Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Katie Ellen

Seven Weeks, Ten Records

Before this week began, it’d been seven weeks since any of this site’s regular coverage had appeared. The first stretch of this week will be dedicated to amending the outstanding material that went uncovered in the interim, while the latter part of the week will feature the present week’s finest offerings. Below are ten standout records to have been released over the long hiatus, from EPs to compilations to full-lengths. There’s a whole host of incredible material shared between these ten records so stop hesitating and just dive straight into this post’s overflowing heart. Enjoy.

Great Grandpa – Plastic Cough 

Expert Eraser“, “Fade“, and “Teen Challenge” all earned feature slots on this site in the lead-up to Plastic Cough‘s release, each one suggesting a seemingly inevitable reality: Great Grandpa throwing their hat into the ring of genuine Album of the Year contenders. The day finally came, Plastic Cough was released, and that inevitability proved to be no joke. Plastic Cough is an absolutely ferocious record, gnashing its teeth at every hairpin turn and gloriously bombastic moment, only pausing to breathe on the gorgeous “Faithful”, a perfectly placed slow-burner that rounds the record out in breathtaking fashion. Plastic Cough is the kind of thrill ride that makes a mark deep enough to last.

Slaughter Beach, Dog – Motorcycle.jpg

Jake Ewald may get the most recognition for his work in Modern Baseball but what the songwriter’s accomplished in Slaughter Beach, Dog is equally — if not even more — compelling. Having already accumulated an incredibly rich and surprisingly expansive sound over the course of a full-length and an EP, Motorcyle.jpg finds Ewald leaning even more confidently into the battered folk trappings that heightened those first two releases. Motorcycle.jpg also skews a little more lo-fi and at times recalls Yankee Bluff, each poignantly bruised track vastly exceeding the aesthetics perceived limitations. It’s another impressive work from a musician worth watching.

Little Star – July Demos

Another one of the acts positioning Good Cheer Records as one of the finest upstart labels, Little Star has managed to turn a lot of heads in recent times, thanks to two sterling full-lengths. The project’s showing no signs of slowing down, even going so far as to release a small collection of demos last month, aptly entitled July Demos. The band’s earned comparisons to legendary acts (Big Star, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular among them) and it’s not difficult to see why those comparisons are being made, even from this small smattering of tracks. All four of the songs on display here are sharply written songs that convey a great deal of emotion in their quiet restraint. Spellbinding work.

Katie Ellen – Cowgirl Blues

Chumped may have been Katie Ellen‘s earliest claim to some modicum of fame but the songwriter’s not being reduced to the ashes left in the wake of that band’s departure, instead opting to venture out on an already promising solo career. Cowgirl Blues is Ellen’s first statement and it’s a bold one. The first two and a half minutes of opening track “Drawing Room” are comprised entirely of extremely light ambient noise, clean guitar, and vocals, as if Ellen is reasserting an individual identity. It’s a deeply effective moment that sets the tone for a record that’s not afraid to show off its bruises, scars, or self-awareness. Front to back, it’s one of the summer’s most captivating listens.

Milked – Death On Mars

Kelly Johnson is the songwriter spearheading Milked, graciously returning to the fold after Geronimo! took their final bow. For anyone who was concerned Johnson would step away from the eccentricities and unpredictable eclecticism that made Geronimo! so fascinating, put aside those fears for good. Death on Mars is as gleefully unwieldy and feral as Geronimo! at their fiercest (undoubtedly helped along by the drumming of Geronimo! bandmate Matt Schwerin). Death On Mars is a towering work that’s not afraid to embrace catharsis or melody even as it careens wildly from song to song, touching on everything from powerpop to hardcore along the way. An absolute triumph of a return.

Midwives – No

No will be the last record Midwives — who appeared in this site’s Best EP’s list in 2013 and 2015 and whose self-titled 7″ was one of the first reviews this site ever ran — will release. While it’s a shame that one of the upper Midwest’s best hardcore bands will be disappearing into the ether, at the very least they managed to go out on top: No is a culmination of everything the group’s accomplished since starting up nearly five years ago. It’s a growling, spitting, snarling beast of a record, unafraid to take prisoners in its sub-18 minute run-time. Bruising and feral, it’s only fitting that such a proudly deranged band would go out kicking, baring its threatening fangs all the while.

