Friday, April 11, 2008

Giving you what you need, D.C.!!!!

This Saturday, April 12th, there is a REALLY important show at the Rock and Roll Hotel. Attend and this will most certainly be a night you'll be lucky enough to say you saw "that band" when their vibes were bubbling under the surface, on the brink of being popularly demanded. D.C.'s Olympia will be displaying the sound lessons they have learned not just from their own experiences (members include bassist Nick Barkley, ex-Fairweather Drummer Shane Johnson and Guitarist Peter Tsouras, and ex-Brand New Disaster vocalist, Phil Williams) but also from this city's rich musical history. Think Ted Leo and the Pharmacists-like alt, some times punk-rock guitar riffs and a fist pumping thrash that give slight appreciation to Minor Threat. The best example of this perfect marriage of past and present, progressive melodies and beats is the explosive and aptly titled song "M80" as well as the in-your-face "Olympia is a Motherfucker", both off of their 2007 release Emergencies. What's so promising about this band is that while they maintain a very clean, tight sound that never quite veers away from their initial intent- making quality rock music-the themes tend to have a wide spanning musical approach which gives them a mass appeal. Currently, Olympia are signed to New York based indie label, Equal Vision Records, who also house indie rock front runners like The Fall of Troy as well as Circa Survive (Circa Survive will actually be in Baltimore at Ram's Head Live on May 6th and they are opening for, gasp! Thrice! GO SEE THIS SHOW, also!!!) .

To wet your appetite a little, here is a Music video play list I've pulled together for ya! Enjoy- and don't forget: FEED A MUSICIAN! BUY THEIR CD'S AND/OR MERCH!!!


"Olympia is a Motherfucker"

Videos Courtesy Seeqpod

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Join the fight for survival!!!!

I cannot stress enough the necessity of educating yourselves on the importance and preservation of Independent Music Stores. This applies especially if you are an up and coming musician! With Major Record Labels seeming to lose a bit of loyalty to their artists, there has never been a better time to put the fuzzed down mp3's and over priced Mp3 players down and invest in what will undoubtedly become a collectible- an album or cd! Again, please make yourself aware, see if there are any participating retailers in your area, and keep your eyes peeled in the up coming weeks for some interviews with D.C./VA/MD area retailers participating in this very special day!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This weekend is going to be NUT-SO for shows!?!?!?!

Yes, that's right, folks, this weekend is certainly panning out to be a good one for music lovers and night crawlers. Check it out:

Thursday, at the Black Cat, be sure to catch the highly polished, yet highly vintage sounds of L.A. four-piece, Bodies of Water. Think 5th Dimension's “Age of Aquarius” here, people. If you want to enjoy a night of harmonious vocal layering, an organ and a big, very well orchestrated production, perhaps even a little Hair-esque, check Bodies of Water out Thursday @ D.C.’s Black Cat. Doors @ 9, $10 at
the door.

Last weekend, as we all know (and might even still be a little blurry from) was huge due to all of the St. Patty’s day soirĂ©es. Needless to say, you might want to keep a low profile this weekend. However, if you find yourself getting a little cabin fever come Sunday night, go move your body to the heady, bass-y thumping background beats of San Fran’s Katastrophe’s rhyming. Conscience lyrics here and party pledging there, you are sure to have a body slammingly good time, even if you tend to hang out in the corner. Black Cat will host this gentleman, with doors opening @9pm to the backstage, and a small fee of $8- if you are a mover, shaker or even head bobber, you probably shouldn’t miss this…..

Velvet Lounge is known for hosting some pretty obscure, usually punk and/or indie and/or hardcore stuff. In fact, sometimes I like to think of them as The Sidebar Tavern of Washington, D.C. If you are looking for a little cock rock meets nasty old punk, then you should DEFINITELY check out The Lookies on Friday night at Velvet Lounge. Hailing from Harrisonburg, P.A. you’d think that they were either slick L.A. rock band hanging out in the gutters of NYC for the last five years, or vice versa. From what I have heard, The Lookies put on a REALLY exciting show. So, if you want a cheap, relatively safe adrenaline rush this weekend, start off with a healthy injection of The Lookies at D.C.’s Velvet Lounge. Doors open at 9:30pm and it’s 21+ (sorry kiddies) with only 8 bones (that’s dollars, folks) to get into the party!

