Archive | August, 2012

weekend roll out: generationals, “lucky numbers”

31 Aug

It’s been awhile since I wrote a weekend roll out post, but clearly I couldn’t miss one today- not when we’re rolling out a three-day weekend AND the last official weekend of summer. I have mixed emotions about the season ending, but I do know I had my first pumpkin beer of the year today and it was deeeelicious. When it comes to beer, I welcome you with open arms, autumn!

Like my beer choices, I think the music in my rotation naturally transitions a bit from season to season as well. To be clear, summer music does NOT involve throwing out all music snobbery and tailgating for Dave Matthews and country shows- at least not for me. Instead, summer beach vacations might drive me to pull out some reggae classics and dance hall jams, and prime festival season inevitably leads to Phish and Widespread Panic live sets on heavy rotation.

Thus, as I perused the internets this evening with thoughts of Labor Day in my head, I stumbled upon this gem of a track that, for whatever reason, feels like that absolutely perfect summer-to-fall transition jam. You could play it at your outdoor BBQs this weekend, but I doubt you’ll be tired of it come Columbus Day. Something about fall and up-tempo indie pop go hand-in-hand; I could totally see myself bopping along to this during a glorious fall run in Rock Creek when the trees are on fire with color.

While my music might change seasonally, you better believe I’ll still wear white after this weekend. #fightthepower

Rollll out.

Generationals, “Lucky Numbers”

two bars three stars: local tribute to pussy riot

28 Aug

If you belong to any social media network, there is no way you haven’t seen at least vague mentions of the Pussy Riot debacle currently unfolding in Russia. I won’t rehash all the details, but in case you need an outline: back in March, a feminist Russian punk group called Pussy Riot released their most controversial work yet. The group, which is part of a broader opposition movement to Russian president Vladimir Putin, released a music video of themselves performing a sacrilegious, anti-Putin song in a Russian church. In reaction, Russian police swiftly arrested several members of the group, and they were taken to prison. Currently, three members of the collective are charged with “hooliganism” and received two year prison sentences, while two others have fled Russia to avoid prosecution.

While this story is devastating in so many ways and should outrage every single one of us, the silver lining to this tragedy (and many others like it) is the rallying of support that has bubbled up from all angles. Many world-famous artists, from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Sting to Madonna, have voiced support for the group; Vivian Girls will play a Pussy Riot tribute show; and Bjork is even selling Pussy Riot t-shirts on her website. Most importantly, Bikini Kill, one of Pussy Riot’s biggest influences thanks to their work as part of the riot grrrrl movement in the 1990s, has touted this event’s historical and artistic significance.

But it’s not just international superstars who are rallying to speaking out against this whole mess- local musicians are getting in on the action too. I was recently exposed to this tribute song, “Already Winning,” which was composed by a group of DC artists operating under the psuedonym “Coward Collective.” The song is definitively punk, but tailored to the event at hand: we’ve got an eery, church-like falsetto in the intro, which quickly melts into an aggressive guitar riff. Most interestingly, the lyrics were written based entirely on Pussy Riot’s letters from prison, culminating with the chorus “scared by a punch of pussies.” Whoa.
This track is a solid, well-crafted punk song in its own right (let alone the importance of its message, let alone the creativity behind using Pussy Riot’s letters as  lyrics fodder). Between the aggressive instrumentation, the jarring lyrics, and the sheer weight of the situation that the song speaks to, this song hits hard. Talk about locally-sourced, globally-focused art.

Check it out and spread it around. This is local music of which to be proud.

“Already Winning (Pussy Riot Tribute),” Coward Collective

two bars three stars: upcoming DC shows

20 Aug

Rainy Sundays can be so ideal for people who enjoy music and writing, because staying indoors is the ideal environment to enjoy both of those pursuits. This blog, like the American agriculture industry, could benefit from a little more rain this summer.

So, let’s catch up, shall we? There have been a flurry of ticket purchases recently, and I’d like to bring your attention to all of them.

1. Thursday, August 23: Nighttime Adventure Society with Mike & Cody at Rock n Roll Hotel (local music alert)

I’ve blogged about both of these bands’ shows recently, so if you haven’t seen either of em yet, then you’re in luck! They’re playing again this week at RnR. The show will act as a nice lead-up to NAS’ debut album release in a few weeks. It’ll be on sale for only $7, so check them out and cop that ish when it drops on September 4.

