Watch This: Vol. 15

by Steven Spoerl

Once again, an apology is in order; due to extensive travel (more on that in a minute) a regular Sunday Watch This posting proved impossible. This 15th installment is a more low-key affair than usual. Apart from two very, very electric full sets, the emphasis falls squarely on wistful moments. From a powerpop staple to Appalachian-infused up-and-comers with a serious punk pedigree to Katie Crutchfield’s signature defiant vulnerability, open wounds wind up being this week’s focal point. As each video proves in some small way, sometimes the best way to deal with open wounds is to address them.

1. Saintseneca – Happy Alone (BadRacket Recording)

While Saintseneca has earned multiple mentions on this site before, they’ve never wound up in Watch This. It’s a drastic oversight and this is a necessary correction. Their run-through of “Happy Alone” for BadRacket Recording is nothing short of outstanding. Saintseneca continues to find new ways to impress and up the respective anticipation for their ANTI- debut, Dark Arc.

2. Matthew Caws – Inside of Love (KEXP)

When Nada Surf was still in the early stages of their career they were often written off as Weezer knockoffs. Many suspected they’d be unsustainable- and then they did the miraculous- they reinvented themselves and found themselves at the forefront of powerpop. Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws plays Let Go standout “Inside of Love” for KEXP here, as a part of the 15th anniversary celebration of Barsuk Records. It’s as winning now as it ever was.

3. Great Thunder – It Takes  So Much (Live at Saint Vitus)

Katie Crutchfield has one of the most arresting voices in all of music, writes emotionally crippling lyrics, and Great Thunder just made a fucking incredible record. A live performance showcasing all of those things? What more could anyone possibly want?

4. Hop Along (Live at Saint Vitus)

While any lineup that includes both Crutchfield twins is can’t-miss material, it’ll take something genuinely special to make an impression in the face of that. Luckily, for everyone, beloved Philadelphia act Hop Along proved more than up to the task and unARTigNYC was on hand to film all of it. While Get Disowned is (still) incredible on its own merits, the band comes into their own in a live setting. This is an impassioned 46-minute masterclass on how to do things right. Absolutely necessary viewing (and listening) material. 

5. Priests (Live at The Pinch)

There have been recent claims that seeing Priests for the first time is akin to a religious experience and the live footage that continues to surface of the band goes a long way in supporting that theory. It doesn’t seem to matter when the footage is from, either. From the get-go this band’s been channeling the brooding intensity of Swans and deftly combining it with the politics of Sleater-Kinney and the discordant aesthetics of Sonic Youth at their most fearlessly minimal. All of that is why Priests are this week’s band to know. Extra note: shout-out to vocalist Katie Alice Greer for her outstanding interview work over at Fvck the Media. Be sure to go read that- but be sure to watch this.