Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Waxahatchee

17 of ’17: The Best Songs of the Year

2017 was a staggeringly balanced year in terms of memorable musical output. To honor that consistency, the typical run of 17 songs will be complemented by a list — in no particular order — of 83 other great songs to find release throughout the year. As usual, the “best” tag simply acts as shorthand for the music I was fortunate enough to consume from January through December, which had an individual song list that tallied well into the quadruple digits.

Names that are already familiar to year-end lists on this publication reside comfortably alongside artists who are still looking to make a larger impression. Non-singles are included with some of the year’s strongest advance tracks and songs that tip towards hardcore rub shoulders with some quiet basement pop numbers. There’s a lot to contemplate — both inside and outside of the top 17 selections — and even more to celebrate.

These are the 17 best songs of 2017.

Enjoy.

Great Grandpa – Teen Challenge

One of the great album openers of 2017, “Teen Challenge” reintroduced a noticeably more explosive version of Great Grandpa that wasn’t afraid of hairpin turns or controlled catharsis. From the outset of “Teen Challenge” the band is swinging for the fences but it’s not until the enormous final section where something deeply impressive transforms into something legitimately inspiring. It’s a celebratory song that comes loaded with conviction and is delivered with the type of determination that refuses to be held back.

Mo Troper – Your Brand

One of this site’s picks for last year’s Album of the Year honors, Mo Troper returned this year with two records. One, a collection of older material reworked for Troper’s current band, the other, an inspired effort of new material that saw Troper expanding his ambitions to legitimately unexpected degrees. The elevation of both songwriting and production on Exposure & Response is particularly evident in career highlight “Your Brand“, which finds Troper turning his gaze towards the brand-obsessed inhabitants of social media, people who treat themselves as corporate entities and flaunt varying levels of entitlement.

Occasionally, those same denizens find the levels between tongue-in-cheek mockery and unwitting sincerity blurring into an unrecognizable definition. It’s a richly-deserved skewering that’s shot through with a resigned understanding. The tasteful string and brass arrangements that adorn “Your Brand” send the song to euphoric heights even as Troper is weighed down in the bog of a tragicomic reality. It’s a masterful outing that positions Troper as one of the most promising pop songwriters of this generation.

Cende – What I Want

Cende‘s first and final full-length effort was an enticing effort headlined by a slew of singles that all warranted consideration for placement on this list (and earned individual write-ups). None of them wound up impressing quite as deeply as the song boasting the record’s most challenging — and towering — arrangement, the Greta Kline-featuring “What I Want“. Falsettos, a lilting string arrangement, and an incendiary bridge showed off Cende’s formidable range, tilting from something approaching the saccharine to a vicious instrumental outburst at the click of a hi-hat.

Charly Bliss – Westermarck

Few bands have earned as much attention and praise from this site as Charly Bliss over its four-year existence and it was heartening to watch the band break out in 2017 with one of the year’s most affirming releases in Guppy. While every track on that record is noteworthy for one reason or another, it was “Westermarck” that kept revealing deeper facets of itself. A rousing meditation on uncertainty couched in an unapologetic joy of simply being alive, the song became an unlikely anthem for anyone questioning their partner’s motives (especially in significantly skewed familial setting).

Common Holly – Nothing

Tender, sparse, and wrought with longing, Common Holly‘s “Nothing” proves how adequately minimalist formulas can maximize difficult emotions. It’s a bare-bones run through a personal affirmation, rendering something that appears delicate at first blush searing at second glance. More than that, “Nothing” introduces Common Holly as a deceptively powerful artist with the capacity to deliver breathtaking turns in the quietest rooms.

Weaves – Puddle

Riding a wave of critical adulation and having earned the respect of their contemporaries, Weaves returned in 2017 with Wide Open, an aptly named run that they billed as their Americana effort. While the record takes a lot of notable cues from that genre, the band’s wildly erratic, genre-obliterating core remained intact with the barn-burning closer “Puddle” acting as the clearest indication that the band’s unpredictable firepower was still fully intact.

Fred Thomas – Misremembered

Following a record as momentous as All Are Saved will always be a difficult task but to surpass high expectations in the way that Fred Thomas managed with Changer is a rarity. From the record’s dynamic opening track, Thomas proves to be more focused than ever, spinning barbed tapestries of lived-in realism with unmatched verve. “Misremembered” isn’t just a testament to Thomas’ lyricism, either, the fiery music that serves as its backdrop propelling it to stratospheric heights.

Big Thief – Breathe In My Lungs

A lot of outlets gave Big Thief‘s breathtaking “Mary” a deserving amount of love, ranking both the song — and the record it resides — as the year’s best. Meanwhile, the band’s devastating B-side, “Breathe In My Lungs”, flew under the radar. As is often the case with bands as prolific and talented as Big Thief, “Breathe In My Lungs” is so much more than just a castaway or afterthought, it’s one of their most heartrending numbers, expertly using the considerable weight of guitarist/vocalist Adrianne Lenker’s singular voice to turn in some of the year’s most unforgettably damaged romanticism.

Cayetana – Bus Ticket

2017 saw a very large handful of bands taking the next step in their evolution but few seemed to take their strides forward with as much assurance as Cayetana, who zeroed in on what’s long been the crux of their songwriting: mental health. No song conveyed this more than their staggering “Bus Ticket“, which saw the band slowing the tempo and accelerating the force the trio’s always put into their compositions. Managing to be direct and atmospheric simultaneously, “Bus Ticket” stands proudly as a career high for a band that’s found their voice.

Yucky Duster – Elementary School Dropout

One of the year’s most unabashedly exuberant records came in the form of Yucky Duster‘s latest EP, Duster’s Lament. Headlined by the effusive “Elementary School Dropout”, the band offered up an irresistible slice of joyful basement pop that grounded it’s more playful elements with some effective self-deprecation. Expertly toeing the balance between the light and the bleak, “Elementary School Dropout” stood out as 3 of 2017’s most outright fun minutes in a year where that sort of thing was desperately needed.

Strange Relations – Say You

One of the boldest re-introductions of 2017 came by way of Strange Relations‘ enormously confident Editorial You, which was teeming with memorable bursts of icy post-punk that saw the band considerably elevating their grasp on composition. One of the most significant individual outings for the project comes on the record’s second track, “Say You“, which conjures up a steely demeanor and enhances it with fiercely jagged musical interplay. Both minimalist and towering, it’s an obscenely impressive song from a young band that seems determined to continuously reach for greater heights.

Covey – Call Home

There were a lot of songs that came out over 2017’s 12 months that occupied a similar space as Covey‘s “Call Home”: laid back, lovely, unassuming, and tinged with regret, loneliness, and despair. None of them wound up staying the way “Call Home” managed to stay; the song’s melodies and gorgeous chorus humming along and dominating unexpected spaces of memory when it could’ve just as easily rescinded into oblivion. Every return listen offered a new take and at some point, the song migrated from being a pleasant curiosity to something far more essential: one of the year’s best.

IDLES – Mother

Recently given Music Video of the Year honors, IDLES‘ “Mother” also comes off as a ferocious head-turning effort when stripped from its hyper-intense visual accompaniment. Vocalist Joe Talbot repeats several mantras throughout “Mother” — written as a tortured tribute to his own late mother, whose portrait graces the record’s cover — each of them decrying two evils: one political, one sexual, both too frequently intertwined into a nightmarish whole.

