When Supergrass announced their split in 2010, fans of the band were devastated. The band had been working for months on what was supposed to be their seventh album, which had even had the announced title of Release the Drones, so it came as quite a shock when the band announced they were finished due to the age-old issue of musical differences. That album never saw the light of day, but in 2012, frontman Gaz Coombes returned to the spotlight with his first solo album, Here Come the Bombs, on which he played all of the instruments himself. More electronic, the album was a bit of a departure from the Supergrass sound (though not so far off, given the band’s tendency to reinvent themselves from one record to the next), but Coombes’ voice and lyrical style remain instantly recognizable.
Indie pop may not be the first thing that you think of when someone mentions Hershey, PA, but for long-running scenesters The Ocean Blue, the band’s hometown is an integral part to their identity. They formed there in the late 1980s while still in high school, and influenced by bands such as New Order, The Smiths, and Echo and the Bunnymen, went on to become one of the most important American purveyors of what was, at the time, a primarily British genre.
Northern Irish Britpop band Ash released their final album, Twilight of the Innocents, in 2007 – or so they claimed at the time. Transitioning to a singles-only format (explaining NME that “the way people listen to music has changed”), the band released a total of 26 singles (dubbed the A-Z Series) from 2009 to 2010. After that they went into near hibernation for several years, returning only to play occasional live dates. The excitement was palpable amongst fans when, in 2014, Tim Wheeler announced that the band was working on a new album. Their sixth album, Kablammo!, finally came out early this year, and it is the clear that the band made good use of the interlude, as it contains some of their strongest recordings in years.
It’s been a busy year for Heather Maloney. Her third album, Heather Maloney, came out earlier this year on Signature Sounds Records and received a great deal of acclaim (especially from this website). Earlier this summer she embarked on a tour that will take her across most of the country, lasting through the end of the year. Lucky for us, she’ll make a stop at Jammin’ Java on September 12, her first stop in the DC area since playing in drummer Ben Tufts’ 16th Street basement concert space.
It’s easy to describe Maloney as a folk singer, but it’s also lazy. It also does a disservice to say that she adds elements of rock, blues, and jazz into her music, as it makes it sound like an artist trying to do too much. She is, rather, a songwriter who can take simple, beautiful acoustic melodies and turn them into something immense and profound.
Even better, Maloney is incredibly fun and engaging live performer, amping up the playful music of her albums and taking her already pristine vocals to another level. In addition, she does a darn fine job of making sure her band joins in on her mini-dances, scat singing, and other antics. As the venues she plays get bigger, so do her performances.
Opening the show will be folk duo Naked Blue and Americana musician Dean Fields.
You can forgive the crowd at Jammin’ Java for being fooled. The signs were all there; it was a seated show, with folks at the tables jawing amicably before the show about how they got to know Wake Owl, the Vancouver-based band everyone was there to see. And then there were the openers; Andy Shauf (who doubles as Wake Owl’s drummer) played a quiet solo set, and engaged in even quieter dialog with the crowd. He was followed by Dan Lee, whose simple acoustic songs had an eyes-closed sensitivity that at times veered a little too much towards a mid-90s Toad the Wet Sprocket sound. All of these clues – not to mention the fact that Wake Owl’s stellar debut EP, Wild Country, is mostly acoustic – made those in attendance think they were seeing a night of sedate but beautiful music.
Not so much. Right before their second song, the band noted they wanted a standing show, but admitted it was a miscommunication on their end. Odd, we thought – after the first two acts everyone was very happy to be sitting, slurping chili and sipping drinks. After ten songs, singer Colyn Cameron told us what we’d already figured out: “We’re not really an acoustic band,” he shrugged. Wake Owl’s set featured many moments of quiet beauty, but much more time was spent on upbeat – even borderline postpunk - songs, many laced with Aiden Brant-Briscall’s breathtaking violin and guitar skills.
