Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: LA Font

Strange Ranger – Sunbeams Through Your Head (EP Review)

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Over the past two days, there were a handful of exceptional new tracks from the likes of Purling Hiss, Kississippi, Kevin Morby, Pop & Obachan, benngrigg, Busman’s Holiday, Trails and Ways, Emilyn Brodsky, Sun AngleTouché Amoré, Crying, Suburban Living, Kim Gordon, Henry Jamison, Light Fantastic, Levitations, Softspot, Rick Barry, and Shana Falana. Additionally, there were outstanding music videos from Martha (who also found room for an amusing Radiator Hospital cameo), Sex Stains, The White Stripes, Adam Torres, Wolf People, Chromatics, The Kills, Matt Kivel, and Nøise. Rounding everything out were incredible full streams via Oh Boland, Low Culture, Sat. Nite Duets, Left & Right, Human People, LA Font, Bad Kids To The Front, Cheshires, and Toy Cars.

While more than a handful of those were considered for this post’s featured spot, Strange Ranger secured the position by virtue of releasing an EP that contains a few of the finest songs to have been released all year. One of those, the record’s opening and title track, earned a healthy amount of recent praise. “Sunbeams Through Your Head” set an impressive, melancholic tone for its namesake which was released in full earlier today.

Following the haunted title track, Sunbeams Through Your Head could have gone a number of directions but chose to expand on its thesis statement. The EP’s second track, “Life Would Be Cooler”, is by far its longest and one of its most gripping. “Life Would Be Cooler” also turns out to be surprisingly economical in its narrative, painting a portrait of an intense (and intensely damaged) longing in less than 60 words, closing with a devastating plea that drives a staggering amount of genuine feeling home.

It’s an opening salvo that packs an emotional wallop but Strange Ranger stays on course for the next barrage of tracks, remaining unapologetic for their overwhelmingly weary nature and casting an atmospheric pall in the process. In a strange way, it’s almost moving, listening to the band support their most downtrodden tendencies with intuitively empathetic moments in the instrumental composition. “Dolph”, “Whatever You Say”, and especially the gorgeous, instrumental “Thru Your Head” all contain breathtaking moments of a deeply felt compassion.

Everything that the EP works towards comes splintering apart, quite literally, in the manic closing track, “oh oh oh oh”. From the outset of the record’s final statement, the vocals are cracking to the point of breaking as a mournful organ line runs underneath the pained theatrics. Those are the song’s only two elements and they grow more pronounced as the narrative grows more hopeless. Eventually the narrative’s abandoned altogether, buckling underneath its own weight and disappearing into the ether, as the organ figure delivers a somber eulogy. It’s a challenging, mesmerizing way to close out an incredible EP and allows Sunbeams Through Your Head to linger long after it’s gone. It’s company worth keeping.

Listen to Sunbeams Through Your Head below and download it here.

Noun – Fame and Famine (Stream)

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Over the past 24 hours, there have been quality streams from the likes of Real Numbers, LA Font, Wild Pink, Two Houses, Super Unison, Planes Mistaken for Stars, Dennis Callaci, Tokyo Tea Room, Balance and Composure, Raccoon Fighter, and Turnip King. On top of that, there were a string of music videos that emerged from the camps of Slow Down Molasses, Odonis Odonis, LUH, La Lenguas, Magik Magik, Yohuna, Moses Sumney, Brendan Canning, and Makeunder. Providing the day with a welcome dash of finality were full streams that were unveiled by Magic Trick, Ski Saigon, and The Hecks.

As always, all of those entries linked above are worth jumping over to and exploring with a certain level of intensity. However, they weren’t all that wound up being released Thursday. Screaming Females‘ Marissa Paternoster’s Noun project made an unexpected return with the jagged, lo-fi “Fame and Famine”. Quietly uploaded to Paternoster’s tumblr, “Fame and Famine” winds up benefiting from a pre-established tone of unpredictability.

While Paternoster may get the most recognition for Screaming Females, Noun has proven to be a project just as worthy. 2010’s Holy Hell, a consistently overlooked triumph, may even be Paternoster’s finest record to date (though the last few Screaming Females records have been hitting some exhilarating highs). Noun’s consistently allowed Paternoster a wider range of possibilities, making a new entry into the project’s discography a tantalizing prospect.

For “Fame and Famine”, Paternoster takes a direct, immediate route that fully commits to its lo-fi aesthetic and elevates itself via a comprehensive understanding of the format. There’s a surprising amount of nuance in the ambient beds that swirl beneath the insistent, repetitive main section that serves as the engine of “Fame and Famine”. Enhancing the aggressive disconnect that manifests in the narrative of “Fame and Famine” is the artwork the song’s projected over, one of Paternoster’s characteristically striking chalk-based originals.

