Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Song Premiere

The Young Couples – Tarantula (Song Premiere)

Ian Proper’s been around for some time, making music strong enough to snag the interests of a deeply impressive rotating cast of backing musicians (including members of acts like Cherry Glazerr, Howlo, and Pleistocene) and utilizing them to great effect for his most recent project, The Young Couples. EP.01, the project’s first proper effort will be out in the world soon and Proper’s offering up a tantalizing preview in the form of the biting powerpop of “Tarantula”.

Hook-laden, smartly crafted, and executed with feeling, “Tarantula” teases and attacks in equal measure. Whether it’s a gorgeous but short-lived introduction segment or the lilting vocal melody of the song’s infectious bridge, “Tarantula” manages to provoke and ensnare attention. It’s a classically crafted genre piece that calls to mind genre forebears (Proper’s voice can occasionally eerily resemble an early-era Elvis Costello) and contemporaries alike.

In keeping with a time-honored tradition, “Tarantula” is a song that feels like it runs for half of its actual length because it’s so enjoyable in the moment. By the time it winds to a close, its absence is felt because of the warmth it exudes while its in rotation. From its opening seconds through its boldest production trick (a small but significant moment that arrives at roughly the three-quarters mark of the song), “Tarantula” remains captivating. It’s a welcome reminder that care can be put into songs that sound carefree and it deserves a whole host of new listeners.

Listen to “Tarantula” below and keep an eye on Dadstache for the record’s September 1 release here.

Havania Whaal – Supermoon (Song Premiere)

The genres of psych, shoegaze, and punk have all peacefully co-existed at various intersections throughout the past several decades but rarely have the three been as equally represented as they are on Havania Whaal’s “Supermoon”, an uneasy, five and a half minute triumph. Woozy tones drift in and out, the drums hit hard, the vocals fight their way through endless layers of reverb echo and a string instrument or two throw things even further off kilter.

Havania Whaal have been quietly gaining momentum over the past three years and everything seems to be coming to a head for the trio with “Supermoon” more than likely to pique a lot of additional interest. The song’s masterfully structured, allowing each element to both breathe on its own and congeal with the others to create an enormous sum.
Every second of “Supermoon” feels, impossibly, calculated and spur-of-the-moment, conjuring up an additional sense of uncertainty to accompany the light cognitive dissonance the production already does well to provoke.

It’s a fascinating and immensely enjoyable moment for a band that seems to destined to both keep its audience on its toes and keep their listeners happily engaged. Don’t miss out on one of this month’s most pleasant surprises.

Listen to “Supermoon” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on Havania Whaal.

The Holy Circle – Early Morning (Song Premiere)

Only a short while ago The Holy Circle were kind enough to offer up a premiere for their “Polaris” music video. Today, a new premiere is on the table: the brooding, pulsating, melancholic “Early Morning”. Taken from the band’s forthcoming self-titled full-length, “Early Morning” is a characteristically dark piece of synth pop, underscoring  the band’s gift with atmospherics as much as it highlights their penchant for forward-thinking composition.

A calm, steadily swirling vortex of mood, emotion, and quiet determination, the track represents another important step forward for the band, whose evolution has been a privilege to witness. Hypnotic and mesmerizing in all of the right ways, “Early Morning” takes on a complex narrative involving perceived beauty and hard-fought individuality, weaving it into a gentle dreamscape couched in some subtle menace, creating an absorbing tapestry that’s difficult to shake. A commentary on the emotional duality of burdensome expectation, “Early Morning” transcends its outward tranquility to become something that cuts deep. One of the band’s finest moments to date.

Listen to “Early Morning” below and pre-order The Holy Circle here as a download, from ANNIHILVS on CD, and from Black Horizons on cassette.

Ben Morey & The Eyes – Black Jacket (Song Premiere)

Ben Morey became a memorable name thanks to an enviable output that included exceptional work with Dumb Angel and Howlo. Morey takes the spotlight here and is surrounded by an ensemble backing cast made up of some of Rochester, NY’s finest musicians (among them: Pleistocene‘s Katie Preston, Mikaela Davis, Green DreamsJesse Amesmith, and members of Attic Abasement).  “New Life”, the breezy first song to be released from the project’s forthcoming full-length, Mt. Doom, gave listeners plenty of reasons to be excited over its release and “Black Jacket” — premiering here — should only heighten that anticipation.

