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AS HEARD ON TV: "Where Does the Good Go," Tegan & Sara on Grey’s Anatomy
Yes, I am one of those people who still watches Grey’s Anatomy and no, I’m not ashamed. I will stick with my girl Shonda Rhimes (watch her amazing commencement speech here) until the end, even though most of my favorite characters are gone and the show has long since run out of dramatic plot lines. Angsty high school me found solace in Grey’s Anatomy because while the circumstances were not always believable, I could connect with a boy being heartless set to the backdrop of Rilo Kiley or trouble at work amplified by Ingrid Michaelson’s “Keep Breathing.” Also, this show is as close as I’ll ever get to a career in the medical field.
If Tegan & Sara did not provide the soundtrack to some of your dreary adolescent days, then my condolences, you sure missed out. Particularly in the early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, there was at least one Tegan & Sara track in almost every episode and the best I think was “Where Does The Good Go.” The Quin sisters just have this ability to emote inescapable despair and be charming at the same time, which fits in well with the moody nature of Grey’s Anatomy. “Where Does The Good Go” pinpoints sadness, but it’s the kind of song you could belt out with your best friend, mutually condemning those jerks who left you both behind. Beyond being indie pop/rock geniuses, Tegan & Sara are equal rights activists and all around wonderful humans.
SIDE NOTES: The NYC Music Map
Who knew maps could be so fun! Constantine Valhouli turned out to be not your average real estate developer when she made a Google map of all the best songs that have NYC street references. Bruce Springsteen’s “Incident on 57th St” is on the west side of Central Park. Lou Reed’s “Dirty Boulevard” is right near the awkward spot on the edge of the city where you have to catch the Megabus. The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” is in Chinatown, precisely at Canal and Bowery, which if you know the song you’ll appreciate. Valhouli’s map has been featured in The Washington Post, a CMJ interview, and even Shake Shack picked it up. She told CMJ that she currently lives in Brooklyn “between the Beastie Boys’ ‘Root Down’ and Billy Joel’s ‘You May Be Right.’” Valhouli is also working on a song mapping of LA and you can browse through her progress now if you scroll over to the west coast side of the Music Map. I always find it exciting when people use innovative ways to express their music obsessions and this is a prime instance of that.
AS HEARD ON TV: Lennon & Maisy, “A Life That’s Good” on Nashville
Due to my long time fan girl obsession with Connie Britton and her hair, I decided it was my duty to give her music-centric show, Nashville, a try. Her role as Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights will eternally be my favorite, but Nashville is totally worth watching. You don’t even have to be a country music fan to enjoy this show and I’m proof of that. The show is set in Nashville (duh), and documents the lives of emerging musicians in the city. Because it’s an ABC show there is tons of personal drama, including illegitimate children and drunken poor decision making, the usual. Beyond the scandals though, most of the actors have some serious vocal chops, which balances out the emotional chaos a bit.
Meet Lennon and Maisy Stella, sisters on the show and in real life. These precious Canadians, now only 15 and 11 years old, got their break before Nashville even began airing in 2012. They posted a cover of Robyn/Erato’s “Call Your Girlfriend” on YouTube, which at this point is up to 23 million views! Other great covers they’ve done are Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ “That’s What’s Up” and The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey.” Lennon & Maisy’s performance of “A Life That’s Good” on Nashville touches on all the feels, while showcasing how undeniably cute and talented these young ladies are. This duet in particular gets the harmonizing just right, so right that Connie Britton starts crying. If Lennon & Maisy continue at the rate they’ve been going, the girls have quite the music career in store.
ALBUM REVIEW: Adult Jazz, Gist Is
Leeds quartet Adult Jazz may not be a big name just yet, but their debut Gist Is, now streaming at The Quietus, is an intoxicating puzzle box of beauty. Every song holds surprises and musical tricks that provide a deeply fascinating and rewarding listen. The opener, “Hum,” is built off an ambient synth, but soon grows into an entire neo-jazz world of its own, with just-off percussion, and unexpected brass. Vocalist Harry Burgess draws unshakable comparisons to Sigur Ros and Death Vessel with his light, shapeshifting delivery; musically, Gist Is could have come from a thousand different places, echoing Bjork (one of Burgess’s major influences) and the contemporary British wave of sparse, choral neo-soul like Jarbird.
Other tracks have a more indie feel to them, like “Am Gone,” with a melody that wouldn’t seem out of place on one of Vampire Weekend’s better songs. Instrumentally, however, Adult Jazz is worlds apart, building complex microrhythms within each portion of a song, and layering them with alien electronica and shimmering sounds that might be music or might be borne of the natural world. The production value on Gist Is is glorious, especially considering they recorded it in a farmhouse on the Scottish border.
Gist Is could be the most unique and enthralling album of the year. Enough said.
