Friday, May 31, 2013

Hands - Nightlands - Brett - DC9 - May 30 2013

Brett - Crisp New Order styled beats with shimmering pop guitar moves greet me when this local quartet hits the stage. They have a lead vocalist who exhibits great style in delivering these catchy songs. Yet the real winner for me, is the overall strength and assertive playing that the band has which pushes the rhythmic dance music deeper into rock territory. They had a woman from another band pop on stage to do a song with them, which not only gave a new voice, but transformed the whole band into something slightly different with a darker backdrop for her spoken/sung rap. This was no dull guest spot, here. But even if she is not around for future sets, the core music here is strong enough to allow this band to continue to grow into a serious player around town.

Nightlands - From nearby Philadelphia, comes this intriguing quartet. The guitarist handles all lead vocals, while the other three harmonize extensively as they surround him on drums and two keyboard banks. I was expecting more dance oriented fun, but they surprised me with solid rock music with enough pop hooks and flowing songs. Their opener rocked in the smoothest of styles as if Midlake were trying to play like the Doors. They slowed it down thereafter and dug deeper into intelligent low-key pop music, maybe like a more somber Van Dyke Parks, although I have never had a good grasp of his style. I do hear a bit of Midlake, but I like this band better. The harmonies are powerful and dig deeper than most bands are capable of. The large crowd was getting into this, yet I still think that this will take a couple of listens to really appreciate what they are doing. But the strong harmonies and passion for the music carried the band forward to a successful set. Hopefully, they will visit regularly.
Hands - This LA band is making its way here for the first time and with a nod to fine booking, seemed to have a sound squarely in between that of the first two bands. Less harmonies here with more of the guitar/bass/drums sound, although the lead vocalist occasionally adds a keyboard or an electronic loop. The drums are really strong and together with the bass keep this from becoming straight pop music. It does head off to dream pop-land much of the time and got a little less interesting late in the set before they closed with a solid song. If they keep working out creative ways to work in the rhythmic thrust they have with the interesting guitar patterns they employ fewer times than I would like, they could develop into a fine band. For now, they are decent and easily likable, but I hope they can go further.

Quote of the Night: From Nightlands on this hot, hot night.... "We sweat like Patrick Ewing up here."

Thursday, May 30, 2013


This is a five song EP that is as deep in the woods as most of us will never be. It is foot stomping bluegrass folk with even a gypsy feel now and then due mostly with the fiddling. There is a bit of Pogues attitude here with music that is just a bit crazier than that of the the Black Twig Pickers. I was not sure what to make of this as it opened, but by the end of the fifth song, I was out of my chair, bopping around the room to the uptempo riffs. They are from Ypsilanti, Michigan (far more fun to say than to visit), home of Eastern Michigan University, but you can see shadows of this band at the porch of the most broken down farmhouse 100 miles from where you live.

See if you can stand the craziness of this band at the Velvet Lounge this Monday, June 3rd.

In just two appearances I have managed to catch in the clubs, this local powerhouse trio has managed to capture that early 1970s hard rock that I grew up with and push it forward enough to keep it fresh and invigorating. So I looked forward to their first effort on vinyl and was rewarded with this five song EP. There is just one drummer, one guitarist, and one bassist who handles all lead vocals. The riffs are supreme, quick, and with great feeling. The rhythm section lays down the thick slab of a foundation and somehow the vocals have a smart, slightly detached feel about them. They vary their style just enough from song to song to freshen up the approach with injections of R&B moves and even a modern indie rock touch. But it always comes back to the riffs over the beat. When they lock in, they do this music as well as anybody since the mighty Groundhogs or Steamhammer. They do fall just a fraction short of capturing the full power of their live set consistently through these five cuts, but there are times when it is all there. This is a great start to the recording process and will make a fine introduction to this fresh retro hard rocking trio.

Destroy This Place appears to have the ability to make punk rock music relevant to 2013 and beyond. It is not an easy task. They are not pure punk, whatever that may be, nor are they post-hardocre, post punk, garage blues slop, nu metal, or hard rock. I hear more of  a New Model Army Sound with brighter vocals and a bit of SoCal punk spirit guiding the way.  The guitars have ringing tones, although there is plenty of muscle as well. Not even the wah-wah and psychedelic freak-out at album's end changes the overall flavor much, but shows off just enough diversity to keep things fresh. Of course being from Detroit, means they have some of the most exciting roots for this sort of music without even leaving town. Their songs reach out and grab you, but instead of throwing you to the ground, they groove with you with a few sublime hooks and loads of power. This augurs well for a live show and they will give all of us a chance to find that out very soon.

Destroy This Place comes to the DC9 on Thursday June 27th.

Songs to try out first:

Tight Sleeves - That wee bit extra crunch in the guitar work  puts me on the edge of my seat, which is would good punk rock should do (if not get you to stand and jump).

Defeated - Nearly has that Husker Du "New Day Rising" move toward pop with feet still planted in the most hardcore muck.

Graves - A mobil and flashy powerhouse.

This 'new' local band (formerly known as the Resistance) comes out of the gate with this two song EP featuring their songs "Devon's Song" and "Don't Wake Me". The first is a song about a story that we have heard before and we will hear again and need to keep on hearing every time this sort of tragedy occurs. The band does a nice job within the indie rock/shoegaze format of building the drama through the guitars and vocals. The second cut has subtler dynamic shifts, yet the clarity of purpose is there and they take command of the sound and pull out some real feeling in their playing. This is just a taste, but between that and their live set that I have seen recently, I recommend keeping this band on your radar for when next they play around town.

This is fierce and simple music, actually not so simple, but focused, direct with distinct if not distorted instrumentation and voice. It falls into that guitar and voice camp with some drums and noise added when desired. It comes out of Chrome stylings, works through the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and tosses in some crazed Jon Spencer blues moves at times. Weird and wicked, not for the squeamish, this is the bloody car wreck that you keep looking at. There is some blood, but it is the twisted metal and gnarled expressions that creates the real intrigue. This is will get your blood pressure up as you listen and you may just blow off the whole interpretation thing as you would in one of David Lynch's more complex movies. You'll keep watching and listening, but it may be a challenge to get up the courage to re-listen. But I will be playing this again and again.

Songs to try out first:

Johann's Fabric - The opening cut has a crazed percussion, shrieking guitar, and intense vocal work out.

Gin - Just when I catch them being a little pretentious with a spoken word intro, they add rhythmic noise over a high bass line and yank me in to their strange, strange world.

Soulless LIes - Good vocal line with odd piano run and additional instrumental layers as the song rolls on and on and on.