“Black Jacket”, which was recorded in South Wedge Mission and boasts a narrative that Morey described as a “Motorcycle death melodrama” told from the perspective of a teenage ghost. The doo-wop inflected track’s musical aesthetics hearken back to a time where that kind of story would feel snugly at home. It’s an absolutely gorgeous number that capitalizes fully on the 10-piece outfit assembled for the recording (which includes Pleistocene’s Preston).

There’s not a false note to be found on “Black Jacket”, a spirited near-waltz that makes excellent use of its “sha-la-la” backing vocals and spoken word interlude. Too forward-thinking to be strict revivalism and too historically-informed to not be considered nostalgia-inducing, “Black Jacket” straddles a familiarly cozy divide and breathes some new life into that gap. A beautiful piece from a record that grows more fascinating with each new track, “Black Jacket” is both a tantalizing look at Mt. Doom and a perfect addition to anyone’s summer soundtrack.

Listen to “Black Jacket” below and pre-order Mt. Doom LP from City of Quality here and keep an eye on Dadstache for the tape release.

Neutral Shirt – Dust On Your Shelf (Song Premiere)

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One of the most exhilarating experiences that accompanies running a publication like Heartbreaking Bravery is when a personal submission winds up making a mark. For over three years, the vast majority of what’s been sent through to the site’s inbox hasn’t connected for one reason or another. So when a project like Matthew Terrones’ Neutral Shirt sends something as inspired as the upcoming 2016 EP over, it can comes as a galvanizing shock to the system and serve as a reminder of why places like these exist in the first place: to feature exceptional new music (and artists) whose work isn’t receiving the audience it deserves.

Since receiving 2016  which is slated to arrive on January 6, 2017 — the EP’s been in near-constant rotation. “Dust On Your Shelf” is one of many relatively unassuming highlights that ably demonstrates what makes Neutral Shirt a project worth watching. There’s a laid-back, almost romantic nonchalance that’s been present in Alex G‘s best work, an insistence that draws the listener in and keeps them riveted, and a comprehensive understanding of craft that’s typically only attained by a veteran artist (the first Neutral Shirt release came earlier this year and included a revealing demo of “Dust On Your Shelf”).

A song about the feeling of helpless neglect, “Dust On Your Shelf” acutely conveys a very specific type of heartache while remaining lively enough to make the pain easy to swallow. It’s an immense piece of punk-tinged bedroom pop from a burgeoning artist who seems poised for an astonishing run that will likely earn Terrones a lot of converts to the church of Neutral Shirt. Resilient, lonesome, and surprisingly urgent “Dust On Your Shelf” is as good of a starting point into Neutral Shirt’s world as any and it deserves serious investment. Dive in and get lost to its spell.

Listen to “Dust On Your Shelf” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on Neutral Shirt and 2016.

Strange Relations – Weeknites (Song Premiere)

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Last August, this site had the distinct pleasure of hosting the premiere of Strange Relations’ music video for “Panther’s Conquest” and the differences between that song and their most recent, “Weeknites”, is staggering. While “Panther’s Conquest” was undoubtedly a strong single and a fine piece of work from a band growing comfortable with their footing, “Weeknites” is the sound of a band that knows their strengths and can utilize them to astonishing effect.

The trio still specializes in wiry post-punk that’s as nervy as it is subtle, ultimately revealing a deep kinship to acts like Sonic Youth. It’s something that the best moments of -CENTRISM, the band’s last record, hinted at when it could but never to the extent that it appears here. There’s an emboldened attitude that simultaneously heightens the musical interplay of “Weeknites” while it grounds its narrative. There’s a nervous energy that powers “Weeknites” and draws the listener closer in by conjuring up an air of mystique.

Even as the vocals leap from calculated half-spoken/half-sung whispers to distressed half-screams, the band’s minimalism remains in tact and opens up an incredibly effective chorus. There’s a sultry menace that “Weeknites” alternately hides and brings to the forefront, creating a buoyant sense of unease that goes a long way in establishing the song as something more singular than it may seem at first glance. While “Weeknites” is a curious joy on the first few listens, it does require some investment to realize its full potential; the song’s a meticulously crafted work and that commendable level of effort runs far deeper than the most immediate surface levels.

