This Wednesday is not quite as quiet as last Wednesday was, but it does still give a nice chance for reflection: what are your favorite local music blogs or sources of music news? Any favorite local bands that I haven’t listed on my links page? Any thoughts or comments about how this blog is formatted or the types of things I cover? Feel free to leave feedback in a comment below or in an email to email@example.com.
• Podcast: Take a listen to DC Music Download’s DC Music Recall podcast. This month’s edition features an interview with Matthew Johnson of Imperial China plus reviews of songs by Justin Jones (“Miracles”) and Victoria Vox (“Oh I Wonder”).
• Chris Richards writes of Young Jeezy, President Obama, and the White House’s complicated relationship with hip-hop [Washington Post]. The zingers were zinging at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, but one seemed to fall a smidge flat: President Obama’s promise to start singing Young Jeezy songs in public if he wins a second term. “In my first term I sang Al Green,” the president said, referencing his off-the-cuff performance of Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at the Apollo Theatre in January. “In my second term, I’m going with Young Jeezy.”
• Does the DC music scene suck? The Washington Post published a letter this weekend from Sean Roussy of Arlington with the headline The Rant: D.C. must face the music. We had some serious problems with the link to the article last night (it kept coming up as “Page Not Found”– seems to be working better now via this link), so we’re reprinting the whole thing here:
The Washington music scene is just awful. Do not get me wrong. There are many fine local bands across various genres in the District, and a plethora of legendary acts for audiophiles in 31 flavors. It is not the music; it is the scene. I specifically mean all of you. Including myself. The reason I know this is that it is something I see myself and that people and bands from other towns tell me, because I have seen many bands in many towns since I was sneaking out to punk matinees at the age of 13. I also watch tour schedules, and there are plenty of awesome acts that skip this town. This is the Imperial Capital. One would think that this would be an important place to showcase talent. However, time and again I end up driving to Baltimore, Richmond or Philadelphia for music. The reason is, simply, that people do not come out on school nights.
The District works too hard and rocks too little. The transient population of this town is comprised of 50 states worth of former safety patrol captains and class presidents who all came here to conquer, and the suburbs are littered with the descendants of a couple generations of their offspring. These are not the kids who made high school fun by hosting all-day jam sessions in their garages. These are the kids who were busy with their eagle Scout badges and their Key club, whatever that is. This particular population of Washington of which I write works too hard to close the club on a school night and show back up for work at 7 a.m. with three hours of sleep. They have their careers to think about and their brains to use. However, I would posit to all of the readers for whom I may have touched a nerve that the world might be a better place if the music scene of Washington visited the music of D.C. once in a while on a school night. Whether you work the hall or scream at the wall, music is the language of the soul. If the pinnacle of power cannot converse at that level, I am afraid the whole American experiment is in trouble.
• What happens to old punk clubs when they vacate the building? Apparently they become J.Crew stores– or, at least, that’s what’s happening to the former 9:30 Club at 930 F St NW [Washington CityPaper].
• Interview: Valerie Paschall chats with Trophy Wife [DCist].
Last night, I went to the Black Cat and saw British twee band Allo Darlin’. I wouldn’t ordinarily identify as a fan of twee, but I do really dig the Field Mice and Camera Obscura, and I find Allo Darlin’ to be very much in line with those two bands. (Also, I recently reviewed the band’s latest album, Europe, for the Washington Post). I was pleasantly surprised to see that the show was packed (and packed with people who knew a lot of the band’s lyrics, too!). Live, the band really captures that “just exuberant enough to be slightly off-kilter” brand of indie-pop; I don’t think the bassist stopped jumping up and down for the band’s entire ~45-minute set. Another pleasant surprise: frontwoman Elizabeth Morris’s solo ukulele song “Tallulah” during the encore was performed to….complete silence! So great to hear DC crowds keeping quiet after a whole slew of chatty shows.
An unrelated story from last night’s show: I got an iPhone a few weeks ago, and I’m still warming up to it– sure, some of the apps are cool, but I’m not a fan of its email functionality, and that’s what I want a smartphone for, more than gadgets and doodads. Anyway, last night at the show, one of those apps came in handy: a flashlight app I’d recently installed helped a woman find her contact lens on the floor of the Black Cat. I kind of wanted to ask if she actually planned on putting it back in her eye– no amount of rinsing could possibly get nightclub grime off of that thing.
• Interview: Metal Chris talks to Evan Harting, co-founder of Maryland DeathFest [DCHeavyMetal.com]. You can either listen to the interview via MP3 (~20 minutes) or read its entire transcript (or both!). Metal Chris talks both about festival logistics (parking, food) as well as the merits of downloading (Metal Chris rightly points out that many of the bands on the DeathFest schedule wouldn’t be known enough to come to the U.S. if not for the availability of their music online). Teaser from this cool interview: I think having at least some of your music available online for free is great and it gets your word out there. If you’re in metal to make money then you’re doing something wrong anyway.
• Local band profile: Stephanie Williams on Heavy Breathing [DC Music Download].
• Watch out for disco balls! In April 2010, a woman was allegedly hit by a falling disco ball at the Franconia Moose Lodge in Alexandria. Now she’s suing [Washington Post]. The horrific incident happened in April 2010 at a Sweet Sixteen dance, according to Robert M. Somer, the lawyer who filed the suit. He said the victim, Ana Guevara Blanco, suffered a concussion, a fractured nose and facial bones, was hospitalized, and ran up about $15,000 in hospital bills. After some plastic surgery, her nose still doesn’t look the way it once did, Somer said.
• Announced: Sonic Circuits has revealed its 2012 lineup, including the Glenn Branca Ensemble, Lydia Lunch, and David Thomas (from Rocket from the Tombs and Pere Ubu). Complete schedule will be posted soon.
We’ve gotten some feedback that we should change our section headers on this blog, so we’re going to be testing out some formatting over the next few days. If you like (or hate!) what you see, feel free to let us know, either with a comment on this blog or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes from Last Night
Last night, I went out to the Black Cat to see Bowerbirds. The show itself was lovely, but I really couldn’t hear much of anything above the audience chatter. I guess that’s becoming the norm now, but seriously: especially at quiet shows, if you want to talk, please just move to the back! I couldn’t understand why so many people were holding loud conversations right underneath the stage. Maybe people figure that once they’ve paid their $15 cover, they can do whatever the hell they want to, even if it’s completely disruptive to everyone else in attendance– and to the band on stage. I went to over 130 shows last year, and I don’t remember a single one being as chatty as the show last night, which is a disappointment for sure.
• Sweetlife Festival has announced the lineup of its second stage: Delta Spirit, Twin Shadow, Zola Jesus, the Knocks, RAC, U.S. Royalty, Yuna, Corey Haim, LP, Cut Copy’s Ben Browning, and Bluebrain. Jonathan L. Fischer reacts [Washington CityPaper].
• Scott Crawford is putting together a documentary of the D.C. punk scene from 1980 to 1990 and needs your help, says the Washington Post. The film is slated to be called Salad Days, and you can check out their facebook page for ways to get in touch.
Over the past few years, the pop airwaves have been hip-hop-dominated but, during the past several months, the music has segued into rhythmic-leaning pop and then into straight-ahead pop. “Acts like Katy Perry and Rihanna have paved the way for pure pop music’s return,” says Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts. “What’s been missing were girl groups and boy bands. It’s such a good environment for this kind of act in pop music right now.”