Joan Shelley released her fifth, self-titled solo album at the beginning of May. Produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, the eleven-track record clocks in at only 33 minutes long, but proves to be the Louisville, KY-based singer-songwriter’s most powerful, personal statement to date. Shelley’s tour for the album, which wrapped up its east coast leg this past weekend at the Solid Sound Festival, brought her recently to Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA.
Vaporwave meets smooth jazz
Why You Should Care:
The New Zealand based artist collective, Chill Children, caught my ear a year ago with their refreshingly relaxed style of electronic music. Since then, the group has been steadily gaining momentum on Soundcloud with their forward-thinking, down-tempo tunes.
Besides playing a part in crafting what we know as popular music during his stint with the famed Wrecking Crew, Glen Campbell, with his over 80 singles placed on the charts, is one of the biggest country stars of all time. In 2011, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and a farewell tour, documented in the film I'll Be Me, quickly followed. Since then the rhinestone cowboy has released a handful of heartfelt LP's, EP's, and live sessions, but on Adiós, his latest and last, it's time to finally say goodbye.
If Calvin Harris met Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in the early ‘90s.
Why You Should Care:
Vince Staples’ new album Big Fish Theory is here and his latest single “Big Fish,” is a somewhat-pop-take on the tribulations of growing up in Long Beach, CA. In true Vince fashion, the song plays on the themes of water and fish through its video and lyrics:
“Swimming upstream while I'm tryna keep my bread
From the sharks make me wanna put the hammer to my head.”
Twenty-one years after forming !!!, singer Nic Offer is still channeling his inner Mick Jagger. The band came to prominence amongst the crop of early-2000s dance-rock bands, most notably with 2004 album Louden Up Now. Though many dance-rock bands came and went in a flash around the same era, !!! have thankfully stuck around and released their seventh album Shake the Shudder (available through Warp Records). The album continues to light up your friendly neighborhood hipster dance floor with funky songs that retain the punk-rock energy that made them so beloved in the first place. Fresh off a set at Primavera Sound in Spain, !!! kicked off their US tour at U Street Music Hall.
A legendary band, touring on an anniversary of a landmark record, could raise either undeniable excitement or the sense of mercenary greed. U2, of any band now active on the planet, comes the closest to justifying the hype for a 30th anniversary tour of The Joshua Tree — a generation-defining record with songs that will be hummed and recognized for decades to come, and surely known long after the band is no longer active or perhaps even remembered.
With Joshua Tree comprising the meat of the show’s sandwich, the opening and closing sets were neatly divided — before Joshua Tree, and post-Joshua Tree. With the opening set, Larry Mullen, Jr. walked out unhurriedly onto a bare stage in the midst of the audience to take his place at the drum kit, where the quartet played four songs without video disruptions. With Mullen’s drumbeats sounding out righteous outrage, “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” came unmoored from their initial time and place in strife-ridden Ireland, to become cries against the carnage of 21st century violence, both at home and abroad.
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!
From his stint with the legendary Drive-By Truckers, to a run of solo albums with his band the 400 Unit, it's always been clear that Jason Isbell is a master songwriter. With 2013's Southeastern, a newly sober Isbell was embraced by the world at large and has been winning awards and selling out shows ever since.
On The Nashville Sound, Isbell is putting his band front and center and delivering some of the strongest songs of his career...except one. Join Kevin, Paul, Eduardo, and Marcus (Dowling) as they dig deep into this national treasure's latest, consider the art of songwriting, and take a serious look at what being woke in 2017 can, and should mean.
PLUS! We've got a killer track of of Mink's Miracle Medicine's debut LP, House Of Candles! Fans of Neko Case/Patsy Cline... GET IN HERE!
Glasgow-based Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand emerged in the early 2000s as part of the dance-punk movement that took over much of the indie scene at the time. From their first, self-titled album in 2004 up to a collaboration with art-rockers Sparks in 2015, they have been one of the most interesting and inventive bands of the genre, which perhaps helps to explain the longevity they’ve achieved compared to many of their peers. Although the next album is still forthcoming with no release date announced as of yet, the band embarked recently on a tour, which brought them last week to Rams Head Live in Baltimore.
