<5K: Volume 7

FAQ: Hey Asher, is there a theme to any given edition of <5K?
Asher: Well, friend, there are a few subthemes within each issue that sort of flit around each other like different birds in the same cage. For instance, today’s issue features 2 British bands, 3 post-hardcore artists (generally speaking), 2 bands that I listened to while eating Fun Dip™… you can cut the cake up many different ways. Does it matter? I think it doesn’t really matter. Thanks for asking, of course! I’m always happy to answer questions. See below for contact info. I love you.

THE OLD STORY OF THE NAMESAKE//JUST WHAT’S GOING ON HERE There’s an xkcd comic that exposes the secret coalition to make certain YouTube videos go viral: they have to get exactly “300+” likes from the committee, and are then certified to spread like the plague onto innocent newsfeeds worldwide. In that vein, I present you with <5K: exposition on bands that have less than 5,000 likes online. Perhaps one of them will be the next to pass that mysterious threshold into the world of fame and fortune… after all, once you get 5,000 likes, you sell out every show and your records go gold. That’s how it works, right?

*Submissions* If you’re in a band, your friend is in a band, or you just know a band with less than 5,000 likes that deserves to be heard, send a link to asher.meerovich@gmail.com. If I like it, I’ll put them in an upcoming edition of <5K! No inquiries about Tomato Dodgers, please.

Phantom Lanterns (430 likes) occupy an interesting crossover of musical space. The Annapolis, MD trio plays math-tinged emo, but with deliberate nods towards chaos. The instrumentation on “The Dreamer,” the opening track on their release Growing Apart, ranges from tight, noodley riffing to lurching rhythms that seem close to the edge of coherence and back within the span of one bridge. It’s got serious momentum, and combined with the urgency of the vocals, adds up to a swift headbanger that will get you nostalgic for your nights spent feeling misunderstood.

  • Listen to Growing Apart here.
  • Recommended tracks: “The Dreamer,” “Better Off”

Jarbird (645 likes) is a British band that might strike the familiar chords of rich, electro-tinged r&b and vaulting vocals with U.S. audiences. They’re thinking along similar lines as Adult Jazz and Chet Faker, crafting lovely, heavenly vocal pop with crystal-clear melodies built around piano and drums. The harmonies are out of this world; despite only having two songs on their soundcloud, they’ve hooked many fans already, clamoring for a full-length. It’s easy, strong listening, and it works for many moods. Grab a quiet seat and have a listen.

