By Morgan Baskin, Seannie Cams, Phil Chevalier, Morgan Day, Marcus Dowling, Jeb Gavin, Ian Graham, Melissa Groth, Zeke Leeds, Svetlana Legetic, Chris Naoum, Lotanna Obodozie, Josh Phelps, Bryce Rudow, Phil Runco, Tam Sackman, Alex Tebeleff, Ana Veblen, Brandon Wetherbee
Electronic pioneer Richard James has been one of the most creative forces in music for decades, using his own melodic scales and even his own software to create truly “new” music. Every album is a different experience, as he makes sound and texture with the goal of creating something that sounds like nothing he has heard before, as if from another planet. In a time when the word genius gets tossed around like it’s the least meaningful word on the planet, this guy actually deserves that label. The Aphex Twin project is unconscious and visionary art at it’s finest; human freedom, creative restlessness, and childlike curiosity and imagination, in sonic form. -Alex Tebeleff
Horrendous live performances, awful cover art, used CD bin pricing: Almost everything about Julian Casablancas debut with The Avoidz says, “RUN AWAY.” And maybe you should. I won’t try to convince you otherwise. But keep in mind that Cassblancas’ previous extracurricular project, Phrazes For The Young (what’s with this dude and the Z’s?), was a real grower, and last year’s Strokes’ effort, Comedown Machine, was crazy underrated (“Welcome to Japan”!!!). But, yeah, this batch of proggy, industrial rock is probably going to be a disaster. -Phil Runco
I just wrote about this album for Aural Fixations, but this local talent deserves all the press and attention she can get. In that write-up, I threw out the bold, probably wrong thesis that it’s “personality” that separates the great from the merely serviceable when it comes to indie pop, but if that is the case, then J Lima Foxtrot is something truly remarkable.
After a few singles last year (highlight: “Bullseye”), she just recently released the Wishy Washy EP, a gripping batch of indie-pop songs that boast raw lyrics, emotive vocals, surprising instrumentation, and standout production. It might also happen to be one of the best releases from a DC(ish) indie pop artist in a long time (honorable mention: Me And Karen). Self-recorded and produced in her home-studio, she told me that this album “was inevitably written after recent heartbreak and relationship mind-fucks,” and with a few live dates coming up in the are, I’m really excited to see if DC is smart enough to embrace this new talent. -Bryce Rudow
If late-arriving to the “cool kids” circle at your favorite spot for listening to house music, it’s really not at all that hip anymore to say that you’re listening to Disclosure. Those two guys have been at it in the mainstream for almost three years, and if not a listener to top-40 radio, “Latch” is definitely feeling two years old. Who’s up next in the British dance invasion? Well, look no further than the Blase Boys Club label’s boss Duke Dumont.
“Need U” (100%) is the song that your roommate couldn’t get out of her head while she was on vacation in London last year, and “I Got You” blends effervescent tropical vibes, UK funky sounds and appropriated Whitney Houston vocals. It was definitely the song your little sister enjoyed during her semester abroad at Cambridge. “Won’t Look Back” has a funky, piano house groove, and if you told your older brother that “The Giver” was “deep house,” he might laugh in your face and throw on a Danny Tenaglia techno remix. Overall, it brings dancing back to the dancefloor and is a terrific pre-game or peak hour listen. -Marcus Dowling
King Tuff’s self-titled last album was the enemy action (just in terms of counting to three things) indicating singularly minded garage rock skuzz was making a small but poignant resurgence. Guys like King Tuff’s Kyle Thomas, along with Ty Segall and Kurt Vile found new fields of research in the heretofore abandoned discipline of playing feedback and overdrive themselves. Given Segall’s latest record, and the trajectory Vile seems to be on, I’m hopeful this next King Tuff record finds a way to continue to grow without swinging wild into flat, two dimensional diversions. The title track sounds like a good start, a modern day exploration of post-glam AOR. Really, any allusions to T. Rex or Thin Lizzy is more than welcome. -Jeb Gavin
I talked with Mike Hadreas last week about the title of his third record, Too Bright. “Before I made this music, people told me that I would be more successful if I toned it down. It was really only a few people, but it affected me a lot that they were telling me that I was being too much,” he said. “[It] also comes across as kind of ironic, especially since a lot of the subject matter is so weird and twisted and the opposite of what they suggested.”
There’s a confrontational streak that runs through Too Bright – something that was immediately apparent this summer when Hadreas proclaimed “No family is safe when I sashay” on lead single “Queen”. But the whole album is just as much about Hadreas challenging himself and the preconceptions of what a Perfume Genius record can be. The confrontation is internal as much as it is external. Over eleven songs, Hadreas is constantly putting himself in uncomfortable places musically and lyrically. Even that form fitting shirt on the cover was a self-provocation: “To be honest, I was little bit hesitant to wear it at first, just because it’s skin tight and I felt self-conscious. But then I realized that it was almost rebellious against myself tot wear a skin tight, flesh tone thing.”
That fearless approach has yielded a record that is easily among the year’s best. -Phil Runco
Zammuto, the post-Books project from former Books member Nick Zammuto, had a debut album in 2012 that was dripping in the kind of “I just got out of a bad relationship” spite and vitriol that comes with ending a band in a way that Nick himself called “messy dirty and frustrating”. Let’s just say there was a great diss track called “FUC3PO” that contained the lines, “You have lost your edge, I’ve had enough, my bags are packed, I’m picking up/I would rather lose my house and home then have to smell your acetone.” Harsh, right?
However with a few singles from LP2 already released — including a few via a phenomenal IndieGoGo campaign — it looks like Nick has taken at least a few steps in a new direction and the music is all the better for it. As I said before, they’re not all sunshines and rainbows — this is Nick Zammuto we’re talking about — but they do feel like they’re more at peace with themselves than past material was. Usually the sophomore album is where the original energy fades and the pressure mounts but Nick Zammuto and his band seem to have gained a second wind.-Bryce Rudow
So, yeah. You fell in love with EDM back in 2008 while you were either raging away in college, or you dated that one guy/girl who was really into club drugs and super late nights. If that’s you, then your favorite artist was long haired ex-punk rock lead singer/Dim Mak Records boss Steve Aoki. Six years later he’s still at it, and his Ultra Music-released album is as turnt up, emotive and hyper-relevant as you’d imagine. Trap emcee turned “Lord of the Rave” Waka Flocka Flame is here for “Rage The Night Away,” “I Can’t Stop” creator and UK heavy bass legend Flux Pavilion collaborates with Aoki for “Gotta Get Outta Here,” and the whole first (of two) albums feels like someone shoved Aoki’s cake throwing, live action robot war, lazer and CO2 cannon live show into your desktop speakers and pushed play. Guilty pleasures are still pleasures, right? -Marcus Dowling
The world has kind of moved on from Christopher Owens, huh? Three years ago, the Girls frontman couldn’t tie his shoes without 64 blog posts being written about it. Now the Macaulay Culkin-Ryan Gosling hybrid releases a video where he’s dressed like a cowboy and crawling on the floor and no one you know has seen it. The earth may not be a cold dead place, but the indie rock game is. Pro tip: Don’t release an album with a bunch of flute on it unless you’re Jens Lekman.
But Owens follow-up to Lysandre is definitely worth hearing. A New Testament finds him trading those aforementioned flutes for a country soul aesthetic. Granted, Girls flirted with both of these things – the country and the soul – but this record finds him going all-in on them. The result still isn’t as compelling as those Girls records, but it’s perfectly pleasant and polished.
Also, shout-out to the album cover looking like the poster for a “Love Actually” sequel. -Phil Runco
NehruvianDOOM is the unlikely combination of old (43-year-old man of mystery MF DOOM) and new (18-year-old up-and-comer Bishop Nehru). The former has come off as technically proficient, but a little nondescript and wet behind the ears – even on his high profile collaboration with Disclosure, “You Stressin” – so his hooking up with DOOM is a welcome development. DOOM is all grime. He’s “point blank / right between the eyes,” as he raps on the self-titled record’s first single, “Om”. And as my Rec-Room colleague Marcus Dowling wrote in discussion of that song: “Let’s just call it classic rap for classic rap’s sake; raising up the art form like a sabre rattling in the breeze. That feels about right.” That it does. – Phil Runco
Will it, Weezer? Will it really? Keep bulldozing that legacy. -Phil Runco
Los Angeles, California-based bass tunesmith Flying Lotus readies his fifth studio album in eight years for release in the second week of October. You’re Dead promises to be the veteran producer’s most audacious artist album to date as alongside guest collaborators like Snoop Dogg, Herbie Hancock and Kendrick Lamar, the artist born Steven Ellison also raps under his alter ego name “Captain Morgan” on Snoop duet “Dead Man’s Tetris,” and on woozy, kick-drum led blues leaner “Coronus, The Terminator,” Lotus himself provides the male vocal on the track. A jack of all trades learning mastery of all parts of his musical process, this album is a fascinating must listen. -Marcus Dowling
SBTRKT’s self-titled debut would probably be classified as a success. It introduced the contiguous United State to Jessie Ware. It brought Sampha to the masses – or at least to Drake, who really brought Sampha to the masses. And it made a star out Aaron Jerome – the man behind SBTRKT who is usually behind a mask. It put him in that rare position of being equally beloved by the glow stick mafia and appreciated by chin-stroking critics. I’ll put it to you another way: SBTRKT put out a live album after one record. That’s generally a sign that people are feeling your shit.
