Premiere: Br’er’s “Help Me Live” Commits to Life in the Face of Death

Br'er © Lindsay Hogan
Br'er © Lindsay Hogan

Most of the time, we live our lives completely oblivious to the fact that they are temporary. We are living on a timer; our days, no matter how innumerable, are numbered. Unpleasant as it is to think about, perhaps there is something to be gained from being confronted with our mortality. We can all do better – live better. Br’er come face to face with mortality on “Help Me Live,” a dark and honest confessional inspired by a cancer misdiagnosis.

I was born
with something missing
yea something missing
so i filled my life with others like me
irony won’t save you
from your useless life
so use this time time be alive
Listen: “Help Me Live” – Br’er
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Help Me Live - Br'er
Help Me Live – Br’er

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Help Me Live,” the spine-tingling lead single off Br’er’s forthcoming fourth album Brunch is for Assholes (2017 via BLIGHT. Records). Hailing from DC by way of Philadelphia, Br’er consists of Ben Schurr (vocals), Erik Sleight (synth), Johnny Fantastic (vocals, synth), and Ben Usie (drums). The band describe their new album as “a timely discourse on the social history of the last eight years, given the uncomfortable context of present day politics,” but Brunch is for Assholes‘ first offering feels far more personal than political.

“‘Help Me Live’ was written during a period of time where I was misdiagnosed with cancer,” explains lead singer/songwriter Ben Schurr. “A doctor who couldn’t even make eye contact with me told me I had lymphoma without giving me a biopsy and was preparing to schedule me for 6 rounds of chemo, and was “let go” from the hospital a few weeks later. During this period of grief, the song ‘Help Me Live’ came to me while walking home from work, as almost a prayer to a higher power to keep me strong and alive – which I suppose worked, because I went to another hospital and turned out to be cancer free. The song was conceived in a few hours and finished the next day.”

I was bored
of something missing
yea something missing
so i filled my heart with anger
calcifying a single pearl
which rests my head on hospital beds
where I await your holy touch to

Schurr’s calm singing voice seems to almost underplay the gravity of his situation, but it is this resolution – a strong, settled poise and frame of mind – that allows Br’er to truly captivate the audience. The band builds a dark, dreamy world out of throbbing bass tones and immersive synths, upon which Schurr sings a humbling, humanizing reminder – and a commitment to life. His honest verses admit flaws and past indiscretions, acknowledging, albeit all too late, that he could have done better. “Help me live,” Schurr repeatedly sings in the song’s refrain. It’s as much a protest as it is a prayer.

We feel Br’er’s humanity all too closely on “Help Me Live,” a reflective and harrowing call to action. Brunch is for Assholes is out later this year. Stay tuned for more from Washington, DC’s DIY powerhouse Br’er: “Help Me Live” is just the start of something very special, humble and unique.

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Help Me Live - Br'er

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cover: © Lindsay Hogan
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