It’s only our second official week as Aural Fixations, so while we complete the Garth Algar Underwear transformation with the new name, let’s focus on another D.C. music blog.
DC Music Download just relaunched with a completely new design, a new logo, and a grander mission, and what Stephanie Williams and her team have done over the past two years has been nothing short of amazing. I reached out to Stephanie about the new site and the great buzz it’s been getting, and here’s what she had to say:
“We saw the relaunch as us crossing the bridge from being an amateur blog to a real website that had a unique identity. When I started DCMD two years ago, I didn’t really think it would become what is now, and there were a lot of folks who scoffed at the idea that a whole site could be dedicated to DC music. I wanted to test the waters to see how things would go, so I never really bothered to get an official logo or anything of that nature. After our 9:30 Club show, I knew that we had something really special. That was the moment when I knew DCMD was here for the long haul, so we spent the next few months afterwards building the site in-house via our web designer Matthew Brazier. Jourdan Betette, who designs all of Comet Ping Pong’s flyers, did our colorful logo!
I didn’t realize until maybe a year into the project that our readers were also using the site to look for stuff like venue info, blog contacts and more. When we were building this new site up, I knew we needed that one component-to have an easily accessible place where folks can look up key info re: D.C. music and also have a spot to promote their shows. The website is drastically different, but I hope that DCMD readers feel like they’re getting practical, day-to-day info on top of the great content we have.”
It’s a courageous step forward for Stephanie and her team, and in honor of their (metaphorical) balls, this week’s Aural Fixations features artists who are willing to sack up and do things a little differently.
Congrats again to DC Music Download. And keep an eye out for the next mega show they have up their sleeve.
Oh and follow the Tunes You Should Know in 2014 Spotify playlist. It’s good.
- The Raised By Wolves – “Freddy Freaker”
Speaking of DC music…
You might remember The Raised By Wolves from my interview/first listen with them last summer or from their opening slot at DC Music Download’s sold out 9:30 Club Anniversary Show back in January.
Or this the first time you’re hearing about Dusty Durston and Ben Eskin, the two best friends who grew up in Bethesda together, separated for college, and have been spending the time since crafting their intelligent, quirky, blend of indie pop-rock ever since.
And if that’s the case, you’re in for a treat.
These two recently released a video for their song “Freddy Freaker,” which is quite honestly my second favorite song on their debut LP behind “Stung (Song For Him).”
It’s dynamic, it’s catchy, and it has the balls to break the 5-minute mark, something I haven’t heard a group in this genre go for in a while. Lead-singer Dusty is at his best, milking both his sneering drawl and higher registers for all their worth, and Ben’s guitar line is just absolute fun. This is the kind of song that always has me keeping an eye on this band, who I know are currently working on new material.
And in terms of the friend-on-friend assaulting video, Ben, had this to say:
Whose idea was the video?
Dusty definitely had the vision behind this video. He really wanted to capture an interesting aesthetic through a diversity of shots, and use symbolism and a loose narrative to tie it together. Our friend James Robertson directed the video, and he was an incredible collaborator on the whole project.
Do you and Dusty ever feel like your time apart at college hurt your friendship?
Not at all. If anything it strengthened our friendship since we were able to share these completely new aspects of our lives with each other.
What would you say was the biggest “I zigged left/he zagged right” thing you noticed after you started hanging out again regularly after graduation?
Tough question! Probably my preference for cheese curds and Prince and his preference for The Ramones and a good slice of pizza. (Can you tell where we each went to school?)
Do you think a musical partnership has to be a friendship?
Not necessarily, but I think we benefit from that fact that it’s both. It adds an extra synergy when writing and collaborating. And it’s just more fun. That being said, it can also create extra tension.
Could you ever not be friends but still be in this band?
That’s a really tough hypothetical because I can’t imagine us not being friends. On the flip side, I know we would still be friends without the band. I guess it boils down to the fact that I couldn’t imagine spending hours upon hours in a cramped van on the road with someone who I disliked.
- Pattern Is Movement – Pattern Is Movement
A million thanks to Newdust’s Josh Stewart for ensuring that he and I caught this group when they opened up for Yellow Ostrich at DC9 last week. While Yellow Ostrich was content to hatefuck a crowd with almost entirely new-album material, Pattern Is Movement were absolutely charming.
Comprised of Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward, two serious musicians who have the confidence to not take themselves too seriously, Pattern Is Movement blew away a fairly full DC9 early crowd with their soulful take on whatever we’re calling that genre that’s sort of pop/sort of R&B these days. With complex instrumentation and a have-to-see-to-believe-falsetto, I couldn’t help think of column-favorite Mesita and casually dream of them sharing a bill (I know you’ll both read this too, so guys make it happen).
