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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 the second week of February, which means we’re in that nice limbo in-between “How did it get to be almost March already?” and “How is still fucking winter?” Fortunately, that also means getting tons of music thrown at us in advance of spring and festivals and all that nonsense.

But let’s not go overlooking a D.C. Valentine’s Day tradition: the annual DCtoBC/Trillectro Singles Awareness Day Mixtape. It got released earlier this week, and it definitely lives up to what we’ve come to expect from Modele Oyewole, DJ Spicoli, and their crew. Plus this year it comes complete with a Singles Awareness Day Concert at UHall (free with RSVP).

Oh, speaking of DCtoBC, remember that guy Kendrick Lamar they had play a sell-out show at 9:30 Club before he was ever even signed? He’s got a new song out…



And make sure to follow the Tunes You Should F*cking Know playlist on Spotify…


On to the music!


  • Big Data – “Snowed In” 

They grow up so fast.

Remember when Big Data was just that guy who had that one song with the dude from Joywave? Well it’s already been almost 14 months since we were discussing which remix of that song was best in this very column (Clemetine and the Galaxy’s, by the way).

Now Big Data is about to release his debut album on WARNER BROS RECORDS and has guest stars like Twin Shadow, Jamie Lidell, Kimbra, and RIVERS MOTHERFUCKING CUOMO — the man who we refuse to give up on because it would make us all feel really silly at this point — joining him on it.

And leave it to Alan Wilkis (the man behind the Data) to bring the best out of Cuomo. The insidiously techy sound is out in full force, glitches and all, but there’s no mistaking that this is the next step in Big Data’s post-“Dangerous” evolution, and Cuomo’s voice hasn’t sounded this appealing in years.

Good for Wilkis (and his impeccable marketing team) for turning one great song into a C.R.E.A.M.-like record deal. I’m fully behind this guy.


  • Torres – “Strange Hellos”

Torres, whom I know as the girl who continously rips my heart out with her live version of “Honey,” is starting to really build momentum for her second album, and “Strange Hellos” is one hell of a way for Mackenzie Scott to remind us all she’s back.

To quote a few random Soundcloud commenters…

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 8.31.27 AM
The new album (which I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and fully endorse) comes out April 19th, but I’m sure we’ll get another single or two between now and then to tide you over. Tour-wise we’re going to have to wait until the summer or fall, as her spring dates have her on the West Coast, but Torres seems to be the queen of live video performances — possibly because she’s great at them — so at least we got that going for us.
Plus that breakdown that comes in near the end. Holy.Fuck.


  • Kokayi – “The Lick” 

While heavy-hitting journalists like Ben Freed and Valerie Paschall were Googling lists of DC bands and calling it a Washingtonian article, Ally Schweitzer of WAMU put together a great list of the DC area’s best submissions to Tiny Desk’s about-to-close contest. I know I’ve already previously thrown my weight behind Woven Tangles and their folky submission video, but I have to admit that I’ve now officially been over by Ally’s top choice: Kokayi.

The dude has a biography worth not skimming and the kind of creative muscle to do crazy things like put out a song a day for a year, but really, this video is all you need to get sucked into joining Team Kokayi. I have watched it upwards of 20 times and I still can’t figure out my favorite part.

Mr. Kokayi, I want an invite to hang with Bobby B(oilen) — who is doing an AMA on Reddit this afternoon, btw — when you win this whole damn thing.


  • Polyon – “Crest”

Most people know Ryan McLaughlin as the lead singer of DC rockers Typefighter. Some of you may know that I am a Ryan McLaughlin fanboy. What not many of you may know, though, is that Ryan McLaughlin has a new side-project called Polyon.

Working with Adam Lake and Brandon Korch, the king of the tightly-structured pop rock song kicks up the reverb and goes Angels And Airwaves epic with this thing. Only, ya know, if Angels And Airwaves were good. What I’m trying to say is a guy who usually does pop punk songs is now doing a reverby, heavy-cymbal thing. Whatever.

Catch them live at Babe City tonight with Two Inch Astronaut.


And now, it’s time for a special edition of…


Editor’s Note: Lindsay Hogan wrote about The Decemberists a few weeks ago and I’m still not crying, you’re crying. 

  • Paperhaus – “Misery”

Paperhaus’ new album is out.

It’s dark, it’s textured, and it’s great. You should shut down your superficial distractions and go check the whole thing out. But while the album opener and hit single “Cairo” is definitely a standout track, it’s already received its share of deserving praise over the past few months. So, instead, I’m going to highlight “Misery,” which is my favorite.

Let’s start with the opening chords; they serve as a cool, jaded theme carried effectively throughout the whole track, and the majority of the song consists of this steady “doom waltz into the desert” vibe. The lyrics, meanwhile, are kept simple, but Alex Tebeleff’s performance is theatrical and desperate (in the best way possible).

While the easiest criticism to lob at the album would be the length of each song and “Misery” does check in at 7 minutes and 43 seconds, Paperhaus is an intelligent and perfectionist band who ask their audience to dig a little deeper and stay with them for a little longer, and this track uses that length its advantage. The song’s slow and sparse desperation leads up to two cathartic minutes of frenzied, driven chaos. The delayed gratification pays off, the guitar lets loose, and it becomes a wild and gratifying work as whole. It’s seven minutes well spent, and this formula makes subsequent listens even more gripping.

I’ve been overwhelmingly optimistic and cheerful these past few years, but if things ever go to shit and I find myself regrettably smoking cigarettes at last call in a St. Louis dive bar every Sunday through Thursday, I’m going to be glad I have this song to come home to for some sympathy.