Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Lithuania

17 of ’17: The Best Songs of the Year

2017 was a staggeringly balanced year in terms of memorable musical output. To honor that consistency, the typical run of 17 songs will be complemented by a list — in no particular order — of 83 other great songs to find release throughout the year. As usual, the “best” tag simply acts as shorthand for the music I was fortunate enough to consume from January through December, which had an individual song list that tallied well into the quadruple digits.

Names that are already familiar to year-end lists on this publication reside comfortably alongside artists who are still looking to make a larger impression. Non-singles are included with some of the year’s strongest advance tracks and songs that tip towards hardcore rub shoulders with some quiet basement pop numbers. There’s a lot to contemplate — both inside and outside of the top 17 selections — and even more to celebrate.

These are the 17 best songs of 2017.

Enjoy.

Great Grandpa – Teen Challenge

One of the great album openers of 2017, “Teen Challenge” reintroduced a noticeably more explosive version of Great Grandpa that wasn’t afraid of hairpin turns or controlled catharsis. From the outset of “Teen Challenge” the band is swinging for the fences but it’s not until the enormous final section where something deeply impressive transforms into something legitimately inspiring. It’s a celebratory song that comes loaded with conviction and is delivered with the type of determination that refuses to be held back.

Mo Troper – Your Brand

One of this site’s picks for last year’s Album of the Year honors, Mo Troper returned this year with two records. One, a collection of older material reworked for Troper’s current band, the other, an inspired effort of new material that saw Troper expanding his ambitions to legitimately unexpected degrees. The elevation of both songwriting and production on Exposure & Response is particularly evident in career highlight “Your Brand“, which finds Troper turning his gaze towards the brand-obsessed inhabitants of social media, people who treat themselves as corporate entities and flaunt varying levels of entitlement.

Occasionally, those same denizens find the levels between tongue-in-cheek mockery and unwitting sincerity blurring into an unrecognizable definition. It’s a richly-deserved skewering that’s shot through with a resigned understanding. The tasteful string and brass arrangements that adorn “Your Brand” send the song to euphoric heights even as Troper is weighed down in the bog of a tragicomic reality. It’s a masterful outing that positions Troper as one of the most promising pop songwriters of this generation.

Cende – What I Want

Cende‘s first and final full-length effort was an enticing effort headlined by a slew of singles that all warranted consideration for placement on this list (and earned individual write-ups). None of them wound up impressing quite as deeply as the song boasting the record’s most challenging — and towering — arrangement, the Greta Kline-featuring “What I Want“. Falsettos, a lilting string arrangement, and an incendiary bridge showed off Cende’s formidable range, tilting from something approaching the saccharine to a vicious instrumental outburst at the click of a hi-hat.

Charly Bliss – Westermarck

Few bands have earned as much attention and praise from this site as Charly Bliss over its four-year existence and it was heartening to watch the band break out in 2017 with one of the year’s most affirming releases in Guppy. While every track on that record is noteworthy for one reason or another, it was “Westermarck” that kept revealing deeper facets of itself. A rousing meditation on uncertainty couched in an unapologetic joy of simply being alive, the song became an unlikely anthem for anyone questioning their partner’s motives (especially in significantly skewed familial setting).

Common Holly – Nothing

Tender, sparse, and wrought with longing, Common Holly‘s “Nothing” proves how adequately minimalist formulas can maximize difficult emotions. It’s a bare-bones run through a personal affirmation, rendering something that appears delicate at first blush searing at second glance. More than that, “Nothing” introduces Common Holly as a deceptively powerful artist with the capacity to deliver breathtaking turns in the quietest rooms.

Weaves – Puddle

Riding a wave of critical adulation and having earned the respect of their contemporaries, Weaves returned in 2017 with Wide Open, an aptly named run that they billed as their Americana effort. While the record takes a lot of notable cues from that genre, the band’s wildly erratic, genre-obliterating core remained intact with the barn-burning closer “Puddle” acting as the clearest indication that the band’s unpredictable firepower was still fully intact.

Fred Thomas – Misremembered

Following a record as momentous as All Are Saved will always be a difficult task but to surpass high expectations in the way that Fred Thomas managed with Changer is a rarity. From the record’s dynamic opening track, Thomas proves to be more focused than ever, spinning barbed tapestries of lived-in realism with unmatched verve. “Misremembered” isn’t just a testament to Thomas’ lyricism, either, the fiery music that serves as its backdrop propelling it to stratospheric heights.

Big Thief – Breathe In My Lungs

A lot of outlets gave Big Thief‘s breathtaking “Mary” a deserving amount of love, ranking both the song — and the record it resides — as the year’s best. Meanwhile, the band’s devastating B-side, “Breathe In My Lungs”, flew under the radar. As is often the case with bands as prolific and talented as Big Thief, “Breathe In My Lungs” is so much more than just a castaway or afterthought, it’s one of their most heartrending numbers, expertly using the considerable weight of guitarist/vocalist Adrianne Lenker’s singular voice to turn in some of the year’s most unforgettably damaged romanticism.

