Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: psych punk

Three Quarters Down (Mixtape)

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: First off, to get this out of the way at the top, there will be no Watch This today. It’s absence will be made up with a unique 50th post next Sunday.]

We recently hit another quarter mark in the year and this site just hit another fifty posts. A digital mixtape- Three Quarters Down– has been curated to celebrate both of these occasions. All 25 songs on display have managed to become favorites in the span of their (admittedly short) existence. It didn’t matter where they came from- splits, records, singles, exclusives- if it was a great song that came out over the course of the past three months, it wound up on the list. However, there are a handful of others that were excluded by virtue of not appearing in Soundcloud’s public library- those will likely get their due in December both here and elsewhere. In the meantime, revisit some of the best songs that led us straight into fall by listening to the mix below.

Beneath the 8tracks player is the original listing of the songs in this collection. Enjoy.

1. Mitski – Townie
2. Two Inch Astronaut – Foulbrood
3. LVL UP – DBTS
4. Little Big League – Tropical Jinx
5. The History of Apple Pie – Jamais Vu
6. Menace Beach – Come On Give Up
7. Thalassocracy – Shimensoka
8. Cellphone – Human Rights
9. Ovlov – Ohmu Shell
10. Mumblr – Sober
11. Trust Fund – Reading The Wrappers
12. Girlpool – Jane
13. Night School – Casiotone
14. Happy Diving – Sad Planet
15. Dilly Dally – Green
16. Washer – Rot
17. Speedy Ortiz – Bigger Party
18. The Midwest Beat – Vortex Hole
19. Bass Drum of Death – For Blood
20. Mannequin Pussy – Sheet City
21. Pity Sex – Acid Reflex
22. Mogwai – Teenage Exorcists
23. Nothing – July The Fourth
24. Dark Blue – Here On My Street
25. Crimson Wave – Say

Screaming Females – Wishing Well (Stream)

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Even with recent Monday’s bringing a lot of great new content into the world, today was exceptionally gigantic. Everything that appears in a hyperlink is worth clicking over to experience and choosing what to feature was insanely difficult. Enough with the exposition, though, because there’s a lot to mention- which is why each of these categories will be provided with their own paragraph (starting with this very one). In the world of full streams, NPR’s First Listen series presented Meattbodies’ self-titeld stomper, New Noise Magazine put up a full stream of Heart Attack Man’s excellent Acid Rain EP, Stereogum hosted the first stream of Greylag’s enchanting self-titled debut, and Dark Thoughts posted the blistering (and damn near perfect) ripper of an EP, Four Songs, on their own.

Over in the territory of single song streams, Radical Dads posted the remarkably compelling “Cassette Brain“, Popstrangers continued to excel with a Mack Morrison cover, post-hardcore supergroup Vanishing Life lived up to their promise (and then some) with the vicious “People Running“, The Mantles raised the anticipation for their forthcoming Memory with its jumpy title track, there was the deliriously riffed-out “Mortality Jam” that came courtesy of Hound, another extremely promising look at Night School‘s upcoming EP (following the outstanding “Birthday“), Wilful Boys’ snarling rager “Anybody There“,  the pulverizing new synth’ed out post-everything track “10,000 Summers” from the incredibly unlikely group of people that make up No Devotion, and an absolutely breathtaking song from Infinity Crush called “Heaven” that easily ranks among the most gorgeous pieces of music to be released this year (and very nearly took today’s feature spot).

Jumping to the realms of the more visually-inclined medium, things were just as tantalizing with no less than seven music videos worth watching. Greys crafted a creatively animated and hard-hitting skate-heavy clip for If Anything bruiser “Adderall“, Lushes hit a sweet spot with their repetition in “Traffic“, Obits used minimalism to a sizable effect in the low-key clip for “Machines“, newcomer Pix made a splash with a subtly haunting accompaniment for the stunning “A Way To Say Goodbye“, The Wooden Sky raised their profile with a fascinating short film to back “Saturday Night“, site favorites Radiator Hospital premiered a lovely DIY clip for “Bedtime Stories (Reprise)” over at Rookie, and Martha more than lived up to all of their praise with the unabashedly joyous video for “Present, Tense” (another entry that came dangerously close to being today’s feature).

