Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Serious Business

Watch This: Vol. 42

Well, another week has come and gone, leaving a great set of live sets in its wake. From a pair of performance pairs courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live, another extraordinary edition to the Exploding in Sound takeover of BreakThruRadio’s excellent Serious Business series, a newly-surfaced trio of beautifully-lensed performance clips from Pitchfork, and a typically incendiary blast to the gut from one of Canada’s finest emerging artists, it was a great week for the long-form. There were, of course, a few other excellent videos that surfaced over the course of the past seven days- ranging from an excellent KEXP session from The Fresh & Onlys to performances that had personal stakes at hand (more on this tomorrow). There was a lot more to take in than usual but the five sets below earned their spots by virtue of approaching the transcendental. So, kick back, don’t dare turn the volume down, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Greys (Radio K)

Greys tore it up every time they took the stage during the whirlwind week that was NXNE. They’ve earned a fair amount of words from this site by not just making great music but by putting on great performances- and, in both cases, revealing a visible passion for what they’re doing- an increasing rarity. Here, they stop by the University of Minnesota’s student-run radio station, Radio K, to deliver a non-stop barrage of a performance. Turn the volume up and hold on to yr lid.

2. Sharon Van Etten (Jimmy Kimmel Live)

Are We There has proven to be one of the year’s most engaging quieter records and has firmly established Van Etten at the forefront of her contemporaries. It’s a welcome development that feels as if it’s been justifiably earned. Van Etten was a force to be reckoned with right out of the gate, delivering performances like this attention-ensuring take of “Give Out” for BaebleMusic or lending even more emotional gravity to one of the most emotionally charged records of all time. So, after keeping an eye on Van Etten’s progress for the past six years or so, it’s thrilling to see her commanding as much attention and acclaim as she over the past few years. With more performances like these two stunning takes on “Tarifa” and “Break Me”, that critical and commercial ascension’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

3. Slowdive (Pitchfork)

Slowdive was one of the more quietly celebrated shoegaze bands before their recent revival, allowing others to catch up on what many had known all along; this is a band worth holding onto. When Pitchfork announced that the band would be playing on US soil for the first time in over 20 years, there was reason for nonsensical levels of excitement. Not only did Slowdive meet those ridiculous levels of expectations, they temporarily turned the festival grounds into something completely undefinable. There wasn’t a set that weekend that inspired more looks of sheer awe.  Fortunately, Pitchfork has their cameras rolling and lovingly documented a moment that’s not likely to be forgotten by anyone lucky enough to take part in it anytime soon.

4. Bob Mould (Jimmy Kimmel Live)

That Bob Mould is still cranking out masterful records probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering his enviable track record of all-time classics (Zen ArcadeNew Day RisingCopper Blue, etc.). What does come as a welcome surprise is the commercial success he continues to maintain throughout what’s proving to be one of the more inspired solo resurgences since Dinosaur Jr.’s. Jimmy Kimmel recently invited Mould onto his show and received a masterclass in how to deliver great performances in return. With the serviceable Taylor Hawkins standing in for the inimitable Jon Wurster, Mould more than proves it only takes one revered elder statesman to carry the hell out of a live show.

5. Pile (BreakThruRadio)

The Exploding in Sound takeover of BreakThruRadio’s Serious Business has yielded some of the series’ best entries. Pile continuing this trend shouldn’t be that shocking- the band’s currently boasting one of the most impressively consistent discographies in music. Special Snowflakes was one of the year’s best releases in any format, Dripping and Magic Isn’t Real both deserve to be considered classics, and somehow the band’s live show manages to blow the studio versions of those songs out of the water. “Tin Foil Hat” is the featured song here while both “Special Snowflakes” and “Fear of Drunk With” are intercut with some humorous banter about their long-standing issues with one specific city. Packaged together, this becomes absolutely essential viewing material.

Watch This: Vol. 41

The Watch This series, up to this point, has mostly placed the overall focus on videos that just feature a band performing. For the 41th installment, that rule gets slightly modified. With the exception of a typically astounding performance from Noun (Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster’s extraordinarily consistent solo project), every video to earn a feature spot in this volume features a brief interview with the band playing music. In the case of the videos that bookend this week’s Watch This, the result is incredibly endearing- while the rest manage to be moderately informative without stripping away a sense of playfulness. More importantly though, the performances included below are uniformly outstanding and deserved to be spotlighted. With that said, it was a very difficult class of videos to select from, thanks to the abundance of great performances that surfaced from artists like Unicycle Loves You, Cousins, Bahamas, Jenny LewisHollow Boys, Cheap Girls, and St. Vincent. So, as always, pour a drink, grab a seat, adjust the contrast, turn up the volume, and Watch This.