So, it’s a bit of surprise that for his sophomore effort, Wonder Where We Land, Jerome seems to messing so aggressively with the formula. The Ezra Koenig-assisted lead single “New Dorp. New York” is out there! A$AP Ferg is straight up singing on “Voices In My Head”! What the hell happened to the nice post-dubstep man in the headgear? Of course, Sampha still shows up on about 1/3 of the record and brings the sexy back. Never go full retard. -Phil Runco
Though it’s hard for me to imagine anyone making a better record than 2010’s equally imaginative and fun Swim, it’s just as hard to picture Caribou making a record that isn’t great. Dan Snaith’s consistency in quality and depth of ideas, and his willingness to grow and change with every record going all the way back to his 2001 debut under the Manitoba name, has made him one of rewarding artists to follow in the new millennium. There’s something natural and soulful about his particular way of making neo-psychedelic electronic music, even when it’s under his more house music focused moniker Daphni, at least partially because he blends acoustic instrumentation with the electronics. -Alex Tebeleff
I know, I know: That name is a serious barrier to entry. I actively want to dislike this band so I don’t have to say “Allo Darlin’.” Even when I see it written down, I hear David Cross’ fake British accent in my head. And yet… have you heard “Romance and Adventure”? It’s kind of perfect. It’s like the early EPs of Belle & Sebastian had a baby with mid-period Camera Obscura. (Yes, that baby is inbred.)
Slumberland Records has been on a tear over the past year with releases from Literature, Gold-Bears, and Joanna Gruesome. The good money is on that streak continuing with We Come From The Same Place. -Phil Runco
Ex Hex’s debut Rips is a “Deal With It” meme come to life: breezy, fun, no fucks given. “With this group of songs, I was thinking a lot about what music sounded like when I was in fourth or fifth grade and getting into songs on the radio,” Mary Timony told BYT back in March. “I was trying to write songs that would fit on Casey Kasem’s Top 40.” Timony and songwriting cohort Betsy Wright have wildly succeeded in that mission: After a few weeks with these songs, Rips starts to feel less like an album than a greatest hits collection. -Phil Runco
If the first two singles from Taiga are any indication, Nika Rosa Danilova is pushing away or at least evolving from the dark, baroque style that permeated 2011’s excellent Conatus. “Dangerous Days” swings gloriously for the electro-pop fences with a catchy chorus and a few spoken lyrics not unlike Madonna’s “Vogue” or early GaGa fare. But with unmistakably superior pipes. Her operatic style can be compared to Florence and her Machine but, if that’s the case, Zola Jesus’ is a forboding, steampunk menace to Flo’s Toyota Yaris. There’s an excellent Juan MacLean remix at the ready for you if the original doesn’t pulse hard enough. “Go (Blank Sea,)” a grinding, percussive rumination on downtown loneliness, lends a dark R and B feel to her earlier, industrial work and is anchored by an enormous “I go downtown” chorus. They may not know your name now, Nika, but this could be the record that changes that. With the much-anticipated album dropping 10/7 on Mute and DC as one of the few stops on a short, major US city tour, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than Ms. Danilova at the Hirshhorn Museum Friday, 10/17. -Josh Phelps
Diamond District may only have one other album under their belt, 2009’s In The Ruff, but the three members that comprise DC’s hardest working hip-hop group — XO, yU and Oddisee — are some of the most prolific artists in the city. I’m still wading through Oddissee’s 2011 release Rock Creek Park, but with singles like “First Step“ and a feature in the Washington City Paper by the talented Marcus J. Moore, it seems like Diamond District’s upcoming March on Washington, could be a real turning point for an act that has been trying to preach socially-conscious, creative hip-hop longer than this scene has been giving them due credit for.
I’m also expecting an awesome release party somewhere; look for details closer to the release date. -Bryce Rudow
Foxygen’s first album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, is a thematic tour through the musical textures of the 1960s and 70s. While saying that might indicate that their style is reducible to an homage to the Beatles and Rolling Stones, that’s simply not the case — the album sounded, of all things, quite new. Hence, at risk of calling attention to the obvious, the ’21st Century’ timestamp. The ellipses (…) preceding the title of their upcoming album is an indication that this tour through the annals of modern music history is being elaborated upon, which ought to make you smile. The frenetic track released from it, “How Can You Really”, is a hint that the duo has landed somewhere in the year two-thousand-nineteen-seventy-eight to deliver a post-psychedelic message from the future/past. We should all light a candle and get somewhat stoned in anticipation. -Phil Chevalier
Pharmakon’s Beastial Burden drops around the same time that Hollywood horror movies are in full swing, which is only fitting, because Pharmakon records both suck me in and scare the shit out of me. I want to stop listening to Margaret Chardiet’s electronic noise fusion. I just can’t. This particular record was inspired by a major surgery that Chardiet underwent, because of course.
“After seeing internal photographs taken during the surgery, I became hyperaware of the complex network of systems just beneath the skin, any of which were liable to fail or falter at any time,” she wrote about the experience, prying her way into my psyche and attempting to sabotage my sleep habits for months. “It was as though my body had betrayed me, acting as a separate entity from my consciousness.”
Anyone got a Ambien hook-up? -Phil Runco
There is nothing tough about Jessie Ware. She was smooth when she started showing up on SBTRKT tracks in 2010. She got smoother when she dropped 2012 torch songbook Devotion. And from what we’ve heard from Tough Love, she has now ascended to a level smoother than smooth. Is there a term for that? Post-smooth? The album’s singles, “Tough Love” and “Say You Love Me”, are so lithe that they melt into the ether. In fact, Dove’s latest line of moisturizers are just song titles from Tough Love. Meanwhile, the rest of the album’s tracklist proves that Ware has been reading my diary’s “dream collaborations” section. To wit: Miguel and Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes are both slated to appear. -Phil Runco
Just when you’re ready to write off T.I. forever, he comes back with a double-headed monster of summer anthems: pubic hair hygiene PSA “No Mediocre” and hiccupy street single “About the Money”. Of course, these songs benefited from the presence of Iggy Azalea and Young Thug, respectively, and the production of DJ Mustard and London on da Track, respectively, and in 2014, it’s hard to fuck up that confluence of zeitgeist riding. Nevertheless, a lot of old rappers have fat rolodexes, and few of them use them so well. So, here we are, talking about Paperwork: The Motion Picture. Is it going to be great? Probably not! But we’re going to have to give a good listen. For T.I., that’s already a coup. -Phil Runco
After indie stalwarts Killer Mike and El-P made pretty much everyone’s Best Of 2013 list, following that with a slew of touring/festival dates they ducked back into the studio to start recording their follow-up to the highly successful self-titled release. Mike and El trade verses and stanzas back-and-forth like two seasoned pugilists duking it out on the mat, but neither will concede to the other and they keep going. The instrumentals in the background always paint a grimy, sonic, futuristic canopy that is sinister and dystopian which somehow blends with both MC’s different styles. Like that last album this is also being offered as a FREE digital download from one of the best labels out right now, Fools Gold Records. – Seannie Cams
Hi, I’m Jeb. I’m a 31 year old man who loves the music of Taylor Swift. What, this isn’t the support group for that? Fine, I’ll leave but I’m not putting the chair away. The not-at-all-surprisingly short evolution from pop country to pop is complete (it might be as subtle as “less mandolin,”) and now we get to see what happens when, uh, well nothing. Never mind. Nothing’s going to change except possibly her album naming conventions (first age, then a color, now the year she was born.) This is still pop music crafted to the same specifications that they used to use to build the space shuttle. Pile on the hooks, burn a few teenage diaries in the middle of a bright pink, flowery pentagram, douse in branded perfume and just wait for the money. I do like that the first single “Shake It Off” shows some fascinating self-awareness, and I’m hoping she continues to write songs as a reaction to the reactions, the point where two albums from now she’s writing a song about what it’s like to write a song about conversations she had with her tax attorney about how best to avoid owing any more money for writing songs about writing songs about her love life. -Jeb Gavin
Here’s something happens about once a month: 1) Lil Wayne releases a single or shows up on some high profile song; 2) The entire Internet asks aloud, “Is Lil Wayne back?”; 3) The entire Internet answers its own question, “Lil Wayne is back!!!” People just really want Lil Wayne to be back. Lil Wayne could rap the alphabet song and the Internet would say, “Ah! It’s that classic mixtape Weezy!”
