Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Faits Diver

Watch This: Vol. 76

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. Ought – Gemini (Faits Diver)

Continuing on with Faits Diver’s recent documentation of Ought, this clip finds the band confined to a warehouse space delivering another energized and insistent performance of “Gemini”. Restless and unrelenting, it finds Ought in top form, uninhibited by anything other than their own outsize charisma. It’s electrifying.

2. Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home (WFUV)

Chastity Belt hit their current career peak with their revitalizing Time To Go Home which boasted one of the band’s best moments throughout an already-impressive discography in the title song. WFUV recently hosted the band for a session and allowed them to cut loose on a few songs, “Time To Go Home” included. Tempo shifts, a distinctly 90’s influence, and a lingering sense of unease ensure that this clip transforms into something surprisingly hard to shake.

3. Waxahatchee – Blue (Wichita)

As outstanding as Katie Crutchfield’s project can be when it blooms into the full band setting, it’s just as effective- and occasionally even more effective- when it strips itself back to a rawer intimacy. Wichita recently gifted the world a session with just Crutchfield and her twin sister Allison (who she’d played with in both P.S. Eliot and Bad Banana), delivering a few of the songs from Ivy Tripp in a quiet setting (in this case, a shattering take on “Blue”) – and the results are magnetic.

4. Girlpool – Cherry Picking (Wichita)

Another Wichita session worth looking into that pares back an artist’s sound (though this time the change is significantly more slight) finds site favorites Girlpool playing acoustic guitars in open air. As always, the vocal interplay between the duo helps ground the song at hand- “Cherry Picking” this time around- and their uncanny sense of melodic sensibility elevates a modest performance to something indefinable. Eyes closed in a blissful determination, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad deliver another deft knockout.

5. Christopher Paul Stelling – Dear Best (ANTI-)

There are few joys that can compare to finding an outsider artist that delivers nothing but grace notes. Christopher Paul Stelling fits that bell and in this clip, courtesy of ANTI- Records, his performance skills prove to be transportive. Stelling’s a calm master of a haunted subset of rustic folk, wielding both his guitar and voice with a nuanced skill that will continue to serve Stelling well as his star inevitably rises. While he may be operating in a niche field, Stelling’s talent is boundless and here, he’s found himself in the dead center of one of 2015’s most unexpectedly stunning live clips.

Watch This: Vol. 75

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. Torres – Sprinter (WFUV)

Torres’ Sprinter isn’t just one of 2015’s best songs; it’s also one of 2015’s best albums. The product of Mackenzie Scott’s unforgiving self-examination of her upbringing, Sprinter came loaded with powerful moments. “Sprinter” was one of the most gripping, detailing how Scott, like many notable artist prior, would turn to running as an escape. There’s a genuine sense of voyeurism that manages to subtly settle in, becoming unsettling in the process. It’s an experience that becomes even stronger as the song translates over to the live setting, creating a deep sense of unease before offering a cathartic release- and WFUV captures one of those performances magnificently, doubling the song’s murkier tones with the clip’s visual aesthetic. Don’t miss it.

2. Girlpool – Before The World Was Big (Wichita)

Another stunning title track, Girlpool’s Before The World Was Big, sees the duo continue their relative domination of this stretch of coverage in a clip that comes courtesy of their label, Wichita Recordings. One differentiating factor of this session compared to Girlpool’s others is the fact both Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad play acoustic guitars rather than their standard bass/guitar setup and the payoff is beautiful. One of Girlpool’s most appealing traits is that their affection for each other is so palpable, permeating nearly every note (and frame) of their work together. In this no-stakes session, the duo’s simply allowed to lean back and enjoy each other’s company, providing some of the lovelier live clips of 2015.

3. Yuck – Middle Sea (Chalk TV)

A lot of speculation surrounded Yuck after they lost a key member, they responded with some of their best material to date. Among the myriad of highlights that came following guitarist/vocalist’s Daniel Blumberg’s departure was “Middle Sea”, a searing burst of revitalized energy. Chalk TV was on hand to capture the band performing the song at a show earlier this year and the creative restlessness that made the song so compelling bleeds through effortlessly.

4. Ought (Faits Diver)

Only one album into their career and Ought have already established themselves as one of the most fascinating acts. Comparisons to LCD Soundsystem, Talking Heads, and David Bowie have all been lobbed at the band and while each comparison’s likely warranted, they only scratch the surface. Deceptively intricate and surprisingly intuitive, Ought have made their mark by crafting the kind of genre-defying hook-filled music that leans towards enormous appeal. “Today More Than Any Other Day” and “Habit” are two perfect examples of this dynamic and Faits Diver now has exhilarating proof of the band’s live prowess (presented in a manner that betrays a likely fascination with David Lynch, rendering it a surprisingly mysterious watch).

5. Waxahatchee (KEXP)

The current touring iteration of Waxahatchee is the finest Katie Crutchfield’s ever assembled, enlisting members of Swearin’ (including her twin, Allison Crutchfield) and other members of the Philadelphia music scene to round out a continuously expanding sound. Here, the band tears through a selection of highlights from one of this year’s gems, Ivy Tripp (Waxahatchee’s first release for Merge Records). Sublimely pure at times, willfully discordant at others, it’s a measured showcase for Crutchfield’s vast range as a songwriter, anchored by an unforgettable voice all the while.