Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: party

Slanted – Fake Party (Stream)

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Last Friday saw great new streams from Car Seat Headrest, Idiot Genes, Never Young, The Minders, Balto, and Middle Kids. Additionally, there were a string of impressive music videos Lydia Loveless, Liam Betson, Carl Broemel, Jail Weddings, and Retail Space. Full streams that came via AJJ, The Afterglows, YJY, Tanukichan, Whipworm, Bangladeafy, and See Gulls padded everything out with an extra dose of substance.

Casey Weissbuch‘s Slanted project also unveiled a surprise release that was headlined by the formidable “Fake Party”, one of Weissbuch’s finest songs to date. Following up last year’s extraordinary Desire For Lust, “Fake Party” once again demonstrates Weissbuch’s knack for composition. While the song’s lyric set is arguably the most polished Weissbuch has offered, it’s the song’s ability to breathe that makes it a genuine standout. Dynamic, open, and effortless is a surprisingly difficult combination to pull off but “Fake Party” excels by that very virtue, providing a level of life that’s absent from the majority of releases that make similar attempts.

Of course, the atmospheric tone of a song can only carry it so far on merit, the genuinely great songs are able to separate themselves by succeeding in other capacities. Make no mistake, “Fake Party” is a great song. From the light auto-tune running through the vocals to the breathtaking bridge and outro sections, not a moment of “Fake Party” is wasted. Everything’s designed for maximum effect, even though it always retains a spur-of-the-moment feel that’s essential to its success.

“Fake Party” also sets the tone for the remainder of the Party EP, which is comprised of two similarly excellent tracks (“Green Balloons//Walk of Life” and “Junk”). By establishing “Fake Party” as the introductory piece, the song’s risks are allowed to be elevated and to define the EP’s palette, which works to both the advantages of the EP and the song itself. The characteristic, Pavement-esque looseness is still there and Weissbuch even name-checks Guided By Voices (another evident influence) in the first verse, providing a revealing glimpse at how openly Weissbuch embraces Slanted’s influences.

Packaged together as a whole, “Fake Party” paints a portrait of an artist who thrives on sincerity, soaring melodies, and a sense of history. The song’s imbued with an easygoing confidence that plays perfectly into Slanted’s identity. Apart from being a legitimately great song, “Fake Party” is also a potent reminder that the DIY punk scene is currently an embarrassment of riches and exist in an environment that’s facilitating these types of releases. Sadly, that easy access is allowing too many people to regard these releases as disposable entries. As casual as they may seem at first blush, their existence remains deeply important. Songs — and artists — this good deserve to be celebrated.

Listen to “Fake Party” (and the rest of Party) below and pick the EP up here.

Zulu Pearls – Lightweight (Music Video)

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Today saw the continuance of the staggering amount of great new material that the past few weeks have been offering up. Normally, everything would get one huge recap in the introductory paragraph.  However, there were just too many items that needed to be covered with greater emphasis to warrant just throwing them all in together. This was especially true for the music videos that came out today. From a kaleidoscopic video by Wisconsin favorites The Midwest Beat to a hazy, low-key effort in support of Mutual Benefit’s “Auburn Epitaphs“. Connections released a Hall & Oates-aping clip for their excellent “Aylia” and S unveiled the devastatingly intimate “Losers“, which very nearly earned today’s feature spot. It definitely would have had it not been for the lightly-damaged magic hour ruralism of Zulu Pearls‘ “Lightweight”.

Zulu Pearls, for their part, recall a more restrained, Southern-tinged version of Gap Dream and seem to share that band’s penchant for videos that feature stunning imagery. “Lightweight” finds the band taking a trip to Sweden to spend some time on the road, making friends with a collective that’s fascinated by retro American-built cars. Vehicles are driven, destroyed, and- importantly- gorgeously lensed by cinematographer Kiel Miligan. While that emphasis does provide “Lightweight” with its main draw, it’s the transitional shots of Zulu Pearls taking some time to appreciate their surroundings and take a few beats to have a laugh with each other that pushes the clip towards something really memorable. It’s an extraordinary teaser for Zulu Pearls’ upcoming EP, Singles Deluxe, and functions perfectly as a single. As a music video, it’s incredibly eye-opening and naturalistic, providing Zulu Pearls a platform tantalizing enough to have the potential to bring them the attention they deserve.

