Is there a more accurate album title this year than Phil Cook’s People Are My Drug? By now, our love for Phil Cook should come to nobody’s surprise - the Hiss Golden Messenger and Megafaun guitarist has been on our podcast twice to talk life and his love of people and connection. But take one listen to his sophomore album, and you’ll get the same notion that everyone at Cook’s sold-out Songbyrd already knew - he can create some damn uplifting music. Cook drew heavily from gospel and Mississippi Delta music as well as contributions from friends like Mountain Man (which includes Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath) and Richmond’s No BS! Brass Band. It’s a considerate and uplifting collection of songs for people going through struggles of their own.
If Kamasi Washington’s work on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 masterpiece To Pimp A Butterfly put Kamasi squarely in the public eye, his double LP The Epic that came a mere two months later launched him into the stratosphere. Washington followed up the audacious Brainfeeder debut with a succinct, and decidedly shorter work entitled The Harmony Of Difference (one of 2017’s very best albums), and now the master of Street Fighter cool is back with his first full length in three years, Heaven & Earth.
Built on the foundations of everything that came before with its sights directly aimed at the stars, Heaven & Earth isn’t just a masterful doubling down on the promise of Kamasi’s prior work, it may be one of the most significant pieces of art the 21st Century has produced.
Kevin and Eduardo are joined by Philip Basnight (Broke Royals), Ian Taronji (The Lucky So & So's), and Eduardo's real-life brother Rafa (Rafa's One Man Band), for a heady conversation about jazz, life, every other sublime treasure that awaits you in Kamasi Washington's latest masterpiece, Heaven & Earth.
Except for a brief spurt of popularity in the early-to-middle 1990s, power-pop legends the Posies have carried on a quiet existence outside of the spotlight of the media for years, touring as a duo of lead songwriters Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer. They were around long enough to make a commercial splash in their hometown of Seattle well before the rise of grunge, get included on the soundtrack to Reality Bites, and then soldier on gamely after the major label attention had waned.
In 1967 when he gained notoriety playing for one Captain Beefheart, nobody had any reason to believe that a kid from Santa Monica would go on to be a cross-cultural legend, and one of the most revered guitarists and musicians of all time. Despite fifty years of success as a sideman, an everyman, and master of soundtrack work, and a producer of a “small” film by the name of Buena Vista Social Club, Cooder’s music, much like the man himself, has seemingly existed out in the ether.
The days of stadium rock would seem to be mostly behind us, as the bands that once filled those huge venues wind down, either finishing their careers or moving on to smaller spaces as the audiences dwindle, and few new artists find their way that far up in the ranks. Last year, U2 proved themselves to be one of the few bands still capable of carrying a stadium-sized venue, as their massive 30th anniversary tour for The Joshua Tree packed FedExField and similarly big venues elsewhere across the country. But even U2 has come to recognize the value in closeness to their audience, and their latest tour production for their latest album, Songs of Experience, follows in the footsteps of their last regular tour for 2014’s Songs of Innocence in bringing the band as close as possible to as many of their fans as possible, despite the still large arena spaces that they’re playing.
The road to music stardom is paved with wedding cover bands, restaurant gigs, and teaching guitar lessons. Nobody knows this better than Bruno Major, who has done all three. Major told Interview Magazine that shortly after leaving college, he did whatever he could to earn money for two years, including playing three nights a week in Italian restaurants for 50 pounds and a bowl of pasta. But starting in 2016, he released one song a month online, starting with the track “Wouldn’t Mean a Thing.” For the next eleven months, the hype grew for Major to the point where he was able to release the songs as a compilation, his debut album A Song for Every Moon, in August 2017. The icing on the cake? He landed an opening gig for Sam Smith’s European arena tour this past March/April. Now that his opening stint has ended, Major promptly made his way stateside for a few summer gigs, including at U Street Music Hall.
HYPE has always been a part of the music/entertainment industry, but in 2018, have we gone too far? Increasingly, it's not enough anymore that an artist delivers a few great hooks. To succeed they have to be the greatest of all time, the savior of the music industry, or, even worse, the voice of a generation, all often without even having a single album under their belts.
