Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: BBC

Watch This: Vol. 148

Continuing on with the two-part installment, The Let’s Go, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, The Luyas, C Duncan, The Growlers, Warpaint, Faux Furs, Flesh Panthers, Ego, Courtney Marie Andrews, Adam Torres, Slow Club, Oh Pep!, Pity Sex, Northcote, Bec Sandridge, and Brooke Sharkey all put forth valiant efforts in last week’s crop of exceptional live videos. With the strength of those acting as an indicator, the merit of the five featured clips shouldn’t be questioned. A handful of series staples, a gorgeous and inventive new clip, and an excellent video from a series that’s quickly emerged as a new favorite constitute the spotlighted entries for the 148th installment of Watch This. So, as always, lean in, block out all the distractions, get studios, and Watch This.

1. Margaret Glaspy – You & I + Emotions and Math (Skype)

A biting wit, a commanding performance style, and tremendous songwriting have made Margaret Glaspy one of the most featured artists on this series over the past few months. While the selections here — “You & I” and “Emotions and Math” may be familiar, they’re still at the root of powerful performances. Week in and week out, Glaspy has proven to be a formidable talent. This abbreviated session’s no exception.

2. Lucy Dacus (La Blogotheque)

Lucy Dacus, another artist who made a habit of appearing on this series over the past several months, gets the La Blogotheque treatment in this characteristically gorgeous clip. Performing a trio of songs — including 2015 standout “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore” — Dacus is never anything less than mesmerizing. Framed by a series of lived-in Manhattan locations, the entire affair breathes effortlessly and casts a tantalizing spell all of its own.

3. Rhea – 3am (Boxfish Sessions)

As Cuttlefish Collective’s Boxfish Sessions project continues, their offerings seem to get more impressive. While their gold standard remains Long Neck‘s breathtaking showcase that was featured in Watch This: Vol. 143, this entry from Rhea’s not far behind. An entrancing performance of a brilliant song from an intriguing emerging artist, “3am” is comprised of a little bit of everything that this site was built to celebrate. Don’t let lack of familiarity prevent a look; this is exceptional work.

4. Angel Olsen – Give It Up (BBC)

My Woman will likely be showing up a lot as year-end lists start rolling out but that level of excessive praise is deserved. Angel Olsen delivered one hell of an album just last month and has been riding a wave of critical and commercial success in the wake of that release. Instead of just coasting, the songwriter’s turning in incredibly committed performances that not only retain but elevate the impressive bite that informed Burn Your Fire For No Witness. BBC’s Radio 6 studio was recently lit up by a charged performance of one of My Woman‘s many highlights, “Give It Up”, and finds the band sounding locked in and ready for anything.

5. Glen Hansard – Stay the Road (Nooks & Crannies)

Last year Glen Hansard delivered one of the most beautiful clips to ever be featured on this series in the painfully gorgeous “McCormack’s Wall” and has finally come through with what feels like a natural successor in “Stay the Road”. Shot in, around, and outside of the legendary Sydney Opera House, the tenderly-shot black-and-white clip tracks Hansard making the most of the venues architecture and delivering a heartfelt rendition of “Stay the Road”. A beautifully constructed clip, it’s a very capable demonstration of what can be accomplished while working within the confines of a very niche medium. It’s a masterful piece of multimedia artistry and it more than deserves a spot on this list.

Watch This: Vol. 142

From this past Monday to this just recently-ended Sunday, there were a slew of great live clips that came from the likes of Ben Seretan, Johanna Warren, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Chook Race, Ty Segall, Dog & Wolf, Daniel Lanois, Charles Bradley, Odanah, Strange Ranger, Flock of Dimes, July Talk (x2), Sleepy Kitty, Maszer, Lisa Hannigan, Half Waif, Gia Greene, The Felice BrothersEsmé Patterson, Elvis Depressedly, Jessie Kilguss, Alaska, Ghosts I’ve Met, MUNA, Underground Rider, American Trappist, Marlon Williams, James Vincent McMorrow, Hinds, Ile, and Keaton Henson. The strength of those video, as always, is indicative of the substance contained in the five featured performances below. From old favorites to emerging artists, there’s a lot of material to explore. So, as always, sit up, lean in, crank the volume, and Watch This.