1. White Lung, ft. Katie Crutchfield – Dead Star (Noisey)

In what seems like a gift tailor-made for this series, White Lung’s Mish Way and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield teamed up together for a pair of acoustic performances. Crutchfield holds down guitar and melody duty on this stripped-down take of White Lung’s excellent “Wrong Star”. Before the performance, the two share a few words and a palpable connection, subtly setting the stage for how complementary their musical abilities wind up being. Unsurprisingly, this is a gem of a performance that reaffirms both artist’s deserved status.

2. White Reaper (Consequence of Sound)

Delivering a fiercely committed performance, White Reaper gives Consequence of Sound (and everyone else) a startling reminder of the strength of their debut EP. Here, they hold nothing back and just go full-throttle, emphasizing the kind of spastic energy that’s frequently a hallmark of the most entertaining live bands. In the short-form interview, the band discusses the meaning behind both “Half Bad” and “Oh Yeah”, giving a direct line of insight for their work- an increasing rarity. Starting and ending with two memorable performances, this is a can’t-miss video.



3. Noun – You and Mr. Rogers (Don Giovanni)

Screaming Females’ Marissa Paternoster’s solo project, Noun, should be every bit as prominent as her main vehicle. After releasing an incredible 7″ and what’s one of the decade’s finest LP’s, Holy Hell, Paternoster understandably refocused on Screaming Females. Lately, though, she’s been playing solo shows with greater frequency and quietly unveiling new material. Here, Don Giovanni captures Paternoster delivering a gripping take on a song called “You and Mr. Rogers” that showcases her raw talent. It’s genuinely stunning, offering up a more fully-formed portrait of Paternoster’s quieter side. All of the applause at the end of the clip is absolutely warranted.

4. Mannequin Pussy (BreakThruRadio)

Mannequin Pussy’s Kiss Me Tender EP was a beast of a release that was highlighted by the unrelentingly fierce “Kiss“, which also headlines their recent session for BreakThruRadio’s excellent Serious Business series. In the video, there’s the standard irreverent interview portion that is intercut with some blistering live footage of one of today’s more exciting new on-the-rise bands (it’s worth noting their first demos were released back in 2011). “My Baby (Axe Nice)” and “Anything” also get featured here, cementing Mannequin Pussy as another live act that’s not worth missing.

5. Waxahatchee, ft. Mish Way – Coast to Coast (Noisey)

Returning to the collaboration of Katie Crutchfield and Mish Way, the pair reverse the featured project- this time delivering an arresting performance of Waxahatchee’s “Coast to Coast”. Way’s melody lines float along effortlessly, providing a welcome layer to an all-acoustic take of what was easily one of last year’s finest songs. Even though Cerulean Salt only came out last year (as did Groovy Kind of Love), this performance alone is enough to reignite excitement for whatever Crutchfield has in store next.

Watch This: Vol. 37

Finally. After months of delays, a few weeks worth of setbacks preceding that, and a day of furiously campaigning this series, it’s right back to the position where it should be. As was the case with the preceding installment, a lot of the best material to surface during the past month was reserved for this 37th installment. From legendary bands to devastatingly quiet songwriters to a band responsible for what’s become one of the most anticipated records of the year, there’s a lot to chew on. So sit down, take a drink, prepare for the best, and Watch This.

1. Teenage Fanclub – Start Again (unARTigNYC)

Teenage Fanclub recently swung through River Rocks at Pier 84 in New York City and unARTigNYC, unsurprisingly, was on hand to capture the beloved band striding their way through the classic “Start Again”. Gently lensed and confidently presented, it goes a long way in showing that the iconic powerpop band hasn’t lost any of their charm.

2. Sinai Vessel – Cats (Little Elephant)

Little Elephant hasn’t had any videos featured on here in a while despite some relatively strong entries- though none were stronger than their recent Sinai Vessel feature. The genre that the channel specializes in is at its absolute best when it’s being subverted by virtue of unexpected outside influences, something that Sinai Vessel excels in. Delivering a powerhouse version of “Cats”, the band falls into a comfortable groove while maintaining an aggressive approach. It’s a fascinating watch and an even better listen.

3. Sharon Van Etten (KEXP)

One of the only songwriters in recent memory to have her first three solo efforts be universally acclaimed, Sharon Van Etten has become something of a wunderkind. Her most recent album, Are We There has been her most positively received to date. Here, she takes to KEXP to deliver a stunning session featuring songs from that record. It’s remarkable how easy it is to be swept away by this session.

