Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Best Music VIdeos

The Best Music Videos of Q3 (2019)

While there were virtually no Heartbreaking Bravery posts that went live over the course of the year’s third quarter, work was still being done. Meticulously tracking releases as they flooded in proved to be more challenging, as the parameters for submissions kept widening. Music videos proved to have an especially fruitful run over that course (give or take a few days from the end of June to the end of September), with 23 of them hitting hard enough to secure a featured place within this playlist. A quartet of acts found a way to double up their placement through various means, from expanding astonishing direction and cinematography (Florist) to gifting no-brainer Song of the Year candidates a dedicated clip (clipping. and Rosie Tucker). All in all, there’s a lot to study over the course of these 23 clips, each supplying a varying degree of rewards.

Click play below and get lost in their magic.

1. Kill Birds – Worthy Girl 
2. Kill Birds – Volcano
3. Young Guv – Patterns Prevail
4. Lola Marsh – Echoes
5. Lina Tullgren – Bad At Parties
6. Black Beach – Shampoo
7. Long Beard – Getting By
8. Rosie Tucker – Habit
9. Rosie Tucker – Ambrosia
10. Mikal Cronin – Show Me
11. Oiseaux-Tempête – He Is Afraid and so Am I 
12. Jon Comyn – Chapel of Chimes
13. Advance Base – Rabbits
14. Sasami – Take Care
15. clipping. – Nothing Is Safe
16. clipping. – Blood of the Fang
17. Pom Pom Squad – Heavy Heavy
18. Hovvdy – Cathedral 
19. Gabríel Ólafs – Staircase of Sonata
20. Ali Barter – January 
21. Great Grandpa – Digger
22. Florist – Time Is A Dark Feeling
23. Florist – M

The Best Music Videos of June 2018’s Final Half

The last two weeks of June were filled with visual delights but there were three entries into one format’s storied history that found ways to stand out. For a few of them, it was about form, for others it was about boundary-pushing subversion. Curiously, two of these three clips were more lyric videos than narrative-driven, while the exception of the three took its askew narration to stratospheric heights. Get acquainted with all three videos below.

Mitski – Nobody

There are a lot of music video directors out there that can consistently find new ways to turn heads and A Year’s Worth of Memories alum Christopher Good has existed comfortably in their ranks for a while now. Still, it’s always heartening to see those types of artists find a collaborator who’s fully up to the task of creating something memorable. Throughout the course of Mitski‘s “Nobody” clip, it’s a joy to watch the two push each other’s creative spirit to stratospheric heights. An oddball collage full of vibrant colors that cloak a despairing center that expounds on searching and reconciling identity, “Nobody” is as eye-catching as it is thoughtful. Far and away one of the year’s most memorable — and playfully bizarre — music videos.

Hala – Sorry 

Occasionally, a strong (or strange) narrative isn’t needed to bolster an already strong song. Sometimes it’s simpler to just come up with a straightforward conceit and commit to it with as much honesty as possible. That’s the case in the clip for Hala‘s “Sorry”, which utilizes some framing and presentation tactics pulled straight from Shane Meadows’ playbook. The Ian Ruhala-directed clip is as about straightforward as they come, relying on an engaging central performance, some cleverly placed subtitles, and a great song to carry it to the realms of greatness.

Onlyness – Comfortable

Paring things back even further than “Sorry” is the clip for Onlyness’ “Comfortable”, which effectively utilizes a single image and some light effects work to enhance an incredible song. The lyric placement over that image adds just enough atmosphere to propel this past the normally tepid world that lyric videos tend to occupy. One could nearly make the argument “Comfortable” is more of a visual art piece than a committed music video. The clip makes maximum use out of its minimal construction to lend more depth to an already gorgeous song’s artistry and, more often than not, that’s more than enough.

The 3 Best Music Videos of the Past Two Months (Plus A Look Back at One More)

A lot of music videos have found release over the first 8 weeks of 2018, with many of the more notable among them being accounted for in a recent recap. Here, the focus switches to four specific pieces: three from this year and one that wasn’t included in last year’s coverage for personal reasons (more on that below). A common link shared among these selected clips is that they’re more representative of the artist’s identities than most clips can manage. Each is worth multiple watches so let’s get to the main event.

