Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Old Flame Records

Seven Weeks, Fifteen Songs

This post will mark the last of the coverage overhaul necessitated by the seven week hiatus from regular coverage. Records have been covered, music videos have been covered, and a song and a pair of music videos have received standalone posts. Below are the 15 songs that stood out more than any others over that seven week time period and come from all sorts of sources and elicit all sorts of responses. Whether’s it’s the characteristically driving basement pop of Radioactivity or the hushed melancholy of Florist, there’s a lot on display. So quit waiting, jump in, and find a new favorite song. Enjoy.

1. Radioactivity – Sleep 

Every project Jeff Burke‘s been involved in over the past decade has demonstrated the man’s a singular songwriter with an enviable gift. One of Burke’s more recent projects, Radioactivity (pictured above), has at least one Album of the Decade contender under their belt and continues to press forward with the kind of propulsive momentum that drives most of their songs. “Sleep” is a perfect example of that dynamic, a miraculous slice of basement pop that reasserts Burke as one of the genre’s all-time greats.

2. Birdskulls – Over It

Few labels are amassing a discography as consistently impressive — or prolific — as Art Is Hard. Birdskulls‘ “Over It”, one of the labels latest offerings, goes a long way in solidifying Art Is Hard’s status at the forefront of the DIY-leaning punk world. A song that perfectly marries basement pop with basement punk, “Over It” comes overflowing with memorable hooks, biting attitude, and worn aesthetics typical of a band destined for a feverishly loyal following. Leave it on repeat.

3. Honeyrude – Flowers

“Flowers” has been in Honeyrude‘s back pocket since 2015 but the band’s recent upheaval and re-release of the song as part of The Color Blue pays massive dividends in practice. Louder, cleaner, bolder, and more refined, “Flowers” is allowed to fully bloom, exceeding its early potential. It’s a gorgeous moment from a band that continues to impress, its shoegaze inflections perfectly suited to the band’s identity. Warm and towering, it’s likely to stand as the band’s career highlight for some time.

4. Strange Relations – Say You

One of the small handful of bands on this list with a long-standing connection to this site, Strange Relations have been furthering themselves with each successive step they’ve taken. The band recently opened for Charly Bliss in Minneapolis and unveiled a lot of new material, including the brooding, kinetic “Say You”, one of the set’s many highlights. Since their past release, Strange Relations have grown more aggressive, more ambitious, and into a more fascinating band. “Say You” is definitive proof.

5. Dead Stars – Pink Clouds

Several years into a remarkably consistent career, Dead Stars have established themselves as one of the most reliable bands currently mining a ’90s slacker punk influence to great effect. Even with a whole host of outstanding songs to claim as their own, “Pink Clouds” manages to stand out. Easily a career high point for the band, the hard-charging number surpasses the most tantalizing  heights of their earlier work while staying true to the ethos and identity that made them so memorable in the first place.

6. Walter Etc. – April 41st

Walter Etc. has spent the past few months putting out a small string of impressive songs with “April 41st” being the crown jewel of the lot. A laid-back mid-tempo basement pop number that embraces carefree relaxation, the song still manages to find an impressive momentum by playing directly to its lackadaisical tendencies. Near non sequitur’s and a comfortably dazed narrative elevate the song’s aesthetic to strange heights and the best thing anyone could do is let its calm, unhurried spell take over completely.

7. Basement Revolver – Tree Trunks

2017’s already been overly generous in terms of memorable ballads, churning out some of the decade’s best over the first 2/3s of the year. Among those gems sits Basement Revolver‘s gorgeous “Tree Trunks”, a shoegaze-leaning piece of minimalist post-punk. Pop melodies and wiry instrumentation combine to hypnotic effect, while the production of the song’s second half propel it to stratospheric heights.

8. Pinact – Separate Ways

After a three-year wait, Pinact are back and sounding stronger than ever on “Separate Ways”. Bridging the gap between basement pop and pop-punk in exhilarating fashion, the song clamps its teeth down on a surging sense of momentum and finds a way to guide itself to a triumphant finish. It’s easily among the band’s finest work and bodes extremely well for what their future might  have in store. Youthful, vibrant, vicious, and more than a little fun, it’s an unlikely summer anthem.

9. Paul Westerberg – Hawk Ripping At Your Throat

A mysterious song surfaced on Soundcloud a few weeks back from an artist’s page listed as “User 964848511”. Closer inspection revealed it to be Paul Westerberg, operating in the same lo-fi mode that defined the earliest work of his most famous band, The Replacements. Unlike that early work though, “Hawk Ripping at Your Throat” is characterized by a somber, almost foreboding atmosphere. Slow, creeping, and full of white-knuckle suspense, it’s a potent reminder of Westerberg’s legendary talent.

