Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Music Video

June’s First Half: Honorable Mentions (Songs, Music Videos, Full Streams)

The first half of June carried plenty of surprises. This month has been, notably, dominated by major hip-hop artists and included the release of several major records that have the capacity to hijack year-end lists. Those releases have never been the focal point of this site and this won’t be the post where that changes. Every item on this list, as always, deserves more attention than it’ll receive. Following this list, there will be a few other key releases that get highlighted but these songs, clips, and records deserve all the support they can get, including the below listings and anyone willing to click their links. Enjoy.

SONGS:

Rob Dickson, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Dead Sullivan, Henrik Appel, Cuesta Loeb, Protomartyr, Amos and Spencer, Fleabite, Thin Lips, Dumb, The Molochs, Spencer Radcliffe, Kevin Krauter, Bleeth, Everything By Electricity, Scattered Clouds, Susie Scurry, MOURN, The Rareflowers, Clean Spill, Guts Club, Darren Jessee, Orions Belte, Late Bloomer, Laurel Halo, The Ophelias, Freedom Baby, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Alexander BIggs, Manatree, Runtom Knuten, Manchester Orchestra, Sun June, Angelo De Augustine, Ancestors, ShitKid, Icecapades, Deafheaven, Baby Blue, Frida, Cigarettes After Sex, R+R=NOW, Van Common, Hana Vu, The Dirty Nil, Stalagmites, Wild Nothing, Birdtalker, Jon Spencer, Two Meters, Claw Marks, El Ten Eleven, Birds In Row, Color Tongue, serpentwithfeet, Estrons, Echo Courts, Lazyeyes, Death Grips, Mom Jeans, Gold Star, and a massive offering from Ben Seretan (which accompanies a behemoth multimedia art project that’s worth tracking).

MUSIC VIDEOS:

Clearance, Strange Relations, Death Bells, LIFE, oso oso, The Essex Green, White Woods, Devon Welsh, NEEDS, Thirsty Curses, lemin., Spiritualized, Cold Fronts, Empath, Dirty Projectors, Anna Calvi, VedeTT, The Beths, Cornelia Murr, King Princess, The Fur Coats, Stringer, The Due Diligence, NOTHING, Howard, White Denim, Animal House, and Sad Baxter.

FULL STREAMS: 

Miranda Winters, Petal, Spiritual Cramp, Deux Trois, Dark Thoughts, Dos Santos, Some Gorgeous Accident, Johnny Conqueroo, Tancred, Blushh, Juliana Daugherty, Giant Peach, Hala, Anthony Green, Two Meters, Cold Meat, June Gloom/Rock Solid, CASCINE and Stadiums & Shrines’ Dreams compilation, Palberta, Bloody Knives, Will Henriksen, Surf Dads, God Bless Relative, GRLWood, and Ana Egge.

The Five Best Music Videos of the Past Two Weeks

Two weeks may not seem like much of a span in the grand scheme of things but in terms of releases, it means a mountain of art to climb. During that journey, some sections manage to make more vivid impressions than others. This list specifically fixates on music videos and focuses on the clips that made a deep impression. Every artist in this list has been featured on this site in some way before but just because they’ve earned past accolades never ensures a repeat performance. A large amount of credit is due here to five artists who continuously push their own envelope. Take a breath and scroll down to explore their latest works.

1. Gurr – Hot Summer

Gurr made a big impression with 2016’s outstanding In My Head, a record overflowing with memorable basement pop. “Hot Summer” is the emergent act’s latest reminder of their undeniable talent, replete with a mesmerizing visual treatment. A series of vignettes all evoking vivid memories of past summer seasons while looking ahead to the summers that lie in wait, “Hot Summer” makes sure its title is apt. Both the clip and the video are triumphant gems and offer a welcome return for Gurr.

