Sunday, May 31, 2015

Drew Gibson - Flo Anito -- Iota - May 30 2015

Flo Anito - This is my first listening to this local talent and talent is certainly the operative word here. It is a stark approach with just her voice which she accompanies with her fine piano skills and her more rudimentary, but effective acoustic guitar chops. Her songs are folky with lounge elements and offer a variety of emotional depths. Her speaking voice is on the cute side, but when she takes to song she merges that with a bluesier style that ends up somewhere in between Karen Dalton and Susan Tyrell. She plays well, especially in adding to the dynamics of the required intensities to her son. But it's the voice that is keeping this crowd riveted to this set. Great job.
Drew Gibson - I've missed the last few Drew Gibson shows I've tried to attend, so I am happy to finally catch up with him after some time away. And he's got his band with him tonight including the familiar faces I have seen with him in the past. He's got a rhythm section and pedal steel guitarist to support his many original songs. No acoustic guitar for him tonight, but he does his usual mix of finger style and plectrum moves on his electric. His voice is ever in great shape and he mixes his songs well between the folkier and the more moderate rockers. With the full band, the Americana style is more prevalent than at his acoustic shows and it does allow a nice variety if you see him anywhere near as often as I do. I don't know if I prefer this over the solo shows or not, but it's a great way to hear his music in different styles and it was quite a pleasure tonight. Still one of the finer singer songwriters around town is Drew Gibson.

Photo Grab of the Night: What is Jimmy Page looking for in the Led Zeppelin section of this record fair? Unauthorized bootlegs? A rare New Zealand issue of Led Zeppelin II? I will never know, but it's nice to see him engaging in something I have spent many long hours doing.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jack Garratt - Aero Flynn -- DC9 - May 29 2015

Aero Flynn - This trio is led by Josh Scott, whose Wisconsin music roots connect with a lot of familiar names, which I will leave to you to research. The here and now is Scott on guitar, vocals, and a touch of keyboards touring with a drummer and bassist who adds backing vocals. They create a lovely atmosphere of carefully maintained pastoral backing that is occasionally shaken up with some electronics or drum hits. It is flowing well and then in the fourth song, he cuts into this crazy loud psychedelic guitar solo which is jarring fun. It reminds me of an old folk album by Beau that breezes along until he feels like plugging in. The vocals are assured and hold it together well. This was a fine little set and quite a needed bring down for me after the excitement of the previous night.
Jack Garratt - I am always a bit skeptical of one-man bands, but this British musician plays a whole lot of guitar and some keyboards in addition to his lighter backing parts. He sings throughout in a Northern soul fashion much of the time with the music varying quite a bit around various forms of electronic dance and R&B forms. As the set went on he cut into a strong guitar and voice electric folk styled song that was quite nice and right in my wheelhouse. He followed that with a keyboard and vocal song that reminded me of Antony and the Johnsons with his extended vocal range. I was not dazzled by the overall style here, but the variety was good and his personality was excellent as he worked with the audience, getting them off to a fun start to their Friday night.

Quote of the Night: from Jack Garratt mentioning some of the sites he had seen in the neighborhood (and I'll let you guess where he went)... "I thought it was very good! We don't have chili back in England."

Friday, May 29, 2015

Death - Obnox -- Black Cat - May 28 2015

Obnox - This is a one-man punk band from Cleveland. Live, Lamont Thomas fleshes it out with a drummer and an electronics guy, allowing him to handle guitar duties and vocals. These guys nail a great punk rock sound right away with thick, chunky chords, straightforward power drumming, with the electonics subtly putting some thickening agents underneath. The vocals are good in a detached Howard Devoto sort of manner and this is the type of creative punk rock we don't get enough of these days. But then, the guitar goes away and Thomas starts rapping, although the hip hop vibe created behind him is quite powerful and as the songs go on, starts merging punk and hip hop in a unique conglomerate, which makes perfect sense. These two genres don't sound terribly alike, but their priniciples of starting from nothing to scream out your feelings and environment with the role of the underdog have always been there for each. And although Thomas switched styles through the rest of the long set, the songs kept coming together more and more until some unique creature was born. This magical set is one of those that may inspire others to try to do this sort of thing, but most likely will stand alone as a profound vision reminding people like me who really have 'heard it all', that there still is undiscovered brilliant originality out there.
Death - Speaking of visions... here is the band whose one single in 1976 sank with a trace only known among collectors. But of course, the rediscovery has been on for a few years now and even though founding member David Hackney passed away in 2000, his rhythm section brothers finally have Death as a going concern again with a new guitarist. I did not take a note during this show (rare for me) as it really was not about this set, more about paying tribute to a deserving band who belatedly are claiming their rightful spot as a link between the Detroit protopunk of the Stooges and MC5 to the 1970s and 1980s punk and hardcore scenes. What made no sense to the thick ears then, makes perfect sense now and not only did they have a near sell-out of excited rock fans tonight, but they also had the Smithsonian's (upcoming) African American Museum representative here who introduced them and worked with them earlier today, getting their story ready to be a part of the museum when it opens next year. So this was a mindblowing show on so many levels and the band were clearly having a great time. Oh, and they rocked the house down, especially with the incredible 'Politicians in my Eyes', a song for the ages. I could write so much more, but there's a book out now about them as well as the essential documentary, 'A Band Called Death'. And they tell us they love it here and want to come back. So until then, dig into their music and learn their story if you have not already.

Quote of the Night: Lamont Thomas was a hoot all night, but I was really thrilled that he was dropping names of people I wasn't sure he was connected to such as John Morton of the Electric Eels and Barry Henssler (and to answer his question, yes I've heard of these guys and even met them over the years, being a first generation Ohio punk rocker myself). Cleveland punk history still moves forward!

but his quote is about opening for Death (and the lost classic buzz created by the discovery and release of their studio work in a fortuitous attic search)... "Someone played Death and I didn't know what that was--I thought it was fake... but 'Politicians in my Eyes'? Shit!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Preview of Upcoming Attractions - Early June 2015

After a few days off here and there, summer heats up in June with loads of touring bands headed this way along with the usual plethora of high quality local fare. Indulge on these and more...

Porcelain Raft floats on over to the DC9 on Tuesday, June 2nd.

Hutch and Cathy make their way to the Black Cat on Wednesday, June 3rd.

Jesse Marchant revisits our fine city on Friday, June 5th. He'll be at the DC9. Or if you want a bigger show, check out Calexico at the 9:30 Club.

Wire makes for required viewing (I mean it, man) on Saturday, June 6th (unless you are at the 70-Guitar show, but why not try for both?). Wire visits their usual host, the Black Cat.

Little May is with the Vaccines at the 9:30 Club on Sunday, June 7th.

Nothing hopefully brings more than that when they hit the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on Monday, June 8th.

In what is a ridiculous night when you could be seeing Paul Weller or Mono, may I suggest you think about Australia's DMAs at the DC9 or Ed Schrader's Music Beat at the Black Cat. This all happens on that craziest of nights, Tuesday, June 9th.