Vundabar – Acetone

Cinema’s French New Wave movement has played a vital role in influencing some of today’s most impressive music videos and Vundabar’s deliriously charming “Acetone” can now be added to that growing list of entries. From the font selection to the color palette to the cinematography, Godard’s shadow looms over — but never entirely consumes — “Acetone”.

Vundabar, who are setting themselves up for an absolutely massive 2018, find clever ways to play with that filmic influence and merge it with other prominent touch points (B-horror and the Coen brothers among them), subverting a trend into something more distinctive. Vundabar are game throughout the clip, delivering committed performances and walking away with the bar for any future clips raised significantly higher.

The Magic Gang – Getting Along

The Magic Gang’s “Getting Along” is the second clip on this list that draws a lot of its identity from the French New Wave movement but never ascribes to it entirely. Clever zooms littler the landscape of “Getting Along”, keeping the viewer at a distance but increasing the likelihood of them wanting to be drawn back into the action. It’s a mischievous game of cat and mouse that’s scored by a note-perfect run through some inspired powerpop that’s unafraid to dampen its edges with a little dirt. In employing time-honored traditions and molding them into something approaching post-modernism, The Magic Gang have found a rich template that should continue to serve them extremely well.

Shame – Lampoon

The overwhelming amount of road/tour/hangout-styled music videos should indicate that they’re easy to make effectively. It’s partially true, as there’s typically minimal involvement in their original creation but it’s in the endless editing room sessions where those clips live and die. Most wind up without a heartbeat while the ones that work find a way to make an impression.

Shame’s “Lampoon” belongs to the latter category, as it works as both a standalone presentation and an effective document of the band’s identity: restless, bleary, unwilling to go away quietly, and hellbent on getting across everything it can possibly fit into its given window. Both the song and the clip work in tandem to heighten each part of the equation and still wind up with a sum that’s greater than those individual parts. Fueled by its own insistence, “Lampoon” is all but impossible to ignore.

Slight – Routine

I’ll be writing from the first person for Slight’s “Routine” simply because of the incredible amount of personal meaning it holds for me. Last year, DBTS announced its closure as a venue, which is the first place I slept after moving to Brooklyn for a summer. It was the first place that felt like a home in New York and it accepted me — and seemingly everyone else — without question, offering an unspoken tacit approval. Slight, the project of Jim Hall (a DBTS fixture), found a way to honor that space with the heartfelt clip for “Routine”.

Helmed by a team of people who could either claim to be a permanent or honorary DBTS resident, “Routine” traces through just about every last inch of the place, securing its place — without set dressing — in the minds of the people who got to experience its meaning firsthand. From the downstairs show to the upstairs meals and hangouts to the various artistic ideas (whether it was choreography, spontaneous jam session, or just donning an outfit and having a drink), just about every good memory is presented here with a wealth of affection.

Sincere, appreciative, and shot through with a lingering sense of loss and relative displacement, “Routine” is the perfect encapsulation of what made DBTS matter. It’s a loving tribute to a place I was lucky enough to call home for a short while and even luckier to have as my first gateway into the city. While it’s taken a different shape over the past several months, it’s the version that “Routine” presents that I’ll always remember and for that — and to everyone who showed me kindness during that time — I will be eternally grateful.

The 10 Best Music Videos of August

August blew threw 2017 with no hesitation and left an enormous pile of exceedingly great material in its wake. This post will key in on the ten best music videos to be released over that period of time (with the first week shaved off and a few days of September tacked on). A lot of site favorites make appearances below but a new name or two found a way to make a splash. Each of those artists and clips has earned the praise they’ve been given or are about to receive. 2o17’s been overflowing with great clips and these are only adding to the year’s abundant strength. Dive in and go exploring.

