Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: theweaselmartenfisher

All Dogs – Skin (Stream)

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Depending on the releases, some days are made easy and- while the reprieve is welcome- it can be disheartening. Then there are days like today, which offer a frustration spurred by more than a few releases being too good to settle on a definitive feature. For a large portion of the planning that went into this post, the intended feature was going to go to Ought’s most recent blistering, insistent masterwork, “Men For Miles“.  Even in those stages, the song had competition in the likes of Nabil’s jaw-dropping GoPro interactive design that acted as the moody clip for Foals’ fiery “Mountain At My Gates“.

It wasn’t as if that trio was without competition, either. Deer Tick’s gorgeous “Grandfather Song“, Faux Ferocious’ scuzzy “Nowhere To Go“, Team Spirit’s pulsating “Takin’ My Time (Never Enough)“, Doubting Thomas Cruise Control’s frenetic “Lenny Bruce“, Birthmark’s slow-building “Find Yourself” would have constituted an impressive field on their own accord. Elevating the difficulty was the fact two outstanding unique features surfaced in the form of an engrossing Tickle Torture documentary and a full recording of a recent set from Colin Bares (the songwriter behind The Weasel, Marten Fisher project), whose responsible for some of the year’s finest songs.

Even the full streams had a great day, with excellent offerings from bratty scuzz-punks Fox Face, the lo-fi neurotics in Ego, the punk-indebted basement poppers in Vamos, and the increasingly fascinating (and darkly tinted) world of Black Thumb. Rounding the day out were compelling music videos from Wild Ones, Oddisee, and Living Decent. Even with all of that taken into consideration, though, the day still ultimately belonged to All Dogs.

Having just released a surefire song of the year candidate in “That Kind of Girl“, the band was presented with the unenviable  task of selecting the follow-up track for their forthcoming record’s rollout campaign. A lot of different modes can be considered (and ultimately, selected) for this slot and “Skin” seems to fall into one of the trickier categories to pull off: the song that demonstrates the record’s range and scope. In the past, those songs have tended to fall more towards the acute version of sophomore slump than anything else but “Skin” hurdles those traps with no shortage of grace to all but ensure Kicking Every Day will be among 2015’s best releases.

All Dogs have never been shy about finding something beautiful in damage, something that’s been continuously driven home by the frequently devastating lyrics of Maryn Jones (who’s also a member of site favorites Saintseneca and Yowler, the latter being Jones’ solo outfit). “Skin”, over the course of it’s slow-building five minutes and change, finds Jones grappling with some of the prevailing themes throughout her discography: loneliness, self-doubt, resilience, self-sabotage, and quiet redemption. All of which continue to feel deeply personal, nearing a point of voyeurism that only grows more nerve-wracking as the song progresses.

Elevating the feeling of tension is the scintillating dynamic angle that All Dogs uncovered when transitioning their writing process to a full-band ordeal following the addition of guitarist Nick Harris. Every conceivable element that made the band so great to begin with gets amplified by this approach and the dividends are already paying off in startling fashion. The interplay between Jones’ and Harris’ guitar work is increasingly nuanced and the rhythm work’s even more emotive than it’s been in the past, contributing to some newfound atmospherics that complement the band to perfection.

Looking at the sheer magnitude of “Skin” in comparison to anything found on the band’s debut 7″ (which was reviewed in the sixth post to ever run on Heartbreaking Bravery) is revelatory. At the level the band’s currently operating, they’ve unlocked a seemingly boundless arsenal of styles to achieve increasingly varied effects. From the subtle, interlocking post-punk guitar work to the bruised euphoria of the chorus, “Skin” is a jaw-dropping indication of the band’s ever-expanding capabilities. Throw in an earnest, beating heart at the core and All Dogs’ future suddenly looks intimidatingly bright.

All that’s left at this point is to find out whether the band can top perfection.

Listen to “Skin” below and pre-order Kicking Every Day from Salinas here.

