SHOW PREVIEW: GEMS
GEMS, formed in 2012 by Cliff Usher and Lindsay Pitts, began this leg of their music career through the wide and wonderful world of the internet. Instead of releasing albums, they focused on releasing singles via music sites like SoundCloud where listeners could give feedback, easily share what they liked, and also express complaints. Having trouble with getting previous band Birdlips off the ground, the two had plenty of experience so that the second approach with GEMS was streamlined.
Their music has been absorbed under umbrella of dream-pop. DREAM POP. This genre is crazy yet subtle while still bass heavy and eerily hopeful. I was a bit skeptical when I heard the genre name before listening to the band. I mean…Dream? Pop? The first thing that comes to mind is My Little Pony. But contrary to my initial judgments this band is so much more than rainbows and pastel colors. Their sound perfectly encapsulates both dreams and pop, in the most beautiful ways.
GEMS is not just about making ethereal music that will sell to ambitious hipster kids pining to weasel in (the most) unknown artists into their repertoire. Rather, their music is well composed, rhythmically encompassing, and lyrically profound. In the realm of music, there exists mechanical appreciation and emotional understanding; the word ethereal applies to those emotional conceptions and reactions to music that captivate and motivate. Although this band sounds ‘soft’ in both name and genre, it’s that dulled edge that gives the music such substance.
When I encountered the band GEMS and decided to write about them, it took me a different direction and gave me a better perspective on dream-pop the (apparent) opposition to what I loved about music writing. It’s clear after learning about their musical approach, sound, skill, and image that this Duo from DC have something very special brewing. The lyrics are real; they are pertinent and heavy. Paired with the dramatic reverb, capricious lyrics, and comforting bass, GEMS is the band to see if you can appreciate good sound and thoughtful musicians.
Catch them TONIGHT at U Street Music Hall!
PREVIEW: How To Dress Well & Forest Swords
Once in a while you see a show listed that makes you go, “OH. MY. GOD.” This is one of those shows. Each of these acts is one I would see alone, and they’re playing together? I know what I’m doing on March 22!
Tom Krell of How to Dress Well knows how to make music that is catchy, fun, and sexy. It’s the kind of music that you put on to revive dead party. Throwing some HTDW on the stereo is a guaranteed way to get people dancing…or kissing… or whatever.
Forest Swords’ most recent album, Engravings, got some serious love from the critics last year – all of it deserved. The electronic sound somehow feels base and primordial. It makes you feel like it’s coming from inside you, like you’ve always known this music. The music is not bogged down by lyrical content, allowing it to become infinite, incorporeal, and above all captivating. You’ve gotta check out this show.
VOTD: The Orwells - ‘The Righteous One’
While I have already professed my love for The Orwells after discovering them early last year, their new video “The Righteous One” has made me fall under their spell even more. The video is directed by the guitarist’s brother, Eddie O’Keefe and he successfully captures the essence of the band and the song. The layers of all the band members playing their music gives you that crazy feeling of what being front row at one of their concerts is like. (Yes, I have seen them at Lollapalooza, open for FIDLAR and I am ready to see them headline a tour this spring.)
Oh yeah, if you don’t have your tickets to see them on March 8th at U Street Music Hall buy them soon or you’ll miss out on an unforgettable experience.
Their music videos always take a unique approach well-matched to the song’s underlying meaning. It is fun to see the same video director continue to make creative videos that differ greatly, but always grasp the band’s essential adolescent, unadulterated punk sound. I am already looking forward to what they might think of next.
VOTD: Fanfarlo - ‘Landlocked’
Ahead of releasing their third studio album, Let’s Go Extinct, indie poppers Fanfarlo share a cold, wintry music video for the breezy, sunny “Landlocked.”
“Landlocked” features quintessential Fanfarlo elements - eclectic instrumentation, profound lyrics, and the rich harmonies of singers Simon Balthazar and Cathy Lucas - arranged in ways previously unexplored by the band. Balthazar and co. abandon brooding, baroque pop in favor of dancy, island-infused beats sure to get listeners grooving. Lyrically, “Landlocked” grapples not with the anxiety of being geographically trapped, but instead the loneliness that comes from failing to relate with the people and world around you. It is this sense of isolation that video directorInga Birgisdóttir beautifully captures and juxtaposes with Fanfarlo’s warm, ethereal single.
Let’s Go Extinct drops February 11, which leaves plenty of time to obsess over the album, learn the new tunes, and brush up on your dance moves before attending Fanfarlo’s U Street Music Hall show on April 26! We’ll see you there.
SHOW PREVIEW: Yuna
Nowadays, female pop stars are scrutinized for so many things that sometimes, the most important thing, their music, is thrown out of focus. In this world of open letters and thigh gaps, where’s a girl to turn? Insert Yuna, a refreshing new addition to the American musical landscape fresh out of Malaysia. Already a lauded, award-winning star in her native country, she is quickly rising to fame her with her latest album, Nocturnal. Her voice is rich and incredibly beautiful, and her music is ripe with bouncy, uplifting beats. And yet, what is so refreshing about her is how blatantly original she is. She’s been able to take on the American market without compromising who she is, quoted in NPR as saying: “I’m a Muslim. I don’t try to hide it. I’m also a girl who loves music. And I don’t try to hide that as well.” Check out “Rescue,” and tell your daughter, tell your sister, tell anyone who will care to listen that this girl is the real thing.
