SHOW PREVIEW: Ben Ottewell
When you listen to Gomez it’s pretty impressive that Ben Ottewell’s voice stands out in the crowd. Coming from a band with three singers, Ben Ottewell leaves a pretty strong impression. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, he’s the one with the deliciously raspy voice. Not quite Tom Waits-raspy, but you’ll still know it when you hear it.
Now touring in support of his now second solo album Rattlebag, which was funded through Indiegogo and is only available to buy at his shows, Ottewell is establishing his cred as a solo artist. While not quite the same as Gomez, his solo sound should be pretty familiar — the voice is there, of course, but the instrumentation is a little darker and a little more acoustic than his work with the band.
If you’re unsure what to expect at the show, don’t you worry, he’s said himself that he’ll be playing songs from both his solo albums along with some Gomez favorites.
Ben Ottewell will perform at U Street Music Hall TOMORROW, June 19!
SHOW PREVIEW: Fanfarlo
So what exactly is a Fanfarlo? While the band’s name was derived from 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire’s novella “La Fanfarlo,” this indie pop five-piece from across the pond boasts tunes that are far from old and stuffy. Orchestral pop brilliance ensues when old tired instruments such as mandolins, cellos, and clarinets are beautifully blended with a rousing guitar and a touch of good old stompin’ and clappin.’ Formed in London circa 2006, Fanfarlo consists of main songwriter Simon Balthazar (a dude blessed with an awesome last name and killer vocals), Cathy Lucas, Leon Beckenham, Justin Finch, and Amos Memon. For fans of The Head and The Heart, Freelance Whales, and Broken Bells, Fanfarlo’s infectious folk-pop beats are sure to inspire. 2014 is set to be one hell of a year for the five-piece, with a brand new album: Let’s Go Extinct fresh on the shelves, and a hot spring tour underway. If you’re looking for a good time, be sure to check out Fanfarlo live at U Street Music Hall April 26.
Fanfarlo will perform at U Street Music Hall on April 26.
SHOW PREVIEW: MØ
Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably heard MØ before. The Danish singer has lent her hypnotic voice to big name electronic musicians like Avicii and Diplo throughout 2013, making her a contender for the queen of cool collabs. Fueling the success, 2014 is going to be MØ’s biggest year yet. The songbird just released her debut No Mythologies to Follow, a powerful, dance-infused album full of soon to be hits. For fans of AlunaGeorge and/or Quadron, MØ’s got a similar vibe, you’ll dig tracks like her popular “Don’t Wanna Dance” and the funky cool “XXX 88”. If you’re as fond of this wonderful lady as we are, be sure to check out MØ live at U Street Music Hall.
MØ will perform at U Street Music Hall on May 20.
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.