Heartbreaking Bravery

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Mitski – A Burning Hill (Music Video)

Mitski IV

Following two of the year’s best music videos in “Your Best American Girl” and “Happy“, Mitski recently returned with yet another breathtaking clip from a Puberty 2 highlight. This time around, “A Burning Hill” gets the visual treatment and returns to Mitski’s exploration of her sense of character, side-stepping the remarkably acute examination of genetic makeup featured that drove “Happy”. “A Burning Hill” is one of Puberty 2‘s quietest moments and allows Mitski a direct line to showcasing a guarded mental state, revealing a sense of being directionless with devastating certainty.

Small moments of comfort and strength can be found through routine and choice, something “A Burning Hill” makes explicitly clear, while acknowledging they’re only temporary victories in an ongoing war. All of these points are emphasized by the breathtakingly gorgeous cinematography (courtesy of Bradley Rust Gray) and the assured concept and realization of So Yong Kim (who worked closely with Gray). “A Burning Hill” largely follows Mitski around for a day, from an empty home to busy streets to the elegiac coda that finds the songwriter adrift underwater. It’s a mesmerizing work that affords Mitski the same empathy that’s found in the songwriter’s music, leaving “A Burning Hill” as one of Mitski’s most revealing works to date. Gentle and spellbinding, “A Burning Hill” is more than just a great clip, it’s an unforgettable one.

Watch “A Burning Hill” below and order Puberty 2 here.

PWR BTTM – I Wanna Boi (Music Video)


Only a very select few acts have been featured on this site more times than PWR BTTM.  They’ve been a consistent staple of Heartbreaking Bravery’s coverage for nearly two years and it’s been a privilege to watch them grow as artists and performers, not just because it allowed insight to their artistic growth, but because it’s offered the opportunity to watch them grow more comfortable with their position — and their skin — as well. A lot of the duo’s music has centered around their identity and they’ve become outspoken advocates for the LGBTQ+ community that they call home.

They’ve grown progressively more committed to those roles through their music videos, using the format as a way to advance their message in the most clear and concise terms possible. In that regard, “I Wanna Boi”, their most recent clip — and one of Ugly Cherries‘ brightest moments — may be their most effective clip to date. “I Wanna Boi” mostly ceneters on Liv Bruce vamping around a classic Victorian Gothic house, mouthing the words to the song. As with all of PWR BTTM’s work, there’s a nakedly direct sense of personality that the suffuses the work, emboldened by the fact Bruce co-directed the clip with Anneliese Cooper,

Boasting an enticing central performance, gorgeous visuals (courtesy of cinematographer Emily Dubin), and a healthy dose of attitude, “I Wanna Boi” quickly becomes one of 2016’s most compelling videos. Everything that gets worked into the clip, from a brief scooter run outside to a blow-up doll as a stand-in for an unknown romantic lead, pushes “I Wanna Boi” to increasing levels of greatness. There’s not a false move to be found throughout the clip’s run and “I Wanna Boi” winds up as one of the band’s most thrillingly complete works as a result. Shot through with pathos and levity, it’s a perfect document of one of today’s most important bands.

Watch “I Wanna Boi” below and download Ugly Cherries here.

Hazel English – Control (Music Video)

hazel english

Following up the incredibly impressive lyric clip for “I’m Fine” and the incredibly tasteful studio clip for “It’s Not Real“, Hazel English continues an extraordinary run of videos with the gorgeous, Kate Cox-directed clip for “Control”. One of many highlights from the Never Going Home EP, the clip manages to balance retro and modern influences to sublime effect. Softly tinted and saturated, “Control” mostly just follows Hazel English’s central character through a routine day, punctuating moments of carefree joy with glimpses at a well-earned weariness.

By the end of the clip, “It’s Not Real” has managed to construct a world that seems lived-in and just out of reach, playing both to the wistful understatement that frequently defines the project’s songs and Hazel English’s own quiet assurance. It’s a small, miraculous clip dotted with some unforgettable imagery and continues to demonstrate Hazel English’s impressively tight grasp on the visual side of what’s proving to be an incredibly artistic endeavor. By the time the clip winds to a close, it’s nearly impossible to want to do anything other than direct it back to the start and let its spell deepen.

