Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Sharkmuffin

Streams of the First Quarter: The Honorable Mentions

Less than a week remains in 2017’s first quarter and the year’s already earned solid representation thanks to a slew of incredible releases. Below this paragraph are links to approximately 500 of the finest songs that the January-to-March period had to offer. A few of which are from widely renowned artists but the vast majority are from the artists who deserve more recognition than they receive.

Now, it’s practically impossible to imagine any one individual is going to sit down and listen to every single one of the songs here but that’s not exactly the purpose of these lists. This, as was the case with the others, is a capsule of a time period that offered up art that was (mostly) lost to the shuffle. It’s a representative account of what was happening behind-the-scenes while this site was in its extended hiatus.

Most importantly, it’s a way to recognize and honor the artists responsible for crafting pieces that both deserved and earned praise, even if it’s in a relatively minor form. This will likely be one of the longest lists of links to ever run on this site and it’s likely best to just click around until something strikes a chord. So, bookmark this page, dive in, and explore what the world’s produced over this first quarter and keep an eye on this site for a few short “best of” posts before Heartbreaking Bravery resumes its regular daily coverage. Enjoy.

NE-HI, Hater (x2), Knife in the Water (x2), Thelma, The Districts, Flasher, Catholic Action, Growl, Happyness, Land of Talk (x2), Canshaker Pi, Baby!, Gold Connections (x2, 3), Jay Som (x2), Go Fever, The Mells, The Chinchees, Aye Nako, Greatest Champion Alive, Diet Cig (x2, 3), High Sunn, Tall Friend (x2, 3), Do Make Say Think, Boss Hog (x2), Fog Lake (x2), Littler, Real Life Buildings (x2), The Proper Ornaments, Alex Napping (x2), Bruising, YURT, Analog Candle (x2), The Courtneys (x2), Wild Pink (x2), Amanda Glasser

Lunch Ladies (x2, 3), B Boys, Molly BurchIdle Bloom, WHY?, Vengeance, Phoebe Bridgers, Kane Strang, Former Bullies, The Spookfish (x2), Dude York (x2), Ben Grigg (x2, 3), Agent blå, Andrew Goldring, Fragrance., Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Spiral Stairs (x2), Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Guided By Voices (x2), Future Teens, WaydeÀ La Mode, Fraidycat, Robyn Hitchcock (x2), Eric Slick, Terry Malts, Sharkmuffin, Ride, Joan Shelley, PONY, The Coathangers, Juliana Hatfield (x2), Sorority Noise (x2), Slow Caves

No Thank You (x2, 3), Francobollo, Great Profile, Mount Song, Real EstateHawkmoon, Casper Skulls, Century Palm (x2), Deathlist (x2), Rosie Carney, Superorganism, Goldblooms, Day Wave, Wire, Cotillon (x2, 3), Will Johnson (x2), Anti Pony, Personal Best, Mind Rays (x2, 3), Grim Streaker, Ty Segall (x2, 3), Bonny Doon (x2), Arc Flash (x2), Tobin Sprout, Slowdive, Top Down, Mise en Scene, Thunder Dreamer, Hiccup (x2), Bent Denim, The Molochs, Caitlin Pasko, Cold Beat, Oak House

Mad OnesThe FeeliesWavves (x2), Tonstartssbandht (x2), Those Lavender Whales (x2), Overlake, Winstons, Vagabon, MaganaTrust Fund, Fuzzystar (x2), Baked (x2), Loose Tooth (x2, 3), The Sloppy Heads, The Cairo Gang (x2), Vundabar, Chick Quest (x2), Holy Sheboygan (x2), The Craters, Doug Tuttle, Walter Martin, Nadine Khouri, Holy Now, Vassals, The Obsessives (x2), Orchid Mantis, Thin Lips, Apocalypse, Communions, Olden Yolk, Dion Lunadon, Emperor X, Shadow Band, Richard Edwards, Adna

Bleached (x2), SaltlandTim Kasher (x2), Warm SodaAlyeskaMatthew Squires, You’re Jovian, Little Star, Mothpuppy, Midwives, Monster Movie, Jessica Denison + JonesElijah, Loom, Your Old Droog, Mimi Raver, Smidley, Beachheads, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (x2), Cesar Ruiz, Leather Can, Woods, The Yugos (x2), Adam Torres (x2), L.A. Witch, David Bazan, Luxury Death (x2), Imaginary Tricks, Strange Lot (x2), Lomelda, Sacred Spirits, Matty Ann, The Hernies, Destrends, ELLA, Adult Mom, Second Still