Cayetana – Bus Ticket

2017 saw a very large handful of bands taking the next step in their evolution but few seemed to take their strides forward with as much assurance as Cayetana, who zeroed in on what’s long been the crux of their songwriting: mental health. No song conveyed this more than their staggering “Bus Ticket“, which saw the band slowing the tempo and accelerating the force the trio’s always put into their compositions. Managing to be direct and atmospheric simultaneously, “Bus Ticket” stands proudly as a career high for a band that’s found their voice.

Yucky Duster – Elementary School Dropout

One of the year’s most unabashedly exuberant records came in the form of Yucky Duster‘s latest EP, Duster’s Lament. Headlined by the effusive “Elementary School Dropout”, the band offered up an irresistible slice of joyful basement pop that grounded it’s more playful elements with some effective self-deprecation. Expertly toeing the balance between the light and the bleak, “Elementary School Dropout” stood out as 3 of 2017’s most outright fun minutes in a year where that sort of thing was desperately needed.

Strange Relations – Say You

One of the boldest re-introductions of 2017 came by way of Strange Relations‘ enormously confident Editorial You, which was teeming with memorable bursts of icy post-punk that saw the band considerably elevating their grasp on composition. One of the most significant individual outings for the project comes on the record’s second track, “Say You“, which conjures up a steely demeanor and enhances it with fiercely jagged musical interplay. Both minimalist and towering, it’s an obscenely impressive song from a young band that seems determined to continuously reach for greater heights.

Covey – Call Home

There were a lot of songs that came out over 2017’s 12 months that occupied a similar space as Covey‘s “Call Home”: laid back, lovely, unassuming, and tinged with regret, loneliness, and despair. None of them wound up staying the way “Call Home” managed to stay; the song’s melodies and gorgeous chorus humming along and dominating unexpected spaces of memory when it could’ve just as easily rescinded into oblivion. Every return listen offered a new take and at some point, the song migrated from being a pleasant curiosity to something far more essential: one of the year’s best.

IDLES – Mother

Recently given Music Video of the Year honors, IDLES‘ “Mother” also comes off as a ferocious head-turning effort when stripped from its hyper-intense visual accompaniment. Vocalist Joe Talbot repeats several mantras throughout “Mother” — written as a tortured tribute to his own late mother, whose portrait graces the record’s cover — each of them decrying two evils: one political, one sexual, both too frequently intertwined into a nightmarish whole.

Viciously opposed to a system that uses a weighted system to the benefit of the people who are afforded privilege, the song is a startling reminder of the seething anger and frustration of the people who oppose those systems. It’s a clarion call delivered with an excess of venom, using it’s hardcore leanings to drive a message home hard enough that the ramifications of our choices are left lingering in the smoke.

Palehound – If You Met Her

A beacon of consistency over the past several years, news of a new Palehound record was welcome when it was first announced. The first few singles were packed full of the band’s usual tricks but then “If You Met Her” arrived and decimated everything. A hard-hitting look at how the loss of someone you know can affect your own perception of what it means to die, “If You Met Her” immediately registered as not just Palehound’s darkest effort but the project’s best as well.

It’s a gripping, grounded meditation on life itself and it’s delivered with such empathetic understanding that it’s nearly impossible to listen to the song in full without running through an avalanche of feeling. Anything that inspires that level of emotional response and visceral reaction is worth noting — and in the case of “If You Met Her”, it’s more than worth celebrating.

Young Jesus – Feeling

A longtime staple of this site’s coverage, Young Jesus have continuously found exciting ways to evolve as a band in the face of a slew of obstacles that leave lesser bands stumbling. From nearly complete lineup shifts to a refocused experimentation to a relocation that took them from the upper Midwest to the West Coast. The band’s latest effort saw a quick self-release suddenly disappear only to be re-released shortly after by Saddle Creek.

All it takes to understand why such a revered label would take on the band is one listen to “Feeling”, a sprawling 10-minute opus which beautifully showcases the band’s remarkable range, guitarist/vocalist John Rossiter‘s penchant for blending memorable poetry with unforgettable melody, and a growing fearlessness. It’s a heart-stopping moment on what remains one of 2017’s most woefully overlooked records and reaffirms Young Jesus’ place as one of today’s best bands.

The Magic Lantern – Holding Hands

Easily one of 2017’s outright loveliest moments, The Magic Lantern‘s “Holding Hands” casts a spellbinding magic all its own within its opening figures, as a yearning vocal is laid on a bed of gentle saxophone figurines. As the notes and vocals hold — with as much purpose as the imagined goal of the narration, no less — the song winds up with enough power from two core elements to elicit chills.

When the body of “Holding Hands” takes shape as the drums kick in, providing yet another one of 2017’s most perfectly-realized moments, it becomes abundantly clear that something miraculous is happening on the track. By the time it all winds to a ghostly close, “Holding Hands” has left a mark that deserves to be called upon fondly in the days to come. In all of it’s warmth and care, “Holding Hands” pushes forward from a simple greatness and achieves something far closer to transcendence.

SONG OF THE YEAR:

Mount Eerie – Real Death

When Mount Eerie‘s “Real Death” first arrived, it was set to get a standalone feature. That post never arrived as I personally struggled with the decision to attempt to bring any sort of discourse to something so nakedly personal, which held true for A Crow Looked At Me (the record it’s from) as well. As time passed, that decision lingered, though it became increasingly difficult to listen to both the song and the record, famously written about the death of the songwriter’s wife and recorded in the studio she’d built in their house, on the instruments she left behind.

