music picks

Music Picks: Winter Edition

Basecamp is what you get when three badass producers from Nashville decide to join forces to write their own music – and it’s mixing magic. Not just your typical drum and bass, these guys are masters at subtle layer, sick beat and sophisticated rhythm. If you dig the likes of Phantogram and Chvrches, check them out. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15. U St Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; 

The El Mansouris/Young Rapids
Both bands are calling it quits. And it’s a real bummer for the DC local music scene, and especially for those of us who have been following the curiously beautiful evolution of experimental alt rockers Young Rapids. They’re going out in style with a farewell show, where they’ll both be releasing new (and final?) records. Rumor has it the first 150 in the door get a limited-edition cassette copy of The El Mansouris’ self-titled, full-length album, and a limited edition copy of Young Rapids final release, the Everything’s Perfect EP. Get ‘em while you can. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Smith Public Trust: 3514 12th St. NE, DC; 

The Smithereens
Oh where did the 80s go? We don’t quite know, but the four original members of the classic New Jersey power pop band who left us with hits like “A Girl Like You” and “Blood and Roses” are getting back together to bring us back in time – for four shows only. It’ll be just like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $21. State Theatre: 220 North Washington St. Falls Church, VA;

Crystal Bowersox
Who needs to win a reality show to become a bonafide performer? Not Crystal Bowersox, who actually made the cast of American Idol’s ninth season. Instead of taking home the mantle of “American Idol,” she has crafted a successful career simply creating music, instead of living up to a title. How many winners still even make music? Not many. But Bowersox does, and you can catch her rocking side to side while delivering powerful folksy songs into a microphone at Wolf Trap. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $26-$28. The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA;

These Scottish post-punkers have been shoegazing since the mid-90s. With influences like Sonic Youth, The Pixies and The Cure, their music is heavy on distortion and effect. Their stop in DC is part of a North American tour promoting their latest project, Atomic, the soundtrack to Mark Cousins’ film Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $30 in advance; $35 at the door. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: 600 I St. NW, DC;

Star FK Radium
The cosmic, ethereal songs that this local chamber rock trio creates are hypnotic – but far from repetitive. The notes are colorful enough to keep from lulling into a bore, and the tracks are smart enough to keep you wanting more. It’s Sigur Ros-eque but not quite as esoteric – seeing guitarist Bill Martien in a cowboy hat really flips the lid on any preconceived notions about musical genres. Plus one if you’re a sucker for anything with a violin. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 at the door. Galaxy Hut: 2711 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

J Boog
Some people like to argue that all reggae music sounds the same, save for the occasional run through the Bob Marley greatest hits. Although I’ll agree that there is a formulaic method to the madness of most great musicians operating within the genre, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time bobbing your head and subtly allowing your shoulders to roll while partaking. J Boog combines those simple tunes with a raspy voice, most often reserved for traditional R&B, in a beautiful medley of digestible songs. So forget the naysayers, and boog to J Boog. Doors 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17.25-$20.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Joe Purdy
He had a beard and suspenders and heartbreak on his face before it was cool. Singer-songwriter Joe Purdy has been a figure on the American folk revival scene since Y2K, and has put out a new release almost every year since – all consistently well-crafted. It’s hard not to be seduced by his deep, gravelly voice, especially when he’s crooning original tunes that combine some of the best elements of blues, ballad and rock. In his latest album, Who Will Be Next, Purdy taps in a little more to traditional Americana a la Dylan, so you can probably expect a bit more of a protest-song vibe from this show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20-39.75. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Bob Marley’s 72nd Birthday Tribute Event w/LITZ + Threesound
With the extensive catalogue and legacy of Bob Marley, it would be really difficult to screw up a tribute event as long as you had folks on the stage who could play the music. Jammin Java will double the trouble with two groups set to take the stage as they pay homage to one of the most influential reggae artists. LITZ and Threesound will tackle some of the legend’s timeless material, with twists representing who the two respective group are as artists. LITZ brings a sonic sound, while Threesound brings heady festival experience. Whether you’re a casual fan, or a diehard groupie, this is a must-see show. Show at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$22. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

Charlie Hunter
He’s been a soloist, a trio and a quartet, and for this show four is the magic number. Charlie Hunter has been called a “guitar virtuoso” by critics – he plays on custom seven and eight string instruments – and brings Latin flavor to traditional jazz. He has written interpretive arrangements and covers of the late greats Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain, but his original work can certainly stand solo in the catalogue of (sometimes aggressively) experimental jazz. His new album, Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth was released July 22 on GroundUP Music. Doors open at 5 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $22. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna, VA;

