When I first saw Langhorne Slim two years ago, playing in the student union of my tiny Pennsylvania college, I was completely blown away. With the rest of his rowdy, expressive band (Paul Defiglia, Malachi DeLorenzo), Langhorne filled the entire room with his own brand of driven folk. An extra kudos goes to Defiglia who put on an impressive upright bass performance.
Langhorne Slim plays music with every ounce of himself. This is the kind of small stage jam band that should lead the rest of the Americana pack. Langhorne’s new, self titled album hits stores this week and he will be in the area both this week and in early June.
4/29: Recher Theater, Towson, MD 5/01: IOTA Club & Café, Arlington, VA 6/05: West Mt. Vernon Park, Baltimore, MD *Free* 6/06: World Live Café, Philadelphia, PA
Check out the video of him on The Late Show playing "Restless" and enjoy the mp3 for "Rebel Side of Heaven."
European crooner Teitur returns to the US and Canada on a spring tour promoting The Singer (buy), released on Cheap Lullaby Records. As with his previous records, Teitur comes forth with a dreamy ensemble of an album. The Singer elevates everything fans loved about his previous albums, Poetry and Aeroplanes and Stay Under the Stars; vocal honesty, absorbing lyrics, and a beautiful commitment to orchestration. Moving from acute, quirky pop to involved instrumental presentation, Teitur has surpassed any theories about sophomore or junior album flops and moved straight to the front of the folk rock pack. Below are his local tour dates, a live video of "Louie Louie" and an mp3 for "Catherine The Waitress."
April 29 - Jammin’ Java, Vienna, Virginia April 30 - Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, Maryland May 1 - Baby Grand, Wilmington, DE May 2 - Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Following the path of my own illogical logic, if you're going to describe your band as, “Not so much born from as vomited out of the fertile Austin, TX music scene," then you're going to get my attention. Such was the move by When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and judging from the singles of theirs that I've heard, it seems to be a pretty apt description.
WDRTE plays what I can only describe as spazz freak rock. It's loud and noisy, the wall of sound is damn near overwhelming, the lyrics are near unintelligible and it all coalesces into a wonderfully sloppy mess. Think Sebadoh with perhaps a tad more musical ability. They've got that post-punk feel, gloriously out-of-control. Suffice to say, this is not the kind of music that's going to rock you to sleep at night, but it certainly will get you pumped up for, say, a bar fight with a one armed Lithuanian holding a broken beer bottle like nobody's business. Because, as we all know, that's the kind of situation that demands ample pumping up.
WDRTE are in the midst of a tour to support their debut full-length, Not Noiice, to be released May 13th on Brooklyn-based indie label Chalk Circle. Sadly, I dropped the ball on this one and they've already come through Philly, Richmond and DC. Hopefully next time.
We haven't heard much from The Secret Machines since their 2006 release Ten Silver Drops. No new album is on the board, but new material will be debuted during a mini-tour of the northeast. So expect something available soon. The only show in the region is with Bellmer Dolls in Philly at North Star.
Down in DC, two shows liven up your Monday. Fresh off an appearance in Philly, Seattle-based The Cops head south to The Red and The Black. Elsewhere, The Rosewood Thieves are at DC9. Check them out!
Editor's Note: For those of you who missed the free show on Sunday, don't fret. Tokyo Police Club will be playing more shows in the area. Of course you have to pony up the cash this time. They are still with Meligrove Band and are now joined by teen sister popsters Smoosh (who will be in support of the Dresden Dolls starting in May).
4/28: Philly @ First Unitarian Church 4/29: DC @ Black Cat
Myspace is having a secret show this weekend in Baltimore and the Canadians are invading. The show features Tokyo Police Club, who are joined by their countrymen, Meligrove Band. It all goes down on Sunday at The Talking Head. The show is free and all-ages, with admission on a first come basis. So get there early if you want to see this great show in a tiny venue.
Hello Tokyo and Five Four Unleash Themselves Upon DC
Former DC (and current Brooklyn) band Hello Tokyo just released Sell The Stars this week and they are celebrating with a release party in their former hometown. They will be playing Rock and Roll Hotel tonight.
Almost forgot this one. In addition to the numerous shows in Philly Thursday, English singer-songwriter David Ford is also in town at the TLA and he'll be in DC at 9:30 Club on Monday. He is out in support of his new album, Songs For The Road.
Update: He will be playing World Cafe in Philly on Fri 5/2 for XPN's Free at Noon. You can RSVP here.
Self labeled as "European Blues", Canadian band Destroyer is coming through the IA area Thursday and Friday supporting their new album Trouble In Dreams. Another Canadian, Andre Ethier (no, not the LA Dodger) is joining them.
