Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Weekend

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. 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.

The Pharmacy – Masten Lake Lagoon (Stream)

thephar

Burger’s at it again. This time in the form of The Pharmacy’s incredible new record/tape/whatever, Spells. To celebrate its existence in the world, the label’s streaming “Masten Lake Lagoon” an undeniable basement pop tune. Weaving in some classic psych elements while retaining a rock n’ soul style always seems to come effortlessly to The Pharmacy, who are now five full-lengths deep and following up what was their previous high point, Stoned & Alone, with a brand new one. Spells is one hell of a record and the decision to stream “Masten Lake Lagoon” was the right one; it’s the record’s defining moment. Just as perfect for a sunny day is it is a stormy night spent with friends, “Masten Lake Lagoon” is a triumph no matter when it’s spun.

Listen to “Masten Lake Lagoon” below and use it to soundtrack a camping trip this summer.