If you take the laid-back, nerdy charm of Rivers Cuomo and combine it with the retro-pop grooves of Tennis or even Foxygen (minus some of vocalist Sam France’s bombast), you would probably get something in the vein of Dent May. The musician from Oxford, Mississippi has made his name creating warm and breezy pop songs with a distinguishable throwback croon and falsetto. His latest outing Across the Multiverse has more indie-pop polish than ever before - his croon is as good as ever, and so is the instrumentation surrounding it. The space-themed setting and the lapel pin on the album cover says it all - it's an indie-pop escape, and he brought his flight of fancy to Songbyrd for an entertaining Sunday night.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Japanese Breakfast is no longer just a curious side project of Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner. On night 1 of her headlining tour across America (and soon, Europe), Zauner explained that opening for other artists like Slowdive and Mitski has been great, but headlining in support of her well-received sophomore album Soft Sounds from Another Planet is even greater. "I've felt like a bridesmaid for the last year and a half - that's why I'm wearing white tonight."
Since it started in 2010, the Hopscotch Music Festival has become a Raleigh institution and an event which music fans who travel to North Carolina from all over look forward to all year. Now in its eighth year, the festival returned this year with its famously diverse lineup. No matter what you’re looking for – indie rock, electronica, country, hip-hop, folk – you’re bound to find it, and the layout of the festival, spread throughout the city, provides the opportunity to check out numerous acts over the course of the weekend. Whether it’s a small local band at an unofficial day party, an internationally-known headliner on the City Plaza stage, or something in-between late night in a downtown club, there’s music to be found everywhere in Raleigh on Hopscotch weekend.
The penultimate song on The Suburbs was an inflection point for Arcade Fire. The track, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” featured an exuberant Regine Chassagne on vocals over a retro-glossy synth-pop track. It suggested that her real comfort zone was not in aspirational arena-filling anthems, but on the dance floor. Although the album went on to win Album of the Year at the Grammys, the sound that Arcade Fire was known for changed in line with the new musical times - more “Sprawl II” than “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).” Their latest album Everything Now signaled that it wasn’t just a phase - the title track and other tracks are more danceable than anything in their back catalog but at the expense of the anthemic qualities of their earlier work.
Legendary thrash/metal/punk/funk/jazz pioneers Living Colour have been breaking the mold since the late 80's, and now they're back with one of their most potent collection of songs to date. Shade taps into the band's roots in blues and hip-hop and signals an exciting new chapter in Living Colour's history, just when the world needs them the most. Kevin, Eduardo, and Marcus K. Dowling sit down to work through this powerful return to form one of the most important bands in rock-and-roll history.
A indie-folk tune for lonely folk
Why You Should Care:
Twain is the solo project of Spirit Family Reunion and The Low Anthem guitarist Matt Davidson. With a move from NYC to Richmond, VA, Davidson has taken a DIY approach to his solo releases, putting music out on Bandcamp. Now on Austin label Keeled Scales, Twain is set to release his album Rare Feeling on October 20.
Jim Lauderdale may not be a household name, but he should be. With twenty-plus years in the industry behind him and a staggering twenty-seven albums under his belt, Lauderdale isn't just the real deal; He is legend.
London Southern takes the country-music veteran back to the music that first inspired him, inviting the listener along on a journey of reflection on and celebration of timeless art that shapes the musical landscape to this day.
PLUS! Ben Sollee is back and he's got a killer new album to show for it! Check out "Pieces Of You" off of the Kentucky native's latest Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native.
NYC-based duo Gracie and Rachel joined with Vermont's Henry Jamison for a co-headlining night of orchestral pop and indie-folk music at Songbyrd.
In 2011 James Murphy brought an end to one of the biggest and best indie bands that have ever been. Now it's 2017 and LCD Soundsystem is back with a new album and bigger than ever. Live from the cat apartment, Kevin, Marcus, and Eduardo are taking on this American Dream to find out if it's the instant classic we all deserve, or just another non-essential comeback album from a band well past their prime.
PLUS! The New York Times is talking to women who rock, and Eduardo is spinning a new track from indie bossa nerds Mosquitos!
Together or apart, long time musical collaborators Louis Weeks and Noah Berman have been creating some of the most forward thinking pop music of the past few years. When they started working on their latest project, it was familiar, yet different, and called out for something new. Out of this new collaboration, Faunaphor was born along with an exciting new phase of these old friends careers.
At the beginning of the Summer Louis and Noah joined Kevin in the basement to talk about And There I Was, the debut album from Faunaphor, what comes next and the inescapable pull of John Wick.
When Fairport Convention formed in 1967, it’s almost certain they had no idea how influential they would become or how long they would run. The band is credited with starting the English folk rock movement with their 1969 album Liege & Lief, and in addition to its own considerable success also spawned the solo careers of several notable former members including Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, and Iain Matthews. The band’s membership has changed many times over the years (the only original member still remaining, Simon Nicol, even left the group for several years at one point), but after five decades the band continues to go strong, having just released their 28th studio album, 50:50@50. Since 1980, the band has held an annual festival in Cropredy, England, a small village in Oxfordshire. This year, for the band’s 50th anniversary, the sold-out festival drew in 20,000 fans from around the world for three days of nearly non-stop music.
First Up: Taylor Swift is gamifying the ticket industry? What does this mean for YOU and is this latest "big bad" really worth worrying about or should we be setting our sights higher.