2. Clearance – Had A Fantastic

Over the past handful of years, Clearance have been kicking around the upper Midwest, touring when they can, and committing to their own improvement. That steadfast insistence has been paying dividends for each of the band’s releases and will see its current culmination in At Your Leisure (which will also be their first effort for Topshelf Records). “Had A Fantastic” is the first look at the record, a driving mid-tempo number that imbues their basement pop with post-punk influences. The compelling video (washed out in faded whites and yellows) is just the cherry on top.

3. Dusk – Old Magnolia

Uniting with their videographer Finn Bjornerud once again, Dusk have turned in another clip that plays homage to their own reality. Fixating on more central Wisconsin locations, “Old Magnolia” also provides the opportunity for Ryley Crowe (one of the band’s five notable songwriters) to be featured front and center. Leaning hard into classic folk, country, and Americana influences, “Old Magnolia” may be the purest distillation of the band’s overarching identity to date. Warm, tender, and familiar, it’s another worthy addition to an already exceptional repertoire.

4. Sean Henry – The Ants

“The Ants” immediately comes across as one of Sean Henry‘s most arresting tracks but the video manages to elevate it from memorable to unforgettable. Tapping into the underlying dread and melancholy, “The Ants” becomes a creeping nightmare of a video. Off-kilter and defiantly strange, the clip finds Henry in the spotlight, donning a set of fake teeth and sulking around a cityscape as dusk turns to night turns to day. Weird, unavoidable, and mesmerizing, “The Ants” is as effective of a complement to its attached song as anyone’s likely to produce this year.

5. Fog Lake – Push

Coming just days after the release of Fog Lake‘s haunting “California” was “Push” and its accompanying music video. “Push” opens up in somewhat generic territory, ostensibly opting for an obvious melodramatic narrative before subverting its story to startling effect. That sudden change comes by way of one of the most brilliant transition edits the music video format’s offered in recent memory, as one scene hurtles into the next, literally altering the narrative (and the central character’s) timeline.

Sudden and extremely effective, that tactic’s employed multiple times, each instance magnifying the effect. It’s brilliant filmmaking from both director Noah Kentis and cinematographer Bella Gonzales. “Push”, as a standalone song, would have stood as another of Fog Lake’s hidden masterpieces. Combined with the video, it becomes the project’s high point. A perfect mixture of empathy, elegance, and artistry, “Push” is the kind of video that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.

 

A Look Back at The Past Two Weeks (Streams, Music Videos, and Full Streams)

Over the past two weeks, not a lot of content has been published on this site. Behind the scenes, though, quite a bit of it was being collected. Time and travel constraints (everything from working full-time to keeping an apartment clean to seeing and playing shows) can make it difficult to keep Heartbreaking Bravery on a daily track. Still, it’s something that does carve out a section of my day every day and, when things go right, the daily posting schedule is still the route that I’d like to achieve (and this is a publication that’s entirely managed by a single person).

It’s a lot easier to keep this thing on schedule when it’s caught up to the current release cycle, which will occasionally necessitate recaps and lists. Don’t let the impersonal nature of these instances detract from the value of what’s on display; all of these links are worth exploring. If I could give them all features, I would. Unfortunately, that’s a logistic impossibility. Everything below, as stated, is worth a click. These past two weeks have been riddled with great items, dive on in and give some of them the attention they deserve.

Streams

Blushh, Tanukichan, Petal, Kevin Krauter, Why Bonnie, WorriersTrü, Kin Hana, Slowcoaches, Draag, Campdogzz, Tancred, Johnny Goth, Henrik Appel, My Pleasure, Post Pink, Self Defense Family, Vamos, Jackie Lain, DitchesFrøkedal, Cowboy Junkies, Glass Famine, Les Big Byrd, Runtom Knuten, Bad Bad Hats, Young Widows, Barrie, Trevor Powers, Wild Pink, James Blake, Sudakistan, Pllush, Deaf Poets, LUMP, RVG, Minor Moon, Mommy Long Legs, Lost Boy ?, Character Actor, Elise Davis, Goosebump, Jenn Champion, Masayoshi Fujita, New Spell, El Ten Eleven, Goon, Crooked Teeth, God Bless Relative, Late Bloomer, Guts Club, June Gloom, Kevin Devine, R+R=NOW, L.A. Girlfriend, The Innocence Mission, Batz, Darling James, Eric Benoit, The Fourth Wall, LT Wade, and Ness Lake.