-Asher Meerovich (@Bummertime)
<5K: Volume 4
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, send a link to firstname.lastname@example.org. If I like it, I’ll put them in an upcoming edition of <5K!
Trio OOO (73 likes) have been around a while, playing superhuman free jazz in the tradition of Sun Ra. Bassist Luke Stewart is something of a local legend, combining plucked and bowed upright styles together with absurdly skilled drummer Sam Lohman for an intensely communicative form of music. Saxophonist Aaron Martin is the higher voice that brings it all together, and when they close their eyes and play, they produce a sound that leaves the listeners transfixed, caught in the two-way flow of energy between audience and performer, creating a musical experience together. It’s music that creates active listeners, spellbound and mentally involved, and entirely mindblowing. They’re doing it. Get hip.
Bare Left (280 likes) is a College Park-based band that has carved out its own niche of sonic territory not being explored by most artists these days. They have a shapeshifting sound that stakes new ground with each track on their EP, channeling early Radiohead and ’70s prog-pop. Frontman Kai Keefe notes that the band draws inevitable comparisons to Jethro Tull for their use of the flute in a rock setting, but although they fit similarly unusual sounds into an accessible, powerful format, Bare Left tends to delve deeper lyrically. It’s intelligent, deliberate songcrafting, with tight musicianship punctuated by poetic lyricism and half-dreamt stories. Guitarist Alex Galiatsatos is a formidable lead player, and contributes high backing vocals straight out of classic rock MTV. Bare Left been playing up a name for themselves around DC and Maryland; they can share a bill with basically any genre of band because of their unique presentation.
- Listen to The Bluebeard EP here.
- Recommended tracks: “Gone Away” and “Captain and Crew”
Last Armistice (415 likes) are an alternative rock band new to the DC scene that have been generating buzz with their new demo, Lives, that seemed to burst out of nowhere and immediately start rocking. With a tight drummer, fast rhythms, and a penchant for melodic guitar lines that interweave with singer Patrick Garvey‘s impassioned voice, Last Armistice creates the effect of four musicians each doing their thing (and doing it well) in cohesive group spirit. They alternate between super-harmonic vocal melodies and 100-mile-an-hour instrumentals. Musically, they remind me of Antemasque, the new Mars Volta project, with their use of space-filling riffs and powerful drum leads. Though Lives is merely a demo, it reflects a whole lot of practice and a fiery sound that would make for bloodrushing, sweat-bathed shows that leave your ears ringing and your heart pounding, alive with the glory of mosh.
- Listen to Lives here.
- Recommended tracks: “Bottle Cap” and “Old Soul”
Sunbathers (441 likes) is a DC quintet that deserves immediate attention. In its 3 songs, their eponymous demo on Soundcloud captivates and serves intelligent, beautifully-crafted songs about cognitive dissonance in a way that should make the Arctic Monkeys jealous. Listen to the subtle wah pedaling and astounding vocal performance in “New Blood.” “Swell” is a brilliant trip over dark, sensual verses to an emotionally evocative chorus, suffused with showmanship and theatrical delivery. Danceable and perfectly timed, another inevitable comparison to be drawn is Maroon 5, who have never written anything as good as “Swell.” The third track, “Limbo,” is tense and mysterious, with spidery riffs crawling across the tracks as vocalist Sean Lynott continues to wow. This is a good band. This is a great band. Be excited about them. We can only hope they have plans for a full-length, and soon.
- Listen to the Sunbathers Demo here.
- Recommended tracks: “New Blood,” “Swell” and “Limbo”
I already wrote up the Adult Jazz (2,990 likes) debut here because of how great I thought it was, but they bear a second mention. The Leeds, UK quartet are making some of the most unique, quietly enthralling music currently happening. Melding ethereal synths, unusual percussion, and fascinating lyrics, Adult Jazz prove themselves as sonic artists on their debut Gist Is, out today. The opener, “Hum,” is built off an ambient synth, but soon grows into an entire neo-jazz world of its own, with just-off percussion and unexpected brass. Vocalist Harry Burgess draws unshakable comparisons to Sigur Ros and Death Vessel with his light, shapeshifting delivery. Though the album was recorded in a farmhouse on the Scottish border, the production value is immaculate, easing the listener into a deep pool of musical exploration without being forceful. It’s a siren song of a record that deserves to be heard, thought about, and heard again.
- Stream Gist Is via The Quietus here.
- Recommended tracks: all of it.
-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.
ALBUM REVIEW: “Weird Al” Yankovic, Mandatory Fun
“Weird Al” Yankovic’s wildly entertaining new album, Mandatory Fun, has received enormous praise for its brainy adaptations. Yankovic took pop culture’s most familiar tracks, those which our radio stations have overplayed to oblivion, and resurrected those departed for this twelve track compilation. In preparation for the album’s release, Yankovic pushed out eight cameo-filled YouTube videos including “Tacky” (Pharrell—“Happy”), “Word Crimes” (Robin Thicke—“Blurred Lines”), “Foil” (Lorde—“Royals”), and “Handy” (Iggy Azalea—“Fancy”).
