Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: New Love

Nano Kino – Surfing On the Void (EP Review)

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Editor’s Note: There’s been a month-long gap in coverage, thanks to near-incessant travel and other extenuating circumstances. The following run of posts that contain this note will be posts that should have appeared sometime within the past several weeks. Use these posts as an opportunity to catch up to the present release cycle or to simply discover some new music. Either way, enjoy.

Nano Kino, a project led by Duncan Lloyd (Maximo Park, Decade In Exile) and Sarah Suri, have been of interest to this site since their very first recordings. The project has been capitalizing on their promise for well over a year now, with each successive release standing as a new career high. Surfing On the Void continues that trend with no shortage of finesse.

From the opening seconds of the title track alone, it’s clear that the band’s managed to find a new level of confidence and have fully committed to making something genuinely memorable. Falling even closer to the current field of extraordinary powerpop that’s currently emerging from Sweden, “Surfing On the Void” — the band’s finest track to date — also finds Nano Kino embracing their sunniest pop sensibilities to startling effect.

While the band hasn’t completely abandoned the stormy atmospherics that informed decent stretches of their past output, they’ve managed to integrate their formidable penchant for enthralling dynamics into what appears to be a new era of the band with an astonishing amount of natural ease. Everything in Surfing On the Void fits together neatly and is capped off intriguingly by the short acoustic closer,  “New Love”, which seems to be pointing towards a very fascinating future for the project. Whatever’s on the horizon is shaping up to be well worth our attention. 

Listen to Surfing on the Void below and pick up a digital copy here.

Gumbus – Crimbus Rock (EP Review, Stream)

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It’s been a while since this site has dove into full streams (or single streams, for that matter) and that will all be resolved over the weekend. Starting here, with an extremely strong self-released effort from a just-announced band comprised of  two members who have had an impressive number of projects featured on this site before: Casey Weissbuch (pictured above) and Joseph Frankl. Weissbuch’s spent time in a deeply impressive array of acts that include Mitski, Diarrhea Planet, Colleen Green, and a large handful of others (in addition to spearheading Infinity Cat’s cassette series), while Frankl’s made his name as a member of The Frankl Project and as a solo artist.

Weissbuch’s also been making some formidable moves as a solo act under the moniker Slanted. He takes the lead here and in a lot of ways, Gumbus feels like an extension of that project. Unsurprisingly– given the two members collective skill sets, aesthetic choices, and pedigrees– Crimbus Rock, their debut, is an exhilarating jolt of adrenaline. Utilizing a palette of influences that skews heavily towards the alternative movement of the ’90s, the duo digs deep into effortlessly melodic basement pop songs. Over the course of five songs (which never extend beyond the 2:20 mark), Gumbus recall everyone from Blue Album-era Weezer to Ovens.

While none of the songs are a marked deviation from any of their counterparts on the collection, each contains enough of an identity to avoid repetition and to deepen Crimbus Rock‘s claim to being a coherent whole. It’s a remarkable collection that feels like a logical step forward for both Weissbuch and Frankl, demonstrating their astounding grip on composition and flying by while packing enough punch to ensure it’s not quickly forgotten (a trait that makes it a perfect companion to the just-released Downies EP, featured below). This isn’t a huge release but it is micro-punk at its finest and it comes from two artists who deserve even more attention than  they’ve already received. Don’t make the mistake of letting this one fade away unnoticed.

Listen to Crimbus Rock below and download the EP over at Gumbus’ bandcamp. Underneath the player, explore some other recent collections worth hearing.

Downies – Downies
Spencer Radcliffe – Looking In
Gang Signs – Geist
Little Fevers – Field Trip
Erasers – Stem Together
Last Good Tooth – And All Things On the Scales
Fern Mayo – Happy Forever
Bad Canoes – Bad Canoes
Allison Weiss – New Love
Jungle Giants – Speakerzoid
Girls Names – Arms Around A Vision
Yvette – Time Management
Glenn Mercer – Incidental Hum
Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight
Obnox – Wiglet

Girlpool – Plants And Worms (Music Video)

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A lot has happened in the four-day leave that this site took- a leave that officially ends with this post- and there are so many things to cover. It’d be foolish to pretend that this week didn’t just belong to Sleater-Kinney, who released a career-spanning box set, a new single (that was accompanied by a lyric video), and announced their official return. As tempting as it was to take a stab at waxing poetic over everything that band and their return means, their reputation’s already been earned and a million similarly-minded sites will be doing that in the weeks to come. Instead, today’s light will be shined elsewhere and ultimately fall on the band that’s earned the most mentions on this site without ever getting the feature spot. Before Girlpool gets their well-deserved due, though, all three of the regular fields will be recapped, in the order that follows: single stream, full stream, and music video.

Legendary Wings teased their upcoming basement punk ripper Do You See with the excellent “Weather Advisory” while Kal Marks did the same for their forthcoming EP with the forward-thinking bruiser “Zimmerman“. Portastatic proved they haven’t lost a step with the surprisingly great indie pop tune “Hey Salty” and Mitski‘s lead-up campaign for Bury Me At Makeout Creek remained perfect with the entrancing “I Will“. VLMA’s “Slime” and Cellphone‘s “Bad Medusa” were both post-punk stompers good enough to snag each act a handful of new followers. Chris Weisman celebrated the completion of his long-gestating album Monet In The 90‘s by previewing the record with the quietly mesmerizing “Working On My Skateboarding“. Vacation put forth an incredible Jesus And Mary Chain cover, Dirt Dress continued their impressive evolution with “Twelve Pictures“, and Caddywhompus continued extending what have become increasingly massive creative strides with the near-perfect “Entitled“. Davila 666 unveiled the tantalizing “Primero Muertas” in advance of their upcoming record, Pocos Años, Muchos Daños, just as Parts & Labor offered a glimpse at their upcoming record, Receivers, with the outstanding “Nowehre’s Nigh“. Art Is Hard’s Pizza Club series entered its final stretch with Broadbay’s newest noise-punk excursion “Plasticine Dream“, Primitive Parts made a rousing case for being a band to watch out for with “The Bench“, and Wildhoney became the latest act on the stacked Deranged roster to start breaking through on the strength of their towering shoegaze number “Fall In“. Circulatory System turned a few heads with the noise-damaged psych-pop of “It Never Made A Sound” and site favorites Saintseneca released a lovely Lucinda Williams cover. To round things out in the more ambient-leaning fields, there was a stunner from James Blake and a gentle new piece from The Greatest Hoax that easily swam its way into the realms of the sublime.