Music Video

Tmboy, IDLES, Falcon Jane, Keith Secola, The Goon Sax, Wild Moccasins, Dott, Bodega, Wilder Maker, Astral Swans, The Armed, Phil Cook, Wimps, Mute Swan, Wolf Alice, Liars, Jess Ledbetter, Mary Lattimore, Ezza Rose, Cassels, Deer Tick, The Menzingers, Damien Jurado, Snakeskin, Brooke Annibale, Grapetooth, Death Grips, Cellus Hamilton, Jenny Hval, Subsonics, The Get Up Kids, Wooden Shjips, Jessicka, Modern Leisure, and a short film from Hurray For The Riff Raff.

Full Streams

Psychic Flowers, Richard Edwardsgobbinjr, Jamison IsaakRemission, Beach Skulls, Numb.er, American Pleasure Club, Pet Symmetry, Mostly Mallards, Jenny Hval, Temporary Eyesore, Ocean Hope, Svalbard, and Sex Scenes.

Ovlov – Spright (Stream)

From last Friday to the start of this week there were a handful of new songs that made an impact from artists like Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Luna Pines, Oh Sees, ahem, The Tamed West, Oldermost, Two People, Harrison Lipton, Samson, io & Titan, and a memorable music video from Dumb. There was also the long-anticipated return of Ovlov, following a string of reunion appearances after their last departure. “Spright”, the band’s first song following their four year near-absence, was worth the wait.

Steve Hartlett, Ovlov’s bandleader, found a way to refine some creative impulses with Stove (a band that walked away with this site’s pick for 2015’s Song of the Year) and has put that education to good use in “Spright”. A song that teems with the kind of melancholic frustration and open yearning that’s defined so much of Hartlett’s past body of work, “Spright” still manages to feel incredibly assured. Even considering the time away, Ovlov is a band that’s fully aware of its identity, and their grappling comes with a level of certainty.

Some things are big enough to force a reckoning and “Spright”, finds its narrative examining the implications of how we can challenge our own comfort by engaging more fearlessly with free will. Backed by an inspired swirl of guitars and a menacing rhythm section, “Spright” manages to erupt. As vicious as it is thoughtful, it’s the perfect way to welcome Ovlov back and stands as an extraordinarily promising first look at their upcoming TRU.

Listen to “Spright” below and pre-order TRU from Exploding In Sound here.

Mitski – Geyser (Music Video)

Last Monday saw a handful of great releases find their way into the world, including songs by Lost Boy ?, Lucero (x2), Uniform & The Body, The Golden Dregs, Sharkswimmer, music videos from Deux Trois, Deal Casino, Caroline Rose, Teenage Wedding, and full streams courtesy of Daniel Tanghal, Remember Sports, and Wax Idols. While all of those releases were worthy of multiple glances and listens, the day belonged to Mitski, who made a galvanizing return with “Geyser”.

Directed with restraint and bravado by Zia Anger, “Geyser” finds Mitski’s streak of brilliance continuing in both the music world and the music video format. Comprised of nothing but Mitski — who gives a more sublime performance in the clip’s central role than any artist’s delivered in a music video all year — mouthing the words to “Geyser” while ostensibly going through a personal reckoning on a desolate beach, the clip expertly pulls the viewers attention into the action.

It’s an emotional experience of an almost visceral nature, occasionally veering on the voyeuristic, but the clip contains enough artistic flourishes to become visually arresting. There are hints to Mitski’s history, both through heritage and to the art the songwriter’s already committed to record, scattered through “Geysers” that makes it a clever career summation ahead of an extremely promising next chapter. Gentle, evocative, mesmerizing, “Geyser” offers an artistic explosion worth celebrating.