And finally (after skipping several more fine shows from the 10th-14th), I am torn between two really good ones on Monday, June 15th. You have your choice between Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the U Street Music Hall or Iceage at DC9.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Appleseed Collective - Still Hand String Band -- Gypsy Sally's - May 22 2015

Still Hand String Band - From northeast Pennsylvania comes this vibrant quartet offering up their version of 21st century bluegrass music. They feature three vocalists and play standup bass, banjo, acoustic guitar, and mandolin. Pace is the consistent component of their approach and with just a bit of eclectic nature to their approach they remind me of a rustic Boiled in Lead. The leads are good, especially the banjo runs where the guy's clawhammer right hand is blurry fun. A little eclectic? How about finishing up with an Appalachian take on Pink Floyd' Pigs? Half the fun of something like that is the 'wait, I know that song... is that really Pink Floyd?' The other half of the fun is appreciation of how they can do a cover song straight up, but with their instruments and make it recognizable an unique at the same time. Great fun was had by all with this fine opening set.
The Appleseed Collective - Collective is right--there is a lot of diverse talent here that some how congeals into this fine band. They feature washboard percussion, standup bass, acoustic guitar, and violin/mandolin. All four sing, with three of them rotating lead work. The guitarist handles most lead vocals with his agile voice that sends things off to the early 20th century with a merging of Cole Porter, Bob Wills, and lounge swing bands. The bass player takes a more classic Americana ballad approach in his two songs, which while a bit more predictable is quite warm and inviting. The violinist/mandolin player is somewhere in between as this band takes their adventurous journey with a relaxed attitude the whole way. They wowed this crowd who clearly appreciated the talent they had and the way they put it together in a familiar way, yet that was just slightly ajar. And their music had to be good to keep me focused, as I was wondering if this was not some alternative universe where I was seeing the Velvet Underground doing something radically different. This was primarily due to the black clad violinist looking like John Cale, but looking at the whole band, if the drummer would lose the beard.... Somehow the adventurous nature of both the VU and the AC seemed to connect here.

And I'm sorry to have missed The Hillbilly Gypsies... I am sure they did well.

Headline of the Day... This one is for me in my never ending battle to avoid becoming a cranky old guy (courtesy of

Most Ridiculous Headline Of The Day
'I had a hole in my face but played on...these lads would never do that' - The Daily Mail interview Billy Whitehurst. That would be because playing on with a hole in your face is mental, Billy...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Follakzoid - Amos Piper -- May 20 2015

Amos Piper - This quarter, make that trio tonight, is from Baltimore and they are missing their 'bleeps and bloops' player. So it is more straight forward light psychedelic rock from the trio. They establish a decent psyche rock vibe, not too heavy, not too wild, but it is there throughout. They are playful at times and perhaps could do a bit more to vary things up a bit, but that could be where there missing member comes in. A good set here to set the tone works well enough for the crowd in the backstage room.
Follakzoid - Chilean Krautrock? It exists and is here at the Black Cat tonight in front of 50-60 very sharp minds with fine ears that want something well beyond the normal indie rock experience. They come out as a four-piece with guitar, bass, and drums along with a keyboardist who works magical sequencer parts that really take you back to the German scene of the 1970s. The songs and rock stylings remind me heavily of Algarnas Tradgar, with bits of International Harvester and Group 1850 in the mix. They play four songs that are distinct enough, but all feature a long groove that drones on with careful fluctuating parts and spacey vocals sneaking in at times. It is a wonderful groove that not too many bands are capable of creating. But these guys know their psychedelic history, which includes fine psychedelic bands from Chile like Blops and Los Jaivas to many other South American countries as well as the obvious Syd Barrett and beyond from Europe. Simply great.

Facebook Grab of the Day: courtesy of Ed Kuepper, this Robert Leighton cartoon...

Monday, May 18, 2015


I am going to be rather selective over the next couple weeks as I have a had a busy run filled with some excellent music recently. Take a look/listen and I hope to see you at some of these shows.

Follakzoid sounds like a gas, so fire up and join me when they hit the Black Cat this Wednesday, May 20th.

See if you can read the Body Language when they play the DC9 on Thursday, May 21st.

The Appleseed Collective opens for the Hillbilly Gypsies at Gyspy Sally's on Friday, May 22nd and I hope the headliner is ready to follow a killer opening act.

Geographer should fill the U Street Music Hall on Saturday, May 23rd, so get their early.

A Band called Death has got an unbelievably great backstory. Even more important, they are here now in person on Thursday, May 28th at the Black Cat and everyone who ever liked the Stooges, MC5, and punk rock will likely be there.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Teen Men hit the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on Friday, May 29th. It's the 10th anniversary of Clap's first album, so expect some oldies.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Golem -- 6th and I Synagogue - May 14 2015

Golem - The 16th Annual Washington Jewish Music Festival is nearing an end, but it is going out with a loud band as tonight's group of New Yorkers have a ton of energy to share with the crowd who are more than ready. Golem works the gypsy punk terrain that is getting rather crowded of late, but they specialize more in the trad-gypsy with speedy playing and a sense of fun with their music. There is no guitar, with violin and trombone trading off solos along with the bass, drums and accordion laying down the foundation. Male and female vocalists work together and offer a variety of moods and tones. Tempos vary enough and the songs are always vibrant, worldly, and extremely well played. The Ukranian songs go down well along with the Yiddish tunes, but everything clicks with the dance happy crowd. It was kind of hard for me to watch the stage when just off to the side, a barely school age girl was fully engaged with the music with wonderful dance moves. She pogoed, circled, waved her arms, shook, with energy I haven't seen since a Bad Brains show from the early 80s. She locked into the tempos and was a great reminder of the simple essence of the joy of music. Between that youthful unpretentious energy and this festival's display of diverse world music, it is an important reminder for all of us to continue to explore beyond the comfortable boundaries that we establish too early in life.
The festival closes this Saturday, although there is also a free afternoon event in Stead Park on Sunday, from 11am to 3pm. So check these out if you can and make an effort to see what this festival does next year. I am never disappointed.

Quote of the Night: From Annette Ezekial Kogan (singer/accordion)... "This song is about how animals help out, like the dogs who guard the house, the cats that catch the mice, but little girl--what good are you? (laughter) Yiddish--it's a harsh language."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Epichorus -- Washington DC Jewish Community Center - May 13 2015

The Epichorus - I am quite happy to attend my first event of the 16th Annual Washington Jewish Music Festival in this comfortable auditorium. I have seen some superb acts before that took lots of paths out of middle eastern music into fascinating places. And tonight, this is no less eclectic journey as this New York ensemble creates some of the most comfortable, yet challenging music you could ask for.
They start with rabbi Zach Fredman who plays a little guitar (which is what he learned on, but not his favorite), a saz  (emitting worldly sounds), and an oud (which has challenged him the most). He tells us he was cutting out early of his final year of study in Jerusalem to go take lessons in Syrian music. Thankfully he succeeded in both areas of study as he has a great style with all three of his instruments. And even more worldly expansion begins with his eclectic group of players featuring percussion, stand-up bass, violin, and flutes. Top all of that of with a female singer, Priya Darshini, who speaks and sings about 15 languages and brings her Indian heritage into the  musical mix. The flute and bass solos are quite stunning while the strings create mesmerizing patterns that the percussionist punctuates. Darshini has a lovely voice and has the versatility to enliven each song. Fredman is correct when he says he is happy he can play his original songs with such a fine band and have them fit in with the historical classics the group handles so well. It is all smooth and exciting, whether it is a modern song, an ancient folk classic, or a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan cover. And with a band that appeared to be having as much fun as the audience, this was a lovely evening of captivating music.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

John Cooper Clarke - Mike Garry -- The Hamilton - May 12 2015

Mike Garry - Apparently this is the fifth year of fellow Mancunian, Mike Garry opening for John Cooper Clarke and it takes less than a minute to see why. Garry is a poet as well and although I am sure his poetry makes for good reading, his performance really needs to be seen so that the poems can fully come to life. As he explained at one point, 'don't try to get it, just enjoy the sound and the voice'. Good advice and it worked perfectly with this performance, which had a mixture of upbeat and downer themes put together with humor and engaged transitions. The audience enjoyed his set and although it was a fairly small crowd in this big club, there was a good atmosphere set for the rest of the night.
John Cooper Clarke - or rather Dr. John Cooper Clarke thanks to his 2013 honorary doctorate from the University of Salford. Clarke is from Salford (right next to Manchester) and has been an essential part of the Manchester punk scene since it began. All the more remarkable, as he is a poet, not a lyricist, although that does not stop him from breaking into singing 'Capitol City' from his favorite TV show, the Simpsons. But of course, his poetry is performance art as there is music and rhythm and speed in his reading is still wildly entertaining, as it has been in grungy punk clubs and beyond. It kept my mind and body at edge the whole time as his words are so powerful, you really have to stay active to pull it all in. It's an invigorating performance for all. He varies the tempo, especially with his many interludes including stories, audience repartee and straight up jokes (he could easily be a stand-up comedian). Classics like 'Beasley Street' and its sequel along with newer poems are performed tonight, as well as a two-line poem (he explains he is a rhymer and can't do it in one), and Haiku poems. He credited Gary Snyder for the Haiku and getting him inspired to write poetry, well, Gary Snyder and Bullwinkle J. Moose in the old TV spot, Bullwinkle's Corner. I loved every minute of tonight's show and it really gave me a sense of completion as he referenced two of my favorite television shows, along with displaying his great humor, deep disturbing themes, great poetic art, and great personality. I particularly love the great art that can bring in all these seemingly disparate elements, and make sense out of it all. John Cooper Clarke is a treasure.

