Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Joey Ryan and the Inks, Well, Here We Are Then

Joey Ryan and the Inks
Well, Here We Are Then
B

Well, Here We Are Then, the debut album of Minnesota-based band Joey Ryan and the Inks, may have been more appropriately spawned from a beach town on the West coast than the wintry plains of the Midwest. With harmonies sung in the fashion of the Beach Boys and a certain warmness reminiscent of the Shins (or maybe its just the vague similarity between the vocals of Joey Ryan and James Mercer), Well, Here We Are Then is a heartening 40 minutes of buoyant melodies and staccato guitar strokes.
While each song has its own charm, the album as a whole may be too uniformly sunny for its own good; it's catchy, it's interesting, but it falls just short of memorable. "Don't Look back On Your Own," begins with Joey Ryan crooning promisingly over a few soft strums of the guitar, then transitions into an upbeat song that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Well Here We Are Then reaches its high point with "Spitting in Tune," a song whose innocent, airy melody lends it an inviting sound that seems to bring together the most prominent elements of the album in a cohesive way. While Joey Ryan and the Inks demonstrate high potential through Well, here We Are Then, it lacks a certain depth and diversity of sound that in time they may well be capable of developing.
Best tracks: "Oh, Caroline," "Spitting in Tune," "You Are All Friends of Mine"

-- Bri Dorgan

TWIMH: The Beach Boys Get Around

Blast from the Past: This Week in Music History-- Alexa West, cohost of ROANOKE Mondays 12am-2am on WGTB

This is a harmonious week in music history, WGTB blog readers! On April 2nd, 1964, a little band called the Beach Boys released their record “I Get Around,” which was #1 in the US by July, selling over 2 million copies. The unique sound of the Beach Boys embodies the West Coast; we still blast “California Girls” and “Surfin’ U.S.A,” on beaches around the country. Their music is some of the easiest to boogie-down to, and the band is a major influence for musicians today.

Hear out the boys belting I Get Around below -- if you click this link, you can watch them singing it.

Review: The Morning Benders, Big Echo


The Morning Benders
Big Echo
A-

Once upon a summer time, two years ago, yours truly attended a life changing concert at Terminal 5 in a notably derelict area of Midtown New York City. The headlining band was the Kooks, soon to become a favorite band of mine. While the event was significant in regards to a blossoming infatuation with the Kooks’ frontman, Luke Pritchard, the gig was also special for its surprisingly decent opening band, the Morning Benders. The band hailing from the far coast of Berkeley, California shores appeared awkward at first. Dressed in Sunday-best polos, dirty sneakers, and thick-rimmed glasses, the newbie boys looked every bit the part of the opening band experiencing their big break while accompanying the well-toured British Kooks. The Morning Benders serenaded the crowd with pleasant and refreshing tunes, reminding the New York concert-goers of all those laid back, naïve, and innocent teenage years they never had. As reviews of the show later revealed to agree, I found the opening band impressive and genuinely delightful. After a few songs to get themselves comfortable, the scrawny lads seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage, despite the audience’s hesitation to support the neophytes…typical. (cont'd after the jump)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Artist of the Week: Love is All



Love is All is a lot of fun. Their light-hearted, earnest power-pop is infused with Swedish attitude and art-rock experimentation, with frontwoman Josephine Olausson leading the troupe in playful, soaring vocals. When they opened for Japandroids last night at the Rock 'n' Roll Hotel in DC, it was hard to keep the crowd from dancing to their special brand of exuberant punky tunes, mostly culled from their latest Polyvinyl release, Two Thousand and Ten Injuries. The band is now touring the States and garnering praise for this last album. Hear "Repetiton," from Two Thousand and Ten Injuries, below:

Love Is All - Repetition .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Concert Review: The Morning Benders at the Black Cat

The Morning Benders @ The Black Cat
March 11, 2010

The morning benders played a sold out show at the Black Cat on March 11. This band’s popularity came as a surprise to no one but the morning benders themselves. Throughout the incredible set comprised solely of songs off of their second album, “Big Echo,” frontman Chris Chu commented effusively on how thankful the band was for everyone in attendance. It is this earnestness which to me is the secret of the morning bender’s [lower caps intentional] inescapable charm. “Big Echo” marks a departure from their debut album, “Talking through Tin Cans,” the kind of sweet, innocuous indie rock which elicited some luke-warm comparisons to The Shins. Their newest release comes from the idea that a big shout produces a big echo, and this album marks the transcendence of the pleasant small echo of "Talking Through Tin Cans" to the loftier reverberations of their own big echo. For this album the benders explored Phil Spector’s concept of the "wall of sound," adding an inescapable depth to the more doleful melodies.

