Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Partisan

IDLES – Great (Music Video)

It’s been a while since anything went up on these pages and there are a lot of reasons behind yet another interim but, as ever, the work continues to be done behind the scenes. Five posts were scheduled to go up before that break and will be going live today. This is one of those posts.

IDLES are on the verge of releasing a legitimate Album of the Year candidate in Joy As An Act of Resistance, a profound protest record with a borderless message that’s resonating deeply in an especially volatile political climate in major countries across the world. Last year, the band released what this site would eventually name the 2017 Music Video of the Year in “Mother” (which remains one of the best clips of the decade) and have a genuine shot at repeating being granted the honor of that distinction this year with the feel-good reclamation of “Danny Nedelko“.

“Great” is the fourth music video to arrive from IDLES this year and continues an unparalleled run of brilliance in the format since the release of “Mother”. Directed by Theo Atkins, “Great” may be the most straightforward clip from the band’s present album cycle, consisting of alternating shots between moments of common, everyday life and live performance. Edited together, “Great” effectively underscores the declaration that comes at the end of the song: “because we’re all in this together.”

IDLES is a band of the people, for the people. They seethe, they rant, and they provoke, but they always get their point across. We’re all embroiled in fights that extend far beyond ourselves, making calls for unification, reminders of positive self-worth, and a willingness to demolish outdated ideals in the pursuit of progress monumentally important. “Great” is the kind of warning shot that sends an abundantly clear message of prioritizing empathy, inclusiveness, and community, which is a message that this site will stand proudly behind.

Listen to “Great” below and pre-order Joy As An Act of Resistance here.

IDLES – Samaritans (Music Video)

There’s a very real chance that IDLES might wind up sneering and snarling their way into a handful of coveted Album of the Year slots with their forthcoming Joy As An Act of Resistance. Virtually everything the band’s done ahead of the release has been nothing short of incredible, from pointed push backs to xenophobic sentiments and stolen gestures to the measured sprawl and slow-burning intensity of a frustration framed in 4:3.

The quintet’s latest unveiling, “Samaritans”, finds the band relentless attacking toxic masculinity to staggering effect. While there aren’t a lot of problematic sociopolitical topics that richly benefit from being led by white men, toxic masculinity is one that definitely qualifies. Having a vocal guidance that comes from men who look tough and present in a traditionally masculine way is a way that can cut through a very tired form of presumption with an exacting precision that sometimes finds a way to tower over the interfering noise.

To that end, “Samaritans” isn’t just powerful but deeply important. IDLES have been making their name on relentlessly aggressive hardcore-adjacent punk that fearlessly invokes progressive politics. To put it as bluntly as possible, IDLES could very well be the most important punk band on the planet. We don’t need men — especially white men — to control and lead conversations about every aspect of sociopolitical regression but to have some who are legitimately enraged by those instances, who are lending both their voice and platform to a way that meaningfully addresses societal ills is vital; this is the space where IDLES are making their presence felt.

“Samaritans” is as necessary as anything in IDLES’ discography thus far, driven by venomous bite and loathing for a status quo that shouldn’t exist — a fact driven home by the video’s presentation of stock footage, a stark reminder of toxic masculinity’s insidious totality. This is why you never see your father cry / this is why you never see your father is the unforgettable hook that informs a song that’s been constructed by history and given extra weight by the tumultuous nature of what that history has entailed. Everything here, as is typically the case with IDLES songs, carries the scars of experience. They’re also buoyed by an increasing prominence in modern opinion that things like toxic masculinity deserve a beheading.

When the guillotine drops, those sharp edges are felt. Not necessarily by the victim but by those who bear witness. IDLES have crafted their own version of that weapon with “Mother” (Heartbreaking Bravery’s Music Video of the Year for 2017), “Colossus”, “Danny Nedelko”, and a handful of others. “Samaritans” is just the latest addition to the list. While the things that are stirring up the inspiration for IDLES’ narratives may still find ways to attain prevalence, don’t expect the band to step away from a fight; this is music that’s already been bathed in blood.

Watch “Samaritans” below and pre-order Joy As An Act of Resistance from Partisan here.

15 of ’15: The Best Albums of 2015

Eskimeaux

2015, close to unanimously, was concerned to be one of the highest points for new music in recent memory. To that end, putting together this list was even more of a nightmarish task than narrowing the 2015 songs down to their 15 slots. There was even a brief moment where expanding this list to 50 slots seemed like a viable action. Ultimately, after literally hundreds of substitutions in the various positions (and countless exclusions and extractions), the formula remained intact. While it was painful to leave an extremely large handful of extraordinary records lingering just outside the perimeter, the 15 records below have earned their spots. Every single one of these has remained in near-constant rotation since the time of their release and will likely resonant well into 2016 and beyond. Dive on in below and reflect on the overwhelming strength of the past 12 months.

