Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Let’s Pretend Records

Patrick Jennings – Immediate (Album Stream, Review)

Hot New Mexicans, PURPLE 7, and Middle Children have all put out some of the present decade’s best basement punk (and basement pop) records. A common thread running through all of those titles is Patrick Jennings, who has gained notoriety inside DIY punk circles for exceptionally strong songwriting but has been wildly overlooked outside of those circles. For those fortunate enough to have heard Jennings’ work, they’re aware that anything the songwriter puts out is worthy of some anticipation.

Yet, that anticipation is never quite afforded to artists like Jennings due to the nature of how bands and songwriters in that sphere operate. If you’re not following their personal soundcloud, seeing them test new material on tour in a sweaty dive bar, or they’re not posting new snippets of songs on social media, it’s impossible to know whether new material’s coming at all. When this post was first being written, the included content was the demos of these songs that Jennings had posted to a personal soundcloud. When that playlist was pulled, it was hard to know whether to be doubtful or hopeful.

Thankfully, a short while late, Immediate arrived as a fully-formed record, with the earlier songs fleshed out in full band arrangements. And, as always, the songs continue to impress. A personal friend once told me that when Jennings sang, they believed him. That air of conviction has bled through all of the songwriter’s past work and continues to peek through on Immediate. There’s a rough-hewn scrappiness that’s served as Jennings’ trademark, accentuating and strengthening a constant that’s served the material to perfection: mid-fi production.

Production value’s not typically an overwhelmingly important detail but there’s a very GBV-esque quality to all of Jennings’ materials that seems to exist so harmoniously with the actual material that its next to impossible not to view it as another instrument when it comes to the work on display. With some brief exceptions, it’s become an unlikely trademark that continues to pay rewarding dividends, lending those records a cassette-like quality that honors the history of multiple genres.

On Immediate, Jennings continues and expands on where the songwriter’s last solo effort, Careful Now, left off. Most of these are mid-tempo basement pop rockers that draw from punk, Americana, and soul to congeal into something singular. From top to bottom, Immediate is unmistakably the work of Jennings, who has cultivated a fascinating identity in a pocket of the music world that tends to bleed together.

A record that lives up to its title, Immediate is a record that sinks in right away, a brusque and enjoyable ride through pointed narratives and straightforward tempos. Immediate revels in the mundane and takes care in its embellishments, proving yet again that Jennings deserves far more attention. While this post isn’t nearly enough, at least it might be a start. Don’t miss out on this one.

Listen to Immediate below and download a copy here

Meat Wave – Erased (Stream, Live Video)

meatwave

Since this site started, I’ve been fortunate enough to make some direct connections with bands I’ve had a genuine, long-standing love for. One of the acts that stands out most, especially in those respects, is the Chicago-based Meat Wave. Back in October, we were lucky enough to host Meat Wave as part of the first-ever Heartbreaking Bravery Presents and in the time that’s followed, the band’s (unsurprisingly) been generating quite a bit of noise. A sold-out show in Brooklyn with Perfect Pussy here, one of 2015’s best EP‘s there, headlining a VICE house party in London, dropping an endearingly scrappy slasher clip for a song… the band’s had a pretty good year. Now, with new material from a forthcoming record starting to surface, it’s only set to get better.

“Erased”, the band’s latest, is a glimpse at what the band’s got in store for the future. They’ve retained their Wipers-leaning bent but transformed it into something even more tenacious. Sounding more intensively focused and bold than ever, “Erased” gets taken up a few levels thanks to one of guitarist/vocalist’s Chris Sutter’s most snarling performances (and a characteristically powerhouse turn-in from the band’s rhythm section, made up of drummer Ryan Wizniak- who also played with Sutter in the excellent Truman & His Trophy– and bassist Joe Gac). Off-kilter and absolutely unhinged, “Erased” sounds downright feral while elevating all of the elements that have made Meat Wave one of the most formidable bands in the Midwest. It’s a tantalizing step forward for the band and it remains as powerful- and as deceptively catchy- as it was when the band used it to open their set back in October. Video of that performance can be found below the embedded stream. As for the album, keep an eye on this site for any further details- they’ll be posted as they’re received.

Listen to (and watch the live video of) “Erased” below.