On our latest episode, our friends Philip Basnight (Broke Royals) and Rafa (Rafa's One Man Band, Saduardo's actual brother) are joining us for a frank discussion about how we consume, market, share, and celebrate music in the modern era.
As they approach their 50th year as a performing duo, Daryl Hall and John Oates are showing no signs of slowing down. While chart success may have come and gone for the pair over the years depending on where they’ve stood with the musical trends of the day, their hits – 34 total in the US Billboard Hot 100, including six number ones – have stood the test of time and remain some of the most instantly recognizable songs out there. Last year, the duo embarked on a co-headlining tour with Tears for Fears, and this year they returned, sharing the stage with San Francisco rock band Train.
Washington, DC's Flasher made minor waves with their self-titled debut in 2016, and now the trio is back with a new label (Domino) and a fun-as-hell new LP, Constant Image. Recalling the late 80's heyday of gothic synthpop, Constant Image's outta time, place, and, most importantly, outta sight sound is the new hotness arriving just in time to save us all from another dreary Summer in the swamp.
PLUS! Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge's long-gestating project The Midnight Hour is finally out in the wild, and we've got a tasty track for you to turn the lights down lowwww and do whatever comes naturally for ya.
On our latest podcast, soul/jazz polymath Kadhja Bonet is back with the follow up to her remarkable 2016 debut, The Visitor, and the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same. Bursting with the uniquely impossible smoothness and impeccable sophistication that defined The Visitor, Childqueen is a singular that mood feels as fresh as it does timeless. Special guest Marcus J. Moore (Senior Editor, Bandcamp) joins us to journey through this latest weird and wonderful that Bonet has shared.
PLUS! Israel Nash is back with some potent good vibes, and we've got the first single of off his upcoming LP for you to get lost in!
They’re far from being a household name, but no history of psychedelic rock in the last three decades would be complete without a significant section dedicated to The Bevis Frond. Since Miasma, his first self-recorded and self-released album under the name, came out in 1986, Nick Saloman has been one of the most prolific musicians out there, having put out a total of 22 regular albums (the most recent being Example 22, released in 2015), not to mention several live records and other releases, as well as working with other artists including Current 93, Country Joe McDonald, and Mary Lou Lord. Many of The Bevis Frond’s records have been hard-to-get collector’s items for years, but a reissue campaign started by Fire Records in 2016 has looked to change that. Last year, Fire hosted a one-day music festival called This Corner of England (named after a song off of the Frond’s 1990 album Any Gas Faster), and this year repeated the event at the 100 Club in London, with the band as the stars of the show.
Over the course of her almost twenty-five-year career, Neko Case has proven time and time again that she is a fierce force of nature to be reckoned with, which makes it a little weird to say that Hell-On is her most powerful work to date. Built on the literal ashes of a recent personal tragedy (her Vermont home/studio burned to the ground) and bursting with love over the joy found in even the darkest parts of our lives, Case's latest is a potent reminder of how deeply honest art can change the world, one listen at a time.
PLUS! Kingsley Flood is back with Neighbors & Strangers, there most poignant LP to date, and we're spinning a new single from it to help you fall in love with this raucous Boston/DC band all over again!
Merrill Garbus has a lot on her mind these days, and her sound is changing as a result of it. I can feel you creep into my private life is a rumination of white privilege and the divided state of America. While Garbus and newly-official bandmate Nate Brenner have done a very admirable job in calling out injustices in their previous work (like with “Gangsta” and “My Country”), they set out to confront their privilege head-on and in doing so created the most focused work of their career. (You can listen to our podcast episode on I can feel you creep into my private life here.)
Dark, Ladytron-esque electro-clash with a dash of hip-hop percussion
Why You Should Care:
Camille Gray and Teddy Aitkins are carving their own synth-pop path. The pair met in DC in 2014 and have been steadily recording since then, releasing singles in 2016 and 2017 (“Lights Off” and “I Make Bones,” respectively) and performing at this year’s edition of SXSW. But now that their debut EP Affectus has arrived, they’re ready to really make a splash.