Review: Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me

 Joanna Newsom
Have One On Me
39 out of 46 Golden Harp Strings
(Alternatively: 8.5 out of 10 Cats Dying Slow Deaths)

I tried to like Joanna Newsom before. I really did. At the behest of the bearded and bespectacled gentleman behind the counter at Barnes & Noble who asked me if I was buying a copy of Paste because Sufjan Stevens was on the cover (which I was, for the record), I gave her a listen. His disclaimer that her voice was “something of an acquired taste” seemed a bit of an understatement as I listened to her screech along with her harp live on “Peach, Plum, Pear”—though, to be fair, his other disclaimer was “you’ll probably hate her.” It’s not that her voice was unbearable, though. I recognized that if I gave her a good, long listen, I might become immune to it and be able to appreciate her lyrical and musical talent regardless—but I didn’t. Maybe it was because I had a lot of more tolerable music waiting to be listened to, or maybe it was because of how loudly my roommate complained whenever I put Joanna Newsom on. Whatever the reason, I naturally had no expectations of her newest release,
Have One On Me, when I stumbled across it on NPR First Listen. Well, maybe one expectation—that whatever it sounded like, I could expect some amusing outburst of irritation from the opposite side of my room. (cont'd after the jump)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Check Out Pictures from Our Student Showcase

Saturday night's first annual Student Showcase was a success, as eight student bands performed over the course of the night. We hope to have some video up soon of the concert, but for now, here are some pictures. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped to set up and clean up. Make sure to check out the next two WGTB concerts in Bulldog Alley, featuring Real Estate on April 17 and The Hood Internet on April 23!

Concert Review: Beach House at the Black Cat

Beach House @ The Black Cat
Friday March 26, 2010
w/ Bachelorette

Victoria Legrand is the ultimate band girl. And I would like to be her friend. No, more than friends. I would like to be her best friend. We could exchange BFF necklaces, paint each other's nails and make friendship bracelets together. And at the end of the day, it would be understood that it's one of those uneven friendships, where one person (me) is constantly idolizing and looking up at the other (VLG, which by the way is the nickname I have assigned her). It's likely that our moms are friends and her mom forces her to hang out with me. But she does it willingly, because she's too cool to care and has her eyes set on the cosmos rather than the pettiness of friendships.

When Beach House took the stage at the Black Cat Friday night, all eyes were on Legrand as she stood front and center over her synth, shaking her shaggy mane and wailing like a loosed phenom. She is a commanding presence to witness, and her live act is only slightly more unsteady than her solid-as-a-rock poise on Teen Dream. Vocally, Legrand hovers androgynously somewhere between a banshee and a phone-sex operator, with inevitable Stevie Nicks comparisons-- and like Nicks she leads her band with a certain relaxed authority and great bangs. Even with excessive reverb coming through the mic, some looping of vocal tracks and drums playing over pre-recorded drums, Beach House’s sound never seemed contrived; this is partly due to Legrand’s naturally booming voice, which retained an organic quality despite the effects. It was just authentic enough to recreate that surround-sound, total-immersion effect without blatantly replicating the album echo by echo. (more after the jump)



Take Cover: The Hold Steady take on The Boss


Craig Finn has one of those impeccable rock voices, distinctive and commanding with a character all its own. It recalls boozy walks home down slick city streets and smoky crowded bars full of strangers. It crams allusions and illusions in between dizzying chord changes, syllable by stubborn syllable. It taps into a dark sense of hopelessness hidden beneath the glorified sound of American rock 'n' roll.

Know who else does that? The Boss. Bruce Springsteen has for decades become famous for unveiling the pervasive heart of darkness that lives alongside the American dream, and making it sound damn good.

It's hard to improve on a classic. And of course, The Hold Steady's lineup is awfully similar to that of the E Street Band, with a powerful saxophone that rivals Clarence Clemons. But this version of "Atlantic City" is more sinister, and more rocking, than Springsteen's nostalgic, acoustic ballad. That's why a line like "Last night I met this guy, I'm gonna do a favor for him," comes across exactly as Springsteen meant it: subtly haunting, vague, uneasy. Everything dies, that's a fact. Maybe everything that dies someday comes back-- like, perhaps, a certain painter of lyrical portraits, well-versed in history and amplified Americana, with a flair for the rough and ragged and run-down. Bruce, meet Craig. (See the Boss's original after the jump.)

-- Caroline Klibanoff
"Melodious Intoxication," Thursdays 12-2 pm on WGTB

Concert Pick of the Week: Megafaun

Wednesday, March 31, 9pm

 Megafaun is one of the few bands who take indie-folk and don't simply rely on emotive and intelligent to hide an otherwise bland and uninteresting musical arrangement. This is not to say that Megafaun's lyrics aren't meaningful, but their real draw is their orchestration and interactivity with the crowd. Head down to their show Wednesday night at the intimate Black Cat back stage to hear your familiar indie-folk sounds twisted and tickled just enough to make it both interesting and enjoyable.

Review: Toro Y Moi, Causers of This

Toro Y Moi
Causers of This
B+

The glo-fi/chillwave genre tags tend to lump together artists such as Washed Out (Ernest Greene), Neon Indian (Alan Palomo), and Toro Y Moi (Chaz Bundick) as peers in a surging musical idiom. But to disregard the aesthetic differences that make Toro Y Moi stand out from the rest of his contemporaries would be an oversight.

Strong pop hooks, clean vocal melodies, pulsing bass, and meticulous production characterize Toro Y Moi’s debut LP Causers of This. The album’s opener “Blessa” begins with an ethereal intro of filtered and reverbed vocals that eventually drop into a dancy, bass-heavy groove, a motif that threads the album. “Blessa” transitions seamlessly to “Minors” a track that highlights Bundick’s dulcet vocals, which are higher in the mix and less effected than most of his fellow chillwavers.