Everything packaged together winds up being as disconcerting as it does galvanizing. There’s a nervous undercurrent of stress that imbues every second of “Fame and Famine”, lending it a feeling of completeness that can be rare in demos. It’s a fascinating glimpse towards one of today’s most fascinating, tireless artists and it’s another in a long line of formidable examples of Paternoster’s creativity and commitment. Tenacious, unnerving, and more than memorable, “Fame and Famine” is one of the best surprise standalone releases of recent memory.

Listen to “Fame and Famine” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the project.

Forth Wanderers – Slop (Stream)

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Over the course of the past 24 hours, there’s been some astonishing material finding its way out into the public eye. Gringo Star, LA Font, Hissing Tiles, CC Mose, toyGuitar, Liam Betson, ExSage, Hello Shark, Left & Right, Truly, and a pair of tracks from Girl Tears (“Uneasy” and “Sedated“) provided a momentous start to the day’s proceedings. Apart from the standalone streams column, there were fascinating music videos from Dinosaur Jr., Nice As Fuck, Vision, and Prinze George. Big Eyes, Color TongueThee MVPs, Rainwater, and a formidable compilation from Orchid Tapes cemented a strong haul for the full streams as well.

While those titles were all readily equipped to reward investment, today’s feature spot falls to the resurgent Forth Wanderers (whose vocalist Ava Trilling recently had an impressive guest spot on Space Mountains’ “Never Lonely“) and their incredible new track, “Slop”. The title track from the band’s forthcoming EP, “Slop” immediately stands out as the band’s career highlight. Riding a slow, deliberate groove, “Slop” capitalizes on the luxury afforded to the most effective slow-burners and becomes hypnotic.

At seemingly impossible odds with itself, there’s an incredible amount of nuance packed into a relatively straight-forward structure, Forth Wanderers utilize their impressive grasp on dynamics to exhilarating results. The band coaxes an inexplicable amount of beauty out of a piece ostensibly rooted in self-doubt, allowing the more confrontational aspects of the narrative to come across as a spiritual cleansing that provides “Slop” its beating heart. It’s a gorgeous four minutes and it sets the tone for what should prove to be a very big year for a band that deserves the recognition.

Listen to “Slop” below and pre-order the EP from Father/Daughter here.

A Third of the Way: Full Streams, 2015

“2015 has been a monstrous year for new music”, or some deviation of that phrase, has become a refrain that continues to gain strength as the year progresses. We’ve already tackled a long list of the first quarter full lengths that captured our attention but, as is the case with any year, April afforded a chance to get caught up on some titles while the new ones kept emerging. I genuinely wish I had the time to go over all of these titles in details (and I may wind up expanding on a few of them when December rolls around) but, unfortunately, time’s proving to be a cruel factor. Over the first four months of the year, I was committed to a full-time position and then navigated the slow exit from that position in order to pursue a move to Brooklyn. During that time span, I was collecting everything as it appeared and began to pitch out to larger publications. At one point I was working  an average of 75 hours a week. I made sure to never lose sight of new music and began compiling a list of the things I came across that I genuinely loved.

Whether it be something regional like Strange Relations’ -Centrism, something highly publicized like METZ’s II, any number of records from bands that have earned the tag “site favorite” (Speedy Ortiz, Sheer Mag, Purple 7, Courtney Barnett, Mikal Cronin, etc), or something that should have picked up more press than it did (Mittenfield’s Optimists, Bent Denim’s Romances You, etc), there were a lot of records that deserved to be fully featured. Hell, there are even a handful that are going to be running on the ensuing post- but 75 already feels like a scary number for one list. That being the case, it’ll be impossible for someone to listen through to all of these titles in one sitting. It’s best left as a bookmark, something to return to for the purpose of exploring. It’s a list that isn’t restricted to just one genre, it covers close to the entire gamut of the styles of music that regularly get featured on this site, meaning you’re bound to find something you love buried in the wealth of titles.

So, explore at will. Buy the titles that catch your ear and keep celebrating great art.

Enjoy.


