Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: The Holy Circle

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.

Amy O – Lavender Night (Stream)

Over the past week or so, there have been exceptional songs by the likes of Grizzly Bear, Crumb, Greg Ashley, Les Big Byrd, The Holy Circle, Big Bliss, Carcara, Korey Dane, Munroe,  Trü, Hundredth, Beach Fossils, High Signs, and Nick Cave & Warren Ellis that have surfaced. Those weren’t the only great songs to find release in that time, something proven by Amy O’s winsomely spiky “Lavender Night”.

Energetic, forceful, and masterfully composed, “Lavender Night” continues an unassuming winning streak for the songwriter just as it underscores all of the things Amy O does so well. Drawing from past decades of musical influence to create something that feels familiar yet unique enough to be singular, “Lavender Night” is a melting pot getting thrown across the room at a massive canvas. Once again, Amy O finds a way to stick the landing, creating an absorbing and memorable canvas worth revisiting.

Listen to “Lavender Night” below and pre-order Elastic here.

Doe – Last Ditch (Music Video)


It’s been a solid week for music videos, a fact evidenced by strong clips from Alexis Taylor, DaughterPleistoceneFrankie Cosmos, The Medicine Hat, Teenage FanclubThe Channels, Okkervil River, Lisa Prank, Clipping., Busman’s HolidayThe Holy Circle, Daniel Woolhouse, Health&BeautyLuke Roberts, Opposite Sex, VATS, Slingshot DakotaAtoms and Void, Psychic Ills, Nice As FuckHead Wound City, Ziemba, Ryley Walker, and Jaala. Rounding things out with yet another highlight were site favorites Doe, thanks to their mesmerizing clip for Some Things Last Longer Than You highlight “Last Ditch”.

Some Things Last Longer Than You, Doe’s forthcoming full-length debut, will confidently stand as one of the year’s most solid records several months down the line. It’s a forceful beast that’s teeming with grit, determination, and conviction. Every song on the record feels like the band’s intent on throwing a knockout punch at any turn. These qualities, while characteristic of the entire record, hold especially true for “Last Ditch”.

A towering anthem of pent-up frustration, the prospect of a visual narrative to accompany the song left a lot of potential doors open. What the band opts for continues their subversive streak and demonstrates their understanding of just how effective that trait can be in the right hands. Instead of playing  into the song’s emphatic anger, the trio scales things way back in favor of a slice-of-life presentation that balances “Last Ditch” out beautifully.

Using overlays to the point of near exclusivity, “Last Ditch” gets to create an immersive world that makes peace with the mundane routines that comprise the majority of life. It’s deceptively simple and remarkably beautiful in its tacit tribute to uncompromising realism. The faded, low-saturation visual presentation also tinges the clip with a longing and nostalgia that suit “Last Ditch” to a quiet perfection. In all, “Last Ditch” is just another winsome notch in what should prove to be a monumental year for Doe, who will deserve every last good thing that comes their way.

Watch “Last Ditch” below and pre-order Some Things Last Longer Than You from Old Flame here (if you’re in the US) and from Specialist Subject here (if you’re in the UK).

The Holy Circle – Polaris (Music Video Premiere)


Over the years, the tremendous Accidental Guest Recordings label has shown a penchant to skew its focus towards darker works, whether it be via the blown-out, lo-fi feedback hisses of vicious hardcore, bleak post-punk, or found a way to manifest in bold, confrontational lyric sets. Recently, the label started revealing a clip to accompany every track from the forthcoming cassette from ambient/drone/darkwave act The Holy Circle.

Boasting members from acts like Locrian, the band’s deadly serious nature probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. What does manage to surprise, however, is how effectively hypnotic both the tracks and the clips from The Holy Circle have been. “Polaris”, the release’s final track (and video) may stand as the best current example of what the band is capable of achieving.

