In an interview following the release of The Fall in 2011, Damon Albarn was quoted as saying that it was unlikely that Gorillaz, his collaboration with artist Jamie Hewlett, would put out another album. But times change, and after an even more improbable reunion when Blur put out The Magic Whip in 2015, Albarn announced in October of that year that he and Hewlett had begun work on a new record. The results of those efforts finally came out in April of this year with the release of Humanz, a 20-track tour de force that saw Albarn digging even deeper into the electronica and hip-hop influences behind the project, and deeper into the political climate (even though the album was recorded prior to the votes for Brexit and for Trump, parts of it seem almost prescient), than he ever had before. Along with the album came the announcement of a world tour, and the excitement was so high that the band’s stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion (not a small venue) sold out almost instantly, months in advance.
Soundcloud is one of the most ubiquitous "tools" used by artists and industry professionals alike since the collapse of the MP3 blog culture. Communities have built up within it, artists have been discovered through it, and
Earlier this month, the music service announced that they were laying off 40% of their workforce, closing two offices, and, it was discovered, may only have enough cash to run for another 50 days.
On our 300th episode (!!!) Kevin, Marcus and special guests April George and Matt Vista (April + Vista), are discussing what this collapse could mean for artists, the blogosphere and the industry at large, and figuring out how to save the music industry in the process*
PLUS: Thoughts on the future of the cast, and a listen to a track that is nearest and dearest to our hearts.
*Spoiler: We don't save the music industry
The story goes that Woods never intended to release a record this year, with last year’s City Sun Eater in the River of Light still fresh in everyone’s minds. Then the election happened, and in a quick outpouring of emotion, the band found they had written and recorded a six-song, 32-minute record reacting to the outcome. But rather than giving in to despair or anger, the central message of Love Is Love is one of hope, that no matter how bad things may seem in the short term, peace and love will win out in the end. At the tail end of a brief summer tour, the band brought their psychedelic folk pop to the Rock and Roll Hotel for an energetic set that helped to reaffirm that message for all who came out to see them.
For your soul-tinged pop music fix, one of the first bands you should turn to is Lake Street Dive. Thanks to some well-deserved word of mouth, most notably a 2012 cover of Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back,” the quartet of Rachel Price on vocals, Bridget Kearney on stand-up bass, Mike Olson on guitar and trumpet, and John Calabrese on drums have taken their act from the Boston Conservatory of Art to venues around the world, including both 9:30 Club and Wolf Trap in the DC area last year. The quartet returned to DC with a sold-out set at Lincoln Theatre that included old favorites, sing-along covers, and even a few new songs from their still-unannounced fourth album.
A lofi hip-hop waterfall
Why You Should Care:
Hailing from Boston, MA, Seneca B is creating instrumentals that you should add to your hiking/travelling/otherwise wandering soundtrack. MF DOOM take notice...Seneca B is making the soundtrack to your next album.
With flowers adorning the cover art, “Aquarian” sounds smooth and silky with its melodic guitar and soul-singing sample. If Continuum-era John Mayer were to record music for a New York rap cypher, that would be this track. A perfect beat to deliver a mindful freestyle to, Seneca B shows that her calm and collected style flows with fluidity over an 808. Releasing Soundcloud and Bandcamp singles over the past few months, “Aquarian” is Seneca B’s most recent drop, so hopefully she is preparing for something big.
In the meantime, add “Aquarian” to whatever playlist you listen to when you’re staring at the stars on a summer night.
By 1987 the Grateful Dead's long, strange trip was starting to wind itself down, but a surprise hit single ("Touch Of Grey") would catapult the band back into the spotlight, inspire an entirely new generation of fans whose size would, in the end, play a large part in the band's untimely demise.
To celebrate it's 30th birthday, a group of proud Deadheads recently spent a Friday night in the basement with Kevin to talk through this divisive landmark in the band's history and try to figure out if it's just true that "every silver lining's got a touch of grey" or if the Dead were, at long last "going to hell in a bucket."
