Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: The Ropes

The Seven Best Music Videos of the Past Three Weeks

Moving forward with tonight’s proceedings, the focus shifts from the best songs to have crossed this site’s path over the last three weeks to the music videos that have made that brief hiatus even more endurable. Directors whose works that have been tirelessly praised on these pages in the past are represented as are some of this year’s finest records. Lyric clips, meditative clips, experimental clips, animated clips, and just about everything in between populate this list and, as always, everything on display is worth several viewings. So stop reading this introduction, hit play, and give everything a good look.  

Yucky Duster – The Ropes

One of the finest pop bands currently on the circuit, Yucky Duster have made one outstanding move after another and managed to continuously improve in the process. Never anything less than spirited, the band constantly provides reasons to remain optimistic about the future of music. In the clip for “The Ropes” they distill their identity into a singular animated clip and the colorful effect, characteristically, is enough to leave just about anyone wanting more of whatever the band decides to offer.

Deep State – Heavy Lunch

Thought Garden has occupied a status as one 2017’s most overlooked records since its release but the clip for “Heavy Lunch” gave it a recent push that helped a few people amend that disheartening oversight. Largely comprised of one man dancing through abandoned industrial complexes, “Heavy Lunch” serves as both a potent reminder of freedom and a subtle narrative about societal oppression. Much like the song (and record) itself, it’s as gripping as it is exhilarating. Hopefully Deep States‘ run is far from over.

Vagabon – Fear & Force

Vagabon‘s been enjoying an overdue — and richly deserved — breakout year thanks to the success of Infinite Worlds. “Fear & Force” was one of that release’s strongest highlights and the project recently provided the song a gorgeous visual treatment that play with the trope of partners arguing in small, effective ways. Avoiding all of the cliches that come with the narrative, “Fear & Force” makes its strongest break at the end, choosing to focus on the optimism that can occur in the aftermath of the worst arguments rather than the dread and despair it so frequently invokes before inevitably fading into regrettable memory.

Single Mothers – People Are Pets

Lyric videos are a dime a dozen these days so it’s especially difficult to craft one that can posit itself as a genuine standout. Single Mothers‘ clip for the especially raucous “People Are Pets” manages the feat with stylistic aplomb. Using text and imagery that plays into the song’s relentless urgency, “People Are Pets” finds clever methods to enhance its overall effect in surprisingly memorable fashion. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the song the clip’s supporting is an absolute monster. Hit play and keep those eyes wide.

Rozwell Kid – Wendy’s Trash Can

SideOneDummy‘s been putting a lot of thought into their music videos as of late, cultivating a snarky streak of tongue-in-cheek clips that are brimming with manic energy and joy. The latest in this run: Rozwell Kid‘s transition-heavy clip for their career highlight “Wendy’s Trash Can”. Originally released as a 10-hour loop, the label was also kind enough to offer up the condensed version. Watching it for the umpteenth time, it’s hard not to think that maybe they didn’t need to- “Wendy’s Trash Can” is infectious enough that most people will probably just keep hitting repeat anyway.

Cayetana – Bus Ticket

Cayetana took a major stride forward with their most recent release, the astonishing New Kind of Normal. Everything they’ve released in conjecture with that record has inspired varying degrees of awe but the “Bus Ticket” clip may be the finest of the bunch. Perfectly encapsulating the internal struggles that inform the record’s overarching narrative about coping with mental health, the band’s wound up with a definitive release that shows off all of their colors, remaining empathetic at every turn. Despairing, defiant, overjoyed, resilient, content, struggling, or argumentative, all “Bus Ticket” offers in the end is understanding and acceptance.

Kevin Morby – City Music

Christopher Good has been putting together an unreal run as a director as of late and his frequent collaborator Tipper Newton, whose narration opens “City Music”, has been putting together an impressive streak of her own, ranging from the outstanding powerpop project Color TV to a small part in Love and a recurring role in The Mindy Project (not to mention starring in Good’s excellent short, Brad Cuts Loose). Kevin Morby’s been on a bit of a run himself, releasing yet another strong record shortly after a triumph last year in Singing Saw — which saw him team up with Good for the exceptional “Dorothy” clip, which stood as a career highlight for both parties — a record he may have topped with City Music.

The clip’s full of the hallmarks that have put both the director and the musician on the map, infusing traditionalism with a provocative forward-thinking bent that infuses the proceedings with an unpredictable liveliness that electrifies the whole affair. “City Music”, by the time it comes to its celebratory end, feels like a lived-in fever dream, offering both a reconciliatory warmth and something that feels just alien enough to remain intriguingly alien. An undoubtedly ambitious project that never entirely reveals its hand, “City Music” is one of the most fascinating and investment-worthy clips of 2017.

