MUSIC

Bre Kennedy Releases Debut EP "Jealous of Birds"

The Nashville artist's debut project has finally arrived.

Jason Lee Denton

Bre Kennedy seems to have fallen in love with the idea of change—and she wants to share that love with anyone who'll listen.

The Nashville singer has already been featured twice on Popdust, making her own space for her folk-tinged pop and open-book lyricism. "Slippin" was a passionate jump into an unknown future and embrace of change. "Strings Attached," her follow-up single, examined change as the beginning of healing, as she learned to leave behind the things that weigh her down—however painful they might be. Kennedy's sense of self is constantly rewritten in these tracks, her sound earnestly flexing and expanding to match her emotionality. She delivers a catchy pop chorus as easily as a mournful reverie, and the range is crucial for what she's trying to say: Everything in her life is ephemeral. But to Kennedy, that fact makes these passing moments even more important to wrestle with. If her future's uncertain and she's meant to leave her pain behind her, then what is she meant to build herself with in the meantime?

Kennedy's debut EP, Jealous of Birds, provides a possible answer to that question. Picking up the themes that her singles set forth, the project is an exciting step for Kennedy, solidifying her talent as a burgeoning singer-songwriter while still keeping her focus as a narrator intact. The title track finds a golden mean between "Slippin" and "Strings Attached," welding her misty vocals and melancholy guitar to a layered, rising hook. The country-esque strings and building synth atmosphere unfurl the song under Kennedy's voice, bringing an almost cinematic clarity to her lyrics. "Between the good and the madness / It's hard to imagine we could stay this high," she confesses on the second verse, and that preoccupying impermanence rears its head again.

Kennedy is "jealous of birds" for their freedom, the ease with which they can leave the earth and all its constant changes behind. But the song distinguishes itself from the singles that heralded its arrival with its calm and cool reflection—not a pop-inflected excitement or a desolate mourning, but more of an honest acceptance. There's a maturity in the track that's just as engaging as her previous music, and it gives the rest of the EP's tracklist a greater sense of purpose.

On Jealous of Birds, Kennedy isn't quite as scared by the confusing exhilaration of growing older and growing up. The EP sheds an old way of life that doesn't fit her anymore. The project's best parts shine through in Kennedy's sense of balance, how she feels both freed and isolated in turn, as she reaches for something new. The highs are just as emotionally resonant as the lows for her, and she gives them each a gentle and generous nuance in her songwriting. Growth, change, and transformation: for Kennedy, the metaphors don't do reality justice. These things hurt. But, with her confident voice and stimulating pop sensibility, Bre Kennedy pushes forward into a future that belongs to her, even if she's unsure of her own destination. Jealous of Birds is the sound of flying.

CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

MUSIC

Bre Kennedy Faces Old Ghosts on New Single

The Nashville songwriter's second release features a more melancholy sound as she considers what she's left behind.

Jason Lee Denton

Bre Kennedy has already proven her talent for rousing pop ballads with her debut release "Slippin."

Now, she's returned to share her newest single with Popdust, "Strings Attached," a somber and poignant recollection of painful memories. The track reveals absorbing new facets of the Nashville songwriter's sound and broadens the kind of emotional weight Kennedy's work can carry.

"Strings Attached" reckons with a connection that Kennedy's left behind, the entire song addressed to someone who no longer fits in her life. A pensive, flowing guitar conjures both homesickness and pain while sparse instrumentation and muted harmonies fill out the edges of the song's folk-country sorrow. Kennedy's vocals slip between whispers and weary clarity, allowing her to play with register and to imbue the lyrics with heavy sentiment, not nostalgic or trite but clear-eyed in its gaze. "No matter what I say / I miss you either way," she sings on the ethereal bridge, but "Strings Attached" isn't a bitter rebuke or a backslide of any kind: it's a lament of how easily old pain can come back to the surface, and how who and what she's lost—in this case, who she has walked away from—will remain part of her journey, just as much as the good memories.

In essence, Kennedy has written "Strings Attached" as an understanding of growing up. The titular metaphor of the song suggests images of toxic relationships and broken trust, but Kennedy turns her pain into lessons she won't forget without letting that pain consume her or her music. Like "Slippin" before it, "Strings Attached" accepts ambiguity as unavoidable in life, but still leaves room for something more. Kennedy's confidence in her ability to shoulder this burden, as her star continues to rise, should not be taken lightly.

Strings Attached


Matthew Apadula is a writer and music critic from New York. His work has previously appeared on GIGsoup Music and in Drunk in a Midnight Choir. Find him on Twitter @imdoingmybest.


POP⚡DUST | Read More...

Game of Thrones QUIZ: What Type of Viewer Are You?

How Black Drag Queens Invented Camp: An Incomplete History of Lena Waithe's Jacket

Here's What Royal Baby Archie's Astrology Chart Looks Like