Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: A Proper Polish Welcome

Splitting at the Break: The Live Videos of 2016’s First Half

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2016 is just about at its midway mark and there hasn’t been any live coverage on this site since before the year turned over. There have been a number of extenuating circumstances preventing the live documentation that has been captured this year from being posted (travel, time, other commitments, etc.) but that changes today. Below are ten video packets from ten shows that I was fortunate enough to catch — and shoot — this year.

Normally, as a general rule of thumb, I avoid posting anything from shows I play but am making an exception for the Jungles package because the band’s woefully under-represented in America for their undeniable strength as a live act.  A few other packets may be missing an artist or two but what’s below is the vast majority of what I’ve seen over the past six months.

Whether it’s Meat Wave ripping through a crushing new song on a (freakishly sunny) winter day in Chicago, Beach Slang covering The Replacements two times over, or Torres making everyone’s hairs stand on end with an unforgettable one-song encore, these are worth a look and were a privilege to experience. A photo gallery will be coming within the next few days but for now, enjoy the footage.

American Wrestlers, Eternal Summers, Palehound, and Torres. 

Julien Baker and Charly Bliss. 

Muuy Biien, Meat Wave, The Spits, and Black Lips. 

Runners, Beech Creeps, and Heavy Times. 

Jungles. 

Mr. Martin & The Sensitive Guys, BAG-DAD, Haunter, Miserable Friend, and Heavycritters. 

Yoko and the Oh No’s and PWR BTTM. 

Micah Schnabel, Dyke Drama, Potty Mouth, and Beach Slang. 

Yowler, Eskimeaux, and Frankie Cosmos. 

Oops and Dilly Dally. 

Watch This: Another Full Session

There have been a few recent posts that have commented on (and made attempts to amend) the recent hiatus that Watch This experienced. There will be two more extended packets following this installment of the series and then Watch This will be caught back up to the current release cycle. After the last entry — the longest compilation of any kind that’s ever run on this site — nearly exhausted the finest full sessions of the past month and a half, it felt necessary to turn the attention to some more abbreviated sessions.

Now, for the sake of consistency of time, a few full sessions appear toward the end of the compilation below. There are 83 total videos in this package but, as is always the case for this extended version of Watch This, 25 performances are featured. Had they been able to fit in without repeating or more properly aligned with what this entry’s trying to accomplish (without being repeat inclusions for the artist), Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings all had sessions that would have made the cut. That trio of clips alone should serve as a testament to the strength of this edition of the series. So, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, lean back, and Watch This.

1. Bully (The Current)
2. Those Manic Seas (Little Elephant)
3. Potty Mouth (Bedhead Sessions)
4. Torres (Paste)
5. Eddi Front (Hooke)
6. Alabama Shakes (Paste)
7. Tacocat (WFUV)
8. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (KCRW)
9. Seratones (WFUV)
10. Frightened Rabbit (KCRW)
11. Music Band (Jam in the Van)
12. Charles Bradley (KINK)
13. Mass Gothic (Rhapsody)
14. Greys (Exclaim!)
15. Izzy True (Don Giovanni)
16. Black Beach (Allston Pudding)
17. Erik Blood (Band In Seattle)
18. Acid Dad (Jam in the Van)
19. Suuns (Exclaim!)
20. Diarrhea Planet (Jam in the Van)
21. Parquet Courts (Rough Trade)
22. Negative Scanner (Pressure Drop)
23. Wild Powwers (Band In Seattle)
24. Burnt Palms (Pressure Drop)
25. Wimps (Band In Seattle)

2015: The Best of Watch This

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When Watch This was conceived it was done with the intent to not only critically examine the balance of filmmaking and live performance but celebrate the art of the live video, a format which seems to have fallen to the wayside despite being more fruitful than it’s been since it was introduced. There’s real power behind the clips that manage to seamlessly merge the best qualities of everything that goes into the best live performance videos and they can yield genuinely unforgettable moments (when everything kicks back in on “Waitress”, the held falsetto in “A Proper Polish Welcome”, and a whole host of other chill-inducing moments are scattered throughout this compilation). Those moments are the beating heart behind this series construction and they’re what sustains the project as it presses forward.

