Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: Oscar

Watch This: Vol. 141

This past week was brimming with exceptional live clips from artists like Happy Diving, Puppy Problems, Wolf Parade, Eros and the Eschaton, Grape Whales, Islands, The Tallest Man On Earth, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Oscar, Villagers, Clique, July Talk, Lisa Hannigan, Whitney, Rogue Valley, Woven In, Mudhoney, Helms Alee, Aidan Knight, Waterstrider, and The Staves. While all of those are worth studying for both the central performances and the way those performances were captured, the five clips featured below managed to become standouts for excelling in those departments. From old favorites to new faces, from legitimate live music video entries to full sessions, from cathartic release to sorrowful introspection, there’s a lot to navigate in these selections. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the settings, focus, block out any distractions, and Watch This.

1. Mitski – First Love / Late Spring + Your Best American Girl (World Cafe)

Ever since Mitski‘s breakout release, Bury Me At Makeout Creek, the songwriter has been a staple of this site’s coverage. The project’s been outstanding both on record and in the live department. Mitski recently stopped by World Cafe to play through the fiery “Your Best American Girl“, easily one of this year’s brightest moments, and “First Love / Late Spring” with the calm confidence that’s propelled the songwriter to widespread acclaim. It’s a welcome reminder of a powerful performer and a beautiful document of the current era of the project.

2. Kevin Devine – No History

Kevin Devine has a storied history of spellbinding performances so it’s no surprise that the songwriter’s continued to sporadically show up in this series. Devine can be an electrifying performer when backed with a full, electric band but there’s a certain magic to his solo acoustic performances that’s only grown more pronounced with this time. “No History” capitalizes on that magic in full, standing confidently as both a gorgeously lensed live clip and — impressively — as bona fide music video.

3. XURS (KEXP)

A new name to this site, XURS recently had somewhat of a coming out party in the KEXP studios, delivering a blistering session of unapologetic noise/punk. Every song the band tears through in this session is absolutely vicious and delivered with enough conviction to knock most other bands flat. Wildly frantic and more than a little exhilarating, the band make the absolute most of a solid opportunity and the end effect seems set to resonate for quite some time.

4. Big Thief (NPR)

Big Thief very quickly became a distinctive part of this site’s identity thanks to the overwhelming strength of this year’s Masterpiece. “Paul“, the title track, and “Lorraine” all get performed here for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series to a small, hushed crowd. The band’s a perfect fit for the series and the setting allows the sweeping, open-road atmospherics that’s a specialty of the band a little extra room to breathe, casting a spell that’s nothing short of entrancing.

5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – I Need You

Only a few installments back, Nick Cave was granted an unforgettable entry in this series thanks to the harrowing clip for “Jesus Alone“, a gorgeous excerpt from the shattering Andrew Dominik documentary One More Time With Feeling. Like “Jesus Alone”, “I Need You” is a clip that’s both haunted and haunting, an examination of an artist going through unspeakable loss. Even these six minutes, isolated from the context of the film and the record, are a wrenching experience. Cave, now more than ever, looks like a ghost attempting to navigate a reality that shouldn’t exist. Deeply sorrowful and intensely moving, “I Need You” is an artful tragedy that’s impossible to shake.

Watch This: Vol. 140

As was mentioned in the preceding post, the amount of praise-worthy live clips that were released last week were staggering. RaktaClique, L.A. Witch, Ausmuteants, Adryn, Nina Diaz, Alice Phoebe Lou, and Half Waif were all responsible for impressive entries while the five featured spots below all were claimed by outstanding full sessions. Every single one of these five artists have made a prior appearance on Watch This but the range of their music is surprisingly expansive and contain unknown depths worth meticulously exploring. So, as always, sit back, adjust the settings, relax, block out any distractions, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Oscar (WKNC)

After developing a strong reputation for razor-sharp pop sensibilities, Oscar‘s taken a sharp left and fully embraced the punk tendencies that occasionally peeked through the recorded material. This three songs session for WKNC finds the project in full attack mode, playing with a newfound fervor that’s sharpened into an aggression that seems to have enlivened the live performances with a vengeance.

2. Weaves – One More + Coo Coo (q on cbc)

Just a short while ago, Weaves dropped their debut full-length, which immediately registered as one of 2016’s standout moments for music. Since then, the band’s been on absolute tear, continuing to demonstrate their outsize talent as a live act.  Two of Weaves‘ earliest standouts were “One More” and “Coo Coo”, both of which were recently performed for the cameras and microphones of q on cbc. Even in a space as restrictive for movement as a radio studio booth, the band runs at these songs with just about everything they can muster, leaving a jaw-dropping session in their wake.

