Posts

Nah. Photo - www.nah.band

15 Local Acts You Need to Know

Looking to hyper-localize your playlist? The talented members of DC’s music scene have been hard at work creating and connecting through their music this year, and we rounded up some standouts to add to your Spotify queue, catch on tour and share with your friends.

Photo: Laura Dearden

Child Ivory
On Child Ivory’s Facebook page, there are only two influences listed: Beach House and Fleetwood Mac. While I’m sure other musicians have influenced them (and they do disclaim they rarely use the social media platform), it’s easy to hear the way both bands have inspired the DC outfit. Their witchy, dreamy instrumentation is sleek and electronic, while vocalist Caleb Darger’s clear tone is evocative of their 60s and 70s pop forbearers. The band, made up of Darger and Pica Nagano, released their Underwater EP at the end of August, a beautiful collection of five songs perfect to soundtrack the changing of the seasons. Follow @child.ivory on Instagram.

Photo: CJ Harvey

Clones of Clones
Clones of Clones have been making appearances on the DC music circuit for the better part of the decade. Three of their four members are DMV natives and have kept busy this year with no plans of slowing down. They kicked off a campaign to release a new single each month leading up to a new record, starting with the single “Mine,” which even landed on Spotify’s “All New Indie” playlist, exposing it to over 900,000 people who subscribe to that playlist. Since then, they’ve gifted listeners new tracks at the beginning of each month – and while the world eagerly awaits the album dropping in full, looking forward to monthly releases is a sure glimpse into another record full of indie rock gems from this beloved DC band. Visit www.clonesofclones.com for more, and follow @clonesofclones on Instagram for updates on new releases.

Photo: James Anderson

The Colonies
It’s been a big year for The Colonies. The band formed at George Washington University and started off playing shows in the basement of their dorm. They recently graduated (literally and figuratively) to bigger and better things – namely, opening for fellow alt rockers Judah and the Lion on the notably larger stage of The Anthem. Even while navigating post-grad life and a change in their lineup, the four-piece has been steadily releasing gems like “Potomac” and “Do Nothing With Me” while gracing stages large and small throughout the District. Follow @thecoloniesdc on Instagram for more.

Photo: Cina Nguyen

Color Palette
This five-piece band led by DC native Jay Nemeyer is rounding out the year with a celebration – they’ll be headlining Pie Shop for an album release show on Friday, November 8, marking the synth-pop outfit’s second record being gifted to the world. One fifth of the group, Maryjo Mattea, is also performing as the opener, for an EP release set around her solo work, before rejoining the group for even more new jams. If you’re a fan of pop in the vein of the synth heavy 80s greats and chill wavers of today, you won’t want to miss this show or new album. Follow @colorpalettedc on Twitter for updates and visit www.pieshopdc.com for tickets to the release show at Pie Shop on November 8.

Photo: courtesy of Company Calls

Company Calls
Loud and screechy but melodic: this DC punk-pop outfit combines several genres with tremendous success, but most notably is their affinity for old fashioned fast rock. Their latest release Diabólica is a blend of all their greatest strengths, especially their affinity for a quick pace, as most songs don’t top two minutes. Longer lyrics don’t necessarily make the music more profound or meaningful, however. I think we can all agree on one thing, if all company calls were less than two minutes, society would probably be a better place, so maybe this band is on to something. For more Company Calls, visit www.companycalls.bandcamp.com.

Photo: @heartcastmedia

Dior Ashley Brown
Dior Ashley Brown has been enmeshed in the DC music scene since long before her career took off. A native of the city, Brown got her start making creative waves at the famed Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Now an advocate for local music, emcee, musician and poet, Brown graces the DMV with her powerful pipes and intense love for our city’s fellow musicians, making the erudite musician a threat of more than just three talents. Visit www.diorashleybrown.com for more.

Photo: @itstheexp

The Experience
I’m not going to lie or pretend I plucked The Experience’s All For You EP out of a local music bin at some version of a DC big box store. Instead, this smooth rapper found me, and through this serendipitous act, I was able to hit play, sit back and get some experience. The only way to describe his flow is easy-going and playful, and whether he’s tinkering with the volume or inflection of his voice, he’s always got a witty line and a dynamic hook. A lot of his All For You tracks stem from a stint recording in California, and that style of hip-hop (which I can only describe as sounding like palm trees look) suited the DC local’s sensibilities extremely well. So, while The Experience is early in his career, with only a few official releases under his belt, his sound is refreshing. Follow The Experience on Twitter @ItsTheEXP.