Even with all of that formidable competition nipping at its heels, Screaming Females‘ “Wishing Well” managed to be a clear-cut standout. Boasting one of the most massive choruses the band’s ever had, some of the lightest verses they’ve ever conjured up, and an overwhelmingly sunny melody, it’s impossible to ignore. “Wishing Well”, by all accounts, is an absolute monster of a track and lays waste to the poppiest territory they’ve ever tread. Guitarist and vocalist Marissa Paternoster keeps herself in check, showing surprising restraint and a vice-like grip on total command. It’s no secret that Screaming Females are one of the best live bands currently playing shows- and it’s not even remotely surprising that “Wishing Well” has become both a fan favorite and an undeniable staple of their live set.

As Paternoster noted in the brief segment that ran with the Rolling Stone premiere of “Wishing Well”, a lot of people will likely view this as a departure for the band- despite the fact their regular dynamics are still in tact. Sure, it’s more melodic than anything they’ve done in the past but it’s also unmistakably Screaming Females, definitively proving the group’s unique identity. In terms of aggression, “Wishing Well” skews closer to Paternoster’s Noun project and acts as an exhilarating bridge between both vehicles, suspended by pure determination and innate talent. “Wishing Well” is easily one of 2014’s most thrilling songs and comes backed with what may very well be the band’s personal best- “Let Me In” (another fan favorite and live staple)- rendering this 7″ nothing short of an event.

Listen to “Wishing Well” below and make sure to pick up the 7″ it headlines directly from the band on one of their upcoming tour dates or pre-order it from iTunes.

Iceage – Against the Moon (Stream)

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There are days where it can be difficult to scrounge up enough great new releases to warrant an introductory paragraph round-up and there are days that are so generously overflowing with great material it’s nearly impossible to figure out what to feature. Today fell squarely to the latter. There were no less than four outstanding releases in each of the major categories: single stream, music video, and full stream. Cool Ghouls’ psych-laced basement pop rager “And It Grows” gave some new promise to the upcoming record. Mean Creek‘s Chris Keene unveiled the most recent look at his Dream Generation project with the sparse “The Four of Us” and September Girls teased their upcoming EP with the snarling “Veneer“. Veronica Falls‘ James Hoare and Mazes‘ Jack Cooper started a new project called Ultimate Painting, who instantly turned some heads with the carefree open-road ramblings of “Ten Street“.

Over in the realms of the music video, Grubs, Frankie Teardrop (warning: heavy strobes), and Cloud Nothings all released clips defined by lo-fi experementalism while Snævar Njáll Albertsson’s Dad Rocks! project dipped its toes into a gorgeously-lensed narrative involving a heavy existentialist crisis with “In the Seine”. In the space occupied by full streams, Dark Blue offered up their heavy-hitting Album of the Year contender Pure Reality and Tomorrows Tulips did the same for their career-best effort, When. Ex-Breathers made all 12 tracks (and 11 minutes) of their vicious upcoming 7″, ExBx, available for the world to hear, while Zola Jesus occupied similarly dark but incrementally softer territory with her upcoming effort, Taiga. A Winged Victory For The Sullen rounded out the full streams with another ambient near-masterpiece titled Atomos. Of course, there was one another full stream- but the link is being withheld until it’s accompanied by a forthcoming review. In the meantime, today’s focus will be on the song that defines that record: “Against the Moon”.

In an effort not to mince words, one thing should be noted before going any further- namely that Plowing Into The Field of Love is a masterpiece. No record this year has seen a more stunning creative growth or felt more important than Iceage’s new behemoth. Only three records into their still-young career and they’ve already emerged with a full-length that not only operates as a radical left turn but one that rivals anything from the creative rebirth of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (or, the Let Love In era). Iceage’s first two records, New Brigade and You’re Nothing, were menacing works that a few people chalked up to exhilarating exercises in intimidation. On Plowing Into The Field Of Love the band relents from that approach and serves a hyper-literate Southern Gothic-indebted masterwork that sees them flexing boldly experimental muscle and an untapped well of what now appears to be endless ambition. No song on Plowing Into The Field of Love illustrates this more than the slow-burning “Against the Moon”, a song that’s well out of the confines of anything the band’s ever done but still feels wholly suited to their identity.