Meat Wave – Sham King (Music Video)

meatwave

Now that the site’s all caught up on songs, it only seemed natural to overhaul the music videos as well. Here, the formatting will be slightly different than it has in the past for this format, with 35 excellent clips being linked beneath the main feature, Meat Wave’s slasher-indebted short that accompanies the bruising “Sham King” off their tremendous EP from this year, Brother. Before going any further, it’s worth noting that Meat Wave is one of the few bands that will always have a special place carved out in reference to this site, having played the first-ever Heartbreaking Bravery Presents to help this place celebrate its first anniversary (several months after they were featured as part of the site’s On the Up series). Their self-titled record is still one of the best things to have come out of this decade, so any time the band does anything of note, it’s probably a safe bet it’ll secure a feature spot here. Which leads us back to the focus of this piece: “Sham King”.

In the Andrew Robert Morrison-directed clip for “Sham King”, a lot of things are at stake. Most notably, the bands lives. A grim reaper figure, complete with a scythe atop a bicycle, mercilessly stalks the power trio through dead, snow-capped streets. During the opening chase, Morrison (who also edited the video) injects the clip with a serious sense of dissonance with furiously paced loop-back smash cuts, lending the affair an added sense of disquiet. Before long, death zeroes in on guitarist/vocalist Chris Sutter, who leads the masked figure on a chase through an abandoned warehouse. Vantage points switch and become a narrative function as the viewer’s occasionally allowed to take on the first-person viewpoint from behind the killer’s mask, effectively rocketing up the video’s sense of tension. When one side emerges victorious, a solo is mimed in front of a towering wall of various amps before giving way to the video’s final shot- which ranks among one of my favorite images from the year.

Watch the madness of “Sham King” unfold below and pick up the Brother EP here. Beneath the clip, watch 35 other great videos from the past few weeks. Expect regular coverage to resume throughout this new week and going into the future.

Day Creeper – Luxury Condominium
Ryan O’Reilly – Northern Lights
Little Death Machine – Pale
Hallelujah the Hills – Destroy This Poem
Algiers – Irony. Utility. Pretext
Dan Deacon – When I Was Done Dying
The Go! Team – What D’you Say?
King Tuff – Madness
Modest Mouse – Lampshades of Fire
Chastity Belt – Cool Slut
The Bandicoots – Mind Your Manors
Stella – Last Minute Boy
Hey Elbow – Ruth
Coliseum – Sunlight In A Snowstorm
Ceremony – The Separation + The Understanding
Built to Spill – Living Zoo
Pile – Rock And Roll Forever With The Customer In Mind
Albert DeMuth – Finally Found A Job
Gymshorts – Hey Parents
Oscar – Daffodil Days
Modern Vices – Smoke Rings
The Great Albatross – Righteous Man
Turnover – New Scream
Oh Land – Half Here (Live One Take)
KEN Mode – Blessed
A Place To Bury Strangers – What We Don’t See
The Smashing Pumpkins – Drum + Fife
Pinact – Anxiety
Laura Marling – Gurdjieff’s Daughter
Inheaven – Regeneration
Hot Chip – Need You Now
Great Cynics – Lost In You
Le Volume Courbe (ft. Kevin Shields) – The House
Algiers – Blood
Courtney Barnett – Depreston

Heartbreaking Bravery Presents, Vol. 1: Meat Wave, Mumblr, Geronimo! (Videos)

G

Time to get unnecessarily personal, starting with a number. 365. 365 days, more accurately. It’s a long time to dedicate to anything and it’s the mark that this site hits today, with it’s 365th post. It’s been an insane (and insanely rewarding year), one that’s helped define the past year of my life. I owe this place a lot and it’s given me more than I’d ever hoped for- from one of my closest friends (and patron saint of Heartbreaking Bravery) to an overwhelming amount of support from the labels I genuinely love (especially in the cases of Double Double Whammy and Exploding in Sound) as well as more than a few artists- and guaranteed that this site wouldn’t be relegated to a passing interest. The reason I own a nice camera, the reason I flew out of the country, and a whole arsenal of reasons for my decisions to continue pursuing music journalism by any means possible can all be traced directly back to this site. It’s been humbling to watch it grow (in both size and scope) and it will be fascinating to look back on this very post a year from now as its constant evolution has the potential to open several intriguing doors. Even comparing yesterday’s Halloween post to the very first thing to be published here, there are more than a few noticeable differences.