Viciously opposed to a system that uses a weighted system to the benefit of the people who are afforded privilege, the song is a startling reminder of the seething anger and frustration of the people who oppose those systems. It’s a clarion call delivered with an excess of venom, using it’s hardcore leanings to drive a message home hard enough that the ramifications of our choices are left lingering in the smoke.

Palehound – If You Met Her

A beacon of consistency over the past several years, news of a new Palehound record was welcome when it was first announced. The first few singles were packed full of the band’s usual tricks but then “If You Met Her” arrived and decimated everything. A hard-hitting look at how the loss of someone you know can affect your own perception of what it means to die, “If You Met Her” immediately registered as not just Palehound’s darkest effort but the project’s best as well.

It’s a gripping, grounded meditation on life itself and it’s delivered with such empathetic understanding that it’s nearly impossible to listen to the song in full without running through an avalanche of feeling. Anything that inspires that level of emotional response and visceral reaction is worth noting — and in the case of “If You Met Her”, it’s more than worth celebrating.

Young Jesus – Feeling

A longtime staple of this site’s coverage, Young Jesus have continuously found exciting ways to evolve as a band in the face of a slew of obstacles that leave lesser bands stumbling. From nearly complete lineup shifts to a refocused experimentation to a relocation that took them from the upper Midwest to the West Coast. The band’s latest effort saw a quick self-release suddenly disappear only to be re-released shortly after by Saddle Creek.

All it takes to understand why such a revered label would take on the band is one listen to “Feeling”, a sprawling 10-minute opus which beautifully showcases the band’s remarkable range, guitarist/vocalist John Rossiter‘s penchant for blending memorable poetry with unforgettable melody, and a growing fearlessness. It’s a heart-stopping moment on what remains one of 2017’s most woefully overlooked records and reaffirms Young Jesus’ place as one of today’s best bands.

The Magic Lantern – Holding Hands

Easily one of 2017’s outright loveliest moments, The Magic Lantern‘s “Holding Hands” casts a spellbinding magic all its own within its opening figures, as a yearning vocal is laid on a bed of gentle saxophone figurines. As the notes and vocals hold — with as much purpose as the imagined goal of the narration, no less — the song winds up with enough power from two core elements to elicit chills.

When the body of “Holding Hands” takes shape as the drums kick in, providing yet another one of 2017’s most perfectly-realized moments, it becomes abundantly clear that something miraculous is happening on the track. By the time it all winds to a ghostly close, “Holding Hands” has left a mark that deserves to be called upon fondly in the days to come. In all of it’s warmth and care, “Holding Hands” pushes forward from a simple greatness and achieves something far closer to transcendence.

SONG OF THE YEAR:

Mount Eerie – Real Death

When Mount Eerie‘s “Real Death” first arrived, it was set to get a standalone feature. That post never arrived as I personally struggled with the decision to attempt to bring any sort of discourse to something so nakedly personal, which held true for A Crow Looked At Me (the record it’s from) as well. As time passed, that decision lingered, though it became increasingly difficult to listen to both the song and the record, famously written about the death of the songwriter’s wife and recorded in the studio she’d built in their house, on the instruments she left behind.

Even without being able to listen to the song, the memory of the song stayed as strongly as the feelings that accompanied the first listen (as well as the subsequent ones). It’s the sound of Phil Elverum tearing his own wounded heart out of his body to present to the world so that they can understand what kind of grief accompanies something so tragically world-shifting.

While every moment of “Real Death” is shattering, the weight of it becomes nearly unbearable when Elverum shifts the lyrics from oblique poetry to a hyper-specific narrative, recounting one moment of singular heartbreak that arrived with a package that has late wife had secretly ordered for their daughter. In that retelling, Elverum envisions his wife, living with the knowledge that her wife would be ending, thinking ahead and wanting to provide comfort for the people she loved.

Not only does that specific moment touch upon why Geneviève was someone he loved so fiercely but, in doing so, provides the song’s listeners a glimpse into her character as well. It effectively shifts the tonality of the record even further toward heartbreak by painting such an intimate portrait, making “Real Death” come across as even more unmistakably, painfully human. It’s a tribute to an artist that so many of us wish we knew and stands as a stark reminder to cherish the ones we do know while we can and to strive to match their gifts with our own.

By positing real-life implications alongside meaningful execution, “Real Death” became something much larger than the sum of its parts. In plumbing the depths of personal loss, Elverum’s Mount Eerie projected gifted us something hard to experience and impossible to forget. With any luck, it will steer us towards more effectively demonstrating our love when it can be appreciated by the people for which it’s intended.

 

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The Best of the Rest

18-21

22-26

27-32

Middle Children – Baby Boom
Joyce Manor – NBTSA
Thurst – Forever Poser
The New Years – Recent History
Monomyth – Puppet Creek
Hermetic – Strategic Default

33-100

Protomartyr – A Private Understanding
Alexander F – Call Me Pretty
Pile – Dogs
Vagabon – Cold Apartment
Cloud Nothings – Internal World
Prom Queen – Blonde
Holiday Ghosts – Can’t Bear To Be Boring
Washer – Dog Go Bark
Grouper – Children
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Fish Fry
Fits – Ice Cream On A Nice Day
Meat Wave – Run You Out
The Spirit of the Beehive – Ricky (Caught Me Tryin’)
Walter Etc. – April 41st
Chemtrails – Deranged
Juila Louise – Brat
See Through Dresses – Lucy’s Arm
Amy O – Lavender Night
Modern Baseball – This Song Is Gonna Buy Brendan Lukens A New Pair of Socks
Girlpool – It Gets More Blue
The Total Bettys – Stay Here All Night
Tica Douglas – Same Thing
Midnight Reruns – Warm Days
WHY? – Proactive Evolution
Hand Habits – Sun Beholds Me
Long Neck – Mine/Yours
Julien Baker – Appointments
Anna Burch – Asking 4 A Friend
Palm – Walkie Talkie
Single Mothers – People Are Pets
Lydia Loveless – Desire
Deem Spencer – Soap
Two Inch Astronaut – Play To No One
Blessed – Headache
Diet Cig – Maid of the Mist
Madeline Kenney – Big One
Dream Wife – Somebody
Bethlehem Steel – Finger It Out
Strange Ranger – House Show
Miya Folick – Trouble Adjusting
Jesca Hoop – Pegasi
Fiji-13 – Mansplain It To Me BB
Idle Bloom – Dust
Florist – What I Wanted To Hold
Beachheads – It Feels Alright
Fruit & Flowers – Out of Touch
Ratboys – The Record
Schlotman – Holy Basil
Lost Balloons – Numb
John Rossiter – Mom Guitar
Lomelda – Interstate Vision
Walter Martin (ft. Matt Berninger) – Hey Matt
Jay Som – The Bus Song
Japanese Breakfast – The Body Is A Blade
Screaming Females – Glass House
Phoebe Bridgers – Smoke Signals
Open Mike Eagle (ft. Sammus) – Hymnal
Half Waif – Frost Burn
Petite League – Pocketknife
Say Sue Me – Bad Habit
Petal – 15
Waxahatchee – Silver
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – If We Were Vampires
Siobhan Wilson – Whatever Helps
Sammi Lanzetta – Circles
Deep State – Nothing Speaking
Saintseneca – Moon Barks at the Dog
Lithuania – 5000 Year Leap

Seven Weeks, Ten Records

Before this week began, it’d been seven weeks since any of this site’s regular coverage had appeared. The first stretch of this week will be dedicated to amending the outstanding material that went uncovered in the interim, while the latter part of the week will feature the present week’s finest offerings. Below are ten standout records to have been released over the long hiatus, from EPs to compilations to full-lengths. There’s a whole host of incredible material shared between these ten records so stop hesitating and just dive straight into this post’s overflowing heart. Enjoy.

