Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Split Feet

Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (Music Video)

julien baker

Every few months or so, a music video comes along and manages to steal breath, freeze blood, and make time stand still. In those moments, careers on both sides of the lens can get pushed forward with a momentum that borderlines shocking and– importantly– keeps the medium pushing forward instead of succumbing to a rote stagnancy. Julien Baker’s “Sprained Ankle” is one of those videos.

Even on its own, the title track of Baker’s astounding Sprained Ankle is gripping. A haunted, downcast meditation on self-worth and perseverance, “Sprained Ankle” could have accompanied a strong photograph and it would have made a mark. Director Sabyn Mayfield and cinematographer David Newbert, thankfully, had a different vision in mind. While “Sprained Ankle” does start on a near-frozen one shot of a dejected Baker staring at the floor, it slowly unfurls into something that feels transcendent.

As the song’s guitar harmonics ring out, the camera pulls back to reveal an isolated Baker in the damaged expanse of a demolished classroom. As Baker makes her way through an emotionally crippling set of lyrics, the camera slowly surveys the surroundings without ever abandoning Baker is the focal point; she’s at the heart of the damage. As the lyrics draw to a close, the camera approaches Baker before finally pushing past her shoulder as the song descends into a wordless, layered chorus.

Finally, in that wordless section, the camera peers upward, focusing on the ceiling insulation in between the structural gaps. As the camera explores that aspect of the gradual destruction, there’s a palpable sense of sadness that accompanies the moment, driving home the thematic point of inevitable decay with an astonishing amount of grace. Presented as a tracking shot, “Sprained Ankle” concludes by sweeping from the roof back down to tarnished earth, pulling back to reveal Baker’s vanished entirely to inject the clip with a feeling of an almost sorrowful abandonment.

Ultimately, “Sprained Ankle” comes across as deeply human. It’s a tacit statement about the cyclical nature of loss and an unforgettable examination of self-awareness. It’s an unforgettable moment from an artist who deserves a lot more discussion going forward. Don’t let this one fade into the recesses of the forgotten anytime soon.

Watch “Sprained Ankle” below and pre-order the record from 6131 here. Below the embed, explore an extensive collection of some of the past few weeks’ best videos.

Farao – Warriors
R. Ring – Loud Underneath
Violent Mae – In the Sun
The Spirit of the Beehive – You Are Arrived (But You’ve Been Cheated)
Hey Lover – I’ve Got A Car
Skaters – Mental Case
Big Eyes – Local Celebrity
The Bandicoots – Overnight Innovator
Acid Fast – Momma Grey
Fog Lake – Shanty Town
Split Feet – Selective Mommery
A Place To Bury Strangers – Supermaster
Wand – Sleepy Dog
Mooner – Alison
Novella – Sentences
Billie Marten – Bird
Conner Youngblood – The Badlands
EL VY – Need A Friend
John Andrews and the Yawns – Peace of Mind
Moon King – Roswell
Rain – Slur
Joanna Newsom – Divers
The Zephyr Bones – Weird Summer
Eliot Sumner – I Followed You Home
Wells – Shepherd
Idle Bloom – Fare Fumo

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 2

METZ I

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. I

Frankie Cosmos III

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence likely showed. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision of photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!

Perfect Pussy at Township – 4/1/14 (Live Video)

Perfect Pussy

There are times when I’ve broken one of Heartbreaking Bravery’s most defining tenets (no self-identifiers: the music is more important than the reviewer) in an effort to illuminate something. This will be one of those times for several reasons: 1) This post may mark the last time a point n’ shoot is used for content on Heartbreaking Bravery. 2) This is the first time, and certainly not the last time, a (new) self-shot full set will be appearing on this site. 3) Perfect Pussy have already qualified as exempt from this rule for reasons explained here (and then again here). 4) By posting this, I’m hoping to stabilize a bridge between a focus on music and a focus on film (look for more on that later). 5) It’s the only way I could think of delivering these points as honestly as possible. 6) I firmly believe in a support structure between DIY publications and fully intend on this being the first part of a collaboration piece.

