Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Vultures

Tenement – Vultures (Stream)

Tenement I

When I think about the bands that have played an active role in shaping my musical identity, I always come back to Tenement. A band that’s constantly made their way on their own terms with unbridled tenacity. Perfectly representative of the upper Midwest, historically inclined towards classic literature and tirelessly committed to the kind of musical exploration that buries genre tags with ease. Willfully imperfect, ridiculously determined, incredibly thoughtful, and unfailingly kind, they distilled a greater understanding and appreciation in me of not just music but my state (and, even more specifically, my hometown). Over the course of eight years, I’ve seen them play countless sets, been fortunate enough to play with them a handful of times, filmed every set I could possibly manage, booked them at every available opportunity, and sang their praises as loudly as I could to whoever would listen.

The band’s come a long way in that time, maintaining their ethos even as their popularity progressively accelerated. Over the past few months alone, they’ve released Predatory Headlights a record that sparked an uptick in a national conversation about both DIY punk and double albums, were the focus piece of two New York Times posts, and completed a US tour. Now, as frequently happens with the band, they’re unleashing even more new material in the form of “Vultures”, a characteristically scrappy inclusion on Not Normal Tapes‘ forthcoming Bughouse I mixtape, a mix that features live, rare, unreleased, and alternate tracks from a laundry list of great artists (including site favorites Negative Scanner).

“Vultures” exists squarely in Tenement’s home recording mold, a setting that’s frequently lent a great amount of character to a large handful of Tenement songs (“Dreaming Out Loud“, “Books On Hell + Sermons On T.V.“, “Paper Airplanes“, “Blammo“, the demos of “Wouldn’t Let You Go” and Napalm Dream, the entirety of The Blind Wink, etc.). It retains all of the grit and energy that helped make them one of the most celebrated acts in punk while still managing to present the band as an act determined to keep pushing themselves forward. Guitarist/vocalist Amos Pitsch still has a keen eye for the mundane and presents it with the flair of an accomplished novelist. “It doesn’t pay for vultures to make friends, they’ll be ripping you apart in the end” warns the chorus, a bleak, matter-of-fact moment in deceptively peppy trappings.

Even with a sentiment that downtrodden, the song- as all the best Tenement songs tend to- comes across as both lived-in and affirming. In under two minutes the band cranks out a cautionary tale that’s laced with enough propulsive drive that it feels even shorter. Even in that runtime, the band manages to marry droll observations with layered falsettos, a genuinely incredible whispered vocal figure, and a few strong dynamic shifts. Smart, bruising, ridiculously catchy, and typically down-to-earth, it’s the exact kind of song that led me to proclaim Tenement as my favorite band. It’s also worth nothing that this is a song the trio shelved. Most bands would kill to have a song like this at their disposal, for Tenement, it’s just another song. For me, it’s yet another reason to celebrate one of today’s best bands. Don’t let this one fall to the wayside.

Listen to “Vultures” below and keep an eye on Not Normal Tapes’ bandcamp for further updates leading up to Bughouse I‘s August 19 release.

So Stressed – Apple Hill (Stream)


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.