Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Igor caught up with Villagers front man Conor O'brien before his solo set at DC9 to talk about being on tour and how he feels about the album Becoming a Jackal now that its getting a good deal of attention. Listen to the feature below!
Villagers Feature by igorgerman
And a video after the jump
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
A.A. Bondy, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (Hank Williams)
John McCauley, "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" (Hank Williams)
This one time, I played a Hank Williams III song on my radio show, and forty-five seconds in, had lost all 12 of my dedicated listeners. Every. Single. One. It wasn't pretty, to say the least. Not that 12 is a whole lot of listeners, but things went from bad to worse in the short span of a few countrified, twangy guitar licks. The WGTB listenership doesn't have too much respect for honky-tonk country, it seems, but maybe there's more tolerance for the work of grandaddy the O.G. Hank Williams-- an intriguing, legendary character in American lore and the patriarch of a talented country dynasty.
Williams, aka Hank Senior, aka Luke the Drifter, died rather famously in the back of a Cadillac at age 29, inspiring decades of references in literature and music (see the full list of tribute songs here) and securing his spot as a mythical, looming figure in the trajectory of American music (this year's award of a Pulitzer Prize didn't hurt, either).
Here's two appropriate singer-songwriter covers of Williams; I couldn't decide which one I liked better. The first is a gorgeously sung cover from his Alabama-born brother, A.A. Bondy. Bondy has the range and timbre in his voice to attempt this classic mournful tune, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." The second features hard-living, hard-playing, too-young-to-look-so-old Deer Tick frontman John McCauley in a crunchy, ragged rendition of the bittersweet "I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive," which he manages with admirable effort.
-- Caroline Klibanoff
Monday, June 28, 2010
This past Saturday Peter Wolf Crier crammed their gear into our tiny WGTB studios and delivered a soulful performance of these four songs. The duo has built a strong base in Minnesota, and after recording Inter-Be, they joined Jagjaguar and started this short but intense national tour. The small crowd that gathered to check out their performance was delighted with the intimacy of the show and impressed with the atmospheric sound they were able to so naturally create. Read Fiona's review of the album and listen to/download the four live tracks below!
Peter Wolf Crier - Crutch and Cane by igorgerman
Peter Wolf Crier - For Now by igorgerman
Peter Wolf Crier - Saturday Night by igorgerman
Peter Wolf Crier - Untitled 101 by igorgerman
Friday, June 25, 2010
Play What? Play This Playlist: An Open Letter to Greg Monroe, 7th NBA Draft Pick for Detroit Pistons and Former Hoya Baller
When we heard the news last night that you were chosen to join the Detroit Pistons in big-time Detroit Rock City, home of the Temptations and Smokey Robinson and a pretty good NBA team, we have to admit we were happy for you. Even though in the spring, your initial decision to go pro left us feeling Heartbroken and Jaded, our campus Hero leaving us in the lurch, destined for bigger and better things while your classmates and friends watch from far away-- well, Hey, that's No Way To Say Goodbye.
We get it: you're a Superstar now, and we hope your Dope Boy Magic skills will carry you far in Detroit as they carried you far at Georgetown. Best wishes in your future endeavors. We'll Miss You! (Especially Miley). Don't get too big for your britches, make good choices, and give us a call from time to time.
Oh, and we made you a mixtape. Welcome to Detroit City.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia, PA)
June 11, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The District Dialect: Go-go Music ft. The Beat Ya Feet Kings by igorgerman
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
9.2 chilled PBRs out of 10 chilled PBRs
"The radio makes hideous sounds." - Bob Dylan
Monday, June 21, 2010
After a self-titled debut album with an array of juxtapositions like dark-yet-catchy and disjointed-yet melodic electronic synths, Crystal Castles has arrived with a sophomore album that flaunts the band’s lo-fi skills but with an added veil of grit, haziness, and further obscurity. This new layer is immediately apparent from the opening track, “Fainting Spells” where a consistent, almost horror film-like rhythm resonates in the background while a cacophony of lo-fi sound clips, messy keyboards, and Alice Glass’s screaming vocals play over it. At first listen, it can give the impression that the listener is not as hip and young as he/she thought, but more like an angry parent protecting his or her ears from an emo teenager’s music. But wait! The second track and single, “Celestica” comes to the rescue and reminds the listener why Crystal Castles is (strangely) so…likeable!
Friday, June 18, 2010
A listener new to the Spring Standards wouldn’t quite know what to expect. The glockenspiel, tom, synth, organ, keys, computer and electric feel emanating from Heather’s spot would presuppose the bouncy, edgy spunk of a Ra Ra Rasputin show; indeed Ken Quam of Ra Ra was in the audience. But as the Spring Standards launched into their opening few songs, especially Skyline, scenic with clanging cymbals, suspended vocals and patient dynamics, the Standards established their unique sound—as if She & Him and the Swell Season invited the cautiously obliging White Stripes to afternoon tea.
