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Bryce Rudow is a freelance political/pop-culture journalist and he likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow.

Go to his website and read interesting things: BryceTaylorRudow.com

It’s been a whopping 14 days since I wrote my Predictions For 2015 column, and holy hell one of them is already coming true…

Protest music is BACK!

Not only did Vann R. Newkirk just write a a few hundred words on the rise of protest music for Grantland, but D.C.’s very own merry pranksters Jack On Fire just released a new 3-song EP called Abortion Hooray! as a response to the upcoming March for Life rally about to plague our city tomorrow afternoon.

It’s got song titles like “Every Life Is A Gift (Except Mine),” and for a $5 donation (which goes to DCAF), you get the EP plus the Superdeluxe Abortion Goodie Bag! which features things Buy Local Abortions buttons and March For Life Bingo.

And who doesn’t love bingo?

On to the music!


  • KAMAU (of the Hue-Men) – “Sun King” and “Moon” 

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more proactive in finding new music, which has meant a lot of time hacking through the jungle that is Hype Machine. But stumbling upon (relatively) unknown artists like Kamau make it all worth it.

There’s not much out there on this Brooklyn rapper — an article on some site called ‘Dingus On Music’ from 11/13 describes him as “dapper, grinning ear to ear and often sporting a bow tie” and The Masked Gorilla made it known that Kamau was in his early 20’s and had recorded his first mixtape THE KAMAU-CASETTE “entirely on his Macbook in his college dorm room” — but it isn’t impossible to find said previously mentioned mixtape (which is a pretty solid listen) and the two singles that currently inhabit his Soundcloud page are more than enough to pique any random listener’s interest.

When Pigeons and Planes wrote about him earlier this year, they were smart to liken him to artists like the ann-un-ci-a-ting Talib Kweli and official ‘hottest young talent out there,” Chance the Rapper. Except while Chance is just recently starting to Socially Experiment, it feels like Kamau has been swimming in these kinds of waters for a while now. Not only do you have songs like “Sun King” being created using only Kamau’s voice to make the track, but a little Google snooping will show that Kamau is also an accomplished director (he did Khia Victoria’s “Rooftop” video), film scorer, and actor…

I can’t not root for this kid.


  • Woven Tangles – “Pirate’s Son” (NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk Contest’ Submission Video)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that NPR’s Tiny Desk was having a contest where any band could submit a video for the chance to win an opportunity to play an actual Tiny Desk show.

Well, earlier today, I saw that Woven Tangles — a wonderful folk group of Detroit I’ve written about before — had put their submission video on YouTube, and it is freaking precious. Not to mention I can’t stop listening to/being enthralled by Holly Millea.

You can bet your sweet ass I’m tweeting this at Bob Boilen over at All Songs Considered so he knows where my vote lies.


  • U.S. Royalty – “More To This”

U.S. Royalty are in an interesting place. Their album Blue Sunshine that was self-released in 2014 was probably the best complete rock album to come out of D.C. last year and they feel like the biggest local rock band, but when all is said and done they’re still self-releasing albums and clawing tooth-and-nail for every new fan. 

Maybe this very-watchable video directed by drummer Luke Adams will help?

Not to mention they’re opening up for Dr. Dog tomorrow night at an already-sold-out 9:30 Club show, and that’s never a bad thing for publicity (don’t worry, I already got tickets so I’ll be there).

BONUS: Did you know they did a live cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” outside the Lincoln Memorial last year? Very enjoyable.


  • The Walking Sticks – “Burn Brighter”

I feel like I’ve been writing about D.C.’s very own The Walking Sticks a lot the past few months, but “Burn Brighter” is worth the positive reinforcement. The band has been fairly prolific lately, with their recent Pop Dreams EP having been released only a few months ago, but while that album felt a little hit-or-miss, “Burn Brighter” is a solid addition to their catalogue.

Chelsea Lee sounds more confident and content than ever, and it seems like the band finally understands how to subtly help her out with things like sporadic harmonies and instrument fills.

Their manager told me they’re going to start releasing singles as they knock them out — probably a smart move for a band that isn’t 100% sure what they are sonically — but that should mean more stuff for our earballs in the not too distant future. Plus they’re playing an All Things Go showcase show on Thursday, February 5 at DC9, so go see them there.