Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Yung

Palehound – If You Met Her (Music Video)

As this Monday and Tuesday both disappear into the rear view, it’s important to take stock of the notable records that have emerged in that time. Ainsley Farell, Sweet Baby Jesus, Sam Craighead, Adult Mom, Chris Bathgate, The I.L.Y’s, Do Make Say Think, Tricot, Yung, Gouge Away, and B L A C K I E all revealed impressive full streams and there was an outstanding compilation released to celebrate the seventh anniversary of GoldFlakePaint. The focus for this particular piece falls back to the music video format, thanks to a career best showing from site favorites Palehound.

A small army was assembled to create Palehound’s latest piece, a music video for “If You Met Her” that lands with devastating clarity. Tom Quigley, Sara Tesh, Michael Escobar, Kiely Quinn, Rachel Newman, Tatiana Marquez, Jeovana Almeida, Zane Ryan, Tatiana Marquez, and Caitlin Leblanc all hard a part to play in pulling off a clip that’s already struck a nerve with a whole host of viewers. Guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter Ellen Kempner’s completely isolated in the clip, lending the narrative’s open vulnerability and existential fear even more heft.

Kempner does little more than navigate a seemingly abandoned house in the clip, allowing both the song — easily one of Palehound’s finest — and video to take on a haunted bent. There’s angst here, to be sure, but it’s the kind of acute and intensely focused angst that propels it past the realms of the cliché into something unnerving, despairing, and utterly terrifying. Grappling with insignificance and mortality in a way that presents the slightest hint of optimism amid a heavy resignation, there are echoes of Elliott Smith to be found in “If You Met Her” (a comparison that should never be used lightly).

“If You Met Her” is an astonishing work as a standalone song but the visuals the assembled team have provided the track render it transcendental. There are slight nods to something holy in several of the shots, underscoring the religious angle that’s always lingering in heavy existential crises. Whether the song (and video) is intended as a prayer, a warning, or a reminder may never be truly known but for now, we should all consider ourselves lucky to be able to explore the work on display. “If You Met Her” is not the type of clip — or song — to leave anyone’s memory anytime soon.

Watch “If You Met Her” below and pre-order A Place I’ll Always Go from Polyvinyl here.

Algiers – The Underside of the Power (Music Video)

A week ago Fresh Snow, Wilding, The Great Albatross, YUNG, Heaven, CHIMNEY, and Happyness all released compelling music vidoes. Algiers was another one of those acts, returning with the characteristically powerful “The Underside of Power”, drawing once again from an acute understanding of history on both a micro and macro scale and incorporating that knowledge into something as aggressively resilient as it is familiarly sorrowful.

It’s the type of narrative and vision that Henry Busby and Marcus Tortorici bring to vivid life in the direction for the video for “The Underside of the Power”, aided by the intuitive lensing of Anthony Carella. Incorporating public domain footage of the Civil Rights Movement lends the video an air of immediacy, pushing the intensity levels to dangerous levels. Intensity has always been a key component of Algiers’ calling card and “The Underside of Power” doesn’t disappoint, significantly heightening the anticipation for Algiers’ forthcoming record of the same name.

Watch “The Underside of the Power” below and pre-order the record from Matador here.

Watch This: Vol. 143

Typically Watch This installments run on Sunday but the 143rd installment was given a later slot for a specific reason. While the videos covered  in this post will have been released, exclusively, in the time frame of last Monday to this past Sunday, this particular entry serves as somewhat of a gap-fill. The next post to run after this one will be the 1,000th that Heartbreaking Bravery has published and there will be a brief period of inactivity, only punctuated by the 143rd volume of Watch This.

The placement shouldn’t detract from the overwhelming strength of the formidable quality of the featured clips, which staved off particularly intense competition from the likes of Kevin Morby, Good Personalities, Saul Williams, Post Child, Hurry, Wolf Parade, Quilt, Suuns, Yung, Waterstrider, Gringo Star, The Pack A.D., Fauna Shade, Fascinating, The Minders, The Posies, Teeth & Tongue, Xenia Rubinos, Communist Daughter, Chris Cohen, Paper Bird, and Bully to secure the five highlighted slots. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the settings, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math + Pins and Needles (World Cafe)

In the past few months Margaret Glaspy has managed to become a staple of this series thanks to both songwriting and the subdued but outsized personality that the songwriter exudes in every performance. Glaspy’s two-song set for World Cafe is particularly crisp, offering up two spellbinding runs through two of Emotions and Math‘s brightest moments: the quietly exhilarating title track and “Pins and Needles”. Don’t miss out on this one.

