Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Premiere

Tosser – Swimming (Song Premiere)

Late last year, Washington DC project Tosser made some serious waves in the DIY punk community with a scintillating self-titled EP. Roughly half a year later, the project’s seeking to capitalize on that momentum with Lures, which looks to be another incendiary burst of basement pop. “Swimming”, an instantly galvanizing first look at Lures, has more than enough power to ensnare some expanding attention and is premiering below.

Tilting into shoegaze pop territory, “Swimming” still retains the pop bite that helped make Tosser so memorable. The vocals operate like world-weary sighs, contemplating some dispiriting truths as the narrative grapples with various subsets of the ennui of young adulthood. Some sublime guitar work and a driving rhythm section protect “Swimming” from tipping into sheer misery, offsetting the whole affair in a way that actually elicits some excitement. It’s a pyrotechnic showcase of Tosser’s control over craft and delivers as much immediacy as it does memorability, which is a key distinction.

A bed of landmines, “Swimming” constantly leans into the dirt, ensuring as many explosive moments as possible. Even in all of its urgency, the project finds a way to project some beauty, valuing the damage with the knowledge it’s part of what makes life worth living. There’s some tension, there’s a lot of release, but most of all there’s a great song that should manage to put people on notice. Tosser’s not here to mess around and Lures has a lead-off track to make that title seem apt.

Listen to “Swimming” below and pre-order Lures here.

Wheelbarrel – Feast On Sand (EP Premiere)

The third piece (and second premiere) of sprawling, snarling post-punk to go up as a feature today, Wheelbarrel’s Feast On Sand may be the most unexpectedly brilliant of the lot. It’s a formidable and incredibly self-assured from a new Columbus, OH power trio and it packs enough power in its punch to leave just about anyone reeling. Opening with “Traced”, Wheelbarrel and Feast On Sand both get a memorable introduction, the song showcasing a lethal but surprisingly pensive strain of a sound that falls somewhere between Even Hand and Buildings.

From that point forward, the trio meticulously navigates a hybrid of post-punk, grunge, hardcore, basement pop, and a handful of other sub-genres while cultivating an uneasy atmosphere, bridging a melancholic sensibility with a carefully-repressed but still lurking anger. All of those elements of the band’s identity combine into something as mesmerizing as it is urgent. Each song breathing more depth into Feast On Sand‘s display of life, adding potency to an unexpected reckoning.

“Sacred Things”, the EP’s penultimate offering, contains the most haunted experiment of this quartet of tracks, marrying spoken word to a creeping minimalist that evokes the kind of hushed-breath dread typically found in arthouse horror films. When the song breaks from that pattern, it’s incredibly unnerving, the vocal delivery tilting from being mired in gloom to coy amusement to startling effect. It’s one of several great moments on Feast On Sand that suggests Wheelbarrel are going to have a strong shot at a visible future.

The EP ends on its title track, which expertly combines everything that’s come before it into a gripping victory lap that ably demonstrates not just Wheelbarrel’s arsenal but their identity. One EP in and it’s clear that Wheelbarrel already have a strong sense of themselves and a purpose to match, hitting stratospheric heights while keeping their attention fixated on the world’s dust and dirt. Modest, spellbinding, and brilliant, Feast On Sand stands as one of the strongest debuts of 2018’s first half. Dive in and explore.

Listen to Feast On Sand below and get a copy here.

sewingneedle – two three four (Song Premiere)


Photograph by Vanessa Valadez

Last week, sewingneedle unveiled the enigmatic music video for their excellent “feel good music” and today they’re following up that clip with the album opener of their forthcoming user error, “two three four”. The song exists in the same bleary vein as “feel good music”, finding ways to relentlessly attack from an extremely specific angle, as dark as it is energized, falling neatly in line with some of the finest acts on Exploding In Sound’s roster (Two Inch Astronaut, Kal Marks, Pile, etc).

“two three four” goes a long way in setting the tone for the band’s formidable user error, dropping the listener into a world of shadowy corners that give cover to lurking demons. The clean guitar tones add some enhancement to an already abrasive sensibility, allowing the moments of blistering distortion to gain even more magnitude. Half-open questions are cried out in nervous anticipation, directed at next to no one, the music surging underneath with the insistent counting tethering the entire affair back to the dreck of life’s monotony.