3. Margaret Glaspy (NPR)

Margaret Glaspy‘s very quickly becoming a staple of the Watch This series as the songwriter continues to fervently tour behind the incredible Emotions And Math. Glaspy’s distinctive brand of songwriting makes her uniquely suited for the trappings of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series. As ever, Glaspy proves to be a commanding presence, flashing serious levels of skill as a lyricist, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. It’s another casually masterful run through genuinely exceptional material from one of 2016’s brightest emerging talents.

4. Clearance (Store Brand Soda)

Ever since the lead-up to the release of Rapid Rewards Clearance have been a band that’s been closely monitored by this site. Their particular incorporation of ’90s influences informs their music in a way that fits a very niche category: punk-inflected basement pop. In a recent session for Store Brand Soda, the band tore through two highlights from their discography and an inspired Soft Boys cover, once again illuminating their numerous strengths in a characteristically carefree fashion.

5. Benjamin Clementine (OpenAir)

Few artists have a presence as immediately striking as Benjamin Clementine‘s, who delivered one of this year’s most unforgettable NPR sessions. Clementine recently stopped by CPR’s OpenAir program to deliver another trio of quietly intense slow-burners that are carried by the weight of not just his vocals but his convictions. These are songs that carry the weight of history on their shoulders, filtered through the perspective of a man who’s climbed a steep uphill battle and fought through an onslaught of hardships. That journey has shaped Clementine into a songwriter that can silence the rowdiest of rooms with ease and leave behind a trail of converts. It’s the type of experience that should not be missed.

Watch This: Vol. 133

Now that Watch This is back to its regular Sunday scheduling, the concentrated efforts of the week can feel even more staggering. By confining outstanding clips featuring Big Thief, Kevin Morby, Winter, Nothing, Noxious Neighbors, Oscar, Tiny Fireflies, Suss Cunts, Fear of Men, Bad Bad MeowTancrède, Megafauna, Victoria+Jean, Tacocat, Holy Fuck, Michael Kiwanuka, Fruit Bats, My Bubba, Italian Boyfriend, Chris Farren, and The Districts to a single seven-day span, the volume of material that gets covered starts to feel a little more concrete (and remains fairly intimidating). All of the acts to earn a featured spot in this 133rd installment of the Watch This series have been praised on this site before. Here, they reaffirm those early nods of approval with excessively strong works that deserve praise. So, as always, sit back, block out any distractions, adjust the settings, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Audacity (3voor12)

After “Not Like You” saw Audacity rejoin the featured music videos fold, they confidently re-emerge in the Watch This series as well. The band’s always excelled in the live setting so the wildly entertaining nature of this session for 3voor12 shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. It’s continuing to be a pleasure to watch their live chops grow sharper with age and this is no exception.

2. Palehound (NPR)

Palehound‘s grown incrementally more impressive each time I’ve caught their live show and this beautifully shot  NPR session from last year’s CMJ is a reminder of their potency in that department. Driven by the astonishing talent of Ellen Kempner and elevated by incredibly tight rhythm section work, the band’s attained a confident ease that suits both their music and their performances to perfection.

3. Margaret Glaspy – You & I (Conan)

One of the artists who’s been experiencing a very deserved breakouts this year has been Margaret Glaspy, whose Emotions and Math has proven to be one of 2016’s most nuanced and self-assured solo releases. Glaspy pulls inspiration from a wide-reaching variety of genres and continuously finds a way to make them coalesce into songs that frequently wind up being greater than the sum of their parts. Here, Glaspy tears through the best of those tracks, “You & I”, for one of the best performances to have graced Conan’s stage this year.

4. Pleistocene – Jack-O

For quite some time now, Pleistocene have been favorites of this site. While the band’s currently readying new material, they recently found time to dive into a recent favorite. In this clip, a pared-down version of the band performs a gorgeous, lilting version of “Jack-O”, a highlight from their split with Howlo. Perched on the branch of a tree and cloaked by its leaves with only an omnichord at their disposal, the duo gets swept up in harmonizing and visibly lose themselves in the music they’re creating. It’s a beautiful clip that serves as an able demonstration of the quiet power great art can carry.

5. Tacocat (PressureDrop.tv)

For the third consecutive Watch This in a row, PressureDrop.tv land an exhilarating entry that finds a way to enhance the common grounds between the featured band and the filmmaking. It’s startlingly effective on the visual front and enhances the frequently propulsive performances at its core. In this instance, Tacocat runs wild on a set that looks like an abandoned shed that was converted into a practice space. The setting mirrors the band’s own fun-loving sensibilities and the band seems to be energized by the space, turning in the kind of confident performance that makes it seem like they feel completely at home.