15. Meat Wave – Delusion Moon

One of a select few bands to play an instrumental part in the formative stages of this site’s focus (and one of the acts to play the first Heartbreaking Bravery showcase), Meat Wave came through in a big way in 2015. The trio released one of the year’s best oddities, signed to SideOneDummy, and unleashed a behemoth of an album in Delusion Moon. Billed as their first proper full-length (their vicious self-titled, limited-run cassette straddled the line between EP and full-length), Delusion Moon saw the band exploring their darker tendencies to great success. More fully exploring influences like Mission of Burma and Drive Like Jehu, the band acted as a nice counterpoint to the usual brand of ’90s revival and got some kicks in along the way.

14. PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries

No band’s live show was documented more exhaustively here over 2015 than PWR BTTM, who perfected a simplistic approach with enormous- and enormously successful- ideas. The duo (who is occasionally a trio) set their sights on exploring gender and personal identity and followed through with a startlingly brazen tenacity. Close to every song on Ugly Cherries, their extraordinary full-length debut, play out like the kind of anthems that 2015 desperately needed. For a record that’s quick to be gleefully tongue-in-cheek, Ugly Cherries also offers up some devastating personal moments, lending the band an emotional depth that makes their outsize spirit even more powerful.

13. Midnight Reruns – Force of Nurture

Force of Nurture, Midnight Reruns‘ astonishing sophomore effort, has one of the best A-sides I’ve ever heard. Not to discredit an extremely strong B-side, either, but the run the band puts together from “There’s An Animal Upstairs” to “Sky Blue Water” is just about flawless. All six of those songs were considered for this year’s list of the best songs of 2015 along with the record’s sprawling closer, “Great Southern Rail”, which boasts one of the year’s more jaw-dropping choruses. Bolstered by the involvement of one of the band’s earliest and most vocal supporters- The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, who produced the record- Midnight Reruns turned in their finest collection of songs to date.

12. Hop Along – Painted Shut

A statement that bears repeating: one of the most heartening aspects of 2015 was watching the deserved ascension of Hop Along, who have been cranking out exquisite material on an exceptionally high platform for several years. Driven by the distinctive, arresting voice of guitarist/vocalist Frances Quinlan and their own unique sensibilities, Hop Along crafted the strongest record of their discography. With new partner Saddle Creek firmly in their corner, the band came to vibrant life and stayed on form, delivering a set of knockout tracks that included “Waitress”, one of this year’s finest. A welcome breath of fresh air, Painted Shut marked the beginning of an exciting new era for one of today’s best bands.

spotify:album:16fimHkQtXptYBytXfHfUs

11. Royal Headache – High

Even as all the news of High being Royal Headache’s finest record (thankfully) receded, the power of their finest offering to date didn’t diminish. Following a brilliant debut, the band may have actually surpassed that record’s promise with their sophomore effort. Highlighted by songs like the towering, defiant title track and the surging “Another World“, High is a genre masterclass of the highest order. Buoyed by an infectious energy that’s constantly verging on manic, there’s never a moment during the record that doesn’t feel like it’s nearing a state of euphoria. When High is firing on all cylinders, as is the case for the vast majority of the record, the band’s as close to being virtually untouchable as is possibly imaginable.

10. Young Jesus – Grow/Decompose

Home, Young Jesus‘ breakout record and a candidate for album of the decade, set extraordinarily high expectations for whatever the band chose as its following release. Crafting a worthy follow-up seemed even more unlikely after the band moved out of Chicago and over to Los Angeles, reassembling their lineup in the process. By that token, Grow/Decompose isn’t just a deeply impressive record, it’s a miraculous one. Guitarist/vocalist John Rossiter sharpens his singular songwriting voice and leads his new outfit with a fiery determination. An immensely satisfying collection of songs, Grow/Decompose feels like a genuine album; structured and paced to near perfection, Grow/Decompose is a reinvigorating- and reinvigorated- frenzy.

