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Tag: Toronto

Greys – Outer Heaven (Album Review)

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Editor’s Note: There’s been a month-long gap in coverage, thanks to near-incessant travel and other extenuating circumstances. The following run of posts that contain this note will be posts that should have appeared sometime within the past several weeks. Use these posts as an opportunity to catch up to the present release cycle or to simply discover some new music. Either way, enjoy.

Ever since their emergence, Greys have held a spot as a site favorite. Whether it was their incendiary live performances, thought-provoking music videos, or their intelligent-but-immediate approach to noise-punk, the quartet always found a way to make a lasting impression. Last month, they unveiled the next extraordinary step of their ongoing evolution: their latest full-length, Outer Heaven.

In past interviews, guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter Shehzaad Jiwani has stated that Greys attempt to subvert the populist approach to noise-punk by placing the majority of the melodic emphasis on the instrumental portions and the majority of the dissonance in the vocal melodies. While that holds true for much of Outer Heaven, it’s easy to hear the two beginning to be pulled towards a more neutral marriage that ultimately propels the songs to even greater heights.

After a string of deliriously frantic singles, EP’s, and records, the band’s also more fully embracing a brave experimentation that sees them pushing their own tendencies in fascinating new directions. Whether it’s via simple production tricks like the vocal warping in “No Star” or the gentle, almost ballad-like qualities that they sporadically imbue into tracks like the psych-influenced “Erosion”.

By the time Outer Heaven‘s most jarring 1-2 punch hits (the frighteningly explosive “Sorcerer” and the record’s hazy final track, “My Life As A Cloud”), Greys have made it abundantly clear that this is a landmark release. Easily one of the year’s most fascinating releases to date, Outer Heaven is an important piece for Greys’ own progression and a listen that dares to be challenging. A singular listen from an unexpected source, this is a sharp record that fully rewards investment.

Listen to Outer Heaven below and pick it up from Carpark here.

METZ – Spit You Out (Stream)

METZ I

While there may still be a large handful of full streams to mention from 2015’s beginnings, it’s a small enough array to justify pushing off to the side for just a while. Today officially marks the return to regular coverage as an every day staple and today, more than any other day, feels like the precise right time to kick things back into high gear. While there weren’t a lot of music video that managed to sink their way in, Holy Pinto’s laid-back animated clip for “Tooth” and Oddisee’s black-and-white journey in “CounterClockwise” still constitute a strong showing for the medium. Full streams packed a little more heat in numbers, with a pair of demos coming into sharp focus, courtesy of Composite and Dominadora, respectively (a personal thanks to Pansy Twist Distro‘s Amy for tips on both). In the non-demo corners of that particular sphere, there were treasures to be found in the spiked post-punk of Bad Future‘s Nightchurch, the joyfully scattershot eclecticism of The Danger Boys’ self-titled effort, the scrappy grit of the indie pop found on VARSITY‘s most recent full-length, and Telepathic’s reassuringly brilliant Powers of Ten EP, which lessens the pain caused by the sudden departure of site favorites Bleeding Rainbow (Telepathic features members of the band).

As usual, there was a glut of incredible songs worth touching on, a few of which nearly snagged tonight’s headline. A pairing of elder statesman from the independent scene had a good day out with both Conor Oberst’s Desaparecidos marking their official return with “City on the Hill” to tease a forthcoming record (Payola) and Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan providing a reminder of why he remains one of the more influential voices in music with the lightly damaged (and wholly brilliant) “Box Batteries“.  Moon King provided alluring lilt with “Impossible“,  Town Portal took off the safety with the gnarled “Bonus Trigger“, Blank Pages blurred the line between basement pop and post-punk with “No Reception“, and 15 year-old wunderkind Billie Marten turned in a haunting folk stunner with “Heavy Weather“. Howard also turned in an arresting folk tune by way of “Religion” while Battle Ave carved out an atmospheric niche with the downtrodden “Aleph“. A trio of punk scrappers rounded things out with Hinds (formerly known as Deers) unveiling the finalized version of the slow-burning “Trippy Gum“, The Teen Age elevating the anticipation for their forthcoming record with the driving “Pieces“, and Loose Tooth wreaking all kinds of havoc with their latest, the rousing “Skinny Chewy“.

