Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: ExclaimTV

Watch This: Vol. 138

While Car Seat Headrest, Abi Reimold, Lisa Prank, The Dove & The Wolf, Emma Russack, Black Thumb, Mindie Lind, Kiran Leonard, Laura Gibson, Wovenhand, CHVRCHES, Pig Snout, Metronomy, Clique, Skeleton Hands, Gang Gang Dance, Graveyard Club, Men of Paradise, Haux, Arc Iris, David Bazan, Pure Bathing Culture, Typesetter, Lisa Hannigan, and naps all had incredibly strong live video outings — culled from a variety of inspiring sources — last week, it would have been an exercise in futility to run them all together in a focal capacity. Even five featured slots can occasionally feel a touch excessive but it seems that anything less than five doesn’t typically do the format’s offerings justice.

The five clips featured today come from bands that have, in some form or another, garnered positive notices from this site in the past. Seeing these acts continue to grow, expand, succeed, and even flourish has been heartening. Seeing them excel in the live department remains galvanizing. There’s an expansive range from the selected acts (and their accompanying videos), in terms of style. All of them are worthy of praise. So, as always, sit back, tune up, lean in, and Watch This.

1.  Okkervil River (WFUV)

With their forthcoming Away nearing its release date, Okkervil River‘s been making some early rounds to promote the record.  It’s impossible to overstate how important Okkervil River were to the development of this site’s personal ethos, so any time the band makes a return it’s more than welcome. Here, they perform two songs from Away but continue to demonstrate their immense skill at re-interpreting their own material, offering an incredible version of “For Real” — easily one of the best songs since the turn of the century — that hints at their worldview. It’s an immensely impressive session and a memorable portrait of a band that’s never really gotten their due.

2. Worriers – Plans (Live From the Rock Room)

Last year’s Imaginary Life was Worriers‘ finest moment to date and the band still seems to be riding a surge of adrenaline and confidence from that small triumph. The quartet recently visited Live From the Rock Room to deliver a galvanizing rendition of “Plans”, one of that record’s many standouts. The band continues to be defined by both their intelligence and extreme amount of heart, both of which are fully on display in this clip.

3. Prism Tats (KEXP)

Prism Tats have been having a breakout year, releasing their formidable self-titled debut full-length on ANTI- Records and producing a string of praise-worthy music videos. They’ve been touring with some bands that have serious weight behind their names and making a small sea of fresh converts at just about every stop. Here, the band turns in a powerful session for KEXP, revealing their increasingly sharp interplay and knack for subdued, hook-heavy basement pop. The whole clip looks and sounds beautiful, standing as a strong example of what can be accomplished with the right people on both ends of the camera.

4. Big Thief (KDHX)

Masterpiece was an immediate standout upon its release and remains one of 2016’s finest records. It’s catapulted Big Thief into a new level of fame and the band’s responded in kind, continuously sharpening their craft and all but perfecting their penchant for sweeping, open-road anthems tinged with nostalgic hues. The band recently visited the KDHX studios and played through two songs, including the unforgettable and melancholic “Paul“. The band pairs it with a deeply felt run-through of “Vegas”, offering both a very strong reminder of Masterpiece‘s astonishing strength and their breathtaking prowess as a live unit.

5. Fresh  Snow – January Skies (Exclaim!)

For some time now, Fresh Snow have excelled in crafting aggressive, ambient tracks that come fully equipped with a decidedly punk influence. Their live show has been a consistent standout and the band holds nothing back for this atmospheric Exclaim! clip of the band playing “January Skies”. There’s a feeling of rawness through the whole affair that seems to be at odds with the serene lighting, creating a strange, unsettling feeling that elevates this far beyond the standard performance clip. There’s some magic at play here and it continues to cast out the kind of spell that simply can’t be refused.

Watch This: Vol. 28

Getting Watch This back on pace, admittedly, has been a bit of a struggle. The reasons for this have been exhaustively detailed over the last few but it’s still gratifying to know that consistency is within reach. This will (hopefully) be the last delayed Watch This for quite some time, as it brings the series back to its normal rotation. The series wouldn’t be where it is without some astoundingly great live captures and performances, though, and this 28th installment is no exception. Ranging from old favorites to newcomers to an encore performance from the band that capped off Vol. 27 in a searing blaze, this entry just feels right. So, sit down, relax, take a bite of a vegan-friendly muffin, and Watch This.

1. Emilyn Brodsky – Someone Belongs Here (TCGS)

There are certain artists that can feel like a refreshing breeze rolling off some unnamed ocean and Emilyn Brodsky is one of them. Here, Brodsky takes her ukelele, considerable lyrical talents, and an enviably arresting voice to The Chris Gethard Show for a performance of “Someone Belongs Here”. Apart from not falling neatly into any genre, it’s a powerhouse performance that sees Brodsky adding emphatic exclamation points wherever possible. It’s a startling introduction to an artist that looks to be more than worth keeping up with.

2. Vertical Scratchers – Break the Truth (The Mug and Brush Sessions)

2014’s only half over but it’s already packed quite a few pleasant surprises. One of the most notable was the duo Vertical Scratchers, who had an insanely strong pedigree and debuted a record full of gnarled powerpop jams (Daughter of Everything) on Merge. Here, they take to The Mug and Brush Sessions studio to play through a praiseworthy rendition of “Break the Truth”. It’s a great reminder of an astonishingly good record and showcases the band’s admirable chops in their respective roles, more than earning it a rightful spot on this installment of Watch This.

3. The Orwells – Let It Burn (The Live Room)

Now that everyone’s had time to weigh in on Disgraceland, The Orwells’ latest full-length, the attention can be placed back on what they’re best at: performing. While there’s certainly an apathetic, lethargic, and almost nihilistic quality to the performance of “Let It Burn” here, it somehow feeds into the song and winds up making this whole thing almost terrifyingly bleak but utterly compelling. This is the best version of a paradox imaginable.

4. Wish – Nothing to Say (Exclaim!)

Wish have been a fairly difficult band to find great performance footage of but, recently, Exclaim! made that much easier. Here the band showcases their own brand of post-punk and shoegaze marriage with “Nothing to Say”. It’s a fairly gorgeous clip and the band confidently strides their way through the song leaving little doubt that they’re worthy of the acclaim that will no doubt be coming their way.

5. Big Ups (BreakThruRadioTV)

Yes, they get the 5 slot again. Why? Because these guys seriously aren’t fucking around.

Watch This: Vol. 8

1-2. Jason Isbell + Neko Case (Austin City Limits)

Watch it here.

3. Moonface – Black is Back in Style  (Live on ExclaimTV)

4. Buffalo Moon – Machista (Live on The Current)

5. Sundials – 710 (Music Video)

Watch it here.