The Dove & The Wolf, Gang of Youths, Trementina (x2), Good Good Blood, SheerOrchin, Anna Coogan, WALL, Artificial Pleasure, Sera Cahoone, Annie Hardy (x2), Priests, Laura Marling, Yawn Mower (x2), Toby Foster, Wear Your Wounds, The Present Age, The Knitts (x2), Junior Astronomers, No Vacation, Wolf Girl, Peter Bjorn and John, Cassandra Jenkins (x2, 3, 4), A Valley Son (x2), Jons, Sinai Vessel, Yellow Paper Planes, Seven Deaths, Snakehole, Sondre Lerche (x2), Varvara, Karen Elson

Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!, Wilding, Common MinerDan Misha GoldmanCymbals Eat Guitars, Lost Boy ?, Moon DialThe Birthday Letters, UV-TV, Girl As Wave, Big Surr, Nightlands, Menace Beach, Boytoy, Melby, Dali Vision, Desperate Journalist, Alex G, Knifey, Aquarian Blood, Winstons, High Up, Joshua James, I Am the Polish Army, Feral Ohms, French Vanilla, Bad Breeding, The Octopus Project, Born Without Bones, Laughed The Boy, Jake Xerxes Fussell (x2, 3), Cindy Lee, The Cover Letter, Michael Nau

Lyrie and the Duckies, Vorhees, Blank SquarePatterson Hood, Jon McKiel, Whips, WompsKikagaku Moyo, Brandon Koebs, Surf Dads, LT Wade, Daddy Issues, David Bazan, Matthew Lee Cothran, Jake Clarke, Spur, Loose Buttons (x2), Bilge Rat, Saw Black, Lowly, Jackson Boone, Superchunk, Desert Culture, Julia Lucille, The Darling Buds, Ducks Unlimited, Hoops, Taft Mashburn, Summer Moon, Conifer Vista, My Education, The Wooden Sky, Her’s, Teen Daze, Rubblebucket, Platinum Boys, Jens Lekman, Threefifty

Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs, Nadia KazmiShelby Earl, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Circus DevilsFire in the Radio, Half Waif, Metric, Sampha, Deadwall, Ground and Grave, Martin Rev, Craig FinnOiseaux-Tempête, Raj and the 100’s, The Wintyr, TW Walsh, ShitKid, Joel Michael Howard, Evening Darling, FOTR, Pollen Rx, Lillie Mae, Kyle T. Hurley, Hite, Tara Jane O’Neil (x2), Louise Lemón, PalomaStacey, Two Moons, POND, Business of Dreams, Billy Moon, Low Roar, She-Devils, White Reaper, Tiny Vipers

SOFTSPOT, Gorillaz, ROYA, BottlerThe Megaphonic Thrift, Caves, The New PornographersJulie Byrne, BNQT, COTE, Damaged Bug, Railings, Mark Eitzel, Deleter, Code Orange, Goddamnit, Cory Branan, No Joy, Blak Emoji, Tropical Skin Byrds, Empty Lungs, Tomber Lever, Rainbrother, Max Subar, Little Person, Perhapsy, Other Houses, Dehd, Niilo Smeds (x2), Morning Teleportation, The Co Founder, Show Me the Body, Kory Quinn, Tow’rs, Circle, Maria Kelly, Cosima, John Craigie, Holy Motors, Benjamin Booker

Me Not You, Her HarbourHeath Green and the Maksehifters, CodistMatt Maltese, Thurston Moore, Pissed Jeans, Feist, Odd Couple, A Deer A Horse, Cassels, Thad Kopec, Turn to CrimeTorgeir Waldemar, Oyama, Said the Whale, Altar Eagles (x2), Grace Mitchell, Radiator King, Minus the Bear, The Tarantula Waltz, Hiva OaTrès Oui, The Buttertones, Winston Hightower, Crooked Bangs, Los Angeles Police Department, CFM, Diagrams, Boosegumps, Marcus Norberg and the Disappointments