Great Grandpa – Plastic Cough 

Expert Eraser“, “Fade“, and “Teen Challenge” all earned feature slots on this site in the lead-up to Plastic Cough‘s release, each one suggesting a seemingly inevitable reality: Great Grandpa throwing their hat into the ring of genuine Album of the Year contenders. The day finally came, Plastic Cough was released, and that inevitability proved to be no joke. Plastic Cough is an absolutely ferocious record, gnashing its teeth at every hairpin turn and gloriously bombastic moment, only pausing to breathe on the gorgeous “Faithful”, a perfectly placed slow-burner that rounds the record out in breathtaking fashion. Plastic Cough is the kind of thrill ride that makes a mark deep enough to last.

Slaughter Beach, Dog – Motorcycle.jpg

Jake Ewald may get the most recognition for his work in Modern Baseball but what the songwriter’s accomplished in Slaughter Beach, Dog is equally — if not even more — compelling. Having already accumulated an incredibly rich and surprisingly expansive sound over the course of a full-length and an EP, Motorcyle.jpg finds Ewald leaning even more confidently into the battered folk trappings that heightened those first two releases. Motorcycle.jpg also skews a little more lo-fi and at times recalls Yankee Bluff, each poignantly bruised track vastly exceeding the aesthetics perceived limitations. It’s another impressive work from a musician worth watching.

Little Star – July Demos

Another one of the acts positioning Good Cheer Records as one of the finest upstart labels, Little Star has managed to turn a lot of heads in recent times, thanks to two sterling full-lengths. The project’s showing no signs of slowing down, even going so far as to release a small collection of demos last month, aptly entitled July Demos. The band’s earned comparisons to legendary acts (Big Star, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular among them) and it’s not difficult to see why those comparisons are being made, even from this small smattering of tracks. All four of the songs on display here are sharply written songs that convey a great deal of emotion in their quiet restraint. Spellbinding work.

Katie Ellen – Cowgirl Blues

Chumped may have been Katie Ellen‘s earliest claim to some modicum of fame but the songwriter’s not being reduced to the ashes left in the wake of that band’s departure, instead opting to venture out on an already promising solo career. Cowgirl Blues is Ellen’s first statement and it’s a bold one. The first two and a half minutes of opening track “Drawing Room” are comprised entirely of extremely light ambient noise, clean guitar, and vocals, as if Ellen is reasserting an individual identity. It’s a deeply effective moment that sets the tone for a record that’s not afraid to show off its bruises, scars, or self-awareness. Front to back, it’s one of the summer’s most captivating listens.

Milked – Death On Mars

Kelly Johnson is the songwriter spearheading Milked, graciously returning to the fold after Geronimo! took their final bow. For anyone who was concerned Johnson would step away from the eccentricities and unpredictable eclecticism that made Geronimo! so fascinating, put aside those fears for good. Death on Mars is as gleefully unwieldy and feral as Geronimo! at their fiercest (undoubtedly helped along by the drumming of Geronimo! bandmate Matt Schwerin). Death On Mars is a towering work that’s not afraid to embrace catharsis or melody even as it careens wildly from song to song, touching on everything from powerpop to hardcore along the way. An absolute triumph of a return.

Midwives – No

No will be the last record Midwives — who appeared in this site’s Best EP’s list in 2013 and 2015 and whose self-titled 7″ was one of the first reviews this site ever ran — will release. While it’s a shame that one of the upper Midwest’s best hardcore bands will be disappearing into the ether, at the very least they managed to go out on top: No is a culmination of everything the group’s accomplished since starting up nearly five years ago. It’s a growling, spitting, snarling beast of a record, unafraid to take prisoners in its sub-18 minute run-time. Bruising and feral, it’s only fitting that such a proudly deranged band would go out kicking, baring its threatening fangs all the while.

Dream Ritual – Summer Promo

Sometimes all it takes for a band to take off is three songs, which is exactly what Dream Ritual‘s offering on Summer Promo, a blistering post-punk EP that doesn’t leave any room for filler. Echoing everyone from Shellac to METZ and everyone in between, Dream Ritual manages to carve out their own distinct identity. “Noise”, “Oil & Canvas”, & “Sunlight Girl” all perfectly marry elements of modern day noise-punk with some of the genre’s earliest defining elements. Whether it’s the metallic-like production or the infusion of pop-leaning melody, it’s clear that Dream Ritual are students of the genre. Thankfully for us, their learning has resulted in one of the summer’s strongest EP’s.

Mike Krol – Mike Krol Is Never Dead: The First Two Records

A few years ago, this site named Mike Krol‘s Turkey one of the best records of 2015 and heavily praised the songwriter’s infectiously joyous live show. Krol had gained notoriety thanks to the cult following that he’d accumulated due to his first two records, Trust Fund and I Hate Jazz, both of which were long out of print by the time Merge announced Krol’s signing and released Turkey. Fortunately, for everyone, Merge has come to the rescue and reissued both of those seminal classics (this according to essentially anyone that owns either) and packaged them with all of the demos for each session. The whole thing’s an exhilarating look at an exhilarating artist and should be considered essential listening for fans of the basement pop genre.

Tunnel Traffic – MEESH

Tunnel Traffic’s MEESH occupies a space that’s always memorable: the record arrived from the artist via unsolicited submission and proceeded to impress at every turn. From opener “Lesson Learned” to the closing “Memorial”, this small release from Adam Hachey’s solo project made a sizable impression. Softer and a little sweeter than expected, MEESH is chock-full of mid-tempo folk-leaning numbers that expand the bedroom pop genre into something faintly unfamiliar. It’s quiet, it’s intimate, it’s unassuming, and it’s utterly spectacular. MEESH weaves an unbreakable trance over its listeners and commands their attention through a narrative journey that feels both direct and cerebral. It’s an incredible accomplishment from a songwriter whose work all but demands to be followed.

Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm (Deluxe Version)

Throughout work with WaxahatcheeP.S. Eliot, Bad Banana, and Great Thunder as well as through a variety of guest roles Katie Crutchfield has become a household name for a very particular sect of people, broadening that base with each successive release. Crutchfield’s latest comes via the Waxahatchee moniker, Out in the Storm. Everything that Waxahatchee has released to date has stood the test of time and remained as impressive — if not more so — as it was at the time of its release. Out in the Storm feels like Crutchfield’s reached another level entirely, combining more than a decade’s worth of knowledge, experience, and style into a mesmerizing, cohesive whole. A career high point for Crutchfield and easily one of the best records of 2017, Out in the Storm‘s definitive version also comes package with the demos for each song on the record, all of which are — like the record itself — well worth hearing.

A Month’s Worth of Music Videos Worth Watching

Songs weren’t the only category absolutely lousy with gems over the past six or seven weeks. In that same time span, a whole host of outstanding music videos made their way into the world, from old favorites, unfamiliar faces, and just about everyone in between. Below is a compilation of some of the most impressive of those offerings. A few more will be featured in some capacity shortly but for now, enjoy the treasure trove of links below. Dive in and swim around a little, there are a lot of great surprises to discover.