With a string of mixtapes, EP's, and one LP behind him, hip-hop's Vince Staples has been making a mark on the new-rap landscape for years now. On his new album Big Fish Theory, he's taking the art form into the future and bringing us all along for the ride.
Kevin, Marcus Dowling (Decades/Capital Wrestling), and Joe Lapan (Songbyrd Music House) dig into this landmark effort from the young MC, and consider what this means for the future of hip-hop, where Staples is going to land once he comes down from the stratosphere, and much, much more.
PLUS! Get to know the superfly jams of R&B/jazz/hip-hop supergroup The Pollyseeds before their album Sounds of Crenshaw, Vol 1 drops on 7/14. (This Friday!)
WTMD, the public radio station affiliated with Towson University, has been running their First Thursdays summer concert events in Baltimore for well over a decade now, bringing in a diverse range of artists from small local bands to legends. Their 2017 season has been no different, and has, in fact, seen the event grow from one stage to two in Canton Waterfront Park. A rainy day for their July event forced them to combine the event onto a single stage on the adjacent parking lot, but couldn’t put a damper on the spirits of the performers or the crowd who braved the forecast to see them.
In a recent article on artist advocacy site CASH Music, journalist Liz Pelly investigated "The Secret Lives Of Playlists", and what she found out has sparked another cycle of controversy for the world's largest provider of streaming music, Spotify.
Is payola running rampant in the world of playlists? Is that really a problem? Do streaming services have a "moral" obligation to artists or has the label system simply evolved, meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Casey Rae (The Priest They Called Him: William S. Burroughs & The Cult of Rock 'n' Roll) and Michael Kentoff (The Caribbean) join Kevin in the basement to try and navigate this hyper-complicated landscape and hopefully come up with some answers.
PLUS! Indie-Folk collective The Good Graces are back with a new LP (Set Your Sights) and we've got listen to one of it's best tracks for ya!
A markedly more serene Louis Weeks and Noah Berman
Why You Should Care:
DC-based keyboardist Louis Weeks and guitarist Noah Berman have been creating music side by side for a few years now, but today, they are debuting music under a new moniker – Faunaphor. The vintage synths and sparse percussion paired with dissonant piano chords making their presence at any given moment makes this a slight departure from the pair’s previous work, but Weeks’s vocals are as calm and assured as ever here. Faunaphor’s debut album And There I Was is due later this year.
Roadkill Ghost Choir’s sound is big - much bigger than their origins. Hailing from Athens, GA by way of DeLand, FL, their debut album In Tongues introduced the world to their unique blend of Southern rock and alternative rock that were both of those things and much more. Their most recent album, the Born To Run-influenced False Youth Etcetera, is on track to be re-released later this year by Freakout Records. The band (and friend of the podcast) played Songbyrd on their mini-tour of sorts that started at Firefly Music Festival in Dover and will end at their adopted hometown of Athens.
For the last decade, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart has been one of the premier bands of the New York indie pop scene. Led by singer and guitarist Kip Berman, the group released their first, self-titled album in 2009, and followed it up with Belong in 2011 and Days of Abandon in 2014. Earlier this year, Berman announced the completion of the band’s fourth album, titled The Echo of Pleasure, which will be released on September 1st. In the meantime, the band embarked on a summer tour, which brought them to the Rock and Roll Hotel this past Saturday night.
With one of the biggest rock hits of all time ("Creep") and a genre defining guitar-rock classic (The Bends) under their belts, Radiohead had little left to prove when OK Computer was released in the Summer of 1997. Despite that, what they achieved was an album full of fear, anxiety, and beauty that quite literally changed the course of rock music as we know it.
On the latest installment of our Discologist series, we're taking a look at everything that made this modern-day masterpiece great, why it has withstood the test of time, and how its techno-phobic, anti-fascist themes are almost horrifically as relevant today as they were twenty years ago.
Roger Waters, one of the founders of the legendary Pink Floyd, has always had a keen eye for isolation, oppression, and political justness. On his fifth solo LP, Is The The Life We Really Want?, he's turning that gaze on the United States and recruited a group of powerful "newcomers" (Johnathan Wilson, Jessica Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius) to bring his stark vision of our present and future to life.