Watch “Geyser” below and pre-order Be The Cowboy from Secretly Canadian here.

Big Ups – Imaginary Dog Walker (Stream, Live Video)

Over the course of last week, there were some great songs released by the likes of WussyTrü, Jordan Lovelis, Claire Morales, Laughed the Boy, R+R=Now, DIET, Escobar, Little Junior, Sonny Elliot, Two Meters, Dizzy, Raleigh, Wild Pink, Optiganally Yours, Avantist,  and Chris Farren. Big Ups joined in on the fun with their towering “Imaginary Dog Walker”, which has become a consistent highlight of their live shows and serves as the current high water mark for their formidable discography.

A band that’s continuously brimmed with an indistinguishable intensity from the outset, Big Ups’ attack has grown refined over the course of a handful of records. All of them are teeming with cathartic releases and bear evidence that their understanding of their own dynamics has deepened over the course of that run. It’s an understanding that hits a new apex with “Imaginary Dog Walker”, the band using silence and restraint like a weapon, holding the listener hostage and forcing them to really listen.

Brash, abrasive, and extremely disquieting, “Imaginary Dog Walker” is a perfect demonstration of the band’s growth and a fearless monument to their formidable talent. Opening with a small sampling of glitch-pop, “Imaginary Dog Walker” quickly segues into the kind of forward-thinking hardcore that enlivened the band’s past two records (both of which stand as tall now as they did on the day of their release). Soon enough, the band’s back to masterfully navigating a creeping tension, the music acting as a lit fuse of a bomb that always seems like its a second away from detonating.

When “Imaginary Dog Walker” does work itself up into its first genuine frenzy, it’s hard to tell if it’s the moment of release or just the song playing an effective trick. In an impressive feat, that moment manages to belong equally to both outcomes, ushering in both a cavalcade of high-wire frustrations that erupt and a false ending, quickly cutting back into the quieter tendencies of the song’s opening stretch. All the while, the narrative waxes poetic on life and destruction, playing into the unpredictably vicious swings of the music with a honed precision.

In its final minute, the song becomes a towering behemoth, “we walk the dogs” is screamed over and over becoming more of a mantra than a chorus. All the while, the guitar work — which remains some of the most inventive in the genre — and the rhythm section collide into a bludgeoning force, conjuring up a hypnotic storm. It’s dark, it’s eerie, and it’s masterful, it’s also one of the best songs to come out of 2018. Lend it as many listens as possible.

Listen to “Imaginary Dog Walker” (and watch a live video of the song) below and pre-order Two Parts Together from Exploding In Sound.

Childish Gambino – This Is America (Music Video)

It’s rare and only granted to something genuinely masterful but once in a while, this site will deviate from its ethos of supporting the kind of bands that could genuinely use as many platforms as possible to elevate their work to a more widely-accessible world and turn its lens towards a piece from an artist that’s already a bona fide celebrity in the mainstream music world. It hasn’t happened since Run The Jewels’ Lakeith Stanfield-starring “Close Your Eyes (and Count To Fuck)” but late Saturday night Donald Glover donned his soon-to-be-retired Childish Gambino guise and released the earth-shattering music video for “This Is America”.

Directed by Hiro Murai, one of Glover’s most trusted collaborators and his go-to helmer for Childish Gambino clips, the video starts off innocuously enough, featuring not much more than a man picking up a guitar on a chair to sit down and play while Glover begins dancing, while a gorgeous swooping pan shot from the camera conveys a strange jubilance. It’s shot through with some weird energy and staged in a surprisingly grandiose fashion, bringing the work of Murai’s contemporaries Daniels and Nabil to mind. In a mere matter of seconds, the symbolic flourishes begin to start poking through.

