Music Park: Modern English @ Ottobar — 6/4/16

Modern English 04 Modern English perform at Ottobar on Saturday, June 3, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

When I last saw Modern English three years ago, the band’s appearance struck me as if they were the wise college professors of new wave and post-punk.

And they truly strike quite the air of a band that has seen it all. Vocalist Robbie Grey with his simple black ensemble, sports coat, and shock-white hair certainly looks like he could break out into a philosophy lecture at any time. Bassist Michael Conroy emits a similar sort of stoic wisdom, while guitarist Gary McDowell strikes you as someone who may have lived a more bohemian life and would have some wild tales to share of walks in more artistic and spiritual places.

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Don’t Miss: CHVRCHES @ Rams Head Live! (Baltimore), 6/12/16

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CHVRCHES (Photo by Danny Clinch)

Synthpop trio CHVRCHES are quite popular on the festival circuit lately, and they are indeed heading to the Firefly Festival in Dover, Del., this month. But on the way, they’ve booked some independent shows, including a newly announced concert at Rams Head Live! in Baltimore on Sunday, June 12.

What a fantastic time and place to see CHVRCHES, who released one of the best albums in 2015 with their sophomore effort, Every Open Eye, on Sept. 25 via Glassnote. With their second album, they accomplished the rare feat of making an album better than their excellent debut, The Bones of What You Believe.

Glasgow’s favorite sons and daughter — Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry — recorded both albums in a hometown studio (their own Alucard Studios), and the second time around they found even more gold in the sparkling synthesizers of the gents and the lilting, pleasing voice of the lady.

Check out the results in the official music video for “Clearest Blue” by CHVRCHES on YouTube:

One of the things I love about CHVRCHES is that they write, record, and produce everything themselves. Not to say there isn’t room for collaboration in the future, in my opinion, but I enjoy their focus and purity of vision.

New songs are about getting over heartbreak (“Leave a Trace”) — and making your own way unapologetically (“Bury It,” “Never Ending Circles,” “Playing Dead”) — and moving on to better things (“Down Side of Me,” “Afterglow,” “Clearest Blue” [above!]).

All in all, it’s fantastic synthpop, very much evocative of New Romantic synthpop from the early ’80s and groups like the Eurythmics, Cocteau Twins, and even Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Tickets are available online.

CHVRCHES
Rams Head Live!
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Show @8pm
$29.50
All ages

Don’t Miss: Chris Cornell @ Hippodrome Theatre (Baltimore), 6/23/16

Chris CornellChris Cornell

After experiencing Soundgarden in Seattle in December 1996, and subsequently learning that would be the last time they would tour (they officially disbanded in April 1997), my thought was, “Oh no, this is terrible.” An end of an era, an end to a truly great band.

Luckily for Chris Cornell, music was too much a part of who he is, and thus he continued to record, his first solo album, Euphoria Morning, was born in late 1999, just in time to enjoy before the world ended over Y2K.

After three solo albums (plus a live acoustic album) and multiple tours, a fine 6-year, 3-album stint with Audioslave, and a euphoric revival of Soundgarden in 2010 (I went to the 2010 Lollapalooza in Chicago just to see their glorious comeback!), Chris is once again touring solo with a new album, Higher Truth.

Seeking a higher truth in life is never easy, and truth evolves as we grow and learn. Things become more or less important as experience sharpens us or brings us down. Seeking truth in music specifically, is also not easy. It is a reflection of personal taste, experiences, time and place, associations linked to people or events and much more, that shapes what we seek and enjoy. I felt one such ‘musical truth’ the first time I heard Chris Cornell’s voice, on the blood-pounding “Outshined” (on MTV late at night no less) and later as I snatched up Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and was hooked. I remember sitting in front of the TV screen (no remote), ready to turn the channel if my Mom walked in. At the time, it seemed like something your parents warned you about.

All that to say, I always look forward to seeing Chris Cornell live, in any formation. Unfortunately, I’ve only seen him seven times (five times with Soundgarden, once with Audioslave and once solo).

And now I’m enjoying Higher Truth, especially songs like “Dead Wishes” and “Before We Disappear”. The 15 songs are slower, introspective ballads that just might help one seek their own truth.

Let’s leave you with the video for “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart”, a crazy micro western focusing in on your date with the hangman. But which fate is better?

 

Put Chris Cornell’s June 23rd show on your calendar immediately. Get tickets today!

 

Chris Cornell
w/ Fantastic Negrito
Hippodrome Theatre (Baltimore)
Thursday, June 23
8:00pm
$64.50-$107.00
All ages

Music Park: Ed Schrader’s Music Beat @ 9:30 Club — 12/10/15

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Ed Schrader and Devlin Rice of Ed Schrader’s Music Beat (Photo courtesy Infinity Cat Recordings)

Ed Schrader was switched on.

“I wanna give it up for Stoli,” he proclaimed at the 9:30 Club Thursday night, raising his glass. He pauses for a beat. “Oh, I mean Crystal Geyser.”

As he continued to have fun with things he’s “not supposed to do,” he flipped off his shirt, noting he was stopped from doing so in Texas, and introduced “a song about joining the military.”

Ed Schrader and his partner in crime Devlin Rice form Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, and the band were in DC to open for hometown heroes Ex Hex. With the lively pace of a human metronome, Ed dove into his songs with gusto, playing 90 second bursts of punk songs that were distinguished by their surprisingly engaging rhythms.

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Don’t Miss: Ed Schrader’s Music Beat (Opening for Ex Hex) @ 9:30 Club, 12/10/15

Skoal Kodiak, Ed Schrader's Music Beat, Aminal Lover
Ed Schrader’s Music Beat perform at Cause in Minneapolis, Minn., on April 8, 2013. (Photo by Sharyn Morrow)

If you’ve heard DC power pop trio Ex Hex, a favorite band of us here at Parklife DC, you know the ladies occasionally capture an early punk vibe from the mid-’70s a la Blondie. While not a punk band per se, Ex Hex are certainly “punk friendly.”

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