4/24: Philly @ North Star Bar 4/25: DC @ Black Cat
Some good shows in the region on Thursday. Here are the highlights:
Swedish pop army (over 20! members) I'm From Barcelona are gracious enough to come to Philly for one of only two East Coast shows. It is very Polyphonic Spree-esque. And for added enjoyment, Pepi Ginsberg is having a record release party. Catch them both at the First Unitarian Church.
Ra Ra Riot are back out on the road. For this tour, they are being joined by The Little Ones, who are supporting a new EP. Their only regional stop is tonight at The Ottobar in Baltimore. They will be joined by locals, Kadman.
The day is finally here when I can share my love for the new Tokyo Police Club album Elephant Shell and everyone will be able to understand what I am talking about. I got a preview copy of the album awhile ago and I haven't been able to put it down for more than a day at a time. Quick and quirky pop would be a good description of the sound these fellows from Toronto put out and I highly recommend it.
Also out this week is the national release of our very own Jukebox the Ghost with their first full length Let Live and Let Ghosts. I wrote about that release back in January when they had the local release for it and the album still sounds as good as it did months ago. Other big names with releases this week include Elbow, Flight of the Conchords and El Perro Del Mar.
As any of my erstwhile co-writers here at IA can tell you, I tend to pick a lot of the music I review here for fairly odd, often non-musical reasons. Perhaps the singer once had an active career in porn. Maybe the band was seen in the background of a particularly bad movie that I enjoyed. Sometimes, the name of the single is just daffy enough to catch my attention. So it's probably no surprise to anyone who knows me that I was first attracted to New York Times when I learned that one of the band members once illustrated for Dark Horse and DC Comics. I don't know anything more about that than that one tidbit, but if your band has any connection to comic book geekdom, then, yes, you have adequately piqued my interest. As the case may be, however, this doesn't mean your music is going to be worth listening to.
Fortunately, NYT passes muster and I have no problem recommending them to you. At their best, they sound like a subdued Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with fiery female vocals and a (duh) New York rock scene sound. At times, I tasted hints of the Velvet Underground and perhaps, just maybe, a scootch of Autolux. All of those bands (and NYT) have that eerie, spooky rock vibe that one would normally have to invest in some serious downers to experience. Now, I find it hard to believe that anyone who potentially inked Superman would indulge in such things, but who knows? All-Star Batman and Robin, though? Well, that's another story entirely.
Regardless, New York Times is headed to the area for their first DC gig at the Velvet Lounge on May 10. I'm trying to start a rumor that by wearing your favorite DC character underoos, you'll get into the show for free. However, I'm completely making that up, so don't blame me if it doesn't work for you when you show up. If you come in Wonder Woman underoos, however, I do promise to buy you a drink.
I don't really watch too many of the videos that come into ye olde IA inbox. For one, my internet connection at the office isn't too hot (not that I EVER work on IA stuff while at my day job) and, for another, I'd rather listen to the music with nothing more than my own imagination to determine what the song is trying to say. However, when I received the e-mail from Swedish artist Lykke Li's PR people, I decided, why not? To be completely honest, her press photo looked so much like Fiona Apple, I wanted further proof to determine whether or not LL was LL or actually FA. Let me tell you, from about five seconds into "Little Bit," I was mesmerized. Sure, the song is above average, but damnation, the video has the effect of nicotine-infused, chocolate flavored crack. It's THAT addictive.
The track is a jangly, electro affair with a stuttering beat. The video is shot with interrupting cut shots and, for some reason, I could not take my eyes off of it. Hopefully it was the strong cinematography or the cuteness of Ms. Li and lines like, "and for you I keep my legs apart," but I'm afraid that it might have been the crazy guy in the boxers, wife beater, suspenders and business socks or the insane piano player dude. Don't tell my fiancee or mother this, but I'm pretty sure that I want to have sex and/or do drugs with pretty much everyone in this video. I'm just saying.
LL released her debut LP, Youth Novels, in Sweden already, and plans on dropping it Stateside later this year. Before that, however, she's dropping her EP, Little Bit (Buy), in the near future. We've got the video and mp3 for "Little Bit" to whet your appetite.
Lykke just announced her first US tour, and while I'm devastated that she's not making it to DC, those of you in Philly can count yourselves lucky and catch her live.
05.06.08 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
For those of you that attend, I'd be eternally grateful if you could drop me a line telling me she actually isn't Fiona Apple. If you happen to get crazy boxer shorts guy's phone number, well, keep that for yourself.
When most people think about Gnarls Barkley, they naturally conjure images of Cee Lo and DangerMouse, typically in some outlandish costumes. But what about the other makers of the sound? What about, say, their bassist/cellist? What's she doing with her life?
