Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Katie Crutchfield

Seven Weeks, Ten Records

Before this week began, it’d been seven weeks since any of this site’s regular coverage had appeared. The first stretch of this week will be dedicated to amending the outstanding material that went uncovered in the interim, while the latter part of the week will feature the present week’s finest offerings. Below are ten standout records to have been released over the long hiatus, from EPs to compilations to full-lengths. There’s a whole host of incredible material shared between these ten records so stop hesitating and just dive straight into this post’s overflowing heart. Enjoy.

Great Grandpa – Plastic Cough 

Expert Eraser“, “Fade“, and “Teen Challenge” all earned feature slots on this site in the lead-up to Plastic Cough‘s release, each one suggesting a seemingly inevitable reality: Great Grandpa throwing their hat into the ring of genuine Album of the Year contenders. The day finally came, Plastic Cough was released, and that inevitability proved to be no joke. Plastic Cough is an absolutely ferocious record, gnashing its teeth at every hairpin turn and gloriously bombastic moment, only pausing to breathe on the gorgeous “Faithful”, a perfectly placed slow-burner that rounds the record out in breathtaking fashion. Plastic Cough is the kind of thrill ride that makes a mark deep enough to last.

Slaughter Beach, Dog – Motorcycle.jpg

Jake Ewald may get the most recognition for his work in Modern Baseball but what the songwriter’s accomplished in Slaughter Beach, Dog is equally — if not even more — compelling. Having already accumulated an incredibly rich and surprisingly expansive sound over the course of a full-length and an EP, Motorcyle.jpg finds Ewald leaning even more confidently into the battered folk trappings that heightened those first two releases. Motorcycle.jpg also skews a little more lo-fi and at times recalls Yankee Bluff, each poignantly bruised track vastly exceeding the aesthetics perceived limitations. It’s another impressive work from a musician worth watching.

Little Star – July Demos

Another one of the acts positioning Good Cheer Records as one of the finest upstart labels, Little Star has managed to turn a lot of heads in recent times, thanks to two sterling full-lengths. The project’s showing no signs of slowing down, even going so far as to release a small collection of demos last month, aptly entitled July Demos. The band’s earned comparisons to legendary acts (Big Star, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular among them) and it’s not difficult to see why those comparisons are being made, even from this small smattering of tracks. All four of the songs on display here are sharply written songs that convey a great deal of emotion in their quiet restraint. Spellbinding work.

Katie Ellen – Cowgirl Blues

Chumped may have been Katie Ellen‘s earliest claim to some modicum of fame but the songwriter’s not being reduced to the ashes left in the wake of that band’s departure, instead opting to venture out on an already promising solo career. Cowgirl Blues is Ellen’s first statement and it’s a bold one. The first two and a half minutes of opening track “Drawing Room” are comprised entirely of extremely light ambient noise, clean guitar, and vocals, as if Ellen is reasserting an individual identity. It’s a deeply effective moment that sets the tone for a record that’s not afraid to show off its bruises, scars, or self-awareness. Front to back, it’s one of the summer’s most captivating listens.

Milked – Death On Mars

Kelly Johnson is the songwriter spearheading Milked, graciously returning to the fold after Geronimo! took their final bow. For anyone who was concerned Johnson would step away from the eccentricities and unpredictable eclecticism that made Geronimo! so fascinating, put aside those fears for good. Death on Mars is as gleefully unwieldy and feral as Geronimo! at their fiercest (undoubtedly helped along by the drumming of Geronimo! bandmate Matt Schwerin). Death On Mars is a towering work that’s not afraid to embrace catharsis or melody even as it careens wildly from song to song, touching on everything from powerpop to hardcore along the way. An absolute triumph of a return.

Midwives – No

No will be the last record Midwives — who appeared in this site’s Best EP’s list in 2013 and 2015 and whose self-titled 7″ was one of the first reviews this site ever ran — will release. While it’s a shame that one of the upper Midwest’s best hardcore bands will be disappearing into the ether, at the very least they managed to go out on top: No is a culmination of everything the group’s accomplished since starting up nearly five years ago. It’s a growling, spitting, snarling beast of a record, unafraid to take prisoners in its sub-18 minute run-time. Bruising and feral, it’s only fitting that such a proudly deranged band would go out kicking, baring its threatening fangs all the while.