Artwork: courtesy of Glue Factory

Glue Factory
From the garage to the basement, Glue Factory (a nod to The Black Keys’ Rubber Factory perhaps?) provides a DIY sound reminiscent of those early days of DC rock. Though the band doesn’t have a punk pace, it’s imagery and lyrics aren’t much dissimilar from that very aesthetic. In their two EPs from 2019, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Lose Control, the group seems to be drawing influence from some 1980s rock vibes. Unafraid to tinker with their sound and to release it to the masses, I’d expect a ton more product from Glue Factory in the coming years. For more Glue Factory, visit www.gluefactory.bandcamp.com.

Photo: Mystery Friends

Mystery Friends
Mystery Friend’s debut record Past & Future Self came out this past May. The four-piece band uses the album as a vehicle to explore relationships with themselves and with others, and to get listeners off their feet and dancing. They’re on a self-described “mission to bring analog dance rock into the digital age,” and are doing a damn good job of it. If you want to see it in action, mark your calendars now – they’ll be in flesh waiting to play their new jams for you as they take the stage at Songbyrd on Friday, December 6. Visit www.mysteryfriendsmusic.com for more, and www.songbyrddc.com for tickets to their December 6 show.

Nah. Photo – www.nah.band

Nah.
My editor probably thinks I’m being a petulant child typing Nah. where a band’s name is supposed to go, but it is, in fact, a DC band. The five-person indie group with the most millennial name actually began with probably the most noble mission a band has ever had: to use music as a mechanism for people to be open about the variety of complications that come with mental health, and the discussions necessary for healing. While the subject matter is serious, it can also be silly and petty. Most importantly, the band has provided an open outlet, whether it be for themselves or their followers, and it all sounds pretty good. So, while you’re chanting, “Nah, nah, nah” at their next local show, what you really mean is “Yah, yah, yah.” For more Nah., visit www.nah.band.

Photo: Farrah Skieky

The OSYX
If you’re ever feeling discouraged about the representation of women, nonbinary and transgender people in the music world, The OSYX will give you hope for better things to come. The local five-piece established This Could Go Boom!, a label to showcase those voices and give them access to resources that may not otherwise be as easily accessible to them. Outside of their own advocacy and support, the band’s own brand of indie rock is celebratory itself. The five women who make up the band are musical forces separately, and altogether make up an indelible powerhouse. Listen on www.theosyx.bandcamp.com and learn more at www.thiscouldgoboom.com.

Photo: Sami Cola

Saturday Night
Who the hell doesn’t enjoy a Saturday night? It’s not a stretch to say that this might be the single most likeable band name in the history of music, perhaps only rivaled by something like Yawning Kittens (I have no idea if this an actual band, if so, congrats on your random name drop). DC’s Saturday Night is an indie rock band with a hint of power pop. However, the true beauty in this band is their use of vocals, as guitarist Cash Langdon and keyboardist Nora Button provide a melodic banter in perfect harmony. Also, I really like them because they use the word “alien” in their bio on Bandcamp. For more Saturday Night, visit www.saturdaynight.bandcamp.com.

Photo: Yusuf Kazmi

The Shmoods
More of a collective than a band or group, The Shmoods, formerly known as the DMV Hip-Hop Orchestra, are a large collection of musicians playing everything from string instruments to wind and brass. With a focus on hip-hop culture and how that sound is conveyed through traditional orchestral instrumentation it’s possible seeing this group live is one of the more authentic musical experiences one can encounter in the capital. The orchestra has already played venues like the Kennedy Center and been mentioned in The Washington Post, so they’re on the fast track to accomplishing local celebrity. The only catch with The Shmoods is there isn’t a ton of their music online, which means you’ll have to pay close attention to their calendar in order to hear the hip-hop magic. For more on The Shmoods, visit www.dmvhho.com.

Photo: Christopher Grady

Sneaks
Sneaks’ music sounds like abstract art looks, which is not to say that it isn’t a pleasurable listening experience. Never one to lack energy, Sneaks can seamlessly bounce from singing to talking to chanting to singing to rapping, all at once and within the same song. Her latest album Highway Hypnosis provides a fast track to her soul at about 80 miles per hour, and on the rare moments it slows down and allows you to catch your breath, the halt can be abrupt. Though you can add her to your Spotify playlists and listen to her on a Metro commute, the true allure of her work is in the live show. For more on Sneaks, visit www.sneaks.bandcamp.com.

 

Teen Mortgage

Photo: Mauricio Castro

With a sound that seems equal parts informed by the spirit of DC punk and the scuzzy garage rock sensibilities of West Coast garage, Teen Mortgage has an uncanny ability to produce powerful, danceable rock with just two members at the helm. With a new EP released earlier this year, they’ve kept schedules booked this year with an east coast tour circuit and frequently pop up alongside likeminded national acts stopping through the District like Bass Drum of Death and Surf Curse, winning over new listeners with their high-energy sound and impressive musical ability. Follow @teen_mortgage on Instagram for more.

