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Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow (or follow him to make him feel more popular while getting access to random new music he doesn’t have the time to write about).

You know how the last few weeks the only housekeeping stuff was me shamelessly plugging that awesome “Tunes You Should Know in 2014” Spotify playlist that everyone should follow? Well this is not one of those weeks.

First off, the lovely Maggie Cannon over at 9:30 Club gave my email address to one John Harouff, who is a Virginia based singer/songwriter that plays under the name Dead Professional. He let me know that he had a new single out called “I’m Not The One,” and that he’d be playing at DC9 as part of their 10 Year Anniversary Week of Shows, and he wondered if I could show him so love on the old TYSFK. Since I dig the DIY pop song and I needed an excuse to make sure everyone knows about DC9’s anniversary shows anyway, including the one featuring a get-the-band-back-together-one-last-time performance by Nouveau Riche, I figured what a great way to kill two birds with one stone. So there you go. “I’m Not The One” is good. DC9 is great.

Secondly, after realizing that the electrical signals in music could be gently applied to a squid’s tissue, scientists in Massachusetts hooked one up to a special iPod playing Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Membrane,” and the video for it is a reminder of why I loved Planet Earth back in college. Science!

OK, that was fun. Music time…

  • Spirit Animal – “Love Crimes” 

I know I just wrote about Spirit Animal’s much more recent song, “Come To Christmas,” a few weeks ago, but last Thursday I got to see the band live for the second time, and it was a reminder that I need to do more to get people listening to this band.

I was introduced to Spirit Animal’s music last June only a few days before I interviewed lead singer Steve Cooper for All Things Go, but in that short time I had already been sucked in by the band’s unique sound — what I have lazily described as “The Talking Heads meets The Black Keys” when pitching them to friends — and especially their song “Love Crimes.” I’ve done my best to keep tabs on the group since then (see: my fawning over “Come to Christmas), so when I heard they were playing the venue again, I made sure to clear my calendar.

Performing to an excited and supportive audience, Steve and the boys unleashed a masterfully raucous set of both crowd favorites and new material that made the back room of Black Cat feel more like 930 Club. Tracks like “Love Crimes” and “Crocodile Skins” were delivered with the passion and swagger they deserved, but actually, in all honesty, it’s the new stuff that I found myself getting most excited about.

I mean, Spirit Animal is unarguably a group of talented musicians. They interweave a variety of genres and styles in their songs, and they deliver it live with a professional fire, but it seems like they’re only just now realizing the extent of their powers. The “very new” songs delve into punk, 90’s melodic rock, and even Southern soul — all with an intensity and distinct flavor that is uniquely Spirit Animal. It made for a well-rounded and overwhelmingly impressive set.

And then they closed with “Come to Christmas”…

Now I think there is only thing better than seeing your favorite song live, and that is seeing someone else see their favorite song live. It’s downright empowering to see someone shed all insecurities, if only for a few moments, and just bask in the moment they’re so happy to be experiencing.

And I’d like to think I gave that gift to a room full of people on Thursday when this final song was played.

Back in my first chat with Steve, he told me that if he had to describe the band’s essence, it would be, “All or nothing,” and that is the attitude I can proudly say I brought to that song. When I heard it’s opening riff begin playing, I excused myself from the group I was with, weaseled my way to the 3 foot or so gap between the band and the least self-conscious audience members, and I sang along to every word like I was preaching to Jesus himself. I think I may have ever been playing an air bass at one point too (shout out to Paul Michel). In hindsight, it’s mildly embarrassing — I think a girl who once dumped me after a whopping 72 hours was only a few feet away realizing she made a fantastic decision — but screw it, that’s what Spirit Animal shows are meant for.

All or nothing right?

  • As Animals – “Big Slap” “I See Ghost”

I can tell that my friends are getting tired of me pointing out that I was predicting Lorde’s success all the way back in May every time she’s brought up in conversation, so this means that I’ve got to come up with someone else to project future fame upon.

And you know who has a very strong chance?

This random French duo called As Animals consisting of a singer/songwriter named Zara Desbonnes and a multi-instrumentalist named Frederic Grange.

They have a debut album coming out on March 3rd that I got the chance to listen to ahead of time, and I’m not saying it’s the album of the year, but if you listen to “Big Slap” and “I See Ghost,” you can get a sense of the something special going on with this group.

There’s some blend of Bjork, Florence and the Machine, the more approachable sides of The Knife, Gwen Stefani (yes I said that), Lady Gaga, and something a bit more 90’s singer/songwriter that I can’t place. There’s also a picayune attention to detail in the instrumentation that has me hoping this live show consists of at least 4 or 5 members so that they’re all fully fleshed out and explored. There’s also that little something else.

They’re quirky but catchy. Unique but familiar. Artistic but not offensive.

That’s a pretty successful formula. Look at Lorde or Chvrches or Haim. It’s all there. Obviously a lot of “making it” is luck, but the right festival performance or commercial placement or soundtrack spot could really do wonders for As Animals.

You know what? Let’s go ahead and call it. At 11:00AM on February 5th, 2014, I Bryce Taylor Rudow predicted future fame for As Animals. Mark it down.

PS: When their album does come out in March, I highly suggest checking out “Burn Like A Fire” and “Fool”

  • Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part Of Me” 

I have a confession.

I was going to write about this song called “Be Reasonable, Diane” by a group called SPEAK, but just as I was finishing up, my Hype Machine started playing “I’m Not Part Of Me,” and I made the last minute decision to sub this song in.

Because, plain and simple, it is a tune you should know. Preferably as soon as possible.

I’m only about 4 repeats in, but I hope everyone is getting the chance to hear this with headphones on or through good speakers. There’s some real beauty inside all of that loose messiness (props to the wonderful mixing/production), and the poppy melodies that sift their way through the static are so damn catchy. I’m about 45 seconds away from finishing this last repetition before I move onto their other stuff and figure out just who the hell this band is.

I mean, are they Strokes-tilting punks? Are they part of that 90’s midwestern indie rock revival that’s springing up? Are they trying to be the next Sunny Day Real Estate? Given just this song, couldn’t you see them going in a ton of different directions with the other 3 or 4 songs it looks like they have on Soundcloud?

By the way, this is how I lose hours of sleep.

Anyways, I guess it’s time for a very special edition of…

 

THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Melissa Pocek Edition

Editor’s Note: Melissa Pocek is a writer/photographer out of Boston who used to write for the now-defunct Phoenix (RIP). Now she covers national issues, travel guides, beer summits, professional profiles, music festivals, and all that good stuff.  You can visit her site at www.melissapocek.com and find her on Twitter here.

  • Lucy Schwartz – “Boomerang” 

 

Time for a Valentine’s Day song about a fickle heart, and how a love lost is a love craved and a love had is a one wished to be forgotten…but with an outrageously catchy chorus about “romantic afflictions” analogized through a boomerang.

Credit the raconteuse chops of 24-year-old LA-native Lucy Schwartz, whose knack is to express heartbreak in an uplifting tune that sounds both vintage and modern. This little lady has beautiful vocals and lyrics that push pass devastation into a love quandary that sounds rather fun. Lucy is no stranger to the music world, she’s worked with Mick Jagger and wrote the original song for motion picture Shrek Forever After, a love song entitled “Darling I Do.”

While this song will most likely not make it to the pop charts, you will find this little track on last week’s episode of Girls. [Editor’s Note: I knew this sounded familiar…]

 

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