Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Milwaukee

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 7

PWR BTTM I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

The preceding galleries can be accessed via these links:

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Potty Mouth

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5

Johanna Warren I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3

Idle Bloom

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2

Girlpool I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1

Radioactivity

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

Midnight Reruns – Canadian Summer (Music Video, Live Video)

Midnight Reruns IV

2015’s made a habit out of producing incredibly strong weeks for new material and these past five days have proven to be no different. There were strong new songs from Pill, Dead Stars, Car Seat Headrest, Day Wave, Dressy Bessy, Hand of Dust, and Courtney Barnett’s excellent Boys Next Door cover. Winstons and Alex G both unveiled formidable releases and a trio of tantalizing clips from Greys, Braids, and Doe. While each of those titles are worth several glances, it was site favorites Midnight Reruns‘ latest music video to earn this post’s feature spot.

Fresh off the release of Force of Nurture‘s brilliant lead-off number “There’s An Animal Upstairs“, the band returns to their hangout mode in an endearing new clip for “Canadian Summer”. Previously, the band had all but perfected that approach with their memorably freewheeling “King of Pop” music video just over two years ago. This time around, instead of focusing on their friends and their current environment, they celebrate their roots- and drummer Sam Reitman’s father.

Guitarist/vocalist (and principal songwriter) Graham Hunt and Reitman used to practice in Reitman’s father’s home in a variety of projects and crafted the “Canadian Summer” clip as a loving homage to his influence (and his love of boats). Utilizing a meaningful place as the location for the shoot pays massive dividends, lending “Canadian Summer” an immediate, distinctly Midwestern, heart-on-sleeve feel that perfectly complements their musical sensibilities.

The song itself is an absolute monster, whose chorus hasn’t left my head since hearing it over a year ago (it’s become a rightful staple of the band’s live sets). Tempos switch, the song builds momentum, and the footage surrounding it drives home the earnest simplicity of it all. Midnight Reruns aren’t just a band that’s defined by their influences, they’re defined by their commitment to producing material that would make those influences proud. “Canadian Summer” is just the latest example of how well they’re succeeding.

Watch “Canadian Summer” below and pre-order a copy of Force of Nurture here. Beneath the music video, watch a clip of the band performing the song at the sorely missed Crunchy Frog in Green Bay, WI.

Phylums – Go Home (Stream)

phylums

Another day’s come and gone and another glut of excellent new releases has been left for exploration. Between Albert Hammond Jr.’s Momentary Masters and Seapony’s A Vision, the full stream category was richly represented. An impressive roster leaning more heavily on big names than usual comprised a strong showing for music videos with acts as varied as Major Lazer (ft. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley), Elbow, Samantha Crain, and Jason Isbell all making intriguing contributions.

The day’s single streams leaned fairly heavily on fiery punk-tinged numbers but did make room for one glitchy ambient outlier; Fine Print’s moody “Can’t Lie“. Womps’ gloriously ragged “Live A Little Less” offered no shortage of pure exhilaration and Ghetto Ghouls’ “Hezbollah” maximized lo-fi grit and manic energy to great effect. While each of the linked items is worthy of a click (and of passing along to your friends), today’s feature spot goes to the WI-based Phylums.

Normally, I do my best not to use any type of identifier for the artists that get covered in here unless it plays a special function in their art because music is a universal craft that can (and should) be defined by so much more than gender and/or location. “Go Home” will be a rare exception to this rule just because it adds a bit of a personal punch for someone that recently moved halfway across the country from the state Phylums call home.

Phylums also boast an impressive pedigree through their members’ respective back catalogs (any band that has any ties to The Goodnight Loving– one of the best bands to ever come out of WI- will always have my attention) and that’s guaranteed them the attention of anyone even tangentially aware of what’s happening in that state’s DIY punk scene. “Go Home” is the first look at their first full-length, affirming just about every suspicion that’s been leveled at the band since forming; this is genuinely great music.

Taking a handful of cues from Nuggets and blending in the slapdash approach of the members’ various other projects and past experience (including- but not limited to- Holy Shit!, WI’s finest hardcore band), the quartet have wound up settling into a jangly psych-tinged basement pop groove and are- probably unsurprising- already far outstripping most bands kicking around that genre.

What’s more, “Go Home” carries with it a genuine sense of place; “Go Home” sounds like a loving homage to the environment where Phylums create. There’s a feeling it evokes that’s indescribably familiar- a visual suggestion of sprawling expanses of some light urban decay, rolling, tree-lined highways, and a lot of dairy farms. I’ve played through “Go Home” more than a dozen times already and on each subsequent listen I’m a little more tempted to take the song up on its title’s command- then I just close my eyes and as the song washes over everything, I’m practically back in the throes of the state that raised me- and that’s about as meaningful as praise gets.

Listen to “Go Home” below and keep an eye on the always-remarkable Dirtnap for pre-orders (and another on this site for more updates).

Splitting at the Break: A Visual Retrospective of 2015’s First Half (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Krill II

Over the first course of the year, I’ve made several major life decisions with the largest being a move to Brooklyn. Saving up for that paired with a work schedule that at one point had me logging roughly 75 hours a week meant sacrificing a lot of the things I love. None of those things hurt more than the severely limited number of shows I was able to attend. However, it was likely that same scarcity that made the shows included in this piece so memorable. From conducting an artist profile on Johanna Warren for Consequence of Sound (where a few of these photographs were first printed and where you can also find auxiliary video of Warren performing) to finally seeing a few site favorites- like Saintseneca, Krill, and Vacation- for the first time after years of waiting.