1. Teenage Fanclub – Thin Air (BBC)

For decades, certain pockets of the music world have treated Teenage Fanclub with a reverence that’s typically reserved for deities. In the time that’s elapsed since they formed in 1989, the band’s amassed a devoted following but — as this performance for BBC’s Radio 6 definitively demonstrates — they haven’t lost a step. Still boasting all of the charm in the world, “Thin Air” is a reminder of their casual timelessness.

2. Weaves (KEXP)

Since the release of their incendiary self-titled debut earlier this year, Weaves have become a mainstay of the Watch This series. Tackling a quartet of songs here, the quartet brings their wild energy to the KEXP studios for one of the station’s best sessions of the year. As ever, the band’s a relentless force, attacking each of these songs with the conviction and tenacity that’s earned them a dedicated, steadily-increasing following.

3. gobbinjr – Firefly (Boxfish Sessions)

A few years into a promising career, Emma Witmer — who masterminds the gobbinjr project — has been releasing delicate pop songs that sound airy but boast a substantial amount of weight. “Firefly” is a prime example and its performance here, for Cuttlefish Collective’s Boxfish Sessions, is a thing of singular beauty. With only vocals, an omnichord, and a pre-programmed drum track, “Firefly” surpasses being simply mesmerizing and winds up at a place of transcendence.

4. Tuns – Mixed Messages + Mind Over Matter (Indie88Toronto)

Whether Tuns is a side project, a supergroup, or a curiosity is irrelevant, what’s important is that they’re writing great songs. Legendary pedigree aside, Tuns would’ve likely been turning heads. While the band’s members’ projects certainly hold a particular amount of influence over their sound (Sloan likely being the most notable of the bunch), there’s a spark here that should help the project establish their own identity. Either way, “Mixed Messages” and “Mind Over Matter” are worth celebrating.

5. PUP (CBC)

Earlier this year, PUP released their fiery sophomore effort, The Dream Is Over. Several strides forward from their explosive debut, the record opened up their already frantic live show and sent the band’s members careening to every corner of stages the world over with wild abandon. The band recently stopped by CBC’s studios to tear through several key songs from their Polaris-nominated record — including “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” and “DVP”, two of the year’s finest songs — and the resulting document is an exhilarating portrait of a wild-eyed band that refuses to hit the brakes.

Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter, Vol. II

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]

It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time. 

Watch the second collection of those videos below.

1. Julien Baker (Audiotree)
2. The Dirty Nil – Zombie Eyed (Little Elephant)
3. Amber Arcades (3voor12)
4. Big Ups (Do512)
5. Brooke Waggoner – Fresh Pair of Eyes (OurVinyl)
6. Quarterbacks (WSPN)
7. Natalie Prass – Tell Me (OurVinyl)
8. gobbinjr – bb gurl (Play Too Much)
9. Sweet Spirit – Breakthru Radio
10. Operators (KEXP)
11. Bill Ryder Jones – Wild Roses + Put It Down Before You Break It (La Blogotheque)
12. Two Gallants – My Love Won’t Wait (OurVinyl)
13. El Pino & The Volunteers (3voor12)
14. Mulligrub – Homo Milk + Man in the Moon
15. All Dogs – Skin (Little Elephant)
16. Gaelynn Lea – Submission
17. Ride (KEXP)
18. Glen Hansard – When Your Mind’s Made Up (NPR)
19. Justin Townes Earle – Mama’s Eyes (OurVinyl)
20. Posse – Cassandra B (Band In Seattle)
21. TUFT – Sheep (Jam in the Van)
22. The Nudes – Your Eyes (Ithaca Underground)
23. Wildhoney – Soft Bats (Audiotree)
24. Cayetana – Freedom 1313 (Little Elephant)
25. Daughter (BBC)

Watch This: Vol. 92

Every Sunday, Watch This features five of the given week’s best live performance videos. These can be full performances hosted by radio stations, individual songs shot by individual people, or just about anything in between. Normally, these have skewed more towards the raucous but this will be one of the rare entries of the series that’s much more attuned to the quieter side of things. Even the bulk of this week’s honorable mentions where much quieter than usual and, as usual, it was a strong week that included a handful of gems from the likes of Frankie Cosmos, Abi ReimoldSpeedy Ortiz, Chumped, Lauryn Peacock, Nuu, The Wooden Sky, La Luz, Charlie Parr, LOTT, Matt Hectorne, and Wolf Alice. Between those combined efforts and the five featured clips below, it’s been another very strong week for live music. By all accounts, it’s a lot to go over. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, zone in, and Watch This.