Glover struts his way through a series of flashy moves, stopping for an odd pose while the camera pulls back to reveal a man whose head has been bagged sitting on a chair. In that fleeting moment, the entire mode shifts violently, to a genuinely startling effect. It leads to a low-wide two shot (above) that has to be a strong contender for the Shot of the Year in any film-related medium, Glover pulling a gun on the anonymous man and striking a Jim Crow pose before blowing his brains out.

In a second, the music swings from Gospel-tinged Africana to dark trap, with Glover announcing “This is America.” From that point forward, the clip focuses an unfixing gaze on America’s ills, some specific to the black community (the stigma attached to depression hitting especially hard), others a commentary on how those things are processed by America at large. Violence has become reduced to frivolity, suicide constantly takes place on the very fringes of the public’s eye, death’s white horse is coursing through an increasingly violent, troubled world and the self-appointed protagonists of unspeakable cruelty can’t evade their own actions.

All of this and more is taken on in “This Is America” which somehow intertwines those incredibly significant topics with micro-commentaries on the state of rap, touching on everything from Chance’s meticulously crafted “good man of God” persona to background lyrical riffs and allusions to rappers like Kodak Black (all while enlisting a stacked feature roster comprised of Young Thug, 21 Savage, BlocBoy JB, Rae Sremmurd’s Slim Jxmmi, and Migos’ Quavo, then pointedly reducing their contributions).

At every single turn, some wildly unpredictable, some dangled like bait (the introduction of the clip’s youngest cast members evoking the exact same dread that the opening episode of The Wire’s fourth season inspired) of “This Is America” there is fear, chaos, and odd bursts of joy, unaffected, desensitized, and painfully reminiscent of what modern society has become. There’s a war on religion, religion’s being co-opted for self-serving, people die, and still, our most pressing concern is keeping up with the latest dance move.

Not just a cold, unfeeling look at the concept of minstrelism, “This Is America” lights a match and shines a shred of light on everything before letting it bloom into a fully fledged spotlight. Murai’s direction and immaculate staging driving home a non-stop arsenal of memorable moments that are uncomfortable to consider and dissect. It’s masterful work that ranks among Glover and Murai’s finest work together, which is especially notable considering they’re both in the midst of producing some of the most exceptional installments of television’s Golden Era with their work on FX’s Atlanta.

Here, they lay the weight of America’s burdens on the table, twisting them into an impressionistic splatter paint canvas that cuts nerve after nerve with deadly precision. While some of Childish Gambino’s earliest work remains both inconsistent and problematic, it’s good to see Glover growing as a thinker, a musician, and an activist. He’s seemingly acknowledged his own complicity with “This Is America” and found a way to condemn not just that past, but that entire path that’s been walked and continues to be walked by so many.

Glover and Murai also, for the first time, have finally figured out how to effectively translate Glover’s ridiculously clever sensibilities to the visual realm. Every shot in “This Is America” is nuanced and offers up a ridiculous amount of elements to dissect, some with multiple meanings. The layering in the clip is absolutely staggering and suggests that Childish Gambino, after an erratic run, has found a voice in its twilight days. If this is how the project goes out, it’ll have been more than worth the journey.

Watch “This Is America” below.

sewingneedle – feel good music (Music Video)

Last week a slew of music videos came out and some of the finest came from Floating Room, Bodega, Petal, Brooke Annibale, TENTS., PILL, Maria Kelly, Sad Baxter, Mikaela Davis, Frankie Cosmos, Protomartyr, Young Fathers, The Plainviews, Elke, Parquet Courts, Olden Yolk, and Dott. Each of them are worth multiple viewings but sewingneedle earns the feature here with their eerie clip for “feel good music”, a foreboding song off their upcoming full-length, user error.

Every once in a while, there’s the kind of band that kicks around in murky shadows, refining a mixture of sludge, grunge, and post-punk. Boston built an entire scene around that specific genre but the latest band to forge an identity on the back of that kind of darkly-tinted magic comes from Boston’s far neighbors to the (Mid)West in Chicago’s sewingneedle. The band’s been active for more than four years, turning heads at an increasingly rapid pace with a reportedly stellar live show and incredible new material.