Join Kevin, Michael Kentoff (The Caribbean) and Casey Rae (The Priest They Called Him: William S. Burroughs & The Cult of Rock 'n' Roll) as they dive deep into this savage political statement, Waters career, and much much more.
Happy Birthday America.
Jason Isbell’s star has been rising for some time now, and with his latest release The Nashville Sound, the Alabama-born country singer and former Drive-By Truckers member appears to have truly broken into the mainstream. His first album credited to him and his band The 400 Unit since 2011’s Here We Rest (both 2013’s Southeastern and 2015’s Something More Than Free featured the band, but were billed as solo releases), The Nashville Sound contains some of Isbell’s most rocking solo moments yet. When Isbell was last at Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2015, it was as an opener for My Morning Jacket, a band making its first foray into headlining amphitheater-sized venues. This time it was Isbell’s turn, playing to a packed audience on a hot late-June night in Columbia.
Wesley Stace is John Wesley Harding. In case you hadn’t gotten the memo, the singer-songwriter, who took the stage name from Bob Dylan’s 1967 album and used it for the first 25 years of his career, has spelled it out for you with the title of his latest album, Wesley Stace’s John Wesley Harding. Stace had begun using his real name publicly with the release of his first novel Misfortune in 2005, but it wasn’t until his 2013 album Self-Titled that he began recording under it. Whether a simple nod to the pressures of marketing (changing the name you record under after over two decades can’t be great for record sales no matter how much press you give it) or an acknowledgement that with this release he has gone full-circle musically and returned to the more rocking sound of his earlier years after the previous album’s more subdued textures (in fact, a number of songs on the album are previously unused ones that date back to the earlier period), Stace’s choice of name for the new album serves to draw together the two phases of his work. Recorded in Minneapolis with The Jayhawks as his backing band, the album’s twelve tracks are classic Wes (as his fans knew him even before the name change), and show an artist still at the top of his game long after many of his contemporaries have thrown in the towel.
At the age of 12, Andrea Avery, a promising young pianist, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. In her debut, Sonata, Andrea tells the story of her struggle to hold on to music in general, and to a piano sonata by Schubert in particular, even as the disease catches up with her. Andrea’s memoir meditates on the lives of great composers as she tries to make sense of what it means to lose the ability to perform music. As it happens, Andrea and Eduardo went to high school together, so they sat down to catch up and talk about her book, classical music, disease, and of course, cats.
Along with Madness and The Beat (known in the US as The English Beat), The Specials were one of the defining bands of the ska revival of the late 1970s in England, which saw the bands combining elements of the Caribbean sounds of reggae and rocksteady with the influences of the nascent punk genre which was taking over the British music scene of the time. Centered around 2 Tone Records, the label run by Specials keyboardist Jerry Dammers, the bands defined their own distinctive sound and aesthetic (the black and white checkerboard design and rude boy fashion). The Specials themselves only released two albums in their initial run (1979’s The Specials and 1980’s More Specials) before splitting (with some band members remaining to record a third album as Special AKA while others went on to form the band Fun Boy Three), but those two albums had a massive influence on generations of musicians to follow. The band has reunited with various lineups over the years, recording several additional albums in the late 90s and early 2000s, but a reunion in 2007 for the Glastonbury Festival brought together most of the band’s classic lineup and has continued (with some additional personnel changes) to this day. On the band’s latest US tour, they came to the Baltimore Soundstage, where they played a rousing show to a nearly sold out crowd.
Local DIY space OTHERFEELS brought a diverse set of bands to the Mount Pleasant rowhouse basement on Thursday night.
Joan Shelley released her fifth, self-titled solo album at the beginning of May. Produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, the eleven-track record clocks in at only 33 minutes long, but proves to be the Louisville, KY-based singer-songwriter’s most powerful, personal statement to date. Shelley’s tour for the album, which wrapped up its east coast leg this past weekend at the Solid Sound Festival, brought her recently to Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA.