Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Petite League

HB1000: A Step Forward (Compilation)

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When I started Heartbreaking Bravery nearly three years ago, I had no intention of pursuing it as a legitimate venture. Now, 1,000 posts, 50,000+ links, and countless words later, the site’s come to be the type of platform I’ve always loved seeing in the world. I could attempt to wax poetic on the nature of personal discovery and growth that running this place has afforded me but Heartbreaking Bravery was never about a single person, it’s always functioned best as a communal entity.

The ideas that formed the basic structure of Heartbreaking Bravery all came from artists producing exceptional work with little recognition. Repeatedly watching that transaction occur proved too disheartening. Whether it was the earliest years of Tenement, the later years of Good Grief, or virtually the entire run of Sleeping in the Aviary, there were always ceaselessly talented artists surrounding me that only ever seemed to receive the slightest of nods.

Heartbreaking Bravery originally aimed — and continues to aim — to provide a more level playing field to emerging artists, without reducing their worth to financial opportunity. Heartbreaking Bravery continues to value the community and intimacy that informs the DIY music world. Heartbreaking Bravery will continue to use the platform it’s been granted to elevate the idea of greater equality.

It’s in that spirit that I’m honored to present A Step Forward, a two-volume compilation spanning 100 tracks that exclusively features artists who are connected to this site’s history. Whether that was through a long history of collaboration or something as small as a twitter follow, the impact was not lost or left unappreciated. There’s a heavy emphasis on artists residing in the cities and states Heartbreaking Bravery has called home (Stevens Point, WI and Brooklyn, NY) and a small selection of songs that were premiered on this site.

100% of the proceeds of A Step Forward will be going to Rape Victim Advocates, a non-profit Chicago-based organization that’s doing vital (and, sadly, necessary) work for survivors of sexual assault. Read more about the organization here. It’s my sincerest hope that every publication that has the privilege of visibility manages to find ways to use any of their influence for productive good and to affect positive change. Please consider donating what you can to a meaningful cause.

Finally, I wanted to express gratitude to all of the artists (and any of their teams) involved — including the inimitable Phil McAndrew, who turned in the extraordinary album art — and all of the people that have allowed, even willed, this site to the point it’s at today. It likely would have disappeared without that support and I owe those people a debt of gratitude that could never be truly repaid. A special thanks to Fred Thomas, whose “What Changes When The Costumes Come Off” was written with the specifics of A Step Forward in mind.

Enjoy the compilation, support independent art, and join me, this site, these artists, and this cause in taking A Step Forward.

Tracklist below.

A Step Forward: Vol. 1*

1. Vacation – Caked Joy Rag (Demo)
2. Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Demo)
3. Dead Stars – So Strange (Demo)
4. Mo Troper – After the Movies (Demo)
5. Fern Mayo – The Sweets (Demo)
6. Hater – Like Hours (Demo)
7. Sharkmuffin – Only Mondays (Demo)
8. Fits – Ice Cream On A Nice Day (Demo)
9. Missy – Patience (Demo)
10. Kodakrome – Skeletons (Demo)
11. Slight – Run (Demo)
12. Long Neck – Goldfinch (Demo)
13. Phyllis Ophelia – Probably Not (Demo)
14. Lever – Cure (Demo)
15. Puppy Problems – Destroyer (Demo)
16. Battle Ave. – Black Jeans (Demo)
17. Yours Are The Only Ears – Alone Bear (Demo)
18. Attendant – Some Other Language (Demo)
19. MKSEARCH – Little Song (Demo)
20. Sulky Boy – Birches (Demo)
21. Heavy Looks – Those Guys (Demo)
22. darn it. – (again) pt. II
23. Phooey! – On an On
24. Arm Candy – Big Clunker
25. DTCV – Le Vampire
26. Clearance – The Queen of Eyes
27. Leggy – I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy
28. Big Air – Hit Me in the Mouth
29. Terry Malts – Look (At the Mess That We’re In)
30. Ubetcha – Musician
31. Two Inch Astonaut – Suckers Share
32. Whelpwisher – Bucket for the Sky
33. Petite League – Magic Johnson
34. The Meltaways (ft. Kate M) – Wrong Words
35. Calumet – Indian Summer
36. Mulligrub – Little Fist
37. Ben Seretan – Stay In Touch
38. Mumblr – Friendship Stew
39. Human People – Useless Things
40. Bethlehem Steel – Florida Two
41. Painted Zeros – Sweet Briar Rose
42. Spit – Paul Westerberg
43. Crusher – Running
44. Pupppy – Stand By Me
45. Aberdeen – Once You Fall In Love
46. Tica Douglas – Enough
47. Peaer – Multiverse
48. The Weasel, Marten Fisher – What Is Love
49. Young Jesus – Mirroring
50. Space Mountain – Earthrise

