Author Archives: Toni Tileva

Nobody Loves Me: A Valentine’s Day Playlist for the Eternally Single

Hey sad sack, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we represent the mix just for your lonely heart, “Nobody Loves Me.” Whether you view today as a celebration of love, or a reminder of the absence of it, we’ve got one wicked wallow. Happy Valentine’s Day? —Ed.

The “dating scene” is much akin to a Russian land war in winter—it’s brutal, brutish, unwinnable, and full of casualties. And I am well-equipped to give a report from the trenches—in all of my years on this lovely planet, I have never had a date on Valentine’s Day.

That, however, is not cause to turn all bitter and rail against the “Hallmarkiness” of this holiday, not the least of which because any holiday that dates back to Chaucer predates Hallmark. Ha.  So, no, my dearies—I do not propose that we all sit down in some lame Sex and the City/Shit Girls Say kumbaya-ish “love sucks” circle.

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TVD Live: Beats Antique at the 9:30 Club, 5/2

On Wednesday, the 9:30 Club opened its doors to the dubby, world-music-fusion sounds of Beats Antique.

David Satori and Tommy Cappel (who grew up in Springfield and gave a shoutout to his Mom, who was in attendance) provided a seamless sonic tapestry that was refreshingly organic despite the band’s seemingly electronic roots. With surprisingly minimal knob-twiddling and laptop-fidgeting, both spent a lot of time percussively propelling the show forward, with the flourishes of David’s banjo and violin-playing and a French saxophonist blending into the mix.

DJ Laura Low opened for the band, with a lackluster poppy-dubstep-by-the-numbers set that showcased why Skrillex has a lot to answer for and was especially bad following the brilliant Forward Festival this past weekend. Her dubstep remixes of M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” and even the Cranberries’ “Zombie” were downright cringe-inducing and her own amped-up demeanor was hardly contagious.

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Slow Machete: Killing You Softly with the Otherworldly Sounds
of Haiti

Rolling Stone once described Sigur Ros as “the sound of God weeping tears of gold in heaven.” Slow Machete, a musical collaboration of local artist Joe Shaffer and Haitian sound-makers, is no less otherworldly and intensely moving.

The vibe in certain parts is musically reminiscent of the spirituals written by enslaved African peoples in America; this is ethnomusicology at its finest, devoid of arty, slapped-on electronica stylings to make it palatable for Western consumption.

Even though this was recorded during Shaffer’s many volunteer trips to Haiti, this album is not polemical in its message (and refreshingly free of overbearing Bono-esque humanitarian asides). It is an album that is truly a tribute to Haiti’s spirit, raw and uninhibited and unbridledly beautiful. The harmonium [similar to a reed organ]’s sound is lushly organic and, mixed with the vocal and other samples, creates a sonic tapestry of something akin to peaking behind the curtain of a really cool place. Slow Machete’s Evening Dust Choir officially releases today free on Bandcamp.

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Nobody Loves Me: A Valentine’s Day Playlist for the Eternally Single

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we present your choice of playlist: Nobody Loves Me and Top 10 Sexy Songs. Whether you view today as a celebration of love, or a reminder of the absence of it, we’ve got the perfect soundtrack for you. Happy Valentine’s Day.—Ed.

The “dating scene” is much akin to a Russian land war in winter—it’s brutal, brutish, unwinnable, and full of casualties. And I am well-equipped to give a report from the trenches—in all of my years on this lovely planet, I have never had a date on Valentine’s Day.

That, however, is not cause to turn all bitter and rail against the “Hallmarkiness” of this holiday, not the least of which because any holiday that dates back to Chaucer predates Hallmark. Ha.  So, no, my dearies—I do not propose that we all sit down in some lame Sex and the City/Shit Girls Say kumbaya-ish “love sucks” circle.

Why not take a Zen approach to this and sit with it, as the Buddhists say, or marinate upon it, more colloquially put. Alternatively, as Ovechkin says, “it is what it is.” Or you could, you know, just Rage Against The Machine and assert how love is for losers. (Although, that would be a bit extreme because while dating sucks, love is awesome!)

I would not leave you without succor on this darkest of days. I will remind you that A. you are avoiding eating overpriced, horrible dinners (“put chocolate in her face/steak with extra shrimp”), earning the scorn of the poor overworked restaurant industry, and B. you get to have 50% off candy on the 15th. Here’s a little playlist you can chill to, rage to, and commiserate to.

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TVD Live: Little Dragon at the 9:30 Club, 10/29

Saturday’s sold-out Little Dragon show at the 9:30 Club was an exuberant, percussion-propelled, lush feast for the senses—a ritual union, if you will, presided over by the high priestess of unbridled soul, Yukimi Nagano.

The band and the crowd swelled with a riotous, jubilant energy that is so rare to see at most concerts. Yukimi Nagano literally bounded about the stage in her impossibly adorable, pixie-sprightly way, cutely bantering, dancing even more than the crowd, and contributing to the percussion-heavy sound with her tambourine and drum pad-playing.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: Little Dragon at the 9:30 Club, 10/29 (early show)

You may not know who Little Dragon is, but chances are you have heard Yukimi Nagano’s unique vocals on a number of tracks, including the Gorillaz’ “Empire Ants” and “To Binge,” SBTRKT’s “Wildfire,” and DJ Shadow’s new “Scale It Back.”

