Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Pressure Drop TV

Watch This: The Best of 2017’s First Quarter, Pt. III

The first two parts of this four-part series shedding light on some of the finest live videos to see the light of the day over 2017’s first three months largely focused on single song takes, with a few two-song performances for good measure. The latter two of this series turns the attention to full sessions. Part three, specifically, focuses on long takes of these sessions encompassed in a single video, an area that places like KEXP — who are featured here multiple times — have wisely made their calling card. All of the performances and bands featured in this third installment of this review are worthy of celebration. So, as always, get excited, try to keep calm, lean in, hit play, and Watch This.

PART III

1. Car Seat Headrest (KEXP)
2. PWR BTTM (NPR)
3. Sad13 (WKNC)
4. Cloud Nothings (KEXP)
5. Mannequin Pussy (Audiotree)
6. Hazel English (Rough Trade)
7. Alvvays (CBC Music)
8. Big Thief (NPR)
9. The Spirit of the Beehive (WKNC)
10. Jeff Rosenstock (Little Elephant)
11. Crying (Audiotree)
12. Priests (PressureDrop.tv)
13. Lee Fields & The Expressions (KEXP)
14. Horse Jumper of Love (Audiotree)
15. Angel Olsen (KEXP)
16. The Regrettes (PressureDrop.tv)
17. Thee Oh Sees (KEXP)
18. Mall Walk (PressureDrop.tv)
19. Los Campesinos! (KEXP)
20. Fai Baba (KEXP)
21. Terry Malts (PressureDrop.tv)
22. Haley Bonar (KEXP)
23. Let’s Eat Grandma (KEXP)
24. Valgeir Sigurðsson & Jodie Landau (KEXP)
25. Explosions In The Sky (Moshcam)

Watch This: Vol. 147

After a brief hiatus, Watch This returns with another two-part installment focusing on the outstanding live videos to have emerged from last Monday through last Sunday.  Japanese Breakfast, Mikey Erg, Quarterbacks, Okkervil River, The Tallest Man On Earth, Robbing Millions, Busman’s Holiday, Sarah White, Ages and Ages, The Aviary, Jamie T, Xenia Rubinos, Tycho, Misimplicity, Local Natives, Naked Giants, and Yonatan Gat were all responsible for notable entries while the five featured clips were genuine standouts. From fresh faces to beloved veterans, there’s a lot to explore. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the volume, focus, and Watch This.

1. Gurr – Walnuss (Auf Klo)

Following up their run through “Moby Dick” that was featured in the last installment of this series, another clip of Gurr playing in a bathroom stall finds its way to a featured slot. Just as endearing and just as heartfelt this round, the ascendant duo delivers a lively take of “Walnuss“. Building on a momentum swing, the band should find their name growing increasingly more recognizable as the year pushes forward.

2. Haley Bonar (NPR)

Haley Bonar has been featured on this series a few times in the past but the songwriter’s in rare form for this Tiny Desk Concert. A genuinely gorgeous run through a set of songs, Bonar exerts a nuanced control that enlivens every second of this session. One of the strongest Tiny Desks of the year, it’s a beautiful showcase of a musician whose finally starting to get due credit.

3. Feels (Pressuredrop.tv)

For the past few years, Feels have been steadily building up an impressive name for themselves through a solid discography and explosive live shows. The latter bit of that formula is expertly documented here in a fiery full session for Pressuredrop.tv. From song to song, Feels sink their teeth into their material and give it their all. As a result, they wind up with one of the more exhilarating full sessions in recent memory.

4. PWR BTTM – All the Boys (The Wild Honey Pie)

Over the past few years, PWR BTTM have become one of the most written-about artists on this site. One of the biggest reasons for this occurrence is the band’s incredible live show. While it’s been lovingly portrayed in the past by several outlets, none of those entries have come close to being as beautifully shot as this take of “All the Boys” for The Wild Honey Pie’s Buzzsessions. A gorgeously lensed clip, “All the Boys” also manages to capture the band’s infectious spirit and undeniable charisma, becoming one of the most definitive portrayals of the band to date.

