Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Matt Stranger

Black Thumb – Goes So Slow (Music Video Premiere)

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Colin Wilde has been involved in a whole host of projects to have been featured in some way on this site (including, but not limited to, Tenement, Dusk, Technicolor Teeth, and darn it.) but Black Thumb (which features players culled from the previously mentioned groups) has been serving as his calling card. Created as an outlet for Wilde’s solo work, Black Thumb’s songs have progressively become darker in tone and more expansive in scope. Ever since an impressive 2013 self-titled debut, Wilde’s growing confidence and control as a songwriter has been evident.

Today, Black Thumb takes that assured vision a step further with the “Goes So Slow” music video, which is premiering here. “Goes So Slow” opens on a smash cut to a title card set against a pure white backdrop, Wilde looming off to the side, not facing the camera. It’s an intense moment that immediately sets a confrontational tone that lingers throughout the entirety of the clip.

The video quickly turns to a shot of Wilde hitting a lone snare, face still obscured, drawing attention to the snare’s head, which effectively furthers the clip’s color palette. Not long after, “Goes So Slow” opens up and the visuals follow suit, cascading over each other in a series of mirrored effects and tastefully spare overlays. There’s a hazy, dreamlike structure that informs both the song and the video, with both bringing it out of the other in intriguingly emphatic ways, ranging from a series of blurred visuals to the post-punk atmospherics.

All of the imagery in “Goes So Slow” comes across as meticulously crafted and contains the weight afforded to iconic pieces of modern art. There’s an incredible amount of conviction to be found in not only the art direction of “Goes So Slow” but the song itself, even when pared down to a single element. Tied together, everything becomes a hypnotic tapestry that demands repeat viewings.

Taken as a whole, “Goes So Slow” seems like more than just another entry in a continuously fascinating discography. There’s a certain air to both the song and the clip that makes it feel more like a statement from a still-young artist intent on making a mark. With “Goes So Slow”, Wilde not only has a new career highlight but a reason for people to turn their heads and take notice. After being relegated to the sidelines for years, Wilde’s ready to claim a moment of his own.

Watch “Goes So Slow” below and pick up It Is Well With My Soul from Forward here.

Tenement – Feral Cat Tribe (Music Video)

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Sat. Nite Duets, Field Mouse, Voir Voir, Spook the Herd, FRIGS, Cool Ghouls, Kiss Concert, Conveyor, Pill, Death Valley Girls, Mikey Erg, and The Veils constituted one of the most impressive days for standalone streams in recent memory while Yucky Duster, Oneirogen, and Faithless Town made sure the full streams weren’t too far behind. There was also an impressive slate of music videos from the likes of Happy Accidents, High Waisted, Pkew Pkew Pkew, The Avalanches, Stefan Welch, Wand, and PJ Harvey. All of those releases deserve a hefty amount of investment but the band that snagged today’s feature spot — probably unsurprisingly at this point — was Tenement.

Few bands, if any, have had more words written about them in these spaces and I haven’t pushed any band more than Tenement. I’ve written about the trio at literally every opportunity over the past eight years and the band keeps providing reasons to sing their praises. Somehow, despite their lengthy history, “Feral Cat Tribe” stands as the band’s first official video. Featuring guitarist/vocalist Amos Pitsch’s Dusk roommates (Colin Wilde, Matt Stranger, and Julia Blair), “Feral Cat Tribe” also heavily promotes Tenement’s own ethos (stay true to what works on a DIY platform and elevate the talented people that surround you in the process).

The video itself is a dizzying, disorienting run through a relatively nondescript building as the band (and their friends) mime their way through “Feral Cat Tribe”, a highlight from one of last year’s best albums. “Feral Cat Tribe” is a shot in a way that evokes the 360-angle video trend without ever succumbing into gimmickry or egregious pageantry, opting to make a slight statement on the nature of art: no matter how it’s dressed, if the material’s core maintains its convictions, it’ll more than likely be worthwhile.

Swooping camera angles, quick edits, and constantly, continuously moving pieces are also reflective of the commendable principles the band’s endorsed since their beginning. This is music and filmmaking that’s tethered to the earth and openly embraces all of its cracks, flaws, and bruises. For Tenement’s entire career, the band’s been finding ways to find beauty in damage and the clip for “Feral Cat Tribe” continues that trend on the visual spectrum. There’s a certain level of courageousness that’s required to even attempt what Tenement’s been doing lately and they’re continuing to make it look effortless.

