Tracking

"Turn It Up" — Penguin Prison

"Turn It Up" — Penguin Prison

Sounds Like:

#mondaymotivation doused in catchy guitar riffs

Why You Should Care:

Chris Glover has been one of the most reliably fun musicians to grace the synth-pop landscape in the last few years. In the time since his 2015 sophomore album Lost in New York, he’s been DJing venues worldwide and putting out remixes for artists like Freedom Fry, A R I Z O N A, and DC-area band Broke Royals. But he’s also recently put out the four-song EP Turn It Up. The title track is quintessential Penguin Prison - there are four-on-the-floor drums, and poppy guitar riffs abound - but it’s also one of positive reinforcement, encouraging you to push through regardless of the obstacles.


Tiny Reviews: New Releases 3/23/18

Tiny Reviews: New Releases 3/23/18

First impressions are often the best, so each week we bring you a brief rundown of what is, and isn't, worth your precious damn time after spending oh-so-little time with the latest in music

Delivered with a heavy dose of snark, here come this week's picks.


Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 [Reading THIS Friday at Right Proper Brewery!]

Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 [Reading THIS Friday at Right Proper Brewery!]

Sounds Like:

Nothing. It's a book. A damn GOOD book at that. 

Why You Should Care:

Born out of curiosity and fascination with one of the greatest albums of all time, Hallelujah The Hills frontman Ryan H. Walsh has crafted a modern classic of rock and roll biography in Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968. All but abandoning the usual behind-the-scenes insights we've come to expect from your standard music bio, Walsh's profile plunges the reader into a deeply weird, and awesomely psychedelic, exploration of the late-sixties Boston outside legendary singer/poet Van Morrison that ultimately seeped into the creation of his undisputed masterpiece.

Melding equal parts Hunter S. Thompson with the exacting, humanistic eye of Ken Burns, Walsh, through his at times unbelievable cast of "characters," events, and general far-outness achieves that rare feat of bringing history to Technicolor life by putting the reader in the room with the weirdos, heavies, and music legends that drift through this true story's landscape.

You can get lost in the slipstream yourself THIS FRIDAY when Walsh kicks off his book tour for Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 right here in Washington, DC Right Proper Brewery in Brookland (920 Girard St NE, Washington, DC, 2001) from 7pm-9pm. The event is free (you can RSVP HERE) and will be Co-Hosted by David Malitz, of the Washington Post.

Whether you're a fan of Van the man, weird history, or just like great beer, this isn't an event you're going to want to miss. 


Ben Tufts & Friends Present A Tribute To The Police

Ben Tufts & Friends Present A Tribute To The Police

Sounds Like:

Andy, Stewart and some guy named Gordon

Why You Should Care:

For the past seven years, drummer and educator Ben Tufts has been throwing a music party with all of his friends to raise money for the Craig Tufts Education Scholarship Fund. You can't have too much of a good thing though and over the past few years, Tufts has expanded the annual event to produce a series of cover-band events that highlight some of the best music of all time being played by some of the areas best musicians.

This Saturday (3/3) and Sunday(3/4), Ben and his friends are doubling down on the concept and presenting a TWO NIGHT event at Gypsy Sally's in Georgetown covering the music of The Police. The lineup for this massive undertaking features band members from Birds For Eyes, Cross Kentucky, The Beanstalk Library, Classified Frequency, The NRIs, Uptown Boys Choir, and many more*. 

Tickets for the event are just $15 (get em HERE!) and all profits from each day go to fund the Craig Tufts Education Scholarship Fund. So grab a friend and head on down to Gypsy Sally's this weekend to do some good while having your face rocked off.


"Going Back Where I Belong" — Elise LeGrow

"Going Back Where I Belong" — Elise LeGrow

Sounds Like:

A refreshing revival of the Etta James/Motown/Amy Winehouse sound

Why You Should Care:

Canadian singer Elise LeGrow is making her US debut with the album Playing Chess. What’s unique about this debut, though, is that it’s entirely comprised of covers. LeGrow chose songs from the legendary Chess Records archives, including Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” and Sugar Pie DeSanto’s “Going Back Where I Belong.” (Check out the original version here.) LeGrow doesn’t stray far from the source material here - these are classics, after all. But what’s most notable (and even eerie) is how familiar Elise LeGrow’s voice is to Amy Winehouse. Fans of hers will find a lot to like in Playing Chess, especially this track.


