It’s time for another round of Fresh Tracks!, where Hometown Sounds brings you the very latest in noteworthy music emerging from the District. “Gone”, the first single from dream rock quartet Humble Fire just went live on the group’s Bandcamp page this afternoon, so I’d be hard pressed to find anything much fresher to close out the work week.
Following a 10 second straight ahead sprint of distorted guitar chords and snare drum rolls, the rhythm section busts down the door with an adrenaline-prodding stomp before ducking back down to make way for vocalist Nefra Faltas’ syncopated warbles. Guitarist Dave Epley’s clean, heavily delayed guitar coils throughout the song’s verses before returning to the hurried dash of the intro riff.
“Gone” embodies a noteworthy release for a couple of reasons. First, the track showcases the band’s ability to establish a strong groove you might even characterize as danceable (an uncommon feat for a rock band). Second, this represents the first publicly available studio recording of Humble Fire, which is interesting given that the band has been performing live for some time. However, their previous lack of recordings actually contributed to their sense of mystery and emphasized the importance of catching the band’s blissed out live show, which I’ve had the pleasure of taking in on several occasions.
Humble Fire performs tomorrow (10/26) at Knoxville, Tennessee’s Preservation Pub, but are currently in between performance dates in the DC area. So enjoy this while they’re…”gone”.
Welcome back to Fresh Tracks, where we nudge the spotlight toward the very latest in noteworthy DC music. Today’s Fresh Track is “One More Good Thing”, the exciting new single from Uptown Boys Choir.
Multi-instrumentalist Kevin de Souza writes, records, and performs songs under the moniker of Uptown Boys Choir. If you find yourself at an Uptown Boys Choir show and find yourself wondering whether or not there’s a backing band, don’t be mistaken: There is, and guess what? You’re in it.
“The idea is that the audience is the choir. The goal is for everyone to be part of the show,” says de Souza. With a hollow bodied electric guitar and sparse percussion (only a raised wooden platform for stompin’, and a set of ankle bells affixed to his right leg), de Souza teaches the crowd the backup vocal parts to his songs. The effect of his approach forms a unique, inclusionary bond that functions to unite performer and audience.
We first featured Uptown Boys Choir on the Hometown Sounds podcast this past April with the quiet, contemplative track “This City”. In the months since, Choirmaster de Souza has continued write and record, in addition to getting out to play the occasional show and direct the masses in song. But now he’s ready to show you what he’s been working on, a new single entitled, “One More Good Thing”.
Arriving at Sonic Sweets Recording (Beltsville, MD) last winter with just the first two lines of a chorus written, de Souza developed the song slowly from the bottom up over several months of scattered recording sessions with Virginia Coalition’s Jarrett Nicolay (guitar, piano) and Scott Robinson (drums, mixing, production), “One More Good Thing” is a true pop gem with a full-bodied, sparkling arrangement.
The first element on the cut is de Souza’s reverbed voice, alongside the attention-hijacking chatter of short drum rolls played on improvised percussion and the light chop of some electric guitar chords. But 15 seconds in, the sounds that suggest a breezy reggae or beach rock number are deftly swapped out in favor of a stout rhythm section and crisp production.
What follows from the second verse onward is a truly delectable palate of sounds and instrument choices suggesting a cheerful stroll through a candy-coated aural landscape. Between the glockenspiel that dots the song’s progression and the pleasant quarter note thunk of an upright piano, it’s really the kind of song that wouldn’t feel out so of place on a quirky Fox Searchlight indie comedy.
When asked about the song’s lyrical narrative, de Souza provided an amusing take as to what’s going on in “One More Good Thing”. “
The song’s open ended, but it’s sort of a plea for someone to consider the potential of a relationship when they’re finding themselves soured on love. The way I’d describe it is of a girl whose dog has just died, and every day she walks by a pet store, where there’s this really cute puppy who’s always trying to get her attention. Then one night, the girl ends up getting mugged and the puppy breaks out of the pet store, transforms into a big German Shepherd, and rescues her before returning to the store. And the next day, she buys the puppy.
De Souza is hopeful yet pragmatic about where he’s heading with future Uptown Boys Choir material “I want to write songs that can work with one person on a guitar or an eight piece band… but I do hope that [Uptown Boys Choir's] music is tied together by a more optimistic spirit than the music I wrote when I was younger.”