The Moondoggies are a four-piece band from Seattle, Washington who blend blues, soul, rock, and country to create an infectious sound that radiates with whiskey-soaked Americana. Their music is fresh, but familiar, harkening back to the woodsy, psychedelic sounds of greats like The Grateful Dead and The Band, while sharing elements with fellow west coasters Fleet Foxes and The Donkeys, namely soft harmonies and laid back guitars, but a bit rougher around the edges. The Moondoggies effortlessly combine all of these different components, comfortably living in a nearly unclassifiable genre (at least not without using multiple hyphens) with a sound that lies somewhere between the west coast and the south, classic rock and modern folk. There’s something endearing about these long-haired, bearded guys and the music they make, or maybe it’s the name.
Their debut album, Don’t Be a Stranger, provided a handful of great tracks, including “Black Shoe,” “Ain’t No Lord,” and “Bogachiel Rain Blues,” and garnered them some attention from the blogosphere. Their new EP, You’ll Find No Answers Here, has more of what made that album a success - hook-heavy tunes backed by warm three-part harmonies, jangly guitars, and a Rhodes organ. The EP opens with “It’s Hard to Love Someone,” an upbeat country boogie whose piano melody and sing-along harmonies juxtapose its lyrical content about the trials and tribulations of love. From there, the music slows down, aligning with the overall melancholic mood of the lyrics, as dreary vocals and a softly plucked acoustic guitar serve as the only instrumentation on “Just Makes Sense to Me.” The third track, “Down the River,” is a departure from The Moondoggies’ traditional sound, but it works beautifully, and may be the EP’s best cut. Substituting the three-part harmonies for a female backing vocal adds a lovely dichotomy that mirrors the lyrical theme of unrequited love. The Moondoggies pick things up again and return to their bread and butter (see above) with “Sad and Lonely.” Finally, they close out the five-song EP with “Fly Mama Fly,” which poetically connects the themes established in the previous four songs over cascading guitars and vocal harmonies, telling us we’ll “find no answers here.” The EP lacks the same catchiness as the promising debut, but it seems to show more maturity and growth as songwriters, and is a tenderly crafted concept album that focuses on the pains of love. Oh, and these were just five songs that “didn’t make it onto their next proper studio” album, Tidelands, due out September 14.
Note: Catch The Moondoggies on tour with fellow Seattle band Blitzen Trapper.
-- Jared Iversen
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Made with Slideshow Embed Tool
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Sometimes it’s all too tempting to pigeonhole the beardy and bespectacled gentlemen of alternative music. Each crafting his own brand of the thinking man’s pop song. All crooning those literary lyrics. But despite blending in inconspicuously with his contemporaries, Jamie Lidell’s sound stands out, sitting more comfortably among the likes of Stevie Wonder and Sly & The Family Stone. It’s clear from the video for “The Ring,” the single from his newest release, Compass, that Jamie has a lot of soul. Or perhaps that he has a lot of sand in his pants. Maybe both. That being said, his manic twitches and convulsions are not at all ill suited to the feel of Compass as a whole. All written and recorded in a few frantic fell swoops, Compass plays like an album that was, well... all written and recorded in a few frantic fell swoops. Coasting in on the tailwinds of his collaboration with Beck, Wilco and Feist on the Record Club’s recreation of Skip Spencer’s Oar, Lidell’s work on Compass draws from the same manic, experimental energy with many of the same players contributing. And as with most things done with manic, experimental energy, the results on the album are exciting, if inconsistent.
Far from the middle-of-the-road, polished soul of 2008’s JIM, Compass pulls hard in every direction. The title track encapsulates the spirit of the album, morphing from spacey and delicate to beat-heavy and dissonant and back again. From the weightlessness of “You See My Light” to the even, summery Jackson 5 sound of “Enough Is Enough” to the heavy junkyard funk of “Your Sweet Boom” (which might give Bret from Flight of the Conchords a run for his money for the title of The Boom King), the album runs the sonic gamut. Occasionally, Lidell’s nervous, deconstructed soul energy strikes gold on tracks like “Completely Exposed” or “Coma Chameleon” (Boy George, anyone? I’m sorry. He made that too easy). On the other hand, it occasionally misfires in 80s slow jam duds like “She Needs Me” or “It’s A Kiss." And following his musical compass in the millionth direction it points him, Lidell also finds himself in new, vulnerable vocal territory. If it’s possible to pinpoint the place where Beck’s influence as producer and collaborator is felt most, the heavy, desert dirge of “Big Drift” could make a good case, calling to mind the best of the hollow rawness and sorrow of Sea Change.