Dream Ritual – Summer Promo

Sometimes all it takes for a band to take off is three songs, which is exactly what Dream Ritual‘s offering on Summer Promo, a blistering post-punk EP that doesn’t leave any room for filler. Echoing everyone from Shellac to METZ and everyone in between, Dream Ritual manages to carve out their own distinct identity. “Noise”, “Oil & Canvas”, & “Sunlight Girl” all perfectly marry elements of modern day noise-punk with some of the genre’s earliest defining elements. Whether it’s the metallic-like production or the infusion of pop-leaning melody, it’s clear that Dream Ritual are students of the genre. Thankfully for us, their learning has resulted in one of the summer’s strongest EP’s.

Mike Krol – Mike Krol Is Never Dead: The First Two Records

A few years ago, this site named Mike Krol‘s Turkey one of the best records of 2015 and heavily praised the songwriter’s infectiously joyous live show. Krol had gained notoriety thanks to the cult following that he’d accumulated due to his first two records, Trust Fund and I Hate Jazz, both of which were long out of print by the time Merge announced Krol’s signing and released Turkey. Fortunately, for everyone, Merge has come to the rescue and reissued both of those seminal classics (this according to essentially anyone that owns either) and packaged them with all of the demos for each session. The whole thing’s an exhilarating look at an exhilarating artist and should be considered essential listening for fans of the basement pop genre.

Tunnel Traffic – MEESH

Tunnel Traffic’s MEESH occupies a space that’s always memorable: the record arrived from the artist via unsolicited submission and proceeded to impress at every turn. From opener “Lesson Learned” to the closing “Memorial”, this small release from Adam Hachey’s solo project made a sizable impression. Softer and a little sweeter than expected, MEESH is chock-full of mid-tempo folk-leaning numbers that expand the bedroom pop genre into something faintly unfamiliar. It’s quiet, it’s intimate, it’s unassuming, and it’s utterly spectacular. MEESH weaves an unbreakable trance over its listeners and commands their attention through a narrative journey that feels both direct and cerebral. It’s an incredible accomplishment from a songwriter whose work all but demands to be followed.

Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm (Deluxe Version)

Throughout work with WaxahatcheeP.S. Eliot, Bad Banana, and Great Thunder as well as through a variety of guest roles Katie Crutchfield has become a household name for a very particular sect of people, broadening that base with each successive release. Crutchfield’s latest comes via the Waxahatchee moniker, Out in the Storm. Everything that Waxahatchee has released to date has stood the test of time and remained as impressive — if not more so — as it was at the time of its release. Out in the Storm feels like Crutchfield’s reached another level entirely, combining more than a decade’s worth of knowledge, experience, and style into a mesmerizing, cohesive whole. A career high point for Crutchfield and easily one of the best records of 2017, Out in the Storm‘s definitive version also comes package with the demos for each song on the record, all of which are — like the record itself — well worth hearing.

A Month’s Worth of Songs Worth Hearing

It’s been a long stretch since the last main update ran on this site. Part of the reason for its absence is a slow relocation from central Wisconsin to Madison and all of the accompanying transitional necessities. Part of it’s due to my own musical obligations (Heartbreaking Bravery remains a one-person operation). All of that said, the work and updates that keep this place afloat have continued in earnest. Below, there are over 200 songs that emerged over the past month (and a few additional weeks) that deserve to be heard. There will be a handful more that are touched on in the near future but for now, bookmark this page and explore the endless amount of reasons why the people who claim there’s no interesting music being made today have no idea what they’re talking about.

Patsy’s Rats, Fake Palms, Queen Moo, Swanning, Baby!, Lomelda, UV-TV, Jack Cooper, Gorgeous, Shannon Lay, Small Reactions (x2), Lina Tullgren, Atlas Wynd, Melina Mae, Jenny O., Terror Watts, Ephrata, Amy OBunny, Apollo Vermouth, Beachtape, Girl Ray, Speedy Ortiz, The Cribs, Cannery Terror, Arrows of Love (x2), Easy Love, Pardoner (x2), Walter Etc., Maneka, The Lovebirds, Birds, Becca Mancari, Holiday Ghosts, together PANGEA, Soft Fangs, Honey, Downtown Boys, The Districts, Club Night.

Monk Parker, Guided By Voices, Big Hush, Deerhoof, The Duke Spirit, Partner, Space Mountain, Surfer Rosie, The Mynabirds, Mini Dresses, Winter, Wieuca, Knifey, A. Savage, Katie Ellen, Guilt Mountain, EMA, Ayo River, Luke Sital-Singh, Black Beach, The Travelling Band, Curtis Harding, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Culture Abuse, Alvvays, The Sighs, Earth Girl Helen Brown, Holy Hum, Hypoluxo, The Fresh & Onlys, Dream Ritual, Guantanamo Baywatch, Brian Dewar, Warbly Jets, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Oh Sees.

Annie Hart (x2), Sløtface, Company of Thieves, Lushloss, Las Rosas, Boris, Shelley ShortCRITTÉ, Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease, Lambchop, Dina Maccabee, Hiss Golden Messenger, Looming, Faith Healer, Jogging House, Filthy Friends, TV Sets, Goat Girl, No Friends, Hairpins, The Warp/The Weft, Body Origami, Broken Social Scene, Shagg, Omni, Ice Balloons (x2), Max Chillen and the Kerbside Collective, Anna Tosh, Carmen Villain, Dabble, Hayden Calnin, Hand Habits, WHIMM, Grizzly Bear, Turnover, Coast Modern.

Sparks, Ian Randall Thornton, Har-Di-Har, Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs, The Shivers, Broncho, James Riotto, Naomi Punk, Tamino, Fassine, Shabazz Palaces, Jordan Klassen, Wet Dream, Offa Rex, Emily Reo, Kan Wakan, Night Talk, Cina Polada, Bombz, Cold Specks, Juiceboxxx, Pearl Earl, Zola Jesus, Absolutely NotNØMADS, Space Camp, Poppy Ackroyd, Oro Swimming Hour, Flesh WorldLød, Nassau, Living, The Anatomy of Frank, Quiet Hollers, Elle Mary & The Bad Men, Stone Irr, Lil Tits, Crooked Teeth.

King Borneo, Kazyak (x2), Swimming Tapes, Prism Tats (x2), Bloody Your Hands, Tom Hale, Fake Billy and the False Prophets, Electric Eye, Briana Marela, The Tambo Rays, Oly Sherman, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Everyone Is Dirty, Gladys Lazer, Fronds, Mappe Of (x2), Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Shout Out Louds, Heavenalive, Kabells, Flood Coats, Tempest le Mans, Spirit Award, Babygirl, Kinder, Weatherboy, Pawns, Memnon Sa, Mark Springer, Reese McHenry & Spider Bags, Triptides, Cadet Kelly.

The Weather Station, Will Hoge, A Valley Son, Shy, Low, Dent May, Parent, Jordan B. Wright, Kele OkerekeTed Leo, Blank Range, Tomo Nakayama, The Woggles, Whispertown, The Two Tens, Wild Honey, Sam ValdezSusanne Sundfør, Pill, Peakes, Muskets, THE VAN T’s, Ruby FrayRainer Maria, METZ, Lens Mozer, and Petite League.

Cool American – Maui’s (Stream)

It’s been about a week since the last non-premiere post has been published. In that time, incredible new songs from Yowler, Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires, The Districts, STRFKR, Van Dale, Wieuca, Basement Revolver, Katie Ellen, Shit Girlfriend, Pink Frost, Downtown Boys, Art School Jocks, Two Inch Astronaut, David Nance, and Esper Scout have all found their way out into the world. Cool American‘s “Maui’s”, the last track to tease Infinite Hiatus, also found release in that time.

“Maui’s” continues the project’s penchant for bittersweet basement pop driven as much by the innate charisma of Nathan Tucker — the mastermind behind Cool American — as it is by its dynamic composition. Swinging from lo-fi aesthetics to the kind of explosive, powerpop-leaning burst that should make Good Cheer a revered name, “Maui’s” finds exhilarating life in harnessing the unexpected. It’s another in an increasingly long line of triumphant moments for Cool American and it deserves to be played as loudly and as frequently as possible.

Listen to “Maui’s” below and pre-order Infinite Hiatus here.

Watch This: The Honorable Mentions of 2017’s First Quarter

Over the course of 2017’s opening three months, a lot of great material was released. Naturally, the most abundantly rich category wasn’t simply songs, music videos, or full releases, it was live videos. It’s been quite some time since the last Watch This ran on this site, an oversight being amended tonight, and in that time scores of great clips have surfaced. Below is an extensive list of some of the finest to have emerged over that time and all of which are more than worth the their runtimes. Of course, it’d be impossible to watch all of these in one sitting, so feel free to bookmark the page and sift through the selections whenever the feeling takes