Well over 300 live clips were covered on this site in 2015 and this is a collection of 25 that genuinely stood out for one reason or another, whether it was the sheer joy in a performance (Diet Cig), the performer’s ability to freeze blood (Julien Baker, Dilly Dally, SOAK), the trio of artists who appeared on Watch This the most throughout this year (Courtney Barnett, Girlpool, and Torres), an electrifying presentation and performance (July Talk), or a clip that’s a fully functional masterclass in every category that elevates a clip from astonishing to transcendental (Glen Hansard). All of those and more have been plugged into this packet, which culminates in a tour de force reminder of the overwhelming power of what can be achieved on a live platform from the resurgent Sleater-Kinney as one final exclamation point for a truly extraordinary year. So, as always, sit up, focus, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

Watch the 2015 edition of the best-of compilation for Heartbreaking Bravery’s definitive recurring series, Watch This, below. The track list is available under the embed.

1. Hop Along – Waitress (World Cafe)
2. July Talk – Paper Girl (Audiotree)
3. Ronny – Why Do You Have Kids (Gems On VHS)
4. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (BreakThruRadio)
5. Mikal Cronin – Say (WFUV)
6. Molly Parden – Weather (GemsOnVHS)
7. Eskimeaux – Folly (This Has Got To Stop)
8. Waxahatchee – Under A Rock (Pitchfork)
9. METZ – Spit You Out (3voor12)
10. Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky (KEXP)
11. Saintseneca – How Many Blankets Are In the World? (ANTI-)
12. Diet Cig – Harvard (In the Attic)
13. SOAK – B a Nobody Blud (La Blogotheque)
14. Dilly Dally – Burned by the Cold (Strombo Sessions)
15. Alex G + Girlpool – Brite Boy (SPIN)
16. Footings (Jenn Harrington)
17. Mike Krol – Suburban Wasteland + Neighborhood Watch (KEXP)
18. Beach Slang – Get Lost (Cozy Couch Sessions)
19. Public Service Broadcasting – Go! (WNYC)
20. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Beast (ANTI-)
21. Courtney Barnett – Depreston (La Blogotheque)
22. Algiers – Blood (WFUV)
23. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (NPR)
24. Glen Hansard – McCormack’s Wall (ANTI-)
25. Sleater-Kinney (NPR)

 

Wrap Up Warm (Mixtape)

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Over the course of the past 100 posts, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time living in Brooklyn and rejoining some of my oldest friends (and family) in central Wisconsin while working on various records and tours. A lot more time than usual has elapsed since the last 100 post update and this one for a variety of reasons and yielded an even more substantial amount of material than usual, including a wealth of CMJ coverage. Now in it’s second year, there’s still new developments being made for the site as everything else continues to evolve naturally. At the last 50-post interval, I ran a mixtape for fall. Now, I’ll be turning my attention to the winter as we stare into its cold, unforgiving face. Just as fall has aspects that can be characterized through music (autumnal tones, the confrontation of mortality, bruised romanticism, etc), winter has its own set of unique traits.

While it’s true there’s an inherent sadness that’s attached to winter (suicide projections skyrocket, SAD takes full effect, and illness percentages elevate considerably), there’s also an inherent warmth. Blizzards hit and the strongest defense becomes warm drinks, companionship, and additional heat- all of which carry a connotation that directly connects with the various trials the season presents. Even the most grizzled cynic can find some comfort in the comforting embrace of an additional blanket. As the scene outside falls victim to uncompromising temperatures, violent winds, and patches of black ice, the transformation can become oddly compelling when paired with the right music. Below’s mix includes 25 songs that elevate the startlingly vivid nature of even the bleakest winter landscapes, complementing their strange, surprisingly emotional dichotomies. Whether you’re curled up under a blanket watching the snow fall, layered up and exploring the outdoors, or simply trying to make sense of the sudden change, this is your soundtrack.