Album standouts include “Talamak,” “Imprint After,” and “Fax Shadow.” “Talamak’s” syncopated bass undulates and drives, making the chromatic groove of the chorus hit that much harder, while spiky synth hits and Bundick’s breathy, but confident falsettos, float in the upper register. The latin jazz piano intro of “Imprint After” drops out of nowhere into a heavy quarter note bass riff, demonstrating Bundick’s creativity and innovation, while deconstructing the critique of chillwave as a musically monotonous genre. “Fax Shadow” is perhaps the album’s most rhythmically and melodically complex track. Here Bundick isn’t shy about displaying influences such as DJ Shadow, and Bibio. He employs the same cut-up technique you can hear throughout Shadow’s Endtroducing, and on Bibio’s vocals on “Fire Ant” off of Ambivalence Avenue—but it isn’t kitsch. Bundick’s vocals soar while the cut-up vocal track adds texture to the syncopated bass rhythm.

However, Causers of This weakly tapers with the album’s last two tracks. “Low Shoulder” repeats a very similar piano riff from “Imprint After,” while the bass groove and synths sound embarrassingly too much like cliché 80s electro-pop. Similarly, the closer “Causers of This” is schizophrenic with gloopy keyboards, and never establishes a groove you can bob your head to, a departure from what the first nine tracks do so well.

What Causers of This achieves in the end though is a representation of the potential of Bundick’s beat, hook, and production skills, which surpass his current glo-fi peers. And perhaps most importantly, Bundick demonstrates a craftsmanship and attention to detail that will only help him as he grows as a musician.

-- Joseph Romano

Friday, March 26, 2010

Play What? Play This! Playlist.


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Play What? Play This! Playlist

This week: Heartbreakers

Relationships end. It’s a painful processes envied by none. Yet perhaps it begs the age-old, albeit trite, question: is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? Sure, that question may have faint whiffs (if not a pungent odor) of death, but I think we can extend it into the land of break-ups as well. Whatever your answer, the emotions felt at the end of a liaison are powerful and rough. So then why, you may ask, would you fill a playlist entirely of songs that will illicit such emotions, songs that actively try to break your heart? Is it not amazing that a song can even do that – can stir up such powerful feelings, change your entire mood? These songs may not be ideal for every day, but on rainy afternoons (such as today) are often a fitting time for ruminations and contemplations.

Battin' Lashes: The Fruit Bats



“You don’t happen to be from the Northern suburbs of Chicago, do you?” It was with this immediate, intimate connection surrounding the strip-mall-scattered suburbia of the greater Chicagoland area that Eric Johnson, lead singer and chief songwriter of Fruit Bats, answered my phone call. Area codes can be so telling.

Click through to read more and hear the full interview!

Review: Ruby Suns, Fight Softly

The Ruby Suns
Fight Softly
B+

New Zealander Ryan McPhun returns to the studio as The Ruby Suns for his third record entitled Fight Softly, a light and interesting album with an upbeat sound. Some may complain that McPhun’s newest release lacks a clear cohesiveness, a potentially valid point, but it should also be taken into account that part of what makes this CD so nice to listen to is how it can surprise you and jump around. The Suns’ indie-synth sound is peppered with Afro-Carribean beats that help give the album its generally pleasant and light sound. McPhun’s gentle voice over the repetitious synth generally works well, although the lyrics are often hard to decipher. Overall a solid junior effort from the New Zealander that is perfect for a relaxed atmosphere and possibly something to cheer you up on a rainy day.

Song Picks: “Two Humans,” “Closet Astrologer”


--Spud Paulus

Host, “Beat Mingle” Friday 1:00-2:00 EST on WGTB

Review: The Bird and the Bee, Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates

The Bird and the Bee
Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates
A

The Bird and the Bee is a band after my own heart—anyone who endeavors to cover the venerable 80s pop icons Daryl Hall and John Oates deserves some serious laud. I was a little worried that without the novelty of mullets and Blue Magnum-worthy iconography to accompany the tunes, Hall and Oates’s music would lose some of its magic. Fortunately, however, The Bird and the Bee’s rendition not only does justice to the “Masters,” but cements Hall and Oates’s (sometimes questioned) merit as musicians.

Inara George and Greg Kurstin (Bird and Bee, respectively), translate hits like “Private Eyes” and “Kiss On My List into their own indie/synth style, adding a level of depth and sophistication to the originals. A couple of the weaker songs, “One On Oneand “Sarah Smiles,” for example, don’t work quite as well, but that more reflects the integrity of Hall and Oates’s original songs than a failure on the part of George and Kurstin. The best tracks on the album introduce a fresh sound that sometimes even surpasses the originals.

The combination of George’s sweet lyrical touch and Kurstin’s reworking of the original, very recognizable, material into more contemporary beats creates unique, modern versions of some truly classic songs. Thanks Bird and Bee, I can definitely go for that.