What A Difference A Month Makes (Music Videos)

In the past month, a lot’s happened on both sides of the coverage spectrum. A lot of sets were documented in that time and will be receiving some attention at some point down the line. A lot of full streams came out, even more songs were released, and quite a few music videos found their way out into the world as well. All three of those formats will have a list dedicated to them and then a slew of individual features will be posted celebrating a handful of exceptional titles. Below is a list of formidable music videos that made a powerful impression over the course of the last month. Take a breath, dive in, and go exploring. 

Mo Troper, Lion’s Den, Tiny Deaths, Tim Heidecker, Weaves, Amber Arcades, Night Idea, Steve Gunn, Littler, Bambara, Braids, Prism Tats, No Parents, Those Pretty Wrongs, Stan Simon & The Hotel Bible, Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling HexRJD2, Crosss, James Supercave, Eric Bachmann, Tacocat, Julianna Barwick, Acapulco Lips, Conrad Keely, Programm, Lontalius, Clique, Martha, Wilder Adkins, The Spook School, Rozwell Kid, The Loom, Oscar, Bishop Briggs, Angel Du$t, Patience, Band of Horses, The fin., The Raveonettes, Secret Space, Pure Bathing Culture, Howardian, and GOAT.

Modern Baseball, Holy Fuck, Sturgill Simpson, Butch BastardMinor Victories, The Slovaks, The Coathangers, OMNI, Stove, Sløtface, Franky Flowers, Slim Twig, Kino Kimino, D Generation, Pony Time (ft. Lisa Prank), Beverly, Living Hour, Former Belle, Tancred, Mutts, Pet Sun, Teen Suicide, Krano, Your Friend, Dear Boy, The Stargazer Lilies, The Kills, The Loom, Aesop Rock, Cellar Doors, Xiu Xiu, Globelamp, TV Sets, and Eleanor Friedberger, and a surprisingly outstanding fan-shot video for Mike Krol’s “Less Than Together” (one of this site’s picks for Best Songs of 2015) as well as the trailer for Casket Girls’ The Night Machines.

The Side Eyes – I Don’t Want To Go To School (Stream)

the side eyes

While Clique, Tamu Massif, Oscar, Pity Sex, White Lung, Thin Lips, Stephen Steinbrink, PAWS, Karen Meat, Spray Paint, Land of Leland, RLYR, and Nick Leng may have all released great songs over the past few days (that deserve a whole lot of repeat listens), this post’s feature falls on a band new to the site: The Side Eyes. The quartet’s releasing their debut EP as a tape on Burger, injecting the label with some exciting new blood.

“I Don’t Want To Go To School” is the EP’s lead-off single and it’s a tremendous, surf-tinged basement pop number that easily separates itself from their peers thanks to a monstrous chorus that slows the song from a sprint to a crawl. The song’s another in a long tradition of carefree songs about wanting to skip out of the rigorous trappings of school and enjoy their freedom and the open air instead.

Occasionally, those songs register as a lazily compiled pastiche of better, past efforts on the same topic. In the case of The Side Eyes, there’s enough conviction in both the composition and the vocal delivery that it’s almost impossible to not believe their narrative. From the frantic, surging guitar part to the rhythm section’s bite and the considerable venom of the vocals, “I Don’t Want To Go To School” doesn’t strike a false note.

Weirdly triumphant and effectively anthemic, the song could transition into a legitimate rallying cry for a new generation. A generation dealing with a broken education system that’s continuing to experience an inward collapse. A generation that’s being, increasingly, deprived of outdoors experiences. A generation that, at some point, we won’t be able to blame for wanting to skip school in favor of fresh air.

Maybe “I Don’t Want To Go To School” is a lot more simple than a pointed social commentary, maybe it’s not. Either way, The Side Eyes have gifted us an exhilarating, thoughtful track that deserves praise and loving inspection. Turn it on, crank it up, and then go spend some time outside.

Listen to “I Don’t Want To Go To School” below and keep an eye on Burger to pick up the cassette.

Watch This: The Honorable Mentions of 2016’s First Quarter

It’s been quite some time since their was an installment of Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly (when on schedule) round-up of the finest work in the live video field. Coverage is generally split between individual performances and full sessions that are captured in places like basements and professional radio studios. Though there has yet to be a volume of Watch This in 2016, the information regarding the series was collected diligently while it remained quiet.

