Music Park: EZTV @ Lincoln Theatre, 9/18/16

EZTV 02 EZTV perform at the Lincoln Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Ms. Jenny Lewis toured the 10th anniversary of her seminal album Rabbit Fur Coat recently and brought her friends EZTV along to open for her when she and The Watson Twins stopped at the Lincoln Theatre in DC on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18.

Frontman Ezra Tenenbaum played guitars alongside Shane O’Connell and Michael Stasiak as the trio delighted the very full room with some bright, jangly guitars. Maybe it was the influence of their headliner, but the Brooklyn power pop trio delivered a sunny set of songs that were overall a bit more folky than what might have been anticipated. That was more than fine by our audience, who were bopping and grooving along to EZTV’s easy-going vibes by the end of their show.

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Music Park: Haley Bonar @ Black Cat — 9/14/16

Haley Bonar 01 Haley Bonar plays guitar at the Black Cat on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.

Haley Bonar struck the perfect note from opening with new song “Hometown” in concert on Wednesday at the Black Cat. It’s sweet and melancholic yet peppy all at the same time. Her music will feel empowering to you but also haunting in ways that make you consider your past.

“Hometown goes wherever you go,” she warns with her signature cool Midwestern flavor, voicing the thought that your past follows you from place to place. In a similar manner, the past of Haley’s music follows it. The pep in her step comes from an embrace of synthesizers and other materials that build her folk and slowcore songs into power pop — an energizing move that suits her well.

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Music Park: Ruby the Rabbitfoot @ 9:30 Club — 9/7/16

Ruby the Rabbitfoot (Photo by Natalie Neal)

Ruby the Rabbitfoot stepped on to the 9:30 Club stage Wednesday night as the opener for Of Montreal, making a striking first impression in her bright blue and red bolero jacket and skirt. As she begins her set with the song “Second Wind,” Ruby’s splashy look and punkish peroxide locks contrast with the subtle introspective nature her sound.

Punctuated with tight electronic rhythms and bright sounding keyboard flourishes, Ruby the Rabbitfoot’s music is nevertheless moody and contemplative. Equally balanced between romantic optimism and cheeky cynicism, this is a sound suited to a Sunday afternoon journal writing session. Yes, it’s very pleasant, as the sunbeams cut through the curl of steam rising from her coffee mug, but the words she commits to the page nevertheless look back on a love affair that could have gone better.

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Music Park: Esme Patterson @ 9:30 Club — 7/21/16

EsmePatterson 05 Esmé Patterson sings at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

In 1977, Townes Van Zandt sang of “Loretta,” a waitress in a bar that he comes around to romance on occasion.

Learning the sang sparked a fire in Esmé Patterson, who got angry at Townes’ narrator as she picked up the song. So she wrote a response to it on her second solo album, Woman to Woman.

“I’ve been that bartender,” Esmé told an intimate and hushed crowd at the 9:30 Club on Thursday night. “I’ve been that waitress.”

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Don’t Miss: Esmé Patterson @ 9:30 Club, 7/21/16

Esme Patterson by Daniel Topete
Esmé Patterson (Photo by Daniel Topete)

Folk pop chanteuse Esmé Patterson released We Were Wild, her third solo album via Grand Jury Music last month, and she’s visiting the 9:30 Club on Thursday, July 21, to perform songs from the new album as opener for Brett Dennen.

The spirited singer spun off from Denver collective Paper Bird once she had a few of her own albums on her resume, and her latest effort is a pleasing, perky collection of songs that showcase her easygoing manners. As with new single “Feel Right,” Esmé often sings reflective numbers on hitting your stride and finding your space in matters of life and love.

Watch the official music video for “Feel Right” by Esmé Patterson on YouTube:

Esmé’s first album, All Princes, I, appeared in 2012, and her second, Woman to Woman, in 2014. The prolific siren keeps the pace steady on the new album, combining a little bit of psych rock with a little bit of roots music and a whole lot of spirit.

Again, Esmé is opening for Northern California folk singer Brett Dennen, so get to the club early to catch her! Tickets are available online.

Esmé Patterson
(Opening for Brett Dennen)
9:30 Club
Thursday, July 21
Doors @7pm
All ages

Don’t Miss: SOAK @ DC9, 6/24/16


Derry’s imaginative folk ingénue Bridie Monds-Watson, better known as SOAK, has a big US tour opening for the Lumineers right now. But as that winds up this weekend, SOAK and her band continue on the road with a few headlining shows of their own.

The SOAK headlining tour lands at DC9 on Friday, June 24. The 19-year-old SOAK visited DC9 alone last year to perform songs from her debut album, Before We Forgot How to Dream, which came out via Rough Trade Records in 2015.

I saw SOAK perform at DC9 on July 12, 2015, and she gave us absorbing songs that pondered the nature of relationships, whether with her parents or with her friends at school.

“SOAK is most certainly a dreamer and given to delightful whimsy,” I wrote in a previous review. “For her visit to DC, she drew a picture of herself on the roof of the White House with President Barack Obama. In the picture, the White House is flying a rainbow flag in celebration of the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which affirmed the right to marriage for same sex couples in all 50 states. The DC9 crowd cheered at SOAK’s sentiment, and the little lady with the big voice seemed content for a time to be among friends.”

