Episode 323: Reputation - Taylor Swift

Episode 323: Reputation - Taylor Swift

With six albums under her belt, Taylor Swift has built a career that has made her one of the biggest pop-stars in the world. So how is it that her latest album, Reputation is such a complete, million unit selling failure?

Kevin and Marcus K. Dowling - both avowed Swift fans - are taking one for the team and attempting to navigate the depths the most narcissistic, cultural appropriating, and, to be clear, worst album of 2017. 

Yea...we're where fun goes to die. 


Episode 322: Face Your Fear - Curtis Harding

Episode 322: Face Your Fear - Curtis Harding

Atlanta's Curtis Harding has been steeped in soul music his entire life. From singing in church with his family in Michigan as a child to being one of Cee Lo Green's star backup singers, Harding is a true veteran of the scene. On his second full length Face Your Fear, he's playing with is self-proclaimed "garage soul" formula again, this time enlisting the help of uber-producer Danger Mouse to drag a dying art form screaming into the future.

PLUS! Country is king even in Canada, and Blake Berglund is living proof! We've got a taste of his new album Realms for you to sidle your ears up to.


Diane Coffee @ DC9 - 11/7/2017

Diane Coffee @ DC9 - 11/7/2017

When you need a showman, you call up Shaun Fleming. After cutting his teeth as the drummer of throwback-pop outfit Foxygen for a few years, Fleming went solo as Diane Coffee and stayed true to the flamboyant likes of Bowie, Jagger, and Foxygen frontman Sam France. Fleming's penchant for all things Bowie and Rolling Stones shows in his music - his latest two-song EP Peel (out now through Polyvinyl Records) showcases his nostalgic taste for a bygone musical era - namely, 60s pop. But according to Fleming, his next album will be taking some musical leaps and bounds that will expand the sound that he is known for. With his recent stop at DC9, he gave fans a taste of what’s next for the burgeoning solo project.


"Get Right" - Weezer

"Get Right" - Weezer

Sounds Like:

A return to the Weezer of the early 2000s

Why You Should Care:

Weezer’s 11th studio album Pacific Daydream is an ode to the band’s California roots, full of exuberant pop-rock that fans of the band have come to expect from the band, and a return to the production from their 1990s heyday. While some of the other songs on the album feel overglossed and primed for radio play, “Get Right” is a pleasant departure that hits the right balance

Throughout “Get Right” Cuomo speaks to a feeling of being alone and thinking about what might have been. While the lyrics take a darker and more contemplative tone, the upbeat tambourine, strong bassline, and Beach Boys-style backup vocals give the song the impact of a classic Weezer tune.

One thing is for sure. Weezer has not lost its ability to get a strong hook stuck in your head —  “Get Right” is a song you will be bopping along to long after it has ended.


"Imogene" - Cory Branan

"Imogene" - Cory Branan

Sounds Like:

A little bit country. A little bit rock & roll. A+ songwriting that's rough around the edges, just like you like it. 

Why You Should Care:

After five full lengths and a choice take on Princes "Under The Cherry Moon" in 2014, Memphis born (now based in Nashville) Cory Branan has earned the reputation of being one of the most exciting songwriters working in "country" music today.

On Adios, Brannan brings in a lot of the cowpunk energy found on previous releases like 2014's The No-Hit Wonder for songs like "Another Nightmare In America" and "Yea So What," but it's on the plaintive "Imogene" that he heads back to the country, serving it up with a little bit of soul for good measure.

Cory Brannan's Adios is available now on Bloodshot Records.

He plays TONIGHT in Washington, DC at Pearl Street Warehouse. Tickets are still available HERE.


"Myrna Lee" - Wilco

"Myrna Lee" - Wilco

Sounds Like:

Old(er) Wilco or Uncle Tupelo, a good, ol’ alt-country ballad.

Why You Should Care:

Wilco has had a long run, and the band now seems to be realizing its mortality with a glance down memory lane, announcing expanded reissues of their two earliest albums: AM (1995) and Being There (1996).

This twangy mountain song “Myrna Lee” is the first single they have chosen to unveil.  A previously unreleased track from AM, “Myrna Lee” has the feel of an Uncle Tupelo alt-country classic where the electric instruments take the background. With plaintive vocals, pedal steel, and buzzing fiddle, “Myrna Lee” was originally written by Wilco bassist John Stirratt for his twin sister Laurie, who released it through her band Blue Mountain’s 1997 album Homegrown.