Due to the overwhelming bevvy of material that’s surfaced over the past three months, the below collection while simply be given via hyperlinks. There’s a lot of information to digest here and — due to the nature of press cycles when bands are on tour — several acts will be listed more than once. Like the recent round-ups, this will be literally impossible to watch in one sitting. The best way to view this material will be to simply bookmark this page and explore the content at random, all of which is definitely worthy of some investment.

More round-ups will follow focusing on the best of the best of the 2016 Watch This field of candidates. Until then, enjoy these examples of excellency in the live video format.

Deep Sea Diver, Lip Talk, Strange Attractor, Potty Mouth, Expert Alterations, Nathaniel Rateliff, Shearwater, Shade, Indian Askin, Mount Moriah, The Wild Reeds, Ty Segall & The Muggers, Kevin Morby, Margaret Glaspy, Seratones, Kakkmaddafakka, Dr. Dog, Valley Queen (x2), Bantam Lyons, Rob Sutherland, Cosmonaut, Alabama Shakes, Long Beard, I Am Oak, Albert Hammond Jr., Amber Arcades, Victoria Reed, Dilly Dally, Sunflower Bean (x2), Fauna Shade, SEGO, Lissie, Declan McKenna, Billie Marten, Adult
Mom

Matt Vasquez, Bird Courage, Nap Eyes, Fraternal Twin, Giant Peach, Lola Marsh, Minnoe, Civic, Kamasi Washington, John Rossiter, Bummed Out Still Glowing,
Little Hurricane, The Perennials, Timothy Bloom, Duncan Sheik, Dilly Dally, Oscar, Langhorne Slim, Rob Courtney, Hinds, Into It. Over It., Bombino, Frank Bell, Ancient Whales (x2), Ripper, Eerie Wanda, The Dazies, Vinyl Thief, Alright Panther (x2), Julia Holter, BRAEVES, Stone Cold Fox, Painted Zeros, The Hunna, Kate Davis, Molly Parden

Super Furry Animals, Dogbreth, Tommy Emmanuel, All Dogs, Rupert Angeleyes, Korey Dane, Comfy, Jeanne Added, The PinesAxel Flóvent, Naked Naps, Ezra Furman & The Boyfriends, Queen of Jeans, Darlene Shrugg, Sun Club (x2), Born Ruffians, Narc Twain, Pale Spectre, Canshaker Pi, No Parents, Idlewild, Woodpigeon, Rubblebucket, WEEED
Homme, Stumpf, J Fernandez, She-Devils, Emilie & Ogden, Fufanu, Most Selfless Cheerleader, Lael Naele, Pinegrove, Keenan O’Meara, Parquet Courts, Avantist, Low Culture

Chris Bathgate, Bombay, Julia Holter, Young Jesus, Heartless Bastards, Wussy, Futurebirds, Ben Folds, Bye Beneco, Posse, E.M.I.L., Battleme, Chill Moody, Mass Gothic, Escondido (x2Feral Moan, Savages, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Help the Doctor, lowercase roses, Leyya, Hinds, M. Ward, LIGHTS, The Pony (x2), Armani White, Forth WanderersOiseaux-Tempête (ft. G.W. Sok and Gareth Davis), Sonya Kitchell, Chris Bathgate, Emily Mure, Emily Wells, Torii, SWMRS, IAN, Dot.s, Chilly Gonzales, The Flips

Lanterns on the Lake, The Wombats, Rationale, Zula, Marc Scibilia, This Is The Kit, Looming, Bayonne, Crater, The Entrepreneurs, O, Sleep Storm, T. Hardy Morris, SkyBlew, John Coffey, Basia Bulat, Violent Femmes, Jeremy Messersmith, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, Trixie Whitley, Aubrie Sellers, The Bottle Rockets, Max Meser, Tall Heights, Chilly Gonzales & Kiaserr Quartet

 

2016: The First Two Months (Music Videos)

Saintseneca I
Saintseneca

Now that both the songs and the full streams have received the massive overhaul treatment in an effort to get this site caught up to the current releases, it’s time to turn to music videos. A few key videos will be featured over the next few days but that shouldn’t take away from the merits of the clips listed below, which number near 200. Whether it was an outstanding song, concept, or visual presentation, something made the below videos stand out from the endless array of clips that I saw since the turn of the year. Like the previous two posts, there’s absolutely no way that these can be consumed in one sitting. The best course of action would be to simply bookmark this page and explore it at random. Go cra