4. Saintseneca – Bloodbath (Allston Pudding)

Dark Arc being released on ANTI- Records felt like nothing short of a triumph for all of the scenes that Saintseneca was actively involved in and connected to. That record’s resounding success was a reason to celebrate Saintseneca, The Sidekicks, and All Dogs all at once- but when the band switches into their live act, that celebration fades. Everything fades. They inhabit an almost mythical space where everything goes right and occupies something completely intangible that demands full, unwavering attention.

5. LVL UP (BreakThruRadioTV)

LVL UP’s “Soft Power” made a gigantic impression after its recent unveiling (more on that very soon), giving the New York band the attention they’ve deserved for so long. This isn’t the first time they’ve landed a Watch This spot and it’s not likely that this will be their last appearance here, either. Hoodwink’d, the band’s forthcoming record, has suddenly made an easy transfer from an insider’s potential goldmine to one of the most hotly-anticipated records of the rest of the year. Judging from the performances of a few of those songs they give here, that anticipation is more warranted than anyone could have predicted. “Big Snow” tops the session off and proves to be just as rousing as anything the band’s released so far (“Soft Power” included). Watch out for this band- and Watch This.

Watch This: Vol. 35

Today’s Watch This posting spree is far from over. Months worth of neglect need to- and will- be made up for. Luckily, this has been made relatively easy thanks to a goldmine of live videos that surfaced over the festival-induced hiatus. In this 35th installment, there are full sets, standout performances, and an even spread among the outlets featuring them. Once again, this will be left at that because the 36th and 37th installments, respectively, are just around the corner, waiting to be posted. It might run the risk of over-saturation but great music is great music and great performances always deserve to be recognized. So lean back, turn up the volume, and Watch This.

1. Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires (KEXP)

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires have built themselves one hell of a reputation and they’ve mostly got their shit-kicking live shows to thank for that. Playing a Southern-fried variation of the rock n’ soul genre, the band injects their sets with as much frantic energy as they can muster, sweating through their clothes and leaving everything on the floor. Impossibly, they pour that amount of dedication into this in-studio KEXP performance without a large audience to feed off of, solidifying their spot in this series.


2. Field Mouse (BreakThruRadioTV)

Serious Business continues to be featured in Watch This thanks to their dedication to actively pursue exactly the type of band this site was built to celebrate. Additionally, their audio/visual presentation is among the best out there while the irreverent interviews offer some insight to the bands that they choose to feature. Their recent Field Mouse session encapsulates all of it, thanks in no small part to Field Mouse’s on-point performance of their excellent featured shoegaze-leaning post-punk song: “A Place You Return To When You Dream”.

3. Nothing (unARTigNYC)

Nothing’s Guilty of Everything was one of 2014’s more formidable-sounding records, dark and dense in exactly the right way. Live, the band takes those two qualities to new extremes, as proven by this excellent full set from the band’s recent performance at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Turn up the volume then hold on to something- and hold onto it tightly. This is massive.


4. Modern Hut – Moving On (TCGS)

Don Giovanni Records have built their success around making the right decisions- and their dedication to Modern Hut was one of them. Here, the band delivers a typically strong, wistful performance of “Moving On” during their recent appearance on the show of comedian Chris Gethard (also signed to Don Giovanni). It’s weird, it’s wonderful, and it’s more than a little worth watching.


5. Young Man – Fate (Audiotree)

Colin Caulfield’s project Young Man released a criminally under-appreciated record in 2012 called Vol. 1 and the recent Audiotree videos that surfaced of a session to support that record only reaffirm that fact. It was one of the better pop records of the decade, heavily nuanced and delicately ornate, while being somewhat unassuming. Here, Caulfield & co. breeze through that record’s first single “Fate” with an easy confidence- finally giving people another chance to recognize a great record.

Watch This: Vol. 30

Well, it finally happened. Waatch This is officially back on track and back to its regular every-Sunday rotation- and this week was particularly stacked. There was an incredible Serious Business feature from BreakThruRadio on Hive Bent, a beautiful Allston Pudding session with Saintseneca, and Mansions turned in what was arguably their best performance for an absolutely incendiary run for Little Elephant. None of them made this week’s installment. There were various reasons that kept each of them out and what wound up being featured was a fairly eclectic mix of full sets, single songs, old favorites, and at least one face that’s completely new to this site. So, sit back, relax, continue on with some day drinking, and Watch This.