10. Lomelda – Interstate Vision

Lomelda‘s next album will be the project’s first for the impressively consistent — and consistently excellent — Double Double Whammy label. One of the first looks at that record came via the gorgeous “Interstate Vision”, a gentle mid-tempo number with a muted sense of grandeur and a near-cinematic sweep. It’s a lovely song that plays up the projects strongest aesthetic choices as well as emphasizing an unassuming mastery of songwriting. By the track’s end, it’s easy to wish it hadn’t come to a close.

11. SOAR – Fatigue

Last year, SOAR managed to make a strong impression with the material that they were releasing. It seems that their momentum has carried over into 2017 and allowed the band to grow even more emboldened as “Fatigue” — their latest — is as hard-charging and unapologetic as anyone could have hoped. “Fatigue” also plays up their pop sensibilities to great effect, while continuing to mire it in coats of both grit and attitude. It’s a charming track and deserves a whole slew of listens.

12. En Route – I Am the Problem

One of 2017’s most outstanding small releases came recently via En Route’s then is a song EP, another strong record from a growing line of projects working in the space that allows for a happy marriage between bedroom pop and basement punk. “I Am the Problem” was the song chosen to tease the EP and it was an incredibly effective choice as the song carves out a memorable identity for En Route. All of the decisions here, while understated, serve to elevate a legitimately great song from a new band worth knowing.

13. Baby! – If I’m Sorry

Baby! has been releasing a string of ridiculously enticing singles over the past few months and “If I’m Sorry” is the best of an extremely tantalizing lot. Equal parts sweet and biting, “If I’m Sorry” is another mid-tempo slice of quiet perfection from a band that seems to be gearing up for bigger things. Every song they’ve released has been utterly captivating and “If I’m Sorry” takes that facet of their music to new levels. Winsome, pensive, and oddly uplifting, it cements Baby! as one of 2017’s most pleasant surprises.

 

14. Madeline Kenney – Always

For more than a few years, Madeline Kenney has been carving out a place into today’s pantheon of emerging acts who have a genuine shot at their work being not only remembered but coveted after they’ve relaxed into retirement. “Always” is not only another strong indicator of that end goal but the strongest work of Kenney’s career to date. Three and a half minutes of arresting dynamics, clever arrangements, perfect production, and outstanding songwriting. It’s a song that’ll always be worth keeping around.

15. Florist – What I Wanted to Hold

Last year, Florist released one of the year’s finest EPs in The Birds Outside Sang and they’re already gearing up for the release of what looks to be one of this year’s finest full-lengths, If Blue Could Be Happiness. “What I Wanted to Hold” is the song kicking off the roll out campaign for the record and it’s a stunner. In keeping with the band’s best work, “If I Wanted to Hold” is a delicate, wintry number that’s enhanced by its own fragility. Sincere, vulnerable, and searching, it’s one of the year’s most breathtaking songs.

Potty Mouth – Smash Hit (Music Video)

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Now that the songs portion of the hiatus has been covered, it’s time to move onto the next of the three major formats: music videos. This post will be the first of five dedicated features to a small handful of the best clips to be released in that specific time frame. First up: site favorite Potty Mouth and their galvanizing “Smash Hit”.

In the Jake Stark-directed clip, the trio makes their way through one of their most humongous songs to date, mugging for the camera and playing in a white room, braving excessive winds and playing through the song with a characteristic amount of conviction. There are some gorgeous shots of the band lounging that are interspersed through “Smash Hit”, which plays up the band’s inherent magnetism to an arresting degree. All three members look like they’re having the time of their life as the clip progresses, rendering it a surprisingly feel-good moment for a band that deserves as many of those as they can wrangle.

By being incredibly stylish without sacrificing an ounce of substance, “Smash Hit” also winds up staking a claim as the definitive portrait of the band, making it a quietly transcendental music video. The joy is infectious and the song’s got enough residual power to linger in listener’s memories long after it winds to its triumphant close. Potty Mouth have weathered a lot over a sterling career and it’s only made them stronger and helped them find their own definition. “Smash Hit” is the current culmination of that journey and a reason to look forward to whatever the band’s got in store for the future.

Watch “Smash Hit” below and download it here.

Doe – Some Things Last Longer Than You (Album Review)

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Over the past several days, full streams from buster, No One Mind, Teen Brains, and Shameover have all been unveiled. While the previous two posts on this site dealt with some of the best material to also be released in that time, this post’s focus rests on what may be the crown jewel of that run: Doe’s incredible debut full-length Some Things Last Longer Than You.