Great Grandpa, Sloan Peterson, Pinact, Zuli, Littler, Dearly Beloved, Tashaki Miyaki, Amy O, Kane Strang, Juiceboxxx, Tall Friend, Peach PyramidSiobhan Wilson, Mattiel, Absolutely Not, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Kevin Devine, Widowspeak, Alvvays, Caroline Says, Waxahatchee, Sam Patch, Milked, Mister Heavenly, Mise en Scene, Yi, Japanese Breakfast, The Lonely Biscuits, Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, New Swears, Lee Ranaldo, Big Hush, Melkbelly, MRYGLD, Phoebe Bridgers, Wilder Maker.

James Elkington, Wolf Parade, Aaron D’Alesio, Dave Depper, Sharkmuffin, Cloakroom (x2), Emily Rockarts, Post Lovers, Pkew Pkew Pkew (x2), Torres, Broken Social Scene, Captain We’re Sinking, Secret Crush, Stars, Le Mutant, Oxbow, Laura Carbone, Hamell On Trial, Ha Ha Tonka, OHMME, Grim Streaker, Cody & Danz, Little Junior, Grey Gersten, Chad VanGaalen, Guerilla Toss, Dutch Uncles, Birds, Froth, The Van T’s, RYAN Playground, The Mynabirds, A Giant DogMÄRVEL, Fits, Walrus.

Beach Fossils, Mount Kimbie, Dylan Lancaster, Courtney Marie Andrews, Korey Dane, Fassine, The Savage Radley, Tamino, EMA, Francobollo, Elle Mary & The Bad Men, Wand, Hero FisherCymbals Eat Guitars, Playboy Manbaby, Cotillon, Moses Sumney, The Gift of Gab, Rainbrother, Sheer Mag, The Vacationists, The Broken Hearts, Wild Honey, Auction for the Promise Club, Alice Limoges, Flood Coats, Hammydown, football, etc., Camp Cope, Joy Downer, tunic, Manchester Orchestra, Men I Trust, Oshwa.

Gracie and Rachel, Us and Us Only, Black Kids, Club Night, Angelo De Augustine, Ritual Talk, Algiers, The New Respects, Wieuca, Alex Lahey, Passion Pusher, Steelism, Tattoo Money, Ross Goldstein, Andy Gabbard, Grandbrothers, and a whole series from Raj and the 100’s.

The Seven Best Songs of the Past Three Weeks

As promised in the earlier posts, below is the first run of the very best songs to find their way onto this site’s radar in the past three weeks. Site staples and new faces combine to make up a varied list of explosive, barn-burning tracks and breathtaking ballads. Everything here holds enough potential for serious longevity that they were granted individual spotlights.  Don’t hesitate: click play and start exploring.  

Alvvays – In Undertow

Ever since their self-titled debut, Alvvays have been consistently unveiling new material, either at their shows, in snippets, or as fully-formed songs. “In Undertow” is the latter of those examples and one of the most promising. Enticing and quietly exhilarating like the tracks that comprised Alvvays, “In Undertow” definitively proves that the band hasn’t lost any of their deft touch and that their grasp and control over dynamics has only deepened with time. Brimming with confidence and tender feeling, “In Undertow” is a song worth leaving on repeat.

The Stevens – Pulling All the Facts Together

A consistently excellent act that somehow managed to prove elusive until a short while back, The Stevens operate in the Flying Nun mold but offer a subtle Captured Tracks kind of twist. Clean, jangling post-punk heavily informed by classic powerpop forebears, they make exactly the type of music that tends to get featured on this site. “Pulling All the Facts Together” is the group at their most refined, a rambling cacophony of effective hooks wrapped up in a clever arrangement. Winsome and light, “Pulling All the Facts Together” stands as a summertime staple.

Waxahatchee – Never Been Wrong

A personal split, a lineup adjustment, and a new lease on what life can offer have led Waxahatchee straight to another career highlight in “Never Been Wrong”. One of guitarist/vocalist Katie Crutchfield‘s most forcefully bruising songs since P.S. Eliot bleeds new life into the Waxahtchee project. Melancholic, aggressive, and defiantly triumphant all at once, “Never Been Wrong” is what the project’s been angling towards since the aftermath of American Weekend and now that it’s found a definitive destination, it’s impossible to avoid the desire to make a litany of return visits.

Oro Swimming Hour – Overthrown

Oro Swimming Hour has been turning a handful of heads lately with their restrained take on folk-inflected powerpop. Recalling acts like Old 97’s and Grandaddy at their most compelling, the project’s been offering up songs like the warm, inviting “Overthrown” with the same casual ease that helps define the songs. Exceptionally lovely and endlessly replayable, “Overthrown” is the type of unassuming track people build entire mix tapes around to impress the person they want to keep close. In short: it’s a gem.

Radioactivity – Infected

Very few records that have been released over the past handful of years have matched the sheer tenacious energy of Radioactivity‘s self-titled record, easily the equal of Jeff Burke’s best work in the band that made his name recognizable (The Marked Men). The various band members have kept busy since then, navigating a multitude of projects and injecting them with the same kind of fervor they bring to each project. Silent Kill, the band’s follow-up to Radioactivity indicated that they were ready to keep surging forward and “Infected”, the band’s latest hyper-energetic basement pop single, proves that they’re far from done. We should all count ourselves lucky.

Great Grandpa – Expert Eraser

The third jaw-dropping Great Grandpa song in a recent string of attention-ensnaring turn-ins, “Expert Eraser” sees the band going relentlessly heavy. Bold, bruising, and unapologetic in its deranged ferocity, “Expert Eraser” is somewhat of a departure from “Teen Challenge” and “Fade” but enhances the band’s already surprisingly distinctive identity, adding a considerable depth of range to an already formidable formula. At this point, nearly every song on the act’s forthcoming record would need to be a tedious bore to take it out of the Album of the Year conversation. History — not to mention the band’s early discography — indicates that’s not a viable option.

Big Thief – Mary

No one could have predicted how fast Big Thief wound up turning in a masterful follow-up to last year’s aptly titled Masterpiece. Even more unexpected: the band wound up releasing the most spellbinding, elegiac track of their already-impressive career in “Mary”. Hushed, halfway haunted, and painfully intimate, “Mary” is five and a half minutes of pure, unbridled longing. Recorded in the house of guitarist/vocalist (and principal songwriter) Adrianne Lenker’s grandparents Andover, MN home with Twain‘s Mat Davidson. Informed by sorrow as much as it is joy and contentment, “Mary” straddles the duality of the human experience with a quiet, breathless rapture. “Mary” isn’t just one of the best songs of 2017, it’s one of the best of the decade. Mute everything and get lost to its gentle pull.

Watch This: Vol. 161

Every week this year’s offered up an enticing host of live clips and the week that transpired the week before last proved no exception, keeping the flame not only alive but roaring. The Tablets, Fits, Robyn Hitchcock, Miss Molly Simms, Summer Twins, Perfume Genius, Strand of OaksBenoît Pioulard, Sean Rowe, Rahim AlHaj, Tenement, Flesh World, Bad History Month, Dinosaur Jr, Hi-Tec Emotions, The Paranoyds, Laura Marling, The New Pornographers, Slow Dancer, Lucy & La Mer, Imaginary Tricks, Double Grave, Queen Hilma, Violents & Monica Martin, Juliana Hatfield, Fast Romantics, Atlas Road Crew, Micah P. Henson, The Drive-By Truckers, Tamino, Lucille Furs, Leif Vollebek, Two Houses, Umm, S.H.I.T., and Electric Eye all found themselves at the center of excellent live captures. A group that strong goes a long way in indicating the formidable nature of the featured clips, which include several long-time site favorites. So, as always, sit up, straighten out, adjust the settings, draw the screen a little closer, and Watch This.