With all of that out of the way, there’s only a few things left to say before the video(s) themselves: Yes, this is a severely blown out recording with some seriously damaged audio quality. Yes, there is an unexpected break that results in a twenty second delay between the monstrous second half of “Interference Fits”. Yes, there are times where the band goes completely out of frame. Yes, that was because I kept getting hit hard enough by the wildly enthusiastic crowd around me to be literally upended into the stage multiple times over (and, yes, I loved every second of it, bloodied up leg, beer-soaked jacket, bruised hips and all). Yes, this isn’t the greatest live presentation in the world- far from it, in fact- and yes, this is primarily being posted because it’s something I fiercely love (and has people that I love dearly in it). No, that doesn’t affect my judgment at all- these were all instances of friendships born out of love for their art and through mutual understanding/support. Yes, there will be a review of this entire show (along with more photographs)- but not on Heartbreaking Bravery (more to come on that later). Yes, I really am posting this right after the Minneapolis review– and yes, all of this can be seen in two parts below.

Enjoy.


Heartbreaking Bravery: A Retrospective Introduction

When Heartbreaking Bravery started, it was originally intended to be a place where film and music found equal footing. Now, 100 days and 100 posts later, it’s clear that somewhere along the line it established an identity firmly based on the music side of things. There are going to be a few changes made to the site in the upcoming year, one of them will be a section devoted to the discussion of film. New features will start and old features will be kept running. A few of the first updates were made earlier today. In addition to having its own domain, Heartbreaking Bravery now officially has homes on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Look for extra content, to varying degrees, on all three platforms.

For those just joining in or becoming aware of Heartbreaking Bravery’s existence, there are two things to ease into the familiarization process. One’s a playlist that features the kind of music that’s most regularly featured, which can be found below. Below that, active hyperlinks for the first 99 articles. Happy listening.

There are 25 bands and songs in this playlist. A few have received coverage from Heartbreaking Bravery, another few should have, and a fair few were part of what inspired its very existence. All of these bands mean something to this place and hopefully they’ll mean just as much, if not more, to whoever comes across them.

