MUSIC MONDAY: Sydney’s Picks

Here’s a short little playlist inspired by my current and ever-changing taste in music. Some of the artists are playing upcoming shows I’m especially excited about (like The Drums and Foxygen), others are ones I recently discovered (like the Allah-Las), and a couple just deserve a re-listen. Press play and get pumped for the rest of the week!

-Sydney Sanial

NOSTALGIA, MY MUSE: Real Estate - Real Estate

As the weather has finally dropped about twenty degrees from the average temperature of the summer, we are forced to say goodbye to the frozen beverages, outfits inspired by short sleeves, and just the overall lightness of being that comes from summer days.

While the fall is my favorite time of the year due to its ability to inspire, it feels appropriate to close out the summer season with an album that many refer to as the epitome of summer nights spent at the beach: Real Estate’s self-titled album. If you have yet to submerse yourself into the world of Real Estate, now is the time.

On the surface, the album is tragically carefree. I’m sure if you were to take the time to make a deeply constructed analysis of the lyrical content, you would be able to unveil material suggesting a sort of pessimism, but you may be searching for a while. The album itself is lower quality and lower production than Real Estate’s more recent releases, but this is a characteristic that contributes to the fabrication of their notorious sound. This was before they took philosophical meanings of life too seriously and still had the words green, blue, beach, or some body of water in every title. 

Tracks including “Pool Swimmers” and “Suburban Beverage” pretty much sum up the boys of Real Estate’s outlook on daily life. As Martin Courtney quietly repeats, “Budweiser Sprite, do you feel alright,” (these are the only words he sings for the duration of the six-minute song) we inevitably feel alright. Whether you’re sitting on a foldout chair with your feet halfway covered with light grains of sand, taking in the movement of the seagulls that are dipping and flying over the ocean, or if you’re just sitting on the poolside with a Tequila Sunrise resting in your hand, Real Estate will help you find bliss. 

I had never been the biggest advocate for “Pool Swimmers;” I liked it, of course, but I would never seek it out. When they played it in their live show at 9:30 this past April, it was one of the best tracks of the evening. I have never been a witness of a happier or more serene crowd. It was just a sea of people bobbing side to side to the beat, as if we were all ripples in the water, and that is exactly how Real Estate wants it to be.

The album holds a special place in my heart, for it is the home of my favorite musical track; the fourth on the album, “Black Lake.” The song is nothing too experimental or out of this world and won’t completely blow your mind, but the riff that falls at the end of the chorus strikes a chord. It is impeccably placed, making you inhale deeply, not allowing you to release the breath until it’s over.

Real Estate is a treasure. While they are too good not to listen to all year, this is an ode to summer and the nostalgia we are bound to feel as the days continue to grow colder and the waves are no longer warm enough to swim through.

Other tracks to check out: “Fake Blues,” “Beach Comber,” “Let’s Rock the Beach” (instrumental jam)

-Katie Cheyne

THIS ONE TIME AT BANDCAMP:  Volume 8

At its core, Bandcamp is a space for emerging artists to share their music.  A lot of it is recorded in bedrooms, and often those are the best finds. As the theme for this week, this is a small sampling of music tagged “bedroom pop.”

French Exit by TV Girl

TV Girl: With over 11,000 likes on Facebook, TV Girl is perhaps a little more well-known than a lot of the other bands I showcase in this column. Their debut full-length, French Exit, was released in early June with 12 irresistible tracks. The music has tasteful electronic undertones with simple hooks and simple male vocals. Quite simply, it’s music to make you smile and drive around with the windows down. Even just looking at the happy couple in the album art makes you smile. 
Favorite Track: “Birds Don’t Sing”
RIYL: The Radio Dept.
Girlfriend by We Are Trees

We Are Trees: Out of Virginia Beach, We are Trees is definitely one of my favorite recent finds. Although they haven’t released anything since March 2011 (the main vocalist James Nee now makes music under the name Dream Shake), those old songs are absolutely worth a listen. Their music has a full, complex sound layered with guitar, drums, bass, and harmonic male vocals with female backing. If pretty folky pop rock is your thing, it won’t take you long to fall in love with this song. Each song is unique and a little different, so I had a hard time picking my favorite. Everything off Girlfriend  is quality, as is the everything off the complementary EP Boyfriend.
Favorite Track: “I Don’t Believe in Love”
RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Local Natives
COUPLES COUNSELING by couples counseling

