Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Spray Paint

The Side Eyes – I Don’t Want To Go To School (Stream)

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While Clique, Tamu Massif, Oscar, Pity Sex, White Lung, Thin Lips, Stephen Steinbrink, PAWS, Karen Meat, Spray Paint, Land of Leland, RLYR, and Nick Leng may have all released great songs over the past few days (that deserve a whole lot of repeat listens), this post’s feature falls on a band new to the site: The Side Eyes. The quartet’s releasing their debut EP as a tape on Burger, injecting the label with some exciting new blood.

“I Don’t Want To Go To School” is the EP’s lead-off single and it’s a tremendous, surf-tinged basement pop number that easily separates itself from their peers thanks to a monstrous chorus that slows the song from a sprint to a crawl. The song’s another in a long tradition of carefree songs about wanting to skip out of the rigorous trappings of school and enjoy their freedom and the open air instead.

Occasionally, those songs register as a lazily compiled pastiche of better, past efforts on the same topic. In the case of The Side Eyes, there’s enough conviction in both the composition and the vocal delivery that it’s almost impossible to not believe their narrative. From the frantic, surging guitar part to the rhythm section’s bite and the considerable venom of the vocals, “I Don’t Want To Go To School” doesn’t strike a false note.

Weirdly triumphant and effectively anthemic, the song could transition into a legitimate rallying cry for a new generation. A generation dealing with a broken education system that’s continuing to experience an inward collapse. A generation that’s being, increasingly, deprived of outdoors experiences. A generation that, at some point, we won’t be able to blame for wanting to skip school in favor of fresh air.

Maybe “I Don’t Want To Go To School” is a lot more simple than a pointed social commentary, maybe it’s not. Either way, The Side Eyes have gifted us an exhilarating, thoughtful track that deserves praise and loving inspection. Turn it on, crank it up, and then go spend some time outside.

Listen to “I Don’t Want To Go To School” below and keep an eye on Burger to pick up the cassette.

Midnight Reruns – Force of Nurture (Album Review, Stream)

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Formatted in the same pattern as the last post due to the time constraints that CMJ prompted, the full streams collected in the interim from regularly scheduled coverage are listed at the very bottom of this post. It’s a decision that also allows the sole focus to be placed on Midnight Reruns‘ incredible sophomore effort, Force of Nurture. It’s worth noting that this is a band I’ve had the privilege of tracking since around the time of their first EP‘s release, which precedes this site’s existence, and they were one of the bands I created Heartbreaking Bravery to celebrate (they’ll always have the distinction of being the first band ever to appear on Watch This, which has now run for 100 segments).

During that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to catch a number of the band’s explosive live shows, which have– with good reason– mostly veered towards the material on Force of Nurture. The band put together a nice pre-release run for the album, including a very strong EP and the release of two of 2015’s best songs in “There’s An Animal Upstairs” and “Canadian Summer“. As good as all of those items were, they’d fail to suggest the extent of Force of Nurture‘s sheer weight, even if they were packaged together.

In a statement issued to Substream, who hosted the record’s premiere, guitarist/vocalist Graham Hunt spoke of the loss of a close personal friend, an event that reverberates throughout the record with a staggering force. It’s most noticeably present in the record’s connecting thematic elements; uncertainty, regret, struggle, and loss. Even Force of Nurture‘s most ostensibly positive moments come with the caveat of being opaque enough to suggest there could be a tremendously dark underlying subtext.

Aside from the record’s earned weariness, the compositions far exceed what the band accomplished on their extremely impressive self-titled debut, which is no mean feat. A very palpable debt to The Replacements is heavily reinforced by Force of Nurture‘s credits, which list Tommy Stinson (one of the group’s earliest supporters) as the record’s producer. While there are still aspects of the Thin Lizzy twin-lead dynamic that were so often cited in regards to their earlier work, the band leans more heavily on their Big Star influence this time around to exhilarating effect.

Hunt, as hinted at above, turns in a jaw-dropping lyric sheet that expertly bridges the record’s muted optimism with its struggles in solipism. Everything, down to our own most microbiological functions, is put on trial; no answers are granted and the questions that are posed cut deep. Debauchery runs rampant but the band never lets its determination flag, committing to “making people laugh” even in their bleakest moments.

As relentlessly dark as this is all sounding, the band still finds a way to present themselves through fiery guitar work, sun-soaked melodies, and propulsive rhythm section work that lends the proceedings the kind of vibrancy that renders Force of Nurture an addictive listen. It’s mid-section run, in particular, somehow manages to pull off a relative weightlessness in the face of its tragic, bruised lyricism. Whether its something like the strained relationship at the crux of “Where’s Ace?” or the dreamlike self-aggrandizement of “Sky Blue Water” that ends in a tragicomic defeat, there’s a very peculiar bite to the record that makes it feel deeply personal and unflinchingly vital.