Listen to Wrap Up Warm via the embed below and find its tracklist underneath the player. Beneath the tracklist, explore hyperlinks to the site’s past 100 posts. Enjoy.

SIDE A

1. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome
2. The Antlers – Kettering
3. Nicole Dollanganger – A Marvelous Persona
4. Wolfs – Leading Me Back To You
5. Bent Denim – Good Night’s Sleep
6. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
7. Dilly Dally – Burned by the Cold
8. Okkervil River – A Glow
9. Angel Olsen – White Fire
10. Sleeping in the Aviary – You’re A Party
11. Young Jesus – Milo
12. Eskimeaux – That’s OK
13. Elliott Smith – I Didn’t Understand

SIDE B

14. Why? – Eskimo Snow
15. Girlpool – Dear Nora
16. Infinity Crush – Heaven
17. Hop Along – Happy To See Me
18. Waxahatchee – Noccalula
19. Jason Isbell – Elephant
20. Eluvium – An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death
21. Johanna Warren – We Fell
22. S – Remember Love
23. DeYarmond Edison – Silent Signs
24. Joanna Newsom – Does Not Suffice
25. Yowler – The Offer

As always, hyperlinks to the site’s last 100 posts are included below.

HB601: Pleasure Leftists – Protection (Stream, Live Video)
HB602: Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Stream)
HB603: PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries (Music Video)
HB604: Salad Boys – Dream Date (Music Video)
HB605: Watch This: Vol. 89
H606: Tenement – Vultures (Stream)
HB607: Strange Relations – Panther’s Conquest (Music Video Premiere)
HB608: Radioactivity – Live at Baby’s All Right – 7/30/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB609: Frankie Cosmos – Live at DBTS – 8/1/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB610: Sharkmuffin – Live at Shea Stadium – 8/7/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB611: Saintseneca – Live at Baby’s All Right – 8/8/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB612: Johanna Warren – Live a The Grove – 8/9/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB613: Charly Bliss – Live at McCarren Park – 8/12/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB614: Dilly Dally – Desire (Music Video)
HB615: All Dogs – How Long (Stream)
HB616: Watch This: Vol. 90
HB617: Quarterbacks – Live at Baby’s All Right – 8/13/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB618: Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold (Stream, Live Video)
HB619: Shannon & the Clams – It’s Too Late (Stream)
HB620: Diet Cig – Dinner Date (Stream, Live Video)
HB621: Watch This: Vol. 91
HB622: CITRIS – On the Sidelines (Music Video)
HB623: Tenement – Tenement (EP Stream, Review)
HB624: NE-HI – Turncoat (Music Video)
HB625: Prison Whites – Deceiver (Stream)
HB626: Mike Krol – Neighborhood Watch (Music Video)
HB627: Kathryn Calder – New Millennium (Stream)
HB628: Exploding In Sound’s Extended Weekend: Days 1 & 2 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB629: Mike Krol – Turkey (Album Review, Stream)
HB630: All Dogs – Live at Silent Barn – 8/22/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB631: PWR BTTM – West Texas (Stream, Live Video)
HB632: Watch This: Vol. 92
HB633: OBN III’s – Let The Music (Stream)
HB634: Littler – Somewhere Else (Stream)
HB635: Melkbelly – Mnt. Kool Kid (Stream)
HB636: PWR BTTM – 1994 (Stream, Live Video)
HB637: Meat Wave – Cosmic Zoo (Stream)
HB638: Watch This: Vol. 93
HB639: Watch This: Vol. 94
HB640: The Libertines – Heart of the Matter (Stream)
HB641: Dilly Dally – Purple Rage (Stream)
HB642: Watch This: Vol. 95
HB643: Dilly Dally – Purple Rage (Music Video)
HB644: Saintseneca – River (Music Video)
HB645: A Short Stretch at The Silent Barn (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB646: Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders – Live at Baby’s All Right – 8/29/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB647: Froth – Nothing Baby (Music Video)
HB648: Hung Toys – Lurid (Album Review, Stream)
HB649: Midnight Reruns – There’s An Animal Upstairs (Stream)
HB650: Arriving at the Fall (Mixtape)
HB651: Eskimeaux – Broken Necks (Music Video)
HB652: Gumbus – Crimbus Rock (EP Review, Stream)
HB653: Ernie – Sweatpants (Stream)
HB654: Bruising – Emo Friends (Stream)
HB655: Dusk – (Do The) Bored Recluse (Stream)
HB656: Mike Krol – Live at Baby’s All Right – 9/29/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB657: Daughter – Live at Baby’s All Right – 9/30/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB658: Ought – Live at Secret Project Robot Art Experiment – 10/2/15 (Pictorial Review)
HB659: Bad Cello – Live at Palisades – 10/4/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
HB660: Junun (Film Review)
HB661: Midnight Reruns – Canadian Summer (Music Video, Live Video)
HB662: Stove – Wet Food (Stream, Live Video)
HB663: Saintseneca – Bad Ideas (Music Video)
HB664: Dusk – Too Sweet (Stream)
HB665: Laura Stevenson – Claustrophone (Stream)
HB666: Nicole Dollanganger – Natural Born Losers (Album Review, Stream)
HB667: Watch This: Vol. 96
HB668: Watch This: Vol. 97