Whether the band’s evoking classic Americana art forms or simply building their own identity, they’re doing it with uncanny precision and a wealth of feeling. “Feral Cat Tribe” — what’s said to be the first of many music videos for Predatory Headlights  —  suggests the band’s grasp extends even further than what they’ve previously shown. A fascinating clip from one of the best bands currently going, “Feral Cat Tribe” further cements their status as one of today’s most trustworthy acts; everything the band delivers is battered gold.

Watch “Feral Cat Tribe” below and pick up Predatory Headlights from Don Giovanni here.

Dusk – Too Sweet (Music Video)

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Capping off tonight’s run of the best music videos of the past few months is Dusk— one of the year’s best new bands– with 2015 highlight “Too Sweet“. Over the course of the past 10 years of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet most of Dusk’s members and share bills with their bands. The most notable of these directly affiliated bands is Tenement, a band I’ve written about on this site in great detail thanks to their key role in my artistic and personal development. As a kid who was just figuring out how to play guitar, I remember stepping foot into The BFG (a DIY punk house venue that the band used to run) and being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of records that the house had amassed, each showing the residents’ eclectic tastes.

I’d later come to find that a bulk of these belonged to Tenement guitarist/vocalist (and Dusk bassist) Amos Pitsch, who had a penchant for old soul and country records from the likes of artists like Sam Cooke and The Louvin Brothers. Those influences would gradually present themselves in subtle ways on Tenement songs (which have been erring closer to the band’s jazz influences) but they’d never featured as prominently as they do with Dusk, who also seem to share a very serious kinship with acts like The Band. After coming out of the gate with “(Do the) Bored Recluse“, the band followed up with “Too Sweet” arriving perfectly at a marriage between classic country and classic soul without ever sounding remotely inauthentic.

That sense of authenticity, the complete rejection of cheap revivalism, is evidenced again in the song’s Finn Bjornerud-directed music video, which simply features the band playing the song in an average living room (like their affiliates, Dusk has a tendency to find the beauty in the everyday rather than try to capture grandeur or bombast). A few striking compositions are spliced in here and there– including an absolutely gorgeous silhouette shot of a soft-lit Ryley Crowe playing pedal steel and a beautiful final group shot cleverly framed by an archway– but more often than not, the clip opts to celebrate the communal act of playing music surrounded by people you love.

Led by Julia Blair’s attention-ensuring crooning, a cavalcade of impressive backing vocal harmonies, and committed performances from all the featured players, “Too Sweet” feels like more than just a music video, it skews closer to a mission statement; celebrate the things you have and strive to elevate the people around you. Defiantly honorable to the end, “Too Sweet” is the most perfect encapsulation of Dusk to date and suggests that the band, thankfully, is only just getting started.

Watch “Too Sweet” below, pick up a copy of the 7″ here, and explore a list of some of the best music videos of the past few months underneath the embed.

Bing & Ruth – Broad Channel
Summer Twins – Ouija
Total Makeover – Self-Destructive
Francis – Follow Me Home
EL VY – No Time to Crank the Sun
Half Japanese – That Is That
James Clark Hangover – Maria
Oscar – Breaking My Phone
Wray – Hypatia
NZCA Lines – Persephone Dreams
Overlake – Travelogue
Rah Rah – Be Your Man
Paul Bergmann – You May Never Know
Pink Lung  – Chinese Watermelons
Laura Stevenson – Jellyfish
Ben Millburn – Don’t You Wait
Big Harp – DIEV
Busdriver – Much
Erica Glyn – The Killing Moon
Neonderthal – The Ride
Jackson Boone – Runaway
Freddie Gibbs – Fuckin’ Up the Count
Lowly – S.W.I.M.
Joey Kneiser – The Wilderness
Tuff Sunshine – Fire in the Hero Building
The Rashita Joneses – White Wave
The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally
Kenrick Lamar – These Walls (ft. Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat)

Dusk – Too Sweet (Stream)

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Even though more than two dozen of the past week’s items have been covered, there’s still a large handful of releases that haven’t been mentioned. Dusk’s B-side to “(Do The) Bored Recluse” led a formidable pack of noteworthy new songs and full streams. In the former caAtegory, there were memorable new numbers from Florist, Tigue, The Coathangers, Pinegrove, Foxing, Tenement, Historian, Monella, and Total Abuse, as well as a respectable Fugazi cover from The Dirty Nil. The full streams were well-represented with an eclectic trio of releases from Weyes Blood, Operator, and Bad Wig. All of those are, as always, worthy of investment- but it was Dusk’s latest that felt most deserving of this post’s headline.

