How Critics Keep Shortchanging D.C. Bands -
Arts Desk is Washington City Paper’s blog about D.C. music, film, theater, books, and performance.
Dean Essner is the host of Third Rail Radio, WMUC’s live music show. Catch it on Sundays at 6 PM!
Adam Rosenfeld (adammeltstheblag)
Wye Oak’s new album Shriek is pretty good. The songs sound like Wye Oak held up their previous effort, Civilian, and Jenn Wasner’s (vocals, guitar) electronic-pop side project, Dungeonesse, and told them to make out a la Tumblr. And it works.
Atmospheric guitar has been replaced with atmospheric electronic music, and while I miss the single power of Civilian (goddamn, but that’s a fucking good song), the tone still feels personal. A lot of electronic music fails because it sounds too big- too wide, too generic, too encompassing. The poppier beats work on Shriek because they sound just as intimate as what you’d find on Civilian. Some of the tracks sound a little less focused, but overall, it’s worth the time.
Good record. Go listen to it.
Favorite tracks: Sick Talk, The Tower.
Check out Adam’s show, Adam Melts the Universe on WMUC-Digital Wednesdays from 10-12 PM
Songs for Dads (who live in garages)
WMUC-FM ! (3-4 PM Thursdays)
By Corey Rennolds
It’s about damn time Kvohst got involved in something this good. He’s always been supremely talented and unique, but his projects have more or less failed to bring him to potential: his stint as Dødheimsgard's vocalist for Supervillain Outcast was a mixed bag at best, Code was fun for a little while but quickly lost any luster, and Hexvessel is actually quite solid but a little too niche for most. With Beastmilk, he’ll finally get the recognition he deserves as an artist (and one of my own major influences) by a wider, yet not mainstream audience. God forbid.
Climax fucking bangs. This might be the most purely “fun” album I’ve heard in my time that’s been referred to as as post-punk, which seems just a little odd; not that post-punk can’t be fun, but sometimes the dreary wins out in this scene. It’s got the trappings: it’s a little gloomy, not complicated, and has the sour stench of punk on its breath. But it’s also undeniably spunky, and hints quite often at Kvohst’s background in black metal, although at no point does he make use of his Eye of Sauron-caliber goblin-snarling ability. Instead, we get treated to his underutilized and frankly quite smooth singing voice. None of this works without the tight grooving of the relatively unknown instrumentalists spawned from the great white Mother Suomi, though, so let’s give them all the credit in the world for not dressing this set of tunes in a bunch of pomp and bullshit. I’ve had enough of that by this point, and I’m only 23. I’d prefer to just kick in a fucking window. Caution: this milk contains alcohol.
The best thing about Beastmilk is how the music hits that exact sweet spot in achieving darkness without depression or a downspike in energy, but also avoiding cheese. They know that shit belongs on mac and burgers. A drawback to something so party-ready is that it does lack any significant degree of “depth,” but the aim here is that you’re never really left wanting to look for it. Not everything has to be a goddamned prog opus, and thank the fucking Goat that’s not the case. This is an album I would never feel self-conscious about listening to around or recommending to anyone, neophyte to conservatorian to my mom. And that’s good, because my mom listens to some grody shit. Hi Mom.
(Corey doesn’t host a show at the moment but plans on resuming the dark ambient / industrial / metal / experimental / etc. etc. show Dead Air this summer.)
The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier To Paint is the latest released from trumpet player Ambrose Akinmusire that serves as a great follow-up to his debut When the Heart Emerges Glistening. The new album features the same quintet as the first of saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Sam Harris, bassist Harish Raghavan, drummer Justin Brown, and Akinmusire on trumpet with the addition of guitarist Charles Altura, the OSSO String Quartet, and three vocalists: Theo Bleckman, Becca Stevens, and Cold Specks.
The overall tone of the album is dark, perhaps a reference to the “Imagined Savior” and how such a savior does not often live up to expectations. The tone also carries along Akinmusire’s infamous storylines and characters that are often lost to the listener with an absence of lyrics. However, contrary to Akinmusire’s first album, Imagined Savior includes the addition of vocalists interpreting Akinmusire’s notes and directions as a way to help the listener understand the stories being told.
The overall performance is very solid technically. The core quintet plays well on the entire album, but really shines on the final track “Richard (conduit),” a 16:28 live recording that allows each member of the group to show off his strengths as a musician. The musicians outside of the quintet deliver great performances as well with each of the vocalists adding his or her own element to the mix and the OSSO String Quartet providing sounds alternative to those of the classical jazz idiom.
While many musicians often add new instrumentation or concepts solely for the sake of doing something new or to attract listeners (such as orchestral arrangements backing some of the giants of jazz in the 1960’s), this is clearly not the case with this album. Akinmusire appears to have a had a clear vision for what he wanted his album to sound like and whether or not the end result is what he had intended, it is truly one of the finest albums to be released this year so far.
Michael Levy hosts Hot Jazz on Saturdays 12:00-1:00pm
The Ramones c. 1980
(Source: vintagegal, via dwinlan)
WMUC Hosts Free “Saving College Radio” Symposium -
On April 11, WMUC will host speakers from WRGW, NPR and more at the Saving College Radio Symposium