Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Lower

Royal Headache – Another World (Stream)

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A few years ago, Royal Headache came barreling out of nowhere and struck with enough blunt momentum to create a crater that pulled a large handful of notable minds into their world. In the time that’s followed the release of their incredible self-titled record, they’ve managed to create a fascinating story by carving out their own epilogue and assemble what promises to be their finest release to date. Due out in August, High has already generated a significant amount of anticipation on the strength of its fiery title track (which is holding strong as one of 2015’s best songs). Those expectations get pushed even further up the spectrum with “Another World”.

In a week of some seriously extraordinary releases (see the list of links at the bottom for proof), Royal Headache once again managed to conjure up a true standout that sees them surging towards the barriers of their own perceived limitations and doing everything they can to dismantle them with sheer momentum. It’s their most tightly-crafted song to date, rife with memorable hooks and genuinely explosive moments. As a new song with an open future, it would have been exhilarating in its promise- as a part of the band’s extended death rattle (the band’s vocalist was allowed to depart under the conditions that he stay on to complete the record and the subsequent promotional tour), it’s unforgettable. Wild-eyed, manic, impassioned, and deeply felt, “Another World” is another peak for a band that will be leaving us far too soon- but doing so at the height of their powers, on their own terms, and at the absolute top of the mountain.

Listen to “Another World” below and pre-order High from What’s Your Rupture? here. Beneath the embed, explore a list of great songs to have surfaced throughout the week (if for some reason you’ve been doubting the overwhelming strength of this year’s release crop, remember that the below list is comprised of individual songs that all found release in the same week).

SPORTS – Saturday
Mike Krol – This is the News
Dogs On Acid – The Prick
American Pinup – The Radio
Sean Henry – Sad ‘C’
The Good Life – Forever Coming Down
Lower – At The Endless Party
Promised Land Sound – She Takes Me There
Slow and Steady – Pendulum
Sally Crewe – Later Than You Think
Jackson Boone – Moonbeam
Born Ruffians – We Made It
Chris Staples – Cheap Shades
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages – The Claw
The Golden Eaves – No Other
elle le fantôme – Sore
Sweet Cobra – Complaints
Generifus – No Surprise
Zig Zags – Sunken City
Adult Mom – Laying On My Floor
VHS – Superhuman Happiness
Emilie & Ogden – Ten Thousand
Little Wings – Live To Tell
PINS – Live and Let Go
Marissa Nadler – Solitude
Wavves – Way Too Much

14 of ’14: The Best Albums of 2014

LVL UP II

One last time for one last 2014 list: “best” is in no way an attempt to be an objective statement. The terminology is shorthand to reflect personal taste and is not to be construed as anything more. Also, for the purposes of a more personal summary in this year-end coverage period, this site’s regular restriction on first person will be lifted. In 2014, I listened to more music that was released throughout the year than any other in my life. Numbering well upwards of a thousand releases, it proved impossible to keep tracks on everything (I’m already certain a few of these lists are missing more than a few titles that I genuinely loved)- but there were a few items that were worth remembering. Below are 14 records that managed to carve their way into my esteem both instantaneously and through the process of time. Below that is what turned into the most extensive list I’ve ever assembled, one that acts as an unnecessary validation that good music is being created at an excessively high volume (all of which is hyperlinked to either a full stream or a representative portion). We’re living in a golden age for access and music continues to reap the benefits allowed by technology.  In that spirit, it’s worth noting that a lot of the names included below won’t always be the most recognizable- this is due to both that volume and the fact this site’s built on a foundation that ensures bands who are marginalized will be given the consideration they deserve. So, with all of that noted, it’s time to move on to the main attraction: 14 of ’14: The Best Albums of 2014.

14. Taulard – Les Abords Du Lycée

2014’s most unexpected gem, Les Abords Du Lycée, is a mesmerizing listening that drives home taut organ/drums/vocals post-punk with a startling amount of verve. Endlessly charismatic and unpredictable, the dozen tracks on display here constantly twist and turn, never once daring to let the listener catch their breath. Mood and tempo changes abound on one of 2014’s most fearlessly unique records. Even for those who aren’t even remotely well-versed in the French language, Les Abords Du Lycée should be a thrilling listen; something like unbridled passion can always translate well enough to near the universal.

13. La Dispute – Rooms of the House

What’s easily one of 2014’s boldest concepts roots La Dispute’s mesmerizing Rooms of the House, a record that shows La Dispute’s rapid maturation with a weary grace. Centered around a meticulously brilliant narrative device, it’s a record that stunned me on my first few listens before growing into an inescapable force of nature that refused to leave my thoughts. As bleak as anything the post-hardcore has ever produced, Rooms of the House finds its strength through focus and restraint, zeroing in on difficult topics with a keen eye and an abundance of determination. Blisteringly personal and nearly voyeuristic, it stands as one of 2014’s fiercest artistic statements.

12. Two Inch Astronaut – Foulbrood

Two Inch Astronaut’s Foulbrood has come up more than a few times on the site over the past handful of months thanks to its casual brilliance. Wielding an enticing palette of influences ranging from Drive Like Jehu to their contemporaries in Exploding in Sound, Two Inch Astronaut managed to conjure up one of the most impressive sophomore efforts of the year. The title track, “Part of Your Scene“, and “Dead White Boy” all earned themselves individual write-ups on the basis of their appealingly off-kilter and ragged identity. Foulbrood‘s a record that knows exactly what it wants to be and goes straight for the throat, sending a trail of viscera flying it its wake.

11. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

One of the things I kept coming back to throughout the course of music in 2014 was Jayson Gerycz’s drumming on this record. Not just because it’s a staggering individual performance but because there’s an undefinable, inherent quality that exists within that drumming which drives this record to obscene heights. Impossibly, stripped of the drumming, the record succeeds wildly in an acoustic setting and demonstrates Dylan Baldi’s increasing proficiency as a songwriter, a vocalist, and a guitarist. After losing a member in guitarist Joe Boyer, Cloud Nothings somehow managed to transform themselves into an act that was simultaneously heavier and poppier than when they were a quartet. Importantly, this is a record that’s built to last and it’s only grown on me as the year’s progressed (and that trend’s not showing any signs of slowing).

10. Ought – More Than Any Other Day

As beguiling as it is bewitching, Ought’s brit-pop influenced post-punk masterpiece was a record that sounded triumphant right out of the gate. Slowly, that triumph turned to transcendence and the songs contained within More Than Any Other Day became unavoidable mission statements. In terms of scope, the majority of More Than Any Other Day feels as epic as LCD Soundsystem operating at their best. Both acts share a penchant for sprawling structures and self-containment, bridging a gap between intimacy and grandeur with a knack for deceptive, intricate songwriting. Anthemic and mundane, More Than Any Other Day was like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, waiting for the resuscitated with a sly grin and a memorable, tossed-off joke. Excessively charming and utterly winsome, it’s a record that felt (and still feels) necessary.

9. Jawbreaker Reunion – Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club

“E.M.O.”, Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club‘s thrilling centerpiece, recently appeared in this site’s best songs of 2014 list- but the song’s only one part of a much larger picture. At once, one of the year’s most joyous and pissed off releases, Jawbreaker Reunion tore through a variety of serious issues with aplomb on their absolutely stunning debut effort. Other than distilling songs like “Laughing Alone Eating a Salad” with a wicked sense of humor, the whole affair’s imbued with an enviably powerful sense of songcraft. Lo-fi, DIY, punk, and teeming with an understanding of classic pop, Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club was one of 2014’s boldest introductions- it was also one of its best.

8. PURPLE 7 – Jewel Finger

PURPLE 7 boasts a lineup that’s accompanied by an impressive pedigree. Members of the band have previously played in bands like Defiance, Ohio, Landlord, and Hot New Mexicans (whose self-titled record ranks among my all-time favorites and currently leads my “best of decade” selections). Unsurprisingly, their debut LP effort hits a lot of sweet spots, including a gritty middle point between basement punk and basement pop. Simply put, this is a stunning collection of songs that was overlooked by most to a baffling degree after its release. Grounded, humble, and heartfelt, Jewel Finger is one of the records that reminds me of the reasons I started this site. This is music that deserves to be celebrated.

7. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Arguably 2014’s first truly great release, Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness saw the songwriter transition from a promising talent into one of the year’s most arresting figures. Embracing a fuller sound and a newfound confidence, Burn Your Fire For No Witness broke Angel Olsen’s career wide open with an onslaught of genuinely haunting tunes. Whether they were relentlessly spare or soaked in noir-ish tendencies, they were uniformly captivating; both the storm and the eerie silence before. Raw, tender, and occasionally antagonistic, Burn Your Fire For No Witness was one thing above all else: unforgettable.

6. Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE

From the devastating opening lines all the way through to the climactic finish, LOSE holds its ground as one 2014’s most frighteningly personal albums. Largely influenced by the death of a friend close to the band, it’s a meditation on loss and the surrounding aspects of something so tragic. Easily Cymbals Eat Guitars’ finest work to date both lyrically and musically, it’s a powerful (and powerfully moving) listen. “Warning”, in particular, cuts deep- which is one of the reasons why it wound up on the best songs of 2014 list just a few days ago. Incredibly impassioned and brave in its sincerity, LOSE finds a level of catharsis in its emotional turbulence, lending it a charge that renders it one of the year’s most human (and most important) releases.

5. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love

Perfect Pussy, for better or worse, have become intrinsically linked with this site. From Meredith Graves’ insistence on tangential involvement (which I’ll forever be grateful for) to the fact that the band’s greater ascension matched up with the very start of this site, they’re a band I’ve gone step for step with since bringing Heartbreaking Bravery into existence. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t been so fiercely drawn to the things that they were doing, though, which is why I approached them in the first place. Ever since those beginnings, it’s been a privilege to watch them progress, to travel at lengths to watch them play, and to see them release a record as enormously powerful as Say Yes To Love, a collection which houses my favorite song of 2014 (and possibly of this decade so far). Unapologetic, personal, damaged, resilient, powerful, feral, oddly triumphant, and unbelievably intense, Say Yes To Love operates as a perfect reminder for all of the reasons why I fell in love with this band- and why I’ll continue to pay close attention to their movements.

