Certified-organic freak folkers Dr. Dog hail from Pennsylvania – probably from a big pink house if you catch our drift. The seasoned road dogs have been making bar rock awash in Americana for over a decade, and their continuing excitement for and innovation in music is refreshing. Their latest album, 2013’s B-Room, features almost 20 distinct instruments and yet their sound is tight and consistent. They have Band-meets-Big Star pop vibes and the warmest bass tone you will ever, ever experience. And yet they can be hard to pin down because they play their influences so well. Their quick wit and instrumental virtuosity can be equal parts Father John Misty and Beatles-esque, anchored by the raspy, tough, loveable vocals of Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman. Bottom line, this is a group of extremely talented, hard-working musical journeymen who are never boring and always worth a ticket.
You may have seen the Orwells in their high energy performance on the Late Show with David Letterman or opening for Arctic Monkeys and wondered who this band was. If you haven’t been paying attention to them then you need to start, because the Orwells are one of the up-and-coming bands in rock music today.
This writer had the distinct pleasure of seeing the band perform three times over the weekend on the Weezer Cruise at a few different size venues, and the best concert by far was the one pictured above. Packed in and standing a mere feet away from the band throughout, their raw power came through hard and the garage rock and punk roots of the band really took hold. The band was on point, and the crowd absolutely loved their performance; they were dancing and jumping around, singing along to every song. Their own songs were all performed with such energy and life, as were their covers of “Build Me Up Buttercup” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Talking to the band throughout the Cruise, I could definitely tell that they bring that passion to each and every show they do.
At the intimate U Street Music Hall on March 8th, you should expect the same level of fun and high-energy atmosphere from both the band and the crowd. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketfly or at the U Hall box office when the venue is open for $15. Definitely get them now while they’re still available.
Disclosure’s debut Settle is arguably one of the best dance albums released in 2013. The British duo’s breakout moment occurred when they released their first single ‘Latch’, a catchy, bass-heavy backtrack paired with soulful vocals. Listeners all around the world were blown away by the song and had a one very important question: whose powerhouse vocals were featured on the track?
Well that angelic voice belongs to Sam Smith, a 21 year old Brit who has one of the most incredible male vocal ranges in recent history. Just listen to his acoustic cover of ‘Latch’ and you’ll be blown away, guaranteed. Smith is destined for great things; he was recently announced winner of the BRIT Award’s Critic’s Choice Award, which has previously been won by Adele, Emeli Sande, and Florence & the Machine. He also won the coveted top spot of BBC’s Sound of 2014 poll. In other words? Sam Smith is going to be a massive success.
Smith’s debut album In the Lonely Hour will be released on May 26th. In the meantime, be sure to snag your tickets to see him live at U Street Music Hall on March 20th. Trust us, it’s going to be a good one.
You know you love MGMT. Whether you listened to Oracle because it was on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” you claim to have been into “Kids” before it got popular, or you just have them on your guilty pleasures playlist there is definitely a spot in your heart for this band…Or maybe you just think that Andrew VanWyngarden is a hunk. Whatever your reason, you would love the opportunity to see them live!
They rolled through the DMV for FreeFest back in September, but they’re back on tour after the release of their self-titled third album. If you missed their Freefest set or just want to see them again, no worries because they’ll be playing at DAR on November 26th. Now you can have the chance to see them without torrential downpours and 50,000 crazed high schoolers surrounding you (sorry if you happen to be a crazed high schooler…we’ve all been there).
Semi-local American rock band J. Roddy Walston and the Business is set to hit the 9:30 stage on November 7. By semi-local, I mean they originate from Cleveland, and then went to Baltimore, and some of them went to Richmond….whatever. They’re going to be in DC next week and you ought to be there! Influenced by gospel and classic rock, these guys have toured with the likes of Drive By Truckers, Shovels and Rope, and Lucero. They’re known for their high energy shows, involving copious amounts of piano key slamming—you don’t want to miss this!
