Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Wimps

Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Stream)

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While the vast majority of the week’s best songs found a home in the preceding posts, one of them deserved its own headline: Meat Wave’s “Cosmic Zoo”. For years now, Meat Wave have been a staple of my own personal listening habits. I was thrilled when they were the band that became the driving force behind Heartbreaking Bravery’s first showcase and their self-titled remains the only tape I’ve managed to wear thin (you can only listen to “Panopticon” so many times before it starts warping). Before diving too much further, though, a quick detour to cover the best full streams of the week-so-far seems warranted. Between inspired records from Lithuania, Sharkmuffin, and Wimps, it’s been a good week (not to mention just about everything streaming over at NPR’s First Listen). Now that we’ve got that out of the way, back to “Cosmic Zoo”.

Following the releases of “Erased“, “Sham King“, “NRA“, and “Delusion Moon“, “Cosmic Zoo” becomes the fifth preview of the band’s upcoming sophomore effort Delusion Moon (which comes on the heels of this year’s outstanding Brother EP). Appropriately, the song’s the fifth on Delusion Moon and has a lot of sway over Delusion Moon‘s building momentum. In the context of the record, it rockets that momentum to stratospheric heights. As a standalone single, it immediately conjures up a startling amount of energy and- over the course of a blistering three minutes- focuses that energy into a series of repeated blows, each hitting their mark with a startling ferocity. Whether it’s the riff that cuts everything to ribbons approximately 1/3rd of the way into the song (one of my favorite moments of music this year), the staccato outro, or the increasingly intense rhythm work of Joe Gac and Ryan Wizniak, it’s an unavoidable show of force.

While force alone would have made “Cosmic Zoo” a must-listen, it’s also headier than it initially seems. Tying into a structure that guitarist/vocalist Chris Sutter designed, it’s part of an overarching narrative that touches on motion sickness and the lunar cycles. Adding a venomous bite to what feels, increasingly, like deeply personal lyrical territory, “Cosmic Zoo” takes on the feel of a meteor, hurtling towards earth, hell-bent on destruction. Like Delusion Moon itself, “Cosmic Zoo” is a snarling tour de force that demonstrates the overwhelming bulk of Meat Wave’s strongest qualities. Brash, unavoidable, and just about perfect, it’s the kind of adrenaline jolt that’s strong enough to keep any week humming along.

Listen to “Cosmic Zoo” below and pre-order Delusion Moon from SideOneDummy ahead of its September 18 release date here. Underneath the embed, revisit a large portion of their set from our showcase.

14 of ’14: The Best 7″ Records of 2014

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As always, two quick disclaimers: “best”, in year-end list cases, is a shorthand term indicative of personal admiration which is in no way an attempt to be definitive and the first person restrictions will be lifted for this site’s year-end coverage. This list will be focusing on releases that came out in the 7″ format throughout the course of 2014. Some may fall under the EP umbrella (which will be the next list to run) but each and every title on this list wound up with my appreciation. A staggering amount of 7″ records were released this year and I had the privilege of listening to hundreds throughout the past 12 months. Below will be the 14 strongest 7″ records that I heard all year- the records that stuck with me or gnawed away at my memory. Just like the previous list, below those 14 selections will be a list of every 7″ released in 2014 that made a deep enough impact to be put into consideration for this list (or, rather, every release I came across that deserves to be heard by as many people possible). Enough exposition; onto the picks.

14. Communions – Cobblestones

Expertly blending new wave, post-punk, and something entirely undefinable, Communions’ Cobblestones was one of the year’s most immediately gripping releases. Cobblestones is the kind of release that teems with enough determination and conviction to convince anyone that Communions are in this for the long haul.

13. Mikal Cronin – I Don’t Mind b/w Blue-Eyed Girl

Part of Polyviny’s four-track singles series, “I Don’t Mind” and “Blue-Eyed Girl” were both perfect demonstrations of Mikal Cronin’s penchant for winsome folk-oriented (and punk-informed) pop music. It’s a show of force as much as it is a reveal of Cronin’s most delicate sensibilities. Unfortunately, the A-side is no longer available for streaming but the compellingly plaintive B-side’s been included below.