Especially recommended tracks: “I Can’t Go For That,” “Maneater

-Emma Forster
Host: Regional Rotations, Wednesdays 2-4 on WGTB


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interview with Eleventyseven - Listen Here

Last Tuesday, DJ Alexander Podkul (Host, "Nothin' But A G-O-D Thang," got a chance to chat with Christian rock band Eleventyseven on-air. Catch the full interview below!

Interview with Matthew of Eleventyseven by wgtbmusic

WWYC of the Week

You know that feeling you get when Andy from The Office sings a harmony and sort of uses his hand gestures to follow the melody? That's the feeling I get here, over and over again for all three steroid-raging minutes. True though, one of the side effects of steroids is a retardation of the production of testosterone, that thing that makes your voice not sound like his.

Normally there is this tiny iota of regret that I get with these postings. It whispers to me when I go to sleep, and it plagues me when I do song writing of my own. JpCampbe, though, you sir have forfeited your claim to this guilt-inducing power. You use the n-word without blinking an eye as though the integrity of your cover is so important that you can degrade an entire people. Now lets not get bogged down in linguistic progressivism and rather just join together in collective loathing.



Next up for this guy: a t-shirt? Nay, A toga.

Review: Andy Elwell, No One You Will Ever Know

Andy Elwell

No One You Will Ever Know

D


Talk to anyone who isn’t a fan of folk music, and they might tell you it’s because it’s boring, repetitive, and all sort of sounds the same. Even though I as a fan of the folk genre would disagree, throw in some pretty terrible lyricism and a lot of unnecessary “ooh”s and you’ve got a pretty accurate description of No One You Will Ever Know, the debut release from singer/songwriter Andy Elwell.


From beginning to end, No One You Will Ever Know oscillates between soporific and flat-out annoying. The opener, “Her Salt,” an uninspiring love song with a pocket of acapella towards the end in a failed attempt to keep things interesting, is a good taste of what the rest of the album is going to consist of. Other gems include “Everest,” a confusing tune where Elwell vocally tries (unsuccessfully) to imitate Neil Young while equating himself with a mountain, and “Housewarming” in which he warbles “I’ve been thinking about sleep/ like I think it’s what I need.” Funny he should mention needing sleep, because by this track (only the album’s fourth), his entire audience is way ahead of him.


-- Leigh Finnegan,

Host, “Facts and Tracks”, Wednesdays 10-11 am and Fridays 2-3 pm on WGTB

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Native Noise: Torches

TORCHES

NATIVE NOISE: THE NUTSHELL
Accessibility: 5
Originality: 10
Musical Prowess: 8
Recommended Listening: 7
Crush Factor: 6
Overall: 7

Stephen Guidry, founder and frontman of current DC band Torches, has lived a varied history during his last decade as a DC musician––first playing with local band the Parlor Scouts (still “intermittenly in existence”) and then transplanting to the Cassettes until late 2008. When the Cassettes disbanded, Guidry decided he need an outlet for the songs he’d begun writing during his years with former bands, and this time chose a new band from among his friends, many of whom he already knew to be musicians. The product was, of course, Torches. The group, celebrating its tenth show overall with this performance at the Black Cat’s backstage, has gone through a plethora of changes in just a year––read about them, more on the band, its mechanics, and valuable insight on the past and workings of the DC music scene below!

Torches, now in its tenth incarnation as a band, has never played consecutive sets with the same line-up. I was taken aback by this momentarily, but Guidry explained it neatly––”I always imagined the band as being somewhat modular, I want to songs to work––I hope the songs work––no matter who’s playing them.” I managed to meet most of this week’s band, but am still unsure who was permanent and who was just passing through. (For the sake of journalistic decency, I was so sick during this interview I could barely see straight, and neglected to get the first and last names of those around me. I have cobbled together what I could from transcript and the vast Internet.) When Torches tours late this June in preparation for a full-length album recording session (and release in the fall), for example, they’ll just be with a skeleton crew, picking up and dropping people along the way. Just Guidry and bassist Jill? Fine. Guidry and the drummer? Fine as well. Guidry went on: “with some exceptions, a good kind of pop song should be able to sit on it’s own, so that’s the kind of idea.”

Torches are, however, far from the kind of conventional pop song Guidry’s statement brought to mind, I later learned watching their live set. As lead oboe-ist Jocelyn explained the mechanics of the band to me (“banjo, oboe, harmonica, accordion, drums, bass, cello,”) I could only think of one word: cacophany. (A second, fleeting thought: Man Man. I later discovered both were, in a sense, correct first-glimpse assessments.) Jocelyn, however, spoke with an element of pride about her group’s unique sound: “one of the things that’s pretty cool about this band is that it takes a bunch of instruments that may have played at different times in different incarnations––sure, you may have heard an oboe and a cello together before, in an orchestra or whatever––but now we all play to our strengths, and bring those bits of character to the group, and that shows.”

