“So much work and thought went into every turn of phrase and every tiny shimmer of sound.” That is undoubtedly true listening to Laura Gibson’s fifth studio album Goners. It also added to the punchline when Gibson told the audience at her DC9 show that European press on her recent tour struggled to find a translation of the slang term she used as a title and pronounced in a more, well, juvenile fashion. It’s a funny reminder that you can control a lot of things in life, but you can’t control the world’s response—even when you’re careful.
Jazz saxophonist Marcus Strickland and his ensemble Twi-Life brought a powerful groove and thoughtful exploration of the linkages between African and American music forms to the City Winery on November 20th, in a celebration of his new record, People of the Sun. Strickland’s musical vision accentuates the connectivity between black musicianship on both sides of the Atlantic, from Mali to the American South, including the intersection of jazz with soul and hip-hop and blues textures.
Washington, DC native, and second-generation Ethiopian American Kelela Mizanekristos spent years honing her musical chops in the underground scene of the nation's capital before moving to Las Angeles, dropping her last name and beginning her ascension to one of the most essential voices in R&B today.
On her acclaimed 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me and 2015's Hallucinogen, the singer/producer made it clear that she was a force to be reckoned with. Now, on Take Me Apart, her first full length, she's building on some of the themes from her prior work to craft a vital statement about personhood, womanhood, and the perils and pitfalls of love.
Kevin and Marcus (Dowling) are sitting down to discuss one of 2017's most notable albums to find out if Kelela has got the goods, or just if the ideas she's exploring are ultimately more important than the execution.
In 2009 Booker T. Jones teamed up with Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young on the scorching, Grammy-winning LP, Potato Hole. It was a late-career triumph that brought a whole new audience to Booker T’s music and reinvigorated his undeniable sound for the modern age. For those who were lucky enough to catch the music legend’s set at the Grand Opening of Pearl Street Warehouse in the Wharf District in Washington, DC, it was clear that Potato Hole, and the two albums he made after that, were no fluke. More importantly, the now seventy-two-year-old soul man shows no time of slowing down anytime soon.
Last year, DC-based music blog All Things Go went bigger with the Fall Classic, their day-long music festival, by moving from Union Market to Yards Park and booking well-known talent like Sylvan Esso and Empire of the Sun. (Of course, the incessant rain caused some major mud pits and annoyances, but that’s beside the point and beyond their control.) But with the exception of local rapper Ace Cosgrove, the day was a synth-pop-heavy affair. This year, though, the organizers expanded the event to three days, and more interestingly, aimed to curate a more diverse lineup by day, which meant bringing in some diverse tastemakers from around town. With some know-how from electronic/dance tastemakers Nu Androids (who regularly host dance parties at spaces like Flash and Soundcheck) for Friday’s lineup and hip-hop/R&B-focused Broccoli City (who throw a DC music festival of their own in the spring) for Saturday, the All Things Go crew brought the music back to Union Market in the hopes of bringing the various music scenes together for one weekend.
Together, Melissa Wright and Daniel Zezinski are known as Mink's Miracle Medicine, and from their trailer in Harpers Ferry, WVA they're making music that might just heal what ails ya. On their first full-length House of Candles, the duo explores country, folk, and even punk traditions to deliver a stripped down set of poignant (and often hilarious) songs centered around relationships, small-town life, and existing in the modern age. Recently the duo paid a visit to the basement to talk about minimalism, Patsy Cline, the joy of a good riding mower and much, much more.
PLUS! DC synth-pop "revivalists" Loi Loi are dropping a five song EP on Blight Records later this year, but you can check out the first track "1985" right here, and right now!
After a string of EP's and years of anticipation, Washington DC neü-punk provocateurs, Priests, have finally delivered their debut full length, Nothing Feels Natural. On our latest podcast, Kevin, Paul, Eduardo and Marcus Dowling (Pitchfork, Bandcamp) are hanging out in the basement, getting to the bottom of this raucous new album. Is it the right protest album at the right time, or just another "punk" album for the masses? Tune in to find out.