So let’s dispense with the wishful thinking and take a look at what we have from Wayne this year: “Believe Me” (a yawn of a Drake track); “Krazy” (kinda fire and hard-as-fuck); and “Grindin” (see: “Believe Me”). These are The Carter V’s singles. Do they represent a rebirth? No, not really. Do they represent a Rebirth? No, thank Yeezus. Most promising of all has actually been the street single “D’usse”, a loose and jazz-loungey cut that’s the closest Wayne has come to Tha Carter III since he stopped trying. The point is: There have been too many mixed signals at this point to really predict how Tha Carter V will turn out. But perhaps it’s in Wayne’s favor that he’s spent the past half-decade lowering our expectations.
In conclusion: tl;dr. Lil Wayne is back!!! -Phil Runco
Ruins will mark the second year in a row that Liz Harris drops an album of material that she recorded a while ago. First, 2013’s excellent The Man Who Died in His Boat collected outtakes from the preceding five years. Now, we get Ruins, which Harris says was almost entirely “made in Aljezur, Portugal in 2011 on a residency set up by Galeria Zé dos Bois.” The exception – closing track “Made of Air” – was recorded at her mom’s house and has been aging somewhere (perhaps in a cellar or smokehous) for a decade.All of which begs the question: How many albums of evocative, haunting dream pop does Harris have just sitting around? Is she just stunting on her dream pop competitors at this point? “Oh this? Forgot I had it. You think people will want to hear it?” Ugh. Grouper. Always flexing. -Phil Runco
If by title alone, 26-year old producer Dillon Francis may have the most intriguing EDM release of 2014. This one’s been a long time coming for not just fans of the cat meme-loving producer, but also for fans of hard electro, dubstep, moombahton and trap as well. Though on the surface he seems to be the least likely person to have some of the most intriguing takes on genres owing their genesis to Southern rap or organic Central American dance movements, Francis’ impressive output over the past five years has included tracks like early-era moombahton banger “Que Que,” and his “Relaoded” remix of “Masta Blasta” is hardcore trap covered with emojis, rainbow sprinkles and chocolate syrup – either a heart-attack of a track or the world’s guiltiest pleasure. With a Columbia Records-released album for his debut, the major-label budget allows for Francis’ former Mad Decent label boss Diplo (with Major Lazer), alongside Martin Garrix of “Animals” fame, DJ Snake of “Turn Down For What”renown, and yes, indietronica name The Chain Gang of 1974 to all make the blockbuster release. -Marcus Dowling
You could be forgiven for giving up on The Mars Volta after Frances the Mute, their last record that got critical attention. Could I be forgiven for never missing an album or touring cycle from 2005 to 2012? 30+ shows later, with the last effort more of an Omar Rodriquez-Lopez effort with Cedric Bixler Zavala guesting, it was clear that something was amiss. Soulless even. Sans Ikey on keys, sans Adrian on sax/clarinet/percussion etc., and with a revolving door of drummers, a live show that had manifested itself as equally if not more important than the recorded product had been gutted (at the nave?) Fast forward through a few At The Drive-In festival reunion dates and official TMV breakup via Twitter and it seemed the once inseparable Omar and Cedric had finally split. Imagine my (and most, unless you run in their circles in LA) surprise when teaser clips and singles started dropping from an effort with Flea and Dave Elitch titled “Antemasque.” A more traditional, riff laden rock record that abandons 13 years of prog stylings, it’s a risky walk between the ATDI and TMV ethos considering the rabid fans of both acts. But it works! Folks who caught a couple warmup shows out west have said the energy rivals early TMV and ATDI days with Omar and Cedric writhing spastically about and truly excited about the new tunes. Sign me back up to The Coma again. -Josh Phelps
One thing about the greatest group in rap/hip hop is that they all don’t need to form together like Voltron to put out classic material. Raekwon has always been in hip-hop heads top 3 from the group citing his and Ghostface Killah’s eponymous Only Built 4 Cuban Linx as an all-time classic. Almost 20 years have come and gone since their classic debut, and naysayer’s are quick to chomp at the bit exclaiming that the follow-up (OB4CLII) was a flop, there’s no doubt that this Killer Bee still has venom in his stinger and I’m always waiting to see what he’s going to bring on a full-length LP. -Seannie Cams
The last great Foo Fighters album was released in 1997. The last decent Foo Fighters album was released in 2002. Expectations are low but I want this thing to be a huge critical success simply to highlight how batshit insane Jack White has gotten. -Brandon Wetherbee
I remember 20 years ago when the last Pink Floyd album came out (Division Bell). This was in an archaic age when CD’s were the norm and there were physical locations called “CD stores” that are now relics. With most of the original and instrumental figures of the band either disbanded or deceased it’s good that they aren’t putting out “new” material. Instead this is a collection of songs that were recorded during the time of Division Bell that evoked a more moody, and ambient recording session that would probably pair well with some Brian Eno mixed with some Explosions In The Sky? Maybe? Bueller? -Seannie Cams
Ariel Pink does two things exceedingly well: Make mind-boggling catchy, out-of-time pop songs, and be a douche bag. He is pretty much unrivaled in these fields. And if the latter prevents you from enjoying the latter, I’m not really going to argue with you. The guy deserves to be maced a thousand times over. But, damn, “Put Your Number In My Phone” is an earworm. Like the best of Pink’s material, there are about four songs worth of hooks and melodic curveballs crammed into it. And with pom pom there sixteen more where that came from. The record is his first under solely his name, and he is straight up going for it with a double LP. Among it’s cringe-worthy song titles: “Not Enough Violence”, “Nude Beach A Go-Go”, and “Sexual Athletics”. Creepers gonna creep. -Phil Runco
“The official rule on Nicki Minaj is that almost everything she does is now mainstream garbage, but no complaining because almost everything she does is good for women in the industry even though it’s bad for women to perpetuate oversexed stereotypes, unless they own it and get crazy paid,” my Rec-Room colleague Aaron Milller wrote recently in discussion of hit single “Anaconda.” “I get it and I don’t care anymore. It’s a double standard much larger than all the big asses in all the clubs in America. I can no longer defend or complain. I approve. Do you, get it girl, etc.”
Regardless of where you come down on my Minaj, one thing is for sure: The rap megastar is fixing to own Thanksgiving week. We’re all gonna eat, but Minaj is gonna eat. -Phil Runco
Def Jam has announced that Rick Ross will release his seventh LP, Hood Billionaire, on November 24th, eight months after the release of his oft-delayed Mastermind. OK. Sure. Here’s what I have to say about this: If Rick Ross actually releases an album on November 24th, I will name my first child Hood Billionaire. Guy or girl, it doesn’t matter. Hood Billionaire Runco will forever serve as a reminder of the one time that Rick Ross met a deadline. I will tell Hood Billionaire that he/she can be whatever he/she wants to be when he/she grows up, much like Rick Ross, who calls himself a mastermind and a hood billionaire despite being neither. I will sit Hood Billionaire on my lap and say, “That is the power of positive thinking.” -Phil Runco
Does any singer-songwriter get a pass on bad lyrics like Charli XCX? Don’t get me wrong: I am firmly in the “Let Charli Live” camp. I don’t care. I love it. Every lyric from “Break the Rules” and “Boom Clap” may sound like it was ripped from a high schooler’s Trapper Keeper, but Charli owns them. And while she’s promised that Sucker – her second album in as many years – will be darker than True Romance, I can’t imagine her giving short shrift to a good melody.
What I do know is this: we should be praying for producer Ariel Rechtshaid‘s involvement. When those two link up, they are unstoppable. See: “Nuclear Seasons”, “Take My Hand”, “Stay Away”, and “Black Roses”. Bangerz. Will this be the record that takes Charli from Queen Midas to pop star? The success of “Boom Clap” is a good omen. -Phil Runco
1/3 of the crew formerly known as Swedish House Mafia, producer Steve Angello has quite the history as a progressive house maestro prior to his work in the iconic big room trio. Now 31, Angello prepares to release his debut artist album Wild Youth. “Wasted Love” is the first single, featuring Dougy Mantagi of Australian indie rockers The Temper Trap on lead vocals. With Angello’s trademark kickdrums present at the core, the yearning melody and vocal create a premium arena-style dance experience. If a fan of underground dance, tech house or nu disco, this album’s going to be a reach. But, if you want the album that’s going to have the songs that are aimed at everyone’s heart, this is the one. -Marcus Dowling
Bam-Bam’s rhythms are as big and outlandish as his personality. The playful and comic nature of this Flushing, Queens’ native makes for undeniably fun rap records. With hooks like “Baby my ride so clean, I ride so dirt/I’m about to buy an alligator for my birthday,” Action Bronson shows that what he is lacking in profundity, he makes up in raucous pleasure. Action Bronson is not so much changing the game, as he is serving the proper role of the MC—every one of his tracks is a celebration of the hip-hop spirit, and with his newest studio album, Mr. Wonderful, he is sure to provide more than a few moments of pure rap enjoyment. -Zeke Leeds
I wrote about Ryn Weaver for my Aurual Fixations column a few weeks ago, but I need to update my take on this girl. When I wrote about her, I highly touted what I believed to be her best song, “Promises,” but brought up that the girl who was bff with Charlie XCX and Passion Pit seemed just a bit too willing to sacrifice brand integrity for pop accessibility when it came to her other material. Basically, I gave her the old man, “Everyone wants to sell out, but it’s hard to have a pop hit, so stick with your natural talent” schpeel.