I also asked Torches what they thought of the DC scene––they are the oldest band I’ve chatted with thus far, and offered me a concise overview of the past decade or so of DC music. In their words:
 Ten years ago, DC’s sound revolved around a few strong labels that were churning out records and fresh beats night and day (Dischord to name the largest, calling bands such as Q and Not U, Fugazi, and The Dismemberment Plan its own). However, in recent years, these labels, while still around, have waned in strength as the bread and butter of the DC music scene––and thus, or perhaps as a causal factor, DC’s “sound” has diffused into something entirely undefinable. The band seemed torn along several different sentiments: Guidry spoke of the atomizing effect the diffusion and introduction of internet self-releases have had (“ it becomes about you releasing your own stuff, as opposed to the previous notion of banding together”––Torches’ first release was on the internet as well, no finger-pointing: http://thetorches.bandcamp.com/album/demonstrations), the saxophonist however seemed to think that DC had something special going on in its diffusion of sound, that there truly was something for everyone to enjoy in the acts currently playing around the city. Oboeist Jocelyn, again on a positive note (current prediction for the next DC bands I interview, based on the last two: the blonde, curly-headed instrumentalist always has the nicest things to say), brought up the pride DC bands feel in being part of a certain, distinct kind of creative culture, a pride they demonstrate when they play outside of the district, representing their hometown.

As far as the live-set goes, it was a lot like Torches’ description of their band’s sandwich: “a Dagwood, bachelor sandwich: never the same sandwich twice, but still the hope that it always tastes good.” This sandwich fit in exactly with both the fact that the band had never appeared like this before (did Dagwood ever see the same sandwich twice?) and the seemingly random assortment on instruments in a unique musical incarnation (Dagwood wasn’t going to discriminate what went in the sandwich: the whole fridge!). The tunes were wild and swampy, with lots of foot stomping and yowling and oboe-ing about the stage. The crowd needed to beaten over the head several times with Torches’ jangling wall of sound, but they were soon dancing appreciatively. The lyrics were lush and entertaining (“Dr. P” was a “hoot,” (yes, that was an oboe pun) though I’m still unclear what the song was really about), and the matching carnations each member sported were as charming as the crowd banter. Torches is certainly not everyone’s slice of musical pie, but I have a feeling––a hope, perhaps––that they may be once they pin down a line-up for at least two shows in a row. Or perhaps that kind of consistency would simply be beside the point.

Give them a listen here: http://www.myspace.com/theetorches
Tumble along with them here: http://www.thetorches.net/
Check out a (horribly recorded) video of Guidry and his two leading ladies:
http://vimeo.com/10369784

-- Fiona Hanly
Host, "Sweet N Flo," Mondays 12-1 pm on WGTB

Native Noise is a weekly column highlighting local bands, appearing on Wednesdays on the WGTB blog.

TWIMH: Bootlegs Banned

Blast from the Past: This Week in Music History
by Alexa West, cohost of ROANOKE Mondays 12am-2am on WGTB

We’re getting political this week in TWIMH. On March 24, 1966 the New York State assembly was the first of many states to outlaw “bootlegs,” or unauthorized copies of records and tapes. Little did they know, Napster and Limewire would soon be coming to enhance the problem, which started out with cheap street-vendors. The conflict between artists and fans intensified, and kids began holding protests for free CDs and free concerts. Many artists—like Metallica—would never stand for performing without revenue, but the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and many other peace-loving artists performed free concerts to appease the crowds.

Review: Pavement, Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement

Pavement

Quarantine the Past

B+


“Quarantine The Past: The Best of Pavement” pulls together re-recorded tracks, with the help of a drum machine, into a one stop shop for classic Pavement and new takes on the familiar heavy guitar distortion style. While I usually withhold praise and adoration for “Best Of” albums, “Quarantine The Past” is worth a listen, especially for those unfamiliar with Pavement’s style. Commercial success and the retirement of drummer Mark Ibold leaves “Quarantine The Past” as possibly the group's final album. While not groundbreaking, the album does contain tracks worth a listen. Check out “Gold Soundz,” “Frontwards,” “Stereo,” and “Summer Babe (Winter Version),” for a healthy taste of what has made the Pavement sound a lasting success.

-- Andrew Glass

Don't forget: This Saturday night, free STUDENT SHOWCASE featuring 8 Georgetown bands!

WGTB's First Annual Student Showcase

Saturday March 27, 2010
Doors 7 pm
Show starts at 8 pm

Bulldog Alley in the Leavey Center
Georgetown University
37th & O St. NW, Washington DC 20057

FEATURING:
City Folk
Little Bigheart and the Wilderbeast
Dogfish
Brontosamurai
Stout Cortez
Farewell to Arms
The Darling Snaps
Bike Club

RSVP to the Facebook event here!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review: Josiah Wolf, Jet Lag


Josiah Wolf
Jet Lag
C+
Josiah Wolf’s Jet Lag is an album released by someone who just got out of an 11 year long marriage; so take one guess at what it’s about. The record is, indeed, a collection of lyrics about post-breakup emotions and nostalgia surrounded by soft indie pop. You can’t blame Wolf for wanting to express himself after such an ordeal, regardless of how cliché an album concept it may be. What you can blame him for is his lack of effectively demonstrating any of the emotions he is so obviously feeling. His attempted catharsis fails to instill any empathy in the listener even though there is boundless potential to do so. The best example of this is in the song “Ohioho.” The song’s rhythmic marimba background and gradually building vocals present the perfect opportunity for an awesome, epic explosion two-thirds through the song. But at this point Wolf simply fades back into his soft acoustic strumming. This failure to “go for it” is present throughout the whole album and leaves a promising record unmemorable.
-- Kevin Lynch
Host, "Don't You Wish We Were NPR," Mondays 8-10 AM on WGTB

