Music Park: Laura Marling @ 9:30 Club — 7/31/15

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7eRrTKmYO0]

From When Brave Bird Saved – “Take the Night Off” (at 1:05)

“I’m a fool to do your dirty work, oh yeah.”

Laura Marling ended a captivating evening at the 9:30 Club last Friday, July 31st, with a cover of Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work”. Based on a few blank faces nearby, it seemed just possible some of the younger crowd weren’t as familiar with the song (which I happen to love, too bad for them). But they soon warmed to it once the refrain kicked in and Marling’s voice took on new intensity.

Marling, a British folk singer-songwriter, started off her show with long, flowing renditions of “Take the Night Off” and “I Was an Eagle”. Afterwards she promised that would be the last of the 10-minute songs, yet no one would have minded if she continued.

The guitar she opened with lit up like Christmas ornament, as it reflected light from many angles. She relied heavily on a steady rotation of guitars, to match the song and the mood.

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Don’t Miss: Technophobia (Opening for Citadel) @ Black Cat, 8/9/15

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Katie Petix and Steve EP of Technophobia (Photo courtesy Technophobia)

Our friends Steve EP and Katie Petix have jettisoned their past catalog for a new-look Technophobia, which is set to perform backstage at the Black Cat on Sunday.

The experimental electronic duo already made their local reintroduction opening for Laibach at the Black Cat in May. In the interim, I caught them with their compatriots Pleasure Curses (opening for Ki:Theory) at DC9 in June.

Technophobia affixes Steve to his keyboards and Katie on vocals, at times sampling various dialogue or sounds and at times soaring high into alt-dance rhythms that invite you to get your dark groove on.

The new songs from Technophobia seem to focus on emptiness or nothingness. And they demonstrate an affinity for Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit,” as lifted from a film version, in their sampling of dialogue.

In “Negative Space,” Steve inserts lines from lesbian Inez: “You can’t throttle thoughts with hands.” The sparkling synths that follow belie the lyrics sung by Katie of places in between other places, where lies nothingness.

Watch Technophobia perform “Negative Space” at the Black Cat on May 11, 2015, in a fan-made video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipp4lnu4a70]

Another song “Fall to Nothing” lifts dialogue from Garcin of “No Exit” for its intro: “I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the fire and brimstone, the torture-chambers, the burning marl? –Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is other people!”

This of course sets the stage for Katie to sing of a moment transfixed in time when a powerful loss occurred. The song is chilling but buoyed by layered synthpop.

Technophobia open for DC doom metal band Citadel backstage at the Black Cat on Sunday. Tickets are available online and at the door.

Technophobia
Opening for Citadel
Sunday, August 9
Doors @7:30pm
$10
All ages

Music Park: Duran Duran @ Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY — 8/1/15

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Simon LeBon, Roger Taylor, John Taylor, and Nick Rhodes preparing to go on stage in Port Chester on August 1. (Photo courtesy Duran Duran)

The last time I chatted with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran in November 2013, I asked him if his band might bring back any material from side project Arcadia, given the approach of the 30th anniversary of Arcadia’s sole album.

“I’ve played around with the idea of including Lady Ice in a set list sometime,” Nick told me, “but you know how it is when you play a slow song at a big show like a Duran Duran concert. Everyone in the first two rows will be transfixed because they cannot get enough but the rest of the audience will go to sleep.”

Given Nick’s response, I was pleasantly surprised to witness Duran Duran resurrect Arcadia single “Election Day” in a sold-out show at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, on Saturday, August 1.

I made the trek to Port Chester inspired by the opportunity to see Duran Duran in their first US show in a few years, since they wrapped up touring for the great last album, All You Need Is Now. Armed with a funky new single, “Pressure Off,” Duran Duran are poised to release their new album Paper Gods next month.

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Music Park: Django Django @ 9:30 Club — 7/29/15

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxK7yP8NPSQ]

“Reflections”

Django Django’s music inspires one to compare and contrast it to other artists and styles. But as hard as you try, in the end, their sound cannot be easily confined to such comparisons.

You would be wont to hear a great deal of Beach Boys influence in their music. From songs such as “Hail Bop” to “Life’s a Beach” to ‘Wor”, the surf music undercurrent throughout is palpable.

You could find a healthy number of drumline dance beats, from “Waveforms” to “Reflections”, to groove to.