As previously stated– and evidenced by this very post– any time anything Tenement-related surfaces, there’s a decent chance it’s going to get featured. There has been no other band I’ve recommended more times over the course of the past eight years and the band’s many side projects have warranted a great deal of attention; Dusk is no different. A collective of some of the sharpest musical minds in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley area, Dusk magnify Tenement’s relatively contained classic country influence into something effortlessly convincing.

“Too Sweet” sees the vocal lead shifting from Amos Pitsch to Julia Blair, who has no trouble carving out a commanding presence as the song’s central player. Nuanced pedal steel work and an impressive keys figure drive the song’s open-road feel, while Pitsch’s layered backing vocals inject the song with the kind of character that’s come to define his main vehicle. All the while, the rhythm section remains focused, covering up the song’s saccharine sensibilities with a coating of grit; a trick that plays directly into the song’s lyrical content.

It’s a clear-eyed love song that’s covered in bruises and it exhibits an incredible amount of promise for the members’ latest undertaking. “Too Sweet” also cements (Do The) Bored Recluse b/w Too Sweet‘s status as one of this year’s finest 7″ releases. Make sure it’s in as many collections as possible by following the order link below; this isn’t something to be missed.

Listen to “Too Sweet” below and pick up a copy of the 7″ from Forward! Records here.

Dusk – (Do The) Bored Recluse (Stream)

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Chances are, if you’ve read this site on even a casual basis, you’ve read a handful of words about the importance of Tenement. It’s possible anyone digging deeper has caught a few mentions of bands like Technicolor TeethBlack Thumb, or darn it., in addition to the more detailed tracking of Amos Pitsch‘s main vehicle. Now, the prolific multi-instrumentalist is back with a new outfit, made up of people involved with the previously mentioned bands (as well as Holy Sheboygan!). As has been the case with all of Pitsch’s projects, it’s taken an astonishingly short amount of time for Dusk to register as noteworthy.

Even separating the collective pedigrees of its ragtag members from the project, the music they’re making feels vital. “(Do The) Bored Recluse” is a perfect jumping off point for the band and they couldn’t have timed its release more perfectly. Dominated by warm analog tones and a punk-tinged country feel, the song’s a perfect soundtrack for the part of the world that’s transitioning from summer to fall, evoking images of leaf-strewn roads and unkempt patios. In managing to come off as both incredibly driven and surprisingly easygoing, “(Do The) Bored Recluse” strikes another delicate balance and expertly coasts to its conclusion.

A perfect piece of punchy Americana, “(Do The) Bored Recluse” isn’t just a great song; it’s one of the year’s most effective warning shots and a tantalizing signal of some extraordinary things to come. Keep both eyes peeled on this project, you won’t be disappointed.

Listen to “(Do The) Bored Recluse” below and pre-order the 7″ from Forward! Records here. Underneath the embed, explored a handful of other great songs to find release over the past three weeks.

Pom Poms – Betty
Beach Baby – Limousine
Radiator Hospital – Will You Find Me
Sea Ghost – Cowboy Hat
Beach Slang – Anything, Anything (Dramarama)
Saintseneca – Bad Ideas
Oscar – Breaking My Phone
Protomartyr – I Forgive You
Technicolor Teeth – Dying Leaves (Demo)
Wildhoney – Thin Air
Tobias Reif – Demo
DMAs – Lay Down
Lags – War Was Over
Girls Names – I Was You
Paul Bergmann – You May Never Know
Aneurysm – Veronica
Julien Baker – Brittle Boned
Rare Monk – Warning Pulse
Breakfast Muff – I Want To Want To
Big Eater – Lazy Days
Dan Friel – Rattler
Indiago – Been So Long
Gláss – Glass(-accent)
Gun Outfit – Dream All Over
Kirk Knight (ft. Noname Gypsy & Thundercat) – Dead Friends