Even as the band looks back to the early years, it’s hard to say if the end is in sight. For a band with such an extensive resume and side projects as Wilco, the question is always one of what we will hear next.

Both deluxe reissues of AM and Being There are set to appear on Rhino in December. Tracklists have already been released for both.


Kishi Bashi @ Sixth and I - 11/6/2017

Kishi Bashi @ Sixth and I - 11/6/2017

Since releasing his first solo EP in 2011, Kishi Bashi (the stage name of Kaoru Ishibashi) has been making some of the most thought-provoking, intricate music in the indie pop world today. A multi-instrumentalist but known first and foremost for his acrobatics on the violin, Kishi Bashi has a distinctive style all his own (the only even somewhat close comparison to Andrew Bird fails to take into account all but the broadest strokes of either musician’s work). He released his most recent album, Sonderlust, last year, and his tour for the album at the time brought him to the DC area at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Last week he came back to town, playing the much more intimate setting of Sixth and I, where he had previously played with a string quartet in early 2015.


Susanne Sundfør @ The Hamilton - 11/6/2017

Susanne Sundfør @ The Hamilton - 11/6/2017

It's not often that a nationally chart-topping artist makes their way through to The Hamilton. At least, not Norwegian chart-toppers. Susanne Sundfør has been lauded in her home country with both critical and commercial praise - her last four albums have all reached #1 in the Norwegian album charts and she has won the Norwegian Grammy for Best Female Performance. Although she has provided vocals for the likes of Royksopp and M83 for the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion, it was her 2015 album Ten Love Songs that helped her really make waves stateside. The visceral emotion in her voice was only made more potent by the dark synths that permeated every song. But if Ten Love Songs was a raw, cathartic dance party, her latest album Music for People in Trouble (out now through Bella Union) is a somber nightcap spent alone with your darkest thoughts at 4 AM. The intricate musical layers were stripped away, leaving acoustic guitars, pianos, and Sundfør's distinctive voice, creating one of the best artpop albums of 2017.


Beach Fossils @ 9:30 Club - 10/24/2017

Beach Fossils @ 9:30 Club - 10/24/2017

Where did Beach Fossils disappear to? It has been four long years since the band hailing from Brooklyn, New York has released new material for the world to hear. This hiatus led Beach Fossils to create Somersault, their latest most sonically experimental record to date. Since Beach Fossils’ inception, the indie rock band has been no stranger to change, with Dustin Payseur being the sole member remaining from the original group. Along with lead singer and guitarist Dustin Payseur, Beach Fossils is currently a trio consisting of bassist Jack Doyle Smith and guitarist Tommy Davidson. For their first ever stop at the 9:30 Club, Beach Fossils made the most of their set time to perform a gratifying balance of older cuts from their discography and songs from their newest album.


Ibeyi @ 9:30 Club - 11/1/2017

Ibeyi @ 9:30 Club - 11/1/2017

Sibling groups like Tegan and Sara, Disclosure, and Destiny’s Child (two-thirds of them, at least) have made their mark on American musical pop culture, but none draw inspiration from international locales like Ibeyi. The word “ibeyi” literally means “twin” in Yoruba, a Nigerian language that was brought across the Atlantic in the 1700s due to the Spanish slave trade. The sibling duo of Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz keep their heritage alive by singing in four different languages - English, French, Spanish, and Yoruba. They grew up in a very musical household - their mother, Maya Dagnino, is a singer and their father, Anga Díaz, was a Cuban percussionist and member of the Buena Vista Social Club. To say that they had great expectations placed on them is an understatement, but XL Recordings saw their potential and released their self-titled debut album when they were just 20. Their latest album Ash continues to bridge the gap between French influences, Afro-Cuban rhythms, R&B, and soul in a way that not many are attempting today.


Episode 321: Turn Out The Lights - Julien Baker

Episode 321: Turn Out The Lights - Julien Baker

To say Julien Baker wears her heart on her sleeve would be an understatement. On Turn Out The Lights, the Memphis, Tennessee native (now based in Nashville) turns up the feels on an emotional roller coaster of an album that drags the listener down to the bottom and doesn't offer a clear way back from the depths.