HB001: Audacity – Hole in the Sky (Music Video)
HB002: Swearin’ – Surfing Strange (Album Review)
HB003: Albert Hammond Jr – Carnal Cruise (Music Video)
HB004: PUP – PUP (Album Review)
HB005: Perfect Pussy – I have lost all desire for feeling (EP Review)
HB006: All Dogs – 7″ (Review)
HB007: Radioactivity – Radioactivity (Album Review)
HB008: A Look at Burger Records and the Longevity of the Cassette Tape
HB009: La Luz Suffer Major Setbacks in Semi-truck Collision
HB010: Midwives – EP (Review)
HB011: Pkew Pkew Pkew (gunshots) – Glory Days (Music Video)
HB012: Midnight Reruns’ Debut LP Streaming on Punknews
HB013: Nobunny at the Frequency – 11/11/13 (Live Review)
HB014: Angel Olsen – Forgiven/Forgotten (Music Video)
HB015: Polvo – Light, Raking (Music Video)
HB016: Split Feet – Fall Demo 2013 (Review)
HB017: Big Eyes – The Sun Still Shines (Music Video)
HB018: INTERVIEW: Meredith Graves (Perfect Pussy)
HB019: Great Thunder – Groovy Kinda Love (Album Review)
HB020: Gap Dream – Shine Your Light (Music Video)
HB021: Arcade Fire – Afterlife (Music Video)
HB022: Vaadat Charigim – Odisea (Music Video)
HB023: On the Up: Acid Fast
HB024: Watch This: Vol. 1
HB025: Va°nna Inget – Inga fra°gor Inga svar (Music Video)
HB026: Benny the Jet Rodriguez – Run. (Music Video)
HB027: Rookie Streams the Beyond Inversion Comp
HB028: On the Up: Meat Wave
HB029: Popstrangers – Rats in the Palm Trees (Music Video)
HB030: Allison Weiss – Wait for Me (Music Video)
HB031: Watch This: Vol. 2
HB032: Beyond Inversion Available at Bandcamp
HB033: Burger Releases MCII on Cassette
HB034: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Higgs Boson Blues (Music Video)
HB035: Vaadat Charigim – Kezef Al Hamayim (Music Video)
HB036: Angel Olsen – Forgiven/Forgotten (Official Music Video)
HB037: Globelamp – Star Dust (EP Review)
HB038: Watch This: Vol. 3
HB039: Saintseneca – Visions (Music Video)
HB040: Sunn O))) & Ulver Preview Collaborative LP
HB041: Burger Streams Velvet Underground Tribute Compilation
HB042: The Thermals Release Online Video Game
HB043: Tokyo Police Club – Argentina (Parts I, II, & III) (Music Video)
HB044: The Dead Weather Unleash Killer New Single
HB045: Majical Cloudz – Savage (Music Video)
HB046: On the Up: Nervosas
HB047: Watch This: Vol. 4
HB048: Burger to Release Night Drives Debut
HB049: AV Club Premieres Acid Fast’s “Tangle”
HB050: Home for the Holidays & A Guide to Surviving (Mixtape)
HB051: Burger Streams Massive Holiday Mix
HB052: Come Back Soon
HB053: Vertical Scratchers – These Plains (Stream)
HB054: Watch This: Vol. 5
HB055: The Flaming Lips’ Christmas on Mars (Film Stream)
HB056: On the Up: Tenement
HB057: Happy Holidays (Video Playlist)
Hb058: Yuck – Somewhere (Music Video)
HB059: The Flaming Lips’ 1983 2nd Cassette Demo (Stream)
HB060: 2013: A Video Review
HB061: Watch This: Vol. 6
HB062: RIP: Benjamin Curtis (Secret Machines, School of Seven Bells)
HB063: Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbag’s (Stream)
HB064: 2013: A Photography Review
HB065: The Hussy – EZ/PZ (Stream)
HB066: Fire Retarded – Meat Stairs (Stream)
HB067: Mutts and Buffalo Moon Release Music Videos, Get People Dancing
HB068: Watch This: Vol. 7
HB069: Cass McCombs – Big Wheel (Music Video)
HB070: On the Up: Technicolor Teeth
HB071: 25 Best Demo’s, EP’s, 7″ Singles, and Compilations of 2013
HB072: Mozes & the Firstborn – Skinny Girl (Music Video)
HB073: Protomartyr – Rise, Scum! (Stream)
HB074: Nothing – Guilty of Everything (Trailer)
HB075: Watch This: Vol. 8
HB076: Liars – Mess On A Mission (Stream)
HB077: Big Air – Cemetery With A View (Song Premiere)
HB078: Perfect Pussy – Driver (Stream)
HB079: Tweens – Be Mean (Stream)
HB080: Cloud Nothings Preview New Record in Brooklyn (Stream)
HB081: Golden Animals – Most My Time (Music Video)
HB082: Watch This: Vol. 9
HB083: Eagulls – Possessed (Stream)
HB084: Sneak Peek: Failures’ Union, Neighborhood Brats, Corrections (Streams)
HB085: Perfect Pussy at Schubas Tavern – 1/22/14 (Live Review)
HB086: DTCV – Alpha Waves in a Gelatinous Conductor (Music Video)
HB087: PILE – Special Snowflakes (Stream)
HB088: Watch This: Vol. 10
HB089: Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me (Stream)
HB090: Adam Widener – Laughter on Your Heels I’ll Follow (Music Video)
HB091: Potty Mouth – Black and Studs (Music Video)
HB092: Lemuria – Oahu, Hawaii (Music Video)
HB093: Screaming Females at Cactus Club – 1/29/14 (Live Review)
HB094: together PANGEA – Offer (Music Vide0)
HB095: The Trucks – Space Famous (Demo Review)
HB096: Watch This: Vol. 11
HB097: Saintseneca – Happy Alone (Music Video)
HB098: Vaadat Charigim – Ein Nehama Ladoachim (Music Video)
HB099: The Sleepwalkers – It’s A Good Day to Watch the World Go By (Stream)

Perfect Pussy at Schubas Tavern – 1/22/14 (Live Review)

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Four to six hours during the middle of winter, in a vehicle that runs  minimum heat and has busted windshield wipers, is a drive that can only be prompted by something worth being incredibly passionate about. Throw in hazardous conditions (outside of general Chicago rush-hour traffic) and it’s enough to give anyone operating in the limits of sanity room for pause- but fuck pause and fuck sanity; Perfect Pussy is not worth missing. While that statement was closer to speculation than not until last nights blown-out set at Schubas Tavern, it now resides firmly in fact.

