Snapshots: Beach House @ The Anthem — 7/24/22

Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand of Beach House perform at The Anthem on July 24, 2022. (Photos by Kyle Gustafson)

When I first saw Beach House in 2007 in an alley in Baltimore with about 50 other people, I never would have imagined they would be headlining a show to an *extremely* packed venue of 6,000 people. I would have said the same thing about the band from Greenville, North Carolina, that opened for them by the name of Future Islands but that’s another story. Shoutout to Whartscape.

Beach House’s slow and steady rise is well deserved though, releasing album after album of dreamy, atmospheric indie pop. Their latest, Once, Twice Melody, a double album released earlier this year, might just be their best and the resulting tour brought the band to The Anthem on the hottest day of the year.

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Live Review: The Psychedelic Furs w/ X @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 7/17/22

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The Psychedelic Furs perform at The Fillmore Silver Spring on July 17, 2022. (Photos by Jason Nicholson; Words by Mickey McCarter)

The music of The Psychedelic Furs is the haze of a muggy summer day. It hangs in the air, and you can see wafting up it as you move through it. Their music is the gentle breeze that breaks through that haze, and it’s the downpour that happens when the humidity becomes too much to bear. The cool air that follows is also the music of The Psychedelic Furs — crisp and refreshing.

The sweet relief does not come without a bit of unpleasantness, and that is a key ingredient of The Psychedelic Furs’ compositions. We were reminded of such on a particular muggy day recently when The Psychedelic Furs showered The Fillmore Silver Spring with fuzzy earworms, wrought in extraordinary confidence and competence.

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Preview: The Psychedelic Furs w/ X @ The Fillmore Silver Spring, 7/17/22

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The Psychedelic Furs (Photo courtesy Sonic PR)

The Psychedelic Furs, English neo-psychedelic legends, released Made in Rain, their first album of original material in nearly 30 years in 2020. Since then, the band have hit the road as the touring force of nature they remain in support of their Maid in Rain 2022 Tour.

With special guests X, The Psychedelic Furs headline The Fillmore Silver Spring on Sunday, July 17!

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Live Review: Tears for Fears w/ Garbage @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 6/19/22

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Tears for Fears perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 19, 2022. (Photos by Kyle Gustafson; Words by Mickey McCarter)

Roland Orzabal emerged from the shadows with the looks of an aging wizard when Tears for Fears appeared on stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion recently. And he did what you would like Roland to do: He sang a song of loneliness and isolation. He sang of a desire for new beginnings and freedom. And he sang of how maybe we’ll never be truly understood. But his perspective had changed.

When singing “No Small Thing” from the extraordinary new Tears for Fears album, the sense of existential terror that pervaded the band’s early songs like “Mad World” and “Change” was replaced with a weariness. Roughly 40 years after the start of the band, they weren’t protesting, “What is happening?,” as much as they were wondering, “What had happened?”

Despite the shift, the resulting soul-searching remained very satisfying.

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Live Review: The Church @ Cruel World 2022 — 5/14/22

Steve Kilbey fronts The Church at Cruel World 2022 on May 14, 2022. (Photo by Nacho DelaGarza)

The inaugural Cruel World Festival was undoubtedly a smash. Fifty thousand people filed into Brookside at the Rose Bowl earlier this month to see the most impressive gathering of new wave and post-punk bands in decades thanks to a festival produced by Goldenvoice.

There are certain songs you wanted to hear and certain bands you wanted to see represented at such a thing of course. You would want to hear “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus, “Whip It” by Devo, and for my money surely “Under the Milky Way” by The Church.

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Preview: EXTC – XTC’s Terry Chambers and Friends @ City Winery, 4/5/22

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EXTC (Photo by Dommett Young)

Terry Chambers — the legendary drummer of British rock band XTC — is back touring North America with EXTC (named and backed by XTC leader Andy Partridge) performing songs not heard live since the original band stopped touring in 1982.

EXTC have embarked on a US tour, and the band perform at City Winery DC on Tuesday, April 5!

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Live Review: The War on Drugs @ The Anthem — 2/2/22

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The Ward on Drugs performs at The Anthem on Feb. 2, 2022. (Photo by Ben Eisendrath for IMP)

From the late ’70s into the ’80s, two of the most vibrant strands of American popular music were heartland rock and the American underground. These two traditions were very distinct, and there was no overlap. The former, the more mainstream of the two, was the domain of rock gods like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, as well as acts like Bruce Hornsby. These artists and bands often employed keys and the saxophone, although they were primarily guitar-driven.

The American Underground evolved from the fast, aggressive, stripped-down attack of punk into the no-wave sound of bands like Sonic Youth and the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine. Distortion was a key feature of their sound, and they tended to eschew large arrangements, often sticking to guitar, bass, and drums.

Formed in Philadelphia in the early ‘oughts by Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs combines these two disparate traditions, with a heavily guitar-based sound that uses lots of distortion.

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Snapshots: The Psychedelic Furs @ Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center — 11/6/21

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Richard Butler fronts The Psychedelic Furs at Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on Nov. 6, 2021. (Photo by Jason Nicholson)

In 2020, The Psychedelic Furs released Made of Rain, the band’s first album of new material in nearly 30 years! To the delight of the DMV, frontman Richard Butler and company have dedicated much of their setlist to the new record on their current tour, and they played new songs at Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

Jason Nicholson was there to photograph the Furs’ extraordinary return.

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Song of the Day: “Gone Gone Gone” by Peter Bjorn and John

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Peter Bjorn and John (Photo by Johan Bergmark)

Peter Bjorn and John release “Gone Gone Gone,” a single penned and produced by Bjorn and recorded with Hans Stenlund (Lykke Li, Wild Nothing) and Thom Monahan (Neko Case, Devandra Banhart) at the Ingrid Studios in Stockholm.

The single was mixed by Stenlund and the entire EP was mastered by Henke Jonsson at Masters of Audio in Stockholm. “Gone Gone Gone” follows Peter’s single “Season of Defiance,” which was released Nov. 13 with news of the Endless Play EP, which is due out on Dec. 11 via INGRID.

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