Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Music Video

WHY? – Please take me home, I don’t belong here. (Music Video)

In the mid-2000’s, Yoni Wolf decided to turn a solo pseudonym into a full band and WHY? set off on charting one of the most fascinating career paths of any band in recent memory. After that 2004 turning point, WHY? would release what are widely, but quietly, hailed as classics in Elephant Eyelash and Alopecia, two chameleon-esque records that veer in and out of hip-hop, folk, indie rock, alt-pop, ambient, and a long list of other genres.

A dedicated fanbase sprang up in the wake of those two releases, prompting investigations into the group-specific slang that dominated Wolf’s lyrics. People forged intense, meaningful relationship with the work on display, which felt so offbeat yet intensely personal. “Suicide notes” was a phrase that was tossed around when it came to dissecting the band’s narratives, sometimes sung, sometimes rapped, sometimes whispered, and the hypnotically kaleidoscopic music behind those words elevated them further to an extent that came off as genuinely inspired.

Past those two releases, the band took on a few new forms and shapes, which unsurprisingly drew waves of conflicting opinions between the project’s most faithful listeners. Eskimo Snow, one of the band’s most gorgeously arranged and beautifully produced records, gave some fans pause as it found the band embracing their quietest sensibilities. The fans who loved that record, in turn, were thrown ajar by the band’s subsequent works which largely skewed more confrontational and abrasive, yet no one seemed to want to stop listening to any of it altogether.

Some EP’s, LP’s, and one-off’s after their attention-ensnaring run of early material, the band have arrived at AOKOHIO, which they’ve unveiled by parcel through video sequences that tackle the forthcoming record sequentially. While movements I and II were both fascinating in their own right, it’s movement III, Please take me home, I don’t belong here., that did the most damage.

Ostensibly, Please take me home, I don’t belong here., serves as somewhat of an open-hearted love letter to Wolf’s brother and extraordinarily gifted bandmate Josiah, whose contributions to WHY?’s instrumental template over the years have proved invaluable. Additionally, this run of songs also seems to be a half-buried plea for self-preservation. Miles Joris-Peyrafitte serves as the director and elevates each note with the type of grace and sensitivity that the subject matter deserves, turning the entire affair into a spellbinding treatsie on the nature of life, emphasizing its finite nature to an extraordinary degree without ever becoming hamfisted.

“The Launch”, “High Dive”, “Mr. Fifth’s Plea”, and “Good Fire” are the songs that are covered in the movement and each exemplifies the best qualities of WHY?, drawing directly from the past to shape their present. Please take me home, I don’t belong here. understands that relationship and navigates it deftly, allowing the clip’s subtext to suggest that beyond extending Wolf’s continued fatalistic obsessions, the end results can be boiled down to the micro and applied to the history of the band.

Footage of Wolf miming along to the song alone in a chair are interspersed with unearthed home movies of the Wolf brothers as young children, flooding the clip with the type of tenderness that so often bleeds into shattering emotional recognition. And sure enough, by the time the sequence comes to a close, it’s difficult not to be fighting back some stray tears. More than just being exceptionally well-crafted and executed, Please take me home, I don’t belong here. feels important; the product of a mind that’s always had too much to say to make room for the truths that too often go unsaid.

Gripping, tense, and deeply empathetic, Please take me home, I don’t belong here. stands firm as one of 2019’s most unexpected gut-punches. A devastating reminder of WHY?’s commitment to not only exploring their own artistry but the nature of humanity, dropping the sardonic wit that’s so often accompanied their incisive past self-examinations to simply lay every card on the table, look up, and allow something in that’s rarely appeared throughout their discography: hope.

Watch “Please take me home, I don’t belong here.” below and pre-order AOKOHIO here.

Deadbeat Beat – You Lift Me Up (Music Video)

Creating music that’s reminiscent of the past without sounding like a tepid retread is a deceptively difficult tightrope to walk but Deadbeat Beat seem to have that balance down pat on “You Lift Me Up”. Americana-tinged basement pop that carries a comforting familiarity while making just enough space for a modern bent, the track’s been given an appropriately crafted music video that borrows from ’60s imagery while utilizing bleeding edge effects. The Jack Schmier-directed clip’s a mirror of its source material, offering a complementary layer to a breezy, enjoyable total package.

Watch “You Lift Me Up” below and pre-order How Far here.

PUP – Sibling Rivalry (Music Video)

From 2013 to 2017, PUP managed to string together an incredibly unlikely feat: in three of those five years, I awarded the band the Music Video of the Year distinction (both here and over at PopMatters). Directors Chandler Levack and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux played an instrumental role in that run, producing a handful of other clips for the band that picked up similar accolades in the process. For “Sibling Rivalry”, PUP take a slightly different approach and allow Martin MacPherson to helm the clip, which is based on the slice-of-life, tongue-in-cheek comics that bandleader Stefan Babcock has produced for years.