Technicolor Teeth – Can You Keep Me Out of Hell (Stream)

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Up until this point, there has only been one band to get me to break the self-identifier exclusion rule that Heartbreaking Bravery is normally held to- but when something as monumental as Technicolor Teeth‘s Can You Get Me Out of Hell tour-only tape comes along, it’s worth throwing caution to the wind. Another reason I’m allowing myself the small indulgences of first person narrative is that this is a band I’ve had the privilege of watching evolve since they formed (which was back when Harlequin Kid, a band that featured two Technicolor Teeth members, was still going strong). After one practice, the band had “Station Wagon” to their name and not much else- but that song was strong enough to put me on notice and ensured my attention.

At one of their first shows, guitarist Zacc Baehman blew a fuse while tuning and it took a good ten minutes for everything to get reset. It was one of those weirdly thrilling moments that preceded an even stranger set, with the volume pushed to punishing levels throughout. Back then, Colin Wilde (who appears on the covers of both Teenage Pagans and Can You Keep Me Out of Hell) was still drumming for the band after original drummer Dan Wolfe bowed out and their current drummer- Tenement‘s Amos Pitsch- was on tour. A few very strong 7″ records, a couple of official releases for Teenage Pagans through a few different labels, an inclusion on the incredible Beyond Inversion compilation, and a whole ton of shows later, the band’s now set to unleash the staggeringly brilliant Can You Keep Me Out of Hell cassette, which will only be available to purchase directly from the band on their March tour (track them down at SXSW and pick one up).

Can You Keep Me Out of Hell is a major step forward for the band in almost every way imaginable (an odd feat considering it’s ostensibly a compilation of past 7″ releases with new material tacked on); it’s the most fully-realized version of their shoegaze-meets-nightmare pop aesthetic, both the songwriting from bassist/vocalist Matt Stranger and in-house production are stronger than they’ve ever been, and the pacing is nothing short of extraordinary for this ultimately being a collection of new and previously-released tracks. There are moments of genuinely startling inventiveness littered all over Can You Keep Me Out of Hell as well, each one working as well as the last. It doesn’t just extend to a reliance on one instrument either, whether it’s the hauntingly minimal organ and echoing bells that provide “My Darkest Love” its foreboding atmosphere or the vocal manipulation that leads “Nocturnal Remission” in its descent to nightmarish chaos to provide that song its third quarter, Technicolor Teeth infused this release with almost everything they’ve got and as a result wound up surpassing even the loftiest expectations.

As for the already-released material, “Sage”, “Vaporous”, “Stolen Things and the Starving Man”, “Blood Pool”, and “Drips”, they all hold up as well as ever- only they’re given extra life surrounded by the new material. Everything here works as complement to everything that surrounds it, never once falling into staid territory. Baehman, Stranger, and Pitsch are all playing at the top of their respective games and seem to be pushing each other to greater heights with this project. Ultimately, Can You Keep Me Out of Hell sees the band clicking at the right time, in all the right ways. That’s likely one of the reasons they’ve caught the attention of the likes of Impose and Pitchfork, who have undoubtedly boosted the band’s profile in the past few weeks. Their continued ascension has been surprisingly rewarding to watch unfold and leaves me with this thought; it’s about damn time.

Listen to Can You Keep Me Out of Hell below and don’t lose track of this band- they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeve that should prove they’re far from done.

25 Best Demo’s, EP’s, 7″ Singles, and Compilations of 2013

2013 was an incredible year for music that held a seemingly infinite amount of great releases in nearly every possible genre and sub-genre. Cassettes popularity exploded, vinyl sales increased by more than 30%, and the importance of demo’s finally became apparent. In a sea of widely-publicized releases that got mountains of praise, it was a joy to find what composes much of this list.  While a few spots are technically taken up by more than one release, those ties always come courtesy of a band generous enough to release more than one item and have it live up to whatever had preceded it. So, with that caveat in mind, here are the 25 best demo’s, EP’s, 7″ singles, splits, and compilations of 2013.