Here’s to the Night
Hailing from Baltimore, Here’s to the Night fully immerses listeners in a nostalgic experience, with a song list comprised of some of the most fun and energetic rock songs from the mid-90s through the turn of the millennium. From start to finish, audiences can’t help but recall countless memories and unforgettable nights, as the party vibe transcends the stage and makes its way to the dance floor. These four musicians bring their years of experience and “frontman” performing mentalities to the table to give audiences an unforgettable live show that is as visually interesting as it is sonically impressive. Union Jack’s: 9811 Washingtonian Blvd. Gaithersburg, MD;

Don’t think about it “Too Much” and go see Sampha. His lyrics are touching and soulful, and his melodies are to die for. The British singer had been experiencing an explosion in popularity over the past few years, which is the opposite of his sound, as he chooses to dabble in sentimental experimentation with his vocals, often bellowing emotional, heartfelt tracks. Sampha isn’t a concert you go to if you’re looking for a rave-like atmosphere. Instead you’ll find a man on a stage with a propensity to get you laughing, crying, smiling and crying again. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

VHS Collection
Synth on synth on synth – that should be the mantra of VHS Collection, as the band embraces the sounds of 80s pop music in a more somber tone. It’s not as fast as a-ha, or even contemporary stalwart Chvrches, instead favoring a more deliberate approach to the noisy electric sounds. Speaking of which, I used to watch Beverly Hills Cop on VHS all the time when I was a kid, and is there a synthier intro than that? Probably not, no. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC;

Aztec Sun
If you guessed an Aztec Sun would be hot and smoldering, you’d likely be correct. However, did you think it would be groovy? DC’s Aztec Sun is just that, as they combine funky chords with bluesy vocals that sounds similar to Austin’s Gary Clark Jr. and some of the slow jams owned by The Black Keys, particularly in their indie days. The group has experienced an eventful 2016, and is looking to get your 2017 started off right with moody, groovy blues. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1363 H St. NE, DC;

The Dustbowl Revival
In a talent-laden place such as L.A., the moniker of “best live band” carries a tremendous amount of weight, especially when the title is awarded by LA Weekly. Apparently, The Dustbowl Revival puts on such a raucous show that The Hamilton is clearing out a dance floor so folks can throw away their inhibitions and cut loose. With the fusion of old school bluegrass, blues and folk music, with some New Orleans flair, the revival won’t be of the tough times dustbowl. No, it’ll be the resurrection of your closeted dance moves. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20. The Hamilton: 600 14th St. NW, DC;

Kali & Ancestors in Training
Growing up in Vermont, Kali Stoddard-Imari was big into poetry, hip-hop and chorus until his teenage discovery of the guitar. With a wide array of experiences, he has used these influences as a springboard to learn more about the craft of making music, and now as a bonafide performer in his own right, the musician hopes to help others see the art how he does. Sometimes combining too many influences can mean chaos, but Stoddard-Imari embraces this clash of sounds, forming a truly unique live show. Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Free show. Gypsy Sally’s: 3401 K St. NW, DC:

The Wood Brothers
One of the most exciting things about American roots music is how much wonder it evokes when you hear what can be done by just a man, and a couple of strings on wood. But The Wood Brothers are two (sometimes three), and what they do with an upright bass and guitar is beyond impressive. Their style has evolved some since their debut album a decade ago, and they’ve opened up beyond the two-dudes-in-chairs-on-the-stage vibe to put on quite a show. They’ve also added multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix to the mix, and the combo really amps that big, round rootsy sound. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

Nuex is a duo out of the DMV that is making moves. With a combination of tight control over instrumentation and electronics, and Lady Gaga-like vocals, it’s not hard to be mesmerized by Nuex. The pair cites Lana Del Ray and Beach House as musical influences, and you can hear some of those otherworldly effects. Their live performances are sultry and intimate – Galaxy Hut should be a perfect spot to see them. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 at the door. Galaxy Hut: 2711 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA;

Sweet Yonder
Have you ever seen the Coen Brothers’ Oh Brother Where Art Though? If you have and enjoy the music from the period film, Sweet Yonder will make you warm and fuzzy inside. From plucking banjo strings, unison backup vocals and lead vocals with a pension for storytelling in a bold folk manner, this all-woman group is a must-see for those without a time machine in search of classical bluegrass music. In fact, even if you do have a time machine, go see Sweet Yonder. Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18-$20. Frying Pan Farm Park: 2739 West Ox Rd. Herndon, VA;

July Talk
This. Is. Rock ‘n’ roll. I mean blues-rock, the Elvis-inspired kind. I mean the kind that screams primal sexy. Peter Dreimanis’ deep, soulman voice catches you completely off-guard – Consequence of Sound describes it as Tom Waits on steroids – but mingles in perfect contrast with fellow vocalist Leah Fay’s. These guys have grown a following by putting on “explosive” live shows. We’ve got a feeling they’re about to blow up the scene. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $13. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 

