Music Park: Voltheque @ Philadelphia, Pa., TBA

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Circa 1978 or so, like-minded musicians across England made a stand and decided they would chart their own future — and in so doing embraced an attitude not shared by many of their contemporaries.

Their future was one of love, self-determination and optimism. It was a message that was counter-intuitive to some of the youth culture of the time, but these bands — these New Romantics — believed in themselves, and they made a powerful statement about life and love. This scene gave birth to bands we came to love in the United States — bands like Duran Duran and Culture Club.

Voltheque, a collective of young adults from Philadelphia, Pa., weren’t even alive when this happened. But they share a kinship nonetheless. Anchored by Marko Shinko and Simone Strange, Voltheque have proven themselves as musically savvy as any of their new romantic counterparts in the United Kingdom, who were facing economic strangulation and limited opportunities more than 35 years ago.

You see, many of their U.K. inspirations were driven by a desire for a better life and the thrush of creativity that came with the newfound affordability of synthesizers, still a relatively young technology. And in Philadelphia, the kids are good and happy people who also embrace technology and like to dance — and know how to make music by which to dance.

And so it is in the strongest possible terms that I recommend to you Voltheque, a group of young musicians with cool hair who sound really damn great together. They have to date produced two self-released indie albums available via Bandcamp at https://v0ltheque.bandcamp.com, which are completely worth checking out — particularly with the fantastic debut album, Voltheque, and its songs like “Dialogue,” “Heart Attack” and (ahem) “Der Sexer Roboter” (which I’ll confess is all kinds of amazing).

And although they have a penchant to get a bit artsy poetic at times, you’ll never hear me complain about such a thing when they produce lush results like “The Bells” on their second album, I’ve Known All Along. (I have after all been kicked out of many the same drinking establishments between Baltimore, Md., and Newark, Del., as Edgar Allan Poe… 😉 )

Anyway, these ladies and gents are amazing, and most certainly deserve your attention. Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/Voltheque, and catch them in their next show, which may happen as soon as June in Philadelphia. They are a refreshing antidote to many other bands that may have more angst but less vision.

Music Park: Martha Davis and The Motels @ The Hamilton Live, 4/21/15

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In 1979, Martha Davis launched The Motels from California with sultry, catchy songs like “Total Control,” and then charged into a prolific period of seven albums over the ensuing decade, each demonstrating a penchant for fresh rhythms and clever wordplay.

In recent years, Ms. Davis has reformed a version of her band and took to the road, appearing in the extended DC metro area back in 2013 as part of a “Totally 80s Summer Tour” in Leesburg, Va. Now, Martha Davis and The Motels are here headlining tonight at the Hamilton (600 14th St. NW, DC) in what promises to be an absorbing show.

Watch a performance of “Total Control” below:

I reviewed the performance by The Motels in 2013 for We Love DC, noting that the full set that included classics like “Danger,” “Little Robbers,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Only the Lonely.”

It was reinvigorating to hear Davis revisit her catalog, particularly the lush but maudlin “Suddenly Last Summer.” Her voice sounded timeless, and she’s handily evaded the fate that befell some of her contemporaries who don’t sound quite the same as they once did. With Davis, I could close my eyes and it was exactly as if I were listening to her on the radio 30 years ago.

I added, “The band has good chemistry and a big, full sound that casually slides in around Davis’ sultry vocals without ever threatening to overwhelm them. They are a good combination, and Davis has suggested the lineup will make an album, which could be a very good thing.”

So join them tonight at the Hamilton for the “Suddenly This Spring Tour 2015,” where they are certain to entertain.

Tickets are available online and at the venue. Greg Hawkes, best known for being the keyboard player of The Cars, opens for Martha Davis and The Motels

Martha Davis and The Motels
w/ Greg Hawkes
The Hamilton Live
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Doors @6:30pm
Show @7:30pm
$18-28
All ages

Don’t Miss: The Ting Tings @ 9:30 Club, 4/11/15

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Jules De Martino and Katie White go disco with Super Critical.

A few years ago, Katie White and Jules De Martino took to the island of Ibiza. There, the pop duo known as the Ting Tings found Andy Taylor, formerly guitarist of Duran Duran.

The Ting Tings enlisted Andy to assist with producing their third studio album, Super Critical, which finally saw release last fall. And frankly, it was a match made in heaven.

The Ting Tings were looking for a different sound, and Andy comes armed with a deep love and admiration for the music of David Bowie and Chic, among others. And so they produced a wonderful little dance album of nine tracks that remind you of why you fell in love with the band when they debuted in 2007.

Now, Super Critical is not the same lightning bolt of glossy electropop that is debut album We Started Nothing. But the smooth funky tracks like “Wrong Club” and “Do It Again” make equally good use of Katie White’s alluring vocals and Jules De Martino’s ability to strike a perfect note on almost any instrument. The sound fits them very well, and Katie’s upbeat, kinetic voice and Jules’ beats make for a perfect dance record.

In a press release, Katie said of the track “Wrong Club,” “It’s about what happened to nightclubs that made them not sexy, how the tempo became so fast that nobody moves any more, they just jerk, its gesture not rhythm. We wanted to make a song that felt exactly like the opposite of that. It’s very Ting Tings to do a sad song with uplifting music. That’s just who we are.”

