Archive | February, 2012

on my boombox: santigold, “disparate youth”

26 Feb

Thus far, I’ve mostly resisted the urge to make this blog into a complete Santigold tracker. As much as I adore her, I know not everyone wants to know every single nugget of information that slowly drips out in anticipation of Santigold’s long-awaited sophomore album, Master of My Make-Believe. Given almost a full year has passed since Santigold announced the “impending” release of her follow-up album, I now approach updates with a healthy dose of skepticism. A new tour date added here and there and an alleged release date (May 1) doesn’t interest me as much any more–I want to hear the music, damnit!

Though, Santigold won some points back with this blogger in an interview with Pitchfork where she revealed just how carefully she weighs each and every decision concerning her music. Not enough musicians realize that the devil is in the details, and Santigold’s career has clearly benefited from a healthy dose of perfectionism. It explains why I’ve never heard a Santigold song I didn’t like, and why she has never put her name on anything that sounds remotely tired or uninspired. Nothing less than a perfectionist would have made the crayola-tinged music video for “Big Mouth” work as well as it did.

So, when the artist released an actual new piece of music(!!!) last week, I took the bait. Sure enough, it doesn’t disappoint. “Disparate Youth,” the second single from the upcoming album, shows Santigold experimenting with new sounds, but (as always) in a calculated, well-executed manner. The industrial synth and distorted guitar riffs bring the track an appropriately dark, edgy flair, and prove once again that Santigold can float among genres with an ease elusive to most artists. 

All signs point to… this album will be just as dope as I expected. 

Santigold, “Disparate Youth”

weekend roll out: beyonce, “end of time” (dirty tees remix)

24 Feb

If you’ve followed the blog even casually, you’ve probably noticed I’m not lying when I call myself an equal opportunity music enthusiast–say the words, “new live Fugazi online archives,” and I come running. Say the words, “Beyonce remix competition going down on Soundcloud,” and I come running with glowsticks in hand.

Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, a few weeks ago, a bunch of DJs laid the turntable smack down to remix Sasha Fierce herself on Soundcloud. Awesome.

Lucky for me, the bloggers with excellent taste over at The Chicken Donut found the best one: a Dirty Tees remix of “End of Time.” One that makes you appreciate the goddess force behind the original, but with an electro beat tailor-made for the dancefloor. Or, in this case, weekend roll out fist pumping at your desk. Do it.

ROLLLL OUT.

Beyonce, “End of Time” (Dirty Tees remix)

on deck: big freedia at rock n roll hotel

21 Feb

This St. Patrick’s day will be a weird one for me. And weird in two very different, distinctly weird ways, because neither of them involve Guinness. First, I’m running my second half-marathon, the DC Rock N Roll Half-Marathon, for which I am woefully underprepared. Second, I’m seeing bounce DJ extraordinaire Big Freedia tear up Rock n Roll Hotel that night.

Just push play. Semi NSFW.

Now that your mind is appropriately blow, allow me to explain. Big Freedia is a big name in the world of bounce, a New Orleans-based subset of hip-hop with similar characteristics to DC’s beloved go-go. Bounce is extremely energetic and relentlessly fast, but with a gritty feel to lyrics that often center strongly on booty-shaking (especially in Big Freedia’s case). It often involves the call-and-response patterns that characterize go-go as well, but with an energy level unparalleled by any genre.

Big Freedia (aka the Queen Diva, if you ask her), in everything from her style to her music to her sexuality, is a gigantic force to be reckoned with, and she is one of the few bounce artists to gain attention on the national stage beyond New Orleans. She is also part of why bounce is one of the few hip hop communities to accept gender bending and alternative sexual identity as all part of the game.

Regardless of the smoke and mirrors surrounding Big Freedia herself, one only needs to watch video or see pictures of her shows to see that she is nothing short of a magician when it comes to performing. Small clubs are turned into all-out raves with each person in the crowd giving everything they have to keep up with the rapid-fire beat, with varying degrees of success. If DC throws down even 10% like  Brooklyn did when big Freedia came to NY in 2010, then Rock N Roll Hotel will simply never be the same again.

Do some exploring to get a closer look at what this scene and sound are all about- but again, much is NSFW so don’t say I didn’t warn you about the amount of gyrating you’re about to see. Pitchfork produced an excellent video about the singer here, definitely check it out–then buy a ticket to see how DC’s crowd responds to Hurricane Freedia in March.

weekend roll out/on deck: big gigantic at the 930 club

17 Feb

Back in September 2011, I received the birthday gift of a lifetime: Bassnectar DJ’d my birthday party. Lorin and I have a great Twitter relationship, and the fact that his show at DC Armory coincided with my birthday weekend simply couldn’t be pure accident.

But anyway, those of you (all 10,000 of you) who were at that show may also have had the pleasure of seeing Big Gigantic, a then up-and-coming (now already come-up) DJ/live band set up lead by saxophonist Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salkin. I, however, did not—unbeknownst to us, the group had an obscenely early start time.

But tonight, we remedy our past errors as Big G blows the lid off of the 930 Club. As sad as I was to miss these guys at Armory (and their sets at some festivals I’ve attended over the years), I amped that my first experience with them will be at a small venue. The 930 Club is just big enough to handle the extreme energy and big sound of the group, but small enough to compact it into one explosive package of a show.

