Category Archives: music

The Sweater Set – Being Alone (Song Premiere)


Sara Curtin and Maureen Andary, the two soulful folk musicians performing as The Sweater Set since 2008, recorded their new album Fly On The Wall in front of a live audience at Tonal Park in Takoma Park MD two full years ago, in April 2018. In “Being Alone”, the fourth advance single from Fly On The Wall which we’re honored to premiere today, Curtin sings “When did we get so bad at being alone?” Songs written ages ago can take on new meaning when our world suddenly shifts into a strange new quarantine. Hopefully we’ve gotten a bit better at being alone over the last month, and maybe this quiet, mellow tune can help.

Curtin and Andary have this to say about “Being Alone”:

SARA: I wrote this song in the dead of winter. Washington, DC is a city that clears out in December around the holidays and again in August during government recess. “Parking is easy, bars are empty.” The predictability of the pattern and the quiet of the city got me thinking about how we behave when we’re alone. Do we let ourselves feel it? Do we stare into the mirror discovering every new wrinkle and gray hair? Or are we forced to feel it only when the internet goes out and we can’t numb our loneliness with a mindless scroll through Instagram, or a whole night-long Netflix binge?

It’s meditative to sing this song. There are only two chords and even the vocal melodies and phrasing repeat while only the lyrics change. We always work very hard to sync our exact phrasing and breaths for our songs, but we spent extra time on this one because of its precise use of unison and counterpoint melody. If something is off, it pulls you out of the trance. Like when a fire engine goes by at the very end of a yoga class.

MAUREEN: It was special to sing this song together. It’s so interesting when we sing the refrain and the verse at the same time to end the song. The refrain is an expansive melody and we had to really plan our breathing for this one. We’ve done counterpoint in choral singing and also in our school days of musical theatre so this is a fun callback to those experiences. Don’t let the electric guitar fool you, this is Sara’s most Stephen Sondheim-esque reverie on the record.

SARA: “Being Alone” was the most patient and quiet I can remember ever being while writing a song. I remember sitting there, playing the chords over and over and just waiting for the words to come out. While experimenting with the effects on my electric guitar I started to notice very faint overtones. Those notes ended up as the very simple 2-note melody Maureen plays on the classical guitar. It happens very specifically only 3 times throughout the song when one or both of us sing the word “body”. It was one of those things that I was only able to notice because of how quiet I let my mind become while writing. It was fun to put hidden nuances and patterns like this all throughout the song.

MAUREEN: I love the backdrop this song has with the weather and the sense of place. What’s interesting is that the seasons and the places are so predictable, even in the city, the patterns of the people on the street are the same, but what changes is us. In February I complained to a mentor of mine that I didn’t want it to snow because I didn’t want school to be cancelled. And this guy was like “NO!! Don’t ever say that! It means you’re no fun anymore!” I realized he was right and immediately took it back. But I think that’s the essence of this song. I think that the narrator is feeling oddly confronted by the seasonal shift and wondering, why does this bother me now? Why am I uncomfortable with the quiet?”

Tune in Friday May 1st at noon to see The Sweater Set performing live in a split-screen Facebook livecast, and pre-order Fly On The Wall that day too, as Bandcamp is waiving their fees that day and sending more money to the musicians that need it most right now.

Photo credit: Amanda Reynolds


Bobby Thompson – Meet Me By The Garden


Hometown Sounds is proud to premiere the hot new single “Meet Me By The Garden” by blues rock maestro Bobby Thompson. This song is the lead-off track from Thompson’s brand new self-titled album, his seventh studio album since 2011.

We chatted with Thomspon via email about his new album, the reshuffling of his Bandcamp catalog, and what’s up with his next live show.

When we checked in with you last Spring, you were teasing your new album with a short EP called ‘Song of Love’. How did this new album come together?

