For their 10th annual festival, Living Classrooms married some highlights of the local music and food scene with sound great nationally-touring acts like Dustbowl Revival and The Ballroom Thieves.
She may be off of an album cycle now, but her message is still sharp, both timely, and perennial. Like a cutthroat progressive missionary, she returned to the capital of Trump’s America on Sunday night to enthrall a slightly smaller crowd at U Street Music Hall with her confrontational poise and an exhilarating ensemble of musicians.
Roadkill Ghost Choir was a band.
Roadkill Ghost Choir are our friends
This is the story of how band is born, lived, and died.
RIP Roadkill Ghost Choir.
LONG LIVE ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR
Rents rise, transient populations come and go, and gentrification relentlessly turns over neighborhoods, but every generation finds a DIY space that serves its needs. In DC, recent years have seen the rise and fall of Paperhaus and OTHERFEELS, and now attention has shifted to Dwell, a red brick carriage house tucked in an alleyway in the Trinidad neighborhood.
In addition to housing an arts and literary space, rooftop garden, and yoga studio, Dwell also serves as a performing arts space for local and touring bands. On May 3, Dwell served as the space for a rare quadruple-bill of local and national touring acts, kicking off with Evan & Jonny, guitarists from the local ensemble Cigarette, who performed without the ornamentation that appears on their 2016 album Warm Shadows / Love’s Mirror or their later singles.
Double Winter from Detroit did an exciting set that showed the band and lead singer and songwriter Holly Johnson as an adept student of multiple generations of alternative rock. Frequently sung in a dreamy murmur, their classic blend of strummed electric guitar and female vocals — think Throwing Muses, Look Blue Go Purple — shows how a familiar formula can still generate attention and novelty. They’re like the archetypal indie band that loved the Pixies but always knew that Kim Deal had best songs.
Double Winter has not yet released a full-length, but they spotlighted some of the tracks from their singles and EPs. A highlight was “Fall On Your Face” from their new self-titled 7’’ single, and the dreamier “XO Skeleton,” from the 2016 EP Watching Eye. Johnson is an engaging singer and frontwoman, who can go from a languor into an urgent frenzy in the span of a verse or two, and Double Winter benefits from Augusta Morrison’s keening electric violin, which lent an unearthly tone to otherwise standard instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums.
Double Winter was celebrating the one-year anniversary of touring with their friends in New York City’s Blush. Blush is the bedroom pop ensemble led by songwriter and songwriter Maura Lynch, with bandmates Jonathan Campolo (Pill), Nick Campolo, and Andrew Chugg (Pop. 1280). Listening to Blush at Dwell, one would be immediately struck by the throwbacks in their sound. Who remembers the Sarah Records bands from the UK? Or DC’s own Velocity Girl? Maura Lynch does – or she’s channeling that era with remarkable acuity, with songs about relationships and doubt with hummable choruses and jangly guitars.
People have loved the sounds of cooed female vocals over guitar feedback and fuzz for years, and Blush has the formula mastered. Some songs lean toward the plainspoken directness of Juliana Hatfield; others broaden the bedroom-pop vibe to embrace a bit of shoegaze blur. They kicked off their brief set at Dwell with “Just Kidding,” from their self-titled 2017 full-length, then the breezy “Daisy Chain,” which manages to be both sunny but indistinct at the same time. Blush was spotlighting a new single, “Forever Is a Long Time,” an unadorned but direct song about the risks of ruining a relationship that sounds like Mirah’s You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This. They concluded their rushed set with their theme song, “Baby Don’t Blush,” and then a blurry, almost unrecognizable cover of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” that interpolates the Tom Tom Club lyric, “I’m in heaven with my boyfriend,” on which Lynch swapped genders midway into the song.
Sets at Dwell are held to a strict curfew, and DC’s Slow Love had barely fifteen or twenty minutes to do its set. They made the most of their time as a trio — two percussionists, samples, and vocals — in Miami Vice outfits, with downtempo lounge vibes and songs that tilt toward the mid-1980s schmaltz of Billy Ocean or Wham! There was a definite Roxy Music-sensuality in the performance and singing by vocalist Bryan Gerhart aka Baby Bry Bry, but the lyrics were all about violence and alienation in the urban squalor, sung with orchestrated dance moves. It was what the band calls “soft brutalism,” a reaction to gentrification and the poured-concrete architecture that dominates DC’s business center and federal offices. It’s all very high-concept, but it’s undeniably fun — and Gerhart made unique use of Dwell’s tire swing in the middle of his set.