HB669: Watch This: Vol. 98
HB670: Watch This: Vol. 99
HB671: DBTS: BS2 (Compilation Premiere)
HB672: Sheer – Uneasy (Music Video)
HB673: S – Remember Love (Music Video)
HB674: CMJ: Day 2 Review
HB675: CMJ: Day 3 Review
HB676: CMJ: Day 4 Review
HB677: CMJ: Day 5 Review
HB678: CMJ: Day 6 Review
HB679: Watch This: Vol. 100
HB680: CMJ: Day 2 (Pictorial Review)
HB681: CMJ: Day 3 (Pictorial Review)
HB682: CMJ: Day 4 (Pictorial Review)
HB683: CMJ: Day 5 (Pictorial Review)
HB684: CMJ: Day 6 (Pictorial Review)
HB685: Young Jesus – Holy Ghost (Music Video Premiere)
HB686: WASHA – Night/Day (Music Video Premiere)
HB687: Slight – Hate the Summer (Song Premiere)
HB688: Painted Zeros – Only You (Stream)
HB689: Midnight Reruns – Force of Nurture (Album Review, Stream)
HB690: Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (Music Video)
HB691: CITRIS – Little Scars (Music Video Premiere)
HB692: Adir L.C. – Buyer’s Instinct (Music Video Premiere)
HB693: Watch This: Vol. 101
HB694: Watch This: Vol. 102
HB695: Watch This: Vol. 103
HB696: Watch This: Vol. 104
HB697: Watch This: Vol. 105
HB698: Watch This: Vol. 106
HB699: Watch This: Vol. 107

Watch This: Vol. 93

Occasionally there are weeks where there are simply too many excessively strong live performance clips to highlight with just one entry and this week’s established itself as being of that caliber. It’s a rarity that there are exceptions to the setup of five featured clips and an honorable mentions list of hyperlinked material because it’s generally best to err on the side of brevity for these things. I’m not sure I can conjure up a more ringing endorsement than that for the 10 featured clips that will be running tonight and. as usual, that still leaves out a select few one-time feature candidates. Those performances came from the following acts: The Tallest Man On Earth, All Get Out, Mitski, The Superweaks, Glen Hansard, People Like You, and Screaming Females. The excellent nature of those videos also serve a dual purpose as an indicator of the featured clips’ level(s) of quality. So, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, adjust the screen, lean in, focus, and Watch This.