Then...when Philadephia's Adam Granduciel started The War On Drugs with fellow mellow-rocker Kurt Vile back in 2006, the music industry was rapidly approaching the era of peak indie. Granduciel's small but intricate soundscapes stood out in a landscape dominated by fuss and flash, and on 2014's Lost In The Dream, the expanded lineup hit their stride with an album that balanced laid-back psychedelics with oceans of heart and soul. Dream earned The War On Drugs a rapidly growing fan base and a major-label deal, the results of which can be hard on their latest LP A Deeper Understanding. Kevin, Marcus, and Paul are digging into the band's latest forays to the edges of the sonicsphere to see if the trip is worth the journey, or The War On Drugs best days are behind them now.
Plus! Denver, CO's The Yawpers Boy In The Well, is the straight shot of rock-and-roll that we all need in 2017. Get a taste of this adrenaline fueled, high concept, punk-Americana masterpiece with the track "Mon Dieu."
Ah, to be 21 and selling out concerts across the country. The Michigan quartet consisting of brothers Josh (vocals), Jake (guitar), and Sam (bass/keys) Kiszka and their close friend Danny Wagner (drums) have the boyish looks to attract younger, X-marked-on-their-hands fans, but there’s something else about them that is attracting fans of all ages. Take a listen to the first guitar lick and yell of “Highway Tune” from their debut EP Black Moon Rising and you'll likely come to the same conclusion that many others already have. It’s Led Zeppelin all over again, from the guitars to the Robert Plant-like vocals. There’s a bit more to them than that, but the favorable comparisons don't hurt for a band that’s just breaking out. With this initial buzz, they have handily been packing venues like DC9, their first headlining billing in DC.
For many, 2017 was the year they discovered the Mattson 2. The twins from Los Angeles, Jared and Johnathan Matson, had a chance encounter with Toro y Moi's Chaz Bundick. Touring with Bundick as openers created a unique rapport, one that led to the intriguing side project, Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2. It was a laid-back album that flowed well with the sound Bundick crafted in What Now?, but it was clear that the guitars and drums of the Mattson 2 had a big part in that. With a mini-east coast tour kicking off at Songbyrd, they proved why they were sought after in the first place: because they're damn good at what they do
Time and again, Bomba Estéreo has brought the future of Latin American music to the rest of the world. Riding the wave of buzz thanks to their song "Fuego" in 2009, they were christened by countless publications as the next big thing in Latin music. It was well-deserved - the Bogota, Colombia band was turning traditional Colombian music on its head by melding it with elements of psych rock, reggaeton, and electronic music. Though they’ve made it to Howard Theatre three times in the last few years, they had never played 9:30 Club until now. Less than a week after their latest LP release Ayo, they played to a sold-out crowd that was ready to party like the Colombians do.
Sometimes, it’s hard to separate Little Dragon - the band - from Little Dragon - the feature on another artist’s track. For years, vocalist Yukimi Nagano has made the rounds with musical tastemakers like DJ Shadow, Gorillaz, and Big Boi to give their songs that extra flourish and indie cred. Though there are lots of sounds indebted to Nagano's standout voice, the Swedish band has garnered a lot of well-deserved recognition of their own. From their 2007 self-titled debut to their latest outing, the 80s-influenced Season High, they have toured the world and pushed the synth-R&B genre forward time and again. At their two-night stint at 9:30 Club, they once again proved their prowess in melding genres into a sound that's uniquely their own. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a charismatic singer like Nagano at the helm.
The DC area has been sadly lacking in the music festival department since Virgin Mobile decided to end their annual free festivals and the Landmark Festival fizzled after only a single year. But on the last Sunday of July, a triple-headliner show at Merriweather Post Pavilion brought, if not the musical diversity of a full-fledged festival experience, a line-up of heavy-hitters that would normally only be seen together at a large event. Belle and Sebastian, Spoon, and Andrew Bird are all big enough names to headline their own shows individually – together, they brought a night of indie rock and pop to Columbia worthy of the top of a festival line-up.
For 18 years, Mew has been a band with arena rock tendencies and indie rock workmanship that has uplifted fans all over the world. The much-lauded Danish trio spent six years crafting their previous album +- but surprised fans by releasing Visuals in April, a much quicker two-year turnaround. While Visuals did away with some of the glossy production of their previous album, their desire to create dazzling sights and sounds that convey hope and joy hasn’t gone away. In fact, on the visual front, they were as strong as ever at 9:30 Club.
Local DIY organizers DCDIT put on a show at the Dew Drop Inn that featured two local musical acts as well as one from Beijing. First up was Body Puzzle, the musical project of DC-based artist Anthony Pirog. He composed the sheet music for his five-piece band, creating an intriguing musical journey that took listeners through twisting and unexpected paths. Their musical influences were all over the place, with crime noir-like mysterious sax solos at times and dreamlike, woozy guitars at others. Body Puzzle is a new project from Pirog, so new music is incoming.
Jamila Woods has an impressive resume: Brown University graduate, associate artistic director of the non-profit organization Young Chicago Authors, and rising R&B star. After making a name for herself singing the chorus of Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment’s “Sunday Candy” and Chance the Rapper’s “Blessings,” she released her debut album HEAVN exclusively on SoundCloud through Chicago label Closed Sessions. The album was so well-received that she has since signed to record label Jagjaguwar, who will be jointly re-releasing HEAVN alongside her original label Closed Sessions. With the impending re-release, she embarked on a July tour that included stops at Pitchfork Music Festival, Panorama Festival, and a sold-out DC crowd at Songbyrd.