While the road conditions forced a late arrival that meant, sadly, having to miss both Broken Prayer and Split Feet, Perfect Pussy’s set immediately obliterated any lingering thoughts or feelings on that matter. After a very brief set-up time, vocalist Meredith Graves (battling a nasty spell of laryngitis) introduced Perfect Pussy before the band kicked off their set. What happened next is difficult to summarize in words, as the reactions their set prompted were closer to visceral emotion than coherent thought- but it’s worth an attempt, however unwieldy.

For 15-20 minutes, the crowd at Schubas careened into each other in a fiercely communal experience, driven by their shared love of the music that was happening onstage. Normally, the intensity levels of the band and audience at shows like this interact in a symbiotic manner, with each doing their part while feeding off the other until a climactic fever-pitch is hit (and, hopefully, sustained). This is where Perfect Pussy stands out. They subvert the notion of a symbiotic relationship by projecting their energy onto the audience instantaneously and the audience responds in kind. There’s no build-up, no long-con, just pure immediacy.

During their set, which at times bordered on noise so thorough that instruments became indistinguishable, the Schubas audience got most involved during “I” and “IV” from I have lost all desire for feeling. Despite the unavoidable fact that audiences tend to be more responsive to material they know, it was the newer material that stood out strongest. From an incendiary performance of “Driver” to a few more choices off of their upcoming record, Say Yes to Love, it was abundantly clear that the band really believes in the new material. That dedication and commitment manifests itself in every conceivable facet of their art, live performance included.

After a whirlwind set that saw no shortage of boundless energy and focused determination, it ended as suddenly as it began. There was nothing as glamorous (or contrived) as an encore because at some point, there’s virtually nothing left to say. Perfect Pussy hit that point a few times throughout the short amount of time they were onstage and looked completely spent after. Everything had been laid out and picked bare. If there was an audience member that didn’t know who the band was before they came in, they definitely knew by the time their set was reduced to nothing but a warm hum of controlled feedback. When a band can find the perfect resting point between an immediate and lasting impression, they’re worth paying very close attention to. When they can do it so frequently on so many levels? …let’s just say this wasn’t the first and definitely won’t be the last post on this site about this particular band.

Keep an eye on Perfect Pussy’s tour dates and see them as soon as possible, even if it means crossing state lines while driving with dangerously low levels of visibility. It’s worth it. A life without risk can frequently lend itself to a life without reward. Take risks; get rewarded; go see Perfect Pussy.

25 Best Demo’s, EP’s, 7″ Singles, and Compilations of 2013

2013 was an incredible year for music that held a seemingly infinite amount of great releases in nearly every possible genre and sub-genre. Cassettes popularity exploded, vinyl sales increased by more than 30%, and the importance of demo’s finally became apparent. In a sea of widely-publicized releases that got mountains of praise, it was a joy to find what composes much of this list.  While a few spots are technically taken up by more than one release, those ties always come courtesy of a band generous enough to release more than one item and have it live up to whatever had preceded it. So, with that caveat in mind, here are the 25 best demo’s, EP’s, 7″ singles, splits, and compilations of 2013.


25. Split Feet – Fall 2013

Chicago’s Split Feet were one of the upper Midwest’s better surprises of 2013 and this demo announced their entrance authoritatively. The rest of the space could be consumed by an attempt to wax poetic on the demo’s respective virtues but, to spare everyone some time, it’s worth pointing out that’s already been done here. Stream the Fall 2013 demo below.