By the song’s breathtaking final sequence, it’s abundantly clear that the three members of Strange Relations have completely committed themselves to this band. Every facet of “Weeknites” is complementary to the other functions, from the ancillary production to the intuitive drumming, there’s not a single piece that ever threatens to jeopardize the entire operation. Incredibly successful on dynamic, atmospheric, and narrative levels, “Weeknites” marks an exciting new era for Strange Relations. They’ve more than done their part, all that’s left is to wait — and to hope — that larger audiences will follow.

Listen to “Weeknites” below and pre-order Going Out from Tiny Engines here.

Sun’s Out Bummed Out – Cut All My Hair (Song Premiere)

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One of this site’s first posts of the year was an introduction to the tantalizing hyper-skittishness of Ubetcha and it set the tone for the months to follow. 2016 has been extraordinarily generous in its offerings from new acts making their way out into the world for the first time. From the triumphantly withdrawn powerpop of Mo Troper’s Beloved to the razor-sharp cacophony of Cadet Kelly, the past six months have been overflowing with acts who already seem primed to break out into larger roles. Sun’s Out Bummed Out — the new project from Blind Lovejoy‘s Laura Daegling — can now be added to that growing list.

“Cut All My Hair”, taken from the project’s debut digital single, is Sun’s Out Bummed Out’s first song and demonstrates a sense of identity and understanding that a lot of seasoned bands fail to achieve. From a wispy opening section, the song blossoms into something that embraces an array of influences from the wave of psych and proto-punk that came in on the heels of the British Invasion to the kind of bedroom pop that carries greater weight and greater substance than what the genre’s most streamlined offerings typically provide.

Beyond the ancillary production and general aesthetic, Daegling proves to be a very adapt lyricist, deftly navigating the spaces between self-doubt and begrudging confidence. Of course, the narrative of “Cut All My Hair” wouldn’t be half as effective if it wasn’t grounded by a head-turning sincerity in its fiercest moments. Whether the song’s tipping towards hope or despair, there’s never a lack of conviction; Daegling keeps the song’s loftiest goals within arm’s reach before finally bringing the song home in an effective and affecting cyclical moment.

By that climactic final moment, Sun’s Out Bummed Out seems more than ready to be termed a legitimate force. Every single facet of the song seems necessary to its success, each piece perfectly aligned to constitute a whole that nears the transcendent. It’s a beautiful piece of music from a commanding voice that demands to be heard. One can only hope that a very big audience decides to quiet down enough to listen.

Listen to “Cut All My Hair” below and keep an eye on the site for further updates on Sun’s Out Bummed Out.

Jacky Boy – Bad (Song Premiere)

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Every so often a new, unknown band emerges and challenges the entire infrastructure of the music industry. For all of its deeply unnecessary — and potentially damaging — support beams, overt interest in revenue over quality, and grossly tilted geographic priorities, the one thing it can’t hold down forever is raw talent. This is where bands like the Bloomington, IN-based Jacky Boy come into play. Operating out of America’s heartland, several steps removed from the hyper-connected trappings of LA and NYC, the band will likely have the unique opportunity to pace their own artistic growth, though “Bad” suggests that they’re already well on their way to realizing their full potential.

Very few songs have the immediate impact that “Bad” carries, even less when the band doesn’t even have an official release under its belt. From the onset “Bad” surges ahead like Courtney Barnett at her most furious before abruptly tapering off into a territory that’s decidedly more indebted to ’90s powerpop and slacker punk. Dynamic shifts, soaring backing vocals, and sharp, effective guitar work coalesce and elevate “Bad” from a promising entry into a legitimately great one.

Only a few songs into their career, the trio’s embraced a remarkably well-crafted identity that pays homage to both its forebears and their unlikely contemporaries (many of which are affiliated with Exploding In Sound). There’s a decisiveness to the decision making on “Boy” that reveals itself gradually. From the isolated Dinosaur Jr-esque guitar breaks to the hushed bridge to the deeply relatable world-weary sensibilities contained in the lyrics, “Boy” manages to perfectly bridge the divide between the past and the present by identifying the unifying traits of both the eras and the genres that have formed their approach.

Everything Jack Boy tries out on “Bad” works to an uncanny perfection, all the while piecing itself into something much larger than its opening segment might indicate. There’s a somewhat shocking level of nuance to “Bad” — especially considering the band’s only a few songs into their career — that ably expands the song’s pull on both an intellectual level and something that’s far more immediate. “Bad” doesn’t just reward investment, it openly invites, encourages, and all but guarantees that the listener will actively want to explore it further.

