Tag: Washington DC

 

With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Up until late last month, some time had passed since I had come across the DC-based sextet but as you may recall, the band had been busy working on their sophomore album, which is currently slated for release sometime next year — and the album’s first single “Sunburn,” was a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Chelsea” is a synth-based track that some have compared favorably to Depeche Mode, although to my my ears, the song recalls St. Lucia as the members of Color Palette layer of arpeggiated synths are paired with angular and hanging guitar chords, an a propulsive rhythm section — and while much like its predecessor, the song reveals a band that can craft a razor sharp and infectious hook, “Chelsea” may arguably be the most ambitious, arena rock friendly track they’ve written and released to date.

 

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With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) have received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve last come across them, but as it turns out the band has been busy working on their sophomore album, which is slated for release sometime next year; but in the meantime, the DC-based band’s latest single “Sunburn” is a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year.

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello Releases Tender and Joyful Cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded, JOVM mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello– and as you may recall, the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany and was raised in Washington, DC.  When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with a number of local acts including Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello eventually caught the attention of Madonna, who signed the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist to her Maverick Records. Most readers will remember her commercially successful collaborative coverof Van Morrison‘s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp, a single that peaked at #3 on the BillboardCharts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine‘s “Album of the Year.”  Her coverof Bill Withers‘ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Ndegeocello has also collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping  on “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx,Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti,The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissetteand Zap Mama.

Throughout her lengthy career, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feet of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromising and iconoclastic artists of the past 25 years — all while being credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul sound, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, jazz, rock, reggae and singer/songwriter pop. Over the past few years, Ndegeocello has been rather busy — she wrote and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and released a gorgeous tribute album to the legendary Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with fellow JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

Ventriloquism, Ndegeocello’s later album was released earlier this year, and the album finds the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist covering songs by  TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, who have been influential to her and her work — but with her unique take. As the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist explains in press notes, “Early on in my career, I was told to make the same kind of album again and again, and when I didn’t do that, I lost support. There isn’t much diversity within genres, which are ghettoizing themselves, and I liked the idea of turning hits I loved into something even just a little less familiar or formulaic. It was an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.” Ventriloquism’s first single was a coverof Force MD‘s smash hit “Tender Love,” that found Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning, 80s piano ballad into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. Though she eschews some of the song’s cheesiness, which makes it endearing in its own right, Ndegeocello’s cover retains the song’s earnestness — pointing out that a well-written pop song can reach for something downright timeless. 

The album’s latest single is a cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity,” that briefly nods at Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” as it’s centered around loose, bluesy guitar chords, shuffling drumming and a New Orleans brass band-like bridge — and while retaining the song’s sultry nature, Ndegeocello manages to pull out and further emphasize the song’s tenderness.  Much like its predecessor, the new single continues Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations on what music created by and performed by black artists should sound like and be like. 

Directed by the Cass Bird, the recently released video for “Sensitivity ” was specifically released in conjunction with the end of Pride Month — and in our dark and uncertain age, the video is a much-needed burst of joy and humanity, as the video was specifically cast to focus on faces, body types and identities that are less conventional, less celebrated and often misunderstood, capturing these people at their most vital, most joyful and most human — whether dancing, tenderly embracing, kissing and loving. Certainly, the world would be a much better place if there was more love and more gentle and human moments. 

New Video: The Cinematic and Psychedelic Visuals for Golden Dawn Arkestra’s Anthemic “Wings of Ra”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Austin, TX psychedelic collective The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and as you may recall, collective’s founder, the Washington, DC-born, Austin,TX-based musician Zapot Mgwana, was told by his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy that his father was Herman Poole Blount, more famously known to musicians, fans and critics as Sun Ra.  When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. As an adult, Mgwana returned to the States and founded The Golden Dawn Arkestra, and much like Sun Ra’s work, Mgwana’s collective focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. Album single “Lovely Day,” found the band sonically drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone to create a wildly expansive, globalist and forward-thinking take on the large band format that managed to be both mischievously retro-futuristic and kaleidoscopic. “Wings of Ra,’ Children of the Sun’s latest single finds the band drawing from anthemic, power chord-based psych rock and prog rock in a way that brings to mind JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Jethro Tull and others but with a cosmic glow. 

Directed by Ben Blanchard and Vanessa Pla, the recently released video for “Wings of Ra” is an incredibly cinematic and wildly psychedelic (and symbolic)_ romp that references  the work of Dario Argento, biblical scenery and biblical-inspired paintings (Last Supper anyone?) with its cast dressed in costumes that nod at the traditions of India, Africa and China to further emphasize the band’s globalist leanings. But perhaps more important, the video is pretty fucking trippy. 

Born in Washington, DC and currently based in Austin, TX, Zapot Mgwana never knew his father, but his mother, who worked for the Ethiopian Embassy always told him that Herman Poole Blount (a.k.a. Sun Ra) was his father. When Mgwana was nine, he and his mother moved to Nigeria, where he spent most of his formative years. Recently Mgwana returned to the States and formed his musical project The Golden Dawn Arkestra — and much like the work of Sun Ra, Mgwana’s Arkestra focuses on intergalactic travel, transcendence, and time travel but while sonically pairing deep grooves and cinematic quality with a world spanning expansiveness.

