Tracking

“Mother” — Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff (Pink Floyd Cover)

“Mother” — Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff (Pink Floyd Cover)

Sounds Like:

The vulgarity of the year 2017, sweetened by ballet.

Why You Should Care:

Amanda Palmer began her career as an eclectic street artist, going from living statue to a punk pianist in the Dresden Dolls, to best-selling author. She is a vocal proponent of crowdfunding and other communal approaches to art, and never shy of controversy. With this video adaptation of a Pink Floyd classic, she outdoes herself (and unhinges our jaws) once again. “Mother” is not necessarily Palmer’s most shocking creation. She has a history of exploring darker themes (drugs, depression, death) with her share of blood, nudity, and profanity. But with “Mother” she reaches a new height of authenticity, merging her experience of motherhood (she and author Neil Gaiman had their first child in 2015) with the current American political and sociological climate.

Palmer has recast Roger Waters’ 38-year-old lyrics to address the literal and figurative “walls” of today and celebrate the role of motherhood in tearing them down. In hushed, motherly tones, backed by Jherek Bischoff’s fervid string arrangements, she frames the lyrics as a conversation between the President and his own deceased mother. Palmer and Bischoff are joined by dancers and instrumentalists, both adult and children, who seem to intentionally share a common life-giving, nurturing spirit.

The video and ballet end with Palmer breastfeeding a Trump-like character…you might just have to watch it to understand. Palmer dedicated this composition to the current administration, saying, “You will not build walls in our children’s hearts.” “Mother” holds its own as a protest song, but as a visual masterpiece, it may be Palmer’s most important work thus far, from one of the 21st century’s premier artist-activists.


“Forever” — Matt and Kim

“Forever” — Matt and Kim

Sounds Like:

Matt and Kim of the Sidewalks era, angry about the state of the world in 2018

Why You Should Care:

Long-running indie pop duo Matt and Kim know how to bring the energy through their upbeat anthemic sound, both on their records and on tour. Known for their dynamic live shows full of balloons, confetti, and notorious onstage antics (that led drummer Kim Schifino to a torn ACL on stage last year), Matt and Kim have shown an ability to constantly produce songs that put a smile on your face and send out good vibes. “Forever,” a collaboration with Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, who provides guest vocals, is the first single from a yet-to-be-named sixth studio album.

“Forever” is classic Matt and Kim – full of handclaps, synth drum lines, and piano- based melodies – brought into the era of political protest. With a chorus of “I don’t want to live forever in this world of shit,” Matt and Kim reflect and share their perspective on the current state of affairs. Followed by lyrics like, “Things can’t stay, can’t stay like this”, their desire to rally people together to move beyond current challenges becomes clear. Matt and Kim write that this song and the upcoming album are a way for the duo to reflect on how “2017 was not a great year for us” and to “get stuff off our chest”.

Matt and Kim will perform at the 9:30 Club on May 2nd.


"sheknowsbutshedontknow" - Tove Lo

"sheknowsbutshedontknow" - Tove Lo

Sounds Like:

Ellie Goulding with a Swedish-pop edge

Why You Should Care:

There is no doubt that Swedish pop export Tove Lo loves to push buttons. With a directness unusual in the world of pop music, her new album BLUE LIPS (lady wood phase II) leaves no topic off the table. She thrives on pushing boundaries and BLUE LIPS opens a newly personal side of Tove Lo as she writes about constantly chasing a rush—be it from drugs, sex, or pushing boundaries.

Regardless of the topic, Tove Lo brings her signature strong electropop edge to the entire album. Her dark voice carries her throughout BLUE LIPS to express emotions that are well balanced with synth drum and bass lines. Split into two halves, LIGHT BEAMS and PITCH BLACK, the album is billed as a follow-up to her sophomore hit album Lady Wood.