“Mirrors” - El Perro Del Mar

“Mirrors” - El Perro Del Mar

Sounds Like:

A brooding ballad, with both regret and heartfelt yearning to connect  

Why You Should Care:

Sweden’s Sarah Assbring, who records under the name El Perro Del Mar, has been putting out frequently tearful and sometimes unexpectedly joyous synthesizer-driven singer-songwriter pop since 2006. In recent years, her exploration into the sounds of Asia and the Middle East, as in the 2016 album KoKoro, provided new textures to a musical palette that was rooted in 60s pop ballads. The recent EP We Are History shows Assbring in a brooding mode, with dark synths and the hint of a gamelan in “Mirrors.” Remember when Dead Can Dance reached pop audiences with Into the Labyrinth? El Perro Del Mar seems to be moving in a similar direction, but on a shoestring budget.

Assbring has become a strong visual artist, and the new video for “Mirrors” plays on generational identity and connection among women. The weakest element of El Perro Del Mar’s music has always been the simplicity of her English lyrics. Assbring tends to fixate on a chorus and repeat it, and “Mirrors” is no exception. But she finds power in simple but evocative phrasing: “I know it’s messed up, I know it’s not right / but I want to try, I want to try.” El Perro Del Mar has been exploring the nuances of emotional connection and distance for a long time now, but she keeps finding new angles.


"Doubt" — Joywave

"Doubt" — Joywave

Sounds Like:

The catchy melodies of BORNS and Coast Modern meets the bass lines of Tame Impala  

Why You Should Care:

Some musicians take their videos seriously, but none take as much pleasure in crafting stranger-than-fiction videos as Joywave does. Their debut album How Do You Feel Now? was heavy on the dark synths on songs like “Destruction” and “Somebody New,” but their videos show a complete other side of the band. The video for “Tongues” starred a colony of nudists being hunted down with a clothing gun. “It’s A Trip!” is a sun-soaked, jet-ski romp through the Bay of Miami with the band as they progressively age and shrivel away on the water. Content track “Doubt” is no different here - Director Olivier Gondry keeps the concept relatively simple, but strange. With just one spotlight and a pitch-black set, the band members’ faces are manipulated and melded into one another.

Joywave will be performing in DC this Friday, March 2, at U Street Music Hall.


“Extraordinary Love” - Erika Wennerstrom

“Extraordinary Love” - Erika Wennerstrom

Sounds Like:

A slow-burning anthem, taking Wennerstrom’s blues belting into mystic realms  

Why You Should Care:

For 14 years, Erika Wennerstrom has led Cincinnati-via-Austin’s Heartless Bastards, an unabashedly earnest and gritty garage rock outfit spotlighting her rough-hewn, soaring vocals. At times evocative of an imaginary indie-rock Melissa Etheridge, or the second coming of Lone Justice’s Maria McKee, Wennerstrom was the distinguishing factor in a pleasing, but not always distinctive, ensemble.

For her first solo album, Sweet Unknown — Heartless Bastards haven’t broken up; they’re just on hiatus — Wennerstrom stretches herself in some unexpected ways, spotlighted by the nearly seven-minute long intro single “Extraordinary Love.” Behind a tangled electric guitar solo, Wennerstrom sings of searching for romantic and spiritual fulfillment. She employs every metaphor for a spiritual journey you can imagine: endless roads, mountaintops, native potions — before her inchoate yearning spirals into another guitar solo and an extended closing wordless chorus stretching out the final two minutes. “Extraordinary Love” is an unlikely merger of heavy blues and space rock that would’ve been somewhat out of character for the Heartless Bastards, so it makes sense that it’s presented as a solo project, and a new facet of Wennerstrom’s musical life.


"Your World” — thanks.

"Your World” — thanks.

Sounds Like:

The catchy melodies of BORNS and Coast Modern meets the bass lines of Tame Impala  

Why You Should Care:

The slinky bass line that kicks off the song should immediately hook you, but if not, maybe the lyrics will. LA-based indie-pop duo thanks. released "Your World" to the world a few months ago, a song that waxes indignant about seeing someone become a completely different person before their eyes. The song combines psychedelic synths, a catchy cadence, and of course, that bass line.


"Everybody's Lonely” — Jukebox the Ghost

"Everybody's Lonely” — Jukebox the Ghost

Sounds Like:

A modern pop homage to Queen that breaks away from the modern pop message

Why You Should Care:

Let's get it out of the way - yes, Jukebox the Ghost has never sound Queen-ier than on "Everybody's Lonely." Not surprising for a group that has been holding "Halloqueen" cover shows for the last three years? But Jukebox the Ghost deserves more credit than that - for ten years, they've been crafting reliably catchy piano-pop songs that everyone may have heard on a TV commercial or at an H&M at some point. But there aren't many radio-friendly piano-pop bands with a voice as soaring as Ben Thornewill's.