I think I pulled together a great cast of musicians for this album, and some of the guys and I toured together, so we were pretty tight by the time we tracked the record. A few of the songs were hold-overs from 2014 and 2015 studio sessions, and those seemed to fit well with some of the newer material, like “Meet Me By The Garden” and “My Everything”. We did a lot of the tracking for this album at Cue studios in Falls Church, Virginia, and we’ve got a few awesome special guests, like Mark Wenner of The Nighthawks, and Matt Grundy, who tours with Donovan Frankenreiter.

Your Bandcamp page is now full of revamps and revisions of previous releases. What drove this effort to streamline your catalog?

I decided to clean things up, and repackage a few albums. Rather than reprinting Live By The Creek (Revelator Hill with Ron Holloway) and Live at IOTA, I created a new design and reissued them both as a double album Live in Arlington, which should be available on disc January 2020.

The Retrospect album has also been revised: I pulled out all of the acoustic tracks and added in some of my favorite from the Blueheart Revival and Revelator Hill days. That’s available digitally now, and soon on CD.

What’s really fitting is the latest version of The Acoustic Sessions. It’s based off the award-winning EP from 2018, but now includes the acoustic tracks from Retrospect to make a full-length acoustic album. That’s the one I’m the happiest with because it fits direction I’m going in.

What keeps you so devoted to perfecting your trademark blues rock sound?

I’m never satisfied with my work. I love it but as soon as an album comes out, I’m already reinterpreting it. Rarely do I play a song exactly like the album version. I think that’s why I really like finishing an album soon after I write the music. If I wait too long, the ideas change and reform and I’m writing new music.

Do you miss Clarendon’s IOTA as much as we do?

I struggled at first. I went through the stages of grief, in some random order. I was sad, and I was in denial. I was angry, and felt betrayed. I’ve come to accept losing IOTA, and now all I want to do is honor the existence of such a legendary club. I’m lucky to have been able to record a live album there, and have so many memories. I’m at peace with it now, but it was tough at first.

Hit us with all the important details of your album release show.

We’ve got Virginia’s own Karen Jonas and her band opening the show. I’ve found our music fits well together, and it’s been dubbed ‘The Country Blues’ show. I really like her songwriting, and she’s influenced me and my approach to song-craft. If you haven’t heard her, you should remedy that right away.

The band on deck for Pearl Street makes up a strong core of the album. Ben, Gary, and Kurt have all worked with me for many years, and we read each other like hawks. They keep an eye on me if I go into an improvisational vibe, and I’m always feeding off what they give back to me. Usually there are fireworks of the musical kind. You’ll have to experience it to know what I mean. Come out November 8 to Pearl Street Warehouse.


Maryjo Mattea – Candlelight and Roses


DC’s Maryjo Mattea has one more single to release from her upcoming EP The Other Side, and Hometown Sounds jumped at the chance to premiere it for you. Just like you’d expect from the detailed cover art, “Candlelight and Roses” is dark, cynical and yet still sweetly adorable. “The last thing the world needs is another tortured love song” Mattea croons, before cueing in pounding drums, jangly guitar and crisp hand claps. From her early days in the duo Two Dragons and a Cheetah, Mattea’s songs have always been driven by vocals, lyrics and songwriting. Stretching her horizons as an in-demand member of dance-rock band Color Palette, synthpop diva Loi Loi, and grungy Endless Winter has sharpened her chops and improved the songs she delivers under her own name. “Candlelight and Roses” is a polished throwback pop song with Mattea’s harsh take on the reality of modern romance. We think the full EP is going to be an essential feature in music lovers’ Bandcamp collections and Spotify playlists.

Maryjo and her backing band kick off a packed night at the Black Cat on Saturday night, opening for Pleasure Train and celebrating Jonny Grave’s masterful new full band instrumental EP Impala.


Jasmine Gillison – In My Chest (Song Premiere)

Today Hometown Sounds is delighted to premiere the debut single “In My Chest” by singer/songwriter Jasmine Gillison.