9. Dogs On Acid – Dogs On Acid

Dogs On Acid, a band formed out of the ashes of much beloved acts Snowing and Algernon Cadwallader, expanded on one of the best 7″ releases of 2014 with one of the strongest full-length debuts in recent memory. Laced with knockout hooks at just about every turn, Dogs On Acid is a staggering show of power from a band that finds surprising ways to exceed its predecessors. Maximizing their pop sensibilities to astonishing effect, Dogs On Acid inject their first major effort with an insistent, propulsive energy that catapults each of its 10 tracks to unthinkable heights, keeping their punk roots in place along the way. Every song on Dogs On Acid is a genuine highlight, yet the whole affair still manages to come across as so much more than a collection of singles. Bold and brash, this is the kind of record that may never fall out of regular rotation.

8. Tenement – Predatory Headlights

For close to 10 years, I’ve provided near-incessant documentation of Tenement, chronicling their forward motion with increasing intensity as the years progressed. When Heartbreaking Bravery was initially designed, it was constructed with the intention of highlighting bands that weren’t being granted the press that they deserved. In 2015, the world at large finally started catching on to a band that’s meant more to the development of my personal interests in music than any other (I didn’t include their Bruised Music compilation in the oddities list because I contributed a lengthy piece to the record’s insert that expands on that fact). Predatory Headlights, the trio’s latest opus, was a definitive collection of the band’s current era, unafraid of demolishing genre barriers and bold experimentation. Over its intimidating 28 tracks, the album steadily emerges as a genuine- and singular- masterpiece.

7. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle

For Julien Baker‘s breathtaking breakout record, the young songwriter (previously best known as one of the driving forces behind Forrister) dived fearlessly into a despairing examination of her own psyche. A preoccupation with mortality that was heavily informed by the laws of religion dominates nearly every song on this surprisingly brave collection. From the description of the car wreck in the opener’s first verse all the way through to the passage in “Go On”- Sprained Ankle‘s mesmerizing closing track and one of 2015’s finest songs– about consuming bleach, there’s barely a moment of reprieve. Built almost exclusively around Baker’s voice and acoustic guitar, Sprained Ankle feels progressively more personal as it goes along, each song functioning as a plea, a warning, and a sustained moment of clarity. Tragic and beautiful, Baker’s conjured up a collection of deeply personal songs that feel genuinely sacred.

6. All Dogs – Kicking Every Day

Ever since their earliest releases, All Dogs have been steadily crafting great material and building momentum. Kicking Every Day, the band’s startlingly defiant full-length debut, continues that pattern with an astounding amount of grace. Even with their lineup at full strength following the addition of guitarist Nick Harris (which is paying massive dividends), guitarist/vocalist Maryn Jones’ songs feel more naked than ever, imbuing Kicking Every Day with a voyeuristic look at its principal songwriter’s inner turmoil and unflinching resolve. After the anticipation levels for this record came close to hitting a fever pitch with the release of “That Kind of Girl” (which ranked highly on the songs of the year list), the prospect of a record as extravagantly strong as Kicking Every Day didn’t seem so distant. The record ultimately surpassed those expectations thanks to both the instant acclaim it so richly deserved and its ability to strike all the right chords.

5. Sweet John Bloom – Weird Prayer

Losing Four Eyes, a band that put out one of the best 7″ records of this decade, was a tough pill to swallow. Fortunately, that band found a natural successor in Sweet John Bloom. Continuing to revel in the same brand of endearingly scrappy basement pop and pulling members from a few other outstanding bands, Sweet John Bloom managed to make a mark. Weird Prayer, their first fully fledged full-length, reveals impressive new depths to the band. Employing a rotating cast of songwriters, the record gives ample space to flesh out each one’s distinct personality. From lovely slow-burning tracks like “Bury Ruby” to incendiary highlights like “Tell Me”, Weird Prayer is an enviable showcase that, bizarrely, seems like a victory lap for its various members. There’s a memorable moment or three on each of these 15 tracks, most of which find intriguing dichotomies to exploit over the course of their brief running times. Littered with surprising moments at close to every corner, it’s one of 2015’s most exhilarating releases.

4. Dilly Dally – Sore

Back in 2014, Dilly Dally unleashed a pair of 7″ records that nearly walked away with the top spot in this site’s rankings. In 2015 they followed up their flawless early run with a brilliant standalone single and a bruising full-length teeming with vicious grunge-informed, punk-leaning basement pop numbers. Grimly determined and scuzzy as hell, Sore lands with the force of an atomic bomb. There was a reason that no band earned as many feature pieces on this site over the course of 2014 than Dilly Dally and, even stripped of the brilliant singles that earned those spots, Sore would have registered as a knockout. While the record’s many searing highlights (“Desire“, “Purple Rage“, “The Touch“, etc.) gave the record its fangs, its elegiac closer provided it with both an unexpected emotional depth and a staggering moment of finality (both of which went a long way in securing its ranking as one of 2015’s finest tracks). While Dilly Dally just about stole CMJ and released a small army of outstanding music videos, Sore was their definitive 2015 moment. It’s the kind of record that inspires kids to go out and start bands of their own, making it one of the most powerful releases in recent memory.