With a wide set of rules for the site now firmly in place, from the every-50 post Mixtape to the every-Sunday Watch This, this site has kept me on my toes. Gender identifiers don’t get used, ethnicity doesn’t get specified, orientation and preferences are given a deep amount of respect, and everything is treated with empathy because music’s simply that: music. It’s a universal act of artistry that I built this site to support in the best way I could see fit: by shining spotlights on the emerging artists that truly deserved the attention. Granted, their have been a few names to get written up over the year- but that’s only because they either produced something masterful or remained true to a DIY ethos.

Keeping all of that in mind, I was fortunate enough to be gifted an opportunity to celebrate this year-in-existence mark with a showcase. Everything came together at the right time and I wound up putting together the first-ever Heartbreaking Bravery Presents showcase, featuring three bands that had earned positive reviews from this site. Meat Wave and Geronimo! were the first two bands to sign on, as they were touring from their home town of Chicago up to New York for CMJ as a predecessor to Geronimo!’s bittersweet goodbye, then- by some weird miracle- Mumblr wound up with a free night and an open tour slot and became a late addition. A Blue Harbor, a band that started off as a solo project and then turned into a band (full disclosure: I play bass in the full band version), provided the local support. Everyone piled into a basement venue called The Powerstrip and all three touring bands played their hearts out to a rotating cast of people that exceeded 100 by some margin. After playing a quick set, I set up camp and filmed the majority of Meat Wave, Mumblr, and Geronimo!‘s sets, which can now be seen below. I’ve played a lot of shows and I’ve seen quite a few more than I’ve played- but none have meant as much as this one. So, thanks to the bands for coming out and playing this, thanks to the readers for reading, thanks to the artists and labels for caring, thanks to the writers who have expressed interest in contributing content, and thanks to literally anyone else that has even been a tangential part of making this site’s continued existence possible. I will always be in your debt and you will always have my gratitude. Thank you. Here’s to another year of growth and positive change.

Without further ado: here’s the footage from this site’s first showcase. Enjoy.

MEAT WAVE

MUMBLR

GERONIMO!

Meat Wave – Brother (Music Video)

mwav

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Apologies for the delay on this post, it was held up pending a confirmation. That confirmation just came through and a regular daily wrap-up of today’s releases will be posted later on in the evening. This post has been edited to reflect its current standing.]

Tuesday was a much quieter today for great new releases than Monday’s mind-boggling output- but the few things that were released managed to hold their ground. Menace Beach’s “Come On Give Up” gave the day a swift kick and got things moving with fuzzed-out basement pop. Happy Diving teased their upcoming full-length Big World with another attention-ensuring track, “Sad Planet“, which provides a glimpse of what’s turning out to be a fairly enviable range (and is one of the year’s better songs). AV Club also contributed to today’s haul with the full stream of the record that’s earned quite a few mentions on this site over the past few weeks: Little Big League’s Tropical Jinx, which emphatically capitalizes on its early promise and is more than good enough to be listened to on a regular basis well into 2015.

Now, admittedly, there’s more than one reason that Meat Wave’s first music video, “Brother”, earned today’s feature spot. Before getting to the auxiliary aspects, two things are worth noting: 1. Meat Wave is a band that’s been on this site’s radar for a long while. 2. “Brother” is one of the more perfect visual representations of a band’s style this year. Those two facts alone would have given it today’s feature spot, with the rest just acting as a sizable bonus. “Brother” is an all-out blitz of a song, reveling in an off-the-rails aggression that’s always guaranteed the band was a serious force to be reckoned with- something the video taps into expertly.

Made up entirely of jagged quick-cuts and stop motion shots, “Brother” is as deliriously frenetic as it is disorienting and ferocious. What makes it stand out is a peculiar sense of humor that the band brings to the clip. It’s also worth mentioning that this is a video for a song that was released two years ago, from a record that’s still holding up impossibly well. With the video providing a reminder that this music is as immediate (and feral) as it’s ever been, Meat Wave’s also managed to bring across a very subtle message in the visual medium: the knives are out and the band’s no longer content to stay still. This is likely part of the reasons as to why the band will be joining site favorites Geronimo! (whose Cheap Trick is one of this year’s best records) on their farewell tour- which is a topic that brings up something else entirely.

Heartbreaking Bravery will be presenting a stop on the tour.