Opening with the quasi-mournful strains of a brass section, it quickly undercuts its brief introduction with shuffling drums and the sustained hums of a chord organ. In those opening 15 seconds, the band manages to establish an astounding grasp on a style that was previously completely foreign to them. By the time the string and piano arrangements kick “Against the Moon” up a few levels into the breathtakingly sublime, it’s one of the bravest things any band this year’s committed to a studio recording. As instrumentally thrilling as “Against the Moon” is, it’s the startling emergence of vocalist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s vulnerability that shifts the song from the sublime to the transcendental. For the first time, Rønnenfelt’s lyrics and vocals are given a platform that demands the listener’s unwavering attention and that level of investment is paid off in full. From the song’s arresting opening stanza, enhanced by Rønnenfelt’s world-weary drawl, it’s clear that his personal transition directly correlates with what the band’s accomplished in terms of musicality. “On a pedestal, shining bright. Justify me. Make me right. I can fight it; make it roam- but a fugitive has a tendency to return home.” is the kind of opening line that suggests a genuinely great writer- that the rest of Iceage seems to have embraced and experienced the same level of maturity and rapid artistic growth as Rønnenfelt in the short year that’s followed You’re Nothing is nothing short of mind-bending.

A song that literally arrives with horns, “Against the Moon” stands as Iceage’s definitive entry into the band’s sudden new era, the strongest representation of Plowing Into The Field Of Love‘s myriad of sudden changes, and one of the most immediately striking songs to emerge from the past 4 years. Stripped back far enough to be completely exposed, Iceage shows the world all of its scars, all of its imperfections, and all of its entire being- and it’s a tremendous thing to experience. Even considering all of their previous sonic aggression, nothing they’ve ever produced has hit with a fiercer impact. For a band that’s aim has always been to wound, it’s a devastating reverse that leaves them sounding wounded- but bravely resilient. It’s extraordinarily effective and unflinchingly courageous. Most importantly, “Against the Moon” is the crown jewel of what deserves be regarded as one of this decade’s most important records. Make sure to give this the attention it deserves.

Listen to “Against the Moon” below, pre-order Plowing Into The Field Of Love from Matador here, and keep an eye on this site for a full review at some point in the coming week.

Mutts – Everyone is Everyone (Lyric Video)

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Noisy blues-punk trio Mutts have had a very peculiar career trajectory. Building up a healthy amount of support in their hometown of Chicago while winning over countless others on the back of a relentless tour schedule, they’ve become another reason to celebrate the Midwest. Releasing a full-length a year since 2011’s Pray for Rain, they’ve managed to sustain an astoundingly prolific pace without losing any of their impact or hindering a natural musical progression. As a result, their last effort- 2013’s Object Permanence– wound up being their strongest (and bravest) release to date. A lot of Mutts’ recent material has hinged on pianist/vocalist Mike Maimone’s decision to come out, rendering a lot of the band’s lyrics devastatingly intimate and intensely personal. While their upcoming Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 may shy away from the early Tom Waits lounge-stylings of Object Permanence, the lyrical (and musical) aggression of the band’s earlier works are given a fierce emphasis.

That retained fierceness is probably most evident on the ragged, confrontational “Everyone Is Everyone”, which features Maimone tearing into the politics of equality and derogatory terminology with everything in his arsenal. As always, the rhythm section of Bob Buckstaff and Chris Pagnani prove that they’re one of the more formidable tandems in music. While it’s not a surprise that “Everyone Is Everyone” is a monstrous slice of revved-up blues-indebted noise-punk, what is interesting to note is the psychedelic strain that courses through the song’s veins. It’s a particular influence that’s been ingrained into the Mutts’ DNA for some time but this is the first time that it’s been displayed so prominently. That psychedelic influence helps define Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 and is an incredibly natural fit for the band, who will be self-releasing that record on December 9- and they’ll be having a Gapers Block-presented party a few days beforehand to celebrate the release. Before all of that madness kicks in, though, it’s well worth taking a few moments to give some attention to the brilliantly designed lyric video for “Everyone Is Everyone”- a video that definitively showcases Mutts as a band unafraid to say what’s on their mind, in as powerful of a way as they possibly can.