3. Mike Krol – Turkey

The sudden resurgence of the (unfortunately) still-deceased Sleeping in the Aviary was an extremely unexpected and welcome development. While they did release an extraordinary demos and rarities collection, the band’s best moment came when the majority of its lineup wound up backing Mike Krol for his latest venture. No record in 2015 felt even close to as unhinged as Turkey, Krol’s first effort for Merge and most deranged outing to date. With a runtime that doesn’t even scratch 19 minutes, Krol and the band he’s assembled run through nine songs at a pace so frantic it’s practically delirious. Every single moment of Turkey is informed by a surging level of energy that it seems like the record might derail itself at any given moment, toppling over because of its own excessive velocity. Miraculously, it manages to sustain that momentum through nine songs of rabid basement pop that draws inspiration from a variety of genres from the past handful of decades, zeroing in on things like ’50s pop and classic soul. Everything on Turkey also benefits from being shot through with Krol’s deadpan comedic sensibility, tongue planted firmly in cheek. By the time the record’s penultimate track hits- the absolutely massive “Less Than Together“- the record’s momentum is white hot. “Piano Shit” winds things down at the very end and allows the listener to review the demolished left in Turkey‘s wake as it coasts to the finish.

spotify:album:17eMy3bqqafFN6g0MYvMl3

2. Nicole Dollanganger – Natural Born Losers

One of the happier coincidences this site got to experience in 2015 was the realization that the glowing review of Nicole Dollanganger‘s breathtaking Natural Born Losers was its 666th post. An appropriate fact, given the record’s deep obsession with angels, devils, and the spiritual realm. In its opening lines (“I shot an angel with my father’s rifle”), Natural Born Losers flaunts its aim with a threatening gracefulness, ready to turn on a dime at any moment. Dollanganger’s narratives throughout the course of the record are startling exercises in hyper-violence and dueling desires. Whether it’s a BDSM-informed romp as lensed through an experience with an abusive police officer or an extremely disarming sample taken from the animated 1993 cult classic The Halloween Tree, Dollanganger’s either making fresh incisions or pulling gaping wounds even further apart. However, for being so deeply unsettling in its prose, the music that accompanies all of Dollanganger’s nightmarish imagery is as elegant and haunting as her vocals. A lot of Natural Born Losers hinges on exploring some of the weightiest dichotomies in existence and the degree of success to which it achieves in striking fascinating middle grounds in those battles is revelatory. Even more impressive is the fashion in which Dollanganger binds this collection of songs together, especially considering how effectively the record’s haunting line defines (or redefines) everything that’s happened since its steely-eyed opening moment. Put simply: Natural Born Losers is a modern masterpiece.

1. Eskimeaux – O.K.

Eskimeaux‘s O.K. managed to impress on first listen but it wasn’t until seeing the band live that all of its pieces fell more fully into place. That show inspired a return visit to this collection which, in turn, brought about a subsequent revisit (and then that pattern fell into a routine that still hasn’t ceased). On each successive listen, more of O.K. sprang to life. Gabrielle Smith’s project has been making material that’s been more than worthwhile for a large handful of years now but O.K., the project’s most fully-realized outing, saw Smith step across a threshold and into something sublime. A meticulously crafted record, every last one of its countless gears clicks in ways that surprise and delight in equal measure, rewarding heavy investment with a casual ease and providing O.K. with one of its cleverest tricks. In maintaining their casual sensibilities, the record becomes an enjoyable cursory listen but that casualness is surprisingly deceptive.

O.K.‘s a very complex record when it’s dissected into its formative pieces, whether they’re the gorgeous vocal layers that comprise one of the record’s most gorgeous moments on “A Hug Too Long” or Felix Walworth’s explosively idiosyncratic snare work on “Folly“, each finding a way to stand out as an impressive moment in both the small schemes of the songs and the grand sweep of the album. From a lyrical standpoint, Smith packs this record full with bittersweet realizations, internal frustrations, and slivers of a defiant sense of hope that’s steadfast in its refusal to bow to a harsher reality. Even the record’s darkest moment- the brooding “Pocket Full of Posies”, which nearly unseated “A Hug Too Long” in the songs list- subtly acknowledges the inherent innocence of things that are frequently viewed as evil. Even then, O.K.‘s worldview is far from simply being optimistic, it’s far too weary to assume that the best mode of operation is to look for the best in everything; its earned its sophisticated wariness.