Even without being able to listen to the song, the memory of the song stayed as strongly as the feelings that accompanied the first listen (as well as the subsequent ones). It’s the sound of Phil Elverum tearing his own wounded heart out of his body to present to the world so that they can understand what kind of grief accompanies something so tragically world-shifting.

While every moment of “Real Death” is shattering, the weight of it becomes nearly unbearable when Elverum shifts the lyrics from oblique poetry to a hyper-specific narrative, recounting one moment of singular heartbreak that arrived with a package that has late wife had secretly ordered for their daughter. In that retelling, Elverum envisions his wife, living with the knowledge that her wife would be ending, thinking ahead and wanting to provide comfort for the people she loved.

Not only does that specific moment touch upon why Geneviève was someone he loved so fiercely but, in doing so, provides the song’s listeners a glimpse into her character as well. It effectively shifts the tonality of the record even further toward heartbreak by painting such an intimate portrait, making “Real Death” come across as even more unmistakably, painfully human. It’s a tribute to an artist that so many of us wish we knew and stands as a stark reminder to cherish the ones we do know while we can and to strive to match their gifts with our own.

By positing real-life implications alongside meaningful execution, “Real Death” became something much larger than the sum of its parts. In plumbing the depths of personal loss, Elverum’s Mount Eerie projected gifted us something hard to experience and impossible to forget. With any luck, it will steer us towards more effectively demonstrating our love when it can be appreciated by the people for which it’s intended.

 

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The Best of the Rest

18-21

22-26

27-32

Middle Children – Baby Boom
Joyce Manor – NBTSA
Thurst – Forever Poser
The New Years – Recent History
Monomyth – Puppet Creek
Hermetic – Strategic Default

33-100

Protomartyr – A Private Understanding
Alexander F – Call Me Pretty
Pile – Dogs
Vagabon – Cold Apartment
Cloud Nothings – Internal World
Prom Queen – Blonde
Holiday Ghosts – Can’t Bear To Be Boring
Washer – Dog Go Bark
Grouper – Children
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Fish Fry
Fits – Ice Cream On A Nice Day
Meat Wave – Run You Out
The Spirit of the Beehive – Ricky (Caught Me Tryin’)
Walter Etc. – April 41st
Chemtrails – Deranged
Juila Louise – Brat
See Through Dresses – Lucy’s Arm
Amy O – Lavender Night
Modern Baseball – This Song Is Gonna Buy Brendan Lukens A New Pair of Socks
Girlpool – It Gets More Blue
The Total Bettys – Stay Here All Night
Tica Douglas – Same Thing
Midnight Reruns – Warm Days
WHY? – Proactive Evolution
Hand Habits – Sun Beholds Me
Long Neck – Mine/Yours
Julien Baker – Appointments
Anna Burch – Asking 4 A Friend
Palm – Walkie Talkie
Single Mothers – People Are Pets
Lydia Loveless – Desire
Deem Spencer – Soap
Two Inch Astronaut – Play To No One
Blessed – Headache
Diet Cig – Maid of the Mist
Madeline Kenney – Big One
Dream Wife – Somebody
Bethlehem Steel – Finger It Out
Strange Ranger – House Show
Miya Folick – Trouble Adjusting
Jesca Hoop – Pegasi
Fiji-13 – Mansplain It To Me BB
Idle Bloom – Dust
Florist – What I Wanted To Hold
Beachheads – It Feels Alright
Fruit & Flowers – Out of Touch
Ratboys – The Record
Schlotman – Holy Basil
Lost Balloons – Numb
John Rossiter – Mom Guitar
Lomelda – Interstate Vision
Walter Martin (ft. Matt Berninger) – Hey Matt
Jay Som – The Bus Song
Japanese Breakfast – The Body Is A Blade
Screaming Females – Glass House
Phoebe Bridgers – Smoke Signals
Open Mike Eagle (ft. Sammus) – Hymnal
Half Waif – Frost Burn
Petite League – Pocketknife
Say Sue Me – Bad Habit
Petal – 15
Waxahatchee – Silver
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – If We Were Vampires
Siobhan Wilson – Whatever Helps
Sammi Lanzetta – Circles
Deep State – Nothing Speaking
Saintseneca – Moon Barks at the Dog
Lithuania – 5000 Year Leap

The Very Best of the Very Rest: The Best Full Streams of 2017’s Final Stretch

Making one last recap run before the year-end lists go up, now that the year has officially expired, this post will serve solely to focus on the most exceptional records to come into focus over 2017’s final stretch. Often, these records get overshadowed precisely because of the competitive spotlit-nature of those year-end lists. More times than not, this batch of records also — much like Oscar season in the realm of film — contain the records labels hold back in hopes they’ll still be fresh in people’s minds while compiling those lists. Ignoring those for smaller releases that come across like distant memories can be harder than most think, which is why the below selections cater to the records that would have earned themselves serious year-end consideration no matter when they were released. So, make sure these are queued up to their opening track and listen to 21 records that don’t just deserved to be played, but remembered.