4. Iceage – Plowing Into The Field of Love

No band in 2014 made a more stunning artistic leap than Iceage, who went from a static blur to matching the swaggering heights of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds after discovering their voice. Plowing Into The Field Of Love was a startlingly radical change of pace for Iceage, who imbue the record with a curious restraint and a sense of deeply haunted Americana. Southern Gothic touch points are littered throughout the record’s bleak landscape, while making room for plaintive ornamentation in the form of brass, string, and piano figures. Darker and more self-aware than anything in the band’s career, Plowing Into The Field Of Love earned them quite a few words of praise from this very site. Augmented by some legitimately extraordinary music videos, Plowing Into The Field Of Love proved to be an unexpectedly rattling experience. Easily one of the year’s most divisive records (as is the case with any left turns this sharp), it suggested Iceage’s ambitions ran way deeper than anyone expected and, subsequently, that they had the know-how to see those ambitions to fruition. In chasing their whimsy they wound up with something I wouldn’t fault anyone for calling a masterpiece.

3. Mitski – Bury Me At Makeout Creek

My connection with Mitski’s music is something that will always hold a very personal resonance. I’ll leave most of the reasoning behind that statement to a forthcoming piece but it’s worth noting in regards to a record that’s so unabashedly self-exploratory. Bury Me At Makeout Creek was an enthralling re-introduction for Mitski, who saw it rightfully skyrocket her name recognition. Top to bottom, it’s an extraordinary effort that re-defined her artistic capabilities after a string of meticulously composed records that leaned on chamber pop tendencies. Here, that past gets blown to bits almost immediately. One of my favorite experiences in music listening all year came when “Texas Reznikoff” explodes in its final section- another came while listening to one of the best songs I’ve heard this decade (for obvious reasons, considering that statement). Where Bury Me At Makeout Creek manages to approach the transcendental is in the process of allowing listeners to hear an artist coming into their own. Part of Mitski’s identity is laid bare by Bury Me At Makeout Creek: it’s the unwillingness to accept identity as a static object and the desire to question its cumulative elements. That search is what gives Bury Me At Makeout Creek its bruised heart- and it’s why musicians will use it as a source of inspiration for several years to come.

2. Radiator Hospital – Torch Song

After the exhilarating highs of Something Wild, Radiator Hospital had a tall order for their follow-up. Fortunately (and unsurprisingly), they obliterated those towering expectations with Torch Song. Sounding more confident- and more polished- than ever before, Torch Song cemented Sam Cook-Parrott’s status as one of this generation’s keenest emerging voices. Paying attention to the minutiae of everyday experiences and injecting them with a self-deprecating sense of poetry laced with pessimism, the songs contained on this record all aim to cut and find their mark with an incredible amount of ease. Having already established themselves as one of today’s more formidable units musically, Torch Song has the added benefit of having four loaded personalities find each other in total harmony, each acting as a complement to the other. Personal diatribes, small journeys of self-discovery, and a sense of empathy inform Torch Song and help cultivate its unassuming charm. There’s not a weak track among the record’s 15 songs and it maintains an assured sense of pace throughout its relatively breezy runtime. By the time it draws to a close, it stands as one of the most fully-formed and rewarding records of recent memory.

1. LVL UP – Hoodwink’d

I don’t think any record resonated more for me throughout the course of 2014 than LVL UP’s Hoodwink’d, which I revered with literally no reservations. 2014’s strongest sophomore effort, Hoodwink’d saw LVL UP expanding most of the elements that made Space Brothers such an incredible release and retained all the others. Unreasonably refined and exceedingly personable, LVL UP have always found a strength in accentuating their members’ unique personalities and that trend got pushed to the forefront for their second full-length (which was co-released by Double Double Whammy and Exploding in Sound). Utilizing a distinctly unique take on their 90’s influences, the band also reveled in the benefits of a cleaner production that allowed them to sound more massive than they ever have in the past. No release felt more timely than Hoodwink’d, either, with the record practically serving as a stand-in voice for a disenfranchised sect of people. Alternately crushingly heavy, viciously poppy, relentlessly personal, and completely worn-out, Hoodwink’d never loses sight of its own mechanics. There’s a level of mutual understanding on display here that separates it from the rest of the year’s releases. Everyone feeds off each other, everyone supports each other, and everyone contributes to one hell of a set without even coming close to overstaying their welcome. Conversely, Hoodwink’d also ranks as one of the year’s most welcoming releases, radiating an empathetic warmth in its tone (and in its tones). As an entry in LVL UP’s catalog, it’s their career best. As a general 2014 release, it’s the best thing I had the privilege of hearing all year.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: All of the titles below without an accompanying link can be streamed in the order they’re listed via the embedded spotifly player below the list.]

