Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Sea Cycles

Sweet John Bloom – Weird Prayer (Album Review, Stream)

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As has been mentioned multiple times over, this site saw a recent shift from standard coverage to specialty coverage thanks to a move. In the few weeks that have passed in that time, a slew of exciting new releases made their way out into the world. One of the finest- and, frankly, most overlooked- was Sweet John Bloom’s fiery Weird Prayer. That record will be the focus of this piece, while a list of 50 excellent full streams to have recently appeared will be included beneath the embedded bandcamp player. Before immediately going there, though, let’s focus on the matter at hand: Sweet John Bloom’s full-length debut.

Formed out of the ashes of several other bands (including Four Eyes, who released one of the best 7″ records in recent memory with Towards the End of Cosmic Loneliness), Sweet John Bloom already had a fairly impressive pedigree out of the gate. It’s not surprising that the band managed to click as tightly as they have, especially considering their respective former bands had all established a familiarity by virtue of shared spaces (bills, scenes, etc.). Even with all of that taken into account, Weird Prayer‘s pure strength still manages to surpass expectations.

A collection of 15 dirtied up, punk-leaning basement pop songs, the record not only succeeds in effortlessly conveying the band’s identity but in coming off as a genuine record; something that’s meant to be heard in full. Naturally sequenced and expertly paced, it’s a considerable achievement for a first at-bat operating with this medium as a collective unit. Each section of Weird Prayer comes off as considered as it does impassioned, rendering the whole thing an invigorating shot of adrenaline. Vocal leads are traded with ease, there’s a killer melody buried in just about every passage, and the flawless production makes sure to include enough bursts of weirdness- like the absolutely stunning outro to “Night Thing”- to keep the whole thing zipping along at a startling clip.

For as willfully rough as Weird Prayer sounds, it’s also a record that’s partially defined by finesse. Deceptively elegant guitar figures play with the limits of restraint even as they’re pushed to the red. The rhythm section work always serves a purpose beyond just simply being a base and the lyricism, while occasionally buried with the vocals in the mix, is frequently poignant. Sweet John Bloom also manage to find as much success experimenting with their more gentle sensibilities as they do when they give in to their desire to be abrasive.

“Blood Moon” sees the band finding the perfect balance between the gentle/abrasive dichotomy and, in the context of the record, the song feels even livelier and massive than it did as a standalone single. It’s one of several songs on the record that go beyond anthemic to the realms of catharsis without ever succumbing to over-simplification. It’s part of why the record never loses an unfailing sense of urgency that goes well beyond most of the songs’ inherent immediacy, which sets up a tall order for Weird Prayer‘s final stretch.

In most cases where an album’s almost exclusively built on raucous barn-burners, the weight eventually builds and the load becomes unsustainable; there’s a reason why rollercoasters don’t extend for hours and why successful action films need exposition. Weird Prayer deals nicely with this by offering a gradual come-down by easing off the gas pedal and utilizing a tempo that creeps in a little under the established average for most of its closing numbers. Even then, Sweet John Bloom don’t cede their penchant for a confrontational aesthetic; the 1-2 punch of “Death; and Everything’s Paid For” and “Trust  Me” feels particularly vital and bristles with a world-conquering energy. Fittingly, “Aging In Place”- the first song to be shared from Weird Prayer– brings everything home in a finale that’s both familiar and intensely rousing; an exhilarating end-cap to one of the year’s finest records.

Pick up Weird Prayer from Tiny Engines here and listen to it by clicking play below. Underneath the bandcamp player, browse 50 other great recent full streams.

Radioactivity – Silent Kill
J Fernandez – Many Levels of Laughter
Fight Amp – Constantly Off
Yukon Blonde – On Blonde
Sissy – Gave Birth To A Mum
Expert Alterations – Expert Alterations
Spray Paint – Punters On A Barge
Ballroom – Ballroom
Bad Boys – Demo
Year of Glad – Year of Glad
Little Children – Travelling Through Darkness
The Fur Coats – Short-Brain
Magic Potion – Melt
Oscar – Beautiful Words
Sea Cycles – Ground & Air
Prinzhorn Dance School – Home Economics
Senpai – Hell In My Head b/w Mind Honey
Arm Candy – Arm Candy
Institue – Catharsis
Chris Weisman – Chaos Isn’t Single
Max Gowan – Big People
Falling Stacks – No Wives
Hints – No Regrets In Old English
No Joy – More Faithful
Pleistocene – Space Trap
Long Neck – Heights
No Friends – I’m Not Real
Marvelous Mark – Bite Me
HDSPNS – HDSPNS
KEN Mode – Success
Walleater – I/II
Sweatshop Boys – Always Polite, Never Happy
Wavves x Cloud Nothings – Wavves x Cloud Nothings
Tough Age – I Get The Feeling Central
Sea of Bees – Build A Boat To The Sun
C H R I S T – T O W E R
Alden Penner – Canada In Space
Teen Daze – Morning World
Fell To Low – Low In The Dust
Palm – Ostrich Vacation
Bully – Feels Like
Bruise – demos.
The Armed – Untitled
Cold Cave – Full Cold Moon
Self Defense Family – Heaven Is Earth
Wild Pink – Good Life
Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs III
Creepoid – Cemetery Highrise Slum
Gnarwhal – Shinerboy
Lady Bones – Dying