  • Listen to Jarbird here.
  • Recommended tracks: “More Bad Celebrity Poetry,” “Such Is The House”
I’m not sure where to begin with Crows-An-Wra (1,139 likes). The UK band’s showstopping sophomore LP, Kalopsia, sounds like At The Drive-In consulted with David Lynch about making a hair-raising horror-punk masterpiece. It’s constantly turning tight corners, tension mounting every moment between the double-guitar assault and masterful interplay between vocals and drums. It’s flourishes like “Heavy Heads,” a haunting ballad sung by fantastic guest vocalist Elizabeth Birchley, which keep Kalopsia from being pigeonholed or easily defined. It’s meticulous and explosive prog-post-hardcore-punk-power. Listen to it.
  • Listen to Kalopsia here.
  • Recommended tracks: “Vibrant Colours,” “Dismay! The Seconds Slow,” “Heavy Heads”
Au Revoir (2,460 likes) are a Jersey band that has hollowed out their own Venn diagram of post-rock and distorted indie-weight, creating bleak, monumental landscapes with cinematic guitars and unstoppable drums. They wreak a particular kind of havoc upon a listener’s open mind, filling it with visions and shadows, eternally solid. It’s neither heavy nor abstract enough to be called drone, nor direct enough to be truly called indie. It’s somewhere in the murky depths that Moving Mountains might occupy in an apocalyptic world, with nothing but the howling wind to provide anything close to vocals. Their latest release, Black Hills, deserves your full attention, but tread with caution.
  • Listen to Black Hills here.
  • Recommended tracks: All of it. (There are only 3.)
The B-Side Shuffle (2,705 likes) are a full-fledged funk machine from right in the nation’s capitol. They make highly groovy dance-rock, and with a large, rotating lineup, they work as a pooled effort to throw a whole bunch of good sounds together and come up with driven, instinctually toe-tapping music meant for having a good time. They keep the rhythm section impeccably tight, and then layer it with delicious guitar, horns, and numerous singers. It’s immediately physically moving, and is shown by their latest EP, Farmalade, they have plenty of diverse ideas to keep the party going all night long.
  • Listen to Farmalade here.
  • Recommended tracks: “Castle In The Sky,” “Omajimawoma”
-Asher Meerovich is a writer and musician in College Park. He likes to be near water. Read more of his musical explorations at http://hire-me-rolling-stone.tumblr.com/
SHOW PREVIEW: Bob Mould
One of the kings of the punk era returns to the 9:30 Club on September 6. Bob Mould served as one of the founding members of the Minnesota’s Hüsker Dü, blending heavy distortion with an abundance of energy. He is currently on tour in support of his solo album Beauty &amp; Ruin, which came out this June.
Michael Azerrad said it well in his profile collection Our Band Could Be Your Life: “Hüsker Dü was perhaps the first post-hardcore band of its generation to write songs that could withstand the classic acid test of getting played on an acoustic guitar.” For a taste of Mould’s early work, check out “Celebrated Summer” from New Day Rising or “Something I Learned Today” from Zen Arcade. Or take a gander at this vintage piece of mid-80s video work.
The loud guitars and catchy melodies are present to this day. Beauty &amp; Ruin is a fun set of tunes that doesn’t overstay its welcome at 36 minutes. Mould keeps the tempos up, only settling down on the restrained “Let the Beauty Be.” If you want a peek at what the material sounds like live, check out this Foo Fighter-aided take on “The War.”

Find your inner fighting spirit and come out for a night with a veteran who has graced the club many times before! It’ll be a blast.
-Joe Ciccarello
Get tickets to Bob Mould at 9:30 Club on Saturday, September 6!

SHOW PREVIEW: Bob Mould

One of the kings of the punk era returns to the 9:30 Club on September 6. Bob Mould served as one of the founding members of the Minnesota’s Hüsker Dü, blending heavy distortion with an abundance of energy. He is currently on tour in support of his solo album Beauty & Ruin, which came out this June.

Michael Azerrad said it well in his profile collection Our Band Could Be Your Life: “Hüsker Dü was perhaps the first post-hardcore band of its generation to write songs that could withstand the classic acid test of getting played on an acoustic guitar.” For a taste of Mould’s early work, check out “Celebrated Summer” from New Day Rising or “Something I Learned Today” from Zen Arcade. Or take a gander at this vintage piece of mid-80s video work.

The loud guitars and catchy melodies are present to this day. Beauty & Ruin is a fun set of tunes that doesn’t overstay its welcome at 36 minutes. Mould keeps the tempos up, only settling down on the restrained “Let the Beauty Be.” If you want a peek at what the material sounds like live, check out this Foo Fighter-aided take on “The War.”

Find your inner fighting spirit and come out for a night with a veteran who has graced the club many times before! It’ll be a blast.

-Joe Ciccarello

Get tickets to Bob Mould at 9:30 Club on Saturday, September 6!

ART BLANCHE: London Calling and Unknown Pleasures

Continuing on last week’s use of the word “iconic,” I thought this week I would look at two of the most well-known and influential album covers of all time.

The Clash - London Calling

There is not a single photo that better embodies the rock ‘n’ roll spirit than Pennie Smith’s shot of Paul Simonon about to smash his bass. I will argue that for forever and a day. The funny thing is that in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, this photo is far from being technically perfect. In fact, Penny Smith herself even admitted that she had originally rejected the photo for being too out of focus. But what’s more punk rock than being imperfect, anyways?