I didn’t, however, take into account the fact that everyone doesn’t have an EP where at least 3 of the 4 songs on it could very conceivably inescapable, #1 pop hits.
I knew from the first listen “Promises” was something special — Passion Pit’s underrated production gave this song the perfect flourishes and it’s almost a shame they’re not more recognized for their consistently great remixes — but it wasn’t until my girlfriend’s Spotify kept playing “OctaHate” and “Stay Low” around our apartment that I realized just how infectious those ear worms are once you let them in (fun fact: “OctaHate”’s 4-on-the-floor bass drum makes for a great guilty pleasure workout jam). Combined, these songs are a pretty dangerous combination.
I also forgot that not everyone has Charlie XCX and Passion Pit in their corner. This is an industry where it’s all about who you know and those are some great people to know right now.
I just really misfired on this one. My bad.
Ryn Weaver doesn’t need to worry about her brand’s integrity. This cute girl with the cute name and the cute voice and the great beats and the hot friends doesn’t need to worry about a thing right now. -Bryce Rudow
Kanye West Yeezus follow up to be released ?
Are we actually going to get a new Kanye record this year? Who the fuck knows. Maybe. Maybe Yeezus knows. Maybe he doesn’t. There are murmurs of him pulling a Beyoncé, but I don’t think Kanye is interested in following #newrules so much as making them. We’ll wait and see, but don’t hold your breath. -Phil Runco
D’Angelo Untitled (formerly James River) to be released ?
If I don’t get to listen to this record soon I’m going to burst into flames. -Jeb Gavin
It would be fair to accuse me of being stuck in a bygone era of indie magic (recall the years 2005-8), but it would be disingenuous for me to endorse WHY? as an act worth seeing without relying heavily on the quality of their two full-length releases from that time period: 2005’s Elephant Eyelash and 2008’s Alopecia. For those who haven’t heard these albums, clicking play on either will result in an avalanche of poetic musings about masturbation and death, songs with entire movements dedicated to things like sitting in a bath full of body hair, and metaphors wherein the most sublime aspects of life are compared to images twisted for their own purposes out of a Terence Malick film — see: a moth caught in a soap dish. It is wonderful. Brothers Joni and Josiah Wolf create music with a sincere, rhythmic, almost hip-hop intensity. It’s the kind of stuff that sounds pretty, if not just slightly nasal, at face value, but involves depths of self-exploration rarely found outside the sexually-emancipated confines of the Howard Stern Show. Getting to see them do it in person is a real treat. -Phil Chevalier
Feeling the turn-up of summer still lingering in your eardrums? Fear not, come throw bo’s and get buck at U St. Music Hall again for trap master’s Gent & Jawns night at the DC music club Mecca. With supporting music from AO Beats and another DC artist on the rise Manila Killa it’s going to be a night where the dance floor may turn into a mosh pit, proceed with caution. -Seannie Cams
If I happen to be in need of a pick-me-up I’ll be at 9:30 Club to see one of our many goddesses of girl power. Albeit, her songs have shifted towards pseudo-feminism and I miss the crass anthems like “Fuck You” and that one song where she says she’s sick of giving head. Regardless, the woman knows how to hype up a crowd on hating exes and that accent is not to be missed. -Morgan Day
Hyperbole has been one of the main death blows of journalism, but I truly believe that TEEN are better than every band that they’re getting compared to right now (save St. Vincent, but even then, who actually wants to get musically birthed in reverse 24/7?). And I know that by getting into this I’m validating two unpopular opinions — that music is a competition (it’s not, but the industry is) and that you have to use other female-vocaled acts when describing a female-vocaled act (ignoring it entirely is just as silly though; it would be like not bringing up a piano or some other unique musical signifier) — but its worth all that because my previous statement is just that true.
TEEN is better than HAIM. TEEN, at this point, is better than Karen O’s latest musical incarnations. TEEN is better than London Grammar and Lorde and Banks. Hell, if you only look at Naked and Famous’ sophomore album, there’s a strong case to be made that TEEN are better than them. I don’t know why more people haven’t realized this, and the only thing I can think of is that their album The Way and Color is so eclectic in its scope that most people are turned off at the daunting concept of having to reconcile this whole album stemming from one creative force.
Back when Kishi Bashi came out with Lighght last May I said that it felt like he was consciously adopting various synth pop styles with each song and Kishi Bash’ing them (aka making ideal versions of them), and that’s what it feels like TEEN has done with this album. It’s what makes them prone to easy comparisons unfortunately, but it’s also what makes this album such an achievement. Their songs take fleeting formulas and give them resonance.
“Rose 4 U” to “Not For Long,” to “Tied Up, Tied Down” is a murderer’s row of an opening, but it’s deeper cuts like “More Than I Ask For” and “All The Same” that really elevate this band and this album. First-time listeners are easily hooked, and repeat listeners are rewarded with the intimate knowledge of complex song structures, wrenching lyrics, and musical easter eggs.
TEEN is your future favorite band. Listen now and make it easier on everyone. -Bryce Rudow
Music rule No. 826: you are generally obligated to love someone who’s ballsy enough to cover Aaliyah’s iconic “Are You That Somebody.” Enter: Banks, the brooding Californian Queen of raspy, minimal synth rock that bowled us all over, collectively, with songs like “Waiting Game,” “Warm Water” and “Before I Ever Met You.” Among the oceanic pool of wannabe dusky-monotone audio stars (eg: London Grammar, Jessie Ware), Banks is floating, gracefully, chuckling at the stragglers through a smoky-eyed smirk. She is also a twentysomething, so in that way, at least, we can relate to her. -Morgan Baskin
Hands down one of my favorite DJ/producers of the last 10 years, period. Using organic sounds, downtempo beats, and cooing melodies, Bonobo proves he is no primate in this music game. After kicking myself repeatedly for missing his last foray at 930 Club last year, I’m giving it “the ole’ college try” to make it this time around to see if he’s as good live as he is on my computer speakers. Instead of touring with a live band this time around, the audience member can expect a DJ act/show, which would be a great intro to this artist’s repertoire; Thievery fans should gravitate especially to this. -Seannie Cams
Jesus God Almighty, Lane 8’s music is gorgeous: it’s soaring-or-sweeping soul food melodies—never not sexy, never not brimming with layers of harmonious synths. But, because it’s trance and deep house, you can actually groove to it, and groove like a drunk madman you will. He can remix universally accepted classics without dropping an ounce of disservice to the original artist. The best part about this event? It’s Above & Beyond’s Anjunadeep showcase—which means Lane 8 is just a taste of what the label offers. This is an important night.