24. The Hotels – Leslie

Here’s an interesting, barely-relevant fact; The Hotels’ excellent Leslie EP was released on the same day Heartbreaking Bravery started. Leslie incorporates nearly all of the staple items on the musical laundry list that this site celebrates most frequently. There’s an emphasis on the kind of influences that keep it on the fringes of the emo-revival alongside bands like Swearin’ and All Dogs but finds itself living in the moment far too much to be tied to a revival. It’s immediacy pays huge dividends but it’s Leslie‘s precision that landed it on this list. Listen to it below.

23. Globelamp – Star Dust

Like Split Feet’s demo, Globelamp’s undeniable unique EP has already been celebrated here. Despite already having a few releases, this felt like a debut. Star Dust‘s nervous energy felt impossibly grounded and promises bigger things for the duo. Hear Star Dust below.

22. Elvis Christ – And So It Shall Be

No one’s going to deny that Elvis Christ is more likable to be noticed for his contributions to Nobunny than his solo work, which, based on the strength of And So It Shall Be is due for a change in the near-future.  There’s definitely a Nobunny influence coursing through the five tracks on display but they pack enough punch to secure it a spot on this list. One of Burger Records’ best tape releases from their best year. Hear it below. 

21. Joseph Frankl – Breakers

Joseph Frankl released two great records on very different platforms this year. As the drummer for The Frankl Project, he was a part of one of 2013’s (and perhaps the decade’s) best pop-punk records. Not too long after he uploaded this two-song single to his bandcamp as a self-release. Breakers exists along the same lines as yesterday’s On the Up honorees Technicolor Teeth. This is driving shoegaze that feels authentic and well-informed and not like a pale imitation. Both songs are among the year’s best and deserve way more attention than they’ve received. Hear Breakers below.

20. The Orwells – Other Voices/Who Needs You

2013 was a breakout year for these young Chicago scrappers. From Jam  in the Van sessions to NPR music video premieres, it was hard to go more than a few months without hearing about them. A lot of this, of course, was due to both of the outstanding EP’s they gave to the world in 2013 (as well as a split cassingle with FIDLAR for Record Store Day), all of which were given a tape release via Burger Records. A production assist from TV On the Radio’s Dave Sitek undoubtedly piqued a lot of interests even further than they had been but that wouldn’t mean anything if the music didn’t actually live up to the hype. Thankfully, it has. Hear both EP’s in full below. 


19. Dead Beach – Purple Scissors/Cool Mutants Split

Let’s Pretend released a lot of incredible material in 2013 but this was easily their best in the short-form department. Both Purple Scissors and the Cool Mutants split were recorded by PURPLE 7’s Patrick Jennings (who formerly fronted Hot New Mexicans) and both bands’ influences are evident throughout both the EP and the split. They both carry the slightly off-kilter, raw, and insanely melodic traits that nearly all of Let’s Pretend’s roster has come to be known for. Hear both releases in their entirety below.




18. La Luz – Damp Face

Anyone who’s been following this site probably won’t be too surprised at finding yet another Burger release on this list but it’s hard to argue against placements for any of the label’s releases; they’ve been consistently excellent and positioned themselves at the forefront of basement pop. La Luz had a turbulent year, suffering both triumphs and devastating setbacks. As horrific as their accident was, people are more likely to associate 2013 with both of the band’s outstanding releases rather than personal tragedy. Both their It’s Alive full-length and Damp Face EP have managed to jumpstart a promising career for their band and they’re already showing no signs of slowing, fighting back relentlessly at whatever obstacles come there way. Hear some of that fight bleed into their music by listening to Damp Face below.

17. Midwives – Midwives

Midwives’ self-titled debut is another of the entries on this list that’s already been covered and the thing’s got some serious legs. Its staying power has been incredibly impressive and went a long way in securing it a spot on this list. Get familiar with Wisconsin’s best new hardcore act by listening to Midwives’ introductory piece below.