As for full streams, most of the talk in regards to this week will be dominated by the year-end-bound RTJ2, which is to be fully expected when a sophomore effort absolutely topples its heavily acclaimed predecessor- but don’t let that distract from a slew of other investment-worthy releases. Lace Curtains’ A Signed Piece of Paper also managed to exceed the record it follows in terms of artistic merit- which is a trait that it shares with The Twilight Sad’s Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave. The Unicorns’ Nick Thorburn made his uniquely charming score for the SERIAL podcast available via bandcamp and Fleeting Youth Records made their essential 33-track Blooming (A Fuzz-Fucked Compilationmixtape (which more than lives up to its name) available for streaming via soundcloud. French For Rabbits premiered their arresting folk-inflected Spirits over at Stereogum while NPR’s First Listen series hosted the premiere of Medicine‘s extraordinary Home Everywhere. The Omecs crafted a winsome throwback punk record which they’re now streaming on their bandcamp. Another record to be released via bandcamp, spit’s Getting Low, came dangerously close to being today’s feature by virtue of being a masterful work from an extremely promising songwriter (John Romano) that expertly straddles a curious line between Exploding in Sound and Orchid Tapes. Easily one of this month’s most fascinating records, it’s currently available over at bandcamp for a generous name-your-price fee. Don’t hesitate; this is music worth being in a wide array of collections.

In the music video category, Hurry had a blast with their clever clip for “Oh Whitney“, Dilly Dally got shrouded in smoke for “Candy Mountain“, and S gave the Tacocat bassist some peace of mind in the video for “Vampires“.  Ought danced their hearts out in “New Calm, Pt. 2“, Thurston Moore conducted a nightmarish clip for “Speak to the Wild” (Los Angeles Police Department’s woodland excursion for “Enough Is Enough” was far less menacing), and Split Single inverted normalcy with their positioning for “Monolith“. Broken Water set things up with no shortage of caution in “Love and Poverty“, The Coathangers cheekily provided what’s ostensibly both a puppet-centric video and a left-field visual tour diary in “Drive“, and Beverly cemented their beautiful stylistic approach to the music video format with “Yale’s Life“. DTCV mined a bevvy of filmic influences and utilized them to perfection for “Electrostatic, Inc.” while Public Access TV took a similar route for “In The Mirror“.  Allo Darlin’ kept things amusingly (and effectively) simple for “Bright Eyes“, Nano Kino set the airy “New Love” to a hypnotic visual collage, and Mannequin Pussy remained as energetic and unapologetic as ever with their lo-fi production for “My Baby (Axe Nice)“.

Now, that’s a lot of material to go through for just about anyone but none of those items hit with as hard of an impact as Girlpool‘s absolutely devastating animated video for “Plants and Worms”. From this video alone, it’s shockingly easy to see why such a huge subset of journalists and musicians have latched onto Girlpool so fiercely; their world-weariness, entirely relatable socio-political commentary, and compositional skills all suggest both an age and stage of career that’s vastly accelerated from the actuality of their current positions. The duo, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad (17 & 18 years of age, respectively), are moving at an accelerated pace- release follows release, idea follows idea, and there’s barely any time for an active listener to breathe. Impressively, all of those pieces carry their own distinct identity and they’re frequently accompanied by weighty topics that most songwriters experience an immense struggle to present without tipping into the cloying or cliché. It can be hard to resist the temptation of excess when dealing with important messages and this is where Girlpool excels; not only are their thoughts presented articulately- they’re presented in a manner that’s plaintive enough to be devoid of any easy derision. There’s a deep-rooted humanism and empathy that’s present in their work which is something that will always be admirable- and in their deceptively minimal compositions, the music carries the burden of the weight of those topics to a degree that seems to mirror the band’s inherent level of mutual support.

For “Plants and Worms” they wound up pairing with illustrator Catleya Sherbow, whose art here also acts as a double for Girlpool’s processes. In the Rookie premiere of “Plants and Worms”, Tucker and Tividad give an interview that lends some insight to their history, ideals, and intentions, while revealing that “Plants and Worms” is about accepting the world and how much it has to offer once fear and trepidation is reduced to the point of near-elimination. Neither get any more specific than that- but they don’t need to because the illustration makes a variety of specific instances of everyday fear entirely evident: body image issues, self-image, depression, loneliness, and self-destruction. In Sherbow’s illustrations, everything’s presented as it would be in a children’s book; there’s a soft quality that undercuts the severity of the video’s implications providing a thoughtful contrast that suggests the darkest aspects of the song are universal- but also definitively states that they can be overcome. It’s a crushingly powerful video that becomes impossible to shake after one watch and positions Girlpool in the unlikely position of being a young duo who could (reasonably) become two of this generation’s sharpest social commentators. “Plants and Worms” is likely just the beginning- and it’s already too important to miss.

Watch “Plants and Worms” below and pre-order Girlpool (the EP which “Plants and Worms” is taken from) from Wichita here.