Disclaimer: you might walk around all day long in a trance with this motherfucker on a loop, chanting, “Get your sticky fingers out of my head.” -Morgan Baskin
Just the mere mention of these two names on the same bill will make all Golden Age hip hop heads perk their ears in earnest as two what these two living legends will bring with them that night. From these two pioneering duo’s, Gang Starr (Premier) and Pete Rock (P.R. & C.L. Smooth) both Premo and Rock are still doing it better than every basement producer that’s playing “DJ’ by pushing “play” and performing pre-mixed sets. Guaranteed to hear classic soul/funk cuts, Golden Age hip hop sprinkled with some nu-school thrown in, these guys can rock a party, rock a mic, and rock your body right. -Seannie Cams
I will admit, it took me a few tries to warm up to this band. After spending my entire summer seeing their name all over my favorite music blogs, I decided to finally give them a listen, and I am so glad that I did. If you’re looking for music that sounds like how a cool glass of water on a hot summer day tastes, look no further because Jungle is it. Their music is funky, but not too funky. Soulful, but you can still dance to it. Cool and crisp, this London-based collective has one album under their belt, which I’m hoping they play in its entirety at this show because every song on it is simply great. If you’re looking to beat the early-week blues and boogie, this show is where you want to be. -Lotanna Obodozie
Tokimonsta has been on the up-and-up over the past few years as a prominent artist on the famed Brainfeeder West Coast label, she brings with her Pacific Coast duo Made In Heights for tour support. With her melodically composed tracks, deeply ethereal and moody body of work she is just as comfortable spinning to a room of art school kids or a board room full of executives. I equally love MIH, following the producer Sabzi from his hip hop days as producer for Common Market and Blue Scholar’s I was able to see his new project a few months ago play to a packed Red Room at Black Cat and was thoroughly impressed. With vocalist Kelsey Bulkin’s lilting and syrupy vocals blending with Sabzi’s low-end/trap instrumentals fans will be just as entertained by their music as well as their on stage comedic act in between songs. -Seannie Cams
Were there to be the perfect soundtrack to drunkenly stumbling around a rural Southern town whilst causing general mischief, Black Lips would comprise at least 3/4 of it. It’s the type of punk rock that coming of age movies love to accompany scenes of rebellion. Punk lyrics and vocals combine with Johnny Cash inspired Southern rock to make it extremely clear that Black Lips give no fucks and probably wear leather jackets. -Tam Sackman
Barcelona are the soundtrack to your first kiss. It’s sugary, angsty, synthesized pop-—an embarrassing high school confession; slow-boiling sugar; a small sigh of unrequited lust; an unmet stare. If you know of Barcelona, it’s likely from their mid-2000s hit “Please Don’t Go,” the simultaneously pathetic and creepy ballad popularized by pre-teen Tumblr users. But you know what? It’s okay that Barcelona’s audience is largely comprised of lonely single people who don’t have better taste in breakup music. There’s something refreshing about an angsty, no-holds-barred foray into your lusty youth. Embrace it. -Morgan Baskin
Cloud Nothings are quickly asserting their presence as headliner material, combining essences of punk and pop without necessarily succumbing to the pop-punk archetype. Instead, it’s a more raw, low-fi angry energy that will undoubtedly make for a ridiculously exciting show. -Tam Sackman
Last year I found myself at this Daft Punk/French House party that was overseen by master DJ Will Eastman and House/Funk/Disco up-and-comer Ozker. Even though I came by myself to the function, I wasn’t alone among the few hundred, sweaty and writing bodies that accompanied me on the dance floor that evening. If you are looking for a night of a big time club experience, but don’t want to deal with the headache of getting to NE or waiting in line for a bottle service club on K Street, come here and dance your inhibitions away in a dark basement with a few hundred like-minded souls grooving to “The Robot’s”. -Seannie Cams
When I think Lykke Li I think of the Magician Remix of Lykke Li’s “Follow Rivers” blasting while Miranda Kerr struts down the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show runway. Now this Swedish indie-pop icon has made waves outside of this remix and is killing the game. There’s an eeriness to her voice and songs that fuses perfectly with that pop sound. -Morgan Day
Mike Hadreas, the Seattle-based singer-songwriter behind Perfume Genius, is releasing a much-anticipated third album this fall. In a collaborative effort with Adrian Utley of Portishead, Hadreas experiments with darker undertones in his new album, Too Bright. However, he doesn’t experiment for the sake of experimenting. The album is bold and purposeful. Rather than channeling the melancholic yet optimistic piano ballads that are characteristic of his previous albums, he takes a turn towards angrier sounds with guitar shrieks and mournful but clean vocals. In 11 wonderful tracks, he captures the sense of liberation and empowerment that come with admitting fragility. Go see him, and cry, and love it. -Ana Veblen
That’s one of the main aspects I love about the modern DJ, there is so much room for them to adapt to classical music genre’s and collaborate with traditionally trained virtuoso’s where they are able to bridge generational and cultural restrictions. That’s what Paul D. Miller; aka DJ Spooky is bringing to the table making it a worthy spectacle to be performed in the beautiful Strathmore music venue in a couple of weeks. Recorded, live and composed music, sounds, nature, ambient, etc. are used to bring the viewer’s into the world of one of National Geographic’s latest exposé’s on the Arctic landscape. This isn’t March Of The Penguins but then again it’s not Menace To Society either, this is an event to take someone that believes hip hop music and its incarnations are nothing more than misogynistic, violent, and shallow forms of “music.” -Seannie Cams
“Ritual Union” was the defining song of the summer of 2011. Three summers later, and I can’t go a day without listening to “Klapp Klapp” at least once. Little Dragon has a knack for making songs that get stuck in your head for so long that you have nothing left to do but sit and listen through their entire discography for hours at a time. Or is that just me? Regardless, Little Dragon’s performance is sure to be a non stop dance party and you’d better be prepared. -Lotanna Obodozie
Kay Tra is one of the fastest-growing producer/DJ names in a genre that is carving itself out to be the tentative future of electronic music: instrumentals. Specializing in beautifully crafted beats and borrowing notes from future, hip-hop, trap, sampling, etc. adds to his eclectic range and expansive influence. With local Gaithersburg, Maryland producer I.V. assisting in the opening duties for the evening, attendees at this year’s Union BBQ will enjoy an encore performance from Kay, whereas newbies will be inducted into a crowd on the pulse of this new music influence. -Seannie Cams
Honesty hour: when I’m drunk, upset, feelin’ sexy or bored when walking, I imagine myself bursting dramatically into a room, “While I’m Small” thumping in the background. There’s just something really hot about Phantogram—they’ve mastered the art of a groovy baseline beat reminiscent of Massive Attack while managing to avoid the all-too-frequent trap (among bands with this sound) of sputtering, groaning vocals that fade into aural obscurity. Phantogram is electro-rock that matters and is not painful to listen. -Morgan Baskin
San Fermin, personal project of music genius Ellis Ludwig-Leone, is almost three different bands. Some songs are bass-heavy, female-fronted songs like “Sonsick”. Others are deep, melancholy campfire songs that sound more like The National than pop ballad songstresses. Some songs don’t have words at all. And it works. It’s an experimental, instrumental listening experience.
Courtney Barnett is a lyricist. Her self-depricating, observational and witty words float over simple guitar patterns in a way that feels like she’s directly addressing you in a conversation you can’t reply to. Not that you would want to– it’s much better to listen to her sing about bad weed experiences and masturbation. -Tam Sackman
Honestly don’t know much about her, I recently was recommended to her music video by a mutual peer in the industry that said considering “this was shot for like 8 dollars and a cup of coffee” the artist and video are solid and worth checking out. K has her own rap-hybrid sound mixed with indi-alt rock undertones, definitely a poet and someone that has a ton of credentials but a growing fan base as well. Come see her at the H St. NE mainstay RNR Hotel where next time she graces through town she may be at a sold out show at 9:30. Don’t say I didn’t warn you early. -Seannie Cams
Stevie Nicks’ foxy, folky voice is legendary. I’m pumped this band is going on tour again and all of me wants them to be as incredible as they’ve always been. I’m so ready to be front row, in a gypsy dress, with a group of middle aged people belting out “Dreams.” Unfortunately, some of the older bands going on tour have been said to sound like they’re croaking out their famous songs BUT I have high hopes for Fleetwood Mac. -Morgan Day
Remember the teenage, horror author R.L. Stine from when you were a kid? No? Then I’m too old. But, for the younger generation there is RL Grime, a force to be reckoned with in the bass music/trap scene of electronic music. What better way to spending the spookiest day of the year with the music games master of horror, then on Halloween? Bring your fangs and bite back because his sound bites down hard. -Seannie Cams
Relative newcomer FKA twigs is oft likened to James Blake, and if that ain’t a compliment for a moody synth-pop artist I don’t know what is. She seems like the type of artist people will pretend to like because they’re “cultured” and “alternative” with an “obscure taste in music,” which seems like the only explanation for listening to someone whose music is essentially glorified little feminine grunts. Nonetheless, the production value of her music is objectively solid and her voice can be, at times, smoother ‘n butter. Bottom line: she tries a little too hard, but as twentysomethings, that is a quality with which we can all relate. -Morgan Baskin
Indistinguishable from Bon Iver though he is, McMorrow undeniably possesses a set of sweetly raspy pipes that usher winter in with a small, knowing smile. “We are ghosts/ We are ghosts among these hills/ Pressing out against the shore,” he croons in “Ghosts,” reminding us all what happens when you fall back on a bottle of whiskey and a weekend away in a log cabin to “find yourself.” He’s emotional. Aren’t we all? -Morgan Baskin
When Bass Don, Rusko made his debut at U Hall back in 2011 it was one of the wildest nights in the brief history of the club. People going berserk, bass so low your teeth were shaking, drinks were vibrating down the bar, I could go-on-and-on but instead I’ll tell you to buy tix to this ASAP because it will sell out. -Seannie Cams
Childhood friends Molly Rankin and Kerri MacLellan scored big this summer with the jangly sensation “Archie, Marry Me,” which arrived at a time when hooks have been traded in for “vibes.” The song seems almost nostalgic by comparison. There’s something very traditional about it: a chorus that has a tendency to indelibly sketch itself onto the back of your shirt sleeve and stay there for multiple laundry cycles; a build that results in a measure-long break in the instrumentation highlighting two ripely pleasing “Hey Hey”s. That they’re coming to DC9 for an intimate showing is a bit surprising, since they’ve been topping the college radio charts for a couple months now.They can be counted on playing a larger venue next time they’re in town, so it’s worth getting on over there to be serenaded in such close proximity. -Phil Chevalier
Ole’ Sweatpants Papi aka Ryan Hemsworth aka the Ryan Gosling of music returns to U Hall again in a couple of months and every time he comes he seems to bring a bigger and younger crowd with him then the time before. With a venue like U Hall to fully appreciate Hemsworth’s melodic and soulful version of instrumental beats/trap/future it would be well worth your time to see this rising star in action at a venue that will enhance the concertgoer’s experience, fully encapsulating his unique sound. -Seannie Cams
A combination of everything good in music coming together for one wonderfully complex, yet catchy evening. Welcome to the smartest dance show of the year, courtesy of BOTH acts. I’d write more about this pairing, but you should really not read about it, just go hear it. -Svetlana
It’s difficult to think of a time when two bands more attuned to the unashamed sentimentalities of a well-read teenager have graced the same stage in the course of a night. Brill Bruisers, the freshly released, and, prior to that, highly-anticipated, album from The New Pornographers, doesn’t have any bad songs on it. It’s a power-chord in album form, with the Bejar, Newman, Case triumvirate taking turns to show us that they’re not in it at this point just to quiet their fans pining for a new album (their last one, whatever it was called, felt like that), but instead to make something really special, that they can be proud of, and which sounds pristine. There are tons of opportunities to go see them all over the country this fall as they tour to promote it, but this stop at the 9:30 Club with the ever-sincere Pains of Being Pure at Heart promises to be something very special. -Phil Chevalier
I was in no way bowled over by Interpol’s fifth studio effort “El Pintor,” but not because they don’t have a sound I can get behind: the gritty, Strokes-esque Americana works for them. Ironically, the album’s biggest flaw-its repetition, its incessant insistence on finding an aesthetic soundscape and clinging mercilessly to it-will likely serve the band the most in its live performances. It’ll be a cohesive show. “El Pintor”’s opening track, “All The Rage Back Home,” is a legitimately fantastic rock track that should translate flawlessly live, and, to be honest, I’d watch an Interpol show just to hear it.