I kind of predicted, I would say, midway through 2007 that late ninties rock MIGHT make a comeback. I mean, hell, my generation teeeends to lean a little on the side of genre recycling. Now, that’s not to say there is not a lot of REALLY great, progressively thinking music making going on these days, but I do think my prediction is coming true. In fact, this weekend, I think D.C.’s The Rock and Roll Hotel are trying to prove me right. On Friday, we will see the likes of a late nineties nu-metal flirtation with drum and base revival take place when NYC Echoes and Shadows take the stage. As dark as their instrumental-only music tends to lean, it’s a bit down tempo, and at times can even be a bit serene. However, you can definitely tell through some of the guitar riffs and distortion, and perhaps even the mic on the base drum, these guys may have taken a lesson or two from late nineties greats, The Deftones. If anything, I would say check Echoes and Shadows out to rehash some high school or college memories and see a really great live show. Doors 8:30pm tickets are $15 and you can purchase them ahead of time (or at the door) via R’N’R hotel’s web site.

So, go out, have fun, DON'T drink and drive- better yet, drink and metro! And if you want to check out any other shows that I didn't write about, look towards the bottom of the the side bar on the right- Upcoming D.C. shows will be posted there, per venue every week!!!! GO LISTEN TO AND SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC! FEED A MUSICIAN- BUY THEIR CD AND/OR MERCH!!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Not So Rock 'N' Roll hall of.....Top 40?

Have the folks over at The Rock and Roll Hall of fame lost their ever loving minds? As of last night, the ultimate pop tart Madonna was inducted into The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, mind you via pop “peer” Justin Timberlake. When I found out that this was going down last week, I really wanted to jam my mouse into my computer screen. Oh, and you know what else I found to be ludicrous, and almost blasphemous? Yeah, the fact that Iggy and The Stooges shook their hairy old asses to Madonna’s insta-puke “Ray of Light” while Madge sat there, next to her pet, Timberlake, like a queen that must be entertained by her own “lyrical genius” by one of the, eh hm, lesser than’s. Give me a break. Yeah, Madonna, that’s REAL rock and roll now that you’ve somehow finagled it so that Iggy and the Stooges are performing one of your TOP 40 hits. In fact, way to prove my point….

I mean, hell, The RNR HOF IS located in Cleveland, after all but the city is not exactly a rock 'n' roll hotbed for starters. So, I feel like the museum’s board’s judgment is certainly a bit questionable here. Well, ok, maybe one exception can be made about the area in that famed '50's rock 'n' roll promoter and DJ Alan Freed made a home there, but still, I don't think this justifies this kind of museum’s current locale. Either way, I am covering this more on the principal of representation based on who’s "in" rather than any geographical criticisms I may want to inject here. And honestly, I admire and listen to pretty much every single one of the past inductees, so really, this isn't even about the performers whose stories and pictures are currently being preserved there. More or less, this is my argument that the folks in the building need to vote on a name change for the museum.

If you take look at the list of previous inductees then it'd be hard to argue the fact that yes, this hall of fame is comprised mostly of top 40 acts. Granted, when we take a look at the original list of inductees at the very first ceremony back in 1988, the folks receiving the honor were and are legends. However, they all began their music careers in the world we now know as rock and roll in a time when there wasn't really a division on radio stations per genre of music. You listened to pretty much everything, with the blue grass and gospel certainly being set on a different dial than the top 40 music and news radio programs, of course. And, really that was OK in the beginning, considering the legacies and circumstances. BUT! It’s 2008. I think we have a pretty GOOD definition of what IS and IS NOT rock and roll music! I mean, last year, I really thought it was going to be the year for Rush to finally get some recognition and get inducted. Also, what is rock and roll about Paul Simon? Seriously, can someone please explain this to me? Whenever I hear his name, all I think of, well first anyway, are ‘60’s era beatniks, and then bongos. Oh, and Chevy Chase, too. I mean, please, don’t get me wrong, they have been known to make some good choices from time to time, like in 2004 when they inducted ZZ Top, and then pretty much the entire list from 2003. However, in 1997 when THE BEE GEES got inducted before Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago and The Moody Blues, well, it just goes to show ya that The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, really, REALLY needs to change its name to The Not Quite Rock and Roll Hall of Top 40!