In the lead up to the official release of Some Things Last Longer Than You, Doe have appeared on this site with increasing regularity. That’s no mistake. Both the song and video for “Sincere” were granted feature spots and the “Last Ditch” clip earned the same fate. Guitarist/vocalist Nicola Leel contributed an important piece to last year’s edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories that touched on a lot of the themes present in Some Things Last Longer Than You and the band’s continued to make all of the right choices at exactly the right time.

Heartbreaking Bravery was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Some Things Last Longer Than You several months back and the record’s been in extremely heavy rotation ever since its arrival. After turning a lot of heads with the release of First Four, a compilation that collected their earliest recordings into a full-length format, Doe have been staring down extraordinarily high expectations for their first full-fledged debut.

Now that Some Things Last Longer Than You is finally here it’s abundantly clear that the band wasn’t rattled in the slightest and possibly even motivated by the challenge. The heights that the trio hit on the opening run of tracks alone are so stratospheric that the rest of the record would’ve had to collapse under their weight to prevent this record from being a career best effort. Fortunately, Some Things Last Longer Than You proves to be as consistent as it is ambitious and winds up as one of this year’s most powerful releases.

“No 1”, the record’s opening track, goes a long way in demonstrating the overwhelming amount of strength that the band’s accrued over their still-young (albeit already impressive) career. Utilizing the Sleater-Kinney instrumental approach (guitar, baritone guitar, drums), the band’s afforded a dynamic range that allows for the emphasis of hard-hitting moments. From Leel’s impassioned vocal delivery to the hard-charging, grunge-informed riffs of “No 1”, there’s not a single moment of the opener that’s anything less than intimidatingly tenacious, yet the song’s pop flourishes help infuse a lightness to the proceedings that renders it an unforgettable early salvo.

Following a similar palette, “Monopoly” goes a long way in accelerating the ferocious velocity of Some Things Last Longer Than You without undercutting its considerable impact. Additionally,  “Monopoly” provides the band with an opportunity to begin establishing the narrative focus of the record, which the trio seizes with relish. Some Things Last Longer Than You doesn’t take its time in presenting an outlook that casts a weary eye towards acute tendencies that are a result of skewed societal beliefs and expectations.

“Sincere”, one of 2016’s best songs, expands this narrative view in clear terms, bemoaning the lack of sincerity and, by extension, cutting down the tiresome projection of detached cool that’s become so persistent throughout several key communities. Apart from the scathing lyrical indictment, “Sincere” also provides more evidence that could support a claim that Some Things Last Longer Than You as one of this year’s greatest guitar records; the riffs scattered throughout “Sincere” and Some Things Last Longer Than You are incredibly inspired and have a formidable impact on the dynamic and atmospheric range of both the band and the record.

The heart of Some Things Last Longer Than You, comprised of a remarkable quartet of songs, is where the record begins to cement its chances at being an unlikely classic. “Turn Around”, “Respite”, “Anywhere”, and “Last Ditch” all contain a host of standout moments that continue to expand the scope of the record and demonstrate the band’s monumental growth — and understanding of their own identity — since their earliest releases.

While the latter track of that quartet was previously covered, the number — like “Sincere” — gains a tremendous amount of force in the context of the record. “Turn Around” and “Respite”, packaged as a tandem duo, are where the record hits upon the slowest sustained tempo of its entire run. Instead of devolving into something tepid and uninspired, Some Things Last Longer Than You uses that extended moment to bare its fangs and unleash with an enormous force that resonates throughout the remainder of the record. In slowing down, the trio also imbue Some Things Last Longer Than You with an unpredictability that elevates the entire affair.

“Respite”, the record’s centerpiece and longest song, prominently features the band’s increasing willingness to experiment with form and demolish genre barriers, even going so far as to cap the track off with an ambient outro that serves a dual purpose as a surprisingly delicate interlude for the record. In under a minute, Doe gift the listener a definitive example of their mastery over their craft on both a micro and macro scale. It’s a brilliant moment on a record full of them and while it may be one of its most unassuming, it’s also one of its most important.

That outro sets up the hyper-aggressive spree of “Anywhere” to perfection, lending the whirlwind attack a jumping board that provides it an extra, unexpected spring. Here, Some Things Last Longer Than You shows its true colors, revealing a core that’s saddened, frustrated, angered, self-deprecating, well-intentioned, occasionally tongue-in-cheek, and always more than ready to attempt a run towards affecting meaningful change, whether the scale is grand or personal.

