Friday, December 24, 2010
This the first group of my selections for songs I consider standout tracks, some from albums, others coming from samplers. So, in roughly alphabetical order by artist (or at least by how iTunes sorts artist names), these are songs I listened to and loved that were released this past year. Where possible, I've linked to sites where you can hear these songs, as well.
Arcade Fire - Modern Man: I'm not going to add much to the mountains of frothy prose that has already been issued about a band that found early critical and, now, great commercial success. At turns reminiscent of Bowie, The Cars and Bruce Springsteen, this very 80s ode to existential disaffection and human irrelevancy in the wake of technology demonstrates why Arcade Fire are hitting their peak. If you haven't seen their brilliant and interactive Wilderness Downtown video, I'd suggest you check it out.
Basia Bulat - Gold Rush: The standout track from Heart of My Own, which was good but not great. A perfect showcase for Basia's dusky, lilting voice, and the surprising energy of which her band is capable.
Beach House - Zebra: This song is like the sunlight on a blustery January day, gauzy and otherworldly. This track popped up on a Sub Pop sampler, and I took an immediate liking to it.
Broken Social Scene - Sweetest Kill: This is one for the makeout mixtape (or MP3 playlist), sounding more than a bit like of Montreal covering a previously unreleased Beatles track.
Four Tet - She Just Likes to Flight: There Is Love In You was another strong January release, demonstrating that 2010 was going to be an outstanding year for new music. Kieran Hebden proved that IDM didn't die at the talons of Owl City, releasing a breathtaking record that's deeply personal despite being largely instrumental. SJLTF starts off slowly, demanding a bit of patience, but the song's unfolding is well worth the effort.
Frightened Rabbit - Living in Color: This foot-stomping, fist-pumping anthem from WWPJ's Scottish countrymen (and former labelmates) exemplifies that our friends across the pond haven't forgotten how to rock, and can more than hold their own against the Jersey sound of The Gaslight Anthem and Titus Andronicus.
Hey Marseilles - Rio: I first encountered this Seattle septet via NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series. Vocalist Matt Bishop sounds like the love child of Colin Meloy and David Ford, and the band crafts effortlessly pretty tunes that resemble at turns Beirut, Neutral Milk Hotel and the Decemberists. I'm simply amazed at how they managed to cram that many people and instruments into Bob Boilen's office.
In the coming days I'll unveil parts II and III of this list, with more Baltimore love, Icelandic cheer, and Canadian charm leading the charge. For now, enjoy!
- The Big Easy
Posted by Brian Flores at 11:40 AM
Monday, December 20, 2010
The newly renovated Yard Park along the waterfront in Southeast will be the site of the inaugural DC Music Fest, a showcase for Capital Area musicians that will occur on May 7, 2011. The Fest will feature 12 bands, 3 singer/songwriters, and a DJ across two stages, with Billboard World Song contest winners Honor By August and experimental hip-hop collective Restoring Poetry in Motion confirmed as headliners.
The brainchild of Mark Chevalley and Ashely Estill, the event was conceived as a means by which to bring together diverse local artists and the fans of all ages who have supported them. All local artists interested in rounding out the bill are encouraged to contact the festival organizers.
Posted by Brian Flores at 10:59 PM
Monday, December 13, 2010
The videos feature all of the artists that will be performing later in the evening. Modern Thieves bring a little funk and rock to the table, and they’ll be joined on their set by renowned DC jazz keyboardist Marcus Johnson. Veteran pop-rockers Practically Einstein are next on the bill, followed by the jazzy pop stylings of Flo Anito. And the night wraps up with indie-pop singer-songwriter Alexis George.
Monday, December 06, 2010
One of my favorite bands, The Damnwells, have a new album that should be dropping soon. Though they're not touring, full-band style, raspy-voiced lead singer Alex Dezen will be in town this Thursday night, December 9th, performing solo versions of The Damnwells' catchy, triumphant alt-country tunes at Jammin Java.
Anyway, check out the full band above performing one of the album's new tracks, the irresistably catchy "She Goes Around," live at Rockwood Music Hall. And you can get a free download of the studio version by either pledging or signing up for their mailing list here.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
If you’re in DC Thursday night, check out the Massachusetts 5-piece acoustic-pop act Darlingside. Rich-sounding harmonies that exceed the typical two and three parts, along with string instrumentation, give them a very polished, lush sound. Self-described as “string-rock,” they can also bring the hooks. Like what you hear? They’ll be headlining at The Red Palace (formerly The Red & The Black) in DC Thursday, December 9th.
MP3: Good Man - Darlingside
Thursday, December 02, 2010
I’d previously heard of folk singer/songwriter Lori McKenna, but I had never had actually listened to her, even though I had meant to. So when I got an advance copy of her new album Lorraine (1/25/2011 release) the other day, I immediately pressed play, and I’m very glad I did.
It’s bare, achingly lovely folk-country-think a combination of early Living With Ghosts-era Patty Griffin and Mary Chapin Carpenter. McKenna’s lonesome sound is enriched by the harmonies added by a smattering of various male vocalists (including producer Barry Dean) throughout. The melodies are strong and arrangements are sparsely elegant, though it sometimes takes a second listen in order to focus all of one’s attention on the lyrics.
While McKenna doesn’t necessarily break new lyrical ground on Lorraine (which happens to be her given name), the subject matter that she does cover is done well. It’s an intimate set of songs that tell of small towns, love, growing up and overcoming loss, with tracks ranging from the gorgeous ballad “The Most,” to the intensity of “You Get A Love Song.”
Lori McKenna will be performing at the Library of Congress this Saturday night December 4th, at 8:00 with the current top ten country artist Little Big Town. Tickets are “free,” but since they must be purchased from Ticketmaster, there’s of course a nominal service charge with each ticket order. There is a limit of 2 tickets per person.