Quote of the Night: Actually anything these two guys said qualifies, so go to the show next time and take it all in. But I'll leave you with Mike Garry's topical quote for my blog... "Anyone been to a real shit club? ... I think that's the most rhetorical question in the world."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anthony Pirog Trio - Boat Burning - Halo Valley -- DC9 - May 11 2015

Halo Valley - Three guys, guitars, bass, pedals, noise... two are sitting, one standing, all concocting instrumental music. This is not overly experimental, but improvisational in the manner of Kuschty Rye Ergot. They create some fine moments and they drive their sound out into rock idioms at times, which is good when you are doing a full set. Nice job here and a sufficient warm-up to a night of fascinating music.

Boat Burning - The last time I saw band leader Andras Fekete, was as a conductor of a guitar orchestra with some backing. This time it is some of that same music with a tighter sextet of guitars and drums and a bit of keyboard. He has some fine local guitarists in his band such as Geordie Grindle of Tone, so these guys understand sonics and creatively working off of other players. Fekete still keeps an eye on things as they combine weaving moves with drones and repetitive phrases in logical and pleasing ways. It's loud, strong, interesting, and fully structured as instrumental songs. I think there were plenty of guitars for guitar lovers. But if you want more, he is orchestrating a 70 Guitar extravaganza in Dupont Circle on June 6th. Keep it here for further details, as it will be amazing.
Anthony Pirog Trio - And what better way to cap off an evening of extraordinary music with one of if not the best guitarists in DC. I love his work with cellist Janel Leppin, but have seen Anthony Pirog in a couple of other combinations as well and he always delivers great technical skills packed with creative emotional punch. This trio features a busy drummer and standup bassist who know their trade well. The music is quite varied both between and within songs. Is this where Psyche Folk meet Progressive Jazz Rock? Perhaps, as all of those elements are in this music. Somehow, Pirog offers both familiar moves and creative twists that all have a strong emotional impact. He's the perfect guitarist for those that want a bit more from the crowd, but don't want to go all the way into noisy atonality. This is music that just about anyone can enjoy on some level.

Quote of the Night - from a couple debating whether to come in past the upstairs door person... "Would you rather go downstairs and dance?"

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Those Darlins - Adia Victoria -- DC9 - May 8 2015

Adia Victoria - The first of two Nashville acts that will have you thinking of anything but Nashville when you dive into their music. You'll want to step delicately into the songs of Adia Victoria. Don't let the breathy, sultry lounge styled vocals lull you into too comfortable a feeling, because lyrically and musically there is plenty of venom in the delivery. Musically this reminds me of Nadine Maria Schmidt with a lot of the Jessie Sykes band's energy. The band has that extra kick to it that really locks you down to where the vocals and spacey lead guitar bursts will deliver the knock out blows. There's a tad of southern rock in here, but it is much to smart to stay there too long. Instead, it is a powerful sound that is quite addictive and should take Adia Victoria and her band a long, long way.
Those Darlins - And now for a much different take on rock'n'roll, but no less interesting. Well, maybe a little less as sometime this band's casual approach interested me less than their stronger and slightly sinister songs. But they varied things nicely with a bit of cowpunk, Dangerhouse styled LA punk, and gutter rock moves. They also reminded me of Big Stick, or Joan Jett fronting the Coathangers. All parties sang, although the two female voices took the lead and had a great style. They have a fine overall sound and I appreciated the 'Female Trouble' theme. It was a packed house tonight and they were there early for both bands and were enthusiastic throughout.

Quote of the Night:

Crowd-- "We love the yellow (bright blouse)!"
Adia Victoria-- "I'm like a happy clown"

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Interview and transcription by Bob Moore, special correspondent for DC ROCK LIVE
conducted by phone, April 14, 2015

Editor's note: I was thrilled to get the chance to interview one of the oddest and most fascinating giants of the early punk rock scene. In fact, I was so thrilled, that I just had to turn it over to a ringer, my long-time friend from that era, who knows poetry as much as he does music and has been a huge fan of John Cooper Clarke. Bob Moore was the founder of the Noise fanzine and the Version Sound record label and pretty much jump started the cassette compilation craze in the USA. In fact, his first, Charred Remains, has been recently reissued on vinyl much to old and new punk rockers and hardcore addicts’ delight. Although Bob is in Massachusetts these days, he has great ties to DC (first person ever to release Void and Double O music) and was a perfect choice for this interview. Enjoy.

And by all means, carve the date Tuesday, May 12th into your calendar, so you can join me at the Hamilton to see this legendary poet/comic/rantacantour (yeah, I just invented the last word) perform as only he can. This is a rare US appearance, so don’t miss!
Bob Moore: Hey, John, how do you do?

John Cooper Clarke: OK, how are you, kid?

B: Not too bad. This is pretty wild getting a call from one of my long-term heroes, so...

J: Oh wow, Bob, thanks for saying that.

B: Yeah, in 1988 I hitchhiked around Europe with a copy of “10 years in an open-necked shirt” in my backpack attempting to memorize all the poems.

J: Really? Amazing man, wow, thank you (laughs) so great...

B: So you’re coming back to the united states after some 35 years...unbelievable.

J: Yeah, well to be honest, I was just in Los Angeles right before Christmas for the first time in 35 years, since 1981.

B: You were on tour w/ Allen Ginsberg at that time the last time ?

J: In the States? Nah, i did shows w/ David Johansen, Rockpile, mainly rock-n-roll shows, places like CBGBs, obviously. During that whole interim period, the days of punk rock til now, I’ve not worked in the States. I’ve been trying to get back there for the last 30 years.

B: It’s changed a lot...

J: Really? I don’t think so. I don’t think it really changes,  not visually, anyway.

B: Well, like Beasley Street has changed alot.

J: Well, I’ve done the update of that one. (laughs)

B: Yeah, I heard it it, it’s great. Hysterical.

j: Well, Los Angeles has always been the same, the prevalent architecture is Mediterranean, isn’t it. you know, flat roofs, lavish, it’s been that way since the Spanish arrived a couple a hundred years ago.

B: Yeah, it’s a very scary place

J: Really?

B: Well, maybe not as scary as Manchester...

J: No, now that’s scary. Los Angeles is like holiday resort everywhere you go, unlike Manchester. Everything seems remarkably ordered compared to England. I live in Essex in the southeast.

B: Yeah, that’s north of the Isle of Wight?

J: Yeah, well, considering the Isle of Wight is off the south coast of England, everywhere in England is north of the Isle of Wight. (laughs) In the same way that everywhere in the United States is north of Mexico.
B: So you were at the original Sex Pistols show in Manchester in 1976, the one that jump-started the whole scene there?

J: Yeah, I was, but everything was headed in that direction anyway. It caught on very quickly, the whole punk rock thing there, yeah.

B: Did you get hassled by the teddy boys?

J: No, no. Back then it was very difficult to tell punks and teddy boys apart, because Malcolm McClaren’s shop sold loads of rockabilly hep cat cloths including teddy boys suits, so a lot of the punks wore that stuff as well. Teds vs. punks, I think it was really a King’s Row phenomenon, kind of a London thing, and even then a specific part of London.