Watch “Lightweight” below and keep an eye out for Singles Deluxe‘s October 28 release.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/104500367″>Zulu Pearls – Lightweight (Official Music Video)</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user1298853″>Zulu Pearls</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Watch This: Vol. 44

Welcome to a late-night installment of Watch This, the 44th in the weekly series that celebrates the best live performances to surface in the previous week. This time around, there’s a split between full sets, late night performances, and DIY presentations that all include bands that have previously earned themselves features (or extended mentions) on this site. Whether it’s another jaw-dropping full set from White Lung or a revitalized Death From Above 1979 diving headfirst into their single, these are all worth watching. Normally Watch This is posted much earlier on Sunday, so in the spirit of today’s delay, the featured videos get darker in atmosphere as they progress. Day turns to night and Volume 44 gets to lay claim to five great performances. So, sit back, relax, take a drink, ease up, and Watch This.

1. Death From Above 1979 – Trainwreck 1979 (The Late Show with David Letterman)

The Physical World, Death From Above 1979’s long-awaited follow-up to the classic You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine, may have disappointed a few people with absurd expectations. Most of them were hung up on their own projections of what they thought the band should be instead of letting them come out of hibernation to evolve naturally. It’s hard to think that any of them would be disappointed by a performance like this one, which winds up being part of a late surge of memorable talk show performances.

2. Benny the Jet Rodriguez – Alley Cat (Razorcake)

Is the sound on this the greatest? No. Does it need to be? Same answer. Is this a great take on a great song from a great record? Absolutely. Does the combination of logos, titles, and credits make it difficult to definitively credit? Extremely. How are more people not talking about Benny the Jet Rodriguez and Home. Run? That’s impossible to say- but it needs to change. When should that change start? Right now. Does every city deserve a venue like VLHS? Definitely.

3. Diarrhea Planet (KEXP)

Diarrhea Planet may have released a very good record the other year that holds up as a standalone piece but their reputation was almost entirely built by virtue of their excitable live shows. This KEXP session goes a long way in confirming any of the uninitiated’s suspicions that they have a penchant for the irreverent and wild- and that’s all that really needs to be said. Just watch the video.

4. White Lung (unARTigNYC) 

This isn’t the first full White Lung set to earn itself a feature on Watch This. Hell, it’s not even the first one that comes courtesy of unARTigNYC. All that said, the band keeps managing to get better, a feat of borderline absurdity considering they’re already one of the better live acts out there today. Easily the best-looking and best-sounding White Lung set to find its way onto Watch This, their recent set at Palisades found them in their fieriest form (especially after a very tense moment towards the start of the set that found vocalist Mish Way pushed to the point of physically accosting and ultimately ejecting an audience member)- absolutely laying waste to a selection of songs that leaned heavily on 2014 standout Deep Fantasy. Even if the whole set was emotionally charged thanks to the severely unfortunate circumstances, it provided a handful of thrilling moments and cemented White Lung’s status as one of today’s most exciting bands.

5. Nothing (KEXP)

Nothing are notorious for eardrum-obliterating volume levels when they play live, which seems fitting for a band so prone to relentless heaviness. Here, they hold nothing back and give KEXP one of the station’s more memorable sessions- creating an entrancing sprawl that sides towards the heavily atmospheric. Guilty of Everything was a high point of mid-2014 and is well-represented here. Apart from a few fairly awkward interview exchanges (which is probably putting it mildly), the individual song performances are weirdly mesmerizing. All in all, it’s hard to ask for a better way to cap off another great week of documented live music.

Radiator Hospital at Cocoon Room – 9/8/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)

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When Radiator Hospital announced Milwaukee as a stop on their tour, not going wasn’t an option. After all, Torch Song has had more plays this year than just about any other record from 2014 so far. “Cut Your Bangs” was a personal pick for “song of the summer” and more than earned it’s inclusion in this site’s summer songs mixtape. They’re a band that embodies next to everything that’s worth celebrating about the DIY ethos in punk-leaning independent music (something that was touched on by the band directly with their attached note in The Media premiere of  their “Bedtime Stories” music video). As if that wasn’t enough, Radiator Hospital also gets to claim Jeff Bolt (who also drums in site favorites Swearin’ and runs Stupid Bag Records– also a site favorite) as a member.

