Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: powerpunk

Midnight Reruns – Ain’t Gonna Find (Stream)

Midnight Reruns X

2015 has kept the great material coming in at a breakneck pace on a daily basis. Over the past few days, a lot of attention-deserving content has come trickling into the fold. Few of them have been more exhilarating- or more unexpected- than site favorites Midnight Reruns’ latest EP, Get Me Out. Announced on their Facebook, it was a blink-and-miss-it type of prospect but acts as a full illustration of the band’s startling progression. For a while, guitarist/vocalist Graham Hunt was concerned that the band would be pegged as a niche powerpop act following the releases of a strong EP (Central Time) and an even stronger self-titled full-length. Having already established themselves as one of the more exciting emerging acts in the upper Midwest, the band’s hell-bent on taking things to the next level- and for good reason.

Get Me Out arrives in advance of the band’s forthcoming full-length, which was recorded and produced by longtime fan/supporter Tommy Stinson (yes, that Tommy Stinson- the one whose band Midnight Reruns will be opening for tomorrow in Milwaukee). As evidenced by the band’s incendiary live shows, their newest material has all been equipped with more challenging dynamics that are quickly revealing the band to be quite a bit more multi-dimensional than they may have appeared at first glance. With shows at The Fest coming up and a few more things in motion, they’re set to capitalize on their building momentum. It’s part of why Get Me Out is a crucial, if small, release. None of the songs on the EP- other than the one contained in this post’s headline- will be appearing on the band’s impending full-length, which effectively renders the collection as an extremely tantalizing teaser.

“Ain’t Gonna Find”, the collection’s lead-off, is one of the most monstrously poppy songs the band’s ever committed to a recording. From the surging guitar progression to the shamelessly catchy “na na na” chorus, it’s an intensely immediate and accessible work, definitively proving that they’ve mastered a niche genre pocket. Dig a little deeper and a few other things start to betray the band’s growing ambitions; the intuitive lead guitar part that appears in the back-half of the second verse, the shape-shifting bridge, and the cavalcade of seemingly non-stop hooks- the band’s not only mastered this genre, they’ve transcended it. Yet, it’s likely still the most straightforward song on the band’s upcoming release. As a standalone single, it’s every self-defeatist’s summer anthem; as a look ahead, it’s intriguing. As a piece of the band’s history, it’s a perfectly-timed, perfectly-executed shot that might just wind up hitting the exact right mark.

Listen to “Ain’t Gonna Find” below and let the fantastic Get Me Out stream through when it’s finished. Pick it up today and tomorrow for free on the band’s bandcamp and keep an eye on this site for further details.

Little Big League – Property Line (Stream)


With another day drawing to a close, there’s another array of riches to examine. Full streams were made available for two very different releases; It Must Be Love threw their hat into the “Best EP of the Year” ring with their just-released self-titled effort, Art Is Hard’s Jam Kids: 20 Years since Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, an excellent compilation which featured contributions from a few site favorites (PAWS and Trust Fund, most notably) and- on the heavier, more doom-oriented side of things- Windhand’s side of their upcoming split 10″ with Salem’s Pot, which shows the band hasn’t lost a step last year’s outstanding Soma. Vacation shared an unmastered demo of their highly-anticipated upcoming record and Negative Fun Records made No Other’s exceptional contribution to their ongoing Singles Club series publicly available. As for music videos, any day PUP releases something, it’s going to be a notable day- and their demolition derby-centric clip for “Mabu” kept them in the conversation for “band with the best music videos”. Eugene Quell also released a charming, low-key video for A Great Uselessness highlight “Alta Loma“. In addition to all of that, recent Watch This act Little Big League unveiled the latest look at their upcoming record, Tropical Jinx; “Property Line”.

