Friday, April 30, 2010

Review: Mar, The Silence

The Silence
If you want to get the full effect of this album, turn of all the lights in your room, maybe light a candle and listen to the whole thing in it’s entirety.  Because Mar’s The Silence is incredibly creepy and strange and Dark-Side-of-the-Moon-esque, and it deserves an appropriate listening setting.   Not going to lie, it kind of freaked me out a bit when I first started listening to it, but in a good way.  Mar’s sound is low and full of minor chords and extremely slow drum beats, and it’s kind of funky.  If you like Animal Collective or Pink Floyd, or if you’re just into weird experimental music in general, you would like this album.  Beware, though – there is a track called “Red Rum” (a reference to the movie The Shining), if that gives you any clue into its creepiness.  Mar is a collective of a bunch of different musicians hailing all the way from Arkansas to make you feel uncomfortable with their unsettling tunes, and they will probably succeed in doing so.  So sit back, put this album on in your tiny dorm room, and contemplate the awesome crazy things you can do with music if you’re willing to engage in a little experimentation....

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

Review: Jonsi, Go

In the midst of the toil and stress that accompanies final month of the semester, few things can lift your (re: my) spirits like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk ice cream. But as you (see also: I) put down your spoon after killing the entire damn cylinder of frozen dairy goodness, nothing else stands between you and that 17-page research paper. All seems lost.  But wait!  A heavenly voice from your computer beckons your ears, delivering a smile and a refreshing sigh of brief relief.  Perhaps Jónsi can make everything better.
            The lead singer from the lovely Icelandic band Sigur Rós, Jónsi released his debut solo album Go earlier this month. Anyone accustomed to Sigur Rós’s consistently ethereal sound should not be all too surprised by Jónsi’s newest work, and yet such familiarity doesn’t dull the warmly emotive reaction that Go elicits.  With Go, Jónsi maintains his wonderful sense of pacing that he has exhibited with Sigur Rós, but instead of falling in and out of earshot with textured instrumentals building and then releasing, Jónsi asserts the soft, resounding power of his own voice as the foundation for one of the year’s best records thus far.
            Jónsi opted to sing the majority of his debut album in English rather than his usual fictional Vonleska (“Hopelandic”), but truthfully, understanding the lyrics matters little in appreciating this offering.  Jónsi’s falsetto dominates the entire record, occasionally in moments beautiful melancholy, but primarily with inspiring crescendos directed at no one in particular.  Go is equally dramatic as Jónsi’s past efforts, but with greater accessibility and a heightened sense of wonder (if that’s possible).  Album highlight “Boy Lilikoi” will surely test your heart’s ability to flutter, and take flight it will.  “Tornado” takes a darker turn, as Jónsi whispers “You grow from the inside/Destroy everything through,” balancing out an otherwise life-affirming album.
Strings, woodwind, piano, and all flavors of percussive goodies form complex layers in support of Jónsi’s voice, all of which meld into a fantastically produced album. The record easily could have fallen flat with shoddy studio work, but Go proves to have just enough polish to tap the potential of Jónsi’s skyward sound while not hampering the Icelander’s sonically evasive nature.  Go pulses, drives, sinks, but only briefly, recovering quickly to rise above cloud cover.  Allow yourself to coo throughout, even if finals bear down your newly goosebumped neck.

Highlights: “Go Do”; “Boy Lilikoi”; “Around Us”
-- Scott Lensing

Play What? Play This Playlist: Georgetown Day

Forget; we've assembled this playlist for you, carefully comprised of the MOST feel-good sunny-day songs ever, plus some recent releases we just wanted to include. Blast this playlist on the lawn on Georgetown Day, if you can manage to even hear your own music over the DJs and bands playing. Enjoy the weekend, and remember to keep up with all of the great things going on with WGTB-- our concerts, our events, our coming-website and current blog, and of COURSE our programming which is about to wrap up for the semester, so listen in while you still can.

Your favorite college radio station,
We Got The Beat

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Review: Inlets, Inter Arbiter

Inter Arbiter
 Artistic Merit: B+
Enjoyment After One Week Of Listening: D-
Enjoyment After Two Weeks Of Listening: B

At first glance, the album, Sebastien Krueger’s debut full-length Inter Arbiter, following up his critically acclaimed EP The Vestibule, looks like it will undoubtedly be amazing. Yes, physically looks. The inside cover of the album itself won me over, I was and still am tempted to figure out a way to wallpaper a room in this print. Further exploration of the album cover led me to the track details––and who should I see featured on Track 6 but Zach Condon, golden god of music behind Beirut, man of my heart? I was on board. I proceeded to play Inter Arbiter with only the highest expectations––but was, surprisingly enough, absolutely, overwhelmingly, sorely disappointed.

I spent a week’s time being absolutely vexed at how much buzz Inter Arbiter was getting while I was busy hating (yes, unfortunately hating) it. For a variety of reasons, Krueger’s dissonant, complex instrumental arrangements and husky croon just make me wholly uncomfortable. However, both conceptually and artistically, the album is fairly brilliant, I (grudgingly) must admit. These same off-putting, complex instrumental orchestrations speak for themselves, chapeau, Krueger, you multi-instrumentalist, you. Krueger also has some of the most amazing friends in music, and many of them are unsurprisingly featured on Inter Arbiter. Dirty Projectors
fans will note Angel Deradoorian’s appearance, a perfect fit in a world of dissonance. Lyrically, Krueger is lack-luster––he seems to be crooning every word out of the muffled corner of his mouth. Further on Krueger’s instrumental arrangements, I noticed on first listen (while I wasn’t busy squirming) that tracks such as “Bells and Whistles” (the track I tolerated best) sound similar to Andrew Bird or Owen Pallett's intricacy––key here is that these are both artists I coincidentally like very much. Going back to the album details that earlier left me flummoxed, however, “Bells and Whistles” is the track that features Zach Condon’s my taking to this track in particular of course made perfect sense. My dislike of the album, on the other hand, still does not, though an appreciation for this unique artist’s debut is unavoidable.