25. Split Feet – Fall 2013

Chicago’s Split Feet were one of the upper Midwest’s better surprises of 2013 and this demo announced their entrance authoritatively. The rest of the space could be consumed by an attempt to wax poetic on the demo’s respective virtues but, to spare everyone some time, it’s worth pointing out that’s already been done here. Stream the Fall 2013 demo below.

24. The Hotels – Leslie

Here’s an interesting, barely-relevant fact; The Hotels’ excellent Leslie EP was released on the same day Heartbreaking Bravery started. Leslie incorporates nearly all of the staple items on the musical laundry list that this site celebrates most frequently. There’s an emphasis on the kind of influences that keep it on the fringes of the emo-revival alongside bands like Swearin’ and All Dogs but finds itself living in the moment far too much to be tied to a revival. It’s immediacy pays huge dividends but it’s Leslie‘s precision that landed it on this list. Listen to it below.

23. Globelamp – Star Dust

Like Split Feet’s demo, Globelamp’s undeniable unique EP has already been celebrated here. Despite already having a few releases, this felt like a debut. Star Dust‘s nervous energy felt impossibly grounded and promises bigger things for the duo. Hear Star Dust below.

22. Elvis Christ – And So It Shall Be

No one’s going to deny that Elvis Christ is more likable to be noticed for his contributions to Nobunny than his solo work, which, based on the strength of And So It Shall Be is due for a change in the near-future.  There’s definitely a Nobunny influence coursing through the five tracks on display but they pack enough punch to secure it a spot on this list. One of Burger Records’ best tape releases from their best year. Hear it below. 

21. Joseph Frankl – Breakers

Joseph Frankl released two great records on very different platforms this year. As the drummer for The Frankl Project, he was a part of one of 2013’s (and perhaps the decade’s) best pop-punk records. Not too long after he uploaded this two-song single to his bandcamp as a self-release. Breakers exists along the same lines as yesterday’s On the Up honorees Technicolor Teeth. This is driving shoegaze that feels authentic and well-informed and not like a pale imitation. Both songs are among the year’s best and deserve way more attention than they’ve received. Hear Breakers below.

20. The Orwells – Other Voices/Who Needs You

2013 was a breakout year for these young Chicago scrappers. From Jam  in the Van sessions to NPR music video premieres, it was hard to go more than a few months without hearing about them. A lot of this, of course, was due to both of the outstanding EP’s they gave to the world in 2013 (as well as a split cassingle with FIDLAR for Record Store Day), all of which were given a tape release via Burger Records. A production assist from TV On the Radio’s Dave Sitek undoubtedly piqued a lot of interests even further than they had been but that wouldn’t mean anything if the music didn’t actually live up to the hype. Thankfully, it has. Hear both EP’s in full below. 


19. Dead Beach – Purple Scissors/Cool Mutants Split

Let’s Pretend released a lot of incredible material in 2013 but this was easily their best in the short-form department. Both Purple Scissors and the Cool Mutants split were recorded by PURPLE 7’s Patrick Jennings (who formerly fronted Hot New Mexicans) and both bands’ influences are evident throughout both the EP and the split. They both carry the slightly off-kilter, raw, and insanely melodic traits that nearly all of Let’s Pretend’s roster has come to be known for. Hear both releases in their entirety below.




18. La Luz – Damp Face

Anyone who’s been following this site probably won’t be too surprised at finding yet another Burger release on this list but it’s hard to argue against placements for any of the label’s releases; they’ve been consistently excellent and positioned themselves at the forefront of basement pop. La Luz had a turbulent year, suffering both triumphs and devastating setbacks. As horrific as their accident was, people are more likely to associate 2013 with both of the band’s outstanding releases rather than personal tragedy. Both their It’s Alive full-length and Damp Face EP have managed to jumpstart a promising career for their band and they’re already showing no signs of slowing, fighting back relentlessly at whatever obstacles come there way. Hear some of that fight bleed into their music by listening to Damp Face below.

17. Midwives – Midwives

Midwives’ self-titled debut is another of the entries on this list that’s already been covered and the thing’s got some serious legs. Its staying power has been incredibly impressive and went a long way in securing it a spot on this list. Get familiar with Wisconsin’s best new hardcore act by listening to Midwives’ introductory piece below.

