Reviews, Interviews & Features
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THEE Satisfaction (Seattle)

THEE Satisfaction

THEE Satisfaction

This entire recording glows and throbs. The beats are like a roaring fire adjacent to a bear skin rug. Hand percussion adds the smell of burning cedar. It’s the balls of late 70s funk mixed with a decidedly modern vocal style. The album is permeated by an underlying tone of soft aggression and general non-fuck giving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rC-lTwQ8Dt8

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Case and CTRL (Seattle)

Case and CTRLCase and CTRL

Blair Maman’s vocals bring to mind Jim James with a pinch of Cornell-esque grit (cheap Seattle pandering, check). The bass and drums carry the same weight as your standard rock fare while taking far more twists and turns. The ending of “Lonesome Sons” gives you the very real sense that something paranormal is happening right outside your window. The entire record is nerves and synapses firing down an endless array of jagged yet organic pathways (hyperbole, check.).

http://caseandctrl.bandcamp.com/

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Deep Sea Diver (Seattle)

Deep Sea DiverDeep Sea Diver

Jessica Dobson has toured with Beck and the Shins and had a major label deal at age 19. So she could’ve easily made a straight pop record and been commercially successful. Instead, she took more risks than your average bedroom recording, with odd time signatures and jagged guitars seamlessly dovetailing with pop melodies that feel like they belong to the 50s and 60s. Throw in a hint of soul and the occasional ragtime lilt, and I’m smitten. I will forever be a sucker for a woman with a smoky voice and a Jazzmaster.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuR4KKcogiY

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Album Review: Cosmonauts – Persona Non Grata

a2358890083_2Cosmonauts’ Persona Non Grata is a welcome addition to the drone pop/psych catalog, partly due to the fact that it doesn’t really fit with the rest of the lot. Yes, it happens to have deadpan vocals and repetition and simplicity. But it’s a little too focused and a little too punk to be able to simply say “check this out if you like Velvet Underground.”

You can say “check this out if you like bass that’s more weight than funk and drums that have enough stomp and pulse to be more mechanical than electronic.” The record isn’t predictable, but there’s a tendency for the songs to go like this: some sort of deceptively gentlemanly opening holds the door for a rhythm section that would have kicked it in anyway. “Shaker,” “What Me Worry,” and “Dirty Harry” are as immediate/accessible as it gets, but if you’re a lyrics guy, don’t miss “Pure Posture.” And if you listen to it start-to-finish, “My Alba” tends to be the deciding track; depending on your tastes, it makes you feel certain that this is either a great album or a totally disposable album (which, in a way, proves that it’s great).

Regardless of whether or not you think it sounds good or important, the interesting thing about Persona Non Grata is how two-faced (in a good way) it plays. “Wear Your Hair Like a Weapon” is the condensed/obvious example of this. But more generally, it turns out that with Persona Non Grata, giving a huge fuck sounds a lot like giving no fuck.

Cosmonauts

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Don’t Talk To The Cops (Seattle)

dont-talk-to-the-cops-600x256Don’t Talk To The Cops

Humor in music isn’t often done this well; it usually comes at the expense of either the music or the lyrical content. Subject matter usually involves some wacky sexual preference of the narrator (see it’s funny because normal people aren’t into obese/ugly/wooden-legged women/men/beef carcasses). There are a whole slew of hip-hop artists who inject moments of humor into an overall chauvinistic and/or preachy and/or excessive-on-the-bravado pallet. Don’t Talk To The Cops manages to be both hilarious and sonically interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnMMk2MQ1C8

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Betty Who – Sweet Tea Session

The Sweet Tea Sessions from Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie presents live performances from great musicians from all over the world in unique locations around Washington, DC.

Betty Who

Betty Who – Sweet Tea Sessions from MISSION MAN MEDIA on Vimeo.

 

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Show Review: People’s Blues of Richmond at Gypsy Sally’s

PBR - Photo by Julio Jimenez

peoplesblues.com

thepeoplesbluesofrichmond.bandcamp.com

With my deep and probably unhealthy infatuation with the blues and rock n roll of the ‘60s and ‘70s, I often daydream about living in another decade. But then musicians like the People’s Blues of Richmond (PBR) snap me back into reality and make me thankful for the vast selection of music I can listen to today. While PBR ropes in influences from their rock n roll granddaddies like Hendrix, Zepplin, and The Doors, they also pull in influences from ‘90s rockers such as Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine and the more recent Black Keys.