Tracks You’ll Like If You’re Not Named Fiona: Bright Orange Air, Bells and Whistles

-- Fiona Hanly
"Sweet 'n' Flo," Mondays 12-1 pm on WGTB

Thursday, April 29, 2010

WGTB Election Results

WGTB held elections for the fall semester last night. Below are the results for the available positions:

Programming: Alexa West
Tech: Alex Podkul
Events: Thayer Frechette (joining Ben Wormald)
Promotions: Maricruz Luna (joining Mark Waterman)
Music Board: Catherine DeGennaro, Tiare Dunlap (joining Igor German)
Sports: John Kenchelian (re-elected)
DJ Services: Tom Kelly (re-elected)

Other positions-- Business Director, General Manager-- were not up for election.

WWYC of the Week

Before you ask yourself, "Does this really count?" Ask yourself, "Does it really matter?" The answer is, "No, it doesn't matter that this isn't really a cover of Nirvana's song, it's pathetic artistic vision makes it worthy of this week's worlds worst youtube cover. To be fair, you don't know what the inspiration for Beverley Knight was when she sings, "Ooooh, Summer has begun!" I mean, maybe it is a cover of Cobain's distraught, tense song about emotional identity. A cover not in words, but in sentiment. Kurt would be proud.

Believe it or not, embedding has been disabled by request (by plea?). That will not stop us from perusing the darkened depths of youtube covers. ctrl+click through!

Next up for Beverly Knight: An angry letter from Courtney Love.

Review: Avi Buffalo, Avi Buffalo

Music Directors' note: Avi Buffalo was our Artist of the Week this past week here at WGTB. We can't seem to get enough of this album!

 Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo

Remember that girl you liked freshman year of high school? Yeah, that one who sat two rows in front of you in Honors English. You thought she would never go out with a loser like you, but then one day one of her friends told you she was into you too- Avi Buffalo’s album feels like that moment of revelation. The album’s lyrical content picks up at that precise instant, delving into the tribulations of love, romance and relationships. The songwriting on this self-titled debut is complex in thought, but not in words, meaning you get a simple-to-understand yet staggeringly layered listening experience. With phrases like “should I take you to more functions/or would you rather be lonely,” don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking about that person you really liked who dumped you, the one that got away, that someone you always wanted to be with but never were, etc. as you listen. Complimenting the amazingly mature lyrics are incredible guitar solos. It’s no surprise that Nels Cline, guitarist of Wilco, is one of lead guitarist Avi Zahner-Isenberg’s influences. The tone and feel of guitar on tracks like “Remember Last Time” and “Can’t I Know” could fit just as easily into Cline’s rendition of “I’m the Man who Loves You,” on Wilco’s famous album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. What Avi Buffalo have created here is a work that combines amazing instrumental parts with songwriting. In uniting those two components, the band seems as if they are fully grown, not just putting out their first album. Go out and get your hands and ears on this album, and join Zahner-Isenberg’s band on an exploration of the ups and downs of love and lust. Or, rather than projecting my own neuroses onto Avi Buffalo, go listen to it and explore your own.

Key Tracks: Remember Last Time, What’s in it For?, Can’t I Know, Whole Damn Record

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

The Darling Snaps at WGTB Student Showcase

We've been posting video from our first annual Student Showcase held in late March, and so far we've seen performances by Stout Cortez and Bike Club. Check out the performance by The Darling Snaps (featuring two of your three loyal Music Directors here at WGTB; shameless self-promotion) below.

More on YouTube by The Darling Snaps:
Thirteen Words    Bright Moments


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: River City Extension, ...And the Unmistakable Man

 River City Extension
  … And the Unmistakable Man

Best Tracks: 2 (“Friends and Family”), 3 (“Something Salty, Something Sweet”), and 5 (“Our New Intelligence”)

With the recent shift in weather to sunnier days and summer approaching, I’ve been listening to a lot more country inspired roots rock and folk – always puts me in a good mood.  River City Extension is an up and coming band making music in that same vein of roots/folk rock but with their own special twist.  That twist is the welcome addition of a prominent horn section in many tracks and a lot more variety than you would find on most albums of this style.  With a few exceptions, … And the Unmistakable Man runs its full 54 minutes at the same upbeat tempo and even the slower, more serious songs weave in and out of belted out choruses and faster paced instrumentals. 
This album is a really fun summertime listen and I get the feeling that this band would put on a great live show with lots of dancing!  “Something Salty, Something Sweet” is the kind of song that could make everybody at a backyard barbeque jump up and dance in a round… I mean you know, if you lived in a Feist music video.  On the bar ballad, “Too Tired To Drink,” River City Expansion shows its more rough around the edges, raucous side – and it sounds great. Those who like Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, or Tallest Man on Earth should definitely check out River City Extension for a more fun, upbeat take on the re-popularized alt-Americana style.

-- Britt Shaw
Host, "Under the Influence," Fridays 10-12 AM on WGTB

TWIMH: Sticky Fingers Makes Its Racy Debut

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

This week in music history was a collaborative one, ladies and gentlemen. On April 26, 1971 the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers was released in the UK sporting a cover designed by Andy Warhol. The cover was of a pair of jeans with a zipper, and Warhol was paid 15 thousand pounds for the design. The original Vinyl had a working zipper that revealed a man in undies. This collaboration of aural and visual art was one of many, but they serve to remind us of the interdisciplinary nature of art. The working zipper taps us into the multidimensional nature of the album cover as well! Georgetown University is all about developing the “renaissance,” interdisciplinary human being through a liberal arts education—not necessarily all pre-professional. We are the Sticky Fingers album cover of college graduates—but if you pull, we won’t show you our undies—always.