Mo Troper – Exposure & Response

Weaves – Wide Open

Climax Landers – Climax Landers

Whelpwisher – Notice to Airmen

Even Hand – Phototropic

Radiator Hospital – Play The Songs You Like

Fits – All Belief Is Paradise

Bethlehem Steel – Party Naked Forever

Lithuania – White Reindeer

Coma Cinema – Loss Memory

Goon – Happy Omen

Tosser – Tosser

Upper Wilds – Guitar Module 2017

Dumb Things – Dumb Things

The Miami Dolphins – Water You Waiting For

Pope – True Talent Champion

Holiday Ghosts – Holiday Ghosts

Prom Queen – Doom-Wop

Dharma Dogs – Music for the Terminally Besotted

Mathhaverskan – III

Slaughter Beach, Dog – Birdie

2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Eric Slick)

Heartbreaking Bravery recently went offline but all facets of the site are back to being fully operational. Apologies for any inconveniences. All posts that were slated to run during that brief hiatus will appear with this note.

In the last edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories, Eric Slick turned in a beautiful piece recapping an eventful year while dealing with some tumultuous times. This time around the Lithuania bandleader and Dr. Dog drummer (as well as solo artist) repeats that formula and touches on the things that made 2016 memorable. From falling in love and moving to a new city to finishing two records and meeting some personal heroes, there’s a lot to peruse. All of it’s shot through with Slick’s endearing voice and offers up some personal insight into the life of one of today’s hardest working artists. Enjoy.

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2016: A Year’s Worth Of Memories

2016, the year that Facebook exploded. downloaded a plug-in for Chrome that disabled my News Feed so I could start focusing on something positive. My 2016 was weird, not nearly as weird as 2015. Let’s get the worst of it over first: I contracted Lyme’s Disease from an unruly tick while running in the woods, went to the ER four different times for all of the medical anomalies related to Lyme, and narrowly escaped death in Nashville in my first major car accident (we survived, my Ford Focus didn’t).

Now that I’m done kvetching, let’s move on to my favorite moments of 2016.

Moving to a new city and falling in love

I moved to Richmond, Virginia in January. I didn’t tell anybody in Philadelphia until the summertime. I was tired of people from my hometown accusing me of being a certain way, so I decided to start fresh in a place that was completely unfamiliar to me. I moved because I fell in love with an amazing person, someone who is 1000 times the person I could ever hope to be. Selfless, hilarious, intelligent, talented, compassionate. I’m happy I moved. Philadelphia, I loved you, but you were bringing me down.

There’s a great community of musicians in Richmond and the rent is affordable. I can get with the small college town mentality. The coffee here is fucking incredible. That’s a prerequisite wherever I decide to lay my head.

Going to Europe with Dr. Dog

I never talk about Dr. Dog because I’m a jerk. They are the best people on the planet. I wish I could be as cool as the rest of the guys in the band, but I’m not. I’m a doofy nerd who likes Abstract Expressionism and Stravinsky.

We’ve always struggled to make a European tour happen but this year we got to do it twice. I love going over there. The food situations are super dank. Why haven’t we figured out how to make our truck stops filled with organic produce? We have the same resources! I think the majority of Americans like boring ass bland food.

I like the modesty of European crowds. They don’t clap when you play. They give you constructive criticism when you’re done. They’re not full of shit. It’s great.

Meeting Weird Al and Paul Simon in the same month

I know it’s shallow to say you like meeting celebrities. Famous people aren’t much different than regular people. They just occasionally give themselves the license to behave like jerks because of their assumed power. It’s sad. I still get all loopy and endorphin-y when I meet a person I really admire. It’s disgusting to watch me bloviate.

My birthday present this year will be hard to top – two tickets to see Paul Simon at the Ryman Auditorium. I was fortunate enough to meet him. We didn’t talk about music at all. He just talked about the several(!) times he’s ingested ayahuasca. For those who don’t know, Google it. My five minutes with Paul Simon… talking about the time he “saw the God particle”. Unreal, but I kept it cool.

Well.

I didn’t keep it cool for long. Later that month I got to see Weird Al after a lifetime of waiting. I’m friends with his drummer, John “Bermuda” Schwartz. After the show, I was introduced to His Weirdness. Meeting Weird Al was easily the most strange celebrity encounter I’ve ever had. I’m a megafan. I was starstruck. I choked on my words and probably made a babbling fool out of myself. There’s a picture of us together but I can’t bring myself to post it online. It’s too special.

Bermuda then took us out to Dave and Buster’s, regaled us with incredible tour stories, and then bought us sundaes. How did he know I love D&B? Check that one off of the bucket list.

Favorite live shows of 2016, in no particular order:

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil in LA

Weird Al in Nashville

Paul Simon in Nashville

Shimmer and Ahleuchatistas in Philadelphia

Scott Clark 4tet in Richmond

Finishing my solo record and the new Lithuania record

My best friends convinced me to finish my solo record.

I did all the basic tracking during the last week of 2014 at Phil Elverum’s studio in Anacortes, WA. Last year sucked so bad that I lost all my momentum in finishing it… and I procrastinated. Procrastination is the death knell.