Even with all of those items coming out swinging, the day- and this piece’s focus- belongs to METZ. Arriving only a day after “Acetate” fearlessly pummeled its way onto the site’s First Quarter Highlights mixtape, “Spit You Out” comes flying off the handle, kicking down any doors that are in its path. One of the biggest criticisms METZ– the band’s acclaimed debut- faced was that it was too one-note; song structures were too similar and the band couldn’t shake its comfort zone. At the same time, praise for their live show began appearing in just about any publication that paid the band any mind. Personally, I loved the no-bullshit approach bent of their debut but “Spit You Out” does suggest the band might have latched onto something tremendously exciting by deviating from their more conventional tendencies (which aren’t really all that conventional anyway). One thing the characteristically hell-raising does do better than any of its predecessors is imitate the band’s exhilarating live show. Riding one of the band’s strangest riffs throughout the course of the song, guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins sounds as manic as ever- only relenting for a thrilling extended section that feels tuned in to what the band aims for live. Apart from that, there are a few other production flourishes here and there that suggest II, the appropriately-named album to which “Acetate” and “Spit You Out” belong, could be one of 2015’s finest releases. Noise solos, a tambourine that somehow manages to sound menacing, and a whole lot of attitude combine to serve as a warning: METZ aren’t planning on going anywhere until they finish what they started.

Listen to “Spit You Out” below and pre-order II from Sub Pop here.

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 5

Speedy Ortiz III

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement.

Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time.

Pt. 5 will be the final installment of this series and the preceding galleries can be accessed via the links directly below. Enjoy!

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 1
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 2
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 3
2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 4

 

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 3

Swearin'

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. 2

METZ I

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives for every given band that headlines a post, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision behind a headfirst dive into photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!

2014: A Pictorial Review, Pt. I

Frankie Cosmos III

One thing that this site has strived to maintain is its own visual aesthetic. While it’d be impossible to find a photo in the archives, an original photo will be posted anytime the opportunity presents itself. Upgrading cameras halfway through the year provided a bevvy of new opportunities and the subsequent implementation of a more photo-centric presence likely showed. That’s not by mistake. Photography (especially event photography) has always been an important crux of multimedia journalism. It can be a way to implicitly (or explicitly) convey some of the more minute details of a singular moment to a reader- or it can simply act as an intriguing supplement. Those were just a few of reasons that went into the decision of photography investment (on both a personal and public level) and factored into why one camera or another was brought along to every show this site covered in the past year. Now, with 2015 just around the corner, seemed like as good a time as any to showcase a few photographs from the past 12 months that stood out as personal favorites. Since there are a few too many to go up all at once, they’ll be posted at random as part of installments that will run from now to the start of January. Most of these shots have been published on the site before (or on The Media), though there are a few that will be appearing for the first time. Enjoy!

Girlpool – Plants And Worms (Music Video)

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A lot has happened in the four-day leave that this site took- a leave that officially ends with this post- and there are so many things to cover. It’d be foolish to pretend that this week didn’t just belong to Sleater-Kinney, who released a career-spanning box set, a new single (that was accompanied by a lyric video), and announced their official return. As tempting as it was to take a stab at waxing poetic over everything that band and their return means, their reputation’s already been earned and a million similarly-minded sites will be doing that in the weeks to come. Instead, today’s light will be shined elsewhere and ultimately fall on the band that’s earned the most mentions on this site without ever getting the feature spot. Before Girlpool gets their well-deserved due, though, all three of the regular fields will be recapped, in the order that follows: single stream, full stream, and music video.

Legendary Wings teased their upcoming basement punk ripper Do You See with the excellent “Weather Advisory” while Kal Marks did the same for their forthcoming EP with the forward-thinking bruiser “Zimmerman“. Portastatic proved they haven’t lost a step with the surprisingly great indie pop tune “Hey Salty” and Mitski‘s lead-up campaign for Bury Me At Makeout Creek remained perfect with the entrancing “I Will“. VLMA’s “Slime” and Cellphone‘s “Bad Medusa” were both post-punk stompers good enough to snag each act a handful of new followers. Chris Weisman celebrated the completion of his long-gestating album Monet In The 90‘s by previewing the record with the quietly mesmerizing “Working On My Skateboarding“. Vacation put forth an incredible Jesus And Mary Chain cover, Dirt Dress continued their impressive evolution with “Twelve Pictures“, and Caddywhompus continued extending what have become increasingly massive creative strides with the near-perfect “Entitled“. Davila 666 unveiled the tantalizing “Primero Muertas” in advance of their upcoming record, Pocos Años, Muchos Daños, just as Parts & Labor offered a glimpse at their upcoming record, Receivers, with the outstanding “Nowehre’s Nigh“. Art Is Hard’s Pizza Club series entered its final stretch with Broadbay’s newest noise-punk excursion “Plasticine Dream“, Primitive Parts made a rousing case for being a band to watch out for with “The Bench“, and Wildhoney became the latest act on the stacked Deranged roster to start breaking through on the strength of their towering shoegaze number “Fall In“. Circulatory System turned a few heads with the noise-damaged psych-pop of “It Never Made A Sound” and site favorites Saintseneca released a lovely Lucinda Williams cover. To round things out in the more ambient-leaning fields, there was a stunner from James Blake and a gentle new piece from The Greatest Hoax that easily swam its way into the realms of the sublime.