Watch “Everyone Is Everyone” below and be sure to pre-order Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 from Mutts’ bandcamp.

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>

Medicine – Move Along – Down the Road (Stream)

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Another day, another string of great releases to cover before moving on to the day’s main event. Among them: a full stream of the sublime split 12″ from Joanna Gruesome and Trust Fund,  a full stream of Terry Malts’ hard-charging Insides EP, and a characteristically incendiary performance from White Lung that also doubles as the official video for Deep Fantasy highlight “I Believe You“. Even with all of those being more than worthy of their own individual features, there was one song that surfaced today which managed to make a surprisingly large impression: Medicine’s “Move Along – Down the Road”.

Ever since Medicine’s surprise comeback record last year, To the Happy Few, they’ve been forcing their audience to re-adjust their expectations. Not that this is a bad thing; they’ve blown nearly all of those expectations out of the water. That trend looks like it’ll continue with their upcoming record Home Everywhere. After the multi-color swirl of lead-off single “Turning” suggested the band might be indulging their more psychedelic impulses, their most recent look at Home Everywhere confirms that with an even greater authority. “Move Along – Down the Road” is a near-claustrophobic cacophony that plays like a pissed-off, alternate world version of Andorra-era Caribou. In short: it’s a thrilling, fascinating, whirlwind of a song that hints towards Home Everywhere becoming one of 2014’s most widely celebrated releases. Medicine seems to be emphasizing their more cinematic sensibilities this time around and it suits their left-field shoegaze to tailored perfection.

Listen to “Move Along – Down the Road” below and pre-order Home Everywhere from iTunes here (all pre-orders will including the accompanying soundtrack to shoegaze documentary “Beautiful Noise“).

Follies – I Make Sense (Stream)

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Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of great content to be unveiled. This is including, but certainly not limited to, a great new Dead Soft video “Everything”, a stream of a new Parlour track for an upcoming compilation from the always-outstanding Marshall Teller imprint, a look at the upcoming album from the deservedly legendary Blonde Redhead, and a new stream from Big Mess (courtesy of Allston Pudding). There was a great new self-titled EP released by Crossed Wires, a first look at Trust Fund‘s side of their impending split with Joanna Gruesome, a new song from Colleen Green, and an engaging music video from The History of Apple Pie.

Now, 2014’s already seen a treasure trove of genuinely great releases bearing the Double Double Whammy stamp and they’re adding to that already enviable streak with an impending split between Wishbone and Follies. The latter of those two bands has raised anticipation for this release considerably by offering a glimpse at their side by offering a stream of the damaged, feverish “I Make Sense”. It barely eclipses three minutes but packs so much raw lo-fi weirdness into them that it’s difficult to gauge the run time at all.

Changing at the drop of a dime, there’s a myriad of fascinating influences all gnawing at each other in the forefront of “I Make Sense”, rendering it a winsome mess that’s utterly entrancing. Whether it’s outsider pop through a psych lens or a new breed of shoegaze-influenced post-punk or just an unfiltered version of Phil Hartunian’s personality (he’s the driving voice behind the Follies project), “I Make Sense” still stands as a gripping piece of music that, like all of the best art, is impossible to completely define. There are very few songs that have been released in the past month to be this courageously weird- or this unrelentingly hypnotic.

Stream “I Make Sense” below and make sure to pre-order the split from Follies’ bandcamp.

Kindling – Sunspots (Stream)

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Towards the end of last month, Easthampton duo Kindling set about releasing one of the best unheralded 7″s of the year so far with Spike & WaveThe duo, made up of Stephen Pierce and Gretchen Williams, leans heavily on shoegaze while not completely abandoning fuzzy outsider pop, in a vein not too dissimilar from site favorites Joanna Gruesome. Spike & Wave is limited to 300 copies on lavender vinyl, courtesy of Moon Sounds Records, and- because of songs like “Sunspots”- it’s worth snagging a copy before they’re gone.