2016 was very therapeutic – I finally felt vulnerable again. The record practically wrapped itself in a little under a month. Ricardo Lagomasino and Jose Diaz Rohena (the engineers/producers) powered through my insecurities and delivered something I’m really proud of. We recorded the new Lithuania record almost immediately after that. We did it in four days. I’m excited for people to hear it. Time to write the next ones.

Lost Boy ? – Goose Wazoo (Stream)

Lost Boy ? IV

After a relatively quiet run for new releases at the onset of this week, Wednesday threw things back into full sprint with great streams surfacing from Clearance, Lithuania, Honey Bucket, Cool Ghouls, Pill, Hillary Susz, YJY, Maxwell Drummey, Elephants, Helena Deland, Kishi Bashi, Breathe Panel, Ex-Cult, Hyetal, Aaron Holm, Protomartyr, and Idiot Genes. In addition to those, there were excellent music videos that arrived courtesy of Savoy Motel, Charles Bradley, Psychic Ills, Show Me The Body, Oshwa, Trails and Ways, Sugar Candy Mountain, Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, and Foreign Fields. Full streams from Jody, Heaters, and Preen rounded things out in memorable fashion.

Earning the featured spot was site favorites Lost Boy ?, who’ve been relatively quiet since releasing one of the best basement pop records in recent memory. That record, Canned, set expectations astoundingly high for their follow-up and now the band’s offered up a first glimpse via the characteristically off-kilter “Goose Wazoo”. The nonsensical title is a solid indicator of the song, which fearlessly embraces zaniness while simultaneously managing to keep the proceedings impressively grounded.

Lost Boy ? mastermind Davey Jones has more than proven his worth as a songwriter and it’s wildly entertaining to hear him tackle a more experimental approach. Jones has made Daniel Johnston’s influence on his work incredibly transparent over the past few releases (and has been known to cover the artist from time to time) but that influence reaches a fever pitch on “Goose Wazoo”. From the vivid cartoon-friendly narrative to the vocal delivery, Johnston’s spirit’s present but it never quite overtakes the singular identity that Lost Boy ? has managed to cultivate.

From the melodic shifts to the vocal quirks, everything on “Goose Wazoo” indicates that Canned wasn’t a fluke release; Lost Boy ? seems determined to cement a status as a great outsider artist. “Goose Wazoo” alone goes quite a way in establishing that status as a palatable goal. A complete joy, a tantalizingly unique entry, and an impressive display of both confidence and artistry, “Goose Wazoo” is the kind of song that won’t fade easily. More importantly, it’s one that holds up to a dozen consecutive plays without losing an ounce of its oddball charm.

Listen to “Goose Wazoo” below and keep an eye on this site for more news surrounding the band and their upcoming release.

Lithuania – Kill The Thing You Love (Stream)

eric slick

[Editor’s Note: In light of the tragic circumstances in Orlando, there was some debate over featuring a song with a title that could be construed negatively in the face of that event. However, now more than ever, it seems deeply necessary to endorse and promote acts of kindness, understanding, and empathy. It’s because of this song’s message and the good that can come from its purchase that it’s in today’s headlining spot.]

Since the last post on this site went up just a few short days ago, new tracks emerged from Pari∀h, Deerhoof, Pink Mexico, Guts Club, Blesst Chest, Ali Beletic, Kool A.D., and two new tunes from JOYA‘s Robert Sotelo. Artists with commendable music videos was a list that included The Gotobeds, Wimps, Oddissee, The Figgs, Palehound, Gang of Youths, Terrible Feelings, WALL, and Museyroom. The past several days also saw the release(s) of several legitimate album of the year candidates, including efforts from Told Slant, DEN, The Gotobeds, Margaret GlaspyThe Craters, and a demo of the upcoming full-length debut from Mr. Martin & The Sensitive Guys.

All of the above items amounted to an extraordinary run — especially for the full streams — for such an abbreviated time frame. One of the most heartening things to emerge during that stretch came courtesy of site favorites Lithuania, a band fronted by Dr. Dog drummer and A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor Eric Slick. “Kill The Thing You Love” was originally intended for the band’s latest record, 2015’s astounding Hardcore Friends, but was ultimately nixed for being too out of sync on a thematic level. Fortunately, the song wasn’t just relegated to an unheard archives litter and was recently released as a standalone single to benefit Women Against Abuse, a Philadelphia organization that aids women who are escaping or have survived domestic abuse.

“Kill The Thing You Love” itself is one of the band’s more gnarled, rough-hewn offerings. Relentlessly aggressive in its dynamic approach, the song actually gains a wealth of power from its decidedly direct aesthetics, elevating an oddly moving narrative. Slick delivers the most impassioned vocal delivery of his career and the song uses its lo-fi nature to amplify its own propulsion. In a little over three and a half minutes, the band embraces a chaotic sludge that underlines the confusion that frequently manifests and overpowers the decision-making in relationships that make room for — and frequently try to excuse instances of — domestic abuse. It’s a bold song that calls attention to a dark reality that goes ignored far too often.