12. Girl Band – Lawman, De Bom Bom

Girl Band turned in a few of 2014’s most feral offerings. From the 25-second “The Cha Cha Cha” to the songs that give the Law Man and De Bom Bom 7″ releases their name. Serrated and cut-throat, Girl Band have been unleashing bruising post-punk that occasionally verges on hardcore and powerviolence at a steady rate. Watch out for whatever route they decide to take with their upcoming full-length.


11. Dogs On Acid – Dogs On Acid

Taking cues from 90’s powerpop and injecting it with a ferocious energy (and no shortage of grit), Dogs on Acid have crafted something incredibly appealing with their self-titled 7″. Like early Ben Kweller with an added punk bite, both “Make It Easy” and “Waiting For You To Come Home” are ridiculously easy to leave on repeat and more than worth a heavy amount of investment.

10. Jeff Rosenstock – Hey Allison! b/w I’m So Gross

After Bomb The Music Industry! halted operations, Jeff Rosenstock had quite a few roads open to him. He took full advantage in 2014 by not only releasing two outstanding EP’s in his collaborative project with Fake Problems’ Chris Farren as Antarctigo Vespucci and going straight for the throat with his strongest solo effort to date, the fierce Hey Allison! b/w I’m So Gross 7″. The stop/start rhythms in the chorus of “Hey Allison!” alone would have put this in contention for a spot on this list- luckily the rest of the release lives up to that moment.


9. Kindling – Spike & Wave

Kindling’s Spike & Wave 7″ caught my attention immediately after its release. It’s another release heralding in a new era of shoegaze that refuses to back down from experimenting with the genre’s limitations. Subtly embracing elements of twee pop and basement punk, it’s a release that deserves to be in a whole lot of collections.

8. Audacity – Counting the Days

When I started this site, I did it with a post about Audacity, whose Butter Knife was one of 2013’s strongest highlights. In 2014, the band provided another incredibly strong moment with “Counting the Days”- a 7″ headlined by a song that earned both a write-up and a Watch This entry spot. My feelings on that song haven’t changed but Counting the Days’ other song, “Mind Your Own Business”, pushes the whole package (which also features some incredible album art) way over the top.


7. Ausmuteants – Felix Tried to Kill Himself, Stale White Boys Playing Stale Black Music, Fed Through A Tube

Ausmuteants had an absolutely monstrous 2014, releasing no fewer than five titles. Three of those were incendiary 7″ releases that would have easily made this list individually. Grouped together, they’re an absurdly powerful package than goes a long way in cementing Ausmuteants’ reputation as one of the most exciting things happening in music. Felix Tried to Kill Himself, Stale White Boys Playing Stale Black Music, and Fed Through A Tube are overflowing with a hyper-charged psych-tinted punk that’s completely electrifying.



6. Terry & Louie – (I’m) Lookin’ For A Heart b/w She Loves Him

The Exploding Hearts have achieved a deserved status as powerpop legends. Since that band’s tragic ending, two of their members have been steadily releasing incredible music with various outfits. Terry Six and King Louie Bankston have once again teamed up for a new project, Terry & Louie, who now have one powerful career entry with (I’m) Lookin’ For A Heart b/w She Loves Him. The same infectious energy that turned Guitar Romantic into such a beloved classic is on full display here, with Six and Bankston’s pop sensibilities fully in tact. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this project.

5. Cloakroom – Lossed Over b/w Dream Warden

At this point, I’m not sure any band’s been mentioned more times without receiving an outright feature spot than Cloakroom (with the exception of a Watch This). There’s a reason they keep showing up; they’re quietly crafting some extraordinary songs and sculpting what promises to be a celebrated career long after they’re gone. Both “Lossed Over” and “Dream Warden” are brooding powerhouses that are towering in scope and deeply nuanced in their dynamics. Cloakroom keep improving with every subsequent release and it’ll only be a matter of time before they get the levels of recognition they deserve.