2. Long Neck – Rosy + 10,000 Year Old Woman (Boxfish Sessions)

For the past few years, Lily Mastridomos has been releasing mesmerizing music under the moniker Long Neck. Known primarily for Jawbreaker Reunion, Mastridomos’ solo project allows the emphasis to fall to uninhibited tales of heartache. In Mastridomos’ shattering entry to this site’s A Year’s Worth of Memories, there was a courageously open emphasis on personal depression, something that informs both “Rosy” and “10,000 Year Old Woman” to heartbreaking effect in one of the finest Boxfish Sessions to date.

3. PUP – Doubts (q on cbc)

A lot has been written on this site about PUP, from their galvanizing live show to their self-titled debut (which has the distinction of being the first album review to run on Heartbreaking Bravery) to this year’s extraordinary The Dream Is Over, a record that earned them a Polaris Prize nomination. Here, the band stops by the q on cbc studio and unleashing holy hell with a fiercely committed take on “Doubts” that underscores the band’s terrifying level of conviction as well as their sheer force of will. It’s a characteristically exceptional performance and an outstanding document of a band that’s intent on pushing themselves to the absolute limit.

4. Tuxis Giant – Almost Enough (Boxfish Sessions)

The second Boxfish Session to be featured finds the spotlight falling to Tuxis Grant, an emerging songwriter who has a penchant for bleary-eyed folk that comes with a twinge of a punk-informed sensibility. “Almost Enough”, the song performed here, is a breathtaking example of Tuxis Giant’s considerable songwriting gifts, never becoming anything less than incredibly memorable. “Even when it isn’t hungry, it eats” is a refrain that sticks, perfectly complementing a compellingly singular introspective lens. If “Almost Enough” is any indication, Tuxis Giant will be a name worth learning.

5. Japanese Breakfast (PressureDrop.tv)

2016 has been a breakout year for Japanese Breakfast, the project of Michelle ZaunerLittle Big League, Zauner’s other band, had a handful of entries throughout the existence of this series. Japanese Breakfast seems set on continuing that tradition with a remarkable amount of poise. While all of the songs the band runs through for this PressureDrop.tv session are consistently impressive, “Everybody Wants to Love You” stands out as a particularly inspired highlight. It’s the start of an exclamation mark on the band’s coming out party, creating room for both celebration of what’s come before and wild anticipation for what comes next.

Proud Parents – Take My Hand (Music Video)

proud parents

Before the long weekend gave us all a nice reprieve, there were music videos to peruse after being released by Blowout, Fascinations Grand Chorus, Yung, Nick Waterhouse, Hockey Dad, Yumi Zouma, and Bat For Lashes. There were also some excellent full streams that emerged and came courtesy of IAN SWEET, The Pooches, Ratboys and Dowsing, Adam Torres, Sneeze, Natural Sway, Tough Tits, July Talk, Dennis Callaci, Yohuna, Allah-Las, Shapes In Calgary, and the miami dolphins. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there was also an incredibly endearing clip from Proud Parents that found its way out into the world.

The band’s got an impressive pedigree among its four members, who are all connected to other prominent projects in the Wisconsin DIY punk circuit. All of that experience — and the knowledge that’s gained via that experience — has shaped Proud Parents into one of the finest basement pop acts in the upper Midwest. A lot of that’s been gained through an open-hearted identity that’s on full display in “Take My Hand”.

A staunchly independent endeavor, “Take My Hand” has a charmingly simple conceit: ramble around, mouth the song, and play with a small army of dogs. By forgoing a more ambitious narrative in favor of something far more grounded, Proud Parents are able to create a compelling hangout clip that remains an absolute joy even after a handful of plays. In playing to their strengths, “Take My Hand” emerges as a definitive portrait of a band that’s more than ready to get their considerable due.

Watch “Take My Hand” below and pick up Sharon Is Karen here.

Future Biff – I Crashed Your Car (EP Review)

Geronimo!

