Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Laura Jane Grace

Worriers – They/Them/Theirs (Stream)

worriers

There were a lot of great items that were released over the past week and, as such, this will be the first of many posts coming throughout the weekend. Each one will have a featured piece and approximately four other releases included with whatever’s in the title. To that end, before getting to Worriers’ impassioned career highlight “They/Them/Theirs”, we’ll be taking a look at some other memorable songs- and one great EP- that are worth hearing. Among them, Big Star’s Jody Stephens’ new project Those Pretty Wrongs and their lovely “Lucky Guy“, Spirit Club’s compellingly gentle basement pop tune “Fast Ice“, and theweaselmartenfisher‘s unbelievably stunning “Daguerrotype Reboot“. Add in Trophy Dad’s Shirtless Algebra Fridays EP and it would already have been an impressive quartet with four worthy potential features. Then, of course, there was “They/Them/Their”, a blistering basement punk tune that’s both a pointed commentary on gender roles and easily Worriers’ finest work to date.

Lauren Denitizo lays out the songs terms from the onset with one of the year’s best opening lines in “You’ve got a word for one/so there’s a word for all”, before capping that verse off with “what if I don’t want something that applies to me/what if there’s no better word than just not saying anything”, delivering a stark, no-bullshit narrative for the respect all people’s identities deserve to be met with in under 20 seconds. Of course, it’s only a fragment of what, even with no lyrics, would have been the sharpest music of Worriers’ expanding career. The lyric set, which serves as one of 2015’s most arresting, just sweetens the deal. Even brought down to the chorus’ “We are floating between two ends that don’t matter” (a sentiment that articulates in one line what Tica Douglas’ Joey managed to create a compelling album around) , “They/Them/Their” becomes Worriers’ implicit clarion call.

We’re currently in the midst of a landscape that’s changing for the better, allowing for greater empathy and humanism. It’s a shift that’s being met with derision from the people who feel challenged by the changes. Worriers have always had their patch of land picked out and their flag stuck in the dirt. Now, they’re delivering the most eloquent reasoning for why they’re in the right and laying out the reasons to follow their path. I’ll be on their side of this movement every time. Which side are you on?

Listen to “They/Them/Their” below  and keep an eye out on this site for more news on Imaginary Life, Worriers’ forthcoming album, which is due out via Don Giovanni on August 7.  

The Frankl Project – Day at the Races (Stream)

tfp

Pop-punk has always been a deeply problematic genre. More than just about any other style of music that gained significant attention throughout the last decade and a half, pop-punk seemed to get too hung up on its own hallmarks. Elongated vowels, clichéd lyrics about love and heartbreak, a certain amount of bombast, and a total unwillingness to say- or attempt- something new. If anyone broke from the tried-and-true mold, they stuck out like a sore thumb- and became all the more interesting for it. Enter: The Frankl Project. Their most recent full-length, 2013’s excellent Standards, was one of that year’s best surprises thanks to an emphasis on grit and humility unheard elsewhere. All of the songs on that record were backed up by intelligence and conviction- and an ample amount of instrumental chops. It was an inward look at very specific types of collapse that never became overwrought or overstepped its bounds. By the time its dozen songs had played themselves out, it was fairly evident that it deserved to be embraced as either a genre classic or a very welcome step forward for a style that’d become so redundant.

Last month, during this site’s festival coverage period, the Cincinatti trio quietly released Little Wrecking Ball, an online-only two-song effort. While the title track works well as a lead-off (and on its own), it’s the second song of the pair that steals the show. Everything that made Standards so great has been pinpointed and emphasized, leaving no doubt that the band should be heading places. Furthering this theory is the fact that “Day at the Races” was recently hand-picked by Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace to  lead off the unsigned side of Xtra Mile Recordings fascinating (and absolutely vital) Smokin’ (Signed vs.  Unsigned) compilation. It’s easy to see what Grace finds so appealing here; the guitar tones are incendiary, the song structure is intelligent, the instrumental sections are uniformly excellent, the down-trodden lyrics are clever but contained, and the drop to half-time that closes everything out at the end is a thing of perfection. Moreover, when guitarist/vocalist Jacob Tippey sings, and this is key, it’s difficult not to believe everything he says. Tippey’s delivery is as purposeful as the music itself and pairing the two together makes for an explosive combination. Underneath his impassioned delivery, a menacing bassline (courtesy of Paul Schroder, who took the extraordinary shot that serves as the release’s cover) is joined by Joseph Frankl’s always-impressive drumming and Tippey’s inventive, meldoy-heavy guitarwork. All of those elements together make for a molotov cocktail of a tune that proves pop-punk can still be something worth listening to.

Listen to “Day at the Races” below and make sure to catch these guys next time they hit the road- their live act’s not one worth missing.