Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Snail Mail – Heat Wave (Music Video, Live Video)

The last week ended strongly, offering up an absolute treasure trove of full streams for a host of records that may find themselves being discussed again in December. Speedy Ortiz, Double Grave, Rachel Angel, Spielbergs, Holy Now, Anemone, Sibille Attar, Launder, Porlolo, and Grouper were all artists that played a part in that outpouring (as did the just-featured Forth Wanderers). Still, the focus of this post falls to an entry in a different format entirely: Snail Mail‘s elegantly crafted and surprisingly pointed clip for “Heat Wave”.

The solo project of Lindsey Jordan, Snail Mail has been making a series of incredibly smart decisions over the past year, including their partnership with Matador Records. Another one of those decisions was enlisting Brandon Herman‘s talents for the clip, allowing the filmmaker to handle directorial, editorial, and DOP duties with aplomb. The project and the filmmaker have delivered a carefully constructed metaphor for the importance of fighting for yourself, even in the face of unfavorable odds and seemingly insurmountable pressure.

“Heat Wave” finds clever ways to make its timely heft an incredible amount of fun (without sacrificing an ounce of integrity). Centered on Jordan, wrapped up in a hockey-centric escapist fantasy, “Heat Wave” refuses to pull punches throughout a range of exceptional moments, from an anxiety-inducing confrontation to some cathartic moments of unbridled rage. By the clip’s finale, Jordan’s made sure that absolutely nothing’s left on the rink and that the songwriter can escape with both contentment and a touch of pride.

Uplifting and upsetting in turns, “Heat Wave” is an effective portrayal of the themes frequently deconstructed by the clip’s protagonist. It’s a gentle reminder of societal culpability and just as effective as a demonstration of how our own convictions are necessary for not just advancement but survival. The song’s a new highlight for the project and the clip is its best to date. We should all be grateful that Snail Mail’s being given the chance to accelerate.

Watch “Heat Wave” (and a live performance of the song) below and pre-order Lush from Matador here.

Forth Wanderers – Forth Wanderers (Album Review, Stream)

The last several days of this week brought noteworthy music videos from Sun June, Dead To Me, Acid Dad, IV League, Annie Hardy, Self Defense Family, Joan of Arc, and Brent Cobb. Additionally, that span of time saw the release of more than a dozen records worthy of highlights but that’s a subject for a later post. Here, the headline belongs squarely to Forth Wanderer’s astounding self-titled, which has the potential to catapult the band from a buzzy staple to much wider recognition.

Sub Pop signed the band for the release and less than halfway through the first listen, it’s hard not to imagine they won an aggressive bidding war to release Forth Wanderers because it’s an absolute behemoth of the record that finds the band in the sharpest form of a young but already impressive career. Virtually every track that came out in advance of this self-titled was featured on this site in some way and led to stratospheric expectation. Improbably, Forth Wanderers actually finds ways to surpass those expectations, resulting in a record that leans more closely to essential than merely exceptional.

Forth Wanderers’ compositions sound more inspired than ever — which is no small feat — and Amy Trilling ensure the lyricism takes that same step forward. A record that explores the various facets of uncertainty in every day modern life, the sentiments that riddle the record have taken on a considerable amount of weight in recent years. Questions are raised with frequency throughout Forth Wanderers but they come from a thoughtful perspective, weighing things like how far does one have to be pushed to stop being complacent (“New Face”) and how to navigate the spectrum of expectations (“Temporary”).

The record’s greatest trick might be its own assurance in the face of those questions, wondering aloud about their implications with the type of assurance in those pathways that makes the listener certain they’ll find the answers. Of course, those narrative moments are significantly elevated by some incredible, across-the-board instrumental performances. Everyone here seems to be embracing their voice with a newfound confidence, not just Trilling, and it’s exhilarating to hear it all unfolding.

Forth Wanderers aptly acts as its own summation in “Taste”, as Trilling exclaims “I’m the real deal”. After just one listen, it’d be hard to argue that sentiment but after multiple spins — where the record unveils a surprising amount of additional nuance embedded through its many layers — that statement becomes impossible to argue. In addition to being one of the genre’s best offerings in years, it stakes its claim as simply one of the best records of the past few years as well. Volatile, weighty, affecting, and unfailingly sincere, Forth Wanderers is nothing short of a modern classic that deserves a spot in any music lover’s collection.

Listen to Forth Wanderers below and pick it up from Sub Pop here.