Tacocat – I Hate the Weekend || The I Don’t Cares – Whole Lotta Nothin’ || Carroll – Bad Water || Dogs On Acid – No Trigger || Go!Zilla – Pollution || Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold || Saul Williams – The Noise Came From Here || Husky Loops – Dead || Ex Head – Slowcoahces || Holy Pinto – Matches || Summer Flake – Shoot And Score || Phooey! – Wurld || Teleman – Düsseldorf || The Foxymorons – Spinning On A Needle || Fake Laugh – Mind Tricks || La Sera – High Notes || Bob Mould – Voices In My Head || Car Seat Headrest – Vincent || Yak – Victorious (National Anthem) || Pookie & the Poodlez – New Policy || Fraternal Twin – Boil || Beliefs – Swooner || Cate Le Bon – Wonderful || Big Thief – Masterpiece || Protomartyr – Dope Cloud || Teen Suicide – Alex || theMind – Mercury Rising || Ulrika Spacek – Strawberry Glue || Suede – Pale Snow || The Staves – Horizons

Eleanor Friedberger – Because I Asked You || Charles Bradley – Change for the World || together PANGEA – My Head Is On Too Tight || All Dogs – Sunday Morning || Abi Reimold – Vessel || Cayetana – freedom 1313 || Free Cake For Every Creature – For You || Mothers – No Crying In Baseball || Parquet Courts – Dust || Sea Ghost – Dog 69 || Minor Victories – A Hundred Ropes || Peach Kelli Pop – Heart Eyes || Lush – Out of Control || Kevin Morby – I Have Been to the Mountain || Show Me the Body – Body War || Neko Case – Man || White Wine – Where Is My Line? || Oscar – Sometimes || Spookyland – God’s Eyes || Teen Suicide – Alex || Frankie Cosmos – Is It Possible / Sleep Song || METZ – Eraser || KEN Mode – Absolutely Not || Glint – While You Sleep || LUH – I&I || Marlon Williams – Dark Child || Try the Pie – Root to Branch || Frøkedal – The Sign || Loop Line – Parts Unknown

Frankie Cosmos – Outside With the Cuties || Molly Drag – Rabbits || Beliefs – Leave With You || Phylums – Cold Coffee || Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Astonished Man || Andy Ferro – Hood || WALL – Cuban Cigars || Mogwai – Ether || C Duncan – Say || Eleanor Friedberger – Sweetest Girl || Skylar Spence – I Can’t Be Your Superman || High Waisted – Party in the Back || Emilie & Ogden – Ten Thousand || Cigarette – Housewife || Vukovar – The Blood Garden || Pill Friends – Bleed || Wussy – Dropping Houses || Kelsey Lu – Morning After Coffee || Beverly – Victoria || Kathryn Joseph – The Outtakes || Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger || Reuben Hollebon – Common Table || Francis – Turning A Hand || Youth Lagoon – Rotten Human || Bleached – Keep On Keepin’ On || The Besnard Lakes – The Plain Moon || Monogold – Orchard Beach || A Giant Dog – Sex & Drugs

Andy Ferr0 – Sugar and Milk || Whitney – No Woman || Cherry – Alligators || Witching Waves – The Threat || Matthew Logan Vasquez – Everything I Do Is Out || TEEN – Free Time || FIDLAR – Why Generation || The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Hell || Mount Moriah – Baby Blue || Death Index – FUP || Dan Rico – Soft Feeling || Red Pill – 90s Money || Sun Seeker – Georgia Dust || Mass Gothic – Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me || Steve Mason – Planet Sizes || Holy Fever – Find Your Fame || Nocando – Last Man Standing || Memory Rounds – Everywhere Near || Nicholas Krgovich – Sunset Tower || Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – When Thy Song Flows Through Me || Foals – Birch Tree || Moderat – Reminder || Computer Magic – Fuzz || South of France – Washed Up || Cavern of Anti Matter (ft. Bradford Cox) – Liquid Gate || Vandaveer – A Little Time Off Ahead || Hobosexual – Illegal Sensations

Andy Ferro – Crystal Tongue || Death Index – Little ‘N’ Pretty || Eddi Front – Prayer || Field Division – Modest Mountains || Sheer Mag – Nobody’s Baby || Aesop Rock – Rings || Childbirth – Breast Coast || Sparrows Gate – Ghost Blue || Roo Panes – Where I Want To Go || Rolling Blackouts C.F. – Wither With You || M. Ward – Girl From Conejo Valley || Beirut – Perth || Night Moves – Denise, Don’t Wanna See You Cry || Step Sisters – Dumb Love || O’Brother – Deconstruct || Museyroom – Ballad || Mind the Journey – Rose Colored Glasses || Giant Sand – Texting Feist || Mount Moriah – Precita || Wood Lake – Easy Love || Mossy – Electric Chair || River Tiber – No Talk || Let’s Eat Grandma – Deep Six Textbook || Automagik – Fucked Up || The Weather Station – Floodsplain || Hero Fisher – Breathe || Lionlimb – Domino || Girl Pants – Jupiter || The Range – Five Four