1. Bully – Bully (Sound Opinions)

A few months ago, Bully lit up Rough Trade and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re an incredible live band. It’s no surprise that this one-off for Sound Opinions crackles with a significant amount of energy. Led by Alicia Bognanno’s stop-you-in-your-tracks vocals it’s- predictably- a seriously impressive example of the band’s considerable amount of charisma and prowess in the live setting. It’s also unmissable.

2. Happyness (NPR)

Over the past few years, Happyness have built themselves a devoted following with their slightly askew approach to a very particular brand of 90’s indebted alt-punk. Now a small handful of records into their career, the trio stopped by NPR’s offices to deliver one of the year’s more memorable Tiny Desk sessions. Wry, wiry, and more than a little droll, they’re a perfect complement to a relaxed Sunday evening.

3. Murder By Death (Audiotree)

For whatever reason, now a large handful of releases into a remarkably consistent discography, Murder By Death still feel at least a little bit like a well-kept secret. This year’s excellent Big Dark Love flew mostly under the radar but saw the band perfecting a mix of their earlier works, which were dominated by a Southern Gothic sensibility, and their more current works, which I’ve frequently described as campfire-haze. Audiotree brought them in for a five-song session that let the band loose in a live setting, where they’ve always had the most pull. Unsurprisingly, the end result is breathtaking.

4. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome + Harshest Light (Valeria Toumayan)

At this point, Torres has become a staple of this series thanks to 2015 highlight Sprinter and its accompanying post-release campaign. Valeria Toumayan was recently on hand to capture what stands as Torres’ ninth entry in Watch This and sees the young songwriter once again returning to the chilling “A Proper Polish Welcome” (that floating falsetto towards the end of the song kills me every time) as well as the gripping “Harshest Light”. Gorgeous and quietly devastating, this DIY presentation is a bold reaffirmation of Torres’ singular gifts as a solo performer and has a personal feel that perfectly aligns the approaches of the subject and the filmmaker.

5. METZ (KEXP)

METZ are a serious force in the live department. All three occasions I’ve been fortunate enough to catch the trio, they’ve delivered an unforgettable performance that whipped the audience into a feverish frenzy. On the first occasion, it was a small arts center in Champaign-Urbana, on the second it was a blistering homecoming show at a punk bar in Toronto, and- most recently– a midsize venue where the crowd killed the band’s power after being pulled onstage. While all the lights, amps, and various other electronics remain intact for this KEXP session, the band still throws down a blistering set (especially for a radio session) that acts as testimony to their relentless tenacity.

Watch This: Vol. 90

With an overstuffed week (even for 2015’s standards), Watch This will scale back ever so slightly and forego the usual honorary mentions round-up that has accompanied so many recent editions of the series. Duos are a recurring theme for this 90th installment, with two entries from Pitchfork (both two songs apiece) and two entries from NPR. A handful of site favorites are featured and a few relatively under-utilized names get the recognition they deserve as well. As always, the performances are strong and the package as a whole is a great representation of excellence in the performance sense on both sides of the camera. So, as always, grab a snack, settle in, adjust the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Quarterbacks – Weekend (Radio K)

After going the full band route and unexpectedly releasing one of the year’s most ferocious basement pop records, Quarterbacks’ live show quickly took on an incredible amount of urgency. Radio K recently brought the trio in for a session where the band tore into a blistering version of “Weekend”. Immediate, scrappy, and extremely punk (also: bonus points for the drummer’s Stupid Bag shirt), this is the snappiest turn-in that Radio K’s had in a very long while.