This is similar to the classic singer songwriter era with just enough of a modern indie rock feel worked into the style. Still, the soul and folk rock feeling owes quite a bit to the early works of Elton John, Jackson Browne, and Tim Buckley. There are some moments of bombastic 1980s guitar battling soaring vocals such as in "Long Goodbye" that may be a bit over the top, but this will still cut it with some. I prefer the more introspective moments with acoustic guitars and electric embellishment where Klose gives his range a workout. Make no mistake about it, this is classic mainstream music that would have climbed those radio charts quite easily many decades back (and still may). There is still an authenticity and strong talent at work that makes this a nice diversion from the twists and turns in the indie world. Jann Klose brings back those good memories of sharing mainstream rock and pop with childhood friends. His quality wins the day with this release, and if you need any proof of the confidence he has in his voice, just know that he covers a Tim Buckley song to close out the album. Anyone who can bring that off will win me over, and he did it.

Songs to try out first:

Still - Simply that great voice and acoustic guitar putting together that ever so difficult simple song.

Falling Tears - This balances heavy and light and he really cuts loose with his voice.

Song to the Siren - Great vocal work-out reminiscent of Tim Buckley, who of course wrote this masterpiece for his 'Starsailor' album.

This is lush pop music with some assertive tones and a brisk beat. The vocal manner reminds me a little bit of Ride, although it has those soft echoey tones that are a part of most synth pop bands. This rocks enough, too, and has some building at work in some of the songs, which really helps hold my interest. Other times, it simply sticks to a nice, but predictable synth-pop sound and beat. The strong vocal work keeps the quality high and lovers of this music should be very happy. Still, I would like to see more variety and sonic clashes at work. There are some nice highlights, as I mention below.

Songs to try out first:

No Stranger - Deep, smooth, beautiful vocals.

Breathless - Highly danceable with some good pop moves and some nice vocal adjustments.

Shook Loves - The haunting harmonies and overall melody keeps this moving smartly along.

One of Maine's finest folk singers is back with another EP, this time featuring six new original songs. I am happy to see that after slipping a bit into a comfort zone, Lisa/Liza has worked to expand the arrangements while maintaining her mysterious and elegant psychedelic folk base. If you are a fan of Marissa Nadler or Vashti Bunyan (if you go way back), you should give Lisa/Liza a listen. She captures distant evocative places with her vocals, while adding some creative touches on delicately placed acoustic guitar. There is some additional instrumentation here which fills out the sound and makes this some of her finest work to date. There is also added drama here where the songs darken and deepen as the EP proceeds. There is something hypnotizing about it all and it falls outside the lines in its own charming way. Fascinating for astral explorers of the wyrd folk world.

This starts off as Indie rock and quickly gets stretched out of bounds into psychedelic lands. The vocals start off simply enough before some nice harmonies set in, and then just as you get comfortable, he goes high in Pavlov Dog's territory. The music also settles for a quirky but comfortable pattern, yet they fearlessly move in and out of space with oddball moves that are edgy more in pattern than sound. There are Americana touches at times and even some reggae beats of a sort, although the vocal work never lets you settle into the comforts of a simple genre. I like the approach employed as they have a distinctive sound thanks to the vocals, yet each player seems to bring something of interest stylistically as the group seems to challenge itself to be a little bit more creative than their neighbor. They are from Maryland and I hope to see a live show some time as this would easily hold my interest over a full set and may be even continue to build into something quite exciting.


Like when Fred Neil opened his album with 'Dolphins' so many decades before, Over the Ocean starts off with a deep and contemplative look at 'Herons'. It may be rooted in the Fred Neil style, but sounds more in the newer Bill Callahan/Richard Buckner interpretation. After that folkier beginning, you get everything from hard psychedelic rock to lo-fi spaced out, tripped out folk music thereafter. I hear approaches to the sort of Scandanavian psychedelia of an Algarnas Tradgard or International Harvester, although there is not quite the ethereal qualities of those epics. But there is a strong control of dynamics at work with deep folk and hard psychedelia. At times, there is also a Lou Reed 'Berlin' style dreariness which I rather like, although it can be a bit too down for some listeners. But there is good exploration at work here, sonically and emotionally, and these are the types of journeys I want to take when I put an album on. I am familiar with the sounds here, but I don't know what is around each corner as I take the turn into these dark alleyways. Even when the songs go on a bit much, this is a fresh approach to forms that I listen to frequently and this record will warrant further exploration.

Songs to try out first:

Herons - Quite simply, I am a big fan of Fred Neil, Bill Callahan, and Richard Buckner.

God in My Own Image - Just when you settle in, this blast of heavy guitar and screechy vocal awakens you before bathing you with psychedelic fade-out.

Obscene - This seven minute psychedelic beauty deftly weaves different styles together into something far from obscene.

Simply stated, this is soft and focused singer songwriter material. Yet there is a breezy nature even as Josh Rouse sings his heartfelt lyrics. Try as I might, I cannot get Josh Ritter out of my had as a comparison point. And although obviously the same first name is the reason, there is a similarity here if you add a touch of Kenny Rankin and Dan Fogelberg as well. It takes some skill and confidence to soften the tones when you arrange and sing your material and still create interesting songs that people want to explore with you. Josh Rouse has succeeded here far more than not with many songs that will be worth revisiting for careful listens. And if you just want to float away with the relaxed atmosphere, you can do that as well. Although you will enter deeper places in your thoughts, than you may have anticipated at the outset.

Songs to try out first:

Julie (Come Out of the Rain) - Great western flavor with the twang in the guitar and twists and turns of the steel guitar.

This Move's Too Long - Nice title, lyrics, and a good breezy style with delicate rock guitar.

The Ocean - Perhaps the most contemplative song on the album.


There is some irony in the title as it has been over six years from his debut album to this sophomore release. Apparently Jordan Jeffares had some record contract issues to move beyond and finally has regained at least some control in his future. He certainly controls the music as he layers his synthesizer parts, guitar, and vocals in intriguing woven pop fabrics. He has a firm grasp on balancing catchy dance pop hooks with intense and sometimes dark vocal patterns and percussion. There is always enough going on to require more concentration than that of most bands playing in this style. Yet, if you want to kick back and dance to it, each song allows plenty of leeway for that. But I will stick to appreciating the song craft and the balancing act he achieves here. The only thing that could improve things would be additional instrumental diversity. There is still just enough present to keep me happy. And this all works swimmingly, live, with a very solid band surrounding him.

See Snowden live at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on Saturday, June 1st.

Songs to try out first:

No One in Control - The title cut opens the album and lasts over seven minutes proving that you can be edgy and off kilter with vocals in dream pop.

Hiss - Here is where they push the sound in other directions with a nice guitar crunch punctuating a great melodic vocal pattern and nice beat.

Don't Really Know Me - Anytime the reverb on the guitar is adjusted to sewer setting, I'm there.


