Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Calexico

Watch This: Vol. 159

Two weeks ago, there was a seven-day stretch of live videos that were released and they included gems from the following: PJ Harvey, Joe Kopel, Bash & Pop, Lisa Mitchell, Active Bird Community, Violent Change, Real Estate, Cameron Avery, The Wooden SkyAla.ni at Château de Fontainebleau, Calexico, Max Richter & the 12 Ensemble, Moon Duo, The Proper Ornaments, Atriarch, Tycho, Aimee Man, Jennifer Niceley, Living Body, Corsicana, Dinosaur Jr., Microwave, Joel Plaskett & Bill Plaskett, Sierra Hull, CAT CLYDE, KOLARS, Tinariwen, Perturbazione, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, George Winston, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. All of those videos were compelling but it was the five below that wound up standing out most. So, as always, sit back, relax, clear your mind, and Watch This.

1. Car Seat Headrest – Working Girl (She’s Not A Single Version) (Conan)

Following last year’s outstanding Teens of Denial, Car Seat Headrest have been gifting the world one outstanding late night performance after the other. Here, the band’s penchant for altering their material for those performances rears its head once again and they transform “Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not an)” into a leaner, poppier, more radio-friendly anthem. It’s an endearing turn from a band that never seems to run out of small surprises.

2. Daddy Issues – Dandelion (Paste)

More than three years into what’s turning out to be an illustrious career, Daddy Issues have been quietly becoming one of the best largely under-the-radar bands touring the circuit.  The band turns in a stripped-back, three-song performance here for Paste and the session serves as a powerful showcase for  their talent. The trio’s got a record looming on the horizon and they’re playing with the confidence of an act who knows they’re on the verge of making the next big step in their personal evolution.

3. AJJ – Junkie Church (SideOneDummy)

Last year, AJJ released The Bible 2, a career highlight on every conceivable level. It’s a record that’s still resonating strongly, suggesting the type of longevity typically attributed to classic records. A large part of this is because of songs like “Junkie Church”, which gets a twitchy, tender performance here in a mesmerizing clip. Driven by narrative prose and feeling, the video more than earns its place as a part of this series.

4. Ty Segall (KEXP)

Anyone that’s seen Ty Segall live knows that the bands he assembles around himself are fully capable of tearing the roof of any given venue. The adrenaline and volume levels are typically off the charts and both band and audience are typically driven into a wild frenzy. Stripping Ty Segall of an energetic audience to feed off doesn’t seem to matter either, something proven by this rousing KEXP session which finds Segall and the band (which includes Mikal Cronin) in rare form.

Drive-By Truckers (Sound Opinions)

One of 2016’s more overlooked records came from the perennially overlooked Drive-By Truckers, who have remained dazzlingly consistent since the departure of their most famous memberAmerican Band, the project’s most overtly political record since their formation, caused an intriguing rift between many of their fans. The band’s politics have virtually always been present on their recorded work but hearing those views articulated so acutely proved to be too much for some, which is a shame. There are deeply important messages littering American Band and they’re all presented with unapologetic clarity, most memorably in “What It Means, something that Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley lay bare in this memorable four-song session for Sound Opinions.

Alex G – Brite Boy (Music Video)

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As explained in the last post, it’s been fairly difficult to get posts up over the past few months, so a bit  of catching up is in order. A lot of outstanding music videos have been released in that time, so we’ll be focusing on some of the very finest in the featured slots and granting the others some of the recognition they deserve in the lists that run at the bottom of these posts. Alex G‘s “Brite Boy” finds itself in the featured spot here- and with good reason.

So often, artists go for the most direct, immediate, accessible route and find reasonable levels of success. The artists that opt to eschew that approach in favor of more understated work have a much steeper battle to fight. Alex G has always been one of the artists that belongs to that latter camp and that aspect of the artist’s aesthetic is brought to the forefront in the animated clip for “Brite Boy”. A continuously-evolving collage of surrealist cartoon imagery (while still making room for two concrete characters wrapped up in a tragic narrative), the Elliot Bech-directed clip enhances both the song’s sense of subdued melancholy and its damaged sense of hope, rendering it an inexplicably moving experience. A palpable sense of loss dominates the latter half of “Brite Boy” and, by the time the clip draws to a close, manages to cut astonishingly deep.

Watch “Brite Boy” below, pick up a copy of Beach Music here, and explore a list of some of the best music videos of the past few months underneath the embed.

