Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Lost Weekend

Seven Weeks, Seven Records

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In a very short (and recent) stretch Freddy Beach, Spencer Tweedy, Chase Allen, Super Paradise, and Sallow have all unveiled strong records. Those records served as the tip of a mountain that had been building over the past two months. Below are seven of the absolute strongest records to have found release in the past seven weeks. Strong debuts, mesmerizing EP’s, and releases that reaffirm great bands’ solid reputations, there’s a little something for every corner.

Hellrazor – Satan Smile

Barbed basement pop will always be celebrated on Heartbreaking Bravery and it’s no mistake that Hellrazor is a name that’s been printed in these confines multiple times. That said, the Michael Falcone-led project has never sounded sharper than they do on Satan Smile, a blistering tour de force that fully commits to an overwhelmingly aggressive nature to spectacular effect. Dirtied up, deeply felt, and intelligently crafted, the 14 tracks that comprise Satan Smile never waver in their tenacity and elevate the record to one o the year’s best.

Phyllis Ophelia – Analemma I

For several years, Phyllis Ophelia has been releasing extraordinary, albeit relatively unassuming, material. 2016 saw Ophelia hit a new high with Catbus’ incredible “Fracas” and complements that career highlight to an exhilarating degree with the Analemma I EP. Each one of the four tracks  on Analemma I is a breathtaking highlight, marking Ophelia as one of today’s stronger emerging songwriters. It’s a relatively relaxed listen but it still packs several punches and provides just as many thrills. Make sure to give it the attention it deserves.

Holy Tunics – Hot to Trot

An upstart band with a serious pedigree (two of the members are perennial site favorite Davey Jones, the mastermind behind Lost Boy ?, and Ana Becker of Fruit & Flowers), Holy Tunics come charging out of the gate with Hot to Trot. One of 2016’s more peppy EP’s also proves to be one of its more memorable. Aided in part by the behind the boards work of Big Ups‘ seemingly tireless Amar Lal, Hot to Trot has a vibrancy that breathes an enormous amount of life into the proceedings. Alternately breezy and pointed, it’s a significant debut outing for a band who will be worth watching as they forge a path into the future.

Saintseneca – Mallwalker

Very few bands ever attain the kind of ridiculous consistency that’s been present in Saintseneca‘s work since their earliest outings. Every single one of the band’s releases has been a viable year-end contender and their surprise holiday-leaning compilation EP, Mallwalker, is no exception. The band’s take on Appalachian folk remains lively, innovative, and ridiculously compelling. Zac Little’s lyrics continue to surpass those of many of his peers and the band’s grasp on structure and composition catapult them into a class of their own. Mallwalker — a collection of the band’s Christmas-referencing songs and one mesmerizing new entry — is an absolute joy and earns its spot in the band’s discography, which is a compliment all on its own.

Chemtrails – Love In Toxic Wasteland

A surging burst of punk-inflected basement pop, Chemtrails’ Love In Toxic Wasteland confidently stands as one of this year’s most unexpected delights. Coming from seemingly out of nowhere, Chemtrails arrive fully-formed, with incredibly sharp hooks in tow. From the EP’s opening number, the explosive “Aeons”, it quickly becomes clear that this band doesn’t have time for petty trifles; this is the type of basement pop that goes straight for the jugular. Immediate and immediately memorable, Chemtrails have crafted something that’ll make people remember their name.

Hung Toys – Welcome to Repayment

Losing Geronimo! was a tough blow to endure but the band’s core songwriting duo has remained active — possibly even hyper-active — in the wake of the band’s departure. Geronimo!’s guitarist/vocalist Kelly Johnson, recently unleashed the seething behemoth that is Welcome to Repayment on the world, which features much of what made Geronimo! such a singular act, only with a renewed emphasis on hardcore underpinnings. 10 tracks of unrelenting post-punk (including a particularly spiky Blur cover), Welcome to Repayment acts not only as a great standalone record but a relieving assurance: Geronimo! may be dead but Johnson isn’t leaving anytime soon.

