Monthly Archives: December 2014

Tony’s “Best Of 2014 From DC”: A Year End List

I don’t read a lot of year-end music lists. I simply don’t care that much about a bunch of other people’s opinions on what was good, bad and how so. (They do help me catch up on the awesome music I missed, so thanks for that, list-makers!) So why am I making one? Because DC music artists accomplished some seriously cool stuff in 2014, and while it would be nearly impossible to encapsulate all the great things that came out of a music scene that only gets better, I figured I could at least highlight some of the output that I regard as “exceptionally exceptional”. So I’ve identified a small handful of categories, identified a standout, and brought you some discussion of the awesomeness of each entry.

So do a deep read or just use it as a quick guide to point you towards some of the really excellent work done by DC musicians this year.

And without further ado, here are my picks for the best from DC music this year in the following 5 categories:

– Best New Artist

– Best Album

– Best Song

– Best Music Video

– Best Live Performance

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Top 5 Videos of 2014 #1: Chuck Brown – Beautiful Life

It doesn’t seem that long ago, but two and a half years have passed since the untimely departure of Chuck Brown, DC’s Godfather of Go-go. His posthumous release Beautiful Life came out this past summer, and the first music video we got from it was the reflective title track. Brown’s original focus of the song is about being happy with what you’ve got, but the guest verse by Brown’s daughter KK turns it into an uplifting summation of his life and legacy as a performer and colossal cultural figure in DC. The recent passing of Mayor-for-life Marion Barry also comes to mind when watching this video, reminding us what’s changing and how much we’ve lost. This video is such a moving love letter to DC and the fans that continue to make go-go an important part of musical life here. Thanks for everything, Chuck.


Top 5 Videos of 2014 #2: The Cowards Choir – Is This A Wrecking Ball

Many DC bands have put their stamp on 2014 with great releases and performances, but to me the best of them all is The Cowards Choir. Seasoned singer-songwriter Andy Zipf converted the name of his 2009 EP into a full band with drummer Adam Neubauer, The Beanstalk Library’s Ryan Walker and percussionist (and new columnist!) Ben Tufts, and they have gelled into a breathtaking ensemble. At October’s Magnificent Intentions Music Festival at Iota, the crowd noticeably swelled when The Cowards Choir took the stage. Word’s getting out that this band is the real deal, and their new full length album, recording now and coming in 2015, is sure to put them in the big leagues.

After 3 years, Hometown Sounds remains lovingly devoted to DC music videos, and we’re rather excited when we get to premiere one. The Cowards Choir let us present “Is This A Wrecking Ball”, the lead off video from this year’s Cool Currency EP, and at the tail end of 2014 it’s clearly one of the best of the year. Clubhill Media shot the video as the band recorded the song at Studio V, and its musical authenticity is key. This gives you the slightest taste of the chemistry these four musicians have together, but you must see them live to fully appreciate it.

And your next opportunity is coming up soon. The Cowards Choir and The Fire Tonight join The Beanstalk Library’s 5th Annual New Years Eve Throwdown at Iota, promising a packed night of great music for only $16 in advance. You know New Years Eve events all over town sell out in advance, so make your plans and get your tickets early.


Top 5 Videos of 2014 #3: Ex Hex – Waterfall

For years the question on the minds of tastemakers in DC music has been “Who will finally break out to national acclaim?” Is it Deleted Scenes? Priests? Drop Electric? 2014 has spoken loudly and the answer is Ex Hex. Mary Timony, Laura Harris and Betsy Wright conquered our hearts without pretention or complication, just straight ahead rock jams that reward repeated listens of their debut album Rips. They spent a lot of 2014 taking their show on the road and always having a blast rocking out together. Some have debated whether Ex Hex is a part of the “DC music scene”, but I think this video for “Waterfall” shows their hometown love with sneaky cameos from Kid Congo Powers, The Make-Up’s Michelle Mae, Alec MacKaye and Francy Graham from Chain & The Gang. And those costumes! And the flying saucer making lames cool! What a video.


2014 Holiday Mixtape

It’s our annual DC music holiday mixtape! Happy Holidays!

Tom Goss – Dear Santa, Imma Make You Dance
Baby Bry Bry – Remember (Christmas)
Astra Via – Let It Snow
Tony Porreco – For Christmas
Wytold – Carol of the Bells / Oh Holy Night [Do You Hear What I Hear?]
Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen [Bohemian Christmas Vol. 1]
Cigarbox Planetarium – Do You Hear What I Hear? [A Seasonal Sampler]
Andy Zipf – Silent Night [Travelers Psalms and Carols]

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Top 5 Videos of 2014 #4: Asheru & The Funk Ark – Funky DC

I’ve always had a soft spot for songs about life in DC, full of hyperlocal references. “Funky DC” featuring Asheru and Sitali originally showed up on the debut 2011 album From the Rooftops by jazz band leader Will Rast’s afrobeat ensemble The Funk Ark. In 2013 Ash included it in his debut full length Sleepless in Soweto, providing an anchor to his hometown amidst the influence of South Africa.
Asheru and Chop N Shoot Films shot this video at DC’s inaugural Funk Parade on U Street back on May 3rd, featuring the Ballou High School Marching Band. Besides being a great memento of a fantastic block party, this authentic video shows how funky our city can get. Don’t you dare miss next year’s Funk Parade!

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Top 5 Videos of 2014 #5: Diamond District – First Step

For years the rap trio of Uptown XO, yU and Oddisee promised us another Diamond District album after 2009’s landmark In The Ruff, but with Oddisee’s move to New York, would it really happen? Turns out these MCs keep their promises, and the first single from their sophomore album March on Washington, “First Step”, whet our appetites for the deft lyrics and Oddisee’s notoriously ecstatic production. Video director Jay Brown crafts this slick reintroduction to DC’s rap Voltron, showing XO rapping in Meridian Hill Park before meeting yU on a Metro train, and then joining Oddisee at his home in Brooklyn. DC rap has always hustled hard, but these three make it look easy to conquer.

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Anthony Pirog – Threshold video

Today I’m shamelessly jumping on the Anthony Pirog lovefest train. Yesterday the fine folks at DC Music Download premiered this new music video for Threshold, an angular, dissonant rock track from Pirog’s breakout album Palo Colorado Dream on Cuneiform Records. Sunday the masters of DC jazz at Capital Bop host a traveling edition of their Jazz Loft series at the Fridge, featuring Pirog’s trio and support from excellent saxophonist Brian Settles. Grab your $10 advance tix now.

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Trus Real – Take Me Away video

Silver Spring rapper Trus Real‘s new EP Acceleration doesn’t drop until next year, but his new video for “Take Me Away” came out yesterday. On this narrative song, TR eschews boom baps for an acoustic guitar loop and soft vocals from Amanda Lee as he narrates short profiles of various characters whose problems make them want to lose themselves in music. If you’ve never been to the regular Sunday afternoon event where their paths all cross, you’re missing out on a crucial element of life in this town.


SOJA – Easier video

Laid back reggae heavyweights SOJA follow their nomination for Best Reggae Album in the 2015 Grammy Awards with the first video from that album Amid the Noise and Haste yesterday via Facebook. “Easier”, featuring vocal turns by J Boog and Anuhea, bring a calm vibe to this stressful holiday season, and the visuals shot in Hawaii has me mentally planning a tropical vacation. Best of luck to one of the finest bunch of musicians in DC!