Fruit Bomb – Happy || Lushlife + CSLSX – The Waking World ft. I Break Horses || Candace – New Future || The Big Ship – Maybe I Don’t Know || Migrant Kids – Thread || Weezer – L.A. Girlz || Tim Woulfe – Riptide || Mercury Rev – Coming Up for Air || Spencer Radcliffe – Relief || Doe Paoro – The Wind || Photo Ops – Memories That Glow || Bill Eberle – When You’re Gone || Anya Marina – Gimme Resurrection || Kendrick Lamar – God Is Gangsta || The Manor – Don’t Like Going Places || Pale Dian – In A Day || Frightened Rabbit – Get Out || Shearwater – Quiet Americans || You Won’t – Ya Ya Ya || Muncie Girls – Respect || Otherwhile – Haunt You || Flying Lotus – FUCKKKYOUUU || Low Cut High Tops – Raise Hell || Ben Watt – Between Two Fires || Melaena Cadiz – At the Symphony || Mike Benecke – Astral Line

Watch This: Vol. 109

Since the preceding post covered the time lapse between the last run of Watch This and tonight’s posts, this introductory paragraph will lean slightly harder on the material that’s actually come out in that interim. Two weeks can feel like an overwhelming amount of time when faced with the endless expanse of releases in any format and the live video is no exception. It can occasionally be difficult to narrow down these selections to just five when considering them all, which was the case this week as worthy efforts surfaced from the following artists: Shopping, Hooton Tennis Club, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Bad Bad Hats, Kurt Vile, Flavor Crystal, Hinds, Joanna Newsom, Courtney Barnett, FIDLAR, Fury Things, Black Box  Revelation, Eliot Sumner, Low, Glen Hansard, Martin Courtney, Deaf Wish, Raury, Zanders, Six Organs of Admittance, Oscar, Protomartyr, Palm, Sun Club, Julia Holter, Woozy, Caleb and Carolyn, The Tambourine Girls, Little May, Forever Pavot, Mellow Diamond, why+the+wires, Iguana Death Cult, and Okkervil River. Obviously, with a list like that, the below selections are comprised of clips that truly managed to stand out, for one reason or another. So, as always, lean in, relax, adjust the volume, and Watch This.

1. Car Seat Headrest (KEXP)

Car Seat Headrest was another band from 2015 that had gained previous traction and capitalized in blinding fashion, showing a complete disregard for the thought of looking back. Understandably, KEXP invited them into their studio for a session and the band delivered one of 2015’s most towering sets in recent memory. At a monstrous running time that exceeds most full-length efforts, it’s actually a fairly intimidating ask- or, it would be if the music (and performance) wasn’t so immediately likable. Will Toledo’s got an enviable gift for pop songwriting and for subverting expectations, leading the charge in a session that more than justifies the swirling interest surrounding the band.

2. Dilly Dally (BreakThruRadio)

If this site’s love for Dilly Dally hasn’t been made abundantly clear by now, this very sentence will probably at least give you a small indication. After torching the stages of Santos Party House and Baby’s All Right during CMJ, the band’s kept pace with their music and maintained a deliriously frantic touring schedule. All of that time playing out is paying off, tightening the screws on their already-formidable live show. It’s evident in every live clip that surfaces, including this revealing session with BreakThruRadio that includes some endearing interview segments. Turn it up and fall in love.

3. The Lumes – Nervous + Satan (The Daily Indie)

Every so often, a relatively unknown band crops up on my radar and blows me away with how complete they seem and The Lumes definitely qualifies as one of those bands. A lightly menacing post-punk trio that excels in atmospheric work, they’ve managed to carve out a thoughtful identity that feels more singular than it should just two releases into their career. Here, they perform vicious takes on “Nervous” and “Satan”, the tracks that bookend their outstanding Lust EP. The trio gives their all in both performances and ultimately secures a spot on this installment of Watch This thanks to their overwhelming strength.

4. Woozy – Hush (Little Elephant)

It’s been a while since Little Elephant’s hosted a session as strong as the one Woozy’s provided, committing another jewel to that particular crown with this committed take on “Hush”. Marrying genres with ease and integrating surprisingly explosive moments in fits and starts, “Hush” may actually be one of the band’s most definitive songs. Leaning heavily into their post-punk and grunge angles, they still find ways to surprise in territory that’s generally far more straightforward. Ultimately, it’s another extremely impressive showing from a band that seems surprisingly determined to top themselves with each successive outing.

