As evidenced by the last handful of posts, the first two weeks of June were not short on exceptional material. Songs, by virtue of length and abundance, had an especially strong showing. The five below include a few career highlights from longtime favorites and a few impressive entries from fresher faces. All of them would be perfect additions to the warm weather playlists being pulled into existence as spring melts into summer. Discover their strength below.
Ovlov – Short Morgan
If anyone had any doubts that Ovlov would be better than they’ve ever been should they return, “Short Morgan” should permanently erase those thoughts. One of the fiercest tracks the band’s released to date, “Short Morgan” is an adrenaline surge that marries the elements that catapulted Dinosaur Jr to cult icons with the frustration-laced introspection that’s come to define Ovlov’s identity. Ragged, vicious, and pointed, “Short Morgan” is more than enough to suggest we might be looking at one of the year’s great albums in their forthcoming TRU.
The Beths – Happy Unhappy
Making a return to the spotlight, The Beths deliver in kind with “Happy Unhappy”, an unexpected summer anthem. Twee-leaning powerpop through a punk-tinged lens, “Happy Unhappy” is a sugar rush of ingenuity, layering hook after hook until the band’s built something as towering as it is irresistible. Everything from the persistent backing vocals to the guitar interplay in the pre-chorus and on the bridge combines to leave “Happy Unhappy” standing tall as The Beths finest work. Give this one the attention it deserves.
The Ophelias – General Electric
Much like The Beths “Happy Unhappy”, The Ophelias “General Electric” is tailor made for a carefree summer afternoon. A hypnotic collage of sounds, “General Electric” expertly blends powerpop with some twee and experimental trappings. Brilliantly produced by WHY?‘s Yoni Wolf and impeccably structured, it’s an immensely welcome introduction-at-large for an incredibly promising act. Every second of this is captivating, creating an enchanting pull that’s difficult to refuse. A collection of clever twist and turns, it marks The Ophelias as a band worth hearing.
Curling – Radio King
Basement pop that’s informed by post-punk and runs slightly askew is a hallmark of Heartbreaking Bravery’s general coverage and is presented in its fullest potential on Curling’s “Radio King”. Utilizing vocals that are more than a little reminiscent of Ted Leo, Curling avoids comparisons to The Pharmacists outright by embracing a more disjointed approach. Falling somewhere in between the genre lines drawn by Flying Nun and Rough Trade, “Radio King” shows Curling are more than comfortable planting their flag in the in-between. “Curling King” is the perfect way to reveal that flag’s mesmeric colors.
Free Cake For Every Creature – Around You
Capping off a trio of songs that expertly blends twee shrapnel with powerpop aesthetics, Free Cake For Every Creature‘s “Around You” is a strong reminder of the talent at the heart of the project. Driven by a hyper-specific narrative and imaginative instrumentation, “Around You” finds Free Cake For Every Creature reaching new heights ahead of their forthcoming The Bluest Star. Destined to be a staple of the project’s live show for years to come, the song offers an embarrassment of riches, from the guitar work that graces the chorus to the restrained delivery. It’s unmissable.
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 songEP, 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 Sangand 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.
Seven weeks is a long time to abandon regular coverage but that interim’s come to a close and the time’s now come to feature some of the very best material of that span. Putting aside that obscenely perfect Charly Bliss video (and another video that will be featured in the very near future), the below selections stood out as the five best clips to emerge over those seven weeks. Old favorites and new faces collide, while everything from unhinged animation to quiet contemplation secure the focal point. So, dive in and explore some of the best examples that the medium has to offer and revisit them at will. Enjoy.
Protomartyr – A Private Understanding
While it’s true Protomartyr have sculpted a career and reputation on being consistently excellent, very few people could have anticipated the staggering leap forward “A Private Understanding” represented in both scope and ambition. Easily the most impressive moment of the band’s already distinguished career, “A Private Understanding” came with an intensely arresting visual accompaniment. Centering on a hypnotic central performance the clip for “A Private Understanding” grabs existential crisis by the throat and squeezes until existential crisis is all that’s left. Equal parts Michael Haneke and Roy Andersson, it’s a coy and relentlessly bleak triumph.