A triumphant opening statement and an exhilarating listen, “Bad” confidently marks the beginning of a new stage for Jacky Boy. With any luck, they’ll find that their audience never stops growing.

Listen to “Bad” below and pre-order the Jacky Boy EP from Turd Wurld here.

Oceanator – Sunrise (Song Premiere)

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There were very few songs released over the past year that hit as hard as Oceanator’s breathtaking “Nowhere Nothing“, which not only served as an extremely formidable introductory piece for the project but bludgeoned its way into this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016’s First Quarter list. Now, the project — masterminded by Vagabon drummer Elise Okusami — is following up that first glimpse with another meaningful look.

“Sunrise” is the latest Oceanator track and it trades out the relentlessly dark brooding of “Nowhere Nothing” for a warmth that feels true to its title. That warmth isn’t just present in the tones of the driving bass, surf guitar, or synths that define the song’s carefree approach, its also evidenced by the lyric set. In one song, Oceanator veers sharply away from the introspective damage that made “Nowhere Nothing” such a hair-raising experience to focus on something a little less miserable; romantic yearning.

Framed by a simple desire to have someone to share in some warm weather experiences, “Sunrise” succeeds as a narrative by managing to get its point across in broad strokes while putting an acute point on personal tendencies. The bouncy, breezy instrumental approach distracts from the inherent loneliness that drives the subtext of “Sunrise” and keeps the song in a place that’s much more immediate, allowing it to breathe and enhancing the carefree nature of its surface.

In two songs, Oceanator proves to be a project with a surprising amount of range, depth, understanding, and versatility. Equally successful on two very opposite side of the spectrum, “Nowhere Nothing” and “Sunrise” offer up a very clear indication that this project could very well bloom into a serious vehicle that attains an impressive level of name recognition and praise.

“Sunrise” isn’t just ancillary, though, it’s also an impressive song in its own right and its an essential addition to any summer soundtrack. Any way it’s spun, it’s a song that demands to be heard and refuses to live by any rules other than its own. Keep an eye on Oceanator, with a track record this strong at such an early stage, whatever’s waiting around the corner is worthy of a tremendous level of anxious anticipation. “Sunrise” will be more-than-welcome company as Oceanator constructs its next step.

Listen to “Sunrise” below and download it here.

Horse Teeth – Dark & Gloomy (Song Premiere)

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One of the most notable advantages of running a blog that mostly focuses on non-marquee names is the increased likelihood of being clued into promising bands at the earliest stages of their list.  About a week ago, this manifested in the form of the premiere of Inside Voices’ extraordinary “Nomad: Begin” and now that aspect of this site is being brought to the forefront once again with another premiere from a band just starting out: Horse Teeth.

Boasting a sound that’s not too dissimilar from the finest crop of Saddle Creek acquisitions (Hop Along, Big Thief, etc.), the trio’s already showing remarkable poise for a new project. Beyond that, Horse Teeth — a band comprised of Andrew Stocker, Adeline Hotel’s Dan Knishkowy, and Minor Moon’s Sam Cantor — seems so assured in their songwriting that it’s difficult to imagine they’ll be able to expand on an already fully-formed identity as they push their way into the future.

Folk, Americana, blues, and punk influences are all evident throughout “Dark & Gloomy”, the band’s lead-off track from their debut effort, the Horse Teeth EP. Recorded during a January blizzard, the song offers a tantalizing preview of the band’s exceptional songwriting and compelling aesthetic. Striking the absolutely perfect balance between polish and grit, Horse Teeth manage to secure a level of production that goes beyond just complementing their sound and winds up ensuring it’s enhanced.

On top of every other promising quality the band shows in great abundance both on “Dark & Gloomy” and throughout the EP is their vice-like grip on dynamic flourishes. From the breezy, wide-open riffing that drives the track to the effective rests and crescendos, there’s never a moment anything less than utterly captivating. From memorable couplets to well-versed rhythm work, “Dark & Gloomy” isn’t just a solid introduction to a tremendous new band, it’s a genre masterclass. Don’t make the mistake of letting this one slip by unnoticed.

Listen to “Dark & Gloomy” below and keep an eye out for both its April digital release and the EP’s limited tape run, courtesy of Bad Look Records.