1. Waxahatchee – No Curse (Weathervane)

Katie Crutchfield’s no stranger to this site, seemingly all of the songwriter’s projects having been covered in some capacity. Waxahatchee has become Crutchfield’s calling card in recent years and remains the most singularly focused of the musician’s artistic output. Here, Crutchfield and company rip through an enticing new song entitled “No Curse” for Weathervane’s outstanding Shaking Through series. It’s a potent reminder of the inherent power of one of this generation’s finest artists.

2. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Living in the City (The Current)

A handful of releases into an increasingly notable career, Hurray for the Riff Raff continue an impressively upward trajectory. Each consecutive record and performance seems to constitute a new career high for the project, which has never been anything less than commendable. “Living in the City” is just the latest upward rung on a never-ending ladder that seems poised to reach stratospheric heights. Looking down from where the act is now, it’s more than enough to induce a serious amount of vertigo.

3. Vundabar (Audiotree)

One of the more intriguingly frenetic punk bands of recent times, Vundabar have carved out a reputation for themselves by meticulously crafting unpredictable music. Recently, the band swung through Audiotree’s studio to record a session perfectly showcasing the tension and urgency the band’s so adept at creating. Every song in this session is eye-opening and executed to perfection without anyone in the band sacrificing even an ounce of conviction.

4. Nothing (Amoeba)

Watch This veterans, Nothing keep finding new ways to impress. In this Green Room session for Amoeba, the band sacrifices their signature onslaught of volume for something far more intimate and contained. In passing up one of their most noted trademarks, the band also ably demonstrates how good the songs lurking underneath have been since the beginning. Utterly transfixing and devastatingly sincere, this acoustic session stands as an entirely unlikely but wholly welcome new high for the band.

5. Allison Crutchfield (KEXP)

While Katie Crutchfield may have taken the opening slot on the features list in this volume of Watch This, Crutchfield’s twin sister is the one to close it out. As another musician whose projects have been well-documented on this site throughout a lengthy career, Allison Crutchfield seems poised to spearhead a sterling solo career. A lot of supporting evidence can be found to back that claim up, including this abbreviated set for KEXP, which finds the band (which includes Radiator Hospital‘s Sam Cook-Parrott) running through an impressive array of new songs with a sense of unified purpose.

Waxahatchee – Silver (Music Video)

Throughout the past six or seven days, great music videos by the likes of Pale Grey, Meat Wave, Tim Kasher, Mark Lanegan, Fuzzystar, Special Teams, Gurr, Chick Quest, EMA, Street Eaters, SOFTSPOT, No Vacation, Mayflower Madame, Airpark, Real Numbers, Hoan, Exit KidMurlo, M.I. Blue, Kurt Swinghammer, The Broken Hearts, Skye Steele, and Morning Teleportation have found their way into the world. All of them made several very good impressions but none of them seemed to go quite as deep as the considerable indent Waxahatchee‘s “Silver” left in its wake.

Katie Crutchfield’s projects were always going to be a staple of this site for however long either wound up being around. Ever since becoming accustomed to the songwriter’s work during P.S. Eliot‘s tenure. Fortunately, Crutchfield’s kept busy under the Waxahatchee moniker, releasing one sterling record after another and Out in the Storm looks ready to carry that unimpeachable run. “Silver” the first song to be released from the record also came equipped with an appropriately DIY-leaning video.

Throughout the clip, Crutchfield’s shown in a variety of ways, from running through the song with the band, to lip-syncing along to “Silver” while bathed in confrontational strobe lights, to black-and-white footage of the artist simply walking around. All of it forms a coherent whole that seems to enliven the song driving the whole affair. Clever editing, an easygoing charm, and a sense of place all congeal into something striking. When all’s said and done and the storm has abated, Crutchfield remains calm, standing proudly as one of this generation’s essential artists.

Watch “Silver” below and pre-order Out in the Storm from Merge here.

Rod – Cemetery (Stream)

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Great new tracks from Chook Race, TERRY, Milemarker, Heliotropes, Night School, Big Neck Police, TTNG, Morgan Dealt, Parlour, Waxahatchee, and Jay Arner surfaced over the past several days, making a considerable impression. While all of them essentially guaranteed a short, healthy stretch of new releases, it was the latest from Rod that hit hardest. The band’s next up on the release calendar for Good Cheer, who have been having a remarkable 2016 run (one that’s been highlighted by Mo Troper‘s astonishing Beloved) and “Cemetery” — Rod’s latest — makes sure their impressive pace is maintained.

In under 100 seconds, Rod makes their presence known via soaring, venomous basement pop that feels like it’s always on the verge of spontaneous combustion and doing everything in its power to keep everything under control. As the vocals switch back and forth between pointed singing and vicious screaming, the velocity of “Cemetery” increases to dangerous levels. The hard-charging guitars contort and stab as the propulsive rhythm section work transforms the song into a white-hot wrecking ball of pure feeling. It’s an exhilarating look at what’s sure to be an extremely formidable — and very intimidating — record.

Listen to “Cemetery” below and keep an eye on Good Cheer Records’ store page — and this site — for further updates on the band.

2016: The First Two Months (Streams)

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Littler

Now that the 2015 edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories has officially wrapped, it’s time to dive headfirst into 2016. There’s been a long delay in posting due to all of the recurring series and, simply, covering the volume of what’s been released in January, February, and the first few days of March. It’s precisely because of the jaw-dropping amount of material that the next few posts on this site will merely be a collection of links. Since it’d be humanly impossible to get through even a large chunk of this in one setting, it may be best to just bookmark this page and peruse the below list at your own leisure. After all of the single stream, full stream, and music video links lists are up, the focus will shift to a handful of standout releases. Once that’s all been said and done, Heartbreaking Bravery will resume operations as normal.

Explore some of 2015’s excellent early offerings below.

Yuck – Cannonball || Yucky Duster – Seashell Song || Hovvdy – Problem || Skaters – Head On to Nowhere || Lost Film – Still Youth || Robert Pollard – My Daughter Yes She Knows || Horse Jumper of Love – Bagel Breath || The Pooches – Heart Attack || Lou Doillon – Where To Start || Martha Ffion – Wallflower || Pity Sex – Bonhomie || Brittany Costa – Harbor || Self Defense Family – In Those Dark Satanic Mills || Kane Strang – Things Are Never Simple || Nothing – Vertigo Flowers || Gun Outfit – Make Me Promise || Summer Flake – Wine Won’t Wash Away || Ladada – New Psych || Alex Napping – Trembles Part II || Hit Bargain – The Circuits That Cannot Be Cut || Hard Girls – Dulcet Tones || Sioux Falls – Dinosaur Dying || Fake Laugh – Mind Tricks || Mind Spiders – Running || Arbor Labor Union – Radiant Mountain Road || Parakeet – Sugar Rush || John Dillon – The Fox || Littler – Of Wandering || Grayling – Bidding War