After the two and a half hour drive down to Milwaukee, it didn’t take too long for the night’s plans to be set into motion. While Radiator Hospital was the priority, there was a late show happening across town at Boone & Crockett featuring an Ian Olvera solo set and semi-recent Watch This honorees Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. Having never been to Cocoon Room or Boone & Crockett it was difficult to know what to expect but both proved to be intriguing venues that’ll likely warrant repeat visits. Cocoon Room came across as a small DIY art gallery and had already set their bill into motion with a welcoming set from King Courteen shortly after the projected start time. Due to a late arrival, there were only a few King Courteen songs that managed to be taken in but from those alone, it was easy to see a very distinct, considerable talent- one that’ll likely be around a while.

During the last moments of King Courteen’s gripping set another thing became abundantly clear: thanks to how dimly-lit Cocoon Room was, it was going to be very difficult to shoot the bands playing. King Courteen proved impossible and it didn’t seem like that’d be changing for any of the following acts. Radiator Hospital wound up playing second, allowing Lousy Trouts the final slot and it didn’t take them long to lament the lack of light, either. After bluffing her way through a guitar solo while laughing to herself, Cynthia Schemmer smiled and offered up the fact the band usually plays in more light- which probably should have been seen as a subtle plea to get a few additional bulbs turned on- but things stayed the same. Not that it detracted from much of anything as Radiator Hospital blazed through a 9-song set that leaned heavily on the best moments of Torch Song (“Cut Your Bangs”, “Five & Dime”, “Leather & Lace”, etc) while still making room for the deserves-to-be-considered-classic “Our Song”.

If the lack of light didn’t affect them too much outside of Schemmer’s ridiculously fun solo, it was a little bit disheartening to hear that Cocoon Room was dealing with a shot speaker cable, forcing the mix to one side- which meant sacrificing a fair bit of bandleader Sam Cook-Parrott’s vocals. Even with that factored in, Radiator Hospital played with more conviction than most bands manage in perfect circumstances. Bolt was as on point as ever, Schemmer and Cook-Parrott both put next to everything they had into their playing and singing, and bassist Jon Rybicki (whose recent record as Attendant earned a lot of love here) played as emphatically as possible, providing the songs with an extra bit of punch. Both the audience and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves, which isn’t always the case- but that night everyone operated under the understanding that great music deserves attention, applause, and praise. Even with the dim lights and PA issues, it was a memorable experience and an impressive set- one that ensured Radiator Hospital a position on the “can’t-miss” list for live acts.

After Radiator Hospital wrapped up, the venue got a little too crowded a little too quickly and the heat became too much, so (after some time spent catching up with the members of Radiator Hospital outside the venue), it was off to Boone & Crockett for Sub Pop signees Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. While arriving late meant having to miss Ian Olvera (who also fronts The Sleepwalkers), it’s a safe bet that he put on a great set that probably shouldn’t have been missed- and if Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires’ first half of their set was as incendiary as the back stretch, then the same can definitely be said for them. Bains and his band play a ferocious strand of southern rock that embraces a manic punk energy, allowing each individual member to fly off the handle at will. It took less than two seconds of being in the venue to see Bains jump off the stage and barrel his way into the audience before jumping back up and taking a perch on the bass drum- before falling to the floor and punching a malfunctioning pedal. That string of actions set the tone for what was to follow, as the band tore through song after song and ripped through a wide-reaching selection of riffs and solos while working themselves into an intense sweat. There were no sections where they lost pace or momentum and by the time they finished, it felt like the room (a small bar that specializes in mixology) had just sustained an atomic blast… and the band was only playing with their “little” amps. It wouldn’t have been surprising if the following night saw them burning Green Bay’s Lyric Room to the ground. Currently, they’re getting set to embark on a tour with Southern stalwarts Drive-By Truckers and that’s a bill that needs to be taken advantage of, if at all possible. Keep it in mind.

All in all, it was a night of great music and impressive lyricism (especially in the case of Radiator Hospital, whose Torch Song boasts some of the strongest writing of the year) that showcased how vital Milwaukee is to fostering independent-minded music. King Courteen displayed promise, Radiator Hospital solidified their on-the-rise position with a vicious authoritativeness, and Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires proved that they weren’t an act to be trifled with using as much wild-eyed intensity as humanly possible. And, on nights like those- especially when they’re spent with good friends- it’s impossible not to fall in love with music all over again.

Due to the lighting at each venue being very limited, there weren’t a lot of photos worth posting but a small handful is better than nothing. View those below and videos of Radiator Hospital and Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires beneath the gallery.