We’ve had our eye on Gillison for a few years now, since we shared her performance of “I Get It” from a very early episode of Justin Trawick’s podcast The Circus Life back in 2013. Her debut album Little Light has been a long time coming, though she never imagined it as a bright-eyed 5th grader playing in the school band. It wasn’t until after college, thanks to the encouragement of friends, that she got up in front of a crowd at a local Open Mic Night and performed her first official set – a few cover songs on guitar. Thanks to those friends, she’s been writing and performing ever since.

The debut EP is a bit of a departure from her usual acoustic performances, with new arrangements highlighting the depth and width of Gillison’s aptitude for storytelling. Jasmine was fortunate to work with many talented musicians in the DC/MD/VA area on this project, including Producer Ben Tufts (educator and percussionist in bands such as FuzzQueen, Virginia Creep and Uptown Boys Choir), Producer and Session Bassist Howard Rabach of Machine Room Studio in Arlington, VA., as well as a host of other musicians and great friends. The song’s instrumentation, including vibraphone playing from Tufts, is reminiscent of the lovely and influential early downtempo work from the French band AIR.

The Wharf’s Pearl Street Warehouse hosts the Little Light EP release show on Sunday September 16th. The early show starts at 5 PM and features Nardo Lilly and Laura Tsaggaris along with Gillison’s headlining full band performance.


Maryjo Mattea – Getting Over You

Maryjo Mattea has the charisma and the songwriting chops to rise above lesser singers and develop a substantial following. The garage-rock formula from her previous band Two Dragons And A Cheetah worked because of Maryjo’s captivating stage presence, and clearly none of the bro’s in her new outfit Maryjo Mattea & A Pile of Dudes are going to take away from that. Her solo EP Four Minute Symphonies comes out on April 28th with a release show at Songbyrd featuring Uptown Boys Choir and Party Like It’s, and Hometown Sounds is all atingle to premiere the second single from it. Unlike the first single, the catchy power-pop number “Rocket Science”, “Getting Over You” starts out as a classic torch song before ramping up the drums and slide guitar courtesy of blues rocker Jonny Grave. RSVP here to see Maryjo and her guitar summit the biggest pile of dudes in the city.



Song Premiere: “Big Dumb Hooks” by The Beanstalk Library


I’ve seen a lot of bands in my time diving deep into the DC music scenes, and there’s no mistaking that The Beanstalk Library is the friendliest. Bandleader Ryan Walker exudes natural charm and enthusiasm when performing that follows him offstage into post-show mingling. He’s also the rare example of a frontman lending his talent to other bands, playing with Justin Jones and Andy Zipf’s Cowards Choir. The Beanstalk Library’s lineup of keyboardist Joel Hicks, guitarist Brian Pagels, violinist Erin Ryan, bassist David Gassman and drummer Adam Neubauer have an affectionate performing chemistry that’s rare to see.

Apart from a one-off single “Whiskey Mountain” honoring the late Sean Meyers of Norman Rockwell, it’s been a couple of years since we tasted and digested the full length album The View From Here. After many months road-testing new material, TBL is nearly ready to drop a new EP, and Hometown Sounds is tickled pink to premiere the first single from it.

“Big Dumb Hooks” is a classic pop song with a driving beat and singalong chorus. Walker knows the power of a catchy melody and well-placed ooo’s, and this song really will sink its hooks into you as advertized. TBL makes well-crafted pop-rock music with deft songwriting, hard-hitting drums, full guitar/bass sound and flourishes from violin and keys for a mature sound that’s criminally underrated in DC these days.

As we mentioned on yesterday’s episode of our DC music podcast, The Beanstalk Library kicks off a show this Friday night September 25th at Iota, playing with a band from Boston called The Lights Out. Lead guitarist Adam Ritchie played in high school bands with TBL’s Brian Pagels and they haven’t shared a stage since 1999. Funk & soul party band Precautionary Measures finishes up the night. As with almost all Iota shows, tickets are only available at the door, so get there early!