The Ting Tings have launched a tour in support of Super Critical, and they visit the 9:30 Club on Saturday, April 11 in an early show. Take our word for it, this is going to be a great show.

Brooklyn soul duo Kaneholler open for the Ting Tings.

The Ting Tings
w/ Kaneholler
9:30 Club
Saturday, April 11
Doors @6pm
$25
All ages

Interview: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 3/8/15

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Midge Ure (Photo by Andy Siddens)

Editor’s Note: Midge Ure has announced his return to Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016! (Tickets are available online.)

I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with a great Scotsman, singer-songwriter Midge Ure, best known in the United States as the frontman of Ultravox in the 1980s. Midge is in the midst of a solo acoustic tour at the moment, and he stops by the DC metro area to perform at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday, March 8. Tickets are available online and at the door.

Midge was quite generous with his time and shared his perspectives on touring in America, writing hit songs and his history with Ultravox as well as his late friend Steve Strange, his bandmate in Visage. (This may be a lengthy interview, but there was so much wisdom in so many of his answers that I couldn’t bear to cut it!)

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Don’t Miss: Leisure Cruise @ DC9, 2/22/15

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Born in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Leisure Cruise pairs the synth-driven instrumentation of Dave Hodge (known for Broken Social Scene and Bran Van 3000) and vocalist Leah Siegel. As the story goes, Hodge saw Siegel passing by while sitting in a Brooklyn café after the storm and shared some songwriting with her. And now together, they have written a debut album, Leisure Cruise, set for release on May 6.

Last year, Leisure Cruise released their debut album, and now they set sail on a 12-date tour of east coast and west coast cities, starting in Boston today making their third stop DC9 in DC on Sunday, Feb. 22.

I’ve been listening to the 11 tracks listed on the Leisure Cruise SoundCloud, and these are some excellent songs.

The album opens with the soaring synths and lush vocals of “Double Digit Love” (a truly catchy song), progresses to the relaxed and hypnotic “Earthquake,” and the very new wave “Crime Tip.” The album gets more exciting as it progresses with sci-fi allusions to sex and travel.

According to the band’s press, the album is “something sounding like the future as imagined in the past-yet rooted in the now. Imagine the music of a John Hughes film if it had been written by Bowie, remixed by Johnny Jewel, and fronted by a female Prince, and you’ll start to get the idea.”

Watch a live performance of “Crime Tip” from BalconyTV:

Tickets are available online and at the door.

Leisure Cruise
w/ Tigers Are Bad for Horses
DC9
Sunday, Feb. 22
Doors @8:30pm
$10
All ages

Parklife Event: Synchronicity: New Wave Party @ DC9, 1/24/15

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Original Patrick Nagel tribute by Jared Eberhardt

New Wave music hit its commercial zenith in 1985 — and this weekend, ParklifeDC and DC9 are going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its cultural dominance.

Join me, Mickey McCarter, and DJ Swank at DC9 (1940 9th St. NW, DC) on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 10pm for SYNCHRONICITY: New Wave Party to revisit some of the tracks that made the genre so appealing.

New Wave is a cultural movement that began in 1977 and crystalized into a music genre — the defining elements of which are easier now to identify through the lens of time nearly 40 years after its launch. While New Wave music peaked commercially in 1985, bands continue to identify with the genre yet today, melding the best elements of rock, glam, disco and punk to assert their individuality and to define “cool.”

SYNCHRONICITY will celebrate the 30th anniversary of New Wave’s commercial peak with selections like “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” (which actually turns 30 this year)!

SYNCHRONICITY: New Wave Party
w/ Mickey and DJ Swank
DC9
Saturday, Jan. 24
10pm
Free
21+

Don’t Miss: Operators w/ Pleasure Curses @ DC9, 2/16/15

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Note: DC9 closed early last night due to a water main break, forcing cancellation of this show! Operators have been rescheduled for Monday, Feb. 16

DC9 (1940 9th St. NW, DC) hosts a pretty exciting electronic line-up — now on Monday, Feb. 16!

The main act Operators is the latest band from Canada’s Dan Boeckner, who formerly supplied guitar and vocals to Montreal quartet Wolf Parade. Operators puts a big emphasis on dance music and the band released its first offering EP1 last year.

For Operators, Boeckner has partnered with keyboardist Devojka, hailing from Macedonia, and drummer Sam Brown (the latter of whom he also worked with in Divine Fits). Their EP1 supplies us with five tracks, including the likes of “True,” a very new wave track with funky vocals and pleasantly pulsating electro.

Listen:

Opening for Operators is DC’s own Pleasure Curses in their first show of 2015. Pleasure Curses, hailing from the very electronic label Prince George Records, recently released the track “Burn,” a slinky single that shows off their increasingly polished, and dare we say seductive, sound.

The duo of Jahn Alexander and Evan Maxwell say they have big things planned this year, but catch up on their catalogue to date below:

Tickets are available online and at the door.

Operators
w/Pleasure Curses
DC9
Monday, Jan. 12
Doors @8:30pm
$12
All ages