This is a YouTube (posted for public consumption, mind you) of Madonna NOT shutting the "F" up about the people who "believed in her", of course only following Timberlake's intro brimming over with a slew of REALLY bad, school boy innuendo laden jokes. Perhaps these people who believe in Madonna (aka the one's whose heads are all crammed into her ass, fighting for air) are good friends with the people who "believe in" Brittney Spears. Enjoy...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yes, The Gay Blades WERE Here!!!

So, if you missed the extremely entertaining interview I had posted up here with New Jersey's The Gay Blades, well, then shame on you! (BUT don't fret too hard, as it WILL be included in Issue # Five of Urbancode, premiering later this month). The interview was raucous, randy and just plain sincere. Can anything ever be all of these things at once, you ask? Well, yes, they can in the distorted world of body convulsing drum beats and bass-less but bass-y, screamingly crunching guitar riffs that The Gay Blades dwell in. Oh, and you say that you missed their live show last night at DC9, did you? WELL then, that'll be another rap over the knuckles for you!...

...No, but seriously, NOT to sound like a musical, elitist a-hole or anything of the like, but if you didn't open yourself up to NJ's best kept secret, then you really missed out. In fact, I couldn't be mad at people for not showing up, because at one point, I felt like I was going through the induction process to a really cool, melody driven musical society last night. As expected, lead singer/guitarist Clark Westfield opened up with the room shaker, "O Shot" which was actually the first single off of their 2007 release, Ghosts. When I tried to convince he and drummer Puppy Mills that the newly-minted-love song "You're a Garbage Barge, I'm a dreamboat" should be their next single, they scoffed a bit, as they feel a "ballad is never the way to start out" as Clark Westfield proceeded to make a thumbs down motion accompanied by a sinking missile sound. Needless to say, Westfield was FULL of energy that night, mellow before the show, explosive during. He shimmied and swayed, and at one point jumped off of the 2.5' stage to slap a high five with a guy in a pink button up shirt that was, perhaps too old to be in the room full of 20-something hipsters, but louder than a room full of five year olds. This onlooker was pretty obnoxious- but even his loud mouth could NOT take away from the action on stage. Unfortunately, the band only got 30 minutes to play. I was bummed. In fact, when the sound guy shouted from the back of the intimately small room "Hey, ya got 5 minutes, guys!" i felt a sinking feeling. As their last song of the night came to a close, the feeling almost was relative to when you are a kid, coming home from vacation and watching the beach grow smaller and smaller in the distance from the back window of the family car.

The guys in hoodies reassured me, though, that they WILL be back, as they said "May-ish". I will most certainly be there, and I expect each and everyone of you to keep your eyes peeled for the next time they cruise through!

Visit The Gay Blades on their Myspace page HERE

All photos Courtesy Eyeball Records. Use of You Tube video courtesy and permission of Eyeball Records and The Gay Blades.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ah, the accoustics!

So, there was a time once when I went to National Cathedral in D.C. to see the choir of Westminster Abbey perform. It was nice, it really was. I remember my Music History professor going on and on about the acoustics in the place, how you could hear the tiniest of voices from rows back and still feel like you were face to face with the young singers. She was totally right, by the way. But, in addition to its monstrously high ceilings and rib-like enclosure, there was a cold hollowness about it. It was filled on Sundays, mostly, with the faithful coming to worship and seek solitude for their misgivings and forgiveness for their sins, but in that moment, it felt like doom. I swear, at one point I knew what it must have been to be Jonah inside the walls of that large whale.....