Performing LIVE at U Street Music Hall on February 5th!
9:30 INTERVIEW: Ricky Young, The Wild Feathers
[9:30] So you guys are getting ready to start the tour up at Stubb’s in Austin which is kind of like a home town show for you all right? You pumped?
[Ricky] Yeah, man. We’re excited, we’ve been on quite a bit of a vacation we had like a month off and in Nashville if you sit around a little too long, you get kind of stir crazy, so we’re ready.
[9:30] I bet. Now as you guys get ready for the tour, which looks pretty extensive, what are a couple essentials that you have to have out on the road with you to make life bearable on the road?
[Ricky] Hmm I don’t know, do you mean packing or like musically?
[9:30] Either or… let’s go with packing
[Ricky] Okay. Well it’s kind of funny, I pack pretty much everything I own, because you never know when you’re going to get the chance to do laundry! So I’d rather carry a huge suitcase and have clean clothes, then run the risk of not having anything at all.
[9:30] Right on. Now with you guys, having so many former lead singers and people from different bands coming together in one, I was interested what the songwriting process is like. If one person writes a song does that become their song to sing in a sense or is that something you guys always do collaboratively?
[Ricky] Yeah it’s kind of like that. I mean whoever kind of brings the idea to the table kind of holds the reigns and is the leader on that song more or less. Sometimes it’s just kind of bound together with no idea whatsoever, starting from scratch it all kind of depends. I mean we all write together, Joel and I write quite a bit and then if I have an idea that’s finished or halfway finished I can take it to them and we try to go from there. We can also sit down at a table and start from scratch and those tend to be a lot of fun because with 3 of doing it, it can be pretty easy and exciting to see all these ideas take on a life of their own when an hour ago they were nothing.
[9:30] Yeah, that’s interesting. One of the songs that really stuck out to me on the album was “Hard Times.” Would you mind telling us where that kind of came from?
[Ricky] Yeah, that’s actually a good example of the question before. We were in Austin and it was ACL Festival and we were kind of not knowing what was going on and we were in this situation where we had never toured.
[9:30] Oh was this after the Interscope issue?
[Ricky] Yeah it was in between all that. So we were at ACL and we weren’t planning to be down there, but for some reason I had been at the festival seeing a couple friends and then walked back to Taylor’s house, and they had started the verse and chorus of that song and I thought it was great and I thought I had to get involved in there somehow you know? So I sat down and worked out the bridge and the lyrics, and we just kind of fine tuned it from there. So yeah that’s kind of a good example of how that all works, you know?
[9:30] Yeah, that’s very cool. I wanted to ask you as well – I have a trip to Nashville scheduled in about a month, any suggestions for me while down there?
[Ricky] Oh there’s so much there for a small town. The First thing I always do is go eat my favorite little Mexican taco place called Mas Tacos in East Nashville. I lived in East Nashville so that’s kind of my fun spot so there’s nice bars when I get home like 3 Crow, 5 Spot, and Edgefield, and those are kind of like the low key sit-and-have-a-conversation nice hangout bars. Obviously the whole Broadway Honky Tonk scene is pretty great, but I chose to do that during the day so it’s not super crowded, and there’s always music down there so it can be a lot of fun.
[9:30] Good to know! I’ll check some of those out. Now, when you guys come through DC is there anything you’re looking forward to doing here?
[Ricky] Oh yeah, we’ve always had such a good time in DC, especially at 9:30. We’ve been pretty lucky and have had lots of slots there – I mean we were always support, but we’ve been lucky with playing only sold out shows there, it seems kind of unfair, but that’s kind of the way it’s happened, so we love it man. We love that place.
[9:30] And we love having you guys, that’s great to hear. I’ve got one more question for you – if The Wild Feathers were to have their own cocktail what do you think would be in it?
[Ricky] Oh God. It would probably be – this isn’t going to make any sense, but it would probably just be a mix of things that we drink heavily. We’d have a lot of Miller Lite, throw in a lot of Jameson, a little bit of Jack Daniels, and maybe get some red wine in there and that’s pretty much it. I don’t know what you would call it.
[9:30] It Sounds Delicious
[Ricky] [laughs] It sounds Disgusting!
[9:30] It sounds like it would do the job!
[9:30] Alright man, well I appreciate your time. We’re really looking forward to the show here and hopefully we can have some of those drinks stashed in the dressing room for you when you get here.
[Ricky] Yeah, man. That sounds awesome. I appreciate it, man.
[9:30] Alright, man. Thanks a lot.
[Ricky] Have a great day.
[9:30] You too!
Performing LIVE at U Street Music Hall on February 4th!