Mitski, Jay Som, The Walkmen, Kississippi, SUÐNE-HI, Kamasi WashingtonMonica LaPlante, Tokyo Police Club, Money, Tank and the Bangas, Mary LynnCanshaker Pi, Allah-LasYeeshCommunionsHurray for the Riff Raff, Andy Shauf, Blue Rodeo, MOON, Temples, Born Ruffians,  Justin Vernon & Sean Carey, L.A. Salami (x2, 3), Bruno BavotaHórmónar, Mustard Gas and Roses, Pinegrove, Jean-Michael Blais & CFCF, Dude York (x2), Bash & Pop, Nail Polish, Ron Gallo, Lume, Slaughter Beach, Dog

Craig Finn (x2, 3), Honeyblood, Middle Kids (x2), No Parents, The Molochs, The Black Watch, Sløtface (x2), Looming, Lemuria, Campdogzz, Black Marble Selection, Clara Clara, ELLA, American Wrestlers (x2), The Coathangers, Outer SpacesSam Kogon (x2), Lilah Larson, Michal Pydo, Old 97s (x2, 3), Lizzo (x2), The Madcaps, Snail Mail, The Mysterons, Subcutanea, Holy Tunics, Hamilton Leithauser (x2, 3), Alex Lahey, GreyfaceAxel Flóvent, Diarrhea Planet, Peter Silberman, Luxury Death, Suburban Living

Microwave, The Cigarette Bums, RoyaCarinea, The Orions, Secret Crush, Tyrone Cotton, Fast Romantics, Izzy True (x2), Hand Habits, Priests (x2), Reality Something, Frances Cone, Moss, White Mystery, Tennis, Louie Louie, Adna, Let’s Eat Grandma, Kite Base, Twin Limb, Ty Segall, Morus Alba, Odd Robot, Coals, The New Pornographers (x2), VANT, Shame, Sierra Hull, MOON, Rose Cousins (x2, 3), Food Court, Grace Joyner, Mrs., Michael Nau, Nikki Lane (x2, 3), FIDLAR (x2, 3), The Melvins, Skyway Man, Big Eyes

Cherry Glazerr (x2), BAB, Savoy Motel (x2, 3), Laura Marling (x2), Mikey Erg, Thumpers, Fishbach, Emma Ruth Rundle, Horse Thief (x2), Black Marble, The Album Leaf (x2), Wet Lips, Bev Rage and the Drinks, Her Again, Esme Patterson, Death and Memphis, Nancy Pants, Mirel Wagner, John Doe, The Two Tens, Avi Buffalo, Lisa Hannigan, Andy Shauf, Mark Eitzel (x2), Marching Church, Chris Farren, Ahem, Cloud Nothings, BABY, Sweet Crude, Chicano Batman, Rubblebucket, Looks Like Mountains, Ladywolf

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Dead Man Winter (x2), Good DoomTÖLVA, Monobody, The Shacks, Fleurie, Molotoy, Parlor Walls, YDIMITU, The Gotobeds, Peacock Affect, Austra (x2), Dave Brannigan, Papier Tigre, Elephant Stone, You Blew It, Grand Parc, PAVVLA, Alice Jemima, Dusk (x2), Jens Lekman, PWR BTTM, Melkbelly, Nail Polish, Leif Vollebek, Shull, Jennifer Niceley, House of Wolves, Chuck Prophet, Fair City Fire, The Reptilian, Lil Sluggers, Mint Green, Local Natives, Henry Jamison

The Sonics, Nocturnal Habits, Julia Lucille, Loamlands, Halldór Eldjárn, The Hill Country Devil, DakaBrakha, The Chinchees, Oddissee, Way Worse, BADBADNOTGOOD, Tenfold, The Staves, The Vaughns, Sunflower Bean, Flasher, Weyes Blood, Charlotte Cardin, Mammút, Benjaminto, Naked Giants (x2), Hippo Campus, Delicate Steve (x2), White Reaper, Gurr, Muncie Girls, Julien Doré, Birdtalker, Mario Batkovic, Seu Jorge, Ace Henderson, Nudity, High Waisted, John Craigie, Sammus (x2, 3), Beach Slang

45ACIDBABIES (x2), Fiona Silver, Calico, Viagra Boys, Fox and the Acres, The Veils, Anna McLukie, Iguana Death Cult, Sad13 (x2), DIA, Hospital Job, Katie Ellen, Albin de la Simone, Nick Hakim, Holy Pinto, Nessi Gomes, Radio Eliza, Michigan Rattlers, Wallacy Willians e os Besouros, Dæphne, The Mysterons, Cincin, Listener, Rykarda Parasol, Magic Bronson, (T-T)b, Tourists, Foxing, Eyukalpitus, Twin Lords, Dijon, Red Baraat, Dan Layus, Camp Claude, Solilians, Andy Svarthol, Octave Noire, Benoît Lizen