Fortunately, graphic designer Ray Lowry, who was traveling with The Clash at the time, was working with the band on designing a cover for their new album London Calling. When he saw Pennie Smith’s photo, Lowry pushed to have it on the cover, regardless of its imperfections. Looking back on the decision much later, he admitted to having no recollection that the photo was blurry at all, claiming that he was too blind and drunk at the time to even notice it.

While at first Lowry had other ideas for the cover, the image of Paul Simonon provided him with more than just a captivating photo to use. Juxtaposed with the distinctive pink and green lettering that Lowry added along the sides and bottom of the cover, the photo of Simonon for London Calling became a direct parody of Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut album where Elvis is pictured singing and playing his acoustic guitar.

In retrospect, the referential cover seems even more perfect — The Clash were helping usher in a new era of rock ‘n’ roll: punk rock. Punk built on the conventions of the past with a very in-your-face, gritty attitude. Where Elvis danced, The Clash smashed.

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

While London Calling may be the most well known rock ’n’ roll photo of all time, the cover of Unknown Pleasures certainly ranks atop the world of rock ’n’ roll graphic design. From shoes to tattoos, Unknown Pleasures has been the inspiration behind what seems like a million different designs everywhere you look. At one point in time, Disney even (very briefly) put out an Unknown Pleasures-inspired Mickey Mouse t-shirt

In a weird way, the cover to Unknown Pleasures is both simple and complex. The striking image features a series of only 60 white lines (if my counting skills are on par) on a black background. That’s it. But the mountains and valleys that those lines twist and turn into, and the way and pattern in which they do, creates this extremely captivating, albeit fairly simple and contained, design. 

So where does this iconic image actually come from? Science, of course.

Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division’s debut album and according to their designer Peter Saville, the band came to him with an idea of exactly what they wanted on the cover. They brought a clipped-out page from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy with this image on it. It was a reading of the radio signals emitted from the first ever-studied pulsar (pulsating star) CP 1919. With the pulses repeating every one and a third (ish) seconds, the diagram was a stacked-together series of 60 of those readings.

Once the image was under his supervision, Saville inverted the colors from that were in the book, and the image became the white-on-black that we’re so familiar with, and left the cover at that.

It’s simple, it’s stunning, and it’s from space — what more could you ask for?

