Watch This: Vol. 54

by Steven Spoerl

With another week of predictably great live outings behind us, it’s time to look back on some of the best videos to surface in that stretch. It’s also another week were limiting the selections to five can be frustrating, as it means excluding things like S’ gorgeous KEXP session and an equally stunning set from She Keeps Bees for bandwidth. That said, the fact that those aren’t in the featured five is a particularly strong indicator for this week’s overwhelming strength. Full sets made a sizable impression and secured three spots in this series’ 54 installment while Watch This returns to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ Austin City Limits session and pays a visit to a soul legend. There’s a lot of memorable material on display, all of it worthy of a serious amount of admiration. So, as always, sit back, mute the world, let all of the distractions dissolve, adjust the volume to appropriately blistering levels, relax, and Watch This.

1. PUJOL (KEXP)

PUJOL’s The United States of Being was the kind of quiet career-making record that had the potential to push the band onto the radar’s of some influential people. However, any time that happens it also heavily increases the levels of expectation for a follow-up. A contract with Saddle Creek and one excellent record later, PUJOL’s doing their best to put those doubts to rest. One thing that’s never been in doubt? The band’s ability to deliver a killer live performance, which is exactly what they turn in via this blistering (and absurdly fun) four-song set for the unfailingly great KEXP.

2. Lee Fields – Don’t Leave Me This Way (La Blogotheque)

There are few things more reassuring to see than a person being celebrated for doing something they both excel at and clearly love. In their most recent video for their acclaimed Take Away series, La Blogotheque turned their lenses on soul legend Lee Cooks delivering a powerful performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” to a group of appreciative bystanders, accompanied only by a guitarist. It’s a staggeringly beautiful reminder of Fields’ natural prowess as a performer and an incredible moment that was lovingly captured for everyone to visit (and revisit) for years to come.

3. Ex Hex (WNYC)

Rips was one of 2014’s best reminders of classic rock’s curious longevity. The Mary Timony-led Ex Hex specializes in creating the kind of timeless earworms that aren’t tied down to any particular scene or movement, just the band’s commitment to the project.  Here, they confidently make their way through three songs from one the year’s most carefree records for WNYC, seeming as poised as ever. Timony’s a naturally gifted leader and a charismatic vocalist, all of which ensures that no Ex Hex performance is worth overlooking.

4. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Austin City Limits)

“Jubilee Street” was one of the most mesmerizing moments on Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ latest career highlight, Push the Sky Away. Live, it takes on new life and breathes a new kind of fire with a surging outro that progressively increases the tempo. Easily one of the band’s most impressively massive live songs, the performance they delivered for Austin City Limits was predictably inspired, with Cave flying from the mic to the piano, becoming as frantic as the song itself over repeated cries of “I’m transforming; I’m flying; I’m vibrating; look at me now!”- directions that become impossible to ignore as one of the greatest bandleaders in the history of music sheds all traces of inhibition as his band urges him forward and lets him sink his teeth into yet another transcendental performance.

5. Saintseneca (KEXP)

Watch This38th entry included one of the most beautiful videos this series has ever had the pleasure of featuring; Saintseneca’s Tiny Desk Session. Unsurprisingly, the band hasn’t lost an ounce of their touch and deliver yet another brilliant performance for KEXP. Easily one of the most intriguing bands to carve out a name for themselves in 2014, their brand of subtly punk-influenced Appalachian folk helped turn Dark Arc into a very real candidate for Album of the Year. Here, the band runs through four songs and hit a series of impressive grace notes, making room for standout takes of the painfully gorgeous “Fed Up With Hunger” and the driving “Happy Alone”. All told, it’s a perfectly timed reminder of a band and record worth their acclaim.