Rebecca Ryskalczyk – We’re Brothers (Demo Stream)

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A lot’s happened over the past few days; some coverage has been delayed due to a duo of outstanding live shows. One of those shows (Jason Isbell’s incredible, moving set at Prospect Park earlier tonight) won’t receive a mention on this site beyond what was just written. The other, an intimate all-acoustic rooftop affair spearheaded by site favorite Johanna Warren, will surface in a visual spread sometime in the very near future. With both of those now in the past, it’s time to bring the site back up to the current release cycle.

In the interest of time, the artists that had interesting releases throughout the three main formats (single stream, full stream, and music video) will simply be listed without explanation as to what’s attached to their name. The vast majority of these were released two days ago and all of them are worth the click. Life’s surprising sometimes, so why not embrace the opportunity to provide a low-level risk and high-level payoff? There were the artists responsible for those treasures: Infinity Girl, HSY, O, Rrest, Futurebirds, Slonk Donkerson, Say Hi, Chelsea Wolfe, Steep Leans (x2), Cold Specks, Here We Go Magic, and EZTV.

Today’s feature piece actually comes from a few weeks back but hasn’t really shown up anywhere outside of its own release. It comes from the solo project of Bethlehem Steel‘s driving voice, Rebecca Ryskalcyzk. While the emerging songwriter’s still playing shows with her own vehicle, she’s also generously offering two new songs under her own name. Released under the title We’re Brothers, the pair of songs are arresting bare-bones guitar/vocal demos that have something inherently special happening at their core.

While it’s difficult to describe what exactly that is, it’s painfully obvious when the songs are in motion. “Brain Drugs” starts the small collection off and immediately sets the tone for what’s to follow; haunted, lo-fi, folk-leaning tapestries that seem to be settling in with their own demons rather than pushing for an escape. As mesmerizing as it is downtrodden, “Brain Drugs”- the opening track- is an intensely arresting piece of work that sets up the latter number perfectly (while also recalling, both in style and tone, one of the year’s best covers).

“Other Otters” follows, maintaining the deeply bruised feeling that lent its predecessor an acute sense of devastation. It’s a jarring sequence that drives a knife home in a powerful couplet towards the end: “the less I try/the more I’m terrified”- a perfect summation of a potentially damaging penchant for indecision. Ryskalyczk riddles both songs with a series of gut-punches that seem to be rooted in life’s minutiae while still managing to keep an eye on the big picture. It’s an impressive feat and an even more impressive collection.

Towards the bottom of Ryskalczyk’s bandcamp page that hosts this release, there’s a disclaimer that these songs will be “re-recorded for something more” and when that release rolls around, it’ll likely be worth a slew of purchases. Until they do surface, though, these demos carry more than enough weight to approach an unlikely perfection.

Listen to We’re Brothers below and pick it up over on bandcamp. Keep an eye on this site for more updates on both Ryskalyczk and Bethlehem Steel.

White Reaper – Last 4th of July (Music Video)

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Another day of great releases gone by, another batch of exciting releases to cover. With yesterday’s coverage going to the Ben Seretan premiere, there’ll be material to have surfaced from both today and yesterday running in this post. For music videos, we were graciously gifted Eternal Summers’ kitchen trip “Comes Alive“, Heaven’s Gate’s oddly eerie “Sally Says“, The Libertines’ weirdly inspired (and psych-tinged) return clip “Gunga Din“, and Big Noble’s characteristically gorgeous “Traveler“. White Reaper‘s “Last 4th of July” wound up getting this post’s focus and will be expanded on shortly.

Heather Woods Brodericks’ Glider and Nap Eyes’ Whine of the Mystic held down the fort for the full streams (and revealed themselves to be two of 2015’s finest low-key releases). The Rubs’ basement pop gem “Until He’s Mine“, Uh Bones’ psych-damaged “Everyday Killer“, Aye Nako’s spiky outsider punk tune “Worms“, Vacation’s continuously shifting “The Heat“, Tedo Stone’s Southern-tinged powerpop number “To The Marshes“, and a pair of tracks from site favorite theweaselmartenfisher (an extraordinary, heartfelt cover of Cyndia Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and another original knockout, “Create Dangerously“) constituted the single stream bracket.