And, for the avid twentysomething rock fan, Interpol’s performances serve their purpose–loud, moody, coolly drunken nights dressed in all black, nonchalantly offering itself to the discerning listener. Interpol is the semi-stale Stella of modern rock. -Morgan Baskin
If you type into your Google search bar “is Cher…”, Google will autocomplete to either “is Cher still alive?” or, for those who prefer a more blunt approach “is Cher dead?”. CHER IS NOT DEAD!!! In fact, she’s so not dead that she’s playing at the Verizon Center, which will undoubtedly be packed with middle-aged gay couples celebrating the fact that she is still alive. -Tam Sackman
Was there ever a more precious little bastard than Griffin House? In 2006 he wooed us with “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You Is Out Of His Mind,” a dusty little romp down a country road in flannel and love, and hasn’t stopped breakin’ our fragile hearts since. Relive your failed relationships with Griffin at Jammin’ Java to find the closure we so richly deserve. -Morgan Baskin
I will go anywhere and pay (almost) anything to see Adam Lambert in the flesh, blonde sex dolls and all. Even though Maroon 5 equals Adam Lambert and that could be turn off for you, let’s not forget how many loyal pregame/driving songs this band has given us. There’s no possible way this concert could be a bad time because you’ll know the words to every song and potentially listening to “She Will Be Loved” live would make it so worth it. -Morgan Day
Leaving your house is dumb. Live music is mostly dumb. Sometimes it’s cool to hear a song performed without edits. Stay home and watch old Weird Al clips from the early 90s. Like this one. Here’s a clp of Al on Arsenio. Early Arsenio.
The last time I saw them they donned various body suit costumes while they performed. And the finished the show off by jumping into the crowd and drumming. It’ll be a fun show. -Sarah Guan
They’re playing stadiums so there will definitely be an extensive light show. As a bonus, their opener is Cage the Elephant. -Sarah Guan
Why am I excited to shoot this? A) It’s a BYT comedy festival that I got the pleasure of photographing last year as an intern while driving around really funny people, some of whom encouraged my desire to continue trying out photography. (Thanks, Kate Flannery!) B) It’s the event my boyfriend and I deemed our first date, despite both of us actually working Bentzen Ball and me shoving him in some of my Found Footage Fest vs. Everything Is Terrible at Howard Theatre photos. (Happy Anniversary, Nick!) -Clarissa Villondo
Masters of cool, the Danish duo always fills the room with noise. -Katherine Gaines
The real hit of the summer was “Somebody Loves You” and the Fillmore will be filled with dancing. -Katherine Gaines
I mean, forget the new records. All I want to hear is Meds and it’ll be WORTH it. C’mon Placebo, do this forever-a-13-year-old-goth-girl a solid. -Shauna Alexander
Leopard print, fringe, glitter, stripes; all parts of various Yelle jumpsuits. Who knows what she’ll be wearing this time around. -Katherine Gaines
A festival mainstay, he is touring to support his first album. So expect him to go all out with the lights and visuals. -Sarah Guan
I got to be a +1 for their show at U Street Music Hall earlier this year. People crowd surfed. People rushed the stage. They destroyed U Street Music Hall. I want to photograph this but not them destroying Black Cat. Black Cat just turned 21. They should live longer. -Clarissa Villondo
The fucking government shutdown forced her to cancel the previous show but nothing short of the apocalypse will keep me from seeing this one. To call her shows cathartic is an understatement. -Katherine Gaines
Every time Sylvan Esso comes to town now, I seemingly want to go, even if it was two nights in a row at 9:30 Club. Their press team is nice and let’s me shoot both shows. Hopefully their press team is nice and let’s me shoot this show for them too. -Clarissa Villondo
Part of me wants to go watch stupid teenagers get more stupid. Part of me wants to watch me lose more faith in humanity. -Clarissa Villondo
I got to photograph Masked Intruder’s show at Sidebar last June. That was a crazy show. I want to photograph Officer Bradford and children who were such big fans of Masked Intruder that they were all the Masked Intruder merchandise and got stuck on the stage when the adults started a mosh pit. (The mom emailed me if I had photos of her kid.) -Clarissa Villondo
I got to meet Fitz and the Tantrums at Sweetlife and take their portrait. They were nice people and knew how to be photogenic. Also, I want to hear that one song by Big Data live. Does Big Data only have one song? -Clarissa Villondo
There are few songs that hit that sweet, tingly spot on my spine more than “Wolf Like Me.” Somehow I’ve missed the guys every time they’ve come to town but I’ve got the date marked in blood and I’m ready — anxious even — to dance, shoot and sing along. -Shauna Alexander
Words will do this show no justice. Just look at how hauntingly beautiful it was the last time I saw/photographed them. Definitely not a show to miss. -Shauna Alexander
I always have a great time at Dismemberment Plan shows. The crowd rushing the stage never fails to be a good shot for me. They liked my photos I took of them at Ottobar last April. Travis Morrison is fun. I had a shot of Travis Morrison in my last gallery exhibition. -Clarissa Villondo
Sadly I caught on to DFA1979 after their tragic split, but they’re back and they’re ready to shove their raucous guitar tones right down your throat. A few years ago they reunited for this Vice party in an abandoned bank in Brooklyn with Rick Ross. Despite the subzero temperatures outside (and the 3 hour wait to get in, UGH) seeing DFA1979 was worth the outbreak of frostbite and then some. I expect nothing but a show full of face-melting jams that will make even the timid fist-pump away. -Shauna Alexander
If it was anything like last year where I witnessed some girl say she was “Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, twenty-one, twenty-two” with a great stage production, I definitely want to shoot this. It made me enjoy EDM shows. -Clarissa Villondo
All of those shows may be fun to shoot but none of those shows have as many costume changes as Weird Al. Al still dresses as Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Amish gangsters, Jedi, etc.
