Heartbreaking Bravery

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Watch This: Vol. 75

Over the course of the past few weeks, the influx of outstanding live videos has been staggering. Last week the series was put on a brief hold due to other personal obligations but even then, there was the threat of multiple installments for that particular Sunday. Amassing those with the live clips that followed in the subsequent week brings us to this point: there’s simply too much great material to feature to justify relegating anything exceeding the limit of five to the introductory paragraph(s). With this being the case, there will be seven- yes, seven- installments of Watch This to go live throughout the day (and possibly night).

To that end, this very introduction will be running prior to volumes 74-80 to reduce the levels of overall exposition to provide an emphasis on the material at hand. Site favorites Girlpool and Waxahatchee were seemingly everywhere this week, securing multiple entries throughout this run while Faits Divers spread-out documentation of a set from Ought (another site favorite) managed to do the same. As always, each video featured is an exemplary showcase for both artist and host, covering a wide range of sounds and styles. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume to your preferred settings, sit up straight, lean in (or back), and Watch This.

1. Torres – Sprinter (WFUV)

Torres’ Sprinter isn’t just one of 2015’s best songs; it’s also one of 2015’s best albums. The product of Mackenzie Scott’s unforgiving self-examination of her upbringing, Sprinter came loaded with powerful moments. “Sprinter” was one of the most gripping, detailing how Scott, like many notable artist prior, would turn to running as an escape. There’s a genuine sense of voyeurism that manages to subtly settle in, becoming unsettling in the process. It’s an experience that becomes even stronger as the song translates over to the live setting, creating a deep sense of unease before offering a cathartic release- and WFUV captures one of those performances magnificently, doubling the song’s murkier tones with the clip’s visual aesthetic. Don’t miss it.

2. Girlpool – Before The World Was Big (Wichita)

Another stunning title track, Girlpool’s Before The World Was Big, sees the duo continue their relative domination of this stretch of coverage in a clip that comes courtesy of their label, Wichita Recordings. One differentiating factor of this session compared to Girlpool’s others is the fact both Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad play acoustic guitars rather than their standard bass/guitar setup and the payoff is beautiful. One of Girlpool’s most appealing traits is that their affection for each other is so palpable, permeating nearly every note (and frame) of their work together. In this no-stakes session, the duo’s simply allowed to lean back and enjoy each other’s company, providing some of the lovelier live clips of 2015.

3. Yuck – Middle Sea (Chalk TV)

A lot of speculation surrounded Yuck after they lost a key member, they responded with some of their best material to date. Among the myriad of highlights that came following guitarist/vocalist’s Daniel Blumberg’s departure was “Middle Sea”, a searing burst of revitalized energy. Chalk TV was on hand to capture the band performing the song at a show earlier this year and the creative restlessness that made the song so compelling bleeds through effortlessly.

4. Ought (Faits Diver)

Only one album into their career and Ought have already established themselves as one of the most fascinating acts. Comparisons to LCD Soundsystem, Talking Heads, and David Bowie have all been lobbed at the band and while each comparison’s likely warranted, they only scratch the surface. Deceptively intricate and surprisingly intuitive, Ought have made their mark by crafting the kind of genre-defying hook-filled music that leans towards enormous appeal. “Today More Than Any Other Day” and “Habit” are two perfect examples of this dynamic and Faits Diver now has exhilarating proof of the band’s live prowess (presented in a manner that betrays a likely fascination with David Lynch, rendering it a surprisingly mysterious watch).

5. Waxahatchee (KEXP)

The current touring iteration of Waxahatchee is the finest Katie Crutchfield’s ever assembled, enlisting members of Swearin’ (including her twin, Allison Crutchfield) and other members of the Philadelphia music scene to round out a continuously expanding sound. Here, the band tears through a selection of highlights from one of this year’s gems, Ivy Tripp (Waxahatchee’s first release for Merge Records). Sublimely pure at times, willfully discordant at others, it’s a measured showcase for Crutchfield’s vast range as a songwriter, anchored by an unforgettable voice all the while.