Nighttime Adventure Society, “Past Life”

2. Sunday, September 30: St. Vincent and David Byrne at the Strathmore

David Byrne is an especially gratifying musician to admire, because not only has he been a musical pioneer for decades, but he also chooses excellent, exciting musicians for collaborations. Remember when he remixed Zola Jesus? Incredible. Now, he’s teaming with guitar goddess (and object of my extreme affection) St. Vincent for the ultimate genre-blurring, line-pushing, too-much-talent-fueled duo album, Love this Giant. The first single off of said upcoming album, “Who,” was featured on RwR’s July playlist, and I still cant stop listening to it as we near September- the horns, the funky grooves, St. Vincent’s voice with David Byrne’s crazy beats… amazing. The second single, “Weekend in the Dust,” has only added to my intense excitement for what will undoubtedly be a highlight of my fall show schedule- and perhaps unlike any show I’ve seen before. I mean forreal, can one stage really hold all of that talent? It might just collapse under their metaphoric weight.

St. Vincent and David Byrne, “Weekend in the Dust”

3. Friday, October 3 – Sunday, October 5: Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Music Festival (lots o’ local music alert)

Back again and bigger than ever, STTPFest will take over various clubs, restaurants, and cafes all over the city and infuse them with live, local music for all of Columbus Day weekend. For those who have visited Austin for South by Southwest, the set-up is similar: live music takeover. If this fest has it’s way, you wont be able to avoid running into a plethora of local and visiting acts performing at your favorite places in Adam’s Morgan, U Street, and Cleveland Park.

4. Thursday, October 25: Major Lazer at 930 Club

I blogged about this guy recently as well, when I hyped one of his proteges (Brazilian club bangers Bonde do Role). But here’s a bit more background: Major Lazer was formerly a collaboration between mega-producer/DJ Diplo (the mastermind behind much of M.I.A.’s music) and DJ Switch, though now Major Lazer is solely a Diplo project. Major Lazer encompasses Diplo’s interest in fusing Jamaican dancehall beats with more traditional electro house. With thumping reggaeton beats, the familiar uhn-tiss of house, and some smashing guest vocals from Santigold, Amanda Blanks, and Nina Sky, the result is nothing short of boombastic. Major Lazer is the musical equivalent of the party that’s so intense and outrageous that you’re not even sure if you should be there, but eventually you just embrace it and have a buck-wild good time. Hence, the 930 Club will be one hot sweaty mess come October 25.

Major Lazer ft. M.I.A. and Busy Signal, “Sound of Siren”

5. Friday, December 7: Japandroids at Black Cat

Somehow, back in June, I failed to notice when Japandroids made their first DC appearance following their incredible spring release, Celebration Rock. I have no idea what caused that dire inattentiveness to show calendars, but suffice to say I was disappointed. I’ve been listening to Celebration Rock with ever-increasing frequency since April, and it truly is a gem. These guys are noisy in all the right ways, but not abrasive or obnoxious. The lyrics are simple and relatable, and their music makes me feel like these guys are just my good buddies, singing songs about the house party we went to last weekend. DC, how lucky are we that these guys are coming back in just a few short months, at one of the city’s most perfect venues?! Snipe your tickets now, they won’t last long.

Japandroids, ‘Fire’s Highway”

two bars three stars: mike and cody, bright light social hour at DC9

14 Aug

Normally I don’t post show retrospectives for local music. Half the fun in writing about a local, up-and-coming band is to get readers excited about the music and promote the show. I tend to be overly enthusiastic about music I enjoy, so if I can infect a smidge of that enthusiasm among DC readers (and maybe even inspire you to check out a show you wouldn’t normally attend), then I’ve done my job.
However, last week got the best of me- I attended a wonderful show by a newish DC band, but it came up a bit spontaneously and I didn’t get to the blog in time. So forgive the lack of timeliness, but enjoy the abundance of awesome tunes. You’re welcome.
So, last Thursday, I saw a sweet double line up of Texas meets DC: Austin-based South by Southwest favorites Bright Light Social Hour, and two DC kids called Mike and Cody.