5. Charles Bradley (Strombo Sessions)

Earlier this month, the music community was hit with tragic news: Charles Bradley, a figure that’s been embraced by an adoring public that stretch multiple genres, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. One of the most inspirational figures in music, the Screamin’ Eagle of Soul was also a regular staple of this series. As a result, there’s a twinge of heartbreak running through this beautiful full session for the Strombo Sessions. Bradley’s characteristic exuberance winds up tipping the scales back to something genuinely heartening before the clip hits its close and provides the proceedings with a sense of genuine triumph. As a whole, it’s a deeply important portrait of one of the most gifted songwriters — and pure performers — of recent memory. Give it the kind of love and attention it (and Bradley) deserves.

Watch This: Vol. 143

Typically Watch This installments run on Sunday but the 143rd installment was given a later slot for a specific reason. While the videos covered  in this post will have been released, exclusively, in the time frame of last Monday to this past Sunday, this particular entry serves as somewhat of a gap-fill. The next post to run after this one will be the 1,000th that Heartbreaking Bravery has published and there will be a brief period of inactivity, only punctuated by the 143rd volume of Watch This.

The placement shouldn’t detract from the overwhelming strength of the formidable quality of the featured clips, which staved off particularly intense competition from the likes of Kevin Morby, Good Personalities, Saul Williams, Post Child, Hurry, Wolf Parade, Quilt, Suuns, Yung, Waterstrider, Gringo Star, The Pack A.D., Fauna Shade, Fascinating, The Minders, The Posies, Teeth & Tongue, Xenia Rubinos, Communist Daughter, Chris Cohen, Paper Bird, and Bully to secure the five highlighted slots. So, as always, sit up, lean in, adjust the settings, take a deep breath, and Watch This.

1. Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math + Pins and Needles (World Cafe)

In the past few months Margaret Glaspy has managed to become a staple of this series thanks to both songwriting and the subdued but outsized personality that the songwriter exudes in every performance. Glaspy’s two-song set for World Cafe is particularly crisp, offering up two spellbinding runs through two of Emotions and Math‘s brightest moments: the quietly exhilarating title track and “Pins and Needles”. Don’t miss out on this one.

2. Long Neck – Rosy + 10,000 Year Old Woman (Boxfish Sessions)

For the past few years, Lily Mastridomos has been releasing mesmerizing music under the moniker Long Neck. Known primarily for Jawbreaker Reunion, Mastridomos’ solo project allows the emphasis to fall to uninhibited tales of heartache. In Mastridomos’ shattering entry to this site’s A Year’s Worth of Memories, there was a courageously open emphasis on personal depression, something that informs both “Rosy” and “10,000 Year Old Woman” to heartbreaking effect in one of the finest Boxfish Sessions to date.

3. PUP – Doubts (q on cbc)

A lot has been written on this site about PUP, from their galvanizing live show to their self-titled debut (which has the distinction of being the first album review to run on Heartbreaking Bravery) to this year’s extraordinary The Dream Is Over, a record that earned them a Polaris Prize nomination. Here, the band stops by the q on cbc studio and unleashing holy hell with a fiercely committed take on “Doubts” that underscores the band’s terrifying level of conviction as well as their sheer force of will. It’s a characteristically exceptional performance and an outstanding document of a band that’s intent on pushing themselves to the absolute limit.

4. Tuxis Giant – Almost Enough (Boxfish Sessions)

The second Boxfish Session to be featured finds the spotlight falling to Tuxis Grant, an emerging songwriter who has a penchant for bleary-eyed folk that comes with a twinge of a punk-informed sensibility. “Almost Enough”, the song performed here, is a breathtaking example of Tuxis Giant’s considerable songwriting gifts, never becoming anything less than incredibly memorable. “Even when it isn’t hungry, it eats” is a refrain that sticks, perfectly complementing a compellingly singular introspective lens. If “Almost Enough” is any indication, Tuxis Giant will be a name worth learning.