Well, that was a few years ago, and I dunno if it was due to that overwhelming sense that I got inside of that holy place, but after that, I have MUCH preferred small venues to oversized ones. There’s really nothing more satisfying than getting so up close to a performer that you not only scream the lyrics to the songs that you know into their mic, but you learn some of the chords of the songs they play right then and there. This is why I love going to D.C.’s Black Cat for shows. The dark little music venue that’s caught between a fancy restaurant and a neighborhood market, has so much life and history in its walls that you can feel the energy when you walk in. The doormen are always friendly and truly don’t mind answering questions that range from the very basic, “Yo! I have to piss, where’s the john?” to the very important, “Can we take pictures during the show?” Not to mention, the stages that they reserve for live shows are super intimate settings. The one up the short winding stairs is big enough for large acts with stacks and stacks of amps, while the one on the entrance level, The Back stage, is nestled behind the main bar. I love the Backstage. The performer is given a very basic 2 ft. high, 7 ft. by 9 ft. stage area and there are never any guard rails or gigantic men to get in the attendees’ way.

Actually, last Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to catch 2 performers that I have been salivating over for the last year. And then here they were, in my home away from home! Opening that night was Ben Nichols, lead singer of the band Lucero. He and Chuck Ragan, of Hot Water Music, were on a mini tour, of sorts, and it was ALLL acoustic! Now, Lucero was here last year ON my birthday, I missed the show and it was a real bummer. I HAD to go see Ben. It was neat, too, because while on stage, he even talked about how much fun he was having on tour and professed that, “Hell, I am on vacation, really.” And that was when the audience-performer relationship came to light. Lucero comes through DC every time they tour and have an avid following. Their southern, grass roots rock approach to folk is not only refreshing, but reminiscent of the same man Nichols insisted he do a cover of, ‘70’s alt folk great, Townes Van Zant.
In between songs, he’d lean forward, and one particularly jolly, thick red bearded fellow would hand Nichols a small glass of what I believe to have been scotch. In addition to the drinks, there were laughs as Ben joked and the fact that the audience knew, the closer he got to drink four and five, the likelihood of his remembering lyrics got slimmer and slimmer. Nichols knows, though, from past visits, where ever he’d leave off in a song, about 50-80 of the 100 present would be there to pick up the next lyric. Ben never got drunk enough that night to forget anything, and actually got through the entire song “The War”, which might by far be my favorite off of Lucero’s 2005 release, Nobody’s Darlings. A song that tells the story of being drafted off to fight in World War II, it struck a very familiar chord with some of the audience members, perhaps those that currently have soldiers in Iraq, and there were a few sniffles and running eyes. Needless to say, when the boys of Lucero come back to the area, I am SOO there!

Bringing it home that night was the very charismatic Chuck Ragan. I mean, you couldn't expect anything less from this guy after years of heading up the punk rock outfit that is Hot Water Music. Recently, Ragan was even quoted as saying that he'd gotten "tired" of screaming, and basically just wanted to do the folk thing for a while. He was well on his way, with a fiddler in tow, even. Interestingly enough though, my boyfriend and I noted that during his set, and actually only about 5 songs in, his voice was so powerful, he was actually breaking the mic amp!During his performance, in a fever of desperation, Chuck's voice pleads with the audience during the aptly titled track "Open up and Wail":

Open up and wail Open up and cry
We are not the type and far young to die
In a rattled cage heads against the wall
Through dangerous nights
No more lullabies

We’ve got what it takes
Everything that needs to make a fighting chance
At carrying the load of falling day to day
A gruesome cold reality square in the nose
Bleeding to the toes

The night was filled with songs that traveled in the same vein as this rally cry, like the song, "The Boat". Ragan's theme, or gift to his audience, really, for the night was undoubtedly uplifting. Even as I had to mosey on out of the Black Cat at a super late hour for a work week night, I felt refreshed, like I had been hit in the face with a bucket of cool water. Yeah, refreshing to say the least....

Please tune in next week:

Oh, and let's try this again!!!- The Metro rail system was all berserk this weekend, so my apologies for not being able to report on the J Roddy Walston show...I am sure it went smashingly, though!

From Iota Club, Clarendon, VA: Sons of Bill