Yankovic has been the purveyor of parody since 1979, when he paid homage to The Knack, recording “My Bologna” in a men’s bathroom across from his college radio station (he wasn’t allowed to use the studio). On April 21, 1981, Weird Al had his first ever TV performance singing “Another One Rides the Bus.” Al wailed on his accordion barefoot while his bandmate played a myriad of sound effects and pounded his fists on a black trunk, mimicking Queen’s hard-hitting bass line in the classic, “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Not all the tracks on Mandatory Fun are direct recreations. Yankovic breathes new life into featured top hitters in “NOW That’s What I Call Polka,” showcasing the mashup using his signature Central European dance-genre style, with accordion on full blast.
With this new and final album, Yankovic has brought the freshest of perspectives to the forefront, spouting both political and social commentary in catchy and inoffensive ways. Older generations who appreciate the Woodstock-era of music will relate to “Mission Statement.” The song lyrically breaks down the corporate machine and growth of big business and is set to the unmistakable 70s vibe of Crosby Stills Nash & Young, leaving this listener both laughing and shaking her head.
Weird Al Yankovic’s point of view is anything but tongue-in-cheek, as he calls us tacky for taking Instagram photos of our dinner plates, openly makes fun of society’s obsession with celebrities and re-educates us on the proper way to communicate in today’s highly digital and abbreviated world…but we don’t care! Weird Al is leaving us with a 35 year legacy and a chart-topping comedy album. It’s fun, and mandatory at that!
-Gia Del Prince
MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE: Brooklyn, NY
Things that happened in the last few months when I’ve spent time in Brooklyn: I won a brand new bike with flames on it, a group of dudes did gymnastics on a subway train, I ate the best chicken and waffles ever, and Chvrches played a free outdoor show in a random concrete lot. The rent prices are astronomical, but all the same, Brooklyn is a magical place with a diverse array of musicians.
Chairlift: Rewind to 2008 when Apple used to have those irresistible commercials that had people dancing with their iPods. Chairlift’s “Bruises” was featured in the commercial for the 4th generation iPod Nano (the one with the really pretty colors). The melody of “Bruises” and its intro “I tried to do headstands for you / But every time I fell for you” are just as inescapable as Apple products.
Swear and Shake: I first discovered Swear & Shake when they opened for The Lumineers a couple years ago. Although they hail from Brooklyn, this indie folk group could easily pass for Nashville or New Orleans natives. By far my favorite track is “These White Walls,” which is not the most cheery (i.e. “you said you never loved me and I know you never will”) but prompts a bit of hip swaying anyhow.
Sleigh Bells: If you haven’t heard of Sleigh Bells at this point, it’s time to get with the program. When I saw Sleigh Bells live at 9:30 Club, I had earplugs in and the sound of Alexis Krauss’ voice was still fully audible. Sleigh Bells is loud, exciting, and Lena Dunham must love the band because several songs, including “Infinity Guitars” and “Bitter Rivals,” have been on Girls.
MUSIC MONDAY PLAYLIST: Nora’s Picks
I would like to give you some great idea that this playlist was built around, but I guess if I was going to do that, I should’ve come up with a theme before choosing songs. This is, quite simply, a list of songs I’ve been listening to a lot recently. There are songs from this year, old songs, sad songs, punk songs, Spanish songs, songs about the future, and songs about nothing. It’s got almost** everything you need, and in that light it is an experience. Enjoy!
**Needs more Neutral Milk. Hanging my head in shame.
REASONS TO COME EARLY: Peter Matthew Bauer
The Walkmen may have entered the fabled “indefinite hiatus,” but the opportunities to see the band’s individual members are more numerous than ever. Think of it as musical mitosis.
Just a month after frontman Hamilton Leithauser supports Spoon at the Lincoln Theater, multi-instrumentalist Peter Matthew Bauer opens for the Delta Spirit at the 9:30 Club. Bauer is on tour behind his debut album Liberation!, which sees him step into the foreground for a set of eleven songs.
The classic jangly Walkmen guitar is still present, though Bauer’s voice has a sweeter tinge. His lyrics take a unique perspective, as on the opener “I Was Born in an Ashram”, which deals with his time living in an upstate New York Hindu community. Per Pitchfork, the album “gives Bauer a voice, and the mystery of where he goes next is just as exciting for us as it is for him.” Don’t take their word for it, though- come out to the October 3 show and witness it for yourself.
Peter Matthew Bauer will open for Delta Spirit at 9:30 Club on October 3.