By the time the band’s exhausted their arsenal of incredibly effective hooks (the only 2015 records I can think of that have approached being even remotely close to this successful in that sense are Sweet John Bloom’s Weird Prayer and Dogs On Acid’s self-titled), they’ve run an exhaustive gamut of hard-earned lessons and navigated the journey with a wary resiliency. As they well know, and devastatingly note on “Great Southern Rail”, the record’s sprawling eight minute closer, sometimes all it takes is just one gunshot.

As a personal exercise, Force of Nurture feels therapeutic in a way that seemed to be crushingly necessary. As a standalone full-length, it’s essential. Easily one of 2015’s most invigorating, affirming, and incendiary records, Force of Nurture aim goes far beyond most band’s goals and they hit their mark with a memorable emphasis. So, as things get difficult, depression lingers, houses burn, friends are lost, and seasons vanish to a place beyond recovery, we now have a deeply empathetic record to help us through those times. For that, we collectively owe Midnight Reruns a debt of gratitude- and a place for Force of Nurture in our collections.

Listen to Force of Nurture below and order a copy from Dusty Medical here. Beneath the embed, explore a list of some of the finest records to find release over the past few weeks.

Trust Fund – Seems Unfair
Laura Stevenson – Cocksure
Petal – Shame
Jonathan Bree – A Little Night Music
Ex-Breathers – Past Tense
Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Slanted – Lost Forever: B-Sides From Forever
Sleep Kit – Standby Me
Postcode – The Dandelion Radio Session
Wendy Alembic – Collected Early Works
Sports – All of Something
Community Records Compilation Vol. 5
Witch Coast – Burnt Out By 3PM
Walter – Get Well Soon
The Love Coffin – Veranda
Spray Paint – Dopers
Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
Expert Alterations – You Can’t Always Be Liked
Alien Boy – Never Getting Over It
Dyke Drama – Tender Resignation
Florist – Vacation
Stumpf – Barf Radio
Greys – Repulsion
Haybaby – Sleepy Kids
Dead Painters – Aluminum Gold

Mike Krol – Turkey (Album Review, Stream)

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With an incredibly strong Tuesday already transitioning to the rear view, it would have made sense to see a drop in content release but a lot of places seemed intent on following other plans leading to a Wednesday that was just as overflowing with great material. Shit Present unveiled a spiky EP debut of Salinas-brand pop-punk and The School revealed something resembling a low-key indie pop masterpiece in Wasting Away and Wondering. Hurry Up, Spray Paint, Julia Holter, Telekinesis, Moses Sumney, Heaters, Jono McCleery, Weyes Blood, Haybaby, and See Through Dresses all released excellent new songs while exemplary music videos got brought out by the likes of Girls Names, Vaadat Charigim, Shy Kids, Postcards From Jeff, Glen Hansard, Sporting Life, PILL, Wet Nurse, and Low Fat Getting High (whose director this time around, A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor Stephen Tringali, continues to do masterful work with desolate landscapes and imagery rooted in magic surrealism). Merge also surprised everyone with a stream of one of the year’s best records, Mike Krol’s Turkey.

After posting Krol’s ridiculously enjoyable video for “Neighborhood Watch” yesterday, the full album has finally arrived. Since a lot ground was already covered in the “Neighborhood Watch” write-up, I’ll forego some of that reviews focal points (the historical context of his long-standing Sleeping in the Aviary connection and his other past work) to focus on the material at hand. Before I get lost fawning over Sleeping in the Aviary- one of the most crushingly under-recognized bands of recent times- I’ll merely state that their impact can be felt all over Turkey (they’re essentially Krol’s backing band, after all) and Turkey seems to pick up right around where Sleeping in the Aviary’s 2011 swan song, You and Me, Ghost left off in terms of stylistic approach.

Turkey is a different beast than its string of predecessors from either the man at the center of the project or the band he’s continued to incorporate into his project. Nearly every track of the formidable blitz that is Turkey seems wild-eyed and feral, largely eschewing grace in favor of brute force. In more than a few ways it recalls Lost Boy ? at their most ferocious, precariously balancing a delirious mental state with a bevvy of seemingly unchecked aggression. The difference maker here is the brevity, which is wielded like a weapon and utilized to frightening perfection.

Only one song on Turkey eclipses the two and a half minute mark, effectively rendering Turkey a barrage of quick hits. A normal detractor in this case is that in a flurry of blows, some of the shots can lose their power- a pitfall that Turkey overcomes with ease. Likely due to the fact that Krol’s boiled his peculiar model of songwriting down to an art form (Merge did sign him, after all), it’s an extremely impressive achievement nonetheless. With the exception of the gorgeous but ultimately irreverent closing track (“Piano Shit” is as apt as a title as any I’ve seen this year), every song on Turkey could work as a standalone single or cut through a crowded mixtape with ease.