Sleeping in the Aviary – Young Love Is Easy (Unreleased Demos)
Pocket Hercules – Pocket Hercules
Personal Best – Arnos Vale
Dusk – Demos
Fred Thomas – All Are Saved
Strange Relations – -CENTRISM
Try The Pie – Total Domestication
Pupppy – Shit in the Apple Pie
Hop Along – Painted Shut
Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
Flout – Gims
ThinLips – Divorce Year
Seagoat – Seagoat

Weird Mob – Wizards
Creative Adult – Ring Around the Room
Tomten – Bitter Pill b/w Humdrum Doom Song
METZ – II
The Lees of Memory – Soft Places b/w Within A Dream II
The Splits – The Splits II
Um Are – Child Prodigy
Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk – Kill The Fuzz
Loose Tooth – Easy Easy East
Pale Angels – Imaginary People
Fleabite – TTYL
Cop – Render
Bill Fay – Who Is The Sender
Sheer Mag – II
Shopping – Consumer Complaints
Red Cosmos – Dreaming In Unison
Throw Vision – Were It Will
Steven King – Shakin In My Boots
Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – Never Were The Way She Was
LA Font – Hangtime Vol. 1
Timeshares – Already Dead
Torres – Sprinter
Jacco Gardner – Hypnophobia
Bent Denim – Romance You
InfestDC – DZ Tapes
Violent Femmes – Happy New Year
Tomboy – Sweetie
Purple 7 – Gulf of the Afterglow
Elvis Depressedly – New Alhambra
Mouth – Mouth
Braids – Deep In the Iris
Yeesh – No Problem
Annalibera – Nevermind I Love You
Andy Gabbard – Fluff
Bay Uno – Catalina
Birches – Birches
Alimony Hustle – Gutter Gutter Strike Strike Gutter Gutter
The Black Ships – Dead Empires
Mac McCaughan – Non-Believers
Simon Joyner – Grass, Branch & Bone
Karate Dancer – Jyu Kumite EP
Toothtaker + Mestizo – Everybody’s Enemy
Sacred Paws – Six Songs
Mittenfields – Optimists
Pretty Pretty – Talkin’ To The Walls
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
The Sleepwalkers – Mortimer b/w Choose Your Own Ending
Candy Darling – Going Straight b/w Waves
Soda Bomb – Wanna Jam?
Kuroma – Kuromarama
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
Total Love – Total Love
Van Dammes – Better Than Sex
Michael Rault – Living Daylight
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
The Dead Ships – EP 1
Blue Blood – This Is The Life
DVS – DVTV
Tussilago – Holy Train
Earl Sweatshirt – Solace
Warm Soda – Symbolic Dream
Mikal Cronin – MCIII

Downies – Widow (Stream)

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Photo by Seth Applebaum

For a while now, I’ve been teasing Heartbreaking Bravery’s brief transition to full-blown catch-up mode. And, well, that time has come. Each of the ensuing posts will contain so much more than just the song, video, or album in the headline. Single songs will each come equipped with a list of 75 other great tunes to have appeared in 2015. A new music video mixtape will be arriving shortly as well as several other mixtapes to re-ignite the Watch This series, which time dictated be temporarily relegated to the sidelines. A lot of things will be heading in a lot of directions in the coming months so coverage may be sporadic but I will be damned if I let this site out of my thoughts and intentions for even a second.

With all of that noted, it’s time to get back to what drives this site’s existence: legitimately great art propelled by a DIY ethos. A lot of incredible music has emerged over the past several weeks with gems arriving every day (extremely recent company includes Eskimeaux, Sharpless, Flagland, Flyying Colours, Mitski, Upset, and so many more) so selecting one to feature has become an unenviable task- but sometimes history makes it easy. I was fortunate enough to hear some roughs of a band called Downies towards the start of the year and it immediately became one of my favorite releases, something that came as no surprise considering the group’s pedigree (I’ve yet to come across a LVL UP-affiliated project that I dislike, which can also be said of Porches.). Pushing things over the edge was the fact that Downies came off like a version of Purple 7 that was even more pop-happy but sacrificed none of that band’s considerable punch.

That exhilarating dynamic is perhaps most present in “Widow”, the band’s recently-unveiled warning shot. On its surface, it’s a frantically paced gut-punch that’s forceful enough to stop just about anyone in their tracks. Live, it’s a firecracker that seems hell-bent on total destruction. Stripped back to its bare essentials, it’s a song driven by a troubled subtext that’s directly hinted at in the title. Even setting aside the dissections of its particulars, “Widow” is a staggering show of force from a band that deserves to be ushered in with a high level of excitement.

Listen to “Widow” below and keep an eye on this site for continuing coverage of the band and the upcoming EP that houses this song. Beneath that is a list of 75 incredible songs that I wish I could attribute more words to, as they truly deserve to be held in praise, but- at this point- there’s simply too many items that have amassed. Soon, the site will be caught up and current releases will be accounted for as they enter the fold. For now, enjoy “Widow” and a long list of treasures.