Although this female trio leans far too deep in the country territory at times, more often it recalls a deep Appalachian rooted folk bluegrass combination that the Coen brothers helped remind people of some years back in "Oh Brother, Where Are't Though". This has that lost rural folk vibe where you imagine Alan Lomax taking old cowpaths to small out of the way hamlets featuring local musicians who make music for their own pleasure. These North Carolina ladies are able to bring out pleasure, both with their great sense of melody and also with delicate phrasing that employs more restraint than power. Add the fine dynamics throughout, and all the songs build a sturdy foundation. This is the kind of record to stay with for all thirteen songs, as the magic slowly unfolds over time. The atmosphere may seem simple, but there is great care here in its construction. This one surprised me and I am glad I let each of the songs pull me further into their world as the album progressed..

Songs to try out first:

Let Her Go - The vocal melody cuts deep, while the guitar work is nimble and evocative.

Little House - Simple, positive song with a nice Appalachian bluegrass sort of feeling.

They Got My Back - Nice guitar and banjo duet with distant organ fills, while the ladies harmonize in classic style.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Total Control - Parquet Courts - UV Race -- Black Cat - Mar 25 2013

UV Race - Where on earth is this old school punk rock coming from? When on earth is this rudimentary music coming from? Well Melbourne, Australia to answer the first, but as for the second, I swear I have gone back in time to 1977 and hit the London punk clubs to see some opening band for Subway Sect or Alternative TV. This is as simple and crude as you will see punk rock, these days. It is wonderful that bands still play this way, let alone come half way around the world to do so. These six people should be anarcho-punks playing shows in their squat, not coming out to play the Chaos in Tejas festival and touring the US prior. And as an aside, why bother with SxSW, when you can do a great punk festival or the recently concluded PsycheFest, both of which take place in Austin? There are members here from tonight's headliner and I should have paid attention to see if they were playing alternative instruments or just focusing on keeping it simple. This is the band that will excite you to pick up an instrument, practice for a week and start jamming with them. Yet, they do have some sneaky undercurrent textures played by sax and keyboards with the usual guitars that show some skill and thought beyond the basics. Whatever the strategy, this completely works as a reminder of the basics of rock music and the joy of getting up and playing.

Parquet Courts - And as punk rock grew up over a few years, it started sounding more like this Brooklyn based (with Texas ties) quartet. they somehow manage to mix some jangled guitar into a grinding drone, with the occasional pop hook fighting forward. They sound a bit like Middle Class or the Angelic Upstarts on steroids with a guitarist from Wire. Sprinkle in a generous seasoning of Flipper and you have a sound that is easy on the ears, but keeps your brain working overtime. The quicker songs are more immediate and although the slower songs don't move me as much, they do keep me involved and wanting to spend more time with the band to figure them out further. This band is working up something pretty clever here and could pull in quite a few rock listeners from many different genres. They had the fans up front involved the whole way forward.
Total Control - And with this Australian band, an assured gutsy post punk sound has fully evolved out of this evening. The members play in several other bands, including one from Eddy Current Suppression Ring. This is raw and powerful with an inner strength shining through in every song. The vocals are deep and intense and the three guitars sound a lot more like Ice Age with a bit of Savage Republic than Molly Hatchet, which makes the couple hundred here tonight extremely grateful. The atmosphere is steady, even as they vary the intensity and pace from song to song, which comes from great command of the sound as they push forward without losing control of the core. This is addictive music and completely rounded off the evening as a journey through punk rock stylings that is well beyond historical, and most importantly shows how it can still work in 2013.

Quote of the Night: From the openers... "You know it's going to end bad and that makes you feel..."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Futurebirds - Floating Action - Justin Jones -- 9:30 Club -

Justin Jones - We have a local guitarist on the big, big stage with an acoustic guitar and a microphone. He has given us a nice bonus tonight by inviting Shannon Carey of Luray to assist on banjo and vocals. I have enjoyed her work in the past and she gets to do one of her songs in this set as well. As for Justin Jones, there has a powerful yet warm presence in his songs. His rich voice is the core of it, with the guitar and banjo more delicately filling in the musical passages. The music is timeless and works well tonight. There is quite a bit of applause, although sadly with a set beginning at 7:48, the vast majority (and I mean vast) of the crowd is not here yet. As much as I like early starts, the time management is way off tonight. Jones did a solid 38 minute set, did it well, and is someone that folk and classic singer-songwriter fans should try to see when he plays around town. The quality and confidence in his material is there and he will draw you in to his world.

Floating Action - This quintet from Asheville, North Carolina has a couple guitars, keyboards, rhythm section, and microphones for all five which are used quite a bit. Yet although the vocals and the light Americana feel to their music is key to their formula, there is a hard rocking drive underneath it all which is carefully balanced. Any less, and the sound would slip into what hundreds of other lighter bands do; any more, they would be a heavy rock band in the southern rock tradition. Yet this balance allows them to live up to their highly accurate band name. Tonight's 38 minute set sounds like when Crazy Horse is slow and steady, although tighter with less Crazy Horse... maybe a heavier version of fellow North Carolinians Lost in the Trees is the better comparison. These guys jam a bit, but have the songs to avoid falling into that trap/label. I would happily see these guys again. Unfortunately, the club was still filling up as they finished. And the problem was there set ending at 9:17 with an unneeded 47 minute delay until the headliners came on. The 9:30 Club runs a pretty tight schedule, so unless something was going on that was not evident, I wish they would have pushed back the openers to give them more audience and tightened this delay to keep the momentum going.
Futurebirds - From the musically fertile land of Athens, GA, comes these six musicians that play all kinds of guitar combinations including acoustic, steel, and banjo with the rock rhythm section. They bring a full Americana sound in heavy style with gutsy vocalists among the alternating guys taking the lead. I was thinking some of the eclectic nature of Low Anthem was present, but as it really got rocking, I felt more of Drive-by Truckers vibe in their sound. The beat is heavy, but extremely steady allowing the guitarists to cut loose mostly in the rhythmic thrusts. The steel guitar is just high enough in the mix to give an eerie presence which I quite like more than when bands have it cut into the song too strikingly. There is also a murky rumble in their sound which I find something that pulls me in more than if it were left too light and clean. The only odd item, if I heard right, was apologizing before beginning their set with a slow odd little song, which was not the way the rest of the set headed. After that, they really hit their groove and keep the set flowing well. Americana fans that like a little heavy, may want to try the Futurebirds out some time soon.

Quote of the Day... courtesy of the Washington Post from Mikey Young of the band Total Control - "Bands with drum machines and three synths are not as much fun to watch as bands with drummers and guitars."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lorelei - Talk It -- Black Cat - May 22 2013

Talk It - Some how I have managed to miss this DC trio over the many years I have attended shows and am proved tonight to be sorry for that. They have guitar, keyboard, and drums and play vibrant instrumental post rock music for the most part. The first cut is quite heavy, reminding me of Kinski with sonic traces of Mogwai and Sonic Youth as well. Thereafter they add some quirky rhythms and there is more of a head bobbing pop structure in place. This has a real 'feel good' vibe at work as they explore variations in tone in texture. I particularly enjoyed the striking moment where they stopped playing and briefly sang off microphone. Creative fun was had by all here tonight in the backstage, as this band added its name to my long list of local bands creating smart music.
Lorelei - And already high atop that list of DC bands creating smart music, is Lorelei, a trio that has been gracing stages around here for many a decade. They are a perfect continuation of the opening set, adding vocals and steadier rhythms. There is plenty of Wire and Wedding Present in their sound with an energetic pop reminiscent of the Feelies. I love watching the blur of a right hand of the guitarist which seems more fitting for a hardcore band, yet creates more expressive tones here. There were a good 50-75 people here tonight and many of them know this band far better than I do and like me, were enjoying tonight's set. It may have been the most energetic performance I have seen from this band, but they always deliver. They may not be back to a DC stage for a while, so I am happy I caught them on such a high tonight. Clearly, there is plenty left in the tank, so we should be seeing them again some day.