While it may not be much, this is still a collection that has deeply personal value. It’s a reflection of a region I called home for the entirety of my life and it’s a place I will miss when I leave it in just over a week. I’ll always be grateful that I was provided the opportunities to attend the shows contained in the multimedia portion of this post- and for the friends I made who were connected to those shows in literally any way. Writers, bands, editors, promoters, venue owners, label execs, or even just fans, they helped make some of these places feel like home. So, take a trip below with shots (and some videos) of: NE-HI, Oozing Wound, Protomartyr, Perfect Pussy, TRITA, Disasteratti, Buildings, Adron, Johanna Warren, Mutts, Two Inch Astronaut, Krill, Speedy Ortiz, Fox Face, The Midwest Beat, Mexican Knives, Vacation, FIDLAR, METZ, Saintseneca, and Murder By Death. The regional focal post of Heartbreaking Bravery may be shifting drastically in the months to come but a large part of its heart will always be lodged in the Upper Midwest.

Hope you enjoy.

NE-HI // OOZING WOUND // PROTOMARTYR // PERFECT PUSSY

 


TRITA // DISASTERATTI // BUILDINGS


ADRON // JOHANNA WARREN

MUTTS

TWO INCH ASTRONAUT // KRILL // SPEEDY ORTIZ



FOX FACE // THE MIDWEST BEAT // MEXICAN KNIVES // VACATION

 




FIDLAR // METZ

SAINTSENECA // MURDER BY DEATH


Tenement – Curtains Closed (Stream)

Tenement I

Tenement have been more fundamental to the existence of this site than just about any other band currently going. Booking the band before they had any kind of physical record out was something I wrote about in detail in a piece that was included in the zine that came as an insert for the band’s recent early material compilation, Bruised Music, Volume 1. It was the first time I’d interacted with Tenement and that show remains one of my all-time favorites because of how thoroughly it reinforced that this was the kind of music I wanted to be involved with and support in any way I possibly could. After that show, the band repaid me in kind, time and time again, by booking the admittedly not-great band I was playing in at the time to play the venue they called home: The BFG.

At about an hour’s drive, it became something of haven, accessible and ceaselessly important to my musical development. It was through that venue I got to experience a full immersion into DIY culture, something that came equipped with authority conflict, a commendably defiant spirit, empathy, compassion, and a murderer’s row of great bills. The Figgs in a living room, Screaming Females, Sundials, Used Kids, Dead Dog, Little Lungs, and so many others in a basement, flyers covering up the majority of the house’s wall space, a Tom’s Drive-In across the street, and a dog with an American flag bandanna all became sights that felt like home. An insane assortment of records, everything from deep-cut free jazz to vintage soul to powerviolence, littered the place. One of my favorite sights, though, was the dusty, barely-tuned piano near the entrance to the basement.

That piano has appeared on multiple Tenement songs throughout the years (most notably the controversial “Medical Curiosity“, “The Cage That Keeps You In“, and the flipside of the Blind Wink cassette) and Predatory Highlights makes sure it’s not an instrument that’s not going to be leaving the band’s palette. While it may or may not be the same piano (it certainly sounds like it), it does have a similar beaten-down quality that complements the band’s ethos to a tee. Tenement is, above all else, a band hell-bent on celebrating life’s minutiae. The overlooked, the undesired, the inessential, and providing those things with such a sharp focus that they become something extraordinary. It can be the subject of a song or it can be an abused piano but Tenement, without fail, is able to embrace what most would consider flaws and shape them into something staggeringly beautiful.

It’s the note that “Curtains Closed”- their just-unveiled additional glimpse at Predatory Highlights– starts on (joined by some high-impact hand claps) and it’s one that’s sustained through the song. Amos Pitsch, the band’s guitarist/vocalist, artist, and driving creative force, sings with as much conviction as ever while the band’s music, which has long eschewed punk’s more traditional trappings for something far more adventurous, surges underneath his vocals. Pitsch has always belonged to a tier of songwriters whose work is informed more heavily by novelists than any other type of writer. Opening with a line like “Paper snowflakes on fire/seven deaths in a row/they burn up together” ensures that’s not something that’s likely to change, even as the band’s musicality continues to separate further from conventionality (which can also be attributed to the off-kilter approaches of the band’s rhythm section- made up of bassist/poet Jesse Ponkamo and drummer Eric Mayer- who remain one of the best units currently in operation).

For close to eight years now, this band’s been the very best the state of Wisconsin has had to offer and they’ve somehow managed to continuously improve. Evolving into something that both honors their past and opens up their future. Titus Andronicus’ monstrous double album may have the lion’s share of the attention now but don’t make the mistake of overlooking Predatory Highlights while its flame threatens to overtake the shadows where its been flickering for years. At 25 tracks, this is the most ambitious work of Tenement’s career- and if “Dull Joy” and “Curtains Closed” are anything to go by, it certainly seems like it will be their very best (as well as their defining moment).

As the band continue to pile on their willful disregard for genre expectations, the more exhilarating they become and that disregard seems to have hit a fever pitch without sacrificing any of the accessibility that made them so easy to identify with  from the beginning. Now, more than ever, Tenement are a band that deserves as much attention as humanly possible- and “Curtains Closed”, brightly damaged melody and all, takes them a step closer to receiving the kind of recognition they’ve always deserved.

Listen to “Curtains Closed” below and pre-order Predatory Highlights before its June 2 release from Don Giovanni here.

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