NEEDS – Rescue Don
Walleater – Swallow You
Turn To Crime – Without A Care
Built to Spill – Never Be the Same
Thin Lips – Nothing Weird
Hollow Sunshine – Careful Travel
Toro Y Moi – Run Baby Run
Dutch Uncles – Realm
Cillie Barnes – Earthquake Season at the Crystal Convention
No Joy – Everything New
Inheaven – Regeneration
Crying – Patriot
Torres – Sprinter
Hop Along – Powerful Man
Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders – Kiss the Daddy
Dolores Haze – I Got My Gun
The Teen Age – Low Cunning
Funeral Advantage – I Know Him
Shadow Age – Silaluk
YAST – When You’re Around
Mittenfields – Optimists
Coeds – Sensitive Boys
PJ Bond – The Better Option
Pfarmers – The Ol’ River Gang
Round Eye – City Livin’
Val Son – Sundays
Lowin – Best Laid Plans
Alright – Watercolors
The Midwestern Charm – Can’t Stand It
The Bloodhounds – La Coahuila
Broken Water – Wasted
Trans Van Santos – The Flight
Weed – Yr Songs
Elliot Moss – Best Light
Girls Names – Zero Triptych
Communions – Out of My World
Two Sheds – Get It Out
Free Cake For Every Creature – The Day To Day
Elvis Perkins (ft. Alec Ounsworth) – Mexican Ritual
Loose Tooth – Pickwick Average
Barbazons – Bad Catholics
Eternal Summers – Together Or Alone
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Step Brother City
Mall Walk – Container
Verses Narrow – Passive
Nevada Nevada – Anger Tango
Annabel – Everything
Triumph of the Wild – Brown Dog Blues
Mitski – Square (Live Solo Piano)
Chick Quest – Somebody Call A Doctor
Downtown Boys – Future Police
Honey Butter (ft. Chris Savor) – Times
Tanlines – Invisible Ways
Heaters – Mean Green
Warm Soda – I Wanna Go Fast
Diamond Youth – Thought I Had It Right
LA Font – Whisperer
Palma Violets – English Tongue
Prinzhorn Dance School – Reign
FFS – Piss Off
Avid Dancer – Not Far To Go
Cheatahs – Murasaki
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire
Flyying Colours – Running Late
Eskimeaux – I Admit I’m Scared
Sharpless – Franz Kafka (Home Movies)
Flagland – Awesome Song, Kerry Jan
Tomboy – Tomboy Anthem
The Moi Non Plus – Away With Words
Upset – Glass Ceiling
Panther Ray – Get to You
The Weaks – Frances Quinlan Will Have Her Revenge on Philadelphia
Ka – Pruitt Igoe
Dogs On Acid – Substitute (The Who)
Creepoid – American Smile

Audacity – Counting the Days (Stream)

Audacity

We’ve hit the week’s midway point and it’s continued to impress on unreasonably strong levels. Music videos made the biggest impact this time around, with several threatening to steal today’s feature spot. Among them: Nude Beach‘s Children’s Museum of the Arts-assisted “For You” was a perfect example of a great band being great people, Sea Ghost crafted up a suitably gentle clip for “Cave Song“, Pissed Jeans proved they can be as ferocious in a visual medium as they are on record with their clip for the resuscitated “Boring Girls” [WARNING: Strobes], Teenager got tongue-in-cheek with “Hot Rods At The Loser Convention“, while both shotty and Spring King demonstrated their winsome penchant for lo-fi weirdness with their respective videos. On the single side spectrum, it was a huge day for post-punk ragers with excellent turn-ins from Crushed Beaks (“Rising Sign“), LA Font (“Bright Red Flame“), and Parkay Quarts- a duo version of Parquet Courts- who arrived on the strength of “Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth“, a song that’s already received coverage on this site in its earliest form as a Teenage Cool Kids song.

Another song that’s received coverage on this site is Audacity’s “Counting the Days”, thanks to their Jam in the Van performance. Incidentally, Audacity were the very first band to ever be featured on Heartbreaking Bravery, as their “Hole in the Sky” video came out the day this place began operating. All of that being the case, it’s always been easy to feel a strong connection to the band- especially since they’re currently riding a creative high peak as evidenced by last year’s outstanding Butter Knife and the just-released studio version of “Counting the Days”. Blending basement punk and basement pop into something that feels as galvanizing as it does cathartic has been one of the band’s specialties since their inception and “Counting the Days” proves they’ve just about mastered it. Fiery melodies collide with fierce instrumentals to create a knockout punch of a song and cement Audacity’s reputation as one of the best bands on their respective circuits.

Listen to “Counting the Days” below and pre-order the 7″ it headlines here.