Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Audiotree TV

Watch This: Vol. 71

To say “it’s been a week” would be putting it mildly. The statement held especially true for the incredible live footage that has been consistently published throughout the week’s duration. In the preceding installment of this series, it was stated that there could have easily been two features instead of one. This week that number increases to three. Every single day, a masterful new video was ushered out into the world. A large handful of those were impeccably produced; gorgeous in vision and stunning in terms of sound, boasting a memorable performance all the while. Lady Lamb, Speedy Ortiz, Jeff Rosenstock, Two Gallants, Mikal Cronin, T. Hardy Morris & the Hardknocks, Twerps, Vijay Iyer Trio, The Technicolors, and Surfer Blood all had live clips introduced that earned their endless replay value. Nearly every single one of those names has been mentioned on this site before (albeit some for entirely different projects) and that trend holds steady for the five clips that are featured below.  So, as always, turn the volume up, shut out all of your looming distractions, lean in, and Watch This.

1. DOE (BreakThruRadio)

Every time DOE’s released something, it’s caught my ear. It’s been immensely satisfying to watch their recognition slowly expand as time progressed. Of course, part of the reasoning behind that growth may be their own self-improvement. Their recent session for BreakThruRadio further illustrates that this band’s primed for a breakout. While the featured song, the hard-charging “Redo/Improve”, is a monstrously catchy bit of punk-inflected basement pop, one of the most welcoming elements of this clip is the band’s winsome affability in the interview segment. Of course, that’s almost immediately forgotten once it splinters off into a brief live clip of the latter two songs included in the clip because DOE’s the kind of band that demands attention when they’re in live mode. Just hit play and start waiting for their name to slowly climb the festival bill font-scale ladder.

2. Bent Shapes – New Starts In Old Dominion (Fitz Ross)

86’d in ’03” was one of this sites favorite songs from last year, as reflected in one of the stranger best of lists. Bent Shapes could have been content to coast on that release for a while but the band’s work ethic ensures that they’ll likely be working until they can’t push themselves any further (hell, even that not might be enough). Impressively, there’s never a decline in quality; they’re writing some of the finest punk-tinged powerpop of today. “New Starts In Old Dominion” is clear evidence that the band’s talents extend past their recorded output and into what they’re able to accomplish live. When a party is this good, it’s not worth being late.

3. Torres – Cowboy Guilt (Public Radio International)

Few records have managed to grip me as strongly as Torres’ Sprinter. Every song on the record contains subtle melody hooks that have the ability to become inescapable over time. “Cowboy Guilt” is a perfect example of this particular dynamic. The guitar riffs, the vocal melody, and the subtle synth work all slowly expand their claws and lodge their way into a territory reserved for things that are next to impossible to forget. None of that shifts in the live setting, even though a few of the arrangements do differ slightly from the studio version. The contrast is part of what makes this particular clip feel so alive; humanity is impossible to fake.

4. Will Butler – What I Want (WFUV)

Policy is one of 2015’s most curios releases and the oddities that made it so compelling are also likely the reason it didn’t find much of an audience. Teeming with droll humor, impressive composition skills, and a surprising amount of pathos, “What I Want” is an incredibly intimate look at the way Butler’s songs operate. Confined to the WFUV studio with only a piano at his disposal, Butler is cast in the intimidating glare of a sole spotlight. His response? Delivering an unlikely, powerful performance that reaffirms the flashes of talent he consistently provides in his main vehicle (you know the one). It’s genuinely stunning.

5. Field Mouse – A Place You Return To In A Dream (Radio K)

Field Mouse have been consistently churning out impressive post-punk for a few years now and seem to only get stronger as they go- the aim of every band with honorable convictions. They recently stopped in the Radio K studios to turn in a blistering take of “A Place You Return To In A Dream”, which leans heavily on the band’s shoegaze influences without eschewing any of their deceptively intuitive pop sensibilities. Surging guitars, soft backing vocals, and committed performances make sure this clip reaches exhilarating levels.

Watch This: Vol. 27

It may have taken a bit of doing but, as of this posting, Watch This will officially be back on its regular schedule. To celebrate this, the 27th installment of the series played strictly by the rules- and somehow wound up being one of the strongest offerings of Watch This to date. All of these songs were live sessions that were posted online in the past seven days and virtually of them contain songs or artists that have previously earned feature articles on this site in the past. In short, there are plenty of familiar faces to be found in this 27th installment and a few of the year’s best records are well represented. Really, now that all the work’s been done and all the exposition’s out of the way, all that’s left to do is sit back, turn the volume up, and Watch This.

1. Ovlov – The Great Crocodile (Little Elephant)

What can be said? This Little Elephant session is just a gift that keeps on giving. It’s the third to earn a spot in Watch This and arguably the finest of those three. The song’s introduction is nearly two full minutes of surging basement punk that verges on post-hardcore territory. Everything after is just as exhilarating as what’s preceded it. All in all, it ends up being another incredible sampling from one of the most exciting young bands out there. Another thing worth noting: the bassist’s sick LVL UP sweatshirt (if that’s not a great representation of what this site’s all about, nothing is).