What makes O.K. truly stand out, though, is its overwhelming amount of empathy for everything that’s fortunate enough to have worked its way into the record. Easily one of the most readily apparent humanist statements that music yielded this year (which is especially easy to see when the record’s put under a microscope), O.K. draws its strength from its sense of value. It’s a view that resonates throughout the record’s 11 brilliantly crafted songs, providing them with a deeper sense of purpose than most bands can manage. Additionally, all of the inspired decisions that comprise O.K. are augmented by some of the most extraordinary production work of the past several years, stealthily enhancing the cumulative effect of the songs. An awe-inspiring breakthrough for one of today’s most promising acts, O.K. is the kind of record that’s worth preserving for future generations. Find someone deserving to share this with and give in to its inescapable beauty.

Dilly Dally – The Touch (Music Video)

Dilly Dally XXII

Continuing on with the onslaught of catch-up posts, we return once again to a fiery live-edit clip from one of Toronto’s fiercest live bands: Dilly Dally. An easy CMJ highlight, the band annihilated what seemed to be impossibly high expectations and delivered two of the best sets of the year. A site favorite since their first single, it’s been a joy to watch the band ride the crest of a surging wave of acclaim for Sore, one of 2015’s best records, and deliver at an extraordinarily high level on every platform they’re given. “The Touch” is just the latest in a string of triumphs and, despite Sore being their debut album, it already feels like a victory lap.

As atmospheric imagery is overlaid and intercut with performance footage, “The Touch” takes on the manic feel that partially defines the band’s aesthetic while also bring another important dimension into focus: the idea that there’s inherent beauty to be found in things that most would perceive as ugly or mundane. There’s always a certain emphasis on elegance at the surface of Dilly Dally’s work, whether it’s Sore‘s arresting album art or in their previous music videos, that comes laced with a confrontational moment; nothing’s ever truly at peace. “The Touch” reinforces that ideology with its vivid imagery, relentless energy, and bruising commitment, providing the band with a fitting final flourish to a year where they became one of music’s most distinctive new voices.

Watch “The Touch” below, pick up a copy of Sore here, and explore a list of some of the best music videos of the past few months underneath the embed.

Post Life – Dissolve
Stove – Aged Hype
MMOTHS – Deu
Day Wave – Come Home Now
Tracy Bryant – Subterranean
Beautiful Breakdown – Transmission Party
Line & Circle – Like A Statue
Julia Holter – Silhouette
Lou Barlow – Nerve
The Dirty Nil – No Weaknesses
Yvette – Calm and Content
Adam Busch – Tiger
Menace Beach – Holidays are Heavy
The Lonely Wild – Snow
Beliefs – Leaper
Soupcans – Crimes 1
NRVS LVRS – 2 Young 2 Know
Beach Slang – Bad Art & Weird Ideas
Suede – Like Kids
Little Fevers – Bones
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Necessary Evil
The fin. – Night Time
The Shrine – Coming Down Quick
Cave Curse – Stoned & Dethroned
EL VY – Silent Ivy Hotel
The Lonely Together – Congregation
Girls Named Benji – Murder Shoes
Vulva Culture (x4)
Yassou (x5)

Dilly Dally – Purple Rage (Music Video)

dilly dally

It’s been an insane stretch since the last update on this site went up. Hundreds of items have been collected, a handful of shows have been documented, and everything’s been accounted for as its emerged. Since there’s so much material to catch up on, the posts will be divided by format and focus on one  individual piece. First up is yet another extraordinary clip from site favorites Dilly Dally, who now seem constitutionally incapable of creating  anything less than near-perfection. Everything they’ve released so far has been ceaselessly praised on this site and, despite a surprisingly large handful of feature spots in those posts, they still haven’t released a full-length. “Purple Rage“, the band’s latest single, has expectations for their impending debut set tantalizingly high and now they’ve got another memorable music video pouring fuel on that fire.

Dilly Dally have separated themselves from their peers by a commitment to thematic narratives in their music videos and “Purple Rage” may be the most exquisite example of their dedication to date. In various statements about the record’s underlying ideologies Dilly Dally have constructed a world of guttural instinct and basic humanism that they’ve carefully expanded on through both their songs and videos. “Purple Rage” errs more towards the uglier side of the emotional spectrum, touching upon things like disgust, fear, and- of course- rage. Directors Adam Christopher Seward and Stefi Murphy also hint at dysmorphia in the clip, presenting their central character as, almost impossibly, a literal and metaphorical symbol for dejection.