Albums from 2014 that deserve to be heard:  Mean Creek – Local Losers | Happyness – Weird Little Birthday | Dark Blue – Pure Reality | Band Practice – Make Nice | Little Big League – Tropical Jinx | Happy Diving – Big World | Tweens – Tweens | Big Ups – Eighteen Hours of Static | Geronimo! – Cheap Trick | Greys – If Anything | Alvvays – Alvvays | White Lung – Deep Fantasy | Caddywhompus – Feathering A Nest | Left & Right – Five Year Plan | Ty Segall – Manipulator | Brain F/ – Empty Set | We Need Secrets – Melancholy and the Archive | Makthaverskan – II | Playlounge – Pilot | Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath | MOURN – MOURN | Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 | The History of Apple Pie – Feel Something | Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! | Trace Mountains – Buttery Sprouts | Dead Stars – Slumber | Fear of Men – Loom | PAWS – Youth Culture Forever | Swans – To Be Kind | The Yolks – King of Awesome | Crabapple – Is It You? | The Coasts – Racilia | Purling Hiss – Weirdon | Reigning Sound – Shattered | Creepoid – Creepoid | Saintseneca – Dark Arc | Mannequin Pussy – Gypsy Pervert | Fucked Up – Glass Boys | Music Band – Can I Live | Glish – Glish | Liam Betson – The Cover of Hunter | Frankie CosmosZentropy, Donutes, Affirms Glinting | Girl Tears – Tension | Martha – Courting Strong | Hurry – Everything/Nothing | The Spirit of the Beehive – The Spirit of the Beehive | Protomartyr – Under Official Color of Right | The Gary – Farewell Foolish Objects | Spit – Getting Low | Nothing – Guilty of Everything | Sharpless – The One I Wanted To Be | Legendary Wings – Do You See | Therapy? – Act of Contrition | Chris Weisman – Monet in the 90’s | Mumblr – Full of Snakes | Cayetana – Nervous Like Me | Free Cake for Every Creature – “pretty good” | Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Party Jail | S – Cool Choices | Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place | Sneeze – Wilt | Quarterbacks – Quarterboy | The Twilight Sad – No One Wants To Be Here And No One Wants To Leave | Filmstrip – Moments of Matter | Bleeding Rainbow – Interrupt | La Sera – Hour of the Dawn | Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica | Gold-Bears – Dalliance | Sharon Van Etten – Are We There | Nude Beach – ’77 | A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos | The Gotobeds – Poor People Are Revolting | Nots – We Are Nots | Alex G – DSU | Lower – Seek Warmer Climes | Young Widows – Easy Pain | CreaturoS – Popsicle | Mr. Gnome – The Heart Of A Dark Star | Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal | Ex Hex – Rips | Trust Punks – Discipline | Failures’ Union – Tethering | Odonis Odonis – Hard Boiled Soft Boiled | Beverly – Careers | The Number Ones – The Number Ones | Tigers Jaw – Charmer | Tiger High – Inside The Acid Coven | Straight Arrows – Rising | Dead Soft – Dead Soft | The Lemons – Hello, We’re The Lemons | Baked – Debt | MAZES – Wooden AquariumSleepyhead – Wild Sometimes | Native America – Grown Up Wrong | The Wans – He Said, She Said | Trophy Wife – All the Sides | Doe – First Four | Lushes – What Am I Doing | Ultimate Painting – Ultimate Painting | Haley Bonar – Last War | The Casket Girls – True Love Kills The Fairy Tale | Slothrust – Of Course You Do | Sorority Noise – Forgettable | Team Spirit – Killing Time | Feral Trash – Trashfiction | Blank Pages – Blank Pages | Mr. Dream – Ultimate In Luxury | Carsick Cars – 3 | SUNN O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials | This Will Destroy You – Another Language | Vanna Inget – Ingen Botten | The Real Energy – Beyond Delay | Muuy Bien – DYI | Young Ladies – We Get By | Eureka California – Crunch | Negative Scanner – Negative Scanner | Violent Change – A Celebration Of Taste | Black Wine – Yell BossImpo & The Tents – Peek After A Poke | Tomorrows Tulips – When | Mountain Bike – Mountain Bike | The Lees of Memory – Sisyphus Says | Telepathic Lines – Telepathic Lines | The Shivas – You Know What To Do | Allah-Las – Worship the Sun | Das Rad – Radiation | The Coathangers – Suck My Shirt | Crow Bait – Sliding Through The Halls Of Fate | together PANGEA – Badillac | Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita | PUJOL – Kludge | FF – Lord | Aj Davila Y Terror Amor – Beibi | Emilyn Brodsky – Emilyn Brodsky Eats Her Feelings | Young Statues – Flatlands Are Your Friend | Cancers – Fatten the Leeches | Sam Coffey + The Iron Lungs – Gates of Hell | Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas | The Ar-Kaics – The Ar-Kaics | Beach Day – Native Echoes | Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers | Dude York – Dehumanize | Gino & The Goons – Shake It! | Kevin Morby – Still Life | Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin | Wyatt Blair – Banana Cream Dream | Queen Jesus – Darkness Yea, Yea | Joel Jerome – Psychedelic Thrift Store Folk | Espectrostatic – Escape From WitchtropolisCheap Girls – Famous Graves | Davila 666 – Pocos Anos, Muchos Danos | Parts & Labor – Receivers | Nick Thorburn – Music From SERIAL | DTCVHilarious Heaven, The Early Year | Bellows – Blue Breath | Teenager – E P L P | Spider Bags – Frozen Letter | The Paperhead – Africa Avenue | Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea | The Jazz June – After The Earthquake | Michael Sincavage – Empty Apartments (Supporting Actors) | Restorations – LP3 | MONO – The Last Dawn, Rays of Darkness | Matthew Melton – Outside of Paradise | The Vaselines – V For Vaselines | Total Control – Typical System | The Velveteens – Sun’s Up | Step-Panther – Strange But NiceExit Verse – Exit Verse | Slippertails – There’s A Disturbing Trend | Globelamp – Star Dust | Champ – Champ | Le Rug – Swelling (My Own Worst Anime) | VLMA – VLMA | Turn To Crime – Can’t Love | ScotDrakula – ScotDrakula | Warehouse – Tesseract | Muhammadali – Future Songs | Unwelcome Guests – Wavering | Baby Ghosts – Maybe Ghosts | White Mystery – Dubble Dragon | Constant Lovers – Experience Feelings | Future Islands – Singles | Maica Mia – Des Era | Tacocat – NVM | Popstrangers – Fortuna | Curtis Harding – Soul Power | New Swears – Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whatever | The Miami Dolphins – Becky | Thee Oh Sees – Drop | Fasano – The Factory LP | Dum Dum Girls – Too True | Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos | Metronomy – Love Letters | Great Cynics – Like I Belong | Neighborhood Brats – Recovery | Connections – Into Sixes | Three Man Cannon – Pretty Many People | Grouper – Ruins | YOB – Clearing The Path To Ascend | Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything | Apollo Brown – Thirty Eight | Hookworms – The Hum | Wrekmeister Harmonies – Then It All Came Down | Lee Fields & The Expressions – Emma Jean | What Moon Things – What Moon Things | Guided By VoicesMotivational Jumpsuit, Cool Planet | Gem Club – In Roses | Saturday’s Kids – The Lunatic | King of Cats – Working Out | Shopping – Tvff Noogies | The Love Triangle – Clever Clever | Nightmare Boyzzz – Bad Patterns | Future Virgins – Late Republic | Parasol – Not There | Lenguas Largas – Come On In | Cocktails – Adult Life | Generation Loss – Generation Loss | Feral Future – Haematic | Posse – Soft Opening | Diners – Always Room | Mimicking Birds – EONS | The Freezing Hands – Coma Cave ’13 | Amanda X – Amnesia | Predator – The Complete EarthWatery Love – Decorative Feeding | The Estranged – The Estranged | Steve Adamyk Band – Dial Tone | The Cry! – Dangerous Game | Ruined Fortune – Ruined Fortune | Good Throb – Fuck Off | The Elsinores – Dreams of Youth | The Bugs – The Right Time | Vacation Club – Heaven Is Too High | Freinds of Cesar Romero – Cinco Seis | Leather – Easy | Los Pepes – Los Pepes For Everyone | Juanita Y Los Felos – Nueva Numancia | Dan Webb and the SpidersEine Kleine Akustichmusik, Now It Can Be Told | Bozo Moto – BozoMoto | Low Life – Dogging | Moth – First Second | Rhythm of Cruelty – Dysphoria | Siamese Twins – Still Corner | Departure Kids – On The Go | Blessed State – Head Space | Flagland – Love Hard | Manateees – Sit N Spin | White Ass – White Ass | Ausmuteants – Order Of Operation | The Gutters – Eventually | Hysterese – Hysterese | The Ricky C Quartet – Recent Affairs | Hoax Hunters – Comfort & Safety | Arctic Flowers – Weaver

