Tag: Washington DC

New Video: Humble Fire’s Dream-like Take on an 80s Classic

Currently comprised of founding members Dave Epley (guitar) and Nefra Faltas (vocals) with Xaq Rothman (bass) and Jason Arrol (drums), the Washington, DC-based dream pop quintet Humble Fire can trace their origins to when its founding duo met through another project that was formed through a Craigslist ad — although Humble Fire started in earnest around 2011 when Epley and Faltas recruited Rothman, who responded to Dave’s Craigslist ad seeking a bassist with a memorable manifesto. And although Arrol is the newest member of the band, joining in 2016, he’s a long-time friend and DC area DIY mainstay. Interestingly, the band’s current lineup finds the band celebrating the individual influences that each member draws from, including bluegrass, classical, punk. hip-hop and pop through a propulsive rhythm section, plaintive and vulnerable vocals, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and big hooks.

The DC-based dream pop quintet’s critically appalled sophomore album Builder thematically touched upon physical and emotional experiences around loss and reconstruction, including the deaths of loved ones, failed romances and the shocks and stresses navigated as a band. Through all of those experiences, the members of the DC-based dream pop act have come to appreciate that reconstruction isn’t something that you can tackle on your own; it frequently requires a team. And in some way, Builder is as much about the process of putting the pieces back to gather, as it is about the relationships that can either help or hinder that process. Additionally, the album found the band thematically asking questions about changing identities — particularly, “Who am I now, in this world without my parents in it?” and “How can I take care of others without losing myself?”

Interestingly, the band follows the release of their critically applauded sophomore album with a shimmering, dream pop take on Tears for Fears‘ classic “Mad World,” that retains the brooding dread, anxiousness and horror of the original; however, the Humble Fire take is a decidedly political take, meant to explore the outrage and despair felt by people, who want to make a positive change when everything has become a Kafkaesque nightmare. In fact, the band sees the lyrics as proof the the personal is always personal, with the song reflecting how systems of oppression can destroy the soul and humanity of individuals and communities. And although Tears for Fears wrote “Mad World” almost 40 years ago, it should be a reminder that a timeless song always finds a way to resonate while subtly changing for a new time and generation

Directed by Jen Meller and edited by Raul Zahir De Leon, the recently released, dream-like video follows the band’s Nefra Faltas wandering through a maze, struggling to find and reconnect with her bandmates. Through her journey, she encounters some surreal and disturbingly symbolic imagery, including her own death.

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Formed by founding member Mariel Beaumont back in 2014, and currently featuring Michael Liszka (drums), Joseph Wright (guitar) and the recently added Vince Vullo (bass), the Philadelphia-based post-punk act Church Girls have developed a reputation for being one of their hometown’s most promising up-and-coming bands. Since their formation, the band has gone through a series of lineup changes, which has also resulted in the band revising and refining their sound and songwriting approach. Additionally, two years ago Beaumont left her full-time job at a clothing band to focus on music full-time — and as a result, Beaumont has found her relationships and the creative chemistry with her bandmates improving.

Interestingly, the Philadelphia-based post-punk outfit’s soon-to-be released EP Cycles thematically focuses on the dissolution of relationships and the responsibilities one faces in setting boundaries for loved ones, who are in the throes of substance abuse; in fact, the EP’s latest single, EP title track “Cycles,” is centered around a close family member’s substance abuse and how that has impacted the song’s narrator — mainly in the form of cycling anger, forgiveness, guilt, reconciliation and dedication. As Beaumont says in press notes, “This person has a disease. As much as I’ve blamed that family member for certain failures, I have my own. I could’ve addressed the problems at hand, instead of pretending everything was fine and just receding.” Sonically, the song bears a resemblance to the likes of Ganser and others, as it features jangling and angular guitar chords, thunderous drumming and a shout along worthy hook that packs an emotional wallop.

Cycles EP is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Chatterbot Records, and the band will be embarking on a tour to support it, which will begin tomorrow in Washington, DC. Check out the tour dates.

TOUR DATES
JAN 15th – Washington, DC @ DC9 Nightclub
JAN 16th – Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s Downtown Distillery
JAN 17th – Charlotte, NC @ Petra’s
JAN 18th – Asheville, NC @ The Odditorium
JAN 19th – Atlanta, GA @ East Arcanum Studio
JAN 20th – Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
JAN 22nd – Denton, TX @ Backyard on Bell
JAN 24th – Houston, TX @ Leon’s Lounge
JAN 25th – Austin, TX @ Beerland
JAN 26th – San Antonio, TX @ The Pleasure Hill House
JAN 28th – Phoenix, AZ @ The Lunchbox
JAN 29th – Tucson, AZ @ The Roach Ranch
JAN 30th – Pomona, CA @ dba256 Bar & Gallery
JAN 31st – Los Angeles, CA @ Silverlake Lounge
FEB 1st – Berkeley, CA @ Alternative Music Foundation
FEB 3rd – Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
FEB 5th – Medford, OR @ Johnny B’s
FEB 7th – Portland, OR @ Turn! Turn! Turn!
FEB 8th – Boise, ID @ High Note Cafe
FEB 9th – Provo, UT @ The Superfuzz
FEB 11th – Fort Collins, CO @ Pinball Jones
FEB 12th – Denver, CO @ Seventh Circle Music Collective
FEB 14th – Sioux City, IA @ The Ox
FEB 15th – North Kansas City, MO @ The Rino
FEB 16th – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
FEB 17th – Chicago, IL @ Emporium Wicker Park
FEB 18th – Muncie, IN @ Be Here Now DIY Music Venue & Craft Brew Bar
FEB 19th – Cincinnati, OH @ Northside Yacht Club
FEB 20th – Indianapolis, IN @ Healers
FEB 21st – Columbus, OH @ Celler Door

 

With the release of their slow-burning, genre-bending debut single “Just Wanna See,” the Washington, DC-based indie electro pop trio SHAED, comprised of multi-instrumentalists, production duo and twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernest and Chelsea Lee (vocals) quickly received attention for a sound that has been favorably compared to Florence & The Machine, Sia, Justin Timberlake and Sylvan Esso. However, “Trampoline,” which appears on their latest EP, 2018’s Melt has been their breakout hit, as it recently made a prominent appearance in Apple’s ad campaign for the new MacBook Air — and once you hear the song, it shouldn’t be surprising as to why it was chosen: Lee’s sultry vocals float ethereally over a slick, hyper-modern yet chilly production centered around wobbling and arpeggiated synths, finger snaps, a distorted backing vocal sampled and a soaring hook.  And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso, the track is infectious and radio friendly.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of the Washington, DC-based indie electro pop trio will be making appearances at Firefly Music Festival and Electric Forest, as part of a headlining national tour that includes a February 22, 2019 stop at Baby’s All Right. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
2/22 @ The Rec Room (WLKK) in Buffalo, NY #
2/13 @ The Camden Assembly Pub in London, UK #
2/24 @ Subterranean in Chicago, IL #
2/26 @ Great Scott in Allston, MA #
2/27 @Baby’s All Right in New York, NY #
3/1 @ Boot & Saddle in Philadelphia, PA #
3/2 @ U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC #
3/6 @ The Drake Underground in Toronto, CA #
3/7 @ The Hollow (WEQX) in Albany, NY #
3/9 @ Steadfast Festival in Columbus, OH
3/12 @ Pub Rock (ALT AZ) in Phoenix, AZ #
3/13 @ Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles, CA #
3/15 @ Popscene in San Francisco, CA #
6/21-23 @ Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE
6/27-30 @ Electric Forest in Rothbury, MI

 

# Headline

 

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.

 

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.