It’s an effective trick that’s only enhanced by the derision that the character was met with in real time as the video was filmed in its various crowd-heavy locales. As a character study, it almost says more about the creature’s surroundings than the creature itself, while providing a heavy amount of empathy to its central figure. Deeply cinematic, unflinchingly bold, and more than a little fearless, “Purple Rage” is the mark of a band who’s characterized by their determination to not only push forward but to continuously challenge themselves to improve as both people and artists in the process. There’s an intimate beauty to be found in things most would presume to be inherent ugliness and “Purple Rage” drives that point home by not just understanding but willfully celebrating the mundane aspects of life.

As a piece of art, “Purple Rage” is as striking as it is exhilarating; an unforgettably beautiful portrait of humanism and it’s delicate dichotomy of the grotesque and graceful elements that comprise our identities.

Watch “Purple Rage” below and pre-order Sore ahead of its release date here. Below the video, explore several other memorable clips that came out in the recess since the last post appeared.

Trust Fund – Football
The Libertines – Heart of the Matter
Seagoat – Your Side
The Spook School – Binary
Thayer Sorrano – Crease
Kirt Debrique – Tell Me How You Know
John Grant (ft. Tracy Thorn) – Disappointing
Waveless – Dark Day
Nocando – Osaka
Julia Holter – Sea Calls Me Home
Mal Blum – Better Go
Kiwis Cure Batten – Team Ball Player Thing
Carroll – Alligator
Majical Cloudz – Silver Car Crash
NOTS – Reactor
Vundabar – Oulala
HSY – Sally

 

 

 

 

Dilly Dally – Purple Rage (Stream)

dilly dally

It’s been a busy week on multiple levels. Accordingly, there’s been a small gap in coverage. Of course, the release schedule towards this time of year clicks into fifth gear and unleashes a cavalcade of new material upon an unsuspecting public. All three formats had multiple entries worth multiple listens and looks. Chief among them, as usual, was the individual song slate. Since covering all of the great songs to have come out over the past few days would be pointless from a pragmatic standpoint, they’ll be listed below- and it has been a strong few days for this particular category. A large handful of the songs contained in the list below the song in the headline would have been featured on any given day over the past handful of months. That, of course, also bolsters the strength of the song that can lay claim as this post’s focal point: Dilly Dally’s fierce “Purple Rage”.

Over the past year, Dilly Dally have established themselves as a serious force, becoming one of this site’s most celebrated acts in the process. After coming dangerously close to topping the year-end list for 7″ releases, the band immediately set about crafting a debut full-length to capitalize on a shockingly strong statement and lay waste to the notion that whatever magic they tapped into for those first two releases couldn’t be sustained. Just about everything the band’s released this year has earned serious praise here and “Purple Rage” arguably tops them all. From the coy title- a winking nod towards the Prince classic- to the total embrace of anger (an aspect that informs and drives a lot of the band’s music), “Purple Rage” has all the makings of a knockout blow. In its execution, it exceeds those elements and becomes a jaw-dropping showstopper that showcases the band at their most relentlessly bruising.

Even its mechanics are notable; anger’s an emotion that rises and guitarist/vocalist Katie Monks’ vocals mirror that rise at the song’s outset, growing (subtly) more impassioned as the song progresses. Once again, the lead guitar tones seem to cut through the mix with a vengeance, all at once occupying a space that feels vibrant, eerie, and menacing. The rhythm section’s practically required to be frighteningly propulsive considering the song’s subject matter and it elevates the song to a higher level by both adhering to and subverting those expectations throughout the song’s three minute run-time. Every element acts in perfect complement to the others, conjuring up a foreboding, and maybe even threatening, atmosphere. It’s the kind of song that pierces immediately and then gleefully rips open the wound it created. Manic, wild-eyed, resilient, and unforgiving, “Purple Rage” is another meticulously crafted and deeply felt examination of base human instinct, allowing it to reside comfortable in an already shockingly brilliant discography. Should the rest of Sore live up to its previews, the band may have a viable Album of the Year contender on their bloodied up hands.

Listen to “Purple Rage” below and pre-order Sore ahead of its release date here. Below the player, explore a long list of some of the week’s most notable songs.