Bishop Nehru, No Win, Hits Like A Girl, Sauna Accident, Bullet Points, Golden Grands, Strand of Oaks (x2, 3), The Singing Butcher, Fishbone, See Gulls, Santoros, Burn Fetish, Wildwood Kin, Noam Pikelny, Alejandro y Maria Laura, Gang of Four, RLLBLL, Star Anna, Industrial Revelation, Lohai, And Also the Trees, Bror Gunnar Jansson, Jealous of the Birds, Star Parks, Shawn Fogel, Joel and Bill Plaskett, Ess See, Edna Vazquez, Plastic Picnic, Rodney Crowell, Mother Mother, Molly Burch (x2, 3), Blind Pilot

The Kraken Quartet, Fraea, Other SunsNina Diaz & Luz Elena Mendoza, Alexandra Savior, The Big Pink, From Indian Lakes, Mike Wexler, Nimrod, Tyte Jeff, Mega Bog, Big Star’s Third, Robyn Hitchcock, Strange Americans, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Community Daughter, Severin Bells, Talmud Beach, Timber Timbre, Tall Heights, Tim Kasher, Sundara Karma, Guantanamo Baywatch, STEVENSTEVEN, ZenSoFly, asdfhg., Olivensteins, Becca Stevens, Grandaddy, Bad Licks, Maren Morris, The Memories, Sloucher

Klangstof, Moses Hightower, Les Aventures de President Bongo, Kite Base, Barbagallo, Mike Doughty, The Pukes, Mothers, Tom Tukker, Modern English, American Football, Kristin Hersh, Christopher Paul Stelling, Yasmine Hamdan, Candy Ambulance, Amelia Curran, Dane Terry, Midijoyful, Drumbeat Red, Jesca Hoop, South City Revival, The Awful Truth, Ages and Ages, and The Spring Standards.

Fake Palms – Heavy Paranoia (EP Review)

fake palms

The first trio of days this week were comprised of a large handful of impressive full streams that came via Ghost Gum, Katie Ellen, Ganser, Sculpture Club, The Royal They, Joey Sprinkles, Idiot Genes, Tongues, Edgar Clinks, Jackson Boone, Kyle Morton, and Residuels. There was also an incredible compilation that came courtesy of a collaboration between Swell Tone and Z Tapes entitled Summer of Sad. While each of those releases deserves all of the investment they’ll undoubtedly receive and more, this post’s feature spot falls to the great Fake Palms and their outstanding forthcoming EP, Heavy Paranoia.

Back in 2015, Fake Palms grabbed another of this site’s feature spots for their dark, insistent “Sun Drips“. It’s astonishing how much the band’s grown in that time and Heavy Paranoia is concrete proof of their accelerated sense of artistry. From the onset, Heavy Paranoia ably demonstrates the band’s creative expanse with the towering “Collar Bone”. Riding the crest of a monstrous wave of hooks, sharp riffing, and a cold atmosphere that’s — somehow — conjured up by almost exclusively warm tones, “Collar Bone” immediately becomes distinctive and sets a ridiculously gripping precedent for the quartet of tracks to follow.

“Holiday” and “Frequencies” both hurtle along at a quick pace that still allows Fake Palms to establish a sense of expanse. Both tracks are perfect examples of the band’s acute awareness of dynamic structure, successfully playing several angles in one fell swoop. Whether it’s to create a sense of mild discord through committing to figures designed to emphasize ambient effect rather than melody or in shifting the tonal qualities of their tracks, every idea works beautifully. Importantly, the band also expertly navigates the pacing of Heavy Paranoia, lending it a feel of completion that few EP’s have managed to achieve.

By the time Heavy Paranoia‘s closing track hits, Fake Palms have already secured the EP the distinction of being the best release of their career. Fortunately, that last track, “Snowblink”, only solidifies that distinction. As characteristically spare and relentless as the preceding songs on this miniature post-punk masterpiece, “Snowblink” does eventually hit an enormous, sprawling moment that serves as the climactic final sequence of both the song and the EP. Those final three minutes are the most exhilarating of a release that’s never anything less than arresting and ensure that Heavy Paranoia‘s a release worth remembering.

Listen to Heavy Paranoia below and pre-order the EP here.