B: You started doing poetry readings, not at punk shows, but at working class pubs?

J: Yeah, cabaret joints in the center of Manchester, working class places, what they used to call working man’s clubs, blue collar drinking establishments, where they would have entertainment, torch singers, comedians, a sort of vaguely jazz-tinged rhythm combo supplying back-up to any guest vocalists.

B: That gave you the preparation for tackling the punks.

J: Yeah, after that punk rock was an easy ride (laughs).

B: How did you land that early television show?

J: You mean Tony Wilson’s  “So It Goes” thing? Tony was right behind that, he was the first guy to put the Sex Pistols on television after the whole Bill Grundy thing, as people wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. Luckily we had Tony Wilson. He was a news anchorman on local television, who was young enough to really get it about punk rock. He had his own early evening show after the news, featuring punk rock acts from England and abroad. Lots of bands from the CBGB’s scene made their first appearance on that show. Blondie, I reckon it was the first time she was [they were] on British television. The Ramones, Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders. I think Sky Arts have recently done a reissue series of DVDs of the show, including me doing the voiceovers, which is now available commercially.

B: So the book deal (Penguin Books, “Ten Years in an Open-Necked Shirt”) came about after your success with the recordings?

J: Yeah, well we talk about success. I had limited success as I never got higher than #26 in the charts (laughs). But to think about it you had to sell a lot more records than you do now for that to happen, as everything is proportional. Let’s face it, not many people still buy records anymore.

B: Well, vinyl’s having a comeback in the states, mostly among record collectors.

J: That’s great. [something about “Phil Spector on this one”]

B: On my first trip to England in 1988, I was collecting two things: John Cooper Clarke records and Adrian Henri books.

J: Oh, you like that whole Liverpool Scene?

B: Yeah, I got to meet Adrian Henri at his apartment in Liverpool at that time. But I know there’s a rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester...

J: Yeah, well it’s football really. Football really breeds hatred. (laughs) There’s not a lot you can do about it.

B: Do you know those poets, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, Brian Patten?

J: I run into them from time to time at various literary events, sure. In fact, Roger’s got a regular radio show on BBC Radio4 on Sunday afternoons that’s been running for years called, “Poetry Please.” Yeah,  Roger’s doing O.K.

B: Yeah, sometimes I look at the United States and England as two countries separated by a common language.

J: I like the American way with it. I gotta say I like the American version of England.

B: Well, it seems like the British poets are not as well known in the U.S. and vice-versa.

J: Well, would you be talking about Robert Creeley? Robert Lowell? people of that nature... Delmore Schwartz? Gary Snyder? Yeah, I like Gary. In fact, I started writing haikus because of him (laughs). Moreso than because of  Michael Stipe, who are both big into the haiku industry.

[Bob talks about his history with hardcore and post punk]

B: I still have a copy of the “Innocents” single on Rabid Records. It’s so great.

J: Yeah, well thanks.

B: But you disappeared for a while...

J: Yeah, well, you know... In the 80s anything that was perceived as having anything to do with “punk” was not required. Slick production values, labeled clothing, conspicuous consumption, made punk look kind of too sick for people’s taste. It was really only Adam Ant that survived the 80s, out of all the original punk rockers.

B: It’s interesting, as the 80’s were the really decadent years in the States.

J: In England, it was dance music. I love dancing to soul music. What they call dance is music, I think, is music for people who can’t dance...Guys. (laughs).

B: Are you a fan of Northern Soul?

J: Absolutely, right from Year Zero, since I was sixteen years old. That’s been the soundtrack of my life. (laughs)

B: Yeah, it’s interesting because most Americans are unaware of Northern Soul as dance music, but more from the standpoint of collectible records, selling rare singles to British DJs.

J: Well, the quality control on those records was out of this world. You can’t believe they weren’t all smash hits worldwide. There aren’t any bad records in that genre (laughs). You know like in movies, I say there’s no such thing as a bad Western. They’re all great.

B: I know in the U.K. Northern Soul has always been huge, but in the U.S. it’s  only now catching on as dance music in select clubs in New York, for instance. It’s underground.

J: Really? Well, that’s interesting. I can’t understand why, because the music itself, anyone would love it.

B: Well, I remember when I first discovered Garnet Mimms, it just about blew my mind. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

J: Well, now you’re talkin. I mean, what a singer, he’s right up there with Sam Cooke, for me. Do you know that song, “A Quiet Place?”

B: Hmm.. I don’t know that one.

J: It’s great. It tells a whole story. It’s a real story record, fantastic, a little slice-of-life, a true story, some bachelor guy’s life. Terrific. It’s about a real troublemaker living in the apartment above his head. Check it out on your computer after we hang up. One of his best songs. (sings) “I can’t get no sleep in this noisy street. I gotta move. I gotta find me a quiet place.” It’s wicked. One of my favorite singers. You named it there, my boy (laughs).

B: Well, Led Zeppelin covered “As Long as I Have You” in their early live sets.

J: I didn’t know they covered any of his stuff, but I don’t know much about Led Zeppelin, to be honest. But Janis Joplin covered his “Cry Baby” didn’t she? That’s one of his. And Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, a Manchester beat group at the time of the Beatles, they did a version of “It Was Easier to Hurt Her.” Do you know that one?

B: No, now I’ve got to do my homework.

J: Sorry, kid, you got me started on Garnet Mimms, there ain’t no end to it (laughs).

B: So are you looking forward to coming over to the U.S. and causing some trouble. We need shaking up.

J: Where are we talking about?

B: Well, Dave Hintz of “DC Rock Live” will be seeing you in Washington and I’ll be seeing you up in Boston at the Berklee College of Music.

J: Well, don’t be a stranger. We’ll have to have a drink.

B: I’ve been waiting 35 years for this. I used to riff off your poems with friends [recites a riff from “Health Fanatic”]. I was a punk rocker and a vegetarian, so the poem fit me nicely.

J: (laughs) I love to hear it in an American accent. That’s great. It’s always been one of my own personal favorites, that particular poem, I like that one (laughs).

B: We’re all looking forward to your tour. It’s going to be a good time.

J: It will, I promise. You know, I don’t get nerves over here anymore, you know, my name’s on the marquee above the door. Anybody buying a ticket, they ain’t cheap, they know what they’re going to get, so I look at it rationally, in the U.K. But I tell you I’m shitting my pants over the States and I’ll tell you why. If it didn’t come across, it’ll destroy my world because I love the States.

B: Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about it because anyone who shows up is going to be a fan already.

J: Well, there is that about it.

B: The Berklee College of Music seems like a bit of a posh gig for you, not a drinking bar? It might be a little stiff.

J: Oh, it’s a sit down place is it? Well, that’s a lot of what I’m doing these days.

B: I saw a video of your recent set in Glasgow. You had the audience wrapped around your little finger, that crowd.

J: Yeah, that’s a wild sound. Yeah, well, they love me up there. I’m the only English guy they like! (laughs)

B: I remember you said that back in the 70s, when you played Glasgow you only lasted 4 minutes on stage because of the razor gangs.

J: Yeah, it was four minutes literally. But then I returned within a year with a more suitable line-up, opening for Elvis Costello and Richard Hell and the Voidoids. It was an entirely punk crowd, so they dug it. I had to get right back in the saddle, or I may never have returned to this day.

B: Well, it takes a lot of nerve to throw poetry at punk crowds and win them over. That’s so amazing.

J: Well, like I said before, it wasn’t as difficult as the cabaret scene. The thing about punks was a lot of them were just artistic kids, they weren’t brutal. But those cabaret joints could get brutal. So I wasn’t joking when I said the punk crowd was a smooth ride (laughs).

B: Yeah, a friend of mine from Stockton-on-Tees had a mother who was a torch singer and she would sing in the pubs in Northern England that were all filled with gangsters, like “Get Carter.”