The Nickajack Men, Semi-Attractive Boys, BanditosRachel Kilgour, Broken Field Runner, Residuels, Jim and the French Vanilla, Wooden Wand, Emma Ruth Rundle, Batz, Monograms, Operator Music Band, RF Shannon (x2), LAKE, Ha Ha Tonka, Fufanu, Coast Modern, The Glass Eyes, Keto, Loess, Go By Ocean, Unstoppable Death Machines, Frederick the Younger, Bendigo Fletcher, Meatbodies, The Bingers, Slingshot Dakota, Astro Tan, Football, etc., Planning for Burial, Delafye, Dim Wit, Retail SpaceEmma Gatrill, Gnod, Mark Lanegan Band, and Leon of Athens.

 

 

 

2016: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Natalie Kirch)

Heartbreaking Bravery recently went offline but all facets of the site are back to being fully operational. Apologies for any inconveniences. All posts that were slated to run during that brief hiatus will appear with this note.

Natalie Kirch and I only crossed paths, as far as I know, once when I was still living in Brooklyn. We were likely in the same room far more often than I knew. In the time that’s elapsed since I’ve left, Kirch’s name kept coming up more and more in conversations and I’d hear endlessly kind things about the Sharkmuffin bassist from people I trusted. Before long, we’d re-introduced ourselves via the magic of the internet and Kirch was graciously accepting an invitation to this series. Below, Kirch tackles the past two leap years, tracing the beginnings of what would become Sharkmuffin’s core to America’s current landscape. It’s an engrossing piece and deserves several reads. Look back and look ahead by looking below.

++

Leap Year

The last one we had was 2012. According to the Mayan calendar, the world was scheduled to end in December of that year. As ancient worlds came crashing down, a new world was opening up to me. Backtrack half-way from the Mayan apocalypse to the end of June 2012. I was finishing my second year as a full-time kindergarten teacher, about to start my second stint of graduate school student teaching, when my friend Nate Terepka texted me. His friend Tarra was looking for a bass player who could harmonize on vocals, and would I be interested in joining her band Sharkmuffin?

Nate knew I was “very green” but thought Tarra and my taste in music would mesh well. I had started playing bass guitar two months earlier. Prior to that, I had dabbled in guitar for a year in high school, had recently started trying my hand at song writing, and had entertained the idea of a band with my girls Emily, Marisa, and Olivia (we did complete one song!). Unless you consider my grammar school band The Hyper Girls (we played hand-made driftwood-and-tin-foil instruments) as experience, “green” was a very kind way of saying I had no idea what I was doing.

But Tarra had sent me some songs she had demoed with her Drew Adler on drums and Chris Nunez on bass, and I loved her style. I reiterated just how “green” I was to Tarra. She said that was okay, so I met up with my friend Taylor and had him help me with 10 songs she had emailed me. Tarra spent the 4th of July with my family on the Jersey shore. That week, I wrote my first Sharkmuffin bass line and melody for a song called “Soft Landing”.

Tarra liked it and added on lyrics and guitar. On July 14th, I played my first show with Tarra and Drew Adler on drums at an art gallery called The Hive. By September 2012, Tarra, Drew, and I had recorded the first 3 Sharkmuffin EPs. October 2012, the Jersey shore house was completely destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. Only my troll collection survived, and a lone, hard-bodied 1993 Ken doll.

2016: Leap Year, we meet again. I was in Disney World on January 12th when David Bowie died, the contrast of joy and despair causing that deep dirty water feeling in my stomach. The Most Magical Place on Earth would be tainted even further exactly five months later with the Pulse Shootings. 2016 was a rough one for the world at large. I could name all of the incidents of murder, genocide, terrorism, racism, all the icon deaths that followed, or what it felt like to watch the first potential female US president lose to a misogynist buffoon.

But we all know about those horrors and tragedies already. So when asked to describe a moment of musical importance to me, I found myself torn. Do I discuss how the death of one of my artistic idols impacted me? How a peer’s performance inspired me? Or should I describe a personal accomplishment or loss?

As you can see, it was difficult for me not to cite an exact moment, but rather the way moments do what they do and interlock to create happenings and events. Because how does a moment last in time other than as a memory? It pushes another moment forward, and then another, and so forth. Crawling in and out of 2016, I found myself at the start of a circle, just as I had leaping from 2012 to 2016. 2016 was my first year as a full-time musician.