Saintseneca – River
Big Air – Vibe Patrol
Greys – Repulsion
Blessed Feathers – Wyoming/Dakota
Cold Sweats – Waste of A Day
Shunkan – The Pink Noise
Wildhoney – Laura
The Beverleys – Visions
Carroll – Green Acres
Season of Mist – Night Drive
Kisses – The Nile
Long Beard – Hates the Party
Language-Arts – Neighbor
Cuntz – Chinese Dream Boat
Sweet Talk – Witness
Shadow in the Tracks – Timeless
Braided Veins – A Means To An End
Little Fevers – Can’t Get Enough
Zola Jesus – Circles
Mansionair – Speak Easy
Fresh Snow (ft. Damian Abraham) – Don’t Fuck A Gift Horse in the Mouth
Beach Slang – Young Alive
Shmu – Pictionary
Youth Lagoon – Rotten Human
Hinds – Garden
Inheaven – Better Town
Chromatics – Shadow
Hiccup – Fuckup
Amy Bezunartea – Something To Show You
Roger Harvey – Lovers Can Be Monsters
Amanda X – Quilted
The Cribs – Wish I Knew You In the 90’s
Driftoff – Straphanger
The Mantles – Police My Love
Run Forever – Weight Under Me
The Diamond Center – Messenger of Wonder
Operator – I, Banana
Obnox – See Me
Chvrches – Clearest Blue 

Dilly Dally – Desire (Music Video)

dilly dally

This week, like just about any other in 2015, has been enormous for music. Since this site’s coverage was entirely dedicated to live coverage over the course of the past 7 days, these next two posts will be focusing on the great new material that saw release during that time frame. Starting with the full streams, there was no shortage of spectacular releases, including new entries from Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders, Doubting Thomas Cruise ControlGardens & Villa, Places to Hide, Jesse PayneMorly, Frau, The BarreracudasPawns, and Sieveheads. Music videos had a week just as strong, one that included great clips from the likes of La Lenguas, The Arcs, Noveller, Youth Lagoon, This is the Kit, Lithuania, VundabarJoanna Newsom, PalmWhite Reaper, and Palehound. Of course, it also included the incredible featured video from site favorites Dilly Dally.

Just over a month ago, “Desire” was covered at great length on its own merits as a standalone single. Now that the band’s got the advantage of a visual medium, they can start hammering home some of Sore‘s driving thematic elements. “Desire”, specifically, is grounded with a through line about sexual release- something that comes to the fore through sensuous lighting, a color palette that’s frequently tinted white, and suggestive imagery that balances the beautiful with the mundane. There’s an emphasis on repetition and motion, which- combined with the provocative whites that dominant the video’s middle section- act as perfectly analogous to the song’s original conceit.  It’s a stunning, elegant work that complements the song to a sublime perfection and isn’t afraid to shy away of the difficult, ordinary aspects that help humanize an otherwise otherworldly experience.

Watch “Desire” below and pre-order Sore from Partisan here.

Tenement – Dull Joy (Stream)

Tenement I

Predatory Highlights. June 2. Doon giovanni Records. We’ll get to all of this shortly but first, a recap, as it’s been some time since the last non-Watch This post ran on this site. Coming up over the next few days will be a run of songs and videos focusing on some of the best of what’s emerged since the start of this month. Each of the highlighted songs will come equipped with no less than 10 others worth hearing in the accompanying post(s). Up first: “Idiot“, an extraordinary laid-back basement pop tune from Dustin Lovelis’ upcoming Dimensions. There was also the The Go! Team’s revitalized, energetic “Ye Ye Yamaha“, Torres’ unpredictably frenetic “Cowboy Guilt” (furthering Sprinter‘s album of the year potential), PINS’ jaunty “Young Girls“, and Blonde Elvis’ fired up powerpop gem “Oh Mary“. To top everything off there was Fraternal Twins’ slow-burning “Skin Gets Hot“, The Japanese House’s hypnotic “Sister“, KEN Mode’s furious “These Tight Jeans“, No Joy’s hazy “Moon In My Mouth“, and The Lagoonas’ fiery basement punk gut-punch, “Color Spectrum“. While, as always, every single one of these tracks is worthy of a high investment level, the headline goes to a band that’s now intrinsically tied to this site: Tenement.

Before diving into the dissection of yesterday’s big news surrounding the band’s upcoming release, it’s worth noting (on a very personal level) that in my time writing, few things have meant more to me than being able to contribute a piece for the zine insert that came equipped with Bruised Music: Volume 1, the band’s collection of earlier material that came out last month. Tenement are a band that have meant varying degrees to various people but they’ve managed to affect my life for what’s nearing ten years through both their music and their continued kindness. I grew up alongside their progression and they’re directly responsible for introducing me to the greater DIY scene that this site was built to celebrate (which is a space that may not even exist without that influence). They’re the first band I can remember booking and they’re a band I’ve been referring to as “Wisconsin’s best band” since the first time I saw them live- so, naturally, their upcoming record’s been one I’ve been tracking closely. Yesterday, the trio blew the lid off of that record- which has been meticulously shaped over the course of the past three years- via a typically incredible AV Club premiere that came loaded with details.

