Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Los Angeles

2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Erica Sutherland)

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.

Littlefoot has earned consistent mentions on this site ever since their set at DBTS acted as an overdue introduction. Over that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Erica Sutherland a little better, whose constantly involved in any number of fascinating projects. Sutherland graciously agreed to be a part of this edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories and offered up a beautiful photojournal chronicling a fateful 2016 trip that had a finale that was a little terrifying before it became necessarily heartening. Take in the sights (and accompanying memories) below.

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At the beginning of 2016, I flew to California to escape the harsh Boston winter and go on my first solo tour. After a stressful fall and an even more stressful week, I was ready to get away for a while. It was my first time seeing most of the west coast, and I was about to be traveling with two of the most easygoing people I’ve ever met. Scott, my photographer friend from Providence, works long hours at a pizza shop so he can save up money to travel.

I’m always impressed by Scott, because along with being a dreamer, he gets things done. He doesn’t just talk about things like going on a trip to Spain with a bunch of his friends to take photos, he actually does it. Miles, whose project, California Redemption Value, I was touring with, never seems bothered or stressed out by anything. He just kind of floats. He has a mysterious accent that has a little bit of a southern twang to it, even though he grew up in California.

When I started writing this, it became a detailed account of everything we saw, everyone we met, and all the bands we played with. For the sake of anyone with a short attention span (myself included), I’m just going to write my favorite moments as a list.


THE DRIVE

Everything along route 1 // listening to Mississippi Mixtapes // stopping in Eureka, CA and finding an abandoned train car // running around on a foggy beach at sunset, somewhere in Northern California // driving through all of the wide open spaces, the kind you don’t see back east // reading Stevie Nicks’ biography // many many trips to In-N-Out Burger

LOS ANGELES

Staying with Kaede, Jason & Lucy (three of my favorite humans) & their dog Monkey (one of my favorite non-humans) by the beach in Corona del Mar // meeting up with our pals Ian Sweet to play a show at a bowling alley // watching Nicey Music’s pop princess Banny Grove cut a rug on stage while wearing an amazing wig // window shopping on Rodeo Drive pretending I’m Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman // playing a show at Gnarburger with Shannon from Feels // being in the audience on the Conan O’Brien show


PORTLAND

Mississippi Records // playing with Haste and Brumes (she plays an electric harp!!!) // getting a big hug from my long lost pal Chip King // hanging out with Ty Segall & the Muggers (Miles’ friend Garth who we were staying with was opening for them) // Powell’s Bookstore


OLYMPIA

Skrill Meadow’s karaoke-style set // lots and lots of coffee // meeting Phoebe from Tiny Thunder Jewelry // our new friend Opio (same birthday as me!! same year!!) // meeting all of Miles’ old friends



SEATTLE

Playing with CAMP and Night Cadet // staying with Jenn Champion and her cute dogs // picking the nose of the Fremont Troll // octopuses on ice at Pike’s Market // riding the ferris wheel with Scott // taking a day off to explore Snoqualmie, the filming location of Twin Peaks >> the waterfall at the Great Northern, coffee and cherry pie at the diner, Ronette’s bridge




OAKLAND

Playing with Peacers and the Moonsaults! // exploring BIG SUR, the most magical place on earth, before the show


SAN DIEGO

Playing with Fake Tides & Big Bloom (& Miles at all of these shows – I never get tired of listening to CRV) // and what followed:

My memory of what happened after our last show in San Diego is a little fuzzy. I woke up back in LA with a fierce hangover and a Facebook message from a stranger that said “Did you lose something?” It was only then that I realized at some point during the night I’d lost my backpack, which contained my wallet, passport, medicines etc… basically my entire life. The woman who’d messaged me said her mother had found the backpack and asked her daughter to find me on Facebook to tell me, since she didn’t speak much English herself.

Miles and I drove back to San Diego, arriving at a tiny house where we were met by two elderly Mexican women and my backpack. I thanked them profusely in English while they spoke to me in Spanish, their hands gesturing in a manner that I assumed meant they were talking about how they found my backpack. The fact that a complete stranger cared enough to go out of their way to help me get my things back gave me that warm-fuzzy-“oh good, I still have faith in humanity” kind of feeling. I texted her daughter afterwards to thank her for getting in touch with me, and she responded, We’re all put on this Earth to help each other.

A year later, with the Trump administration rearing its ugly head, her words are more important than ever.