Sharkmuffin toured for two months with Kim Deuss. In that lengthened February, we recorded a new LP with the Kim that I am eager to release in 2017. By the end of 2016, our spinal tap list of drummers came around full circle and Tarra and I had the opportunity to play with both Drew Adler and Janet Labelle, our first two drummers. In 2017 we will also be touring with Drew on drums and Chris on guitar – the drummer and bassist on the first demos Tarra ever sent me. It feels like all those little moments are locking into place to ready us for the next year.

2016 was hard for humanity, but I hope there were moments of greatness for everyone on a personal level. Silver linings don’t diminish the losses caused by the storm, but even moments of grief can surprise us in how forcefully they push us forward. After all, a torch doesn’t appear so bright if it is not lit in the darkness. Now that all of our idols are dead or dying, does that mean it is our duty to try with all our might to fill those gaps in art, culture, and time? We need those gaps to fight for, towards, or against and keep the moments rolling.

It took me a long time to understand the concept of a Leap Year. I always found it cruel to deprive Leaplings of their birthday for years at a time, and why would western humans create a calendar that fits so unevenly into our mathematical perception of time? As we age, each moment passes by more quickly but carries more weight. I realized I should not be asking why we have that extra day every four years, but what we doing with that extra day. Perhaps it is in those quarter orbits, the last 6 hours of the average solar year, that we can really push the orbit to the fullest.

HB1000: A Step Forward (Compilation)

hb-banner-2

When I started Heartbreaking Bravery nearly three years ago, I had no intention of pursuing it as a legitimate venture. Now, 1,000 posts, 50,000+ links, and countless words later, the site’s come to be the type of platform I’ve always loved seeing in the world. I could attempt to wax poetic on the nature of personal discovery and growth that running this place has afforded me but Heartbreaking Bravery was never about a single person, it’s always functioned best as a communal entity.

The ideas that formed the basic structure of Heartbreaking Bravery all came from artists producing exceptional work with little recognition. Repeatedly watching that transaction occur proved too disheartening. Whether it was the earliest years of Tenement, the later years of Good Grief, or virtually the entire run of Sleeping in the Aviary, there were always ceaselessly talented artists surrounding me that only ever seemed to receive the slightest of nods.

Heartbreaking Bravery originally aimed — and continues to aim — to provide a more level playing field to emerging artists, without reducing their worth to financial opportunity. Heartbreaking Bravery continues to value the community and intimacy that informs the DIY music world. Heartbreaking Bravery will continue to use the platform it’s been granted to elevate the idea of greater equality.

It’s in that spirit that I’m honored to present A Step Forward, a two-volume compilation spanning 100 tracks that exclusively features artists who are connected to this site’s history. Whether that was through a long history of collaboration or something as small as a twitter follow, the impact was not lost or left unappreciated. There’s a heavy emphasis on artists residing in the cities and states Heartbreaking Bravery has called home (Stevens Point, WI and Brooklyn, NY) and a small selection of songs that were premiered on this site.

100% of the proceeds of A Step Forward will be going to Rape Victim Advocates, a non-profit Chicago-based organization that’s doing vital (and, sadly, necessary) work for survivors of sexual assault. Read more about the organization here. It’s my sincerest hope that every publication that has the privilege of visibility manages to find ways to use any of their influence for productive good and to affect positive change. Please consider donating what you can to a meaningful cause.

Finally, I wanted to express gratitude to all of the artists (and any of their teams) involved — including the inimitable Phil McAndrew, who turned in the extraordinary album art — and all of the people that have allowed, even willed, this site to the point it’s at today. It likely would have disappeared without that support and I owe those people a debt of gratitude that could never be truly repaid. A special thanks to Fred Thomas, whose “What Changes When The Costumes Come Off” was written with the specifics of A Step Forward in mind.

Enjoy the compilation, support independent art, and join me, this site, these artists, and this cause in taking A Step Forward.

Tracklist below.