Quote of the Day: From Kim Deal in Mojo Magazine... "Punk rock passed Dayton by, still has, I think."   This did not go over well with my many friends from the Dayton scene of the 70s and 80s who are still out there, and still creating.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - Xenia Rubinos - Healing Power -- Black Cat - May 20 2013

Healing Power - This collective has a lot of diverse elements immediately apparent. And almost immediately, they show signs of the skills needed to put it all together in a cohesive package. They alternate lead vocalists, yet all of them seem to have high soaring voices that are fairly profound for the Black Cat's backstage. The guitars and synthesizer parts are a mix of pop and rock with a few postpunk jagged edges, while drums and bass really lay down a gutsy foundation that could fuel a classic punk band. Yet it all works quite well in their half hour opening set. They have amusing stage patter where they thank all members in the Kiss Army in a southern preacher style. They also call themselves 'Neil' after Mr. Diamond, which makes sense as I hear a bit of Sweet Caroline running through one of their songs, if it were played by a high energy new wave band. They are from Cincinnati which makes sense as I remember it as these guys could be the next generation from the Raisins, the Kustoms with nods to many more of the assertive pop rock bands from southern Ohio. The large crowd enjoyed it, although the club was getting surprisingly hot (even though the Swans were not on the bill).

Xenia Rubinos - First off, I am much happier seeing Xenia Rubinos here in DC, than I would be if I were seeing the Rubinoos in Xenia, Ohio. She hits the stage behind a keyboard and mic with only a drummer for support. She quickly meets my expectations with some inventive rhythmic pop music, but knocks me on my butt with some extreme experimental moves. I hear some Chaka Khan mixed with a hip hop feel delivered with high energetic bursts. Then she sets sail with some Sheila Chandra styled staccato vocal mannerisms, before delving into perhaps a bit of Kristeen Young, Diamanda Galas and Scott Walker terrain. Yes, Scott Walker would enjoy this, I suspect. Suffice it to say, this is a well developed personal vision that I am not sure everyone fully could get into on one listen, but the crowd did respond to the energy and creativity here. Fascinating and a joy to behold.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - While I feel like I am catching a hot act in Xenia Rubinos in the early stages, I feel I am getting on the Lady Lamb train a little bit late. While the band name has often meant a solo performance for Aly Spaltro, she is now sporting a full band here complete with drums, bass, and keyboards (from her labelmate, Ms. Rubinos). The folk rock is there and it has a great jangle quality in her guitar playing. There are a lot of tempo shifts, which seem to make the pop hooks even larger. These are smart, well crafted songs given fine interpretation mostly from Ms. Spaltro with her excellent guitar work and voice. She sings with a toughness and a vulnerability, but leans more heavily to the former. She can hit the blues or soar off into folkland, but has the jangly pop going much of the time surrounding it all. She tackles a few songs solo on guitar and then banjo, which offers even more interesting contrasts within the theme. This all works extremely well and the full room is absorbed with this set. And although I do not know all the insiders in town, when I see two other notable people from other clubs here tonight, I am reminded of the stock market axiom of buying with the insiders. Clearly, she is on the rise, even as she is quite humble in her thanks for so many people coming out on a Monday night. She may have to move it upstairs when next she tours through.

Other notes -- RIP to Ray Manzarek, a fun guy who was essential to rock music.

And on the lighter side, I wish Sir Alex Ferguson a great retirement, and I think he would even bristle if he saw this on EBAY (let alone see that the asking price was 1,500 quid)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Murder Troy - Area 52 - Cousin Sleaze - Ashes Within -- The Pinch - May 19 2013

Ashes Within - Good hard NYC metal here. The street toughness is evident at all times from this twin-guitar quintet. At times it almost got a bit too 1-2-3-thud in the drumming department, but then the band's guitarists twisted their sounds into washed out psychedelic waves which were startling amidst the controlled noise. When they pushed the tempo they closed in on the metal/hardcore merging that NYC was famous for. The vocalist did well with a highly iffy PA and got through enough of his growling to push things songward. I hope they experiment a little more and keep things moving in interesting directions. They may be on to something, but if not, there are plenty of metalheads out there that will dig this exactly as it is.

Cousin Sleaze - Next up are the opening band's touring buddies, also from Brooklyn. Just one guitar this time around, although the sound is similar to Ashes Within. The main difference is the faster tempo evident and they really rip it up, almost sounding like a Finnish hardcore band (I still find it odd that Terveet Kadet is playing in the US this year, but I digress). The vocals are struggling to get through the PA, although not for lack of vocal power. The Pinch is suffering from being a new club tonight and it is really hard to tell if anyone is here beyond band members. Credit to these guys for laying it out there, as I feel I am monitoring a band practice.

Area 52 - The sound is an utter mess by now as this area metal trio tries to make a go of it. I am not really getting into their set, but it's impossible to make a fair judgment. There probably is some talent here. But how can un-mic'ed drums drown out guitar and bass? Vocals were barely audible, although it didn't sound like we were missing much (and it is barely a 'we' beyond the other band members). Was the guitarist just playing with his teeth? I had to cut this set short.

Murder Troy - I didn't stay for this set, but it may have actually gone well as they play instrumental psyche-metal and wouldn't be bothered as much by a bad PA. They have a new full-time bass player and are still getting experience on their way to becoming a very nice act around here. I recommend seeing them at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel in early July when they play with the always excellent Caustic Casanova. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cherry Tree - Flown -- Comet Ping Pong - May 18 2013

Flown - This female power trio is from Brooklyn and they brought with them a severe case of the heavies. They lay out some of the thickest, heaviest metal stoner riffs this side of Black Sabbath. But they go well beyond the confines of sludge metal, with fascinating forays into psychedelic worlds. They do this with the instrumentation, but even more importantly in the vocals where all three members join in. They have twisted psyche-gothic moves that remind me some of United Bible Studies. Of course, they sing with gnarled intensity when the music heats up and the riffs start flying. They continue to vary the volume and vocal style keeping a fair amount of tension in the set. It works because they manage to keep you glued to their sound when the go from the lower depths to soaring heights, yet completely skipping the dullish middle ground. I enjoyed how they appropriated a wonderful Hawkwind riff and quickly moved it into a creative powerhouse of their own making, available on their recent single. This is powerful and fully involving with their great grasp of style. As the songwriting will likely to produce more gems, this band could be a great presence on the modern extended psyche scene. Feral Grrrl Psychedelia? It works for me and worked for the 25-30 people digging the sounds tonight.