Here’s the statement that Slick issued to Post-Trash for the great premiere piece that accompanied the song:

The song “Kill The Thing You Love” was written in 2014. Its intended purpose was for the Hardcore Friends album, but we decided to leave it off because it didn’t fit the narrative. It’s also a complicated listen. However, the song is of great importance to me. It was written from the perspective of a young woman who runs away from her abysmal home life and starts fresh in a safe environment. It’s based on a story that a close friend told me about her incredibly difficult and abusive childhood. “Kill The Thing You Love” is indeed a jarring title, but its intent is more of a mantra of empowerment. Sometimes we have to let go of things (kill in the figurative sense) we love, especially when they’re hurting us. Abuse is still everywhere. A direct example is the inexcusable behavior of Seagreen Records. Seagreen was initially supposed to release this song until they came under fire for very serious sexual abuse charges. I was horrified. Luckily, Lame-O Records agreed to release this song. I’m relieved that we can benefit a great cause in the process.

Listen to “Kill The Thing You Love” below and get the track (and donate to a good cause) here.

Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter, Vol. VI

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]

It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time. 

Watch the sixth collection of those videos below.

1. Lady Lamb – Dear Arkansas Daughter (Audiotree)
2. Lithuania – God In Two Persons (WXPN)
3. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (The Current)
4. Lever – The Nerve (DZ Records)
5. Mothers – Burden of Proof (Paste)
6. Kississippi – Googly Eyes (WXPN)
7. Savages – Adore (Colbert)
8. The Dirty Blondes – Because (VHS Sessions)
9. Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold (KUTX)
10. Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore (Radio K)
11. ARNO – Dance Like A Goose (Bruxelles Ma Belle)
12. Devon Goods – Michigan (VHS Sessions)
13. Little Yellow Dog – Time Machine (DZ Records)
14. Two Inch Astronaut – Personal Life (bandwidth.fm)
15. Tangerine (KEXP)
16. Kitten Forever – Cannon (The Current)
17. Eleventh Dream Day – Cheap Gasoline (Sound Opinions)
18. Catbath – Jellyfish (Radio K)
19. Andy Shauf – The Worst In You (La Blogotheque)
20. Choir Vandals – Ghostly (Little Elephant)
21. New Ruin – Disappearances + Del Rosa + Negative Dialectics (Razorcake)
22. Left & Right – Sleep Show (Do512)
23. The Thermals – Thinking of You (Jam in the Van)
24. Blah Blah Blah – Soon as I Get Home Tonight (DZ Records)
25. Julia Holter – Sea Calls Me Home (Strombo Sessions)

Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter, Vol. V

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]

It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time. 

Watch the fifth collection of those videos below.

1. Mothers – Grateful For It (Paste)
2. Bully – Trying (KUTX)
3. Sports – Saturday (This Has Got To Stop)
4. Parquet Courts (KEXP)
5. Pinegrove – Old Friends (VHS Sessions)
6. Jason Isbell – Flagship (The Current)
7. Three Man Cannon – Mood (Little Elephant)
8. Jake Morley – Falter (BalconyTV)
9. Lady Lamb – Billions of Eyes (Audiotree)
10. Riothorse Royale – Crash and Glow (Do512)
11. Låpsley – Hurt Me (WFUV)
12. Diet Cig (WKNC)
13. Saintseneca – Such Things (KUTX)
14. Human Music – Dark Zone (Exclaim!)
15. Nectar – Change Your Mind (DZ Records)
16. Bantam Lyons (Faits Divers)
17. Cherry Cola – Bring Me to the Ground (Radio K)
18. Mass Gothic (KEXP)
19. Lithuania – 2009 (WXPN)
20. Low – Murderer (Pitchfork)
21. Soul Low – Spooky Times (Little Elephant)
22. Lucy Dacus – Direct Address (Radio K)
23. Otherkin (3voor12)
24. Soft Fangs – The Light (Fitz Ross)
25. Torres – Son, You Are No Island (Audiotree)

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Eric Slick)

eric slick

The first time I saw Eric Slick, he was manning the kit for Dr. Dog on their Shame, Shame tour and delivered a set that more than made up for just missing the cut-off at a sold-out LCD Soundsystem show. To date, that set remains one of my favorite memories and a benchmark for the realization that sometimes taking left turns winds up producing really memorable moments.

While Slick remains behind the kit for Dr. Dog, I’ve come to know him more for his work in his incendiary punk-tinged basement pop project, Lithuania (whose Hardcore Friends was one of the records from last year that I find myself coming back to the most). An enviably versatile musician and a genuine person, his impact on the music community is immeasurable.

For all those reasons and several more, I’m thrilled to be presenting a piece from Slick for A Year’s Worth of Memories that focuses in on touring, two acts that have been featured on this site numerous times, turning 28, and learning to come to terms with some aspects of his life via cognitive behavioral therapy. Read it below and always acknowledge the things that make you want to keep fighting.

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As I write this, I’m currently suffering from a modicum of symptoms supposedly related to early Lyme’s Disease. If I make mistakes, it’s because my cognitive functions are limited. Forgive me!

2015

My 28th Year, The Year Of the Sheep. It was supposed to be a year of calm, but if I could offer you a window into my 2015 psyche, you’d see a tangled mess of wires engulfed in flames. There were times when I wanted to jump out of my skin from repulsion and excitement, a dichotomy that would become a warm blanket for my brain-addled nightmare. You see, the 28th year is often the beginning of one’s Saturn return in astrology. I felt as if I were living on that distant planet.