Hellrazor, Phooey! (a.k.a. ФУИ), Mumblr, Yung, Leapling, Wavepool, Spit-Take, Amy Klein, Wilt, Modern Rituals, In School, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Morgan Elizabeth Heringer, Vogue Dots, Liquids, Wild at Heart, Summer Peaks, Hand Grenade Job, Young Moon, Oneirogen, Cucumbers, Trinkit, and  the second Dumpster Tapes Monster compilation comprised one of the most impressive multi-day hauls of full streams that’s happened in quite some time. However good all of those titles were, none of them could have prepared many for the sudden emergence of Future Biff, a new Chicago act that features all of Geronimo! (pictured above) along with Meat Wave‘s Ryan Wizniak.

Nearly all of Future Biff contributed to the 2015 edition of A Year’s Worth of Memories, a fact that has literally no bearing on the assessment of their unexpected, extraordinary I Crashed Your Car EP. The band’s fronted by Geronimo! keys man Ben Grigg, whose also been putting out incredibly compelling solo work as benjamin783 and who handles bass duties as well as vocals for this release, which immediately ensures that Future Biff won’t be a retread of the band that left a crater-sized hole in this site’s heart after hanging up their cables last year.

Opening with the rousing “Built To Last”, Future Biff teases that they’ll be a much different kind of beast than Geronimo!, providing emphasis on both a strong melodic sensibility, grounded basement pop compositions, and swirling, feedback-laden chaos. Only “Redline”, I Crashed Your Car‘s jittery final track, passes the two and a half minute mark, allowing the EP to be a blazing force of pure destruction. All five of the songs seem surprisingly purposeful, undoubtedly aided by the benefit of having a joint drumming attack anchored by two of the finest percussionists on the circuit.

Even with all of the singular talent involved in Future Biff, the project feels like it belongs to Grigg, whose long had a penchant for writing sharply intuitive, scrappy punk-tinged basement pop. It’s a trait that shines through I Crashed Your Car with an emphatic abundance. Fiery, propulsive, and unavoidable, Grigg steers the band through the carnage of one of 2016’s finest EP’s with a demented smile. Give in or get out of the way.

Listen to I Crashed Your Car below and pick it up from the band here.

Naked Hour – Always On the Weekend (Stream)

Naked Hour

The past few days saw a small handful of great songs find release from the likes of Night School, Yung, Gothic Tropic, Walter Schriefels, and Silent Pictures. Naked Hour confidently added themselves to those ranks with the dynamic “Always on the Weekend”, from their forthcoming record of the same name. Always on the Weekend is Good Cheer’s first release following Mo Troper’s astonishing Beloved and the label’s set to continue their winning streak.

“Always on the Weekend” starts off at a gentle clip, nearly resembling a lullaby at several points through its first 40 seconds. Just as it seems “Always on the Weekend” will maintain the serene nature of its introduction the song veers left into a sharp explosion of noisy, subversive pop-punk. For just under a minute Naked Hour thrives off the explosive energy of the main section of “Always on the Weekend” before quietly settling back into the subdued cadences of the intro section. It’s an effectively haunting whisper that elevates “Always on the Weekend” from a good song to a great one. Don’t let it go unheard.

Listen to “Always on the Weekend” below and pre-order the upcoming tape here.

What A Difference A Month Makes (Streams)

As was discussed in the preceding two posts, there’s been a serious lull of inaction on this site as of late as far as posting is concerned. A large reason for that was the fact that the majority of that coverage gap was spent traveling thousands of miles to document sets from bands like Oops, Dilly Dally, Yowler, Eskimeaux, Frankie Cosmos, Beach Slang, Potty Mouth, Dyke Drama, PWR BTTM, and more.

The resulting documentation will be posted at some point in the near future but the hefty amount of visual content (not to mention the act of traveling itself) necessitated a publishing break. However, as usual, every new piece of incoming information was accounted for in the interim. Full streams and music videos have already been covered so it’s time that the attention was turned towards individual songs.

A list of some of the finest new tunes to have emerged over the past month can be found below. Since there are so many, it may be best to bookmark this page and explore its contents at a more leisurely pace to avoid being overwhelmed. Jump on in and go swimming.

Basketball Shorts, Mikey Erg, Bird of Youth, Las Rosas, Mitski, The Big Moon, Nicholas Allbrook, The Gotobeds, Nothing, Fawnn, Leapling, Speedy Ortiz, Yours Are the Only Ears, Don Vail, Frail, Stephen Steinbrink, Yeesh, Pkew Pkew Pkew, Haley Bonar, And The Kids, Gauntly, Summer Cannibals, case/lang/veirs (x2), Psychic Teens (x2), Glenn Davis, Dogheart, Cat’s Eyes, benjamin783 (x2), Ian William Craig, Terry, Emily Jane White, Walleater, VATS, Alice Bag (x2), Mutual Benefit, Blowout, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, and Outer Spaces.