Cherry Tree - This local power trio left the Black Cat backstage smoking hot a couple months back and I was quite happy to catch them again. All the brilliant early 1970s monster riffs were back complete with thick bass, powerful drumming, and tuneful vocal work that somehow makes it through the mix. The added dimension I noticed in one of their brand new songs and a couple of the others was that they do manage to integrate some power pop in there as well. I heard a bit of the Only Ones tonight, which is an excellent way of changing the style a bit to give some nice contrast in a long set. There still is a lot of the throwback style, but with this kind of youthful energy, it is hard not to get caught up in it. And if you grew up with this like I did, all the better. I really hope that the masses that flock to the Black Keys and many other successful bands that pull from the 70s find there way out of the arenas and into the clubs to discover bands like Cherry Tree. You will only have to manage 5-10% of the crowd, pay 5-10% of the cover to get in, and for my money, receive nearly 100% of the musical value. May this band continue to gig and continue to prosper.

Club update... I've had my issues with this club before, and it still starts a little late in a remote part of town which will always be a bit of a challenge for me. But, they continue to book quality shows and tonight's show ran smoothly and was a lot of fun. And as I was thinking how pleasant it all was as I was walking out the door, chatting with Davis from Lorelei (go see them at the Black Cat this Wednesday!) just before 1am, when boom--I was actually walking into the glass door (think Sid and Nancy without any breakage). I took it all on the nose, but am still reminded today of how happy I am that I never took up boxing.

Proverbs Reggae Band -- Mount Rainier Day - May 18 2013

Proverbs Reggae Band - I caught a brief set of this band at a block party festival in Mount Rainier on Saturday afternoon. There were PA problems and a tight schedule full of music for the festival goers, so this was not the ideal way to catch this excellent area reggae band. They still managed to cook up that lilting contemplative, happy vibe that good reggae music will bring out and they managed to give the dancers a couple of up tempo numbers that played well. I unfortunately missed their Howard Theatre set recently, so I wanted to at least check them out. Fortunately they seem to be gigging quite a bit in the area, so I will be checking back in to see what they sound like indoors playing a full set of grooving reggae music. And for the record, I am quite biased here as the bass player is an old office friend. I do miss work, when I can get into a passionate musical discussion with the guy down the hall.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Teen Girl Scientist Monthly - Grand Revival - Duswhales -- Velvet Lounge - May 17 2013

Duskwhales - Geeze, these four guys seem young and the four x's on hands confirm that observation. They have keyboards, bass, guitar, and drums with everyone singing and shifting with a two guitar sound for several songs as well. The most formal talent here seems to be in the keyboards as his piano flourishes were high level. The rest of these sounds were all competent, although I am not sure it ever really fit together at times. The vocal work was garage pop and I marveled at how four voices would join in and yet there was no real harmony with just one part coming through. This was all quite insane and fiendishly clever in a similar vein of Daniel Johnston or the Modern Lovers. Although these guys had a tentative side to them, they were audacious enough to ask the 11 people in the room (half of them parents) to clap along to one song. I love it. After a big outdoor festival and a trip to the Big Apple, it is refreshing to head back to the garage or basement and indulge in youthful rock spirit. This is what it is all about.
Teen Girl Scientist Monthly - The headliner takes the stage next and delivers 41 minutes of fun pop rock that feels like the grown up version of the opening act. It has a B-52s feeling with the energized pop, two female singers (one on keys) and male guitarist/vocalist, along with rhythm section and Gary Wright style keyboard (as guitar). The sound is less B-52s and far closer to that of the Rezillos, although not as punk. The interesting feature that really brings it together is the driving rhythm section. The drums are great and the bass player locks in with quick and fluid, nearly jamming lines. This allows the keys, guitar, and singers to indulge in putting forth their personality and keep things frothy and energized. The lead vocals have a sultry lounge quality, although they never lose perspective of fun pop music--quite tricky, actually. I would only advise them to tighten up endings as crafty songs like this deserve a tighter finish. Still, they were highly effective at pulling in the now larger crowd by keeping their enthusiasm high and their charming, yet rocking pop music moving at just the right pace.

Grand Revival - These four youngsters (all x'ed again) are a lot tighter than the openers as they take their twin guitar attack backward into the days of hard rock with enough modern metal touches in their as well. The rhythm section does have a little swing to it in the basslines, but the lead guitar work and overall heaviness is the star. Hard charging bluesy rock, with a bit of slide, a double lead or two and powerhouse drumbeats. I get a feeling of Richie Blackmore on one guitar solo, although most of the others are in the bluesier strain. All in all, this flat out rocks and although they are presently in a good place, once they get their full direction worked out--something about new members, missing singers, or what not--things could take really take off. And oh yeah, they are young, so they can work on their banter. But for now, I will leave them with a suitable blurb... Better than Foghat!

Quote of the Night: Although the first band was far more musically skilled than 1/2 Japanese, the spirit was similar, so I am reminded of this classic quote from Jad Fair... "The only chord I know is the one that connects the guitar to the amp."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Coming in late May at a DC Club near You!

Here is a video and audio sampling of some of the better shows headed our way in the next two weeks. As always, check my recommendations section in the right column for a full listing of shows I will be attending or those I would if cloning procedures were in play.

!!! plays the Black Cat this Saturday night and for those of you that want to say their name out loud, it is chk chk chk.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper plays the black cat this Monday, May 20th. I've missed them before--not this time.

Futurebirds come to town to the 9:30 Club on Thursday, May 23rd.

The Uncluded not only have a great name, but their sounds are worth a listen when they hit the big 9:30 Club stage on Tuesday, May 28th right after your Memorial Day weekend has concluded.