Jen Cloher – Regional Echo
“Regional Echo” and the similarly dreamlike “Forgot Myself” clip both nearly made this list with the former getting the push thanks in large part to its more pronounced melancholy. Jen Cloher may be a faintly familiar name to some thanks to her considerably more famous partner, Courtney Barnett, but the songwriter’s forthcoming self-titled full-length’s seeking to lessen that dynamic and allow Cloher’s songwriting merits to be the guitarist/vocalist’s calling card. “Regional Echo” is a trance-inducing clip, teeming with soft lyricism and no shortage of conviction. It’s a gorgeous video and a strong testament to Cloher’s considerable talent.
M.A.G.S. – Demon
Over the past few years, restraint’s been a tough task for a lot of music videos to master, much less turn into a form of aggression. There have been some high-profile examples in recent time (and Minor Victories more than proved it can still be done with brute strength in a modern setting over the course of last year). It’s barely been attempted in more DIY-leaning settings, which makes M.A.G.S.‘ gripping clip for “Demon” even more surprising. Everything from the Academy ratio the clip’s presented in to the classically iconic imagery of the pink room manages to both ensnare attention and heighten the immediacy of the clip. It’s an unexpected, unassuming glimpse at brilliance.
Soccer Mommy – Allison
“Allison”, both as a song and as a video, calmly continues Soccer Mommy‘s string of seemingly continuous grace notes. A gently mesmerizing clip that seems to reflect the tranquility of the water it was shot beside, the visuals of Allison work as a perfect complement to the source material. Touching on everything from a search for peace to the decision to move forward, “Allison” coaxes maximum impact out of its minimalist confines, conjuring up a lasting impression that lingers well after the clip winds to its hushed close. The musical equivalent of a tenderly loved and well-worn blanket, it’s hard to come away from “Allison” without immediately wanting to be wrapped back up again.
Julie & The Wrong Guys – You Wanted What I Wanted
Every once in a while, there’s a band that comes along and unleashes absolute hell in the form of their introduction-at-large. One of the latest examples of this is the incendiary “You Wanted What I Wanted” form Julie & The Wrong Guys, a gnarled, battered monster of a post-punk track. Appropriately, the video for “You Wanted What I Wanted” features deranged, quasi-nightmarish imagery, fusing traditional and digital animation with a ramshackle glee as the song hurtles towards an explosive climax that further proves Julie & The Wrong Guys are coming out of the woodwork to make their name known. Punk bite, pop hooks, smart visuals, and a whole lot of attitude all combine to ensure that Julie & The Wrong Guys is a name worth committing to memory.
Just like the songs and music videos that came filtering out over the extended interim of this site’s regular coverage hiatus, killer records didn’t stop revealing themselves over that stretch of time. While, by their very nature, the titles that jumped out proved to be fewer than their more individually-minded counterparts, there was still a lot of outstanding material packed into the compilations, splits, EPs, 7″s, and full-lengths listed below. While this list — or any list — can’t claim to be truly representative of everything that came out, these acts are responsible for some of the best titles to have crossed this site’s path over the past six weeks:
Songs weren’t the only category absolutely lousy with gems over the past six or seven weeks. In that same time span, a whole host of outstanding music videos made their way into the world, from old favorites, unfamiliar faces, and just about everyone in between. Below is a compilation of some of the most impressive of those offerings. A few more will be featured in some capacity shortly but for now, enjoy the treasure trove of links below. Dive in and swim around a little, there are a lot of great surprises to discover.
It’s been a little over three weeks since the last regularly scheduled post appeared on this site. In that time, a whole host of excellent songs have been released. Below is a long compilation of some of the best of those offerings. There will be compilation lists in this vein for both music videos and full streams following this one. Following those posts, there’ll be posts featuring seven outstanding entries that have emerged in that time from each category. So, dive in, bookmark this page, and click around. A new favorite band’s always just around the corner for everyone, it’s just a matter of taking the time to look.