White Reaper’s upcoming White Reaper Does It Again is an unbelievably explosive record (two of the songs the band’s released in the rollout campaign have already been featured on this site) so it sort of makes sense there’s a song on it called “Last 4th of July”. Continuing on with sensible decisions, the band’s decided to release a music video for the 100 second tune just in time for this year’s 4th.

Retro effects provide the clip with a fun opening before it takes an unexpected left turn and devolves into a beautifully-lensed series of shots where the band wreak absolute havoc on the windows and windshields of a variety of scrapyard vehicles. Much like White Reaper Does It Again, the whole affair is a jolt of surging adrenaline that establishes White Reaper as an absolute force. Join the party or get the hell out of the way.

Watch “Last 4th of July” below and pre-order White Reaper Does It Again ahead of its July 17 release date from Polyvinyl here.

2015: Halfway Home (Mixtape)

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Only a little past its halfway point, 2015’s already been an absurdly strong year for music. Numerically staggering, it’s yielded a handful of classics across a variety of genres and a plethora of outstanding small releases. While this mix skews more towards the latter than, say, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s still worth noting how kind this year’s release schedule has been across the board. To reflect on some of this year’s best offerings so far- and to celebrate this site’s 550th post- a mixtape’s been curated for your enjoyment. Nearly all of these songs and artists have been featured on the site previously, lending this particular mix a more retrospective feel than a few of the past entries in the mixtape series, but they’re all worth celebrating as much as possible. Ranging from folk and ambient flourishes to heavy 90’s influences to thoroughly modern post-punk to spritely basement pop, there’s an entry for just about every genre marker that receives regular coverage on the site.

So, without further ado, here’s a mixtape of some of 2015’s strongest highlights (at least so far, there are still quite a few promising items for the year’s latter half). The tracklist for 2015: Halfway Home can be found beneath the embed. Enjoy.



1. Girlpool – Before The World Was Big

2. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock
3. Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets
4. Royal Headache – Hgih
5. Radioactivity – Pretty Girl
6. Diet Cig – Breathless
7. Washer – Joe
8. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best
9. Mikal Cronin – Made My Mind Up
10. Torres – Sprinter
11. Jason Isbell – 24 Frames (Live)
12. theweaselmartenfisher – Empty Bucket List
13. Pupppy – Puking (Merry Christmas!)

14. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Beast
15. Fraser A. Gorman – Shiny Gun
16. Young Jesus – Milo
17. Girls Names – Reticence
18. Institute – Cheerlessness
19. Happy Diving – So Bunted
20. Downies – Widow
21. Meat Wave – Erased
22. Connor La Mue – Stargazer
23. Bruising – Think About Death
24. Meredith Graves – Took The Ghost to the Movies
25. Yowler – The Offer

Happy Diving – So Bunted (Stream)

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Once more, with feeling: I’ve been caught up in travel arrangements over the past week and a half but I haven’t let new music escape me during that time. I’ve kept a detailed record of everything that’s caught my attention and, unsurprisingly, the bulk of those materials were single tracks. As was the case in the previous two posts, a list of 15 of the strongest highlights to emerge throughout that time frame have been included below the embed of the song earning the feature spot. In this case, that song’s a blistering reminder of the myriad strengths of site favorites Happy Diving.