 

Watch This: Vol. 74

Over the course of the past few weeks, the influx of outstanding live videos has been staggering. Last week the series was put on a brief hold due to other personal obligations but even then, there was the threat of multiple installments for that particular Sunday. Amassing those with the live clips that followed in the subsequent week brings us to this point: there’s simply too much great material to feature to justify relegating anything exceeding the limit of five to the introductory paragraph(s). With this being the case, there will be seven- yes, seven– installments of Watch This to go live throughout the day (and possibly night).

To that end, this very introduction will be running prior to volumes 74-80 to reduce the levels of overall exposition to provide an emphasis on the material at hand. Site favorites Girlpool and Waxahatchee were seemingly everywhere this week, securing multiple entries throughout this run while Faits Divers spread-out documentation of a set from Ought (another site favorite) managed to do the same. As always, each video featured is an exemplary showcase for both artist and host, covering a wide range of sounds and styles. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume to your preferred settings, sit up straight, lean in (or back), and Watch This.

1. Girlpool (Consequence of Sound)

Over the past year, Girlpool have been experiencing a quiet, rapid ascension in notoriety thanks to a singular take on songwriting. More than just about any other band operating, the duo have established a legitimate identity that manages to feel both familiar and singular. Here, in a lovingly shot session for Consequence of Sound, they provide some insight to their process and deliver two characteristically strong performances of Before The World Was Big‘s title track and “I Like That You Can See It”. It’s a powerful reminder of their seemingly limitless strengths and a perfect document of a young band on the cusp of reaching spectacular heights.

2. Diet Cig – Harvard (Play Too Much)

There’s a joy inherent to Diet Cig‘s music that translates so effortlessly into their live presentation that practically guarantees them a Watch This feature spot every time a video surfaces. Over Easy remains one of the year’s best- and most endlessly listenable- releases, while Diet Cig’s live show continues to gain velocity. It’s an explosive combination that renders the duo one of the more exciting prospects in today’s music. Manic energy, genuine passion, and their visible love for their craft are given a defining image towards the clip’s closing minutes as guitarist/vocalist strikes a power stance, perched on the top of her amp and Noah Bowman’s bass drum, practically bursting with joy. All together, it’s the exact kind of thing this site was built to celebrate.

3. Screaming Females – Shake It Off (AV Club)

Back in the 22nd volume of Watch This, The AV Club’s Undercover series took all five spots in a featured retrospective. One of those five selections was Screaming Females‘ incendiary Sheryl Crowe cover. The band and the series recently partnered up again, the band once again applying their unlikely brand to an even more unlikely cover; Taylor Swift’s inescapable “Shake It Off”. Played (mostly) straight with a fiery verve, the standout moment- unsurprisingly- is a deviation that allows guitarist/vocalist Marissa Paternoster to tear into a solo after a perfect breakdown. It’s one of the year’s most unexpectedly endearing moments.

4. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (La Blogotheque)

Courtney Barnett‘s Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit will almost certainly hold true as one of 2015’s most delightful titles. As enjoyable as the record is, though, there are moments of arresting pathos and gravitas that appear throughout. One of the most fascinating is Barnett’s treatsie on suburban malaise; “Depreston”. Barnett recently met up with the usually-great La Blogotheque for a performance capture that manages to transcend the bulk of the series’ considerable output. Simply put: it’s unforgettable.

5. Hop Along (KEXP)

One of the year’s most welcome breakout success stories was that of Hop Along’s sudden increase in exposure, recognition, and acclaim (all of which the band’s deserved since before the release of Get Disowned). Instead of being daunted by the attention, the band seems to be thriving off it- pushing themselves to go even further. That drive’s reflected in this full session for KEXP that finds Frances Quinlan and co. front and center for a lively outdoor showcase featuring songs from both Get Disowned and 2015 Album of the Year candidate Painted Shut. As if all of that wasn’t enough reason to watch (and the fact that the band’s live show’s been so powerful that they’ve been a staple of this series since it started), this set also features a back-to-back pairing of “Waitress” and “Tibetan Songs”, which will always be a moment far too perfect for words.