After reading and re-reading Ramtin from Drop Electric’s comments about the decrepit state of the DC arts and music scene (including its music journalism), I wanted to do my part to help the cause.
This week’s Aural Fixations are all DC artists that you might not have heard of yet, but you could easily hear more of in the near future.
Support local music and all that good stuff.
And please follow the Tunes You Should Fucking Know in 2014 on Spotify.
- The Walking Sticks – “Send The Night” and DC Music Download Live Session
Two weeks ago, DC Music Download (who continues to be an invaluable resource for DC music) released a DCMD Live Session with Silver Spring, MD band The Walking Sticks, a band I had heard of but who I had never listened to. Most likely because something about “two guys playing folk in Silver Spring” just never had me itching to hop on the red line or however you get out there.
Apparently, those two guys noticed I wasn’t the only one.
Since their debut album, they’ve added now-lead singer Chelsea Lee, a girl who can definitely sing but who also conveniently happens to be adorable. During the DCMD Live video posted above, it’s her stage/screen presence that keeps some of the more monotonous moments entertaining. The change in style is an uptick too, and it seems like the two brothers who are now along for the ride are enjoying it.
But honestly, Chelsea needs to do more than what she’s currently doing if she’s going to carry this band into real contention as a “DC band we’re talking about.” It feels like she can too; half of those “emotive belting parts” felt a little like she was holding something back. To keep it all DC, I’d love for Chelsea to take at least a few tips from Misun’s Misun Wojcik or Dance For The Dying (RIP)’s M.C. Wolfe. Chelsea’s proven she can do soft and she can do sultry and she can do groovy, but if she can do overpowering, that’s a whole different ballgame.
The group’s last EP, Send The Night, was a 4-song effort that really only had one song with staying power, the single “Send The Night,” but these new song previews seem like a step in the right direction. There’s probably some time before they’re fully polished and officially laid down, but there’s some real potential there. It’s going to be interesting to see if they have the balls to really go for it; there’s a chance they could be one of those “DC bands we really care about.”
Either way, Walking Sticks, welcome to the conversation.
Chomp Chomp – “Fade” “Alter”
I am still a little fascinated by Jesse White aka Chomp Chomp.
After I re-posted Ramtin’s comments last week, I got an email from him saying that while he appreciated that I included ACME as the soundtrack, Ramtin had also mentioned him, and he wondered why I hadn’t given him any love. The truth was, I hadn’t heard of him. But it’s not really his fault; he makes instrumental music and beats and it is a very rare occasion that I dabble in that realm of the musical woods.
I just have too hard a time figuring out what is good and what isn’t.
Well, that’s actually not true. I have a very easy time figuring out what is good and what isn’t, but I have a hard time deciphering what I “should” think is good v. what I “should” think is amateur. It’s why I never feel strongly enough to write about it, even though one of my favorite songs of all time is “Maybes” by Mount Kimbie, a group whose other music I simply just don’t have any interest in.
On top of that, Chomp Chomp is pretty eclectic when it comes to his output.
Two songs I really like, “Alter” and “Church”, may sound like they go together, but they’re living on completely different places on the postwave (love this term that I just saw for the first time on his Soundcloud page) spectrum.
I even asked Jesse about the issue of “consistent branding” and while he did say “part of the reason [he] chose the name chomp chomp was because its universal and it can be placed in any genre without anyone being offput by what the name sounds like,” he admitted that it definitely affects his live shows.
I also pushed him on an issue that I constantly think about when it comes to life of a producer: what happens when the rappers you collaborate with don’t match your talent level? Seriously? Wouldn’t that suck? Is that what Kevin Love feels like right now? Anyways, he pulled back the curtain a bit:
“I definitely find it frustrating at times because you find alot of people you really would like to work with, but are not as good musicians as they are people so you have to nicely nudge them away. Then there are times where the Shy Glizzys come in and you can kind of put to the side the quality of lyric for energy or attitude, but in my case I can chalk up some of my bad rap to just the love of hip-hop and retaining the fact that hip-hop is about the love of music and anyone can do it as long as the passion is there.
But then comes along artists like Thurghood Holmes who make alot of rappers look remedial. I mean I met this guy through another producer friend who met him through Craigslist and he blew me away. We have been good friends for a while, and I play some of his tracks at my shows because I truly respect him and believe he is the next big rapper to come out of the DMV with actual hip hop credibility.”
So then I had to go and lookup Thurgood Holmes, and boy was Jesse dead-on…
- Thurgood Holmes – “MyO’g.Told.Me” “Memory.Lane” and “NightSkies.Alone”
Thurgood Holmes is officially my new favorite DC rapper [at this point Ras Nebyu isn’t new, even if he’s underrated].
Coincidentally, he just released a new mixtape, the intriguingly-titled Younginnocence.won’tsave.you, which from the get-go is an attention getter. The opening track lets Thurgood flex his muscles and tease his creative range over a simple but bombastic beat but what it really does is sets the tone quite nicely for the rest of the album.
From there, he flaunts a masterful but casual flow in his verses — the best of which are on “H-Double.Oh.Dee, “MyO’g.Told.Me”, and “Memory.Lane” — all the while experimenting with a variety of production styles (see: “My.Momma.House, MyO’g.Told.Me (it’s a great song), and “NightSkies.Alone”).
The optimist/Chance-fanboy in me wants to make the easy comparison to Chicago’s rising superstar because there is something in the lively inflections and the “this is something different” feel to the song structure, but thats unfair to Thurgood in a few ways.
He’s very much doing his own thing and you can tell he’s playing with a whole different set of influences so it would be a disservice to Thurgood to just throw him in that pile, but if this up-and-comer is going to play the “music PR” game like he should, he might have to get used to seeing “For Fans Of: Chance the Rapper”.
And let’s be honest, he’s not on Chance’s level yet.
He’s got some real moments of greatness and he’s got potential oozing out of his pores, but at times on this mixtape it feels like, as Thurgood himself says on the third track, “we just roll around” without really accomplishing anything tangible. If Thurgood Holmes is going to take over DC, he needs to have something to say, not just be able to say something well.
For now though, I just really want to see this guy live.
And now, it’s time for another very special edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Kenny Brown Edition
Editor’s Note: Kenny Brown was in Dom, have you heard of them?
- Loud Boyz – “Loud Boyz Anthem”
10 Facts About Loud Boyz:
1. They party
2. Their favorite beer is Hell or High Watermelon
3. Nicholas Cage co-wrote the bass lines to their album.
4. It was recorded by Dennis Manuel at Rock and Roll Hotel
5. Jimmy Rhodes is their manager.
6. A band member’s girlfriend was knocked out in the pit at their very first show.
7. Mitchell got a new pedal.
8. Guitarist Alex Anderson only sees the world in “rad” and “not rad” terms.
9. They play the on the 21st at Rock and Roll Hotel with Black Clouds
10. You should go.
Editor’s Note: Kenny Brown is also the lead singer of Loud Boyz. Also, seeing Black Clouds live is an EXPERIENCE that I highly recommend.