5. Japanese Breakfast (PressureDrop.tv)

2016 has been a breakout year for Japanese Breakfast, the project of Michelle ZaunerLittle Big League, Zauner’s other band, had a handful of entries throughout the existence of this series. Japanese Breakfast seems set on continuing that tradition with a remarkable amount of poise. While all of the songs the band runs through for this PressureDrop.tv session are consistently impressive, “Everybody Wants to Love You” stands out as a particularly inspired highlight. It’s the start of an exclamation mark on the band’s coming out party, creating room for both celebration of what’s come before and wild anticipation for what comes next.

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.

Watch This: Vol. 132

The Multiple Cat, Fleurie, Wallgrin, Laura Stevenson, Acid Dad, Jessie Winslow, Jeff Rosenstock, Teleman, Secret Space, Sam Cohen, Evening Bell, Joey Cape, Eagulls, Andrew Bird, and Hounds of the Wild Hunt constituted the second half of the honorable mentions list to have accumulated over the past two full weeks, which this installment of Watch This is designed at capturing. After the preceding post got the proceedings underway, this 132nd volume of the series officially brings the coverage up to this present week (which is not accounted for in either of these recap posts). Below are several of the finest full sessions to have appeared in the series this year from a variety of site favorites. So, as always, sit up, crank the volume, adjust the brightness, and Watch This.

1. Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires (KEXP)

There are few stories as inspiring in the world of entertainment as the story of Charles Bradley, a man who refused to let his dreams and die and was rewarded for his relentless commitment, persistence, and faith. One of the most respected and beloved soul singers on the planet, his success as an artist has been legitimately heartwarming. In the moment, memories of that story well aside, there are few performers who manage to be as effortlessly captivating, a trait that’s lovingly captured here by KEXP.

2. Courtney Barnett (3voor12)

At this point in the series’ run, it’s safe to say that no one has made more appearances than Courtney Barnett, who was regularly finding featured spots even in the earliest weeks of implementation. Barnett’s reputation has grown significantly over the course of that time and the songwriter’s honed an arsenal of winsome talents into near-perfection. Its a development that’s immediately evidenced in this session’s opening number, “Depreston“, and the mesmerizing guitar runs that Barnett strings together during the song’s breaks. Infusing the vocals with a more recognizably emotional flourish to round things out, it’s unlikely that Barnett’s reign over this series will end anytime soon.

3. Wimps (PressureDrop.tv)

Wimps have made a few appearances both on this site and in this series thanks to both their manic garage pop and carefree-but-hyper sensibilities. They’re an act that seems determined to keep attempting to best their previous outings. It’s a trait that makes them eminently likable and informs their performances in the most positive ways, which is illustrated more fully by this PressureDrop.tv session, which stands with Summer Cannibals’ recently-featured session as one of the series’ most bracing highlights.

4. Big Thief (KINK)

Few records to have emerged over the course of this year have landed an emotional punch as forcibly as Big Thief‘s aptly-titled Masterpiece. Here, guitarist/vocalist and principal songwriter Adrianne Lenker strips these songs down to their barest form: acoustic guitar and vocals. It’s a testament to their inherent power that they remain as riveting in this context as they do in the more sprawling presentations of the record. It’s a beautiful session that easily ranks as one of the finest Skype’s 101.9 KINK subdivision has produced to date.

5. Savages (NPR)

No station has proven to be more adept, inventive, or artful at capturing full concerts as NPR, whose meticulous dedication to preserving their featured artists remains a source of inspiration. Here, the station provides Savages with the kind of lurid editing and foreboding photography direction that matches the band’s aesthetic to perfection. For nearly 90 minutes, the presentation’s never anything less than absolutely stunning. As the light comes cascading down and flickers off into the ether for the final time at the end of the clip, Savages exit confidently and can now rest easy knowing that they’ve just been given the definitive document of this era of their career.

Watch This: Vol. 127

Now that Watch This has resumed regular installments, the overwhelming amount of material on offer may necessitate more than one installment of the series. The 126th volume exclusively focused on individual performance sessions, while the five featured performances below are all full (or nearly full) sessions. The vast majority of the bands selected for feature below have already earned mountains of praise from this site (especially in the live department) and are providing even further justification for those earlier claims. Everything that’s here is here for a reason. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume, relax, and Watch This.