Graphic: Julia Goldberg

DC Musicians Take Day Jobs To The Next Level

Musicians hold a mesmerizing and often mystical appeal. Onstage, in the club, even walking down the street – they are the rock gods, the jazz greats, the punk queens. They are also real people.

While you’re not thinking about that as you fist pump or sway awkwardly side-to-side at their shows, if they’re not winning Grammys, most of them also have day jobs. Sure, you get it. Your best friend’s boyfriend who plays bass is also a barista at the local café, and the drummer from that one band that you follow too closely on Facebook is the bike courier who delivered flowers to you that one time and you wanted to ask for his autograph but you thought it was weird.

But in DC, the meaning of “musician with a day job” is a little different. Here, I’ve run into people playing sick riffs on the weekend only to roll into the DOJ in suit and tie Monday morning. Or picking a banjo and kicking an ankle tambourine in-between interviewing people as a journalist for Science Magazine. Or, you know, mixing hip-hop records after getting home from the IT department at NASA.

All real people.

Take, for example, Steve Jabo. Have you been over to the National Museum of Natural History to check out the brand new dino hall yet? Well, we’ve got Jabo to thank for that. At NMNH, he’s a preparator of vertebrate fossils, which means he puts dinosaurs together.

He’s also been playing in bands since the seventh grade, and for the past 22 years with local rock cover band Consider the Source (a.k.a. The Woodford Reserve when playing without one member who is now based in Georgia). Jabo and his bandmates get together every Thursday to practice in his Arlington, Virginia basement where he has a full setup.

“It’s kind of just unspoken and we really take pride in the fact that everyone shows up,” he says. “There’s no drama. We’re good friends who really like music. Our number one priority is the music, and that makes everything more enjoyable.”

The band has played lots of classic local spots, including the late Bangkok Blues and Luna Park Grille. These days, they’re semi-regulars at Clare & Don’s in Falls Church where they play literally everything you could imagine – from Elvis Costello and Tom Petty to Patti Smith and Bowie.

“It’s hard to find new stuff [that is appealing to lots of people]. I like to do our own take on things and change it up.”

Wondering what the dinosaurs listen to? As far as music in the Paleo Lab at the museum, Jabo says he starts the day listening to “something mellow, like classical music or jazz.” Then, he works his way “up to something with a little more energy,” which can mean almost anything.

“My music collection is 12,000-plus tunes of everything from Gregorian chant…to hip-hop…to punk rock. I’ll usually just hit the ‘Shuffle All’ button and let it ride. If I’m doing something really delicate under the scope, I’ll put the earbuds in and listen to Miles Davis or Puccini arias to get in the zone.”

That said, Jabo generally subcribes to a “gotta keep ’em separated” mantra when it comes to his career and his passion for music. Alex Dent, on the other hand, tries to find as many ways as possible to merge the two. When not writing music and performing with his punk rock band Weird Babies, Dent is an enthomusicologist at George Washington University.

Dent uses linguistic theory to explore the influence of music in cultures. Prior to joining the world of academia, he had an “ah-hah” moment while working as an Outward Bound instructor with at-risk youth.

This thing happened where the kids started talking to me a lot about their music, and I became a lot better at working with them when I was listening to what they were listening to,” Dent says. “At that time, it was a lot of Public Enemy.”

When he realized music was the language he most wanted to understand, Dent traveled to South America for his dissertation on policing and the DVD pirating history of Brazilian punk rock. When he returned to the States, he started playing a lot of his own music under a small Chicago label – but was somewhat restricted in terms of his research work. These days, however, as a tenured professor with a couple of books under his belt, Dent is done with boundaries.

“The more I can integrate my academic work and teaching with my music, the happier I am,” he says.

Right now, that looks like collaboration with a composer to teach a class on sound, researching cell phone use in local teenage populations, studying the resurgence of punk in DC and, of course, playing with his band Weird Babies.

“Shows I like playing the most are benefit shows,” he says. “We recently did one for gun control at St. Stephen’s and for [DMV immigration services organization] Ayuda at Rhizome. I’m wondering what it would be like to create a kind of pedagogical instrument for helping students think about the relationships between arts and community activism and civic engagement.”

Taking musical pedagogy and activism to another level, Adele Gleixner – whose hauntingly beautiful voice stopped me dead in my tracks at a show last winter – is a board-certified music therapist at the John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents.