Following the easygoing basement pop of the title track, “Property Line” finds the band digging a little bit deeper and unearthing something spectacular. There’s a sense of unease on display throughout “Property Lines” that ultimately gets outweighed by the song’s underlying determination, making it an unexpected spiritual companion to All Dogs’ “Say“. As if that dynamic wasn’t enough, the song showcases the band’s creative growth in each members’ various roles. Everything from the composition to the lyricism is sharper than anything Little Big League’s produced to date (which shouldn’t detract from an immensely impressive body of work), rendering the expectations for Tropical Jinx a few levels above where they previously were. When the cathartic brass-assisted climax kicks in, one thing becomes abundantly clear; Little Big League have officially arrived. “Property Line” is a career-best from an emerging band that’s still young enough to improve- though it’ll be difficult to top something as sublime as this.

Listen to “Property Line” below and pre-order Tropical Jinx from Run For Cover Records here.

Sonic Avenues – Bored With Love (Stream)


Sonic Avenues released a masterwork back in 2010 with their debut full-length, which is why it went out of print- which, in turn, is why Dead Broke Rekerds is reissuing it with two bonus tracks. One of these tracks is “Bored With Love”, a song originally intended for a split with Steve Adamyk Band (the bands share members). It would have been the title of that split but, due to unnamed complications, the release never saw the light of day. Sonic Avenues and Dead Broke are now amending this by offering it as one of two bonus tracks on the reissue.

“Bored With Love” is a gem of a song, highlighting seemingly all of the band’s best qualities through it’s manic, near-perfect two minutes and 39 seconds. Not unlike their fellow Canadians in Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs, Sonic Avenues excelled at meshing the best elements across a variety of genres- most notably outsider pop and basement punk- into something distinctly unique and outrageously fun. All of that’s exemplified by “Bored With Love” which is probably worth the price of the reissue on its own. With songs as good as this one, it’s a wonder it took four years for this LP to go back to press but it did go back to press and is currently available as a pre-order. Don’t let it disappear without grabbing a copy, who knows when it’ll be available again.

Listen to “Bored With Love” below, pre-order the record from Dead Broke, and read more about the song over at New Noise Magazine.

Pretty Pretty – Leather Weather (Stream)

Pretty Pretty XI

Pretty Pretty has been a name that’s appearing with greater frequency in the “bands to follow” conversation. Apart from their blistering 2012 demo, the band hasn’t released any music. That’s changing soon with the release of their upcoming Leather Weather 7″. From the early sounds of it- and from the way the band’s been playing live– their band’s not going anywhere soon. They’ve upped their fidelity and tightened up their songcraft, as a result their music feels more vibrantly alive than sterile. “Leather Weather” was an easy highlight from their recent set with Swearin’ and the recorded version holds up. All sunny melodies and hard-charging punk-tinged powerpop, the song’s sharp teeth show through its disarming smile. A guitar solo cuts its way into the mix at around the halfway point and reinvigorates the whole thing just as it should be getting old. Following that, the song’s explosive second half indulges in spoken overdubs, a primal bridge, and general fierceness. By the time it plays itself out, the song feels vital enough to make this a must-buy release whenever Mandible and Let’s Pretend deem it fit for release. Keep both eyes peeled for that one- until then just play the title track as many times as possible (and revisit their demo for maximum enjoyment).

“Leather Weather” can be heard below.

PAWS – Tongues (Stream)

PAWS - Tongues

PAWS’ Cokefloat! was a record that helped make 2012 tolerable. Top-to-bottom, the Glasgow-based trio’s debut was laced with impressisve songwriting, an army of catchy-as-hell hooks, and pure musicianship. They’ve been touring hard since then, sneaking in a few new songs here and there to preview an upcoming record. They’ve finally allowed an official stream for a song off the upcoming record, Youth Culture Forever, and it sounds even more incredible than anyone was probably expecting. It’s called “Tongues” and continues in the same vein as much of Cokefloat!, only this time the band’s going bigger and getting really impressive results.

“Tongues” starts off with some power drumming that backs a deceptively melodic riff before they’re both consumed by a massive wall of sound that gives everything a solid punch. To top everything off, there’s an impressive piano line that sneaks its way into the mix and adds quite a bit by doing a little. Everything’s perfectly balanced and the song winds up being a masterclass in production value. While it only lasts two (admittedly thrilling and cathartic) minutes, it’s a clear indicator that the band’s not messing around with their sophomore effort and that Youth Culture Forever could be something special.