Even in the moments that Some Things Last Longer You casts outwards towards the world at large, there’s an intimacy that grounds the record and suffuses it with the kind of heart that will go a long way in distinguishing it as both one of 2016’s finest moments and as a genre classic. “Last Ditch” is a great example of that dual worldview, a song that finds Leel crying out “maybe this will all just work itself out, until then I hope that it will slow down.” A line that carries an inordinate amount of personal meaning even as it applies to something far more universal.

The “On and on, I’m feeling helpless” closing of “Last Ditch” may feel a touch defeatist at first glance but a deeper look will also reveal the smallest preservation of hope for things to be different in the future. It’s a statement that sets up the ensuing “Before Her” beautifully, which finds the vocal lead switching from Leel to drummer/vocalist Jake Popyura (who co-writes with Leel and is a powerhouse behind the kit). “Before Her” also finds the band transitioning back to a mid-tempo pace that opens up the potential for the kind of grimy, skyward riffing that’s reminiscent of Dilly Dally‘s best work and pushes this record towards an intangible, transcendental feeling that hits a critical peak in its final stretch.

In its last two tracks, Some Things Last Longer Than You could have taken a handful of approaches but, in keeping with much of the record’s decision-making up to that point, opts for the most immediate, electrifying option possible. “Corin”, named after Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker, delivers the record’s most vicious moment with unapologetic gusto, letting Leel absolutely shred her vocals in an outro that unexpectedly drops to half time as Leel throws herself further and further into a wild-eyed frenzy, repeating the mantra “no way, no way, no way, no way, no” and interjecting absolutely vicious screams as punctuation marks.

The entirety of “Corin” is an absolutely pulverizing moment from a record that’s not afraid to show its strength, once again demonstrating an impressive dynamic range that should find Doe’s audience gradually increasing in droves (especially after word of this record starts picking up a little). “Corin” also serves an important function in setting up Some Things Last Longer Than You‘s powerful finale, “Something To Tell You”.

In its final five minutes, Doe offer up the definitive culmination of the elements that leave Some Things Last Longer Than You standing as a towering achievement (and as one of 2016’s best records). There’s the recurring theme of impermanence in the record’s dual narrative — fully equipped with the desire to do something effective or productive with our given time — as well as the thoughtfulness of the songwriting, which remains punk in tone while still allowing for the implementation of the pop sensibilities that make Some Things Last Longer Than You as immediate as it is substantial.

That Some Things Last Longer Than You ends in ambient chaos shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s a fitting end cap to everything that the record’s worked towards and illustrated with gnarled panache. There’s an uncertainty that persists through the record right up until that noise-damaged ending that lingers long after the feedback’s faded away into the ether. As is the case with the record, it’s nearly impossible to shake. It’s also one last moment of quick, nuanced perfection that injects Some Things Last Longer Than You with an astonishing amount of purpose, even in its stubborn refusal to assert any type of measurable authority.

By the time it comes to its wracked ending, Some Things Last Longer Than You has delivered emotive blow after emotive blow, occasionally drawing back to protect itself from further damage along the way (while being very cognizant of the pre-existing damage that shaped its outlook). It’s a bruising, formidable record that draws strength from an unabashed honesty that’s become the hallmark of several of the best — and most memorable — records in recent memory. Some Things Last Longer Than You is an immediately effective record but its also one that rewards investment and paints a portrait of a band that’s hell-bent on finding deeper meaning, a trait that will undoubtedly serve them well in years to come.

Meticulously composed and teeming with unchecked aggression and greater meaning, Doe have offered up something that’s impossible to ignore. At every corner, there’s a breathtaking moment that continuously heightens the overabundance of impact present in Some Things Last Longer Than You. Whether the listener tethers themselves to the record’s multi-tiered narrative functions or to the artistry present in the artistry, they’ll walk away contemplating its awe-inspiring depth. In short: Some Things Last Longer Than You isn’t just one of the year’s best records, it’s a full-blown masterpiece.

Listen to Some Things Last Longer Than You below and pick up a copy here.

Doe – Last Ditch (Music Video)

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It’s been a solid week for music videos, a fact evidenced by strong clips from Alexis Taylor, DaughterPleistoceneFrankie Cosmos, The Medicine Hat, Teenage FanclubThe Channels, Okkervil River, Lisa Prank, Clipping., Busman’s HolidayThe Holy Circle, Daniel Woolhouse, Health&BeautyLuke Roberts, Opposite Sex, VATS, Slingshot DakotaAtoms and Void, Psychic Ills, Nice As FuckHead Wound City, Ziemba, Ryley Walker, and Jaala. Rounding things out with yet another highlight were site favorites Doe, thanks to their mesmerizing clip for Some Things Last Longer Than You highlight “Last Ditch”.