4. Sheer Mag – Sheer Mag

Sheer Mag exploded into just about everyone’s good graces with their self-titled 7″ release and it’s not difficult to see why; this hits an impressive number of sweet spots for people associated with DIY music. It’s scrappy, it’s lo-fi, it’s undeniably punk, it’s extraordinarily catchy, and it comes loaded with a staggering amount of conviction. These four songs have fought their way into regular rotation since they first came out, refusing to be pushed back and only growing stronger with time.

3. Crimson Wave – Say

Say caught me completely off guard when I first heard it; I was completely entranced and blown away by Crimson Wave’s subtle, understated take on post-punk. Each of these three songs are as balanced as they are delicate as they are cutting. The 7″ is somewhat of an anomaly for the reliably great Accidental Guest Recordings who normally tend towards more noisy, aggressive, and blown-out fare. It’s the level of restraint in Say that helps make it stand out, something that’s accentuated by the cold production. Impossible to shake and easy to latch on to, Say is something that demands to be remembered.

2. Dilly Dally – Candy Mountain, Next Gold

No band in 2014 made a bigger entrance with their 7″ releases than Dilly Dally. Both Candy Mountain and Next Gold feel like instant classics; releases informed by years of genre touch points and a deft sense of how they can all line up into something impossibly gripping. Taking cues from all of the right places and emerging with a fully-formed identity and a real sense of purpose, Dilly Dally offered a welcome jolt to the year’s proceedings. “Candy Mountain” was only the third song to be released in the band’s career and it already feels important; a defining moment not just for a band but their surrounding environment. The amount of weight thrown into these songs is unbelievable and showcase Dilly Dally as a band worth all the excitement in the world.


1. Pile – Special Snowflakes b/w Mama’s Lipstick

It’s difficult to no where to start with a song as monumental as Pile’s earth-shattering career highlight “Special Snowflakes”. I was fortunate enough to witness this song in a live setting only a few months back and completely lost my sense of self. In that moment, everything that wasn’t “Special Snowflakes” faded from my care. Completely spellbound, the band tore through that one song and the audience in front of them reacted accordingly. That experience wasn’t too far removed from the first time I heard “Special Snowflakes“. For more than 7 minutes, I was pummeled into awed submission by what’s not only (easily) one of the best songs of this year but of this decade. “Mama’s Lipstick” provides a haze of smoke in the form of a (very) loose reprise- along with some other comparatively brief moments of brilliance (that piano figure!)- after the hurricane storm of the release’s A-side, assuring its status as one of the most important releases of 2014.

7″ records from 2014 that deserve to be heard: Vanishing Life – People Running | Wildhoney – Seventeen Forever | Pain Dimension – Brainwash | Primitive Parts – TV Wheel b/w The Bench | Palehound – KitchenAudacity – JapanModern Pets – B.I.Y.S. | No Coast – Don’t Be A Gramps b/w Kick Out The Hamm’sThe Yolks – Two Dollars Out the DoorKevin Morby – My NameFriends of Cesar Romero – The Hold b/w Teisco Telstar Stomp | The Ar-KaicsMake It Mine b/w Movin’ On, Sick and Tired b/w Cut Me Down, Why Should I b/w Slave to Her LiesLos Pepes – TonightThe Mandates – Suspicion b/w Wastin’ TimeThe Memories – American SummerBroncho – It’s OnUseless Eaters – Desperate LivingLos Dos Hermanos – Alienor/Paye Ty ChatteDime Runner – Can’t ExpressBalcanes – Plataforma/AutopistaChit Chat – Never KnowThe Achtungs – Total Punk | Dasher – Go RamboNots – Fix b/w ModernCold Institution – Cold InstitutionTashaki Miyaki – Cool RuningsBleached – For The FeelA Million Billion Dying Suns – Strawberry Later 23 b/w Secret TreePretty Pretty – Leather WeatherVideo – Cult of VideoFax Holiday – Brang In BloodPlaces to Hide – Wild N SoftThe Newtown Neurotics – Hypocrite b/w You Said NoMolybden – Woman Who Left BehindThe Gotobeds – New York’s Alright (If You Like Phones & Sex)Michael Rault – Nothing Means NothingEx-Breathers – EXBXMarvelous Mark – Bite MeThe Bilders – The UtopiansFrau – Punk Is My BoyfriendArrest – La Poli BastardaGlue – GlueSeahaven – SilhouetteBasement – Further SkyCancers – DigTwo Houses – DisappointerThe Grave Walks – She’s A SuicideGAMES – Little EliseCherry Glazerr – Had Ten DollazThe Renegades of Punk – Espelho NegroSex Crime – I Am An ObserverWimps – Party at the Wrong TimeThe Band In Heaven – The Boys of Summer of SamThe Mantles – MemoryStandards – KidCommunions – So Long SunEnergy Slime – New DimensionalMea Culpa – DislocationThe ParrotsLoving You Is Hard, Dee Dee DangerousThe Gaggers – Sharp Lies/Hostage