The band’s exhilarating debut for Father/Daughter Records (another site favorite), Big World, established the band’s identity as well as their reputation for crafting feedback-heavy downer pop. Taking just as many cues from 90’s alt. as shoegaze, the band have conjured up yet another sharp blast of reverb-laden melancholy with “So Bunted”, the title track from a forthcoming 7″ that also marks their first release for the increasingly impressive Topshelf Records (Happy Diving’s signing follows a series of impressive moves from the label and the acquisition of Happy Diving rates as one of their strongest). Effortlessly pairing melancholy with urgency has always been one of the band’s strongest draws and “So Bunted” is a masterclass in that particular dynamic, creating a compelling whirlwind of soaring guitars and bleak emotions. Not a single moment of the track’s 134 seconds are wasted and if this is indicative of what Happy Diving has in store for Topshelf, then we’re all in for one hell of a ride.

Listen to “So Bunted” below and pre-order the 7″ from Topshelf directly here. Beneath the embed are 15 more songs that deserve paragraphs worth of praise and to be added to just about any collection.

Broen – Iris
Jessie Jones – Sugar Coated
FFS – Call Girl
Creepoid – Shaking
Weaves – Tick
Cyberbully Mom Club – No-Fun
Oscar – Stay
HEALTH – Stonefist
Ducktails – Surreal Exposure
Hibou – Dissolve
The Armed – Paradise Day
theweaselmartenfisher – Draw Back Your Bow
The Rashita Joneses – My Finger
Operation Simon – Innervation
Blacklisters – Cash Cow

Royal Headache – High (Stream)

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Before jumping into the songs that have emerged over the past two days (& in subsequent posts, the material that’s surfaced over the past week), I’d like to start by issuing an apology to anyone that’s checked this space expecting new material recently (and, in a way, to the expectations I set for myself). I’m in the middle of navigating a move from the middle of Wisconsin to Brooklyn, so coverage will be more sporadic than usual. Once the move’s been established, though, the landscape will be a lot more vibrant than it has been in the past; everything will even out eventually. I’m not here to dwell on exposition, though, I’m here to share the things- on this specific occasion, songs from the past two days- that caught my attention.

The Hussy’s “Appleseeds” provided a blistering reintroduction to one of Wisconsin’s best bands while “Bill Murray” continued theweaselmartenfisher‘s quiet output of the kind of brilliant writing that makes him one of the state’s best songwriters. There were a handful of artists that produced sterling ambient-leaning tracks, including MAS YSA, XYLØ, Ancient Ocean, and Sitcom while Tokyo Police Club member Dave Monks and  held down the mid-tempo terrain (with “The Rules” and “Slower Now“, respectively). Territory a bit more harsh was dominated by Infinity Girl, Dope Body, Buck Biloxi and the Fucks, and Empty Flowers. All of those songs, as always, are worth several listens, but this post’s feature belongs to the return of Royal Headache.

After unleashing one of the more impassioned debuts of recent memory, Royal Headache hit a snag. Their vocalist, Shogun, announced his intentions to quit the band. The rest of Royal Headache agreed under the stipulation that shogun stay to complete their second album. A tour’s forthcoming but at this point, the band’s living out an epilogue. If “High” is anything to go by, that epilogue may be more exhilarating than virtually all of the preceding content. I’ll admit, “Down the Lane” ranks among my all-time favorite songs (and Royal Headache will always have a valued place in my collection) but “High” doesn’t seem to be a static title; it’s a statement about the band’s creativity level while it extends its bittersweet death rattle.

“High” opens with an emphasis on a slightly cleaned-up production aesthetic, replete with swirling organs and a pulse-accelerating dynamic. Shogun launches off into what comes off as something approaching a mantra, providing an unavoidable clarity in regards to his feelings for an unnamed central character. As gritty as the verse winds up being, it’s when the chorus erupts into a full bloom that “High’ transcends genre limitations to become something genuinely breathtaking. Just as suddenly as it appears, the exquisite guitar work dissolves back into the pedal-to-the-floor hum of its verse sections. As it jumps back and forth, “High” establishes a surprisingly taut- and subtle- level of tension while simultaneously careening off into an otherworldly catharsis. It’s not just one of the band’s finest works; it’s one of the best songs of 2015.

Listen to “High” below and pre-order High from What’s Your Rupture? here.

