Don’t Miss: Gin Wigmore @ Rock and Roll Hotel, 9/11/15

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Gin Wigmore (Photo courtesy Girlie Action)

Gin Wigmore seems like she was custom-tailored for a Quentin Tarantino movie.

I say that because Gin has a penchant for gritty cinematic capers where something clearly has gone awry in the story as depicted in new videos for her third album, Blood to Bone.

The striking 29-year-old New Zealander also seems like she would be at home in a modern Tarantino gangster flick with her intense eyes and bluesy voice. Indeed, Gin sings some bluesy folk tunes on her new album, due out on August 28 via Mercury Records.

But Gin gets a bit edgier than some in depicting things like the sensation of falling for someone such as in the song “New Rush,” which plays out like a mad version of “The Most Dangerous Game.”

Watch the video for “New Rush” on YouTube:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDNSQ7ccTGA]

Gin is touring in support of the new album, and she visits the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC on Friday, Sept. 11.

Blood to Bone marks a change in direction for Gin, and I think she’s going to find a receptive audience next month.

“The whole idea for this album was to write songs that pushed me beyond my comfort zone. There were so many genres of music that I was not ready to appreciate prior to making this album. It’s like a whole new part of my palette and appetite for music opened up before embarking on the writing of Blood to Bone,” Gin said in a press release.

“I liken it to when you’re a kid and can’t bear the thought of Brussel sprouts and mushrooms. With maturity, you find ways to make it work in your life to often be one of the tastiest items on your plate — you just have to be ready,” she said.

Tickets are available online.

Gin Wigmore
w/ Patrick Park
Rock and Roll Hotel
Friday, Sept. 11
Doors @8pm
$15
All ages

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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Music Park: SOAK @ DC9 — 7/12/15

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SOAK performs at Rough Trade East in London on March 28, 2015. (Photo by Aurelien Guichard)

When Bridie Monds-Watson was 14-years old, a friend of hers was being bullied by another girl at school in Ireland.

Saddened by the experience, Bridie, now better known as SOAK, took to writing a song in a stream of consciousness manner to deal with the resulting feelings.

“I don’t understand/what her problem is/I think she’s just a fish!” SOAK wrote of her friend’s tormentor in a song that came to be called “Sea Creatures.”

That sort of quirky train of thought runs throughout all of SOAK’s songs, which she writes primarily to deal with things happening in her life. She delivers those songs in a soulful booming voice that belies her diminutive, now 19-year-old, stature. On stage, she’s friendly and warm with a touch of shyness as she strums a guitar that accompanies her haunting voice.

At DC9 on Sunday night, SOAK opened her show with “Explosions,” and the very full room immediately fell silent upon the opening notes of the sad folk pop song.

Watch SOAK perform “Explosions” for The Sunday Sessions, recorded live in The Workman’s Club, Dublin, on Oct. 19, 2014:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2nPmJit0vQ]

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Music Park: Mumford & Sons @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 6/10/15

Mumford & Sons - Teatro Romano, Verona - 2 luglio 2012 Mumford & Sons in Italy

I’m a fan of Mumford & Sons. In fact, I like them. Actually. Not in a general sense.

It wasn’t always so. When I first heard of them in early 2010, on a recommendation from a British friend, I listened to a few songs but didn’t ‘get it’. It was just another band, albeit one with banjos.

Until I caught them live at Lollapalooza in Chicago that same year, it suddenly hit me. This is a great band. Their music is inspired when live, especially when playing “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave”. The crowd energy was off the charts. So I gave their first album, Sigh No More, a full listen. The rest is history.

I was also pleasantly intrigued when I heard the tragic, “After the Storm”, on the closing credits of the short-lived TV series, Stargate Universe.

Much has been made of Mumford & Sons third album, Wilder Mind. As a departure from their roots. As embracing a more mainstream approach to rock and roll, and setting aside the folkiness of their banjos. That they no longer had a unique sound.

The songs have even been compared to The National. Good news, I love The National.

What do I think of Wilder Mind? I gave it a listen, then did the true litmus test and witnessed Mumford perform live at Merriweather Post Pavilion on 6/10/15. With a maximum capacity crowd in full-throated cheer. On a beautiful night.

Mumford & Sons were all in on their new material. They played nine new songs in the 20-song set.

Often, when you hear new songs live from a band you enjoy, it doesn’t have the same cachet and familiarity, and therefore doesn’t immediately resonant or move you.

