Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Jackson Reed

Living Body – Choose (Stream)

living body

Over the past few days streams from Stef Chura, Slothrust, Cheap Girls, Ex-Girlfriends, Loamlands, Del Caesar, Yuppies Indeed, Miniature Tigers, The Molochs, Louise Lemon, Dooms Virginia, Big K.R.I.T., Slow Bullet, Field Trip, Julia Holter, and a newly remastered presentation of Clem Snide’s “Parable” all surfaced, serving as strong statements for the artists. There were notable music videos that arrived via Minihorse, Shirley Collins, Mums, Nassau, and Kamikaze Girls. Full streams rounded out the new releases and included memorable titles from the likes of Kevin Devine, Hurry, Uni Ika Ai,  Just, The Dazies, Forest Veil, Personal Space, Jackson Reed, and Earwig. While all of those, as always, are worth exploring, this post’s feature was secured by Living Body’s enchanting “Choose”.

Living Body, a new band that consists of members of Juffage, Sky Larkin, and Vessels (among others), are only a few songs into their career. Yet “Choose”, their most recent single, sounds like the work of a band that’s already released a handful of critically acclaimed records. Incredibly self-assured, remarkably confident, and spellbinding beyond reason, “Choose” is an immediately unforgettable slow-burn of a number. Gorgeous horn charts, a sneakily effective vocal melody, and a genuine sense of identity elevate “Choose” to a level of transcendence that’s incredibly uncommon for new bands to achieve.

Structure and personality in music can carry a band some distance but Living Body separate themselves from many of their peers with direct, emotionally resonant lyricism. “Choose” is the sound of a hard-learned lesson that finds bandleader Jeff T. Smith quietly repeating the mantra “get out while you can” in the song’s painfully beautiful chorus, injecting it with an air of resignation and regret. There’s a lightness to the proceedings but it’s one that’s grounded in a harshly honest reality, evoking the best works of acts like Belle & Sebastian without ever sounding like a carbon copy.

Living Body have a very distinct identity and the extent of their grasp on that aspect of their music is astonishing. There’s a deliberate nature to “Choose” that never betrays the song’s warm nuance or its ability to breathe comfortably on its own. Make no mistake, though, from the contained euphoria of the intro through to the muted, gentle close, “Choose” is consistently breathtaking. One of 2016’s loveliest moments and most promising new bands all wrapped into one irresistible package.

Listen to “Choose” below and pre-order Body Is Working here.

LVL UP – The Closing Door (Music Video, Live Video)

LVL UP II

In the past 24 hours, there’s been a cavalcade of streams surfacing from artists like Honeyblood, Greys, The Meltaways, House of Feelings (ft. Meredith Graves), War Church, Jackson Reed, Moby & The Void Pacific Choir, Fair Mothers (ft. Kathryn Joseph), Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (ft. Kurt Vile), Daniel Martin Moore, MONO, and Blue House. The music video category also made a fierce push with great new offerings from Risley, Fear of Men, Vomitface, Jeff Rosenstock, Billy Moon, Twin LimbJúníus Meyvant, Bunny, Blood Sport, and Sad13. Finally, a small handful of exceptional full streams that arrived via Sunshine Faces, Pamphleteers, Dinowalrus, Cinemechanica, and Crushed Out rounded everything out in powerful fashion.

As good as all of those were — and they were all quite good — the focus here, for the second time this week, falls to another gorgeous music video from the House of Nod production team. Robert Kolodny’s at the helm for this venture, an absolutely beautiful clip for LVL UP‘s sprawling “The Closing Door”. Easily one of the darkest songs in the band’s formidable discography, “The Closing Door” went through a revamp from its first iteration on last year’s inspired Three Songs EP and now stands proudly as one of Return to Love‘s finest moments.

Presented in a classic 1.37:1 ratio, Kolodny immediately establishes that “The Closing Door” is going to be heavily informed by a nostalgic bent. Even in the most minuscule of details, there are stories to be told and the ratio presentation here is an expertly played tactic that also emphasizes the clip’s tonal quality. The color palette’s soft saturation similarly invokes memories of a past age of film, nicely complementing the song’s narrative, which pays careful attention to transitional elements.

Sean Henry — an artist who resides on the excellent Double Double Whammy label, which is run by LVL UP’s Dave Benton and Mike Caridi — stars in the clip and spends the majority of “The Closing Door” wandering a scenic patch of woods, stuck in a state of wide-eyed wonderment. It’s an endearing central performance but, more importantly, it’s an incredibly effective one. Even with all of the sublime flourishes that elevate the clip’s considerable sense of style, Henry grounds the entire affair with an everyman’s charm that suffuses “The Closing Door” with a lived-in feel.

That’s not to say all of “The Closing Door” is straightforward, as there are exquisite splashes of magic realism and pure artistry that further enlivens the proceedings. Bits of classic animation litter the woodland landscape and shots of small animals taking flight punctuate the clip’s measured pace to great effect. To top everything off, “The Closing Door” hits the peak of its subdued strangeness with a climax that sees Henry tenaciously scaling a tree only to throw open a door to reveal a host of warm, familiar faces in a living room (among them, FORGE.‘s Matthew James-Wilson and Yours Are The Only Ears‘ Susannah Lee Cutler).

That final reveal’s a transcendental payoff in an immensely compelling clip that never makes a false move. In a clip that’s driven by the past, it’s ultimate destination points towards the future. It’s an elegant metaphor and Kolodny handles it with an astonishing amount of grace. As the song’s monumental final section soundtracks the moment, “The Closing Door” breaks from familiarity to provide a gentle epilogue that winds down to contentment and acceptance. That closing scene is one final grace note in a series of brilliant maneuvers that all but guarantee “The Closing Door” a status as an unlikely classic.

Watch “The Closing Door” below and pick up Return to Love from Sub Pop here. Watch the band playing the song live last year beneath the music video.