16. Lemuria – Brilliant Dancer

As good as The Distance Is So Big was, this 7″ teaser the band released ahead of it may actually exceed it in terms of greatness. Both “Brilliant Dancer” and “Helloing” rank among the best songs in Lemuria’s impressive catalog, providing them the b/w format cuts out any excess and lets them operate as a sharp adrenaline shot that emphasizes the band’s best qualities. Brilliant Dancer is about as precise as Lemuria gets and sacrifices none of their sugar-rush basement pop. Hear it below (and catch them live whenever possible).

15. Summer Twins – Forget Me

As has been mentioned before and is likely to be mentioned again, Burger Records had an absolutely monstrous 2013, as far as EP’s are concerned the label didn’t put out anything better last year than the Summer Twins’ near-perfect Forger Me. Mining a 50’s doo-wop and 60’s girl group influence in equal measure, they offered up five of the most assured and gorgeous songs of the year, with the title track being one of the year’s outright best. While the rest of the songs don’t quite match the heights of “Forget Me”, they come close enough to more than justify a spot on this list. Hear Forget Me below.



14. Huge Face – Huge Face

Huge Face are yet another band that may occasionally find their name tossed into the emo-revival conversation that’s happening right now despite leaning closer to Guided by Voices and late-era Wipers than Sunny Day Real Estate. In the grand scheme of things, though, it really doesn’t matter. Huge Face stands up just fine on its own. The most modern touchpoint here would be Wolf Parade, as the bands share several similar sensibilities, even if the execution on how their lensed varies ever-so-slightly. No matter how it’s looked at, it’s fairly clear that this is a great release. Listen to it below.

13. Pusrad – Modern Anatomi

Clocking in at just over four and a half minutes, these ten songs refuse to fuck around. That steadfast commitment is an integral part of all great hardcore bands’ aesthetic, Pusrad included. Already moving at an incredibly prolific pace, Pusrad keep getting better with each one. Modern Anatomi is an exhilarating blast of fierce, old-school hardcore that’s as relentless as it is creative. One of the genre’s best releases in any format in 2013. Hear it below.



12. Upset/Swearin’/Waxahatchee/Screaming Females – Guided by Voices Tribute 7″

All anyone really needed to do for this one was look at the title. Upset, Swearin’, Waxahatchee, and Screaming Females are four of the better bands going today and each paying tribute to a specific Guided by Voices track is an undeniably sensible move. This is as much of a four-band pairing as it is a five and it exceeds its own promise. That’s one hell of an accomplishment. Unfortunately, no streams of this are currently available but it’s available for purchase (highly recommended) via the link below.

Purchase the Guided by Voices Tribute 7″ from Salinas Records

11. Sundials – Always Whatever (A Collection of Songs from 2009-2012)

Releasing a set-year retrospective can be a tempting prospect for any band that feels it’s entered a new stage; rarely do they exceed on the levels of Sundials’ Always Whatever (A Collection of Songs from 2009-2012). By forgoing the inclusion of several songs from their two main releases, First 6 Songs and When I Couldn’t Breathe, there’s an allowance for the unexpected which infuses Always Whatever with a vitality it may have sorely lacked. This is a stunning collection of melodic basement punk songs that should only help the anticipation build for whatever the band’s next move is. Get familiar with Sundials by listening to Always Whatever below.

10. Technicolor Teeth – Blood Pool

There aren’t very many bands out there who can claim to be as exciting as Technicolor Teeth. Only a few years (and two releases) into their career, they’ve managed to make a deep impression on a lot of their peers and grab the attentions of people that may help elevate them to infamy. They’ve essentially been posited as the new forefront of shoegaze by embracing it as fully as possible while still thriving to make it their own. After the rousing success and tonal darkness of Teenage Pagans, it’s unlikely that anyone thought the aspect they’d play up the most for their follow-up was their warm dream-pop influence. Granted, they haven’t sacrificed much of their morbidity or dark atmosphere and instead reinvent that side of themselves as well. As a result, they’ve wound up with the best nightmare-pop 7″ of 2013. It’s difficult to say how long this band will stay buried but expect to be hearing their names a lot more sometime soon.


