New Video By Mr. Flannery and His Feelings “Embers Of Dead Fires”

Feelings, Mr. Flannery would tell you, are complicated things. Happiness, sadness?, leave the simple stuff to the amateurs. No, Mr. Flannery And His Feelings are after something a little subtler, a little more thoughtful, and ultimately, more provocative: gray areas, moments of ambivalence, aches, sudden breakthroughs, lightning-flash realizations. Try Your Hardest, the first album from Michael Flannery’s new project, is a flood of feelings that you don’t ordinarily find in a pop song – artistic isolation, admiration of a friend, the wistfulness of a sailor lost at sea, appreciation for a killer goldfish. This is Mr. Flannery’s gift: he can take an emotionally complicated subject and present it to his listener in three minutes of smart, accessible, instantly memorable music.

Try Your Hardest is a bravely varied album. On it, Mr. Flannery tackles synthpop, new wave, hard rock, abrasive punk, funk, and even a little calypso. In order to share with you the breadth of his writing, we’re sending you two videos today. “Embers Of Dead Fires”, a stark, chilling pop-rock track with roots in reggae, is paired with a noir-ish clip that shows a chained Mr. Flannery in peril. “Pushing Up” is just the opposite: it’s a singalong with a synthesizer hook, a catchy chorus and a hip-hop beat. In its video, Mr. Flannery is free, and enjoying a beautiful day; it’s a celebration of the quotidian, and an acknowledgement of the underrated beauty of domestic routine.

These two clips couldn’t be more different. But they don’t contradict each other; on the contrary, they feel like twin expressions of a coherent and fully developed vision. Released through Hudson County’s Rhyme And Reason Records, Try Your Hardest is a debut of sorts, but Michael Flannery is no newcomer to music. He’s been a presence in New York and New Jersey music for many years as a producer, arranger, sound engineer, collaborator, sideman, and sounding-board for other artists. Like other studio auteurs who’ve taken a step into the center spotlight – Brian Eno, Thomas Dolby – his music makes an indelible sonic imprint that could never be mistaken for anybody else’s.