Watch This: Vol. 81

by Steven Spoerl

Anyone that’s been keeping an eye on the site knows that it’s been a busy time for both myself and this place. Making the move to Brooklyn has afforded a much greater opportunity for live coverage and that’s something that’s been increasingly evident over the past few posts. There were still be regular coverage on streaming songs, albums, and videos and all of those categories will be caught up in the very near future.

Despite missing last week’s, Watch This isn’t going to go anywhere either. Ostensibly the beating heart of Heartbreaking Bravery, the weekly series devoted to featuring the best live capture releases of the week is one of this site’s defining features. With two weeks worth of releases to reflect on, there’ll be two installments of Watch This to run tonight. Both feature a variety of site favorites (both artists and sources), full sessions, and- as always- extraordinary performances on both sides of the camera. So, as ever, sit back, adjust the volume to your preference, focus up, and Watch This.

1. DOE – Swings and Roundabouts (BreakThruRadio)

DOE’s session for BreakThruRadio keeps yielding outstanding results (and subsequently finding placement on Watch This). Here, the band takes their compelling, restrained approach to the pop-punk genre and spins it into gold with a strong performance of “Swings and Roundabouts”.

2. Mitski – I Will (Out of Town Films)

Bury Me At Makeout Creek was easily one of last year’s finest records and its pull hasn’t relented since its release. Mitski has been touring steadily as that time’s elapsed, delivering one knockout performance after another and still finding time to sign a deal with Don Giovanni. Out of Town Films recently captured a gorgeously-lensed performance of Bury Me highlight “I Will” and the results are spellbinding.

3. Elvis Perkins (KEXP)

Elvis Perkins has been one of my favorite artists since I was first introduced to the songwriter via an unforgettable Letterman appearance. A few months later, I’d exchange some words with Perkins, who was unfailingly kind and genuinely humble. Overcoming unspeakable tragedy, Perkins made a habit of delivering joyous, life-affirming shows with his band, Elvis Perkins In Dearland, while still managing to pay heartfelt tribute to his deceased parents. After spending a brief time touring the release of Elvis Perkins in Dearland in 2009, Perkins all but disappeared before re-emerging in 2015’s opening stretch. Noticeably more downtrodden, Perkins’ songs have nonetheless managed to retain their inherent charm and a very specific kind of love for those songs comes through beautifully in this recent KEXP session.

4. Cayucas – Moony Eyed Walrus (KCRW)

A lot of the best pop music feels as familiar as it does effortless and “Moony Eyed Walrus” certainly qualifies on both accounts. Boasting an infectious chorus section and impossibly smooth verses, Cayucas crafted something that manages to feel both light and memorable. KCRW recently hosted the band for a live session and they responded by handing in a charming take of their current career highlight.

5. Torres (KEXP)

Continuing on with a consistent domination of Watch This is Torres, who hits an exhilarating peak with this KEXP session. Honestly, at this point, this could be any collection of songs from Sprinter and this would have been all but guaranteed a spot. The sequencing and selection for this particular session, however, feels legitimately inspired. From the heavily atmospheric (and quietly haunting) version of “A Proper Polish Welcome” to the explosively climactic moments of “Cowboy Guilt”, the session’s a sustained series of grace notes that does more than a little justice to one of 2015’s most stunning albums.