Review: Ergo, multitude, solitude

multitude, solitude
A-   (if you’re into that sort of thing)
D    (if you’re not)

Ergo’s new album multitude, solitude comes with a nifty insert that features an early review/glowing praise lauding Ergo’s brilliance.  Barry Vacker, professor of media, cultural and utopian theory at Temple University, opens the adulation with just three words: “Ergo is cool.”

Not so fast, Ergo.

I’ll dismiss for a moment the hubris that motivates a band to put “We are cool” in the first line of the literature that ships with the album.  Let’s do a brief rundown of “cool.”  Elvis was cool for a while.  Then The Beatles were cool, and then some other bands were cool (including, but not limited to, The Clash, Run DMC, and more recently Vampire Weekend in that Vineyard Vines-y sort of way).  Ergo, I mean, God, of all people you should know what’s cool, you’re from Brooklyn of all places.  You’re from the Mecca of tight-pants, I liked-cool-before-it-was-cool cool.  But you know what really isn’t that cool?  Ambient music.

And that’s what multitude, solitude is.  Ambient, experimental, atmospheric music.  A lot of drum, a wailing trombone, a little gentle piano, and synth.  It’s not terrible stuff, Ergo.  The fact that you can make discord work, that you can turn the intentionally not-melodious into music is an accomplishment.  The tracks almost uniformly start near-silent, build with straggling cymbal strikes and held trombone notes into a chaotic mess, and crash in on themselves.  If atmosphere is what you’re going for, you’ve struck gold.  Your album is at once creepy, suspenseful, and dizzying.

But that doesn’t make multitude, solitude cool.  It makes the album play like the soundtrack to an avant-garde student film that doesn’t exist.  It makes the album sound like something a professor of music theory would put together meticulously while designing lesson plans on freeform neo-jazz. 

It also doesn’t make me want to listen to multitude, solitude again anytime soon.

--Dan Bliss, 
“Their Early Stuff is Better,” Thurs 6-7 pm/Fri 12-1 pm on WGTB

On Air with The Hood Internet - Listen

When the formidable DJ duo The Hood Internet graced our campus on Friday, WGTB got a chance to do an exclusive on-air interview on Saxappeal, hosted by Mike Hayes and Thayer Frechette.

Listen to the full interview below!

The Hood Internet on WGTB by wgtbmusic

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our Top 30 Albums of the Week

1    AVI BUFFALO    Avi Buffalo    SUB POP
2    DR. DOG    Shame, Shame    Anti
3    TALLEST MAN ON EARTH    The Wild Hunt    Dead Oceans
4    HAPPY BIRTHDAY    Happy Birthday    Sub Pop
5    DUM DUM GIRLS    I Will Be    Sub Pop
6    BROKEN BELLS    Broken Bells    Columbia
7    COMMUNIST DAUGHTER    Soundtrack To The End    Grain Belt
8    MATT POND PA    The Dark Leaves   
9    THE FALL    Your Future Our Clutter    Domino
10    WOODEN SHJIPS    Vol. 2    Sick Thirst
11    KATE NASH    My Best Friend Is You    Interscope
12    LIARS    Sisterworld    Mute
13    RADIO DEPT.    Clinging To A Scheme    Labrador
14    ALOHA    Home Acres    Polyvinyl
15    DAVID BYRNE AND FATBOY SLIM    Here Lies Love    Nonesuch
16    MAR    Silence   
17    DELOREAN    Subiza    True Panther Sounds
18    LOVE IS ALL    Two Thousand And Ten Injuries    Polyvinyl
19    GORILLAZ    Plastic Beach    Virgin
20    FRIGHTENED RABBIT    The Winter Of Mixed Drinks    Fat Cat
21    INLETS    Inther Arbiter    Twosyllable
22    TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB    Tourist History  
23    BENYARO    Good Day Better    Self-Released
27    FREE ENERGY    Stuck On Nothing    DFA-Astralwerks
25    RERUNNER    On Three...  
26    HOT CHIP    One Life Stand    Astralwerks
27    POLAROID FAME    We Live Your Life  
28    BOOKA SHADE    More!    Get Physical
29    SHE AND HIM    Volume Two    Merge
30    FANG ISLAND    Fang Island    Sargent House

More reviews coming soon!

Review: Benyaro, Good Day Better

Good Day Better

Brooklyn’s acoustic folk quartet Benyaro returns with Good Day Better, a strong collection of upbeat rootsy tunes. Ben Musser and Meg Chamberlin’s vocals drive the album forward behind a steady mix of some acoustic folk, blues and country influences. “Call off Forever” best demonstrates Benyaro’s blissful strumming and singing as Chamberlin sings, “Try to find yourself some soul brother / get on down and be someone”. That attitude though, when combined with some overly ambitious vocals from Musser, can get downright annoying, like in “Eureka”. It feels like the joyful vocals are just a bit too loud in more than a few songs—and that can get in the way of an otherwise solid album. If Benyaro could just turn down the vocal mix and sing some more sad songs, they could be on to greater heights. Good Day Better is still an overall enjoyable listen.

-- Cole Stangler
"The Cosmic American Radio Music Hour," Fridays 2-4 pm on WGTB

Artist Album of the Week

Here at WGTB we get a lot of music in our office. A lot. Some of it is great, outstanding even, but a lot of it passes through without a second listen. Sad as that may seem, it speaks to the importance of making a record that has something to offer instantly and sells itself.