Rollll out.

Big Gigantic, “Sky High” + download their latest album Nocturnal for free.99 on their website.

on deck: zola jesus at u street music hall

16 Feb

If you read my post about the David Lynch remix of Zola Jesus’ track “In Your Nature,” then you saw my excitement about tomorrow night’s show at U Street Music Hall unfold in real time. I was going nuts over an artist, only to discover a) she was coming to DC,  b) the show would be at one of my favorite venues, and c) it was part of a collaborative effort between three of my favorite venues (Black Cat + 930 Club + Uhall). Score on score on score.

Thankfully, that remix led me to do more than just buying two $15 tickets to her show (duh, steal). It led me to delve into the rest of her discography—an impressive 3 EPs (Tsar Bomba, Stridulum, Valusia), 3 LPs (New Amsterdam, Spoils, Conatus), and some various and sundries with other artists.

Only when I started talking to friends about my newfound obsession did I realize how hard it is to describe her sound. But the one point I always hit home? Obviously, her voice. What. A. Voice. After learning that Zola received extensive opera training as a child, it became easier to understand why this college-age electro-goth songstress’ voice had enough range, depth, and thunder to compete with any six-time Grammy winner (ahem). Fans of Florence and the Machine, take note.

It will be a refreshingly new experience to watch a slower and more calculated performance on Uhall’s normally bombastic stage. Nonetheless, the venue’s small space, dark lighting, and crystal-clear speakers provide the perfect atmosphere to see this lady bring down the house.

Watch the video, listen to the tracks, soak up the voice.

(Also check out BYT’s recent interview with the singer).

weekend roll out (remixed)

10 Feb

It is pretty rare that I feel smarter (instead of foggier) on the Friday morning after an All Things Gold live showcase at U Street Music Hall, but the reason is simple: unfortunately, two tickets went down the drain last night, because not even Uhall’s sound system would’ve sounded crisp to my clogged-up head. Trying not to listen to Ghost Beach and Summer Camp today due to FOMO, realized.

But, I didn’t miss the un-missable Listen Local First panel, where I fed my music nerdiness in a big way with yet another crash course in DC music history courtesy of the DC Hip-Hop History Project. Be on the lookout for the podcast and write-up posted on LLF’s blog next week.

On to the topic at hand, though: weekend roll out. I’ve had both of these tracks in mind all week. The originals are two of my favorite songs of the last ~4 months, no doubt: M83’s anthemic “Midnight City,” from their smashing 2011 album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and Gotye’s absurdly catchy “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

Some tracks lend themselves perfectly to remixing, but sometimes, the best-of-the-best tracks stubbornly resist it- try as the DJs might, especially with Gotye’s song. It’s been remixed to death, but 99% of them don’t begin to do the original justice. And of course, only the Knocks could deliver a sold M83 cover, because they are pros in their own right. To date, these are the only remixes/covers of these tracks that are RWR approved. I’m not opposed to finding more, but right now, this is it.

Originals and remixes, for side-by-side comparison:

M83, “Midnight City”

The Knocks featuring Mandy Lee, “Midnight City (M83 Cover)”

Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know”

Eavesdrop Drum and Bass Remix, “Somebody That I Used to Know” (speeding up the video to coincide with the doubletime DnB beats? Genius. I wish my body would paint itself in time with beats, that would be ill).

two bars three stars: happy local music day!

8 Feb

Happy local music day, DC readers! Well, one could argue every day is local music day, but today we have the pleasure of enjoying local music through a monthly organized event. Since October 2011, Listen Local First has partnered with DC businesses to stream a pre-selected playlist of local artists. All day. And today is that day for February. Score.

The day not only involves some of my favorite local businesses (what up, Tryst), but has exposed me to some sweet DC bands I hadn’t listen to previously (what up, Ugly Purple Sweater). If this event couldn’t be any more tailored to my interests, this month’s playlist and accompanying artist showcase focuses heavily on Black artists in honor of Black History Month.

This all culminates in a can’t-miss artist showcase and panel discussion on Thursday, February 9 at The Dunes in Columbia Heights. The panel discussion, “Black Broadway: The Roots of DC Hip Hop,” will include a panel of some serious DC music smarty pants, such as singer/songwriter/actor/poet W. Ellington Felton, Capital Bop Editor Luke Stewart, Blues musician Stacy Brooks, and DJs Alizay and RBI–all under the careful moderation of James Benson and Kokayi, the masterminds behind the DC Hip Hop History Project.

But the piece de resistance of the evening, which I am antsily excited for given the small venue and excellent lineup, is the live showcase featuring Cornel West Theory and Nappy Riddem. These guys represent some of the best hip-hop and funk (respectively) to come out of the District in recent years, and their DC roots truly infiltrate their sound. I’m incredibly stoked to see these up-close-and-personal performances from a group of guys with serious flow and serious funk.

Check out the Listen Local First site for a full list of participating artists and businesses, and their blog for full event info–as well as a piece on Sockets Records written by yours truly.

A taste of what you’ll hear on Thursday:

Nappy Riddem, “Nappy Riddem”

Cornel West Theory, “DC Love Story”