J: Yeah, that’s that world I’m talking about in the North, especially because they had steel workers, iron foundries, coal. It was real hard-ass fucking blue collar, you know, exactly like “Get Carter.” You got it.

 [Bob talks about hitchhiking through southern England and Cornwall]

J: Yeah, it’s real insular down that way. Some of them people down in Cornwall, for instance, don’t even think they’re English. You know, they got some cockamamie local argot, you know, like the Bretons in France or the Catalans in Spain and the Welsh here. They’re all encouraged to have their own piss-ant little history, but it’s just some committee simply making it up. Do you know what I mean?

B: Yeah, well, my ancestors are Welsh, Irish and North English, so I went around in 1988 and met some of the last surviving relatives.

J: Sounds like you got got a glimpse of a dying world. Things were different then, you’re quite right.

B: I’m glad I went over before the advent of the internet. I hate the new technologies.

J: Yeah, I hate it as well. I don’t have a phone, a mobile, or a computer. TV, I ain’t gotten over TV. To me, it’s a daily miracle (laughs).

B: Well, you have the BBC, so there you go.

J: No, no, I like American television. The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad. That’s my kind of TV (laughs).

B: Oh, you’re corrupted.

J: No, I could watch nothing but the Simpsons, I wouldn’t complain (laughs).

B: Well, I’ve got an appointment with my tax preparer, taxes are due tomorrow, so I gotta run.

J: Tell me about it. I just kissed a load of dough goodbye in that direction. I sympathize, mon bras.

Donkeys - Time is Fire -- DC9 - May 5 2015

Time is Fire - Since I just reviewed this band nine days ago, I will do a quick comparison. There is a better sound system with a sound person here, so the guitar was more balanced and everything seemed in sync, not that there were any real problems previously. But it was noticeable. They really locked into a groove and their energy got a quiet crowd suitably revved up and even dancing. That is always a good sign in DC and they did with their worldly and song oriented sound as opposed to 'dance by numbers' moves. Good to see this relatively new band gigging around town in different venues as they have all the tools to build a nice audience around them, one that will go home happy.
Donkeys - It's amazing how so many southern California bands have some of that special local flavor in their sound. I was not even sure where this band was from as I was thinking Laurel Canyon meets the Doors. Sure enough, the roots are there, but to the band's credit they don't dwell on them much or go on a safe Americana route. They focus on good pop songs, which they can stretch out into some cool jams or brighten up with short rock bursts. They all sing, although the drummer takes much of the lead vocal work. Harmonies are also subtle and no individual part takes much attention to the song at hand. That makes them a subtle success story as everything is likable and quite well done as you think about it more. 

Quote of the Night: This from Irish football star player and now manager discussing music habits of players he was managing at Sunderland...

'It might seem strange but you find out about characters when you look to see who's in charge of the music,' Keane continues.
'A young lad might want to put on the latest sound; an older player might say: 'I'm the senior player' and put himself in charge. But I noticed none of the (Sunderland) players were in charge of the music and this was a concern for me.
'A member of staff was in charge. I was looking at him thinking: 'I hope someone nails him here.' The last song before the players went on to the pitch was 'Dancing Queen' by Abba.
'What really worried me was that none of the players - not one - said: 'Get that s**t off.' They were going out to play a match, men versus men, testosterone levels were high.
'You've got to hit people at pace. F**kin' 'Dancing Queen.' It worried me. I didn't have as many leaders as I thought.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 Washington Jewish Music Festival - begins Thursday, May 7th

One of the more pleasant festival offerings in DC is beginning on May 7th and continuing through May 17th. The Washington Jewish Music Festival offers an amazingly diverse array of musical talent at many different venues in DC.
Check their calendar and see what works for you. As for me, I'm planning on Epichorus on the 13th and Golem on the 14th. Or just get a festival pass and do it all. Either way, give it a look, as every year it provides at least one memorable show for me.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Joe Pug - Field Report -- 9:30 Club - May 2 2015

Field Report - It is just Christopher Porterfield of Field Report on guitar and vocals and unfortunately without a backing band and some volume, annoying conversations rule the day. When I am able to focus on the music, he has a nice little style to his playing with fingers or picks and there is occasionally some backing synth or echoes adding some mystery to the song. But any mystery is bludgeoned by the idiots next to me in 'the VIP' section of the club. I guess status has its privileges. I would have said something, but that only would have highlighted that there were other conversations further away, but still audible, coming into play. So the choice was to stay and be frustrated or go home, play with my cat and do what I want. Easy choice.
Excessive rigs - keyboards... Again, not so much excessive, but just a huge early version of the Moog synthesizer. This one belonged to Keith Emerson. Interestingly, it was delivered to the studio while he was working on the first ELP album. His experimental noodling became the 'Lucky Man' solo. I had a guess of Paul Beaver, which is a good guess as he may have had one just like this.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Twin Peaks - White Reaper - Shirt/Pants -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - May 1 2015

Shirt/Pants - This Virginia band looks and seems quite young. One of the giveaways is the erratic stage patter where there was not a lot of comfort or coherence. But when they launched into their music, there were many interesting things at work. Best of all was the lead guitar, which was busy in a creative manner with plenty of pace and surprise. The overall style was reminiscent of early Lemonheads crossed with Rights of the Accused, although the soundman, Dennis, had a more accurate take with hearing a lot of Pavement in their sound. We agreed that there is a lot there to work with. I would be disappointed if this was an old band mailing it in, but these guys have every chance to fully put together their talents and become a serious force. I hope they go for it.

White Reaper - From the fertile grounds of Louisville, comes this hard charging quartet featuring guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums. The players rip through ferocious punk power pop and sound a lot like the Dickies, as the vocals and pop melodies are quite similar. One cut reminded me of the Sweet's 'Ballroom Blitz', although much closer to how the Damned played it. I really enjoyed the keyboards farfisa-esque sound with its loopy fun melodies working of the fury of the guitar and bass. They delivered tonight and they got my heart pumping.
Twin Peaks - There's another guitarist added to the lineup I saw last August at the DC9. I thought that might be a bit of overkill, but it all gelled quite nicely tonight. They were even more furious and even a bit tighter as they take their Guided by Voices styled classic garage rock and infuse it with youthful punk energy. They pull back often with hook laden pop rockers, but it is still pretty assertive stuff. They are still young, but are getting quite comfortable with playing on stage, touring, and working an ever increasingly populated room. Good things await and they are quite good right now.

Continuing the Excessive theme quiz (and excessive isn't a criticism, necessarily)... What famed keyboardist uses this synthesizer, which while excessive in size, is a vintage Moog, which couldn't have been any smaller at the time?

Friday, May 1, 2015


Here are this month's releases sent to me and reviewed just for you. Hope you are as weary reading about them as I was writing about them (seriously, there is some excellent music here, so take a look and go listen to what strikes your fancy).

This has laid back and quirky qualities working simultaneously as these pop ditties unfold. If you like slacker music, I would advise you to give this a listen. If not and if laconic pop music frustrates you, then steer clear. I lean toward the latter. I found a few light hearted whimsical moments that connected, but this did not transport me away from the urban decay that I was looking for when I listened to it. To each his own, but always beware of dangerously accurate band names.

Songs to start with first:

Don’t Spook the Horses - The opener establishes the vibe. If you are spooked, leave the stable.

I’ll Go to Your Funeral - Strong contrasting guitars carefully played before a country song from the 4th dimension is born.

Bit by the Fang - Good psychedelic ever so slow fade-out. Yes, I like the fade out.