While we like to feature up-and-coming artists in this feature regularly, nothing in the mail this week struck us as "the next big thing"-- or perhaps we're too busy still drooling over the new releases by Kate Nash, Avi Buffalo, and Happy Birthday, not to mention all the albums that have leaked in the past few weeks (Black Keys, LCD Soundsystem, Broken Social Scene, to name a few).

So you know what? I'm taking it back, to an album that, had it arrived in our office this afternoon, would have instantly captured our attention as something worth hearing. We would have loaded the CD (erm, put on the record, given that this would have been 1969), and realized within moments that this was the album-- rife with grungy, intriguing licks, just enough country twang, and a pervasive darkness-- that would put fairly new-on-the-scene Neil Young on the map forever. His second solo album, released a few months before Young joined CSNY, found Young backed by Crazy Horse to create a psychedelic, plugged-in sound that tapped into the late-60s zeitgeist as much as it laid the groundwork for the entirety of 90s grunge.

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere only needed seven solid tracks to impress, from the aggressive "Cinnamon Girl," to the pining title track, to the sinister nine-minute jam "Down By the River." But the album's masterpiece is the ten-minute "Cowgirl in the Sand," which manipulates metaphors and images and love stories and change and hope and desire and rejection and time and displacement and still manages to convey a specific tone and emotion.
With dueling guitars by Young and Danny Whitten, Young displays a command of his instrument that puts the guitar's role in an entirely new light, right at the forefront of the song. Listen below:

Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you, is it the same?

Concert Review: Amanda Blank and Spank Rock at Rock & Roll Hotel

Amanda Blank and Spank Rock
Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington DC
April 24, 2010

It’s 12 am on a rainy Saturday night in D.C. and I’m watching two of my favorite MCs in the music business perform about 5 inches from my face. I’ve bonded with the girl standing next to me over the fact that we both know every lyric to every song (and even got to show our skills by singing into the mic). I’m convinced this night can’t get any better then all of a sudden I’m being pulled on stage by none other than Spank “[insert explicit]” Rock! This is the part where I think I’m going to wake up and my awesome night will be over except, that doesn’t happen. Apparently it’s not a dream and I’m actually dancing on stage with two of the biggest bad-asses ever.

I’ll back up a bit and start from the beginning: I arrive at the Rock and Roll Hotel at the beginning of Ninjasonik’s performance. An intense dance party is already underway and I push my way to the front of the crowd to join the fun. I must admit that this isn’t my first time seeing Ninjasonik and I pretty much know what to expect (although there are a few surprises, one being me getting serenaded on stage). About forty-five minutes of ass-shaking later, Amanda Blank is ready to take center stage as the show’s headliner. She steps onto the stage in a cape and super sexy leopard print leotard. Total BAMF. The crowd goes berserk and she’s loving the hype. Amanda Blank’s performance is vulgar, raunchy and absolutely amazing. (more after the jump- and pictures!)

Inteveniew! Behind the Scenes at U St. Music Hall

Name: Will Eastman
Profession: DJ, co-owner of U Street Music Hall
Music at U-Hall is: “eclectic, provocative, left-of-center,” “forward-looking,” “accessible”
DJs: in his apartment, for Bliss (DC’s most famous monthly dance party)
Managing a music club: “is a lot of fucking work, at least if you want it done right. But I'm happy.”
Will Eastman has 8,000 records, a graduate degree from George Washington University, and one-sixth ownership in the recently opened U Street Music Hall. Will Eastman is maybe the coolest person I’ve met in a long, long time.

Which is fitting, really, considering the fact that the club he helps manage is definitely the coolest place I’ve been this year. Relatively nondescript on the outside front, the building opens to reveal…a staircase, of all things. The stairs lead down into a basement-style dance floor, complete with two adjoining bars, several booths, a small stage for live bands, and an impressive DJ booth lining the back wall.

 “I started off DJing for parties in my parents’ basement when they were out of town,” Eastman grins unrepentantly. “Basements are the best environments for dance parties.” And though he has essentially moved from playing in one basement to, well, playing in a much larger one, he has certainly come a long way from his hometown of Neenah, Wisconsin (which is famous for the production of manhole covers, as it happens).

He began his official career as a DJ began in the same month as his job as a historian for the Smithsonian Institute, where he developed public programs and exhibitions in the areas of technology and inventors. Even there, he never strayed far from his passion. His research focused largely on the history of the electric guitar and sound recording techniques – a focus that lined up perfectly with his night job. After nine years of trying to juggle the two, both of which he loved, Eastman realized that he had to make a decision. (read more)

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Hood Internet, Rafter, Stout Cortez Rock Bulldog Alley

WGTB wrapped up its Spring Cleaning Concert Series with our second spring concert this past Friday night in Bulldog Alley. The Hood Internet, the awesome DJ duo with a penchant for indie bands and lots of R. Kelly, melted faces with their songs and opener Rafter equally impressed with their danceable experimental rock. Senior Justin Hunter Scott, aka Stout Cortez, opened up the whole show to the delight of the crowd.

Check out pictures below, and stay tuned for the posting of an interview with the Hood Internet hosted by Saxappeal.

Photos courtesy Emily Simpson

Concert Pick of the Week: The Nine Series

DC9 Presents: The Nine Series
Nine Singing-Songwriting Ladies from DC

Tiffany Thompson
Steph Modder
Joanne Kim
Amanda Lee
Molly Hagen
Margaux LeSourd
Maureen Andary
Olivia Mancini
Jessica Louise

Sunday, May 2nd, 7:30

Look, I'm just sayin. Maybe you're lonely. Maybe you want to mingle a little bit. Maybe you want to fall in love with nine girls playing the guitar. Maybe you want to chat with the hordes of similarly young and emotionally fertile friends the artists are sure to bring with them. Maybe you want to casually drop that you yourself are an aspiring singer songwriter. Leonard Cohen totally is perceived falsely. You're so right. I like your songs. What are you doing after this? Lets get married. I'm just sayin.