You could even find a bit of Irish music in their instrumental, “Slow West”, from the movie soundtrack of the same name and a bit of riding horse/rattlesnake country in “Love’s Dart”.

The point is, they don’t confine themselves to one sound, one approach or one genre. Hence, why the moniker “art rock” has been used to describe them.

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Don’t Miss: Liberation Dance Party @ DC9, 8/8/15

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In 2010, Mark Ronson, who enjoyed a great deal of commercial success this past year with “Uptown Funk,” produced an album for Duran Duran.

In working with the new wave legends, Mark basically said to the band: A lot of younger bands have been eating your lunch in the past 10 years.

As Simon LeBon told the Village Voice last week, “We were listening to this stuff like the Killers and Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand, who kind of have an Eighties sound, and Mark said, ‘You’re one of the originals of this sound; you should have it. It should be yours.’”

The resulting Duran Duran album was a critical and commercial success, but more importantly it demonstrated to me what was so great about Liberation Dance Party, the former weekly DC9 dance party that its creator Bill Spieler now resurrects every two months or so.

So many bands today take their cues from legacy bands that hit before them, defining and refining the sounds that make up the subgenres of rock and pop that we all enjoy so much—psychedelia, neo-psychedelia, punk, post-punk, new wave, shoegaze, dreampop, Britpop, house, etc., etc.

And Liberation Dance Party often has been a laboratory for exploring those sounds. Particularly with its focus on music videos, Liberation Dance Party to me always has been like a party celebrating an updated MTV culture, where you could tune in and see an exciting new post-punk song alongside a great new soul or house or hip hop number.

This Saturday, Bill will have music videos for you on the DC9 middle floor, while I’ll be visiting on the roof, presenting songs from my own collection that fit the Liberation Dance Party mold while reflecting my take on the modern sonic musical evolution. Lunch provided by Mark Ronson! — I’m kidding about that last part, but you will hear his fingerprints all over some of the stuff I’ll be playing.

Pay cover at the door, and RSVP on Facebook. You also can follow Bill’s Liberation Dance Party mixes on Mixcloud!

Liberation Dance Party
DC9
Saturday, August 8
Show @11pm
$2 before midnight/$5 after
21+

Music Park: Donald Cumming @ Echostage, 7/29/15

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Donald Cumming (Photo by Kat Villacorta)

Catching a show by Donald Cumming is sort of like hanging out with a casual friend that you really like and want to get to know better.

The unassuming former frontman of The Virgins visited DC from New York City to perform at Echostage Wednesday, opening for Brandon Flowers, himself a displaced frontman.

Donald performed his first single, “Game of the Heart,” singing of the struggles of love, fixed to the center of the stage with his guitar and surrounded by a simple but talented band — guitar, bass and drums, which spun jangly and affable psych rock.

The singer-songwriter is a very precise guitarist, taking care to craft intricate melodies that might sound a little bit like Elvis Costello or a little bit like Tom Petty on occasion. He’s perfectly relaxed and comfortable in his own skin, which lends itself to his own unhurried identity, however. Although Donald only started performing solo this year, we have to keep in mind indeed that he toured two albums with his former band before he officially gave up on the outfit in 2013.

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Don’t Miss: Jenny Hval @ DC9, 9/9/15

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Jenny Hval (Photo by Jenny Berger Myhre)

Norwegian artist Jenny Hval may offer a totem for the modern DC working woman with the cover of her new album, Apocalypse, girl, which depicts a woman slumped over a medicine ball, apparently having collapsed, disconnected with the task at hand.

On the album, Jenny actually seems very connected to her surroundings, eerily so! Her songs amble along with dreampop reflections as she sometimes narrates her thoughts and at other times sings gently. The experimental nature of her albums is reflected in her videos, including the latest for the track “Sabbath,” at first glance a disjointed collection of memories but more accurately a small treatise on questions of identity.

The video features bandmates Jenny (vocals, synth), Håvard Volden (electronics), Annie Bielski (performance artist and Apocalypse, girl cover model) and Zia Anger (visual enhancement), and it was shot entirely on Zia’s iPhone during a recent tour of Europe.