LVL UP – Ski Vacation (Stream)

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It’s been an insane past few days. Full streams, videos, and songs worth writing about have been emerging at a breakneck pace and making deciding what to feature a near-herculean task of decisiveness. There was a monumentally important music video from Mean Creek‘s Chris Keene for his upcoming solo record as Dream Generation, an interactive piece of unbridled fun from Ty Segall for the title track off of Manipulator, characteristically cinematic videos from both Beverly and Fucked Up– who have each been doing wonders with the visual medium, a video that practically defines Bob Mould’s workmanlike nature, and a Jane Forsyth & Ian Pollard-helmed video for Parquet Courts’ “Bodies Made Of“- which proved to be an astoundingly sensible creative pairing. There were full streams of the gently gnarled She Keeps Bees full-length, the psych-trip of the White Fence and Jack Name split, and a new Greylag song, “Yours to Shake“, that showed some serious teeth. Picking between all of those seemed as if it might be impossible until, once again, LVL UP made the decision fairly easy.

At this point, noting that LVL UP’s upcoming Hoodwink’d is this site’s front-runner for Album of the Year seems redundant. It’s a 15-song masterpiece that sees the band perfecting their best aspects and surpassing an arsenal of lofty expectations in the process. This is something that this site’s touched on in reviews for the first three songs to be teased from the record: “Soft Power“, “I Feel Ok“, and “DBTS“. Now, the band’s released the fourth look at the now-imminent Hoodwink’d with “Ski Vacation” which shows the band expanding their sonic palette yet again. Boasting a tranquil atmosphere and no shortage of jangly guitar tones, the song integrates some subtle-yet-effective surf tendencies into the band’s outsider pop aesthetic- and the end result is spectacular. What jumps out about all of the songs that the band’s been previewing is that they stand on their own extraordinarily well and would warrant serious consideration for pushes as Hoodwink’d singles- but as a collective piece they’re extraordinary and complement each other better than just about anything that even bothers to casually flirt with genre-hopping tendencies. In that respect, Hoodwink’d might be the first record 2014 produces that would be deserving of a title no smaller than masterpiece. “Ski Vacation” is just the fourth of 15 dimensions.

For some essential reading on Hoodwink’d, please go to Sasha Geffen’s Interview piece– where the track premiered- to scroll through a can’t-miss interview that sheds some light on what went into making the record.

Stream “Ski Vacation” below and pre-order Hoodwink’d from Double Double Whammy (which has played host to several of 2014’s best releases and is in the midst of an absurd winning streak)- who will be co-releasing it with Exploding in Sound (see: last parenthesis)-  here.

Songs of Summer: 2014 (Mixtape)

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Another hundred posts in and this site’s still humming along. As tradition dictates, today is one of the only days that doesn’t get dedicated to the outstanding just-released content (though there was an incredible amount, which will be covered tomorrow)- and features a digital mixtape instead. There was a lot of talk over what the song of the summer was and no real general consensus in any type of forum. In the spirit of that surprisingly diverse conversation, the mixtape features the songs that resonated throughout this place most strongly during what proved to be an incredibly memorable summer (covering both NXNE and Pitchfork festivals among the many highlights). As the season approaches its end, it only felt right to shine a light on some of those songs one more time before the year draws to a close.

A few of these have been featured in previous playlists but that should only stand as a testament to their longevity. While a few weren’t even released in summer, they definitely struck a deeper chord as the surroundings finally caught up to the mood they inhabited. Every single one of them can be streamed below (a tracklist is also provided) and, being that this marks another hundred posts- and in the event anyone was curious in catching something they missed, hyperlinks to posts No. 200-299 are given beneath the tracklist. So, turn the volume all the way up and enjoy some great music while the warm weather’s still here.

Stream Songs of Summer: 2014 below and feel free to navigate through any of the listed hyperlinks.

1. Lost Boy ? – Hollywood
2. LVL UP – Soft Power
3. Radiator Hospital – Cut Your Bangs
4. The Coasts – I Just Wanna Be A Star
5. The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More
6. Tweens – Forever
7. The Sleepwalkers – My Best Was Never Good Enough
8. Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03
9. The Freezing Hands – Good Morning Takeout
10. Happyness – Anything I Do Is All Right
11. Dead Stars – Summer Bummer
12. Joanna Gruesome – Jerome (Liar)
13. Perfect Pussy – Leash Called Love (Sugarcubes Cover)
14. Eugene Quell – Hell Presidente
15. Happy Diving – Weird Dream
16. Mean Creek – My Madeline
17. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning
18. Left & Right – Low Expectations
19. Mulligrub – Canadian Classic
20. Dude York – Believer
21. Cayetana – Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving
22. Lenguas Largas – Kawasaki Dream
23. Wyatt Blair – Girls!
24. Jawbreaker Reunion – Empire
25. Reigning Sound – Falling Rain