Children of the Sun, The Golden Dawn Arkestra’s finds the band further cementing their growing reputation for an expansive, globe spanning sound with album’s material inspired by the sounds of Berlin, Brazil, psych rock, disco, soul and world music. In fact, Children of the Sun‘s latest single “Lovely Day” sounds as though the band were drawing from Bossa Nova, Afrobeat and the work of Ennio Morricone — it’s an expansive, global and forward looking take on the large band format that manages to be mischievously retro-futuristic and with a kaleidoscopic vibe. 

New Video: Thievery Corporation Teams Up with Notch on a Soulful, Old School-Inspired Reggae Track

Comprised of DJ and production team Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, the internationally renowned Washington, DC-based act Thievery Corporation have developed a reputation for a globe spanning, genre-defying sound that features elements of electronica, dub, bossa nova, acid jazz, reggae, Indian classical music, hip-hop, Middle Eastern music and others, and for collaborating with a diverse array of artists across a variety of genres and styles, including Rob Myers, Loulou Ghelichkhani, Natalia Clavier, Frank ‘Booty Lock’ Mitchell, Mr. Lif, Jeff Franca, Ashish Vyas and a lengthy list of others, who have contributed lyrics in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Romanian and Hindi.

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s chart topping 2017 effort, The Temple of I & I was deeply influenced by Jamaica’s sounds and rhythms, and as a result the album may have arguably been their most reggae and dub-influenced album to date — and perhaps, their most straightforward as well. Interestingly, the duo’s latest album, Treasures from the Temple is a companion album to their 2017 album, and it features both original material and remixes from the Temple of I & I recording sessions at Geejam Studios in Port Antonio, Jamaica — with guest spots from LouLou Ghelichkhani, Mr. Lif, Sitali, Racquel Jones, Natalia Clavier and Notch.
Treasures from the Temple’s latest single “Waiting Too Long” features their long-time collaborator and American dancehall pioneer Notch, and the track is a soulful, two-step dub riddim, complete with a strutting horn arrangement, and while it sounds and feels warm and familiar, it’s a sweet love song about lovers, who have been through quite a bit, going to the club to dance, to enjoy themselves and forget about the world for a few hours — and how they’re specifically waiting for the DJ to play their song. 

The recently released video for “Waiting Too Long” consists of rare footage shot in Jamaica in the late 70s and early 80s, and it captures a night out in a Jamaican club — singles and couples swaying and dancing, some with beer bottles in hand; a DJ making adjustments on his mixer as a vocalist passionately sings; in another room, men gamble and bullshit. It’s a Friday or Saturday night with people being — well, people. All seeking a small measure of joy, a connection with someone else, an escape from the drudgery of every day life. 

New Video: Foreign Air Releases Gorgeously Shot and Moody Visuals for “Chakra Daemon”

Last year was a breakthrough year for the Washington, DC/New York-based indie duo Foreign Air — their For The Light EP amassed over 20 million Spotify streams, their material was included in a Nike ad campaign, and building upon a growing profile, the duo opened for the likes of Phantogram, Aurora, BØRNS, X Ambassadors, Kevin Garrett and Lewis Del Mar, before heading to Seattle to record their forthcoming, Phil Ek-produced full-length debut, slated for release sometime this year. 

Their latest single “Chakra Daemon” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for material inspired by heady subject matters — for this particular song, evolution, biomechanics and the ubiquitous email bounce back bot Mailer Daemon, as a comment on how much of one’s daily routine is heaped in negative, harmful and repetitive energy.  Sonically, the song follows along a similar vein as its predecessors — a murky and menacing production featuring layers of arpeggiated and pulsating synths, four-on-the-floor drum programming, bursts of buzzing guitar and an anthemic but pessimistic, post-apocalyptic-like hook that finds the duo nodding at the likes of Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode and others, as well as contemporary synth pop acts like Painted Palms.

As the duo’s Jordan Classen explained in press notes “We as humans are constantly looking for a connection. However, more often than not we fail to find that connection leaving one to feel lonely or even invisible at time. As humans slowly begin self evolving by integrating bio-technology, I imagine one day there will be a Chakra Daemon. This will be like an artificial subconscious. An enhanced intuition. Beyond the obvious implication of keeping us out of danger, I think it will also play a role in navigating us through relationships both platonic and romantic.”

Directed by Sabrina Reiter, the recently released video for “Chakra Daemon” was shot in Vienna Austria and stars Florian Tröbinger and Martin Brandner, who are both struggling in some way or another with the inner truths that must be spoken about ourselves — and in turn, while longing for connection that has long evaded them. As the duo explains of the video treatment, “We all struggle with fear at one point or another in our lives and must find ways to overcome; to put into the world the truth that we know is already in our hearts and in our minds. If we don’t learn to externalize ourselves as individuals then we will never know our true potential as a society.”

Grant Goldsworthy is a Central Pennsylvania-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who over the past 15 years has played with a number of bands across Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Boston and New York — and with his latest project, Snow Villain, which he started in 2015, Goldsworthy began collaborating with a rotating cast of musicians from Philadelphia, Harrisburg, PA and NYC. Although some have said that Snow Villain’s sound nods at Death Cab for Cutie, Smashing Pumpkins, St. Vincent, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, Ween and Beck, the project’s latest single “Torches.” off the forthcoming EP 1 strikes me as nodding heavily at early Rage Against the Machine, as the song is centered around enormous power chords, rousingly anthemic hooks, and politically-charged lyrics delivered with a swaggering, hip-hop like flow.