And while the group from Philly, who apparently have been around in one incarnation or another for 12 years, dazzled with their own material, especially closer “River,” it was when they asked for the lights change to “high-school prom level” and dove into an unironically stunning cover of D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” that the place really fell for them.
Disco ball and all, they had us from that moment on.
Philly isn’t too far and with a new album out, I’m going to assume they’ll be back in D.C. before long. Maybe Alex Tebeleff can nab them for a Paperhaus show or something at The Lot? I don’t know; I’m just spit-balling here.
Until then, enjoy their enthralling new self-titled album, which you can stream for frizzle on their Bandcamp page.
- tUnE-yArDs – “Wait For A Minute”
I know I just wrote about Merrill Garbus last month when she released the first single off her upcoming album, Nikki Nack, but
A: I love her.
B: She is (metaphorical) balls in music personified (and that was not a reference to the Klosterman article).
C: This song is really good.
and D: I haven’t been this anxious for an album in a while…
There’s a lot riding on this one, not just in terms of Garbus’ professional future, but how we look at her as an artist in general. W H O K I L L was electric, but for some reason there’s a strong sense that it could have been lightning in a bottle. However, if Nikki Nack does live up to the hype, it will end up validating all the positive reviews of W H O K I L L. It’s unfair, but it’s how the game works, and it helps build the drama.
I know, you’re on the edge of your seat too.
But “Wait For A Minute” makes me feel okay about everything.
It counter-balances the appropriately fiery energy of “Water Fountain” with the sentimentality that finds its way into most of her material. It’s mellow. It’s groovy. It’s sweet. In fact, one of Garbus’ major strengths that people forget is that the flip side to her unapologetic brashness is her radiating kindergarten-teacher sweetness. She can switch that nasaled wail on a dime for a calming, smooth coo of a voice that bounces along melodies. And it all fits over her signature stellar percussive lines.
The cement is going to dry on a lot of opinions after Nikki Nack comes out May 6th, but this song and “Water Fountain” have me thinking I’m going to be on the right side of history with this one.
And now it’s time for a very special edition of… AURAL PLEASURE WITH FRIENDS! Patrick Gardner Edition
Editor’s Note: Patrick Gardner and I were roommates all four years at Boston College and even moved into a lovely row-house in the Boystown section of Chicago after graduating (as friends…not that there’s anything wrong with that…. We may have met over Facebook due to a shared love of the band Say Anything, but he’s also the person that introduced me to E-40 and the Hyphy movement, for which I will be forever grateful.
- Yung Humma ft. Flynt Flossy – “Return The Favor”
I was going to write about my favorite album of the year so far, Lost In The Dream by The War On Drugs, but at this point it’s been written about endlessly, and if you don’t already know about it, you’re fucking up. But now its summer. You’ve got your Moscow Mules. You’ve been buying up bottles of spray tan. You’ve been carving that beach body waiting for the weather to turn so you can get outdoors and show off the goods. And now we’ve got the boys in blue back with the summer soundtrack.
That’s right, YUNG HUMMA AND FLYNT FLOSSY ARE BACK. I’m going to take a step back real quick, though… If you don’t know Flynt Flossy and the Turquoise Jeep crew, you need to do some YouTube homework right now. Start with “Lemme Smang It” the song that started the craze. Then move to “Did I Mention I Like to Dance?” for an introduction to Flo Doubles legitimately impressive dance moves. The Turquoise Jeep crew has made a living over the past few years of putting out hilarious music videos, but as Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island crew have proved time and time again, the best parodies are the ones that have you humming the tune for weeks. Flynt Floss and crew have not only done this, but they write songs about subjects which almost all young men can relate (see jams like, “Why I Gotta Wait?” and “Stretchy Pants”).
You may not have heard of these guys, but Beyonce has.
So with that in mind, I can hardly contain my excitement at the brand new jam “Return The Favor.” With all due respect to my boys Slick Mahoney, Pretty Rahim and Whatchyamacallit, the best Turquoise Jeep tracks are when Humma and Flo Dub team up on the track for a classic R&B track with the rap breakdown. And I have to say, over the years, Yung Humma has really worked on his flow! His songs were always catchy, but in this one he’s legitimately grooving on the track.
Plus, when he gives your girl the True Blood glamor eyes, you know she doesn’t stand a chance.
To appreciate the Turquoise Jeep crew is to behold the sheer absurdity of their music videos, but also to appreciate the flow and swagger with which they consistently deliver. Flynt not only holds down on the track, but he also directs all the videos. They’re designed to be partly campy, part cheesy, but always hilarious and well produced. Kind of makes you wanna dance.