A Step Forward: Vol. 1*

1. Vacation – Caked Joy Rag (Demo)
2. Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Demo)
3. Dead Stars – So Strange (Demo)
4. Mo Troper – After the Movies (Demo)
5. Fern Mayo – The Sweets (Demo)
6. Hater – Like Hours (Demo)
7. Sharkmuffin – Only Mondays (Demo)
8. Fits – Ice Cream On A Nice Day (Demo)
9. Missy – Patience (Demo)
10. Kodakrome – Skeletons (Demo)
11. Slight – Run (Demo)
12. Long Neck – Goldfinch (Demo)
13. Phyllis Ophelia – Probably Not (Demo)
14. Lever – Cure (Demo)
15. Puppy Problems – Destroyer (Demo)
16. Battle Ave. – Black Jeans (Demo)
17. Yours Are The Only Ears – Alone Bear (Demo)
18. Attendant – Some Other Language (Demo)
19. MKSEARCH – Little Song (Demo)
20. Sulky Boy – Birches (Demo)
21. Heavy Looks – Those Guys (Demo)
22. darn it. – (again) pt. II
23. Phooey! – On an On
24. Arm Candy – Big Clunker
25. DTCV – Le Vampire
26. Clearance – The Queen of Eyes
27. Leggy – I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy
28. Big Air – Hit Me in the Mouth
29. Terry Malts – Look (At the Mess That We’re In)
30. Ubetcha – Musician
31. Two Inch Astonaut – Suckers Share
32. Whelpwisher – Bucket for the Sky
33. Petite League – Magic Johnson
34. The Meltaways (ft. Kate M) – Wrong Words
35. Calumet – Indian Summer
36. Mulligrub – Little Fist
37. Ben Seretan – Stay In Touch
38. Mumblr – Friendship Stew
39. Human People – Useless Things
40. Bethlehem Steel – Florida Two
41. Painted Zeros – Sweet Briar Rose
42. Spit – Paul Westerberg
43. Crusher – Running
44. Pupppy – Stand By Me
45. Aberdeen – Once You Fall In Love
46. Tica Douglas – Enough
47. Peaer – Multiverse
48. The Weasel, Marten Fisher – What Is Love
49. Young Jesus – Mirroring
50. Space Mountain – Earthrise

A Step Forward: Vol. II*

1. Bellows – Bank Checks
2. Cave Curse – Arcadia
3. Fred Thomas – What Changes When the Costumes Come Off
4. Apollo Vermouth – He Sees You, He Loves You
5. Green Dreams – Psychic Woes (Alternate Mix)
6. Lost Boy ? – Have You Seen My Brain (Space Cat Sessions)
7. Mikaela Davis – Pure Divine Love (Early Mix)
8. Nano Kino – Recovery (Early Mix)
9. Trophy Dad – Addison (Early Mix)
10. Alanna McArdle – Less Than (Early Mix)
11. VVHILE – Don’t Belong (Live)
12. Liam Betson – Mispronounced (Live)
13. BAG-DAD – Bruv (Live)
14. Slothrust – Keg Party (Live)
15. The Nudes – Nowhere to Be
16. Sat. Nite Duets – Cemetery Steve
17. Slanted – Fake Party
18. Patio – Gold
19. Greys – No Star
20. No Hoax – Date With Death
21. Dirty Dishes – Red Roulette
22. Yeesh – On Some Dirt
23. Pile – Cut From First Other Tape
24. Even Hand – Nightsmoke the Fuss
25. PURPLE 7 – Wise Up
26. Bad Wig – Machinehead
27. Mary Lynn – Space
28. Pleistocene – CMJ Compilation 1996
29. Color TV – Anybody’s Girl
30. Jacky Boy – Bad
31. Trust Fund – Would That Be An Adventure?
32. Good Grief – City People
33. Adir L.C. – Hangover
34. Milk Crimes – H8RZ
35. À La Mode – Total Doom
36. Inside Voices – Nomad: Begin
37. Doe – Corin
38. Kindling – Became
39. Bueno – Blown Out
40. Horse Teeth – Dark & Gloomy
41. Ron Gallo – Put the Kids to Bed
42. Sun’s Out Bummed Out – Cut All My Hair
43. Eric Slick – The Dirge
44. Fruit & Flowers – Turqoise
45. Shilpa Ray – Hymn
46. Jack – Sister System
47. Strange Ranger – Whatever You Say
48. Johanna Warren – A Bird in the Crocodile’s Mouth
49. Oceanator – Nowhere Nothing
50. Fresh Snow – Eat Me In St. Louis (Bryan W. Bray – Eaten by the Cetacean Mix)