La Lenguas – Love You All the Time (Stream)

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Going forward with the onslaught of posts designed to cover some of last week’s most notable music releases, this batch includes full streams and single songs alike, providing an illustrative scope of 2015’s continued kindness in the process. Family Bike’s Everything You Own Is Anagrammed proved to be as hellishly ferocious as expected while Old Table’s Save the Environment continued to expand on that band’s early promise by virtue of being a masterful collection of outsider pop songs. Ultimate Painting’s “Break the Chain” offered an unexpectedly tantalizing glimpse at the band’s upcoming Green Lanes and theweaselmartenfisher continued a masterful run of eclectic covers with a deeply heartfelt rendition of Cat Power’s “Nude As The News“. La Lenguas offers up this collection’s pièce de résistance with “Love You All the Time”.

The first single to be released from the band’s upcoming Tears In My Milkshake, the song’s a sharply crafted blast of doo wop-inflected basement pop that’s reminiscent of latter era of site favorites Sleeping in the Aviary stripped of some of their fuzz. Propulsive and direct, the song’s sound structure and throwaway metaphors suggest that La Lenguas have tapped into a vein of music that’s been, somewhat frustratingly, undermined (at least at this level) over the past few years. There’s a giddy, frenetic energy that courses through the blood of “Love You All the Time”, rendering the tune endlessly playable. Bass runs, sharp melodies, and medium-fi production combine to form a retro aesthetic that suits the band perfectly and helps shape a song that feels like it’ll be part of one of 2015’s most enjoyable collections. Come join the party.

Listen to “Love You All the Time” and pick up the band’s debut EP, Tears In My Milkshake, from Burger.

Worriers – They/Them/Theirs (Stream)

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There were a lot of great items that were released over the past week and, as such, this will be the first of many posts coming throughout the weekend. Each one will have a featured piece and approximately four other releases included with whatever’s in the title. To that end, before getting to Worriers’ impassioned career highlight “They/Them/Theirs”, we’ll be taking a look at some other memorable songs- and one great EP- that are worth hearing. Among them, Big Star’s Jody Stephens’ new project Those Pretty Wrongs and their lovely “Lucky Guy“, Spirit Club’s compellingly gentle basement pop tune “Fast Ice“, and theweaselmartenfisher‘s unbelievably stunning “Daguerrotype Reboot“. Add in Trophy Dad’s Shirtless Algebra Fridays EP and it would already have been an impressive quartet with four worthy potential features. Then, of course, there was “They/Them/Their”, a blistering basement punk tune that’s both a pointed commentary on gender roles and easily Worriers’ finest work to date.

Lauren Denitizo lays out the songs terms from the onset with one of the year’s best opening lines in “You’ve got a word for one/so there’s a word for all”, before capping that verse off with “what if I don’t want something that applies to me/what if there’s no better word than just not saying anything”, delivering a stark, no-bullshit narrative for the respect all people’s identities deserve to be met with in under 20 seconds. Of course, it’s only a fragment of what, even with no lyrics, would have been the sharpest music of Worriers’ expanding career. The lyric set, which serves as one of 2015’s most arresting, just sweetens the deal. Even brought down to the chorus’ “We are floating between two ends that don’t matter” (a sentiment that articulates in one line what Tica Douglas’ Joey managed to create a compelling album around) , “They/Them/Their” becomes Worriers’ implicit clarion call.

We’re currently in the midst of a landscape that’s changing for the better, allowing for greater empathy and humanism. It’s a shift that’s being met with derision from the people who feel challenged by the changes. Worriers have always had their patch of land picked out and their flag stuck in the dirt. Now, they’re delivering the most eloquent reasoning for why they’re in the right and laying out the reasons to follow their path. I’ll be on their side of this movement every time. Which side are you on?

Listen to “They/Them/Their” below  and keep an eye out on this site for more news on Imaginary Life, Worriers’ forthcoming album, which is due out via Don Giovanni on August 7.