Seven Weeks of Streams

Charly Bliss LIV

The last two months or so, while dwindling down in the release compartment, have been stacked with great material.  Mac McCaughanGrouper, SOHN, Trashclub, Palberta, Rosebug, Ben Varian, sad13, Sam Skinner, So Stressed, benngrigg, and Keroscene all released impressive material in the past week or so and deserve attention but the twenty(-two) tracks listed below more than earned their feature placements. A lot of favorites and some new names co-exist in the run-down, which can (and should) be explored below.

Charly Bliss – Turd

An insane amount of praise has been showered on Charly Bliss in the confines of this site. They’ve deserved even more. The band’s currently in the midst of sharpening a full-length they’ve been working on for more than two full years. “Turd” is a tantalizing glimpse at what’s to come, a molotov cocktail of classic pop influences teeming with a confrontational punk sensibility that, paradoxically, manages to be incredibly inviting.

Yucky Duster – Elementary School Dropout

Gofer” remains one of the most infectious pop songs to have been written since the turn of the century. Yucky Duster‘s just-unveiled “The Ropes” shows they’ve got no intentions of slowing down and “Elementary School Dropout” proves the band’s whip-smart intelligence is fully intact. Jaunty, enticing, and oddly moving, the song’s making it next to impossible to wait for their forthcoming EP, Lament.

WHY? – This Ole King

Elephant EyelashAlopeciaEskimo Snow, and maybe even Oaklandazulasylum deserve to be regarded as modern classics. While still releasing some immensely thoughtful material, WHY? hasn’t managed to match those releases in the years that have passed since Eskimo Snow. “This Ole King”, the band’s most arresting composition in a handful of years, offers up a ray of hope. Tasteful and weirdly enchanting, it’s already earned a spot as one of WHY?’s finest individual works.

Cloud Nothings – Internal World

Cloud Nothings have been enjoying a deeply impressive streak since becoming a full band several years ago. From the cold, steel trap that was Attack On Memory to the relentlessly bruising Here and Nowhere Else, they’ve demonstrated a lot of range. “Internal World” continues to hint at their forthcoming record taking the best parts of all three of those releases and congealing them into something incredibly compelling. It’s another impressive piece of an already fascinating puzzle.

Amos Pitsch – Shift Towards Tenderness

No band has earned more rapturous praise (or more praise in general) than Tenement. DUSK have earned themselves a fair few accolades as well. If Amos Pitsch (guitar/vocals in Tenement and bass/vocals in DUSK) is involved with a song, there’s a very strong chance it’ll be receiving praise here. Pitsch has mostly avoided releasing solo works, which makes “Shift Towards Tenderness” something of a surprise. Not a surprise? “Shift Towards Tenderness” being another unassuming tour de force from one of this generation’s finest songwriters.

Luxury Death – Painkiller

“Painkiller” is another impressive notch in the belt of one of today’s finest labels, Art Is Hard. Peppy and packing a considerable amount of bite, the Luxury Death single is a microcosm of what makes both the band and the label releasing the single so formidable. Immensely appealing and constructed with a clearly apparent thoughtfulness, there are no false moves among a series of refreshing grace notes.

Permit – Track #1

One of 2016’s most pleasant surprises, Permit took off running. The band’s Vol. I EP was a galvanizing blast of glam-inflected punk with a serious amount of classic pop overtones. Headlining those proceedings was “Track #1”, which immediately sets the band up as kindred spirits to Sheer Mag. Sharp, fierce,  and immediately memorable, “Track #1” easily ranks among the year’s most exciting listens.

No Sun – Drown In You

2016 didn’t have quite as many out-and-out shoegaze powerhouse releases as many of the preceding years but the genre still had some incredibly bright moments. One such  moment came in the form of No Sun‘s towering “Drown In You”, which operates with a menacing ferocity in its opening two and a half minutes before turning elegiac for an extended outro. It’s unmissable.

Super Capsule – Frost

An incendiary burst of incisive post-punk, filtered through a post-hardcore lens, Super Capsule’s “Frost” teems with aggression. It also serves as a notice to start sitting up and paying attention to the band, who seem hell-bent on creating an army of converts by demolishing genre boundaries with a relentlessly precise attack. Trying to form a defense simply isn’t an option.

Lost Boy ? – I’m An Alligator (Deathwish) + Shoo – Bop

Lost Boy ? has appeared with regularity on Heartbreaking Bravery since it began more than three years ago. The Davey Jones outfit is likely to see that trend continue, especially considering the incessant releases. Once again, serving up plenty of oddball charm “I’m An Alligator (Deathwish)” and “Shoo – Bop” showcase Jones’ immeasurable talent for crafting memorable, hook-heavy basement pop. Short, brilliant, and singular, Lost Boy ? continues to extend an unlikely winning streak with panache.