Watch This: Vol. 62

[Please refer to Vol. 59 for the introductory paragraph.]

1. Lower – Bastard Tactics (Radio K)

Seek Warmer Climes was a restless and unforgiving record that found Lower making huge strides and revealing a widescreen ambition. “Bastard Tactics” was one of the standout moments and a song that suggested the band was in search of something more. Radio K let the band invade its studios and filmed them as they tore the subtly foreboding “Bastard Tactics” to shreds.

2. Perfect Pussy (Pitchfork)

No band has meant more to this site than Perfect Pussy. No band has been covered on this site more than Perfect Pussy. Why? Time plays a factor; the band was just starting to emerge when the site was just starting. Perfect Pussy’s politics match up with what this site strives to enforce either implicitly or explicitly. Their music exists on a spectrum that this site was built to support and the band readily embraces a DIY ethos that this site was built to celebrate. They’ve become one of the most divisive bands of the last several years and incited a staggering amount of vitriol over policies built off of an empathetic foundation. Vocalist Meredith Graves has emerged as one of the stronger voices in a variety of things that can no longer be neglected and has penned some of the most memorable lyrics of the past two years. While a lot of these statements are extremely subjective, one thing isn’t: this band lives for the live setting. No matter how battered they are mentally or physically, no matter how much adversity they’re (somewhat inexplicably) forced to face, and no matter how downright exhausted they are, one thing never changes: they transform into extremes of themselves after all of their amps are up and running. Graves may be on the verge of losing her voice because of her repeatedly public exorcisms (which are often violent) of extremely personal information while on stage and things may sound like their threatening to fall apart at any given second but that’s part of what makes the band fascinating. There’s a palpable sense of danger and uncertainty that the band conjures up while they’re on whatever stage they’re given and, no matter how rough things get, they’ve never failed to come out of the other side grinning through their collective grimace, that much stronger for the battle. Their marathon set for Pitchfork Paris? No exception.

3. Strand of Oaks – Mirage Year (Out of Town Films)

Strand of Oaks’ Heal was as immersive and elegiac as just about anything to have been released over the past 12 months. Easily the band’s finest work to date, it saw them expanding on early promise in leaps and bounds. “Mirage Year” was one of the most startlingly gorgeous moments on an already unreasonably strong album. Out Of Town Films set up camp and turned their lenses on the band as they set to work on delivering a jaw-dropping performance that only gets stronger as it goes, with everything culminating in a breathtaking guitar freakout that brings the song to a smoky close. Add in some top-tier cinematography and the end result’s not only inexplicably moving- it’s also one of the best live clips this series has ever had in its ranks.  Watch it below.