The Swedish band owes its name to its chanteuse’s fiery temper and her back-in-the-day penchant for “fuming tantrums.” Hey, she is a ridiculously talented downtempo diva, what do you expect!?

The show promises to be high on the constant surprises and low on the dramatics. Expect mellifluous sounds galore.

For a chance to win a pair of tickets to Little Dragon’s show this Saturday (10/29 early show) at 9:30 Club, tell us a clever nickname.

The winner will be chosen on Wednesday (10/26) at noon.

Posted in TVD Washington, DC | 7 Comments

Kollaboration DC:
A Kaleidoscope of
Talent Shines

Kollaboration DC’s annual concert was a dazzling showcase of talent that transcended genre boundaries and shattered preconceptions.

Founded eleven years ago, Kollaboration is an Asian-American non-profit organization whose motto, “empowerment through entertainment” truly embodies its ethos—to present the public with positive, and more importantly, accurate images of Asian-Americans.

While community empowerment is integral to its mission, the entertainment aspect weighs equally heavily in the equation, to the benefit of anyone who has ever attended any of Kollaboration’s musical events. Saturday’s show at the University of The District of Columbia was a well-organized, rollicking affair, whose contest format did not in any sense harken of dreaded American Idol overtones or, even worse, stereotypical talent show fodder—because everyone in it was ridiculously talented.

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TVD Live: Asian Female Emcees Amaze At UHall

Sulu DC’s Saturday showcase Miss Fortune: Spotlight on AAPI Women in Hip-Hop was a vibrant celebration of the true ethos of hip hop: community.

Funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and presented in conjunction with a number of community partners including Kollaboration DC, it was a tightly-run, eclectic showcase of talent that shattered stereotypes and expectations. If the only Asian MC you can name is Jin, you should have been at this show because while the artists were, yes, female, and yes, Asian-American, their viewpoints and styles were illustrative of the fact that these reductionistic labels are not keys to the grand creative milieu.

As spoken word artist and the show’s MC, Kelly Tsai put it, being a feminist and listening to most hip-hop often requires “selective listening” skills. As good fortune would have it, all you needed at this show was an open mind and open ears. The show was about girl power without being about girl power [the commercial version].

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CREEP: None More Noir

Brooklyn production duo CREEP sound like the lovechild of She Wants Revenge and Poe, with some of The xx and Garbage thrown in for good measure. You can finally feel good about breaking out the dark eyeliner and gothing out without having to reassure yourself and others that you are being meta, tongue-in-cheek, or subversive about it, and you are not really a [closet] Goth. [Is there such a thing as a non-closet Goth, btw?]

Well, raise the black flag, my friends, and trash that VNV Nation record because CREEP are here to meet all of your needs.

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TVD Album Review: TOKiMONSTA’s Creature Dreams EP

Trip hop has long been a turntablist’s game, even if the most obvious examples you can think of are Geoff Barrow’s scratching on Portishead’s “Only You” or the seminal DJ Shadow Endtroducing. In the early 2000s, artists like DJ Krush, RJD2, Nujabes, and DJ Vadim continued to carry the torch, despite public opinion that “trip hop was dead” or relegated to Buddha Bar compilations. It is in this vein that LA-based producer TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) makes her pastiche of beats and samples.

The hop in trip hop has long alluded to a natural synergy between turntablism, hip hop, and downtempo, and the genre has managed to stay fresh precisely because of its broad influences. Creature Dreams is Tokimonsta’s debut EP on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label, which should say a little something about being in excellent company and having the Flying Lotus stamp of approval, if you will. (Tokimonsta just wrapped up a tour with label mate Daedelus and is continuing touring throughout the summer, pairing with Nosaj Thing on several dates.)

Tokimonsta cut her teeth on a myriad of fresh remixes with a signature sound—anything from Tweet’s “Call Me,” to Lykke Li’s “Little Bit” and Telepopmusik’s “Breathe.” She released a ton of mixtapes and toured, paying some major dues in the process. Her diminutively adorable moniker terribly apt, Tokimonsta is a Godzilla on the wheels of steel and clearly knows more than a thing or two about crate-digging, scratching, and creating really naturally flowing sample soundscapes.

TOKiMONSTA | Bright Shadows

The Creature Dreams EP finds Tokimonsta on an even more consistent course with her sound than her last full-length album, 2010’s Midnight Creatures. “Bright Shadows,” “Little Pleasures,” and “Darkest[Dim]” are three of the standout tracks on the EP, and they feature singer Gavin Turek. “Day Job” is another equally beautiful track—as a whole, the album is consistent in its excellence and is very un-California-esque in that it’s late-night listening alright. It is not a dark record—it’s maybe moderately melancholy in its dusty vinyl ambiance, but it is easily one of the best and most consistently “trip hop” albums to come out in recent years. Definitely worth a spin!

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