*On a not 'singles in the city' note, there are some seriously gifted musicians playing Sunday night. Keep an keen eye out for Maureen Andary and Jessica Louise.

Stout Cortez Performs at WGTB Student Showcase

Stout Cortez, aka Justin Hunter Scott, performed at WGTB's Student Showcase earlier this semester along with 7 other Georgetown University bands. We will be posting some of the video from this concert on the blog via YouTube.

Check out videos from the performance below:

And more:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Take Cover: Take a Good Look, Billy Bragg

For the record, "Tracks of My Tears" is the best go-to karaoke song probably ever, and I'm calling dibs for whenever WGTB holds our first karaoke contest. While the genius (and steeeez! check out their uniforms in the video below) of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles is hard to top, it has become a popular song for artists to work into their live catalog, especially as a convenient segue into another song: see Gavin DeGraw's "Cupid" and Elvis Costello's awesome rendition of "Alison" with the London Philharmonic. And I can't deny that I harbor a secret love for the Boyz II Men version. Seriously, it is smooth, even if their dance moves are ridiculous.

But, the best cover of this song is the one that changes the tone from a danceable soul crooner to an aching, restrained rendition. Sans backup singers, drums, and choreography, Billy Bragg's solo take on "Tracks of My Tears" gets at the heart of the song and extracts a particularly poignant vibe as his ragged voice dips and dives over the chorus. He's just so noticeably and remarkably alone-- and it works.
Listen to the original below:

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

Friday, April 23, 2010

Review: MGMT, Congratulations


Before I begin to elaborate on MGMT’s new and long awaited album, Congratulations, allow me to first explain that this is the band’s second album. The first album, of course, was the unofficial anthem of summer 2008. It was catchy, electro-rock, trippy, youthful, and wait for it, from Brooklyn! In short, listening to Oracular Spectacular was an invincible way to ingest LSD by way of one’s ears. In fact, the keyboard intro to “Time to Pretend” was iconic enough to trigger flashbacks to sunny car rides and summer gambols. 

As former Wesleyan students, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden understand the difference between Freshman and Sophomore years, it is important for fans to come to terms with this as well. Freshman year is intimidating as one must adapt to a new environment and blindly feel around for better ways to navigate the obstacles ahead. This inevitably leads to a compromise between acting the way one perceives others expect of him/her to and the way one would like to express oneself. In MGMT’s case, they were two young guys based in Brooklyn who went to Wesleyan, and dressed in the most randomly assembled rainbow rags of vintage clothing. What did the public (the record company) want from them? Music that will accompany similar kids as they go on road trips, camp out at music festivals, smoke cigarettes, bum around Brooklyn, tribal dance on beaches, surf the galaxies, ride cats…you know, MGMT activities. Thus, Oracular Spectacular was MGMT’s debut and they were successful in delivering an immediate crowd pleaser.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Bliss Dance Party at U St. Music Hall

The kind folks at U St. Music Hall have given us a few tickets to give away to their monthly Bliss dance party TOMORROW NIGHT.

Want in? Send us an email at BY 2 PM SATURDAY if you'd like to go. And keep an eye out for our next INTERVENIEW: BEHIND THE SCENES column by DJ Emily Simpson, highlighting the stories behind the owners and founders of DC venues-- this week's features U St. Music Hall!

More info:
Saturday, April 24th Will Eastman’s monthly Bliss dance party returns with special guest DJ Brian Billion. Bliss has prided itself in remaining a, “no attitude, just fun” event featuring new, forward-looking house, indie dance, electropop, techno, club and punk music. Will Eastman has given birth to the indie dance scene of D.C. through Bliss, and as a result has developed an admirable cult following of music lovers across the greater DMV area. Show is from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., tickets are $10, ages 18 and up.

Bike Club Performs at WGTB Student Showcase

...Better late than never. We have some sweet video from our Student Showcase in March, and will be posting it as it comes in on Youtube and this blog. First up is set opener Bike Club. Watch their whole set below!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Real Estate, Family Portrait, City Folk Rocking Bulldog Alley

Saturday night WGTB brought you the first installment of our Spring Cleaning concert series, featuring New Jersey's beachy rockers Real Estate, DC locals Family Portrait, and Georgetown's own City Folk. Check out photos from the show below, let us know what you thought of the concert in the comments, and be sure to head to Spring Cleaning part II this Friday night as the Hood Internet mashup duo prepares to melt faces, with openers Rafter and Stout Cortez.

Photos courtesy Emily Simpson and Nico Dodd

WWYC of the Week

Why didn't I think of it before? Incubus! Emotional, accessible, vaguely obtuse, and an anthem for the casual pot smoker, what a perfect blend for some horrendous covers! EyonDreams here thought he ought to give the song, "Dig" his best shot. And thank you, EyonDreams, for playing the song through your headphones so that we could really imbibe the quality of your voice. I especially like how you did the runs; they came from the heart, and we here at WGTB appreciate that. And you let us sit quietly during the instrumental break. That was good, because I needed some time to think. You care about the listener experience, and that makes you a true artist.

Next up for EyonDreams: realization that he's the one that, '...digs at us.'

