Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: scuzz

Allah-Las – Follow You Down (Music Video)

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Another day down, another great batch of streams and videos to show for it. First off: a full record stream from The Growlers, who have a career-best on their hands with Chinese Fountain. Representing the music video side of things, there was YAWN’s fascinating video for “Flytrap” and then a whole host of great single song streams. New Orleans duo Caddywhompus started to gain some attention on the back of “Stuck“, Glish made a deep impression with their towering “Pretty Car“, and Radical Dads carved out a place for themselves with the jumpy “In the Water“. Sonic Avenues’ second exclusive track for the deluxe version of their classic self-titled surfaced, as did great brand-new songs from FF, Doe, and Allo Darlin‘. However, despite all those great candidates for a feature, there was one thing that kept creeping back up; Allah-Las music video for “Follow You Down”.

From the immediate outset, it becomes apparent that “Follow You Down” isn’t going to be overtly conventional. Mixing the band’s trademark 60’s garage-grit revivalism with a quasi-Western, the video coaxes as much intrigue out of that contrast as possible. With both mediums emphasizing the lo-fi (and the low-key) aspects of the band’s presentation, things in the Sasha Eisenman-directed clip get fairly ridiculous pretty quickly- but that doesn’t stop it from being compelling or losing any momentum. The actual story in the video’s a fairly straightforward narrative that plays out, in full accordance with their chosen style, like a great Western- right down to the quietly tragic/humorous ending. “Follow You Down” on its own was a fun rock n’ soul-tinged throwback but the video manages to give it new life. All in all, it’s an absolute blast and goes quite a ways in proving that sometimes the best videos come out of a band letting their guard down and allowing themselves to have fun.

Watch “Follow You Down” below and order the just-released Worship the Sun (which “Follow You Down” is taken off of) over at Allah-Las’ bandcamp.

Pretty Pretty – Feels Like Rain (Stream)

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Once again, the past few days have provided a decent amount of material making it difficult to figure out which to feature. Most notably, two vicious post-punk numbers from the likes of Cycle Schmeichel and BODY. The former is full of a restlessness that aids Cycle Schmeichel’s wiry post-punk tendencies well, while the latter is a foreboding piece of hard-charging, rapidly-building tension characterized by nervousness before allowing an exhilarating release. Both are among the best songs to have come out of this month thus far- and September’s already seen two of the strongest weeks for new music this year. On top of both of those, Pretty Pretty finally released their Sweater Leather 7″ tracks via their bandcamp, which they’d previously teased with the sugar-coated title trackSweater Leather not only manages to live up to the promise of that initial look but occasionally surpasses it, including “Feels Like Rain”- the closing track.

While “Feels Like Rain” isn’t quite as hard-charging as the trio of tracks that come before it (including easy standout “You Say“), it does manage to act as a perfect finale piece’ it summarizes nearly everything that precede that moment while serving as a reminder of Pretty Pretty’s specific strengths. From the call-and-response vocals to the vintage 90’s crunch in the guitar tones, it’s difficult not to see “Feels Like Rain”- and Pretty Pretty, by extension- for what it is: a perfect slice of sun-splashed punk-leaning popwerpop. There’s an underlying intelligence in the song’s composition that reveals itself in the details; the light riffing before the main guitar part kicks in, the subtly clever lyrics, and the general dynamics all point towards Pretty Pretty being a band that takes their songwriting very seriously. Fortunately, their efforts pay off in full and make Sweater Weather one of the more memorable 7″ releases of the year.

Listen to “Feels Like Rain” below and keep an eye on both Let’s Pretend and Mandible for the impending release of the physical copy.

Bass Drum of Death – For Blood (Stream)

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Next month Bass Drum of Death will release Rip This (which was produced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait), their follow-up to last year’s scuzzy self-titled effort. “For Blood”, the most recent look at Rip This finds the band upping the ante, sounding confident and more powerful than ever. While the formula’s still very recognizably their own, they’ve managed to inject more immediacy and adrenaline into the most engaging aspects of their music; booming drums, wiry guitar riffs and catchy melodies delivered as brashly as possible. Throw in a few plinked-out piano notes, the most powerful chorus section the band’s ever produced, and a touch more conviction than usual and “For Blood” very easily becomes their career-best. If the rest of Rip This winds up sounding this good, it won’t be long before Bass Drum of Death starts popping up more in regular conversation.

