Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art

Blue Smiley – OK (Album Stream)

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Single streams and music videos, while making up the bulk of this site’s recent coverage, weren’t the only categories to boast some genuinely remarkable titles over the past week or so. Full streams still accounted for a handful of genuine treasures, which included the following: Summer Camp’s heavily damaged and electro-tinged rave-up Bad Love, Ratboys’ endearingly ragged basement pop triumph AOID, Hollow Sunshine’s punishing shoegaze-heavy post-punk knockout Bring Gold, and So Stressed‘s unflinchingly modern post-hardcore masterpiece The Unlawful Trade of Roman-Greco Art. A much less publicized record, Blue Smiley’s OK, received a shot in the leg by way of the announcement of a physical release.

The band had previously released OK (not to be confused with Eskimeaux’s brilliant O.K.) as a name-your-price download on their bandcamp but it’s finally seeing an official release through Third Floor Tapes. The record itself is a short burst of fuzz-damaged eclecticism that swings between noise-punk and basement pop with a practiced finesse. It’s a deeply impressive work that showcases the band’s innate ability to craft intensely dynamic songs with surprisingly contained run-times. A perfect example of this is “Flower”, which transitions from a heavy shoegaze bent to off-kilter outsider pop on a dime. None of the 10 tracks here waste a single second and the end result is an exhilarating ride that veers off in a handful of unexpected directions, rarely bothering to come back to their starting points. Not only is it one of 2015’s most fascinating releases- it’s also worthy of purchasing when it gets the releases it so richly deserves.

Listen to OK below and keep an eye on Third Floor Tapes for the record’s release on June 1.

So Stressed – Apple Hill (Stream)

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Over the course of the year, one format or another has been stuck functioning in catch-up mode. Today, with this post, everything that falls under the regular umbrella coverage will be brought up to the present release cycle. In a way, then, it makes sense that something as blistering and urgent as “Apple Hill” grabs this post’s focus. Even more fitting is the fact that it comes from the first band to be signed to Honor Press, the newly created label of Perfect Pussy‘s Meredith Graves (whose fundamental importance to this site and its continued existence simply can’t be overstated). While all of that will be addressed shortly in greater detail, it wasn’t the only excellent musical offering ushered out into the world over the past week. To that end, just as in the preceding post, a list of full streams and songs that deserve hearing.

Full streams: Miserable Friend’s Thawed, Flawed and Suffering, Pinact’s Stand Still and Rot, Telepathic’s Powers of Ten, Thee Oh Sees’ Mutilator Defeated At Last, Ceremony’s The L-Shaped Man, Holly Miranda’s self-titled, Hot Chip’s Why Make Sense?, God Damn’s Vultures, Weedeater’s Goliathan, Super Unison’s self-titled, and a split from Martha and Benny The Jet Rodriguez. Songs: Ancient Sky’s “Two Lights“, Wild Pink’s “Is This Hotel Haunted“, Cancers’ “Missed“, The Absolute’s “Smile“, Kevin Devine’s “Gießen“, Jaill’s “Got An F“, Methyl Ethel’s “Twilight Driving“, Ecstatic Vision’s “Don’t Kill the Vibe“, Hollow Sunshine’s “Morning Green“, and Sweet John Bloom’s “Next Thing” (which very nearly earned this post’s feature spot). Rounding everything out was Run The Jewels’ strikingly animated clip for Run The Jewels 2 highlight “Early“. Then, of course, there was So Stressed’s hellishly snarling “Apple Hill”, which shows the band greatly expanding on the potential hinted at by their lead-off single “Merv King & the Phantoms“.

“Apple Hill” scales back the feverish tenacity of “Merv King” for something that manages to come off as both more brutal and more refined. Marrying post-punk, noise punk, and one of the more sinister breeds of hardcore definitely isn’t an easy look to pull off convincingly but “Apple Hill” wields that formula like a weapon. Brimming with an astonishing confidence and unerring conviction, it immediately transforms itself into something undeniable. Starkly unforgiving and shockingly immediate, it lays some deeply compelling groundwork for the band’s upcoming record, the exquisitely titled The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art. It’s a deceptively intuitive piece of songwriting that revels in its own pent-up frustration and, finally, the shards of cathartic release embedded throughout “Apple Hill”. The bass gets buried in fuzz, the drums zero in on the instruments intrinsic ability to become propulsive, the guitar line throws convention to the wind, and the vocals take the whole thing to a fascinating, wild-eyed realm. By the song’s end, So Stressed have created an immersive world that’s as punishing as it is intriguing; an unexpectedly strong effort that sets up The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art. Give into its whirlwind ferocity or get the hell out of the way.

Listen to “Apple Hill” below and pre-order The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art from Honor Press here.