With the genre-bending that dominates today’s musical landscape, nothing is firmly rock and roll, pop, hip-hop, or electronic anymore. Such is the case for Australian trio RÜFÜS DU SOL. Take a listen to a track from their ARIA chart-topping sophomore album, Bloom, and you’ll hear something that could be described as straightforward and fun electronic house music. Look at a picture of them, and you may assume that these are just some more EDM bros touring the DJ circuit in their all-black clothes and backwards baseball caps.
Lin Manuel Miranda's acclaimed musical Hamilton isn't just one of the most successful musicals of all time, it's one of the most important works of art of the 21st Century.
Join us as we dive deep into this new take on a modern masterpiece that is as much a celebration of modern hip-hop and pop music as it is a reaffirmation of the powerful and essential message of it's source material.
Hiss Golden Messenger signed to Merge Records in 2014 for the release of their fifth album, The Lateness of Dancers. The record marked not only an increase in visibility for the North Carolina-based country rockers, but also a leap forward in the songwriting of bandleader M.C. Taylor. This year’s release of the band’s sixth album, Heart Like a Levee, saw Taylor expand his musical palette even further, adding in elements of funk and psychedelia on several tracks including “Like a Mirror Loves a Hammer” and “As the Crow Flies.” The result is the band’s most interesting, diverse album yet, doubtless in no small part due to Taylor’s decision to commit to music full-time.
Sunflower Bean are still a very young band, but they’ve been making a name for themselves for the past several years at home in New York City, being named the “hardest working band” in the city by Oh My Rockness in 2014. Their first EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets, came out early last year and showcased a heavy, psychedelic sound, with churning hard rock grooves and distorted vocals. The band followed up in February of this year with their first full-length, Human Ceremony, a much more refined affair that took them in the direction of indie pop, with Johnny Marr- and Robert Smith inspired guitar work and Lush-inspired vocals (and the occasional hint of The Velvet Underground) throughout much of the record. In a surprise release in September, the band put out another four-song EP, From the Basement, containing covers of The Modern Lovers, Neil Young, Spiritualized, and T Rex. There’s little doubt that the trio has a vast knowledge of music between them, and they want to play all of it. In many ways they’re still finding their own sound, but even watching this growth is an exciting ride.
On The Visitor, Kadhja Bonet is mining the past and creating a soulful new sound that feels more than necessary in the crazy year that is 2016. Is it one of the years best, or does this hyper-talented artist from LA still have a little ways to go? Tune in and find out.
PLUS: DC's renewed soul scene continues to grow and thrive. April + Vista are leading the charge. Any questions? Get em answered with their track "Beasts".
The Naked and Famous have been known for their fist-in-the-air, 80s new wave-tinged anthems since their 2011 hit single, “Young Blood”. Their latest album, Simple Forms, doubles down on that sound to impressive results. They last played in the DC area this past spring at the more intimate Rock & Roll Hotel to try out some new songs, but with a new album out, they sold out the Lincoln Theatre on their return trip for a night of loud and triumphant music.
There are bands whose appeal can span generations. Thankfully, Kero Kero Bonito is not one of those bands. It’s music crafted exclusively for millennials’ ears. You can conclude as much after listening to a song like “Graduation”, where singer Sarah Midori Perry sings “Today's my graduation, so long to education / Didn't learn a thing anyway.” But like other artists signed to unique pop label PC Music, Kero Kero Bonito has found a passionate audience for their quirky and very niche take on bubblegum pop, one that takes cues from J-pop, dancehall, and video games. And judging by their performance, they know exactly what they are doing and the audience they’re going for.
The music of British singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich is equal parts somber and uplifting, a combination that would easily find its way into the compilation albums of The OC or House. But although he impressed with the expansive soundscapes he created within his two albums (especially sophomore album After the Rain), Leftwich treated listeners at U Street Music Hall to a spartan setup that hearkens back to his beginnings - with just him and a guitar on stage.
Over his eighteen years as the frontman of My Morning Jacket, Jim James has seen the group transform and grow over time from the weirdo folk music of The Tennessee Fire to become one of the biggest bands in indie rock today. While it may have taken the group a few albums to fully get there, their success isn’t surprising, as the band’s mix of Americana, psychedelia, and jam rock give them a unique sound that makes them stand out amongst the crowded field of their peers. But rather than simply resting on the success of his band, James has chosen to branch out with a solo career as well. He released his first solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, in 2013, and though an excellent album in its own right it could easily have been simply an aside in his career, getting something out of his system. Yet after the band’s massive success last year with The Waterfall, James followed up with a second solo effort, Eternally Even, this year.
We thought the fighting was done. We thought the battles had been won. Amazon Music had other plans. The streaming wars, continue they must.