16. Lemuria – Brilliant Dancer

As good as The Distance Is So Big was, this 7″ teaser the band released ahead of it may actually exceed it in terms of greatness. Both “Brilliant Dancer” and “Helloing” rank among the best songs in Lemuria’s impressive catalog, providing them the b/w format cuts out any excess and lets them operate as a sharp adrenaline shot that emphasizes the band’s best qualities. Brilliant Dancer is about as precise as Lemuria gets and sacrifices none of their sugar-rush basement pop. Hear it below (and catch them live whenever possible).

15. Summer Twins – Forget Me

As has been mentioned before and is likely to be mentioned again, Burger Records had an absolutely monstrous 2013, as far as EP’s are concerned the label didn’t put out anything better last year than the Summer Twins’ near-perfect Forger Me. Mining a 50’s doo-wop and 60’s girl group influence in equal measure, they offered up five of the most assured and gorgeous songs of the year, with the title track being one of the year’s outright best. While the rest of the songs don’t quite match the heights of “Forget Me”, they come close enough to more than justify a spot on this list. Hear Forget Me below.



14. Huge Face – Huge Face

Huge Face are yet another band that may occasionally find their name tossed into the emo-revival conversation that’s happening right now despite leaning closer to Guided by Voices and late-era Wipers than Sunny Day Real Estate. In the grand scheme of things, though, it really doesn’t matter. Huge Face stands up just fine on its own. The most modern touchpoint here would be Wolf Parade, as the bands share several similar sensibilities, even if the execution on how their lensed varies ever-so-slightly. No matter how it’s looked at, it’s fairly clear that this is a great release. Listen to it below.

13. Pusrad – Modern Anatomi

Clocking in at just over four and a half minutes, these ten songs refuse to fuck around. That steadfast commitment is an integral part of all great hardcore bands’ aesthetic, Pusrad included. Already moving at an incredibly prolific pace, Pusrad keep getting better with each one. Modern Anatomi is an exhilarating blast of fierce, old-school hardcore that’s as relentless as it is creative. One of the genre’s best releases in any format in 2013. Hear it below.



12. Upset/Swearin’/Waxahatchee/Screaming Females – Guided by Voices Tribute 7″

All anyone really needed to do for this one was look at the title. Upset, Swearin’, Waxahatchee, and Screaming Females are four of the better bands going today and each paying tribute to a specific Guided by Voices track is an undeniably sensible move. This is as much of a four-band pairing as it is a five and it exceeds its own promise. That’s one hell of an accomplishment. Unfortunately, no streams of this are currently available but it’s available for purchase (highly recommended) via the link below.

Purchase the Guided by Voices Tribute 7″ from Salinas Records

11. Sundials – Always Whatever (A Collection of Songs from 2009-2012)

Releasing a set-year retrospective can be a tempting prospect for any band that feels it’s entered a new stage; rarely do they exceed on the levels of Sundials’ Always Whatever (A Collection of Songs from 2009-2012). By forgoing the inclusion of several songs from their two main releases, First 6 Songs and When I Couldn’t Breathe, there’s an allowance for the unexpected which infuses Always Whatever with a vitality it may have sorely lacked. This is a stunning collection of melodic basement punk songs that should only help the anticipation build for whatever the band’s next move is. Get familiar with Sundials by listening to Always Whatever below.

10. Technicolor Teeth – Blood Pool

There aren’t very many bands out there who can claim to be as exciting as Technicolor Teeth. Only a few years (and two releases) into their career, they’ve managed to make a deep impression on a lot of their peers and grab the attentions of people that may help elevate them to infamy. They’ve essentially been posited as the new forefront of shoegaze by embracing it as fully as possible while still thriving to make it their own. After the rousing success and tonal darkness of Teenage Pagans, it’s unlikely that anyone thought the aspect they’d play up the most for their follow-up was their warm dream-pop influence. Granted, they haven’t sacrificed much of their morbidity or dark atmosphere and instead reinvent that side of themselves as well. As a result, they’ve wound up with the best nightmare-pop 7″ of 2013. It’s difficult to say how long this band will stay buried but expect to be hearing their names a lot more sometime soon.


