Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Tedo Stone

Hung Toys – Lurid (Album Review, Stream)

hung toys

There have been several dozen records unveiled in the past few weeks that merit attention. One of the latest in that string of releases has been flying completely under the radar despite the pedigree of the musician responsible. While Geronimo! weren’t the most well-known band but they meant a lot to a small but devoted following. I was happy to count myself among the converted and having the band headline this site’s first showcase on their farewell tour was something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. However, the more you pour yourself into something, the more it stings when the container shatters.

While Geronimo! is officially over, a few of the bands members are working on new projects- the latest being guitarist/vocalist Kelly Johnson’s solo venture Hung Toys. Earlier this week, Johnson’s project released Lurid a full-length collection that finds the songwriter immediately diving back into the propulsive effects of his old project. Opener “Gotta Drink Some Water” is a monster of a basement punk song that’s as bruising as it is intriguing. It’d be easy for the rest of Lurid to fall short in the song’s tremendous wake but Johnson manages to subvert and expand central ideas across the rest of the record, exploring a range of styles that recall everyone from Terry Malts to, of course, Geronimo!.

All of Lurid comes off as an incendiary gut-punch and only the title track, the record’s sprawling closer, exceeds the 2 minute and 10 second mark. At times the record plays like a gambit and runs the risk of appearing as a genre exercise. By the time the record’s halfway mark gets highlighted by the searing instrumental attack that is “Blendered”, it becomes clear that Johnson’s songwriting is too capable (and substantial) to be reduced to something that hackneyed. Lurid is a record that rewards investment and begs for repeat listens, wielding its unerring immediacy as a formidable weapon. Powerful, brute, and spectacular, Lurid stands as one of 2015’s most welcome- and unexpected- entries.

Listen to Lurid below and explore a list of some of the best records to surface over the past two weeks.

The Yolks – Don’t Cry Anymore
Grubs – It Must Be Grubs
Alimony Hustle – BNOC b/w Zero Chill
Bob Keelaghan – Country Fresh: A Ghost Guitar Soundtrack
Hot Flash Heat Wave – Neapolitan
James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg – Ambsace
Salad Boys – Metalmania
Astronauts, etc – Mind Out Wandering
Nuclear Age – The Distinct Sounds of…
Pontiak – NOPE/JEPPE
Roger Lion – Roger Lion
Media Jeweler – $99 R/T Hawaii
Broomfiller – Third Stage Propellor Index
Guerilla Toss – Flood Dosed
Baston – Gesture
Yonatan Gat & Gal Lazer – Physical Copy
Carroll – Carroll
Blonde Summer – Paradise
Alone at 3AM – Show the Blood
Tedo Stone – To the Marshes
Jóhann Jóhannsson – Sicario
Diät – Positive Energy
BIG|BRAVE – Au De La
Rat Columns – Do You Remember Real Pain
Wand – 1000 Days
Tommy Stinson – L.M.A..O.
Lucern Raze – Happy & Astray
Summer Twins – Limbo
Blessed Feathers – There Will Be No Sad Tomorrow
Daniel Klag – Reality and Self
Dead Heavens – Adderall Highway
Loma Prieta – Self Portrait
Spencer Radcliffe – Looking In
Holy ’57 – Au Naturel

Watch This: Vol. 88

87 entries in and still going strong, Watch This- the weekly series dedicated to celebrating some of the week’s finest performance clips- has become one of this site’s definitive markers. Great performances are given every day, all over the world, and a few of them have the good fortune of being caught on film- a handful of those are presented in startlingly beautiful ways. Every week, five of those artists’ performance get featured here, while a handful of impressive efforts get highlights as well. This week, those highlights included performances from Jeff Rosenstock, Calexico, Paul Weller, Tedo Stone, Dead Stars, toyGuitar, and Laser Background. Nearly every artist in this 88th installment has been featured on Watch This before, which continues a nearly unprecedented run of inclusions for both Courtney Barnett and Girlpool. Diet Cig officially cements their spot as a staple of the series and KEXP houses another impressive full session. It’s a lot to take in, so, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, lean in, and Watch This.

1.Built to Spill (KEXP)

Doug Martsch and his band of ragtag misfits crafted one of this year’s more unexpectedly stunning records in Untethered Moon, Built To Spill’s strongest collection of songs in over a decade. KEXP recently brought the band in for a session that emphasized the singular energy that helped make Untethered Moon so compelling. Long regarded as one of the best live acts on the circuit, the band proves they’ve earner their status over an impressive four song set. It’s a strong reminder of the talent of a band that seems content to keep pushing themselves for as long as they possibly can.

2. Diet Cig – Pool Boyz + Scene Sick (Out of Town Films)

Ever since Over Easy came out towards the start of the year, Diet Cig has been making regular appearances on Watch This thanks in part to not only that collection’s strength but to the uninhibited joy the duo exude when they perform.  As great as those clips have been, Out of Town Films adds a visual panache that elevates this particular session to one Diet Cig’s brightest moments. There’s a manic energy, guitarist/vocalist’s Alex Luciano’s mischievous smile, jumping bean antics, and Noah Bowman’s committed energy. The fact that the whole thing is capped off with a high-five feels beyond perfect. Carefree, irreverent, and ridiculously entertaining, this is a definitive presentation of a site favorite.

3. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best + Elevator Operator (Pitchfork)

At this point, it’s entirely possible that no one has made as many Watch This lists as Courtney Barnett. Still riding high on the wave of acclaim that Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit has built, combined with relentless touring, has landed Barnett in a coveted position that’s secured the songwriter a murderer’s row of outlets that create great live clips. Of course, it helps that Barnett’s a preternaturally gifted performer. Barnett recently delivered a characteristically blistering performance at Pitchfork and the site’s uploaded two performances, “Pedestrian At Best” and “Elevator Operator”, in kind.

4. Parquet Courts – Uncast Shadow of A Southern Myth + Content Nausea (Pitchfork)

Back when some of Parquet Courts were in Teenage Cool Kids, they’d frequently show up for shows in Milwaukee basements and deliver the kind of shambolic performances that’d eventually earn Parquet Courts no shortage of celebratory praise. Since those days, it’s an approach that’s been honed, refined over time, and brought dangerously close to perfection. In yet another strong pairing of fiery performances from Pitchfork, the band ambles through “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth” (which was originally a Teenage Cool Kids song) and “Content Nausea” with a wiry, deadpan verve.

5. Girlpool – Crowded Stranger (Sofar Sounds)

If Courtney Barnett’s leading the number of Watch This inclusions, Girlpool likely isn’t too far behind. Having just seen the duo deliver arresting performances at both Baby’s All Right and as a secret headliner at DBTS (a gallery of which will be going up soon), the way the duo commands attention on film is maximized in person- but the best clips come close to capturing that prevailing sense of awe that so often accompanies the live experience. Here, the duo performs “Crowded Stanger”- one of 2015’s more chill-inducing songs- in front of Sofar Sounds’ lenses to a hushed crowd in a London room. It’s a breathtaking rendition that reaffirms the songwriters’ inherent charisma and innate ability, providing another layer of definitive proof that Girlpool are one of today’s most formidable acts.