Fortunately, I was able to check out the trio from Richmond, VA last Saturday at DC’s newest music venue, Gypsy Sally’s in Georgetown. The night was treated to a talented and interesting lineup, as PBR shared the stage with jam bands Deaf Scene and TAUK.

Deaf Scene - Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene – Photo by Julio Jimenez


Deaf Scene, a three-piece instrumental jam band from Baltimore, were up first. Their tunes were spacey and combined sounds of both past and future worlds. Deaf Scene were a great welcomer to the rest of the night’s acts as they provided the landscape for what was sure to be one hell of a ride.

People’s Blues of Richmond (PBR) didn’t waste a single moment as bassist (and self-proclaimed band manager) Matt Volkes dove right in. He grabbed the mic and shouted “How’s everyone doing tonight?” After a responsive and energetic “WOOO!” from the crowd, they busted into a heavy dose of “Black Cat” from their latest album Good Time Suicide. This dark and dramatic tune has madness seeping through its pores.

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez


The lyrics invoke an image of a wild young couple that are in a harmful and poisonous relationship. The vocals are aggressive at first, then back down, and then the sequence repeats once more. Just before you think the song is over, guitarist and lead vocalist Tim Beavers splashes into a thick, Jimmy Page-style lead. Beaver’s undomesticated and filthy guitar chops add to what’s promised to be a good night.

As they slipped into the second song, “Murder Ballad,” you could feel the intense connection growing from the audience. Avid admirers began to belt out the lyrics and, as the set continued, the crowd convulsed to the drastic tempo changes and rockin’ rhythms.

One of the night’s crowd pleasers included “Go Home,” for which Beavers unexpectedly channeled guitar-god Jimi Hendrix’s erotic and supernatural stage presence when he passionately stroked up and down the neck of his guitar and chomped into a few riffs with his pearly whites.

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez


And he wasn’t the only one showing off the goods.

At one point in the set, drummer Nekoro Williams hammered into a wicked drum solo. He mimicked a wild beast waiting to be released at the mercy of his drum set. With the audience in awe, an admirer standing behind me shouted to his friend “..unbelievable drummer!” Convinced, the admirer’s friend noticed a broken drumstick laying at the front of the stage. Hesitant for just a second, she quickly snapped out of uncertainty and darted for the gold. She knew that if she didn’t seize the moment, she’d regret it later and be left stranded with a grainy Instagram picture as her only proof to witnessing such musical talent.

Beavers introduced a new song titled “The House on Oregon Hill” that pays homage to their hometown of Richmond. There is a lot of pride placed upon their hometown, as Beavers proudly invites his new friends to visit before taking a shot of (what appeared to be) tequila. PBR also covered a couple of pop hits, which included “Howling” by The Black Keys and “Satin in a Coffin” by Modest Mouse.

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez


The trio closed their set with a new song they’ll be releasing this summer, but before they played it, Volkes kindly asked the audience to pose for a pic after their set. Beavers quickly made me, and hopefully everyone else, forget about the social media obsessed era as he rocked the crap out of his guitar. He sent their farewells by banging and rubbing his guitar across his amp to create the ultimate distortion.

Next up were the night’s headliners, TAUK, a five-piece jam band from Long Island, NY, whose musical palette have an experimental blend of instrumental funk, jazz, pop, and rock. They truly have a unique blend of transcendent grooves that shoot your spirits deep into the cosmos. I have to admit, I am no connoisseur on jam bands. But I’ll tell you what I do know: they were bringing down the funk on Saturday night.

TAUK - Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK – Photo by Julio Jimenez


It also didn’t hurt that they had special guest, Ron Holloway, join in on saxophone for parts of the set. Lucky for us, Holloway’s gig with the Allman Brothers was cancelled, so he did the next best thing—jam with TAUK. After their set, TAUK jumped back on stage and kept the party going by playing another set! Yeah, it was ridiculous…ly awesome!

From spacey vibes to wailing guitar solos and crazy guitar antics, the night was nothing less than mind-blowing. You can catch all three of these acts at The Mad Tea Party Jam, a three-day music festival located in WV, this summer. Or if you’re lucky enough, you can check out The People’s Blues of Richmond during one of their upcoming spring tour dates as they head south.