5. Bandit – The Drive Home + Dragon (Audiotree)

Closing out this run of Watch This is a performance that feels like a genuine finale, courtesy of Bandit’s beautiful renditions of two Of Life‘s highlights: “The Drive Home” and “Dragon”. The former of those two songs received one of the most gorgeous music videos of the year and has the capacity to overwhelm listeners with genuine feeling, amplifying atmospheric currents as it progresses. “Dragon” is a track that operates in a similar vein and, packaged together, they manage to elevate each other’s best qualities, which is why- in spite of a deeply impressive full session– this performance is being highlighted individually. Exemplifying all of Bandit’s finest qualities as both a band and as a live act, Audiotree struck gold with the band’s turn-in of these two songs, leaving behind something that the studio might be talking about for quite some time.

Dusk – Too Sweet (Music Video)

dusk

Capping off tonight’s run of the best music videos of the past few months is Dusk— one of the year’s best new bands– with 2015 highlight “Too Sweet“. Over the course of the past 10 years of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet most of Dusk’s members and share bills with their bands. The most notable of these directly affiliated bands is Tenement, a band I’ve written about on this site in great detail thanks to their key role in my artistic and personal development. As a kid who was just figuring out how to play guitar, I remember stepping foot into The BFG (a DIY punk house venue that the band used to run) and being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of records that the house had amassed, each showing the residents’ eclectic tastes.

I’d later come to find that a bulk of these belonged to Tenement guitarist/vocalist (and Dusk bassist) Amos Pitsch, who had a penchant for old soul and country records from the likes of artists like Sam Cooke and The Louvin Brothers. Those influences would gradually present themselves in subtle ways on Tenement songs (which have been erring closer to the band’s jazz influences) but they’d never featured as prominently as they do with Dusk, who also seem to share a very serious kinship with acts like The Band. After coming out of the gate with “(Do the) Bored Recluse“, the band followed up with “Too Sweet” arriving perfectly at a marriage between classic country and classic soul without ever sounding remotely inauthentic.

That sense of authenticity, the complete rejection of cheap revivalism, is evidenced again in the song’s Finn Bjornerud-directed music video, which simply features the band playing the song in an average living room (like their affiliates, Dusk has a tendency to find the beauty in the everyday rather than try to capture grandeur or bombast). A few striking compositions are spliced in here and there– including an absolutely gorgeous silhouette shot of a soft-lit Ryley Crowe playing pedal steel and a beautiful final group shot cleverly framed by an archway– but more often than not, the clip opts to celebrate the communal act of playing music surrounded by people you love.

Led by Julia Blair’s attention-ensuring crooning, a cavalcade of impressive backing vocal harmonies, and committed performances from all the featured players, “Too Sweet” feels like more than just a music video, it skews closer to a mission statement; celebrate the things you have and strive to elevate the people around you. Defiantly honorable to the end, “Too Sweet” is the most perfect encapsulation of Dusk to date and suggests that the band, thankfully, is only just getting started.

Watch “Too Sweet” below, pick up a copy of the 7″ here, and explore a list of some of the best music videos of the past few months underneath the embed.

Bing & Ruth – Broad Channel
Summer Twins – Ouija
Total Makeover – Self-Destructive
Francis – Follow Me Home
EL VY – No Time to Crank the Sun
Half Japanese – That Is That
James Clark Hangover – Maria
Oscar – Breaking My Phone
Wray – Hypatia
NZCA Lines – Persephone Dreams
Overlake – Travelogue
Rah Rah – Be Your Man
Paul Bergmann – You May Never Know
Pink Lung  – Chinese Watermelons
Laura Stevenson – Jellyfish
Ben Millburn – Don’t You Wait
Big Harp – DIEV
Busdriver – Much
Erica Glyn – The Killing Moon
Neonderthal – The Ride
Jackson Boone – Runaway
Freddie Gibbs – Fuckin’ Up the Count
Lowly – S.W.I.M.
Joey Kneiser – The Wilderness
Tuff Sunshine – Fire in the Hero Building
The Rashita Joneses – White Wave
The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally
Kenrick Lamar – These Walls (ft. Bilal, Anna Wise, and Thundercat)

