Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: playlist

The Best of 2020: Songs and Videos

2020 has been a difficult year. There’s no way around the fact that the past 365 days have constituted one of the bleakest runs of days in any of our lifetimes. From the violent white supremacy of America’s police making headlines to a global pandemic that’s left hundreds of thousands dead around the world to an incalculably incompetent showing from government officials around the country, there’s been no shortage of reasons to despair. Fortunately, music’s offered something of a reprieve. For some it became an outlet to vent, for some it become a means of coping, and for others it became a reason for hope. 

I haven’t written anything on Heartbreaking Bravery in 2020 but I did take over, officially, as the music editor over at local outlet Tone Madison, which has kept me busy. I’ve also been working as a photographer with a local studio and doing independent contract work for a tech umbrella, while continuing to seek freelance opportunities. In the midst of all of that, I wanted to make sure I did something with this place, which has remained a critical part of my life, even in its public absence. Towards the start of 2020, I got the idea to reassemble how I wanted to feature new music. After kicking around a lot of ideas, I settled on something specific: creating and curating a hyper-personalized radio program for the new music I wanted to highlight. 

While that idea never came to total fruition, I realized there was a way I could subvert this idea into something useful while staying close to that initial concept. Over the past 12 months, I have been assembling (and intentionally sequencing) a playlist of the songs and music videos that, in previous years of Heartbreaking Bravery’s existence, would’ve warranted standalone features. Additionally, I started compiling an ancillary playlist of the honorable mentions, which has no reason or rhyme beyond the unifying principle of the songs and videos contained in that mix being worth watching/hearing. The Best of 2020 playlist features 309 songs and videos, while the playlist containing the honorable mentions contains 1,711. In total, 2020. 

I may take the following week or two to assemble a more traditional list of the albums, songs, and videos that impacted me the most over 2020 but, for now, I’m happy with this: a reflection of a year’s worth of work and a time capsule for the worthwhile art that helped navigate and contextualize an immensely difficult year. I don’t know what 2021 will hold and I continue to grapple with the direction of this publication and the question of whether or not it should be laid to rest. I may never have an answer but I do know that these songs and videos deserved notice, appreciation, and praise. I hope anyone that clicks into these finds something new to celebrate. 


(Content warning: a few of the videos contained in this mix involve flashing lights) 

Could not be included: The Chives – The Chives Buy Guns, Cheerbleederz – Better Than Nothing, Phillip Jon Taylor – Rotary Phone, Mister Goblin – Punk Band, Amos Pitsch – Oak Hill Blues, DAMP – Binsy, Steve Hartlett – big mac feat. big mac, Gladie – The Good That Won’t Come (Rilo Kiley), Lost Boy ? – Trying To Feel Good, Lost Boy ? – Another Shoe, Yakima – It Helped, Geronimo! – Where’s My Dini? (Ovlov), and Ben Grigg – Randy Describes Mondays.

A QUICK HIT: 2020 (Honorable Mentions)

Could not be included: The Ricos – True, Valley Latini – Blue Moon, Guided By Voices – Haircut Sphinx, Paul Collins Beat – Another World, Dog Park – Irma, Molly Parden – Kitchen Table, Dear Nora – Hold It Down, Lost Boy ? – Sunkist, Pure Decay, Wild Flower, Groundhog’s Day, Pop Songs for Dummies, Daniel Tanghal – Heavenly Trash, Purge, Oregon Trail, Nick Norton – Fuzzy Loner, Closing Eyes – You Can Have Everything, Art of the Uncarved Block – Washed Out Blue, Brooks Hudgins – Lost In Conversation, MEH – What’s It To You Anyway?, Decay the Llama – On the Creation of..., Yot Club – Ceremony, Flowers – Erik, Coffin Apartment – Hyperphagic Blues, Flõstate – Home Ground, Yakima – Thanks, The Great Dictators – Play Dead Together, As In – Not A Doctor, Not Today, Katie Alice Greer – 5, Thurston Moore – Instant Transcendent Conjecture, Strawberry Moon, Mac McCaughan – Sports Channel 8: The Theme Song, Sad13 – Paint’s Peeling (Rilo Kiley), Backxwash – Stigmata, First Responder – Coney Island, The Chains – Shadow on the Hill, Daydream – Dissolve Into Their Likeness, Conscious Raising, The Immaculates – New York Is Mine For The Holiday, NNAMDÏ & Post Animal – Full Fangs, Annie DiRusso – 20, Lisa Prank – alone again at the pumpkin patch, Greta Morgan – When the Sun Comes Up, Jason Isbell – Maybe It’s Time (Demo), Anika Pyle – S A D, Ben Varian – Wouldn’t It Be Nice, and Freaking – I’m Not Opposed to Sand.


Arriving at the Fall (Mixtape)


Another 50 posts in means it’s time for another kind of mixtape. With summer having just ceased its stranglehold under the weight of fall’s swift descent, it seemed appropriate to go the seasonal route. This collection isn’t confined to an allotted release schedule, it’s sole function and narrative standpoint is of an emotional nature. Fall’s always held a special sort of magic, from the sepia tones to an inescapable nostalgic hue.

It’s a harbinger of winter’s bleakness and a subtle coda of summer’s optimism. For every hardship, there’s an answer; for every temperature drop there’s the comfort of a sweater. An unavoidable reminder of time’s passage (speaking both small and large-scale), it also tends to conjure up enhanced emotional connections; a tapestry that’s inscribed in faded lettering: we’re in this together and we need to make the most of it before everything disappears.