9. The Dirty Nil/Northern Primitive – Split

The Dirty Nil’s split 7″ with Northern Primitive was one of the more unique splits of 2013 just for the variance of style on display. Both bands tend to err towards doom without actually crossing that bridge completely, with the former keeping at least one foot very firmly planted in early 90’s indie a la Dinosaur Jr. and The Pixies while the latter perilously straddles multiple genre lines at once. Of the two, The Dirty Nil takes the more straightforward route (and is none the less thrilling for it) while Northern Primitive throws everything they’ve got into their side, riding an eerie atmosphere into a crushing crescendo before gracefully falling back out. An absolutely stunning display piece for two of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Hear it below.



8. Jeff Rosenstock – Summer

Over the years, IYMI has become one of the most trusted sources out there for on-the-rise bands playing the basement punk circuit and have frequently offered early glimpses at bands like Swearin’ and Jason Anderson in the bandcamp “optional donation” mode (the site also is responsible for the incredible Pink Couch Sessions series). This year, they went ahead and added Jeff Rosenstock to the list by featuring his incredible Summer 7″, which managed to be one of the most explosive scuzz-pop 7″ singles of 2013. An absolute must-own. Hear both “Teenager” and “Go On Get” below.



7. Tweens – Demo CD-R

Tweens were one of the great breakout successes of the gutter circuits in 2013, releasing nothing but demos which were subsequently devoured and praised at a rate fast enough to give anyone whiplash. The Cincinnati trio have become one of the more talked-about and sought-after prospects in recent memory based solely on the strength of a demo CD-R which is impressive enough in itself. The fact that their bandleader, Bridgette, had only recently learned guitar before before starting Tweens is a completely different level of impressive. Tweens are set to release their debut full-length in March and that day can’t get here fast enough. Until then, listen to a few selections from the now-sold out demo below.



6. All Dogs – 7″

One of Salinas’ most exciting new prospects has already drawn comparisons to seemingly half of that label’s roster, which is precisely what makes it so appealing. Over the past few years Salinas has carefully cultivated a sound that prides itself on a lo-fi 90’s indie punk influence. All Dogs profile is set to get another boost with the impending release of Saintseneca’s upcoming LP on Anti-, as the bands share members. A lot more could be said about this release but, once again, it’s worth noting that much of it has already been said. Listen to All Dogs’ triumphant 7″ below.



5. Various Artists – Beyond Inversion: A Benefit for Rachael’s Women’s Center in DC

Over Heartbreaking Bravery’s short existence, the release that’s garnered the most coverage from this site is undoubtedly Accidental Guest’s incredible Beyond Inversion benefit compilation. It’s a compilation that has its heart squarely in the right place, while perfectly adhering to the best aesthetics of the basement scene. There’s a selflessness that’s on display here through the involved bands’ naturally camaraderie. It’s also a perfect representation of its time, culminating in a capsule-worthy artifact that sheds this generation in the most positive light imaginable. Which is precisely why there was more than just one article devoted to it. Beyond Inversion may be seeing a vinyl release at some point in the near future but the initial cassette release sold out in pre-orders. Thankfully, the whole thing is available for streaming and can be heard below.



4. Acid Fast – Rabid Moon

While Rabid Moon finally was given a proper vinyl release last week, it’s been available as a cassette for several months, courtesy of Stupid Bag Records. Far and away one of the most impressive cassette-only full-length’s to be granted a 2013 release, it allowed for a monumental build-up to it’s run as a 2014 record. In the span between the two official releases, the band’s picked up press from Punknews, the AV Club, and earned On the Up honors from this very site. Rabid Moon is an absolute monster of a record that channels the spirit of Archers of Loaf, has the unhinged energy that made Big Kids so great, and it deserves every accolade that’s undoubtedly coming its way. Hear the first three songs from the record below.

3. LVL UP – Extra Worlds/Porches. Split

LVL UP prove themselves again and again with each consecutive release. How this band isn’t fucking huge yet is anyone’s best guess and it still seems like that’ll happen in due time. One of the most thrilling and accessible bands going right now, LVL UP absolutely crushed 2013 with an outstanding EP and a split with Porches. that was every bit the EP’s equal. In both cases, this is full-throttle basement punk with powerpop flourishes that doesn’t skimp on aggression or melody. Flashes of everything from The Replacements at their best to Weezer at their best are all present and filtered organically enough to come across as an influence and not an imitation. It seems unlikely that LVL UP will be slowing down anytime soon. Hear both Extra Worlds and their split with Porches. below.