As for full streams, most of the talk in regards to this week will be dominated by the year-end-bound RTJ2, which is to be fully expected when a sophomore effort absolutely topples its heavily acclaimed predecessor- but don’t let that distract from a slew of other investment-worthy releases. Lace Curtains’ A Signed Piece of Paper also managed to exceed the record it follows in terms of artistic merit- which is a trait that it shares with The Twilight Sad’s Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave. The Unicorns’ Nick Thorburn made his uniquely charming score for the SERIAL podcast available via bandcamp and Fleeting Youth Records made their essential 33-track Blooming (A Fuzz-Fucked Compilationmixtape (which more than lives up to its name) available for streaming via soundcloud. French For Rabbits premiered their arresting folk-inflected Spirits over at Stereogum while NPR’s First Listen series hosted the premiere of Medicine‘s extraordinary Home Everywhere. The Omecs crafted a winsome throwback punk record which they’re now streaming on their bandcamp. Another record to be released via bandcamp, spit’s Getting Low, came dangerously close to being today’s feature by virtue of being a masterful work from an extremely promising songwriter (John Romano) that expertly straddles a curious line between Exploding in Sound and Orchid Tapes. Easily one of this month’s most fascinating records, it’s currently available over at bandcamp for a generous name-your-price fee. Don’t hesitate; this is music worth being in a wide array of collections.

In the music video category, Hurry had a blast with their clever clip for “Oh Whitney“, Dilly Dally got shrouded in smoke for “Candy Mountain“, and S gave the Tacocat bassist some peace of mind in the video for “Vampires“.  Ought danced their hearts out in “New Calm, Pt. 2“, Thurston Moore conducted a nightmarish clip for “Speak to the Wild” (Los Angeles Police Department’s woodland excursion for “Enough Is Enough” was far less menacing), and Split Single inverted normalcy with their positioning for “Monolith“. Broken Water set things up with no shortage of caution in “Love and Poverty“, The Coathangers cheekily provided what’s ostensibly both a puppet-centric video and a left-field visual tour diary in “Drive“, and Beverly cemented their beautiful stylistic approach to the music video format with “Yale’s Life“. DTCV mined a bevvy of filmic influences and utilized them to perfection for “Electrostatic, Inc.” while Public Access TV took a similar route for “In The Mirror“.  Allo Darlin’ kept things amusingly (and effectively) simple for “Bright Eyes“, Nano Kino set the airy “New Love” to a hypnotic visual collage, and Mannequin Pussy remained as energetic and unapologetic as ever with their lo-fi production for “My Baby (Axe Nice)“.

Now, that’s a lot of material to go through for just about anyone but none of those items hit with as hard of an impact as Girlpool‘s absolutely devastating animated video for “Plants and Worms”. From this video alone, it’s shockingly easy to see why such a huge subset of journalists and musicians have latched onto Girlpool so fiercely; their world-weariness, entirely relatable socio-political commentary, and compositional skills all suggest both an age and stage of career that’s vastly accelerated from the actuality of their current positions. The duo, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad (17 & 18 years of age, respectively), are moving at an accelerated pace- release follows release, idea follows idea, and there’s barely any time for an active listener to breathe. Impressively, all of those pieces carry their own distinct identity and they’re frequently accompanied by weighty topics that most songwriters experience an immense struggle to present without tipping into the cloying or cliché. It can be hard to resist the temptation of excess when dealing with important messages and this is where Girlpool excels; not only are their thoughts presented articulately- they’re presented in a manner that’s plaintive enough to be devoid of any easy derision. There’s a deep-rooted humanism and empathy that’s present in their work which is something that will always be admirable- and in their deceptively minimal compositions, the music carries the burden of the weight of those topics to a degree that seems to mirror the band’s inherent level of mutual support.

For “Plants and Worms” they wound up pairing with illustrator Catleya Sherbow, whose art here also acts as a double for Girlpool’s processes. In the Rookie premiere of “Plants and Worms”, Tucker and Tividad give an interview that lends some insight to their history, ideals, and intentions, while revealing that “Plants and Worms” is about accepting the world and how much it has to offer once fear and trepidation is reduced to the point of near-elimination. Neither get any more specific than that- but they don’t need to because the illustration makes a variety of specific instances of everyday fear entirely evident: body image issues, self-image, depression, loneliness, and self-destruction. In Sherbow’s illustrations, everything’s presented as it would be in a children’s book; there’s a soft quality that undercuts the severity of the video’s implications providing a thoughtful contrast that suggests the darkest aspects of the song are universal- but also definitively states that they can be overcome. It’s a crushingly powerful video that becomes impossible to shake after one watch and positions Girlpool in the unlikely position of being a young duo who could (reasonably) become two of this generation’s sharpest social commentators. “Plants and Worms” is likely just the beginning- and it’s already too important to miss.