This is a fairly unrefined peek into Jamie Lidell’s artistic mind, which by all accounts sounds like a weird and chaotic but undeniably funky place—a place where one might reasonably spend a good amount of time squirming about in the sand shouting “There’s a rhythm to his madness!” And I’d have to agree with flailing beach Jamie. While it won’t be remembered as the album where it all came together, Compass certainly points Lidell's sound in what looks like a promising direction.
Recommended Tracks: “The Ring,” “Big Drift,” “Completely Exposed,” “Your Sweet Boom,” “Gypsy Blood”
-- Catherine DeGennaro
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Joseph Gordon-Levitt like most people love Zoe Deschanel: shamelessly and with abandon. So naturally when I came across this gem, a casual home-recorded (yeah right... only because there's obviously a fully equipped studio in his home) version of Tom Waits' "Blind Love" off the quintessential 1985 album Rain Dogs, I was elated. But then came the fear. What if it was bad? What if he couldn't sing, or didn't get Waits' whole thing, and butchered the song like some other actors I could name? This could be tragic.
Well, fear not. Rain Dogs takes on New York blues from Waits' L.A.-born-and-raised standpoint, and guess what? Levitt, too, is originally from Los Angeles but went to Columbia for school and now lives in the Upper East Side. Too perfect. And though the clinking glass-and-swallow at the beginning is beyond cheesy, the rest of the song is gorgeous, perhaps-- dare I say it?-- better than the original. His voice is yearning and light, especially towards the end, and the harmonies are just ragged enough to retain Waits' rawness. The whole cover is summed up by its own aching line: "They say if you get far enough away / you'll be on your way back home." From Waits to Levitt, it's a closed circuit of young talent and broken hearts across one great big yawning country. Though Levitt does make one notable change: he switches "blue eyes" to "brown."
Monday, June 14, 2010
They play tonight at the 9:30 Club, opening for Blitzen Trapper, and it's a show you don't want to miss. Check out the interview and stay tuned for Jared Iversen's review of their newest album, later this week.
Moondoggies interview by WGTB Blog
-- Caroline Klibanoff
Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: The Songs of John Prine
Friday, June 11, 2010
Fact #1: Blitzen Trapper is miles better live than on their studio albums. Fact #2: Blitzen Trapper is miles better live than a whole lot of other live indie-rock acts, something that became clear when they brought down the house Wednesday night in Atlanta, playing a full set and encore replete with a capella breaks, wailing guitar solos, glimmering keys and tambourines. Since it was a weekday show, the crowd wasn't too big, but the band put up a valiant effort, often adopting the rare breed of the 3-axe band with three guitars, one bass, drums, and keys (see below).
If all you knew about Sage Francis was that he is a hip hop artist you might be a little confused when you first start listening to his latest album release, Li(f)e. The intro to the opening track, "Little Houdini," sounds as if it belongs in a folk song, far away from the thought-provoking lyrics of a heartfelt rapper. I am a big fan of artists who aren't afraid to create music that bends genre expectations and Sage Francis does just this. If you were to separate the instrumentals from the lyrics it would sound like two completely unrelated albums. Sage Francis' extremely conscious lyrics, paired with folk-ish melodies, make Li(f)e seem darker and much more heartfelt than most hip-hop albums currently out today. There are very few notable white rappers aside from Eminem, Aesop Rock and the duo Atmosphere but Sage Francis is definitely capable of holding his own in the genre. Li(f)e is Sage Francis' fourth studio album and, as does his previous releases, relies heavily on metaphors to create vivid images through his lyrics. Sage Francis is more concerned with creating a conscious story rather than rapping about his money, cars and women, a concept many rappers today lack. Individually each track on Li(f)e is unique and each serves as an example of how hip-hop has evolved since the early 1980s. Despite this, as a whole the album seems scattered with no coherent, universal concept. The tracks, although great on their own, do not flow well throughout the course of the album which prevents me from thinking of Li(f)e as some sort of masterpiece, or even as something deserving an "A" grade. I probably won't listen to Li(f)e as an album too often but the individual tracks are great for future "chill" mixtapes to accompany long, D.C. summer nights.
-- Dominique Barron
Thursday, June 10, 2010
But those rare times when it seemed like too much, mostly early in the performance, were quickly counter-balanced by the pair returning to the center and performing one of their more reflective, slower songs under two sole spot-lights. It was these moments when through squinted eyes you saw a glimpse of Simon & Garfunkel- an influence overtly referenced later when, along with bearded openers ‘Franklin for Short’, they got the crowd swaying to an excellent cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Bodyguard’. Another encore later and they hadn’t stopped giving after more than an hour and a half on stage- Øye stuck around to do another 2hour DJ-set in the basement. Whilst most (including myself) bailed to get some zed’s before work in the morning, it was difficult to leave without thinking that the effortless affection and enthusiasm that animated the performance wasn’t feigned after all- perhaps these guys truly do thrive on treating their fans like kings. Four months late? The Kings of Convenience almost made it seem better that way.