All of it congeals into a formidable piece of post-punk, elevated by its own commitment to noise. Intentionally ugly and undeniably compelling, “two three four” serves as a heavy reminder of the predetermined regulations we’re expected to navigate through our existence. It’s a song that has a lot on its mind and aptly conveys those thoughts using minimalist tactics in a clever twist, suggesting that operating outside of the lines can lead to memorably great results.

When the track races towards its finish, one thing does become abundantly clear among the songs frustrated uncertainty: sewingneedle are done existing in the background. This is a band that’s ready to make a statement by creating their own moment of reckoning. user error is that reckoning and “two three four” only hints at its astounding depths. While the record will arrive soon to address the curious in full, “two three four” is good company to keep. Leave it on repeat and let it play.

Listen to “two three four” below and pre-order user error here.

Surrounder – Hyper-Monotony (City Folk) (Music Video Premiere)

Last year, Surrounder released Surrpiounder, a record that helped the trio forge a name for themselves. They’ve been playing shows in support of that record since it’s release and word-of-mouth has been kind about their live capabilities, leading to an escalating interest in the band. This might be the simplest explanation for the band’s decision to put out Surrpiounder on cassette nearly a year after it’s release. If recent trends hold, it’ll mark a strong step forward for the band that capitalizes on their growing momentum.

Stoking the fires of anticipation for Surriounder‘s tape release is the music video for “Hyper-Monotony (City Folk)” which is premiering here. The clip finds the band front and center of a playful, board-game driven narrative that intentionally verges on the nonsensical as it explores the monotony of modern living. It’s a clever metaphor and an apt fit for the band, who frequently take a confrontational role as story-tellers alongside their wildly unpredictable music that touches on everything from post-rock to art-punk.

The game that the band plays in “Hyper Montony (City Folk)” may end with a push of a button that leads to some unexpected violence but it’s hard not to think that they’ve hit a switch of their own. The band’s surging towards greater (and well-deserved) recognition, thrusting validating offerings like “Hyper-Monotony (City Folk)” out in the blink of an eye. Poised, confident, and ready for their closeup, Surrounder’s a band to watch as they take meaningful steps towards making an incredible impact.

Watch “Hyper-Monotony (City Folk)” below and keep an eye on Surrounder’s bandcamp for the cassette release for Surrpiounder.

Tuxis Giant – Regan (Song Premiere)

A while back, the now-defunct soon-to-be-revived Watch This series featured a spellbinding acoustic performance from Tuxis Giant. A lot has happened between that moment and this one, including the preparation of the project’s forthcoming record Here Comes the Wolf and Tuxis Giant’s transition from solo project to full band. Embracing an ethereal slow-burn approach, Tuxis Giant offers up a hypnotic piece of music built on a bed of shuffling drums and winding guitars in “Regan”.

Over its five minute run-time, “Regan” takes several routes, tilting into post-rock, emo, folk, and post-punk on separate occasions, managing to weave together a comprehensive tapestry of their genre influences while carving out a distinct voice as a band. It’s an impressive work and — following the similarly excellent “Fiona” —  goes a long way in stoking anticipation for Here Comes the Wolf. It’s a fittingly hopeful start for the band’s next chapter as well as a potent reminder of guitarist/vocalist Matt O’Connor’s songwriting talents. Don’t let it go unheard and give Tuxis Giant the attention they deserve.

Listen to “Regan” below and pre-order Here Comes the Wolf here.

ahem – Sweet Tooth (Song Premiere)

Photography by Taylor Donskey

Last year, ahem had a coming out party with the exceptionally strong Just Wanna Be EP, ensuring their name would be firmly imprinted into the upper echelon of basement punk bands operating in the upper Midwest. The trio’s been playing shows in support of that release since it was unveiled and now have a new song to offer up, for a great cause. “Sweet Tooth” serves as the lead-off track for The Grey Estates’ forthcoming Sugar Rush Volume 2 compilation, which will see all proceeds going towards benefiting QORDS (Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer), an overnight camp that aims to empower and embolden queer and gender non-conforming youth through emphasizing the communal aspect of making music.