If this is a question that has been keeping you up at night, well, wonder no more. Heather McIntosh, who played cello on The Odd Couple and performed with the duo on Saturday Night Live recently, is releasing an album with her band, The Instruments, on May 16. I'm not sure if it's simply a matter of a dearth of cellists out there, but McIntosh's resume reads like a who's who of indie music, ranging from the aforementioned GB to St. Vincent, Cat Power, M Ward and dozens of others in between.
Comprised of a number of members of Elephant 6, The Instruments draw from a number of influences, ranging from Sufi Devotional Music to old country waltzes. Their strength, though, lies in the fact that what we've got here is truly a talented bunch of musicians. Whether it’s McIntosh's lively cello or the tightly strummed guitar of Derek Almstead, The Instruments come across as a true bunch of professionals apparently having a good time on wax. I'm even going to go so far as to say that the couple of tracks below have some of the best drumming I've sampled in some time. Kudos to Eric Harris for that.
I think it's pretty safe to assume that pretty much every music writer out there today longs for the opportunity to coin a term for a "new" sub-genre of music when s/he hears it for the first time. Among some of my favorites are psycho-billy and nouveau punk polka. It really doesn't matter if the music is good or not; the opportunity to name it gives us a thrill, plain and simple.
I suppose it was my love of these definitions that first attracted me to The Balustrade Ensemble. Steampunk-ambient was the description given by their PR flaks. What the hell is that, thought I, and that was enough to get me listening.
From our good friends over at Wikipedia:
Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.
Well, it turns out steampunk-ambient is kind of weird (but in a good way) background instrumental music. It would probably make a great soundtrack to movies like Howl's Moving Castle or anything else by Hayao Miyazaki, for that matter. It's a bit spacey, but somehow conveys a turn-of-the-20th-century feel, as well. It's the kind of music that might be perfect for deep, intellectual discussions on the nature of man struggling to maintain his humanity in an ever changing world of increasing technological advances, focusing on at what point does Man become Machine and vice versa. Or maybe if you just wanted something to listen to while visiting another mind state. Whichever works.
Aside from a solo career, Brooklyn’s Bess Rogers hangs around playing guitar for a few good women that you may have heard of. Jenny Owen Youngs? Ingrid Michaelson? Also, she plays bass and synth with the established Age of Rockets.
As surprised as I am that she had time to write, record and release the beautiful Decisions Based on Information, I’m even more surprised at how lovely it turned out. In the vein of Youngs and Michaelson, Rogers has no trouble standing on her own two feet. Part circus band, part indie pop, the music waltzes through the album, accompanied by a brief sarcasm and smooth vocals.
Forgive us, Colin Meloy. Colin Meloy Sings Live! has been out for almost a whole month and we really only mentioned it briefly as part of our weekly release feature. Sigh. Here’s my attempt at reconciliation.
The 14-song set documents The Decemberists’ lead singer/songwriter’s 2006 solo tour, a two-week trek across the U.S., coinciding with the release of Colin Meloy Sings Shirley Collins, his six-song EP paying homage to the revered British folksinger. If the Decemberists are a great, big, proper family of vintage indie rock, then Colin Meloy is the proud, acoustic, father. Obviously mesmerizing, Meloy throws back to his first band, covering Tarkio’s “Davil’s Elbow” and, of course, touches on various Decemberists’ cuts. Along the way, he utilizes bits and pieces of songs from Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, REM and The Smiths and even performs a version of the traditional folk song “Barbara Allen” that owes much to Shirley Collins’ arrangement. Between these and two previously unreleased originals, Meloy playfully coaxes the audience into sing-alongs and discusses the presence of a stuffed sheep, sitting on the table next to him.
Here’s a twofer. A download and live video of “We Both Go Down Together".
Claiming to combine elements of British pop, indie rock, and classical composition, Denver, CO based band, Fiancé, certainly fashions a vibrant suit that is both enticing and personal. In May of 2007, Fiancé was chosen by a panel of CMJ judges to occupy a spot on the Virgin College Mega Tour. To be coy, Please, Ambitious, Please, their 2008 five-song release, hits all the right highs and lows and shows off principal songwriter, Patrick McGuire’s lyricism and David Bazan-like vocals.
Recorded by Fiancé drummer/engineer Chris Sturniolo in homes, basements, and bedrooms between June and December of 2007, the disc also includes handsome performances by Michael James (specializing in slide guitar) and Tyler Reschke (bass). For example, pianos and horns mashed up into a neat, sing-able “Super-Soft Knife” make for the perfect opener, featuring a sad witticism on a young relationship. In fact, a large part of the short CD plays out this way - a mixture of joy and sadness carried through by an instrumental, vocal, and lyric vehicle.