The Monkees, Tens, Yung, Star Parks, Marissa Nadler, Brenda’s Friend, elvis depressedly (x2), Rick Redbeard, Sega Genocide (x2), Honey (x2), GØGGS, The Dan Ryan (x2), Male Gaze, Heaters, Leif Erikson, Blessed, Boys, Mumblr, Anthony Sanders, Swanning, Kvelertak, Hollowtapes (x2), Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, OVER, Erin Tobey, Quiet Hollers, The Clientele, Young Magic, LUKA, Yikes, Teen BodyFew Bits, Fear of Men (x2), Joy Void, Message to Bears (ft. Will Samson), Baby In Vain, Local Natives, Scroll Downers, and Psychic Heat.

OHIOANDaniel Wilson, The Invisible, Ultraviolence, Oddissee, Bad Channels, Dentists, Deerhoof, Hayden Calnin, The Mercury Programs, Yoni & Geti, Marisa AndersonColleen Green, Lisa Prank, Ultimate PaintingJuniore, Spice Boys, Stone Cold Fox, Avalanche, Beliefs, Museum Mouth, Psychic Ills, Flat Worms, Robin Pecknold, Mock Orange, Magic Potion, Retail Space, VHSBag-Dad, Casper Skulls, Peach Kelli Pop, Aloha, JPNSGRLS, Adeline Hotel, WoodsColder, The Mystery Lights, Islands, Sego, Casey Jordan Weissbuch, Honey Radar, and an unexpected Car Seat Headrest cover of a Radiohead classic as well as an unexpected Yuck cover of an Elliott Smith staple.

Mercury Girls – Ariana (Stream)

mercury girls

Over the past two days, a whole bevvy of outstanding songs have been released. A lot of them coming from site favorites. The bands responsible for those songs included Leapling, Diarrhea Planet, METZ & Swami John Reis, Yung, Snakes, Little Scream, Weaves, Haybaby, Supermoon, Beach Skulls, Daniel Martin Moore, and Heavy Times. That small group constitutes one of the strongest small, hyperlinked fields that this site’s run in some time (and it turned selecting a song to feature in this spot into a quasi-nightmarish scenario).

In the end, after listening to all of the songs listed above multiple times (a trend that will undoubtedly continue going forward), one song managed to stand out ever-so-slightly more than the rest of the pack: Mercury Girls‘ “Ariana”.

After waltzing away with the top honors in this site’s Odds and Ends of 2015 list (thanks to their awe-inspiring Demos & Live Songs), Mercury Girls could have easily buckled under the weight of the pressure that accompanies the follow-up to a flawless release. Instead, the band’s only sharpened what made them so great from the onset: soaring, airy melodies, unbelievable dynamic work, thoughtful composition, sharp instrumental work, intuitive production, and a genuine sense of hopeless romanticism that informs every nook and cranny of their songwriting.

All of the elements that comprised the winning formula that drove Demos & Live Songs have been amplified on “Ariana” in a way that feels meaningful rather than exploitative. While it may have been tempting for the band to just focus in on one aspect of what made those songs work as well as they did, they seemed to have poured even more care and attention — if “Ariana” is any indication — into their upcoming batch of material.

From the clean tones to the surprising amount of natural punch, the bittersweet “Ariana” stands proudly as the band’s most definitive song. The guitar work’s scintillating, the rhythm section generates a tremendous amount of power, and the vocals are pure and irresistible. For a few brief moments on “Ariana”, Mercury Girls recall The Cure at their finest.

By the time the track’s entered its explosive final quarter and set every conceivable wheel into motion, the band’s managed to plant their own flag firmly into the earth. No matter how clear their influences wind up being, “Ariana” couldn’t be the product of any band other than Mercury Girls. On the A-side of their first 7″, with no full-length out, Mercury Girls have readily established themselves as one of America’s best bands. Whether or not they’ll be able to reaffirm this with their future releases remains to be seen (there have definitely been a slew of indicators that have been more than favorable) but for now, all that matters is that they’re heard.