As an isolated song, “Polaris” teems with desolate atmospherics that manage to be both magnetic and otherworldly all at once. It’s a severely battered version of the ethereal and it becomes increasingly compelling for its cold detachment. Elevating those sensibilities is the simple, absorbing video that operates entirely via silhouettes and overlays. Over the course of the track, the minimal imagery obtains direct meaning and leads to a fiery, disconcerting climax without ever hitting the point of bombast.

Both a beautiful feat of high-impact minimalism and a powerful closing chapter to a quietly extraordinary release, “Polaris” is the kind of work that’s successful enough in accomplishing its goals that it’ll likely be analyzed and dissected even more over time. For now, it’s best to let the disquieting imagery and alluring tone induce a trance-like state before a final, self-contained disintegration puts a note of finality on the type of experience that should warrant multiple return visits.

Watch “Polaris” below and pick up their self-titled tape from Accidental Guest here.

Audacity – Not Like You (Music Video)


In the closing moments of the week, there were great new music videos to emerge from the camps of Erin Tobey, Big Eyes, Death Grips, Sewage Farm, And The Kids, and The Holy Circle. As good as those all were — and they were quite good — they simply couldn’t match the allure of personal history attached to this post’s featured clip. The very first Heartbreaking Bravery post centered on an Audacity music video. Now, more than 900 posts and nearly three years later, the band’s offered up another strong clip for a Hyper Vessels highlight.

In the time that this site’s been running, I’ve been afforded several unique opportunities. One of those was working doors for one of Brooklyn’s finest venues, Baby’s All Right, which is the setting for Audacity’s latest clip, “Not Like You”, giving the whole affair an oddly meaningful bent. Baby’s iconic backdrop always lent the venue a uniquely cinematic appeal that often seemed to energize the acts on stage and this Brendan McKnight-directed clip utilizes that trait to its advantage.

Audacity are a band that’s thrived on conjuring up excessive amounts of energy since their earliest releases and have honed that particular skill set into something resembling concentrated weaponry. “Not Like You” is a surging track and the editing for its accompanying visual treatment matches that velocity to perfection, creating a high-impact punch that leaves an intentional mark.

Simple, effective, and embracing an honest sense of genuine fun (something that’s been noticeably absent from the majority of recent releases), “Not Like You” distills the band into what may prove to be a definitive piece. Manic, sharp, and surprisingly forceful, “Not Like You” is practically a victory lap for a band that’s been creating the type of art this site quite literally used as a foundation. Taking all of that into account, it’s nearly impossible to not revel in the sheer amount of joy on display.

Watch “Not Like You” below and pick up Hyper Vessels here.

LVL UP – Pain (Stream, Live Video)


Over the course of the day, a whole host of great material has found its way out into the greater world. Included in this wealth of worthy new releases included streams from Steve Adamyk Band, Slow Down Molasses, Happy Diving, Buildings, Beach Slang, PJ Harvey, Flock of DimesItsaca, The Holy CircleBodies Be Rivers, The Moles, and a Littler cover of a Muffs classic with all of the proceeds of the cover going to Campaign Zero. Additionally, there were exceptional full streams from the following: Gay Sin, Heliotropes, Blue Smiley, and Pure Disgust. Finally, the music video format saw excellent new entries from the likes of Sneeze, Honeyblood, Sleeping Beauties, and Hinds.

Really, though, ever since Sub Pop’s announcement of their newest acquisition, this day has all but belonged to LVL UP. The band’s been working on their full-length follow-up to Hoodwink’d — this site’s pick for 2014’s Album of the Year — steadily for well over a year. Today, they unveiled the first track to be heard from that record, which will be titled Return to Love, with the perpetually shifting “Pain”.

Easily one of the finest songs Mike Caridi has contributed to the band to date (which is no mean feat), “Pain” is simultaneously one of the band’s most ambitious and arresting songs, demonstrating the breadth of their expanded scope in one fell swoop. Opening with a melancholic ambient swirl, “Pain” quickly ups the tempo and quickly begins presenting scathing, intimate questions like “where is the one who loved you, unconditionally?” and never lets down the intensity for a moment.