Artist of the Week: Happy Birthday


Happy Birthday is a terrible name for a band. It's hard to find them on the Internet and it reveals next to nothing about the type of music they play. With this band, however, it almost doesn't matter-- Happy Birthday has such a wide range of sound on their latest self-titled release that genre lines don't really apply. Sounding a bit like 70's-era garage rock, with grungy vocals like those of Girls' Christopher Owens and Dire Straits-esque bass riffs, Happy Birthday is consistently interesting, frequently lo-fi, and occasionally quite serious. Still, the Vermont natives, recently signed to Sub Pop, manage to keep their music upbeat and anchored to a traditional rock-'n'-roll structure even as they explore vocal harmonies and heavy gain on the guitars. Keep an eye out for their upcoming self-titled release.

Listen to Happy Birthday "Girls FM" below:

Happy Birthday - Girls FM .mp3


Found at bee mp3 search engine

Review: The Whigs, In the Dark

The Whigs
In the Dark
C+

The first association everyone seems to want to make with garage rock trio The Whigs is to fellow Southerners Kings of Leon – and sadly, I must agree with everyone when comparing both bands’ most recent albums. In The Dark and Only By The Night are almost identical in the fact that they signal the transition from raw, indie Southern rock to packaged, Hollywood-produced noise. That doesn’t mean that it’s unpleasant to listen to, necessarily; just that it’s almost entirely unoriginal.

The song arrangements are repetitive and formulaic. Take a basic bass line, add a strong but simple percussion beat, top it all off with an arching guitar solo and power vocals, and voila! You have, more or less, the entirety of In The Dark. There are slight variations of course, as with the slower but no more artistically crafted “I Don’t Even Care About The One I Love,” but for the most part, The Whigs stick to their formula.

And it does work, to an extent. The album is by no means impossible to enjoy if you’re in the market for a mindless but fun excuse to bust out your air instruments and scream along with the music. The Whigs are upbeat, they’re loud, they’re having fun. It’s obvious that they’re hoping for their audience to achieve something similar, even as they fall incredibly short. If you like your albums to be a little more carefully crafted, a little more clever, a little more engaging, then In The Dark is most definitely not for you. I’ll probably keep it in my iTunes library, though, in case the urge to head bang while in Lau ever strikes.
Song Picks:
"Black Lotus," "Kill Me Carolyne"

- Emily Simpson
Host, "Don't You Wish We Were NPR?" Monday 8:00-10:00 AM on WGTB

Catch our on-air interview with The Whigs here

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: Butterfly Bones, Pretty Feelings


Butterfly Bones
Pretty Feelings
B

With an album cover that looks like something you’d see in a kaleidoscope and the track listing done in colors only found in the gel pens of preteen girls, the first release by Butterfly Bones looks a little absurd. I found myself hoping that the band was at least being ironic with their art; as it turns out, they’re something better. They’re good. Think Passion Pit with a lead singer who sounds a lot more like Interpol’s Paul Banks and a vibe that’s more relaxing than bursting at the seams.

While Pretty Feelings only contains five tracks at a total run time of twenty-two brief (but enjoyable) minutes, it feels complete and it knocks around in your head for a while after listening. So if you’re at all into spacing out with music made by individuals who are, as they claim in the opening track, “strong, charming, indelible, and elegant,” Butterfly Bones just might be the next band for you.
Best Tracks:
“Xoxo” and “R U My Mother??”

-- Emily Simpson
Host, Don’t You Wish We Were NPR? Mondays 8-10 AM on WGTB

Concert Pick of the Week: Shearwater

Friday, March 26th, 8 PM doors


Don't be the kid who doesn't know about the next big art-rock band out of Austin. Coming to the Rock and Roll Hotel this Friday is Shearwater, a band just about as interesting and weird as the photo implies. So, if the people from GU Art Aficionados haven't forced you at gunpoint to go to G40, take the free shuttle from the Chinatown Metro down to H Street and catch what should be a really expansive and entertaining gig.


Check out their Tiny Desk Concert after the jump!

Take Cover: Vampire Weekend do Fleetwood Mac


How many modern indie-rock covers of 80's songs does it take to make a trend? Maybe these are so good because they’re genre-defying; maybe they’re good because they allow us to subtly, shamelessly admit how damn catchy the 80’s were. Maybe they’re just good in comparison to some stagnant same-on-same covers, where contemporary artists take on other really similar artists (like the SXSW performance of Megafaun and the Tallest Man on Earth covering contemporary Bon Iver).

That being said, Ezra Koenig's voice sounds eerily like Christine McVie's husky whisper, so maybe he’s not exactly re-inventing the wheel here. It’s a good match, though, and VW adds a snazzy deconstructionist vibe twice—once at the beginning and then again about halfway through—where the drums break down haphazardly before bringing it back together cleanly and crisply and oh-so-earnestly with Ezra’s yell: “One! Two! Three! Four!”
Check out Fleetwood Mac's original here.