Watch the official music video for “Reckless Behaviour” by SOAK on YouTube:

Be warned, as I said previously: “If you like soulful folk pop, you’ll love SOAK. Be prepared however. This teenager’s big heart and penchant for tackling sad topics may stir your own soul as well as your ears.”

Tickets are available online.

w/ Overcoats
Friday, June 24
Doors @630pm
All ages

Music Park: AURORA @ U Street Music Hall — 4/21/16

Aurora Aksnes 10 Aurora performs live at U Street Music Hall on Thursday, April 21. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Aurora Aksnes is a powerfully expressive performer.

Although petite in size, the Norwegian folk popstar, who goes by only her first name, has a big voice that fits her ambitious songs of flight or fight. She also has a habit of physically moving where her music takes her. This somewhat off-kilter acting out of her own words and melodies might readily draw some comparisons to her fellow Scandinavian artist Bjork.

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Don’t Miss: Aurora @ U Street Music Hall, 4/21/16

Aurora (Photo courtesy Glassnote Records)

Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes has been taking the US airwaves by storm with the release of her debut full-length album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend (released March 11 via Decca Records), and her subsequent television appearances leading up to a North American tour that stops at U Street Music Hall on Thursday, April 21.

To no one’s surprise, our local show has sold out! And those who have tickets will enjoy the 19-year-old Aurora’s lyrically rich art-pop sensibilities. She likes to sing in metaphors relating to battles with songs like “Conquerer” and “Warrior” and often takes a look at the dark side of the human condition with songs like “Running with the Wolves,” a song of escape, and “Murder Song (5,4,3,2,1),” a story of a mercy killing perhaps but ultimately about loss.

Ultimately, where Aurora makes her mark, however, is with her voice, unique in its haunting timber.

Watch the official music video for “Conquerer” by Aurora on YouTube:

Said Aurora in press notes on the song, “I know that I’m very sensitive. In many ways, I’m weak. But if you’re weak, you’re also very strong. Because you need to work a bit harder to survive as well… You have to find the conqueror in yourself at first, I think. That’s what I think about in the song. It’s just a person who hasn’t realized that yet. That person is still trying to find the conqueror in someone else. You have to find the conqueror in yourself to land on your own feet. You are the only one you need to survive. Then other people will make your life a good life as well. It’s important to be strong in yourself.”

Singer/songwriter Tor Miller from New York opens for Aurora. The show is sold out.

w/ Tor Miller
U Street Music Hall
Thursday, April 21
Doors @7pm
All ages

Music Park: Julia Holter @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 2/25/16

Julia Holter 11/11Julia Holter performing live at Village Underground on 11/11/2013. (Photo by Zoe Klinck)

With a strong fiddle player at her side, Julia Holter charmed the Rock and Roll Hotel crowd with a mix of experimental pop and folk-like songs.

At one point she whispered to the crowd, “Everything happens here…in DC…that’s important.” Whether this is true or not is debatable, but it did spark the crowd to start a lively round of shouts throughout the concert. The most entertaining being when one guy (and I assume the winner of every Louis C.K. look-alike contest) shouted, “We love you!” And he did. And they did.

Julia played a number of new songs off her latest album, Have You In My Wilderness, which received a great deal of buzz in the press in 2015.

One such new song was, “Feel You”, which she described as the ‘dorkiest song’ on the new record. Yet, I thought it was the strongest effort from the 13-song set she performed.

For the style and the sound, often individual songs segued into a cacophony of different vocal sounds and arrangements and pantomimed gestures that flowed around the lyrics, changing the dynamic and the mood from moment to moment. Hence, why some have dubbed her music experimental.

I found this eclectic mixing most interesting in the form of the “Sea Calls Me Home” (which was also the last song of the encore), where the song transitions from an airy pop song to a drumbeat chant of the chorus.

The lyrics of the funky “Vasquez” and “Silhouette” syncopated and slithered, while the three member band (drums, guitar and fiddle) kept time and the audience swayed. The Rock and Roll Hotel was mostly full, and it appeared a good number were quite familiar with Julia’s catalog and were having a fine time indeed.

Give the album, Have You In My Wilderness, a listen here.

Julia’s tour continues in Canada and the Midwest through March, then she picks up again in May at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state (it’s a beautiful setting for music, you should check it out) for the Sasquatch Music Festival, before heading to a couple European cities!

Music Park: Golden Bloom @ Sehkraft Brewing — 1/28/16

golden bloom 2 photo by matt cosby Golden Bloom (Photo Credit: Matt Cosby)

Shawn Fogel, lead singer of Golden Bloom, confided, “I like this campfire vibe we have, with that raging fire outside.”

Golden Bloom played their album release show at Sehkraft Brewing (in Arlington). A small, but decent crowd circled around the stage at tables as the band performed a mix of new and older songs. Outside in the patio area, there was indeed a bonfire going. Unfortunately, due to the extreme post-Snowzilla cold and snow, you could only dream of sitting next to it.

Golden Bloom’s second full-length album, Searching For Sunlight, is full of songs about searching for love, with breezy pop and folk arrangements. The album was officially released on January 29th (the day after the show), but they did have a few copies on sale for anyone that couldn’t wait.

“Searching for Sunlight”, the title track, is an up-tempo, toe-tapping journey to find the light, in the form of love.

“Books You Never Read” is a slow-building, almost James Taylor-esque, song that wants you to reflect on what you have and not what you might be missing.

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