+++

HB200: NXNE 2014: A Listener’s Guide (Mixtape)
HB201: Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Calgary Hill (Music Video)
HB202: Swearin’ at Memorial Union Terrace – 5/30/14 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB203: Watch This: Vol. 27
HB204: Watch This: Vol. 28
HB205: Pretty Pretty – Leather Weather (Stream)
HB206: Haunted Heads – VV (Stream)
HB207: Marvelous Mark – Bite Me (Music Video)
HB208: Mean Creek – Anxiety Girl (Music Video)
HB209: Bob Mould – I Don’t Know You Anymore (Music Video)
HB210: Parquet Courts – Black and White (Music Video)
HB211: Greys – Use Your Delusion (Music Video)
HB212: Beverly – Honey Do (Music Video)
HB213: Jawbreaker Reunion – Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club (Review)
HB214: Green Dreams – Rich Man Poor Man (Review)
HB215: Watch This: Vol. 29
HB216: Watch This: Vol. 30
HB217: La Sera – Fall in Place (Music Video)
HB218: Lemuria – Brilliant Dancer (Music Video)
HB219: The Midwestern Charm – Growing Pains (Trailer)
HB220: NXNE: Day 1 (Pictorial Review)
HB221: Watch This: Vol. 31
HB222: NXNE: Day 2 (Pictorial Review, Video)
HB223: NXNE Day 3: Greys, Benjamin Booker, Viet Coing (Photo Gallery)
HB224: NXNE Day 3: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Spoon (Photo Gallery)
HB225: NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)
HB226: NXNE Day 4: Creep Highway, Perfect Pussy, Frankie Cosmos, Swearin’ (Photo Gallery)
HB227: NXNE Day 5: Courtney Barnett, Army Girls (Photo Gallery)
HB228: Soybomb HQ: Cellphone, Ice Cream, Pleasure Leftists, Perfect Pussy (Photo Gallery)
HB229: Smiling Buddha: Pleasure Leftists, Holy Fuck, METZ (Photo Gallery)
HB230: NXNE: Day 3 (Review, Videos, Photos, Videos)
HB231: NXNE Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Review, Photos)
HB232: NXNE Day 4 + 5 (Review, Photos)
HB233: Perfect Pussy at Soybomb HQ – 6/21/14 (Review, Video)
HB234: METZ at Smiling Buddha – 6/22/14 (Review, Video)
HB235: Deafheaven at Bottom Lounge – 7/18/14 (Review, Photos)
HB236: Pitchfork Festival Day 2 (Review)
HB237: Pitchfork Festival Day 3 (Review)
HB238: Pitchfork Festival Day 3: Perfect Pussy (Review)
HB239: Watch This: Vol. 32
HB240: Watch This: Vol. 33
HB241: Watch This: Vol. 34
HB242: Watch This: Vol. 35
HB243: Watch This: Vol. 36
HB244: Watch This: Vol. 37
HB245: LVL UP – Soft Power (Stream)
HB246: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning (Stream)
HB247: Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite (Music Video)
HB248: Terry Malts – Let You In (Stream)
HB249: Dead Stars – Summer Bummer (Music Video)
HB250: Songs in Screen: A Look Back (Music Video Mixtape)
HB251: The Frankl Project – Day at the Races (Stream)
HB252: Cancers – Moral Net (Stream)
HB253: Watch This: Vol. 38
HB254: Mannequin Pussy – Kiss (Stream)
HB255: Vacation – Every Direction (Stream)
HB256: The Midwestern Charm – Bloodbath (Stream)
HB257: Dude York – Believer (Stream)
HB258: PURPLE 7 – Wise Up (Stream)
HB259: Lost Boy ? – Hollywood (Stream)
HB260: Mulligrub – Canadian Classic (Stream)
HB261: Purling Hiss – Learning Slowly (Stream)
HB262: Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Gates of Hell (Music Video)
HB263: Two Houses – Disappointer (Stream)
HB264: Cayetana – Scotty Get the Van, I’m Moving (Stream)
HB265: Shy Boys – Life Is Peachy (Music Video)
HB266: Low Expectations – Left & Right (Stream)
HB267: Sonic Avenues – Bored With Love (Stream)
HB268: Joanna Gruesome – Jerome (Liar) (Stream)
HB269: The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More (Stream)
HB270: Bent Shapes – 86’d in ’03 (Stream)
HB271: Watch This: Vol. 39
HB272: Ex-Breathers – Pocket (Stream)
HB273: Liam Betson – Rapture in Heat (Stream)
HB274: Allison Crutchfield – Berlin (Stream)
HB275: The Ar-Kaics – Be My Baby (Stream)
HB276: Even Hand – Even Hand (Album Review, Stream)
HB277: Naomi Punk – Firehose Face (Music Video)
HB278: Kindling – Sunspots (Stream)
HB279: Places to Hide – Nowhere Bound (Stream)
HB280: We Need Secrets – How You Remember (Stream)
HB281: LVL UP – I Feel Ok (Stream)
HB282: Girl Tears – Candy Darling (Stream)
HB283: Ex Hex – Beast (Stream)
HB284: The Freezing Hands – Good Morning Takeout (Stream)
HB285: Follies – I Make Sense (Stream)
HB286: Happy Diving – Weird Dream (Stream)
HB287: Big Ups – Justice (Music Video)
HB288: Radiator Hospital – Bedtime Story (Music Video)
HB289: Space Raft at Crunchy Frog – 8/16/14 (Pictorial Review)
HB290: Watch This: Vol. 40
HB291: The Seeers – Without Lites (Stream)
HB292: Dark Blue – Here On My Street (Stream)
HB293: Lenguas Largas – Kawasaki Dream (Stream)
HB294: Wyatt Blair – Girls! (Stream)
HB295: Perfect Pussy – Leash Called Love (Stream)
HB296: Eternal Summers – Window (Stream)
HB297: Watch This: Vol. 41
HB298: Eugene Quell – A Great Useleness (Review, Stream)
HB299: LVL UP – DBTS (Stream)