This is a fascinating album for metal fans who want something progressive or beyond. There are a lot of elements at work, most interesting is that what sounds like guitars and bass with strings is instead three cellos. They cover highs, low end, leads, rhythm, and have great dynamics as well The vocal work is rather standard and does not venture into deathly territories. But the instrumental passages can be quite adventurous working Curved Air terrain with a Kattatonia attitude. I wish the vocals (new to the band) were more progressive or sartorial or something, but I feel they will grow on me. The instrumental work will have me coming back many times. Metal needs more of this kind of imagination, and for that matter all genres can generally do with further injections of strings whenever possible. For now, check out this mighty Finland band on this record or on stage if you can (they were fabulous when I saw them a few days ago).

Songs to start with first:

Shadowmaker - The title cut has some atmospheric parts, some great crunching sounds, and some wildly inventive lead cello.

Reign of Fear - Killer strings—strings that kill or at least induce fear.

Till Death Do us Part - The first of two long closers is a great progressive instrumental.


I quickly hear the washboard percussion, which is perfect for the incredible pace of the banjo, guitar, bass, and violin. You really can’t play a washboard slowly, it just rips away, along with the rest of this fine band. The first few cuts are smoking with pace as they light up the stage with their brisk, on target Americana moves. They pull back some, which allows a more bluesy singing from their female banjo player. Then they go to a laid back porch style folk before ratcheting it up again. So it is a lot of back and forth with sincere style shifts and many changes of pace. That makes for a vibrant live experience, and in this case—live album. But whether they are flaunting bluegrass moves or engaging in flamenco styled guitar, there is one thing that is consistent and that is the sense of fun they bring into each song.

See for yourself at Gypsy Sally’s, when they open for the Hillbilly Gypsies on Friday, May 22nd.

This album is a tricky little devil. Maybe more of a big devil as there are a lot big bold sounds and style shifts to sort through. This is a very worldly album, with the rhythms being the starting point of their creativity. There are electronic sounds mixed with classic instrumentation from a variety of areas that are hard to pin down to a genre. The vocals are effective with strength or vulnerability as needed. At times I am not so sure about whether it all comes together, but when they nail it, it goes extremely well. Although this is a local DC band, they have been quite prominent or quite silent, as this is their first album in eleven years. Beauty Pill’s Chad Clark is a studio ace and that is proven here as the production and sumptuous, thoughtful arrangements are up there with the best of the busiest progressive bands. Obviously there is a lot here and I’ll figure it out eventually, but I am enjoying it well enough on first listen. I can see a rather large fan base for quality such as this.

You have tonight and tomorrow to catch this band at the Artisphere, so make your plans quickly.

Songs to start with first:

Afrikaner Barista - Mysterious wordly images come forth from these rhythms and wild sonic shifts.

Steven and Tiwonge - They pull back a bit with a lovely song and still some intriguing rhythms which are lively than they first appear.

Dog with Rabbit in Mouth Unharmed - Female vocals are easy to get lost in, especially as the musical melody wraps around you… unharmed.

While you may want to lump this local band into one of those good bar bands that you will gladly spend some time with on a weekend evening, you may want to check out their original songs a bit more closely. The eight songs on this album will give you good crisp thoughtful rockers that have a lot of fascinating guitar interplay, even more sonically than stylistically speaking (MC5 joke in that sentence). Most of these songs have just enough clever moves to stay away from the ruts or well traveled highways of straight up rock music. Yet it is all recognizable rock, just a little bit classic and a little bit indie and a few of the songs will make a fine first impression. Catch a live show, too, as they deliver the goods there as well.

Songs to start with first:

She’s Too Cool for Me - Nice combination of jangly rhythm guitar and clean lead with good melodic shifts.

Lies - Well it’s not the Saints ‘Lies’, but it goes from its Bank Generation verses to cool bits with wildly fuzzy guitar.

Never in Danger - Hmmm… take the Stooges Gimme Danger and have REM rewrite it an record it? Cool song.


This veteran Tucson band is known for their brand of Southwestern Americana rock music. Yet there is a more universal vibe inherent in much of this album. Sure, the spicy flavors of the southwest are present, but both the instrumentation and the melodies move the music into broader territory. I believe the cover art is quite accurate in conveying the mood and spirit of the album, showing also a sense of time that is not easy to pin down. No matter where you place this album comparatively to the rest of your music collection, if you are like me, you will be reaching for it for many relistening occasions to try to work out its mysteries or just to sit back and drift away to the melodies.

Songs to start with first:

Falling from the Sky - The opening cut has wonderful lush keyboards and mellotron like sounds behind a strong warm song.

Bullets and Rocks - The vocal harmonies create a subtle mystery in this engaging song.

Cumbria Donde - If you want the deep southwestern sound, here it is with some electronic coloring in the mix.

This six song EP offers thick dreamy shoe gaze music. There really is not a whole lot to distinguish it from its predecessors, unless you are an expert in the field. I am not, although I enjoy a lot of it. This is perfectly fine music, but it could be one song or 18 songs, it all just flows over me with those washed out guitars, deep bass, ringing drums, and dreamy vocals. The one exception is ‘At All’ which has some real pop hooks and backing vocals that are more reminiscent of power pop. So this is something for the genre fans, but there are hints of some broadened horizons that could pull in the rest of us.

This North Carolina band impressed me with a DC appearance a couple years back as ‘the Clockwork Kids’, so I looked forward to their new album. The ‘Kids’ have grown up and changed their sound around a bit, but they still feature some quality musicians and fine lead vocals carrying some thoughtful songs. There are more keyboards here in addition to all the rock standard instruments, which add a new texture to their sound. Gently coaxing the drama out of their songs, seem to be where they make the most of their abilities and separate themselves from the pack. I think they are more than half successful songwise, based on first listen of this album, but they are off to a good start under their new name.

Songs to start with first:

Tongues - Starting off, we have a strong song that showcases all their instrumental abilities along with great vocals.

Beacons - A bit more quiet here, but this is a nice pullback that draws attention in the same manner of shouting.

Century - A fine sense of mystery and building drama in this arrangement.

The very name, Crystal Jacqueline, conjures up light psychedelic imagery and that is a fair starting point here. The female vocals have a relaxed clarity to them as they navigate the dreamscape paths the songs take. Sure there is a touch of the ‘Kiss in the Dreamhouse’ Siouxsie and the Banshees here, but the vocals are purer and not as intense. There is an interesting weaving of thick and thin sounds along the path of this album. The mood moves through a relaxing middle portion to a riveting send off with the title cut and closer pushing up to new heights. This path is clearly up to a distant peak, through the clouds and a chilly atmosphere. This English artist is a great successor to the likes of Vashti Bunyan, Mary-Anne, Mandy Morton, and many more.

Songs to start with first:

Siren - The opener creates a powerful and inviting atmosphere that you won’t want to stop here.

In My Chair - The sharp electric guitar and driving rhythm section allow the vocals to push through foggy path.

Again… Dragonfly - The closer has tremendous soaring vocals and strong dramatic accompaniment.

Six mostly snappy songs are on tap with this Australian pop rock outfit. Bright singing, acoustic and electric guitars bopping around the beat, and a punchy rhythm section help create these likable songs. The guitar leads are a bit twisted, just enough so you don’t get too much saccharine in your diet. They also pull it back into a pop folk mode on ‘Delete’ and ‘So We Know’, so you get some variety here. Although I liked the heaviest (yet smooth) rocker ‘Feels Like 37’ the best of this small sample. I would enjoy this band live, I think it is safe to say. However I am debating whether to forgive them for the superfluous apostrophe, not that’s not it… it’s just plain wrong (not that I can cast the first stone, or the hundredth stone).

And they make their way from their continent to ours to play the DC9, on Tuesday, June 9th.

