Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Mark Ronson

The Fjords – All In (Music Video)

fjords

There are times when all it takes for a talented, relatively under-recognized band to break out is a perfect music video. “All In” is one of those videos and should ensure that The Fjords name is firmly on the map. It wasn’t the only music video to impress over the past week or so, though, so, before heaping the necessary praise on that particular clip that it deserves, it’s time to give some others their due. Mark Ronson’s collaboration with Mystikal, “Feel Right“, was given an additional burst of unexpected energy through an unbelievably fierce performance from an unlikely star, White Poppy catered to their haziest impulses with “Confusion“, Buildings embraced lo-fi in “Watershed“, Short Skirts went the visual collage route with “Far Side of Mexico“, Jose Gonzalez continued one of 2015’s most unconventional visual narratives in “Open Book“, and Birdskulls found the perfect visual aesthetic for their 90’s-grunge worship with “Good Enough“. All of those are worth multiple watches, which also holds true for the title in this post’s headline.

As far as thesis shots go, opening on a machine designed to blur the gap between technology and reality tends to yield strong results. “All In” is no exception and winds up taking a startling route to a fiery, hyper-violent finish. After establishing the protagonist of “All In” has all the trappings of an outcast (a video game addiction, model trains, an artistic mind), the plot eventually reveals itself while steadily accumulating compelling subtext. In some extremely strong visual work, we see the protagonist (a young, unnamed boy) construct a backpack for his vintage video game system and fashion a belt for some of his more violently-minded game cartridges before walking over to confront a large gang of older oppressors loitering outside of a hot dog stand. He collects himself, calmly confronts their leader- one who laughs when he’s suddenly face to face with a plastic gun controller- and, after a brief moment of eerie silence, pulls the trigger.

What follows is an extraordinarily violent bloodbath that could be seen as a cautionary tale for technological advancements (in a manner that’s not entirely dissimilar from Alex Garland’s excellent Ex Machina) or a concerned treatsie on evolution. It’s jarring imagery with a heavy concept, to be sure, but it’s pulled off in a manner that feels more grounded than bombastic, lending it an overlying sense of genuine horror. A child is forced into gradually losing the remainder of his innocence, one murder victim at a time, without ever being portrayed as anything other than coldly detached in the process. “All In”, an extremely strong piece of heavily atmospheric electro-pop, provides the perfect soundtrack for the incredibly disconcerting sequence. As people are gunned down in what feels less like a revenge fantasy and more like a pointed statement, The Fjords found a perfect vehicle to act as an introduction-at-large for their shadowy, foreboding soundscapes. The song and the clip complement each other to a startling perfection, right down to the closing shot that preserves a sliver of the protagonist’s humanity. Brilliantly edited, superbly directed, and gorgeously lensed, it’s another clip for the ages- and it’s the new standard-holder for how to make an entrance.

Watch “All In” below and order All In here.

White Reaper – I Don’t Think She Cares (Stream)

wr

It’s been a while since regular coverage of new releases cropped up on this site (part of which was due to other obligations), which is why the majority of tonight will feature an influx of posts touching on some of the pieces of art that made the past week so great. For this post and the majority of the posts that will be following this entry, the focus will remain on songs. All of them are songs worth adding to your collection and the first of which, Jason Isbell’s breathtaking “24 Frames“, boasts a lyric set so tremendous that it’s difficult not to expect his forthcoming record will be a critical darling. Dignan Porch’s “Out of the Picture” continued Art Is Hard’s white-hot winning streak, Sam Evian’s “Cherry Tree” further illustrated the respective individual talents that Celestial Shore‘s been producing, Angelic Milk put the listening world on notice with the razor-sharp shard of basement pop in “IDK How“, and A$AP Rocky furthered his case to be considered one of rap’s most compelling acts with an unlikely collaboration that features Rod Stewart, Miguel, and Mark Ronson (the endlessly smooth “Everyday“). Public Access T.V.’s tantalizingly light “All We Want“, Envy’s sprawling “Footsteps in the Distance“, Dikembe’s slow-burning “Surfed in the Loft“, and Magic Potion’s endearing basement pop tune “Booored” round off the first featured set. As always, I wish I could devote more than just a few words to each title but there simply isn’t enough time to cover everything in more exhaustive detail. At this point in time, the system in which the headline is determined is nearing a lottery system- and White Reaper beat the odds this time out.

Make Me Wanna Die” had already made a sizable impression and stoked the fires of anticipation for White Reaper’s upcoming full-length; “I Don’t Think She Cares” ensures that trajectory continues its ascension. “I Don’t Think She Cares” is another furious burst of basement punk with strong pop sensibilities coated in layers of fuzz, providing the song an even stronger punch. Incendiary riffing, absurdly melodic synth lines, and a vocal take so impassioned you can practically feel Tony Esposito violently shaking, it’s another perfect representation of the band’s supercharged aesthetic. Clocking in at a precise two minutes, it makes the most out of every single second, expanding the song into something surprisingly dynamic for such an abbreviated running time. Decades worth of punk cornerstones, past and present, collide in an exhilarating, celebratory whirlwind. Now two songs into their rollout campaign, White Reaper Does It Again is shaping up to be a potential career-maker for the emerging upstarts. All that’s left is to see if the main course can live up to the appetizers.

Listen to “I Don’t Think She Cares” below and pre-order White Reaper Does It Again from Polyvinyl.