Deaf Scene - Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene – Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene - Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene – Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene - Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene – Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene - Photo by Julio Jimenez

Deaf Scene – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

People's Blues of Richmond - Photo by Julio Jimenez

People’s Blues of Richmond – Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK - Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK – Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK - Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK – Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK - Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK – Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK - Photo by Julio Jimenez

TAUK – Photo by Julio Jimenez

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Album Review: Eston & the Outs – Knave of the Heart

estonEither the love of the half-full or the hate of the half-empty is a lie on Eston’s Knave of the Heart, but the harmony of it all makes it irrelevant. That harmony can be described generally as 50s pop style, but there’s still enough dirt under fingernails for the album to qualify as 2010s indie pop.

Knave of the Heart sounds like a mix of The Magnetic Fields and Harry Nilsson with a touch less middle finger. The vocals play a little detached but a bad note can’t be heard. Guitar, keys, and drums take their turns in main and supporting roles. Ranging from breathy, understated “Missings” to the rambling, fourth-beer-mumble-a-long closer, “Southern Bones,” Eston delivers curiously obvious pop songs. Good luck getting any of it out of your head after you hear it.

If you aren’t a fan of 50s pop and doo-wop, you won’t be in on the harmony of Knave of the Heart. But if you appreciate harmony more than complexity, you’ll be in with Eston.

Check out Knave of the Heart here.

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Show Preview: Galvanize at The Dunes on Friday, April 4

galvanizeRock/Techno two-piece Galvanize will play The Dunes on April 4 as part of The Activist Dance Party, a fundraiser for DASH (The District Alliance for Safe Housing).

Galvanize is able to make a cohesive sound that mixes Daft Punk with Queens of the Stone Age thanks in part to the abilities of drummer Scott Frassetto, whose drumming credits include working with Moby.

Listen for yourself here.

Doors: 8pm // $5 donation

The Dunes
1402 Meridian Place NW
Washington, DC 20010
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Interview: The Darcys

Photo by Jenny Hueston

Photo by Jenny Hueston

On March 20th,  a surprisingly mild Thursday evening for DC, Arts and Crafts Productions put on a show at DC9 featuring three bands from their label: LA’s NO, Canada’s Reuben and the Dark, and The Darcys (also hailing from Canada). Each band brought their own strong and unique energy, somehow not at all dwindled by being on the road for twelve days, to the stage. 

After headlining the show, Wes Marskell (drummer) and Jason Course (lead singer, guitar, keyboards) of The Darcys let other people pack up their stuff while we asked them a few questions.

 

STPP: Great show tonight! Wes, you play with a beautiful CC kit!

Wes Marskell: Thank you. They (CC) hooked me up with that a couple years ago. It was right before CC got super cool and then every band was playing CC. I’d never go get a CC kit now, but I was like just before the bubble.  Bubble’s derogatory because it implies it’ll pop, but they’ve just been on a steady incline. So, I was really lucky and I think they sound good, even when I don’t take care of them.  They need a new kick-head; the first band (Reuben and the Dark) stands up when he plays. 

STPP: How many shows has he been standing up and kicking your drum?

Marskell: We’ve been handling a lot of the shows on this side of the tour so, maybe… I don’t know.

STPP: Where are you guys coming from?

Marskell: We drove from Toronto to LA, did two shows in LA, stopped in Scottsdale Arizona, SXSW for five shows, Houston, Atlanta, Chapel Hill North Carolina, then here, then Brooklyn New York two nights, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Minneapolis, Winnipeg… yeah everything, man.

STPP: I heard falsetto in one of the first songs.  Is that influenced by Prince? Are you happy to being going to Minneapolis?

Jason Course: Yeah, exactly. We’re gonna do all Prince covers when we’re over there.

Marskell: If we can do all Prince covers in Minneapolis, we’d be a much better band.

Course: If I could sing a Prince song, I’d be really happy with myself.

Marskell: What if you could dance like Prince?

Course: If I could dance like Prince, I would!

STPP: You’ve definitely got some footwork going on.

Course: You know, it’s involuntary. A friend of ours took a video of a show we played a little while ago and he sent it to us and asked if he could put it on YouTube and I was like, I thought that I was just playing guitar and singing, but my feet were doing all this crazy stuff. I had no idea! So that’s just…that’s just happening. No control whatsoever.

