Watch This: Vol. 102
by Steven Spoerl
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the nature of these upcoming posts, a truncated version of this introductory paragraph will be appearing over the next several installments of this series.] It’s been quite some time since the 100th edition of Watch This went up on this site. There have been a lot of factors going into the extended interim but, as usual, a focal point of that absence was to make sure the preparation work was kept up to date. Full sessions, single song performances, DIY videos, and impressive turn-ins from radio stations abound. So, as always, sit back, adjust the setting, crank the volume, focus up, and Watch This.
1. Hop Along – I Saw My Twin (Ace Hotel)
Hop Along‘s Painted Shut served as the band’s long-overdue breakout moment and they’ve been taking full advantage of the right opportunities since its release. Here, they give a spirited, acoustic-led rendition of “I Saw My Twin” that demonstrates the depth of their considerable abilities. It’s another memorable moment in a growing string of impressive pieces for one of 2015’s most heartening success stories.
2. Strand of Oaks (3voor12)
In 2014, Strand of Oaks turned in some of the year’s most memorable performances and, as a result, became a staple of Watch This. Timothy Showalter’s project hasn’t slowed pace throughout the course of the past 11 months, continuing to be one of the best live bands on the touring circuit. All that being noted, this still somehow manages to feel slightly elevated from the project’s previous work. A soaring reminder from a serious talent.
3. John Grant (The Current)
A few years ago, John Grant emerged as a singular voice in an overcrowded field of songwriters struggling to achieve that status. Grant followed up that feat with a record that cemented his position as one of the most unflinchingly bold artists operating today. Here, he leads his band through two highlights off of that record, “Grey Tickles” and “Global Warming”. To say that they’re arresting performances would be an understatement.
4. Cloud Castle Lake – Genuflect
Last month, Cloud Castle Lake froze my blood with their appearance at Honor Press’s secret CMJ showcase. Watching the band weave their intricate tapestries together felt akin to a religious experience. While this live take of “Genuflect” they uploaded to their YouTube acount doesn’t quite hit those heights, it comes close enough to warrant a spot here. Beautifully shot and flawlessly performed, it’s one of the strongest hints to date of what this band’s capable of accomplishing.
5. Waxahatchee – Bathtub (Don Giovanni)
It’s been a few years since Waxahatchee’s breakout debut, American Weekend, was first released. That the songs that lived so comfortably in that set still feel so resonant today is a strong indicator of their apparent timelessness. “Bathtub”, in particular, is a song that still cuts deeply anytime it’s played. Don Giovanni recently captured a performance of the song that’s played to a dead silent audience. A perfect document of a small, profoundly moving moment.