Stream “For Blood” below and pre-order the record from Innovative Leisure ahead of its October 7 release.

Places to Hide – Nowhere Bound (Stream)

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Places To Hide have been locked into a spot worth envying for some time now, appearing- and frequently headlining- absolutely stacked bills with the finest bands from rosters like Salinas and Double Double Whammy. Everyone seems to be on their side or putting in a good word or five for the Atlanta-based quartet and that loyalty’s being repaid in full, courtesy of the band’s distinctly original take on a peculiar 90’s bent, basement pop, and scuzz-punk- all filtered through an impressive lo-fi sensibility.

Near the end of July, the band unveiled the Wild N Soft EP, offering up the careening push-and-pull of “Nowhere Bound” as a free preview on their bandcamp. Encapsulating just about everything that’s helped transform the band into something approaching the territories of “underground’s best-kept secret”, “Nowhere Bound” is a malaise-filled rager worthy of the band’s discography. Vocals are traded, a haunting wordless melody sets the song’s tone, off-kilter instrumental work clashes and complements in a manner that recalls Speedy Ortiz at their absolute finest, and sections of blistering fuzz punctuate what otherwise sounds deceptively lazy (a hallmark of late 80’s/early 90’s SST). Combine all of those elements and inject them with a keen awareness for the modern musical landscape and it’s no surprise that Places To Hide have become as celebrated as they are.

Hear “Nowhere Bound” below and expect to be reading their name a few more times on this site.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – As Always (Music Video)

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have endured one of the stranger career arcs of recent memory but, thankfully, that hasn’t stopped them from making music. If the backlash and critical comedown they faced after the buzz from their much-adored self-titled debut had deterred them, they wouldn’t be on the verge of releasing what looks to be a fairly incredible record. The band had already shared a track featuring The National’s Matt Berninger which didn’t skimp on scuzz, which is a trend that continues on “As Always”. Additionally, they’ve released an alluring music video to accompany “As Always” that accentuates the song’s sense of unease to near-perfection.

Anchored by an engaging central performance from Will Daniels, the David M. Helman-directed clip blurs the boundaries between the naturalistic and surreal to great effect. Tracking the protagonist through a night on the town that’s filled with a quiet discontentment, it manages to become both a frightening character study as well as a cautionary warning. With the atmosphere of the clip heightened by the decision to present much of its arresting imagery through hazy exteriors, it becomes a magnetic force through its artfully positioned movements. By the climactic finish, just how harrowing everything that preceded it becomes clear- and everyone involved has something they have every right to be proud of.

Watch “As Always” below and make sure to pick up the band’s forthcoming album, Only Run, when it’s self-released on June 3.

Tweens – Forever (Music Video)

From the top: apologies are in order for one of the longest hiatuses this place has been pushed into since it came into being last October. There were conflicts that needed resolving (and some that continue to need resolving) that forced a delay. These situations always carry a duality of good and bad with them and the former category is what will be emphasized here. Yes, there was lots of lost time- but that just means a collection of riches to post about in several long sprees. The days following this post should see multiple articles until the 1:1 day-post ratio is restored. While soundcloud is still experiencing issues from the heartbleed virus, the first batch of new content will be largely occupied by the music videos that have come out in the past week or so and Tweens‘ “Forver” may just be the best of the bunch.

Tweens is also now officially out on Frenchkiss records and slays just as hard as everyone expected it would. Filled to the brim with a glam-spiked retro sugar-rush, the trio’s debut is the fullest realization of their alluring basement pop aesthetic to date. While the whole thing is worth wearing out over the course of however long the warm weather lasts, “Forever” is one of the record’s most scorching high points- and the Joe Castrucci-directed music video captures its mood perfectly. Putting a fun twist on the prom theme, the video revels in its clever concept and offers up an endless barrage of great moments (personal favorite: a cop chases a skateboarder who eventually drops a case worth of PBR’s into a freezer and all are taken immediately). While all the low-stakes insanity unfolds on the dance floor, the band’s on stage urging everyone on and having the time of their lives.

Tweens is the feel-good record of the year and “Forever” continues its roll out campaign in grand tradition. Watch it below and pick it up as soon as possible- it’s a must-own.