In terms of conceit, it’s deceptively brilliant, allowing the humor of the narrative to be amplified while honoring the childhood roots that allowed the song to exist at all in a myriad of ways. Impressively, the clip coaxes some genuine laugh-out-loud moments out of the misadventures of Babcock and his sister as it reflects on pasts (likely both real and imagined/exaggerated) where they continuously try to one-up each other’s recklessly freewheeling impulsiveness.

A tremendous clip from the jump, beautifully animated and ingeniously illustrated, “Sibling Rivalry” stands as the finest example of PUP’s under-discussed penchant for quick-witted and painfully relatable comedy. Both a visual treat and a genuinely heartfelt love letter to what appears to be one of the most healthy dysfunctional relationships imaginable, “Sibling Rivalry” is a more than deserving addition to the band’s continued run of excellence in the medium, which rivals — and may even exceed — any other act this decade.

Watch “Sibling Rivalry” below and pick up a copy of Morbid Stuff here.

Petite League – New York Girls (Music Video)

For several years, Lorezno Cook’s been leading Petite League through memorably scrappy basement pop that’s earned a number of features from this site. RATTLER, the project’s forthcoming record, seems set to continue that trend. “New York Girls” offered up the first look at the record, a song that was quickly gifted a fitting clip courtesy of Cook and bandmate Adam Greenberg (the latter shot, edited, colored, and co-directed). The clip’s premise is simple enough, focusing on Gaby Giangola (aka Goth Girflriend) lip sync’ing along to the song, giving fittingly a wry performance.

Sometimes the math really only has to be that simple: a good performance, a solid idea, and a great idea have been the sturdy basis for so many enjoyable clips in the past. “New York Girls” belongs in their company. Vintage Petite League and a splash of both color and new blood push “New York Girls” over the edge and allow to stand on its own as a worthy entrance into the music video canon. Watch it more than once.

Watch “New York Girls” below and pre-order RATTLER here.

Mannequin Pussy – Cream (Music Video)

Following “Drunk II” and “Who You Are“, arguably the two most stadium-friendly tracks of Mannequin Pussy‘s career, the band immediately incinerated the errant idea that they’d gone soft with “Cream” and it’s nightmare of a music video. “Cream” finds the band operating at their most abrasive, crafting a confrontational shot of unbridled aggression packed into a concise run of hardcore-leaning basement punk.

Using horror films as a reference to drive home the point of the narrative’s severity, “Cream” finds bandleader Marisa Dabice getting uncomfortably close and personal with everyone in sight, tunneling a hole into them with incendiary bouts of unchecked aggression. In its own strange way, “Cream” manages to attain a therapeutic sort of quality that borders catharsis. Enveloped by funhouse pastels and warped masks, Dabice fights through the trappings to a fiendish, blackly comic final moment that serves as a distillation of everything offered up by “Cream”. Clever and occasionally garish, the Hanna Hamilton-helmed clip is a very welcome addition to the band’s work.

Watch “Cream” below and pick up Patience here.

Charly Bliss – Young Enough (Music Video)

In Young Enough, Charly Bliss once again found their way to one of the year’s best records. The record’s title track served as a show-stopping centerpiece, affording Hendricks a jaw-dropping moment of not only self-understanding but self-reclamation and personal forgiveness. A clear-eyed ode to making peace with the trauma the world’s inflicted on you, the song stands tall as an astonishing ballad from not just a single person but an entire band rediscovering their purpose.

Henry Kaplan returns to the director’s seat for “Young Enough” after gifting Charly Bliss one of 2019’s best — and most concisely edited — clips in the memorable “Hard To Believe”. Kaplan takes a different approach for “Young Enough” and the result’s breathtaking. Intended as a loving homage to Kate Bush’s “Running Up that Hill“, “Young Enough” posits the band as a capital A Artist. There are certain beats that rhyme with the Kate Bush clip, especially when it comes to the costuming and choreography, but there’s more than enough original material throughout the clip to qualify it as a genuine standout.

Boasting some of the most pure and gorgeous music video cinematography in recent memory (courtesy of DoP Chris Ripley) and anchored by an overwhelmingly committed central performance from bandleader Eva Hendricks, “Young Enough” carves out spots as both a visual feast and as a towering personal statement and possibly even a statement of intent. It’s immensely hard to look away from the clip at any given moment, as it plays off the idea of time and healing while utilizing a small arsenal of gorgeous visual effects that the clip expertly deploys in key moments to heighten the sense of the narrative’s daunting magnitude.

The world turns sideways, the people close to you offer support, and everything goes hazy at certain points in everyone’s life but it’s up to the individual on whether or not those times of hardship are insurmountable or if there’s a time where you can muster enough resolve to confront them directly. “Young Enough” uses this as a central truth, hinting its way towards a resolution that will never be truly comfortable and necessitates the ugly acceptance of living with defeat. Navigating the aftermath and coming through on the other side without self-loathing is where it gets truly difficult.