1. Izzy True – Future War (Don Giovanni)

One of the year’s more astonishing EP’s, Izzy True’s Troll, marked the arrival of a significant songwriting talent: Isabel Reidy. Having the benefit of a wealth of experience fronting bands, Reidy’s turned solo and the effects have been spellbinding. In this Don Giovanni-presented clip, Reidy performs an arresting version of “Future War”, exuding a calm confidence that should go a long way in ensuring the emerging songwriting a long future.

2. Natalie Prass – Why Don’t You Believe In Me + Never Over You (La Blogotheque) 

Having already earned a few entries in Watch This, Natalie Prass‘ innate gift as a performer shouldn’t be so continuously surprising but every time one of Prass’ more intimate videos surfaces, it’s jarring. There’s something inherently special about Prass’ recent work and the songwriter wields that considerable gift with a poised assurance that quickly translates into mesmerizing performances. Here, in what’s easily one of La Blogotheque’s finest uploads this year, Prass and a guitarist deliver extraordinary takes on “Why Don’t You Believe In Me” and “Never Over You” in a warmly lit clip that feels perfectly suited to Prass’ aesthetic.

3. Try the Pie – Old Wounds (Katie Krulock)

Domestication continued Saliinas’ staggering winning streak with aplomb earlier this year and it’s remained a favorite among most of those who have heard it since its time of release. It’s an incredible collection of songs and most of them pack a serious punch, something that gets emphasized when they’re stripped bare. A solo take on “Old Wounds” exposes the naked emotion that acts as one of the song’s more prominent driving forces. It’s a gripping look into the mechanics of one of today’s more promising acts.

4. Screaming Females – Little Anne (Don Giovanni)

Having long established themselves as a staple of Watch This, Screaming Females continue to find inventive ways to get into this series. When they’ve earned a feature spot they’ve done it through exceptionally varied modes: DIY clips, full performances, radio sessions… essentially every single mode of performance video that’s been included throughout Watch This‘ existence. In this week’s second clip to arrive courtesy of Don Giovanni, Marissa Paternoster- a once in a generation talent- performs “Little Anne” solo, centered and sitting between a silent rhythm section. Paternoster’s ability to command attention is on full display here and the end result is something that’s surprisingly tough to shake.

5. Eskimeaux (NPR)

The Epoch collective has been responsible for an extraordinary body of work that only manages to keep improving. Continuing a number of seriously incredible projects (and records) among their ranks, Eskimeaux’s O.K. is the crown jewel. Easily one of 2015’s best records, it’s a sharply intuitive examination of personal grief, longing, and conflict. While every song on the record’s a perfectly crafted piece of music containing layers of impressive instrumentation and multitudes of meaning, three of the finest are “Folly”, “A Hug Too Long”, and “I Admit I’m Scared”. All three get performed here for NPR’s deservedly vaunted Tiny Desk series, creating an effective snapshot of a band- and collective- in the midst of something that feels otherworldly.

Watch This: Vol. 84

Nothing was posted on this site over the holiday weekend but there were multiple items that were being prepared. One of them, naturally, was the weekly installment of Watch This– a series that celebrates some of the finest live video captures of that week. A lot of familiar faces are featured in this installment, especially considering the massive promotional runs that the teams for Courtney Barnett and Torres (two of the more exciting live acts of the moment) have managed to string together. Once again, a lot of videos that were considered for feature in this 84th issue point towards a fascinating spike of quality in this format. Artists in those videos include: The Kyle Sowashes, Andrew Bird, Fat White Family, Perfume Genius, The Fall, Rozwell Kid, DYGL, Mitski, Klangstof, Strand of Oaks, Heartless Bastards, Other Lives, and Crosss. So, as always, sit up, lean in, settle down, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me (BBC)

“Archie, Marry Me” was first released in 2013 to a small amount of claim but eventually blossomed into one of 2014’s defining songs with its re-release. Now, two years after it was first introduced to the world, it still sounds vital despite the amount of playtime (and references) it’s received. Alvvays recently played the Glastonbury festival and knocked the single out of the park with a heartfelt rendition- something that wasn’t lost on an effusive crowd. Fortunately, for everyone, the BBC had their cameras rolling and captured the whole thing.