Mike Krol – Fifteen Minutes

Over the past several years, Mike Krol has made a habit out of reveling in the playfully sardonic. Turkey, Krol’s astonishing breakthrough record — and first release for Merge — laid those groundworks bare. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Krol’s next step was to go back in time, re-release his first two records (cult staples among a very specific sect of the DIY punk crowd) and make a bizarre, tongue-in-cheek music video starring a mannequin for a song that came out six years ago. It’s perfectly Krol.

Weaves – Walkaway

Weaves‘ self-titled was one of the best records of the past few years and the band’s been making good on that momentum that release generated with their advance singles for their forthcoming release. “Walkaway”, the most recent, is anthemic, empowering, and has the kind of staying power to remain on the college airwaves for years to come. The song also now boasts a beautiful clip featuring the band getting a touch of aggression out in a sweeping field. It’s a striking video that somehow manages to make the song feel even more titanic than usual.

Lost Balloons – Noose

One of 2017’s best surprises thus far has been the duo Lost Balloons who feature the talents of Jeff Burke and Yusuke Okada, two names a large handful of people in both America and Japan should already have memorized. The project’s debut effort, Hey Summer, was the type of unassuming basement pop record that tends to stick longer in people’s minds than most would expect and they’ve granted one of that album’s best songs a beautiful animated clip in “Noose”. It’s a gorgeous tapestry that’s worth admiring.

Radiator Hospital – Dance Number

It’s been a while since Radiator Hospital released their incredible Torch Song so news of a new record was incredibly welcome. Even better: the announcement came on the back of the release of this charmingly straightforward clip for the characteristically excellent “Dance Number”, which renews the case for Sam Cook-Parrott as one of this generation’s most emotionally affecting lyricists. Poignant, bittersweet, and undeniably catchy, it’s a great song bolstered by a surprisingly effective video.

Charly Bliss – DQ

No band’s name has appeared on this site more over the past two years than Charly Bliss. The band’s recently-released Guppy went a long way in ensuring their prominence and a handful of excellent clips and performances kept their name in the rotation. “DQ” now joins their ranks, standing as one of the band’s most playful — and personal — videos. Guitarist/vocalist Eva Hendricks co-directed the clip alongside Andrew Costa (who helmed quite a few of the band’s other videos), which features everything from trampolines to cows to football sleds to a dog that’s great at playing dead. As is always the case with the band, it’s an absolute blast and surprisingly hard to forget.

Kielo – Radiate

A while back Kielo released an absolutely breathtaking song/video combination in “In Water” and the Laura Schultz-led project has now doubled down on that measure with the spellbinding “Radiate”. Comprised largely of photography-centric cinematography, the clip allows the song to be elevated by calming visuals, creating an effect that’s both warm and inescapable. It’s a genuinely gorgeous thing to behold and deserves all of the views and listens that can possibly come its way.

Bully – Feel the Same

One of the more invigorating acts of the past few years, Bully have shown virtually no signs of slowing down. The band’s also growing a little more confrontational, as evidenced by their nearly-antagonistic clip for “Feel the Same”, which features nothing but a balloon expanding in a darkened empty room until it starts leaking a stream of yellow liquid. As simple as it is, the imagery is incredibly hard to shake and the concept sticks. It’s bold, it’s abrasive, and it fits the band like a glove.

Julia Louise – Brat

A new name to Heartbreaking Bravery, Julia Louise somehow managed to evade this site’s radar over the past few years. Still, it’s hard to imagine the songwriter could’ve had a better introduction-at-large than the clip for “Brat”, a song that subverts the limitations of emo and standard pop-punk to mesmerizing effect. Aided by strong visuals, a charismatic central performance from Louise and a sense of conviction, “Brat” is the sound (and look) of an artist coming fully into their own.

Fog Lake – Rattlesnake

Last year Fog Lake‘s “Rattlesnake” slithered its way into at least one best-of list that ran on this site. The song’s proven to have legitimate staying power and has now been granted a beautiful visual accompaniment. Calm, a little eerie, and deeply empathetic, “Rattlesnake” follows a man as he explores New York City, alone and content to wander. It’s incredibly affecting and stirs up a genuine, intangible reaction by simply disallowing the constraints of a discernible narrative and opting to focus on the emotional pull at the crux of being at home and separated from that home all at the same time.

