On Saturday night, Father John Misty aka Josh Tillman, returned to the 9:30 Club to perform songs from his sophomore album, I Love You, Honeybear. Through an epic two hour long, 20 song set, Misty and his six-piece band played through most of the tracks from both of his albums to the sold-out club, along with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” (complete with keytar) during the encore. And even though his faux-disdain for any and all attention was on full display under a neon 'No Photography' sign that begged to be Instagrammed, the crowd couldn't get enough.
It’s a sad but established fact that country music – at least modern country music – is an industry that is as prolific and efficient at turning out product as any automobile assembly line or steel mill that America was built on. And that makes sense. Country music is, after all, the music of the people and has for the most part, played aggressively to its base. Twang pop for the common man with songs about beer and trucks, and dogs, and cheatin’ hearts, and more beer – this is the experience that in general is sold and consumed on a massive scale, by the majority of the music loving masses.
Every so often though there’s a shift in the wind and we see a glut of artists who transcend the confines of their chosen art and shine a light on its true potential, breaking new ground while still honoring the medium that got them there. Last year that was the narrative for artists like Nikki Lane and Sturgill Simpson; saving country music from itself by producing records that had less to do with bro-power and red solo cups than it did with taking an honest look at the self and the world around them.
In 2012 Kendrick Lamar stunned with Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, leaving fans and critics alike wondering what he could possibly do to follow up his magnum opus. Two weeks ago, the world got their answer when To Pimp A Butterfly dropped a week early, selling over 300,000 copies in its first week alone, and breaking the first day record for number of streams, finding its way into a whopping 9.6 sets of ears. After taking some time to digest this sonic and sociopolitical masterpiece, Kevin and Paul are joined by Andy Johnson (@ndyjohnson) and Marcus Dowling (Freelancer - about.me/marcuskdowling) in the basement to share some thoughts, ponder what the long term impact of To Pimp A Butterfly will be and more. It’s a can’t miss podcast about a can’t miss album on Episode 110 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
The past few years have been good for shoegaze fans. The genre may have seemed like it had all but disappeared in the late 90s, but the recent reunions of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Chapterhouse, and more have met with a large amount of enthusiasm, signaling that the world is ready for the genre’s return. Oxford, England’s Swervedriver (one of the groups fitting the “more” bill) were one of the last to break up, in 1998, and also one of the first to get back together, a decade later in 2008. Since then, they have toured the world several times over, proving that the reunion was not just a quick cash grab, but rather that they were back to stay. The band finally cemented that in January with the release of their fifth album, I Wasn’t Born To Lose You.
Wednesday, the band brought that new album to the Rock and Roll Hotel. The opening song form the album, “Autodidact,” filled the room with a wash of guitars, serving as notice that the band has not compromised on their wall-of-sound approach with age.
Lloyd Cole may not be a household name in the US, but with a music career going on 30 years (and 14 albums) under his belt, he’s built up a significant catalog of songs, along with the legacy of his influence as a pioneer of smart indie pop. While his earlier work, both with his first band Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and afterward as a solo artist, was rock-based, in more recent years he’s focused, in his own words, “on making age-appropriate music,” both quieter and more introspective. His most recent album, Standards (released in Europe in 2013, but only finally available on this side of the pond late last year), though, is a return to form, a record that rivals his earlier work and shows that he can still rock out when he wants to.
On our latest podcast, we check in on Boston noise rockers, Pile, and their new album You’re Better Than This, then take a long, strange trip with Chicago-based songwriter/guitarist Ryley Walker and his latest van-worthy collection of jams, Primrose Green.
PLUS! Kanye West may have been pegged to headline this year’s Glastonbury Music Festival, but all may not be well in the land of yeezy. NINETY THOUSAND signatures stong and counting, a petition launched last week by a group of dissatisfied music fans seeks to convince the organizers that soon to be Dr. West may not be the right fit for this annual musical throw-down. Will they prevail? Should Kanye back out? Are music festivals even worth it anymore? We ponder these questions and more on Episode 109 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
Classic Lloyd Cole. Jangling guitars and smart lyrics will appeal to fans of R.E.M., Robyn Hitchcock, World Party, and other classic alternative bands from the late 80s and early 90s.
Why you should care:
The lead-off single from his recent album Standards (released in Europe in mid-2013, but only finally released in the US five months ago), “Period Piece” is classic Lloyd Cole, and a return to form. While Cole’s albums for more than the last decade have tended more in an acoustic singer-songwriter direction, this song (and much of the album) sounds like it could easily fit alongside tracks from his earlier, more rocking releases.
On this week’s podcast, we’re talking the return of indie-rockers Modest Mouse. For Strangers To Ourselves, their first album in eight years, Isaac Brock and crew mashed together a little of the old and a whole lot of the new to make an album that’s decidedly Modest Mouse, but is it any good? Kevin and Paul discuss the album, the band’s legacy and more, but not before diving deep in to the clusterf#@# of the Blurred lines decision handed down late last week. Hit with a $7.4 million fine for copyright infringement, Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams are on the front lines of a fight that’s about to heat up, one that threatens to cripple the way all art, not just music, is made and sold in the very near future.
PLUS! We’ve got a dark and sophisticated new track from DC collective Waltz Brigade you to put in your ears off of their recent EP Slow Mountain! Tune in and turn it up, cuz we’re running lean and mean on Episode 108 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
35 years is a long time to be a band, but The Church celebrates that milestone this year. As if that weren’t impressive enough, they’ve also released their 25th album, Further/Deeper, and it’s as strong a record as any in their catalog. Last Monday, the band brought their latest tour (and first US outing in four years) to the 9:30 Club, their first show at the venue since touring in 1999 for their covers album, A Box of Birds. Although the band has seen several line-up changes over the years – the most recent being the replacement of long-time guitarist Marty Willson-Piper with Ian Haug (formerly of the Australian band Powderfinger) – and, as singer/bassist Steve Kilbey noted during the show, they haven’t seen a hit single since “Metropolis” in 1990, they show no sign of stopping or even slowing down.
In fact, they’re playing some of the most energetic shows of their career. Kilbey performs high kicks and yoga lunges with his bass in hand, showing up most frontmen half his age. Founding member and lead guitarist Peter Koppes anchors the band’s sound as he always has, yet seems more inclined to step forward and show off his impressive guitar skills. Tim Powles, who joined as the band’s drummer in 1993, keeps the beat going. Haug proves himself to be more than capable of taking his place within the band, filling in for Willson-Piper’s former role but managing to bring his own style and energy to it. The Church have a big sound befitting a large venue, and it is gratifying to see them finally playing in a space conducive to that sound in DC again.
On Sunday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel, English folk-rock band Dry the River made the long-awaited DC stop on their tour supporting their second album, Alarms In the Heart, which was released last year. The show was a long time coming, as the band had not made an appearance in the District since 2012.
Opening the performance with the title track, the band played through a set that featured most of the new album, interspersed with tracks from their first record, Shallow Bed. Although the new album is noticeably more rock-oriented than that first effort, new tracks like “Med School” fit in seamlessly beside older ones such as “History Book.” The vocal harmonies for which the band has become known were abundant, with bassist Scott Miller and guitarist Matt Taylor frequently adding their voices to that of lead singer Peter Liddle.