Some Things Last Longer Than You, Doe’s forthcoming full-length debut, will confidently stand as one of the year’s most solid records several months down the line. It’s a forceful beast that’s teeming with grit, determination, and conviction. Every song on the record feels like the band’s intent on throwing a knockout punch at any turn. These qualities, while characteristic of the entire record, hold especially true for “Last Ditch”.

A towering anthem of pent-up frustration, the prospect of a visual narrative to accompany the song left a lot of potential doors open. What the band opts for continues their subversive streak and demonstrates their understanding of just how effective that trait can be in the right hands. Instead of playing  into the song’s emphatic anger, the trio scales things way back in favor of a slice-of-life presentation that balances “Last Ditch” out beautifully.

Using overlays to the point of near exclusivity, “Last Ditch” gets to create an immersive world that makes peace with the mundane routines that comprise the majority of life. It’s deceptively simple and remarkably beautiful in its tacit tribute to uncompromising realism. The faded, low-saturation visual presentation also tinges the clip with a longing and nostalgia that suit “Last Ditch” to a quiet perfection. In all, “Last Ditch” is just another winsome notch in what should prove to be a monumental year for Doe, who will deserve every last good thing that comes their way.

Watch “Last Ditch” below and pre-order Some Things Last Longer Than You from Old Flame here (if you’re in the US) and from Specialist Subject here (if you’re in the UK).

Doe – Sincere (Music Video)

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Tuffy, TERRY, CuckooLander, Soft Fangs, Valley Queen, Cheena, Suuns, and Hot Flash Heat Wave were just a small handful of the bands responsible for releasing exceptional music videos over the past two weeks. While all of them were worth watching, it was the visual accompaniment for Doe‘s recent standout “Sincere” that earns this post’s spotlight.

One of the many reasons for Doe’s artistic success has been their willingness to subvert expectations. Whether those might be the limits of their genres or even in their instrumental approach (two guitarists, no bassist), they’ve continuously excelled in winking at normalcy. Now, they’ve applied that approach to the music video format and the results are both endearing and massively entertaining.

In “Sincere”, the band experiments with a visual depiction of malaise, the somewhat tired trope of grossout food footage, and even something as subtle as ratio presentation. For a clip where there’s ostensibly nothing happening as far as a linear narrative thread is concerned (apart from the meditation on how repetitive and mundane life can be), that’s an impressively complex setup.

Mixing in low-grade special effects, strong visual composition, and crisp editing, “Sincere” is progressively elevated throughout its overall running time. As with all great clips, the song and the video inform each other, operating in a symbiotic relationship with virtually no drawback. As the band members dispassionately mime the words to the song in an effectively tongue-in-cheek runner, the Andrew Northrop-directed clip capitalizes on a modicum of momentum to hit a climactic section that involves the band remaining blasé while a variety of odd things happen with their food selections.

It’s a humorous moment, elevated by the band’s impressive deadpan performances but it’s overshadowed by the last section of “Sincere”, which takes a sharp left and sees guitarist/vocalist (and A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor) Nicola Leel breaking character and dissolving into laughter before rapidly cutting to a series of loose chaos and finally settling on a short vacuum clean-up sequence.

In those moments, “Sincere” transforms from an entertaining curiosity into a legitimately great video. By pulling back the layers of conventional expectation that’s normally applied to the type of clip that’s typically so aggressively straight-laced, Doe open up an invigorating new territory. It’s a wildly satisfying reveal that paints the entirety of “Sincere” as both radical deconstruction and loving homage. In short, it’s perfectly, unequivocally Doe.

Watch “Sincere” below and pre-order Some Things Last Longer Than You from Old Flame here.

Doe – Sincere (Stream)

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Heart Attack Man, Mild High Club, Wymond Miles, Pill, The High Curbs, Sannhet, TTNG, Uni Ika Ai, Mosquito Ego, and Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster were just a small handful of the acts responsible for some of the best songs to surface over the past two weeks. As always, each and every one of those songs are worth as many listens as they’re granted. A song that deserves all that and more also arrived, courtesy of site favorites Doe. The trio’s currently preparing to release their debut full-length — following a string of outstanding EP’s — entitled Some Things Last Longer Than You.