The Thermals make their way to the Black Cat on Thursday, May 30th, and will provide an even mix of punk energy and pop hooks from the sound of this video.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mudhoney - Endless Boogie -- Bowery Ballroom (NYC) - May 12 2013

Endless Boogie - I am in Manhattan tonight with my brother and we get started with this local twin-guitar quartet. They are loud, with snarling vocals, dirty slide guitars, fuzz, and wah-wahs, with a pounding rhythm section--in another word, Mudhony. But no, they use much of the same tools to play longer blues-rock jams. Their boogie is not quite endless, but with four songs in 38 minutes, it is close enough. So not exactly like Mudhoney, but they certainly are a good opening band choice to get the extensive crowd warmed up. My brother hears the Stooges and I would have to say that the first cut sounded like a good outtake jam from 'Raw Power'. The middle dragged a tad, but the closing number was a powerful drone with a steady (nearly dull) rhythm section setting the stage for long, throbbing guitar wanderings and a few vocal lines salting it up a bit. I enjoy a good drone and these guys nailed it at the end. They may not be a band I would want to listen to in the studio as they are more about sound than songs, but they certainly create a great atmosphere on stage. And although I have heard of this venue for some time, this is my first visit and I would certainly be happy to be a regular here. They have a comfortable downstairs lounge with the ballroom and a small balcony with some seating that all-in-all looks like it would accommodate a Black Cat-sized crowd.
Mudhoney - I have been a huge fan of this band pretty much since Day One, and even BC in the Green River days. Somehow I have only caught them once on stage which is really odd, so I trekked up to NYC to catch them before they head off to Europe. Although I was not sure they would be hitting DC, they now have a U Street Music Hall show set for September 23rd. So if you're in DC (or any of the other cities they are hitting), should you go see Mudhoney in 2013? Absolutely! Early in the set I was thinking that it may be hard to imagine how profound this sound was back when these guys were pretty much creating in what would become the grunge scene. And although it is much more familiar these days and not quite as dangerous, there are still moments of pure magic in many of their songs. And they do a fabulous hour long set that balances brand new material with songs from their early days ignoring albums they don't care about and providing most of their classics which had the crowd doing some serious dancing and even a few stage dives and crowd surfing. You still see the brilliant component parts of this band with Dan Peters powerful drumming anchoring it all. The 'new' bass player Guy Maddison has been a great fit for many years now and even had a long dazzling lead bass run later on. Steve Turner creates his magical sounds and can vary the style and pace brilliantly while Mark Arm does the wicked slide work and hyperthick sludge rhythms. I am very happy that his voice still has that sneer to it as he can stretch it all over his gnarled range, creating that great vocal tension needed to stay on top of this wonderful music. They played for an hour with a 25 minute encore 'set' that finished off with the Dicks' "Hate the Police", which still may be the greatest American punk song ever (at least post 1977). So Mudhoney 2013 still has it and I will be writing this all again come September, when I hope to make it back from Europe to do this all again.

Quote of the Day: From the opening band... "Did everyone call their Moms today? I see some of you you shrinking."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sweetlife Festival -- Merriweather Post Pavilion - May 12 2013

Lindsey Sterling - It is 12:30pm and there is a good enough crowd to get things rolling. I hear some chords emanating from the second stage as Shark Week got started a few minutes earlier, but I am seated at the main stage for a violinist, keyboardist, and drummer. Ms. Sterling is the violinist who creates interesting enough music with even more mesmerizing dance moves. The drums are strong and the keyboards will provide a bit of background but more often provide the bass lines. This is melodic music and works well enough for this 40-minute set, mostly due to her graceful maneuvering around the stage. She has hit it big via Youtube and was received warmly enough here, but I would think that just one more instrumental element may elevate this to the point that the set could be closing a club show rather than opening for one. Still, I kind of preferred that she leaned a bit more to Nash the Slash rather than go Jean Luc-Ponty on me.

Solange - Next up on the big stage is Beyonce... 's little sister. The voice and overall style don't seem entirely dissimilar, but it would take someone who listened to both a lot more than I to really discuss the distinctions. She comes out in a colorful spring dress with drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and a couple of back-up singers helping out. The music is fairly low-key and sounds like it would do very well in the dimly lit club, late at night. The R+B pop hybrid with light traces of funk still works well enough here today, although everything is a bit on the safe side of things. The crowd was lightly enjoying it, but really picked up toward the end when the material picked up pace and volume. The strong finish worked well with me and had me feeling pretty good about the set and her prospects. Whether she will be remembered more as a Stevie Ray Vaughan or a Simon Townshend remains to be seen.

Gary Clark, Jr. - Speaking of Stevie Ray Vaughan, there is a Texas blues connection here with gunslinging guitarist, Gary Clark, Jr. He is joined here by a guitarist, bassist, and drummer who are not just here to play the blues, but to push it into crushing rock territory. Guitar-wise, there are elements of Cream and the early blues to heavy rock moves from various British bands. But the backing band reminds me more of Ten Years After, the way they so smoothly find the groove and let the lead guitarist consume the spotlight. And when you can play as well as Clark, there is not much need for a whole lot else. But of course, they vary their songs nicely from hare, hard rock to more blues/rock, and even a Chuck Berry style rock'n'roll number. This 57 minute set was smoking hot and a lot of eyes and ears were opened here, although he clearly had plenty of knowing fans as well.

MS MR - I did take 5 minutes away from the main stage to check out the band I skipped the other night at the U Street Music Hall. It was similar to the other bands that night with a gut gutsy brand of pop from what I could tell in so brief a listen. This stage was off to the side with a lawn for people to sit on or dance on and it was nice to see that it was well packed even as the main stage was now full with a crowded lawn as well. So the Sweetlife Festival has certainly pulled in music fans with its diverse line-up today.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - I was never much a fan of the No No Nos, as I unoriginally dismissed them many years ago. Since then, I have warmed more to the two instrument line-ups that have proliferated due to the White Stripes and the Black Keys. So I was quite happy to see another Yeah filling in on bass and keyboards (and they likely have been doing this for some time like many bands). Still, the songs varied in quality for me with some still sounding a little on the thin side like some sort of twee-psyche genre. But when they pushed things with some heavy and interesting guitar moves, and strong drumming, they could be quite vibrant. And the vocal work of Karen O is always a high point. She had loads of energy in delivering her pop-Penelope Houston sounds taking command of the song and the stage. They even reminded me of a highly abrasive Eurhythmics a couple of times. The crowd was huge (and it was even getting a bit claustrophobic for me) and the band won them over quite easily. Still, a little mixed for me, but the talent is much clearer to me taking in this 52-minute set.

Kendrick Lamar - Lamar has a DJ providing the beats and he does the rapping full of many of the cliches I have heard, and I really don't even hear that much of this genre to get as tired of it as I do. I know punk and metal have serious issues with cliches as well, as does every genre (in part causing the separation). But I cannot detect anything thoughtful in the lyrics here without a lyric sheet, but do hear all the eye rolling buzzwords that get ever so annoying. He probably is quite clever (and his website does say that we all know he is a lyrical genius), but I can't get beyond the annoying lyrics of something like P&P (based on my quick scan of titles, so I am offering an educated guess). I need a lot more from hip hop than this, also on the musical side of the equation, and I have gotten it in the past from Public Enemy and some local acts, but this still worked up enough of the crowd. So you can check with some of them for a more complete review.

And that finished the day for me. I would have liked to have seen Passion Pit and Phoenix, but I have an early train to NYC to catch Mudhoney tomorrow night. Perhaps, a certain one of my readers who stopped by to chat can fill us in with what I missed. I am sure it continued the pattern of diverse music that pulled in the large audience here. This place was full, people were happy, so you would have to rate this as a success.

