Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Killer

The Best of December 2018: Songs, Music Videos, and Records

Only a few days have passed since we turned to a new calendar year and everyone’s looking ahead to resolutions. While that’s a natural way to progress, sometimes it’s worth casting a glance back, especially when the recent past was so fruitful. In all three of the major release categories (songs, music videos, and full streams), there were gems unearthed throughout December. This post is one last look at a very specific slice of 2018 before this site catches up to everyone else and reveals its picks for Music Video, Song, and Album of the Year. In honor of a recent series of tweets from Small Albums, all of the reviews below will be two sentences or less. A few of the selections below might even make an appearance. Hedge your bets on which by exploring all the offerings below.

SONGS

1. Very Jazzed – Get A Job

A tongue-in-cheek post-punk rambler that’s as defiantly joyous as it is self-deprecating. “Get A Job” finds Very Jazzed in an immediate, accessible mode that suits them perfectly.

2. Guided By Voices – My Angel

One of the most dependable acts of the last few decades keeps surging forward with “My Angel”. A characteristically brief burst of energy, melody, and understanding from Guided By Voices.

3. Tørsö – Grab A Shovel

“Grab A Shovel” more than shows why Tørsö have become a revered emerging force on the DIY hardcore circuit. Gnarled, snarling, and unforgiving, it’s a monster of a track from an act worth following.

4. The Gentleman Losers – Make We Here Our Campfire

The Gentleman Losers crafted an enigmatic beauty in their recent Make We Here Our Campfire, a record headlined by its spellbinding title track. Melancholic and intuitive, “Make We Here Our Campfire” grips the senses like a vice, pulling the listener in until the very end.

MUSIC VIDEOS

1. Eerie Wanda – Sleepy Eyes

A hybrid clip for Eerie Wanda’s “Sleepy Eyes” serves as a perfect complement to the song. Part lyric video, part traditional footage, “Sleep Eyes” takes a simple concept and guides it to memorability.

2. Amos Pitsch – Piece of the Season

Tenement and DUSK‘s Amos Pitsch returns to the holiday spirit after 2017’s Lake Effect with “Piece of the Season”. Delivered in tandem with partner Julia Blair’s “Merry Christmas (To the Ones Who Are Lonely)“, “Piece of the Season” sees Pitsch surrounded by quintessential hallmarks of a Wisconsin winter (and delivers one of the year’s best shots in a quick-hitting sledding sequence).

3. Spirit Was – Golden Soul

LVL UP‘s dissolution may only be a few months in the past but its members are already going full bore with their new projects, including Nick Corbo’s Spirit Was. “Golden Soul” is a beautiful introduction-at-large to the project, the moody visuals perfectly suited to Corbo’s slow-burn songwriting mentality.

4. Noname – Blaxploitation

“Blaxploitation” is delivered not just as a music video but as a film, suggesting Noname‘s visual ambitions are just as bold as the ambition evidenced in the music. Playing off the monster movie film canon to supplement a pointed social commentary, “Blaxploitation” earns the film designation.

5. La Dispute – Rose Quartz / Fulton Street I

Every so often, something that’s so tethered to something deeply personal gives me reason to break this site’s “no first person” clause and in the case of La Dispute‘s gorgeously animated “Rose Quartz / Fulton Street I” it’s this: I was in a horrific car accident after a deer jumped a barricade on the interstate and left my partner’s previous car as a total loss. A scene, with some added symbolism, of an extremely similar nature is depicted throughout this clip and explores something that feels unflinching honest in its surreal, gently nightmarish portrayal.

6. Phoebe Bridgers – Killer

Phoebe Bridgers Stranger In the Alps is holding strong as one of the better records of the past few years and the sublime, crisp black-and-white clip for “Killer” serves as a stark reminder of its potency. A tender, engaging clip for a song worthy of this kind of treatment.

FULL STREAMS

1. Mister Goblin – Final Boy

While Two Inch Astronaut has taken a bow, Sam Woodring is still going strong, a fact evidenced by a sterling debut effort from the songwriter’s newest project, Mister Goblin.  Keeping Two Inch Astronaut’s core sensibilities intact but providing them a slightly lighter sheen, Woodring finds a joy in exploring some (mostly) untapped spaces and that joy translates into a rewarding listen.