“Sweet Tooth” finds the band picking up right where they left off, firing on all cylinders and working thoughtful compositions into unbridled, immediate energy. Centering the narrative of “Sweet Tooth” on what could be a poetic allegory or could just be face-value fun, ahem give the song everything they’ve got, relentlessly upping its momentum even as it hurtles forward at breakneck pace. A snotty refrain, carefully balanced harmonies, and a bridge that stands as one of the best 28 second runs of music anyone’s likely to hear in a basement punk song all year, “Sweet Tooth” stands defiantly triumphant by the time it comes to its explosive, abrupt close.

The song is both a vital addition for what will undoubtedly be one of the year’s more meaningful releases and a potent reminder of ahem’s formidable strength (as well as an indicator of their growing confidence). It’s an embrace of an outsize, outsider identity and it’s a kick in the face of anything that dares stand in its way. While the running time of the track may be slight, its significance is not. “Sweet Tooth” is something worth celebrating; addictive, unashamed, and true to itself, the song’s an unlikely anthem for the displaced. Help the cause it’s supporting and give it the love it deserves.

Listen to “Sweet Tooth” below and pre-order Sugar Rush Volume 2 here.

Ben Seretan – My Lucky Stars (Music Video Premiere)

Over the years, Ben Seretan has meticulously and methodically developed a reputation that’s as strong as the songwriter’s composition. Affable, curious, and driven, Seretan’s mastered the art of balancing abrasive, sardonic wit with an open earnestness that ultimately winds up working in service of the music. Now, Seretan’s turned that handle on reality to the visual format for a pair of clips from last year’s outstanding Bowl of Plums.

Various Small Flames already ran a wonderful premiere piece for “I Like Your Size” and now this site has the honor of unveiling it’s partner piece, “My Lucky Stars”. Both clips find Seretan shamelessly shotgunning beers, laughing as the chaos unfolds in slow motion, undercutting the heavy emotional undercurrent of the songs with physical comedy. It paints an effective dichotomy that — as this tactic does when used best — elevates both angles (assisted in no small part by the direction of Stephen Straub), rendering what could have easily been construed as a throwaway in less capable hands into something far more lasting and profound.

Adding to the surprising complexity of both the song and the clip is the fact that it’s presented as a continuation of the first movement of “My Lucky Stars”, which appeared on Seretan’s extraordinary self-titled. Speaking to Seretan about the clip, the artist also touched on how song’s evolve in the face of an artist’s perception over time and had this to say:

For me, it’s part of a larger acceptance I’m trying to get to: absolutely everything changes and, in fact, is changing right before your eyes as you’re busy trying to remember it. And even something as solid as a pure, heartfelt song made with care from a place of beautiful intention fades and warps in the sun.

It’s a beautiful sentiment that has a firm basis in reality, speaking volumes to something that might be misconstrued as something that was purely done out of silliness. While comedy and whimsicality certainly play a factor in the clip for “My Lucky Stars”, like everything else Seretan’s released up to this point, there’s always meaning buried somewhere unexpected. Hit play, have a laugh, think about life, and come back for more.

Watch “My Lucky Stars” below and pick up Bowl of Plums here.

Sauna Accident – Mary Jane (Song Premiere)

A week or so into September and there’s already been a handful of exhilarating releases, several of them standing firmly as Album of the Year contenders. It can be easy to be swept up in the glitzy press blitzes assembled for those records and it can be even easier to overlook new music from bands with little to no name recognition while it’s happening. Fortunately, there are still a small handful of people out there who care more about the acts that are breaking than the ones being gifted massive roll-out packages.

One of the smaller bands in question is the duo Sauna Accident, who excel in crafting a sort of hyper-specific, intriguingly woozy brand of post-punk. Lo-fi and unapologetic, the project — which consists of Sophie Ballman and Daniel Hughes — has only released two songs prior to now. Thankfully, “Mary Jane” has arrived to push that song count a tick higher. Arriving in advance of their forthcoming EP, Run to the Log that’s Rotten, which is due out next Friday.