“feel good music” is part of the band’s improbable run towards greatness, a song that was released simultaneously with an effortlessly captivating music video that touches on the kind of lurking anxiety that the band imbues into their music. The clip’s opaque, opting to strive towards eliciting an immediate, intangible reaction rather than going for something easily explained. Drone shots of a raft tethered to a journeying boat, men racing through a field, and urban sprawl all coalesce into a mesmerizing whole in “feel good music” which defiantly announces sewingneedle’s bid for something bigger.

Watch “feel good music” below and pre-order user error here.

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.

Dusk – Leaf (Music Video, Live Video)

The first two days of this week brought a lot of good things into the world, including songs from Post Louis, Pllush, Boys, Retirement Party, Julian, White China, Jaye Jayle, Aisha Burns, Hilary WoodsBad Breeding, and Emilie Mover. Additionally, there was a solid slate of music video from artists like gobbinjrSuperchunk, Skating Polly, Operator Music Band, Munroe, and Body Type. Full streams that came from No Problem, Blessed, Tunic, and Miracle Worker rounded things off in style. In the bed of all of those, there was also an announcement that seemed as it if may never come: site favorites Dusk signing to Don Giovanni records for the release of their debut full-length, released alongside a music video for one of the decade’s best songs in “Leaf”.

It’s an announcement that comes hot on the heels of the band’s Dirtnap 7″, The Pain of Loneliness (Goes On and On) b/w Go Easy, which was featured here last week. That review touched upon the band’s identity, something that “Leaf” helped form in their earliest stages. There are certain songs that have the power to make you believe in a band from the jump and, even more rarely, there are songs that can rip through a person so forcefully they’re left on the verge of tears after one listen. “Leaf” is both.

The first song pianist/vocalist Julia Blair wrote for the band, even in its earliest iteration and was the kind of song that had the capacity to level crowds, leaving more than a few people breathless. In the four years since the song was released on their demo, “Leaf” has evolved with the band, the edges of booth smoothed out and refined. There’s a tender sheen “Leaf” carries, indicative of the care that’s been poured into the song over its journey to a proper release.

Now, the song has a video to do it justice, courtesy of Finn Bjornerud, who’s handled the band’s other clips (and a handful for bassist/vocalist Amos Pitsch’s flagship project, Tenement). Anchored by lived-in performances from Rachel Crowl and Helen Kramer, the clip pays tribute to the song’s narrative while offering up the quiet visuals that define life in small-town Wisconsin (and a host of other small towns the country over). Still, Wisconsin feels specific to the band’s music and that kind of celebration is always worth noting, especially when it comes from unexpected places that are too-frequently glossed over or discarded in the pursuit of something bigger.

It’s that kind of dedication and sense of place that’s informed Dusk’s music from the onset but it’s never been extended to their visuals as beautifully as it has with “Leaf”. Landscapes both wintry and autumnal switch back and forth, tethered together with a warmth and determination that the cold seasons seem to bring out in Wisconsin’s citizens, “Leaf” finds its source of life in the smallest moments. Grocery shopping, chopping wood, loving greetings, and prep chef work all play parts (as, of course, do shots of hard liquor).

At every second, in every frame, there’s a resilient grace and a sense of affection on display. That level of welcomeness has been the band’s modus operandi since their formation and it’s only strengthened over time, a sensibility that’s escalated in their music as they moved forward. It hits its current apex here with “Leaf”, Blair’s overlaid harmonies acting in accordance with meticulously crafted visuals, creating the kind of warm blanket that the band extends to its listeners at their best. And make no mistake, “Leaf” earns a spot in that pantheon. This is the type of release that’s worthy of remembrance.

Watch “Leaf” below and pre-order Dusk from Don Giovanni here (and if you’re one of the first 300 to reserve a copy, you’ll receive an additional bonus 7″).