Couples Counseling: I found Couples Counseling a while ago and instantly fell in love. The track “hope u nvr hear this” has become a regular staple of the Bandcamp section of my weekly radio show on WMUC-FM. The electro dream pop is simple and unpredictable in the best way, and the soft, siren vocals of the lead singer provide an enchanting common thread to adhere to. The music is pretty and a little trippy - a sure attention grabber for any electronic music enthusiast. Couples Counseling is the kind of music you can listen to over and over again and her something different every time.  
Favorite Track: “hope u nvr hear this”
RIYL: Animal Collective
-Sydney Sanial

Suggestions or submissions for the next This One Time at Bandcamp? Send them in to sydneysanial@gmail.com!

THIS ONE TIME AT BANDCAMP: Volume 8

At its core, Bandcamp is a space for emerging artists to share their music. A lot of it is recorded in bedrooms, and often those are the best finds. As the theme for this week, this is a small sampling of music tagged “bedroom pop.”

TV Girl: With over 11,000 likes on Facebook, TV Girl is perhaps a little more well-known than a lot of the other bands I showcase in this column. Their debut full-length, French Exit, was released in early June with 12 irresistible tracks. The music has tasteful electronic undertones with simple hooks and simple male vocals. Quite simply, it’s music to make you smile and drive around with the windows down. Even just looking at the happy couple in the album art makes you smile.

  • Favorite Track: “Birds Don’t Sing”
  • RIYL: The Radio Dept.
We Are Trees: Out of Virginia Beach, We are Trees is definitely one of my favorite recent finds. Although they haven’t released anything since March 2011 (the main vocalist James Nee now makes music under the name Dream Shake), those old songs are absolutely worth a listen. Their music has a full, complex sound layered with guitar, drums, bass, and harmonic male vocals with female backing. If pretty folky pop rock is your thing, it won’t take you long to fall in love with this song. Each song is unique and a little different, so I had a hard time picking my favorite. Everything off Girlfriend is quality, as is the everything off the complementary EP Boyfriend.
  • Favorite Track: “I Don’t Believe in Love”
  • RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Local Natives
Couples Counseling: I found Couples Counseling a while ago and instantly fell in love. The track “hope u nvr hear this” has become a regular staple of the Bandcamp section of my weekly radio show on WMUC-FM. The electro dream pop is simple and unpredictable in the best way, and the soft, siren vocals of the lead singer provide an enchanting common thread to adhere to. The music is pretty and a little trippy - a sure attention grabber for any electronic music enthusiast. Couples Counseling is the kind of music you can listen to over and over again and her something different every time.
  • Favorite Track: “hope u nvr hear this”
  • RIYL: Animal Collective

-Sydney Sanial

Suggestions or submissions for the next This One Time at Bandcamp? Send them in to sydneysanial@gmail.com!

CRATE DIGGIN’: Kermit Ruffins

Beyond The Wire, David Simon’s greatest gift to humanity is the post-Katrina set Treme, which used most of its airtime to pay tribute to the Crescent City’s musical history. It’s featured music by all kinds of local artists, from the classic jazz bounce of Alan Toussaint to the impossibly funky hip-hop of Mystikal. But series standout is Kermit Ruffins, who plays himself as a recurring character on the show. He’s a trumpeter, band leader, and all-around badass who’s such a Nawlins purist that in one episode, he didn’t recognize Elvis Costello sitting in the audience.

Real-life Kermit has been on the scene for over 35 years, during which he’s put out stellar releases that feature a surprising amount of original compositions (not a commonality in the jazz world). Ruffins is also 1/3 responsible for the formation of the Rebirth Brass Band back in 1983. Though he split with them in ‘93 to pursue a solo career, they remain one of the most influential New Orleans groups around, and one of the last ties to its second line past, performing classics like “I Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” and “Do Whatcha Wanna.” Kermit’s solo albums (hint: start with Livin’ a Treme Life) are jam-packed with jubilant blues changes, lush ballads, and impeccably-sung jazz standards. But most importantly, they’ve all got that undeniable New Orleans swagger.

-Kelsey Butterworth

Declare your love to your favorite artists and send it along to contests@930.com, and you might win tickets to see them live!

Declare your love to your favorite artists and send it along to contests@930.com, and you might win tickets to see them live!

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.

-Emily Hirsch

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.
-Emily Hirsch

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.

-Emily Hirsch

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.

-Emily Hirsch

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)

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 asher.meerovich@gmail.com. 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