Review: Murder by Death, Good Morning, Magpie

Murder by Death
Good Morning, Magpie

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: for the majority of this album, I was confused. Plain and simple. Murder By Death – which, by the way, is an incredibly terrible name, but that’s another discussion entirely – has produced a record with so many genre influences it’s nearly impossible to keep track of them all. The introduction, a thirty-four second bit espousing someone’s love of “sweet Kentucky bourbon,” calls to mind the image of smoky saloons and grizzled old men strumming away on their guitars. When the song that follows immediately after is essentially an ode to the wonders of whiskey, the album is starting to look like an alt-country one that moves its way through my great-grandfather’s liquor cabinet. But oh, how wrong that assumption would be. From that point onward, the band introduces horns, harps, and an electric cello, of all things, with the only apparent goal being confusing the hell out of anyone listening. Sometimes Good Morning, Magpie leans toward a sound that would be wildly applauded at stops along Warped Tour, sometimes it walks the fine line between rock and metal. 

I don’t know if the band is having an identity crisis at all, but at this point I kind of am. That’s not to say that the album is entirely unpleasant. Guitarist Adam Turla’s voice is difficult to describe – a strangely attractive crooning that sounds as if he’s seen everything the world has to offer, twice. The sense of world-weariness makes tracks like “King of the Gutters, Prince of the Dogs” and “Foxglove” a welcome respite from the scattered nature of the rest of the album.

That being said, Murder By Death is neither a band to write off entirely nor the next band that will land a spot on your heavy rotation. If they can figure out some kind of coherent identity within their music, however, they do have a shot at producing something a little better than the all-over-the-place mess that is Good Morning, Magpie.
P.S. If you’re looking for a laugh, swing by their Wikipedia page. Not only are their album names all equally terrible, but the attempt to narrow down their genre is amusing. Actually, the entire page is amusing. Just go.

Tolerable Songs: “King of the Gutters, Prince of the Dogs” and “Foxglove”
Overall Grade: C

-- Emily Simpson
"Don’t You Wish We Were NPR?" Mondays 8-10 am on WGTB

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Top 30 Albums of the Week

 Dr. Dog continues to charm us into the #1 spot this week, with the Tallest Man's gorgeous album shortly behind him. Notable adds include artist of the week Avi Buffalo, Two Door Cinema Club, and Inlets. And artist of the week Happy Birthday is slowly creeping up the charts... they have that thrilling "next-best-thing" vibe about them. Check out our reviews!

1    DR. DOG    Shame, Shame    Anti
2    TALLEST MAN ON EARTH    The Wild Hunt    Dead Oceans
3    SHE AND HIM    Volume Two    Merge
4    HAPPY BIRTHDAY    Happy Birthday    Sub Pop
5    DUM DUM GIRLS    I Will Be    Sub Pop
6    BROKEN BELLS    Broken Bells    Columbia
7    RIVER CITY EXTENSION    The Unmistakable Man    Xoxo
8    COMMUNIST DAUGHTER    Soundtrack To The End    Grain Belt
9    MATT POND PA    The Dark Leaves   
10    AVI BUFFALO    Avi Buffalo    SUB POP
11    LIARS    Sisterworld    Mute
12    ALOHA    Home Acres    Polyvinyl
13    FANG ISLAND    Fang Island    Sargent House
14    DAVID BYRNE AND FATBOY SLIM    Here Lies Love    Nonesuch
15    MAR    Silence   
16    LOVE IS ALL    Two Thousand And Ten Injuries    Polyvinyl
17    GORILLAZ    Plastic Beach    Virgin
18    FRIGHTENED RABBIT    The Winter Of Mixed Drinks    Fat Cat
19    INLETS    Inther Arbiter    Twosyllable
20    RUBY SUNS    Fight Softly    SUB POP
21    TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB    Tourist History   
22    BENYARO    Good Day Better    Self-Released
23    GOSPEL CLAWS    Gospel Claws [EP]    Common Wall
24    BOOKA SHADE    More!    Get Physical
25    RERUNNER    On Three...   
26    POLAROID FAME    We Live Your Life   
27    FREE ENERGY    Stuck On Nothing    DFA-Astralwerks
28    MGMT    Congratulations    Columbia
29    HOT CHIP    One Life Stand    Astralwerks
30    BIRD AND THE BEE    Interpreting The Masters Vol. 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates

Review: Harlem

Harlem is a trio from Austin by way of Los Angeles by way of Nashville by way of Tucson. Thier genre follows suit with their geography, Harlem is punk? garage rock? retro garage pop? R&B? proto-punk? etc etc. While their genre remains elusive, I think they explain their sound best: "When kids are jumping on the bed playing tennis rackets like guitars. We are the music that is playing in their brains." Harlem’s newest release, Hippies swaggering, exuberant, unpretentious jaunt of an album. Hippies opens with  the unavoidably catchy “Someday Soon” is a headbopping little number about “letting that shit burn”. Though Harlem certainly has a distinct sound, each of the 16 tracks bursts in its own unique way, alternating between heavy percussive surges and sweet and mellow throwbacks. There’s something disarming about the charm of Harlem’s insouciant take on whatever genre gets pinned on them. “Friendly Ghost” is yet another highlight, with winsome lyrics of, well, what the title suggests. Finally, I’d suggest checking out “Gay Human Bones” a welcome jolt of clear sound in a thickly distorted album. Overall, Hippies is the perfect thing to get you through the last searing days of classes and into the much needed lackadaisical days of summer.
-- Tiare Dunlap
"Girl Please," Fridays 4-6 pm on WGTB

TWIMH: Who Dat? The Who.