Diamond Youth – Thought I Had It Right (Music Video)

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Pressing on with the onslaught of coverage from some of last week’s most memorable titles, this collection contains a handful of great songs and one great video. Maribou State’s glitchy, heavily atmospheric “Wallflower“, Sea Cycles’ woozy, kaleidoscopic “Diving Bell“, O-Face’s massive, insistent “740 Turbo“, and Seapony’s breezy “Saw the Light” constituted the entries for the single song category. The visually striking black-and-white clip for Diamond Youth’s anthemic “Thought I Had It Right” gets the title spot thanks to some arresting visuals and brilliant editing. Every smash cut’s meticulously cued to a change or specific element (snare hit, etc.) of the song and the end result’s surprisingly engaging. It’s a deceptively clever video that propels an already good song to the realms of greatness. Incorporating weird special effects, old film clips, stock footage, and live edits, “Thought I Had It Right” takes on a life of its own and the end results are spectacular. This is a masterclass in how to create an effective music video; take notes.

Watch “Thought I Had It Right” below and order Nothing Matters from Topshelf here.

Young Jesus – Milo (Stream)

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If it wasn’t fairly clear that Grow/Decompose was one of this site’s favorite records of 2015, allow me to clarify: Grow/Decompose easily ranks among the best things I’ve heard over the past two years and this post won’t be the last time it sees coverage here. Premiering the record’s teaser trailer was an honor and the trailer itself was a great indication of the band’s growing ambition. Hellhole Supermarker will be releasing the record on May 13 but “Milo” definitely warrants a closer look before the rest of the songs are revealed. Before exploring that song, though, there are several other brilliant tracks from this past week that deserve to be heard. Those songs? Whitewash’s “Member“, Seacycles’ “Commando“, Pale Honey’s “Lonesome“, Everything Everything’s “Regret“, Communions’ “Summer Oath“, Daughn Gibson’s “It Was Everything“, Sea of Bees’ “Dad“, Prurient’s “Frozen Niagra Falls (Portion One)“, and Oscar’s “Beautiful Words“. All of them are linked for a reason; they’re compelling pieces of art that deserve to be celebrated as much as possible. Another one of those pieces, of course, is Young Jesus’ “Milo”.

As Grow/Decompose‘s penultimate track, “Milo” already occupied traditionally fertile ground for emotive slow-burners- especially ones that reach breathtakingly climactic moments. As signal-bearers go, that’s a strange mark but “Milo” comfortably occupies a space with the most exemplary tracks to fall into that niche category. Grow/Decompose, much like Home– the band’s previous masterpiece, is a record that makes no qualms about being emotionally-driven. While Home certainly felt personal, “Milo” takes that sense of voyeurism to new heights in the quiet, arresting opening. “He sees your daughter in a sundress/eating oranges alone. He feels the love of a father/a love his brother ignored. But he is fumbling with a bottle/because it makes sense just to hold. But don’t you worry while he’s using/it just makes everything slow.” is about as devastating as introductory scene-setters can possibly manage to be. John Rossiter, the band’s guitarist/vocalist, delivers those opening lines in a broken, vulnerable tone that makes them feel uncomfortably realistic, haunted, and lived-in. The instrumental break that follows feels near-euphoric but is tethered to a sense of weariness that prevents it from feeling too celebratory. It’s an extraordinary track that acts as Grow/Decompose‘s narrative endpoint before “Dirt“, the record’s sprawling epilogue, closes things out. Even though “Dirt” is strong enough in its own right, it allows space for “Milo” to resonate and for the listener to recollect themselves after the severe gut-punch of “Milo”, one of the band’s best tracks in an already astounding catalog of stunners.

Listen to “Milo” below and pre-order Grow/Decompose ahead of its release from Hellhole Supermarket here.