In “shedontknowbutsheknows,” Tove Lo sings about a woman whose partner is doing things behind her back. The track is pure dance pop with an undercurrent of pain and darkness. The track feels self-reflective as Tove Lo encapsulates the feeling of denying something to yourself you know is likely true. While you will be bopping along to the rhythmic chorus, the track offers the undeniable sense of knowing that something is wrong, but struggling to convince yourself that it is not. Tove Lo seems poised to make you want to dance, while pushing you  to challenge yourself and get beyond your comfort zone.


"Channel Yo Mojo" - Odd Mojo

"Channel Yo Mojo" - Odd Mojo

Sounds Like:

Mix a little of that Butterfly with some Noname, hit it with a dose of really real, and let that platter spin.

Why You Should Care:

On the title track of her new EP Channel Yo Mojo, 23-year-old rapper Odd Mojo filters the cosmic vibe of 90's hip-hop legends Digable Planets through a ground level litany of anxieties, hopes, and aspirations resulting in a jam that feels as all-encompassing as it does intimate.

Armed with an ultra-smooth flow and razor-sharp insight, this DC native is coming up fast on the underground hip-hop scene in the nation's Capitol. Hopefully, we'll hear (much) more from her before the year is out.


"Relay Runner" - Loma

"Relay Runner" - Loma

Sounds Like:

The pressing sense of urgency and dread, of natural sounds and industrial clatter

Why You Should Care:

During Shearwater’s Jet Plane and Oxbow tour in 2016 and 2017, the opening act was the husband-and-wife Austin duo Cross Record, made of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski. In comparison with the drive and electrified energy of Shearwater in its most direct mode, Cross Record in concert tends toward the amorphous, moving only infrequently toward rock structures with Cross singing over Duszynski’s multitracked guitars, keyboards, and assorted electronics.

Despite the differences in approach, the tour must have been a companionable one, because Shearwater singer and guitarist Jonathan Meiburg has put Shearwater on a friendly hiatus and joined Cross Record in a new project called Loma. 

Loma’s second single “Relay Runner” opens with field recordings of frogs fading into a naggingly insistent industrial drumbeat. Emily Cross’s vocals take on an increasing sense of the desperation to escape. The track devolves into Meiburg’s heavily processed guitar and the continued thumping rhythm, producing an overall feeling of urgency and dread. “I find a needle in the night / I'm at the bottom of the lake / I'm coming up again / I'm throwing everything away.”

Loma will be released February 18, 2018, on Sub Pop Records.


“Doors” - The CooLots

“Doors” - The CooLots

Sounds Like:

An eclectic mix of Jimi Hendrix and rhythmic soul

Why You Should Care:

Listening to the CooLots reminds you of the diversity and talent of the Washington, DC music scene. Straddling genres from rock to soul to alternative, the CooLots bring together powerful vocals with such emotion and energy that each track they put out has a distinct personality. The only thing you expect from this band is that each track will surprise you with its ability to personify the intersection of many genres in a cohesive way.

The opening track to their new album Rebirth, “Doors” begins with a guitar riff reminiscent of a Foo Fighters or early Pearl Jam song, then opens up with the vocals and powerful rhythm section that harness the power of nearly every member of this incredibly diverse and talented band. “Doors” talks about the power of doors to lock you in, or unleash you to the world. The CooLots attempt to do the same thing with their music — tempting listeners to try a new genre or mix of styles they have not heard before.


Best Of 2017: Kevin's List

Best Of 2017: Kevin's List

After the impossible highs that were reached in music in 2016, the question of how that could be topped would always weigh heavy on 2017, but nobody could have really predicted the year that was. Our nation, our home, shifted at long last towards the deep-seeded hatred, misogyny, and generalized loathing that had always hid just underneath the surface of our communities, our entertainment, our ART. Turns out that for many, the American way was a freeway to self-destruction, and in 2017 all lanes were suddenly open.


Best Of 2017: Michael's List

Best Of 2017: Michael's List

These may not be the “best” records of the year, but they are records that ended up meaning a lot to me, for one reason or another. Most were by women, perhaps because women have made the most interesting new music in the genres I follow most closely. This is in no particular order although the ones toward the top are records I spent more time with.