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

Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, We’re Not Gonna Take It—just a few of the iconic songs from the Who’s legendary rock opera Tommy. Tommy (about a deaf-mute who starts a religious cult that eventually kills him when he is miraculously cured) was first performed live by the Who on April 19th 1969 in Dolton, England. Exactly five years later, Tommy was adapted as a film directed by Ken Russel. The cast included a plethora of stars: Ann-Margaret, Oliver Reed, Elton John, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, and Jack Nicholson (to name a few!). The rock opera was not only a brilliant musical feat, but also was a thrilling and compelling story that inspired many rock artists to add a narrative quality to their lyrics. Georgetown wouldn’t be the same without “Tommy, can you hear me?” echoing in dormitory halls or the glam style introduced by the iconic movie.

Native Noise: Buildings- and CD giveaway!


Accessibility: 8
Originality: 9
Musical Prowess: 9
Recommended Listening: 8
Crush Factor: 9
Artistic Experience*: 10
Overall: 9.2+

*This new rating category was necessary. Throughout the Buildings show, a video of various scenes was playing on a screen in the background, and though I can’t really describe how perfect it was, it gets 10 extra points for how fascinated I was––not only was their music perfectly exhilarating and stimulating, they threw in some synesthesia.
I begin by issuing a formal apology for gate-crashing to all the 23-26 year old superhipsters that were present at Big Bear Café on Friday night to see local DC band Buildings––but hiding the fact that I am an incorrigibly fresh-faced 19-year-old who was in the Shaw neighborhood for the first time ever was next to impossible. And, the way things look, you all will probably have to start sharing Buildings with more than just one little college girl lurking in the corner of a coffee shop soon in any case.

“How did the blessed miracle of Buildings come to be?” I asked the band after sitting down with band members Collin Crowe, Nick Stern, and David Rich, only a few minutes after they had blown the windows out of the little café with a solid set.  “Me and Collin met through destiny,” said Rich bluntly. No, destiny is not a girl, like I initially thought, destiny is a random act of fate––I like those. After playing around with the lineup for a bit, they settled on two guitars (Crowe and a new addition I didn’t get a chance to speak with), bass (Stern), and drums (Rich)––but no vocals. Stern explained: “our music stems from the fact that we all see the songs completely differently, and if we added vocals, it would kind of ruin it, because we’d all be anchored to the same thing.” The result is essentially fresh and exhilarating lo-fi SOUND that is hard to put a label on (even their record label Sockets, in their blurb describing the new EP, says that Buildings are not just some “typical post-whatever clone lamery,” well, thank god.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Artist of the Week: Avi Buffalo

Avi Buffalo is a band that caught the Music Directors' proverbial ear within the first couple minutes of the first track. Avi is short for Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, the bands lead singer and front man. Starting out as an amateur skateboarder in Long Beach and graduating to guitar virtuoso (taking the two coolest jobs- not fair), Avi built a band to compliment his taste. Citing Nels Cline as his inspiration, their sound is uncomfortable; they can be both timid and lucid. Effortlessly stretching simple pop constructions with innovative melodies, impressive guitaring, and obtuse lyrics, Avi Buffalo achieves something different. And when you get 30 albums a week, different is hugely important. Stay Tuned for Josh Smith's full review, but for now, check out this track!

Avi Buffalo - Whats In It For? .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Interveniew! Behind the Scenes at Rock & Roll Hotel

Name: Steve Lambert
Official Position: Booking Manager
At Rock + Roll Hotel since: October 2006
Favorite Shows: “I saw Phoenix play about a year ago, when they were still kind of under the radar for some reason. They’re definitely one of the best live bands – incredibly accessible to their audience.”
Excited about: the new Liars record, the Crime in Stereo concert at DC9 in May, the fact that people like Mayer Hawthorne can produce throwback stuff that younger generations are getting into

              I wish I could say that I didn’t go to the Rock and Roll Hotel for my interview with Steve Lambert fresh off a Chinatown bus from Philadelphia, but, well, that’s what happened. Still wearing last night’s clothing and frustrated by the perils of cheap transportation, I was definitely not as prepared as I would have liked to be standing outside and trying to figure out how to work the intercom buzzer. But the girl who puts me out of my misery by opening the door shoots me a friendly smile as she leads the way to Steve Lambert, and I feel a little bit of the tension dissipate.
              In the middle of the afternoon, the Rock and Roll Hotel is eerily empty – most of the lights are off, the doors to the main stage area are closed and foreboding, and the stairs creak as we climb to the second level of the club. The office is tucked away in a hall just past the upstairs bar area, cozy but not cramped, and littered with fliers promoting both past and future shows. Lambert himself fits in well with the environment, dressed comfortably in jeans and a t-shirt that displays his fondness for tattoos. He rises to shake my hand with a quiet smile before settling back into his obviously well used desk chair.
              “So,” he begins, “what would you like to know?” And with that, we’re off. Lambert works as the booking manager for two DC venues in addition to Rock and Roll Hotel: The Red and the Black, which tends to support the smallest local and touring bands, and DC9, whose manager I spoke with earlier in the month. He began his career as an industry professional in 2000, working his way up from booking underground acts for parties, alternative space shows and bars to his current position booking the acts with the some of the greatest momentum. (more after the jump!)

Concert Pick of the Week: The Protomen

Saturday, April 24th, 9:00PM
So, this is the band that wrote the theme song for Megaman. They wear costumes on stage, never break character in interviews, and never reveal their true identities or actual history. We know that they are from Nashville, and we know that they sound nothing like anything that ever came out of Nashville. The music is dramatic, opera-esque, and pretty weird. If you want to see a show with just as much head scratching as head banging, don't miss this act at the intimate Red and the Black in Northeast on H street.

Click through to hear a track!