STPP: Wes, what are your feet doing the whole time?

Marskell: Kicking away!  Like, endlessly! It’s weird because I usually don’t eat really close to playing, but we ate pretty close tonight and you kind of think about playing drums as being close to an athlete because you’re moving so much, and I was like “Oh my god…” I was lethargic. So you really gotta be in good form.

STPP: Where did you guys eat?

Marskell: We went to a sushi/Thai restaurant called Sala Thai just up the street.

STPP: Thumbs up? Was it good?

Course: I had a green curry that was like every other green curry I’ve ever had in my life. It’s amazing that restaurants that aren’t affiliated can create the exact same product.

STPP: So how was SXSW?

Marskell: Good! I guess it was our first low impact year.  Every other year we play at least eight or ten shows. This year it was five.

Course: I think we did it the best way possible.  We got there at night and then the next day played three shows, did about twelve interviews, and kind of got the bulk of it out of the way.  Which was great because by the third show, we were on stage, and kind of realized that we didn’t have to save ourselves for tomorrow.  Like I didn’t have to keep my voice in good condition, so we just went all the way with it.  It’s kind of really cathartic experience to leave it all out on the stage like that.

STPP: How do you feel about post-SXSW shows? Same kind of feeling or…

Marskell: Without being negative towards those cities or those people, they definitely have a kind of warm-up feel to them.  We are a lot bigger north of here, like New York, Boston, Toronto is going to be the biggest show of the tour. Chicago will be good. Winnipeg is the Juno’s, and we are nominated for a Juno and playing JunoFest.  But no one had crazy expectations that there would be 1,000 people at every show. We’ve been about sort of refining the set—swapping a couple songs out, swapping some in, and really able to figure it out for the coming shows.

Course: It’s really nice to feel like you’re going into your bigger shows and being rested for it.  So, even though we’ve been doing this record live for a little while, we’re still working out nuances, and especially now, working with a sound guy, we’re bringing more and more to the table. We’re challenging each other a lot more now that we have parts down. We want to make sure that we’re having fun, and that we can do every single little detail.

STPP:  Is the Steely Dan cover of “Josie: something you performed on the record?

Marskell: We did an entire cover record of Aja and put it out on vinyl, a translucent, red vinyl. It’s really cool. You should get it. 

Course: We actually did a tour of just playing that album front to back. I don’t really know if it was smart at the time, but we were kind of stuck. We didn’t know if we were ready to go into the studio yet and were in between recordings, so we did this tour, and DC was one of the first stops. So this place was one of the first places we ever played that album front to back.  And we were, in a way, kind of scared shitless, because we’d been practicing it, but it’s very technically dense material.  So we got here and kind of just drank a beer, took a breath, and all of the sudden it worked out really well.

Marskell: Well, as you can tell by our version of “Josie,” all of that record is so bonkers compared to what they did. It’s funny that their actually playing Steely Dan right now [“Peg” off of Aja was playing in the background]. But it’s cool. You can check it out on SoundCloud. It’s like a totally different acid trip.

STPP: What inspired that for you guys?  Why did you pick Steely Dan?

Marskell: Boredom? I think it was that both of our dads love that record, so I think subconsciously we were kind of like ‘fuck you’ to them and we wanted to destroy their favorite record.

Course: Instead they liked it.

Marskell: Yeah, that kind of ruined everything, but it was also really cool!  Sort of accidentally we exposed all these young people to a band that a lot of them didn’t know.  A lot of them had no idea when they heard that record and liked it that it was a cover record.  On the front, it just says Aja-an interpretation by The Darcys so no one connected it to Steely Dan if they didn’t know who he was. Then when they found out, we got a lot of e-mails saying ‘I didn’t even like regular Steely Dan’ and then we got e-mails saying ‘fuck you, you ruined the greatest record of all time.’

Course: We had a guy show up here in a Steely Dan Aja t-shirt, probably an original from the first time they toured, and he stood right there, right in front of me, with his arms crossed the entire show. Didn’t smile, didn’t tap his toe to a beat.  It really freaked me out, cause it was like, is he into it? Like, he hasn’t left yet, but he’s not engaging in any way. And I think that if anything it’s a conversation starter, and in a way, I think that’s more of a success than if everyone just generally liked it or generally disliked it. At least people were engaging with it and talking about it.