Listen to “Ariana” below and pre-order the 7″ from the band here.

The 50 Best Songs of 2016’s First Quarter

Eskimeaux

Now that nearly everything’s back up to speed on the three major fronts (streams, full streams, and music videos), it’s time to re-direct the attention to the very best material that emerged in the first three months of 2016. After listening to literally thousands of new songs throughout the course of this year, 50 songs will be embedded below (the original list was just over 50 and the last three cuts were from Public Access T.V., SOAR, and Retired), with the first several artists listed having multiple songs vying for the feature.

Due to the time constraints, each of the songs — while worthy of several paragraphs — will  receive a line or two of text. All of the songs that competed for the feature spot will be hyperlinked. All of these songs, in one way or another, genuinely stood out from the rest of the pack- and beyond that, several of them have proven their worth via their staying power.

From moments of devastating vulnerability (“Low Hymnal”) to electrifying bursts of visceral energy (“DVP”), there’s a lot to digest. Whether carrying the status of new, emerging, proven, or elder statesman, the artists that comprise this list have viable year-end potential. All 50 of these tracks deserve investment. Dive in below and explore a large handful of 2016’s finest gems.

Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion

After making their mark with a string of consistent releases, Bent Shapes delivered their strongest effort yet with Wolves of Want, which was highlighted by the surging powerpop number “New Starts In Old Dominion”. | Also worth hearing: What We Do Is Public, Realization Hits

Culture Abuse – Turn It Off

A seething mess of chaos and cacophony, Culture Abuse‘s “Turn It Off” was one of young 2016’s most immediate post-punk tunes. Sharp and unrelenting, “Turn It Off” more than makes its mark. | Also worth hearing: Dream On, Peace On Earth

Audacity – Lock On the Door

Self-described by the band as a “Third Eye Blind rip-off song”, “Lock On the Door” is the band’s most successful grime-coated excursion and retains every bit of its predecessors’ considerable charms.  | Also worth hearing: Umbrellas, Dirty Boy.

Mulligrub – Homo Milk & Man in the Moon

Mulligrub managed to impress when they were just starting out and they’ve grown noticeably in a surprisingly short period of time. If this two-song package is any indication, there are some extraordinary things in Mulligrub’s future. | Also worth hearing: Europe

Mo Troper – First Monkey In Space

Mo Troper’s Beloved is my early front-runner for Album of the Year and with songs as perfectly crafted (and presented) as “First Monkey In Space”, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Big Star-meets-Tony Molina is a very, very good look. | Also worth hearing: After the Movies

Jawbreaker Reunion – Cosmos

Another early year-end candidate came in the form of Jawbreaker Reunion‘s breathtaking “Cosmos”, which saw them tapping back into the lovesick despair that made “E.M.O.” so unforgettable. When the back half kicks in on his one, it’s a moment of powerful transcendence. | Also worth hearing: Small Investments

Kal Marks – Coffee

A sprawling, bruiser of a track, “Coffee” sees Kal Marks continuing to dominate the realms of aggressively down-trodden post-punk, fully equipped with a messy handful of grunge influences. It’s another masterclass from a band who are very nearly peerless. | Also worth hearing: Mankind

Tenement – The Block Is Safe Again

One of three songs on this list to be experiencing a cleaned up re-release, “The Block Is Safe Again” is vintage Tenement. All you really need to see to know that this is incredible is the last word of that first sentence. | Also worth hearing: Freak Cast In Iron

Nicole Dollanganger – Chapel 

Another song that experienced a re-release, “Chapel”, saw Nicole Dollanganger embracing her softest sensibilities and conjuring up something spellbinding. Let it wash over you and give into its dreamlike state, pay attention, though, and you’ll be plunged straight into a delicate nightmare. | Also worth hearing: Beautiful and Bad

Big Ups – National Parks

Shortly after hitting their five year anniversary, Big Ups unloaded a behemoth of a record in Before A Million Universes. The high-wire tension act of “National Parks” was one of its many peaks, providing an able showcase for the band’s commanding sense of self. | Also worth hearing: Hope for Someone

Tancred – Sell My Head

One of 2016’s most pleasant surprises has come in the full-blown emergence of Tancred. Spiky, formidable, and exceptional, everything Jess Abbott’s project has unleashed this year has hit its target. Store this one away right next to the fiercest songs from Palehound and Speedy Ortiz. | Also worth hearing: Control Me