2. Waxahatchee – La Loose + Bonfire (Pitchfork)

Earlier this year Katie Crutchfield celebrated her biggest release to date with the wonderful Ivy Tripp. It was the acclaimed songwriter’s first effort for Merge and its successes have landed Crutchfield and her band a variety of coveted positions, including a recent performing slot at the Pitchfork Music Festival. During her triumphant set, both “La Loose” and “Bonfire” were lovingly captured and made publicly available for an endless amount of repeat visits. Confident, calm, and poised, these are performances worth remembering.

3. Restorations (NPR)

After winning over a large sect of fans existing on the plane of a very large genre intersection, Restorations have yet to stop climbing. NPR recently brought the band in for one of their Tiny Desk sessions and the band responded in kind, delivering a set of ragged, heart-on-sleeve quasi-ballads. Distinctly American, Restorations seem to take pride in their roots and incorporate a bevvy of elements from an indiscriminate range of influences. Everything comes across as genuine and grounded, helping this to stand as one of the better Tiny Desk performances of the year.

4. Ought – The Weather Song + Sun’s Coming Down (Pitchfork)

Back after last year’s dust had settled, Ought‘s More Than Any Other Day wound up fending off hundreds of contenders to claim a spot on this site’s best albums of the year list. The band’s already threatening to duplicate that feat and to build anticipation for their forthcoming release (as well as road test some of their new material), they’ve been making a few high-profile appearances. One of those came at the Pitchfork Music Festival, where the band made their way through a fiery set with their typical amount of verve and unleashed two stunners in “The Weather Song” and “Sun’s Coming Down”. Both songs provide ample evidence that Ought’s one of the best live bands currently on the circuit.

5. Torres (NPR)

Along with Courtney Barnett and Girlpool, Torres is an artist that just can’t seem to stop showing up in this series. It probably helps that seemingly every outlet that Mackenzie Scott and her band have been hitting are already regularly featured in this series. In this case, it also helps that the last time Scott was lensed by NPR, it made for what may very well be the year’s most jaw-dropping live clip. Here, Scott leads her band through three of Sprinter‘s strongest tracks, including a reprise (full-band) performance of “A Proper Polish Welcome”, one of 2015’s finest songs. It’s a characteristically gripping performance and a perfect fit for one of music’s most quietly vaunted stages.

Watch This: Vol. 85

Welcome to the 85th installment of Watch This, the annual Sunday series that celebrates some of the finest performance captures to find release over the past week. Courtney Barnett, Girlpool, and Torres all continue their respective strangleholds on this series’ feature spots. Heavy on full sets, every artist featured here has earned several words from this site in the past. Of course, as usual, there was stiff competition for the feature spots. Artists responsible for those performances included: Tahiti Boy & the Palmtree Family, Christopher Owens, Christopher Paul Stelling, Sorority Noise, Leon Bridges, Viet Cong, HEALTH, Calexico, Dave Monks, Sam Prekop + Archer PrewittMolina y Los Co´smicos, Forth Wanderers, Shana Cleveland and The Sandcastles, and footage from the FORM Acrosanti anti-festival. It’s another lineup that’s indicative of the five featured clips’ astounding strength. So, as always, grab a drink, sit back, adjust the volume to whatever best reflects your preference, and Watch This.

1. METZ – Spit You Out (3voor12)

METZ are one of the fiercest live bands on the planet right now so their inclusion here isn’t really all that surprising. What’s definitely unexpected, though, is the gorgeous scenery. Performing at the Best Kept Secret festival, the trio took to a house’s front yard and delivered an absolutely blistering rendition of METZ II highlight “Spit You Out”. It’s an exhilarating tour de force from one of this generation’s most exciting bands.

2. Girlpool (NPR)

By now it’s very likely that the trio of songs the duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad play here have graced this series more than any other songs. However, they’ve never been played on a stage even remotely similar to NPR’s vaunted Tiny Desk Concert series. Now, more than ever, it’s abundantly clear how ingrained these songs are in both members. Intuitive playing, effortless harmonies, and a genuine love for their work and each other once again carries their performances to near-transcendental heights.