Pinback made their return in 2012 with Information Retrieved - their first album in five years. Fortunately for D.C. they’re coming to the 930 Club! Even though it started out as a side project fifteen years ago, Pinback has released some of the most unique and intelligent post modern indie-pop to date. They often layer intricate melodies, use unconventional song forms, and challenge the role of vocals in their music to issue a mood of twilight uncertainty that is catchy and definitely makes an impression. Check out “Loro” from their debut album for a cerebral example of Pinback’s songwriting, or “Proceed to Memory” from Information Retrieved for something that rocks a little harder.
When you think of post-rock, a certain sound naturally bubbles to the surface of your auditory memory. It’s one of ambient guitars, brushes on cymbals, and a few light keyboard chords that emerge slowly, carefully build, and eventually shoot off to explode in the sky (too tempting to resist) before dissolving again over the course of 8 to 15 minutes. It may surprise you then that El Ten Eleven comes from a different school of thought entirely.
Operating through increasingly intricate series of loops, guitarist/bassist Kristian Dunn and percussionist Tim Fogarty create concise sonic vignettes designed to not to capitalize on some grand climax, but to focus instead upon a simple (and often touching) melodic idea. And they do it all with pedals alone. Whether Dunn and Fogarty choose to play a moving sequence of finger tapped guitar lines like ‘My Only Swerving’, melt faces using intense reverb with ‘K10’, or succinctly cover Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’, the duo chooses their artistic path without regard to genre conventions. You might not think of El Ten Eleven when someone mentions post-rock, but after their set, you absolutely will.
Combining their individual hype into an industrial hip-hop machine, El-P and Killer Mike are Run the Jewels, a duo named to coincide with their recent album release (which you can download for free here: http://pitchfork.com/news/51324-download-killer-mike-and-el-ps-run-the-jewels-album/). While the project pushes both rappers past their previous comfort zones (of electro-hop and Southern style respectively) into something resembling Kanye’s Yeezus or even Death Grip’s Money Store, El and Mike keep up the skills that brought them so much respect in the game. El’s production hits just as hard, if not harder, than in last year’s Cancer 4 Cure and Mike’s flow and punchlines live up to the high standards of the acclaimed R.A.P. Music. Run the Jewels is a fierce combination that may be even greater than the sum of its parts, and El-P and Killer Mike will give you absolutely no breaks at the Club this August 10th - not that you’ll want them to.
Spawned from a mind-meld between the exploratory and ever-evolving guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In), the eerily enchanting, terrifying medicine woman Teri Gender Bender (La Butcherettes), time-bending drummer Deantoni Parks (The Mars Volta, John Cale) and key-caresser Nicci Kasper (Kudu, KRS-ONE), Bosnian Rainbows puts on a show that never ceases to surprise and amaze. The band’s two single releases, ‘Torn Maps’ and ‘Turtle Neck,’ embark on tumultuous trips through different genres and time feels, with Rodriguez-Lopez’s guitar playing channeling everything from liquid space to distorted madness. As they move through their indefinable, genre-blending set, Gender Bender’s on-stage presence and wild movements are captivating, and her vocals haunting. With a band that can make such drastic musical changes between ambient and piercing rock, or light, heavenly synths and dark, dissonant guitar solos, it is guaranteed that they will bring both the rain and sunshine that can only result in the striking experience that is Bosnian Rainbows.
If you’re not already on the J.Tillman train, I suggest you hop on now because this man knows how to create meaningful music. Although Tillman is currently the leader of Father John Misty, he has also toured with other well-regarded artists, including Fleet Foxes, Damien Jurado, and David Bazaan. His debut album as Father John Misty, Fear Fun, was released last April and landed itself on many people’s “Best of 2012” lists by the end of the year. Fear Fun combines soft folk rock with poetic lyrics and absolutely lives up too all of the hype. “I’m Writing a Novel” is a great introduction to Tillman’s voice, but each track provides us with something different and equally important.
Anyone lucky enough to catch a live Father John Misty show will immediately recognize that Tillman is not just a talented musician/songwriter, he was meant to be a performer. He takes Fear Fun to another level with lots of sassy remarks alongside a clear wish that the show be almost a cathartic experience for the audience.During a Coachella interview a few weeks ago Tillman spoke about “that vague sense of music that we all know…it brings a feeling of commonality and reduces isolation we feel in the universe.” So, come together and witness Father John Misty’s candor in person at the club on May 16th.