All photographs by Scott LaChapelle.

Young Jesus – Grow/Decompose (Album Teaser Premiere)

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Back in September, the newly-relocated Young Jesus teased their forthcoming record with a punchy tune called “G”, which earned quite a few kind words from this site. It was a riveting look at what the band had in store after their last full-length, which is one of the finest records to have come out of the upper Midwest in the last several years (and a record I have no problem calling a masterpiece). Home was Young Jesus’ first major statement and it wound up doubling as a victory lap for their time in Chicago. Now based in Los Angeles, the band’s fine-tuned their sound and there’s a staggering maturity that’s present in Grow/Decompose, which is due out May 13 via Hellhole Supermarket. A few days ago, the band uncovered a little more of Grow/Decompose by unveiling the record’s opening track, a fragile acoustic-driven number that builds in intensity entitled “E.M.P.“. It’s a telling glimpse at what will undoubtedly stand as one of this year’s many great releases.

Today, it’s my honor to present the album teaser for Grow/Decompose, which stays in keeping with the band’s DIY ethos while simultaneously emphasizing their growing ambitions. Set to the melancholic instrumental “Father Son”, the teaser was animated and shot by guitarist/vocalist John Rossiter, whose unique artistic vision is on full display. As calming landscapes and swirls of colors fly by, a message begins to appear: WE ALL DISSOLVE TO THICKER DIRT THAN WE HAVE EVER KNOWN AND IN THE DIRT THERE GROWS A VINE GOD LABELED HOLY GHOST. It’s an arresting message that comes with a twinge of a more foreboding nature as “Father Son” begins to dissolve into an increasingly atonal warning. Mesmerizing, surreal, and deeply intriguing, the teaser’s a fine match for the record it’s promoting. Unyielding in its artistry and set in its convictions, it’s everything that makes Young Jesus one of the most exciting bands out there- and it’s just part of what will make Grow/Decompose a record that will be remembered fondly for years to come.

Watch the teaser for Grow/Decompose below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the record.

Girlpool – Blah Blah Blah (Music Video)

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Another traditionally stacked Monday is just about in the books and it had a pool of treasures to offer. Single streams wound up being surprisingly scant but still had two small triumphs in the form of Cave People’s surprisingly gentle “Cluster” and Slaves’ weirdly menacing “The Hunter“. Full streams fared slightly better and included JOYA‘s delightful sophomore effort 2nd, Native America’s wild-eyed Grown Up Wrong, Warm Soda bandleader Matthew Melton’s similarly-minded (and similarly excellent) Outside of Paradise, and Two Inch Astronaut‘s extraordinary Album of the Year contender Foulbrood.

Music videos wound up being the most stacked category and that was thanks to the varying strengths of their collective efforts. Nots crafted a visually striking clip for We Are Nots highlight “Decadence“, The Cush committed to steady transitions for “Summer’s Gone“, and Sonny & the Sunsets went with a constantly-evolving deceptively crude comic look in “Cheap Extensions“. Guerilla Toss continued to be willfully chaotic with their video for “367 Equalizer“, The Bandicoots dreamt up an absurdly charming and well-executed concept for “Just After Dark“, Nothing staged a robbery-turned-kidnapping-turned-torture sequence for “Chloroform” (which was a highlight from their recent split with Whirr), and The Vaselines combined French new wave, film noir, and silent film hallmarks in their impossibly light and deeply engaging clip for “Crazy Lady“. Site favorites Girlpool wind up earning today’s feature with their second great video of the year- one that sees them teaming up with The Punk Singer director Sini Anderson.

Girlpool have been having themselves one hell of a year. From stunning seemingly every critic at CMJ, to high-profile publications giving them coveted distinctions, to critical acclaim, they’ve set themselves up in an enviable position- one that will likely entail an uncomfortable amount of scrutiny. That they’re rapidly exceeding with as much poise and grace as they are is astounding; they’re incredibly young and their career together’s only just beginning. All of this bodes well for their future. An exponentially growing faction of people have chosen this band to rally behind because they embody so many things all at once; the unfairly marginalized, a decidedly DIY ethos,  an unerring sense of conviction, and commendable bravery in their relentless pursuit of choosing to do the thing they clearly love.