Several years back, I read about this mysterious band that had only one rare 7” record to their name, when the seven songs they recorded where discovered in an attic and were to be rereleased and would show them to be the missing link between Detroit proto-punk of the Stooges and MC5 and the late seventies punk rock. Yeah right, I thought, until I heard the songs in all their jaw dropping glory. Rarely does the reality exceed the hype, even when the hype is this huge. The three brothers from Detroit were truly on to something different for their time in their town or anywhere. Actually, it made perfect sense coming out of the brilliant Detroit and Ann Arbor scenes. Fast forward to today and we have the one guitarist/vocalist/writing brother dead and the rhythm section playing in a Vermont gospel/reggae band. The acclaim has finally come in and there is an excellent documentary film worth seeing that can tell the story better than I. So the rhythm section did some tribute shows before recruiting a new guitarist to begin again. And the results are in. Like the Stooges’ new albums, expectations should be kept down and there is no reason to expect anything near as brilliant as the early material. And like the Stooges, this does pale to the original songs, but not as much as the Stooges. There are ten nice little rockers here, with a few of them fitting in quite well to what they did so long ago. I truly look forward to their visit to DC.

Songs to start with first:

At the Station - An intriguing guitar sound working underneath a tough vocal melody and punchy rhythm.

You are What you are - This has that great clipped vocal style they employed early on.

Resurrection - Good lyrics and a gutsy song that just feels good down deep.


Pickathon is a pretty good looking festival in Oregon. Both the state and the festival offer a pretty diverse array of bands. These two are from Nashville and fit the punk label generally enough, but with two differing styles.

First the hideously named Diarrhea Planet offers up decent anthemic punk rock with roaring bass, plenty of cymbals and strong vocals atop the furious barre chords. Thankfully, they mix it up a bit such as in ‘Kids’ with some dynamics. Otherwise it is all pretty assertive and melodic enough with some moments of crazed soloing over wild pace. For the kids, or perhaps the kid in most adults.

Next, Those Darlins’ have more of a Buzzcocks crunch in the guitar work and that same sort of punk and pop balance featuring strong melodies and clear vocal work. They even show off roots with a very nice cover of the Vibrators’ ‘Sweetheart’. The music rocks just hard enough and balances the pop moves well to pull in many types of rock fans, but especially those of us that were there for the Vibrators and Buzzcocks back when their first records came out.

You can see Those Darlin’s this Friday night, May 8th, at the DC9.


This is gentle folk from Eric Owyong playing everything aside from a bit of guitar and steel guitar. He is also aided with some superb lead and harmony vocals from Ali K. The songs are nice, but they work on a more prosaic feet on the ground level than I particularly enjoy. I am speaking musically as much as I am lyrically. I thought that over 14 songs, there was some evidence that they can get there, so I hope they stay with this approach and keep honing their craft. There still is plenty of fine material for fans that like this more straight up approach.

Songs to start with first:

By the Water - There is a bit of anthemic rock in this folk rock song featuring quiet and loud moments.

Cross the Oceans - Fine walking pace with full vocal harmonies and atmospheric guitar twang.

Trust - This is closer to the deeper heartfelt folk that searches mystical borders even if they never cross.


I believe this record convinced me to stop reviewing electronica records. Not because it was so awful, as they create some respectable atmosphere here that is a bit above an ambient feeling. It is more trance than dance, I suppose, but the problem is that I really don’t know how to describe this anymore. It is like fans of this music trying to delineate between hardcore bands like Siege and DRI. There are differences, but it is all noise to most of them. To be fair to my reviewing abilities, I have found enough electronica based artists that move me when I sense that they have created something that is moving, physically and mentally. This is simply nice background music for me. So, if you like moody, atmospheric electronica with careful female vocals give this long player a spin, but read someone else’s review first.

Another in the appropriately named album titles list. This is about as modern pop as you get in 2015 with some beats that sound real thankfully, electronica, and a mixture of vocals, part detached, others quite emotional. There is a ghostly ethereal quality to all of it. That works well enough when I am in the mood.

You can see what it is like live and in person at the U Street Music Hall, when they play on Saturday, May 23rd.

Songs to start with first:

Need - This has a strong foundation and interesting vocal work.

You Say You Love Me - Bouncy new wavish dance music, not normally my thing, but they do this well.

Patience - I rather enjoy this lighter approach with quivering vocals and waterfall piano runs.

If you like stylish introspective music that still rocks a bit, have listen to these ten songs. The female vocals are delicate with lovely tone and enough emotional range to raise and lower the song’s drama just enough. The instruments are arranged like the textural difference in a fine main course with crunchy bits and smooth silky textures.

Songs to start with first:

Burning Through the Night - The opening cut establishes a mysterious basking for the wispy, yet assertive vocals.

Rear View Mirror Baby - Dovetail female vocals with male harmonies sneaking atop crystal guitar moves and a rumble of other backing—quite the aural imagery.

Only Wanna Be - Exquisite vocals and daring piano beyond the cymbal wash.

The simple strategy to winning tic tac toe is to grab the middle square and hope for the best (and enjoy the Paul Lynde joke along the way). Nothing is so simple for getting into Scotland’s Iglomat, even if their single is named after this simple game. With this song and the nine others, they offer up a number of oblique angles in their instrumental passages with plenty of guitar and vocal jabs, sometimes coming at startling moments. It is great drama, enhanced by their ability to create such lovely passages as well as jarring or odd moments. Even if you are not a fan of post rock or the more experimental ways of achieving melody and structure, give this a listen and you will likely find some fascinating songs.

Songs to start with first:

My God it’s Full of Stars - Very fine song, but the 2001 reference is welcome and appropriate.

The Kelpies - Like Goblin smoothed out, vibrant and dreamy all at once.

Tic Tac Toe - Strong guitar, strong synthesizer, and a strong sense of melodic balance.

This seven song record showcases the interesting power pop style of this up and coming Brooklyn outfit. I particularly enjoy the quiver in the female vocal work of Lane Moore, which is some sort of combination of Chrissy Hynde and Feargal Sharkey. Her songs also remind of the way a favorite of min, Lovelikefire, integrated shoe gaze sounds while focusing on delivering heartfelt hooks. Ultimately there are many pleasant elements to these songs that are fully in balance. Listening to this music is a pleasure due to the smarts and skills of the people behind it, who have the spark of creativity and put it to use in a comfortable format. I hope to see them live some time as well. But for now, join me in listening and relistening to all seven songs, you will be glad you did.

Guitar oriented indie rock will be with us for a long time to come it appears, as it can encompass a number of post modern rock styles, I suppose. The trick here or anywhere is how to stand out. Labasheeda just about does enough here with these twelve songs—at least most of them. A few slip back away from the memory rather quickly, but there are some gutsy numbers that harken back to punk rock days with a variety of styles that include sludge, art punk, grrrrl power, and more. There are even slide guitar moves that sound unique in the context of the styles elsewhere in the song, and even more oddly, a violin that snakes around the near Kim Gordon vocal work. Good stuff.

Songs to start with first:

Spiral Song - Fine opener with hefty guitar lines, slick vocals and some guts to the rhythm.

Wasteland - Has a bit of Ari Up spunk with the sludgy guitar riffs—brings back the memories.

Tightrope - Great guitar parts, distinct and powerful in unison.

This is a bright little gem. In just five songs, they convinced me they are a band I want to follow as they progress through life (actually I only needed two). They are from Australia, so it may be a challenge seeing them, but hopefully they will keep writing and releasing records like this. They work the folk and folk-rock range in a universal manner, not being too rooted, but shooting outward with big bold strokes worked around the quieter traditional sounds. The female vocals are exquisite, the guitars are delicate and the arrangements are full and thoughtful. This is excellent.

And what do you know, but they are opening for the Vaccines at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, June 7th. Sounds like an absolute winner.


This short album has seven songs that work the modern rhythm and blues. There is electronica in the backing for the most part, although you can hear some real guitars and keyboards in there as well. The star are the vocals of Mikaela Kahn with her smooth delivery that can pull at the emotions without going too far over the top. The backing music showcases the vocals well with reasonable restraint but some fine harmonic touches. The songs may not completely bowl you over, the but the delivery is so composed, that it will make for a satisfying listen.