“Mary Jane” takes all of the most promising elements of the project’s opening tracks and watches them coalesce into something greater. Tenacious, foreboding, and a little insidious, “Mary Jane” makes each one of its three minutes and 22 seconds count. It’s a hard-hitting piece of minimalist post-punk that seemingly celebrates its own murkiness. Dark and decisive, the song paints a very promising picture of Sauna Accident’s future.

Listen to “Mary Jane” below and keep an eye on the duo’s bandcamp for further updates on Run to the Log that’s Rotten.

Young Jesus – Green (Music Video Premiere)

More than five years have passed since site favorites Young Jesus released Home, a breakthrough of sorts that turned a select few heads at the time of its release. Back then, the band was still calling Chicago home and there were only a few evident hints at the kind of experimentation that would inform their later work. Now based in Los Angeles, the band’s continuing to evolve in a way that’s both unassuming and fearless.

The band’s been taking creative risks lately and those risks have led to riveting material, whether in the form of the ambient tape that paired with a conceptual zine that they were selling on their last tour, the noise sections spliced into their live show, or the winding free-form songs like Void as Lob‘s “Hinges“. No matter what’s being put forth by Young Jesus, there are two unifying threads: an intensity that threatens to overtake everything and split the songs apart at the seams as well as an abundance of feeling to drive those moments.

Most impressively, the band’s maintained a career trajectory that’s essentially just been one ascending line since the turn of the decade and the first look at their forthcoming self-titled full-length doesn’t do anything to dissuade the notion that’ll continue in earnest. “Green” is among the sharpest single entries in their catalog and the music video — premiering below — they’ve crafted as its complement suggests the band’s finding new levels of conviction in both their craft and their identity.

Directed by Jordan Epstein and taking place in a single room, “Green” makes an impression through its attention to detail and commitment to conceptual approach. Each band member is given time center-frame, adorned with a variety of props (furniture, plants, and yarn are all among the featured items). Accentuating everything is the decision to shoot the video as a stop-motion piece and continue the band’s winning penchant for incorporating animation into their clips.

Where “Green” separates itself from the band’s already overflowing — and deeply impressive — discography (and videography) lies in ambition. While everything the band’s done since a little after forming has been uniformly impressive, the pulse that’s always driven Young Jesus at its core seems to be reaching a fever pitch, as if the band’s found itself and has no qualms about what they’re aiming to achieve.

There’s a handful of dichotomies at play that fuel “Green” even further, whether it be the emotional intensity paired with the tacit relaxation surrounding the narrative or the meticulously detailed production design they afforded to a simplistic concept. All of those elements work in tandem to create something that feels removed enough from everything else to feel intangible but accessible enough to feel extraordinary. It’s one of the more quietly compelling moments of the year and more than proves that, while the band’s existence may be nearing the decade mark, they’ve still got a lot left to say.

Watch “Green” below and pre-order Young Jesus here.

The Young Couples – Tarantula (Song Premiere)

Ian Proper’s been around for some time, making music strong enough to snag the interests of a deeply impressive rotating cast of backing musicians (including members of acts like Cherry Glazerr, Howlo, and Pleistocene) and utilizing them to great effect for his most recent project, The Young Couples. EP.01, the project’s first proper effort will be out in the world soon and Proper’s offering up a tantalizing preview in the form of the biting powerpop of “Tarantula”.

Hook-laden, smartly crafted, and executed with feeling, “Tarantula” teases and attacks in equal measure. Whether it’s a gorgeous but short-lived introduction segment or the lilting vocal melody of the song’s infectious bridge, “Tarantula” manages to provoke and ensnare attention. It’s a classically crafted genre piece that calls to mind genre forebears (Proper’s voice can occasionally eerily resemble an early-era Elvis Costello) and contemporaries alike.

In keeping with a time-honored tradition, “Tarantula” is a song that feels like it runs for half of its actual length because it’s so enjoyable in the moment. By the time it winds to a close, its absence is felt because of the warmth it exudes while its in rotation. From its opening seconds through its boldest production trick (a small but significant moment that arrives at roughly the three-quarters mark of the song), “Tarantula” remains captivating. It’s a welcome reminder that care can be put into songs that sound carefree and it deserves a whole host of new listeners.

Listen to “Tarantula” below and keep an eye on Dadstache for the record’s September 1 release here.