As if to illustrate how much their sound has shifted, they played just two of the five songs on Wild Country, and they were early in the set. The title track was given considerable jump as Josh Daignault added a chugging bassline. “Gold,” the band’s debut single, was given an atmospheric punch by Brant-Briscall’s violin, and as the song built to it’s chorus all the toes in the house were tapping, and all the heads were bobbing. The violin was also the main focus of “Madness,” a new tune with a Middle Eastern flair that had a Camper Van Beethoven feel.
Most of the set consisted of new material that the band says it will be recording later this month. Based on what we heard, it’s easy to be optimistic that while the album will have a different sound, it will be no less impressive. Brant-Briscall took vocal duties on two songs; his Matt Berninger-sounding baritone is a great compliment to Cameron’s falsetto. Both sing extremely well, and their voices meld perfectly.
That is when their voices weren’t overpowered by the music. New songs like “Days in the Sea” and “Strange Sun” were loud, fun, experiments in noise that sounded little to nothing like the band on Wild Country. Other songs, such as “Vacation,” sounded more like Vampire Weekend. All of it, however, was great.
After a scant twelve songs the band left the stage and didn’t return – not surprising given how little material they have. But if the point is to leave the crowd wanting more, Wake Owl did what they came to do and a little more.
Considering how formidable Colyn Cameron’s songwriting skills are, there’s no question fans of his band, Wake Owl, hope he stays in the music business. But goodness knows the man certainly has a resume to fall back on – the Southern California native studied organic agriculture at Emerson College in Sussex, England, worked on a number of farms in Germany, Chile and Canada, and then traveled the world.
But writing haunting, sweeping acoustic music is where Cameron’s talent clearly lies. The five songs on his magnificent debut EP, Wild Country, are quiet ruminations laced with violins, tremolo guitar, and several layers of Cameron’s soothing tenor. It’s a voice that’s hard to pin a description on – writers have described it as “lonely,” “textured,” “attention grabbing,” “reflective, reedy,” and, “unflashy.” No matter how you describe it, it’s perfect for the world-weary songs he sings. With a number of U.S. dates this Spring and a full length album in the works, Wake Owl is on the cusp of a huge breakout – the chance to see them in an intimate venue like Jammin’ Java is a blessing.
Wake Owl will be joined by Brockway (the stage name of New England-based singer/songwriter Dan Lee) and Andy Shauf.
Recognize this tune?
If so, chances are you're a futbol fan who kept up with the 2010 World Cup...or a Shakira fan. (Fingers crossed it's the former because this is the first AND last time Shakira will appear on this site. Mark our words.)
If you were able to make it until two minutes into the video, you know that more than just Shakira's shaking hips went into the making of that song. Freshlyground, a seven-piece Afro-fusion band hailing form South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe accompanied the Colombian pop songstress on the anthem. Performing on the World Cup stage introduced Freshlyground, who had already made a name for themselves in and around South Africa, to a worldwide audience eager to hear more of the band's dynamic sound. Check out the title track from their most recent release, Take Me to the Dance:
Thursday, March 21, Freshlyground will be playing an early and a late show at Jammin Java, and we have a pair of tickets to give away for each! To enter the contest, please leave a comment below, using a valid email address, telling us your favorite type of coffee and for which show (early or late) you're entering.
Two lucky winners will be chosen and notified this Wednesday afternoon, so get to entering!
Nashville's The Delta Saints have a message for the world. A sweaty, sinful, bayou infused message steeped in the very essence of rock n roll. Since forming in 2007 the quintet has toured incessantly, spreading their gospel far and wide, and with the release of their debut full length Death Letter Jubilee they've set their their sights on big time.
Tonight the Saints are making a stop at Vienna's Jammin Java and if history has taught us anything it's that by this time next year, dint be surprised if the band is playing on a bigger, a much bigger stage.
Check out the bands video for “Death Letter Jubilee” below, be sure to make the trip outside the beltway tonight so you can say you saw The Delta Saints when!
