Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: metallic

Even Hand – Even Hand (Album Review, Stream)

eh

Over the years it’s become increasingly evident that their are some cassettes that it’s next to impossible to eject from a deck once they’ve completed their rotation- not because of technical difficulty but because of how good the record on the tape is. Stupid Bag Records have had a direct hand in quite a few of them (every Swearin’ tape, Acid Fast’s Rabid Moond, Dead Dog’s Precious Child, etc.) and recently, one of their releases possessing that insane amount of gravitational pull was given an LP release over at the always-outstanding Mandible Records: Even Hand’s self-titled full-length debut.

Even Hand boasts a sound that feels like it’d fit comfortably between both Sunny Day Real Estate and The Wrens at their respective peaks, without sacrificing an inch of their DIY punk roots, which is an impressive achievement, to say the least. In a small way, it makes them a sort of spiritual kin to Haunted Heads, even if Even Hand’s a little more wiry and more in line with the Steve Albini school of thought when it comes to presentation. That keen attention to detail is something that serves them well throughout the course of Even Hand and helps the record feel like an absolutely vital release.

Starting with a trio of songs that establishes both the band’s sound and the tone of the record, Even Hand wastes no time in commanding the listener’s attention. “Glacial Blue”, the record’s opening track, recalls a much more precise and mannered Parquet Courts without losing any of the nervy tension that dominates the kind of wry post-punk  both bands traffic in. “The More It Shows” reveals the band’s just as comfortable delivering charged-up bruisers as they are at displaying raw nerve. “Your Wall” rounds out the opening blitz with a lilting melody and a slow-burning sonic template that’s indebted to the very best of emo’s golden era without being completely defined by that genre.

From there, Even Hand manages to steadily build it’s momentum while carving out new niche areas of all the genres that factor into what make them such an engaging band on record. While the furiously paced”Down the Lighted Strip” may be the record’s most definitive moment, it’s Even Hand‘s quietest moment that manages to stand out most. “Leaning Home” is the track in question and it arrives at roughly the 3/4’s mark of the record, providing bandleader Mike Borth an arresting solo moment. Everything goes quiet for “Leaning Home” and Borth makes the most of it, providing Even Hand with some of his sharpest guitar work and a set of lyrics that cuts deep by confronting familial conflict in a manner that feels intensely personal. It’s the record’s longest song (though it doesn’t feel like it) and earns every last second of its runtime.

Appropriately, it’s followed by an ambient stretch before “All Tenses All Time” kicks things back into overdrive and showcases the natural ability of Even Hand’s rhythm section, with Dominic Armao lending the record no shortage of propulsive bass line and drummer Dan Edelman providing a deeply impressive set of chops at a pace that frequently borders the manic. Both Armao and Edelman give the record a lot of its heart while Borth shapes it with an enviable sense of personality. All three pull out a variety of stops for the closing track, “I’m Not Concerned”, giving listeners one final reminder of what each is capable of on their own- and what the band’s capable of as a collective. “I’m Not Concerned” winds up being an appropriate final highlight on a record littered with other ones- and when it’s over, all that’s really left to do is let it play itself over again. Even Hand is a record that deserves to be heard- as many times as possible.

Listen to Even Hand below and make sure to not live life without either owning the cassette or the LP.

Geronimo! – Euphoria (Stream)

grmn

While this site was (and is) still grappling with an inability to directly access soundcloud, an insane amount of music’s been brought into the world. The few songs that did earn features here were all accessed remotely, via other generous posters. One that seemed to slip by most, though, was music from the extraordinary, just-released Cheap Trick by the Chicago-based Geronimo!. Time to right that wrong. Cheap Trick is easily among the best records to have come out so far this year and the record’s penultimate track, the coursing “Euphoria”, manages to define both the record and the band in a little under seven minutes.

Not a single one of those seconds is wasted as the song goes from a sedated and contemplative slow-burner to a frenzied sonic assault. There’s a perfectly executed transition that leans in on the band’s penchant for woozy guitar riffs that are as inspired by shoegaze as they are post-punk. Even with that, the band still finds enough room for a few other influences; Midwestern emo, early hardcore, and left-field powerpop- and blends them into an aesthetic package that’s wholly their own.

By the time “Euphoria” hits, the record’s already full-sprint and climactic enough but this single song manages to push it, gleefully, over the edge of a cliff. It’s the soundtrack of the descent and it’s clear Geronimo! loves every exhilarating minute. Appropriately, considering the title, “Euphoria” winds up being the most noticeable moment of catharsis on a record full of them. Don’t let this one go unnoticed.

Listen to “Euphoria” below and make sure to pick up Cheap Trick as soon as humanly possible.

Naomi Punk – Television Man (Stream)

np

There are a few labels that get a lot of love around these parts- Burger, Exploding in Sound, Don Giovanni, and Old Flame Records all have a pretty strong foothold by continuing to operate with the kinds of bands who make music that caters to exactly what this site was built to celebrate. Captured Tracks can officially be added to that list. The label’s the home of the band that’s earned the most features here as well as a tantalizing spread of others (Mac DeMarco, Craft Spells, Medicine, etc.) and has been on an impressive run lately. Enter: Naomi Punk. A band built on weirdly frenetic post-punk tension and the kind of instrumental interplay that would make Spoon proud, they’re bound to be one of the year’s bigger discoveries. Yesterday they revealed a lot of details about their home-recorded sophomore effort, Television Man, and offered up the title track for streaming. “Television Man” is a jaunty run through a maze of stop-start rhythms and twisted riffs that somehow manage to subtly recall various miniature aspects of the 90’s underground punk scenes while sounding distinctly modern. It’s one hell of an introduction to the record (which is due out August 5th) and will likely have a lot of people salivating while begging for more.

Listen to “Television Man” below and give in to its relentlessness.