DEERS – Close your eyes, and imagine the coolest girls in your high school. Or the coolest girls you WISH went to your high school. You know the kind: always a little tan, always a little messy, wearing blood red lipstick smeared with the casualness of chapstick, their hair and limbs a tangle emerging out of tiny denim shorts and t-shirts they probably stole of the backs of their brothers, boyfriends, enemies. Now, imagine those girls are SPANISH (for real, is your mind blown by now? It should be). Now imagine what kind of band these girls would be in: clearly it would be a jangly, catchy, fast’n’loose garage pop kind of band. Now, put it all together and you got yourself DEERS. Why this band or a band JUST LIKE THIS BAND didn’t exist before 2014? Beats me, but I’m happy they do now. The BARN 7″ is out on November 3 via Lucky Number / Mom + Pop:
EJECTA – Ejecta’s Leanne Macomber is the space dance vixen your Fall/Winter are probably not quite ready for. Slinky, dangerous, and mysterious ALL AT ONCE, she is like the wanted heroine UNDER THE SKIN wanted to have but never quite landed on with Scarlett Johannson. Dominae has been out since late 2013 but with new videos just resurfacing it should finally be getting its moment in the cold glow of your favorite discotheque.
TEEN – TEEN were a bunch of pretty white girls making melodic psych pop. NOW, they are a bunch of pretty white girls making D’Angelo inspired pop music. Lets read that sentence again. Exactly. There is a reason they get TWO BLURBS in this guide. Catch them at smaller venues (like U Hall on September 26th) so you can (soon enough) tell everyone you saw them back when. The Way and Color is out now.
SOPHIE – As the weather turns darker and colder, you may need something extra bright (aggresively bright even?) to keep those spirits up. Well, fear not, because 2014 has brought us Sophie (who, granted might be male, apparently, you know-what do we know) a tongue-so-deeply-in-cheek-it-may-as-well-be-between-teeth future dance mogul with who packages her warped tracks in so much sugar it certainly makes all that weirdo medicine go down easy. (Photo by Masha Mel)
QT – speaking of aggressively bright (and Sophie) – WE CANNOT IGNORE the Sophie + AG Cooke collaboration known as QT (because QT REFUSES TO BE IGNORED) whose HEY QT single has been described by a notable member of the BYT music team as: “For those of your who just downed 120 consecutive Pixi-Stix and are looking for something to capture your mood.” If THIS is the future (and it has been speculated that IT IS), it is so goddamn bright, you better be wearing MULTIPLE sets of shades.
LYDIA AINSWORTH – and now, to bring it all down back to planet Earth. The Canadian delicacy that is Lydia Ainsworth makes music that will appeal to the Kate Bush/Bat for Lashes/Marissa Nadler among us (which is all of us, right?) but also lists Verdi and Ace of Base as her influences. Clearly a fan of film scores she creates sweeping but intimate orchestrations of all the feelings your about to feel in the next few months, creating a perfect soundtrack to the melancholy budding inside of you. Her RIGHT FROM REAL full length is out September 30th on Arbutus. Get it.
The turn up is right here. Its something like a Asap Mob rap video. Its something like a episode of A Different World set in 2014 DC. Its something like an underground Brooklyn-y urban dance night. Its definitely a really good time though! You’re gonna hear lots of bass in the form of hood rap, trap, Bmore/Jersey club and afro/tropical beats. Hosted by Mista Selecta & Mane Squeeze aka the Beard & the Fro, Jungle Fever takes place the first Wednesday of the month at Tropicalia on U st.
If you want to time travel to a place when music was real and true, before synths, drum machines and auto-tune, you need to experience Save Your Soul. Rob Fearless & King Gilbert have curated one of the best soul music dance parties, no, just best dance parties maybe on the whole planet. You won’t know most of the songs. But you will not be able to resist the groove of the Motown/ Stax-era hits, funk breaks, psyche & garage stunners, big beat blues, girl groups jams, swinging instrumentals, boo-ga-loo beats and other rare soulful treats coming from the dusty 45’s they play (yea 45’s, google them if you don’t know and be amazed). They have cheap booze in the form of these mammoth Lithuanian beers and shots of this amazing Virtya honey liqueur stuff. Make your way to Lithuanian Hall the first Friday of the month in Baltimore for a sweaty good time.
One of Baltimore’s longest running nights. Its just where you want to be in Baltimore. if you’re cool and you want to avoid the muscle milk bros of the world and the women that love them (resisting the urge to use the term basic bitches here). You’ll find a mix of college students (don’t you have class tomorrow?), punks, cool kids (resisting the urge to use the word hipsters here) and other grown-ass adults (don’t you all have to work tomorrow!?) all gathered in one place on a Tuesday night to take in 2-for-1 drinks and great DJs, including yours truly. A culturally and racially diverse cross section of the horniest people in Baltimore. This event has long been known as the “The Best Place to Drunkenly Hook-up” by local publications. Two for Tuesdays takes place every Tuesday at the Ottobar.
While Dave Nada, creator of the moombahton sound, has moved his moombahton-centric events to U St. Music Hall. The sound of moombahton still rings out as it was always intended at the place where Nada first incubated the sound, Velvet Lounge, on the first Sunday of the month in DC. The event is currently hosted by resident DJs Mathias and Thee Clown Price who continue to curate a dance party thats heavy on the moombahton and other gritty dance music genres that is the perfect match for the venue. Its like finding the same color blue t-shirt and hat to match the blue in your sneakers.
A weekly rave-type EDM-type event (ugh I hate using those words) every Thursday at a rather unsuspecting (and usually bottle service house of shame) venue, The Get Down. Its another event I am proud to see thrive in Baltimore due to the culturally and racially diverse crowd that comes out to support. Its hosted by talented local performer Linkmindz in partnership with other regional promoters/crews including Prism and Symbiotic. You’ll find some really talented dancers there breaking and shuffling. You’ll hear sets from guest DJs that represent the full spectrum of EDM (shudders) from drum & bass to tech house to baltimore club to (shudders) happy hardcore.
Yeah, I know. We all know. Matt Nordstrom and Dave Nada are in Los Angeles. But, the top-tier tech house, club, moombahton and overall dance production and DJ duo are from the DC area have released the excellent Falling Down EP this year, a few excellent mixes, have their debut artist album forthcoming. Also, they perpetually rock U Street Music Hall’s monthly (now much deeper than) Moombahton Massive.
The soulful old soul of the bizarre musical polyglot that is DC rap’s Hippie Life Krew, Visto is the heavily tattooed and dreadlocked pop star of the grouping (that includes a female emcee, rock band and three other male emcees who oftentimes break out in choreographed routines onstage). Sexy R & B is Visto’s best game though, and from having his single “How That Pxssy Taste” trend on Twitter locally for an entire day to being mentored by DC’s own Raheem Devaughn and opening frequently at the Howard Theater and Fillmore Silver Spring, he’s a unique listen and worthy of following his development. Newer singles like “Shinobi” definitely require attention to be paid.
Pink hair? Check. Wild demeanor? Check. Ice cold flow over Biggie’s “Juicy?” Check. Album available on iTunes? Of course. Pinky’s a female emcee with swagger to burn, and more than deserving of an opportunity to shine. Similar to Visto, she’s affiliated with the Hippie Life Krew, so therefore she’s definitely bringing a left field presentation with traditional DC Uptown flavor. Proof that the future has come to the Nation’s Capital, if tiring of the same classic rap presentation, Pinky’s certainly one to follow.
Let’s go up the road and visit our neighbors in Baltimore really quickly. If a neighborhood radio scanner or just a fan of great dance music, Bmore club is an addictive four-on-the-floor sound that involves sampling just about anything for making a hit single. A genre with three decades of dance-floor slaying history, take the entire fall/winter and just listen to Griff’s Soundcloud page. If at any point in need of a pick me up, there’s bona-fide club anthems galore. Well worth the time.
Ethiopian-American emcee and the pride of Benjamin Banneker High School, Ras Nebyu’s so bold that he called his shot by calling out Modi Oyewole in a song for a spot on Oyewole’s DCtoBC.com Trillectro Festival lineup, AND, he calls himself “Uptown Ethiopian Tupac.” As well, his latest mixtape is entitled Ras Griffin III. It’s about time that everyone in the city get hip to the “slizzatrism” and fall in line with his “Washington Slizzards” movement. Possibly the most unflinchingly honest and lyrically gifted emcee in the Nation’s Capital at present, he’s Wale-cosigned, has a global fanbase and the only rapper I know to ever film a music video wearing a dashiki and standing in Rock Creek. If wanting more lyrics and less bullshit, Nebyu’s your go-to source.
LLF is excited about these artists, they either just released new musicor have new albums coming out from October through February
Funk Ark Man is A Monster is Funk Ark’s highly anticipated third album. The album takes listeners on psychedelic jazz/funk/afrobeat journey. The record release show October 10 at Black Cat is not be missed.
PREE will release an album this winter. The new single, “Two Feet Shy,” is amazing and we hope the album coming out this winter will be just as awesome. They play the Millennium Stage on October 22.
The solo album from Anthony Pirog, also known as one half of Janel and Anthony, is loaded with experimental guitar and jazz arrangements are a treat for the ears. The album comes out in October
The Cowards Choir put out an awesome Americana Indie infused album last year and we are excited for this follow up.