Q&A and Song Premiere with Fellow Creatures

by Tony Porreco

Fellow Creatures 1

In September of 2013, Ugly Purple Sweater decided it was time to call it a day. Over the course of the group’s 4 years of activity and 3 releases, Ugly Purple Sweater consistently impressed listeners with their appealing blend of bouncy indie folk and commanding vocal performances from songwriter Sam McCormally.

Following the band’s conclusion, McCormally spurred curiosity by signing up to do a stint on bass for Paperhaus, performed solo frequently and above all, said nothing of when or if he’d begin a new full band project. Fast forward to this past August when a new group called Fellow Creatures made their presence known with a single Bandcamp demo and an 8 bit image of McCormally and Ugly Purple Sweater guitarist Will McKindley-Ward. Reminiscent of mid-career Talking Heads and the David Byrne/Brian Eno album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the track (“Shuka Shuka”) features a funkier vibe than most anything in UPS’ catalog.


With only two public performances and a single available recording, we were eager for the opportunity to sit down with McCormally and McKindley-Ward to learn more about the new band before their headlining show this Saturday 11/22 at DC9. In keeping with everything that’s “new” about the band, Hometown Sounds is proud to premiere the very first finished & polished track by Fellow Creatures.

Continue reading


Beyond Modern – Facedown video & new song Fall Through

DC hip-hop fans have been waiting all summer for Mick Marx and Sur Jazz to drop new music as Beyond Modern. Back in June the duo dropped this sizzling music video for “Facedown”, asserting their rising status as sex symbols over a classic 2 Live Crew sample.

While they continue to assemble their debut full length release Distorted Reality, this morning Beyond Modern debuted a new song to keep the party rocking. “Fall Through” is a glitchy and melodic club banger featuring NYC’s Justin Rose and fashionable DC songstress Alison Carney.


The Big Boom Thursday @ U St. Music Hall

The fine folks at DC’s funkiest label Fort Knox Recordings love throwing blowout bashes at U Street Music Hall on holiday weekends, and they are not about to let you down this weekend! Thursday night July 3rd from 9 PM to 4 AM the club hosts The Big Boom featuring local talent from Fort Knox Five and All Good Funk Alliance vs. Qdup, Canada’s DJ Stickybuds in his first ever DC appearance, and one of the reigning kings of nu-disco, Gigamesh! You don’t have to work on Friday, so don’t hold anything back! Advance tix are only $10 so make sure you aren’t shut out of this event! To shake off your Monday blues and build hype for the holidy, Rusty B and Frank C of All Good Funk Alliance crafted this Big Boom promo DJ that’s already shot to the top of Mixcloud’s charts. Facebook RSVP here!

Tagged ,

Qdup – DC Funk Parade Mix 2014

Qdup DC Funk Parade final

Excitement is at a fever pitch for next Saturday’s Funk Parade in the U Street neighborhood. This day long music festival taps into DC’s rich history of funk music, which spans a continuity ranging from The Blackbyrds and the catalog of DC Soul Recordings to go-go to the party rocking of Fort Knox Recordings.

For your Friday desk-funking pleasure, DC’s own Jason “Jayclue” Brown aka Qdup (say it out loud, you’ll get it) drops a smoking DJ mix full of beats, soul and highlights from the FKR label including Empresarios, Nappy Riddem’s Mustafa Akbar, Flex Mathews the Handsome Grandson and Fort Knox Five. Immediately following the Funk Parade, FKR takes over U Street Music Hall for a FREE show from 7-10 PM featuring DJ sets from Qdup & Fort Knox Five, live reggae funk from Nappy Riddem, and legendary go-go from Experience Unlimited featuring Sugar Bear! How can this show be free! I have no idea. Is it next weekend yet?

Download this mix here!

Funk Parade BUILD 2 TALL

Tagged , ,