Dream Ritual – Summer Promo

Sometimes all it takes for a band to take off is three songs, which is exactly what Dream Ritual‘s offering on Summer Promo, a blistering post-punk EP that doesn’t leave any room for filler. Echoing everyone from Shellac to METZ and everyone in between, Dream Ritual manages to carve out their own distinct identity. “Noise”, “Oil & Canvas”, & “Sunlight Girl” all perfectly marry elements of modern day noise-punk with some of the genre’s earliest defining elements. Whether it’s the metallic-like production or the infusion of pop-leaning melody, it’s clear that Dream Ritual are students of the genre. Thankfully for us, their learning has resulted in one of the summer’s strongest EP’s.

Mike Krol – Mike Krol Is Never Dead: The First Two Records

A few years ago, this site named Mike Krol‘s Turkey one of the best records of 2015 and heavily praised the songwriter’s infectiously joyous live show. Krol had gained notoriety thanks to the cult following that he’d accumulated due to his first two records, Trust Fund and I Hate Jazz, both of which were long out of print by the time Merge announced Krol’s signing and released Turkey. Fortunately, for everyone, Merge has come to the rescue and reissued both of those seminal classics (this according to essentially anyone that owns either) and packaged them with all of the demos for each session. The whole thing’s an exhilarating look at an exhilarating artist and should be considered essential listening for fans of the basement pop genre.

Tunnel Traffic – MEESH

Tunnel Traffic’s MEESH occupies a space that’s always memorable: the record arrived from the artist via unsolicited submission and proceeded to impress at every turn. From opener “Lesson Learned” to the closing “Memorial”, this small release from Adam Hachey’s solo project made a sizable impression. Softer and a little sweeter than expected, MEESH is chock-full of mid-tempo folk-leaning numbers that expand the bedroom pop genre into something faintly unfamiliar. It’s quiet, it’s intimate, it’s unassuming, and it’s utterly spectacular. MEESH weaves an unbreakable trance over its listeners and commands their attention through a narrative journey that feels both direct and cerebral. It’s an incredible accomplishment from a songwriter whose work all but demands to be followed.

Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm (Deluxe Version)

Throughout work with WaxahatcheeP.S. Eliot, Bad Banana, and Great Thunder as well as through a variety of guest roles Katie Crutchfield has become a household name for a very particular sect of people, broadening that base with each successive release. Crutchfield’s latest comes via the Waxahatchee moniker, Out in the Storm. Everything that Waxahatchee has released to date has stood the test of time and remained as impressive — if not more so — as it was at the time of its release. Out in the Storm feels like Crutchfield’s reached another level entirely, combining more than a decade’s worth of knowledge, experience, and style into a mesmerizing, cohesive whole. A career high point for Crutchfield and easily one of the best records of 2017, Out in the Storm‘s definitive version also comes package with the demos for each song on the record, all of which are — like the record itself — well worth hearing.

Watch This: Vol. 161

Every week this year’s offered up an enticing host of live clips and the week that transpired the week before last proved no exception, keeping the flame not only alive but roaring. The Tablets, Fits, Robyn Hitchcock, Miss Molly Simms, Summer Twins, Perfume Genius, Strand of OaksBenoît Pioulard, Sean Rowe, Rahim AlHaj, Tenement, Flesh World, Bad History Month, Dinosaur Jr, Hi-Tec Emotions, The Paranoyds, Laura Marling, The New Pornographers, Slow Dancer, Lucy & La Mer, Imaginary Tricks, Double Grave, Queen Hilma, Violents & Monica Martin, Juliana Hatfield, Fast Romantics, Atlas Road Crew, Micah P. Henson, The Drive-By Truckers, Tamino, Lucille Furs, Leif Vollebek, Two Houses, Umm, S.H.I.T., and Electric Eye all found themselves at the center of excellent live captures. A group that strong goes a long way in indicating the formidable nature of the featured clips, which include several long-time site favorites. So, as always, sit up, straighten out, adjust the settings, draw the screen a little closer, and Watch This.