Listen to “Tongues” below and look out for the June 2nd release of Youth Culture Forever (that’s likely the album art up above).

Watch This: Vol. 11

Continuing with the welcome (and, frankly, much-needed) influx of notable live performances, the 11th installment of Watch This saw a fiercely contended battle for inclusion. There were well over 20 viable selections that could have been placed here, though none were more deserving than the five on display. Ranging from a stunningly raw, almost naked take from a solo artist responsible for one of February’s most anticipated records to a raucous run through of a staple from one of the best bands in existence, this round of Watch This absolutely lives up to the series’ title.

1. Angel Olsen – Enemy (La Blogotheque)

Burn Your Fire for No Witness already seems to be shaping up into one of the first legitimate early contenders for an album of the year end-run while also boasting one of the most graceful album titles in recent memory. La Blogotheque has only elevated the anticipation for the record’s release with this powerful clip of what appears to be the record’s centerpiece. “Enemy” is a delicate and nuanced song to begin with- but all of its best qualities become almost unbearably perfect by virtue of the caring cinematography that mirrors the quiet, tragic tension of the song. This is the kind of soul-baring performance that those who were fortunate enough to be present are likely never going to forget.

2. Fucked Up – Magic Word (Live at 285 Kent)

285 Kent was never going to be sustainable, that was part of its appeal. Still, it’s tough to lose something like that so shortly after losing Maxwell’s. That said, fond farewells often call for the most memorable parties. To that end, 285 Kent delivered in full. One of the acts to play the venues final show were Canadian hardcore icons Fucked Up.  Pitchfork was on hand to capture the band ripping through “Magic Word” from 2008’s polaris-winning The Chemistry of Common Life, one of 2008’s best records. This is another instance of something that’s not likely to be forgotten by the people fortunate enough to have found themselves shoulder-to-shoulder on what many came to consider hallowed ground. For everyone else, there’s always this video to live vicariously through.

3. Tenement – Rock Eating People (Live at Cactus Club)

Another week, another instance of a video that, given recent events, was always going to be posted in this installment. Simply put, Tenement may very well be the best band on the planet right now.  Their recorded output and live shows have consistently ranked among the finest anyone could hope to come across and they’re (impossibly) getting better as they go. That little moment at around 2:12? Chills. Every time. Even if this hadn’t been the covered show last week, the video would’ve been included for both that moment and the insane tambourine freakout that happens shortly after. Seriously, best band. A sincere thanks to Don Giovanni for being on hand to film this.

4.  Night Sun – Baby Baby (Jam in the Van)

Curtis Harding has been hyped beyond belief by Burger Records over the past few months and the series Harding did for Jam in the Van (both with Night Sun and as a solo act) completely justifies their faith. Of the three tracks the session offers up, “Baby Baby” may be the finest. A soul-driven throwback R&B number, everything falls completely into place to create something special. From the pitch-perfect harmonies to the reverb-ed out effects, an entire era of music isn’t so much evoked as it is genuinely resurrected. “Baby Baby” feels both of the time and like a lost relic, proving, as Burger’s been saying all along, Curtis Harding is a name to watch out for.

5. Grass House – Faun (POPnews and Citazine)

Only half a year ago, this band was rattling the walls of London’s Hoxton Square Pub & Grill as a part of the East End Live festival. Since then, the band released one of the best songs of 2013 and an excellent LP, A Sun Full and Drowning, shortly after. Their showcase set at that festival was a thing of beauty, eccentric and ear-shattering in all the right places. Here, though, the band goes acoustic for an inspired take on “Faun” that finds them winding up with characteristically stunning results. It’s nearly impossible to pin this band down, so, as is sometimes the case, it’s best to just sit back and listen attentively. One of the most intriguing UK acts going right now and definitely one to watch closely.