The record’s title is a nice reflection of the band; melancholic, tongue-in-cheek, and relatively straight-forward in its blunt honesty, which also ties into the record’s lead-off track, “Sincere”.  Opening up with a steady, insistent mid-tempo drive, the song quickly bursts into the kind of catharsis the band’s been carefully perfecting attaining for several years. Guitarist/vocalist Nicola Leel (who penned an impassioned entry on recent accomplishments by influential women for the 2015 crop of A Year’s Worth of Memories) imbues “Sincere” with the kind of steely-eyed confidence that starts fires.

“Sincere” proves to be an incredibly apt title as the song ambles along, riding a fiendishly clever narrative that’s both forthright and sneakily reflective. There’s incendiary guitar work, a fully committed vocal performance, explosive dynamics, and a murderer’s row of hooks. Catchy, smart, subtle, and fiercely relatable, “Sincere” sets the tone for what could eventually become one of this year’s most celebrated and subversive basement pop records.

As an outpouring of energy, the song’s an immediate head-turner but as a complete song, it’s an absolute triumph. Easily one of the band’s finest works to date, “Sincere” is a very promising look towards the future. Should the rest of Some Things Last Longer Than You live up to the standard set by “Sincere”, we may not only have an Album of the Year contender on our hands but a stone-cold genre classic. In the meantime, the best thing to do is just keep this thing on repeat, screaming along with every syllable like it’s a declaration of solidarity, love, and unflinching support… then looping back around to do it all again.

Listen to “Sincere” below and pre-order Some Things Last Longer Than You from Old Flame here.

Lady Bones – 24 Hour Party Girl (Stream)

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Now that the site’s caught up to the current release cycle on all fronts, their may not be as much material in the ensuing posts as some of the more recent entries. Even with that note, it’s extremely clear that 2015’s not going to bother to slow down its astonishing pace in regards to great new releases. While not a lot of publications or bands offered up new material over what seemed to be a slightly extended Labor Day weekend, there were still a few slivers of gold. The music video format found strong representation by way of Mick Jenkins’ stunning “P’s & Q’s” and Skating Polly’s delightfully whirlwind “Nothing More Than A Body“. Single streams saw another compelling duo ushered forth in Terrible Feelings’ new noir-tinged basement pop classic “Black Water” and Drowse’s slowly-unfurling, dread-induced “Melt“.

Full streams were in much larger supply, with no less than six outstanding titles vying for greater attention. Soul Low hit a new career with the surging, shambolic Sweet Pea EP, reaffirming their potential in the process. La Lenguas proved that “Love You All The Time” was no fluke by padding it out with two more stunners on their debut EP, Tears In My Milkshake. Rightfully-vaunted punk label Dirt Cult found another strong release in Blank Pages’ urgent No Reception EP while Heyrocco got their career off to an extraordinarily promising start with the powerful Teenage Movie SoundtrackBoth Communions and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin exceeded heightened expectations with The High Country and Communions, respectively, to bring everything home.

All of those songs, records, and music videos- as always- are worthy of praise and greater scrutiny. It’s Lady Bones’ latest, though, that earns this post’s featured spot. The band recently began teasing their upcoming Dying with a song, “Botch“, that suggested a bold atmospheric shift. Now, “24 Hour Party Girl” has arrived to confirm the band’s new era. Lady Bones had initially caught this site’s attention by virtue of an incredible split release with Horsehands. Any of the band’s more vibrantly bright tendencies evidenced in that first release have all but vanished, replaced instead with the dour relentlessness that drives bands like their labelmates (and site favorites) Kal Marks.

“24 Hour Party Girl”, like “Botch” starts murky and intent, working itself into a contained furor that seems as if its on the verge of toppling everything over at any given moment. Incredibly dynamic, restless, and unnervingly foreboding, the song’s unavoidable proof of the band’s sudden ascension to an unthinkable level. Coming in 15 seconds shy of five minutes, it hits its fiercest moments in its closing passage, erupting into a bruising, cathartic release. The guitar sings while the rhythm section punishes, bringing everything to an unexpectedly explosive finish, leaving nothing but smoke in its wake. Two songs in and Dying is already looking like a surprise candidate for Album of the Year.

Listen to “24 Hour Party Girl” below and pre-order Dying in advance of its June 3o release date from Midnight Werewolf here.

Girlpool – Before the World Was Big (Music Video)

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Allyssa Yohana’s tenderly constructed and affecting clip for the title track off of Girlpool’s upcoming Before The World Was Big was one of the most intrinsically human pieces of art unveiled over the last few days. In an age that so readily celebrates bombast, grandeur, and general post-production gloss to achieve greater accessibility, when something that feels as deeply personal as “Before The World Was Big Arrives” arrives it becomes even more arresting than it would have been stripped of industry context. That’s not to say there weren’t other pieces of multimedia that made an impression over the past few days. As always, there was a steady influx of material worth hearing, both in the single and full stream categories.