Cold Specks is the stage persona for Al Spx, a 23-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist, currently touring to promote her stunning debut album I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. Traveling with a band of musicians that expands and contracts in numbers depending on her budget and the size of the venue, Spx opened Saturday’s show at Jammin’ Java by walking center stage in an oversized black shift and huge cardigan with rolled-up sleeves, where she unleashed a voice that sounds like it can’t possibly come from her very tiny, very young frame. Spx let the audience know immediately what we were in for - jaw dropping vocals morphing into a fuller sound as she was joined on stage first by a guitarist and a baritone sax, then by a drummer and keyboardist, and finally by a bass guitarist.
For songs like “The Mark,” the album’s opening track, the sax rumbled like a foghorn and acted as a perfect complement for Spx’s own throaty baritone. “Heavy Hands,” with its bleating chorus and the deep sax surging in the background, felt like waves pounding over the audience - the song has the best the qualities of a haunting funeral dirge, but Cold Specks somehow managed to pull it off without bringing the evening down with a thud. At the opening piano bars for “Winter Solstice,” Spx put down her guitar and just stood in front of the mike, staring at the ceiling as she belted out the most powerful song on the album. It was in moments like these that the evening took on an almost dreamlike state, with the trance broken by Spx’ dazzling smile at the end of each song.
Whether you like it or not, sunshine and summer fun are long gone, and it's time to buckle down for the winter - and that means some seriously heavy, seriously intense music, possibly with a bourbon back. If this week’s election didn’t satisfy your itch for powerful female performances, then join us tomorrow night at Jammin’ Java for Cold Specks, a tremendous new vocal talent in one of the area’s most intimate venues.
Cold Specks is 23-year-old Al Spx on vocals, surrounded by a revolving cast of musicians and instruments, and she’s touring to support this year’s debut effort I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. If you missed the album when it came out in early summer, you can read our review here, but don’t take our word for it - the album was recently short-listed for Canada’s Polaris Prize (and in case you’ve been living on the Moon, Canada’s been exporting a lot of pretty decent artists these days).
So if your hipster arms are still sore from all the Rocktober fist-pumping and your ears are raw from all the stormy summer noise, bring your weary body parts on out to the suburbs for a late show that promises to deliver a packing wallop of soul-melting vocals and some pretty amazing musical back-up to boot. Tickets are available HERE.
“Long distance bike rides are a terrible, terrible idea,” Peter Mulvey told the Jammin’ Java audience Thursday night. He should know; he’s coming to the end of his sixth annual, 14-city bike tour, in which he arrives at every show on a very cool looking German-made recumbent bike. “I’d like to thank you for living in a flat place,” he added.
Mulvey is an engaging performer, wonderful singer, and impressive guitar player, all of which made for a very entertaining show on Thursday. Mixing old and new material with a great array of covers throughout his 20 songs, Mulvey covered a lot of ground and had his audience spellbound.
His latest album, The Good Stuff is a collection of what he calls “the great American songbook;” in addition to classic American artists like Bobby Charles and Thelonious Monk, Mulvey adds modern songwriters such as Tom Waits and Joe Henry. Mulvey performed his interpretations of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” and the Duke Ellington staple “Mood Indigo,” but kept the rest of the covers a surprise. His version of Waits’ “Jockey Full of Bourbon” (not the Waits song that appears on The Good Stuff, actually) sounded like John Hammond’s recent version but with darker vocal delivery and superior guitar work. Mulvey also threw in a cover of Randy Newman’s “Sigmund Freud’s Impersonation of Albert Einstein” after telling the audience how the statue of Christopher Columbus at Union Station reminded him of Newman’s song “Great Nations of Europe.”
As I entered Jammin' Java to an already crowded venue, I remembered how I started listening to Rhett Miller. It was during my college years when a friend stumbled upon his album Instigator. I took a listen and played “Our Love” and “Come Around” on repeat – I think my roommate got sick of the album by the end of the school year. It was to my delight when I discovered that he was also the front man for the Old 97’s, dubbed in the alternative country genre, but Miller’s solo project is slightly different. His new album, The Dreamer, attempts to tie his two musical careers together.