Watch “Control” below and order Never Going Home here.

À La Mode – Total Doom (Music Video)

a la mode

Just a short while ago, À La Mode made one hell of an introduction-at-large with the inspired “Total Doom“, a song that resonated so much it quickly made its way onto this site’s A Step Forward compilation. Now, that song’s received a visual accompaniment. Directed by Steph Kolbuck, the clip finds power in simplicity. Nothing more than a series of artfully-constructed close-ups (with a few two-shots thrown in for good measure) against a rotating cycle of pastel backdrops, the video manages to be a perfect complement to the song.

There’s a sense of damaged romanticism and existential dread running through “Total Doom”, as it brings a mannequin in as the romantic lead. It’s a strong statement and it fits À La Mode’s own quiet sense of strength to an absolute tee. Nearly every frame of “Total Doom” serves as some kind of mirror to the band’s identity, allowing them to clearly establish themselves at the start of what could be a very promising run. If they keep this pace up, by the time they cross the finish, just about everyone will be celebrating.

Watch “Total Doom” below and order Perfection Salad here.

Potty Mouth – Smash Hit (Music Video)

potty mouth

Now that the songs portion of the hiatus has been covered, it’s time to move onto the next of the three major formats: music videos. This post will be the first of five dedicated features to a small handful of the best clips to be released in that specific time frame. First up: site favorite Potty Mouth and their galvanizing “Smash Hit”.

In the Jake Stark-directed clip, the trio makes their way through one of their most humongous songs to date, mugging for the camera and playing in a white room, braving excessive winds and playing through the song with a characteristic amount of conviction. There are some gorgeous shots of the band lounging that are interspersed through “Smash Hit”, which plays up the band’s inherent magnetism to an arresting degree. All three members look like they’re having the time of their life as the clip progresses, rendering it a surprisingly feel-good moment for a band that deserves as many of those as they can wrangle.

By being incredibly stylish without sacrificing an ounce of substance, “Smash Hit” also winds up staking a claim as the definitive portrait of the band, making it a quietly transcendental music video. The joy is infectious and the song’s got enough residual power to linger in listener’s memories long after it winds to its triumphant close. Potty Mouth have weathered a lot over a sterling career and it’s only made them stronger and helped them find their own definition. “Smash Hit” is the current culmination of that journey and a reason to look forward to whatever the band’s got in store for the future.

Watch “Smash Hit” below and download it here.

Cleo Tucker – Call It Tie (Stream)


Girlpool‘s a name that’s been printed on this site with alarming frequency and now the duo’s been actively pursuing solo routes in addition to maintaining the vehicle that brought them national attention. As great as all of the material that Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker have released, both together and on their own, Tucker’s latest, “Call It Tie”, feels genuinely different. A standalone single quietly uploaded to Tucker’s personal bandcamp, the song abandons the minimalist constraints that both Tucker and Tividad have made trademark approaches in favor of a sound that skews closer to Guided By Voices at their most charmingly lo-fi.

There’s an earthly magnetism that propels the surprisingly gnarled “Call It Tie” forward, creating an effect that’s as fascinating as it is breathtaking. It’s an important evolution for one of today’s finest songwriters, demonstrating an aspect of Tucker that was only occasionally allowed to peek through Girlpool’s best work. Dark, eerie, and incredibly downtrodden, “Call It Tie” is a direct pathway to a compellingly fractured psyche, a common trait among great artists. There’s not a moment here, from the hushed vocal delivery to the haunted extended outro, that doesn’t coax out maximum impact. It’s a startling work and proves Tucker’s an artist worth following to the end.

Listen to “Call It Tie” below and download it here.