A nightmare for ageists and a dream for those looking to celebrate and encourage the talent of youth, the duo’s already released one of the best videos of the year via their devastating “Plants and Worms” clip.  This time around the formidable team of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad eschewed the arresting animation styles of Catleya Sherbow and went the live action route with Sini Anderson. “Blah Blah Blah” starts out on a shot in front of LA’s famed The Smell (the venue where the duo met) and is split into thirds through a clever natural framing device, with Tucker and Tividad pushed off to the far sides. It’s an arresting image that immediately establishes the duo’s stylistic aesthetic, ensuring the viewers rapt attention to their movements. Before long, they’re inside and striding their way through a crowd of friends and admirers who eventually surround them as they play through the scathing, pointed “Blah Blah Blah”. It’s all beautifully lensed and impeccably edited, climaxing with a strobe-lit confetti-strewn hanging-telephone singalong to drive home an emphasis on the band’s communal aspects.

Ending with a rapid pullback that suggests the party kept going after the cameras stopped rolling, “Blah Blah Blah” becomes a cinematic testament to personal resolve and an unforgettable reminder of Girlpool’s strength. We’re lucky to have this band and should facilitate their rising profile at any given chance, if only because they’re exactly the kind of band that deserves to serve as inspiration for aspiring musicians or people who need something to believe in. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste; make sure Girlpool gets the kind of platform they deserve.

Watch “Blah Blah Blah” below and pre-order Girlpool from Wichita Recordings here.

Allah-Las – Follow You Down (Music Video)

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Another day down, another great batch of streams and videos to show for it. First off: a full record stream from The Growlers, who have a career-best on their hands with Chinese Fountain. Representing the music video side of things, there was YAWN’s fascinating video for “Flytrap” and then a whole host of great single song streams. New Orleans duo Caddywhompus started to gain some attention on the back of “Stuck“, Glish made a deep impression with their towering “Pretty Car“, and Radical Dads carved out a place for themselves with the jumpy “In the Water“. Sonic Avenues’ second exclusive track for the deluxe version of their classic self-titled surfaced, as did great brand-new songs from FF, Doe, and Allo Darlin‘. However, despite all those great candidates for a feature, there was one thing that kept creeping back up; Allah-Las music video for “Follow You Down”.

From the immediate outset, it becomes apparent that “Follow You Down” isn’t going to be overtly conventional. Mixing the band’s trademark 60’s garage-grit revivalism with a quasi-Western, the video coaxes as much intrigue out of that contrast as possible. With both mediums emphasizing the lo-fi (and the low-key) aspects of the band’s presentation, things in the Sasha Eisenman-directed clip get fairly ridiculous pretty quickly- but that doesn’t stop it from being compelling or losing any momentum. The actual story in the video’s a fairly straightforward narrative that plays out, in full accordance with their chosen style, like a great Western- right down to the quietly tragic/humorous ending. “Follow You Down” on its own was a fun rock n’ soul-tinged throwback but the video manages to give it new life. All in all, it’s an absolute blast and goes quite a ways in proving that sometimes the best videos come out of a band letting their guard down and allowing themselves to have fun.

Watch “Follow You Down” below and order the just-released Worship the Sun (which “Follow You Down” is taken off of) over at Allah-Las’ bandcamp.

Young Jesus – G (Stream)

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In 2012, Chicago quartet Young Jesus quietly self-released Home, which was astounding on first listen and improved with subsequent listens. Now, with the benefit of distance, it’s easy to cite it as one of the best records of the decade’s first half. Earning its longevity through a delicate balance of the genuinely mournful and the defiantly celebratory, it occasionally wound up coming off as a much more self-aware and contained version of Funeral. There was nothing overly bombastic about it- or anything that suggested grandeur that neared the over-reaching. While those elements were certainly present, they were given equal footing with an underlying minimalism; burying large ideas in a decidedly niche presentation without ever losing their focus.

After the release (and extremely warm reception of Home by the people fortunate enough to hear it), the band fell understandably silent- emerging out of the shadows to play a one-off show on the rarest of occasions. Following up near-perfection isn’t an enviable task- or one that can be taken lightly. Thankfully, the clouds have been slowly parting and the band’s begun to make some calculated moves, the most notable of which is their relocation to Los Angeles. Another that deserves some serious consideration is the addition of a keyboardist, which allows them to broaden an already impressive sonic palette.