Horsecops – Annie

Once in a while, a band that’s received praise on here in the past will point me towards an act that’s been grabbing their attention and that recommendation will lead to an exhilarating discovery. In that respect, many thanks are due to Blue Smiley for providing a pathway to Horsecops and their jaw-dropping full-length debut, Annie. An eclectic mix of shoegaze, post-punk, basement punk, noise, powerpop, and just about every other genre or sub-genre that receives regular coverage here, Horsecops manage to evoke the best of like-minded contemporaries while finding a way to firmly establish their own identity. Annie is a remarkable release from a young band capable of crafting material that’s genuinely unforgettable.

Male Bonding – A Kick to the Face (Stream)

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In the last batch of posts, there were recaps built around some of last week’s finest musical moments. There was a brief delay in regularly-scheduled content that necessitated an outpouring of material to keep this site’s regular coverage humming along. Similarly, this post will concentrate on the music moments worth celebrating to have emerged from the Monday-Thursday range. Following this post will be two more entries dedicated to some of the stronger musical content that emerged on Friday. With all of that out of the way, it’s time to dive on into the three major categories: single streams, full streams, and music videos.

As is wont to happen over a period of time, there were some fairly extraordinary songs that surfaced in this week’s first stretch. Some of the more favorable ones included the following: Gal Pals’ zippy throwback basement pop stomper “Ex-Marionette“,  Evans The Death’s absolutely monumental “Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face” (a legitimate song of the year candidate), Los Angeles Police Dept.’s severely bummed out holiday tune “Oh Lonely Night“, Menace Beach‘s latest stunning Ratworld teaser “Tastes Like Medicine“, No Monster Club’s defiantly vibrant (and tantalizingly weird) bedroom pop earworm “Arms Across America“, The Julie Ruin’s mesmerizing “Blueberry Island“, Kind of Like Spitting’s revitalizing “Bullied By A Bee“, the best remix from Perfect Pussy’s Shaun Sutkus to date (this time of Rubblebucket’s “Carousel Ride”), and an absolute monster cover of Wipers’ “Mystery” from site favorites Meat Wave.

Music videos fared just as well, with a few very resonant clips. There was Small Houses’ engaging visual journey for “Staggers and Rise“, Cave People’s wearily homespun “Brace“, and Literature’s woozily kaleidoscopic “New Jacket“. Additionally, there was Anti Pony’s seductively colorful “I Go Places“, WRAY’s effortlessly propulsive “Bad Heart“, Laura Marling’s autumnal and slow-galloping “Short Movie“. Rounding things out were Breakfast In Fur’s jaunty graphics experiment “Shape“, Erase Errata’s near-static stunner “My Life In Shadows“, and a resoundingly powerful reminder that TV On the Radio got where they were by virtue of making excellent decisions; “Lazerray” is yet another towering culmination of several wise moves.

Full streams were, comparatively, a little shorter in supply- but there were still a few gems that were unearthed and brought to life. Lazy threw caution and fear out of the window with their Soft Sheets 7″, Trauma Harness unveiled a severely damaged basement punk triumph with their discography-spanning Advent Calendar, and TIT (a collaborative effort between Digital Leather and The Hussy) offered up a stream of their psych-drenched self-titled 12″. Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle provided a quietly intense and arresting live recording of one of his extremely intimate house shows (and appropriately titled the recording House Show). There was also a very personal release from Jarad Charles Lee Francis Olson that tethers a wide-reaching array of genre influences into something unwaveringly hypnotic and, ultimately, tragic (while still managing to subtly incorporate a devious streak of dark humor) in the My Cats Are My Dogs EP.

Even with all of that to consider, today’s feature fell to an anomaly of a track- Male Bonding’s standalone single, “A Kick to the Face”. The title’s an immediate eyebrow-raiser and the accompanying title track lives up to its promise. All scorched-earth and fury, it’s an exploration of an abusive relationship that simultaneously rails against the fact that they’re a common occurrence and empathizes with the abused. Structurally, it’s constantly shifting and punctuated by brief bursts of searing intensity before sharply settling back into its normal pace, providing a near-perfect reflection of the song’s central topic. It’s a brave track that suggests Male Bonding’s ambitions may be higher than they initially let on- and it’s one hell of an appetizer for whatever the band’s cooking up next.

Listen to “A Kick to the Face” below and keep an eye on this site for any notable future items from the band.