When “This Is The News” was originally unveiled last month, expectations for Turkey skyrocketed but still allowed for a host of variables to diminish the extreme impact of its lead-off single. Looking back and taking into consideration Krol’s enviable long-term consistency and career track, the suggestion that Turkey would be anything other than a powerhouse release seems ridiculous. Now that it’s actually here, though, it’s unlikely that anyone could have fathomed the extent of how high-impact this record would wind up being. While it’s likely still too early to call it a genre masterpiece, the temptation’s already starting to build. Arriving at the precise intersection of basement pop and basement punk, allowing for a host of outlying genre influences (doo-wop and soul play key parts in the band’s atomic chemistry).

Nine songs of pure cathartic release, this easily ranks among the very best of 2015. Played with feeling, fearlessness, and an excessive amount of verve, Turkey is a new career benchmark for one of the sharpest talents to emerge out of the upper Midwest (between this, Tenement’s Predatory Headlights, and a small handful of other notable releases, the region’s composing a powerful run). Already nearly a dozen listens in since receiving new of the stream yesterday, I can personally attest to the fact that it’s addictive, it rewards investment, and retains enough punch to ensure it an unlikely level of longevity. Smart, catchy, and a blinding entry into a genre intersection that isn’t always afforded the luxury of national attention (something Turkey has a decent shot at, thanks to Merge’s involvement), this is a record worth purchasing several times over. Lay it all on the line and dive into this thing headfirst, the fall in will be worth it every time.

Listen to Turkey below and pre-order a copy from Merge ahead of its Friday release here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruising – Think About Death (Stream)

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Any band that’s origin story can be traced back to a Perfect Pussy t-shirt’s going to be one that will have at least some of my attention. That’s getting a little ahead of schedule, though, so we’ll come back to that later. Just as all of the preceding posts have done, this one will start with 10 tracks well worth hearing. Among them are two tracks from Thee Oh Sees mastermind John Dwyer from both his main vehicle (“Withered Hand“) and his new(er) Damaged Bug project (“Jet In Jungle“)- both of which sound like some of the songwriter’s most vital material yet. Slow Down Molasses indulged their atmospheric sensibilities with “Home“, Protomartyr turned in their most biting lyric track to date with “Blues Festival“, and Spray Paint continued to sound downright feral with “Day of the Rope“. Miniboone unveiled a surprisingly punchy indie pop tune in “Any Other City“, Your Old Droog unleashed a masterclass in throwback hip-hop with “Hidden Persuaders“, and Honeyblood turned vicious in “The Black Cloud“. Rounding everything out was Oddissee’s typically inviting “Belong To The World” and Paul de Jong’s typically inventive “Hollywald“. All ten are worth attempts at total immersion but the focus for this particular post falls on yet another duo: Bruising.

The duo, as mentioned above, formed in a Leeds nightclub after guitarist/vocalist Naomi Baguley saw Ben Lewis wearing a Perfect Pussy shirt (the band this site has covered to exhaustive detail). If that meet-cute scenario wasn’t enough, the band they formed now has a makeshift home in site favorites Art Is Hard, a label that’ll be releasing the second volume of their excellent Family Portrait series on May 11. Topping everything off, the song they’re contributing to the series- “Think About Death”- is precisely the kind of song this site was created to celebrate. Clearly clinging to a DIY ethos while bringing in elements of twee, powerpop, basement punk, and shoegaze to create something that feels new and exhilarating, the band’s latched on to a kind of near-magic that’ll serve them extraordinarily well going forward. As ambitious as it is easygoing, “Think About Death” is an absolute triumph for a band that seems to have already figured out exactly who they are what the want to achieve. One climactic moment crashes in after another, with gentle vocals floating over impassioned drumming and urgent guitarwork, weaving one of the year’s most captivating tapestries. Only a few songs into their career, Bruising have already emerged as one of the most exciting young bands of today- a point driven emphatically home by “Think About Death”.

Listen to “Think About Death” below and pre-order Family Portrait Pt. II from Art Is Hard here.

together PANGEA – Badillac (Music Video)

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Due to yesterday’s hundred-marker mixtape, a lot of great just-released content got glossed over. Today, the amendments kick in, provided via hyperlink. There were incredible songs from Left & Right, Wishbone, The History of Apple Pie, Whirr, The Shivas, and Spray Paint. On the more visual end of the spectrum there was a hypnotic video from Literature, a lovingly-lensed performance clip from emerging artist Greylag, and a typically goofy clip from site favorites Krill. Over the past two days, though, only one could snag today’s feature spot and that honor goes to together PANGEA’s ridiculously fun, homage-heavy clip for the title track off of their excellent LP from this year, Badillac.

It’s been a while since their last music video (which, incidentally, also secured a feature spot from this site) and the only real avenue to continue featuring the band has been Watch ThisConsidering just how well Badillac has held up as the year’s worn on, it just didn’t seem  right. Luckily, the band’s offered up a very good reason to give them another turn at bat; a note-perfect ode to classic horror films. There’s an attention to detail that helps this transcend the medium’s usual attempts at pastiche. All in all, it’s one of the more pleasant ways to spend a few minutes that’s been put forth this year- and that’s something that’ll always be next to impossible to argue against.

Watch “Badillac” here and make sure to order the record from Harvest here.