Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: TX

Inside Voices – Nomad: Begin (Song Premiere)

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Every so often a band I had no prior knowledge of will show up in my inbox and gift me a song that swiftly knocks me backwards. A few weeks ago, Inside Voices became one of those rare bands. After making the move from Austin, TX to Brooklyn, NY, the band’s been gearing up for the release of their tremendous The Cold Equations EP, a record I’ll most certainly be circling back to at various points in the future.

Since Inside Voices are still a little-known name, they needed a hook to reel in an audience and The Cold Equations‘ opener, “Nomad: Begin”, is about as sharp as they come. Owing a debt to the magisterial sprawl of Cymbals Eat Guitars, “Nomad: Begin” finds a way to assert its own authority and make a startling impression. As the song slowly unfurls, it manages the delicate act of transforming from a gentle caress into an all-consuming roar.

It’s a staggering display of power and — just as importantly — nuance. As the rest of The Cold Equations will eventually attest, Inside Voices understand how to maximize impact via dynamic shifts, something easily evidenced in “Nomad: Begin”. That attention to atmospheric detail nearly distracts from legitimately compelling narratives, which often world-build as effectively as they present the kind of acutely-realized stories that often go untold.

Everything packaged together sees the band reaching a point of near sublimity on their first real trip to the plate. Not only does everything instantaneously connect, it gets sent hurtling outward with a demented vengeance. “Nomad: Begin” would register as an impressive feat for any band, let alone one that’s just starting to make their way out into the world. It’s the kind of song that reinvigorates my interest in both music and writing and it’s the kind of song you owe it to yourself to hear.

Listen to “Nomad: Begin” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on both Inside Voices and The Cold Equations EP. 

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (David Glickman)

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Photograph by Tom Pavlich

Over the past few years, David Glickman’s been one of the writers whose career I’ve greatly enjoyed watching become gradually more impressive. From running his own small blog to joining the staff of The Daily Texan to earning bylines for places like MRR, Impose, and Pitchfork, it’s been heartening to see people recognize his talent and grant him the opportunities he deserves. An incredibly supportive voice in the DIY punk community and a versatile writer, it’s a privilege to once again be featuring one of his pieces in A Year’s Worth of Memories. Here, he takes a look back at being moved by a headlining performance from Deafheaven. Read it below and remember that effort can yield staggering rewards.

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When you decided to make music the defining quality of your life, it can be hard to pull out a singular moment as the one that defined a year. They stack and build on each other, coalescing into something larger.

Do I talk about getting to see Kraftwerk put on a two and half hour 3-D spectacle that ranks as one of the best I’ve ever seen? About dancing front row at the PC Music showcase during SXSW with my friends Adam and Sasha, battling heat and exhaustion for five hours? Flying to New York City on a whim and getting to Perfect Pussy play for the first time in a year and half, getting to re-experience the euphoria their performances incur? Or something like letting six Swedish strangers stay in your tiny, one bedroom apartment for four days, discovering just how wonderful they are, and getting to seem them blow everyone away each time they performed?

But I think the moment that hovers in my brain was finally getting to see Deafheaven perform.

Technically I had gotten to seem them already, but a 3:30pm festival slot in nothing compared to seeming them play in the middle of the night, for as long as they like. It was a free event, guaranteeing a big crowd at the Mohawk that November night. The moment they began the crowd charged forward to the stage. They didn’t operate like a regular mosh pit; everyone smashing against each other to try to grasp onto singer George Clarke in some capacity. They were drawn to him like he was a metal Morrissey, twirling and twisting between his screams about losing his connection to life.

It was one of the most painful concert experiences of my life. The band played on and on, through all of New Bermuda, while legs were trampled and people leapt off stage over and over again into a crowd that was never paying attention at the right time. I recall falling, and ten over people falling down with me, we were all so close together. Yet at the same time it was an amazing show. The band sounded amazing; hearing the solos from “Brought to the Water” and “Gifts For the Earth” made something inside you swell. Clarke as frontman, as a performer, was memorizing; strutting and dancing and never stopping, knowing exactly how to bring the crowd to him and when exactly to pull back.

