Watch This: Vol. 4

by Steven Spoerl

As the year winds down it can be fun to look back. Especially for places like this that only came into existence recently and didn’t have the chance to share some noteworthy items due to their time-sensitive nature. That’s to say; today’s Watch This is going to differ a little from the first three. This round will be focused on and dedicated to some really impressive solo performances that happened in 2013. From Katie Crutchfield to Amos Pitsch, this Sunday round-up features some of this site’s favorite songwriting talents. Take some time out this Sunday to relax and review some of the year’s best moments.

1. Waxahatchee (NPR Tiny Desk Session)

There haven’t been very many things in recent memory that have been satisfying to watch progress as the ascension of the Crutchfield’s. Arguably, it was Katie’s Waxahatchee project that gave them their biggest early push towards their current notoriety. This session, courtesy of NPR, feels a little bit like validation. Then again, it’s hard to feel anything that doesn’t directly correlate with what Katie pours into these songs. One of the most arresting songwriters of our generation.


2. Tenement – Hard to Say (Live at Nicey’s)

How Heartbreaking Bravery feels about this band is no secret (seriously, best band in existence, 2014 can’t get hear fast enough) so anytime something like this happens it’s worth featuring. The “this” in question being a solo set from frontman Amos Pitsch, an endlessly gifted and absurdly talented songwriter/all-around musician.  This video finds Pitsch playing this Blind Wink standout at an after-show that, incidentally, also featured Waxahatchee. Both artists deserve all the acclaim that’s sure to follow them.


3. Mikal Cronin – Don’t Let Me Go (Off the Record Session)

Mikal Cronin’s MCII absolutely dominated this summer- and for good reason. Nearly every track on his recent masterpiece evoked very specific feelings that felt most appropriate in a summer setting. One of MCII‘s most stunning moments was also one of the collection’s most vulnerable; the bare-bones “Don’t Let Me Go.” Here, given a live hue, the song becomes an even more personal (and gorgeous) paean to quietly determined resolve.


4. Noun – Misery (Live at Golden Tea House)

Screaming Females have been riding a wave of deserved success following last year’s astonishing Ugly, which would account for much of why Paternoster’s solo project has been a little more quiet than usual. While Noun certainly has been a less productive cabinet for Paternoster recently, it’s something deserving of just as much attention as her main vehicle. No new material has been released since Noun’s inspired Holy Hell LP, apart from a very limited reissue of the massive Forgotten Grin tape. Luckily for everyone, Don Giovanni Records was on hand to film a Noun set last month and footage surfaced yesterday of a new song called “Misery”, providing room for hope that Noun’s not quite done yet.


5. Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma (They Shoot Music)

There are very few 2014 LP’s that will be more heavily anticipated than Cloud Nothings’ purportedly noisier, weirder, and more atonal follow-up to their 2011 best-of-decade contender Attack On Memory. Dylan Baldi & co. haven’t allowed much insight to this new record, apart from a few surprise showings at festivals and a mysterious teaser. Oh, there was also the time Baldi showed up to deliver an extraordinarily promising solo acoustic performance of the record’s likely lead-off single, tentatively titled “Pyschic Trauma”. Between this and the two upcoming Tenement collections alone, 2014 should be one hell of a year for music.