1. Waxahatchee – No Curse (Weathervane)

Katie Crutchfield’s no stranger to this site, seemingly all of the songwriter’s projects having been covered in some capacity. Waxahatchee has become Crutchfield’s calling card in recent years and remains the most singularly focused of the musician’s artistic output. Here, Crutchfield and company rip through an enticing new song entitled “No Curse” for Weathervane’s outstanding Shaking Through series. It’s a potent reminder of the inherent power of one of this generation’s finest artists.

2. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Living in the City (The Current)

A handful of releases into an increasingly notable career, Hurray for the Riff Raff continue an impressively upward trajectory. Each consecutive record and performance seems to constitute a new career high for the project, which has never been anything less than commendable. “Living in the City” is just the latest upward rung on a never-ending ladder that seems poised to reach stratospheric heights. Looking down from where the act is now, it’s more than enough to induce a serious amount of vertigo.

3. Vundabar (Audiotree)

One of the more intriguingly frenetic punk bands of recent times, Vundabar have carved out a reputation for themselves by meticulously crafting unpredictable music. Recently, the band swung through Audiotree’s studio to record a session perfectly showcasing the tension and urgency the band’s so adept at creating. Every song in this session is eye-opening and executed to perfection without anyone in the band sacrificing even an ounce of conviction.

4. Nothing (Amoeba)

Watch This veterans, Nothing keep finding new ways to impress. In this Green Room session for Amoeba, the band sacrifices their signature onslaught of volume for something far more intimate and contained. In passing up one of their most noted trademarks, the band also ably demonstrates how good the songs lurking underneath have been since the beginning. Utterly transfixing and devastatingly sincere, this acoustic session stands as an entirely unlikely but wholly welcome new high for the band.

5. Allison Crutchfield (KEXP)

While Katie Crutchfield may have taken the opening slot on the features list in this volume of Watch This, Crutchfield’s twin sister is the one to close it out. As another musician whose projects have been well-documented on this site throughout a lengthy career, Allison Crutchfield seems poised to spearhead a sterling solo career. A lot of supporting evidence can be found to back that claim up, including this abbreviated set for KEXP, which finds the band (which includes Radiator Hospital‘s Sam Cook-Parrott) running through an impressive array of new songs with a sense of unified purpose.

Hudson Bell – Box of Bones (Music Video)

hudson bell

Over the past two days, there haven’t been an overwhelming amount of interesting music videos. The ones that have made an impression, though, made that impression count. Whether it was Car Seat Headrest‘s wry lyric clip for “Fill in the Blank” (a song that features a tremendous outro sequence that allows the song to slowly disintegrate), DTCV‘s Steven Soderbergh(!)-directed, commentary heavy clip for “Histoire seule“, Audacity‘s delightfully scrappy “Dirty Boy“, The Julie Ruin’s Katie Crutchfield-featuring “I Decide“, and Acapulco Lips’ amusingly Gothic “Awkward Waltz“, there were treasures to be found.

The focus, once more, falls to a modest music video from another extremely strong (and, thus far, woefully overlooked) cut from this site’s 50 Best Songs of 2016‘s First Quarter list: Hudson Bell‘s invigoration “Box of Bones”. The Chris Cranford-directed clip for the song is as immediate and direct as the track itself, avoiding getting hung up on unnecessary flourishes and keeping its more absurd elements completely grounded. Compelling, surprisingly nuanced, and artfully crafted, “Box of Bones” manages to lace its accessibility with some powerful imagery while retaining just enough weirdness to keep it from being too easily digestible (or disposable). All told, it’s a thrilling look at Hudson Bell’s current state of mind and a very tantalizing teaser for the act’s forthcoming record, Yerba Buena, which may finally net the project the attention and acclaim it truly deserves.

Listen to “Box of Bones” below and pre-orded Yerba Buena ahead of its release here.

Watch This: Vol. 102

[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.

2015: Halfway Home (Mixtape)

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Only a little past its halfway point, 2015’s already been an absurdly strong year for music. Numerically staggering, it’s yielded a handful of classics across a variety of genres and a plethora of outstanding small releases. While this mix skews more towards the latter than, say, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s still worth noting how kind this year’s release schedule has been across the board. To reflect on some of this year’s best offerings so far- and to celebrate this site’s 550th post- a mixtape’s been curated for your enjoyment. Nearly all of these songs and artists have been featured on the site previously, lending this particular mix a more retrospective feel than a few of the past entries in the mixtape series, but they’re all worth celebrating as much as possible. Ranging from folk and ambient flourishes to heavy 90’s influences to thoroughly modern post-punk to spritely basement pop, there’s an entry for just about every genre marker that receives regular coverage on the site.