-Dylan Singleton

9:30 INTERVIEW: Guster
Guster is a band on the move. They’ve been working on their seventh studio record, releasing numerous live albums, and getting ready for their very own retreat, Camp Guster, in the woods of Maine. The 9:30 Club sat down to talk Guster&#8217;s Luke Reynolds about the new album and what they’ve got in the works.
Asher [9:30]: First and foremost, Camp Guster, September 14th, sounds like it’s going to be great. You’re pulling a pretty bold move, keeping it very intimate, limiting the tickets. What is this, if not a music festival? What is the idea for Camp Guster?
Luke Reynolds [Guster]: Camp Guster is something the band’s been wanting to put together for quite a while. We’ve got a new record that’s coming out, and promotion for it, so we’re trying to think of ways to help turn fans on to the music and create a real experience. So holding something in Maine, where everyone could come together and be a family for three days, was the best way that could happen.
And you won’t just be playing up onstage – you’ll be hanging out, doing some archery with the people that are there.
Yeah, we’re gonna be paddleboarding, kayaking, art, hanging, cooking. Especially Maine in the summertime, it doesn’t get much better than that.
You have some dedicated fans by now, who you probably expect to make the trek up there.
Exactly. I’m the new guy in the band, I’ve only been with them for four years. These guys have been a band for twenty years; it’s pretty awesome seeing some familiar faces in the crowd. Especially in the first few rows, those are the diehards, you know, people who are teachers and spend all their teacher vacations traveling around, seeing music, friends we’ve gotten to know over the years. It’ll be cool. To put myself in a fan’s shoes, if one of my favorite bands was holding this really cool retreat in Maine, in the summer, something with no walls, between the hang and the band, that would be something I’d be really excited to experience. We’re hoping we can make it really cool and enjoyable for anyone who’s making the effort to come.
You guys have a fairly active community of people who tape your shows, and you’ve always been pretty gung-ho about that. Having tapers is usually something that goes along with the jam band community, more than what you guys do. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I mean, to be honest, technology has changed so much that I don’t feel like there’s that many tapers at a show anymore. What I think is important is that people get to hear the music; they should be able to hear any different version of whatever song they’re looking for. They should be able to find it quickly and easily, whether that’s a bootleg off the board, or an unreleased b-side. Whatever it takes for people to find music easily, that’s where it’s at these days. Like I said before, Guster’s been around for twenty years, so earlier on, when it was harder to trade music, live taping was a way for fans to spread music around the community. Nowadays, everyone’s got an iPhone, shooting videos and putting them on YouTube; it’s like the iPhone is the new taper.
Sure. So you want to make sure music comes out to everyone, for the right reasons. Does that kind of tie in to the new album and its connection to Pledge?
For one, our new record Every Motion, is the most exciting Guster record I’ve ever heard. Everyone is confident that this is the best music the band has made it its career. We’re very ready to share it. That said, we want to make it easy for people to engage in the music as early on as possible, so we use Pledge Music. We’ve already paid for the record ourselves; this is just a way for the long-term fans to support the band, champion the album, giving back and engaging them. For us, it was really just a rallying point to help turn fans on to the music. We’re really, really stoked about the new record. It feels like the most adventurous, spontaneous sound, very new, very exciting.
That’s great! We all heard “Long Night,” and it’s different. Guster has definitely made their own territory musically over their career, and “Long Night” isn’t just the comfort zone – it’s continually looking forward, trying new things. It sounds very fresh, very alive.
Thanks man. Yeah, everyone always wants to feel that you make a record because you have something to say. The way I think about it is that every time you make a record, it should be the last record you’re ever gonna make. So make it count. So for us, part of making it count was facing the fear, stepping out of our comfort zone, really experimenting in the studio. The producer that we worked with in the studio, Richard Swift, was a perfect fit for that. He’s very free. It was pretty unconventional, in terms of the recording process, compared to early Guster albums. This one was very spontaneous, the whole thing happened very fast, and it was directly through working with Richard Swift and the environment he helped us create.

It shows a lot of focus, especially when you consider that this is Guster’s first new studio album in four years.
That’s the thing, man. I met these guys in 2003, over ten years ago, when we were recording across the hall from each other and we had the same booking agent. Keep It Together was my first with Guster, and then Ganging Up On The Sun was a new development, and Easy Wonderful felt real cool. I was joining the band, and felt real good about making new music, but a record takes a long time to write. We wrote it for almost three years, started writing it in the fall of 2011. It was a very long process, longer than we expected, but you can’t rush a record – all you can do is show up and keep chipping away. We just kept chipping away until we had a body of work we felt very confident about. Then we took that body of work and we brought it to the producer that was very inspiring to us, and worked it out very fast, not thinking too much. Not overthinking it was really good, and made it exciting to work that way with everyone.
It’s very cool that you’re continually moving forward, you know, with the new record, the multiple live albums, the Camp, you’re constantly busy. You’re not just resting on your laurels, which is very respectable.
Well, it’s like David Bowie always says, as musicians get older, the focus becomes more on finding ways to stay hungry, stay creative, and not live in comfortable territory. All of us have projects and lives outside of Guster, and we’re all creative people, and we all work really hard to fill up our lives, so when we get together to play music, we have something to say.
What are you all listening to these days? What are you listening to when you’re not listening to Guster?
We all listen to a lot of different music. There’s the FKA twigs record that just came out that I really like a lot. I was up in Vermont raising a barn this summer, and my girlfriend and I spent the whole summer listening to Deerhunter and Clams Casino. We wore those records out.
So you’re all over the place.
Sure. I listen to a lot of music, doing research about records, old bands, discovering music, learning about it… there’s a lot of listening constantly.
The day before Camp Guster, September 13th, is the show that we’re covering. It’s the Route 29 Revue, and you’re playing with a bunch of other artists – Trombone Shorty, Trampled By Turtles, a lot of big names next to yours. If you could share a bill with any artist, who would it be?
You mean at this festival?
Any festival, any time in the world, ever.
If I could put a festival together, it’d be with bands I was excited to see… Let’s see, Stephen Reich would be really exciting to play with, Thurston Moore, I would love to play a festival with him. Beyonce, that would be rad. Why not, dude? And then the Cocteau Twins. That sounds like a pretty great festival to me.
I mean, I would go!
[Laughs.] Me too, man, let’s do it!
So when the album comes out, will there be a support tour?
Yeah, man, I’m looking at our tour schedule and getting scared, I mean, we’re gonna be gone, not coming home for a long time. North America, Europe, we’re gonna be working really hard.
It shows. It’s coming out great.
Thanks, man. Thanks for taking the time. I’ll see you at the Revue!
-Asher Meerovich (@Bummertime)
Guster plays the Route 29 Revue at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday, September 13th, along with Trampled By Turtles, Trombone Shorty, and Iron &amp; Wine. Get tickets here!