The Raveonettes – Run Mascara Run || Horse Jumper of Love – Ugly Brunette || Pinemen – Predictions || High Waisted – Door || Neighbors – Angel O || Waxahatchee – With You || ROMP – Backfire || The So So Glos – Dancing Industry || Littler – Phantom Limb || Gun Outfit – Expansion Pact || Bambara – All the Ugly Things || Miserable – Oven || Witching Waves – Flowers || Fucko – Best Little Something in Somewhere || Mind Spiders – Cold || Littler – Slippery || Journalism – Everywhere I Look || Carey – Hey Caty || Plastic Flowers – Diver || A Dead Forest Index – No Paths || Japanese Breakfast – Everybody Wants To Love You || Drug Pizza – No Reaction || Music Band – Day Stealer || Alma Elste – Limitless || Field Report – Your Friend Tia || Bad Cop – Ain’t From Here || Gun Outfit – King of Hearts || Agent Blå – Frustrerad || Jennifer O’Connor – It’s A Lie || Takénobu – Curtain Call

Låpsley – Cliff || The Thermals – Hey You || Frankie Cosmos – Sinister || Mothers – Coppermines || Operators – Cold Light || Wire – Nocturnal Koreans || Steady Holiday – No Matter || La Sera – I Need An Angel || Jackson Whalan & Jules Jenssen – Home Again || Japanese Breakfast – In Heaven || Caveman – Never Going Back || Beat Awfuls – You’re Not Gonna Love Me Anymore || Guerilla Toss – Diamond Girls || Brass Bed – Be Anything || Sunflower Bean – Easier Said || Snow Roller – Too Good || Doug Tuttle – It Calls On Me || Frances Cone – Arizona || Abi Reimold – Vessel || Twin River – Antony || Beach Baby – Sleeperhead || Aleyska – Everglow || John Congleton and the Nighty Nite – Until It Goes || Great Pagans – Call of the Void || ROMP – Avoiding Boys || Mike Bell & the Movies – Fucked If You Do || Heron Oblivion – Your Hollows || Tiger Army – Prisoner of the Night

Eagulls – My Life In Rewind || Courtney Barnett – Three Packs A Day || David Vassalotti – Ines De Castro || Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk – Don’t Wanna Fall In Love || Guerilla Toss – Grass Shack || Sorority Noise – Either Way || Spookyland – God’s Eyes || Jennifer O’Connor – Black Sky || Chumped – Not the One || Florist – A Hospital + Crucifix Made of Plastic || John Congleton & the Nighty Nite – Your Temporary Custodian || Andrew Bird (ft. Fiona Apple) – Left Handed Kisses || The Thermals – My Heart Went Cold || Summer Flake – Shoot and Score || Quilt – Roller || Space Raft – Mountain || What Moon Things – Party Down the Street || Soar – Speak Write || B Boys – Get A Grip || Beach Skulls – Santa Fe || Rolling Blackouts C.F. – Write Back || Yndi Halda – Together Those Leaves || Amber Arcades – Right Now || Mára – Surfacing || Nai Harvest – Just Like You || Tim Woulfe – Be Clarity

Operator – Bebop Radiohaus || Abi Reimold – Sugar || Sarah Neufeld – Where The Light Comes In || Ali Beletic – Stone Fox || Dunes – Runner || DTCV – Bourgeois Pop || Gladiola – The Uninvited Guest || Earl Sweatshirt – Wind In My Sails || Wavves x Cloud Nothings – I Find || Soda – Blonde On Blonde || The Dead Ships – Company Line || Pkew Pkew Pkew – Mid 20’s Skateboarder || Gioia – Circling || Tangerine – Sunset || Mrs Magician – Forgiveness || Acid Dad – Don’t Get Taken || Summer Cannibals – Go Home || B Boys – Seagulls || David Vassalotti – Broken Rope || The Coathangers – Nosebleed Weekend || Fucko – Buzz || Ulrika Spacek – Beta Male || Alexei Shishkin – Yucca Street || Day Wave – Stuck || Ashley Shadow – Tonight || Journalism – Faces || The Hanged Man – Invisible Tree || Sofia Hardig – Sitting Still || VHS – Wheelchair || Phosphene – Silver || The Castillians – Come What May

Kidsmoke – Cut Yourself Loose || Future of the Left – The Limits of Battleships || Woodes – Daggers & Knives || Dusk – When Sleep Washes Over || Sheer Mag – Can’t Stop Fighting || Murena Murena – Lovely Homes || Woods – Can’t See At All || case/lang/veirs – Atomic Number || Eagulls – Lemontrees || Crater – Summer Skin || Flowers – Bitter Pill || Cat’s Eyes – Chameleon Queen || Pity Sex – Burden You || Tiny Deaths – The Gardener || Journalism – Watching and Waiting || The Middle Infield – Shadow || Kyle Forester – Won’t Go Crazy || Dark Blue – Vicious Romance || Grubby Little Hands – No Such Thing || Wussy – Dropping Houses || Jo Passed – Lego My Ego || Frightened Rabbit – Death Dream || Bombay Harabee – Interval || Fear of Men – Fall Forever Island || Fleurie – Sirens || Kane Strang – Full Moon, Hungry Sun || Kindness – A Retelling || Nothing Works – Dark Musick

Risley – Kill the Clock || Anna Meredith – Taken || ROMP – Last Year || Yikes – Thought You’d Stay || Chirping – Corona || Keeps – Let It Fall (Keeping Time) || Sound of Ceres – Dagger Only Run || Mike Newman – Vinny || Beverly – Victoria || Dirty Dishes – All of Me || Raury (ft. Take A Daytrip) – Home || Shonen Knife – Jump Into the New World || Head Wound City – Scraper || James Supercave – Burn || Shitkid – Oh Please Be A Cocky Cool Kid || Moderat – Reminder || Avante Black – Imaginary Love || Sonya Kitchell – Follow Me In || Charlie Hilton – Funny Anyway || Explosions in the Sky – Disintegration Anxiety || The Raveonettes – The World Is Empty (Without You) || Tinted Sun – Only One || Zula – Not the Same || Nicholas Krgovich – Written in the Wind || Slingshot Dakota – Paycheck || Day Wave – Gone || Matt Kivel – Violets || The Body – Hallow/Hollow || Future of the Left – If AT&T Drank Tea What Would BP Do? || Wintersleep – Santa Fe || Pop. 1280 – Chromidia || Gladiola – Greatest Hits || Sean Lennon – Demon Daughter || Acid Dad – Fool’s Gold

I’m An Island – Vitamin D || Night Moves – Carl Sagan || Phosphene – Be Mine || Risley – Warpaint On || Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Rich Wife Full of Happiness || Cross Record – Basket || Ashley Shadow – Tonight || Francis – Turning A Hand || Delta Will – A Dream || Dam Gila – What Fire || Nap Eyes – Lion In Chains || Scott Yoder – Looking Back In Blue || Holy Esque – Tear || Rob Crow – Oh, the Sadmakers || Whitney – No Woman || Marissa Nadler – Janie In Love || Teen Suicide – The Stomach of the Earth || Benny Boeldt – Valley Amnesia || Vandaveer – A Little Time Off Ahead || The Cradle – The Screen of Skin || James Bishop – Tailspin || Inner Space Orchestra – One Way Glass || Mirror Travel – Yesca || Two People – Fading || Hundred Waters – Forgive Me For Giving Up || Jaill – Paint Me Scary || Ryley Walker & Charles Rumback – Dhoodan || Scott Yoder – Silver Boy || Body Origami – Bright Hunger

