Music Park: The Jesus and Mary Chain @ 9:30 Club — 9/27/15

The Jesus And Mary Chain
Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain sings at NOS Alive in Portugal on July 11, 2015. (Photo by Ana Viotti)

When The Jesus and Mary Chain debuted in 1985 with their powerful album Psychocandy, they set out to do something different then what they heard on the radio. Band leader Jim Reid has said there was so much electronic music at the time that he wanted to make a great guitar record.

And make a great guitar record they did. Psychocandy has endured as a much believed masterpiece that made people stand up and take notice of noise pop and set the stage for the rise of shoegaze throughout the United Kingdom within the next couple of years.

So it’s a very potent thing that The Jesus and Mary Chain chose to mark the 30th anniversary of the album with a world tour to commemorate it, playing the album from start to finish along with a handful of their other well-known songs.

The brothers Jim and William Reid, the two-part keystone of the band, and their bandmates brought the show to the 9:30 Club in DC on Sunday night to a very full house. The club never announced the show was officially sold out, but damn I’ve been in sold-out shows there that had a lot more elbow room!

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Music Park: Gardens & Villa @ Rock and Roll Hotel — 9/24/15

Gardens & Villa (10/14/14)
Gardens & Villa performing at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 14, 2014. (Photo by The Zender Agenda)

Santa Barbara’s Gardens & Villa is an unusual band for modern times. Usually described in terms of its synthesizer, the band manifests itself rather more as a post-punk outfit accentuated by the synth rather than defined by it.

In so doing, Gardens & Villa demonstrate an interest in ‘70s glam from the United Kingdom while avoiding an outright aping of the style of Roxy Music or David Bowie. The result is some pleasingly melodic music that isn’t afraid to be experimental while at the same time retaining a pleasant pop appeal.

In a tour supporting their third album, Music for Dogs, Gardens & Villa Thursday visited the Rock and Roll Hotel, where they held the rapt attention of a half-full room with a set that slowly built up to exceed the crowd’s expectations by the show’s midpoint.

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Don’t Miss: Gardens & Villa @ Rock and Roll Hotel, 9/24/15

The avant-garde ambitions of Chris Lynch and Adam Rasmussen fuel Gardens & Villa. (Photo by S. Perlin)

Gardens & Villa, a quartet out of Santa Barbara, Calif., have an interesting sound that manages to fall somewhere between post-punk and power pop while exuding an appealing lo-fi atmosphere.

Or at least that’s my impression upon a few listens of the band’s third album, Music for Dogs, released on August 21 via Secretly Canadian. The new album was produced by Jacob Portrait, who I once saw play with Blouse, a man who has a very solid modern take on the post-punk/new wave sound.

Singles like “Everybody” carry a certain urgency alongside a pleasing dance beat despite the casualness of the ’70s soft-rock vocals of singer Chris Lynch.

Watch the video for “Everybody” on YouTube:

Gardens & Villa clearly have entered a busy period, as their third album comes right on the heels of their 2014 second album, Dunes. And they return to DC to perform Thursday, Sept. 24 at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Tickets are available online and at the door.

Gardens & Villa
w/ Palebound
Rock and Roll Hotel
Thursday, Sept. 24
Doors @7pm
All ages

Don’t Miss: King Raam @ Black Cat, 8/27/15

King Raam - Tirgan 2011
King Raam performs in Toronto as a part of Tirgan 2011 Festival. (Photo by Reza Vaziri)

King Raam, the lead singer of Iranian band Hypernova, has gone solo. In doing so, he’s been indulging a taste for psychedelic melodies and exploring solitary journeys through video imagery.

Now based in Tehran, King Raam is hitting four dates in the United States along the east coast, starting at the Black Cat on Thursday, August 27. (The tour will include a stop in New York, traditional home to Hypernova.)

Singing in both Farsi and English, Raam is encouraging progressive music in his homeland, releasing the album Songs of the Wolves in 2011, and a new single “Closing Credits” only last month.

Watch the video for “Closing Credits” on YouTube:

You can listen to and purchase Raam’s solo debut Songs of the Wolves on Bandcamp:

L.A.-based soul duo Smoke Season, consisting of Gabrielle Wortman and Jason Rosen, open for King Raam. Tickets are available online and at the door.

King Raam
w/ Smoke Season
Black Cat
Thursday, August 27
Doors @7:30pm
All ages

Don’t Miss: Liberation Dance Party @ DC9, 8/8/15


In 2010, Mark Ronson, who enjoyed a great deal of commercial success this past year with “Uptown Funk,” produced an album for Duran Duran.

In working with the new wave legends, Mark basically said to the band: A lot of younger bands have been eating your lunch in the past 10 years.

As Simon LeBon told the Village Voice last week, “We were listening to this stuff like the Killers and Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand, who kind of have an Eighties sound, and Mark said, ‘You’re one of the originals of this sound; you should have it. It should be yours.’”