Watch This: Vol. 7

Traditionally, the first week or so of a new year is one of the slowest (if not the absolute slowest) for notable music items. Fortunately for everyone, there are some places that cease to stop producing incredible content and just barrel on forward. Which is why the main section in this week’s edition of Watch This only features full sets from one of the most incomparable institutions in music; KEXP. Year after year the Seattle radio station has been providing the most incredible live sessions (audio and video) this side of NPR. The past week or so has been no exception and served as a strong reminder of what makes 90.3 so important. Enjoy.

1. Wimps

Wimps, a local Seattle band, raised one hell of a racket last year and found themselves in more than one basement punk enthusiasts top 10 list. They’re an intriguing proposition that immediately seem just a little off as they deviate from the norm in both sound and appearance- which, frankly, is exactly what most scenes need more of. Their session here is light and inspired, offering up an early indicator of something special.

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2. Crystal Antlers

There are very few bands as immediately attention-catching as Crystal Antlers, who push all the write buttons via their genre melting pot sound. Tints of shoegaze, post-punk, powerpop, no-wave, and ambient characterize their best releases and the band’s a force to be reckoned with live. None of this changes for their KEXP session, which only furthers the chances of the station having secured what may be likely to be one of the year’s best sessions in its first week.


3. Pétur Ben

Like Crystal Antlers, Pétur Ben is a beyond-appealing mix of influences, recalling everyone from David Bowie at his most relaxed to Joy Division at their most spry to The Smiths in full-on smoldering mode and Dinosaur Jr at their most restrained. Hailing from Iceland, both Ben and the group he’s assembled behind himself are already one of the year’s great surprises. Everything on display here clicks effortlessly and comes off seeming like something that would’ve been considered classic today had it been released 30 years ago and has a shot at being considered classic to those in the know 30 years from now.


4. Wampire

Apart from Gap Dream, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the Burger Records aesthetic embraced as fully as Wampire have managed. Their psychedelic garage pop comes in the technicolor variety, complete with oddly-shaped brightly-colored sunglasses. Wampire’s sound also manages to exist in one of the smaller paradox that makes Burger such an interesting label; it’s undoubtedly relaxed but there’s a sincere sense of urgency coursing through each respective song’s veins. All of this would just be a footnote if the band’s music weren’t so absurdly good- and it is absurdly good- for proof just watch the session below.


5. Gravys Drop – I Get Down (Music Video)

Gumball was one of 2013’s most overlooked releases and brimmed with an enthused confidence that made the record all the more enjoyable. One of Burger Records’ artistic triumphs, the label recently released a music video for the fun-loving band that accurately captures the sort of no-stakes ethics at work in bands like this. It’s a refreshing reminder that there are still bands (and labels) out there that know they’re allowed to relax and enjoy themselves. One of the best summer records anyone could hope for. Listen to it in full here and keep an eye out for more from Gravys Drop in the future.