A Step Forward: Vol. II*

1. Bellows – Bank Checks
2. Cave Curse – Arcadia
3. Fred Thomas – What Changes When the Costumes Come Off
4. Apollo Vermouth – He Sees You, He Loves You
5. Green Dreams – Psychic Woes (Alternate Mix)
6. Lost Boy ? – Have You Seen My Brain (Space Cat Sessions)
7. Mikaela Davis – Pure Divine Love (Early Mix)
8. Nano Kino – Recovery (Early Mix)
9. Trophy Dad – Addison (Early Mix)
10. Alanna McArdle – Less Than (Early Mix)
11. VVHILE – Don’t Belong (Live)
12. Liam Betson – Mispronounced (Live)
13. BAG-DAD – Bruv (Live)
14. Slothrust – Keg Party (Live)
15. The Nudes – Nowhere to Be
16. Sat. Nite Duets – Cemetery Steve
17. Slanted – Fake Party
18. Patio – Gold
19. Greys – No Star
20. No Hoax – Date With Death
21. Dirty Dishes – Red Roulette
22. Yeesh – On Some Dirt
23. Pile – Cut From First Other Tape
24. Even Hand – Nightsmoke the Fuss
25. PURPLE 7 – Wise Up
26. Bad Wig – Machinehead
27. Mary Lynn – Space
28. Pleistocene – CMJ Compilation 1996
29. Color TV – Anybody’s Girl
30. Jacky Boy – Bad
31. Trust Fund – Would That Be An Adventure?
32. Good Grief – City People
33. Adir L.C. – Hangover
34. Milk Crimes – H8RZ
35. À La Mode – Total Doom
36. Inside Voices – Nomad: Begin
37. Doe – Corin
38. Kindling – Became
39. Bueno – Blown Out
40. Horse Teeth – Dark & Gloomy
41. Ron Gallo – Put the Kids to Bed
42. Sun’s Out Bummed Out – Cut All My Hair
43. Eric Slick – The Dirge
44. Fruit & Flowers – Turqoise
45. Shilpa Ray – Hymn
46. Jack – Sister System
47. Strange Ranger – Whatever You Say
48. Johanna Warren – A Bird in the Crocodile’s Mouth
49. Oceanator – Nowhere Nothing
50. Fresh Snow – Eat Me In St. Louis (Bryan W. Bray – Eaten by the Cetacean Mix)

Vol. I

Tracks 1-21: Demos
Tracks 22-50: New Songs

Vol. II

Tracks 1-4: New Songs (cont’d)
Tracks 5-14: Alternate Mixes and Live Songs
Tracks 15-49: Old Favorites
Track 50: Remix

 

Truman & His Trophy – Truman Kills A Bug (EP Review)

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Trust Fund, Petite LeagueShelf Life, Ghost Camp, Jackal Onasis, Ben Seretan, Sass Dragons, Toys That Kill, Naked Hour, Hardly Boys, Molar/Pale Kids, Vallens, Grey Bath, Laptop Funeral, Comprador, and Guts Club were among the bands that churned out excellent full streams in the last week and a half. Another band that added their name to that very impressive list: Truman & His Trophy. Now, several readers of this site will likely recognize Chris Sutter and Ryan Wizniak as members of Meat Wave but Truman & His Trophy precedes the formation of that band. They’re also responsible for one of the most gloriously insane concept albums of all time (the header photo’s a good indication of the band’s vision).