9. The Dirty Nil/Northern Primitive – Split

The Dirty Nil’s split 7″ with Northern Primitive was one of the more unique splits of 2013 just for the variance of style on display. Both bands tend to err towards doom without actually crossing that bridge completely, with the former keeping at least one foot very firmly planted in early 90’s indie a la Dinosaur Jr. and The Pixies while the latter perilously straddles multiple genre lines at once. Of the two, The Dirty Nil takes the more straightforward route (and is none the less thrilling for it) while Northern Primitive throws everything they’ve got into their side, riding an eerie atmosphere into a crushing crescendo before gracefully falling back out. An absolutely stunning display piece for two of Canada’s best-kept secrets. Hear it below.



8. Jeff Rosenstock – Summer

Over the years, IYMI has become one of the most trusted sources out there for on-the-rise bands playing the basement punk circuit and have frequently offered early glimpses at bands like Swearin’ and Jason Anderson in the bandcamp “optional donation” mode (the site also is responsible for the incredible Pink Couch Sessions series). This year, they went ahead and added Jeff Rosenstock to the list by featuring his incredible Summer 7″, which managed to be one of the most explosive scuzz-pop 7″ singles of 2013. An absolute must-own. Hear both “Teenager” and “Go On Get” below.



7. Tweens – Demo CD-R

Tweens were one of the great breakout successes of the gutter circuits in 2013, releasing nothing but demos which were subsequently devoured and praised at a rate fast enough to give anyone whiplash. The Cincinnati trio have become one of the more talked-about and sought-after prospects in recent memory based solely on the strength of a demo CD-R which is impressive enough in itself. The fact that their bandleader, Bridgette, had only recently learned guitar before before starting Tweens is a completely different level of impressive. Tweens are set to release their debut full-length in March and that day can’t get here fast enough. Until then, listen to a few selections from the now-sold out demo below.



6. All Dogs – 7″

One of Salinas’ most exciting new prospects has already drawn comparisons to seemingly half of that label’s roster, which is precisely what makes it so appealing. Over the past few years Salinas has carefully cultivated a sound that prides itself on a lo-fi 90’s indie punk influence. All Dogs profile is set to get another boost with the impending release of Saintseneca’s upcoming LP on Anti-, as the bands share members. A lot more could be said about this release but, once again, it’s worth noting that much of it has already been said. Listen to All Dogs’ triumphant 7″ below.



5. Various Artists – Beyond Inversion: A Benefit for Rachael’s Women’s Center in DC

Over Heartbreaking Bravery’s short existence, the release that’s garnered the most coverage from this site is undoubtedly Accidental Guest’s incredible Beyond Inversion benefit compilation. It’s a compilation that has its heart squarely in the right place, while perfectly adhering to the best aesthetics of the basement scene. There’s a selflessness that’s on display here through the involved bands’ naturally camaraderie. It’s also a perfect representation of its time, culminating in a capsule-worthy artifact that sheds this generation in the most positive light imaginable. Which is precisely why there was more than just one article devoted to it. Beyond Inversion may be seeing a vinyl release at some point in the near future but the initial cassette release sold out in pre-orders. Thankfully, the whole thing is available for streaming and can be heard below.



4. Acid Fast – Rabid Moon

While Rabid Moon finally was given a proper vinyl release last week, it’s been available as a cassette for several months, courtesy of Stupid Bag Records. Far and away one of the most impressive cassette-only full-length’s to be granted a 2013 release, it allowed for a monumental build-up to it’s run as a 2014 record. In the span between the two official releases, the band’s picked up press from Punknews, the AV Club, and earned On the Up honors from this very site. Rabid Moon is an absolute monster of a record that channels the spirit of Archers of Loaf, has the unhinged energy that made Big Kids so great, and it deserves every accolade that’s undoubtedly coming its way. Hear the first three songs from the record below.