All four songs on Spike & Wave are extraordinary in their own right but it’s the second track that defines the release. “Sunspots” has all of the requisite heaviness, tension, and swirling dream-like unease that characterizes the best shoegaze, while fully embracing a near-twee pop sensibility which they manage to keep grounding. Reverb cloaks the majority of the instrumentation, granting it a blown-out and completely wide-open feel that’s as welcoming as it is daunting. Totaling a mere two minutes and 25 seconds, it’s a masterstroke of genre craftsmanship and announces Kindling as an act to watch out for.

Listen to “Sunspots” below and pick up a copy of Spike & Wave from Moon Sounds Records here.

Songs in Screens: A Look Back (Music Video Mixtape)

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We’ve hit the approximate 2/3’s mark of the year 2014 and this very post is the 250th to run on this site. Over the course of its duration Heartbreaking Bravery has included a fairly strong emphasis on the music video and this year’s offerings made that commitment a complete non-issue by virtue of their excellence. Songs in Screens: A Look Back is a visual-based “mixtape” and serves as a reminder of a lot of the videos that earned acclaimed here- and a few that, whether due to time or an overabundance of other predetermined material, were egregiously overlooked. For all of the videos that have been featured, there will be a hyperlink leading to their respective write-ups. Those that didn’t receive a write-up will get a very brief one below the mix itself. All of these videos came out in 2014 and made an impression- and they all deserve to be remembered. Let’s give them the recognition that they deserve.

1. Perfect Pussy – I
2. Bleeding Rainbow – Images
3. Creepoid – Baptism

4. Thee Oh Sees – Drop

While Thee Oh Sees’ “The Lens” did land itself a nice write-up, “Drop” was unfairly pushed to the side during its release. Arguably the better of the two videos (and songs), it gets the most out of its constantly evolving, simplistically animated black-and-white presentation and felt like a more appropriate inclusion for this list.

5. together PANGEA – Offer
6. Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead
7. Potty Mouth – Black & Studs
8. Dead Stars – Summer Bummer

9. The Coasts – I Just Wanna Be A Star

It’s almost cruel that both this song and this video were overlooked due to festival coverage. Both are either perfect or near-perfect and embody just about everything this site loves most. “I Just Wanna Be A Star” is a joyous celebration on record and the video gets one hell of a performance out of its unlikely lead. Make sure to not skip this one.

10. PUP – Guilt Trip

11. Anna Calvi & David Byrne – Strange Weather

This spot was always intended to feature an anomaly- an act or style that doesn’t regularly earn a feature spot on this site. clipping. came a hair’s breadth away from claiming it with their mercilessly arresting video for “Work Work” but Anna Calvi & David Byrne made something so staggeringly beautiful and emotive with their video for their “Strange Weather” cover that it would’ve been criminal to ignore it. No video this year had cinematography this stunning- or a mood this anxious. A genuine work of art.

12. Beverly – Honey Do
13. Mean Creek – My Madeline
14. Fucked Up – Sun Glass
15. Mozes & the Firstborn – Bloodsucker
16. Tweens – Forever
17. PAWS – Owls Talons Clenching My Heart
18. Iceage – The Lord’s Favorite
19. The So So Glos – Speakeasy
20. Marvelous Mark – Bite Me
21. Savages – Fuckers

22. Lower – Soft Option

No video from 2014 had this amount of unrelenting tension. From its bare-bones premise to the engaging execution, it’s something with the potential to be permanently embedded into the brain of anyone lucky enough to come across it.

23. Greys – Guy Picciotto

24. Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma 

At this point, it’s fairly evident that Here and Nowhere Else will stand as one of 2014’s best records. The video for “Psychic Trauma” comes as a welcome reminder of that fact and features some basic (albeit eye-catching) visual effects. That combination’s enough to land it a spot in this list.

25. White Lung – In Your Home

Of all the 2014 music videos to be released so far, very few approach the levels of insanity attained by White Lung’s fiery “In Your Home”. Mixing a lot of the items featured prominently throughout this list (unexpected psychedelic imagery, contained animation, and the black-and-white aesthetic, especially) with something that’s uniquely their own, “In Your Home” stands tall as a testament to the fact that being weird is way more fun than being standard. And it offers up a perfect wrap for this mix. Roll credits.