Watch This: Vol. 27
by Steven Spoerl
It may have taken a bit of doing but, as of this posting, Watch This will officially be back on its regular schedule. To celebrate this, the 27th installment of the series played strictly by the rules- and somehow wound up being one of the strongest offerings of Watch This to date. All of these songs were live sessions that were posted online in the past seven days and virtually of them contain songs or artists that have previously earned feature articles on this site in the past. In short, there are plenty of familiar faces to be found in this 27th installment and a few of the year’s best records are well represented. Really, now that all the work’s been done and all the exposition’s out of the way, all that’s left to do is sit back, turn the volume up, and Watch This.
1. Ovlov – The Great Crocodile (Little Elephant)
What can be said? This Little Elephant session is just a gift that keeps on giving. It’s the third to earn a spot in Watch This and arguably the finest of those three. The song’s introduction is nearly two full minutes of surging basement punk that verges on post-hardcore territory. Everything after is just as exhilarating as what’s preceded it. All in all, it ends up being another incredible sampling from one of the most exciting young bands out there. Another thing worth noting: the bassist’s sick LVL UP sweatshirt (if that’s not a great representation of what this site’s all about, nothing is).
2. Angel Olsen – High & Wild (Jagjaguwar)
There haven’t been very many artists who have earned as many Watch This inclusions as Angel Olsen. This is no accident; her last record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, is a gorgeous work of art. As a performer, she radiates a quiet intensity that’s both transfixing and strangely devastating. “High & Wild” lives up to the precedent she’s set and, as such, was an easy selection for this installment. Burn Your Fire for No Witness has more than proven its staying power and Olsen’s capitalizing on that success by virtue of her live prowess. No complaints.
3. Yellow Ostrich – Shades (KEXP)
Yellow Ostrich scored a major coup with the acquisition of drummer Michael Tapper, who joined up shortly after leaving We Are Scientists. As a member of We Are Scientists, he was instrumental to their early success (With Love and Squalor is a vastly underrated 2000’s masterpiece) and now one of the driving forces behind Yellow Ostrich. “Shades” is one of the finest songs the band’s ever recorded and their performance of it for KEXP is a committed take. It’s borderline unclassifiable and it’s definitely worth paying attention to.
4. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me (Radio K)
First thought: “Is that a Smooth Brain shirt?!” Second thought: “Oh, yeah, Cleveland.” Third thought? “Good lord, this band slays live.” All that said, Here and Nowhere Else is an easy 2014 highlight and is fully expected to appear in the year-end conversations. It’s the second straight effort from the band that’s earned that distinction after being released in the first half of the year. As immense as their studio output has been, as this adeptly shows, they might be even better live.
5. Screaming Females – It All Means Nothing (Audiotree)
As promised earlier today, here’s the second Screaming Females video to be featured from the band’s recent stop at Audiotree. Now touring behind their excellent Steve Albini-produced live album, Live at the Hideout, they’re proving time and time again the recordings that made the cut for that record weren’t a fluke. Truly one of the best live acts currently touring, “It All Means Nothing” has been a consistent set highlight and ranks among the best moments in the band’s entire discography. They don’t hold back anything here and the result is another monster of a performance that’s worth several subsequent watches. Make sure to bookmark this one.