3. Speedy Ortiz (unARTigNYC)

First thing’s first: this is not a complete video. Understandable, because the weather started threatening everyone’s equipment, not just Speedy Ortiz’s (who had several technical difficulties throughout a spirited, memorable set). I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for this show- held for free on a pier in Manhattan as part of Hudson River Parks’ Hudson RiverRocks concert series- and weathered a fairly brutal rainfall sans umbrella until the bitter end (the rain started- and the wind picked up- during a beautiful version of “Doomsday”, a song that still manages to elicit goosebumps and stands firm as a Song of the Decade contender). Although it’s not featured in the video, I’ll have a permanently embedded memory of the band losing pedal after pedal (and then amp and PA connections) during a particularly fierce take on “American Horror” that ended with Sadie Dupuis opting to take her guitar off and hold it above her head, allowing the feedback to ring out, like some ritualistic sacrifice to the gods. It was a stunning moment. Unfortunately, Waxahatchee’s set had to be cancelled due to lightning before it even started- but it would have been hard to have made much of an impression after what Speedy Ortiz accomplished in the face of what could have easily been disastrous.

4. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (Sunday  Sessions)

There’s something about Torres’ “A Proper Polish Welcome” being played as a solo piece that manages to come off as intrinsically haunted. One of the most arresting moments on one of the year’s best records, it’s lent an even greater pathos when it’s stripped bare. With Sunday Sessions placing all of the emphasis on Mackenzie Scott, the clip nears a strange voyeurism as Scott completely loses herself to both the song and the performance. Gripping and beautiful, it’s a masterclass in solo performance.

5. Courtney Barnett (Moshcam)

Courtney Barnett seems to be making a habit out of crashing Watch This‘ weekly party with astounding full sets and this excellent performance- beautifully lensed by Moshcam- sees the continuation of that pattern. This time around, the songwriter unloads a career-spanning powerhouse homecoming set to an appreciative audience. Barnett’s a preternaturally gifted performer and the band she’s assembled plays well to her seemingly endless strengths. A staggering 16-song set, this serves as one of the definitive documents of Barnett’s abilities and still-ascending level(s) of success.

Watch This: Vol. 81

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.

Watch This: Vol. 78

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. Chastity Belt – Dull (WFUV)

Time To Go Home was one of the unexpected highlights of this year’s first half, securing Chastity Belt a level of recognition they’ve been deserving for some time. Here, the band turns in a blissfully casual of “Dull”, providing a showcase for their dynamic range. WFUV’s black backdrop provides a fitting background to Chastity Belt’s hazy basement pop and elevates the clip into surprisingly immersive levels.

2. Girlpool – Chinatown (Wichita)

Closing out Wichita’s lovely outdoor trilogy of Girlpool clips is this gorgeous take of Before The World Was Big highlight “Chinatown”. As always, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad seem inhumanly connected, playing off each other with an almost telepathic familiarity and ease. Everything comes off as complementary, from the dueling melodies to the timbre of the duo’s vocals. The whole thing exudes a nearly impossible sense of lightness that’s always factored into Girlpool’s music, rendering this a surprisingly revitalizing watch.

3. Waxahatchee – Blue (Pt. II) (Wichita)

Continuing on with Wichita’s gorgeous presentation of the Crutchfield twins performance under Katie’s Waxahatchee guise at St. Pancras Church, this clip features an aching performance of “Blue (Pt. II)”- another highlight from Ivy Tripp. Nothing more than harmonized vocals and an electric guitar guide the performance, the audience hushed throughout. The soft tones and dim lighting provide a perfect visual accompaniment, allowing the clip to become as mesmerizing as the song at its center.