Bright Light Social Hour are a pretty well-established quartet, and they made such waves during SXSW 2011 that they received the coveted title of “Band of the Year” at the Austin Music Awards, which coincides with the festival. Honestly, you could hate their music, but you can’t not admire their collective facial hair. They’ve got 70s handlebar mustaches, mop-tops, ponytails, and mountain man beards- holy follicle power. Plus, they sound like the most awesome, bluesy dive-bar band you’ve ever heard.
Bright Light Social Hour, “Detroit”

But on the local music front, Bright Light Social Hour brought in a great local group to kick things off- Mike and Cody, a band with only two permanent members currently (named, you guessed it, Mike and Cody). I first heard about Mike and Cody as members of another favorite local band, the Nighttime Adventure Society. Riffing on the theory that one good band leads to another good band, I checked out their debut EP “Let’s Go” on Bandcamp. The songs were good, but in all honesty, all I heard was “DANCE PARTY!,” and attending the show was a no-brainer.

My suspicions were correct; particularly in a live format, the songs are obviously well-crafted and intricate, but also supremely catchy and danceable. Some disco elements lurk in those synth-pop melodies, and it all comes together in songs that are utterly charming and a tad earnest- but not without a “they-mean-business” guitar solo here and there. Perfect combo, yes?

Keep an eye out, DC.

Mike and Cody, “Let’s Go”

i was there: jack white (secret show) at reckless records

9 Aug

Let me tell you a story. Everyone likes a good story, right?

This story takes place during my first trip to Chicago on the weekend of August 4, 2012. Why yes, festival fiends, that was the date of Lollapalooza 2012. And no, strangely enough, I did not have tickets.

I was in Chicago for many reasons that did not include live music- namely, to celebrate a friend’s engagement. While I was stoked to see Chicago and celebrate the impending nuptials of my two friends, it was hard to avoid some Lolla FOMO while staying at a hotel downtown, a stone’s throw from Grant Park. Particularly when you’re on a packed train at midnight, en route to a bar, and it’s full of post-festival revelers, dripping with sweat and basking in the glory of that night’s headliners (Black Sabbath, Bassnectar, and Black Keys).

But even without Lollapalooza, Chicago gave me a million things to love that weekend- I couldn’t get enough of the city’s architecture, energy, views, food- not to mention the great friends I got to see.

So there I was, happy as a clam, wrapping up a great trip with a Sunday afternoon excursion to Wicker Park (which I dubbed Chicago’s own Lower East Side). We ate lunch at a vegan cafe, I scored some sweet deals at a secondhand shop, and we hit up some record stores- life was good. But I was totally unaware that my weekend was about to get smacked upside the head with a whole new dose of awesome.

When I walked into Reckless Records, a large crowd huddled was huddled at the front of the store. I quickly found my gentleman companion in the group and asked him why everyone was standing around. “There’s going to be a surprise show!” he told me excitedly.  I asked who, but no one seemed to know. A fellow bystander speculated Franz Ferdinand, saying he had seen the lead singer in the store earlier. “Oh, that would be neat,” I said. But probably only neat enough to wait for 20 minutes or so, particularly with our flight home looming.

Just then, another shopper chimed in casually: “Didn’t you guys notice the Third Man Record truck outside? That’s Jack White’s label. It’s going to be him.”

Hooooold up. THE Jack White? Are you telling me I might see one of my favorite contemporary musicians, and arguably a top five most talented living guitarist, play right here in the store? Yes, that’s what he was telling us. Shit just got real.

We started frantically speculating how long we could hold out before we would miss our flight. I started scouring Twitter for clues, while my companion checked us into our flight and plotted our best taxi route. If our suspicions were correct, this would be worth some travel stress.
Soon enough, we were validated. Some guys in Detroit Tigers hats (White’s hometown) started to crop up. When the band finally took the stage, we knew- this was Jack’s band, no doubt. After a prolonged warm-up/intro that seemed to last for eternity, there he was- a legend with pale skin, crazy hair, and some weird cowboy shirt strolled through the shop’s front door and took his place 10 feet in front of us, guitar in hand.

Our faces were, of course, melted. Jack White is as talented a performer as he is a musician, and that is no small feat when you’re a genius like White. I’d seen him perform once before (with the Raconteurs in 2006), and during both shows White’s energy and engagement with the crowd seemed so effortless- like all the greats, he makes it look easy. Just as a great politician makes you feel like the only one in the room when they’re schmoozing, White makes you feel like you’re the only fan in the room when he’s shredding.