“The Chairman’s Intent” - Action Bronson

“The Chairman’s Intent” - Action Bronson

Sounds Like:

Ghostface Killah with a heavier dose of comedy and wild antics.

Why You Should Care:

Action Bronson, hailing from Queens, New York, is a chef turned rapper that since 2011 has emerged from underground as one of the most polished lyricists in rap. His bars are full of personality and wit that lead to a unique variety references to food, sports, music, or just how he sees himself as a modern-day superhero. 

Blue Chips 7000 is the third entry into Action Bronson Blue Chips series. The album released August 25, 2017, on Atlantic Records. His second to last tour stop for Blue Chips 7000 will at the Fillmore Silver Spring this Friday, December 22, 2017.  Tickets are still available HERE.


"Up and Down" - Wavves and Culture Abuse

"Up and Down" - Wavves and Culture Abuse

Sounds Like:

Driving to the beach, sand (somehow) already between your toes.

Why You Should Care:

Wavves emerged onto the indie scene in 2008, just as pop-punk had returned to its favored noisy and apathetic roots. Since then, Nathan Williams’ band has done an excellent job combining his natural punk feel with the dreamy undertones of current alternative music.

Here, Wavves collaborates with a somewhat newer punk band, Culture Abuse, whose sound could easily be mistaken for Wavves, if not for the cadence and thick baritone voice of frontman David Kelling. Keller and Williams complement each other well vocally, singing the low and high vocal parts on this (rather short) slacker anthem.

A steady, no-frills, flat-out California rock tune the Lords of Dogtown might head-bang to, you can hear "Up and Down," and more, live as Wavves embarks on a late-2017 tour of the U.S. with Joyce Manor opening — along with Culture Abuse, at select venues.


“Body Memory” — Björk

“Body Memory” — Björk

Sounds Like:

“Threading an ocean through a needle” — Björk

Why You Should Care:

You could make a sound argument for any moment in Björk’s long and evolving career as a musical icon. Her escalating musical complexity and embrace of different styles and technologies (in artful ways, never as a gimmick) stem from her pouring her entire heart into every last moment of a project, using the flow of her own life as a lyrical and musical guide.

Björk’s’s latest, Utopia, has been widely cited as a comeback from the “breakup” vibes of 2015’s Vulnicura. The recurring theme is of her re-engaging with a part of the self that she had lost during her separation and estrangement from long-time partner Michael Barney — namely her sensual self. “Body Memory” could represent the whole 14-track (71 minutes, 38 seconds) epic poem on its own, structurally and sonically, with light, airy flutes supported by intensifying rhythmic breaks (almost like memories) as the song develops.

With its lyrical undercurrent of being “trapped in a legal harness,” “Body Memory” is as literal as Björk ever gets, alluding to the pain of her separation before embracing the excitement and chaos of love life head-on again.

“Body Memory” was released on Utopia on November 24, 2017. Experience this song on your next snowy mountain road trip.


“Blood and Chalk” - EMA

“Blood and Chalk” - EMA

Sounds Like:

A voice from beyond the grave, a scraping, harrowing ballad

Why You Should Care:

Erika M. Anderson, who records under the name EMA, describes her new record Exile in the Outer Ring as a concept record about life in the struggling outer suburbs. In concert and record, the Outer Ring as she depicts it is a placeless American white trash dystopia of strip malls, opioids, online surveillance, DUI arrests, and political paranoia.

The harrowing “Blood and Chalk,” written originally for a soundtrack for a teen horror movie, is the record’s highlight — a scraping, haunted ballad for the generation of kids who grew up in the shadows of Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails and Eminem. It’s not an industrial track; Anderson plays thudding guitar and sings with only minimal electronic processing over droning keyboards. But something about it is lifeless and mechanical, in a very deliberate approach, from the funereal drumming to the scorched-earth singing.