In a 2016 interview with music site Nothing but Hope and Passion, Lauber described what he wants out of the live music experience: “I’d like to see something, well, ‘larger than life’, something that’s bigger than the tragedy of everyday life. That’s what pop culture is all about, to create something that’s bigger and in a way more important than life.”
Hailing from Cologne, Germany, Marius Lauber has been doing just that by writing, recording, and producing music under the name Roosevelt since 2012. Following the likes of groups like Escort and Hot Chip, Roosevelt brings together the live instrumentation and slick bass lines of disco with modern pop melodies that are a perfect addition to summer and late-night dance club playlists. On a three-show pit stop in the US in-between European shows this spring and summer (including Governor’s Ball in NYC), Lauber brought a live band to a sold-out U Street Music Hall to turn his self-recorded creation to life.
There's really no other way to say it: Music journalism is kind of in the sh@#@er in 2017. We're panling up in the basement to consider how things got this bad, could we all have done anything to stop it, and, most importantly, where do we go from here?
Elder is a metal/prog band from Boston. We like Elder. Elder has a savage new album out, Reflections Of A Floating World. We like savage things. Seems like a thing we'd need to talk about, yea?
PLUS! Colin Stetson is back and he's bringing his friends! This time the "heavy metal" wizard is diving headfirst in to metal/prog with his new band Ex Eye (featuring Stetson, Liturgy's Greg Fox on drums, Toby Summerfield on guitars, and Shahzad Ismaily on synths) and and the results are as wild as you would expect. "Xenolith; The Anvil" is your first taste of this righteous sonic assault that's coming for all of us later this month.
These are the facts:
- Paul Simon is one of the greatest songwriters of our time.
- Paul Simon is also 75 years old, and, by his own decision is coming to the end of his run as a performer.
- Paul Simon is celebrating as much with “one last tour” around the world
So why does it feel like last Friday’s show was a revival instead of a goodbye?
After a subdued set from opener Sarah McLachlan, Simon and his band took the stage Friday night to a sold out amphitheater nestled in the woods of Columbia, MD. Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year has hosted some legendary shows in the past and so it goes that this night, may go down as one of Paul Simon’s finest hours.
On his first full length Pictures Of An Exhibitionist, singer/songwriter (and, full disclosure, one of our brodawg's) Seán Barna is getting in touch with his feelings and delivering a savagely raw set of songs that chronicle his adventures in LA and Washington, DC over the past few years. Kevin and Marcus (Dowling) are sitting down with the "dark lord" of folk to talk the ins and outs of Exhibitionist, life after DC, and more.
PLUS! Instead of giving up on being a musician after suffering a crippling health crisis, Kaeley Pruitt-Hamm poured her experiences into her new EP, Hi From Pillows (out NOW on Local Woman Records). Part art, part activism, Pillows tackles important issues that affect us all, exploring them through a slightly-honeyed indie-folk lens. Check out the single "Thorns" from this gem of an EP.
Besides being one of the founding members of the mighty West Coast Get Down, bassist Miles Mosley's resume (Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill...) reads like a who's who of the biggest names in music. Earlier this year we reviewed his stellar debut solo LP, Uprising, and recently we had the chance to sit down with the master innovator before his ground shaking show at Songbyrd Music House right here in Washington, DC. Join us and get delivered some TRUTH about music, life, and existential excellence from one of modern music's most electric voices.
PLUS! Cameron Graves (also a founding member of the West Coast Get Down) is one of the most innovative keyboard players on the modern jazz (or any) scene. On his new album Planetary Prince, he's pulling out all the stops and taking the listener on an intensely cosmic jazz odyssey...that also happens to be one of the best albums of 2017. Tune in, and drop out with the lead off track from this funk and soul infused triumph, "Satania In Our Solar System."