9:30 INTERVIEW: Guster

Guster is a band on the move. They’ve been working on their seventh studio record, releasing numerous live albums, and getting ready for their very own retreat, Camp Guster, in the woods of Maine. The 9:30 Club sat down to talk Guster’s Luke Reynolds about the new album and what they’ve got in the works.

Asher [9:30]: First and foremost, Camp Guster, September 14th, sounds like it’s going to be great. You’re pulling a pretty bold move, keeping it very intimate, limiting the tickets. What is this, if not a music festival? What is the idea for Camp Guster?

Luke Reynolds [Guster]: Camp Guster is something the band’s been wanting to put together for quite a while. We’ve got a new record that’s coming out, and promotion for it, so we’re trying to think of ways to help turn fans on to the music and create a real experience. So holding something in Maine, where everyone could come together and be a family for three days, was the best way that could happen.

And you won’t just be playing up onstage – you’ll be hanging out, doing some archery with the people that are there.

Yeah, we’re gonna be paddleboarding, kayaking, art, hanging, cooking. Especially Maine in the summertime, it doesn’t get much better than that.

You have some dedicated fans by now, who you probably expect to make the trek up there.

Exactly. I’m the new guy in the band, I’ve only been with them for four years. These guys have been a band for twenty years; it’s pretty awesome seeing some familiar faces in the crowd. Especially in the first few rows, those are the diehards, you know, people who are teachers and spend all their teacher vacations traveling around, seeing music, friends we’ve gotten to know over the years. It’ll be cool. To put myself in a fan’s shoes, if one of my favorite bands was holding this really cool retreat in Maine, in the summer, something with no walls, between the hang and the band, that would be something I’d be really excited to experience. We’re hoping we can make it really cool and enjoyable for anyone who’s making the effort to come.

You guys have a fairly active community of people who tape your shows, and you’ve always been pretty gung-ho about that. Having tapers is usually something that goes along with the jam band community, more than what you guys do. Do you have any thoughts on that?

I mean, to be honest, technology has changed so much that I don’t feel like there’s that many tapers at a show anymore. What I think is important is that people get to hear the music; they should be able to hear any different version of whatever song they’re looking for. They should be able to find it quickly and easily, whether that’s a bootleg off the board, or an unreleased b-side. Whatever it takes for people to find music easily, that’s where it’s at these days. Like I said before, Guster’s been around for twenty years, so earlier on, when it was harder to trade music, live taping was a way for fans to spread music around the community. Nowadays, everyone’s got an iPhone, shooting videos and putting them on YouTube; it’s like the iPhone is the new taper.

Sure. So you want to make sure music comes out to everyone, for the right reasons. Does that kind of tie in to the new album and its connection to Pledge?

