Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

S – Remember Love (Music Video)

s

One of the quietest, most unassuming records of 2014 also turned out to be one of its most memorable. Intentionally muted, S‘s Cool Choices still allowed for a bevvy of personality to slip through its cracks; flowers bloomed in between the pavement. Since that record’s release, Jenn Ghetto has died and resurrected as Jenn Champion. Opting out of the former for reasons of sensitivity, the songwriter (who was also a part of the sorely missed Carissa’s Weird) made a conscious decision to be recast as something approaching a stand-in as a small beacon of hope for anyone who’s experienced a meaningful rejection.

It’s that same spirit that helps characterize “Remember Love” the latest clip from S, which headlines a very strong pack of music videos which included memorable outings from Deerhunter, Dan Friel, EMA, Weyes Blood, Foals, and The Big Moon (who very nearly earned this post’s feature spot). In the end, though, this post’s focal point fell to S for much of the same reason the “Losers” video earned a spot in this site’s list of last year’s best music videos; its humanity.

Director Jimmy Bazan and Champion construct a world that’s at once relatable, despairing, and intimate in a way that feels painfully honest. Ostensibly about the impact an ex can have after a relationship, the skeletal metaphor winds up extending deeper and carries an equal, if not greater, amount of heft touching on the purest moments of heartbreak- the moments you forget for a fleeting moment that a loved one is gone.

Shot in an incredibly effective verite style, “Remember Love” allows death to linger around its every corner, even while featuring a skeleton front and center. It’s a deceptive trick that rewards investment and the effort of thematic exploration. Taken as a statement on the messy endings of a failed romantic entanglement, the metaphorical aspects of the video come close to seeming excessive but, driven further into an actual death, reels back towards feeling slight. As an open-ended possibility that accounts for both, it’s a sublime middle ground that winks at both scenarios.

In either case, the sense of loss is palpable and Champion effortlessly evokes the kind of hopeless nostalgia that’s unfailingly heartrending. As Champion retraces stubbornly held onto memories with a skeleton (played with a surprising amount of verve by Arwen Nicks, who also came up with the video’s concept), the clip finds its home striking a tonal balance not too dissimilar from Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine. An exhilarating joy is balanced with a brutal sadness and fondness is met with regret. As incredible as everything that precedes it is, the video’s final shot of Champion is unforgettable, extending S’s unlikely winning streak with a moment of total devastation.

Watch “Remember Love” below and pick up a copy of Cool Choices from Hardly Art here.

Sheer – Uneasy (Music Video)

sheer

Only two days into the week and it’s already overflowing with new material. Fall’s referred to as Awards Season by a sect of people primarily concerned with film but the same logistical rules tend to apply to the the music releases as well. A good placement on any notable publication’s year-end list is a huge PR boost and– depending on the publication– it can open a lot of avenues to the artists as well. This generally causes numbers to balloon in fall, in hopes that those releases stay fresh in the minds of people who have the power to genuinely affect their career trajectory.

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, that the past few days have seen artists like Wildhoney, Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, Pet Cemetery, Martitime, Woozy, and Labasheeda all unveil full lengths. In addition to that Paper Trail Records released a staggering compilation, new songs from Sudakistan, METZ, Bethlehem Steel, Very Fresh, Casket Girls, Django Django, Cross Record, Martin Courtney, JEFF The Brotherhood, and Cass McCombs surfaced. While those are all worth taking in at least once, it’s a new name earning this post’s primary focus: Sheer.

Over the near two years of this site’s existence, there’s been a tremendous amount of focus on acts incorporating elements of shoegaze, grunge, early ’90s slacker punk, and basement pop. So a band that filters all of the former elements through the guise of the latter is going to have my full, undivided attention. Enter: Sheer. “Uneasy”, the music video for their forthcoming record of the same name, is Sheer’s first major piece of publicity having formed just a touch over a year ago.

The band comes off as fully formed,  bringing a strong sense of identity to the Colin McCaffrey-directed clip for “Uneasy”. Nothing feels out of place and the band’s sense of control over every aspect of their craft is impressive. Primarily a performance edit for the verses, McCaffrey heightens the band’s atmospheric half-time drop in the chorus by augmenting it with some stunning visuals and seamlessly merging the two for the song’s breathtaking bridge. Soft transitions, lens flares, and a faded color palette all lend to the palpable sense of damaged romanticism in “Uneasy”. It’s a startlingly beautiful look at a band that’s well on their way to becoming a much bigger name right out of the gate.

Watch “Uneasy” below and pre-order the band’s debut from The Native Sound here.