Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: The Weather Song

Watch This: Vol. 107

[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. 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. Ought (KEXP)

Easily one of the more electrifying acts on the touring circuit, Ought recently swung by KEXP’s studios to flex some serious muscle. Culling a session from their outstanding sophomore effort Sun Coming Down, the quartet rips through four songs with a vicious intensity that’s rooted in a straight-laced affectation. Even with that aspect of their identity pushed to its near maximum, the band still finds ways to drag out some deep-seated weirdness and, as a result, the session comes absolutely alive.

2. Tijuana Panthers (Jam in the Van) 

Anytime Jam in the Van brings in a scrappy punk-tinged basement pop band, the results are electric and this session with Tijuana Panthers is no different. Tearing through the requisite trio of songs, the band differentiates themselves from a growing pack through sheer commitment. It’s easy to tell that this band doesn’t just love playing these songs but they genuinely believe in them as well.

3. Fraser A. Gorman – Dark Eyes (WFUV)

As an act finds their way to greater and greater success, one of the most important things they can do is deflect some of that attention to artists they feel are deserving of spotlights that have eluded them for one reason or another. It’s in that respect that Courtney Barnett continues to strike me as a patron saint of the unheralded as she continues doing incredible work with her Milk imprint. One artist Barnett managed to elevate considerably was Fraser A. Gorman, who was responsible for some of 2015’s finest material with Slow Gum. An unassuming presence that’s extraordinarily well-versed in American roots music, Gorman recently appeared at CMJ where WFUV captured him leading his band through a spirited version of “Dark Eyes” that suggests he’s more than ready for a greater share of attention.

4. Salad Boys (KEXP)

Metalmania was one of 2015’s most pleasant surprises and helped heighten Salad Boys‘ recognition. All five songs the band brings out for KEXP exist in a mold that was clearly shaped– or at least heavily informed– by a love of Flying Nun Records. Everything here works to a casual perfection, whether the band’s embracing the janglier pop or dipping their way into some fuzzed out excursion, it’s executed with flair. Throw in an illuminating interview and this becomes an essential document of a band on the cusp of breaking out.

5. Car Seat Headrest (3voor12)

Car Seat Headreast won over a lot of people this past CMJ and wound up being one of the marathon’s early highlights. After starting out as a bandcamp bedroom pop project, it’s graduated into a full-fledged band a la Cloud Nothings, and subsequently received a serious boost from a high-profile deal with Matador. The band’s picked up an additional guitarist since their CMJ run and it’s expanded their sound in intriguing ways. 3voor12 brought the band in for a session that sees them continuing to capitalize on their groundswell of momentum with memorably sharp performances, including a knockout take of 2015 highlight “Something Soon”. If the band can continue to match the pace on display here, we’re in for some genuinely extraordinary material down the road.

Watch This: Vol. 90

With an overstuffed week (even for 2015’s standards), Watch This will scale back ever so slightly and forego the usual honorary mentions round-up that has accompanied so many recent editions of the series. Duos are a recurring theme for this 90th installment, with two entries from Pitchfork (both two songs apiece) and two entries from NPR. A handful of site favorites are featured and a few relatively under-utilized names get the recognition they deserve as well. As always, the performances are strong and the package as a whole is a great representation of excellence in the performance sense on both sides of the camera. So, as always, grab a snack, settle in, adjust the volume, focus up, and Watch This.

1. Quarterbacks – Weekend (Radio K)

After going the full band route and unexpectedly releasing one of the year’s most ferocious basement pop records, Quarterbacks’ live show quickly took on an incredible amount of urgency. Radio K recently brought the trio in for a session where the band tore into a blistering version of “Weekend”. Immediate, scrappy, and extremely punk (also: bonus points for the drummer’s Stupid Bag shirt), this is the snappiest turn-in that Radio K’s had in a very long while.

2. Waxahatchee – La Loose + Bonfire (Pitchfork)

Earlier this year Katie Crutchfield celebrated her biggest release to date with the wonderful Ivy Tripp. It was the acclaimed songwriter’s first effort for Merge and its successes have landed Crutchfield and her band a variety of coveted positions, including a recent performing slot at the Pitchfork Music Festival. During her triumphant set, both “La Loose” and “Bonfire” were lovingly captured and made publicly available for an endless amount of repeat visits. Confident, calm, and poised, these are performances worth remembering.

3. Restorations (NPR)

After winning over a large sect of fans existing on the plane of a very large genre intersection, Restorations have yet to stop climbing. NPR recently brought the band in for one of their Tiny Desk sessions and the band responded in kind, delivering a set of ragged, heart-on-sleeve quasi-ballads. Distinctly American, Restorations seem to take pride in their roots and incorporate a bevvy of elements from an indiscriminate range of influences. Everything comes across as genuine and grounded, helping this to stand as one of the better Tiny Desk performances of the year.

