Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods. Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt. But there’s music in us.
It feels wrong to post anything today, mere days after the attacks in Paris and Beirut, without noting the violent ends to which extremists will go and the myriad ways in which we respond. Many of us treat music as a safe haven and a bridge between beliefs and borders. Surely the events must touch a particular nerve in musicians and music lovers familiar with Le Bataclan, one of the sites of Friday’s violence. So I’ll open with this video from yesterday of a man who towed his grand piano behind his bike, parked it outside Bataclan, and performed John Lennon’s “Imagine.” And I’ll direct you to this poem by Jack Gilbert, who fiercely insists that “there will be music despite everything” — despite the sorrow, despite the slaughter.
Flock of Dimes
As one-half of Wye Oak, Jenn Wasner has created brash, folk-tinged rock alongside drummer & keyboardist Andy Stack. The Baltimore native has since ventured out with solo work under the moniker Flock of Dimes. Though the full album has yet to be released, Wasner is road-testing the songs as she tours with EL VY (more later on the side project of The National’s frontman). If the Flock of Dimes songs we heard on Wednesday night represent almost-but-not-quite-finished products, then we’ve got some true sonic candy to savor in the months ahead. These are majestic, effects-drenched pieces — so full-bodied that you wouldn’t guess they’re the product of a single performer.
For most of the opening set, Wasner was half-hidden behind an array of keys, dials, and guitars — but there’s no hiding that voice with its shimmering energy, like a dream that visits by night and haunts through the day.
First, the young upstarts known as Banditos lit up the club with raw, bluesy, punkified, tambourine-shaking, banjo-laced rock. Then the Old 97’s — venerated statesmen of the Republic of Alt-Country Meets Punk Rock — took us hip-shaking, innuendo-slinging, windmill-strumming into the wee hours of morning.
Wide-eyed, white lines On down the road I slide God willing and the creek don’t rise Well, I won’t be home tonight …
First, the young upstarts known as Banditos lit up the club with raw, bluesy, tambourine-jangling southern rock. Then Old 97’s — the venerated statesmen of the Republic of Alt-Country Meets Punk — took us hip-shaking, innuendo-slinging, and windmill-strumming into the wee hours. It was one of those nights when you wanna say, “oh, to hell with it,” pack a bag, and follow the bands on down the road.
The six-member Banditos hail from Birmingham and operate out of Nashville. If you’re looking for new songs to play between cuts of Alabama Shakes and Drive-By Truckers, look no further — all that well-muscled, gritty, soulful goodness is right here.
Take equal measures of existentialist musings and political smarts and a voice that hums and crackles in alternating currents of vulnerability, whimsy, and ferociousness, and you get The Mynabirds: a mingling of piano, organ, synths, electric guitars, horns, drums — sometimes danceable, other times hymnal amalgams of melody and rhythm, with singer-pianist Laura Burhenn’s distinctive, arresting vocals at the center of it all. The pop shimmer draws you in. The gritty, soulful depths invite you to linger and explore.
Two years ago, Kodaline was the supporting act at a 9:30 Club show. Last week, the Irish rock band returned to the D.C. venue, this time as the headliner. It was an evening of music that was both achingly beautiful and irrepressibly joyful. Check out the photos below and enter for a chance to win tickets to Kodaline’s Los Angeles show on May 5, 2015.
Nine o’clock, Thursday night. Gavin James had finished his soulful opening set, and Kodaline was up next. On the club floor, the crowd was jammed up against the barricade. From the balconies, eager faces looked down.
Early Spring. Harshness vanished. A sudden softness has replaced the meadows’ wintry grey. Little rivulets of water changed their singing accents. (R.M. Rilke) And while rain pattered against the sidewalks outside, in the dimly-lit 9:30 Club, folk musicians Ólöf Arnalds and José González took the sold-out crowd hopscotching across landscapes and languages.
Icelandic singer/songwriter Ólöf Arnalds played a solo opening set structured around finger-picked guitar. Arnalds’ lyrics alternate between her native tongue and English, her brilliant trill conjuring an otherworldly landscape. Björk describes Arnalds’ voice as “something between a child and an old woman,” and there is indeed a hybrid, unsettling-yet-beguiling quality to Arnalds’ style. Her vocals swirl in dizzying heights, but never sound shrill. Her tone is beautifully saturated and her diction crisp, with consonants taking on a subtle rhythmic, percussive effect.