2. Perfect Pussy – I have lost all desire for feeling

There were no releases last year that felt as harrowing and personal as Perfect Pussy’s demo tape. It didn’t matter which way it was spun, the listener’s reaction, vocalist Meredith Graves’ determined confessionals, or the cultural dialogue it inspired; this was a personal affair. It was also an incredible piece of music, relentlessly energetic and unabashedly unapologetic in composition, production, and lyrical content. It was  a demo (and band) that meant a lot to this site, which is why Meredith Graves was chosen (and graciously agreed to be) Heartbreaking Bravery’s first interviewI have lost all desire for feeling also earned one of this site’s very first reviews and set off a chain reaction of positive effects that have extended into 2014. Listen to I have lost all desire for feeling below.

1. Tenement – Screaming Females Split + More Compilation/Puke and Destroy #2/Sick Club Vol. 3/Something to Dü

Sometimes things are predictable for a reason; this site hasn’t been shy about its feelings for Tenement. Despite not releasing any official LP’s or EP’s in 2013, they experienced one of their most successful years to date on the strength of their 7″ releases. There was their unbelievable entry into the Sick Club series on Cowabunga!, their stellar section of Puke & Destroy alongside Holy Shit!, Gleam Gardens, and The What-A-Nights, and an unbelievable (and entirely unexpected) compilation on bandcamp centered around their attention-demanding split with Screaming Females.  Additionally, the band also contributed to do the excellent Something to Dü five-band tribute on Dead Broke Rekerds offering up a volume-shifting take on “Obnoxious”. Throughout all of it, the band manages to show their full range from the battered and haunting “Ants and Flies” demo to their usual hardcore-tinged basement pop- as well as their usual lo-fi freakouts. It didn’t matter what mode they were in, everything from “Books on Hell + Sermons on T.V.” to “Twig” deserved an infinite amount of listens and serious year-end considerations. The scariest part of all this is that it still feels like this band is just getting started, especially considering the band already has two LP’s lined up for release on Grave Mistake and Don Giovanni, respectively, for next year. Hear all four of the band’s major 2013 releases below.




On the Up: Technicolor Teeth

While the last installment of On the Up covered Tenement at great length, it failed to go into a band that’s practically connected at the hip to that trio; Technicolor Teeth. Amos Pitsch, Tenement’s de facto bandleader, drums for it’s loud-as-fuck shoegaze counterpart (in addition to several other bands), which also happens to feature members that have played a fairly big role in Tenement’s already-impressive career. Bassist/vocalist Matt Stranger and guitarist Zacc Baehman (who’d previously played with Pitsch in the short-lived but dearly-missed Harlequin Kid).

Pitsch was a late addition to the band, though, as the drummer’s throne was originally filled by Colin Wilde (his is the face that graces the Teenage Pagans cover), who’s now pursuing music under his own terms under the moniker Black Thumb. It didn’t take long for anyone to realize the band’s potential, especially considering the strength of the first song they wrote together as a band was impressive enough to rank it as one of the best of the last few years.

That song, “Station Wagon”, wound up being one of the many highlights of their full-length debut, Teenage Pagans, which incited a small label war that saw that record being released on multiple formats in various years and labels after the band originally put it up (and had a label subsequently remove it following an official release) on their bandcamp. Since then, Teenage Pagans has found its way back to free streaming, the band’s toured as hard as possible (especially taking Tenement’s increasing popularity into account), they’ve released a reputation-boosting 7″ on Accidental Guest Recordings and contributed a song to that label’s wonderful Beyond Inversion compilation.

That much activity is causing a lot of people to take notice of this still-young band at an alarming rate. How this will end up playing foil to Tenement when one of them inevitably breaks through is anyone’s best guess. For now, it’s probably best to just enjoy the fact that both bands are cropping up on more than a few peoples radars. They’ve both got distinct sounds and are far more well-versed in their respective genres than most bands can claim to be. Technicolor Teeth more than deserves to be in the same conversation as its brethren and that should say more than enough.

Watch the band take a run through “Station Wagon” in an Appleton, WI basement at a semi-secret early show with Big Eyes (video courtesy of Heartbreaking Bravery) below.