One of the best indie rock bands to come out of England in recent years is The Slow Readers Club from Manchester, but if you live in the US you could be forgiven for not having heard of them, as they haven't had much exposure yet on this side of the pond. The band has taken on a very DIY ethos, self-releasing their first two records and relying on word-of-mouth rather than label promotion or radio airplay to get the word out. The band members even still have their day jobs, but nonetheless through nearly a decade of touring and playing festivals, they’ve managed to build a significant following in the UK. So significant, in fact, that when their third album Build a Tower came out at the beginning of May (this one released by indie label Modern Sky UK), it debuted in the UK album charts at number 18. It seems only a matter of time until the band sets their sights internationally.
Barely a year after releasing his apocalyptic magnum opus Pure Comedy, Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) is back with another sonic journey into depravity. God's Favorite Customer finds the embattled monarch of the "poem zone" taking a break from battling the evils of modern times to engaging in bloody combat with his greatest enemy and nemesis: himself.
Special guests Lindsay Hogan (Talking LIke A Jerk) and Seán Barna join Kevin and Drew as we follow this modern day lizard king down the rabbit hole of his deepest insecurities and regrets to find out what's on the other side for one of this generation's most relentlessly talented (and relentlessly misunderstood) voices.
The late 70s in the UK were a time of musical turbulence, as the young bands of the era rebelled against the excesses of the prog rock, disco, and other forms that had come to exemplify the decade. The result was a very distinctive version of punk, which while it shared much in common with its American counterparts such as The Ramones and The Stooges, had a sound that was very much its own. At the same time, labels like 2 Tone were fronting a new second wave of ska and rocksteady, which fused these sounds with punk. While many bands of the period have long since disappeared, recent years have seen a renewed interest in this music which has resulted in a number of reunions. Last Saturday, four of the best of these reunited bands – ska legends The Beat and The Selecter, and punk legends Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers – came together for a co-headlining show at The Forum Hertfordsire in Hatfield, England, just north of London. The show – which was originally scheduled to happen outdoors, but got moved inside due to the threat of thunderstorms – was utterly packed with fans, many of whom had been there the first time around.
On his 2015 solo debut Southland Mission, Phil Cook dove deep into his unparalleled love of Americana and Gospel and came back with a timeless, illuminating masterclass in countrified-soul that was one of the best albums of that year, or any. Now Phil is BACK with People Are My Drug, his stunner of a follow-up and this time he’s aiming to save the universe…with love.
On our latest, Phil is hanging with Kevin and Eduardo to talk about how People Are My Drug came to be, the everlasting importance of music in the world, collaborations, revelations, and pretty much everything else under the sun.
Get ready for one of OUR favorite people to become one of YOUR favorite people on an essential episode of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast.
Known to most of the world as a political playground, Washington, D.C. is a city where decisions that shape the course of, not just American, but HUMAN history, are made every day. More than that though, D.C. is a city where cultures collide resulting in a creative class that produces some of the most compelling and diverse art in the world. Built on the legacy of jazz and go-go, D.C. is on the cusp of a creative explosion and bringing everything from hip-hop to indie rock into the fold.
In part five of our Sounds of Washington, DC series, Chris Richards (pop music critic for the Washington Post) is joining us to talk about the bone-crushing sounds of one of the cities most renowned exports: harDCore. From Bad Brains to Genocide Pact and everything in-between, it's about to get loud on the latest episode of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast.
Lawrence has some “New Stuff” to unleash upon the world.
The brother and sister duo of Clyde and Gracie Lawrence (alongside seven of their best friends) have performed all over the country and overseas - even the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (We covered them twice in 2016, at Songbyrd and U Street Music Hall in DC - both shows were in support of their debut album Breakfast.) Now, the tremendously upbeat band is prepping for the release of their sophomore album, Living Room. Though it won’t be released until September, the Union Stage crowd in DC were the first on this tour to hear a few of the songs from the upcoming album.