For one, our new record Every Motion, is the most exciting Guster record I’ve ever heard. Everyone is confident that this is the best music the band has made it its career. We’re very ready to share it. That said, we want to make it easy for people to engage in the music as early on as possible, so we use Pledge Music. We’ve already paid for the record ourselves; this is just a way for the long-term fans to support the band, champion the album, giving back and engaging them. For us, it was really just a rallying point to help turn fans on to the music. We’re really, really stoked about the new record. It feels like the most adventurous, spontaneous sound, very new, very exciting.

That’s great! We all heard “Long Night,” and it’s different. Guster has definitely made their own territory musically over their career, and “Long Night” isn’t just the comfort zone – it’s continually looking forward, trying new things. It sounds very fresh, very alive.

Thanks man. Yeah, everyone always wants to feel that you make a record because you have something to say. The way I think about it is that every time you make a record, it should be the last record you’re ever gonna make. So make it count. So for us, part of making it count was facing the fear, stepping out of our comfort zone, really experimenting in the studio. The producer that we worked with in the studio, Richard Swift, was a perfect fit for that. He’s very free. It was pretty unconventional, in terms of the recording process, compared to early Guster albums. This one was very spontaneous, the whole thing happened very fast, and it was directly through working with Richard Swift and the environment he helped us create.

It shows a lot of focus, especially when you consider that this is Guster’s first new studio album in four years.

That’s the thing, man. I met these guys in 2003, over ten years ago, when we were recording across the hall from each other and we had the same booking agent. Keep It Together was my first with Guster, and then Ganging Up On The Sun was a new development, and Easy Wonderful felt real cool. I was joining the band, and felt real good about making new music, but a record takes a long time to write. We wrote it for almost three years, started writing it in the fall of 2011. It was a very long process, longer than we expected, but you can’t rush a record – all you can do is show up and keep chipping away. We just kept chipping away until we had a body of work we felt very confident about. Then we took that body of work and we brought it to the producer that was very inspiring to us, and worked it out very fast, not thinking too much. Not overthinking it was really good, and made it exciting to work that way with everyone.

It’s very cool that you’re continually moving forward, you know, with the new record, the multiple live albums, the Camp, you’re constantly busy. You’re not just resting on your laurels, which is very respectable.

Well, it’s like David Bowie always says, as musicians get older, the focus becomes more on finding ways to stay hungry, stay creative, and not live in comfortable territory. All of us have projects and lives outside of Guster, and we’re all creative people, and we all work really hard to fill up our lives, so when we get together to play music, we have something to say.

What are you all listening to these days? What are you listening to when you’re not listening to Guster?

We all listen to a lot of different music. There’s the FKA twigs record that just came out that I really like a lot. I was up in Vermont raising a barn this summer, and my girlfriend and I spent the whole summer listening to Deerhunter and Clams Casino. We wore those records out.

So you’re all over the place.

Sure. I listen to a lot of music, doing research about records, old bands, discovering music, learning about it… there’s a lot of listening constantly.

The day before Camp Guster, September 13th, is the show that we’re covering. It’s the Route 29 Revue, and you’re playing with a bunch of other artists – Trombone Shorty, Trampled By Turtles, a lot of big names next to yours. If you could share a bill with any artist, who would it be?

You mean at this festival?

Any festival, any time in the world, ever.

If I could put a festival together, it’d be with bands I was excited to see… Let’s see, Stephen Reich would be really exciting to play with, Thurston Moore, I would love to play a festival with him. Beyonce, that would be rad. Why not, dude? And then the Cocteau Twins. That sounds like a pretty great festival to me.

I mean, I would go!

[Laughs.] Me too, man, let’s do it!

So when the album comes out, will there be a support tour?

Yeah, man, I’m looking at our tour schedule and getting scared, I mean, we’re gonna be gone, not coming home for a long time. North America, Europe, we’re gonna be working really hard.

It shows. It’s coming out great.

Thanks, man. Thanks for taking the time. I’ll see you at the Revue!

-Asher Meerovich (@Bummertime)

Guster plays the Route 29 Revue at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday, September 13th, along with Trampled By Turtles, Trombone Shorty, and Iron & Wine. Get tickets here!