Watch the video for Jenny Hval’s “Sabbath” on YouTube:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csIDglmrupc]

Tracks like “Sabbath” put the “dream” in Jenny’s dreampop, and the dream isn’t always the most lucid although it’s often concerned with sex. She launches a US tour in support of the album later in August, and the tour makes a stop at DC9 on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Seattle singer-songwriter Briana Marela opens for Jenny.

Listen to Apocalypse, girl, out now on Sacred Bones, via Soundcloud:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/192981983″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Tickets are available online.

Jenny Hval
w/ Briana Marela
DC9
Wednesday, Sept. 9
Doors @8:30pm
$10-12
All ages

Music Park: Little Boots @ U Street Music Hall — 7/25/15

LB_Album_AW_HiRes

On her way into DC Saturday, Victoria Hesketh published a humorous tweet describing her guest list for her show at U Street Music Hall that night.

Victoria is better known as Little Boots, of course, and we applauded her reference to famous DC punk bands. In her musical evolution over three albums to date, Little Boots has gone from a bit of new wave-influenced dance-pop, which took a page from punk inspirations back in the day, to full-blown nu disco. And that journey led her to previous collaborations with UK new wave artists like Gary Numan and Phil Oakey of The Human League.

The synthpop diva has always leaned into house and disco, but she does so full tilt on her new album, Working Girl, which she brought on tour to DC Saturday night. In line with the title of the album, Little Boots has adopted a strategic marketing approach that sees her rocking out in power suits and sporting rather professional if comfortable office wear.

Early in her performance, Little Boots performed her latest single, “No Pressure,” which encapsulates all of the wonderful things about the new album and the new attitude. The song is about the possibility of a change and escaping your expectations, and its accompanying video cleverly stages the message in a workplace environment.

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Don’t Miss: Django Django @ 9:30 Club, 7/29/15

DjangoDjango_FionaGardenPhoto courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR

Django Django, whose members met in Edinburgh and later migrated to London, England, are described as an ‘art rock’ band, or experimental or avant-garde rock, that draws from many influences, including classical and psychedelia.

They bring their stylistic rhythms and harmonies to the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, July 29th, in support of their second album, Born Under Saturn. Their first self-titled album, ranked among Rolling Stone’s Top 50 albums of 2012. Their second album is on track for similar acclaim.

The funky single, Spy Hunter theme crossed with beach music, “Shake and Tremble”, is a good example of the range their sound can take on. A sound that defies pure categorization.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqy3l63px9U]

 

The first single off of Born Under Saturn, was the deeply resonating but airy, “First Light”.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/185533328″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”150″ iframe=”true” /]

Tickets to their show, which should prove to be a lively and unique experience, are available online here.

Come out and see Django Django!

Django Django
w/ Beat Connection
9:30 Club
Wednesday, July 29
Doors @ 7:00pm
$25
All ages

Don’t Miss: Donald Cumming (Opening for Brandon Flowers) @ Echostage, 7/29/15

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Donald Cumming, Out Calls Only (Photo courtesy Tell All Your Friends PR)

When I last saw Donald Cumming, he was on tour with his former band, The Virgins. And the band was opening for The Killers at Merriweather Post Pavilion in August 2013.

Now Brandon Flowers, frontman of The Killers, is coming around to Echostage on Wednesday, July 29 in a tour to support his solo efforts, and he’s bringing newly solo Donald around with him. Donald released his first solo album, Out Calls Only, in June on Razor & Tie subsidiary Washington Square.

As a solo artist, Donald’s voice and his guitar remain distinctive. And his songs still sound to me like they carry hallmarks of early Elvis Costello. (And I still think of The Cars when I hear Donald play for some reason!) But on Out Calls Only, Donald certainly sounds more lovelorn, and perhaps more grown up?

Donald recently released a video for his latest single, “Game of the Heart,” a jaunty song that suggests “Somebody wins everybody else loses” in the struggle of love.

Watch the video for “Game of the Heart” on YouTube:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN_vAZnjpHk&w=640&h=360]

I had the pleasure of interviewing Donald in 2013 when I was blogging for We Love DC, and he said his meeting with The Killers and then Brandon came about quite unintentionally.

All the same, it’s good to have one of New York City’s finest guitar players in town, so get to Echostage early on Wednesday and catch Donald in his DC solo debut.

Donald Cumming
(Opening for Brandon Flowers)
Echostage
Wednesday, July 29
Doors @7pm
$43.45
All ages