Photos by Mauricio Castro
Upcoming Tour Dates
On his latest album, I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream., Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man On Earth is, in part, following in the grand tradition of “life on the road” albums. The road is fucking hard. The road is fucking TOUGH man…but does the world in 2019 need any more sad songs? Special guest Wes Covey joins us to discuss sad songs and much more on an all-new Discologist.
At first glance, the two bands’ music seem to be polar opposites of one another, but in fact their similarities can be found finely interwoven in the steps they take to further themselves from being confined to a genre at all.
Hailing from the savage frozen North – otherwise known as Arvika Sweden – Enforcer are bringing the thundering sounds from the darkness of yore – otherwise known as mid to late 80’s metal – back on their new LP Zenith. Prepare your soul for the end of the universe and join us in these final hours as we journey through this timeless scream from the darkness. Don’t forget to tip your dark overlord before you exit this plane of existence. Hail Satan!
On an all-new Discologist, two newbs take on the new release from one of the most prolific bands of the past 10 years. After releasing FIVE full-lengths in 2017, Australian psych-kings King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard slowed down the pace and discovered the power of boogie for their first album in a year, Fishing For Fishies. Jam-packed with technicolor freakouts and enough groove to satisfy old and new fans alike, Fishies is the sound of a band ready to take on the mainstream, one face-melting trip at a time.
A quorum of Chicago’s goth and industrial scenes descended upon the sold-out Bottom Lounge on The Devil’s Lettuce day for a tight hour from Los Angeles noise outfit HEALTH.
“We share everything” noted Sima Cunningham, referring to her bandmate Macie Stewart’s sly trot across the DC9 stage to sneak a sip of tequila soda.
This vastly understates the onstage dynamic of Ohmme, Stewart and Cunningham’s Chicago based avant pop project. The band, reminiscent of offbeat indie rock like Cate le Bon or Tune-Yards, is touring off Parts, their 2018 LP, a first for the project despite both artist’s backgrounds as classically trained musicians.
On her third album and major label debut, Cuz I Love You, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and liver of her best life Melissa Viviane Jefferson aka LIZZO is doubling down on the Prince vibes and in the process may be making the world a better place for us all. On this episode of Discologist special guest Philip Basnight joins us to discuss what makes a perfect pop album, the power of positivity, and why it’s Lizzo’s world now, we’re just lucky to be living in it.
Foals’ two-night return to DC was so electric that lead singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis jumped off the second floor balcony into the crowd. If that’s not rock and roll, what is?
Last June, Toronto musician MorMor (aka Seth Nyquist) released his debut EP, the self-written, self-produced Heaven’s Only Wishful. At a packed Songbyrd in DC, he played nearly, if not all, of his released discography and more.
Eighteen months since their last show in the U.S. Capital, the boys of Bad Suns made their long-awaited return to Washington D.C. to play a sold-out show at the 9:30 Club.
Over the course of his over 25-year career, Bruce Hornsby has been a pop star, avant-garde provocateur and jazz titan, folk hero, member of the Grateful Dead and more.
On his new album Absolute Zero, Hornsby is tapping into all of these facets of his talent and more and result is a complex, dense, and immensely satisfying collection of songs that speak to the state of our world, and where we are going to go from here. Joining us to talk about Absolute Zero is Brokedown Pod host and Bruce Hornsby enthusiast Jonathan Hart. So kick back and open up your mind as we press play on a brand new episode of Discologist.
Three-time Latin Grammy winner Vicente Garcia returned to the DMV with songs from his upcoming third album Candela in tow. At his Fillmore Silver Spring show, he explained how this project is a return to his Dominican roots and that it explores the traditional music of his motherland. He’s received lots of musical accolades for a good reason - the beauty of his music lies in the blend between the sophistication and complexity of his compositions and the delicacy of his lyrics.
"I don't like talking loudly, it hurts my voice," Duffy proclaimed shortly after the start of her set. Instead, she let her guitar and loop pedal do the talking at her packed-out Songbyrd show.
Luz Mendoza dedicated Y La Bamba’s DC show at Songbyrd to her late abuelita in an Instagram post that read, “Your heart and love shines through our blood.” Known for an indie-folk sound heavily influenced by pride in her Mexican heritage, Y La Bamba’s performance highlighted the expanding diversity of Mendoza’s skills as a songwriter and performer; from a Latin dancehall groove on “Boca Llena” to shimmering dream pop on “Cuatro Crazy” to an emotional solo performance of “Ojos Del Sol” to a percussive, rousing vocal chant on “Mujeres.”