Undertow. That force pulling you out of your waking reality and delivering you to your dreamscape. Your dreamscape. Your inner architecture.
Your waking self is most familiar with this space when the undertow fails. When human voices wake us and – as a poet who knew a thing or two about formative cadences put it – we drown. (More on that in a moment.…) Or, less poetically, when we are jolted awake, and in that moment remember fragments of our dreamscape: a place so natural when we’re living in it; so other-worldly when we trying to reconstruct it from those recollected fragments.
Did you know that our dreamscapes often have soundtracks? Think of them as internal acoustic architecture.
I hadn’t fully realized this until I heard Tony Levin and his band, Stick Men, play.
THIS FRIDAY 3 legendary legends will descend upon the stage at Vienna's legendary Jammin' Java to deliver what is sure to be a legendary performance that will be the stuff of, well, LEGEND. That may be a whole lot of legend but when we're talking about the three musicians in question, it may not be enough to do them justice. Read on below to find out everything you've ever wanted about Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Marus Reuter, but rest assured, this show is the BIGTIME folks. Seriously great music made my seriously great musicians.
So great in fact, that we can't keep it all to ourselves, which is why we want to send you and a friend out to take part in this legendary musical throwdown. There are two ways you can enter:
- Simply leave a comment below with a valid email address telling us about the most legendary show you've been to (or even better, played!)
- Tweet out or retweet the following:
"RT to enter to win 2 tix to see STICK MEN at @jamminjava THIS FRIDAY. @chunkyglasses #stickmen #tonylevinrules #FREERAWKRULES"
As a band, you know you’re doing something right when within weeks of releasing your debut album you’re selling out shows to crowds who already know the lyrics to all your songs because they haven’t been able to stop listening to your recordings on endless repeat. But, there’s always the hanging question of whether a great album can translate well to a live show—will the same energy, sound, and accuracy that can be produced by multiple takes in a studio find its way to the stage?
Driven by the engine of Joey Ryan’s impeccably studied songwriting skills and Kenneth Pattengale’s awe inspiring guitar evocations, The Milk Carton Kids have found themselves occupying a space that hasn’t seen a lot of heavy hitters as of late. Oh sure, there’s The Civil Wars and there’s the ever present Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch (ostensibly the “godfathers” of the modern scene) but gone are the days when names like Simon, Garfunkel, Prine, Croce, Stevens — the list goes on and on — dominated the musical landscape. Which is not to say that Ryan and Pattengale are quite there yet, but damned if they aren’t on the right track.
Canadian uber-pop supergroup Sloan are currently touring the country in support of their highly acclaimed new album, The Double Cross, and this Monday they'll be taking the stage at Vienna's very own Jammin Java.
If your not familiar with this award winning band, then let us fill you in. Made up of 4 lead songwriters (crazy!) Sloan has refused to rest on their laurels (you have no idea how big they are in Canada) and have made exactly the type of music in exactly the way they like for over 20 years now (The Double Cross = XX = 20 years of Sloan).
That fact alone should be enough to get you to the show, never mind one listen to The Double Cross, but we understand that sometimes it takes a little push for these things which is why we're giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner, so they can join us on Monday night.
A little over a week ago, Joy Williams and John Paul White, collectively known as The Civil Wars, performed to yet ANOTHER sold out crowd, this time at Vienna’s Jammin Java. It’s becoming a common thing for them lately. With a sound that attempts to subvert the pop sensibilities of bands like Allison Krauss and Union Station or The Swell Season as much as it seeks to honor them, The Civil Wars are something entirely their own. The easy way out would be to describe their music as sort of a Gothic take on folk music, but that would be selling the duo short. It keeps being repeated that there is some sort of magic going on between Williams and White, and after seeing it for myself firsthand, I can’t help but repeat it again:
There is some sort of magic going on here.