PLUS! R&B jams from the underground! Sonder's new EP Into is laying down the bedroom vibes, and we've got it's lead track for you to sink your teeth into.
In our final regular podcast of 2016, we're enlisting Paul Vodra (Hometown Sounds), Joe Lapan (Owner, Songbyrd Music House), and Marcus Dowling (Pitchfork, Bandcamp) to work through the year that was here in our hometown of Washington, DC, take a look at the "big picture", and much, Much more.
PLUS: Thoughts on the tragedy of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, CA. What can we do to help, and what can we do to try and make sure this doesn't happen again.
Freakwater, the duo of Janet Bean (also of alternative rockers Eleventh Dream Day) and Catherine Irwin, reemerged this month after an eleven year long recording hiatus with Scheherazade, an album of twelve new songs that takes its place amongst the group’s best. As one of the founding bands of the alt-country movement with the release of their first, self-titled album in 1989, the duo has been highly influential over a whole generation of musicians, and it is an all-too-rare treat to get to see them perform live. Last week, they came to DC9 for a show that proved that over a decade out of the spotlight has done little to dull their edge.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman Ruban Nielson may have relocated to Portland, Oregon several years ago, but his home country of New Zealand still lays claim to him, as evidenced by his band’s win of “Best Alternative Album” and nominations for “Album of the Year” and “Single of the Year” in the New Zealand Music Awards for their latest album, Multi-Love. It’s only a small part of the success story of UMO in 2015, as the release catapulted them from cult band status to the limelight in seemingly no time. That accomplishment was shown on Wednesday night in Washington, DC, as the band played their first (nearly sold-out) headlining show at the 9:30 Club after having been at the much smaller U Street Music Hall only eight months earlier.
While Washington has had its share of “festivals” – Trillectro, Sweetlife, Virgin Mobile Fest – we’ve never, until this past weekend, really had something that’s specifically for D.C.
Staged in West Potomac Park adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial, the inaugural Landmark Music Festival brought the scale, along with the uniformity, of other more seasoned fests like Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza. That’s not surprising, as Landmark was thrown with veteran production company C3, now the third-largest production company in the U.S., working in conjunction with the Trust for the National Mall, who aims to fund their ongoing Landmark Campaign.
The National Mall faces more than $400 million in deferred maintenance on top of hundreds of millions of dollars in needed updates and sustainable improvements. Landmark Music Festival is helping us to build awareness and raise funds to meet the needs of our country’s most iconic, beloved and visited national park. – Landmark Trust’s MacKenzie Babb
The hope, of course, is that the iconic, beloved draw of the park itself will transfer completely to an event that is eventually regarded in much the same light. That's a mission that even the most jaded of music fans SHOULD be able to get behind, and as to the future success of the Landmark Festival, that remains to be seen. This year though, this is how things shook out.
Washington, DC based BRNDA's infectious "snack-punk" can be hard to classify… and even harder to get out of your head. Hot off the release of their sophomore release, Year Of The Manatee, Dave Lesser (guitar), Leah Gage (drums) and Jhn Whytefoot (bass) pay a visit to the basement to talk about the history of the band, where their uniquely fearless music fits into the current DC scene, how to make it as a modern artist in a modern world, and much, much more.
PLUS! Kevin shares some thoughts on this past weekend's inaugural Landmark Music Festival, and Dirty Ghosts are back with Let It Pretend, the follow up to 2012’s Metal Moon and we’ve got “Cataract”, the album’s first single for you to shove in your ears and verily be rocked.
Get ready for a serious, and seriously fun, conversation with one of the most exciting bands going in DC today on Episode 134 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
This week Kevin sits down with Beauty Pill front-man/mastermind Chad Clark to talk about their astounding new record Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are. Initially conceived of in 2006, the project was unexpectedly put on hold when Clark fell ill in 2007. Multiple life-saving surgeries and a new outlook on life later, Clark and his cohorts have crafted a rare, exploding-with-life masterpiece that sounds as big as the universe while managing to tackle smaller, more personal matters of the heart (often quite literally) with sophistication and ease.