WE LOVE OUR PARTNERS: Rock &amp; Bus
Thanks to extensive public transportation options, having a car in D.C. and surrounding areas isn&#8217;t a necessity. However, there are some trips that are just impossible - like that to Merriweather - without your own set of wheels. Enter Rock &amp; Bus, the solution for all your Merriweather-going needs! The luxury charter bus service offers roundtrip service for our Columbia, MD venue from a variety of departure points in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Rock &amp; Bus includes fun amenities, such as TVs and DVD players, to enjoy with your friends on the ride, all while getting you to Merriweather in plenty of time to enjoy the show!
Rock &amp; Bus is currently offering $35 roundtrip Merriweather rides from its Foggy Bottom stop for the Honda Civic Tour with Grouplove and Portugal. The Man! Rides to and from the show on Friday, September 12 are also available from other locations in the District, MD, and VA. Transportation problems: solved! 
Follow Rock &amp; Bus on Facebook and Twitter for information on rides for future Merriweather shows! 

WE LOVE OUR PARTNERS: Rock & Bus

Thanks to extensive public transportation options, having a car in D.C. and surrounding areas isn’t a necessity. However, there are some trips that are just impossible - like that to Merriweather - without your own set of wheels. 

Enter Rock & Bus, the solution for all your Merriweather-going needs! The luxury charter bus service offers roundtrip service for our Columbia, MD venue from a variety of departure points in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Rock & Bus includes fun amenities, such as TVs and DVD players, to enjoy with your friends on the ride, all while getting you to Merriweather in plenty of time to enjoy the show!

Rock & Bus is currently offering $35 roundtrip Merriweather rides from its Foggy Bottom stop for the Honda Civic Tour with Grouplove and Portugal. The Man! Rides to and from the show on Friday, September 12 are also available from other locations in the District, MD, and VA. Transportation problems: solved! 

Follow Rock & Bus on Facebook and Twitter for information on rides for future Merriweather shows! 

NOSTALGIA, MY MUSE: Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister

2013 was a beautiful year for music with releases from Arcade Fire, Darkside, and My Bloody Valentine. While albums like these were on every list of the year, my heart was instantaneously won over by the small five-piece band formed out of England and Wales: Joanna Gruesome.

While their debut album, Weird Sister, was released almost a year ago, the band is currently on their first North American tour (with Perfect Pussy) and will be in DC tonight. It seemed only appropriate to dedicate this week’s column to the album that spoke to me in too many ways.

While many people have been dismissive, claiming they are just another twee-pop band rising out of the UK, there’s an added grittiness. Joanna Gruesome’s tracks initially have gentle vocals and soothing melodies, allowing us to feel comfortable for a few seconds. It is quickly countered with fuzzy guitar riffs and front-woman Alanna McArdle surfacing her raw emotions by screaming the lyrics with every bit of edginess and energy that she has. This cacophony is what the band is all about it. It’s evident in almost every song, perhaps most obvious in “Secret Surprise,” which is the midpoint of the album and the song that made me fall in love with them. They are the only band I know of that makes cracking a skull and pulling out someone’s teeth sound sweet. I have anxiety for whoever wronged Joanna Gruesome.

Following this remarkably disturbing song is perhaps the best track on the album, “Do You Really Want To Know Why Yr Still In Love With Me?” The twinkling guitar melody that opens the track will absorb you right from the beginning. As Alanna sings the words of the title, it causes a pang in your heart that almost resembles inspiration. This all happens right before the band explodes with noisy guitar and drum scuzziness for the last forty seconds of the track.

Once you think you have the band figured out, they conclude with “Satan,” which is so contradicting from the other songs that it’s almost haunting, but in a beautiful, thought-provoking way. I was blessed to have come across Weird Sister when it first came out. It made me nostalgic for a time that was simplistic and compelling and insightful; I don’t know if there was even a time like this that existed, but Joanna Gruesome made me daydream about it and yearn to experience it.

