Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Sea Creatures

Watch This: Vol. 94

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A modified version of this paragraph appeared in the preceding post due to the nature of the pieces] Occasionally there are weeks where there are simply too many excessively strong live performance clips to highlight with just one entry and this week’s established itself as being of that caliber. It’s a rarity that there are exceptions to the setup of five featured clips and an honorable mentions list of hyperlinked material because it’s generally best to err on the side of brevity for these things. I’m not sure I can conjure up a more ringing endorsement than that for the 10 featured clips that will be running tonight. With the first half out of the way, it’s time to turn to the latter selections, all of which carry just as much impact as their predecessors. So, as always, sit up, adjust the volume, adjust the screen, lean in, focus, and Watch This.

1. Tacocat – Volcano (Rhapsody)

Throughout the week a lot was made of Tacocat‘s Rhapsody session due to their excellent Ramones cover but the band also delivered a fiery take on “Volcano”, an original that outshines the cover that circulated so many times over the past several days. “Volcano” is a perfect example of the band’s winsome sensibility and the band delivers it in earnest, with a palpable amount of affection for their craft. It’s an absolute joy to watch unfold and the perfect clip to kick off the second section.

2. Screaming Females – Ripe + Broken Neck (WFUV)

Ever since Watch This was initiated nearly two years ago, Screaming Females have been making frequent appearances in the series. The reasoning behind that decision’s uncomplicated: the band’s one of this generation’s best live acts. Some things are fairly cut and dry and the trio’s formidable abilities as a live act are nearly unparalleled in the DIY circuit. Still riding high on the success of this year’s tremendous Rose Mountain, the band stopped by the WFUV studios to turn in two fiery performances and extend their winning streak to even further lengths.

3. Froth (KEXP)

In the midst of quietly putting together a strong year loaded with promise and potential, Froth stopped by the KEXP studios for a full session that provided a glimpse at what makes them one today’s more exciting bands. Finding a common ground between basement pop and shoegaze, the quartet’s bridged that gap and traversed every compelling mile between the two genres. While the music’s got an immediate nature, it’s best explored through serious investment where it reaps seemingly unlimited rewards. Already fascinating material is given new life in the live context, where it’s performed with a great amount of verve and genuine care.

4. Fake Palms – Sparkles (Exclaim!)

Fake Palms have landed their name on this site a small handful of times now thanks to a strong 2015 that saw them steadily emerging as a viable candidate for best new act in an overcrowded year. “Sparkles” was one of their breakthrough moments and Exclaim! recently caught the quartet gifting their cameras an explosive version of the tune in a picturesque outdoor setting. The combination makes for an unreasonably compelling piece of art that should help the band further their case for being one of the year’s more memorable acts.

5. SOAK (KEXP)

Very few songs this year have managed to freeze blood as quickly as SOAK‘s 2015 highlight “B a Nobody”. Bridie Monds-Watson- the enviably gifted songwriter operating under the SOAK moniker- seems to recognize this and is coaxing the appropriate mileage out of the song. Wisely kicking off this KEXP session with the tune to set the tone, it’s quickly followed by an effective trio that firmly establishes Monds-Watson as one of today’s premier young talents. KEXP’s cameras almost seem to be lensing Monds-Watson reverentially throughout this session, which provides the affair with a dimension that contributes to its stunning impact. Don’t miss this one.

Watch This: Vol. 89

Welcome to an extremely late night (early morning?) edition of Watch This– the weekly series that celebrates some of the week’s best performance captures. With 2015 already feeling overstuffed, I’ll forego the usual honorary mentions round-up and simply present the five best captures to have surfaced this week. From site favorites to series favorites to new faces, there’s a fair amount of material to cover. Pro-shot presentations get balanced out by some lovingly lensed DIY clips and- as always- all of the performances contained within those videos are outstanding. So, pour a drink or fix some breakfast, ease in, adjust the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Sleater-Kinney – Bury Our Friends + Entertain (Pitchfork)

The unexpected resurgence of Sleater-Kinney was one of 2015’s first great musical moments and the reverberations from its impact are still being felt. Recently, the band- by all accounts- absolutely owned Pitchfork this year with a monstrous day 2 headlining set that overshadowed Wilco’s Star Wars marathon the previous night and Chance the Rapper’s hometown celebration as the fest’s final headliner. Even just from the two-clip sample contained below, “Bury Our Friends” and “Entertain”, its abundantly clear that Sleater-Kinney are one of the best live bands on the planet right now. A note to other bands splitting bills with the revitalized legends: don’t feel down, feel fortunate you get to be a part of something that can’t help but feel just a little unprecedented.

2. Worriers – They/Them/Theirs (Don Giovanni)

Imaginary Life came out a few days ago, immediately registering as one of the year’s best punk efforts. Even with a collection that strong, “They/Them/Theirs” stands out. Personal, timely, and deeply impassioned, it’s a clarion call for a marginalized sect. The band played their release show at The Knitting Factory last Friday and brought the same verve, force, and resilience to their performance of their song of the year candidate. Scrappy and thrilling, it’s one hell of a showcase for the band’s collective talent.

3. The Trims – With You + Bright Lights City (Jam in the Van)

Every now and then, Jam in the Van will resurface with a session that hits a sweet spot for this site and their recent capture of The Trims found that mark. Bridging post-punk and indie pop hallmarks, the quarter’s landed on a sound that’s unusually compelling when considering their pop-oriented proclivities. Subverting anthemic by-the-numbers move at just about every turn, their music manages to come off as cinematic while still feeling like an outlier. Moody, vibrant, and occasionally bruising, the group seems primed for a breakout and ready to greet whatever may come their way.

4. Young Jesus – Baked Goods (A Fistful of Vinyl)

Young Jesus are no strangers to this site. Ever since releasing their best-of-decade contender Home (a record I simply can’t recommend strongly enough), they’ve been on my radar. The past few years have been a transitional process for the band following their relocation from Chicago to Los Angeles. Earlier this year, the band released the excellent Grow/Decompose and they seem to be settling into their new era quite nicely. Earlier this week, the band unveiled even more new music via a taping of a raw, fiery performance, courtesy of A Fistful of Vinyl. Bold, bloodied, and not even a little glossy, “Baked Goods” is presented in a manner that feels intrinsically connected to the band’s DIY ethos. It’s a startling watch and a strong reminder of how much beauty can be found in imperfection.

5. SOAK (NPR)

It only seemed like a matter of time before Bridie Monds-Watson wound up making an appearance at NPR’s Tiny Desk and now that the moment’s finally arrived, the fit somehow feels even more natural than expected. Here, Monds-Watson’s SOAK project turns in a trio of songs and an impressive array of warm, humorous asides. The closing two numbers, “B a Nobody” and “Wait”, sound as fine as they ever have and “Sea Creatures” proves to be the perfect introductory piece for the set. Grounded and contained, it skews towards the kind of intimacy that the tiny desk was built to elicit from its performers but continues to prove elusive to a fair number of their acts (Monds-Watson namechecks Angel Olsen’s session, who hit extraordinary heights in regards to the series’ intended intimacy and caused the first major Watch This dilemma by pitting that session against an  unforgettable La Blogotheque capture, which wound up securing the spot in that particular installment). All things considered, it makes sense for Monds-Watson to feel trepidation about performing in such a vaunted space but now that everything’s said and done, it’s clear that the SOAK session resides comfortably in the series’ upper echelons.