Zach Tillman’s self-titled debut into the folk scene did not strike a chord with me—but the name, the name did. Zach Tillman is Joshua Tillman’s brother. Most recognizably a member of the folk darlings Fleet Foxes, Joshua has also been a member of several other groups and has released prolifically as a solo artist. Big brother Joshua, little brother Zach, meet WGTB. To be completely honest, it is unclear which brother is the older and which is the younger—however, several clues, including each brother’s respective time spent being a presence in the indie folk scene, and especially the raw, even unpolished sound of this album itself, indicate Pearly Gate Music is very much Zach’s little-brother-debut.
Musically the two brothers are unsurprisingly related—their voices sound very much alike (smooth and sweet and wonderful), yet Joshua focuses more on harmonies, while Zach showcases his voice bouncing off the walls of his songs on its own. However, at this point, the brothers diverge—Joshua’s solo work is closer to classic indie folk ballads, while Zach’s is…a little stranger, a little less recognizable. Zach’s set of songs in this solo release are hard even to define, let alone judge, because within each song it seems like there are three or four songs, with only a set of lyrics in common. Little Brother’s tempo picks up, slows down, several instruments come blaring in, die out again, leaving the listener at least utterly confused, if not a tad bit disappointed that the album is not more rounded out à la Big Brother. “Gossamer Hair” and “Oh What a Time,” albeit two of the album’s stand-out tracks, also perfectly showcase this lack of musical continuity—it is much like carrying on a conversation with someone who hasn’t quite figured out how to carry one on yet, and pauses for so long you’re unsure if it is your turn to speak, then raises and lowers his volume so frequently and abruptly you’re unsure whether to follow in turn or just end the conversation entirely. And yes, while Zach may have grown up with music in his blood, playing in his big brother’s bands, maybe he too hasn’t quite figured “it” out yet. HOWEVER. All else aside, this fresh, continually echoing album does show scores of unharnessed potential, so don’t shelve away the Tillman name quite yet—perhaps a traveling family band is in the works? There's always something we can learn from our older sibling––I should know, I am one.
-- Fiona Hanly
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Mike Shanahan goes into Meridian Hill Park to capture the sounds of the drum circle and the community that forms around it for the second edition of The District Dialect.
The District Dialect: Meridian Hill Park Drum Circle by igorgerman
The Black Dirt Sessions
Rhode Island’s contribution to the budding alt-country genre, Deer Tick, came to my attention a year ago when I heard “Easy” on Seattle’s KEXP radio, and from that point on I had to have more. More raucous southern rock-inspired guitar riffs. More gritty vocals and Let-me-tell-you-about-having-
When I saw them in concert last fall at the Black Cat, I loved hearing all my favorite tracks from the first LP, War Elephant, and the following LP, Born on Flag Day. Still, their wild, rock & roll performance complete with a few forgotten verses and sloppy stage presence after a few too many drinks had me worried the band wouldn’t make it to album 3 for one reason or another.
I’m happy to say they made it. Oh, they made it. With a packed tour schedule and a more emotionally complex and well-produced, well-written album to show for it. The main change I see on The Black Dirt Sessions (named for the New York Studio where the band recorded) is that a majority of the songs are more overtly sad or bitter in sentiment compared to previous albums. Tracks like “Goodbye, Dear Friend” and the duet “Sad Sun” are perfect examples and the former is one of the few on this album featuring McCauley playing slow tempo, melodious piano and it pairs nicely with his rough and raw voice. They’re great songs and very sincere, but I preferred some of the more fun tracks from earlier albums.
The songs I like best on this album are the few up-tempo ones. What can I say? I like music that makes me want to dance. The track, “Mange,” begs to be used in some kick-ass movie ending. It’s definitely my favorite off this album with lots of attitude and many more instruments and layers than their earlier stuff. Sometimes when you see bands bringing in a whole bunch of “new sounds” it ends up sounding sloppy and overdone, but I think Deer Tick really shines on the tracks where they’ve taken some risks. “Twenty Miles” also stands out with an infectious beat and bass-line that makes you want to tap along.
The album ends with a new version of “Christ Jesus” from War Elephant. On that first album, it was my absolute least favorite track. This time, it’s one of the strongest songs – raw, more emotional, and pleading rather than angry shouting with a string section and piano changing the tone entirely. To me, ending with this song is a symbol of how the band will always carry the same spirit, but it also says, “Don’t pigeon-hole us (coughcough*Pitchfork*
Recommended Tracks: “Mange,” “Twenty Miles,” “I Will Not Be Myself”
-- Britt Shaw