"Riiich" - Grace Mitchell

"Riiich" - Grace Mitchell

Sounds Like:

A throwback to Joan Jett combined with the modern vibes of Lorde and Banks

Why You Should Care:

Grace Mitchell is not one to follow convention when it comes to either making music or releasing it. While she is quickly making a name for herself with her fiery lyrics and Joan Jett-like sound, she is known for her diverse vocal talents and unique approach to releasing music.

Instead of a conventional album, Mitchell released a new playlist entitled 21&Motley that features more than half a dozen singles she has released throughout 2017 and a new single, “RIIICH.” The range across 21&Motley is broad, and it is hard to find a common thread among the songs, which seems to encapsulate Grace’s approach to music.


Episode 328: Best Of 2017

Episode 328: Best Of 2017

It's likely that we'll look back at 2017 as the year almost everything fell apart, downerism ruled the land, and we came very close to being broken as a people. 

But we didn't break. We made it. And on this final installment of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast for 2017, we're discussing the music that lifted us up, dropped us down, and sometimes even showed us the way, but never, ever let us down.

Thanks for tuning in all year. We'll see you soon. Until then be good to your ears, but be better to your people...


"Get Right" - Weezer

"Get Right" - Weezer

Sounds Like:

A return to the Weezer of the early 2000s

Why You Should Care:

Weezer’s 11th studio album Pacific Daydream is an ode to the band’s California roots, full of exuberant pop-rock that fans of the band have come to expect from the band, and a return to the production from their 1990s heyday. While some of the other songs on the album feel overglossed and primed for radio play, “Get Right” is a pleasant departure that hits the right balance

Throughout “Get Right” Cuomo speaks to a feeling of being alone and thinking about what might have been. While the lyrics take a darker and more contemplative tone, the upbeat tambourine, strong bassline, and Beach Boys-style backup vocals give the song the impact of a classic Weezer tune.

One thing is for sure. Weezer has not lost its ability to get a strong hook stuck in your head —  “Get Right” is a song you will be bopping along to long after it has ended.


"Imogene" - Cory Branan

"Imogene" - Cory Branan

Sounds Like:

A little bit country. A little bit rock & roll. A+ songwriting that's rough around the edges, just like you like it. 

Why You Should Care:

After five full lengths and a choice take on Princes "Under The Cherry Moon" in 2014, Memphis born (now based in Nashville) Cory Branan has earned the reputation of being one of the most exciting songwriters working in "country" music today.

On Adios, Brannan brings in a lot of the cowpunk energy found on previous releases like 2014's The No-Hit Wonder for songs like "Another Nightmare In America" and "Yea So What," but it's on the plaintive "Imogene" that he heads back to the country, serving it up with a little bit of soul for good measure.

Cory Brannan's Adios is available now on Bloodshot Records.

He plays TONIGHT in Washington, DC at Pearl Street Warehouse. Tickets are still available HERE.


"Myrna Lee" - Wilco

"Myrna Lee" - Wilco

Sounds Like:

Old(er) Wilco or Uncle Tupelo, a good, ol’ alt-country ballad.

Why You Should Care:

Wilco has had a long run, and the band now seems to be realizing its mortality with a glance down memory lane, announcing expanded reissues of their two earliest albums: AM (1995) and Being There (1996).

This twangy mountain song “Myrna Lee” is the first single they have chosen to unveil.  A previously unreleased track from AM, “Myrna Lee” has the feel of an Uncle Tupelo alt-country classic where the electric instruments take the background. With plaintive vocals, pedal steel, and buzzing fiddle, “Myrna Lee” was originally written by Wilco bassist John Stirratt for his twin sister Laurie, who released it through her band Blue Mountain’s 1997 album Homegrown.

Even as the band looks back to the early years, it’s hard to say if the end is in sight. For a band with such an extensive resume and side projects as Wilco, the question is always one of what we will hear next.

Both deluxe reissues of AM and Being There are set to appear on Rhino in December. Tracklists have already been released for both.