1. Palm (Audiotree)

One of last year’s most buzzed-about live acts has been capitalizing on that momentum this year and recently got a chance to show off their deadly syncopation for Audiotree. Palm may still be a ways off from having the sort of name recognition as, say, Battles, but they’re well on their way to that point. Frenetic, razor-sharp, and endlessly intriguing, the band’s a sure bet to steal any show they play. As a shockingly young band, they’ve also got a terrifying amount of potential growth and exploration on the horizon. If they sustain their trajectory, their journey will be one of the most explosively rewarding of the next several years.

2. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (KDHX)

Utilizing a fairly stripped-down for this KDHX session, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down manage to find some new life in already vibrant material. The band runs through three songs for the radio program, straddling the divide between consummate professionals and friends just having fun. Everything they try here works beautifully and re-establishes Thao & The Get Down Stay Down as one of the more exemplary live acts that’s currently touring the circuit.

3. Posse (Band In Seattle)

Band In Seattle has been making a lot of strong moves lately and that streak’s extended with this session featuring Posse, who make the most of their spotlight by demonstrating their considerable range. From slow-burners to mid-tempo trots to furious noise-inflected basement pop, the band never sets forth a false foot. Impressive to the end, it’s a memorable showing from a band that’s looking poised to be on a lot of people’s radar very soon.

4. Speedy Ortiz (PressureDrop.tv)

Speedy Ortiz have been making the rounds again thanks to their latest release, the very strong Foiled Again EP. Accordingly, their schedule’s been a lot busier and afforded opportunities like this discography-spanning live session for PressureDrop.tv. In 10 songs, the band asserts their dominance as a live act with a practiced ease, underscoring their gnarled dynamic approach nicely.

5. Frankie Cosmos (KEXP)

For the past year or so, Frankie Cosmos — like a lot of acts that comprise The Epoch — have been quietly having a well-earned breakout moment. This year’s Next Thing was the band’s first official full band release and, arguably, their best. Previously the solo bedroom project of Greta Kline, Frankie Cosmos has long derived its powerful emotional pull from its live show, something that comes through with this beautifully-shot KEXP performance.

Watch This: Another Full Session

There have been a few recent posts that have commented on (and made attempts to amend) the recent hiatus that Watch This experienced. There will be two more extended packets following this installment of the series and then Watch This will be caught back up to the current release cycle. After the last entry — the longest compilation of any kind that’s ever run on this site — nearly exhausted the finest full sessions of the past month and a half, it felt necessary to turn the attention to some more abbreviated sessions.

Now, for the sake of consistency of time, a few full sessions appear toward the end of the compilation below. There are 83 total videos in this package but, as is always the case for this extended version of Watch This, 25 performances are featured. Had they been able to fit in without repeating or more properly aligned with what this entry’s trying to accomplish (without being repeat inclusions for the artist), Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings all had sessions that would have made the cut. That trio of clips alone should serve as a testament to the strength of this edition of the series. So, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, lean back, and Watch This.

1. Bully (The Current)
2. Those Manic Seas (Little Elephant)
3. Potty Mouth (Bedhead Sessions)
4. Torres (Paste)
5. Eddi Front (Hooke)
6. Alabama Shakes (Paste)
7. Tacocat (WFUV)
8. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (KCRW)
9. Seratones (WFUV)
10. Frightened Rabbit (KCRW)
11. Music Band (Jam in the Van)
12. Charles Bradley (KINK)
13. Mass Gothic (Rhapsody)
14. Greys (Exclaim!)
15. Izzy True (Don Giovanni)
16. Black Beach (Allston Pudding)
17. Erik Blood (Band In Seattle)
18. Acid Dad (Jam in the Van)
19. Suuns (Exclaim!)
20. Diarrhea Planet (Jam in the Van)
21. Parquet Courts (Rough Trade)
22. Negative Scanner (Pressure Drop)
23. Wild Powwers (Band In Seattle)
24. Burnt Palms (Pressure Drop)
25. Wimps (Band In Seattle)