Ezra Furman may be one of the best musical secrets around. One part Bruce Springsteen and two equal parts Rock Horror Picture Show and Transformer-era Lou Reed (he’s even written a book on the subject), Ezra took the folk-tinged elements of his early records and expanded them over the past decade to include glam, ’50’s doo wop, and punk. He played this exciting blend of genres at Rock and Roll Hotel on Saturday.
LP’s music has been around for years, and even before she had released her break out single, “Into the Wild,” in 2012. Most of her work was heard through the lens of other artists such as Rihanna, Cher, and Christina Aguilera. But if you are versed in LP’s own catalog or her amazing performances you know that besides having a talent for great songwriting, LP is one brilliant showperson and has a vocal range that makes even the most seasoned performers envious. That brilliance was on full display in a sold-out show at 9:30 Club on Monday.
Almost immediately after you see George Xylouris (laouto, Cretan lute) and Jim White (drums), you get the feeling they are two halves of the same whole. As the story goes, Jim met George back in 1990 in a bar in Australia but didn’t start recording and really touring together until 2013. And to a degree that friendship, built over decades, is the fuel for Xylouris White as we saw in a harmonious performance on Thursday at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson Theatre in Baltimore.
Hailing from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Superchunk has been blazing punk riffs for just shy of 30 years. Although the band needs no introduction perhaps what is needed is a reintroduction. Superchunk — consisting of Mac McCaughan (vocals/guitar), Laura Balance (bass), Jim Wilbur (guitar), and Jon Wurster (drums) — just released their 11th studio album, What a Time to Be Alive, this past Friday. On the night before, they played to a sold-out crowd at Ottobar in Baltimore.
Jen Cloher, a singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia, has been writing, performing, and releasing brilliant folk pop gems since 2005, but last year’s tour opening for Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett was her first US tour. Jen came to visit DC again on Thursday in her own headlining show at Rock and Roll Hotel.
Dan Bejar is an artist who paints in colorful and sometimes disjointed lines of verse. Each song feels purposefully crafted, and each album a separate work of art, often with a completely different feel from one album to the next. Although Dan is a frequent collaborator in The New Pornographers, Destroyer has been his sonic vehicle for the past 23 years, and he refreshed that vehicle’s art in a vigorous show at Black Cat on Sunday.
The year 2017 has been full of contradictions. For many, myself included, it was a year filled with uncertainty and frustration, but to a certain degree it also woke people up. And the music that was created was some of the best in years.