Tune in for a deeply human, moving, and life affirming conversation on Episode 114 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast.
*Photo courtesy of PJ Sykes
On this week’s podcast, Andrew Grossman and Michael Hernandez of DC’s The North Country stop by the basement the morning after a most triumphant show at Babe City to talk about their upcoming album There Is Nothing To Fear. A pastiche of early 2000’s indie rock (think Arcade Fire, Wilco, My Morning Jacket) mashed together with whip-smart observational lyrics and sublimely honest, observational, lyricism, Fear not only marks the arrival of a major musical force on the DC scene, but happens to be one of the best albums of 2015 to date.
Whether you’re already a fan, or just getting hip to The North Country, this is one conversation you’re not gonna want to miss on Episode 112 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
On Thursday night, Scottish post-punk band The Twilight Sad came to the Rock and Roll Hotel in support of their latest album, Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. While the band was just here in November opening for We Were Promised Jetpacks at the 9:30 Club, this was their first headlining show in the District in quite some time (a previous scheduled show at the Rock and Roll Hotel in 2012 was cancelled at the last moment due to visa issues).
His Name Is Alive, the musical brainchild of songwriter and musician Warren Defever, came to the Black Cat last Thursday night on their 25th anniversary tour. When the band released their first album, Livonia, in 1990 on 4AD, they seemed to be the American analog to label boss Ivo Watts-Russell’s This Mortal Coil project, with a similar sound that melded ethereal vocals with synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and occasional bursts of noise into a dream pop soundscape. The band’s sound has shifted greatly over the years, following Defever’s muse with forays into experimental music, soul, and even free jazz.
On the just-released Pattern Matching, the sophomore album from DC-based indie-folk outfit Stranger In The Alps, main man Steve Kolowich and friends have built upon the foundation he laid with 2013’s Honey If You’re Lucky to produce a record that is as willingly playful with its songwriting and use of language as it is with the boundaries of the genre which it operates in. For our latest podcast Kevin sat down for an in-depth discussion with Steve to discuss the making of the album, the art of songwriting, the DC scene through his eyes and much, much more. It’s a double-sized, music-nerd extravaganza on Episode 102 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
A turbo-charged Southern Culture On The Skids; Hundred Visions if they ‘grew up’ in DC; a garage rawk assault on your good sensibilities; Elvis-cool punkabilly; the bar band that should have been in every fight scene in Road House
Why You Should Care:
Part noise, part swing, and all swagger, DC’s Wanted Man have risen up from the basements and back-rooms of the Nation’s Capital to do one thing, and one thing only: ROCK YOU.
The idea of a house show is nothing new, but over the past few years, Washington, DC has seen a veritable explosion in the number of highly structured alternative venues popping up in every part of the nation’s capital. On a cozy street in Petworth lies the Paperhaus, the veritable epicenter of this movement, and in it resides one Alex Tebeleff. Not only does Tebeleff play in a band that shares it’s name with the house, but he has spearheaded a resurgence in DIY, or DIT (Do It Together), that has not only brought the varied DC scene closer together, but has paved the way for more and more musicians and music fans to try their hand at concert promotion right in the comfort of their very own living room. We sat down with Alex on the back porch of the Paperhaus recently to talk about how he got his start putting on these shows, how he sees this movement growing, and how the DC scene is continuing to amaze.
In the first of what will be an ongoing series of round-table discussions we sit down with Rabbl CEO Wade Lagrone and Listen Local First co-founder Chris Naoum to discuss the good and the bad of the crowd-sourcing platform that made waves in the DC music community a few short weeks ago. Whether you think it’s the future of music promotion, or nothing more than another example of the “pay to play” model, it’s a talk that everyone who is passionate about the issue should hear.