-- Caroline Klibanoff
Host, "Melodious Intoxication" Thurs. 12-2
on WGTB


Friday, March 19, 2010

Play What? Play This! Playlist.

This week: Where Did That Come From? 

Sampling. Great post-modern art of the music world. Taking that which has been established and revamping it into a new sound. Thousands or artists sample, millions of songs (have there been a million songs? Probably, right?) include a sample of some sort. But where did those samples come from? Well here is a quick list of some of my favorite originals. (Normally I would have playlist you could listen to as well… but I couldn’t find most of these songs on the website that creates those playlists. Enjoy the YouTube versions!)

Don't Miss: WGTB's Student Showcase Concert, Next Saturday Night



Make sure to come to Bulldog Alley on Saturday March 27 to catch some of Georgetown's favorite performing bands. Bring your friends! Its free, starts at 8 pm and features eight bands, with City Folk and Little Bigheart and the Wilderbeast headlining.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WWYC of the Week

AngelB4Ever01's name embodies the type of lyrical and poetic complexity that her singing style matches. Is it "I be an angel forver," as in proclaiming the immortality of angels, and her being one of this group? Is it "Angel Before Ever," as in positing that God's mind is eternal, not infinite, existing outside of time rather than a never ending continuation of it? Maybe her name is 'Angel B' and she wants us to know that she will be around forever. I don't know. I don't think anyone knows. One thing I do know, and that is that she sings Creep with the kind of emotional tenderness and hidden insecurities that Thom Yorke can only pray for.



Next up for AngelB4Ever: getting discovered by a major label.

Review: New Monarchs, Electrocaching


New Monarchs
Electrocaching
B

The exhaustive refrain featured in two of the songs off Electrocaching goes: “I am searching for a message in the electric sounds that are running through my head.” As I listened to this line as it was repeated over and over again, I couldn’t help but think, “gee, New Monarchs, me too, what exactly does your music mean?” It’s not that Electrocaching isn’t potentially enjoyable – if you like light, Postal Service-esque synthesized beats and melancholy lyrics, perhaps you’ll like the New Monarchs. However, the only message I could find between their electric sounds is that the New Monarchs are two sad guys from Minneapolis who like to play with synthesizers when they’re bored. In the song “Six or 12” they sing, “five years of spinning LPs at these parties and I’m still waiting,” as if to suggest that they are still waiting to find their collective voice. They seem to have good musical potential, but they haven’t yet created a strong enough sound that will set them apart from other electronic duos or bands. Each song off Electrocaching gives off too much of the same sound, and none of the songs seem to be able to stand on their own. Their best attempt, in my opinion, is the title song, Electrocaching, as it seems to be their most “catchy” song, however, the New Monarchs have yet to prove just how “Electro-ca[t]ching” they can be.


-- Elena Solli
Host, "Fun Dip and Cherry Coke," Thursdays 10 pm - 12 AM on WGTB

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Triggers, Smoke Show

Triggers
Smoke Show
A-
 
Smoke Show is an a great album if you're in the mood for some danceable, poppy, catchy, rock music.  Poppy at times, rocky at others - this album is guitar driven and synth colored and can probably make even a paraplegic tap his foot to it.  With a driving vocal line with expected gang vocals at appropriate parts of the song, this album is certainly recommended.  Must listen tracks are - "Ready or Not" and "Right Where I Need You".  This album is certainly rhythmically energetic and melodically soothing.  Next time I go fishing, I will surely not be using any bait - the hooks in these songs will do the trick.
-- Alex Podkul
Host, "Nothin' but a G-O-D Thang," Tuesdays 2-4 on WGTB

TWIMH: Flava Flav is Born

Blast from the Past: This Week in Music History
-- Alexa West, cohost of ROANOKE Mondays 12-2am on WGTB

This week in music history was a truly important one, WGTB fans. William Jonathan Drayton—better known as Flava Flave—was born on the 16th of March in 1959. What would we do today without oversized-watch necklaces and reruns of VH1’s Flavor of Love? After being born in Freeport, Long Island, he went on to become an iconic rapper; he even created a new niche in his field, the “hypeman.” Georgetown’s spirit, affected by hormones and pop culture, would not be the same without Flava Flave and his “YEA BOYSSSS.” He is an icon for anyone who likes a to jump around and yell, whether hollering “HOYAS,” or just “FLAVA FLAVEEEE.”