2. Courtney Barnett – The Fox (The Current)

Courtney Barnett is an exhilarating performer and her insistent placement in this series is continuously justified and warranted. Barnett and her band recently stopped by the twin cities to deliver a powerhouse set as part of the Rock The Garden festival. While the songwriter had strong showings via a solo performance of “Depreston” for Jimmy Fallon and a typically charged take on “Pedestrian At Best“, it was the capture of “The Fox” that played strongest, earning its placement here.

3. Torres (Sound Opinions)

Over the past several installments of this series, no artist has made as many appearances as Torres. Now deep into a fierce touring schedule, Mackenzie Scott’s assembled a (relatively) new crew of musicians to perform the songs and the group taps into three of Sprinter‘s more subdued tracks for Consequence of Sound’s Sound Opinions series. Never anything less than enthralling, there’s a gentle- but firm- grip that gets held throughout this run of “Son, You Are No Island”, “The Harshest Light”, and “Ferris Wheel”. There’s some strange magic at work here and it’s best to just let go and lose yourself to its power.

4. PINS – Young Girls (WFUV)

Wild Nights has already established PINS as one of 2015’s most exciting breakout acts and here- in a characteristically angular session for WFUV- the band stealthily unloads on the record’s finest song, “Young Girls”. It’s a startling reminder of the quartets considerable talent(s) and will likely act as a perfect introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the band. Confident and measured, completely self-aware and reassuringly uninhibited, their performance here goes a long way in laying out the myriad of bigger opportunities that will become available to this band over time.

5. Exquisite Corpse (NPR)

Some things are just so enticing and beautiful that they warrant featuring, no matter their distance from the regular coverage spectrum. In this clip, a small troupe of jazz musicians comprised of different groups play a game of exquisite corpse, with each section taking an idea from one group’s presentation of a song and expanding on it until it becomes a whole; an evolving construction that provides room for individual showcases without ever succumbing to anything other than camaraderie and trust. Gorgeously lensed- and performed on Duke Ellington’s grave- this is a truly remarkable piece of work, noteworthy by even NPR’s enviable standards.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Higgs Boson Blues (Music Video)

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have widely been regarded as one of the best live bands on the planet since the 1980’s. Live documents like the legendary Abattoir Blues Tour and Live Seeds have featured material startling enough to support this notion. Recently the band released Live From KCRW, which leaned heavily on the material from their most recent record; this year’s superb Push the Sky Away.

They aren’t anywhere close to finished with live releases though, as is proved by the music video they unveiled today for Push the Sky Away standout “Higgs Boson Blues”. Ian Forsyth & Jane Pollard are found at the helm of this video once again, having worked on a variety of projects before for the band. Forsyth and Pollard are also largely responsible for the upcoming film 20,000 Days on Earth, which recently was officially selected for screening at next year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is a pseudo-documentary about the band.

Some collaborations yield fruitful results and he Pollard, Forsyth, Bad Seeds triumvirate is certainly one of them. The live performance clip of “Higgs Boson Blues” is definitive proof. Featuring a searingly intense yet eerily quiet live performance from the band, the co-directors weave in and out of close-ups, shadows, and the nervous frenetic movement of the band’s central character. All of their directorial impact would be somewhat diminished if not for the outstanding cinematography work courtesy of the BBC’s Lol Crawley.

“Higgs Boson Blues” doesn’t take long to settle in, extending its incisors to lock the viewer into its deadly vice-like grip. This is a live performance that has the potential for complete captivation, erasing any thoughts of a daunting run-time of over nine minutes. There’s a slow hypnosis at work that can completely surround the viewer, forcing them to lose all perspective of their surroundings. While the impact isn’t quite as strong as being physically present for the performance, it’s about as close as anyone could wish for.

After a slow build, an entrancing unraveling, a small-yet-explosive climax, the song winds to a hushed, hair-raising outro. This is evidence of masters at work and it’s something completely deserving of its length. Go get lost in Cave & co.’s black magic below.