Lenguas Largas – Kawasaki Dream (Stream)

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Lenguas Largas have been a staple of every major punk distro worth their salt since releasing their excellent Lonely Summertime 7″ back in 2010. They followed that up with their outstanding self-titled debut which exploded on the promise of Lonely Summertime and gave them a deserved profile boost. Since then, the band’s toured heavily and hinted at new material. All of the hinting is over because their sophomore effort, Come On In, is now available on (once more) both Recess and Burger Records.

To celebrate Come On In‘s Burger release, the label’s offering up a free stream of “Kawasaki Dream”, a supercharged earworm that’s proven to be inescapable after one listen.  Everything the Tuscon act does best gets pushed to its absolute limit here, with a sugary melody, plenty of feedback, and their own distinct brand of a peculiarly madcap glee. “Kawasaki Dream” is incessant in its build and relentless in energy, combining into something dangerously addictive and completely explosive. It doesn’t even hit the two minute mark, most likely due to a realization that you can only hit a certain peak before tipping into the absurd. What it does do, however, is act as a bold declaration and reaffirmation that everyone seems to have been right about just how good this band was since the beginning.

Listen to “Kawasaki Dream” and order the Come On In cassette from Burger here.

Ex-Hex – Beast (Stream)

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Mary Timony’s career so far is loaded with material that influenced- or will influence- generations worth of musicians. This being the case, any time a Timony project releases new material it’s worth paying attention to- mostly because it always seems to end up as being good as “Beast”, Ex-Hex’s most recent sampling from their upcoming debut album Rips. Following the excellent pairing of “Hot and Cold” and “Don’t Wanna Lose“, “Beast” lives up to the extraordinarily high standard set by those two tracks.

Where “Beast” sets itself from the other two is in the gleeful pacing and shred-happy riffing. Propulsive in all of the best ways, it’s another song that could easily work as a summer soundtrack years into the future. There’s a certain timelessness to it that’s not uncommon to Timony’s work, which is part of what makes the bulk of it so memorable. A few different decades are evoked thanks to the influences that “Beast” wears so proudly on its sleeve; 70’s surf, 80’s  proto-punk, and 90’s powerpop being the big three. It’s a massively enjoyable way to spend a few minutes and ensures the promise of Rips being a record worth owning.

Listen to “Beast” below and pre-order rips directly from Merge here.

NXNE: Day 2 (Pictorial Review, Video)

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After Day 1 of NXNE got the festival off to a strong start, Day 2 is when the madness kicked into high gear. From late afternoon to well past midnight, there were sets from Caddywhompus, Speedy Ortiz, PS I Love You, Pissed Jeans, The Pizza Underground (although it’s still unclear if that could actually be called a set), Shannon & the Clams, Odonis Odonis, The Yips, and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs. These were spread out across four venues and, at the bottom of these writings, there’s visual documentation of all of them.