3. LVL UP – Extra Worlds/Porches. Split

LVL UP prove themselves again and again with each consecutive release. How this band isn’t fucking huge yet is anyone’s best guess and it still seems like that’ll happen in due time. One of the most thrilling and accessible bands going right now, LVL UP absolutely crushed 2013 with an outstanding EP and a split with Porches. that was every bit the EP’s equal. In both cases, this is full-throttle basement punk with powerpop flourishes that doesn’t skimp on aggression or melody. Flashes of everything from The Replacements at their best to Weezer at their best are all present and filtered organically enough to come across as an influence and not an imitation. It seems unlikely that LVL UP will be slowing down anytime soon. Hear both Extra Worlds and their split with Porches. below.


2. Perfect Pussy – I have lost all desire for feeling

There were no releases last year that felt as harrowing and personal as Perfect Pussy’s demo tape. It didn’t matter which way it was spun, the listener’s reaction, vocalist Meredith Graves’ determined confessionals, or the cultural dialogue it inspired; this was a personal affair. It was also an incredible piece of music, relentlessly energetic and unabashedly unapologetic in composition, production, and lyrical content. It was  a demo (and band) that meant a lot to this site, which is why Meredith Graves was chosen (and graciously agreed to be) Heartbreaking Bravery’s first interviewI have lost all desire for feeling also earned one of this site’s very first reviews and set off a chain reaction of positive effects that have extended into 2014. Listen to I have lost all desire for feeling below.

1. Tenement – Screaming Females Split + More Compilation/Puke and Destroy #2/Sick Club Vol. 3/Something to Dü

Sometimes things are predictable for a reason; this site hasn’t been shy about its feelings for Tenement. Despite not releasing any official LP’s or EP’s in 2013, they experienced one of their most successful years to date on the strength of their 7″ releases. There was their unbelievable entry into the Sick Club series on Cowabunga!, their stellar section of Puke & Destroy alongside Holy Shit!, Gleam Gardens, and The What-A-Nights, and an unbelievable (and entirely unexpected) compilation on bandcamp centered around their attention-demanding split with Screaming Females.  Additionally, the band also contributed to do the excellent Something to Dü five-band tribute on Dead Broke Rekerds offering up a volume-shifting take on “Obnoxious”. Throughout all of it, the band manages to show their full range from the battered and haunting “Ants and Flies” demo to their usual hardcore-tinged basement pop- as well as their usual lo-fi freakouts. It didn’t matter what mode they were in, everything from “Books on Hell + Sermons on T.V.” to “Twig” deserved an infinite amount of listens and serious year-end considerations. The scariest part of all this is that it still feels like this band is just getting started, especially considering the band already has two LP’s lined up for release on Grave Mistake and Don Giovanni, respectively, for next year. Hear all four of the band’s major 2013 releases below.




Split Feet – Fall 2013 Demo (Review)

Fall 2013 Demo cover art

Chicago’s Split Feet have been making some noteworthy waves recently. After releasing their demo through bandcamp, the band’s been experiencing some nice circulation based on its strength. Three songs in total, the demo strikes a strange nerve. Opener “It Broke Once” introduces the band’s aesthetic quite nicely. “It Broke Once” invites immediate comparisons to Sleater-Kinney, only a touch darker, as lead personality Jes Skolnik’s vocals are clearly indebted to Brownstein’s. While Sleater-Kinney’s aesthetic is apparent throughout the demo, the approach falls more in line with the likes of Speedy Ortiz.

One of Split Feet’s most effective tricks is their utilization of the second guitar; it’s dropped in the mix to provide an ambient sound bed that helps these songs achieve an extra layer of menace. Each track blisters with the kind of enthusiasm that’s indicative of a career beginning and the edges are sharp enough to cut skin. Titles like “Cat Mug on Secretaries’ Day” suggest a barbed underlying humor that will undoubtedly serve Split Feet well going forward.

In related news, Skolnik helped curate the upcoming Beyond Inversion tape, which is a benefit compilation for Rachael’s Women Center in DC, and it’s full of Heartbreaking Bravery favorites- Technicolor Teeth, Perfect Pussy, Sadie Dupuis from the previously-mentioned Speedy Ortiz, Potty Mouth, Failed Mutation, and Jail Solidarity are all confirmed along with Split Feet themselves. That’s just scratching the surface. You can pre-order the tape here and stream Split Feet’s Fall 2013 below.