Kevin, Eduardo, and Marcus are spending some time with this elegiac powerhouse of an album and considering the truth in "downerism" and if it's OK to feel oh-so-not-OK.

PLUS! Soul Man Gregory Porter is back and hitching a ride with Nat King Cole to make you "Smile" on his latest LP, Nat King Cole & Me.


The Clientele @ Rock and Roll Hotel - 11/2/2017

The Clientele @ Rock and Roll Hotel - 11/2/2017

The Clientele returned this year from a seven-year break from recording with Music For the Age of Miracles, picking up right where they left off with their distinctive indie-pop sound. Following the release of the Minotaur mini-LP in 2010 the band had gone on indefinite hiatus, but they reunited briefly in 2014 to play several shows including the Merge 25 festival. Washington, DC was fortunate to get one of a handful of warm-up shows leading up to that festival appearance, and the band returned again to start off their US tour at the Rock and Roll Hotel.


Episode 320: Rhythm Nation 1814 - Janet Jackson [Discologist]

Episode 320: Rhythm Nation 1814 - Janet Jackson [Discologist]

With Control, Janet Jackson became a household name, but it wasn't until her 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814 that she ascended to the status of music legend. 

Buttressed by pop hits and jam-packed with hooks set loose from some future utopia, Nation was a not-so-subtle exploration of racism, sexism, love, and social responsibility that sought to elevate our humanity by any means necessary. More importantly, it's an album who's messages sadly may be MORE relevant almost thirty years later.

Join Kevin, Marcus K. Dowling, and Timothy Anne Burnside (National Museum of African American History and Culture) as they consider this landmark achievement in music.


"Dream" - Bishop Briggs

"Dream" - Bishop Briggs

Sounds Like:

Phantogram mixed with the vocals of Florence + the Machine and the drum line of a Kaleo song

Why You Should Care:

It’s rare for a song to capture the feeling of being in a dream and waking up without being sure if it’s real or not. Bishop Briggs’ new single “Dream” captures this feeling perfectly. Beginning with an acoustic guitar, Briggs opens the song with airy vocals that quickly build to an almost gospel tune with a pulsing beat drop. It delivers the same evocative/moody indie-pop vibe that fans of her first hit “River” have come to expect from the 25-year-old musician. Bishop Briggs’ lyrics walk the listener through the challenge of dreaming you are brave enough to do or say something, but feeling unable to get the feelings out. "Dream" is focused on the inability to share feelings with someone you love, but the struggle to share your truth with others feels universal throughout the song.

“Dream” is closer to a ballad than Briggs’ previous singles that raised her profile in rock and alternative charts, but her 2017 self-titled EP showcases her ability to convey an equally soulful mood in hits such as “Wild Horses.”

Not only does Bishop Briggs bring an intensity to all of her recorded songs, but she is known for putting on an electrifying live performance. Her strong set overcame a difficult early morning time slot at last year’s All Things Go Fall Classic to kick off a memorable day of music. Bishop Briggs will return to DC on November 18, opening for Bleachers at a sold-out show at the 9:30 Club.


“Wallowa Lake Monster” – Sufjan Stevens

“Wallowa Lake Monster” – Sufjan Stevens

Sounds Like:

Seeing an actual lake monster on a drizzly day.

Why You Should Care:

Sufjan Stevens has made a career out of blending simple folk elements into complex arrangements. His 2015 album Carrie & Lowell, though wrought with soft-spoken existential angst, presented a resolution to his musical paradoxes. The acoustic instruments on that album sounded a shade electronic, and vice versa. They came together and formed an entirely original indie-folk experience. Apparently, the B-sides do the same thing.

“Wallowa Lake Monster” gives us another chapter in Sufjan’s musical evolution, as well as in the lyrical tale of his mother Carrie. The song draws parallels between the legends of Sufjan’s mother (mentioned throughout his work) and a Leviathan-like creature said to once lurk about Oregon’s Wallowa Lake. It follows —maybe even refines — the classic Sufjan model of weaving tall, majestic lore into a common exploration of self, with instrumentation that shifts between heavy and light.

