Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: surf-punk

LVL UP – Ski Vacation (Stream)

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It’s been an insane past few days. Full streams, videos, and songs worth writing about have been emerging at a breakneck pace and making deciding what to feature a near-herculean task of decisiveness. There was a monumentally important music video from Mean Creek‘s Chris Keene for his upcoming solo record as Dream Generation, an interactive piece of unbridled fun from Ty Segall for the title track off of Manipulator, characteristically cinematic videos from both Beverly and Fucked Up– who have each been doing wonders with the visual medium, a video that practically defines Bob Mould’s workmanlike nature, and a Jane Forsyth & Ian Pollard-helmed video for Parquet Courts’ “Bodies Made Of“- which proved to be an astoundingly sensible creative pairing. There were full streams of the gently gnarled She Keeps Bees full-length, the psych-trip of the White Fence and Jack Name split, and a new Greylag song, “Yours to Shake“, that showed some serious teeth. Picking between all of those seemed as if it might be impossible until, once again, LVL UP made the decision fairly easy.

At this point, noting that LVL UP’s upcoming Hoodwink’d is this site’s front-runner for Album of the Year seems redundant. It’s a 15-song masterpiece that sees the band perfecting their best aspects and surpassing an arsenal of lofty expectations in the process. This is something that this site’s touched on in reviews for the first three songs to be teased from the record: “Soft Power“, “I Feel Ok“, and “DBTS“. Now, the band’s released the fourth look at the now-imminent Hoodwink’d with “Ski Vacation” which shows the band expanding their sonic palette yet again. Boasting a tranquil atmosphere and no shortage of jangly guitar tones, the song integrates some subtle-yet-effective surf tendencies into the band’s outsider pop aesthetic- and the end result is spectacular. What jumps out about all of the songs that the band’s been previewing is that they stand on their own extraordinarily well and would warrant serious consideration for pushes as Hoodwink’d singles- but as a collective piece they’re extraordinary and complement each other better than just about anything that even bothers to casually flirt with genre-hopping tendencies. In that respect, Hoodwink’d might be the first record 2014 produces that would be deserving of a title no smaller than masterpiece. “Ski Vacation” is just the fourth of 15 dimensions.

For some essential reading on Hoodwink’d, please go to Sasha Geffen’s Interview piece– where the track premiered- to scroll through a can’t-miss interview that sheds some light on what went into making the record.

Stream “Ski Vacation” below and pre-order Hoodwink’d from Double Double Whammy (which has played host to several of 2014’s best releases and is in the midst of an absurd winning streak)- who will be co-releasing it with Exploding in Sound (see: last parenthesis)-  here.

The Yolks – You Don’t Live Here No More (Stream)

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Towards the end of last month, Chicago’s The Yolks released the extraordinary Kings of Awesome on Randy Records, which is a record that’s now also being released as a cassette through the infallible Burger Records. One listen to “You Don’t Live Here No More” and it’s plain to see why Burger jumped at the chance to partner up with Randy for a joint release; in 84 seconds, the band evokes decades worth of great American music from 50’s soul to 60’s r&b drenched pop to 90’s outsider pop. While there’s a definite analog sound at play here, it still doesn’t feel like a true throwback- the band’s too aware of the present to come across as antiquated.

In addition to all of that, the lyrics follow a typical blues pattern: there’s a repeated heartbreak-heavy phrase that gets twisted after two lines and adorned with the obligatory “baby” on the second through-line. Yet somehow, the repetition’s not something that calls attention to itself, it feels organic enough that it just glides by, largely unnoticed thanks to the extraordinarily catchy vocal melody and clean, surf-indebted guitar work. When the song finally breaks open as the drums kick in, it’s clear that The Yolks know exactly what they’re doing- and everyone’s all the better for it.

Listen to “You Don’t Live Here No More” below and make sure to either grab the LP from Randy Records here or the cassette from Burger here.