However, I’m not here to wallow in my past sadnesses and failures. I believe that you can rise above mistakes like a kind of animatronic phoenix rising from the CGI ashes. Here’s a list of things that saved my soul in 2015.

Touring with Lithuania

I have a tendency to read a lot of self-help books, even though I don’t absorb much from them. Being on tour with my band Lithuania helped in gaining some sort of empirical life experience. Dominic Angelella and Ricardo Lagomasino (my bandmates) gave me non-judgmental advice and listened as I complained about everything. They also delivered some of the best performances I’ve ever witnessed as a fellow band member.  On one particularly memorable night, I walked offstage at The Soda Bar in San Diego and began crying on a dumpster. Ricardo had empathy for me in this unraveled state, so we walked to a nearby windowless Pizza Hut and shared a gluey Personal Pan Pizza and more importantly, our feelings.

We released an album called Hardcore Friends on Lame-O Records and toured with Hop Along, mewithoutYou, and Beach Slang. The lyrics were hard to sing and some of the lines would become downright prophetic. I guess we all wept a lot on those tours. In fact, I could be well qualified to become a professor in Lachrymology (the study of crying), although I’d have to go back and listen to a lot of Tool albums. I’m forever grateful for Dom and Ricardo, and I know a lot of people who feel similarly.

Hop Along

Speaking of crying, have you ever seen Hop Along? I can compare it to a few other acts I’ve seen: Bjork, Charles Bradley, Neutral Milk Hotel, Stevie Wonder. There are those who take and those who give. Hop Along is not only a gift, it’s a treasure. They’ve always been unnecessarily kind to us. I hope we can be unnecessarily kind to them too. The lyric “None of this is gonna happen to me” still makes me feel an immense and indescribable yearning every time I hear it.

Hop Along for President, 2016.

Pile’s You’re Better Than This

During the darkest moments, I would put on the new Pile record and pretend to punch the ceiling of my car. I didn’t actually punch it because I didn’t want to hurt my hand. You understand. The track “Mr. Fish” would become an anthem, a song of disillusionment and disassociation. There were days when I could relate to the main character, Darryl Fish. He speaks of wrestling formless tenants beneath his bed sheets, and missing the feeling of the sun’s warmth on his arms. What i’m trying to say is, shit got dark. Pile helped me climb my way out of it. I would repeat the album title like a mantra.

Therapy

You can pretend to be Zen all you want. I did. I spent the majority of 2011-2015 believing I had my life figured out, meditating regularly and over-preaching to people in my life that probably didn’t want to hear it. The reality is that nobody has anything figured out. Life is this incredible, amorphous blob that spews out chaos after chaos. It can be harrowing to realize this, but it can also be the beginning of personal freedom.

I started cognitive behavioral therapy in March 2015 and had to go face to face with a lot of issues that I wasn’t quite prepared to deal with. I still go to therapy whenever I can. My musician friend Chris Cohen once told me that, “Life doesn’t get easier, you just get better at dealing with it.” He told me this in 2013, but it resonates now more than ever. So here’s to 2016.

-Eric Slick

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Amelia Pitcherella)

amelia pitcherella
Photograph by Aubrey Richey

Over the past few years, I’ve run into the name Amelia Pitcherella dozens of times. At some point in 2015, it was a name that started appearing with greater velocity, at greater volume. Whether it was in bylines, comments left on mutual friends’ social media accounts, or just heard in passing, it became abundantly clear that we existed in the same niche corner of our own little musical world. We now write together at AdHoc and Pitcherella continues to freelance for publications like Impose. Lately, she’s also been creating some very striking music as Most Selfless Cheerleader, embracing an uncanny intimacy that will likely pay dividends as the project moves forward. I’m very excited to be welcoming her to the A Year’s Worth of Memories series and very pleased to see she’s turned her attention to one of last year’s finest records: All Dogs’ Kicking Every Day. Read about what the record meant to her below and remember to hold onto the records you love.

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Kicking Every Day

I was on a Megabus when an editor sent me the advance of All Dogs’ debut LP. On the cusp of a breakup, I hadn’t talked to my partner in a week and I had gone to my hometown of Philadelphia to see some friends because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was on my way back to Manhattan and feeling particularly unanchored. During my visit I had had trouble talking to people. I felt absent from myself.

My body responded to the record before I had the chance to process it intellectually. By the seventh track I was choking back tears. A few lines on “Leading Me Back to You” chilled me: “I can try not to think about you / but when I’m in my room / you are the light coming through the window / whether or not I want you to.” It wasn’t that they were particularly complex, just that they described honestly exactly what I’d been feeling, the pathetic omnipresence of a person who had made their complete physical exit from my life.

It was the simple candor of the lines that made them so affecting. And then Maryn Jones’ rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs” in the outro shocked me, wrenched me apart—it was like hearing that song for the first time. Jones’ voice on those lines is desperate and yet there’s this strain of pure unmistakable power in it. I watched the turnpike and started crying. Not a conservative cry—it was a full-blown, snotty bawl.

I was feeling totally humiliated by my own involuntary display, and then “Skin” came on. The lyrics are brash: “Don’t you ever say that I’m wrong ’cause I won’t take it / I will find a way to justify my pain.” Jones is self-deprecating, and she’s also aggressively unapologetic. She turns frustration into pure power. I sat on the bus and calmed myself with the thought that my crying a moment ago was all right, it was justified, and even if it wasn’t, I didn’t need justification. I was going through a lot. It was OK.