Predatory Highlights will be released on June 2 via the band’s (relatively) new home, the increasingly vaunted Don Giovanni Records. It will be a double-album. It’s set to contain both the band’s towering pop sensibilities that Napalm Dream zeroed in on while also accentuating the curious experiments that provided Blind Wink with an immediate cult classic aesthetic. In short, Predatory Highlights will be the band’s most ambitious- and most visible- release to date. Kicking off its campaign with a track as immensely accessible as “Dull Joy” is a brilliant strategic move as it encapsulates the band’s most immediate elements while hinting at the stranger terrain they’re capable of covering. As much as ever, guitarist/vocalist Amos Pitsch is in fine form both lyrically and musically- the song structure’s bold, the chord progressions are thrillingly inventive, and the lyric copy still reads like classic, downtrodden Americana.

While most of it will strike listeners who are familiar with the band as vintage Tenement, they still find room for a curveball- and that moment provides “Dull Joy” it’s most exhilarating moment. After the band locks into its standard basement pop/hardcore/power punk groove, they launch into a bridge that goes into full-blown r&b/pop mode, complete with falsetto. For any other band, a moment that conventional would seem rote but here, it adds a new dimension to the band’s already staggering depth. Accentuating the impact of Pitsch’s characteristically brilliant turn-in is yet another formidable display of intuitive talent from the band’s rhythm section- bassist Jesse Ponkamo and drummer Eric Mayer- which remains one of the best currently operating. Everything comes together on “Dull Joy” to not only prove that Tenement’s continuously raising their own otherwise unreachable bar but that they’ve also still got plenty of tricks up their sleeves. It may still be early and this may be the very first glimpse of Predatory Highlight but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Tenement could have a future classic on their hands with what looks to be a monumental release. If it doesn’t wind up near the very top of this site’s Albums of the Year list when December rolls around, no one will be more surprised than me.

Listen to “Dull Joy” below and pre-order Predatory Highlights from Don Giovanni here.

The Seeers – Without Lites (Stream)

seeers

Over the past day or two, a lot of great music’s been made available to the world. Among them, outstanding records by the likes of Ty Segall, J Mascis, Dead Soft, and SW/MM/NG. There were debuts of great new songs by Death From Above 1979, Love Cop, and The Twilight Sad. Additionally, a few great new music videos surfaced from bands like The Pharmacy, The Wytches, and Lace Curtains. All of those got a fair amount of publicity, and rightfully so, but one that’s slipped by relatively unnoticed that deserves more attention than it’s been getting is The Seeers’ “Without Lites”.

Unveiled to tease Windian Records’ upcoming entry in their subscription series (their third run of releases), “Without Lites” is a sub-two minute burst of punk-indebted outsider powerpop. Fretboards get scorched, melodies float along with ease, and the song makes no qualms about revealing its fangs. Blasts of distortion and powerhouse drumming propel it to absurd heights, marking The Seeers as a band worth keeping both eyes on. “Without Lites” also manages to extend Windian’s winning streak, continuing their transformation into one of the more fascinating labels currently putting out great music. By the end of “Without Lites” it’s only natural to want to hit repeat- and that’s something that doesn’t change.

Listen to “Without Lites” below and make sure to subscribe over at Windian once the third box set becomes available.

Eagulls – Possessed (Stream)

Eagulls have been releasing a slow, steady stream of material from their upcoming self-titled full length (due out on March 3rd via Partisan Records) for some time now. While a few of those songs managed to impress, they didn’t leave much of an impression. “Possessed” makes a correction on that in the fiercest manner possible. Even the way the word the song was named after gets spit out, syllable by syllable with a stutter rhythm on the first- is enough to prompt a genuine reaction. Outside of that, though, the guitars come off sounding louder than ever, with the rhythm section intent on obliterating everything in their path. Shoegaze and post-punk are still going through a bit of a renaissance period, feeling each other out and making sure all of the gaps are bridged; “Possessed” is another thrilling example of a band finding just the right way to connect them. Advanced buzz on Eagulls has been strong, with many comparing it to the likes of Loveless and Psychocandy. If “Possessed” is more indicative than the songs that have preceded it, hearing Eagulls in the same conversation as those aforementioned classics may end up seeming more natural than blasphemous. Only about a month left until everyone gets to find out. Until then, crank the volume high enough to annihilate a speaker system, and listen to “Possessed” below.