See Through Dresses – Lucy’s Arm

A few months ago, See Through Dresses played an incendiary set as an opener for Charly Bliss in Minneapolis. The highlight of their set came via an impassioned run through “Lucy’s Arm”, a clear standout from their exceptional Horse of the Other World. The band’s wisely decided to go ahead and give the song the music video treatment, a decision that’s resulted in an arresting black-and-white clip with minimal effects. It’s a surprisingly effective clip that serves as an honorable testament to the song’s overwhelming power.

The Best Music Videos of 2017’s First Quarter

Being the type of place that’s always been as concerned with film (even if it hasn’t always been so visible in print) as new music releases, music videos occupy a special distinction. To that effect, it’s probably not too surprising that 50 clips are featured in this piece. Some being celebrated for the technicality present in the filmmaking, some for being a perfectly complementary marriage of sight and sound, and some for being commendable takes on the source material. Lyric videos, music videos, and interactive videos are all represented below in the featured videos, split up into two playlists. This is a very varied package celebrating a large handful of some of the best independent-minded artists and filmmakers currently gifting their efforts to the world at large. Dive in and enjoy.

PART I

1. Charly Bliss – Percolator
2. Doe – Monopoly
3. Hiccup – Teasin’
4. Meat Wave – Run You Out
5. Pissed Jeans – The Bar Is Low
6. Cloud Nothings – Internal World
7. Yeesh – End Results
8. Parquet Courts – Outside
9. Cayetana – Mesa
10. PWR BTTM – Answer My Text
11. Yucky Duster – Elementary School Dropout
12. Beachheads – Moment of Truth
13. Kane Strang – Oh So You’re Off I See
14. Billy Moon – I W K
15. Idles – Mother
16. Cass McCombs – I’m A Shoe
17. Angel Olsen – Pops
18. Ruth Carp and the Fish Heads – I’m So Scared
19. Dominic – Emotional Businessman
20. R Ring – Cutter
21. Zuzu – What You Want
22. Snail Mail – Thinning
23. CARE – Solitude
24. WHY? – This Ole King
25. Mount Eerie – Ravens

++

PART II

1. Jeff Rosenstock – Pash Rash
2. Alexander F – Call Me Pretty
3. Idles – Stendahl Syndrome
4. Split Single – Untry Love
5. Tim Darcy – Still Waking Up
6. Diet Cig – Tummy Ache
7. R Ring – 100 Dollar Heat
8. Poppies – Mistakes
9. PWR BTTM – Big Beautiful Day
10. LVL UP – Blur
11. Sløtface – Empire Records
12. Vundabar – Shuffle
13. WHY? – Proactive Evolution
14. Vallens – Sin So Vain
15. Baked – Danelectroladyland
16. Tashaki Miyaki – City
17. Girlpool – 123
18. Chemtrails – Aeons
19. Summer Twins – Stop & Go
20. John Andrews & The Yawns – Drivers
21. The Chinchees – Gorp
22. Mo Troper – Cooler
23. Conor Oberst – Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out
24. Strand of Oaks – Cry
25. Craig Finn – God In Chicago
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14 of ’14: The Best Music Videos of 2014

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In all best-of coverage, there’s no room for any objectivity positing (“Best” is usually just shorthand for “most admired”), which is why this site’s long-held first person restriction will be dropped to allow me to speak more personally in an effort to better explain the contents of this list’s (and all of the lists to follow) personal effect on myself. In 2014, I watched (and covered) more music videos than any year of my life- allowing an intake of genuinely great content that made compiling this list a dream and a nightmare. After spending weeks reviewing old clips (while keeping up with the videos enjoying December releases), I settled on the selections below as the 14 that hit me hardest over the past 12 months. This list will be the first entry in more than a week’s worth of year-end coverage that I’m beyond excited to share with everyone. So, with all of that said- it’s my privilege to present Heartbreaking Bravery’s 14 of ’14: The Best Music Videos of the Year.

