Music Park: LP @ U Street Music Hall — 7/26/16

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LP performs at U Street Music Hall on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

When you listen to LP’s new single, “Lost on You,” the most amazing thing about it is her voice — it’s a singular voice that occasionally flies high through the air and occasionally swings low through gravel. And yet the voice always sounds like it belongs to the same woman.

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Music Park: Marissa Nadler @ DC9 — 7/24/16

Marissa NadlerMarissa Nadler (Photo Credit: Courtney Brooke Hall)

Singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler led the intimate crowd circled expectantly around the DC9 stage through 13 atmospheric songs about dreams and yearning and finding your way out of the woods.

In the small space of DC9, Marissa’s songs resonated with introspective lyrics and haunting vocals that were soulful and moving.

Touring on her newest album, Strangers, Marissa played at least eight of her new songs. She left the single “Janie In Love” off the setlist however, indicating she was still working on how to play the live version. The new album focuses on loneliness, and characters that are fractured, disillusioned, and delicate, hence they are the voice of ‘strangers’.

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Music Park: Marina V @ The Hamilton Live – 8/18/15

Growing up in Moscow, singer-songwriter Marina V eagerly learned English in part from a mix tape she received with Beatles songs.

She thought she had discovered a whole world of music all her own with The Beatles, Marina told a very full house at the Hamilton Live Tuesday night, and as a child she would listen and learn the words to the songs voraciously.

Later, she discovered other bands that were contemporaries of The Beatles in the ’60s, and harboring a fondness for the period, she wrote a new song “Sunshine Guaranteed,” an ode to what it may have been like to have been alive and making psychedelic music during the period.

The song provides the listener with the “happy mindset of an LSD trip without the drugs,” Marina V quipped when introducing the song. No less than Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and Nash appreciated the song and lent his studio and guitar to her for the making of her 2008 album, Modern Fairytale.

In performance Tuesday, Marina V made a bit of a medley with her song and The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer” to the delight of the audience.

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Don’t Miss: Marina V (Opening for Howard Jones) @ The Hamilton Live, 8/18/15

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Marina V (Photo compliments of the artist)

Singer-songwriter Marina V may have immigrated to Los Angeles from Moscow, but the redheaded siren sings universally buoyant songs that sound as if they could have come from a chirpier Tori Amos if it weren’t for the sometimes barely detectable European accent in her voice.

Born Marina Verenikina, she moved to the United States as a teenager and began making music. Her most recent album, Inner Superhero, features 10 upbeat songs of asserting yourself and living life to its fullest. Marina V is touring in support of the new album, and she makes a few stops on the tour as the opener for UK synthpop legend Howard Jones.

One such stop occurs tomorrow, Tuesday, August 18 at the Hamilton Live.

Watch the official video for single “Enjoy the Ride” on YouTube:

As you can see from her video, Marina still has strong ties to Moscow, and she films videos and performs there regularly. Don’t miss this international chanteuse when she opens for Howard Jones at the Hamilton. Tickets are available online.

Listen to clips from Inner Superhero on Soundcloud:

Marina V
(Opening for Howard Jones)
The Hamilton Live
Tuesday, August 18
Doors @6:30pm
$30-$35
All ages

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


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.

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.

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

Live Review: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz — 3/8/15

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Midge Ure performs a solo acoustic show at Iridium in New York City on Feb. 27, 2015.

When Midge Ure reunited with the other three members of Ultravox in 2008, the band embarked on discussions to tour. To determine the reunion tour setlist, the four band members each voted their preference from a list of potential songs, and those songs that received four votes would definitely be part of the set.

As it turns out only four of those potential songs received four votes. One of those songs, the archly lush and mournful “Lament” also landed on Midge Ure’s solo setlist Sunday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Md., in the last stop of a tour in support of his 2014 album Fragile.

Although Ultravox attempted to go about its business in as democratic a fashion as possible, Midge faced no such considerations on this tour. He remarkably undertook the U.S. portion of the Fragile tour completely on his own — without any roadies, management or other tour support. He traveled without any support whatsoever, bringing only a single guitar onto stage to powerfully perform more than 20 songs to audiences like that of the supper club, which nearly managed to sell out all of its dining tables to the eloquent Scot.

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Music Park: Meredith Sheldon (Opening for Johnny Marr) @ 9:30 Club — 11/9/14

The winsome Meredith Sheldon opened for Johnny Marr at the 9:30 Club once again earlier this week.

Ms. Sheldon came through with Marr also in April 2013, but then she was performing in a loose band called Alamar with Johnny’s son Nile Marr. A friend compared the sound of the two together to The Sundays.

This time, Sheldon performed alone with her guitar, and she was as dreamy as that comparison would suggest, but her sound definitely smacked of a jangle pop found in other Massachussetts singer-songwriters like Tanya Donnelly and Juliana Hatfield.

Sheldon opened with “Metal Hand,” a song about the strength required to heal. From the start of her set, she had a good rapport with the audience, and it reflected in her easy, comfortable playing. In one segment of her first song, she thumps lightly on the guitar instead of strumming it, creating a unique bridge and providing ample room for her airy voice to fill the space.

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