Slingshot Dakota – Lewlyweds || Flower – Deadly Ill || TEEN – Please || Mavis Staples – Dedicated || Relick – Offering || Alpenglow – Solitude || Nathaniel Bellows (ft. Timo Andres) – It Never Ends || Say No! To Architecture – Wieder’s Floor || Chelsea Wolfe – Hypnos || M. Ward – Confession || Geddy D (ft. Darius Minwalla) – For You This Fall || Morly – The Choir || Turnover – Humblest Pleasures || Weird Dreams – The Ladder || Jo Passed – No, Joy (I’m Not Real, Girl) || RJD2 – Peace of What || Bill Eberle – Too Late To Take It Back || Those Pretty Wrongs – Ordinary || Still Parade – Walk in the Park || No Side – AM Revised || Hayden Calnin – Cut Love || Inspired & the Sleep – Die Slow || Pined – Wray || Copperfox – Feel in the Void || Michael Nau – While You Stand By || Laura Gibs0n – The Cause || Say No! To Architecture – Cocaine, Eh || Tangerine – Tender || Chambers – Yeagin Shone

Melaena Cadiz – California || Andy Ferro – Crystal Tongue || Nap Eyes – Roll It || Violent Soho – Viceroy || Jon Patrick Walker – Hideous Monster || Bat For Lashes – I Do || Andy Ferro – Sugar and Milk || Naps – Social Skills || Los Angeles Police Dept. – Hard || Sound of Ceres – Hand Of Winter || Pillow Talk – Monogamy (Demo) || RJD2 – The Sheboygan Left || Andy Ferro – Hood || Proud Parents – Saab Story || Muncie Girls – Balloon || Carter Tanton (ft. Sharon Van Etten) – Twenty-Nine Palms || Ghost Riders – Rolla Olak || Death Grips – Hot Head || CFM – Purple Spine || Human People – In My Speakers || Kevin Garrett – Refuse || Iska Dhaaf – Invisible Cities || Chris Maxwell – Arkansas Summer || Step Sisters – Vox Pop || Bianca Casady – Daisy Chain || Ship Thieves – Undertakers || South of France – Washed Up || Dear Boy – Local Roses || Lontalius – It’s Not Love || Merival – Kicking You Out

DJDS – I Don’t Love You || The Sherlocks – Last Night || Wanderwild – Optimist || Soft Fangs – Birthday || Anenon – Once || My Golden Calf – Young Pioneers || Drowners – Cruel Ways || Darla and the Love – End of the Party || Minotaurs – Stayed Too Long || The Flats – Machinery || Lust For Youth – Sudden Ambitions || Chris Storrow – A True Christian || The Bulls – Prudence || The Gills – Gimme Gimme || Lust For Youth – Stardom || Lionlimb – Just Because || Sonya Kitchell – Hurricane || Wet – All the Ways || Public Memory – Ringleader || Eric Bachmann – Mercy || James Blake – Modern Soul || Soft Fangs – The Wilderness || Reed Turchi – Offamymind || Yonaka – Ignorance || Public Memory – Zig Zag || Henrietta – Arrows || Shirlette Ammons (ft. Amelia Meath) – Aviator || Gideon Benson – Talk Talk

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Phil McAndrew)

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Photograph by Shauna Roloff

Last year, Phil McAndrew (pictured above, behind the kit) delivered a heartfelt piece to the first edition of this series. At the core of that piece was a celebration of his younger brother, Ray, and the music he was making with Perfect Pussy. A little while later, he’d become much more than a supportive voice in the audience and create the distinctive comic accompaniment for Astonishing Adventures!, Perfect Pussy’s ferocious split with Joanna Gruesome. It was another small moment of  brilliance in what’s turning into an illustrious career in animation. Even while registering credits for places like MAD Magazine, IFC, Cartoon Network, Random House, and Workman Publishing, McAndrew’s found time to join a band and catch a slew of shows (a few of which I was fortunate enough to be able to take in with him). Below, he covers some of the artists that meant the most to him in 2015 and explores his reintroduction to making music. Read it below and then indulge your own creative sensibilities in any way you see fit.

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2015 was kind of a strange year with lots of ups and downs and sideways and diagonals and such. But if we’re talking strictly music stuff, it was a really excellent year, filled almost entirely with ups.

Thinking back on 2015, I’m flooded with music related memories that felt meaningful in one way or another. Scribbling drawings of my brother Ray and our friend Garret as they started writing the next Perfect Pussy album in my childhood bedroom. Directing a music video for my old friend Jeff York’s new band, Major Player. Hanging out alone late at night and turning the volume way up on new tunes from my brothers Tyler and Ray, who make music together as Toxic Parents and separately in a variety of bands and solo projects like Wealth, Crusher, Perfect Pussy, and MKSEARCH. Getting back into drawing weird flyers for bands my friends play in.

Getting to watch Sleater-Kinney play from backstage at Irving Plaza. Seeing more great shows than I can even count, in huge venues, in small venues, on a pier in Manhattan, in an old car wash, in burrito restaurants and skateboard shops and art spaces, and in basements in my neighborhood…. Sheer Mag, All Dogs, Rainer Maria, Destruction Unit, Really Big Pinecone, Izzy True, Downtown Boys, Fleabite, Harmonica Lewinski, Deerhoof, Warehouse, Pretengineer, Arm Candy, Speedy Ortiz, Olivia Neutron-John, Big Ups, Pity Sex, Aye Nako, Nine of Swords, Waxahatchee, Mannequin Pussy, and dozens of others.

The most meaningful thing that happened for me this year was that I myself started playing music again after a very long hiatus. I hadn’t played drums since sometime in 2010, when jobs and grad school and relationships scattered the members of the bands I used to play in to different states. Five years and two cross-country moves later, my friend and old next-door neighbor Mim asked if I’d be interested in taking over on drums in her band, The Nudes. Right around the same time, my friend and current roommate Shauna, started playing bass in the band (they’d never had a bassist before). I’ve loved The Nudes since I first saw them play when I moved back to upstate New York from Southern California in 2013, so I was pretty thrilled to be asked to play with them.

We’ve played a lot of shows since I joined The Nudes over the summer. My favorite show was here in Syracuse in October with local favorites Malvinas, fellow upstate New Yorkers Green Dreams, and the great Worriers, whose most recent album I can’t stop listening to. The show was packed and everyone was in high spirits. I saw so many smiles at this show. I saw people of all sizes and genders bouncing around together as the bands played, getting wiggly and weird and laughing. Nobody was dancing like a violent psychopath. Everything about this show felt right. It was all of the good things that I missed about playing in bands.

2014 was all about watching my brothers and friends do cool things and conquer the world, only participating in the music scene in my own small, non-musical ways. That continued into 2015, but to get back into playing music myself in a band I love with people I love was nothing less than magical.


-Phil McAndrew

 

The Honorable Mentions of the 2015 Music Categories

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Before diving into the particulars of the forthcoming lists, it’s worth addressing the distinction made in the headline. Each of the categories that received a list in 2015 (music videos, songs, EP’s, albums, odds and ends) will be expanded upon in this post. However, there are still two forthcoming film lists but each of those will include the honorable mentions along with the featured rankings. An obscene amount of great material came out over the 12 months that comprised the past year so any attempts to cover everything would be futile. If anyone’s exhausted the below lists, a more comprehensive version can be found by exploring the following tags: stream, full stream, EP stream, and music video. Explore some of the top tier picks that didn’t make it onto the year-end lists via the tags below.