14. Left & Right – Low Expectations

A few months ago, Left & Right released this absolute gem of a music video. Imbued with a DIY irreverence, a purposeful sense of direction, winningly off-beat humor, unabashedly committed performances, and some genuinely great cinematography, “Low Expectations” became an unexpected standout; a clip that came out of the gate swinging and (somehow) landing every single blow. Easily one of 2014’s most unexpectedly charming (and ridiculously enjoyable) clips.

13. Saintseneca – Happy Alone

Saintseneca’s Dark Arc was one of 2014’s most deserved breakout moments and nothing punctuated that shift more than the Christopher Good-helmed clip for “Happy Alone”. Emphasizing the song’s central themes by providing a bubble that practically forces isolation onto bandleader Zac Little, it’s a visually striking clip that got harder to shake as the year progressed. By grounding its elements of surrealism with an abundance of naturalism, it provided an artful counterpoint to something like Perfume Genius’ “Queen” (which, incidentally, was shot by Good). Importantly, it also proved that Saintseneca were officially on their way to bigger and better things.

12. Angel Olsen – Windows

I’m not sure there was a music video to come out of 2014 that was more startlingly gorgeous than this Rick Alverson-directed clip for Angel Olsen’s heart-stopping Burn Your Fire For No Witness highlight “Windows”. By incorporating Southern Gothic Americana style rural imagery into Olsen’s plaintive folk-leaning sensibilities, Alverson managed to create an evocative portrait of one of this generation’s finest songwriters. Leading up to an oddly moving (and admittedly eccentric) climax, the whole thing’s so artfully rendered it begins to feel as complete as some of the year’s best films. Delicate and aggressive in all the right places, “Windows” more than earned a spot on this list.

11. Beverly – Honey Do

“Honey Do” was my introduction to Beverly, just as it was for many others, so when news broke that they’d shot a music video for the song, it felt worthy of anticipation. Most of the expectations I had were exceeded in the first few frames and as the video progressed, so did my appreciation. Eschewing any kind of image-building, this was the first in a string of Beverly clips that largely eschewed celebrity in favor of celebrating artistry. Shot in crisp black-and-whites, “Honey Do” is a tender portrait of Los Angeles and its inhabitants and a promising mission statement from one of 2014’s more engaging new acts.

10. S – Losers 

Initially just a clip that came and went with very little fanfare (from a great record with a similar reception), “Losers” immediately felt deeply personal and genuinely heartfelt. Ostensibly a reflection on perception, self-esteem, and harsh reality, the thematic elements in the lyrics get brought to vivid life in a lovingly shot clip that somehow brings them to devastating proportions. DIY in spirit with a focal point on self-expression and identity, it’s become legitimately unforgettable; a long, heavy sigh of acceptance with only the faintest glimmer of hope reverberating throughout the weary cynicism. While “Vampires” was a great deal of fun, it’s “Losers” that deserves the lion’s share of attention for being one of 2014’s strongest buried treasures.

9. Iceage – Against the Moon

Honestly, “The Lord’s Favorite” and “Forever” both could have made this list but it felt more appropriate to limit bands to one entry apiece. With that being the case, it’s Plowing Into The Field Of Love highlight “Against the Moon” that gets the nod; all of the reasons for its inclusion were previously detailed pretty extensively here.

8. Anna Calvi & David Byrne – Strange Weather

Soft saturation. An autumnal palette. Digital film. One of the most delicately directed cinematography performances in any visual medium this year. An implicitly tragic narrative arc that suggests internal (and possible external) suffering. All of these come together in the sublime clip for an equally sublime cover of Kareen Ann’s “Strange Weather”, courtesy of Anna Calvi & David Byrne. One view was all it took for this to become one of the most difficult to shake clips of the year. Masterfully composed and brilliantly executed, it’s nothing short of an emotionally intuitive masterpiece.

7. Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead

I got to use “diaper skull flume explosion” while writing the tags for this one in the initial write-up; what more explanation do you need? “Babyhead” was pure madcap glee on a level not too dissimilar to Wrong Hole’s equally shameless, equally deranged lyric video for “Wrong Hole“. There are times when total insanity can be kind of beautiful. I’m not sure this is one of them but it’s still ridiculously fun.

6. Kid Moxie & The Gaslamp Killer – Museum Motel

No music video kept ricocheting around the corners of my brain more than this deeply unnerving clip from Kid Moxie & The Gaslamp Killer. Operating on a visual level that rivals what was achieved in Under The Skin, it uses waters, shadows, and contrast in a darkly seductive fashion that burrows its way into any brain fortunate enough to find its way over. An ingeniously subtle use of superimposed imagery on a lone snare drum drives up the feeling of unrelenting loneliness and palpable loss. It’s a deeply alluring and deceptively minimal visual representation of a stunning song. One that’s worth putting more than halfway up a “Best of 2014” list.

5. La Dispute – Woman (Reading)

Since this was the last one of the last non-list features to be posted here, it’d seem redundant to simply retrace everything that’s already been said.

4. Girlpool – Plants and Worms

Catleya Sherbow created this unbelievably stunning clip for Girlpool, 2014’s best duo, and touched on a number of pressure points- namely, acceptance and doubt. In the end, it’s about acceptance, and while that message does come laced with a visual that could potentially double as suicide, it still somehow manages to come off as comforting. “Plants and Worms” hits with the force of a world-stopping realization and echoes long after it ends, providing a staggering moment of beauty for Girlpool and a warm reassurance for just about everyone else.

3. clipping. – Work Work

Yes, the video for “Never Gonna Catch Me”- the Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar collaboration- was incredible. Not a lot of people are going to dismiss that claim. However, it’s another destined-to-be-iconic clip from that genre field that made a deep(er) impression on me; the video for the clipping. and Cocc Pistol Cree collaboration “Work Work”. Tracing a narrative arc that uses a laser-sharp focus on the act of curb-stomping, enhanced by some thought-provoking visual surrealism, it immediately became one of 2014’s most arresting clips and its status hasn’t let up. If there was a tracking shot more provocative than the one at the start of “Work Work”, then I’d love to see it. Until then, I’m just going to keep returning to this one.

2. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Warning

No clip from 2014 came imbued with more unwavering passion than the Crosshair-starring clip for “Warning”. All anyone needs to see is the thumbnail shot for this video to see a glimpse of how unfailingly heartfelt “Warning” winds up being. Matthew Reed tapped into a transcendental kind of magic that collapses a variety of bridges (age, taste) with a near-shocking ease. Ever since this was first released, I’ve been revisiting it with a great frequency because, like most great art, it pulls the viewer back in and rewards investment. Breathtakingly lensed, brilliantly edited, and furiously paced, this was a perfect accompaniment to one of the year’s most emotionally-charged records. Cymbals Eat Guitars may have intended the song to be a warning about love and loss but, backed by the video, it becomes one of the year’s most life-affirming moments.

1. PUP – Guilt Trip

Back in 2013, I had the honor of naming PUP’s “Reservoir” the best music video of 2013 for PopMatters. While that video was a cathartic release that was a near-perfect representation of the maelstrom of a particularly rowdy live show, their video for “Guilt Trip” (once again speared by the creative team of Chandler Levack and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux) was a much more serious affair. Weirdly attuned to my own childhood experiences probably lent it a few small favors in terms of my esteem but, doing my best to separate myself from that strange fact, it boasts a series of career-bests from Levack and Schaulin Rioux: cinematography, editing, the performances they elicited from an impressively talented young cast, narrative, and overall direction among the list. “Guilt Trip” also includes one of the most genuinely heart-stopping moments I’ve seen in any clip, infusing it with a sense of brutal reality (if only for a moment), emphasized by a single shot that drives the point home. My initial claim that it could have a shot at carving out a spot for “Video of the Decade” still doesn’t seem so far off- but it’s worth keeping an eye on Levack and Schaulin-Rioux to see if they can keep repeating a ridiculously impressive pattern.