Fresh Tracks! – These Future Saints / “Blackjack” by Tony Porreco Welcome back to another installment of Fresh Tracks!, where we at Hometown Sounds present you early access to some of the best in soon-to-be-released D.C. music. Today’s fresh track is a cheery little number called “Blackjack” from charming up and comers These Future Saints.
At first playback, you might be skeptical and regard the opening guitar riff as silly, but when the full band kicks in, it actually reveals itself as part of a fun set of interlocking machinations against the second guitar and drums, with a sound that quickly heads into the territory of some light dance rock. (Who new dance rock could be light?)
Singer Andrew Gaddy is actually one of the better vocalists I’ve heard lately from the DC scene: There’s a sweet, choirboy feel to his singing voice that’s really kind of adorable, which proves in keeping with his band’s somewhat softer approach to indie rock. Concerning the song’s lyrical content, Gaddy chronicles some tender escapades with a certain special someone. (Additional props for the hometown imagery when he suggests, “Let’s take a trip to Logan Circle, we’ll get out of line”). Be sure to stick around through the end of the cut, as the number closes with a super fun coda that approaches the lively guitar pop of Phoenix’s early career, or some MDMA-enhanced Franz Ferdinand.
These Future Saints perform this Friday at IOTA (9/6) with Classified Frequency (who do some seriously layered, everything-but-the-kitchen sink pop punk) and our favorite army of genre-busters M.H. and His Orchestra. The event is also a release show for These Future Saints’ new EP Ellerslie Ave, available for purchase at the show or online starting Friday.
DC’s history with EDM, electronic dance music, has mostly ranged from deep & soulful house music (Sunday nights with Sam The Man Burns) to aggressive and atmospheric drum n bass. The dark, repetitive, sometimes minimal stylings of techno have ferociously devoted adherents but remains mostly underground. Recently U Street Music Hall has devoted more deck time to techno, and the mysterious producer PENTAMON is cranking out new tracks to worldwide acclaim. The initial PENTAMON release Nite from earlier this year is now joined by a two song EP called Among The Thugs, released today on Teenage Riot Records. The title track brings peak time dance floor power, while the b side Skywarp simmers with growling basslines and a repetitive “belch” synth. Mark your calendar for Saturday September 7th when PENTAMON works his dark magic at the 9:30 Club Backbar with special guests Sami Y and Pat Jagla. If you don’t already know PENTAMON’s hidden identity, a quick spin around Google easily reveals it, but wouldn’t it be more fun to enjoy the surprise?
Fresh Tracks! – The Dead Women / Vier by Tony Porreco
Welcome to Fresh Tracks, a new column where we here at Hometown Sounds highlight the latest in noteworthy releases from DC artists.
For the first installment of Fresh Tracks we present Vier, the debut studio release from punk dynamos The Dead Women. German for the number “four”, the EP’s title embodies a clear reference to Vier’s four songs. But the word is pronounced “fear”, so we can only wonder if there’s any relationship between the way you say the album title aloud, and The Dead Women’s dark, nervous punk rock. Vier will be available for streaming exclusively here at Hometown Sounds for its first two days in the world, but will be available for download at the group’s Bandcamp page beginning on August 14th. Enjoy!
Recorded and mixed by Michael Dawson at Elohino Productions.
Cover art and photograph by Nancy McInerney.
Written and performed by The Dead Women.
1. “Trouble Breathing”
2. “Arms and Legs”
4. “I Am Delusional”
About the Album
All of Vier was written during ’11 and ‘12 (the first year following the band’s formation), but previously existed only in the form of rougher demos. Wanting to document some of their earliest material with a strong set of recordings, The Dead Women found themselves driving north to Lincoln Park, New Jersey this past April to work with Michael Dawson at Elohino Productions. (Mark Pry, drummer for The Dead Women, met Dawson during a period when they were both freelance contributors for Modern Drummer Magazine.)
Vier begins with “Trouble Breathing”, a track based on a choppy, syncopated guitar riff and a brooding set implying a narrative of finding oneself pitted against the odds. The verse’s vocal melody and drums fit neatly inside the space carved out by guitar parts, resulting in a bumpy rhythm that achieves the sonic equivalent of rolling over bumpy terrain. It’s the number vocalist/guitarist Mark McInerney says regularly evokes the biggest response when the band plays the DC club circuit.
“Arms and Legs” and “I Am Delusional” both channel the aggressiveness and zip of punk standard bearers such as Bad Religion and Social Distortion, but with the twist of a sound that eschews these bands’ domineering guitar crunch in favor of tones with more fuzzy mid range.