Vol. I

Tracks 1-21: Demos
Tracks 22-50: New Songs

Vol. II

Tracks 1-4: New Songs (cont’d)
Tracks 5-14: Alternate Mixes and Live Songs
Tracks 15-49: Old Favorites
Track 50: Remix

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 7

PWR BTTM I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

The preceding galleries can be accessed via these links:

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Potty Mouth

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

Sharkmuffin – Live at Shea Stadium – 8/7/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

IMG_6622

Sharkmuffin’s release show party for Chartreuse at Shea Stadium was the kind of show that’s worth circling multiple times on a calendar. Easily my most anticipated of the month, it didn’t disappoint. A stacked five-band bill was kickstarted by a strong set from the emergent Fruit&Flowers, who delivered their wild-eyed basement pop with a lot of psych’ed out post-punk flourishes and an emphatic punch. Boytoy- who released one of last year’s finest debut EP’s– followed suit with a riff-happy, surf-heavy angle on a similar approach. Fuzzy, sunny, and surprisingly atmospheric, the trio managed to impress on their own terms and set site favorites Lost Boy ? up perfectly.

Lost Boy ?, as they always have, brought an outsize outsider charisma to the proceedings and kicked things into high gear almost as soon as they hit the stage. The band’s extraordinary Canned would have been at the absolute peak of last year’s special releases list had it been streaming anywhere ahead of its official vinyl release in 2015 but it was kept off the internet until that moment came. Even though about a year’s elapsed between the record’s original release, Canned still feels unbelievably vibrant thanks to the explosive energy that permeates throughout literally every song on the collection. That ragged ferocity is, unsurprisingly, amplified in the live setting and nearly every song the band played felt like a giddy exclamation mark. Celebratory and occasionally punishing, it was the adrenaline jolt that made sure things kept going strong after the midway point.

Even in the seemingly impossible scenario where Lost Boy ? had faltered, the evening would’ve been easily rescued by another site favorite- Charly BlissSoft Serve topped this site’s best-of EP list in 2014 (incidentally, Lost Boy ? secured the 11 slot) and whenever their LP finally secures its official release, it’s not a stretch to imagine it’ll wind up securing the Album of the Year distinction or something remarkably close. I’ve been desperately searching for something I don’t like about Charly Bliss for over a year and I still can’t find anything. The band’s a powerhouse in the studio, an absolute force on stage, and they’re penning some of the best music being released today. I’ve come to accept that they’re one of my absolute favorite bands and with every set I take in, that declaration’s getting closer to shedding the “one of” and simply becoming “my favorite band.” Unsurprisingly, their set here was monstrous and left a tall order for Sharkmuffin.

To their credit, Sharkmuffin kept the evening going even stronger with a deeply impassioned set that saw the band play every cut from their excellent Chartreuse, one of 2015’s finest releases. Playing as a quartet with Lost Boy ?’s Davey Jones giving an assist on guitar, the band’s set took on several different modes with a finessed aplomb. Coy, vicious, and carefree, the band shifted their focus at will and whipped an adoring audience into frenzy after frenzy with an incredible amount of ease. Alternating between poise and recklessness, then somehow managing to bridge the gap, Sharkmuffin tore up Shea Stadium and more than earned their encore. It was the final stage of a progression that started with foot-tapping (Fruit&Flowers), head-nodding (Boytoy), headbanging (Lost Boy ?), pogo-dancing (Charly Bliss), and- finally- moshing (Sharkmuffin themselves). Combining seemingly every single one of those stages with their last two songs, the band left the stage exhausted and smiling and the audience couldn’t help themselves from exiting the venue in the exact same fashion.

Click over to the full photo gallery of the show here and watch some of the evening’s performances in the video below.

Salad Boys – Dream Date (Music Video)

salad boys

It seems fitting that another stacked week for new releases would find a similarly overloaded endcap. Total Makeover, Soft Fangs, Blackalicious, and Cumstain all had incredible new songs while Melkbelly, Lindi Ortega, and Phylums unveiled outstanding records. Even with the strong representation for those categories, the day belonged to music videos. La Luz’s animated “Black Hole, Weirdo Shine“, sore’s delightfully low-key “elle le fantôme“, Pianos Become the Teeth’s startlingly heartfelt “Ripple Water Shine“, Sharkmuffin’s unapologetic “Tampons Are For Sluts“, Albert Ryan’s lyric clip for “Man“, Kaleo’s gorgeous, inventive “Way Down We Go“, Earl Sweatshirt’s classic, nightmarish “Off Top“, and Deaf Wish’s retro-influenced futurist vision “On” constituted an unusually strong field. Topping everything off was Salad Boys‘ curiously entertaining “Dream Date”.