Cooler – Metal Moths

A surging punk-informed behemoth, “Metal Moths” brings to mind classic forebears while remaining unflinchingly modern. It’s an impressive offering from Cooler, who have come out swinging with their sophomore EP, Phantom Phuzz. “Metal Moths” is the collection’s crown jewel and contains enough firepower to turn an increasing number of heads with every passage. Keep both eyes on this quartet, they’ve proven they’re worth following.

Cayetana – Trails

Cayetana keep finding new ways to improve. After a string of career highlights, the band graciously dropped “Trails”, a breathtaking ballad that showcases a surprising penchant for vulnerability amid their typical all-consuming storm of noises. It’s a spellbinding moment from one of today’s more exciting punk acts, demonstrating newfound depth and a refined sense of dynamics that elevates “Trails” from being merely great to being transcendental.

Slumbers – Doboom Soom

It’s been a good year for the emergent Slumbers, who’ve been carving out a name for themselves with intelligent folk-tinged bedroom pop. “Doboom Soom” may be their finest moment to date, an airy take on the line between loneliness and self-preservation that cuts through its instrumental warmth with a narrative of astounding clarity. If Slumbers can keep topping themselves the way they’ve been lately, their name may accumulate considerable clout in the coming years.

John Wesley Coleman – Shovel + Hang Tight

For a handful of years, John Wesley Coleman has been a beacon of consistency. Every release bearing the songwriter’s name has been formidable enough to warrant serious attention and yet larger familiarity in the public eye has eluded Coleman. “Shovel” and “Hang Tight” are both worthy reminders of Coleman’s enviable gifts as a songwriter and worthy entries into an incredible discography. Start getting familiar if you haven’t already or simply revisit a pair of genuinely great tracks.

Tapestries – Carline

A dreamy punk-skirting number that owes quite a bit to the more notable alternative genre permutations of the past few decades (Brit-pop, in particular), “Carline” is an immediate standout. Well-crafted and delivered with a palpable sense of passion, it ably provides a window to Tapestries’ considerable artistic growth over the past several years. Inspired and even a little inspiring, “Carline” is the type of song that reminds people of why they love music.

Stove – I’d Walk A Mile For A Camel

Stove topped last year’s Best Songs list with the soaring “Wet Food” and, instead of taking time to recalibrate after a tremendous 2016, have been releasing music at a rapid pace. “I’d Walk A Mile For A Camel” serves as another strong highlight for the Steve Hartlett-led project, even though it’s a far cry from the epic scope of “Wet Food”. That versatility has served Hartlett well in the past and here, he leads Stove through a perfect marriage of lo-fi basement punk and irrepressible basement punk. It’s another triumph.

The Sloppy Heads – The Suck

2016 has also been fairly kind to The Sloppy Heads, who have cranked out a number of vibrant basement pop numbers that lingered long after their final notes faded away. “The Suck” may have been the absolute best of this crop, striking a perfect balance between being coy and being pointed. As economic and pragmatic as the production of “The Suck” is, the song itself never stops reaching skyward and sweeps the listener up into that journey with a delicate ease.

Wild Pink – Wizard of Loneliness

Last year’s Good Life EP provided a solid introduction to Wild Pink and the band’s been capitalizing on the momentum that Good Life generated. In addition to making a series of smart moves, they’ve also been sharpening their craft, something that’s plainly evident in the exceptional “Wizard of Loneliness”, a light powerpop number that recalls Nada Surf at their finest. Gentle, atmospheric, and captivating, “Wizard of Loneliness” goes a long way in proving that Wild Pink may have a shot at achieving the kind of longevity that’s pursued by any band worth their salt and only attained by a minuscule fraction.

Daniel Klag – Inmost Light

A nearly 17-minute ambient masterpiece from the remarkable Daniel Klag, “Inmost Light” preserves his status as one of the genre’s most exciting voices. Gently unfurling, with deliberate caution and care, “Inmost Light” is — as all of the best ambient works are — a transporting experience. Volume swells, string arrangements, and ambient washes all come together to create something that verges on rapturous as it progresses. One of Klag’s most moving  pieces in what’s quickly becoming a storied career, “Inmost Light” is a beautiful reminder of what can be accomplished through patience, precision, and an abundance of feeling.

Talons’ – Driving Home From Shows

Originally released as part of 2013’s demo collection After Talons’ Demos, Talons” “Driving Home From Shows” recently received a slight revamp for Broken Circles’ Everything Melts Eventually: Vol. II compilation. The song remains a masterpiece. Michael Tolan injects the song with a staggering amount of grace and warmth. Tinted with a painfully relatable nostalgia, “Driving Home From Shows” presents the most acute details with shattering certainty. There’s a sense of empathy that guides the longing of “Driving Home From Shows”, heightening its unexpected emotive punch. Even more than when it appeared as a demo, “Driving Home From Shows” is the type of song that deserves to be put in a vault and preserved for future generations. It’s a beautiful piece that soothes and stings in equal measure. Don’t let it slip through the cracks.