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!
ALBUM REVIEW: Cheatahs, Cheatahs
Cheatahs’ new album is a potent combination of lo-fi garage rock post with shoegaze music but with a tone of teenage defiance. It instantly transports you back to early 90s grunge music to the likes of Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine, and others who made their way to fame through college radio. While the new album is receiving mediocre marks for being unoriginal, I think that the cohesive album concept is something that deserves praise. This UK band has decided on a sound and stuck to it, which is not always easy to do in this industry.
Cheatahs has a great sound full of steady drumbeats, flourishing guitar riffs and subtle vocals that complement the music without pulling your attention away. It’s clear that Cheatahs have pulled their influences from all over, taking a little of this and a little of that to create a sound that is uniquely their own in an already well-defined genre.
For a debut album, this new release has a very mature and refined sound. Each song is unique of one another, like the spunky “Get Tight” or the slow-building “IV,” while still maintaing the common thread that is Cheatahs. The four members obviously have a strong chemistry that intensifies and permeates their music. I’m really looking forward to seeing them perform at U Street Music Hall on March 6th.
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.