4. Ought (Pitchfork)

Was there any record more unexpected this year than Ought’s More Than Any Other Day? More importantly, how many were as brilliant? For just about 46 minutes, the band fearlessly collapses the connections between post-punk, electro-pop, noise-punk, and brit-pop while exploring the lightly-treaded territories that best suit their whimsy. More than just about any record, More Than Any Other Day sounded like a mission statement that was shot straight through with youthful abandon, disregard for conventionalism, and a slightly askew professionalism. Endearingly spastic and undeniably strange, their set for Pitchfork Paris becomes hypnotic and nearly impossible to evade once it’s in motion. Piercing and precise, the band’s already shockingly close to a willfully weird perfection.

5. La Sera – Hour of the Dawn (Last Call With Carson Daly)

In 2013, Mikal Cronin made his name known by virtue of releasing the perfect summer album in MCII. La Sera came dangerously close to achieving the same thing this year with the towering Hour of the Dawn. Last Call With Carson Daly has been the most music-centric late night network television program going for some time now, allotting multiple-song performances to their featured artists on a regular basis. As was previously mentioned, even in crowded company, La Sera’s stood out as one of the best the show’s ever seen. “Hour of the Dawn” is the second of the three songs to be featured in one episode- and in this setting, it comes vibrantly alive.

[Due to some technical issues, this video can only currently be seen here.]

Mikal Cronin – I Don’t Mind / Blue-Eyed Girl (Stream)

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With this week’s Thursday nearly done, it’s time to look back at everything it had to offer. Fear of Men gave the world a shadowy video for “Tephra“, while Lower opted for a more disorienting approach to the visual medium, and Lace Curtains went for the comedy with “Pink and Gold“- a video that also doubled as the latest look towards the project’s upcoming LP, A Signed Piece of Paper. Happy Diving teased Big World with a stream of “Space Ooze”, which sees the band upping their tendency for aggression past what was hinted at with “Weird Dream“. Similarly, Diarrhea Planet previewed their upcoming LP, Aliens in the Outfield, with the frantic basement punk of “Heat Wave“, their best song to date. Adventures unveiled their side of an upcoming split with site favorites Pity Sex, while Native America generated some interest with the punk-indebted blissed-out dream pop of “Naturally Lazy“. While all of that’s worth looking into, the item that really stuck out was Mikal Cronin’s single for Polyvinyl’s 4-track series, which he quietly announced was available to stream on YouTube through his Twitter last night.

Cronin, coming off of releasing what was arguably 2013’s best record, has long shown a penchant for the pensive; MCII‘s “Don’t Let Me Go” and “Piano Mantra” being fine examples. With the two tracks he’s given to the Polyvinyl series- which rotates around the simple premise of notable artists sending each other a 4-track Tascam cassette recorder to record two songs, which are then pressed as exclusive 7″ records and sent off to subscribers- Cronin continues his enviable gifts with songs that are characterized by a wide-eyed sense of wonder. Beginning with the acoustic sun-splashed Kinks revivalism of “I Don’t Mind”, it’s clear that Cronin’s ability to craft a perfect pop song is still in tact, from the earworm-worthy hooks to a breathtaking melodic sensibility. By the time the piano arrangement emerges at the end to take the song to its close, it’s already a career highlight for an artist that has no shortage of them. “Blue-Eyed Girl” strips things back even further, finding Cronin carrying a ukelele-driven song without ever approaching overtly twee territory. It’s a lovely, lilting song that definitively cements Cronin’s status as a master craftsman. Both songs complement each other in a way that feels entirely naturalistic, rendering this particular entry into Polyvinyl’s series as one of 2014’s most welcome delights.

Listen to “I Don’t Mind” and “Blue-Eyed Girl” below and sign up for the 2015 Polyvinyl 4-track Singles series here.

Songs in Screens: A Look Back (Music Video Mixtape)

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We’ve hit the approximate 2/3’s mark of the year 2014 and this very post is the 250th to run on this site. Over the course of its duration Heartbreaking Bravery has included a fairly strong emphasis on the music video and this year’s offerings made that commitment a complete non-issue by virtue of their excellence. Songs in Screens: A Look Back is a visual-based “mixtape” and serves as a reminder of a lot of the videos that earned acclaimed here- and a few that, whether due to time or an overabundance of other predetermined material, were egregiously overlooked. For all of the videos that have been featured, there will be a hyperlink leading to their respective write-ups. Those that didn’t receive a write-up will get a very brief one below the mix itself. All of these videos came out in 2014 and made an impression- and they all deserve to be remembered. Let’s give them the recognition that they deserve.

1. Perfect Pussy – I
2. Bleeding Rainbow – Images
3. Creepoid – Baptism

4. Thee Oh Sees – Drop

While Thee Oh Sees’ “The Lens” did land itself a nice write-up, “Drop” was unfairly pushed to the side during its release. Arguably the better of the two videos (and songs), it gets the most out of its constantly evolving, simplistically animated black-and-white presentation and felt like a more appropriate inclusion for this list.