Eskimeaux – WTF

After claiming this site’s Album of the Year distinction, the Epoch quartet known as Eskimeaux has returned with a shimmering new EP. “WTF” continues the band’s winsome penchant for expertly crafted, bittersweet pop songs with a gentle ease. Good luck shaking that chorus section. | Also worth hearing: Power

Solids – Blank Stare

Following a string of strong releases, Solids have a career high on their hands with the Else EP, which boasts four enthralling tracks that combine a host of influences into something melodic and menacing. “Blank Stare” is the EP’s highlight. | Also worth hearing: Wait It Out

Eureka California – Cobwebs on the Wind

Eureka California have proven themselves to be a remarkably consistent band and they’ve rarely ever been granted the spotlight they deserve. Versus, their latest effort, is their most engaging thanks to the jittery energy that propels tracks like “Cobwebs on the Wind” and “Caffeine”. | Also worth hearing: Caffeine

Banned Books – Fuselage

Very few records this year have caught me as off guard or sent me reeling as quickly as Banned Books, the exhilarating self-titled effort from the Philadelphia noise-punk figureheads. “Fuselage” contains some of the band’s most exceptional — and propulsive — work to date. | Also worth hearing: Everything I’ll Ever Need

Hudson Bell – Box of Bones

One of the most difficult decisions to make in compiling this list was which of these two listed songs to feature. “Box of Bones” got the edge for the extraordinary hooks and some jaw-dropping sections of sheer perfection. Hudson Bell is putting together something unreal and more people should be taking note. | Also worth hearing: Hey Doll

Plush – Sheer Power

A sweeping, magisterial work of lush decadence, “Sheer Power” announced Plush’s 2016 run with a heaven-sent explosion. Dynamic, powerful, gorgeous, and towering, “Sheer Power” is the band at their most gripping and one of early 2016’s most spine-tingling offerings. | Also worth hearing: Please Don’t Let Me Go

PUP – DVP

As expected, when PUP resurfaced after making one of the most beloved punk records of this current decade, they were even more feral and wild-eyed than when they left off. “DVP” isn’t just the band’s fiercest song to date, it’s also one of their strongest. Get out of the way or get run over (repeatedly).

Greys – No Star

Another one of Toronto’s finest punk acts, Greys, have been putting together a deeply impressive run over the past few years. They’ve yet to make a bad song and thrive off the tension they inject into the kinetic “No Star”, which expertly balances the band’s most melancholic sensibilities with their most explosive.

The Sun Days – Don’t Need To Be Them

2016 has already had its fair share of excellence in powerop but right now, no one’s doing that genre better than Sweden, who’ve gifted us another extraordinary act in The Sun Days. Album, the band’s debut record, offers up a whole bevvy of what are likely to go down as some of 2016’s loveliest tunes, like the gorgeous “Don’t Need To Be Them”.

Frankie Cosmos – On the Lips

The last of the songs on this list to have a prior release, “On the Lips” finally gets the full band treatment for Frankie Cosmos‘ sprightly Next Thing. Already considered a standout of a very crowded discography, “On the Lips” is pure Frankie Cosmos: light, charming, and memorable.

Oceanator – Nowhere Nothing

Very few songs over the past several years have had a section that laid me as flat as the outro to Oceanator’s “Nowhere Nothing”. The project of Vagabon drummer Elise Okusami, Oceanator’s already showing an astounding level of promise. As a standalone song, it’s breathtaking. As an artist’s introductory number, it’s flat-out unbelievable.

Yoni & Geti – Madeline

Serengeti’s carved out a respectable place for himself throughout the course of a very consistent career. WHY?‘s Yoni Wolf is rightfully regarded as one of this generation’s most remarkable lyricists (by certain circles, at least). Their collaborative project is only just getting started but the lilting powerpop of “Madeline” bodes well for the duo’s future.

EERA – Drive With Fear

“Drive With Fear” was the first song that really pulled me into EERA‘s fascinating world. Combining elements of dream-pop, ambient, and noise into an extremely tantalizing package, the project from Anna Lena Bruland’s landed on something intangible that seems ready to pay dividends as it goes forward. This song alone’s a piece of magic.  