On October 18, both bands will be stopping at a house venue (The Powerstrip) in Stevens Point, WI. Sweetening the deal is the fact that they’ll be joined by Mumblr, a Philadelphia-based band whose recently released Full of Snakes  is full of highlights (“Sober” being one of 2014’s finest songs) and exists in the exact space that this site most frequently celebrates; the perfect marriage of basement punk and basement pop. It’ll be the first of what will hopefully be many forays into live shows (and subsequent documentation). Cameras will be rolling and footage will certainly be appearing at some point in the future. So, stay tuned and try to make it out- this should be a celebration to remember.

Watch “Brother” below, download Meat Wave from the band’s bandcamp, and check out the flyer for the show below the video (as well as all of Meat Wave’s other tour dates).

hbbpres

10-14- Beachland Ballroom- Cleveland, OH^
10-17- Kryptonite – Rockford, IL*
10-18- Powerstrip- Stevens Point, WI*
10-20- Township- Chicago, IL*&
10-21- Mahall’s- Cleveland, OH*
10-22- Sharkweek- Pittsburgh, PA*
10-23- Philamoca- Philadelphia, PA*
10-24- Shea Stadium- Brooklyn, NY
10-25- Silent Barn- Brooklyn, NY*

* = w/ Geronimo!
^ = w/ The Lemons, Lasers and Fast and Shit
& = w/ Dope Body, High Priests


Pretty Pretty – Feels Like Rain (Stream)

prpr

Once again, the past few days have provided a decent amount of material making it difficult to figure out which to feature. Most notably, two vicious post-punk numbers from the likes of Cycle Schmeichel and BODY. The former is full of a restlessness that aids Cycle Schmeichel’s wiry post-punk tendencies well, while the latter is a foreboding piece of hard-charging, rapidly-building tension characterized by nervousness before allowing an exhilarating release. Both are among the best songs to have come out of this month thus far- and September’s already seen two of the strongest weeks for new music this year. On top of both of those, Pretty Pretty finally released their Sweater Leather 7″ tracks via their bandcamp, which they’d previously teased with the sugar-coated title trackSweater Leather not only manages to live up to the promise of that initial look but occasionally surpasses it, including “Feels Like Rain”- the closing track.

While “Feels Like Rain” isn’t quite as hard-charging as the trio of tracks that come before it (including easy standout “You Say“), it does manage to act as a perfect finale piece’ it summarizes nearly everything that precede that moment while serving as a reminder of Pretty Pretty’s specific strengths. From the call-and-response vocals to the vintage 90’s crunch in the guitar tones, it’s difficult not to see “Feels Like Rain”- and Pretty Pretty, by extension- for what it is: a perfect slice of sun-splashed punk-leaning popwerpop. There’s an underlying intelligence in the song’s composition that reveals itself in the details; the light riffing before the main guitar part kicks in, the subtly clever lyrics, and the general dynamics all point towards Pretty Pretty being a band that takes their songwriting very seriously. Fortunately, their efforts pay off in full and make Sweater Weather one of the more memorable 7″ releases of the year.

Listen to “Feels Like Rain” below and keep an eye on both Let’s Pretend and Mandible for the impending release of the physical copy.

Two Houses – Disappointer (Stream)

twohouses1

Let’s Pretend Records are one of the most consistent record labels in America, yet their releases are niche enough that they haven’t had an act break through to a wider audience. While it’s unlikely that day will ever come (though it’d be welcome if it did), they’re probably better off for it. Between Vacation, Dead Dog, Treasure Fleet, PURPLE 7, Tight BrosVånna Inget, Kicking Spit, and Nervosas, they’ve had a direct hand in some of the very best records of the last few years. Now, to extend their unlikely winning streak, the label’s partnering up with Rad Girlfriend Records to release Two Houses’ Disappointer 7″.

Operating in a left-field punk-leaning basement pop vein (a la Cheap Girls, Sundials, The Sidekicks, etc.), the Chicago-based trio’s crafted an unlikely collection of songs, highlighted by the title track. While all of the songs include unexpected passages, it’s “Disappointer” that twists and turns the most, making room for atmospheric riffing, surprisingly effective syncopation, and a very strong lyrical outing that underscores how arresting blending miniature vignettes into something whole can really be. It’s an incredibly strong moment that defines what’s easily the band’s finest offering yet.

Listen to “Disappointer” below and pick up a copy of the EP here.