The narrative through-line’s essentially non-existent in “Dream Date”, leaving the clip to function and thrive on its own singular energy. Directed by Ben Dodd and Salad Boys’ guitarist/vocalist Joe Sampson, the clip finds Sampson placed front and center in various scenic locations. While his isolation could serve as a commentary on loneliness, there’s a wryness and contentment that centers Sampson’s performance and suggests that being alone can be an extraordinary thing. It’s a deceptively clever setup anchored by a committed performance- and a spry basement pop song- that lends “Dream Date” an unavoidable vibrancy. Irreverent, funny, and impossibly light, it’s the kind of video that can act as a reminder of the joy of simply being alive.

Watch “Dream Date” below and pre-order Metalmania ahead of its September 18 release date from Trouble In Mind here.

Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Stream)

meatwave

While the vast majority of the week’s best songs found a home in the preceding posts, one of them deserved its own headline: Meat Wave’s “Cosmic Zoo”. For years now, Meat Wave have been a staple of my own personal listening habits. I was thrilled when they were the band that became the driving force behind Heartbreaking Bravery’s first showcase and their self-titled remains the only tape I’ve managed to wear thin (you can only listen to “Panopticon” so many times before it starts warping). Before diving too much further, though, a quick detour to cover the best full streams of the week-so-far seems warranted. Between inspired records from Lithuania, Sharkmuffin, and Wimps, it’s been a good week (not to mention just about everything streaming over at NPR’s First Listen). Now that we’ve got that out of the way, back to “Cosmic Zoo”.

Following the releases of “Erased“, “Sham King“, “NRA“, and “Delusion Moon“, “Cosmic Zoo” becomes the fifth preview of the band’s upcoming sophomore effort Delusion Moon (which comes on the heels of this year’s outstanding Brother EP). Appropriately, the song’s the fifth on Delusion Moon and has a lot of sway over Delusion Moon‘s building momentum. In the context of the record, it rockets that momentum to stratospheric heights. As a standalone single, it immediately conjures up a startling amount of energy and- over the course of a blistering three minutes- focuses that energy into a series of repeated blows, each hitting their mark with a startling ferocity. Whether it’s the riff that cuts everything to ribbons approximately 1/3rd of the way into the song (one of my favorite moments of music this year), the staccato outro, or the increasingly intense rhythm work of Joe Gac and Ryan Wizniak, it’s an unavoidable show of force.

While force alone would have made “Cosmic Zoo” a must-listen, it’s also headier than it initially seems. Tying into a structure that guitarist/vocalist Chris Sutter designed, it’s part of an overarching narrative that touches on motion sickness and the lunar cycles. Adding a venomous bite to what feels, increasingly, like deeply personal lyrical territory, “Cosmic Zoo” takes on the feel of a meteor, hurtling towards earth, hell-bent on destruction. Like Delusion Moon itself, “Cosmic Zoo” is a snarling tour de force that demonstrates the overwhelming bulk of Meat Wave’s strongest qualities. Brash, unavoidable, and just about perfect, it’s the kind of adrenaline jolt that’s strong enough to keep any week humming along.

Listen to “Cosmic Zoo” below and pre-order Delusion Moon from SideOneDummy ahead of its September 18 release date here. Underneath the embed, revisit a large portion of their set from our showcase.

The Foetals – Malted (Stream)

foetals

It’s been a strong week leading into the weekend and today’s end-cap kept that streak alive, offering up a variety of gems. Skeleton Frames’ “Leech“, Zenith Myth’s “Shadow Fortune“, Coke Weed’s “Dead Man Walking“, and The Nudes’ “Hex” were all unveiled and deserve a handful of listens. Kendrick Lamar’s manic, jaw-dropping “For Free? (Interlude)” more than made up for an otherwise lacking day for music videos (honestly, though, “For Free” would have overshadowed anything else). Sharkmuffin, Half Japanese, Deaf Wish, and Ultimate Painting all offered streams of great forthcoming records while Comfy and Skirts offered up a stream of their commanding split EP.