2. pting – beep beep

beep beep stands out as a charming effort from pting pting, offering three tracks of punk-indebted slacker pop that are worth every revisit.

3. Strange Ranger – etc.

A project that’s been a site favorite for a few years keeps finding intriguing ways to evolve. etc. is a fascinating left turn for Strange Ranger but one that’s in keeping with their recent exploratory bent, finding them in a bed of acoustic warmth that still has room for the electronic-heavy collaborative closer.

4. Lrrr & Maxshh – Thank You, Lrrr, You’re Welcome Maxshh

Thank You, Lrrr, You’re Welcome Maxshh is an endearing split release from Lrrr and Maxshh, which finds the two projects squaring off, collaborating, and contributing a Frankie Cosmos cover for good measure. A mid-fi bedroom/basement pop triumph.

5. Laura Stevenson – The Mystic & The Master

One of today’s most underrated songwriters returns and offers two strong, heartfelt tracks of contemporary folk pop. Imbued with empathy and subtle artistry, “The Mystic & The Master” and “Maker of Things” are more than deserving of their place in Laura Stevenson‘s discography.

6. Spirit Was – Golden Soul

As stated above, though LVL UP’s gone, multi-instrumentalist Nick Corbo’s most certainly not. Golden Soul finds Corbo sinking deep into contemplation while clinging to a torch, ready to set everything ablaze at a moment’s notice.

7. Another Heaven – FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER

While FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER FOR EVER is a title destined to have people counting on their fingers, the songs it contains are more likely to make listeners feel a sense of awareness. Urgent, thoughtful, and nearly overwhelming, Another Heaven have released a behemoth of an EP that stands among 2018’s finest releases.

Phylums – Go Home (Stream)

phylums

Another day’s come and gone and another glut of excellent new releases has been left for exploration. Between Albert Hammond Jr.’s Momentary Masters and Seapony’s A Vision, the full stream category was richly represented. An impressive roster leaning more heavily on big names than usual comprised a strong showing for music videos with acts as varied as Major Lazer (ft. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley), Elbow, Samantha Crain, and Jason Isbell all making intriguing contributions.

The day’s single streams leaned fairly heavily on fiery punk-tinged numbers but did make room for one glitchy ambient outlier; Fine Print’s moody “Can’t Lie“. Womps’ gloriously ragged “Live A Little Less” offered no shortage of pure exhilaration and Ghetto Ghouls’ “Hezbollah” maximized lo-fi grit and manic energy to great effect. While each of the linked items is worthy of a click (and of passing along to your friends), today’s feature spot goes to the WI-based Phylums.

Normally, I do my best not to use any type of identifier for the artists that get covered in here unless it plays a special function in their art because music is a universal craft that can (and should) be defined by so much more than gender and/or location. “Go Home” will be a rare exception to this rule just because it adds a bit of a personal punch for someone that recently moved halfway across the country from the state Phylums call home.

Phylums also boast an impressive pedigree through their members’ respective back catalogs (any band that has any ties to The Goodnight Loving– one of the best bands to ever come out of WI- will always have my attention) and that’s guaranteed them the attention of anyone even tangentially aware of what’s happening in that state’s DIY punk scene. “Go Home” is the first look at their first full-length, affirming just about every suspicion that’s been leveled at the band since forming; this is genuinely great music.

Taking a handful of cues from Nuggets and blending in the slapdash approach of the members’ various other projects and past experience (including- but not limited to- Holy Shit!, WI’s finest hardcore band), the quartet have wound up settling into a jangly psych-tinged basement pop groove and are- probably unsurprising- already far outstripping most bands kicking around that genre.

What’s more, “Go Home” carries with it a genuine sense of place; “Go Home” sounds like a loving homage to the environment where Phylums create. There’s a feeling it evokes that’s indescribably familiar- a visual suggestion of sprawling expanses of some light urban decay, rolling, tree-lined highways, and a lot of dairy farms. I’ve played through “Go Home” more than a dozen times already and on each subsequent listen I’m a little more tempted to take the song up on its title’s command- then I just close my eyes and as the song washes over everything, I’m practically back in the throes of the state that raised me- and that’s about as meaningful as praise gets.

Listen to “Go Home” below and keep an eye on the always-remarkable Dirtnap for pre-orders (and another on this site for more updates).