Watch “Plants and Worms” below and pre-order Girlpool (the EP which “Plants and Worms” is taken from) from Wichita here.

Weaves – Shithole (Stream)

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Following another insane Monday, Tuesday’s kept things humming along at an impressively furious clip. A few of the full album streams that surfaced included CreaturoS’ miraculous psych-punk stomper Popsicle, Nude Beach’s characteristically impressive 77, Dope Body‘s ferocious Lifers, and Marshall Teller supergroup Psychic Markers’ impressive self-titled debut. On the EP and 7″ side of things, the absolutely jaw-dropping four-way split between Krill, LVL UP, Ovlov, and Radiator Hospital started streaming over on Soundcloud, while the split between Girlpool and Slutever= where both bands cover each other’s songs- went up on bandcamp. Vetter Kids also debuted their excellent new EP, Logan, on AV Club.

A fair few single songs started to make the rounds as well: Guided By Voices mastermind Robert Pollard introduced his new project- Ricked Wicky- by way of the hard-charging “Mobility“, Diarrhea Planet continued to improve with the 90’s-influenced throwback “Bamboo Curtain“, Sorority Noise’s “Wesleyand’s Best Dressed” confirmed their growing buzz is fully warranted, Strange Babes ensured that their upcoming debut effort is worth anticipating with the lovely powerpop of “Holiday“, and Ex-Breathers continued breathing fire into their peculiar brand of hardcore with the violently unhinged “Falling Away“. In addition to all of that, the visual medium was well-represented with a highly stylized (and extremely disquieting) black-and-white clip for “Am Gone” from avant pop weirdos Adult Jazz and Routine Involvements‘ surrealist headtrip for their instrumental track, “UFO“.

Having already given the split between Krill, LVL UP, Ovlov, and Radiator Hopsital quite a bit of attention recently, today’s feature fell to an artist who has yet to earn notable coverage on this site: Toronto’s Weaves. Having just missed their set opening for Courtney Barnett at Sonic Boom during NXNE, they’ve been a band that’s been on the cusp of the radar. Previously, the band’s sound has been rooted in a brave kind of DIY punk experimentalism; electronic and dance undercurrents cut apart what would’ve otherwise been straightforward rock n’ roll songs. While that proved to be an angle that kept things interesting, the band’s done away with any tangential excess on “Shithole”- and they might be better off for it.

“Shithole” is the most direct track of Weaves’ still-young career and very likely their best effort to date. Precariously balanced on the tightrope connecting a laid-back vibe to a relentless energy, it still manages to come across as enticing and effortless in equal measure. Ragged guitar riffs meet a sweetly irresistible vocal melody while vocalist Jasmyn Burke’s lyrics push the whole thing towards the sublime. It’s an absolutely stunning track that completely re-defines the rules for a band that was already emerging- and in doing so, forces an adjustment for the expectations that have started surrounding them. All of that is prompted even before the track’s closed out by a relentless, feedback-tinged solo that supplements the cathartic final chorus. If this really is an indication of the direction Weaves is heading in, it’s time to sit up and start paying extremely close attention to this band.

Listen to “Shithole” below and keep both eyes peeled for whatever Weaves has in store to follow it up.

Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs – Gates of Hell (Music Video)

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Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs have always had a real sense of fun about them, which was clearly evident during their NXNE shows. Fortunately, that awareness continues to tie over to their music videos. Last week the band released a clip for the title track off of their just-released full-length, Gates of Hell, which stands as their finest effort to date. “Gates of Hell” as a song finds the band emphasizing their powerpop sensibilities without losing any of their basement punk grit. Guitar riffs and organ jabs are exchanged at a perfectly-paced tempo and the final breakdown builds to a rousing finish. It’s a great song that gets even better when paired with a deranged music video. “Gates of Hell”, the video, finds the band members positioned as part of a black magic occult. Tinted in a rusty sepia and clothed in robes throughout, this would look like a low-budget black metal music video if the audio was muted. It’s a clever, nuanced video that’s full of the same borderline self-deprecating humor that drives the song itself. Packaged together, it’s a welcome bit of irreverence from a band that’s not afraid of distancing itself from similarly-minded acts who can occasionally take themselves too seriously.

Watch “Gates of Hell” below and order the record from the always-reliable Southpaw Records.