Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Let’s Pretend

Meat Wave – Sham King (Music Video)

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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)

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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!

Pretty Pretty – Feels Like Rain (Stream)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

On the Up: Nervosas

Nervosas have had a whirlwind year since releasing their self-titled 2xLP debut album via Let’s Pretend Records. They went from a tucked-away secret to a band whose name seemingly dominated year-end conversations in more than a few specialty circles for the latter half of the year. Nearly every distro that Nervosas or any of their previous releases were available in are currently out of stock. After word got out about how good Nervosas really was, there was a grassroots word-of-mouth brushfire that propelled the band towards the upper echelons of punk.

Their trajectory has been one of the most impressive for any band this year and there’s reason to believe that their profile may eventually spill out towards even greater recognition. Nervosas’ sound skews towards Savages, who have experienced their fair share of success this year, only their take is less deliberate and quite a bit more fiery than their UK counterparts. Obvious no-wave influences are present but Nervosas are toying with them in ways that feel both new and unexpected. Nervosas itself is blinding and relentless but has an undeniable powerpop hue to it, not too dissimilar to how The Clash and The Replacements worked the genre into their music.

While Let’s Pretend (who have had an incredible past few years and emerged as one of basement punk’s leading taste-makers) have temporarily sold out of Nervosas material, the demo tape can still be purchased via Cowabunga! and the self-titled can be picked up over at No Breaks. Both tapes deserve to be secured immediately not just because of their quality but because of their scarcity; they’re great additions to any serious music collection and will undoubtedly be gone before long. These Ohio punk are showing no signs of slowing down and have positioned themselves nicely for a huge breakthrough.

Nervosas will be touring throughout 2014, including a March 1st double-header in Milwaukee that will find them playing with Appleseeds, Strange Matter, Crowdpleaser, Slut River, and two Heartbreaking Bravery favorites; Technicolor Teeth and Midwives. The early show (with Appleseeds, Strange Matter, and Crowdpleaser) will be at Center Street Free Space while the late show will take place at Quarter’s Rock N’ Roll Palace. Both are can’t-miss activities.

Listen to Nervosas self-titled full-length below.