Kynnet – Tikusta Asiaa (Stream)


There’s been debate over whether or not some music can be described as universal. The act of making music is beyond that question, whether the scales skew to the conventions of the West or not, there’s a shared creativity in the act of making music. It’s in that spirit that regularly-held boundaries can be demolished in the pursuit of listening to that music, like language. For example: a lot of Americans won’t understand a word of Kynnet‘s explosive “Tikusta Asiaa” but it still packs enough power to whip a large group of people into a frenzy. Music’s made up of myriad multi-faceted components, which is why it’s not necessary to understand all of them to experience an emotional reaction.

The 95-second “Tikusta Asiaa” boasts a lot of familiar musical hallmarks and draws an astonishing amount of power from those dynamics, throwing a series of punches before suddenly disappearing in a wall of smoke. Kynnet’s been excelling in that type of pop-informed basement and has formed an incredible discography in an impressively short amount of time. “Tikusta Asiaa” is the project’s current crown jewel but at the rate its been going (2016 has seen the release of a 7″ and an EP) it likely won’t be long before it’s overrun by another run of deliriously adrenalized micro-punk. Until then, “Tikusta Asiaa” should be celebrated and played the world over.

Listen to “Tikusta Asiaa” below and keep an eye on this site for more updates on the band.

Affordable Hybrid – Bat (Stream)


As invigorating as it can be to hear a band playing with the idea of genre boundaries, there can be a thrill to be found in perfecting a tried-and-true approach. Affordable Bat take the latter route with “Bat”, an exhilarating, hard-hitting burst of psych-punk. Recalling the work of Thee Oh Sees, the band finds a different, higher gear in the song’s ferocious chorus section. Quick riffs, tempos, and decision-making provide “Bat” with a confrontational identity and the band never loses sight of their convictions while those elements congeal.

Deeply felt and no-holds-barred, “Bat” is exactly the type of song to make people sit up and take notice. In a little over two minutes, Affordable Hybrid make a formidable mark. “Bat” is a song worth owning and Affordable Hybrid’s a name worth learning. Get on board or get run into the ground.

Listen to “Bat” below and pre-order Bat / Roky from Flannel Gurl here.

Monomyth – Puppet Creek (Stream)


Every so often a band comes along and quietly subverts genre tropes and winds up producing something that’s both comforting in its familiarity and tantalizing in its difference. Enter: Monomyth. The band’s landed on a formula that siphons out the very best of indie pop, chillwave, and slacker punk and churns it into a cohesive whole. Their latest single, “Puppet Creek”, is a perfect example of this approach. Light in tone and substantial in content, “Puppet Creek” is a work that sounds as grounded as any veteran band while being suffused with a wide-eyed sensibility of a band that’s only just found its place.

It’s an inspired — and oddly inspiring — listen that sets the bar extraordinarily high for the band’s forthcoming Happy Pop Family, which should have the type of wide-ranging appeal to secure the band critical and commercial success. Until we find out sure, it’s best just to leave “Puppet Creek” on repeat.

Listen to “Puppet Creek” below and pre-order Happy Pop Family here.

Casper Skulls – Errands (Stream)


Over this site’s run, Buzz Records has earned innumerable mentions and very quickly established itself as a site favorite. The label’s showing no signs of slowing down and are continuing to get stronger. The latest proof of this strength is the recent release of Casper Skulls’ excellent “Errands”. A seamless blend of post-punk, shoegaze, and vintage ’90s slacker punk, “Errands” wears its varied influences proudly on sleeve, recalling acts like Pavement and My Bloody Valentine while still managing to carve out an identity of its own.

For as much as “Errands” references — and is indebted to — the past, there’s something quintessentially modern about the ways its balanced. Boasting both a detached cool and a buried, but still-evident drive, the song becomes quietly exhilarating. It’s a deeply intriguing example of how music can gradually, subtly evolve over time and it paints Casper Skulls as a band worth a close watch. As unassuming as “Errands” seems at first glance, the structure, dynamics, and choices the band makes throughout the four-plus minute runtime reveal they’re keenly aware of their craft. It’s a trait that’ll serve them well going forward and could heavily benefit their forthcoming Lips & Skulls, which has a shot at securing the band a whole new row of converts. With as good as “Errands” is, why wait to join their ranks?

Listen to “Errands” below and pre-order Lips & Skulls here.