Parquet Courts
Forming in Brooklyn, Parquet Courts is a tad hastier, and honestly, a little more fun than your average indie band. Why? Probably because their guitar riffs border on twangy, and their use of instruments reminds us of the 70s, or any track from Reservoir Dogs. We’re not saying Quentin Tarantino will put their music in a movie, we’re just saying we wouldn’t be all that surprised to hear a track playing in the credits, likely after a weirdly humorous death of a pain-in-the-ass antagonist. Oh right, anyways, Parquet Courts is a perfect way to kick off February with a subtle bang. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC;

The Radio Dept.
In many markets, the radio department is sort of marching slowly toward doom, being replaced by podcasts, the Internet and it’s longest foe, television. One reason for this is radio’s inability to adapt and evolve into something fresh. The Radio Dept. isn’t one to follow the fate of its namesake, offering up experimental tunes reminiscent of a baby Radiohead. The group strives to bring balance and shifting tones to each of their tunes, creating a whirlwind of enjoyable indie music. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$18. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

Teamster, Sundrainer and Consumed with Hatred
Make sure you remember to bring your earplugs to this one. As their names might suggest, all three acts produce heavy, headbang-inducing contemporary hardcore. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $5. Slash Run: 201 Upshur St. NW, DC;

Big Gigantic
When you think of electronic music, you might immediately think of musicians hitting keys and buttons on a device in a studio, carefully planning which sound to tack onto the main track. For Big Gigantic, it’s different, as the group has spent years honing their live performances. With backgrounds in jazz, the Colorado group has been a staple at festivals, performing at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and other events. So instead of braving the elements of an outdoor concert, cozy up in Echostage and see one of the best electronic live performances imaginable. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $44.45. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC;

Arlo Guthrie
In many American households, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition in to listen to the full, extended version of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” But beyond the 27 8×10 colored glossy photographs, Arlo Guthrie has been carrying on the American folk tradition for decades. Like his famed did father before him, he writes and performs songs of protest and of change. Catch him Running Down the Road as we enter a new era in American politics. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $65. The Birchmere: 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA;

Palm/Horse Lords/Dove Lady
This trio of bands represents what we’ve been hearing leaking out of basements and garages in the past few years – in other words, they are what is happening in music right now. It’s not quite rock, not quite electronica, or anything else definable, really. It’s largely noisy and gritty, and has a distinct quality of making you want to simultaneously thrash around and solve math proofs. Not for those looking for lowkey. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $12-$14. Songbyrd Music House & Record Café: 2477 18th St. NW, DC; 

Luce Unplugged is one of, if not the most, influential local music series. Acts are featured at free monthly concerts among the paintings and sculptures in the Luce Center. If you haven’t been, you definitely should. February’s show will host brushes, the solo project from Nick Anway of locals Baby Bry Bry. brushes is a fitting name for the project because Anway uses a palette of lyric, layer, loop and more than a few dashes of feedback-heavy nostalgia to paint tracks that bring us into a realm somewhere between Stranger Things and The Velvet Underground. Art Talk at 5:30 p.m., show at 6:00 p.m. Free. Luce Foundation Center for American Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum: 8th and G Streets, NW, DC;

George Clinton
There’s not much to say about George Clinton that hasn’t already been said, or written. Clinton is undeniably on the Mt. Rushmore for funk artists with a long and storied discography. You only get a few opportunities to see pioneers of anything, so think of this as a plea to go see this music icon perform live. It’s a grant chance to get funky with one of the funkiest dudes on the planet. Show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42-$138. The Howard Theatre: 620 T St. NW, DC;

Lisa Hannigan
With a strum of her acoustic guitar, Lisa Hannigan can either melt your heart or give you a severe case of the feels with her faint Irish accent and soothing vocals. Sometimes it’s good to melt into a puddle or get lost in your emotions, especially if you have an excellent performer helping you along the way. Hannigan is someone who drives this bus, with every song featuring twists and turns, that can leave the listener in tears of joy, or tears of sorrow. Good art makes you feel, and Hannigan is exceptional here. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC;

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Formed in Cleveland in the early 90s, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony changed the way hip-hop sounded, with fast and furious rhymes paired with a melodic know-how, rare for the then rough and tumble genre. Though there are a few original members following other paths in the music world, the group still knows how to put on an epic performance, and remain rap legends because of their electric past. Doors open at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30. The Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD;

Leopold and His Fiction
With vocals that cause comparisons to Jack White and Julian Casablancas – think a whiney, nasally high-pitched screeching sound – Leopold and His Fiction is an extremely fun listen. From the bleached blonde hair to the 80s sensibilities, the groove is strong with this group, as they use psychedelic guitar riffs to perfectly compliment the strange, irregular rhythm timing from the percussion. Leopold and His Fiction is a nonfiction success story, and you should experiences this story of a concert. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC;

By Trent Johnson and Courtney Sexton