Evading that trap of self-defeat or corralling it into something healthy is what makes the final stretch of “Young Enough” so affecting. For the majority of “Young Enough”, the camera rightfully fixates on Hendricks as she navigates that terrain but slowly and steadily, the other band members are pulled into the frame and begin appearing with greater frequency until they’re all united at the end, hammering home a point that enlivened Guppy‘s subtext: the importance of community and friendship.

Without the people closest to us, we can become untethered and lose ourselves in the mist of uncertainty. Our friends and our communities are the bedrock of self-realization and, in our worst times, they can be genuinely life-saving aspects. Kaplan and Hendricks find a way to honor her friends, family, and closest collaborators in those closing frames, underscoring and highlighting a simple, obvious truth: Charly Bliss may have been exactly the vessel Hendricks needed to find a path back to understanding her own truth. If that’s the case, no words could possibly do the power of this clip, this record, or this band enough justice. All we can do is try.

Watch “Young Enough” below and pick up a copy of the record here.

Cool Original – Never Stop Hanging Out + Alien Boy – If We Don’t Speak (Music Video)

Every so often, an inspired idea that’s reflective of the core tenets of this site appears and offers a reaffirmation of those beliefs/virtues. A collaborative music video with two like-minded acts just enjoying the concept and sharing each other’s company’s. Cool Original and Alien Boy do just that in a pair of clips for “Never Stop Hanging Out” and “If We Don’t Speak”, each a highlight of their band’s respective catalogue.

The videos themselves operate on a simple conceit: each band a rotating cast of friends take turns as the central subject in a stock photo shoot, with sync’ed live performances occasionally interspersed into the proceedings with a fittingly lo-fi visual effect. Each clip on its own is heartening but as a collaborative effort, it’s genuinely moving. Community clearly matters to each of these acts and eschewing conventional boundaries to celebrate each other’s work is an example of how progressive thinking can be healthily integrated into traditional norms. It’s hard not to feel immensely proud watching how this all came together and even harder not to hope more acts follow in their footsteps.

Watch the collaborative video(s) below, pre-order Cool Original’s I Never Said I Didn’t Care here and Alien Boy’s Sleeping Lessons here.

Kishi Bashi – Violin Tsunami (Music Video)

Julia and Mike McCoy have brought about a breathtakingly singular vision in their astonishing animated clip for Kishi Bashi‘s “Violin Tsunami”. Gorgeously crafted and delivered with no reservation in conviction or sincerity, “Violin Tsunami” is achingly beautiful throughout its runtime, using some reserved and extraordinarily powerful imagery to undercut the tragic reality of the clip’s conclusion. Every frame of “Violin Tsunami” is mesmerizing and bristling with raw feeling, drawing from the well of humanity itself to serve an arc worthy of that stature. Pained, haunting, and concealing more than a glimmer of hope, “Violin Tsunami” stands firmly in its message and winds up as one of the strongest pieces of animation, let alone music videos, 2019’s had to offer.

Watch “Violin Tsunami” below and pick up a copy of Omoiyari from Joyful Noise here.

Florist – Shadow Bloom (Music Video)

Florist have crafted a career out of sweetly meditative indie folk, allowing occasional bursts of energy to spike their material. “Shadow Bloom”, one of the band’s most recent tracks, finds the project drawing further inward and embracing their most restrained sensibilities, leaning into an arrangement that’s focused entirely on a fingerpicked acoustic pattern and Emily Sprague’s tender vocals. It’s a beautiful track that’s been an equally beautiful, and strangely moving, music video.

Directed and edited by Carley Solether and shot by Joanna Nguyen, “Shadow Bloom” follows Sprague around everyday life, fixating in on the quieter moments. Slicing food, writing, a stroll outside, elevating those moments to something that comes across as nearly sacred. It’s easy to become immersed in the imagery, tracing over each shot with the delicacy Sprague’s afforded the song. A gentle whisper of an offering, “Shadow Bloom” is Florist at its finest.

Watch “Shadow Bloom” below and pre-order Emily Alone from Double Double Whammy here.

Penelope Isles – Leipzig (Music Video)

Penelope Isles craft something uniquely charming on “Leipzig”, a track that carries influences like Deerhoof proudly on its sleeve while providing the band a distinct claim on their own territory. Warped slacker pop that crackles with warmth, fuzz, and syrupy synth tones, the track’s been afforded a magical clip, awash and faded in soft saturation. Subsisting of nothing more than footage of the band making their way through the song in the woods, cut through with a few shots of individual members miming along to the track in city streets, “Leipzig” comes off as immediately affable and endlessly welcoming. It’s a strong showing from a band that’s more than prepared to win over a small army of hearts as they take flight.

Watch “Leipzig” below and pre-order Until The Tide Creeps In from Bella Union here.