Representing the single streams were Heyrocco’s spiky basement pop rave-up “Loser Denial“, Looming’s compellingly dark “Onwards“,  Nots’ manic “Virgin Mary“, Mutoid Man’s oddly punishing “Reptilian Soul“, Future Death’s frenetic “Familial Tremors“, Sitcom’s intuitively layered “Ginger Ale“, The Velvet Teen’s triumphant return in “The Giving In”, and an absolute monster of a collaboration between Ghostface Killah, Adrian Younge, Raekwon, and RZA entitled “Return Of The Savage“. While the full streams didn’t quite match the sheer volume of that collection of songs, they matched their strength. Dustin Lovelis’ sprawling punk-leaning psych-pop Dimensions revealed all the makings of an unexpected contemporary classic, Nocturnal Sunshine’s brooding, glitchy self-titled, and Town Portal’s restless The Occident. For music videos, there was Girlpool’s “Before The World Was Big” and that was more than enough.

Girlpool have earned their fare share of written content on here over the years and a lot of the reasoning for that can be clearly evidenced in “Before The World Was Big”. Both in the song, which is an exquisitely rendered burst of well-placed nostalgia, and the video, which eschews any unnecessary distractions to present something heartfelt and honest. While the home-movie VHS aesthetic has been to death in music videos at this point, it can still maximize emotional impact when paired with the right content. Here, the visuals act in perfect tandem to their soundtrack, emphasizing both the yearning and uncertainty present in the lyrics while simultaneously relaying the duo’s joy of simply being together to share in their experiences. It’s a deceptively complex structure that winds up with an unshakable resonance thanks to the abundance of care and genuine feeling. It’s a short, sublime piece of work that feels perfectly representative of the band and their ideologies while retaining an atmosphere that suggests Before The World Was Big is going to be something truly special.

Watch “Before The World Was Big” and pre-order the album of the same name from Wichita here.

Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets (Stream)

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Eulogizing someone or something you love is always a difficult task that’s fraught with intensely personal emotions, whether it be a friend, a pet, a show, or a band. In this case: site favorites Mean Creek. While the quartet certainly had their reasons to disband, it’s still a difficult loss because they filled part of an important void by maintaining genuine authenticity. Before they unplug their amps and tear down the kit one last time at a show next month with Meat Puppets and Soul Asylum, they’re providing one last gift: “Forgotten Streets”. It’s a song that encapsulates what made the band such an invigorating act from the outset and an impassioned, rousing death rattle. Before diving too far into its details, though, it’s worth taking a step back to appreciate another round of standout tracks.

Among the bands responsible for those tracks: Mean Creek member Mikey Holland’s solo project, The Dazies, providing some light in the twilight phase of his main vehicle’s career. That particular track, “Piece of My Love“, is a fiery jolt of basement pop with a healthy dose of punk attitude. Joining that song were an onslaught of other purchase-worth numbers: Martha’s jumpy “The Historian“, Moaning’s emotive “Misheard“, 100 Watt Horse’s tender “Julie“, Pet Symmetry’s kinetic “Gone, Gone, Gone (Even Further Gone)“, Dog Party’s thrashing “Peanut Butter Dream“, Pavo Pavo’s kaleidoscopic “Ran Ran Run“, and Froth’s strangely cinematic mid-tempo basement punk highlight “Turn It Off“. All of those songs are worthy of a great deal of attention and will likely wind up on similarly strong records. However, to bring them into sharper focus here would likely function as a disservice to the heart of this post: Mean Creek’s departure.

When this site first started covering Mean Creek more than a year ago, a lot of words were spent trying to deconstruct the band’s sound into individual elements because they occupied a unique platform. While their may have been bands that have succeeded in combining decades’ worth of musical cornerstones unique to popular American culture. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers are just as likely to be brought up as a potential influence as Hüsker Dü or Gram Parsons. In “Forgotten Streets”, they bring their distinct blend of those genres back to the forefront at a pace that suggests they were already taking advantage of the freedom that comes with evading the chains of industry expectation. Guitarist/vocalist Chris Keene has never sounded as enlivened as he does in the half-screamed raw-throated vocals on display here; all searing intensity and total fearlessness. Similarly, the band behind him deliver a collectively jaw-dropping performance that suggested the band still had a lot to say, making their departure even rougher.