Air, the French duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, released their first EP Premiers Symptômes two decades ago in 1997. In the time since they have become one of the most distinctive bands in electronic music today, producing a series of albums starting with 1998’s Moon Safari which have served to carve out a unique space in the genre where downtempo electronica and vintage pop music meet to create a sound that is all their own. In celebration of the milestone, the band is releasing a compilation, Twentyears, compiling some of their most popular songs along with rarities, previously unreleased tracks, and a disc of the band’s remixes for other artists. Other than a couple of festival dates last year, the band hasn’t played in the US since 2010, but touring for the anniversary has finally brought them back, including a stop this past week at the Strathmore in Bethesda.
In 2010 Memphis's legendary Big Star, one of the most influential bands in rock n roll history, was set to finally get their due, but it was not to be. Just days before a planned showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX, frontman/chief songwriter Alex Chilton passed away, and what was meant to be a celebration and validation of their remarkable career instead became joyous wake featuring some of the biggest names in music. Fast forward to 2017, and the magic of the touring version of that celebration, a band that features original Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, dB's mastermind Chris Stamey, Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Kronos Quartet, Robyn Hitchcock, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Dan Wilson (Semisonic), and newcomers Skylar Gudasz and Brett Harris, has been captured on film in the new documentary Thank You Friends: Big Star's Third LIve...and more.
Kevin and neighbor Michael are digging deep into the film's soundtrack to to to find out why Big Star was such an important band, ponder the power of tribute, and speculate where this collection of master musicians should go from here.
PLUS! Skylar Gudasz's Oleandar was one of the best albums of 2016. We've got a track to help remind of of that very important fact.
Loungy European electronica with a retro vibe.
Why You Should Care:
French duo Air celebrates two decades of laid-back electronica this year with the release of the aptly-named Twentyyears, a three-disc compilation of tracks spanning from across their career. Here in the US, many listeners first became aware of the band with their soundtrack for the movie The Virgin Suicides, released in 2000. "Playground Love," which features Gordon Tracks (the pseudonym of Phoenix singer Thomas Mars) guesting on vocals, opened the album and served as its musical centerpiece.
The band last toured the US in 2010 for their album Love 2, but they're set to make their return this weekend at Governor's Ball in NYC, followed by a brief run of dates. They'll be in the DC area on Tuesday, June 6th at the Strathmore in Bethesda, for which tickets are still available.
Freewheeling guitars, puns, and crowdsurfing teenagers? Sounds like a Mac DeMarco concert.
The Canadian singer-songwriter released his 3rd full-length album This Old Dog in 2017, and the album is just as introspective as ever, with added vintage synths providing some extra flair to Mac DeMarco's...Mac DeMarco-ness. While the album on a whole sounds more subdued than his previous offerings, it hasn't caused DeMarco and company to slow down their infamous antics too much. In fact, the first night of their sold-out two-night run at 9:30 Club proved that DeMarco and company won’t be calming down anytime soon. (Trigger warning: fidget spinners are involved.)
On part two of our epic exploration of the Grateful Dead and their latest box-set Get Shown The Light, we're digging into what many fans consider to be the greatest Dead show of all time: Cornell 5/8/77.
Hop on the bus and join Kevin, Andre, and Eduardo as the head to the end of their long strange trip to uncover the truth about the Dead, pay their respects, and figure out what being a Dead fan means now, over 20 years after the band's untimely demise.
Nick Cave released Skeleton Tree, his sixteenth album with his band The Bad Seeds, last year, paired with the release of the documentary film One More Time With Feeling, which documented the making of the album and the impact of the death of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur. In part due to its minimal production, and likely in part due to the context around its creation, the album is a somber affair, Cave’s most personal, confessional-sounding work yet. Cave waited several months to take the album on tour, playing a run of shows in his native Australia in January. He and his band started the North American leg of their touring last weekend in a two-night run over Friday and Saturday at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.