“G”, the first song to be teased from the band’s upcoming Grow/Decompose (that’s the artwork, up above) gets one thing out of the way very quickly; this is still a band that’s defined by the city that birthed them. There’s a very prevalent strain of relatively downtrodden post-punk that’s helped characterize Chicago over the past several years that’s been best exemplified by bands like Young Jesus and Shy Technology. That they haven’t sacrificed that sound in the wake of their move is a welcome affirmation of their own identity. All of the other key elements of their best works remain in tact as well, from impressive arrangements and individual song structures to the never-ending arsenal of memorable turns of phrases that can be found in their typically extraordinary lyric sets.

If there was any doubt of the band losing any of its punch after re-assembling out West, “G” annihilates those notions almost as soon as it starts playing. Opening with a character-heavy dialogue (another of the band’s more prominent traits) of: “Neil sits alone outside in a motel in the summer, he checks his phone, checks when a friend is coming over” it’s abundantly clear that the band’s lost none of their verve in what, by all logic and reason, should be a transitory stage. By the time they land on the line “he makes a joke about how fucking ain’t for lovers” in the midst of unraveling Neil’s existential crisis under a microscopic lens, “G” has already entered the conversation for their best song. Unfailingly melodic, unrelentingly impassioned, and frightening personable, this is Young Jesus at their best and bodes well for what’s to come.

While Grow/Decompose has yet to land an official release date, it seems to be safe to say that whenever that occasion does arise, it’ll be a great day for music.

Stream “G” below, download Home (an essential must-own) on their bandcamp, and check back here for additional updates in the coming weeks (or months).

Wyatt Blair – Girls! (Stream)

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During the brief hiatus that this site recently took (more will be revealed for the reasons behind that at a later date) there was a lot of incredible music that got put out into the world. Merge offered up a stream of Underlay, the upcoming EP from Twerps, Midwives and Foreign Lawns both hosted streams of their just-released split cassette via their respective bandcamps, The Dirty Nil rounded out the songs on their 7″ with the typically aggressive (and typically excellent) “Guided by Vices“, and a host of other great new songs were made available from the likes of The Lemons, Run The Jewels, S, Tyrannosaurus Dead, CassavetesThe Unicorns, King Tuff, and Only Real.

Once again, though, the release grabbing a feature spot here is one that’s connected to Burger Records, whose winning streak is threatening to surpass its already absurd white-hot peak. Not only does Wyatt Blair’s Banana Cream Dream deserve this spot thanks to the strength of “Girls!”- it also deserves it because it’s another release that’s for a very good cause. Every copy that’s sold of Banana Cream Dream will help raise money for the “My Friends Place” charity, which helps homeless children in Los Angeles secure food and shelter.

Genuinely helpful effects aside, “Girls!” is a song as outrageously fun as Banana Cream Dream‘s artwork (pictured above), taking off at a sprint and exuding a sense of joy that keeps it vital. It’s outsider basement pop at its finest and has the potential to be one of Burger Records’ more definitive songs. Palm-mutes, exuberant melodies, and an unstoppable momentum keep the listeners attention and it plays with vocal samples to great effect. All in all, “Girls!” is a song as good as the cause that this release is endorsing, which means it deserves to be heard thousands of times over.

Listen to “Girls!” below and help out an important charity by picking up a copy of Banana Cream Dream here.

Tashaki Miyaki – Cool Runnings (Music Video)

Tashaki Miyaki are continuing on their insanely prolific month by releasing their fifth music video- this one coming hot on the heels of their stunning videos for “Best Friend“, “Get It Right“, “Tonight“, and “Somethin’ Is Better Than Nothin’“. For anyone unfamiliar with the Los Angeles trio, the video for “Cool Runnings” will be as good of an introduction point as anything else in the band’s short but impressive catalog (though their swoon-worthy self-titled EP is definitely worth a look). “Cool Runnings” (no relation to the film) continues the band’s black-and-white clip aesthetic, this time simply showing three friends enjoying a day spent at a quaint, abandoned home. There’s genuinely gorgeous cinematography throughout that evokes Jim Jarmusch’s visual aesthetic as much as Roger Deakins’ (Nebraska is also brought to mind more than once). Somehow the visuals wind up complementing the band’s breezy shoegaze-tinged dream pop. It’s a great addition to a strong 7″ and a seductive appetizer that (hopefully) points to a forthcoming LP. Only time will reveal the details of such a thing but it’s certainly nice to have a soundtrack to wait to. Watch “Cool Runnings” below and start looking forward to warmer weather.