Review: Automatic Children, New is Beautiful

Automatic Children
New is Beautiful

14-year-old Fiona: A for sound, What Are Lyrics?
19-year-old Fiona: B- for sound, A for lyrics

Before handing me Automatic Children’s debut album New is Beautiful, WGTB Music Board Director Christian said this: “This record sounds pretty much just like everything coming out of Brooklyn right now. Except for the lyrics, their lyrics are actually pretty cool. There, I’ve essentially written your review for you.” Now you make the call, here’s what I’ve got on New is Beautiful:

Automatic Children sounded so familiar at first listen that I had to wonder if I’d heard them before––no, they are a little-known (at least outside of their borough) up-and-coming band out of NYC, so not that. Their music, however, plays straight up into the genre of poppy lo-fi post-punk––a genre that feels very much like home to me, after I dwelled there for much of my freshman and sophomore year of high school. If I had heard this album during that phase, it would have undoubtably, immediately become a close favorite.

ODDSAC Ticket Giveaway

Hey! Guess what? We have 5 pairs of tickets to give away to the ODDSAC viewing this Wednesday night in Silver Spring, MD (on the Red line). Be among the first 5 to leave a comment below (or email us at about your love for WGTB and/or your favorite show in our Spring 2010 programming, and you will be headed to the viewing fo' freezies.

More info:

Wednesday, April 21st at 10 pm
AFI Theater in Silver Spring, MD

ODDSAC, "a visual album by Danny Perez and Animal Collective" is an experimental film featuring psychedelic visuals and music by the Baltimore-based band. The film premiered at the Sundance film festival earlier this year and is just coming to theaters now. (Thanks Wikipedia and Here's the trailer:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Concert Review: Owen Pallett at the Black Cat

Owen Pallett
The Black Cat
April 15th, 2010

Owen Pallett had a cold during his show on Thursday night at the Black Cat’s mainstage. Nobody noticed until he said something—after his thirteenth song.
Nobody noticed he was onstage, either, at first. Though I’ll admit I was shamelessly scoping out the wiry, gangly must-be-a-roadie with asymmetrical hair and a black wife-beater, I couldn’t be sure that this man would start playing the violin after standing there, tuning said violin and staring unassumingly into the crowd for at least 10 minutes. But suddenly, we were off!
Pallett is one of those musicians an audience automatically takes to, based purely on the fact that he is having just as much fun performing as they are watching. And he’s quite impressive to watch—his songs use rapid-fire looping and layering (kind of like what my talentless self can do on this website, but unlike many other musicians who use a similar approach, 100% of the sound sound in many of his songs originate simply from him and a violin.

Take Cover: Phosphorescent takes on Willie Nelson

This week's cover is a little bit of a cop-out for anyone who knows me only because this was hands down my favorite album of 2009 and I talked about it non-stop then. Well, it's still incredible, especially considering what it is-- an tribute album. Phosphorescent, which is essentially Matthew Houck and friends, released To Willie modeled after Willie Nelson's tribute to Lefty Frizell, To Lefty From Willie. And Willie has quite a few covers up his sleeve as well, from the subpar to the surprisingly nice. But not only is Phosphorescent's rendition of "Can I Sleep In Your Arms" a lovely version of an already-tender song, it stands on its own two feet as one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking pieces of recorded music I've heard in a long time. The simple arrangement, gentle percussion and a capella intro manage to build a fullly-fleshed-out, all-encompassing sound. Listen below, and catch the original here:

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

Review: Tallest Man on Earth, The Wild Hunt

The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt
8.6 on a 10-Point Scale

I’m sorry for eavesdropping, but did you say you were looking for a Swedish folk artist that sounds sort of like Bob Dylan minus the harmonica, but with more guitar glissandos, and with a Scandanavian name that ends with –sson?  Oh… Sorry… I misheard you… Here’s the salt.  But in case you were wondering, The Tallest Man on Earth, the stage name for Kristian Matsson, is a great acoustic folk artist that you will be sure to enjoy.  He may not sound celestial, but his voice meets the genre perfectly.  Musically, his vocal lines are flowing, but at the same time are somewhat predictable. On the poetic end, his lyrics and mystifying and can keep a stoned-out coffee shop crowd scratching their heads (excluding his tracks that are narrative).  The guitar music?  Finger pickin’ good!  There are only so many chords to play, and he works his hardest to change up the chords (contrary to his previous album) and alters both the pitch and rhythm using arpeggios in the guitar lines and different combinations of rhythms.  However, despite this attempt at diversity, most of the songs are in a standard 4/4-meter that restricts him.  Is this being rough? Don’t a lot of other artists use common time as well? Of course.  But it’s much more obvious and stands out more when their isn’t much variation among the instrumentation.  In the track Kids on the Run, however, he changes it up and brings in the ol’ piano.  Unfortunately though, the effects on the piano force the listener to ask herself whether or not The Tallest Man on Earth realizes that the piano is out of tune.  I, now classifying myself as a rough critic, understand that it may be the effect he is going for, but musically it simply creates many minor dissonances that would keep the listener much happier if they were left out. 
The mood of the music however is redeeming, some songs invoke joy while others summon malaise.  It doesn’t take much for me to laugh and cry (Win a Date with Tad Hamilton [the movie] made me do both), but this album definitely is something you can get lost in. 

It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you tap for your footsies.  It makes you question the reality you live in.  More importantly, it’ll help you appreciate folk music once again. 

In Sum:
Pros: Good lyrics, awesome mood, like his voice, finger pickin’ is well done
Cons: Songs too similar (except for the favorites), minor musical problems on a few of the tracks.

Plus, he’s not even the tallest man on earth… everyone knows Robert Pershing Wadlow, at 8 feet 11.1 inches was.  Duh

Favorite Tracks: The Wild Hunt, You’re Going Back, King of Spain, Kids on the Run

-- Alex Podkul
"Nothing but a G-O-D Thang," Tuesdays 2-4 pm on WGTB