To see an epic Flava Flave performance with Public Enemy, click below:

Track Review:Krave feat. Lil’ Jon, Pit Bull & Flo-Rida – "Go Crazy"



Krave
"Go Crazy"
C

            I had high expectations for this song. The collaborators on this song are impressive. It is a lineup similar to the one that was put together for Drake in his song "Forever." Granted, no one takes Lil' Jon or Flo-Rida seriously, but they are icons in party music just as much as Kanye, Eminem and Weezy are for current hip-hop. For the relatively unknown Krave to be given such an opportunity, I would have expected them to create the ultimate party anthem. However, it is nothing but just another regular party song... and even then... absolutely not the most epic one I have ever heard. This is the kind of song I can see being played at a club with a group of girls singing along to the hook after a good number of shots. Shit… I would probably join in on the wonderful anthem: “all da gurlzzz in da club go krazyyy.” I would have expected Krave to be grateful that they landed the opportunity to record a song with an entourage of  “shake yo bootay n’ git yo grind on at da club” all stars: Pitbull, Flo-Rida and Lil’ Jon. However, unlike “Forever” this song was simply “alright”. Other than the catchy hook, the most redeeming quality is Pitbull’s performance, and even then, it is far from his classics such as “Culo” or “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho).” The song lacked anything to make it stand out and make me want to listen to it more. It’s the kind of song that could come up on the radio and I wouldn’t necessarily be offended by it, but nothing I would repeat or go out of my way to play. Hopefully the girls from Krave capitalize and outperform this song next time they are given the opportunity to perform with party song legends like Lil Jon, Pit Bull and Flo-Rida. They better not disappoint me again.

-- Enrique Lemus
"Moose Tracks," Mondays 10-11 pm on WGTB

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Artist of the Week: The Spring Standards

Like sunny, upbeat indie rock? Like pleasant harmonies and grooving beats? Like easygoing, rustic riffs and charming lyrics? Of course you do. The Spring Standards, who sound more derivative of Southern California than their native New York, are bringing their tunes to the Jammin' Java in Vienna on April 7. The trio is set to release their first full-length album, Would Things Be Different, which was produced by Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Apples in Stereo, Akron/Family.) Their last EP garnered much praise and was produced by Rhett Miller of the Old 97s. Keep an eye out for Would Things Be Different!

Listen to The Spring Standards' "Sad Song" below:
The Spring Standards - Sad Song .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Concert Review: Small Black at DC9



Small Black (w/ Washed Out)
  DC9, Washington DC
March 11, 2010

Whatever prejudices you have about Long Island, Small Black will probably prove you wrong, at least in terms of musical talent.  Their lo-fi, indie pop music joins them to the likes of similar artists such as Neon Indian and Memory Cassette.  Small Black’s songs have a certain bedroom feel that I imagined would be difficult to replicate when not on a recorded track.  Live, the duo that makes up Small Black, Josh Kolenik and Ryan Heyner, is joined by Juan Pieczanski and Jeff Curtin on drums and guitar.  The guitar and drums combined with the synths gives more soul to the performance and makes listening to their songs less private and more of a shared experience between Small Black on-stage and the surrounding audience.

Small Black’s lo-fi tracks are full of longing and matured teenage angst.  Listening to their songs live was much more of an emotional experience for me versus having listened to their recorded EPs.  The rest of the audience also appeared to be touched by the high level of energy Small Black gave through their performance.  Midway through their set Small Black was joined by their opener, Washed Out, and together played a large selection of Washed Out tracks remixed by Small Black.  This combination was amazing although I would have liked to hear Small Black play more of their original songs. 

My only complaint about the show is the limited time Small Black had to perform.  Even their set with Washed Out seemed rushed and ended right at the climax of the overwhelming energy levels present throughout the venue.  I definitely hope to hear more from Small Black and see them perform again, preferably when their set can go late into the night.

-- Dominique Barron
Host, Amurikah = Apple Pie & Fried Chicken -- Tuesdays, 6-8PM on WGTB

Review: Red Pens, Reasons

Red Pens
Reasons
A- 

Red Pens are a musical duo composed of a guy (Howard Hamilton III) on guitar and a girl on drums (Laura Bennett). Wait, what? You say you’ve seen this all before? Don’t be so quick to dismiss this band as just another White Stripes clone- what they’ve created in their debut album, Reasons, is so much more than that. Hamilton’s distorted guitar pairs perfectly with the steady drumming of Bennett. The level of effects used give the record a fuzzy tone, but thankfully they don’t go overboard: the vocals aren’t meddled with, so Red Pens don’t end up sounding like some other pretentious shoe-gazers who seem to enjoy pressing pedals or doing copious amounts of drugs which leads to disastrous consequences when playing live (see Wavvves). If there is one area in which Reasons disappoints, it’s the inconsistency in the complexity of the lyrics. Some of the tracks are pretty complex, lyrics discussing drug use and relationships (Street Issue and Hung Out, for example). These are juxtaposed with simpler, almost child-like songs like Baby Alligator and Children and the Kids. The one thing that can’t be denied is that Red Pens are a band heading in the right direction, developing a great sound complimented (sometimes) with good lyrics. As they continue to make music, expect more great sounding records like this one.

Favorite Tracks: Hung Out, Blue Lighter, Street Issue

-- Josh Smith
Host, "Artists in Exile," Sundays 2-4 pm on WGTB

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sports Talk: Interview with LockerBlogger.com!

While in New York, WGTB Sports Director John Kenchelian sat down with LockerBlogger.com, a blog that gets interviews with important sports figures behind the scenes, to discuss the Big East Tournament, Georgetown Basketball, and the NCAA Tournament scene. Check the video out below, and be sure to go to LockerBlogger.com to get all your inside sports information.