’s a definitive capture of one of this generation’s most exciting bands as they continue their unlikely ascension. Before focusing all of the attention on the Lance Bangs-directed portrait of the perennial site favorites, it’s worth bringing up a few other great items to have recently surfaced as well. For the full streams, there was 100%’s hauntingly minimalist It gets darker and, as always, the newest additions to NPR’s vaunted First Listen series (Laura Marling’s Short Movie and JEFF The Brotherhood’s Wasted On The Dream are particularly memorable). Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly was also just released a week ahead of schedule and it seems set to continue elevating his increasingly impressive career. All of those things are worth spending time getting to know but they’re not what this post’s about- that distinction, as stated, goes to Lance Bangs’ diaristic Screaming Females short.

One thing that Screaming Females brings into sharp focus over its two-part installment is guitarist/vocalist Marissa Paternoster’s battle with an illness that became so severe that it forced the band to cancel an array of tour dates in support of Ugly. Around the mid-point of the documentary, Paternoster is in visible pain when she recalls the events, all the while remaining admirably steadfast in her convictions, never wanting to let anyone down. Paternoster was eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia in addition to her mononucleosis. Never has their commitment to a DIY ethos been delivered with more clarity than it is in those harrowing minutes. While Screaming Females finds its voice in the opening minutes, with bassist King Mike providing a short, impact-heavy, list for why the band plays as many shows as they do. As the film progress, the band’s natural rapport cuts through the group vignettes like a knife; this is a band that clearly enjoys each other’s company, which is endlessly important. Memories, both painful and entertaining, are recounted, while the future’s left wide open.

In approximately 20 minutes, Lance Bangs (who assembled everything masterfully, with a well-informed eye) manages to place the kind of spotlight on Screaming Females that they deserve, emphasizing the exact traits that cause me to continue to rally behind this band with no reservations. It’s a committed tale of a dedicated band- one who refuses to lose sight of the intangible elements that built their career in its earliest stages. There’s a genuine honesty present in Screaming Females that’s impossible to ignore, providing a crystallized account of how and why the band operates. Determination and passion are present in nearly every frame and, as each new piece of information is given, it’s abundantly clear that this trio of people are hell-bent on continuing to pursue the things they love most with no hesitation. In the end, the documentary doesn’t just wind up being heartfelt but it also succeeds in being legitimately inspirational. We could all learn a thing or two from this kind of passion.

Watch Screaming Females below and order Rose Mountain (the band’s finest work to date) from Don Giovanni here.