Screaming Females at Cactus Club – 1/29/14 (Live Review)

Between Dinny Bulca, Tenement, Rio Turbo, and Screaming Females last night and Perfect Pussy exactly a week prior, next Wednesday has a lot to live up to. First off, in regards to last night’s show; what a bill. The pairing of Tenement and Screaming Females has always made sense. That’s now just one of life’s facts. From the very first time they played together at the dearly-missed BFG (Tenement’s old Appleton stomping grounds and now-defunct house venue) all the way through to their most recent split 7″ and Don Giovanni tour, they’ve played off each other to great effect and continue to do so. Bringing up-and-comers Dinny Bulca into the mix as local support was a smart move as their excellent 2013 record Ladies and Gentleman matches up nicely with what both Tenement and Screaming Females are doing musically. Adding the electro-heavy glam-sleaze act Rio Turbo into the lineup was a bit of a puzzler but it’s sometimes nice to have a wildcard just to keep the risk of things becoming stagnant out of reach.

Dinny Bulca played first and managed to make a few converts with consistently high energy paired with well-informed songwriting. It’s fairly clear that the band’s found a way to establish an early identity by incorporating multiple influences without letting any particular one overpower another. There’s still a decent amount of room to grow for Dinny Bulca but it’ll be entertaining as hell to watch them progress. They’ve also got the added benefit of a secret weapon; Scott Cary’s voice. It’s a voice that channels everything from classic rockabilly to early 90’s emo and hardcore while sounding positively at home in the blitz-punk trappings of their music. That element alone may have the strength to open up a variety of doors for them. It’ll just be a matter of time before their name starts coming up in local conversation a little more frequently.

After Dinny Bulca wrapped their set, it was Tenement‘s turn to set up. Tenement’s been exhaustively covered in this site and will continue to receive a large amount of attention and dedication because they’re one of the bands that gets everything right. They’re part of a very small elite class of musicians that deserve to be considered one of the very best and they’ve consistently proven that over the past eight years. Last night was no different. Their set easily lived up to the band’s reputation as one of the most compelling live acts while somehow furthering their growing mystique and identity. Ripping through established classics like “Messy Endings (in Middle America)”, “Lost Love Star Lust”, and a surprisingly tense and gripping tambourine freakout sequence in “Rock Eating People” saw the band firing on all cylinders early, despite lacking some of the low-end in their mix. It was the second half (as the sound steadily improved) that served as the strongest reminder of Tenement and their increasingly distinct aesthetic.

From particular fiery renditions of “Violent Outlet” and “Spit in the Wind” to an absolutely on the mark run through “Dreaming Out Loud”, it was one of the band’s more impressive discography-spanning sets. Easily the best moment of the night (and the moment that reminded everyone this band is far from done) came during a new song that came to a quiet lull at its mid-section to allow Pitsch to rummage through his suitcase of random items (it was the same place he’d pulled the tambourine out of earlier) only to transfix everyone by emerging with a set of handbells. As the rhythm section quietly prodded him on, he carefully arranged groupings for each hand and, kneeling in front of the microphone, finally raised his hands to provide a moment of inexplicably eerie ambient noise that was full of the exact kind of strange energy that differentiates Tenement from most of their peers and makes them one of the most interesting bands on their circuit. It was the definitive moment of a set that absolutely justified the growing public interest (finally) surrounding them.

When Tenement had finished, it was Rio Turbo‘s turn up. There’s not really much to say about Rio Turbo without breaking it down as basically as possible; Rio Turbo is a band that seemingly consists of five members. One pushes a button to trigger a track, one sings along with the track, it seems the only purpose of the other three is to dance provocatively and lip-sync along with the sleazy glam-pop that oozes out of the speakers. There are three males and two females and all seem to project genuinely apathetic fronts so it’s difficult to get a read on whether or not they genuinely enjoy what they’re doing. If they do, more power to them, if they don’t then the act can be perceived as an interesting satire. Either way, there’s value for people that are interested in those two niche markets. They went through the motions of a six song set and definitely provided a few talking points among the growing crowd that was amassing for Screaming Females.

