Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: rock n’ roll

Midnight Reruns – Ain’t Gonna Find (Stream)

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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.

LVL UP – Big Snow (Stream)

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What a day. There was no obvious choice for a feature until LVL UP’s “Big Snow” premiered over at Impose. On the surface, that’s a bland statement- but looking at the company that “Big Snow” joined today, it’s one hell of a testament to LVL UP.  In the single song department there were some legitimately great songs: Run The Jewels’ pulverizing new (Zach De La Rocha-featuring) scorcher “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)“, Dollface’s impossibly breezy indie pop gem “Churchyard“, Daddy Issues’ distortion-laden post-punk dirge “Ugly When I Cry“, and  a bracing new Crow Bait song- “Separate Stations“- that incorporates members of Iron Chic. There was also Dasher’s foreboding noise-punk minimalism piece, “Teeth“, as well as Vetter Kids’ “I’m Just Your Newest Bluest” which is a perfect representation of the band’s modernist take on classic 90’s emo and noise-punk. “A Million Random Digits” proved that …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are far from being done while Wedding Dress’ “Somewhere Darker” makes it clear that Wedding Dress are anxious to make their introduction to the world.

Cellphone also posited themselves as a band ready to make a notable entrance with an enticing and mysterious trailer to promote their upcoming Excellent Condition. Denmark’s Mimas returned to the fold in a big way with the characteristically impressive live-edit clip for “Kissinger’s Jaw” (fans of Exploding in Sound who aren’t well-versed in Big Scary Monsters would do well to take note of this one) and Tangerine released a delightful video for another indie-pop keeper, “You’ll Always Be Lonely”. Ex Hex got in on the action as well, releasing a knockout video for Rips highlight (one of many) “Waterfall“. For full streams there were stunners from The Grayces, Thurston Moore, and a mildly insane (and wildly heavy) split between Big Neck Police and Dog.

Everything hyperlinked in the two paragraphs above stands as both a great way to share music worth listening to and acts as a very long-winded way of saying that featuring “Big Snow” wasn’t a foregone conclusion- at least not until the riff kicked in at the :26 mark. It’s the third song to be streamed from a just-released split between LVL UP, Krill, Ovlov, and Radiator Hospital. “Big Snow” is a song that’s actually been featured on this site before in an admittedly roundabout way- it was the feature piece in the band’s Serious Business session that was featured on Watch This. Even with Hoodwink’d being one of this site’s top contenders (if not top contender) for Album of the Year honors, “Big Snow” manages to stand out as one of the best songs to spring out of the band’s discography.

Having just seen LVL UP take the roof off of Chicago’s Beat Kitchen (pictured above, more to come on that later), it’s allowed the cementing of some previously-held opinions in regards to how the band functions. First and foremost; this is a truly collaborative effort with everything working as a complement to its surrounding elements at an obscenely high level. Second, this music works best as a victory lap for the disenfranchised; it’s both a rousing call to action and a well-meaning embrace for the people who were told they’d never live up to their potential or lived on the fringes of culture. LVL UP’s never been one to shy away from the unconventional (or the irreverent) and that’s a trait that takes bravery to embody. “Big Snow” hints at all of these elements and includes a rare treat; every one of the band’s vocalists (Dave Benton, Nick Corbo, and Mike Caridi, respectively) joins in for one last rousing harmony run before that surging, blissed-out guitar riff rallies the song to its fade-out finish. If Hoodwink’d wasn’t already proof, “Big Snow” certainly cements what’s become an unavoidable fact: LVL UP are one of today’s best bands and they deserve all the accolades that are bound to fall their way.

Listen to “Big Snow” below and pre-order the split it’s on from Double Double Whammy here.

The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More (Stream)

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Towards the end of last month, Chicago’s The Yolks released the extraordinary Kings of Awesome on Randy Records, which is a record that’s now also being released as a cassette through the infallible Burger Records. One listen to “You Don’t Live Here No More” and it’s plain to see why Burger jumped at the chance to partner up with Randy for a joint release; in 84 seconds, the band evokes decades worth of great American music from 50’s soul to 60’s r&b drenched pop to 90’s outsider pop. While there’s a definite analog sound at play here, it still doesn’t feel like a true throwback- the band’s too aware of the present to come across as antiquated.

In addition to all of that, the lyrics follow a typical blues pattern: there’s a repeated heartbreak-heavy phrase that gets twisted after two lines and adorned with the obligatory “baby” on the second through-line. Yet somehow, the repetition’s not something that calls attention to itself, it feels organic enough that it just glides by, largely unnoticed thanks to the extraordinarily catchy vocal melody and clean, surf-indebted guitar work. When the song finally breaks open as the drums kick in, it’s clear that The Yolks know exactly what they’re doing- and everyone’s all the better for it.

Listen to “You Don’t Live Here No More” below and make sure to either grab the LP from Randy Records here or the cassette from Burger here.

The Sleepwalkers – Come Around (Music Video Premiere)

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There are very few records that have required as much patience as The Sleepwalkers’ just-released Lost My Mind in Stereo. That’s not to say it required a vast amount of dedication to appreciate; it just took a very long time to get released and was difficult not to share with just about everyone. Other than the USA Today premere of the extraordinary lead-off track “My Best Was Never Good Enough“, these songs have only existed in the world as a small handful of rough demos and live staples of Sleepwalkers’ sets. Now, the record’s finally out and the band’s granted this site the music video premiere for standout cut “Come Around”.

Lost My Mind in Stereo is a record full of songs that feel instantly classic, sharp blasts of music that are finely-tuned examples of both great songwriting and American culture. “Come Around” is one of the many examples where all of that is readily apparent. Incorporating everything from 60’s jangle to 90’s powerpop, there are no false notes. In the video, the band plays through the song in Oshkosh, WI venue Reptile Palace and intercuts footage of decidedly freewheeling shenanigans in the Fox Valley area, mostly involving food (Bron Sage’s Kyle Merckx also makes a few brief but memorable appearances). By the time “Come Around” fades into black and flashes a subliminal “WOOF”, it’s hard not to feel like a part of The Sleepwalkers’ world. It’s another instance of the band finding the exact pulse of a very particular timelessness and running with it. We’re all the better for it.

Watch “Come Around” below and make every day feel like the 4th of July.