Twin Limb – Don’t Even Think
Monogold – Pink Lemonade
Winter – All The Things You Do
Patsy’s Rats – Burnin’  Honey
White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die
Daughter – Numbers
Speedy Ortiz – My Dead Girl
Laika’s Orbit – No Matter What It Takes
Chastity Belt – Lydia
Psychic Love – Nancy
Calexico – Bullets & Rocks
The Staves – Make It Holy
Adult Dude – Bonehead
John Grant – Down Here
Palm – Ankles
Luke Top – On the Shore
Eleanor Friedberger – He Didn’t Mention His Mother
Stone Cold Fox – Contagion
Historian – Pulled Under
The Coathangers – Watch Your Back
Jaala – Salt Shaker
The Spook School – I Want To Kiss You
Angel Snow – I Need You
Julia Brown – Snow Day
The Libertines – You’re My Waterloo
Long Beard – Turkeys
The Gooch Palms – Tiny Insight
Roger Harvey – City Deer
Gun Outfit – In Orbit
Great Grandpa – Mostly Here

Watch This: Vol. 97

Continuing on with this Watch This spree, we go back three weeks and dive into the most memorable live clips to appear in that given time. While there were several strong videos that came from artists like Kristen, Albert Hammond Jr., The Good Life, Low, Liza Anne, Calexico (ft. Neko Case), The Folk, On an On, Jurassic Shark, Jounce, Gardens & Villa, and Fredo Viola. Those clips’ collective strengths are indicative of the considerable worth of the featured videos of this particular series installment, which boasts an emphasis on abbreviated sets from the included artists and two arresting performances from a pair of site favorites. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Menace Beach (3voor12)

Ratworld was one of 2015’s earliest highlights and Menace Beach have wasted no time in following it up with the outstanding Super Transporterreum EP. 3voor12 recently captured the band delivering a fiery set in the Netherlands, conjuring up all kinds of winsome noise. An endearing interview and a trio of invigorating performances are contained in this surprisingly explosive clip.

2. Meat Wave – Erased (Audiotree)

Another Watch This, another clip from Meat Wave‘s Audiotree session. This time around, the trio sinks their teeth into the ferocious– almost feral– “Erased“. Chaotic, wild-eyed, and terrifyingly precise, “Erased” sees Meat Wave continuing to excel with blistering force in the live department. Jagged, vicious, and unapologetic in its searing intensity, it more than earns its place among this week’s featured videos.

3. Peter Wolf Crier (The Current)

For whatever reason, Peter Wolf Crier have always been a band that’s quietly excelled, accumulating a devoted fan base through an unusual consistency. While they still haven’t racked up stratospheric numbers, they’v never released anything less than stellar. The Current recently brought them in for a two song session and the band responded in kind, gifting the studio one of their stronger sessions in recent memory.

4. Kurt Vile (WFUV) 

Is anyone out there making music that sounds more effortlessly breezy than Kurt Vile? At this point, it’s sincerely doubtful. Vile’s attained a sort of easygoing, freewheeling charm that infuses his current work so naturally that it’s nearly impossible to find a line separating himself from his art. That dynamic’s retained in full and deeply embedded into this three-song performance hosted by WFUV. It’s a perfect soundtrack for an early fall day.

5. Torres – The Harshest Light (3voor12)

Candlelit rooms are perfect backdrops for quieter music and generally tend to heighten their intimacy. Torres, a name that may have been featured throughout this year on this series more than any other, operates almost exclusively in an incredibly intimate mode. Even knowing all of that, it’s hard not to be knocked breathless by this clip, 3voor12’s second of the week, which features a solo acoustic performance that’s intercut with footage of a nameless man navigating a graveyard, rendering it one of the year’s most surprisingly powerful live clips.

Watch This: Vol. 88

87 entries in and still going strong, Watch This- the weekly series dedicated to celebrating some of the week’s finest performance clips- has become one of this site’s definitive markers. Great performances are given every day, all over the world, and a few of them have the good fortune of being caught on film- a handful of those are presented in startlingly beautiful ways. Every week, five of those artists’ performance get featured here, while a handful of impressive efforts get highlights as well. This week, those highlights included performances from Jeff Rosenstock, Calexico, Paul Weller, Tedo Stone, Dead Stars, toyGuitar, and Laser Background. Nearly every artist in this 88th installment has been featured on Watch This before, which continues a nearly unprecedented run of inclusions for both Courtney Barnett and Girlpool. Diet Cig officially cements their spot as a staple of the series and KEXP houses another impressive full session. It’s a lot to take in, so, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, lean in, and Watch This.

1.Built to Spill (KEXP)

Doug Martsch and his band of ragtag misfits crafted one of this year’s more unexpectedly stunning records in Untethered Moon, Built To Spill’s strongest collection of songs in over a decade. KEXP recently brought the band in for a session that emphasized the singular energy that helped make Untethered Moon so compelling. Long regarded as one of the best live acts on the circuit, the band proves they’ve earner their status over an impressive four song set. It’s a strong reminder of the talent of a band that seems content to keep pushing themselves for as long as they possibly can.

2. Diet Cig – Pool Boyz + Scene Sick (Out of Town Films)

Ever since Over Easy came out towards the start of the year, Diet Cig has been making regular appearances on Watch This thanks in part to not only that collection’s strength but to the uninhibited joy the duo exude when they perform.  As great as those clips have been, Out of Town Films adds a visual panache that elevates this particular session to one Diet Cig’s brightest moments. There’s a manic energy, guitarist/vocalist’s Alex Luciano’s mischievous smile, jumping bean antics, and Noah Bowman’s committed energy. The fact that the whole thing is capped off with a high-five feels beyond perfect. Carefree, irreverent, and ridiculously entertaining, this is a definitive presentation of a site favorite.

3. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best + Elevator Operator (Pitchfork)

At this point, it’s entirely possible that no one has made as many Watch This lists as Courtney Barnett. Still riding high on the wave of acclaim that Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit has built, combined with relentless touring, has landed Barnett in a coveted position that’s secured the songwriter a murderer’s row of outlets that create great live clips. Of course, it helps that Barnett’s a preternaturally gifted performer. Barnett recently delivered a characteristically blistering performance at Pitchfork and the site’s uploaded two performances, “Pedestrian At Best” and “Elevator Operator”, in kind.

4. Parquet Courts – Uncast Shadow of A Southern Myth + Content Nausea (Pitchfork)

Back when some of Parquet Courts were in Teenage Cool Kids, they’d frequently show up for shows in Milwaukee basements and deliver the kind of shambolic performances that’d eventually earn Parquet Courts no shortage of celebratory praise. Since those days, it’s an approach that’s been honed, refined over time, and brought dangerously close to perfection. In yet another strong pairing of fiery performances from Pitchfork, the band ambles through “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth” (which was originally a Teenage Cool Kids song) and “Content Nausea” with a wiry, deadpan verve.

5. Girlpool – Crowded Stranger (Sofar Sounds)

If Courtney Barnett’s leading the number of Watch This inclusions, Girlpool likely isn’t too far behind. Having just seen the duo deliver arresting performances at both Baby’s All Right and as a secret headliner at DBTS (a gallery of which will be going up soon), the way the duo commands attention on film is maximized in person- but the best clips come close to capturing that prevailing sense of awe that so often accompanies the live experience. Here, the duo performs “Crowded Stanger”- one of 2015’s more chill-inducing songs- in front of Sofar Sounds’ lenses to a hushed crowd in a London room. It’s a breathtaking rendition that reaffirms the songwriters’ inherent charisma and innate ability, providing another layer of definitive proof that Girlpool are one of today’s most formidable acts.

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.

Speedy Ortiz – The Graduates (Music Video)

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After a small run of music video collections, this post will have the site caught up to the current week’s releases (which will be covered in the ensuing posts).  A lot has happened over the course of April and there’s been a plethora of attention-ensuring music videos. Before diving too far into the clip that earned this headline, though, there are other selections that should be noted. The titles that belong to this category include: Built To Spill’s charmingly goofy “Never Be The Same“, Ava Luna’s sketch adventure “Steve Polyester“, Mac McCaughan’s hypnotically swirled “Wet Leaves“, Moaning’s playfully destructive “The Same“, Rozwell Kid’s gruesomely clever “Kangaroo Pocket“, Nots’ intensely damaged “White Noise“, Public Access T.V.’s meticulously crafted “Metropolis“, Elvis Depressedly’s searing, deeply felt”Thou Shall Not Murder“, Calexico’s surprisingly tender “Falling From The Sky“, The Lagoonas’ skate-heavy “Weird Friends“, and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s typically irreverent “Emperor’s New Chair“. A handful of those clips are relatively straight-laced and most could easily be categorized as off-kilter- but none of them (at least in that regard) manage to stack up to Speedy Ortiz‘s “The Graduates”.

Foil Deer continues Speedy Ortiz’s ascension by being a work that felt complete while offering up some of the band’s best standalone songs to date. One of the songs was the defiantly defeatist anthem “The Graduates”. Now, the band- which has always specialized in creating videos that double as absurdist trips– has unleashed the most wildly imaginative clip of their career. The Matthew Caron-helmed clip for “The Graduates” opens on singer/vocalist Sadie Dupuis carefully creating a drug in a laboratory setting before providing some exposition via the song’s first verse and sharing her craft with her bandmates, who take turns ingesting the googly-eye objects one by one. Before long, the band’s hallucinating a literal white rabbit and scheming an expansion to ensure everyone get to revel in the experience.

What follows is an almost uncomfortably disquieting scenario where the band quietly slips the (possibly metaphorical) drug to the patrons of a crowded restaurant (a scene that includes one-time contributors Christine Varriale and Nina Corcoran, who both frequently contribute to the great Allston Pudding). Things take a turn when the white rabbit reappears and is immediately engulfed in a sea of adoration, with the exception of one individual living out this quasi-nightmarish scenario who flees the diner and collapses into a towering snowbank. As a complete product, it’s endearingly bold and reinforces Speedy Ortiz’s strengthening visual aesthetic without underplaying any of their emotional resonance. It also looked like it was an absolute joy to make and the best possible way to kill a brutal snow day in Boston.

Watch “The Graduates” below and pick up a copy of Foil Deer from Carpark here.