2. Angel Olsen – High & Wild (Jagjaguwar)

There haven’t been very many artists who have earned as many Watch This inclusions as Angel Olsen. This is no accident; her last record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, is a gorgeous work of art. As a performer, she radiates a quiet intensity that’s both transfixing and strangely devastating. “High & Wild” lives up to the precedent she’s set and, as such, was an easy selection for this installment. Burn Your Fire for No Witness has more than proven its staying power and Olsen’s capitalizing on that success by virtue of her live prowess. No complaints.

3. Yellow Ostrich – Shades (KEXP)

Yellow Ostrich scored a major coup with the acquisition of drummer Michael Tapper, who joined up shortly after leaving We Are Scientists. As a member of We Are Scientists, he was instrumental to their early success (With Love and Squalor is a vastly underrated 2000’s masterpiece) and now one of the driving forces behind Yellow Ostrich. “Shades” is one of the finest songs the band’s ever recorded and their performance of it for KEXP is a committed take. It’s borderline unclassifiable and it’s definitely worth paying attention to.

4. Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part of Me (Radio K)

First thought: “Is that a Smooth Brain shirt?!” Second thought: “Oh, yeah, Cleveland.” Third thought? “Good lord, this band slays live.” All that said, Here and Nowhere Else is an easy 2014 highlight and is fully expected to appear in the year-end conversations. It’s the second straight effort from the band that’s earned that distinction after being released in the first half of the year. As immense as their studio output has been, as this adeptly shows, they might be even better live.



5. Screaming Females – It All Means Nothing (Audiotree)

As promised earlier today, here’s the second Screaming Females video to be featured from the band’s recent stop at Audiotree. Now touring behind their excellent Steve Albini-produced live album, Live at the Hideout, they’re proving time and time again the recordings that made the cut for that record weren’t a fluke. Truly one of the best live acts currently touring, “It All Means Nothing” has been a consistent set highlight and ranks among the best moments in the band’s entire discography. They don’t hold back anything here and the result is another monster of a performance that’s worth several subsequent watches. Make sure to bookmark this one.


Watch This: Vol. 26

Well, it’s been a while but by the end of today Watch This will be back on track. This is, once again, thanks in no small part to an abundance of great material to have come out over the past week or so. With the influx of material being so strong, this will be the first of two Watch This posts to go live today. Both sections are going to be filled with bands that have never been featured and old favorites. In this installment, the newcomers get featured a little more heavily but there’s still enough room for a genre mainstay or two. All of it’s worth investing some time and, really, the best course of action? Lean into it- and Watch This.

1. Picastro – Mountain Relief (BreakThruRadio)

Kicking off the series this time around is Liz Hysen’s long-running Toronto-based project, Picastro. BreakThruRadio invited her in to film a performance and Hysen delivers an absolutely haunting rendition of “Mountain Relief”. There’s a short interview that follows the performance but the real takeaway from this is just how arresting “Mountain Relief” is. It’s on Picastro’s most recent record, You, which is more than worth anyone’s time.

2. Constant Lovers – 14 Missed Calls (KEXP)

It’s been a while since there’s been a KEXP session quite as lively as the insane one Constant Lovers just turned in. Among their set’s most intense moments was this fiery as hell take on “14 Missed Calls”. All intense guitar jabs and one of the fiercest vocal takes imaginable, “14 Missed Calls” proved to be one of the best parts of the last week in music. It’s a must-watch.

3. Menace Beach – Fortune Teller (3VOOR12)

One of the more intriguing acts of the last few years, Menace Beach have yet to release a record. This hasn’t stopped them from earning praise and coverage in a variety of major taste-making publications. The Leeds-based group has one hell of a pedigree between their two main members and rotating cast; nearly everyone involved has achieved some level of notoriety with at least one other project. From this video alone, it’s abundantly clear that this band knows what they’re doing. 


4. Black Lips – Smiling (KEXP)

There are some things that just don’t change- one of them is that Black Lips are a great live band. No matter how much the band varies their sound or how strong whatever record their touring behind is, their live shows consistently bring an incredible amount of energy to the table. While not all of that translates over to a taped session (a literal impossibility considering there’s no crowd interaction), it’s still fun enough to earn a spot here.


5. Screaming Females – Baby Jesus (Audiotree)

As is the case with Black Lips, Screaming Females have one of the best live sets in the game. Having torched the basement circuit with a vengeance, the New Brunswick act has seemingly set their sights on world domination. Pity anyone that gets in their way. This will be the first of two videos from their Audiotree session to be featured today because there’s no way they don’t both deserve to be featured. This is a masterclass.