There is some comfort to be found, though, in knowing that the band went out on top. 2014’s extraordinary Local Losers was easily the band’s most celebrated record to date and it earned that level of recognition through the band’s own conviction. Mean Creek are leaving behind an incredible body of work and “Forgotten Streets” comes off as an exhilarating victory lap. Right down to the very last words that Mean Creek will ever commit to a studio recording (a pointed plea for continuation, however brief, followed by the most intense moment of musicality the band’s ever recorded), this is a band that gave me- and so many others- something to feel good about celebrating. They’ll be missed but, hopefully, their musical legacy will last long enough to serve as inspiration to emerging bands decades down the line.

Listen to “Forgotten Streets” below and revisit the band’s enviable discography here.

Watch This: Vol. 71

To say “it’s been a week” would be putting it mildly. The statement held especially true for the incredible live footage that has been consistently published throughout the week’s duration. In the preceding installment of this series, it was stated that there could have easily been two features instead of one. This week that number increases to three. Every single day, a masterful new video was ushered out into the world. A large handful of those were impeccably produced; gorgeous in vision and stunning in terms of sound, boasting a memorable performance all the while. Lady Lamb, Speedy Ortiz, Jeff Rosenstock, Two Gallants, Mikal Cronin, T. Hardy Morris & the Hardknocks, Twerps, Vijay Iyer Trio, The Technicolors, and Surfer Blood all had live clips introduced that earned their endless replay value. Nearly every single one of those names has been mentioned on this site before (albeit some for entirely different projects) and that trend holds steady for the five clips that are featured below.  So, as always, turn the volume up, shut out all of your looming distractions, lean in, and Watch This.

1. DOE (BreakThruRadio)

Every time DOE’s released something, it’s caught my ear. It’s been immensely satisfying to watch their recognition slowly expand as time progressed. Of course, part of the reasoning behind that growth may be their own self-improvement. Their recent session for BreakThruRadio further illustrates that this band’s primed for a breakout. While the featured song, the hard-charging “Redo/Improve”, is a monstrously catchy bit of punk-inflected basement pop, one of the most welcoming elements of this clip is the band’s winsome affability in the interview segment. Of course, that’s almost immediately forgotten once it splinters off into a brief live clip of the latter two songs included in the clip because DOE’s the kind of band that demands attention when they’re in live mode. Just hit play and start waiting for their name to slowly climb the festival bill font-scale ladder.

2. Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion (Fitz Ross)

86’d in ’03” was one of this sites favorite songs from last year, as reflected in one of the stranger best of lists. Bent Shapes could have been content to coast on that release for a while but the band’s work ethic ensures that they’ll likely be working until they can’t push themselves any further (hell, even that not might be enough). Impressively, there’s never a decline in quality; they’re writing some of the finest punk-tinged powerpop of today. “New Starts In Old Dominion” is clear evidence that the band’s talents extend past their recorded output and into what they’re able to accomplish live. When a party is this good, it’s not worth being late.

3. Torres – Cowboy Guilt (Public Radio International)

Few records have managed to grip me as strongly as Torres’ Sprinter. Every song on the record contains subtle melody hooks that have the ability to become inescapable over time. “Cowboy Guilt” is a perfect example of this particular dynamic. The guitar riffs, the vocal melody, and the subtle synth work all slowly expand their claws and lodge their way into a territory reserved for things that are next to impossible to forget. None of that shifts in the live setting, even though a few of the arrangements do differ slightly from the studio version. The contrast is part of what makes this particular clip feel so alive; humanity is impossible to fake.

4. Will Butler – What I Want (WFUV)

Policy is one of 2015’s most curios releases and the oddities that made it so compelling are also likely the reason it didn’t find much of an audience. Teeming with droll humor, impressive composition skills, and a surprising amount of pathos, “What I Want” is an incredibly intimate look at the way Butler’s songs operate. Confined to the WFUV studio with only a piano at his disposal, Butler is cast in the intimidating glare of a sole spotlight. His response? Delivering an unlikely, powerful performance that reaffirms the flashes of talent he consistently provides in his main vehicle (you know the one). It’s genuinely stunning.

5. Field Mouse – A Place You Return To In A Dream (Radio K)

Field Mouse have been consistently churning out impressive post-punk for a few years now and seem to only get stronger as they go- the aim of every band with honorable convictions. They recently stopped in the Radio K studios to turn in a blistering take of “A Place You Return To In A Dream”, which leans heavily on the band’s shoegaze influences without eschewing any of their deceptively intuitive pop sensibilities. Surging guitars, soft backing vocals, and committed performances make sure this clip reaches exhilarating levels.