Watch This: Vol. 80
by Steven Spoerl
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. Shopping – For Your Money (FatCat)
Shopping’s Consumer Complaints finally saw a US release after making its dent elsewhere last year (it appeared multiple times in “best of” categories through niche outlets like maximumrocknroll), ensuring that their songs would once again refuse to leave my head for weeks at a time. One of the most difficult to shake is “For Your Money”, which the band tackles here with no shortage of wiry verve. It’s a strong reminder of the band’s assurance in crafting minimal post-punk that packs in hooks but refuses to pack in its punches. Sustaining tension throughout, it’s a hypnotic look at one of today’s more promising young bands. Get on board now and watch the rewards follow.
2. Tubelight – Straight Into The Sun (3voor12)
Netherlands’ 3voor12 has consistently cast a spotlight on some of the more fascinating international acts throughout the past several years and Tubelight recently joined their ranks. Offering up a gritty take on post-punk riddled with snarky lyrics and an impressive urgency, they manage to strike a perfect balance between immediate and accessible. “Straight Into The Sun” is a perfect encapsulation of this dynamic, even as it threatens to go off the rails at seemingly every turn. Passionate and unyielding, it’s another unlikely gem that’s not worth missing.
3. Penicillin Baby – Working Man (Audiotree)
Much like Las Robertas, Penicillin Baby have found a way to incorporate a surf influence without seeming like they’re clinging to a trendy retread as a security device. Instead, that influence seems to invigorate the entirety of the band’s work along with a variety of other touch points from the worlds of 50’s and 60’s pop. Organs swirl, guitars branch off into tangential figures, and the rhythm section keeps everything humming along. Measured and exhilarating, it’s a near-perfect showing for a band that comes loaded with potential. Give into their charms and enjoy the ride.
4. Algiers – Claudette (WFUV)
WFUV’s capture of Algiers’ “Claudette” finishes off the 1-2 punch combination that started with “Blood”. Once again, it’s a stark reminder of why Algiers are one of the most exciting emerging acts and a perfect example of their ability to seamlessly combine familiar genres into something that feels unique. Taking cues from musical trends that date back centuries and marrying them to a thoroughly modern stance takes a staggering amount of skill and Algiers continue to make it look (and sound) effortless. Bold, brash, and unavoidable, Algiers may just be 2015’s best new band- they certainly haven’t provided any reasons to think otherwise.
5. Bad History Month – Angel Devil (Pony Problems)
One of the most expansive pieces of the first installment of this site’s year-end project, A Year’s Worth of Memories, was directly centered around Bad History Month, a moniker chosen by a man operating under the psuedonym Jeff Meff. Pony Problems Productions caught Meff in action last year, deliver a stunning take of “Angel Devil” and only just recently made the clip publicly available. As far as artist portrayals go, it feels definitive; a perfect showcase of Meff’s frenetic tendencies and winningly off-kilter songwriting sensibilities. As far as performances go? It’s a technical knockout.