So, without further ado, here’s a mixtape of some of 2015’s strongest highlights (at least so far, there are still quite a few promising items for the year’s latter half). The tracklist for 2015: Halfway Home can be found beneath the embed. Enjoy.



1. Girlpool – Before The World Was Big

2. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock
3. Mean Creek – Forgotten Streets
4. Royal Headache – Hgih
5. Radioactivity – Pretty Girl
6. Diet Cig – Breathless
7. Washer – Joe
8. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best
9. Mikal Cronin – Made My Mind Up
10. Torres – Sprinter
11. Jason Isbell – 24 Frames (Live)
12. theweaselmartenfisher – Empty Bucket List
13. Pupppy – Puking (Merry Christmas!)

14. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Beast
15. Fraser A. Gorman – Shiny Gun
16. Young Jesus – Milo
17. Girls Names – Reticence
18. Institute – Cheerlessness
19. Happy Diving – So Bunted
20. Downies – Widow
21. Meat Wave – Erased
22. Connor La Mue – Stargazer
23. Bruising – Think About Death
24. Meredith Graves – Took The Ghost to the Movies
25. Yowler – The Offer

Watch This: Vol. 76

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. Ought – Gemini (Faits Diver)

Continuing on with Faits Diver’s recent documentation of Ought, this clip finds the band confined to a warehouse space delivering another energized and insistent performance of “Gemini”. Restless and unrelenting, it finds Ought in top form, uninhibited by anything other than their own outsize charisma. It’s electrifying.

2. Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home (WFUV)

Chastity Belt hit their current career peak with their revitalizing Time To Go Home which boasted one of the band’s best moments throughout an already-impressive discography in the title song. WFUV recently hosted the band for a session and allowed them to cut loose on a few songs, “Time To Go Home” included. Tempo shifts, a distinctly 90’s influence, and a lingering sense of unease ensure that this clip transforms into something surprisingly hard to shake.

3. Waxahatchee – Blue (Wichita)

As outstanding as Katie Crutchfield’s project can be when it blooms into the full band setting, it’s just as effective- and occasionally even more effective- when it strips itself back to a rawer intimacy. Wichita recently gifted the world a session with just Crutchfield and her twin sister Allison (who she’d played with in both P.S. Eliot and Bad Banana), delivering a few of the songs from Ivy Tripp in a quiet setting (in this case, a shattering take on “Blue”) – and the results are magnetic.

4. Girlpool – Cherry Picking (Wichita)

Another Wichita session worth looking into that pares back an artist’s sound (though this time the change is significantly more slight) finds site favorites Girlpool playing acoustic guitars in open air. As always, the vocal interplay between the duo helps ground the song at hand- “Cherry Picking” this time around- and their uncanny sense of melodic sensibility elevates a modest performance to something indefinable. Eyes closed in a blissful determination, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad deliver another deft knockout.

5. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Best (ANTI-)

There are few joys that can compare to finding an outsider artist that delivers nothing but grace notes. Christopher Paul Stelling fits that bell and in this clip, courtesy of ANTI- Records, his performance skills prove to be transportive. Stelling’s a calm master of a haunted subset of rustic folk, wielding both his guitar and voice with a nuanced skill that will continue to serve Stelling well as his star inevitably rises. While he may be operating in a niche field, Stelling’s talent is boundless and here, he’s found himself in the dead center of one of 2015’s most unexpectedly stunning live clips.

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. 41

The Watch This series, up to this point, has mostly placed the overall focus on videos that just feature a band performing. For the 41th installment, that rule gets slightly modified. With the exception of a typically astounding performance from Noun (Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster’s extraordinarily consistent solo project), every video to earn a feature spot in this volume features a brief interview with the band playing music. In the case of the videos that bookend this week’s Watch This, the result is incredibly endearing- while the rest manage to be moderately informative without stripping away a sense of playfulness. More importantly though, the performances included below are uniformly outstanding and deserved to be spotlighted. With that said, it was a very difficult class of videos to select from, thanks to the abundance of great performances that surfaced from artists like Unicycle Loves You, Cousins, Bahamas, Jenny LewisHollow Boys, Cheap Girls, and St. Vincent. So, as always, pour a drink, grab a seat, adjust the contrast, turn up the volume, and Watch This.