Quote of the Day - Posted on the screen after a rainstorm really hit hard in the early evening... "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Friday, May 10, 2013

MS MR - Sir Sly - Magic Man -- U Street Music Hall - May 9 2013

Magic Man - I am getting a sense that this club does not get sound checks done in a timely fashion. First, they have the early comers (check that, the people that arrive on time) wait in the rain until 18 minutes after the posted time before opening the doors. Then, the opening band (for the second straight time I have been here) starts off with abominable sound. This is pop music through  a wall of mud. Fortunately, by the third song, the crisp synth pop of this Providence band starts taking on a nice shape. The vocal work is airy and tuneful and there is a nice guitar and rhythm section bit underneath go give it some heft. It is still on the light side, but is likable enough and effective for warming the crowd to a night of catchy, danceable pop music.
Sir Sly - This LA quintet also has to do a lot more checking of their sound while they set up. I've seen punk bands on stage for their sets for far less time that it took for this band to get ready for their 31 minute set. Thankfully, the care was worth it as the sound was crisp and strong right from the word go. The vocals are far edgier here in more of a direction toward Brit-Pop of the 1980s and maybe even a touch of stronger post punk noise. There is a lot of percussion going on with a drum kit and some side drums and even a couple of guitars going at times. The club is filling up rather well by now and the crowd seems fairly into the sounds here. I like the toughness in the sound, while they still have the requisite pop hooks seamlessly flowing throughout. At times it was rather by the book, but there were a few songs that really popped out and showed what the band is capable of when they really have a great song to present. They should do quite well with this approach and did so tonight.

MS MR - Sorry guys, but I had to get back and continue recovering from my sore throat before a very busy weekend (see promo below).

Quote of the Night: Sir Sly - "This last one is called 'Ghost'" Innocuous enough, but I thought I also heard the opening band say they had a song called 'Ghosts'. Plus I also had the Strawbs song 'Ghosts' come on my IPOD earlier that day as well as the Japanese band Ghost come on my IPOD during my walk home. Sweden's Ghost AD is playing the 9:30 Club this week and Shirley Kent's UK band Ghost is still broken up after 43 years. I could go on...

Promo of the Night: This was the kickoff party for the Sweetlife Festival which takes place this Saturday at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, starting at noon. There is lots of interesting touring talent here, but get there early to catch hot local band Shark Week starting things off. And come say hi. I'm the old guy scribbling in a notebook, hopefully not coughing.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars -- DCJCC - May 7 2013

Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars Klezmer-Bhangra Extravaganza featuring Deep Singh - In the time it takes to announce this band, the Minutemen could knock out a song or two. But it also takes as much time to explain this fascinating concept of combining Jewish and Indian music with both the spiritual and party connections. It is not really all that surprising as Frank London has been turning traditional music on its head for decades now, most known as a member of the great Klezmatics. I saw them years back in Denver as they played klezmer music with reams of jazz and rock moves woven in. A rather straight laced guy at work told me the next day he saw me at the show and although he and his wife were traditional dancers to klezmer music, he had never seen anything quite like them and he liked it. And that was what was great about tonight's show, as it was filled with an audience from age 8 to 80 who had never experienced anything quite like this. That went for me as well, as although I've heard a lot of Indian music, I had never heard it infused into klezmer jazz anything remotely like this.
Frank London was on trumpet, but was also conducting in a jazz manner of calling out solos, switches, and some volume control with his usual band of trombone, clarinet, accordion, tuba, and drums. They played a revved up eleven minute number that gave everyone a taste of this band's past history. But then it was on to the future with fresh material with two guest vocalists, an electric guitarist, and Deep Singh on a large Indian drum he held and played with a stick on each end (may be a dhol or naal). They mixed it up with up tempo party numbers and deeper spiritual songs with graceful and seamless shifts. One of the vocalists tackled a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan songs, which is challenging task, but proved up to it. The other sang some hyper-fast Jewish traditional songs while the band kept up. There was a lovely Indian song with chanted vocals and slide guitar in a minor harmonic scale perhaps with only a touch of other instrumentation. They even did a song by a famous cantor in a Sun Ra style arrangement. So basically, anything in the world of music was fair game tonight and the band pulled it all together with a cohesion where they embraced their rare mistakes with their amazing instrumental prowess. This was a fabulous 105 minutes of music delivered with spirit and taken in with respect and excitement.

I am thankful that the Washington Jewish Music Festival continues to pull in such exciting acts like this, although it reminds me of what a dolt I have been for not paying attention to Frank London the past 15 years. There are only a couple more shows left in this year's festival, but if you can't make those, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Taylor Carson - Mia Dyson -- Iota - May 4th

Mia Dyson - I always give just a little bit extra respect for the musicians that come a long, long way to ply their trade. Although Mia Dyson has previously made her way to this continent, this is the first Virgina showing for the native of Torquay, Victoria, Australia. She is a veteran guitarist and probably has been playing since very young ages since her father not only plays blues guitar, but builds them as well. Her style definitely includes some blues, especially when she adds a bottle neck to her quality electric playing. She adds the requisite singer songwriter skills to her quality playing and these songs are quite lively. This is a very sharp band here as well, with a powerful rhythm section that adds that extra push that you can feel in your body as you get into the songs. The keyboardist was also pivotal with his flashy organ runs with that rich leslie sound. There is good intensity throughout this breezy 33 minute set, and not even the jet lag that affected her voice hurt her vocals enough to matter. This was a fine set fully appreciated by the big crowd.
Taylor Carson - It seems that lately, every time I come out to a weekend Iota show it is a packed house. While the club is a nice place to see a show, it also shows they are booking some quality talent from around the world and not ignoring the fine homegrown talent like Taylor Carson. He has been around a while and has no doubt pulled in a lot of people that have seen him before. But it is my first time and I am quite impressed with his effort tonight. He sings and plays acoustic guitar and has a full band with electric guitar, bass, drums, and organ. The band is a little more understated than previously, aside from the tasty electric leads and interesting patterns. They are a highly proficient bunch with nary a misplaced note or accent. The music is homespun Americana styled folk rock to some extent, but it pretty balanced and moves a bit in the direction of each song. And although some of it blended a bit too much into so much of what I have heard before, there was the occasional song that was actually quite brilliant. And one song sounded like it should be one for the top of the charts (didn't catch the title, but it was one he described someone as asking him 'you really wrote that?'). My schedule has been wearing me out (6 nights in a row, not sure when I get my next night off), so I left after an hour, but they were still going strong and cooking up some great music for the crowd, who was fully into the vibe created tonight.