The show seemed to pass in a flash, though in reality White packed in two White Stripes tunes (including the classics “Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground” and “We’re Going to Be Friends), two from the new album, and a meandering ad-lib jam at the end that I couldn’t identify. The band was having a blast, he was having a blast (as much as Jack White ever does, anyway), and the crowd ate it up.

This clip doesn’t begin to do justice to the experience, but it will at least give you a taste of why I fell thoroughly in love with Chicago this weekend (well, one of the reasons). It was one of the most memorable musical experiences of my life, and I wish similar good fortunate on all music fans out there. For all the money you spend on tickets, time you spend standing in sweaty crowds, and energy you spend trekking to concerts any night of the week- everyone deserves a little live music karmic retribution once in awhile.

two bars three stars/on deck: thinkSPEAK at rock n roll hotel

2 Aug

I attended a pretty neat new music event a few weeks ago, but sadly it only made it into my Twitter feed and not the blog: the Flashband Summer Showcase at Half Street Fairgrounds on July 14. The concept was simple: a bunch of DC musicians got together, threw their names in a hat, and formed impromptu bands. These “flashbands” had one month to get together, write music, rehearse, and prepare for a showdowncase.

It’s awesome to see how the bands respond to this challenge- you can tell that some threw it together at the last minute, some composed  and perfected multiple original songs, and one band just decided to play five LCD Soundsystem covers. I wasn’t complaining.

But sometimes, these flashbands can become something more. What if, in the course of one month’s preparation, you stumble upon something golden? You wouldn’t want to just throw that progress away, would you?

Such is the case with thinkSPEAK, a DC band that debuted at the Flashband showcase and hasn’t stopped there. After closing their Flashband performance with an indisputable hit single, “Tiller,” the band refined, recorded, and posted the single on their Soundcloud page. Next up? An opening performance at Rock n Roll Hotel tonight.

Cheers to flashbands that aren’t fleeting and good ol’ fashioned toe-tapping singles.

“Tiller,” Think Speak

on my boombox: bonde do role & major lazer

1 Aug

The title of this post might read “on my boombox,” but truthfully this could fall under a couple of categories- so, COMBO POST TIME!

Anyway, artist of choice today: Bondo do Rolo. You’re already intrigued, I know. Brazilian names are intriguing.

But thankfully, these guys deserve the attention they automatically garner for their exotic roots. Bonde do Role is bringing favela funk music straight from Rio de Janeiro to the U.S., and I couldn’t be more stoked about it.

What is favela, you ask? Don’t worry, I wouldn’t know either, if it weren’t for NPR. But sometime in fall 2010, I listened to an NPR piece about this Brazilian dance music (also called “baile funk” or “funk carioca”) taking the world by storm, and I fell in love with what I heard. Ever since, I’ve hoped favela would creep out of Rio to infiltrate mainstream and indie dance music in the U.S.- rest assured, it has, and in large part thanks to these guys.
Bondo do Role got their big break in 2006 when mega-producer Diplo found the band’s Myspace page (nothing says 2006 like a Myspace page, am I right?). Ever since, their music has subtly made waves by being featured in numerous commercials, games (such as FIFA), movie previews, etc- it’s possible you’ve listened to these Brazilian party people without evening knowing it.

This summer, I’ve renewed my appreciation for Bonde do Role due to some choice collaborations and remixes that have popped up across the internet; one of them, “Bang” featuring Das Racist, I featured on RwR’s July playlist. This time, I’m featuring their work with the same man who discovered them, Diplo.

See, Diplo is not only Bonde do Role’s producer and a successful solo artist, but he is also one part of the DJ duo Major Lazer. The crazy-awesomeness of Major Lazer’s outrageous, raunchy, Jamaican dancehall-influenced electro music deserves a post of its own, but rest assured it’s epic. For now, just be excited about the below track that combines the favela force of Bonde do Role with their mentor and DJ extraordinaire, Major Lazer.

Oh, and the reason I said this post was a combo? It could also be an “on deck” post, because Major Lazer is going to blow the lid off of U Street Music Hall on Thursday, October 25. Oh. hell. yes.

Are you dancing yet?

Major Lazer, “Get Free” (Bondo do Role remix)