If you know D.C. music you know about Paperhaus. Every time we see these guys perform they sound better and better. Their much anticipated sophmore album comes out in January.
Mello Music Group has been crushing it in the D.C. hip-hop scene for years. This much anticipated album from yU and friends comes out in November.
Punk, indie, R&B D.C. band lowercaseletters will be putting out an album this fall and will be performing at the DC Music download Autumn Spectacular on Oct 11.
Songwriter Steve Kolowich is putting out a second album this fall. His songs are well produced and catchy. The new album was produced by the next artist on this list, Louis Weeks, who is also coming out with an album over the next couple months.
Louis Weeks produces and performs complex and soulful indie pop tunes. Listen to his last self-titled release and get ready for another album of awesome tunes.
Blues, Americana and rock! Bobby Thompson is an amazing musician and his years of experience and blues prowess blossom in this blueheart revival project.
Georgetown songwriter Mellen has moved into the electro pop world and we are excited to see what this new project brings,
Raw punk, blues and rock and roll. This new album coming out is full of it.
You just need to watch the DIY music video for Death Tango.
This new VA based band has plenty of soulful and experimental bluesy, indie rock tunes.
One of our favorite local songwriter albums of the year. Cutter Street was released this summer but everyone should have a listen.
Lykke Li is one of those odd beauties, and her looks perfectly suit her oddly beautiful voice. Her style mixes elements of grunge and classic glamour. She often appears in music videos and photo shoots in crisp tailored suits or beautiful flowing dresses, but with stringy, greasy hair reminiscent of 90s garage rock. The result is haunting. Her latest album I Never Learn is accompanied by a handful of music videos that allow glimpses of her style aesthetic, and her Instagram is full of artistic inspirational snaps (@lykkeli). Catch her at the 9:30 Club on October 6th.
I picked Jack White for this list because he uses his style as an extension of his music. He has a defined aesthetic that has developed especially with the release of his latest album, Lazaretto. The look is somewhere between 1920s prohibition and 1950s dapper, with a touch of western outlaw. He mixes styles with his music in a similar manner- rock, hip-hop, and bluegrass all show up on Lazaretto. Cast a cool blue lighting over the entire thing to give it an eerie glow, and his style becomes as otherworldly as his music.
Because I need at least one hipster band on this list. Yukimi Nagano’s style is as smooth as her vocals. This is a good-looking band. Witness them first hand at Echostage on October 15th.
FKA Twigs’ style is unique and provoking and gorgeous. Beautiful girl with a beautiful voice and beautiful duds. Also, she’s been known to spell words out with her baby hair. She’ll be at the 9:30 Club on November 6th.
First Aid Kit
As summer comes to a cooling close, I, too, wonder why it can’t stay gold. Their second album, Stay Gold (for which they are on tour now. They’ll be at the G.W. Lisner Auditorium on October 25th), is my summer soundtrack; and their glam-bohemian style has served as fashion inspiration for many a summer music-festival attendee. These girls are indie cool, and they are also freakin’ fabulous. One minute it’s flowy, gauzy dresses and flower crowns, the next it’s gold brocade, figure-hugging, high-fashion gowns.
Just watch this video, it’s fabulous…
Ian Graham lived in D.C. and played in the band Lenorable. Now he lives in Baltimore and plays in the band Lenorable. He thinks Baltimore is better than D.C. Here’s why.
1) People are nicer
I lived in DC from 2008 until this summer. I cannot recall a time someone I didn’t know personally said “Hello” to me on the street who wasn’t asking for change or a signature or a donation. It’s happened four different times today. Even the lady at the MVA was nice! In fact, I was the rude one and apologized. It was surreal.
2) Music is better
Baltimore’s music scene is so cool, some DC bands claim Baltimore instead of DC. Baltimore has produced some really, really, really good bands. And I’m only thinking of the newish one’s you already know.
3) Everything isn’t crazy expensive
I have taken DC friends out in Baltimore who assumed I knew the bartender, or the server forgot to charge us for a meal, because the bill was so much lower than they expected. We’re not talking nickel beer night or anything, but it’s nice to remember there are places where a tuna sandwich doesn’t cost $12 and you can drink better than the Pabst family of brands for less than $5 in a non-happy hour context. (Speaking of, you should see the happy hour specials. Holy shit.)
4) The Ravens
Ray Rice is a supreme dick, we’re all aware by now. To the Ravens’ credit, in the end they sent him packing. I’m glad they did. They could have easily created a tense and awkward situation between the team, fans and media by standing their ground despite the huge public backlash. They could have irreparably damaged the team’s reputation because they didn’t have the goddamn sense to be decent fucking people and choose “not being shitty” over “making as much money as possible” like certain other regional football teams have done.
5) Better musical history
The Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem, is from Baltimore, and if you don’t like America, you can GET OUT.
6) Real dive bars
You will never see a feature in a Baltimore’s paper about whether Baltimore has any real dive bars. If you have to ask, the answer is “no.” (And if you think the Post Pub, or Looking Glass, or any where on H Street is is a dive… you’re in for a real shock.)
7) Better monuments
Not only did Baltimore have a Washington Monument before DC, but we have better monuments overall. Sure, DC has plenty of white phallic symbols, sprawling marble plazas and an understandably upset-looking Martin Luther King, Jr, but does DC have Frank Zappa’s head on a pole? The defense rests.
8-48) One for every additional mile between us and Arlington
49) Better annoying young adults
MICA kids are impossibly cooler than I am, and that’s sort of annoying. On the other hand, DC’s interns are an infamous pain in the ass, to the point that there are “intern seasons” and regularly recurring articles about living with interns or not being “that intern.” So on one hand, they’re known for being bothersome. On the other hand, they keep places like McFadden’s and Millie & Al’s in business, right?
50) Keep the party rolling
Imagine it’s a Sunday afternoon, all that’s left in the house are empties and maybe a shot’s worth of sambuca somebody left at the house last Halloween. You’re fucked, right? Especially if you live in Maryland, where confusing county-by-county blue laws leave you driving for hours, hoping to find a liquor store or grocery that will sell you a bottle of Bulleit or a 12-pack. Now, imagine you can walk a few blocks to the nearest neighborhood dive, have a few drinks in the dark, and pick up a bottle to go because fuck it, it’s Sunday, you’re an adult and you want to drink a lot more whiskey before you fall asleep. Imagine no more, this place is real, and it’s called “Baltimore.”
This started as a joke. I don’t think it’s a joke anymore.
The Smashing Pumpkins are in the midst of a massive reissue series. The 2012 reissue of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness featured some of my favorite songs of the year. The year 2012, not 1995. Pumpkins instrumental b-sides held more promise than ‘new’ new music. 17 years after the double LP release, Corgan’s insanity appeared somewhat sane.
In the last two years Billy Corgan has appeared on the cover of a regional cat magazine, started an amateur wrestling league, released a live DVD of a Pumpkins concert featuring no other original members, opened a tea shop and ‘performed’ an all-day synth experiment in his tea shop. I still think this Adore reissue will be good.
The Adore reissue is 107 tracks, 6 CDs and a DVD. That is more songs than Nirvana’s entire catalogue. It’s absurdly long. It can not all be good. It can not all be decent. Some of the songs are from a radio appearance, specifically from a Mancow’s Morning Madhouse radio appearance. I’m fine with this.
The Pumpkins’ ambition, though it may be bloated and based in insecurity, is admirable. They wanted to be as ambitious as Kiss, as proficient as Rush and as important as The Beatles. They do not sell coffins, their songs can be played in drop d tuning and they did not inspire a haircut or boot style. But it’s still admirable.
It is not admirable to be an adult man that still enjoys The Smashing Pumpkins. For some odd reason, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy the once and forever awful music of Say Anything, Brand New and The Used (all bands The Pumpkins influenced), but not the Pumpkins. It’s accepted and encouraged to count bands that influenced the Pumpkins, The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees and My Bloody Valentine, etc. as great acts, but Corgan and Co. are supposed to be dismissed. The ambition is the problem.
It’s not cool to care. It’s OK to release a prolific amount of material if it’s not produced with a specific sonic quality in mind (see Ty Segall). It’s OK to release an album once every 20 years (see My Bloody Valentine). It’s not OK to care about a sound and release an album every 3 years. Or maybe it is and people just don’t like musicians on cat magazine covers.
My 2014 musical landscape is not a nostalgia trip. Thus far, my top 5 favorite albums of the first 9 months include work from Big Freedia, Against Me!, Chad VanGaalen, Courtney Barnett and Landlady, yet I’m most excited to hear what Puff Daddy did with “Ava Adore” in 1998.
UPDATE: I listened to the Puffy Combs remix of “Ava Adore.” It is the worst Pumpkins remix I have ever heard. The track before, “To Sheila – Early Banjo Version,” is quite good.