Not so with Mumford & Sons. The new songs in Wilder Mind fit perfectly with their sound and who they are. Minus the banjos. And really, so what?

From the furthest reaches of Merriweather’s lawn, we were able to take in the spectacle of humanity that came to revel in what Mumford & Sons had to offer.

Five of the first seven songs were from Wilder Mind. From the self-doubt in “Believe”, the first single, to the anthemic build in “Broad-Shouldered Beasts” the songs never felt out-of-place or un-Mumfordlike (to coin a phrase). Later they sang about last chances in love in the peppy “Tompkins Square Park” and the head nodding “Ditmas”. Both among their strongest new songs.

They did get around to the crowd favorites, “The Cave”, “Little Lion Man” and “I Will Wait”.

They ended the show with “The Wolf”, the second single from Wilder Mind, and possibly the most rock and roll sound they’ve achieved.

What do I think of Wilder Mind? I like it, but it’s still not as strong as their origins in Sigh No More. It is, however, better than their second album, Babel.

What did I think of the show? Excellent.

Music Park: The Tallest Man On Earth @ Lincoln Theatre — 6/1/15

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLRTleMY_mc]
NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

The Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson (at a mere 5′ 7″), told the packed Lincoln Theatre, “Thank you. Straight from my heart, I won’t take this for granted.”

Clearly he didn’t. Despite the themes of lost love and melancholy that permeates many of his songs, he is full of energy and charisma in front of the crowd. He stormed the stage and then ran out into the crowd like a rock star. On stage, he was motion and dancing, switching out guitars after almost every song.

Matsson’s favorite pastime involved throwing down his guitar pick after he finished a song, almost in triumph. The stage was littered with small victories.

Born in Sweden, Matsson began with The Tallest Man on Earth stage name as a solo singer-songwriter for his first three albums. His first album, Shallow Grave, released in 2008, has strong roots in America folk music.

As Matsson made clear, “We only have sad songs, except one song.” The Tallest Man on Earth set forth songs of loss, remembrance and restlessness, weaving through sounds inspired by folk and country music.

For the fourth album, Dark Bird is Home, and latest tour, Matsson has added a full band. There is a clear delineation and complexity between the new album’s songs and the stripped down nature of many of the previous songs.

That delineation is never more apparent than the first single, “Sangres”, which almost seems out-of-place, but yet is clearly part of his overarching theme of lost love. It is also a song that showcases his vocal range, which many have likened to Bob Dylan. This song is a good example of why. His voice seemed fuller and less Dylanesque when live, compared to listening to some of his earlier recorded work. I enjoyed both, but found a deeper appreciation when listening to the songs performed live.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0QIPpBV1D0&w=600&h=150]

For a change of pace, Matsson performed the quiet “Little Nowhere Towns” on an expanded keyboard. For many songs, he performed solo with just his guitar, while the band took a breather.

Just before the break before the encore, Matsson gave the crowd the wistful title track, “Dark Bird is Home”, with the sad but hopeful line, “and suddenly the day gets you down but this is not the end, no this is fine”. And it was.

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Matsson ended the night with “Like the Wheel”, a sad, soulful lament that I like to think is about the long journey to find your place on this Earth.

The Tallest Man on Earth proved to be a great live performer and worthy of the 1-1/2 hour, 21 song, musical journey he and his band lead us through.

The Tallest Man On Earth

Music Park: The Mynabirds @ POV Lounge — 6/1/15

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Laura Burhenn performs in Dallas in 2010.

Laura Burhenn, former DC native transplanted to Omaha, Neb., has done her share of traveling in recent days. The hypnotic chanteuse had been touring with her frequent collaborators Black English, opening for the Psychedelic Furs, when she got the call to open for The Pixies at the 9:30 Club Sunday night.

She flew back to DC Sunday morning, and several members of Black English supported her as her band in The Mynabirds, which also played an intimate show at the POV Lounge at the W Hotel in DC on Monday night.

At the W, The Mynabirds performed a lush 11-song set, half of which roughly consisted of new songs from an upcoming third album, Lovers Know, due on August 7 on well-regarded indie label Saddle Creek.

Monday was my first time catching a performance by Laura and The Mynabirds, and one thing immediately was clear: Laura sings with purpose. Generally her songs are concerned with devoting yourself to something 100 percent –- and when you have to do so, you fight.