1. White Lung, ft. Katie Crutchfield – Dead Star (Noisey)

In what seems like a gift tailor-made for this series, White Lung’s Mish Way and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield teamed up together for a pair of acoustic performances. Crutchfield holds down guitar and melody duty on this stripped-down take of White Lung’s excellent “Wrong Star”. Before the performance, the two share a few words and a palpable connection, subtly setting the stage for how complementary their musical abilities wind up being. Unsurprisingly, this is a gem of a performance that reaffirms both artist’s deserved status.

2. White Reaper (Consequence of Sound)

Delivering a fiercely committed performance, White Reaper gives Consequence of Sound (and everyone else) a startling reminder of the strength of their debut EP. Here, they hold nothing back and just go full-throttle, emphasizing the kind of spastic energy that’s frequently a hallmark of the most entertaining live bands. In the short-form interview, the band discusses the meaning behind both “Half Bad” and “Oh Yeah”, giving a direct line of insight for their work- an increasing rarity. Starting and ending with two memorable performances, this is a can’t-miss video.



3. Noun – You and Mr. Rogers (Don Giovanni)

Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster’s solo project, Noun, should be every bit as prominent as her main vehicle. After releasing an incredible 7″ and what’s one of the decade’s finest LP’s, Holy Hell, Paternoster understandably refocused on Screaming Females. Lately, though, she’s been playing solo shows with greater frequency and quietly unveiling new material. Here, Don Giovanni captures Paternoster delivering a gripping take on a song called “You and Mr. Rogers” that showcases her raw talent. It’s genuinely stunning, offering up a more fully-formed portrait of Paternoster’s quieter side. All of the applause at the end of the clip is absolutely warranted.

4. Mannequin Pussy (BreakThruRadio)

Mannequin Pussy’s Kiss Me Tender EP was a beast of a release that was highlighted by the unrelentingly fierce “Kiss“, which also headlines their recent session for BreakThruRadio’s excellent Serious Business series. In the video, there’s the standard irreverent interview portion that is intercut with some blistering live footage of one of today’s more exciting new on-the-rise bands (it’s worth noting their first demos were released back in 2011). “My Baby (Axe Nice)” and “Anything” also get featured here, cementing Mannequin Pussy as another live act that’s not worth missing.

5. Waxahatchee, ft. Mish Way – Coast to Coast (Noisey)

Returning to the collaboration of Katie Crutchfield and Mish Way, the pair reverse the featured project- this time delivering an arresting performance of Waxahatchee’s “Coast to Coast”. Way’s melody lines float along effortlessly, providing a welcome layer to an all-acoustic take of what was easily one of last year’s finest songs. Even though Cerulean Salt only came out last year (as did Groovy Kind of Love), this performance alone is enough to reignite excitement for whatever Crutchfield has in store next.

Watch This: Vol. 16

Well, the stars didn’t quite align and this is, once again, a few days past-due. That’s the bad news. The good news? A bout with poor health (while admittedly not producing much content) did prompt a few brainstorming sessions. As a compromise for this edition’s lateness, it’ll be another spotlight piece (in the way of Vol. 9). Except this time, instead of BNTYK, the attention’s been turned to the Pink Couch Sessions series ([PCS] for short). While this site’s already praised IYMI for a myriad of reasons, and included a few [PCS] pieces here and there, giving them their own Watch This just felt necessary. While there were a few pretty extraordinary videos that were left out, Saintseneca, Big EyesHop Along, and Waxahatchee, have all been covered recently- or covered enough- that it felt justifiable to spread the focus elsewhere. After all, Heartbreaking Bravery would be nothing if it wasn’t constantly looking for new music to showcase. All that’s left is to find a drink, sit back, and watch this.

1. P.S. Eliot – We’d Never Agree

Before Katie Crutchfield started Waxahatchee and Allison Crutchfield was at the center of Swearin’, they were both in P.S. Eliot. This version of “We’d Never Agree” served as an introduction to the band for a fair few people and was a very early indicator of the extent of their respective talents. Katie’s front and center here, as arresting as she’s ever been.