The resulting Duran Duran album was a critical and commercial success, but more importantly it demonstrated to me what was so great about Liberation Dance Party, the former weekly DC9 dance party that its creator Bill Spieler now resurrects every two months or so.

So many bands today take their cues from legacy bands that hit before them, defining and refining the sounds that make up the subgenres of rock and pop that we all enjoy so much—psychedelia, neo-psychedelia, punk, post-punk, new wave, shoegaze, dreampop, Britpop, house, etc., etc.

And Liberation Dance Party often has been a laboratory for exploring those sounds. Particularly with its focus on music videos, Liberation Dance Party to me always has been like a party celebrating an updated MTV culture, where you could tune in and see an exciting new post-punk song alongside a great new soul or house or hip hop number.

This Saturday, Bill will have music videos for you on the DC9 middle floor, while I’ll be visiting on the roof, presenting songs from my own collection that fit the Liberation Dance Party mold while reflecting my take on the modern sonic musical evolution. Lunch provided by Mark Ronson! — I’m kidding about that last part, but you will hear his fingerprints all over some of the stuff I’ll be playing.

Pay cover at the door, and RSVP on Facebook. You also can follow Bill’s Liberation Dance Party mixes on Mixcloud!

Liberation Dance Party
Saturday, August 8
Show @11pm
$2 before midnight/$5 after

Don’t Miss: Donald Cumming (Opening for Brandon Flowers) @ Echostage, 7/29/15

Donald Cumming, Out Calls Only (Photo courtesy Tell All Your Friends PR)

When I last saw Donald Cumming, he was on tour with his former band, The Virgins. And the band was opening for The Killers at Merriweather Post Pavilion in August 2013.

Now Brandon Flowers, frontman of The Killers, is coming around to Echostage on Wednesday, July 29 in a tour to support his solo efforts, and he’s bringing newly solo Donald around with him. Donald released his first solo album, Out Calls Only, in June on Razor & Tie subsidiary Washington Square.

As a solo artist, Donald’s voice and his guitar remain distinctive. And his songs still sound to me like they carry hallmarks of early Elvis Costello. (And I still think of The Cars when I hear Donald play for some reason!) But on Out Calls Only, Donald certainly sounds more lovelorn, and perhaps more grown up?

Donald recently released a video for his latest single, “Game of the Heart,” a jaunty song that suggests “Somebody wins everybody else loses” in the struggle of love.

Watch the video for “Game of the Heart” on YouTube:

I had the pleasure of interviewing Donald in 2013 when I was blogging for We Love DC, and he said his meeting with The Killers and then Brandon came about quite unintentionally.

All the same, it’s good to have one of New York City’s finest guitar players in town, so get to Echostage early on Wednesday and catch Donald in his DC solo debut.

Donald Cumming
(Opening for Brandon Flowers)
Wednesday, July 29
Doors @7pm
All ages

Music Park: Free Song From Dot Dash (Touring Soon!)

Dot Dash (Photo courtesy the band)

DC power pop quartet recently released their fourth album, Earthquakes & Tidal Waves, and they are giving away a free track to readers of Parklife DC.

Released in March, the album comes preceded some spring tour dates from vocalist and guitarist Terry Banks, guitarist Steve Hansgen, bassist Hunter Bennett, and drummer Danny Ingram. They plan to tour some more later this summer (see below for dates).

You can listen to and buy the full album, which sounds quite sunny and upbeat, from Bandcamp:

You also can directly listen to the single “Rainclouds” and download it as a free MP3:

Earthquakes & Tidal Waves was recorded in Kernersville, NC, and produced by Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Game Theory, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco). It was released by Canadian indie label The Beautiful Music.

Here’s what the Washington Post once said about the band:
“Everything we’ve ever read about Dot Dash plays up the group’s collective resume: Singer/guitarist Terry Banks was in St. Christopher and the Saturday People before teaming up with bassist Hunter Bennett in acclaimed indie-rock band Julie Ocean; guitarist Steve Hansgen played bass for hardcore legends Minor Threat and Government Issue, and then the mod group Modest Proposal; drummer Danny Ingram co-founded harDCore band Youth Brigade. Very impressive. But we’re more interested in the music, a retro cocktail that recalls the yearning indie-pop of Sarah Records; the ’80s neo-Byrds jangle of R.E.M., Orange Juice and other seminal college radio artists, and the tight, throbbing basslines and slashing guitars that evoke the Jam and the Clash.”

Catch them in concert at an upcoming show!

Dot Dash
Saturday, August 29
w/ The Fleshtones
Creative Alliance
Baltimore, Md.
Show @8pm
All ages

Wednesday, Sept. 16
w/ Tommy Keene
Metro Gallery
Baltimore, Md.
Show @8:30pm
All ages

Thursday, Sept. 17
w/ Tommy Keene
Bowery Electric
New York City
Show @8pm
All ages

Friday, Sept. 18
w/ Tommy Keene
Arlington, Va.
Show @9pm
All ages