"Dream" - Bishop Briggs

"Dream" - Bishop Briggs

Sounds Like:

Phantogram mixed with the vocals of Florence + the Machine and the drum line of a Kaleo song

Why You Should Care:

It’s rare for a song to capture the feeling of being in a dream and waking up without being sure if it’s real or not. Bishop Briggs’ new single “Dream” captures this feeling perfectly. Beginning with an acoustic guitar, Briggs opens the song with airy vocals that quickly build to an almost gospel tune with a pulsing beat drop. It delivers the same evocative/moody indie-pop vibe that fans of her first hit “River” have come to expect from the 25-year-old musician. Bishop Briggs’ lyrics walk the listener through the challenge of dreaming you are brave enough to do or say something, but feeling unable to get the feelings out. "Dream" is focused on the inability to share feelings with someone you love, but the struggle to share your truth with others feels universal throughout the song.

“Dream” is closer to a ballad than Briggs’ previous singles that raised her profile in rock and alternative charts, but her 2017 self-titled EP showcases her ability to convey an equally soulful mood in hits such as “Wild Horses.”

Not only does Bishop Briggs bring an intensity to all of her recorded songs, but she is known for putting on an electrifying live performance. Her strong set overcame a difficult early morning time slot at last year’s All Things Go Fall Classic to kick off a memorable day of music. Bishop Briggs will return to DC on November 18, opening for Bleachers at a sold-out show at the 9:30 Club.


“Wallowa Lake Monster” – Sufjan Stevens

“Wallowa Lake Monster” – Sufjan Stevens

Sounds Like:

Seeing an actual lake monster on a drizzly day.

Why You Should Care:

Sufjan Stevens has made a career out of blending simple folk elements into complex arrangements. His 2015 album Carrie & Lowell, though wrought with soft-spoken existential angst, presented a resolution to his musical paradoxes. The acoustic instruments on that album sounded a shade electronic, and vice versa. They came together and formed an entirely original indie-folk experience. Apparently, the B-sides do the same thing.

“Wallowa Lake Monster” gives us another chapter in Sufjan’s musical evolution, as well as in the lyrical tale of his mother Carrie. The song draws parallels between the legends of Sufjan’s mother (mentioned throughout his work) and a Leviathan-like creature said to once lurk about Oregon’s Wallowa Lake. It follows —maybe even refines — the classic Sufjan model of weaving tall, majestic lore into a common exploration of self, with instrumentation that shifts between heavy and light.

Starting out with basic picking pattern, similar to “Death with Dignity” and other songs from Carrie & Lowell, it morphs into a more epic synth composition, with a good bit of spacey instrumental by its conclusion

“Wallowa Lake Monster” doesn’t feel like a B-side, matching the scope of any major Carrie & Lowell release. The song gives us a nice hold-over as we await Sufjan’s The Greatest Gift Mixtape — Outtakes, Remixes, & Demos from Carrie & Lowell. Look out for the full compilation on November 24, 2017.


"Get By" - Diane Coffee

"Get By" - Diane Coffee

Sounds Like:

Elton John meets the E Street Band

Why You Should Care:

Aside from being a very charismatic lead singer, Shaun Fleming has an ear for retro-pop earworms. Fleming, now two albums removed from his days as the drummer for Foxygen, still carries the retro flag high. The uplifting saxophones, saloon-like piano lines, and 60s-pop vocals that permeate this song were originally slated for Diane Coffee’s third full-length album. But at some point, “the concept and direction of the album changed” according to Fleming in a press release. “I was suddenly left with several tracks that I loved but no longer fit the project."

Given the musical connections between his previous album and Peel, his latest two-track EP, it signals that while we can and should enjoy Diane Coffee’s musical niche that he has carved, one that channels the best of Bowie and Elton John, we should also be getting ready for what’s next. For now, though, you can enjoy Diane Coffee and Fleming’s captivating on-stage antics at DC9 on Tuesday, November 7. Peel is out now through Polyvinyl Records.