“In high school, a friend asked me, ‘What do you want to study in college?’ and I replied, ‘All I know is I want to do something where I can help people,’” she says. “I didn’t hear the words ‘music therapy’ until the beginning of my community college enrollment, but as soon as I did, I never seriously considered any other career path.”

The artist works with adolescents and young adults ages 10-21 who experience various manifestations of emotional and/or behavioral issues caused by a broad scale of traumas, mental illnesses, autism spectrum disorders and other diagnoses.

“My two favorite parts about my work are communicating with my clients through music and sharing a musical space with them, and witnessing their growth and progress,” she says.

But the intense adversity many of her clients face is challenging.

“Music therapy is not always pretty. It does not always involve beautiful music-making – in fact, it may involve complete chaos.”

In terms of her own musicianship, like Dent, she has found DC to be a hotspot for musicians looking to share creative processes. She cites the DIY community as being especially supportive, opening up gig opportunities at spots like Boundary Stone, Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House’s Vinyl Lounge, Dwell and FRESHFARM Markets, among others.

Catch folk-rock project Adele Gleixner & The Milkweeds at Velvet Lounge on August 28, and learn more about these unexpected musicians and their bands below.

Adele Gleixner: www.adelemarie.bandcamp.com
Consider the Source: www.fb.com/considerthesource
Weird Babies: www.weirdbabies.bandcamp.com

Artwork: www.billfick.com

Outlaw Artists Take Printmaking on the Road

Outlaw printmaking. Those two words are not some sort of statement. I’m not standing on a step ladder in a free speech zone protesting the medium because a) Why would anyone do that? and b) I don’t know enough about printmaking to stand in front of random strangers on the street discussing the art form.

No, outlaw printmaking is a genre within the medium. Just as rock and rap provide a certain aesthetic in music, so does outlaw printmaking in the fine arts. Bill Fick is one of the members in the movement.

“I’m very comic-y and cartoonish,” Fick says about his work. “It can be just an iconic image. It’s not really telling a story, but people can form their own narrative from the images. Outlaw printmaking is not particularly defined. It’s a lot of artists working in print with a general rock vibe: sometimes satirical, sometimes edgy.”

The renowned artist and veteran teacher is currently on the Speedball Roadshow – U.S. Printmaking Tour. Joined by fellow printmaker Carlos Hernandez, the show is designed to ignite a fervor in people willing to learn about their styles and journeys. The Lee Arts Center in Arlington is set to host the duo on May 12 for a free, six-hour session.

“It’s an educational process,” Hernandez says. “We teach and show our audience the spirit of printmaking. You get your fingers dirty and you create something that people aren’t familiar with. We’re spreading the gospel, if you will.”

Though the art form doesn’t classify as a religion, these two live and breathe the process. Both began their printmaking journeys in college, and though they each approach the medium with a different background – Hernandez with typography and Fick with block carving – each exudes passion for their shared profession.

“When I was in college, I used to do a lot of gig posters with Xerox,” Hernandez says. “It had a punk rock quality to it, and all the great gig posters that were made in the 60s and 70s served as great inspiration. Graphic design and printmaking go hand in hand; it lets me use those [same] techniques.”

Fick adds, “[Printmaking] naturally became a medium I work with. I love the carving process when you transfer the block onto a piece of paper, and I love the history of graphic art.”

A combined offering of these radically different perspectives and approaches is a colossal component of the tour, as each stop includes a modified itinerary pending the wants and desires of the venue. The Lee Center sequences aren’t quite nailed down as of yet, but Fick and Hernandez are up for whatever is necessary.

“A lot of it is media-specific, so we’ll focus on screen printing and get technical,” Fick says. “At the same time, we’ll be working on the release print and take turns on the special piece. By the end, we’ll have a mash-up or [the students] will do a totally separate process.”

Hernandez continues, saying that sometimes the students want something different, and each artist has their own vision.

“We can introduce different styles, and we try to add to their existing programs,” he says.

The duo collaborates on pieces throughout the workshops, each taking turns like friends playing a single-player video game. The pair have worked in tandem on countless pieces at previous trade shows, conventions and tours, so stepping on and off on at different points has become second nature to them.

“[When] we started working together, we’d always have crowds wherever we were,” Hernandez says. “We’ve had universities and other centers interested in the way we present printmaking. There’s a mystery to the work we do. People want to know how to cut a block and burn a screen.”

Most of the time, Fick and Hernadez produce posters, which requires Fick to carve out an image on a block to be printed. Hernandez follows up with printed text.

“It’s all about recognizable imagery,” Fick says.

Join the printmaking outlaws on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lee Arts Center. The session is free, but registration is required. Learn more about the event at here, and about the individual artists at www.billfick.com and www.carloshernandezprints.com.