Check out the romping video for “I Don’t Want You Anymore” and support fake mustaches and alien chivalries.
On Friday night, Double Dagger thundered from the walls of the Rock & Roll Hotel like an unexpected electrical storm. Immediately after the Baltimore trio took the stage, lead singer Nolen Strals sparked the crowd by grabbing his crotch as he screamed out his first track. Lumbering through the audience like the eyeless daemon from Pan's Labyrinth, Strals screamed into the faces of any scenester who stood in his path. "Let's build more condos," crooned the swaying Strals. "We're not building a city, we're building a ghost town."
The coarse rage of this group echoed from the nauseating sweat of some dark urban basement where they scowled at the rising shit-glimmer of gentrification. At some point in the fourth song Strals walked up to this writer and head butted my forehead. The swift impact of his skull to mine was enough to thrash around my cobwebbed memories of what the D.C. hardcore scene once was. Suddenly, I had the feeling that this group could be the finest example of searing mid-Atlantic disaffection in this, our most recent republican era. With only two musicians and a vocalist, the over driven bass and drums filled the air with fast, grungy beats and sweeping seductive lulls.
After the show, Double Dagger's bassist, Bruce Willen, told me that they had unsuccessfully searched for a guitarist for the past five years. But the raging sounds that came from Willen's bass and Dennis Bowen's drums, made a good argument for the idiom "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Though, by the sound of it, this crew has plenty of breaking left to do.
Lou Reed is old and looks a little haggard, but hell, he's LOU REED! A true rock icon, he is gracing us in IA land with his presence over the next few days. So get you Velvet Underground albums out and start relearning those classics. The newer stuff isn't bad either.
On their new album Songs For Waiting, The Oaks tie together indie pop complexity, rhythmic depth and a literary reasoning that too many bands leave out of auditory art.
Refreshing as it is fascinating; “Masood” (posted below) pulls together a composite portrait of a teenage friend from Afghanistan, and of Akhmad Shah Masood, an Afghan war hero killed in 2002. Turns out, this is musically, as well as charitably, notable; in 2003, the Oaks’s Ryan Costello sold everything he owned, joined a humanitarian organization and moved to Afghanistan. Costello lived there for two years, working in the Central Afghan mountains with returned refugees, teaching them creative agricultural techniques and becoming fluent in their native language, Farsi. As if all this wasn’t enough, it’s hard to not smile at their use of clapping and the lovable glockenspiel.
As IA's token hip-hop super-fan, I get many songs passed my way that most of my colleagues pass over. CD does a good job picking out a few gems, but the man is only human. My tastes in hip-hop vary just as much as they do with any other genre, so it isn't often that I find some new music that makes me extremely excited to listen to. You can understand then why I was extremely excited to get a copy of Common Market's new EP.
Common Market is a collaboration between RA Scion and Sabzi (Blue Scholars) that was formed after Sabzi provided beats for RA Scion's solo 2004 release. The EP features perfectly crafted lyrics backed by fantastic, albeit minimalistic, beats. It will be followed by a full length in September.
Black Patch War, derives its name from an early 20th century farmer's rebellion in Western Kentucky. The duo perfectly captures the strife and frustration experienced by the farmers and make the songs explode with feeling. Take a listen to the album's title track and look for the EP out digitally on May 6th and physically on May 20th. Black Patch War
Priscilla Ahn has been crossing the East Coast with the 2008 Hotel Cafe tour, playing with the likes of Ingird Michaelson, Joshua Radin, and Cary Brothers. She’s been sparking some interest for her upcoming debut album, A Good Day, due out June 10th on Blue Note Records. Starting in rural Pennsylvania and ending up in L.A., Priscilla has moved from expressive teenage angst to sweet, fluid vocal play in the past few years. Falling somewhere between William Fitzsimmons and Ingrid Michaelson, I’m adding her to my slowly growing list of worthwhile female singer/songwriters to keep an eye on. Check out "Lullaby" below.
British songstress Kate Nash is pulling triple duty in IA land with four sold out shows supporting Made of Bricks (Buy). If you are lucky enough to have a ticket, enjoy. Those of you left out in the cold, check your usual shady ticket locations. At least you can enjoy the song below.
4/17: DC @ 9:30 Club 4/18: Philly @ World Cafe Live *XPN's Free At Noon* 4/18: Towson @ Recher Theater 4/19: Philly @ The Troc
This is yet another packed week of releases. I can recommend M83's new one, Saturdays=Youth, as well as You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Into, for all my electro fans out there. Also in the pile of really good releases, are albums from Culture Reject, In Flight Radio and Ours.
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