Will Shenton

While the trend of using home movies in music videos isn't new, it's definitely one that has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. Most of the time, they're simply used to cultivate an air of vague nostalgia without much concern for the actual content. But in HNRY FLWR's latest video for their heartbreaking ballad "Little Brother," the old, fuzzy VHS tells a much more compelling story.

"Little Brother" is a treatise on bullying, and, more broadly, on the conditions that create cycles of male violence. In the band's description of the video, they explain that "Our friend, David, was a sweet boy—we see him in this music video celebrating his first Halloween as an RC-wielding Superman in 1990, somewhere in the Midwest. A couple years later ... he'd get bullied for being earnest and quiet, and then he'd bully his little brother as they grew up. It is a feedback loop that spirals outward until you find a way to channel it."

With that context, what initially seems like a cute (if somewhat banal) home movie becomes something more tragic: one of the last recordings of a child's innocence before the world turned him cruel. As HNRY FLWR croons "We're all made from an act of love," we see the first glimpse of the titular little brother—someone who would soon be yet another victim in the chain.

That said, "Little Brother" is not entirely without hope. This vignette, a single day in the life of a child, captures a gentleness that's present in all of us. As much as our experiences may bury it beneath anger and regret, there's always the possibility that we rediscover it and find absolution.


Catch HNRY FLWR opening for Uni and Blame Candy on Friday, 1/19 at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn.

PREMIERE: The World All Around - Gone Be For Lovers

Will Shenton

It bums me out that we don't get a lot of vast, dramatic ballads these days. Maybe it's just the fault of my own little myopic bubble (every time I lament the loss of some genre, I get badgered with a dozen counterexamples until I concede on grounds of attrition), but it seems like the border between cerebral experimentation and guitar-solo catharsis is often a little too stark. That's why The World All Around's debut single, "Gone Be For Lovers," is so damn refreshing.

It opens on a quiet, crescendoing orchestral progression, overlaid with the shimmering sounds of hammered-on guitar strings, before abruptly resolving itself into a wash of synths and Arp's understated vocals. The first instrumental chorus introduces a soaring guitar arpeggio, which subsides back into the verse before it can completely resolve. But then, after another moment of relative stillness, "Gone Be For Lovers" explodes into one of the more brilliantly cathartic lead guitar licks I've heard in a long time.

The song is fairly short, coming in just under three minutes, but it doesn't feel like it needs to be any longer. It manages to distill the energy of more meandering tracks into a concentrate, using the well-trod structure so artfully that its resolution is absolutely satisfying. The group itself is a duo consisting of Hayden Arp (whose solo work we've written about before) and Griffin Jennings, both students at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. The World All Around is a new project of theirs, and with a debut this strong, we hope "Gone Be For Lovers" is the first of many things we'll hear from them.