4. Ought – The Weather Song + Sun’s Coming Down (Pitchfork)

Back after last year’s dust had settled, Ought‘s More Than Any Other Day wound up fending off hundreds of contenders to claim a spot on this site’s best albums of the year list. The band’s already threatening to duplicate that feat and to build anticipation for their forthcoming release (as well as road test some of their new material), they’ve been making a few high-profile appearances. One of those came at the Pitchfork Music Festival, where the band made their way through a fiery set with their typical amount of verve and unleashed two stunners in “The Weather Song” and “Sun’s Coming Down”. Both songs provide ample evidence that Ought’s one of the best live bands currently on the circuit.

5. Torres (NPR)

Along with Courtney Barnett and Girlpool, Torres is an artist that just can’t seem to stop showing up in this series. It probably helps that seemingly every outlet that Mackenzie Scott and her band have been hitting are already regularly featured in this series. In this case, it also helps that the last time Scott was lensed by NPR, it made for what may very well be the year’s most jaw-dropping live clip. Here, Scott leads her band through three of Sprinter‘s strongest tracks, including a reprise (full-band) performance of “A Proper Polish Welcome”, one of 2015’s finest songs. It’s a characteristically gripping performance and a perfect fit for one of music’s most quietly vaunted stages.

Watch This: Vol. 78

Over the course of the past few weeks, the influx of outstanding live videos has been staggering. Last week the series was put on a brief hold due to other personal obligations but even then, there was the threat of multiple installments for that particular Sunday. Amassing those with the live clips that followed in the subsequent week brings us to this point: there’s simply too much great material to feature to justify relegating anything exceeding the limit of five to the introductory paragraph(s). With this being the case, there will be seven- yes, seven- installments of Watch This to go live throughout the day (and possibly night).

To that end, this very introduction will be running prior to volumes 74-80 to reduce the levels of overall exposition to provide an emphasis on the material at hand. Site favorites Girlpool and Waxahatchee were seemingly everywhere this week, securing multiple entries throughout this run while Faits Divers spread-out documentation of a set from Ought (another site favorite) managed to do the same. As always, each video featured is an exemplary showcase for both artist and host, covering a wide range of sounds and styles. So, as always, sit back, adjust the volume to your preferred settings, sit up straight, lean in (or back), and Watch This.

 

1. Chastity Belt – Dull (WFUV)

Time To Go Home was one of the unexpected highlights of this year’s first half, securing Chastity Belt a level of recognition they’ve been deserving for some time. Here, the band turns in a blissfully casual of “Dull”, providing a showcase for their dynamic range. WFUV’s black backdrop provides a fitting background to Chastity Belt’s hazy basement pop and elevates the clip into surprisingly immersive levels.

2. Girlpool – Chinatown (Wichita)

Closing out Wichita’s lovely outdoor trilogy of Girlpool clips is this gorgeous take of Before The World Was Big highlight “Chinatown”. As always, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Lebel-Tividad seem inhumanly connected, playing off each other with an almost telepathic familiarity and ease. Everything comes off as complementary, from the dueling melodies to the timbre of the duo’s vocals. The whole thing exudes a nearly impossible sense of lightness that’s always factored into Girlpool’s music, rendering this a surprisingly revitalizing watch.

3. Waxahatchee – Blue (Pt. II) (Wichita)

Continuing on with Wichita’s gorgeous presentation of the Crutchfield twins performance under Katie’s Waxahatchee guise at St. Pancras Church, this clip features an aching performance of “Blue (Pt. II)”- another highlight from Ivy Tripp. Nothing more than harmonized vocals and an electric guitar guide the performance, the audience hushed throughout. The soft tones and dim lighting provide a perfect visual accompaniment, allowing the clip to become as mesmerizing as the song at its center.

4. Ought – The Weather Song (Faits Divers)

Closing out Ought’s run, courtesy of Faits Divers, is yet another inspired performance of one of More Than Any Other Day‘s several highlights; “The Weather Song”. As always, the band’s animated throughout and delivers a crisp performance that fully demonstrates the band’s enormous live appeal. It seems like every time the band launches into a song, they transform into an unstoppable whirlwind of pure energetic force. Unable to stay still and brimming with manic passion, it makes for compelling viewing and- more importantly- powerful performances.

5. Torres – A Proper Polish Welcome (WFUV)

One of the most delicate songs to emerge out of 2015 is Torres’ jaw-dropping “A Proper Polish Welcome”, a piece of serene beauty characterized by a sense of yearning. It’s Sprinter‘s most breathtaking moment and, in a live setting, it’s powerful enough to freeze blood. WFUV turned their cameras on Mackenzie Scott and co. as they conjured up the slow-burning showstopper, capturing something approaching the levels of transcendence in the process.