A week later, in July, I moved to Philly for the remainder of the summer. I was jobless but rent was absurdly cheap and I resolved to only write and make music for my two months there before finishing up my last semester of school. I was fighting depression and coping with the new loss of someone I’d spent close to two years with, and I figured this would be the last opportunity I had to get a feel for a place without having to worry too much about making ends meet. I was fortunate. That summer was a terrific fever dream. Every morning following my breakup, up until my last day in Philadelphia, I woke up with a new song in my head. When I tell people this, even I can’t wrap my head around it, but strange things happen when you’re left to yourself for weeks on end.

I got into the habit of going to shows and dance parties alone, and I met dozens of people who would come to influence me in the span of a few weeks. I was listening to my friends’ bands on rotation. The summer of 2015 was definitively the first time in my life that I felt like I belonged somewhere. As is the case anywhere, there are issues with the Philly music scene—still in large part a boys’ club, cliquey, no shortage of apologists—but it’s also growing into something really special. There are people who are working so hard to make Philadelphia shows and venues inclusive. Until this point, for whatever reason most of my friends making music happened to be men, and I was so pleased to see that finally change.

I went to All Dogs’ show at PhilaMOCA in August, where they were playing with The Sidekicks and Lithuania (who had just released one of my favorite albums of the year, Hardcore Friends), and talked with Nick and Maryn beforehand for a feature for Impose. I think for some time I had convinced myself that all the people doing good work lived on some other plane, as socially accessible as they may have still been to me. I’d only been interviewing for eight months or so, and each time I interviewed an artist up until then I’d been completely knotted up. But talking to the two of them, I felt comfortable interviewing for what might have been the first time. I was so appreciative of their total warmth and openness.

When they took the stage, they were electric. It was one of the most moving performances I’ve seen—maybe in part because Amanda, Jesse, Maryn, and Nick all have rather understated stage presences. They’re not there to create any kind of spectacle, but it’s so evident that they all care deeply for each other and for the music they’re making. I got chills during “Say”, when Maryn sang tenderly, “When you are not around / I am not alone.” Watching All Dogs play on my own that night, I realized—or, maybe more aptly, I decided—that this was why I had thrown myself into working in music. I wanted to write about moments like this, when an act has the power to completely overwhelm; and I wanted to write about people who weren’t men making music. All Dogs made me want to do music more than I wanted to do anything else.

I had been thinking a lot that summer about Leslie Jamison’s essay “The Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain”, in which she notes that people are too often revolted by displays of pain by women. By no fault of our own it too often comes off as a show, and we ourselves can come to doubt our own experiences. But Jamison ultimately believes it is crucial, or at the very least possible, to bear witness to pain and growing “a larger self around that pain—a self that grows larger than its scars without disowning them, that is neither wound-dwelling nor jaded, that is actually healing.”

All Dogs’ music strikes me as realizing that larger self. It doesn’t shy away from pathos—but the pure strength in it makes it bigger than the pain it addresses. After having listened to Kicking Every Day dozens of times over, I was confident now that it was possible to give the pain I was undergoing a place in my music and in my writing without bathing in it or stamping it out. Jones had mastered this.

When Stevie Nicks wrote the line, “You will never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you,” I wonder if some kind of doubt cropped up in her head. Did she question whether others would take her seriously? Regardless, she went ahead and wrote it anyway, and Jones took it 40 years later and made it her own, and her rendition gave me access to my own feelings, validated them. I’m endlessly grateful.

-Amelia Pitcherella

Dilly Dally – Desire (Music Video)

dilly dally

This week, like just about any other in 2015, has been enormous for music. Since this site’s coverage was entirely dedicated to live coverage over the course of the past 7 days, these next two posts will be focusing on the great new material that saw release during that time frame. Starting with the full streams, there was no shortage of spectacular releases, including new entries from Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders, Doubting Thomas Cruise ControlGardens & Villa, Places to Hide, Jesse PayneMorly, Frau, The BarreracudasPawns, and Sieveheads. Music videos had a week just as strong, one that included great clips from the likes of La Lenguas, The Arcs, Noveller, Youth Lagoon, This is the Kit, Lithuania, VundabarJoanna Newsom, PalmWhite Reaper, and Palehound. Of course, it also included the incredible featured video from site favorites Dilly Dally.

Just over a month ago, “Desire” was covered at great length on its own merits as a standalone single. Now that the band’s got the advantage of a visual medium, they can start hammering home some of Sore‘s driving thematic elements. “Desire”, specifically, is grounded with a through line about sexual release- something that comes to the fore through sensuous lighting, a color palette that’s frequently tinted white, and suggestive imagery that balances the beautiful with the mundane. There’s an emphasis on repetition and motion, which- combined with the provocative whites that dominant the video’s middle section- act as perfectly analogous to the song’s original conceit.  It’s a stunning, elegant work that complements the song to a sublime perfection and isn’t afraid to shy away of the difficult, ordinary aspects that help humanize an otherwise otherworldly experience.

Watch “Desire” below and pre-order Sore from Partisan here.