Screaming Females finally took to the Cactus Club stage and immediately sent the crowd into waves of excitement by virtue of Marissa Paternoster’s fretwork heroics. One of the two things that the New Brunswick band is most revered for (the other being her monster of a voice that can flip from winsome and sweet to a larynx-shredding scream on a dime). Having watched their stature (and amp sizes) grow over the past six or seven years has been an absolute pleasure and from the first notes onward, watching the crowd being whipped into an escalating frenzy was a gratifying experience. There are some bands whose talent is so raw and undeniable, that it’s impossible to not want them to succeed. Screaming Females have been one of those bands since their earliest recordings and to see them march through a set just as explosive as the one they played only a few short months back (again, alongside Tenement) in Madison at The Frequency is as good of a sign as any to the fact that they’re a band that will never dial a performance in. That said, it would’ve been easy to construe last night’s set as a sort of practice run for the band’s two-night Chicago stand at The Hideout (which will be recorded for a long-overdue official live release).

Their set at the Cactus Club was another great example of spreading a discography without providing too much emphasis on one particular record. This works especially well for a band as prolific as Screaming Females, as their are bound to be arguments over which of their five(!) LP’s is the best. For every two people screaming in support of the Steve Albini-produced double LP Ugly there may be three or four shouting the virtues of Power Move or Castle Talk (or vice versa). That said, there are a growing number of people who are there primarily to see Paternoster scorch her fretboard which is an element of music that seems to come natural to her and even energize her. There are several moments during a Screaming Females set where she will wield her wood-finish G&L like it’s a firearm, controlling it so completely that it’s frightening.

There are others where it seems to escape her, leaving her to writhe on the ground or come close to tripping herself over. All of which are elements that make Screaming Females a can’t-miss live act, especially when they’re an added bonus of an extraordinarily strong discography. Paternoster’s fiery stage persona is emphasized by the fact that Screaming Females’ rhythm section is as grounded as it is. While certainly not workmanlike to the point of boredom, bassist Jarrett Dougherty and drummer King Mike strike an appropriate balance between stoic and involved throughout their performances that keeps them visible when they’d otherwise be in danger of receding to the background. Helping matters is that they’re both immensely talented players who are capable of providing small moments as memorable as Paternoster’s large-scale performance.

Last time the band played Wisconsin, the highlights from their set were a new song that’s currently titled “Let Me In”, which is among the best they’ve ever written, and Power Move single “Bell”. Both were absent from their set last night in Milwaukee but were entirely made up for by ferocious versions of a pair of Ugly tracks; the propulsive “Expire” and the absolutely massive “Doom 84”. “Expire” appeared slightly retooled for a live setting, with an extended attention-snagging intro and a longer middle-section. Both additions were welcome, as Screaming Females have consistently conjured up bits of magic with their variations (and continue to do so). “Doom 84” has appeared towards the end of their sets for quite some time now- and for good reason. The song’s one of the longest, and boldest, in their catalog. At Cactus Club it was extended well past the ten minute mark, with the band growing more relentlessly passionate as the song progressed. Paternoster found herself teetering on the lip of the stage several times throughout, relying on the audience to keep her on the stage as she had her back to them, which they were more than happy to do.

When their set finally came to a close, there was no encore or indication that one would even be possible. They’d accomplished all they set out to do and the audience repaid their noticeable exhaustion in kind. People stuck around after, offered their admiration, respect, and thanks to each of the bands that had played. Old friends found each other for hugs, high-fives, and drinks. New friends were made. Everyone looked a different level of elated. There was no reason not to; it’s impossible to be upset at a night of memorable performances. Dinny Bulca showed promise, Rio Turbo proved intriguing, and both Tenement and Screaming Females delivered two blistering sets that further solidified their respective statuses as two of the very best bands currently going. Dinny Bulca and Rio Turbo will undoubtedly be making a few appearances in Milwaukee throughout these next few months. Tenement will be leaving for a tour out to New York where they’ll be playing alongside Screaming Females once more as a part of the Don Giovannni showcase. Screaming Females, as mentioned earlier, will be providing some lucky Chicago audience members with the experience of a lifetime as they take to The Hideout for a two-night stand to record a live record that’s worth being very, very excited about. As this show proved, once again, it’ll be memorable. Don’t miss it, Chicago.