The one real curveball on Vier is “Summer”, a lilting 3/4 ballad whose lyrics pair recollections of relational frustration with the observation of how the heat of the months can feel like an insufferable eternity. This unlikely pairing of experiences function as a poignant reminder of how simultaneously experiencing multiple life stressors can be so much worse than running into them independently of one another.
Despite its brevity, Vier is a release that doesn’t skimp on the details of a good recording, whether it’s the extra texture of the acoustic guitar that springs up in the verse of “I Am Delusional” or McInerney’s layered vocals (either doubled or harmonized), which are spread tastefully over the EP, and lend the tracks a distinct bite.
Concerning what’s next for The Dead Women, the release of Vier is really just the start of a continued flurry of activity for the band. They’ve booked studio time at Beat Babies Recording Studio (Woodstock, MD) for 8/31 and 9/1, where they plan to punch out a live recorded full length. On the subject of differences between the tracks on Vier and the songs the band plans to record next, according to McInerney, you can expect an even heightened emphasis on time signatures (one of the songs is in 5/4!), dynamics, and tempo. “[These] are all important factors in my songwriting now because I know we’re capable of doing it well. Earlier on it was more about writing a catchy tune. And that is what’s reflected in this EP.”
Fuzzy Logic, one of DC’s finest music blogs, hosts a stacked lineup of psychedelic punk noise this Thursday night at Comet Ping Pong with DC’s Thee Lolitas, Philly’s Harsh Vibes and Ttotals from Nashville. And if that ain’t enough for you, your humble Hometown Sounds DJ will spin some of DC’s newest and most classic sonic insanity. Get there at 9 and bring $10 for the bands.
Tonight the mighty Fort Knox Five host De La Soul’s DJ Maseo tonight at 14th Street hotspot Tropicalia, and I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the exit of this afternoon’s predicted nasty weather. Jon H and friends know their dance music history like no others, and their series of DC’s Finest Remints highlight the remixing and mashup skills that make their DJ sets among the best in town. The latest track Who’s Gonna Funk 4 Peace, provided generously as a FREE download, layers Mustafa Akbar’s vocals over a classic Gang Starr instrumental. RSVP for tonight’s party here.
I think this nasty rainy Friday before a washed-out weekend calls for something more substantial than a music video. Instead, here’s a couple of DJ mixes to fill up your headspace.
First up is the third Origins mix by Outputmessage. In case you’re just joining us, Outputmessage is a solo electronic music project from Bernard Farley, 1/3 of the dance music team Volta Bureau with Will Eastman and Micah Vellian. These Origins DJ mixes compile musical inspirations for Farley’s newest album, dropping very soon. Cop a free download at http://bit.ly/13JRt4u.
Congo Sanchez is best known as the drummer for Thievery Corporation, but own his band is working hard to build a solid local following. You can catch them live next at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Friday June 28th, in a stellar lineup with gypsy brass band Black Masala and The Good Thing. Now chill out with Congo’s latest DJ mix Summer Breeze.
If you liked yesterday’s DC DJ mixes, I’ve got even more for your listening pleasure today. The Fort Knox Recordings gang have two new mixes to get hyped about.
First up, Nappy Riddem blends reggae vibes with modern dancefloor touches on their latest mixtape, Angle It. Grab a download at their Facebook page and catch Rex Riddem & Mustafa Akbar live this Friday at the Black Cat opening for Violet Rocker.
If you need an introduction to Fort Knox Five, the new retrospective release 10 Years of Fort Knox Five will show you what you’ve been missing. Jon Hovarth and pals maintain a busy DJing and jetsetting schedule, and the monthly DJ mix series Funk The World showcase their distinctive and worldly tastes. My highlight from this mix is the FK5 Remix of Maria Juana by labelmates Empresarios, out later this month.
DC, do you need some DJ mixes to get you through the afternoon? Good, cuz here are a couple of local gems for your streaming pleasure.
In case you missed the tribute to DC mix that LA transplants Nadastrom put together for the BBC Radio show Diplo & Friends back in February, the hour long set featuring tunes from locals & expats Tittsworth, Fugazi, Doug Lazy, Oddisee, Deep Dish and lots more is now streaming on SoundCloud.
U Street Music Hall owner and Volta Bureau employee Will Eastman, under his new solo moniker Pentamon, put together a nice mix for the Baltimore music blog More Or Less’s mix series MOLCAST. This DJ mix devoted to techno parallels the new Saturday night vibe at U Hall. Enjoy!