1. Bob Mould – I Don’t Know You Anymore (The Current)

Bob Mould should be a household name by now. One of the most influential and well-respected songwriters to emerge from the 80’s/90’s DIY punk/hardcore heyday, he’s already amassed an army of untouchable classics that have his name on them and he’s in the midst of a staggering resurgence that’s currently seeing him match his past glory. Beauty & Ruin is one of 2014’s best and isn’t in danger of losing that position by year’s end. It’s driven by gems like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” which Mould recently deliver a commanding solo performance of for Minneapolis’ 89.3 The Current. That can be seen below.

2. Archie Powell & the Exports – Everything’s Fucked (Jam in the Van)

This isn’t the first time that this song’s appeared on this site and the feelings towards it haven’t changed. “Everything’s Fucked” is a song that aims to scorch the earth that surrounds it and shows a total disregard for anything attempting to get in its way. Here, the band delivers a fierce, ragged performance of it for Jam in the Van during their SXSW stay and hold absolutely nothing back. It’s a jolt of energy that’s strong enough to inject a jump-start into any dreary Sunday; keep it on file for those occasions.

3. Hop Along (unARTigNYC)

unARTigNYC is back in a big way this week: this is the first of three videos the channel posted that will be featured as the extended closing sequence for this week’s Watch This. Now, this will come with a touch of Deja Vu for any longtime readers of the site as Vol. 15 also featured a full Hop Along set that was also posted by unARTigNYC that was also captured at Saint Vitus. Lightning can strike twice. The only real differences are the sets and the fact that this was a Pitchfork showcase that also featured Pleasure Leftists, Frankie Cosmos, and the band occupying this installment’s fifth slot All of the new material Hop Along has been playing out is pointing towards one thing; whenever that record drops, it’s going to be a big deal that a lot of people will be very passionate about. Expect to see a stream of praise coming from sites like this one the moment that happens. For now, just enjoy the fact there are things like this out there to keep everyone excited (and deeply impressed).

4. Charles Bradley – The World Is Going Up In Flames (unARTigNYC)

Are there any stories in music from this decade more inspiring than the ascension of Charles Bradley? It’s sincerely doubtful. Plucked from obscurity during his days as a James Brown impersonator, he impressed all the right people and wound up signing a deal with Daptone Records, the most influential label in soul. Before that moment, and during the interim, the now-65 year old Bradley went through some extraordinarily harsh times. Almost dying and experiencing great personal tragedy didn’t deter him, though, and in 2011 his debut record No Time for Dreaming was met the same way his sophomore effort, 2013’s Victim of Love was: they both garnered immediate acclaimed and helped elevate Bradley to being one of the biggest names in his genre. Now affectionately known as “The Screaming Eagle of Soul”, Bradley has greeted any kind of interest with overwhelming appreciation and humility. If there’s one thing to feel good about in music, it’s his success- a success driven by charisma and raw natural talent.

5. Perfect Pussy (unARTigNYC)

Perfect Pussy, the band whose name makes Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan blush every time she says it, headlined the recent Pitchfork showcase at Saint Vitus. They also now have a commanding lead as the band featured most on this site, which should mean that close to everything’s already been said about them here. While that might be the case, I’m not even close to done talking about Perfect Pussy and I doubt I’ll ever be. Part of the reason for this is their high-velocity live show. Each of their shows is its own beast, though they all seem to clock in at around 20 minutes, which are infused with the most blistering whirlwind of sound and unrepentant aggression anyone could imagine (this fact has caused a lot of confusion from people who aren’t familiar with hardcore and the people that don’t understand how quickly high-intensity physical exertion can lead to dangerous levels of exhaustion). Vocalist Meredith Graves greets the triviality of those complaints the only way she knows how: with a smile (for proof of this, check the :40 mark for a memorable quip). Her lyrics are some of the most unflinchingly honest I’ve ever encountered and, impossibly, stand as both a complement and contrast to the band’s performance. In prose, Perfect Pussy can come off as slightly withdrawn and full of guarded desperation- but even then, it’s so forward that it feels like that same gut-punch the live show so readily and consistently provides. Here, the band’s in fine form, Graves is the physical manifestation of an internal maelstrom or three; Shaun Sutkus project a steely, detached calm to provide some stability behind his setup of synths; the rhythm section of Greg Ambler and Garrett Koloski both make sure they’re as physically present as Graves is and guitarist Ray McAndrew keeps his head down while providing an additional thrashing body. If it sounds chaotic, it’s because it is- it’s also all so improbably controlled that it makes their sets unforgettable affairs- no matter how long or short they wind up being. Add all of these qualities to the fact that Graves is currently one of the most outspoken public figures in an ongoing fight against multiple kinds of oppression and Perfect Pussy winds up exactly where they should be: as one of the most important bands that we’ve got. See them (and support them) as soon as humanly possible.