Ultimately, the song settles into the self-defeating mantra of “Never Find Love” before a volcanic eruption of feedback, distortion, and noise subsumes the song and quickly transforms it into a seething maelstrom of formidable power, reaching a level of darkness of which their most recent release — the excellent Three Songs EP — hinted towards. The quartet really lays into that final section during their sets (“Pain” has been a live staple for some time) and tap into some intangible quality that seems to elevate them as a unit, locking into some sort of terrifying trance and playing off of each other with startling precision.

“Pain”, likely more than most of their recent songs, pays homage to the band’s past while remaining determined to look towards the future. In striking that balance, LVL UP has managed to produce a song that does more than justify their Sub Pop signing, set up Return to Love‘s release, and remind people of why they came to be such a force. It becomes a transportive experience that nears moments of transcendence.  Should the rest of Return to Love live up to the standard set by its first single, the band may find themselves following up a miniature masterpiece (Hoodwink’d) with the real thing.

Listen to “Pain” below (and watch a slightly blown-out video of the band running through an earlier version of the song last year at Palisades below the embed) and pre-order Return to Love from Sub Pop here.

Hop Along – Texas Funeral (Stream)


Over the past year-and-a-half I’m not sure any band at this point has come up in coverage without snagging a headline feature than Hop Along. While they’ve appeared in various Watch This installments and a handful of mixtapes (including the best-of for 2015’s first quarter), they’ve never actually had an individual focus piece. That changes today. First, though, as was earlier relayed, are ten songs to have emerged this April that are absolutely worth hearing. Among them: Grounders’ psych-pop dream “No Ringer“, Saul Williams’ characteristically vicious “Burundi“, Honey Radar’s tantalizingly lo-fi “Per Schooner Agro“, Cyberbully Mom Club’s hazy new demo “Make Time“, and Vomitface’s pummeling post-punk number “Never Make It“. In addition to those five there was Diamond Youth’s powerpop rave-up “In the Clouds“, Wild Yaks’ defiantly triumphant “Paradise“, Estates’ searing “Not Now“, The Holy Circle’s mesmerizing “Basel (About What Was Lost)“, and site favorites Vaadat Charigim‘s typically extraordinary “Hashiamum Shokea“. While all of those deserve a slew of plays, it’s high time to give Hop Along their proper due and “Texas Funeral” provides the perfect opportunity.

After making a memorable impression on the DIY circuit and cultivating a small but extraordinarily passionate following, the band signed to Saddle Creek for the release of their forthcoming record, Painted Shut. The lead-up to the record’s been extremely promising with both songs preceding “Texas Funeral”- “Powerful Man” and “Waitress“- easily ranking among the year’s very best. “Texas Funeral” joins their company with a practiced finesse that even furthers Painted Shut‘s likelihood at being something truly special, even in regards to this year’s already formidable stockpile of musical highs. The band’s last record, 2012’s staggering Get Disowned, showed glimmers of bigger things to come- hinting that the band was capable of producing a classic.

Ever since then, guitarist/vocalist Frances Quinlan and company have been refining their sound and delivering heartfelt sets that have occasionally taken on a monumental feel. It’s a peak that “Texas Funeral” hits again and again, emphasizing both Hop Along’s considerable growth and undeniable talent. Quinlan, in particular, sounds more assured than ever, with her vocals (sometimes sung, frequently nearly-screamed) hitting stratospheric heights. Unpredictable, exhilarating, vibrant, and unapologetically alive “Texas Funeral” makes it sound like Hop Along is in the throes of a victory lap, bringing to mind the feel and aesthetic of another Saddle Creek record on more than a few occasions- Rilo Kiley’s career highlight The Execution Of All Things (one of the best records of last decade). With an exasperated youthfulness on full display and a keen eye for life’s minutiae, Hop Along seem to have tapped into something genuinely thrilling with “Texas Funeral”- and at this point it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to expect that the rest of Painted Shut will follow suit.

Listen to “Texas Funeral” below and make sure to pre-order a copy of Painted Shut from Saddle Creek here.