Category Archives: music

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.

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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!

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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

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Asheru – Mood Swing feat. Talib Kweli (Nappy Riddem Mix)

Hey DC, I got a hot joint for your Friday afternoon listening distraction. It’s great to see a tight-knit crew like the Fort Knox Recordings boys guesting, remixing and performing with each other, creating and maintaining one of the most interesting and cohesive scenes in the last few years. Saturday night H St. NE’s Rock & Roll Hotel hosts The Empresarios, Nappy Riddem and Asheru for a Winter Soulstice Party for the longest night of the year. To get you in the right mood, the Nappy Riddem duo of Rex Riddem and Mustafa Akbar updated Ash’s early 2000’s hit single Mood Swing featuring Talib Kweli into a drum & bass dance floor burner, and you can download and add this remix to your collection for free! Asheru is one of DC’s most underappreciated rappers, though that’s changing with the popularity growing of his full length album Sleepless In Soweto released last month. Tix are only $15, so grab them in advance and guarantee your Saturday night fun!

Here are the set times!
Doors 8 PM
Asheru 9 PM
Empresarios 10 PM
Nappy Riddem 11:30 PM


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Screen Vinyl Image – Autumn Songs mix

Hometown Sounds is almost 2 years old! We are teaming up with Showlist DC, the best concert listing aggregator in town, to throw a party! Thursday December 12th make your way to Tropicalia at 14th & U Streets NW to see Heavy Breathing, The Jet Age and Tereu Tereu, plus DJ sets from Screen Vinyl Image and yours truly! Buy your tickets in advance for only $10 through ShowClix and RSVP to the Facebook event.

Screen Vinyl Image just released a new DJ mix on SoundCloud for your travels from autumn to winter. Stream it while you pretend to work today, or download it for your long drive to eat turkey with your family. Happy Thanksgiving DC!


Fresh Tracks! “Gone” by Humble Fire

humble fire

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”.


Fresh Tracks! – Uptown Boys Choir / “One More Good Thing”

by Tony Porreco

de Souza Bass

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”.

Uptown Boys Choir - One More Good cover art

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.

Sonic Sweets

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.”

De Souza next next performs on Saturday September 28 at Foundation Gallery and Liveroom in Kensington, Maryland as part of Justin Trawick’s roving singer/songwriter series, The 9.

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