After the release of the aforementioned concept record — 2011’s Bottom George Pizza Planet — the band played a few shows and mostly fizzled out, rarely coming out of hiding to play a show. A new record seemed like it could be out of the question, especially in the wake of Meat Wave’s surprising (but extremely well-deserved) success. No one was expecting the band to make a power move this year but the band revels in exploiting the unexpected and gifted the world the ferocious Truman Kills A Bug EP just a short while ago.

Largely picking up where they left off, the band dives back into their seemingly alien take on the kind of punk that’s frequently tied to Steve Albini; cold, vicious, and punishingly direct. For as outlandish as the narratives can get in the land of Truman (and his trophy), the music remains startlingly effective. There’s always been a lot to love about this band and Truman Kills A Bug offers plenty of reminders over why the band became such a fiercely beloved local act in the first place. It’s raw, deceptively intelligent, and always leaves you wanting more. All you need to do to squash that longing is hit repeat.

Listen to Truman Kills A Bug below and pick it up from the band here.

Petite League – Zookeeper (Stream)

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While the efforts to keep this site up to date on the very latest releases allows for an influx of under-the-radar material, occasionally a few things fall to the wayside. The best of those are ultimately picked up somewhere along the line and — if they’re close to their release date — plugged into coverage. The latest from Petite League, “Zookeeper”, premiered yesterday and was strong enough to secure a feature spot. A string of other recently-released tracks made strong impressions along the way, including songs from: Okkervil River (whose lyricist, Will Sheff, ranks among the greatest to have ever lived), The Gotobeds (who almost snagged a feature spot of their own), Steady Holiday, Jambinai, The Hairs, Nomad Sounds, and Brenda’s Frend.

“Zookeeper”, a riff-happy basement pop stomper, just proved too irresistible to relegate to a link. It shows Petite League operating at the peak of their powers, turning in a hook-heavy number that never stifles its considerable momentum, even when it unexpectedly allows everything to drop out. By utilizing the stop/start dynamic and exploiting it’s power for all its worth, the band comes across as being successively more galvanized following each kick back into action.

It’s a fiery number that has a formidable punk bite tethered to its undeniable pop sensibilities. The lo-fi aesthetics provide “Zookeeper” with an additional layer of charm amidst its grit, lending a very real sense of determination to the proceedings. The world-weary lyrics are just as strong as the guitar work, with both playing off of each other to ascend towards something legitimately memorable. By the end of “Zookeeper” the band have made their mark, scorching the earth around them with no regard for anything other than their own substantial energy. It’s an exhilarating thrill ride that all but begs to be kept on repeat.

Listen to “Zookeeper” below and keep an eye on Manimal for the single’s Friday release.

Mercury Girls – All That Heaven Allows (Stream)

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The past few months have been particularly generous in the new songs department and the past few days have added gems from Petite League (ft. Jamie Brooks), Naked Hour, Yucky Duster, and Grieving. One of the most invigorating, newly released songs came courtesy of Mercury Girls. The band had already unveiled the shimmering A-side, “Ariana“, to their forthcoming single and now they’ve unveiled the equally strong B-side.

In 2015 the band topped this site’s Odds and Ends list and they’re making a memorable showing with Ariana b/w All That Heaven Allows that may land them another December spot seven months down the line. “All That Heaven Allows” is another piece of sublime perfection from a band that’s making a case for being one of the best (and most subversive) powerpop acts currently making music.

Only a small handful of songs into their career and the band’s already established themselves as a legitimate powerhouse. “All That Heaven Allows” is another track that surges and spirals towards the stratosphere, while maintaining its convictions and effortlessly relaying a sense of purpose. Both the bands grasp on dynamics and their guitar work remain as tasteful as ever, as the soaring vocals (and vocal melodies) continue to be unforgettable.

What Mercury Girls are doing right now is the kind of thing that only happens a few times throughout the course of a generation. Their current run is as close to flawless as any band’s likely to come and each new entry has surpassed exceedingly high expectations with an astonishing amount of ease. Graceful, sweet, and transcendent, “All That Heaven Allows” is another victory lap for a band that seems to be constitutionally incapable of disappointment. More than a few dozen listens in, the track still manages to invoke a surprising emotional response that ensures its rank as one of 2016’s most vivid highlights.

Listen to “All That Heaven Allows” below and pre-order their upcoming 7″ here.