Music Videos

Screaming Females – Hopeless | Cayetana – Scott, Get the Van I’m Moving | Ephrata – Say A Prayer | ANAMIA – LuciaJoanna Newsom – Sapokinakan | Battles – The Yabba | FIDLAR – 40 Oz. On Repeat | PINS – Young Girls | Doomtree – Final Boss | Hundred Waters – Innocent | Celestial Shore – Now I Know | Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Sunday Candy | Modest Mouse – Coyotes | Girlpool – Before The World Was Big | Laura Marling – Gurdijeff’s Daughter | Bay Uno – Wait For Your Love | The Staves – Black & White | Young Buffalo – No  Idea | Avid Dancer – All Your Words Are Gone | Avi Buffalo – Think It’s Gonna Happen Again | Adir L.C. – Buyer’s Instinct | Midnight Reruns – Canadian Summer | Daughter – Doing The Right Thing | John Grant – Disappointing | Waxahatchee – Under A Rock | Wimps – Dump | Potty Mouth – Cherry Picking | Froth – Nothing Baby | The Libertines – Heart of the Matter | Car Seat Headrest – Something Soon | Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch | Savages – The Answer | Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin | Bully – Trying | Sheer – Uneasy  | Will Butler – Anna

EPs

Snail Mail – Sticki | Kindling – Galaxies | Eugene Quell – I Will Work The Land | Gumbus – Crimbus Rock | Rye Pines – Rye Pines | Feral Jenny – Greatest Hits | Slutever – Almost Famous | Gracie – Gracie | Nice Guys – Chips in the Moonlight | Anomie – Anomie | Kitner – Stay Sad | Animal Flag – EP 2 | Never Young – Never Young | Birches – Birches | Alimony Hustle – Gutter Gutter Strike Strike Gutter Gutter | The Lumes – Lust | Pretty Pretty – Talkin’ to the WallsVomitface – Another Bad Year | PALMAS – To the Valley | Greys – Repulsion | Wild Pink – Good Life | The Glow – Lose | Spirit of the Beehive – You Are Arrived (But You’ve Been Cheated) | Shady Hawkins – The Last Dance | Holy Esque – Submission | Ashland – Ashland | Isabel Rex – American Colliquialisms/Two Hexes | Pet Cemetery – Dietary Requirements | Milk Crimes – Milk Crimes | Rubber Band Gun – Making A Fool of Myself | Creative Adult – Ring Around the Room | Amber Edgar – Good Will Rise | La Casa al Mare – This Astro | Trophy Dad – Shirtless Algebra Fridays | Glueboy – Videorama | Birds in Row – Personal War | YVETTE – Time Management | Communions – Cobblestones | O-Face – Mint | Day Wave – Headcase | Granny – EGG | Van Dammes – Better Than Sex | Vallis Alps – Vallis Alps | Little Children – Traveling Through Darkness | Philadelphia Collins – Derp Swervin’ | The Tarantula Waltz – Lynx | Nicolas Jaar – Nymphs II | The Japanese House – Pools To Bathe In | Guerilla Toss – Flood Dosed | Los Planetas – Dobles Fatigas | See Through Dresses – End of Days | Earl Sweatshirt – Solace | Kississippi – We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed | Yumi Zouma – EP II | G.L.O.S.S. – Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit | Fresh Snow – WON | Girl Band – The Early Years | XXIX – Wafia | together PANGEA – The Phage | Ty Segall – Mr. Face | Young Guv – Ripe 4 Luv

Songs

Yowler – The Offer | Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo | Pleasure Leftists – Protection | Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold | Slight – Hate the Summer | Sports – The Washing Machine | Diet Cig – Sleep Talk | LVL UP – The Closing Door | Royal Headache – High | Tica Douglas – All Meanness Be Gone | Speedy Ortiz – Raising the Skate | Phooey! – Molly’s at the Laundromat | Adir L.C. – Buyer’s Instinct | Sweet John Bloom – Tell Me | Pile – Mr. Fish | Screaming Females – Hopeless | Ernie – Sweatpants | Bad Wig – Stargazer | Dusk – Too Sweet | Painted Zeros – Only You | Krill – Torturer | Young Jesus – Milo | Tenement – Ants + Flies | Midnight Reruns – Richie the Hammer | Melkbelly – Mt. Kool Kid | The Weasel, Marten Fisher – Empty Bucket List | Soul Low – Always Watchin’ Out | Eluvium – Neighboring In Telescopes | Algiers – Blood | Institute – Cheerlessness | Bruising – Think About Death | Vacation – Like Snow | Cende – Widow | Alex G – Brite Boy | Bully – Trying | Nicole Dollanganger – You’re So Cool | Sheer – Uneasy | Laura Stevenson – Claustrophobe | Kathryn Calder – New Millenium | The Foetals – Nothing | Lady Bones – Botch | Dogs On Acid – Let the Bombs Fall Off | Fraser A. Gorman – Shiny Gun | Bandit – The Drive Home | Mercury Girls – Golden | ThinLips – Nothing Weird | Wimps – Dump | S.M. Wolf – Help Me Out | Glueboy – Back to You | Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets | Ratboys – Tixis | PINS – Young Girls | Shilpa Ray – Johnny Thunders Fantasy Space Camp | White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die | Lady Lamb – Spat Out Spit | Washer – Joe | Pupppy – Puking (Merry Christmas) | Midwives – Back in the Saddle Again | Torres – Strange Hellos | METZ – Spit You Out | Jeff Rosenstock – You In Weird Cities | Little Wings – Hollowed Log | Bent Denim – Good Night’s Sleep | Waxahatchee – Under A Rock

Albums

Girlpool – Before The World Was Big | Screaming Females – Rose MountainYowler – The Offer | Saintseneca – Such Things | Bully – Feels Like | Tica Douglas – Joey | Evans the Death – Expect Delays | Torres – Sprinter | Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp | Fred Thomas – All Are Saved | Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching | Ratboys – AOID | Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter | METZ – II | Little Wings – ExplainsSlanted – Forever | Bent Denim – Romances You | Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – The High Country | White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again | The Armed – Untitled | Shilpa Ray – Last Year’s Savage | The Foetals – Meet the Foetals | Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style | Wimps – Suitcase | Westkust – Last Forever | Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie | Cloakroom – Further Out | Stove – Is Stupider | Johanna Warren – numun | Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer | Mikal Cronin – MCIII | Adir L.C. – Oceanside Cities | Negative Scanner – Negative Scanner | Pleasure Leftists – The Woods of Heaven | Haybaby – Sleepy Kids | Heather Woods Broderick – Glider | Lady Lamb – After | Pile – You’re Better Than This | Algiers – Algiers | Fraser A. Gorman – Slow Gum | POPE – Fiction | Petal Head – Raspberry Cough | Shannen Moser – You Shouldn’t Be Doing That

Odds and Ends

DBTS: BS2 | Spook the Herd – Freaks b/w Fermented | Kinjac – Possession b/w Possessed | Carbonleak – Waveland b/w Bearing | Vexx – Give and Take | Nervous Trend – Shattered | CCTV – 7″ | Puppy Problems – Practice Kissing | Flagland + Washer | MONO + The Ocean | Uh Huh + Jake McElvie & The Countertops | Alanna McArdle – Bedroom/Balloons | Chris Broom – Meade House Demos | Composite – Demos 2015 | The Library – 100% | Dark Thoughts – Two More Songs From… | Wendy Alembic – Collected Early Works | Toby Reif – 2015 Demos