4. Ought – The Weather Song (Faits Divers)

Closing out Ought’s run, courtesy of Faits Divers, is yet another inspired performance of one of More Than Any Other Day‘s several highlights; “The Weather Song”. As always, the band’s animated throughout and delivers a crisp performance that fully demonstrates the band’s enormous live appeal. It seems like every time the band launches into a song, they transform into an unstoppable whirlwind of pure energetic force. Unable to stay still and brimming with manic passion, it makes for compelling viewing and- more importantly- powerful performances.

5. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (WFUV)

One of the most delicate songs to emerge out of 2015 is Torres’ jaw-dropping “A Proper Polish Welcome”, a piece of serene beauty characterized by a sense of yearning. It’s Sprinter‘s most breathtaking moment and, in a live setting, it’s powerful enough to freeze blood. WFUV turned their cameras on Mackenzie Scott and co. as they conjured up the slow-burning showstopper, capturing something approaching the levels of transcendence in the process.

Watch This: 2015, Vol. 3

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Over the past few days, this site’s been running a campaign to get one of its most important cornerstones back. When the Watch This series was first brought into existence, it was done out of admiration- but also frustration. For whatever reason, great live footage never quite gets its due. Outside of rare exceptions (Scorsese’s The Last Waltz comes to mind), it’s an overlooked format. Reduced to miniature, it has an almost non-existent footprint. Yet, the very best of these clips hinge on the abilities of both filmmaker(s) and the central subject and are treasured fiercely by the people invested in either side. There’s a common ground between film and music that these clips manage to accentuate and exploit when they’re operating at their highest level, they represent multimedia formatting at its finest. Watch This was designed to amend the medium’s inexplicable reduction, Every Sunday, the installment would feature five of the strongest live clips of the week in some small effort to amend the egregious exclusion of a central focus for live footage.

Since 2015 started, like everything else, I’ve been amassing a list of some of the strongest entries in this category and this post marks the last of the trilogy making up the 15 or so weeks that made up 2015’s first quarter. There’s a heavy emphasis on interview-heavy clips and full sets, with healthy numbers for KEXP, BreakThruRadio, and Pitchfork. DIY culture is mostly fully embedded in Pupppy’s set at the endearingly named Dong Island and the whole playlist is bookended by two of the finest live videos of the year. Each of those two clips comes courtesy of NPR, with a full Sleater-Kinney set providing an exhilarating opening and a devastating Torres lullaby clip bringing the proceedings to a hushed, haunting close. Regular Watch This will resume on Sunday and continue weekly. Now, the video player below contains hours worth of material so it’s not something that’s probably going to be watched start-to-finish- but it can certainly be bookmarked and all of it is worth seeing (and, just as importantly, hearing). So, with all that mind, sit back, crank the volume, take a drink, settle in, and Watch This.

1. Sleater-Kinney (NPR)
2. Bully – Trying (Pitchfork)
3. Mike Pace and the Child Actors (TCGS)
4. Fred Thomas (BreakThruRadio)
5. Swervedriver – Autodidact (KEXP)
6. Menace Beach (3voor12)
7. Waxahatchee – Coast to Coast (Pitchfork)
8. Literature (BreakThruRadio)
9. Fat Supper – Mind Your Head #14 (MOWNO)
10. Francisco The Man (KEXP)
11. Nots (BreakThruRadio)
12. Title Fight – Mrahc (Pitchfork)
13. White Reaper – The Cut (BreakThruRadio)
14. GRMLN – Night Racer (Amoeba)
15. Girl Band (KEXP)
16. METZ – Nervous System (Pitchfork)
17. Popstrangers (BreakThruRadio)
18. Laura Stevenson – Bells And Whistles (Space Jam Sessions)
19. Jenny Lewis – Just One of the Guys (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
20. Strand of Oaks – For Me (Amoeba)
21. Pupppy (Dong Island)
22. Krill – Foot (WKNC)
23. Museum Mouth (WKNC)
24. La Luz – Call Me In The Day (KEXP)
25. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (NPR)