Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @btr0218 (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).
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here are four songs we think you should fucking know (this week).
The Trillectro Festival is hitting the streets of DC this weekend and for those that are culturally clueless, it’s going to be one of the best things to happen to the District this summer. Get learned up on the show courtesy of Marcus Dowling and check out songs from the attending acts with the official Trillectro playlist available here.
- Zammuto – “Need Some Sun”
We all have skeletons in our closet and one of my more embarrassing confessions is that until I was 18, I had never seen Star Wars. Sure, I had seen parts and I knew the basic plot points like (spoiler) Vader being Luke’s father, but I had never really sat down to watch them. In fact, when I was 18 and just learning how to use Limewire, I downloaded the 6th (and now not final) movie and ended up being able to watch the films in episodic order for my first viewings of them all. I do have a twisted sense of pride that I’m one of the few people in the world that can say that.
I bring this up because, as bad as this may sound, my first real experience with the Star Wars universe was the newer material. I realized it wasn’t great and knew that it would never touch the legacy of the original, but as someone who was bored the summer after graduation, they were pretty enjoyable to me (with the exception of the “how did no one point out how racist this is?” Jar Jar Binks). So when I watched the original three, I saw them from the eyes of Darth Vader, the tragic hero. It really tinted (or tainted if you want to be pessimistic) my perspective of the whole series.
And this is where Zammuto comes in…
Zammuto is the new project from The Books’ Nick Zammuto that came into being after The Books untimely and drama-filled split. I was lucky enough to randomly stumble across his self-titled debut that was released last April and immediately was hooked on it. It’s a bit of a mindfuck but it was also one of those experiences where as I was listening to it for the first time, I knew I was going to fall in love with it. The skittering introduction track “Yay” transforms as it plays and feels like a living entity at times, and the track that follow, “Groan Man, Don’t Cry”, polishes its cryptic keys and sneering vocals absolutely beautiful by its end. The album can go as heavy and murky as “Harlequin” but then immediately break through to the whimsical “The Shape Of Things To Come.” And then there is the methadonic “Full Fading”, which I was lucky enough to be listening to the other night while walking through Kalorama Park as someone began lighting off fireworks from one of the surrounding apartment buildings. Talk about cinematic.
But as much as I can praise this album, Nick Zammuto will now and forever be linked to the critically-acclaimed The Books. They’re a group that anyone who “knows” music will tell you is amazing, and they’re right. They did some amazing things with sampling and genre-blending years before anyone was really playing in that space. And while I had heard from many people I trust that I would love them, they somehow kept slipping beyond me. Until I heard Zammuto…
After becoming such a fanboy, I was obsessed with all things Nick Zammuto, so I began plowing into The Books. But because I knew him from the rambunctious alt-pop of his solo-led work, The Books lost some of the magic that I’m sure hearing them first would reveal. Don’t get me wrong, I know how amazing songs like “Excess Strausses” and “Tokyo” are, but they don’t strike me as strongly as “F U C3PO” does. It may be blasphemous to say, but it’s true. I will always watch Star Wars from Vader’s perspective and I will always put on Zammuto before The Books. I have aligned with the Dark Side and there is no turning back now.
But hopefully, with his second album, which just crushed the IndieGogo campaign goal it set for itself (watch the video and try and not be charmed), he will be able to convert a few others to the Sith way. Having already released the torching “Sinker,” Zammuto is back with a new single, “Need Some Sun”. In it, he lets the bass get a bit slinky, but it’s only to balance out the smooth narrow vocal lines. Strapped with “Lotus Flower” beats but not drowning in their depths, Zammuto is able to slither his way through the song with possibly the most confidence I’ve ever heard from him.
Join me in pre-ordering the album and together we can rule the galaxy (I am a nerd).
- Jamaican Queens – “Water,” “Kids Get Away,” “Caitlin”
Newdust homey Josh Stewart turned me onto Jamaican Queens’ album Wormfood last week, and it’s grown on me more and more with each listen. I even delved into their first release “When You Sleep” which didn’t make the album, but does a pretty great job of teasing a “Maybach Music” hype. While the album does sag in the middle a bit, it’s bolstered by two incredible opening tracks and anchored with a majestic closer.
First off is the alt-pop, fuzz rock hybrid that is “Water,” which mixes earnestly belted apologies with lines like “I don’t wanna go down on her” and sets baroque-pop arrangements with rounds of vocal melodies. It’s a steady factory of sounds throughout, building upon each layer as a new foundation.
“Kids Get Away” follows and is definitely the big winner in terms of multiple listens. It reminds me of personal favorite Lydia Burrell with what I wish MGMT’s second album was like (by the way, has there ever been a more career-defining album than MGMT’s new one coming out. It decides how we end up remembering them in the long run, right?). By the time the acoustic breakdown hits, you have to be hooked (and be madder at MGMT for not having a better second album). What’s more interesting is that this song of impotent reactions against violence is based off a true story which leader Ryan Spencer chats about here. It’s as disturbing a depiction as Detroit as Rembert Browne’s eye-opening take on Grantland that everyone should read.
But let’s pull a Modest Mouse, Edit The Sad Parts, and skip over all that, as well as the less-enjoyable middle of the record, and jump to the album-closing “Caitlin”. It’s lamenting, sparse first half eventually cracks to a Mount Kimbie’d electronic-leaning perfect 3 1/2 minutes of production. It’s a bit different than everything else on the record, but hopefully it’s a sound they explore more.
Maybe it’s because this album ends on such a high note, but it has me very curious about these up and coming Detroiters. They’re playing DC9 on September 10th with Houses, unfortunately the same night Savages are in town, but with Jamaican Queens playing the opener slot, it’s doable to hit both if you feel like having an adventurous Tuesday night.
- Reignwolf – “Are You Satisfied”
It sucks to be late on a band, especially on your own website, but I have to give some utterly huge props to Alyssa Moody, who not only had the foresight to know about Reignwolf, but to review their show at DC9 in June.
There’s nothing I can say that she didn’t capture better than I probably would have. Read it and enjoy.
Speaking of other people who know more about music than I, it’s time for another edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Stephanie Williams Edition
Stephanie Williams is the founder of the website DC Music Download.
- Misun – “Hills And Trails”
Out of all the new bands that have cropped up last year in the D.C. music scene, one that definitely stood above the rest was Misun. I remember the first time listening to their debut EP, “The Sea,” in June 2012 very vividly. At the time, they were really pushing this whole “aquawave” sound that really intrigued me. Their initial songs had a distinguishable bubbly pop style that collectively brought some soul and hip-hop elements into the mix. Misun had a pretty impressive debut on their hands, but that also meant that the bar would be raised very high for their subsequent releases.
Misun has an uncanny ability to be multi-dimensional with their music. Although each song they’ve put forth thus far is firmly rooted in pop, no two releases have ever really sounded alike.
The perfect example is their latest hit, “Hills and Trails,” which might be the most exotic (and also catchy) track the band has crafted to-date. The first second of the song immediately sucks you into its foreign wonderland, with scintillating worldly beats driving the song steadily. Embedded in the mix is the infectious chant “Waiting silently for you to come home” that will most likely be stuck in your head for the foreseeable feature.
“Hills and Trails” is pretty divergent from their previous material, but not so far-fetched for the band that it alienates their loyal fans. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them this Saturday at Trillectro alongside Wale, RDGLDGRN and other great acts.
If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected], tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Know.