Day 2 started off at the gorgeous (and gorgeously lit) Mod Club Theatre, which boasted a stacked bill that was headlined by Pissed Jeans- who delivered what would be one of the most memorable single sets of the festival. Before that, there were several standout moments from each of the three bands preceding Pissed Jeans. Caddywhompus set the wheels in motion with their enticing combination of traditional math elements and post-punk. From their surprisingly sweet vocal melodies to the power drumming and guitar fireworks that drove the momentum of their set, it’s easy to see why people are starting to latch onto this band. Proving even more impressive was their use of noise-prone ambient transitions to seamlessly segue between many of their songs. Somewhere between their terrifyingly precise tempo shifts and their soaring choruses, they’ve carved out something even more impressive; a wide-open future.

Site favorites Speedy Ortiz were next to take the stage and delivered a set laced with great moments from Major Arcana as well as a song they’re currently prepping to release as a single for an Adult Swim series that’s entitled “Bigger Party”, which is the band at their most definitive. Grass is Green‘s Devin McKnight has taken up the space recently vacated by guitarist Matt Robidux and managed to come off as an integral (and more importantly, incredibly dynamic) part of the band. By the end of Speedy Ortiz’s set, they’d made the most of their penchant for irreverence by keeping the between-song moments lively with genuinely funny banter and a great rapport. There were no lulls or dull moments; the evening had hit its stride early with what would ultimately become one of the night’s most engaging sets.

Canadian favorites PS I Love You were the next ones up and have the benefit of a great new album on deck that they seemed eager to tease. Immediately apparent was their fondness for blistering volumes, which in lesser hands may have distracted from their musicality- not here. Add in a generous layer of fuzz and the jaw-dropping guitar heroics of Paul Saulnier (who also controlled blasts of bass-driven organ chords through wired presets on a pedalboard- and had sweat dripping off his fingers less than three songs into their set) and it wound up being a fairly staggering showcase for both Saulnier and the relentless drumming of Benjamin Nelson. While their set did drop its momentum after the ecstatic highs brought on by a genuinely impassioned performance of “Facelove“, things were restored by the very end of their set thanks to the strength of the songs on their outstanding upcoming full-length, For Those Who Stay.

After PS I Love You called it night, one thing suddenly became very clear: everything was about to become all about sludge-indebted hardcore titans Pissed Jeans. They didn’t disappoint. All but storming the stage, vocalist Matt Korvette started their set by immediately declaring that the band had a very important announcement to make: “We are no longer Pissed Jeans. We are now Virgin Mobile Pissed Jeans”- a possible dig at the festival’s increased incorporation of corporate sponsorship. Following that subtly-tinged bit of possible vitriol, their levels all quickly rocketed to seething. With Korvette absolutely owning the Mod Club Theatre stage (both Nick Cave and Iggy Pop frequently came to mind- and that’s saying quite a bit), his band exploded around him and consistently matched his energy level. Between songs, he would faux-berate the audience for not trying hard enough or for not being more into the performance- and at one point he even paused to conduct a music lecture on guitar composition (extended fives, sweeping fours, and triple sevens were all covered).

Never letting the energy levels drop even a fraction, Pissed Jeans annihilated just about every expectation and ended with what’s undoubtedly one of the strangest encores to ever be performed at NXNE. Here’s what happened: after a small but meaningful attempt from the audience to get the band back on stage for one more song, Korvette reappeared and took the reigns on bass and began playing a tribal-sounding bassline over and over, occasionally walking from the stage to the wings before disappearing completely (while still playing the bass). At one point, the guitarist became the drummer for a strange misdirect- and didn’t play a single note before getting off the throne and exiting the stage. Finally, after Korvette hadn’t appeared for about two minutes, he suddenly slid the bass out quite a ways onto the stage floor from his spot in the wings and the show was officially over. All of it caused one audience member to scream out “What did that even mean?!” which was shortly followed by his still-very-confused “…like, technically?!”. If only anyone knew.