Honestly, this is the kind of modern electronica soul music that I occasionally see at the U Street Music Hall and end up wishing I had gone to another club instead. It is reasonable enough if you like the approach, but I prefer something with a bit more old school backing and more dynamic in vocal delivery. There are eight really long songs here to explore if this is your field of expertise.

Raucous power pop re-emerged during the punk scene and will endure for a long time. Kyle Sowash and his band do the tradition proud with plenty of moves reminiscent of Husker Du, Ted Leo, and Sebadoh. the hooks are decent and the guitar has an extra ferocious edge on some of the cuts. They slow a few down and play around with the pace just enough to delineate the songs as they come fast at ya. The only area I can see to work on is the vocals, which work best when there is some energy. Occasionally, they trail off a bit too lazily. Otherwise, these songs will have you boppin’ around, figuratively if not literally

Songs to start with first:

Lemons - Not too tart here, with a fine hook and plenty of power.

Driveway Moments - One of the most brisk songs of the 17 here, no time for slack.

King Chip of Fudge Mountain - Radio friendly reworked title of an earlier song on the LP. Use you imagination if you dare.

This seven song record features a steady and powerful sound that fits perfectly into that British neo psyche/shoegaze post punk world. The guitars are strong and spacey with a controlled beat and up front vocals that remind me of many of the classic singers from the 80s onward. It is all a pleasant listen, but the songs were about half and half, with the better half having me sit up and take notice with the others sliding into comfortably assertive background music. That is not bad and if you like this style of band, New Politicians has done enough here to dig into.

Edgy electronica is the entree special here. Their sound is immediate and has a certain strength to it, which is good as their name had me thinking of either a misprint acronym of local band, Office of Future Plans, or a typo on a Batman fight scene cartoon insert. There is nothing overly original here, although the icy female vocals certainly have enough personality to stand out. Musically, there is a decent thrust to the sound and pace, but ultimately it creates a strong atmosphere, akin to a thick city fog with features of buildings and street lamps working their way through the mist. There is even some sax to add to the urban mystery feeling here. This is a fine full length effort that will sate the thirst of electronica lovers.

By Kyle Schmitt

This split EP features 2013 live sets from Ty Segall and King Tuff, who take vastly different approaches to their performances. Segall exchanges his current molten-guitar attack for acoustic playing on his six tracks, all but one of which come from his 2013 album Sleeper. This approach allows the dynamics and groove to carry these tunes. “Queen Lullabye”  benefits from nice vocal interplay, and “The Keepers” even boasts a whistling solo.  “The Man Man” sounds almost reminiscent of a more lucid Syd Barrett; only “Girlfriend” (which preceded the other five tunes in its release) feels robbed of any urgency through the instrumental choices. While Segall’s songs convey the roiling emotions he endured in dealing with his adoptive father’s death, King Tuff stresses the importance of doing the Frankenstein and walking/rocking these streets in the middle of the night.  A purposeful “Anthem” segues into the even more anthemic “”Keep on Movin’”. Tuff’s soloing on this statement of purpose sounds exquisite, as does his guitar-work on “Stranger”, where his breezy rockabilly riff is accented by some on-point barking. More good times abound on “Dancing on You” and “She’s On Fire”, which rely on Tuff’s signature style of danceable guitar rock.

Songs to start with:

The Man Man - Echoing vocals announce this worthy psychedelia.

Crazy - Segall retains his intensity while crooning a song that sounds almost … sweet.

Keep on Movin’ - Prototypical King Tuff song that perfectly captures his weird charm.

Stranger - Tuff keeps on barkin’ to let you know how much he feels it.

Five electronica driven cuts here, none of which clocks in at over five minutes, which as good as they focus more on the song than the mood. Not that there is any lacking of ethereal synth backing, but between the lovely vocals and the jabbing melodies, the tunes carry the day here. This is a great way to take your electronica skills and work them around tasty vocals and in classic pop patterns, with just enough surprise to keep things interesting. This was just as fun live, if not more so, when she was recently in DC.


I really was not sure that this was going to work well for me as the cute electronic pop sounds dominated early. Thankfully, I stayed with it as there was a more varied approach in the arrangements as things went on. Sure, electronics were a part of it, but there were some interesting guitars and real drums that worked in a variety of manners behind the light and lovely female vocals. There are some crafty songs here and most should strike a resonant chord within the ear of every pop music fan, even if this style is not exactly on your short playlist.

Songs to start with:

Sequence - The opener has enough of their style and push to get you interested.

This Time - Nice 1960s guitar buried with the modern lush sounds and a snappy beat and vocal line makes for a catchy song in any era.

Greed - A bit of a Banshees begin gives way to brass instruments working some magic deep in the background.

This is raw in the sense that it sounds like front porch musicians stomping out some honkeytonk rootsy folk and blues as best they can into their cassette recorder. Actually the recording is better than that, but the playing is direct and on the twisted side of life. If you are Stampfel & Weber/Holy Modal Rounders fans, you should take to this. Especially if you also like the torch blues singing in a female voice, as there are some fine moments for that, too. I was quite worried at the start of this record, that although I may respect it, I would not want to listen to it ever again. But by ‘side two’ the band pulled me into their world and I am sure I will go back for another visit to their dusty, hot, and arid front porch.

Songs to start with first:

Tombstone - A strong song that displays their style to their advantage

Killing Season - Fine songs with some good instrumental twists.

One is the Number - The most ferocious rocker on the album, always wins a nod from me.

Former Awesome Color axeman Derek Stanton continues to explore new ground in his interesting guise entitled Turn to Crime. It is raw in an entirely different way from his former band with an even lower fidelity approach and much more variety in structure with synthesizers, odd percussion, and twisted vocals. He even reminds me of Bowie at the outset going into a Berlin-esque synthesizer beat with darkly crooned vocals. There are some twisted psychedelic guitars on ‘Light’ which really jump out from the odder songs here. It is a mixed bag in terms of results, but it kept my mind working overtime as I listened to each song, which shows how inventive this is. I particularly enjoyed the eight minute ‘Feels Right’ with its Iggy-Bowie feeling featuring guitars, synthesizers, percussion, and droning vocals.

This Scottish old school psyche band has a steady approach to the style. As we have all heard many times before, these guitars jangle with fuzzy interludes. Yet the rhythm section has control of a slower tempo, which invokes a more atmospheric thoughtful presence into the music. The vocals understand this well enough and pull back just enough. Nice.

Songs to start with first:

Honey Hill - Quite like Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’ stretched out a bit. Like real theft, always steal from the best.

Xylophobia - A fear of xylophones, as the joke goes (it’s actually wood)… fine dreamy psychedelic rock—entrancing.

Fistful of Dollars (Revisited) - Not Morricone, alas, but a bouncy walkabout through the old psychedelic west.

Chewy, yummy power pop is the silly way to describe this music. Sam Vicari reminds me of a lighter version of Redd Kross, but not much lighter. The guitar work is crisp and rocking. His voice is even slightly popper than that of Jeff MacDonald and it achieves a lot of the same warmth and comfort. There is a bit of a stripped down Cars style to some of the songs. He strips down the instrumentation at different points, which is just enough to take a standard formula and freshen it up a bit. He keeps things on the smooth side as this album is easily digested and for power pop fans, it is a dessert they will return to often.

Songs to start with first:

Little Stones - The opener sets the tone with punchy guitar, sweet voice, and irrepressible hooks.

All and Everyday - Just another great hook and vocal line.

Just Enough - Great voice and bass beginning before the full band blast to finish it off.

This is a four song EP that doesn’t need too long to establish itself as in an in your face lo-fi, down and dirty, blues rocker. The guitar almost breathes out its heavy riffs, while the bass rumbles, and the drums echo around the room. It’s an enjoyable racket that indeed, features plenty of ‘howlin’ on top of it all, It is not overly reckless, but has the feeling of an animal in a crouch exploding outward. I’ve heard this style before and I’m sure I’ll hear it again, but I prefer Yazan to many of the others I have heard along the way.