Hailing from the mighty Midwest, The Flat Five, the grooviest "supergroup" known to mankind, has arrived just in time with their debut LP, It's A World Of Love And Hope. After years of performing as a holiday one off, members Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough, and Alex Hall have captured their magic on wax and are taking the show on the road? Is it groovy, or the GROOVIEST? Tune in to find out.
PLUS! NYC's Hannah vs The Many makes powerful, theatrical rock and roll, and on their latest release, Cinemascope, they're turning it all up to eleven. Check out the first single "Surrender Dorothy" and get hooked.
Stevie Nicks released her eighth solo album, 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault in 2014, but was too busy with live commitments with Fleetwood Mac at the time to do a proper tour for the album. The band wrapped up their most recent round of touring at the end of 2015, leaving Nicks finally able to go out on the road for her own release this year. After some much-deserved time off from touring she did just that this fall, announcing a 28-date run that started in October and runs through mid-December. She and her band made their Washington, DC stop recently at the Verizon Center.
It's been eighteen years since A Tribe Called Quest released an album, but on their latest, and last, LP We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, the hip-hop legend's have delivered not just one of 2016's best, but a career defining masterpiece more than worthy of their legacy.
PLUS: Victor Perry makes indie-soul out of his closet in Atlanta, Georgia because DIY. We've got a track from this up-and-coming vocalist for you see how that works out for ya.
If there’s one thing the band Kingsley Flood knows about, it’s change.
In 2012, their album Battles took them back and forth across the country and all the way to the mainstage at the legendary Newport Folk Festival. It was an album that dealt with the everyday struggles of an “everyday guy”, and the songs reflected front-man Naseem Khuri’s struggle with issues of equality, a running theme in most of the band’s work.
English electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys released their first album, Please, 30 years ago in 1986. Although probably best known in the US for some of their earliest singles – in particular “West End Girls” and “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” – the pair have maintained a consistent career over the course of their three decades as one of the most distinctive sounding groups in their genre. This year they released Super, their thirteenth studio album, and reached number one on the US dance charts with their song “The Pop Kids.” The band’s US tour recently brought them to Washington, DC, where they played to a sold out crowd at the Warner Theatre.
Hip hop's Danny Brown has made a career out of exploring the extremes of his personality. On his fourth LP, Atrocity Exhibition he's brought all of his demons and angels together to create strongest statement yet.
We've assembled an all-star panel featuring Sarah Godfrey (Washington Post, City Paper), Briana Younger (Bandcamp, Washington Post), and Marcus Dowling (Pitchfork, Bandcamp), explore all the highs and lows that this sonic head-trip has to offer.
PLUS! Post-election talk with Bandcamp's Marcus Moore joining in on the fun.
Starting a prog band in 1979 as punk was taking over the music world, at a time when many others in the genre were calling it quits, likely looked like career suicide to many. But 37 years and 18 albums later, it’s clear that Marillion got the last laugh. With an amazingly steady lineup over the years – the band’s membership has remained the same since 1989 when current singer Steve Hogarth took over for original singer Fish – and a large world-wide fanbase, the band’s unlikely career has flourished, thanks in recent years in no small part to internet savvy and groundbreaking efforts in crowdfunding. The band released their latest album, Fuck Everyone and Run (F.E.A.R.) this year, and it continues their trend as one of the greatest prog bands performing today.
The Veils put out their fifth album, Total Depravity, in August, their first release in over three years. Led by Finn Andrews, the son of Shriekback frontman Barry Andrews, the New Zealand-by-way-of-London band has always been known for their intensity, and this album makes no exception, never letting up over the course of its 47 minutes. The band embarked on a brief North American tour this month, their first since the release of the previous album, and Washington, DC was fortunate enough to get one of only three east coast dates at DC9.
IT'S PODJAM TIME!
On our latest abuse of the podcast format, Casey Rae, Marcus Dowling, a bottle of rye, and a whole lot of AMERICA join Kevin in the basement to work through this thing we call COUNTRY MUSIC.*^
* Length of podcast may require use of vacation time
^ Pick-up truck not required for general enjoyment
Halloween is always an interesting affair at 9:30 Club. Costume contests are held before the headliner and bands join in the fun and dress up in costume (like Capital Cities in pajamas or Magic Man in pumpkin outfits). Norwegian singer AURORA did no such thing, but instead, she offered something even more compelling: a hauntingly beautiful and powerful performance that had some in tears.
Kingsley Flood frontman Naseem Khuri has built his career writing songs about social injustice and the importance of sticking up for the "little guy"
On their latest album, Another Other, he's turning his observational acumen inwards to explore not just how we relate to others, but, more importantly, why.
Khuri joined us in the basement a week before America's historic election to talk about the new album, writing introspectively versus observationally, the band's upcoming LP release show in Washington, DC on 11/19, and much, much more.