Going from what was arguably the festival’s highlight to Lee’s Palace for what was inarguably the most uncomfortable set (courtesy of The Pizza Underground) was a little jarring. As mentioned up above, it’s difficult to know whether or not this could even be called a set-  it was more of a comedy variety hour. At any rate, Maculay Culkin’s Velvet Underground-aping Pizza project had a hard time finding or developing any sort of noticeable rhythm and it kept tripping over itself to bring in new ideas or guests- among them: Plop Dylan (Bob Dylan songs with the lyrics altered so that they were about feces), a karaoke section from #PUSSYJOEL (Billy Joel songs about cats- the only thing the internet loves more than pizza), and a bizarre Tony Danza-impersonating stand-up comedian. The most clever of these wound up being the least tactful; Kurt Cobain’d- a man dressed up as Kurt Cobain (who was arguably the best musician to be featured throughout their set) doing Nirvana songs where all of the present tense verbs were switched to the past tense. By the end of their set, they were barely doing any of their original (a term used very loosely, all things considered) material. At least they bought Pizza for everyone.

An additional benefit of The Pizza Underground’s set? Culkin’s celebrity draw prompted one of the biggest non-Yonge Dundas Square turnouts and several of them stuck around- and were subsequently blown away- by an incendiary set from Shannon & the Clams. The band had previously caused a lot of people to fall pretty hard for them with an extraordinary track record of releases through Burger Records and Hardly Art. Live, the band more than lived up to the promise of their studio releases and quickly filled the spots in Lee’s Palace that had been abandoned after The Pizza Underground left a bad taste in much of the audience’s respective mouths. Not too long into their set, the entire standing section was full of people grinning widely and dancing their hearts out to Shannon & the Clams’ throwback rock n’ soul basement pop. All things considered, that lasting image was one of the best takeaway moments of NXNE.

After Shannon & the Clams had left everyone smiling, the plan was to go to Smiling Buddha to settle in for The Yips and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs- fortunately, after running into Speedy Ortiz- we were redirected to Odonis Odonis’ set at The Garrison. Arriving mid-set meant the audience was already packed. The members of Speedy Ortiz, looking a touch exhausted, snagged a spot at the adjacent bar and advised us to go in to catch the band. Already being anxious to catch Odonis Odonis (who appeared on Heartbreaking Bravery’s First Quarter Finish mixtape), caused no hesitation in a move for the venue doors. Only a few songs were caught but it didn’t take long for Odonis Odonis to establish their connection to METZ: both bands have the same intense careening-all-over-the-place stage presence and love of ear-shattering volume levels. Their spastic synth-driven noise-punk freakouts managed to re-establish a new energy precedent for the evening and wound up being the best surprise set of the festival.

The Garrison was then left behind for the second consecutive night at Smiling Buddha (which would be visited again on nights 4 and 5) for late shows from The Yips and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs. Both bands made the best use of a very small stage that they didn’t quite seem to fit on. All five members of The Yips kept grinning and bouncing off each other as if they were having the time of their lives- a trend that was continued by the six member lineup of Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs. Where The Yips played surf-friendly basement pop that hinted at some art-friendly trappings, Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs went the full blue-collar basement punk route. Both bands drew huge reactions from the crowd and there was more than one instance of crowd surfing. The Yips had people dancing. Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs incited mass crowd sing-a-longs. There was clear-cut camaraderie between the bands and their audience in a small-scale environment- which is what all of the best festivals strive to achieve. It was a genuinely incredible end to an extraordinary day of sets and sent expectation skyrocketing for Day 3.

Watch videos from Caddywhompus, Pissed Jeans, Shannon & the Clams, The Yips, and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs below (apologies for the slightly blown-out audio)- beneath those, the photo gallery containing each band mentioned n the review. Enjoy.

Caddywhompus

Pissed Jeans

Shannon & the Clams

The Yips

Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs

Lemuria – Brilliant Dancer (Music Video)

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Lemuria’s Brilliant Dancer was featured way back when as one of 25 Best Demo’s, EP’s, 7″ Singles, and Compilations of 2013. Now, the song that the 7″ took its name from has a delightfully engaging, low-budget video to accompany it. Directed by Phillip Freedenberg, the clip combines DIY-friendly art, no-frills special effects, basic visual tricks, and some lovingly shot live footage into something strange and memorable. “Brilliant Dancer” is an overwhelmingly simplistic clip that comes laced with the effect of an old home video, triggering a strange nostalgia that gives it a surprising amount of emotional impact. By the time the collage-heavy presentation wraps itself up, the video winds up approaching becoming both a distinctively unique entry and a timeless piece of multimedia. All in all, it’s one of the better surprises of the past few months.

Watch “Brilliant Dancer” below and make a music video this month.