Marskell: There was a guy at that same show that walked out on us like he was really pissed off.

Course: The fun thing for us is a lot of people in our demographic and in our generation hear this music as really cheesy bullshit: 70’s bullshit.  But when you strip it down to the core song that’s underneath it, there’s some really beautiful stuff.  There’s also some really funny lyrics.

Marskell: For the record, I don’t think it’s cheesy; I think it’s amazing. But some people can’t get past that.

Course: Once you break down the barriers, then people start to engage, and all of the sudden, you’ve converted people.  I don’t know why we are Steely Dan missionaries, but we just believe in it.

STPP: So what’s the music scene like in Toronto?

Marskell: A lot of new bands are on the rise.  Broken Social Scene and Metric; they’re either way off in the distance or sort of winding down, so there’s a lot of room for newer bands. A lot of heavy groups, like Metz is from Toronto. Greys is from Toronto. Death From Above 1979.  So that kind of stuff has got a resurgence. Fucked Up has a record coming out with Arts & Crafts label.

Course: The thing for us that we really appreciate about Toronto as a city for music is that there are so many bands.  There are so many good bands, and there aren’t that many great places to play.  So there is a really high level of competition, and we find that encouraging, to find what we want to work on and to be a better band when performing, and to make better records, because there is so much to sift through from that city.  I think without that, I don’t know what we would do.  If we were in a really complacent and super appreciative city, I think we might have gotten lazy at some point.

Marskell: It’s nice to struggle to get on top.

STPP: What’s the output of that?  What have you seen from your hard work?

Marskell: It’s weird, because obviously we’re not complacent with the idea of playing to 50 people in DC; we’d love to play to more.  But at the same time, the fact that 50 people know about us in DC is just the beginning.  It feels like the beginning for our band.  We put out two records and they felt like a promo for this one record that’s come out, Warring, and it’s just starting up. We are just touring and getting it out there.  And now we’ve got all the cool blogs writing about us!  So hopefully it’ll see a bit of a snowball effect, and we’ll get to come back.  In Toronto the shows have been great.  Everyone is super supportive, but it’s a little bit like eating candy.  Playing shows there is like playing shows for people who already love it; you have to play your best show but you’re not worried about converting anyone, because most of the people know you and are there for you.  Here, some people know NO, some people know Reuben and the Dark, so we have to come through to them.  We sold a lot of records tonight, and that’s always a good sign: when people are willing to pay for something when they know they can go home and steal it in two minutes.

Course: Someone actually just admitted that to me.  I was trying to sell them a CD and they were like, ‘you know, we can just get this on the internet.’  I was like, ‘really? And you’re just going to tell me that to my face?’

STPP: Is this your second time in DC?

Course: I believe third or fourth?

Marskell: Well, we played 930 Club with Bombay Bicycle Club.

Course: That was our introduction to this city, which was pretty amazing.  It was probably one of the warmest crowds we’ve ever had.  And no one knew us!  We were just the opener.

Marskell: I had a migraine, and I was in the dressing room, lying in the dark, throwing up.  Somebody set my drums up for me.  I came out, literally played the set, walked off the stage, went back, threw up, and went back to sleep. 

Course He played a great set though!

Marskell: I thought I played really well, considering!

STPP:  Yeah! 930 Club is considered our best venue in the city.

Marskell: Yeah! They made us cupcakes!

STPP: Last question: Sweet Tea or Pumpkin Pie?

Marskell & Course: Pumpkin Pie, no doubt. all the way.

Marskell: One year after Halloween, my dad told me to throw it in the yard or something.  So I just threw it under a tree beside the house, and then text spring, there was this thick stock, and it kept growing, and then I had a fucking pumpkin!  So the next year we did it, and the same thing happened, but the pumpkin didn’t grow, just a giant vine.

STPP: Oh man! You could have saved $10 a year and that would be awesome!

Marskell: Yeah, use one of those terminator seeds.

Course: Monsanto would show up at your at your doorstep and be like, ‘listen, you owe us $150.  We have copywrited that one pumpkin. We made nature. There was also a cricket on your lawn. We own crickets now.’

Check out more of The Darcys here: http://www.thedarcys.ca/

 

 

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