Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Pretty

Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter, Vol. IV

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Each of the seven volumes that comprise this Watch This package contain 25 clips apiece. Due to the sheer volume of live videos that have come out during January, February, and March all of the packages will have the same introductory paragraph. Regular Watch This segments will resume on Sunday.]

It’s been a tremendous first quarter for live videos. While Watch This, Heartbreaking Bravery’s weekly series celebrating the very best of the live video format, hasn’t been in operation for roughly three full months, the information required to keep this thing humming (i.e., checking through hundreds of subscriptions and sources for outstanding new material) has been collected at regular intervals. If they were full sessions, single song performances, studio-shot, DIY captures, transcendent songs, or transcendent visual presentations, they were compiled into a massive list. 175 videos wound up making extraordinarily strong impressions, those videos will all be presented here, in the Watch This: The Best of 2016’s First Quarter extended package, one 25-clip presentation at a time. 

Watch the fourth collection of those videos below.

1. Saintseneca (KJHK)
2. American Wrestlers (Audiotree)
3. Try the Pie – Thomas
4. The So So Glos – A.D.D. Life (Little Elephant)
5. Courtney Barnett – Dead Fox (Austin City Limits)
6. Pop & Obachan – Elora’s (This Has Got To Stop)
7. Mothers – Mother and Wife (Paste)
8. The Nudes – Pretty (Ithaca Underground)
9. Sleater-Kinney – Fangless (Austin City Limits)
10. Three Man Cannon – Patiently (Little Elephant)
11. Lever – Nickels & Dimes (DZ Records)
12. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Nobody Dies (The Current)
13. Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle (Paste)
14. Torres – The Harshest Light (Audiotree)
15. Menacerno – Johnny Cas’ (DZ Records)
16. Kamasi Washington – Fair As Equal (Paste)
17. Human Music – Sending Messages (Exclaim!)
18. Hellrazor (BreakThruRadio)
19. Palehound – Holiest (Public Radio /\ Sessions)
20. The Thermals – My Heart Went Cold (Jam in the Van)
21. Soul Low – Frenemies (Little Elephant)
22. PWR BTTM – Dairy Queen (WFUV)
23. Ancient Whales – To Be (Public Radio /\ Sessions)
24. Des Ark – French Fries Are Magical (Do512)
25. Frigs – Trashyard

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.

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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.

Girlpool – Live at Baby’s All Right – 7/29/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Girlpool IV

Yesterday evening, one of Brooklyn’s finest venues- Baby’s All Right- opened its doors and ushered in an eclectic mix of people that tended to skew younger than older but still boasted a handful of patrons who could have grandchildren. It was a nice sight that was likely due to the wide-reaching appeal of both bands playing the early show: Florist and Girlpool.

Both acts have built up a quiet notoriety over the past few years, with the former being a staple of the revered arts collective The Epoch and the latter being one of 2014’s great word-of-mouth successes. The show had sold out before Baby’s opened its doors and the packed room left both bands unfazed. Florist started things off with a set of gentle songs that incorporated subtle, folk-inflected influences into devastating indie pop songs.

Each song kept the audience at a silenced hush as the room swelled to capacity. For the entirety of their set, Florist played in front of a static drumkit (one that would have otherwise been used by Felix Walworth, who’s currently on tour) in what seemed to be a gesture of heartfelt solidarity. By the time their set was drawing to a close, the audience was completely at their mercy, hanging onto every soft word and ambient flourish; it was almost as if Florist was the headlining act, a notion that was supported by the waves of applause following their final notes.

Ultimately, Florist’s set was a perfect lead-in to Girlpool, who wasted no time in launching into their set once they took the stage. Now, Girlpool’s been written about enough times here that it’d be easy to collect all of those pieces and fashion a small bible- but it still felt like they had something to prove an in-person live setting. The notion that they couldn’t was dismissed completely as soon as the duo (comprised of Cleo Tucker on guitar/vocals and Harmony Lebel-Tividad on bass/vocals) launched into their first harmony sequence.

Throughout  their set, both Tucker and Lebel-Tividad were in high spirits, casually joking with each other while dealing with a guitar that kept stubbornly falling out of tune. Families, couples, and musicians all watched intently as Girlpool played cuts from their outstanding self-titled EP (one of 2014’s best) and this year’s superb Before The World Was Big, while making room for at least two new tunes.

No matter what the band did, there was a pervading sense of easy camaraderie that bled into a seemingly telepathic connection between the duo. As many others have noted, at times their voices adopt each others affections and become virtually indistinguishable. While that aspect of their music can certainly be heard on record (and in several performance captures), hearing it in person is spine-tingling.

Before anyone knew what was happening, the band had seemingly everyone held at rapt attention, suspended in a moment where time was irrelevant. A brief “this is our last song” brought reality crashing back down on the proceedings and the band finished their main set exhibiting the same flair and charisma that earned them their headliner status in the first place. The encore call was immediate and overwhelming.

After a brief attempt to lead a venue wide singalong of “Happy Birthday” for the girl who cried out that it was hers, the band sheepishly launched into the first song of their encore: “Plants and Worms“. Even in a still-young discography packed with incredible material, “Plants and Worms” stands out in their catalog- and not just because it  was gifted one of the best music videos of 2014. It was one of the first glimpses at the band’s maturation level and the songwriting remains some of the most staggering they’ve committed to a recording.

Decidedly darker in tone than the rest of their material, “Plants and Worms” is immediately arresting and the audience was dead quiet throughout (with the exception of a delighted reaction to the Tucker aside about the attempted birthday song), completely engrossed in the performance at hand. The evening ended with a gripping rendition of “Dear Nora”, one of Before The World Was Big‘s most quiet, affecting, and personal songs. When it drew to its silent finish, the audience gave one last enthusiastic applause and got one last glimpse of the band, smiling and waving, in front of an iconic backdrop, left with one last reminder that even though they were making their stage exit, Girlpool aren’t anywhere close to calling it quits.

A photo gallery of the show can be seen below. Underneath the gallery, watch video captures of parts of both Florist’s and Girlpool’s set below. Each video set includes two new songs per artist. Florist’s also includes “1914” while Girlpool’s includes “Chinatown”, “Crowded Stranger”, “Pretty”, and “Plants and Worms”. Enjoy.

 

 

Florist

Girlpool