-Katie Cheyne

FOREIGN EXCHANGE: James Vincent McMorrow

Dublin-born singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow started his journey typically. He picked up a guitar at age 19 to perform covers of songs from the ’70s, got good, performed at local pubs, and eventually recorded and released an album. It’s a totally normal path except that McMorrow tended to cover songs written by female artists, and that his first full length record of originals went platinum. 

If you’ve ever stumbled across his music, you’ll know that the artist’s smoky falsetto served as a catalyst for all of the above. Hitting the ear much like Justin Vernon’s high pitched tones, McMorrow’s voice can really only be described as haunting. It’s one of those sounds that prompts appreciative sighs. And with his second album, Post Tropical (#bestnewgenre), we find that voice taking up residence in a brand new environment full of overdubs, layered loops, and sub-bass lines. 

The Track: ”Red Dust” 

Beginning with the most glorious combination of looped vocal samples, piano, and high-register vocal line I’ve ever heard (yes, even Bon Iver’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” cover), “Red Dust” represents the pinnacle of McMorrow’s new sensibility. The song arcs like a brilliantly designed piece of architecture - think minimalist drawbridge over a river - as it slowly rises to soaring emotional heights and gradually falls to its devastating conclusion, all made more powerful by McMorrow being seemingly on the verge of tears through the last lines. He just needs someone to love, damn it! Help a guy out! 

Just another instance of James Vincent McMorrow proving that longing for love leads to beautiful music almost as often as love itself. 

References: Bon Iver, James Blake, & Chet Faker

If you find yourself enchanted by James Vincent McMorrow’s enchanting sense of longing (and even more enchanting voice), come catch his show at the Lincoln Theatre on Saturday, November 8th

-Spencer “Post Article” Swan

INTRODUCING: 9:30 Ear Plugs! Reusable, made with soft, hypoallergenic silicone, and encased in a handy 9:30 keychain! Grab a pair at the next Club show you attend!

INTRODUCING: 9:30 Ear Plugs! Reusable, made with soft, hypoallergenic silicone, and encased in a handy 9:30 keychain! Grab a pair at the next Club show you attend!

NEW TRACKS: Flying Lotus, “Moment of Hesitation”

BBC Radio 6 recently saw electronic wizard Flying Lotus give show host Gilles Peterson a preview of his upcoming fifth album, You’re Dead!, due out October 7th. During the interview, Flying Lotus discusses his new work on the album, including collaborations with Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar. The track he previewed, “Moment of Hesitation,” features jazz legend Herbie Hancock on keys. “Herbie was like my grandpa,” FlyLo chuckles, “and he was really into the music.” You’re Dead! is, at its core, a jazz album, translated through FlyLo’s signature electronic manipulations.

The all-too-brief snippet of “Moment of Hesitation” features twinkly keyboard work, swirling around what sounds like a beat made of drum brushes. It’s smooth as the night sky, and instantly makes you crave to hear more of it.

Listen to the interview and the clip of the song here.

Flying Lotus brings his cosmic electro-magic to the Lincoln Theatre on 10/13! Get tickets here.

-Asher Meerovich (@Bummertime)

NEW TRACKS: Childish Gambino, “Candler Road”

“Candler Road” could be a Because The Internet b-side, except it’s too disillusioned to do anything except stand alone. Glover’s dark seriousness is miles away from the lighthearted bravado of ROYALTY, feeling like bottled up fury in the face of injustice. The first minute is pure word mastery, bordering on a rant of his own skill despite the hardships piled up by the people around him. After the beat shifts, we hear his playful side come out, mimicking a choral hook, before diving right back into the heaviness of the second verse. His voice is taut and anxious, strong as ever, not messing around. The beat gets more intense, too, dropping into space-age waves of synth. Even the light falsetto hook he jokes with sounds great. The song has two distinct halves: the first feels more Drake or Big Sean, with more typical beat work; the second is more classic Gambino. Both are fiery. This is Glover in top form, and if it’s any indication, his next release will be the most intense he’s ever produced.

-Asher Meerovich (@Bummertime)