Tacocat – I Hate the Weekend

Tacocat returned with “I Hate the Weekend”, advancing the band’s commendable aversion to disappointing by amplifying what they do best: carefree basement pop that deals with life’s more mundane moments. Sugary, sharp, and well-informed, “I Hate the Weekend” will stand as one of 2016’s greatest anti-parties.

Dilly Dally – Know Yourself

Watching Dilly Dally unexpectedly pull out this Drake cover last year at CMJ prompted what I can only describe as a near-out-of-body experience. I wrote about it extensively a few times and was hoping an official recording of the cover would make its way out into the world. When it arrived, it didn’t disappoint; “Know Yourself” is an absolute monster.

Lucy Dacus – Strange Torpedo

I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” was one of the best songs of last year and I haven’t been able to shake it since its release. Fortunately, Lucy Dacus had a new batch of equally exceptional songs to round out the incredible No Burden, including “Strange Torpedo”, a very strong showcase of Dacus’ knack for hyper-intelligent songwriting.

Weaves – One More

Weaves have undergone one of the more impressive transformations in music, transitioning from an intriguing world-leaning act to a full-fledged basement pop group. “Shithole” was one of the first indications of their radical switch and they’ve followed it up with the vicious, teeth-baring noise-punk of “One More”.

Free Cake For Every Creature – First Summer In A City

Katie Bennett’s Free Cake For Every Creature project has excelled in making airy bedroom pop that’s grounded by a relatable honesty. “First Summer In A City” is an instant standout, instantly capitalizing on the act’s most breezy and road-weary sensibilities. The slide guitar work here is a thing of quiet perfection. 

Woods – Morning Light

Another band that knows a thing or two about breezy, road-weary sensibilities is Woods, who have sculpted an entire career out of combining the two. One of the most remarkably consistent bands going today, they’ve managed to produce a career highlight with the easygoing, piano-speckled Americana of “Morning Light”.

Music Band – Fortune Guns

Basement pop meets basement punk is where this site pulls most of the bands it features most prominently. Music Band exists squarely in that intersection and have nearly perfected that marriage. “Fortune Guns” is the latest piece of thrilling evidence. 

A Death Forest Index – Myth Retraced

“Myth Retraced” is the kind of song that slowly washes over the listener, pulling them deeper in with each successive wave as the current gets increasingly stronger. A collaboration between A Death Forest Index and Savages’ guitarist, Gemma Thompson, it’s a dark, fractured miracle of a track. 

Carey – You Were Right

Old Flame Records has long specialized in retro-leaning basement pop, building up a roster of acts that have — appropriately — been granted a lot of attention from this site. Carey‘s the latest band to get in on the action and they kicked 2016 off with the blazing “You Were Right”, which more than lives up to the label’s high standard.

Wood Lake – Hollow

Easily the heaviest song on this list, “Hollow” is a swift masterstroke from emerging act Wood Lake. Combining the very best elements of post-hardcore and shoegaze, the band’s latched onto something that feels as exhilarating as it does singular. Gorgeous and punishing isn’t an easy combination to pull off but Wood Lake’s got it down pat.

Dead Stars – Unpopular

Dead Stars have shown up on this site a few times thanks to their ’90s-infused take on basement pop and “Unpopular” is another very worthy addition to a strong discography. Clean when its called for and distorted when it matters, “Unpopular” finds the band in fine form.

Such Hounds – I’ve Been Lost

Riding a syncopation lifted from The Damned’s classic “Neat Neat Neat” in the introduction, Such Hounds’ “I’ve Been Lost” quickly transforms into a beast of its own, lacing its emphatic powerpop with a punk sneer. Insanely catchy and playfully welcoming, it’s a breath of fresh air in an all-too-often overly serious musical landscape.

Told Slant – Low Hymnal

The first time I heard a note of Told Slant‘s “Low Hymnal” was when it was being recorded in DBTS. I’d wake up and listen in on Felix Walworth meticulously recording the song, wondering how the finished version would play. When I heard the rough take, I surrendered myself to chills, on the verge of tears. Now that it’s done, that feeling’s returned.

Mitski – Your Best American Girl

The year Bury Me At Makeout Creek came out it came very close to capturing this site’s Album of the Year distinction. Mitski‘s made a lot of moves in the time that’s followed, watching her audience grow exponentially in the process. “Your Best American Girl” is more than strong enough to allow that trend to continue; it’s a dynamic behemoth.