5. together PANGEA – Offer
6. Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead
7. Potty Mouth – Black & Studs
8. Dead Stars – Summer Bummer

9. The Coasts – I Just Wanna Be A Star

It’s almost cruel that both this song and this video were overlooked due to festival coverage. Both are either perfect or near-perfect and embody just about everything this site loves most. “I Just Wanna Be A Star” is a joyous celebration on record and the video gets one hell of a performance out of its unlikely lead. Make sure to not skip this one.

10. PUP – Guilt Trip

11. Anna Calvi & David Byrne – Strange Weather

This spot was always intended to feature an anomaly- an act or style that doesn’t regularly earn a feature spot on this site. clipping. came a hair’s breadth away from claiming it with their mercilessly arresting video for “Work Work” but Anna Calvi & David Byrne made something so staggeringly beautiful and emotive with their video for their “Strange Weather” cover that it would’ve been criminal to ignore it. No video this year had cinematography this stunning- or a mood this anxious. A genuine work of art.

12. Beverly – Honey Do
13. Mean Creek – My Madeline
14. Fucked Up – Sun Glass
15. Mozes & the Firstborn – Bloodsucker
16. Tweens – Forever
17. PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart
18. Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite
19. The So So Glos – Speakeasy
20. Marvelous Mark – Bite Me
21. Savages – Fuckers

22. Lower – Soft Option

No video from 2014 had this amount of unrelenting tension. From its bare-bones premise to the engaging execution, it’s something with the potential to be permanently embedded into the brain of anyone lucky enough to come across it.

23. Greys – Guy Picciotto

24. Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma 

At this point, it’s fairly evident that Here and Nowhere Else will stand as one of 2014’s best records. The video for “Psychic Trauma” comes as a welcome reminder of that fact and features some basic (albeit eye-catching) visual effects. That combination’s enough to land it a spot in this list.

25. White Lung – In Your Home

Of all the 2014 music videos to be released so far, very few approach the levels of insanity attained by White Lung’s fiery “In Your Home”. Mixing a lot of the items featured prominently throughout this list (unexpected psychedelic imagery, contained animation, and the black-and-white aesthetic, especially) with something that’s uniquely their own, “In Your Home” stands tall as a testament to the fact that being weird is way more fun than being standard. And it offers up a perfect wrap for this mix. Roll credits.

NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide (Mixtape)

It’s been 200 days since the idea of Heartbreaking Bravery was actually put into motion. In that time, multiple recurring features have been launched and it began to become something a little more than just a hobby. The more effort that was put into the content that went up, the greater the response was. Now, the site’s been viewed in nearly 80 countries, been granted media accreditation outside of the country, and helped form some meaningful relationships. Most importantly, though, it served- and will continue to serve- as a place of unwavering support for artists rooted in the DIY scene doing things on their own terms.

Now, anyone who has been paying attention to recent content will know that this site’s been running a lot of coverage in anticipation of this year’s NXNE. Anyone who’s been following the content for a long time will know that every 50 posts brings a new mixtape. This being the case, it only made sense to draw up a mixtape that served as an abbreviated listener’s guide for anyone who needed a crash course before heading to Toronto next month. That mix can be found below and features both long-held favorites and a few artists outside of this site’s normal comfort zone. All of the songs are worth a listen and the tracklist for the mix can be found below. Below all of that are hyperlinks to posts 100-199 (post 100 includes hyperlinks to the first 99). Enjoy.

Heartbreaking Bravery Presents: NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide

1. Swearin’ – What A Dump
2. Spoon – Don’t Make Me A Target
3. METZ – Wet Blanket
4. PS I Love You – Facelove
5. Greys – Use Your Delusion
6. Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits
7. Swans – My Birth
8. St. Vincent – Cheerleader
9. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
10. Odonis Odonis – I’d Prefer Walking
11. Eagulls – Nerve Ending
12. White Mystery – People Power
13. Beliefs – Long Wings
14. Run the Jewels – A Christmas Fucking Miracle
15. Pusha T – Nosetalgia
16. Mac DeMarco – Brother
17. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
18. Christian Hansen – Ma-Me-O
19. Mutual Benefit – Golden Wake
20. My Darling Fury – Blots in the Margin
21. Low – Murderer
22. Robert Ellis – Only Lies
23. Typhoon – Common Sentiments
24. Speedy Ortiz – No Below
25. Tim Hecker – Live Room

Here’s the last set of 100 articles, hyperlinked for convenience. Enjoy the exploration.