Starting out with basic picking pattern, similar to “Death with Dignity” and other songs from Carrie & Lowell, it morphs into a more epic synth composition, with a good bit of spacey instrumental by its conclusion

“Wallowa Lake Monster” doesn’t feel like a B-side, matching the scope of any major Carrie & Lowell release. The song gives us a nice hold-over as we await Sufjan’s The Greatest Gift Mixtape — Outtakes, Remixes, & Demos from Carrie & Lowell. Look out for the full compilation on November 24, 2017.


"Get By" - Diane Coffee

"Get By" - Diane Coffee

Sounds Like:

Elton John meets the E Street Band

Why You Should Care:

Aside from being a very charismatic lead singer, Shaun Fleming has an ear for retro-pop earworms. Fleming, now two albums removed from his days as the drummer for Foxygen, still carries the retro flag high. The uplifting saxophones, saloon-like piano lines, and 60s-pop vocals that permeate this song were originally slated for Diane Coffee’s third full-length album. But at some point, “the concept and direction of the album changed” according to Fleming in a press release. “I was suddenly left with several tracks that I loved but no longer fit the project."

Given the musical connections between his previous album and Peel, his latest two-track EP, it signals that while we can and should enjoy Diane Coffee’s musical niche that he has carved, one that channels the best of Bowie and Elton John, we should also be getting ready for what’s next. For now, though, you can enjoy Diane Coffee and Fleming’s captivating on-stage antics at DC9 on Tuesday, November 7. Peel is out now through Polyvinyl Records.


The Dears @ DC9 - 11/3/2017

The Dears @ DC9 - 11/3/2017

Montreal, Canada’s The Dears, despite a two-decade history of writing compelling, intelligent songs, have remained one of indie rock’s best kept secrets. They seemed set to break out with 2003’s No Cities Left and again with 2006’s Gang of Losers, but ended up with more of a cult following, a status which they have kept since despite multiple Polaris Music Prize nominations and gigs opening for some of the biggest names in indie. After a longer-than-usual absence following 2011’s Degeneration Street, the band returned in late 2015 with Times Infinity Volume One, and followed that up this year with its sequel, Times Infinity Volume Two. The tour for this release finally brought them back to DC on Friday for the first time since 2009, where they played to a small but dedicated crowd for an early show at DC9.


Episode 319: Take Me Apart - Kelela

Episode 319: Take Me Apart - Kelela

Washington, DC native, and second-generation Ethiopian American Kelela Mizanekristos spent years honing her musical chops in the underground scene of the nation's capital before moving to Las Angeles, dropping her last name and beginning her ascension to one of the most essential voices in R&B today.

On her acclaimed 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me and 2015's Hallucinogen, the singer/producer made it clear that she was a force to be reckoned with. Now, on Take Me Apart, her first full length, she's building on some of the themes from her prior work to craft a vital statement about personhood, womanhood, and the perils and pitfalls of love.

Kevin and Marcus (Dowling) are sitting down to discuss one of 2017's most notable albums to find out if Kelela has got the goods, or just if the ideas she's exploring are ultimately more important than the execution.


Episode 318: Girls Against: How to combat sexual harassment/assault in the music space and beyond...

Episode 318: Girls Against: How to combat sexual harassment/assault in the music space and beyond...

Dudes (and by "dudes" we mean each and every man on the planet)...we need to talk.

We know it's hard (it isn't) but you ALL have got to stop harassing, assaulting, or otherwise disparaging women. FULL. STOP.

This episode is a conversation about that. Joining Kevin, Eduardo, and Marcus are Erin Frisby (Fuzzqueen) and Andrew Koh, the DC representative for UK based organization Girls Against.

There will be a quiz after to ensure that you have learned, so please try and pay attention.


Episode 317: All American Made - Margo Price

Episode 317: All American Made - Margo Price

In 2016 Nashville's Margo Price garnered nationwide attention with her debut album Midwest Farmers Daughter. Released on Jack White's Third Man Records, Daughter harkened back to a "purer" form of country music (Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton) that immediately struck a chord with the Saving Country Music crowd and music criterati alike. 

All American Made, Price's sophomore release, finds the Nashville staple not just sticking to her country bona fides but speaking out about some of the pressing social issues that we all face in 2017. We're digging deep into this civic-minded salvo to find out if Price hits her mark, or if she has fallen victim to the dreaded sophomore slump.