Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Twins

Great Grandpa – Teen Challenge (Stream)

Last week there were great new songs from Wren, The High Curbs, Pat Keen, Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs, Interlaken, Cool Ghouls, See Through Dresses, Suntrodden, Dave Catching, Eerie Gaits, and KU that made their public debut. Great Grandpa also resurfaced with the incredibly impressive “Teen Challenge”, ensuring that a whole lot more people would be learning their name. In 2015, the band made some waves with the excellent “Mostly Here” but have been fairly quiet since that point. “Teen Challenge” ends that silence in spectacular fashion.

Coming in advance of their forthcoming Plastic Cough, the band’s forthcoming debut full-length, “Teen Challenge” is a pitch-perfect window into the band’s particularly enticing grunge-pop aesthetic. Muddied tones, sunny melodies, a wildly erratic bridge, and a breathtaking grasp of dynamics elevates “Teen Challenge” from simply being another piece of gloriously ragged ’90s revivalism into something that borders on a transcendental catharsis. One of the year’s more explosive songs, “Teen Challenge” is the perfect setup for what looks to be an astonishing record. It’s an insistent storm of feeling that resonates long after its played itself out.

Listen to “Teen Challenge” below and pre-order Plastic Cough from Double Double Whammy here.

Young Jesus – Void As Lob (Single Review, Live Video)

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Wednesday proved to be exceptionally busy and just as fruitful, unloading a whole host of excellent material in all three major categories. For single songs, there were strong new offerings from Leapling, Dories, Feels, Dogbreth, Vacation, Nils Frahm, Big Jesus, Broncho, No Joy, Haux, Iji, American Monoxide, Look Mexico, Jenny Hval, Cedar Spring MotelThee Oh Sees, and VHS. As if that wasn’t enough there were also great clips from Honus Honus, Dentist, and Cloud Becomes Your Hand as well as impressive full streams from Clique, Karen Meat, and New England Beach Snobs.

All of those titles are worthy of healthy investment but it was a single release from last week that slipped through the coverage cracks to earn today’s feature spot. Occasionally those gaps in coverage are caused by a clerical error, occasionally they’re caused by the wait for an announcement, sometimes (like in the case of this post), it’s a little bit of both. Last week Young Jesus released their latest single, Void As Lob, which pairs live staple “Baked Goods” with the more stream-of-conscious “Hinges”. Earlier today, they announced their Wisconsin date for their tour with fellow site favorites POPE, providing a perfect opportunity to bring up their latest release.

Void As Lob is the band’s first single since last year’s Grow/Decompose, which rightfully earned a place in this site’s Best Albums of 2015 list. The new single continues an astonishing winning streak that started with their breakout effort, Home (which remains a very real Album of the Decade candidate) , and has spanned four years, a cross-country move, a lineup shift, several tours, and an unpredictable rollercoaster of other peaks and valleys. “Baked Goods” and “Hinges”, in that respect, could have easily served as a victory lap but opt for a more challenging approach that makes it abundantly clear that Young Jesus is committed to perpetual growth.

The band’s guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter (and A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor) John Rossiter revealed that both “Baked Goods” and “Hinges” were the most personal he’s allowed himself to be in his songwriting in some time and that honesty’s evidenced and enhanced by his impassioned delivery, which cuts a touch more sharply than usual.

“Baked Goods” opens up the two-song collection with a narrative that invokes characters from the band’s past as it looks to the future, flashing a renewed emphasis on obtuse storytelling that’s punctuated by acute detail. Musically, it’s a sprawling odyssey that complements the song’s thematic structure to a tee, playing perfectly into Young Jesus’ penchant to defy genres with an instrumental tapestry that pulls from enough sources to sound legitimately singular.

“Hinges” sees the band continuing on in that function, only this time opting to scale back Rossiter’s songwriting flourishes in favor of something more unflinchingly immediate and bravely direct. After a somber piano figure opens the song, “Hinges” evolves into one of the band’s most impressive songs to date. Quiet and heartbreaking, “Hinges” hits its culmination with one simple line: I am ashamed to believe in myself. It’s a line that hits with enough blunt force to knock the wind out of just about anyone, all at once amplifying a host of darkly intimate moments.

As Void As Lob dies out in “Hinges” final moments, which exclusively focus on personal disintegration, the entire release feels like its much more than just two songs. In just over nine minutes, Young Jesus issue a searing statement of intent. Now that they’re firmly settled into their current iteration in their current home, they’re ready to look forward to the future, even if that requires tearing themselves apart. It’s a bold gambit but they’re talented enough to exercise total control and that control pays off beautifully. Void As Lob may only be comprised of two songs but it confidently stands as one of the most exquisite releases of 2016.

Listen to Void As Lob below and pick it up from the band here. Below the bandcamp embed, watch a live clip of the band performing “Baked Goods” last fall.

Watch This: Vol. 53

Now, onto part two of today’s recap of the past week in great live footage. From one of the most exciting new acts to an intricately assembled performance clip from one of the most fearlessly creative bands in music, nothing on display here is worth missing. As the previous five videos should have already indicated, the past week for great live footage was absolutely massive. To top this run off, there’s a devastating performance that proves minimal trappings can provide maximum impact as well as delightful CMJ sets from two site favorites. If nothing else, let this serve as a reminder that it’s an incredible time for music operating within the DIY confines. So, as always, sit back, wind down, focus up, adjust the volume to properly excessive levels, and Watch This.

1. MOURN – Otitis (Captured Tracks)

The most recently acquired Captured Tracks artist, MOURN, have been the (very deserving) center of a lot of celebrations lately. A case of youth driven by an independently motivated spirit and gifted with enviable composition skills, they’re a welcome source of new blood. “Otitis” is a fierce example of the band’s craftsmanship and singular identity.

2. Girlpool (unARTigNYC)

Another band embodying a staunchly independent spirit at a young age is the fiercely beloved Girlpool. The duo took this year’s CMJ by storm and played as many sets as they possibly could and subsequently wound up on nearly every publication’s “Best Of: CMJ 2014” lists. Here, unARTigNYC lends a typically artful eye to a stunning, confident set from one of music’s best emerging hopes.

3. Liars – Mask Maker (La Blogotheque)

La Blogotheque has provided some of the most compelling live footage for the past several years; each session managed to produce a complementary merging of artistic aesthetics, suffusing it with their own identity while allowing the featured band to be portrayed as honestly as possible. For their Empty Space series, they’ve teamed up with Converse and the collaborative effort has allowed a much greater range of technical abilities. Liars are a band that’s been perfectly suited to the forward-thinking mode that the series embodies since before Empty Space even existed. Unsurprisingly, this take of Liars tearing into “Mask Maker” is defined by precision and uniquely unconventional fearlessness.

4. Gem Club – Twins (WNYC)

Gem Club’s Breakers was one of 2011’s most emotionally crippling records. Gentle, lush, and deeply felt, it became an unofficial soundtrack to that winter and every winter that followed. Everything was built around delicate vocals and two of the most well-suited instruments to producing a melancholic atmosphere: piano and cello. For many who heard it, Breakers felt like a once-in-a-career kind of record. Their recently WNYC session featured a few performances of songs from that record, with “Twins” casting a particularly mesmerizing spell.

5. Cayetana (NPR)

Bringing today’s abundance of treasures to a close is a memorable set from NPR’s CMJ showcase by site favorites- and authors of one of this year’s best songs– Cayetana. As is to be expected from a band with Cayetana’s reputation, they blaze through a 10 song set with a certain joie de vivre and leave absolutely no doubt that they’ve earned their current position. Expect to hear their name with increasing regularity over the next year- and don’t miss this performance.