PURPLE 7 – Wise Up (Stream)

p7

Among the few who have heard (and loved) it, there aren’t very many records to have been released since the turn of the century that can come even close to touching Hot New Mexicans’ should-be-classic self-titled sophomore effort. Hot New Mexicans was that band’s final release before their bandleader, Patrick Jennings, moved camp from Athens to Bloomington and joined up with Will Statler  (of Defiance, Ohio and Landlord) and Chris Mott (also of Landlord) to form PURPLE 7. Following their excellent five-song effort, Volume Two, the band’s released Jewel Finger in a limited edition LP run, which marks their first full-length to receive a physical release.

Quietly self-released just a little under a month ago, Jewel Finger is an absolute stunner and, from top to bottom, one of 2014’s very best. More than just a sum of the band member’s previous projects, they’ve already established an original voice of their very own. While the influences of their past work are still very clearly present, they’ve tapped into something else that feels entirely new, despite still trafficking in left field basement pop. From the attention-ensuring opening songs to the absolutely gorgeous title track and the arresting closer, this is a full-bodied work from a band confident enough to present themselves in a completely unguarded fashion. Most representative of all of this, though, is the raucous “Wise Up”.

“Wise Up” seems to stand out in a record literally full of highlights thanks to featuring an even more manic energy than the songs that surround it. From the stop/start rhythms to the buzzsaw riffs, menacing bass line, and impassioned vocal delivery, it’s the point where Jewel Finger shifts from truly great to completely transcendental. Continuously working in new ideas with verve and panache, “Wise Up” refuses to relent from being as gnarled, and as engaging, as possible. It’s the defining moment of a genuinely great record and deserves to be heard by anyone with even just a passing interest in the genre. This is a masterclass in songwriting and cements PURPLE 7’s growing importance- and reputation. Modern music doesn’t get much better than this.

Listen to “Wise Up” below and make sure to order a copy of Jewel Finger before they’re gone- this is a record that needs to be in as many collections as possible.

Vacation – Every Direction (Stream)

vacation

Vacation seem to have earned themselves a reputation as being an increasingly popular pick for “your favorite band’s favorite band” and it’s not difficult to figure out why. Each of their releases has been embraced by their respective community as nothing less than celebratory affairs. Add the fact that a few of the members of Vacation also spend time in Tweens, helping their wide-scale exposure out, and all of the pieces are already in place for new levels of success.

After Candy Waves  topped a slew of genre specialists “Best of 2012” lists, the trio had already carved out a name for themselves. Tweens’ unlikely (but entirely welcome) 2013 breakout raised questions of what the implications would be for Vacation. As of a few days ago, the band’s provided a definitive answer in rousing fashion with a demo for “Every Direction” and promises of a subsequent full-length and tour. Most surprisingly, however, is the shift from a trio to a quartet, and a switch at drums. Make no mistake, though, this is still very much Vacation, now just a little more fleshed-out. Hell, “Every Direction” just might even be their finest outing yet. All cutthroat riffs and irresistible melody, it’s an immensely effective tease for whatever they’ve got in store. Whatever it is, it’ll almost certainly be more than worth the now-stratospheric levels of anticipation.

Listen to “Every Direction” below and keep a keen eye (or two) on the band’s facebook page for any further updates.

Pretty Pretty – Leather Weather (Stream)

Pretty Pretty XI

Pretty Pretty has been a name that’s appearing with greater frequency in the “bands to follow” conversation. Apart from their blistering 2012 demo, the band hasn’t released any music. That’s changing soon with the release of their upcoming Leather Weather 7″. From the early sounds of it- and from the way the band’s been playing live– their band’s not going anywhere soon. They’ve upped their fidelity and tightened up their songcraft, as a result their music feels more vibrantly alive than sterile. “Leather Weather” was an easy highlight from their recent set with Swearin’ and the recorded version holds up. All sunny melodies and hard-charging punk-tinged powerpop, the song’s sharp teeth show through its disarming smile. A guitar solo cuts its way into the mix at around the halfway point and reinvigorates the whole thing just as it should be getting old. Following that, the song’s explosive second half indulges in spoken overdubs, a primal bridge, and general fierceness. By the time it plays itself out, the song feels vital enough to make this a must-buy release whenever Mandible and Let’s Pretend deem it fit for release. Keep both eyes peeled for that one- until then just play the title track as many times as possible (and revisit their demo for maximum enjoyment).

“Leather Weather” can be heard below.