So, as summer slowly disappears into the rear-view and the firepit waiting for extra kindling, it only felt right to try and put the seasonal stretch’s conflicted emotional pull to music. Damaged romanticism, moments of introspection, glimpses of hope, bursts of sadness, and the shrapnel of chaos and acceptance permeate this collection. Consider it music for raking, long solitary walks, companionship, study sessions, or a soundtrack for a few cups of tea (spiked at will). I’ll simply leave it here as a gift for the taking.

With nothing but open road ahead, all that’s left to do is to take a breath and enjoy the fall.


Eskimeaux – Folly
Sparklehorse – Gold Day
Heatmiser – Christian Brothers
Beach Slang – Get Lost
Tenement – Hard to Say
Small Houses – Staggers and Rise
Mikal Cronin – Piano Mantra
All Dogs – Leading Me Back to You
Neko Case – Behind the House (Demo)
The Dutchess & the Duke – I Am Just A Ghost 
Dead Man’s Bones – Pa Pa Power
The Kinks – Strangers
Tom Waits – Fawn


Okkervil River – Just Give Me Time
Hop Along – Waitress 
Young Jesus – Family and Friends 
Girlpool – Crowded Stranger 
Jason Isbell – Flying Over Water
The Modern Machines – Treadmill Waltz
Waxahatchee – Noccalula
John K. Samson – Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San
The Band – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Live)
Screaming Females – It’s Nice
Low – When I Go Deaf
Vic Chesnutt – When the Bottom Fell Out

First Quarter Songs, Pt. 1 (Mixtape)

Protomartyr XV

We’re a little more than three months into 2015 and the influx of great new material in the year’s first quarter has been astounding. It was a transitional time period for the site, with dozens of authors pitching in personal recollection pieces regarding the previous year. During that time, I also started a full-time position, disallowing a production rate as frequent as the one held throughout the entirety of 2014. However, during these opening months, I haven’t stopped listening, collecting, exploring, and thinking about every new release that I was fortunate enough to find. There are more than 250 songs, 90 full streams,  and 115 music videos to cover, so- while a few will be given full features- it only made sense to bring everything up to speed via long lists of the things worth mentioning. To begin, here are 25 great songs from 2015 that deserve to be heard. Don’t let the fact that there are no accompanying descriptions short-change the value of these songs; this is the first batch of what already looks like the strongest crop of new music we’ve had in years. The track list, and embedded player, is below. Listen to these songs, pay attention to these artists, buy these records, and go to their shows. Don’t make the mistake of letting any of them pass by unnoticed.

1. The Juliana Hatfield Three – Wood
2. Swerverdriver – Autodidact
3. Gal Pals – Here’s to the Gals
4. Chastity Belt – Time to Go Home
5. Beech Creeps – Times Be Short
6. Will Butler – Take My Side
7. Dick Diver – Tearing The Posters Down
8. Shadow Age – A Portrait of A Young Man Dying
9. The Zoltars – Sincere
10. Robot Princess – Action Park
11. Colleen Green – TV
12. Alex G – Sarah
13. Sam Cook-Parrott & Allison Crutchfield – Something About What Happens
14. Chris Weisman – Don’t Be Slow
15. Dorthia Cottrell – Oak Grove
16. Cloud Castle Lake – Glacier
17. Simon Joyner – You Got Under My Skin
18. Eaves – Spin
29. Steady Lean – Atkins
20. Shilpa Ray – Pop Song For Euthanasia
21. Rye Pines – Pessimist
22. Moon Duo – Slow Down Low
23. DOE – Basement
24. Weed – Stay in the Summer
25. LVL UP – Somebody Kill Me Please 

First Quarter Finish (Mixtape)


Well, Heartbreaking Bravery’s another 50 posts in, which means that it’s time for another mixtape- and the timing couldn’t be any better. As April springs forth, a new quarter begins and leaves the first part of the year behind, opening it up for examination. First Quarter Finish is a testament to the the startling strength of 2014’s first three months and is largely composed of music that’s been featured on this site. Perfect Pussy‘s “Driver” kicks things off in a typically frenzied fashion, reflecting the purpose of this collection as acutely as possible. Make no mistake, this is a batch of songs that traffic in very high intensity even in their quietest moments.

From tour-only tapes to standout cuts off early Album of the Year contenders like Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Here and Nowhere Else, and Rooms of the House to eerily hypnotic momentsderanged apathetic insanity, and a very long list of promising glimpses at upcoming records, it’s truly been a hell of a start and deserves celebration. Listen to the sounds of that celebration below (if the player is not appearing onscreen, it can also be accessed here).


1. Perfect Pussy – Driver
2. La Sera – Losing to the Dark
3. Cheap Girls – Knock Me Down
4. Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked
5. Crow Bait – 83
6. Big Air – Cemetery With A View
7. PAWS – Tongues
8. Brain F≠ – Sicks
9. Antarctigo Vespucci – I’m Giving Up On U2
10. Playlounge – Waves and Waves and Waves
11. Vertical Scratchers – Memory Shards
12. Angel Olsen – Forgiven/Forgotten
13. Silence Dogood – Chairman of the Bored
14. Priests – Right Wing
15. Green Dreams – Eye Contact
16. Fucked Up – Paper the House
17. Creepoid – Baptism
18. La Dispute – Woman (in Mirror)
19. Sleep Party People – In Another World
20. Odonis Odonis – Order in the Court
21. PILE – Special Snowflakes
22. Young Widows – King Sol
23. Protomartyr – Scum, Rise!
24. Technicolor Teeth – Tomb
25. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me