Quote of the Night: from Taylor Carson... "Why can't we have a band name instead of saying my name over and over again... It's Starbucks. It's weird."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Free Energy - Deap Vally -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - May 3 3013

Deap Vally - This fairly new duo from LA makes its way to DC for the first time and the moderate crowd is pretty pumped to see them. Both sing while playing drums and guitar. So while their raw sound may aspire to something like the White Stripes, I am hearing more Troggs. Most people may regard that as an insult, but I enjoy the more primitive approach in this case. Yes, it can be a little thin at times but hey have a nice crazed intensity as they take their bluesy guitar moves into loose and raw terrains. The style is a bit over the substance at this point, but the energy and direction are good and since they are still in their infancy, good things can easily get better. The last cut hinted at how good they can be as they ripped through their longest twisted blues jammer. The crowd appeared to enjoy these 26 minutes as much as I did.
Free Energy - This five piece band has a honest to god vocalist in front of a couple of guitars, bass, and drums and the classic look bangs out the classic modern style of rock that works in a bar, club, or arena. They clearly sound as big or bigger than any environment and have loads of energy to push the pace, while digging in deep into the songs. There was nothing terribly original or dazzling about it all, but it was so likable, that they should impress all but the most jaded (and I'm not there... yet). Perhaps the one interesting thing to me was that I have never seen this half full club have virtually everyone pushed forward to the stage. There were only 2-3 people hanging about the bar with everyone else packed in up front and having a great time. It is always refreshing to me to see people excited about fun rock music and even without Boris tonight, it happened again.

Quote of the Night: Deep Vally (after coming up from Psyche Fest in the capital of the great republic of Texas) ... "It's kind of a thrill to be in the Nation's Capitol".

Friday, May 3, 2013

Boris - Stephen Brodsky - Young Widows -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - May 1-2 2013

Young Widows - There was a different opening act for each of the two nights Boris played the Rock'n'Roll Hotel with this Louisville trio up first. These guys played within the metal format but opted for nearly unrelenting drone with volume bursts. While there was not a lot of variance within the songs, there was enough from song to song, like the one where they added swirling psyche moves and thunderous drums in the direction of Kylesa. Then there was a bluesier drone rock take. There was nothing terribly brilliant here, but this was still highly effective with those subtle shifts and kept things engaging for their 42 minute set. As my music buddy said to me, they accomplished what they set out to do.

Stephen Brodsky - Opening up on night two was Stephen Brodsky on guitar and vocals with a partner mostly doing keyboard embellishment along with some vocals. Like myself, this Mass native discovered after many exciting years in punk and hardcore, that there is this really vibrant genre called psychedelic folk. His vocal style is on the inspired side of dreamy and musically he moves gently somewhere in between stoner folk and acid folk. This is very easy to drift in to and even the crowd anticipating the heavier sounds to come later is getting into it. Brodsky has a drone quality at work which is a nice lead in to Boris's second night set and even adds some heavier noise at the end finishing off a very fine set.
Boris - This Japanese trio is pretty much a fixture on my 'Ten Best Shows of the Year' list any time they come to town. This time around, as in most cities they are hitting, their 'residency tour' takes place over two nights with the first devoted to the hits and some rarities and the second night devoted to their 2000 album "Flood" along with some other droning cuts. My first thought was that I may not enjoy this as much as a regular show featuring their amazing ability to twist metal, shoegaze and psychedelic forms into noisy yet fully melodic moments blending in both drones and song structures. Yet, the first night featured 90 minutes of songs that still moved in and around in all their styles, even if there were more of the recognizable 'hits'. I missed Ghost's Michio Kurihara's added guitar abilities mostly in the volume department, since Wata and Takeshi are already brilliant players. Add Atsuo's powerful drumming and great personality and you have three people that consistently deliver as much as any other band I see. The second night may have been more droning, but there were quiet psychedelic moments and lots of variety in the sound. And the best part about this tour is that you get three full hours of Boris--still not enough. If you are not particularly fond of the heavy droning alt metal bands, but are curious enough to want to put your foot in the water, this would be the place to start. Boris lifts the music so much higher than many of their contemporaries and rarely does this style sound so warm and sexy. They have captured the magic long ago and are not letting it go any time soon. Their albums are very very good, but the live show is still the place to full embrace this alchemical wonder.

Quote of the Night: From some blog seeking comments on Boris albums to get...

1. I like Boris - Mayor of London incarnate -Very droll with a hint of Terry Thomas..
2. He had a good backhand.
3. He should have won an Oscar for Frankenstein, the Body Snatcher, too.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Coming in April, at a DC club near you... (Pt. 1)

Here's some video and audio of upcoming shows. Be sure to look to the column on the right for my recommendations with links to the club for further details. Enjoy!

Deep Vally fresh from a gig at Psyche Fest joins Free Energy at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel this Friday night, so arrive early. Here's a promo for their EP.

Frank London has played a mean trumpet for krazed klezmer jazz oddballs the Klezmatics for many a decade. He closes this year's Washington Jewish Music Festival with a Klezmer Brass extravaganza featuring plenty of great musicians. The show is on Tuesday, May 7th at the DCJCC, 1529 16th Street NW. This will be fun.

Also headed up from Austin on their first North American tour are LA's Sir Sly who you can see at U Street Music Hall on Thursday, May 9th. Here's what they sound like...

Drew Holcombe and the Neighbors are headed to the Jammin Java on Friday, May 10th. They have a free seven song EP for you to get warmed up with.

Or if you want the sound of New Orleans on that Friday, May 10th, head out to the Artisphere to see Big Sam's Funky Nation. So many choices...

And Brass Bed is touring their third album with a visit to the Dunes on Wednesday, May 15th. Check out a cut here.

The Gun Outfit - Fell Types -- Black Cat - Apr 30 2013

Fell Types - This area trio is doing the post-punk thing with a touch shoegaze and goth in the male vocals at least. They have the power and a bit too much volume early on which the sound man reigns in just enough. I am in a really foul mood tonight for a variety of reasons which has me thinking... A great band can take me out of that mood and lift me up into some sense of normalcy. A bad band will have me reeling and leaving the room. But a good band like this (and with the appropriate style) will grab me and guide me along the murky path I am on for a 30-minute jaunt through the thick jungles of guitar, bass, and drums. There may be an end to this path some time soon.
The Gun Outfit - This twin-guitar quartet is from Olympia, Washington. Oh, there are so many analogies or jokes I could make about that, but I'll just leave it alone and focus on the music. They begin with some fine grinding rock music with rock steady drumming and some pop hookery in there, not completely unlike the Wipers, which a certain other Olympia band used to follow. But back to the Gun Outfit... they continue rolling out songs with some rather significant style twists within their steady inviting sound. I am hearing a Wooden Shijps style psyche drone at times and then some slower material that invokes thoughts of Jessie Sykes or Bardo Pond (finally a non-Pacific NW reference). The sound is excellent and when the songs work, this band is a real pleasure to drift off with. They got just a little too loose jam oriented late in the set which had me doing a bit of clock watching. The Tuesday night turnout was a bit smaller than I would have liked to see, but the dozen or two that were here did appreciate these sounds. I hope they push themselves in the writing department because the highlights are well worth returning for.

Quote of the Night: From the opener... "Let's fight to make this world safer for all of us."