Yung – Pills

Yung were one of the first bands to really impress me at last year’s CMJ. I’d enjoyed what I’d heard from them previously but their was something intangible happening with their live show that converted me into a full-fledged believer. “Pills”, an expertly crafted basement pop number, serves as a welcome reminder that they’ve elevated their game.

Patio – Arbitrary Numbers

Fortunately, for everyone, Patio‘s only grown more confident since their demo (and their first show). Their upcoming EP, Luxury, is chock-full of memorable post-punk, including “Arbitrary Numbers”, the release’s minimalist pull track. Intelligent, catchy, and well-informed, it shows the band’s well on their way to being a recognizable name.



Jean-Michel Blais (ft. Bufflo) – Nostos

One of the more beautiful piano compositions to have emerged in some time, this collaborative effort between Jean-Michel Blais and Bufflo is a haunting, masterful run that’s weighted by what scans as genuine emotion. All of the ambient elements that spring up manage to enhance the vivid nature of the piece’s most emotive moments.



Fog Lake – Rattlesnake

From its melancholic opening moments to its uneasy close, Fog Lake‘s “Rattlesnake” is a gripping journey through unsparing self-examination. Haunting, haunted, and oddly unnerving, the relatively tranquil “Rattlesnake” is a miniature masterpiece that should go quite a ways in elevating Fog Lake towards a desirable status. 

Tangerine – Sunset

Tangerine have all the energy you’d expect from an exciting emerging act but are able to differentiate themselves thanks to how effectively they wield that energy. “Sunset” is a perfect example, a frantic, sun-soaked, punk-tinged powerpop number that plays like the band was having difficulty containing their sheer joy over the prospect of simply making music. 

Bob Mould – The End of Things

At this point, if you’re reading this site, it’s highly unlikely that Bob Mould‘s an unfamiliar name. The Hüsker Dü co-leader has been on an absolute tear with his solo releases of late, his finest work on those rivaling the best of the band that made him a legend. The fire-breathing “The End of Things” shows that he has absolutely no intentions of slowing down.

Catbus – Fracas

Patio‘s Lindsey-Paige McCloy and Alice Suh make another appearance on this list as part of this new, Phyllis Ophelia-led project that announced itself by way of the uniformly excellent “Catbus”. Post-punk, ’90s pop, and minimalism are woven together here to instantaneously memorable effect. The chorus alone stands as one of 2016’s strongest musical moments.



Museum of Recycling – Stillove

Last year, I was fortunate enough to host the demo premiere of “Stillove”, the standout track from new Big Ups side-project, Museum of Recycling. Heavy, atmospheric, and unrelentingly bruising, “Stillove” sees Joe Galaragga embracing his most melodic sensibilities to spellbinding effect. Get crushed under its formidable weight.

Leapling – Alabaster Snow

While Leapling have had a sizable handful of great tracks leading up to 2016, “Alabaster Snow” showed the band operating on a different level entirely. Easily the band’s best song to date, it’s a chaotic mixture of powerpop and vicious noise-punk that keeps things clean and winds up being even more engaging for its unconventional choices.

Dusk – My Own Design

Tenement‘s Amos Pitsch and Holy Sheboygan!‘s Julia Blair have both had their turn at the helm of Dusk and now, on “My Own Design”, the band moves darn it.‘s Ryley Crowe to the forefront. “My Own Design” is just as timeless and perfect as “(Do the) Bored Recluse” and “Too Sweet“, definitively proving Dusk as a whole belongs at the head of the WI music scene.

The Gotobeds – Real Maths/Too Much

It took me a while to come around on The Gotobeds after the lead-off single from their last record left me fairly cold. This time around, I’d happily go all in on “Real Maths/Too Much”, a pointed burst of post-punk that lingers long after its left. Fiery, insistent, and played with an intense amount of feeling, it’s the band at their absolute best.

Big Thief – Real Love

Another likely contender for multiple year-end lists arrived in the form of Big Thief‘s “Real Love”, a breathtaking tune that’s breathing new life into Saddle Creek’s increasingly impressive roster. A towering masterclass of pure songwriting, “Real Love” is jaw-dropping at nearly every turn, from the sky-bound guitar work to the plaintive honesty that grounds the whole affair. If the rest of the band’s upcoming Masterpiece comes close to matching this song, it’s tongue-in-cheek title won’t carry a shred of irony. “Real Love” is four minutes and 17 seconds of sublime perfection.


2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Potty Mouth

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.