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Music Park: The Caribbean @ Bossa Bistro & Lounge, 3/25/15

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The Caribbean, DC pop trio (or quintet, depending on when you catch them), perform tonight at Bossa Bistro & Lounge (2463 18th St. NW, DC) in support of their new album, Moon Sickness.

New song “Echopraxia” sounds like a pleasant blend of twee pop and folk music wrapped in a layer of sophistipop:

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For more information, visit the Facebook event page for the show.

Local bands Time Is Fire and Insect Factory open for The Caribbean tonight.

The Caribbean
w/ Time Is Fire and Insect Factory
Bossa Bistro & Lounge
Wednesday, March 25
9pm
$5
All ages

Music Park: Laura Tsaggaris @ 9:30 Club — 2/4/15

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Justin Jones affectionately calls her “L.T.”

And the alt-country crooner recalled playing with her over the years, getting their respective starts at the Grog and Tankard (formerly 2408 Wisconsin Ave NW, DC) in Glover Park.

“We’ve both come a long way,” Justin said Wednesday night at the 9:30 Club. She in question is DC singer-songwriter Laura Tsaggaris.

For her part, Laura is a hard-charging, dedicated musician whose perseverance pays off in a number of rock-and-roll songs that are at turns a little bit country, a little bit folk or a little bit blues. Her joint show with Justin Wednesday was billed as Laura Tsaggaris vs. Justin Jones and the B-Sides, but it was honestly a mutual musician’s concert of admiration.

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Don’t Miss: Laura Tsaggaris and Justin Jones & The B-Sides @ 9:30 Club, 2/4/15

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Americana singer-songwriter Laura Tsaggaris takes to the stage at the 9:30 Club (815 V St. NW, DC) Wednesday, Feb. 4, in a co-headlining show with Justin Jones & The B-Sides.

With the show, Laura will mark the release of her fifth CD, Live at the Atlas. The live album was recorded over the weekend of Friday, Sept. 26, and Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St. NE, DC). It features 16 songs from her previous CDs, rearranged acoustically in the footsteps of some of Laura’s favorite live albums (like Nirvana: Unplugged and Ani Difranco: Living in Clip).

Live at Atlas features songs like Laura’s “Dig” from her 2013 album, Everyman.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-3Elk_j_jY]

Laura self-publishes her music through her own DC label Overtime Records, and Live at Atlas was supported by a successful Indiegogo campaign that raised more than $20,000. This is a great chance to see what all of the buzz is about and to catch up with Justin Jones at the same time.

Tickets are available online and at the door.

Laura Tsaggaris
Justin Jones & The B-Sides
9:30 Club
Wednesday, Feb. 4
Doors @7pm
$20
All ages

Don’t Miss: French Admirals w/ Exit Vehicles, Feral Conservatives, Oppo @ Rock and Roll Hotel, 1/16/15

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Indie rockers French Admirals headline a Friday night bill at the Rock and Roll Hotel that includes two other DC bands and a Virginia Beach duo.

French Admirals are launching a tour to support their first album, Closer Than Brothers, released last August. The trio of vocalist and guitarist Robert France (Rob Kuczynski), bassist the Admiral (Mike Lashinsky) and drummer the General (Mark Kuczynski) promise a power pop experience blending garage, post punk and alt country.

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DC quartet Exit Vehicles are working on their debut album, expected to be released this year. The band includes twin brothers Brian and Adam Polon, drummer Jacob McLocklin (also of Cake and Calculus), and vocalist Brian Easley.

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The visiting band is Feral Conservatives, fuzz-folk rockers who have an affinity for the 90s. Multi-instrumentalists Rashie Rosenfarb and Matt Francis go for vocal harmonies and moving string arrangements. They’ve released a few EPs and they are poised to release their full-length debut, The Feeling Noise Becomes, on Richmond’s Egg Hunt Records.

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I know absolutely nothing about the very first opener, Oppo, a new indie rock trio hailing from DC (and not apparently a fitness tracker). Oppo promise to “wrap plaintive melodies, textural guitars and thumping rhythms around vignettes of moral crisis, redemption and the invisible world of things beyond language and knowing.” Well, then! Show up early and see if they fulfill that promise.

Tickets are available online and at the door.

French Admirals
w/ Exit Vehicles, Feral Conservatives and Oppo
Rock and Roll Hotel
Friday, Jan. 16
Doors @8pm
$12
All ages