2. Teenage Cool Kids – Landlocked State

Making their second straight appearance in a Watch This features edition, Teenage Cool Kids run though “Landlocked State”. The acoustic format allows the emphasis to be placed on the band’s extraordinary lyrical ability, always one of their strongest elements. They’ve rarely sounded better.

3. Sundials – Crosby Sucks

Midwestern winters can exacerbate already considerable levels of discontentment. There are four things that help pass the time when this happens: music, friends, drinking, and hockey. “Crosby Sucks”, in addition to being a showcase for Sundials’ great left-field basement pop, is a perfect distillation of all four.

4. The Sidekicks – 1940’s Fighter Jet

Steve Clolek has been making quite a name for himself lately. As a member of Saintseneca, his profile’s rising- and as a residual effect of that, The Sidekicks are also getting a fair amount of attention. They deserve it, too. Awkward Breeds was one of 2012’s best records and “1940’s Fighter Jet” was one of its most stunning moments.  Clolek delivers an even more powerful solo version here.

5. Busman’s Holiday – Mr. Spaceman

There are few things that would’ve been more appropriate for a [PCS] grand finale than this rousing take on “Mr. Spaceman” courtesy of Busman’s Holiday. Hitting all the sweet spots of a variety of genres spanning from chamber pop to twee to folk-punk, this is the kind of performance that can make a convert out of just about anyone. The melody, the strings, and the snare work all come together to create something magical.

Watch This: Vol. 15

Once again, an apology is in order; due to extensive travel (more on that in a minute) a regular Sunday Watch This posting proved impossible. This 15th installment is a more low-key affair than usual. Apart from two very, very electric full sets, the emphasis falls squarely on wistful moments. From a powerpop staple to Appalachian-infused up-and-comers with a serious punk pedigree to Katie Crutchfield’s signature defiant vulnerability, open wounds wind up being this week’s focal point. As each video proves in some small way, sometimes the best way to deal with open wounds is to address them.

1. Saintseneca – Happy Alone (BadRacket Recording)

While Saintseneca has earned multiple mentions on this site before, they’ve never wound up in Watch This. It’s a drastic oversight and this is a necessary correction. Their run-through of “Happy Alone” for BadRacket Recording is nothing short of outstanding. Saintseneca continues to find new ways to impress and up the respective anticipation for their ANTI- debut, Dark Arc.

2. Matthew Caws – Inside of Love (KEXP)

When Nada Surf was still in the early stages of their career they were often written off as Weezer knockoffs. Many suspected they’d be unsustainable- and then they did the miraculous- they reinvented themselves and found themselves at the forefront of powerpop. Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws plays Let Go standout “Inside of Love” for KEXP here, as a part of the 15th anniversary celebration of Barsuk Records. It’s as winning now as it ever was.

3. Great Thunder – It Takes  So Much (Live at Saint Vitus)

Katie Crutchfield has one of the most arresting voices in all of music, writes emotionally crippling lyrics, and Great Thunder just made a fucking incredible record. A live performance showcasing all of those things? What more could anyone possibly want?

4. Hop Along (Live at Saint Vitus)

While any lineup that includes both Crutchfield twins is can’t-miss material, it’ll take something genuinely special to make an impression in the face of that. Luckily, for everyone, beloved Philadelphia act Hop Along proved more than up to the task and unARTigNYC was on hand to film all of it. While Get Disowned is (still) incredible on its own merits, the band comes into their own in a live setting. This is an impassioned 46-minute masterclass on how to do things right. Absolutely necessary viewing (and listening) material. 

5. Priests (Live at The Pinch)

There have been recent claims that seeing Priests for the first time is akin to a religious experience and the live footage that continues to surface of the band goes a long way in supporting that theory. It doesn’t seem to matter when the footage is from, either. From the get-go this band’s been channeling the brooding intensity of Swans and deftly combining it with the politics of Sleater-Kinney and the discordant aesthetics of Sonic Youth at their most fearlessly minimal. All of that is why Priests are this week’s band to know. Extra note: shout-out to vocalist Katie Alice Greer for her outstanding interview work over at Fvck the Media. Be sure to go read that- but be sure to watch this.