NE-HI – Turncoat (Music Video)

by Steven Spoerl


Over the past five days or so, there’s been quite a few great pieces of art to emerge out of the shadows and a small handful of them wound up being music videos. Vacation’s minimalist art clip for “4341“, Miserable’s head trip of a video for “Orchid“, Courtney Barnett’s characteristically charming “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party“, Literature’s bookish, winking “The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything“, and The Underachievers’ fascinating triptych for “Chasing Faith”, “Rain Dance”, and “Allusions” all qualified. Still, despite all of those strong offerings, nothing managed to grab my attention more than NE-HI’s new clip for “Turncoat”.

One of the first great surprises of 2015 for me was NE-HI’s explosive set in the blistering cold of an outdoor stage in their hometown of Chicago for The Empty Bottle’s annual Music Frozen Dancing festival. Since that day, the band’s been making a series of perfectly-timed power moves and capitalizing on their growing momentum. While their self-titled effort from last year has remained a strong release, the quartet’s latest material has tapped into something that NE-HI only provided a few faint, scattered hints at- and in doing so, they’ve elevated themselves from a good band to a great one.

For their latest trick, they tapped Ryan Ohm and Jackson James from Weird Life Films to create a clip to accompany their latest single, “Turncoat”, and the end result is surprisingly beautiful. Deeply atmospheric, cinematic, and wielding a genuine sense of place, “Turncoat” is a stunning portrait of a very specific sect of America: the upper Midwest’s suburban working class. For me- as someone who grew up in small town Wisconsin and was raised by two teachers- every shot rings true and comes across as lovingly articulated.

There was always a beauty to be found in an environment that occupied a middle ground, providing space for both unlimited promise and inevitable decay. In those situations, you have to force your own narrative through-lines and, accordingly, the clip for “Turncoat” simply features an unnamed man going fishing and nothing else. It’s in those small moments where life gains a certain amount of meaning, pushing contemplative nature to the wayside in favor of simply being. Ohm and James effectively convey this through a series of world-building shots intercut with their main character going through the basic motions that a fishing trip entails, all the while backed by a lilting NE-HI track that ranks among the band’s very best. It’s a deceptively large concept that allows both the video and the song to take an equal amount of focus, while all of the tangential elements factor into an elegant execution that feels akin to magic.

Watch “Turncoat” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the band’s future projects.