As the set proceeded he reached out to the crowd more and more, and I got closer to the stage.

The band began playing “Sunbather” during their encore, and I remember hitting this point of exhaustion. I gave up, and decided to let the mass of people around me just take me. I fell backwards, yet didn’t fall due to some bodies behind me. Clarke is hanging over the crowd screaming his vocals, and the adoring masses are trying to reach for him, everyone canceling out each other’s attempts. And so as I have stood there with bent knees trying not fall, I look directly up I see Clarke’s face surrounded by black, directly above me, just singing with more passion than I ever thought possible from one person. Few concert experiences will ever be able to live up to that moment.

The funny thing is I got to hang out with the band after the show, practically by accident, at goth club across the street. And they were some of the kindest, warmest people I have met. I went from seeing them perform one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, to chatting with some goofballs about metal and dancing to Cocteau Twins songs. I got to hang out with some more wonderful people. And that might have been the best part of the evening.

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2015 was a strange year, as every year has been for me since I turned 12. I began to edge out of school and closer into the murky void that is one’s early twenties. I took on new friends, new stresses, new jobs. I began writing about music on a semi-professional level, which is still something I can’t believe has happened (to Liz Pelly and Sam Lefebvre, I am forever indebted to you for letting some wide eyed kid write about some music that he liked). More than anything, I can actually look at 2015 as a year I grew, in whatever small capacity. It’s surreal and slightly scary, and I don’t know how to process it, but I’ll take it nonetheless.

-David Glickman

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 1

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Familiar faces. Single Songs. Full sets. New bands. It’s been 15 weeks since the last Watch This ran on this site and that’s far, far too long. To help get things up to date, the next three days will see a trilogy of video mixtapes containing 25 of the best live clips to surface from 2015 so far. Next week, the installment will resume its normally paced functions- but for now, clear out some time and get lost in the exciting performances compiled in the embed below. Lean back, turn the volume up, breathe deep, and Watch This.

1. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock (Pitchfork)
2. Tenement – Dreaming Out Loud (Don Giovanni Records)
3. Crying – Sick (BreakThruRadio)
4. Beach Slang (NPR)
5. Speedy Ortiz – The Graduates (Pitchfork)
6. Francisco the Man – In the Corners (Audiotree)
7. Single Mothers – Overdose (Radio K)
8. Sleater-Kinney – Modern Girl (Sound Opinions)
9. Nude Beach + Jody Stephens – My Life Is Right (Don Giovanni Records)
10. Mutts – Five of a Kind (Audiotree)
11. Sun Club – Beauty Meat (Audiotree)
12. Crow Bait – Separate Stations (Don Giovanni Records)
13. Courtney Barnett – An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York (Pitchfork)
14. Matthew E. White – Rock & Roll Is Cold (The Current)
15. Makthaverskan – Witness (Pitchfork)
16. Chief Scout – Rollercoaster (Audiotree)
17. Mal Blum – San Cristóbal (Don Giovanni Records)
18. DYGL – Let’s Get Into Your Car (Out of Town Films)
19. American Aquarium – Losing Side of Twenty Five (Jam in the Van)
20. Charles Bradley – The World (Is Going Up In Flames) (Coachella)
21. Sue the Night – The Whale (3FM)
22. Kevin Devine – Bubblegum (Little Elephant)
23. Ride – Vapour Trail (Coachella)
24. The Dodos (KEXP)
25. Cloakroom – Lossed Over + Moon Funeral (Little Elephant)

Molybden – Woman Who Left Behind (7″ Review)

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There are very few new releases that have existed decidedly outside of the punk spectrum to catch this site’s attention. Molybden’s Woman Who Left Behind found itself squarely in that category when it first came in as a submission. Molybden is the solo project of Tess Seip, an artist who was raised in Marfa, TX. Normally geographic identifiers that small don’t warrant a mention and should be held to the barest of minimums in reviews. So why mention it now? Marfa, TX was the small town where both No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were filmed. Anyone familiar with those two films will likely attest to both having stunning visuals and desolate landscapes. That desolation both informs and permeates though all four songs on Woman Who Left Behind.