Watch This: Vol. 101

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the nature of these upcoming posts, a truncated version of this introductory paragraph will be appearing over the next several installments of this series.] It’s been quite some time since the 100th edition of Watch This went up on this site. There have been a lot of factors going into the extended interim but, as usual, a focal point of that absence was to make sure the preparation work was kept up to date. A lot of extraordinary live videos have come out since then and to make this point abundantly clear, here’s a list of artists responsible for performances that didn’t quite make it into the featured five slots over the course of the past handful of weeks: Ride (x2), Josh Ritter (x2), Radkey, Marrow, Seratones, Hooton Tennis Club, Kurt Vile (x2), Indian Askin, Amason, Eden Mulholland, Bobby Bare Jr. (x2), Hanna Asbrook, Lucy & La Mer, Lee Corey Oswald (x2), Wastrels, The Cairo Gang, Wild Ones, Martin Courtney (x2), Small Black, Timeshares, Shopping (x2), The Jacques, Mac McCaughan & the Non-Believers, Raw Pony, Andrew Bird, Air Waves, Izzy True (x2), The Tallest Man On Earth, Elliot Moss, Hemming, Titus Andronicus, Kagoule, Django Django, Summer Cannibals, Lost Lander, Emilie & Ogden, Denai Moore, EL VY, Purple 7, John Grant, Caleb and Carolyn, Fraser A. GormanThe Besnard Lakes, Charly Bliss, Delta Spirit, Joanna Newsom, Oaks, Kevin Garrett, Brilliant Beast, Blitzen Trapper, The Saturday Tea, Other Lives, Rayland Baxter, Low, Speedy Ortiz, Chilly Gonzalez, Murder Shoes, Ava Luna, bAd bAd, Oberhofer (x2), Aye Nako, Jason Isbell, Superbee, Deerhunter, The Ghost Ease, Oscar, Rachel Goodrich, Small Feet, Lucero, Totally Mild, Ukryte Zalety Systemu, Soda Bomb, Jens Kuross, Caspian, Boytoy, Duncan Sheik, PISTA, Slim Twig, Shamir, Contrails, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Courtney Barnett, The Chameleons Vox, Vundabar, Vagabon, Craig Finn, and Soda Shop. Based on the strength of those clips, it’s probably unsurprising that some of the year’s best live captures have also surfaced in that time. Full sessions, single song performances, DIY videos, and impressive turn-ins from radio stations abound. So, as always, sit back, adjust the setting, crank the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Eskimeaux (Audiotree)

No record in 2015 has hit me as hard and as consistently as O.K.,  a deeply felt masterpiece from Eskimeaux. A record I’d liked upon first listen and warmed to progressively over time, it wasn’t until I saw those songs played live that everything seemed to click. Audiotree was fortunate enough to have the band in for a recent session and wound up with what may come to be regarded as the definitive live recording of this era of the band. The performances are uniformly strong and the songs remain spectacular. Simply put: this is unmissable.

2. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (BreakThruRadio) 

Likely the only 2015 record to rival O.K.‘s emotional impact is Julien Baker‘s arresting breakout effort Sprained Ankle. With a title track that easily ranks among the year’s finest songs, Baker’s latched onto something genuinely captivating. It’s myriad strengths were emphasized with a gorgeous music video and are once again brought to the fore with this painfully gorgeous live performance. It’s a triumph for one of music’s most promising emerging talents.

– 

3. Slothrust (Jam in the Van)

In a manner not too dissimilar from Eskimeaux, Slothrust was another band that sold me further on material I’d already liked via the strength of their live show, It’s not surprising, then, that their session for Jam in the Van winds up being one of that series’s strongest entries in months. Topping everything off is a typically strong take on “Crockpot”, which continues to stand as one of the strongest songs of recent memory.

4. Torres – Strange Hellos (Hooke Audio)

Has anyone appeared more times on Watch This throughout the course of 2015 than Torres? Mackenzie Scott’s project continues to turn in spellbinding performances at an alarming rate but, even with that being the case, this version of “Strange Hellos” manages to stand out. Shot as part of Hooke Audio’s live sessions series that challenges artist to re-interpret their material, “Strange Hellos” gets transformed into a jaw-dropping ambient number that may wield even more of a punch than the studio version. It’s a startling reminder of Sprinter‘s most powerful moments.

5. Girlpool (Pressure Drop)

If anyone’s appeared on the 2015 run of Watch This as many (or more) times than Torres, it’s site favorites Girlpool. Harmony Lebel-Tividad and Cleo Tucker put together one hell of a run this year, highlighted by their extraordinary full-length debut Before The World Was Big. In a nine-song session, the duo makes their way through the majority of that record and “Soup”, one of the new numbers they’ve been road-testing on their last few tours. As ever, the performances are assured and showcase the near telepathic connection the band’s developed over the past few years. They’re an act that seems poised to get stronger as they go, which is more than a little impressive considering they’re already one of the best bands currently making music- and this Pressure Drop session serves as proof.