Category Archives: Best Of

Top 5 Videos of 2016 #1 American Television – Explosions In This Guy

Here we are folks, this is big finish to our year in music videos, and taking the 2016 crown is American Television. These guys charmed the hell out of us with their 2015 debut music video “Optimist”, and their 2016 EP Reaction showed that 90s style pop-punk can still be relevant and fun as hell. “Explosions In This Guy”, a play on the bro-approved post-rock band (so much fist-pounding when I saw them at 9:30 in May), is our favorite music video of the year, and it’ll only take you a minute and a half to find out why. Director Brad Howard, who also gave us the recent romantic video by Cinema Hearts, presages the ridiculous creepy clown scare of Autumn 2016 with this brief tale of a bad day in the life of a children’s entertainer.

There’s going to be a lot more benefit shows in 2017 as DC struggles to adapt to the changing atmosphere. Start making plans in 2017 with American Television’s show to raise money for the International Rescue Committee at the Velvet Lounge on Saturday January 14th with Railsplitter and Washers. And we’ll be back in January to continue our mission to show you and everyone how DC rocks. Thanks for listening!


Top 5 Videos of 2016 #2: Wylder – Bitter

Indie folk band Wylder, and their debut full length album Rain and Laura, was my favorite find of 2016. They display a delightful mix of youthful exuberance and impressive pop music chops that really should land them on FM radio and select Pandora stations. Their debut video “Swells” is a ridiculously catchy earworm, but it’s the irresistible follow-up “Bitter” that lands as our #2 music video pick for 2016. Director Samuel Rogers delivered such a charming tale of singer Will McCarry’s quest for the last relic of a lost relationship. Bands like Near Northeast, Handsome Hound and Wylder are giving DC’s typical angular and moody sounds a refreshingly positive spin, and we are going to need that in 2017 like we never have before.


Top 5 Videos of 2016 #3: Ras Nebyu – No Love

Washington Slizzards crewleader Ras Nebyu made his musical mark on 2016 with his excellent third mixtape Slizzatrism. His music video highlight “No Love” originally surfaced back in 2015 as a SoundCloud single produced by Casito Del Frisco. Chop N Shoot Films, the studio responsible for a string of DMV hip-hop vids from Lightshow, Phil Ade, Godsilla and others, touches on Nabyu’s Ethiopian heritage and family in the “No Love” video, our pick for #3 DC music video of the year. Nebyu channels two alter egos, Malcolm and Drew, in singing the harsh breakup song and throwing a party to forget the heartache.


Top 5 Videos of 2016 #4: K.A.A.N. – Phoenix

K.A.A.N. – Knowledge Above All Nonsense. Columbia, MD rapper Brandon Perry has delivered anything but nonsense in his prolific output this past year. He kicked off the year with a 5 song EP called Eclectic Audio with epic and cinematic production work from ORBT. Since then he’s posted new songs to his SoundCloud at a rapid clip, mirroring his signature nimble vocal delivery. Many of the songs have been filmed as music videos, unmatched in quantity by any other in our area. The best of the bunch is the first one we featured, Perry’s violent and surreal tale “Phoenix”, with direction by Josh Sallee and Logan Meis. KAAN stands apart in the DC hip-hop scene, and is bound for rising fame in 2017.


Top 5 Videos of 2016 #5: Wall of Trophies – Never/Always

There are a handful of blogs that write about DC music, but only Hometown Sounds exhaustively covers all the music videos from any genre. We’re giving our last week of coverage in 2016 to our annual countdown of favorite DC music videos from the past year.

Will Copps and Brittany Jean Valint, together as Wall of Trophies, are greater than the sum of their parts. The tension between Valint’s warm and powerful vocals with Copps’s sinister production is best expressed on “Never/Always”, the second single from their debut full length album Heliograph. The song’s music video, shot and visually manipulated by the band in Amsterdam back in October 2014, is deceptively simple, reminiscent of The Chemical Brothers’s masterpiece “Star Guitar” by visionary director Michel Gondry. “Never/Always” is beautiful, mysterious and psychedelic, drawing viewers into the song and taking them on a meditative and hallucinatory journey looking out a car window at the city scrolling past.


Top 3 Videos of 2015 #1: The North Country – The Cross We Bear

Andrew Grossman’s band The North Country released their sophomore album There Is Nothing To Fear in April and boldly challenged the DC music scene to really step up their game. The album expands on the initial folk-rock style with sonic excursions that show Grossman isn’t just one of the best frontmen in DC, but has the songcraft chops to match. The bar is set high with the first song, the catchy and accessible “The Cross We Bear”, and well-known local director Nigel Lyons’s video matches the song perfectly. Cameos from BRNDA’s Leah Gage, the Church Night crew and members of The North Country are fun easter eggs, as is the bookend scene referencing Grossman’s home and DCDIT house venue, Bathtub Republic. It’s ambitious videos like this that tell a story, convey a meaningful message and compliment the music so well that win the year and make doing this job of bringing you the latest and best in DC music worth it. See you in 2016 for more amazing songs, videos and shows!


Top 3 Videos of 2015 #2: Beauty Pill – Dog With Rabbit In Mouth Unharmed

This has been a delightfully resurgent year for Chad Clark and his quintet Beauty Pill. After recovering from long and well-documented struggles with health, Clark released the full length album Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are just in time to play one of the final shows at Arlington’s exciting but problematic venue Artisphere, the location Clark choise to record the album in its early days of 2011, before it closed for good. Clark enlisted director Jeff Sheven to create videos for 3 singles from the album, all sharing similar visual themes of focusing on the singer’s face. We could have chosen the better known singles “Steven & Tiwonge” or “Afrikaaner Barista”, but instead the #2 DC music video of the year is the first that came out, the atmospheric “Dog With Rabbit In Mouth Unharmed”. The song and video work together so well, allowing us to focus on singer Jean Cook, whose assured vocal contributions to Beauty Pill refuse to be dominated by Clark’s unique delivery. Beauty Pill’s amazing record made it onto so many year-end best-of lists, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to get to know it well. They’re back at the Rock & Roll Hotel on February 6th.


Top 3 Videos of 2015 #3: The Max Levine Ensemble – Sun’s Early Rays

Pop punk band The Max Levine Ensemble roared back in 2015 after an 8 year hiatus with Backlash, Baby and reminded us that rock music should be fun as hell. The video for the debut single, “Sun’s Early Rays”, shows how far creativity and a shoestring budget can get you in 2015. Katie Alice Greer, frontwoman of Priests, stars as a dashing superspy stealing the doomsday device from Sharad Satsangi of Ilsa, giving Daniel Craig a run for his money. “Sun’s Early Rays” is the first in a linked trilogy of videos, and while we await the third, don’t miss the trippy “My Valerian”. Thank God these punks are back in business.


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.