Rarely more than an instrument and Seipp’s voice, Woman Who Left Behind is a release full of sparing and haunting folk songs. Seipp’s natural ability to command with a minimal palette is evidenced immediately with the title track that leads off the collection. Her voice is masterfully controlled, arresting and enticing all at once. There are shades of Cat Power, Feist, and Joanna Newsom inflected throughout Woman Who Left Behind. Using multi-track vocals and just a touch of reverb, Seipp’s slightly left-of-center lyrics gain an emphasized introspective context. When everything finally trails off in “Bloodshed”, the most haunting track of the four, and the acoustic is swapped out for a piano, the four songs feel like a surprisingly complete collection. All told, Woman Who Left Behind is one of the more singular collections to be released so far this year and should help Seipp continue her steady ascension. Hear it below and order the physical copy from Berniece Rode Records via Molybden’s bandcamp.

Radioactivity – Radioactivity (Album Review)

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The Marked Men’s 2006 masterpiece Fix My Brain was one of the decade’s only indisputable basement pop classics. While their unexpected follow-up Ghosts was good, it failed to reach the heights of its predecessor. Afterwards, The Marked Men slowly disappeared, playing only a scant few dates a year, if that. Earlier this year the Denton, TX band headlined Dirtnap Records’ massive 14 year anniversary shows in Seattle and Portland, reminding everyone that they were still on the top of their respective games. Which brings us to the here and now; Marked Men members Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan’s new band, Radioactivity.

Radioactivity have just released their self-titled debut record and it more than lives up to the promise of their involvement. While Ghosts was an admirably slight misstep, Radioactivity feels like the more natural successor to Fix My Brain. Even though Radioactivity isn’t a Marked Men release, it has all of that band’s vintage staples in tact. Vocal melodies are crisp and catchy while the guitar-riff heavy arrangements offer up plenty of memorable hooks. All of this is anchored by a propulsive rhythm section that props up Radioactivity‘s most thrilling moments.

Generally when a band manages to put out a release that’s more than a dozen tracks deep there’s bound to be a weak track or two. Radioactivity avoids this trap in thrilling fashion, offering up 13 standout tracks that don’t deserve to be skipped over. From opening track “Sickness” to their final moment on “Trusted You”, Radioactivity pilots their way through an absurd amount of peaks and ultimately wind up with a new classic on their hands. It will be a legitimately stunning development if this record isn’t featured on several year-end lists, especially when taking into account some of the more specialized publications.

Trying to pinpoint all of the highlights on Radioactivity would be an exercise in gross futility because they’re peppered all over every manic track. Radioactivity’s energy throughout this, while not unexpected, is worth marveling over. All 13 tracks are emphasized by perfect sequencing and elevated by the record’s masterful pacing. Moment after moment is full of a rejuvenated sense of purpose, displaying a sense of uninhibited joy. This is a whirlwind masterclass in a certain style of songwriting and deserves to be in as many collections as possible.

Fix My Brain defined a genre for more than a few people and stood in a class of its own. After a seven year wait for something as worthy, Radioactivity’s self-titled debut has finally proved there can be something that joins its ranks. While it’s still Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke, the band do qualify as a new project despite all the similarities to its predecessor. Whether or not Radioactivity can improve on their astounding start is anyone’s best guess but a lot of people will be anxious to find out. After all, Ryan and Burke have proved they can duplicate their successes. If anyone’s capable of pulling off the miraculous twice, it’d be them.

Radioactivity can be purchased from the always reliable Dirtnap and can be streamed below.