Today’s feature cycles back to the single streams and lands squarely on The Foetals’ delightfully scrappy  “Malted”. The second glimpse at the amusingly titled Meet The Foetals, it’s another perfectly crafted piece of the kind of wiry pop that’s securing Swedish label PNKSLM Recordings a foothold in national stateside coverage. Punchy, full of hooks, and unabashedly poppy, “Malted” is the kind of track that seems perfectly suited for summer but has just enough dusty nostalgic touches to tie that appropriate-listening aspect over to fall.

The solo project of Pink Teens member Jolan Lewis, The Foetals may wind up surpassing what, up to this point, has been  Lewis’ main vehicle. If the rest of the extremely promising Meet The Foetals lives up to its early flashes of potential, Lewis just may find his other moniker scattered throughout some genre specialists’ lists come December. Until winter rolls around and definitively beds that theory, the only thing that feels appropriate is sliding the volume on “Malted” up and continuously hitting repeat.

Listen to “Malted” below and order a copy of Meet the Foetals ahead of its release here.

PUP – Dark Days (Music Video)

pup

The combination of PUP and Chandler Levack and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux’s collaborative filmmaking team has proven to be historically successful with me over the years. Last year, I cited “Guilt Trip” as 2014’s best music video on this site and in the preceding year, I awarded top honors to “Reservoir” over at PopMatters. In the videos that have come between (and followed) there simply hasn’t been one that hasn’t been highlighted in some form on Heartbreaking Bravery. “Dark Days”, the team’s latest effort, is another triumph of both artistry and form.

Once again, Levack and Shcaulin-Rioux have managed to find an intriguing way to tap into both the bands identity and their unwavering humanism. This time around, they achieve this through a slightly unexpected medium within the format: anime-inspired animations (courtesy of Solis Animation Inc.). Turning the focal point to the deceptively glamorous life of a touring band, all of the trivialities and hardships of life on the road all receive their respective turns under the spotlight.

Yes, there’s still an exhilarating run of the time spent on the stage, playing your heart out for an appreciative audience, and an endless slew of memorable moments spent in transit but the good moments tend to act as cathartic release for touring’s inevitable hardships (sickness, mental and physical exhaustion, fights, hunger, potential monetary loss, leaving your friends after only seeing them for moments, navigating relationships with the people back home, and figuring out how to correlate the peaks and valleys of personal life with life on the road, among countless other factors) but its rarely been presented this clearly. It’s a subject that’s been broached countless times (one of the best examples of this is Thor Harris’ guide to touring and his insights on touring with depression) but has frequently struggled to achieve a finished product so compelling.

The art direction- as it’s always been with Levack and Shcaulin-Rioux at the helm- is breathtaking and the editing gives “Dark Days” a vibrancy that lends to its relatable nature. “Dark Days” took a somewhat staggering six months to create and the considerable amount of work involved shows. Tour documentaries have rarely been this compelling and the same can be said for music video streaks this stratospheric. Unsurprisingly, again, the music and the clip elevate each other in a manner that gives new life to the song and a staggering vitality to the video. It’s something that deserves to not just be seen- but to be remembered.

Watch “Dark Days” below and order a copy of the band’s self-titled record here. Beneath the clip, explore a mixture of 25 great full streams and other music videos to have found release in the past handful of days. Enjoy.

Nothing – Something in the Way
Sharkmuffin – First Date
Frog Eyes – Joe With the Jam
Palmas – Stay Away
Flowers of Evil – Until You Feel the Cut
Copywrite – Philophobia
Dave Monks – Gasoline
Palma Violets – Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better on the Beach
Heather Woods Broderick – Mama Shelter
Albert Hammond Jr. – Losing Touch
Yo La Tengo – Friday, I’m In Love
Teen Daze – Morning World
Jacuzzi Boys – Happy Damage
Mexican Knives – Beach Song
Trust Fund (ft. Alanna McArdle) – Dreams
Coliseum – Sharp Fangs, Pale Flesh
Pixx – Fall In
Broen – Iris
City Calm Down – Rabbit Run