HB100: Heartbreaking Bravery: A Retrospective

HB101: Great Cynics – Whatever You Want (Music Video)
HB102: Watch This: Vol. 12
HB103: Bleeding Rainbow – Tell Me (Stream)
HB104: Beverly – Honey Do (Stream)
HB105: Brain F/ – Sicks (Stream)
HB106: Vertical Scratchers – Memory Shards (Stream)
HB107: Carsick Cars – Wild Grass (Stream)
HB108: Summer Twins – Carefree (Music Video)
HB109: Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked (Stream)
HB110: Perfect Pussy – I (Music Video)
HB111: Watch This: Vol. 13
HB 112: Mozes and the Firstborn – Bloodsucker (Music Video)
HB113: Cheap Girls – Knock Me Down (Stream)
HB114: Watch This: Vol. 14
HB115: Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits (Stream)
HB116: PAWS – Tongues (Stream)
HB117: Screaming Females – Lights Out (Live) (Stream)
HB118: Technicolor Teeth – Can You Keep Me Out of Hell (Stream)
HB119: Silence Dogood – Chairman of the Bored (Stream)
HB120: Watch This: Vol. 15
HB121: Nervosas at Center Street Free Space and Quarters Rock N Roll Palace – 3/1/14 (Live Review)
HB122: White Lung – Drown With the Monster (Music Video)
HB123: Tweens – Be Mean (Music Video)
HB124: La Sera – Losing to the Dark (Stream)
HB125: Creepoid – Baptism (Music Video)
HB126: Dum Dum Girls – Are You Okay (Short Film)
HB127: Watch This: Vol. 16
HB128: Green Dreams – Bug Sex (Music Video)
HB129: Playlounge – Waves and Waves and Waves (Stream)
HB130: Molybden – Woman Who Left Behind (7″ Review)
HB131: La Dispute – Rooms of the House (Album Review)
HB132: Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love (Album Review)
HB133: Watch This: Vol. 17
HB134: Mr. Dream – Cheap Heat (Stream)
HB135: Fucked Up – Paper the House (Music Video)
HB136: Bleeding Rainbow – Images (Music Video)
HB137: Sleep Party People – In Another World (Stream)
HB138: Help Save Fort Foreclosure (Indiegogo Campaign)
HB139: Tashaki Miyaki – Cool Runnings (Music Video)
HB140: Thee Oh Sees – The Lens (Music Video)
HB141: Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead (Music Video)
HB142: Green Dreams – Eye Contact (Stream)
HB143: Watch This: Vol. 18
HB144: Tumul – Nature Master (Music Video)
HB145: Young Widows – King Sol (Stream)
HB146: Priests – Right Wing (Stream)
HB147: Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m Giving Up On U2 (Stream)
HB148: Ernest Undead (Short Film)
HB149: Watch This: Vol. 19
HB150: First Quarter Finish (Mixtape)
HB151: Perfect Pussy at 7th St. Entry – 3/30/14 (Live Review)
HB152: Perfect Pussy at Township – 4/1/14 (Live Video)
HB153: The Sleepwalkers – Come Around (Music Video)
HB154: Watch This: Vol. 20
HB155: Tweens – Forever (Music Video)
HB156: Reigning Sound – Falling Rain (Stream)
HB157: New Swears – Midnight Lover (Music Video)
HB158: Shannon & the Clams – Mama (Stream)
HB159: Gold-Bears – For You (Stream)
HB160: PUP – Lionheart (Music Video)
HB161: The So So Glos – Speakeasy (Music Video)
HB162: Archie Powell & the Exports – Holes (Music Video)
HB163: Mean Creek – My Madeline (Music Video)
HB164: Watch This: Vol. 21
HB165: Greys – Guy Picciotto (Music Video)
HB166: PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart (Stream)
HB167: Perfect Pussy – Candy’s Room (Stream)
HB168: Watch This: Vol. 22
HB169: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 1
HB170: Girl Band – The Cha Cha Cha (Stream)
HB171: Cloud Nothings at High Noon Saloon – 5/2/14 (Pictorial Review)
HB172: Watch This: Vol. 23
HB173: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 2
HB174: Savages – Fuckers (Music Video)
HB175: Midnight Reruns at Polack Inn – 5/7/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB176: Watch This: Vol. 24
HB177: Watch This: Vol. 25
HB178: PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart (Music Video)
HB179: Priests – Doctor (Stream)
HB180: Lady Bones + Horsehands (Split Review)
HB181: Fucked Up – Sun Glass (Music Video)
HB182: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 3
HB183: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Jackson (Stream)
HB184: Dead Stars – Someone Else (Music Video)
HB185: 5 to see at NXNE 2014: Vol. 4
HB186: Lower – Bastard Tactics (Music Video)
HB187: Bad History Month – Staring At My Hands (Stream)
HB188: White Lung – Face Down (Music Video)
HB189: Greys – Use Your Delusion (Stream)
HB190: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 5
HB191: The Rich Hands – Teenager (Stream)
HB192: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always (Music Video)
HB193: The Pharmacy – Masten Lake Lagoon (Stream)
HB194: 5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 6
HB195: Naomi Punk – Television Man (Stream)
HB196: Watch This: Vol. 26
HB197: Geronimo! – Euphoria (Stream)
HB198: Watch This: Vol. 27
HB199: PUP – Guilt Trip (Music Video)

Lower – Bastard Tactics (Music Video)

Lower’s Walk On Heads was one of the more exhilarating debuts of recent memory. That EP was a force to be reckoned with and caught the ears of Matador, who wasted no time in signing the Copenhagen band. They’re all gearing up for the release of Seek Warmer Climes, the Copenhagen band’s first full-length. It’s mostly stayed shrouded in mystery, with neither label or band offering much in the way of previews- until today. We now have a song and an accompanying studio video of the band performing “Bastard Tactics”, which features a more focused take on their downtrodden post-punk. “Bastard Tactics” is enough on its own to ensure expectations for Seek Warmer Climes remain very, very high. With Matador acting as the outlet it’ll be released on, it’s also positioned nicely as another important step for the increasing number of hardcore-leaning bands on the DIY circuit playing music this jagged and drowsy. Expect to be seeing a lot more press surrounding this quasi-revival soon- and expect Lower to join Iceage at the forefront of it all.