Author Archives: Jenn Bress

TVD Live: The Soft Moon at the Black Cat, 1/20

When I realized The Soft Moon were not only playing in DC at The Black Cat, but on the smaller and more intimate back stage, I gave myself a big ol’ internal high five and counted down the days. 

I was curious to see how this “bedroom project” would translate live, as Luis Vasquez’s initial self-titled release was swathed in intimacy as it was produced behind closed doors.  The Soft Moon’s follow up album, Zeros, is a much more in-your-face affair, and as such, so was their amazing performance.  Majical Cloudz opened the evening, whose band name spelling is more inventive and captivating than their performance actually was.

Soft Moon 8335

Canada’s duo Majical Cloudz opened the evening with hearts on their sleeves.  Known for minimalistic beats and gut-wrenching vocals, they reminded me of a watered down Walkmen, singing of lost love and drunken evenings. Devin Walsh’s vocals are back by compelling beats, but the performance itself seemed a bit, well, washed out.  It could very well be because it was the last show on the tour for both bands.  Check out “Turns, Turns, Turns” if you already haven’t heard it, and you must also hear “Dream World,” which features my favorite girl Grimes.   I’m curious to hear more from this duo, still early on the scene and getting high marks from credible sources.

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TVD Live: Quintron
and Miss Pussycat
with Heavy Breathing
at Red Palace, 4/26

I’m always delighted when a live show introduces any sort of theatrics into their set.  Seeing Quintron and Miss Pussycat live, you are not only guaranteed a rocking dance party, but a most charming puppet show, too!  

Opening for the delightful duo were Lenorable (whom I sadly missed, thanks to metro delays) and Heavy Breathing, who have quickly become one of my favorite new local bands.

Quintron, originally known as a one man band, now tours with his wife  Miss Pussycat and the Drum Buddy.  The Drum Buddy is his own invention and consists of a  “mechanically-rotating, five-oscillator, light-activated drum machine.” That thing is a work of art in itself, let alone the foot stomping swap rock that pours out of it.

Miss Pussycat joins him on stage with hand-sewn maracas and a custom orange and silver outfit, matching her handmade army camouflage- themed puppet booth.  This stage presence is enough to get everyone hyper and dance-crazed before the music even begins, but honestly I think the anticipation of the much-adored act might have had something to do with it too.

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TVD Live: The Magnetic Fields, the 9:30 Club, 4/9

Since 1991, The Magnetic Fields, have been charming the pants off everyone found along the highway strip and beyond, with their rich blend of genre-crossed indie/noise/synth pop filling the 9:30 Club on a Monday night.  

The heart of the band is predicated by Steve Merritt’s lyrical genius and backed by Claudia Gonson’s instrumental talent.  “We’re here to play songs off of our new album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea,” Merritt asserted very early on in the show, but the performance actualize was a delightful mix of old and new songs, lots of heckling fans, and enough stage banter to keep hardcore fans beaming for days after.

The Quartet Devotchka opened for The Magnetic Fields with with a sound that is usually likened to gypsy or circus music, but I liked the last couple of songs that I heard, which were a bit darker and more burlesque than I had anticipated they might sound.

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TVD’s 10 Weeks of Record Store Day Vinyl Giveaways: Hume “Inverse Fireworks” 7″

It’s like a secret garden of sound, and D.C’s own Hume hold the key to a dreamy soundscape so labyrinthine you’ll never want to be found. 

Fans of Tame Impala, Toro Y Moi, or with any artistic sensibility at all will be captivated by Hume’s DIY experimentation consisting of dual drummers, vocals, electric bass, and electric guitar, often decontextualized and redefined through otherworldly stereo processing.

Hume are the perfect opener for Captured Tracks’ Widowspeak and Slumberland Records’ Crystal Stilts on 4/14 at The Rock and Roll Hotel.  Tickets are still available and it’s just $12 to see three amazing bands. Doors open at 8pm.

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TVD Live: Chickfactor 20th Anniversary Celebration 4/6-4/7 at Artisphere

Gail O’Hara is a multi-talented girl after my own heart. Working for publications such as Spin, Time Out New York, and DC’s City Paper, she also co-founded Chickfactor Magazine with Pam Berry (also equally after my heart) of Black Tambourine and DC’s much-adored label Slumberland Records.

Chickfactor champions underground Brit-Pop and other indie music that might otherwise fly under the radar.  In honor of the magazine’s 20th anniversary, these two rock icons put together a smashing line-up of bands, all reminiscent of the early ’90s sound immortalized in the issues of Chickfactor.

Out of a twenty band line up split between NYC and DC over seven nights, the two night DC showcase featured five bands each night.  On Friday, April 26th, The Pines, Dot Dash, HoneybunchStevie Jackson, and Frankie Rose took to the stage. The following night, LD Beghtol (not originally advertised, perhaps a last-minute fill-in), Lorelei, Fan Modine, Lilys, and Black Tambourine were featured.

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TVD Recommends: Windian Anniversary Showcase at Montserrat House, 4/6-7

WINDIAN RECORDS should be one of your favorite DC record labels by now if you like garage/punk/rock ‘n’ roll or just cool shit in general. 

For two years, they have been warping your mind with their cleverly curated cadre of bands.  As true as Windian Records is to releasing the bands that they back on vinyl,  Windian also stays 100% focused on introducing DC to quality music.  Windian showcases are always packed with rad people, DJs playing an epic selection of  jams, and (hopefully) serving “Windian beer,” crafted by New Rock Church of Fire’s Mitchell West.

Windian Records is your spirit animal that will guide you to your fucking good time tonight and tomorrow night. These dudes pulled out all the stops to bring you the loudest, sloppiest, beer-fueled rock ‘n’ roll this weekend, when Windian celebrates their anniversary with a pow wow at Montserrat House, the perfect tucked-away location for respectable adults to casually disrespect each other in the name of  sweaty, seedy debauchery.

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TVD Recommends: Chickfactor, For the Love of Pop! 4/6 and
4/7 at Artisphere

Chickfactor: For the Love of Pop! Holy moly, two nights of amazing music with a few bands who haven’t performed since the ’90s—you can bet I’m counting down the minutes.

This showcase will feature Washington, DC natives Black Tambourine (first show since 1991), considered to be one of the most influential bands of the twee pop movement.

Also included in the amazing line-up: Small Factory (first show since 1995), The Softies (first show since 2000), as well as the mesmerizing Frankie Rose, and Stevie Jackson (singer/songwriter from Belle and Sebastian).

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TVD Live: Wild Flag
at the 9:30 Club, 4/2

Yeah, I’m gonna call myself out on this one—I was not super stoked about Wild Flag when I first heard them. What the hell is wrong with me sometimes?

Maybe I was in a bad mood, but the self-titled 2011 album took a little while to grow on me. Well, after seeing them live, I am no longer so ignorant, and I get why they sell out shows, even Monday night shows at the 9:30 Club. I am kicking myself for not getting on board sooner, but I’m so so so on board now.

Everyone knows by now that Wild Flag is a super group composed of Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney badass, hilarious Portlandia comedian, and soon-to-be memoir author), DC’s own Mary Timony (Helium), Janet Weiss (formerly of awesome indie band Quasi, Sleater-Kinney drummer), and Rebecca Cole (The Minders). With that much industry clout, I was a bit skeptical that they were a hyped-up band that was all fluff and no fury. WRONG. There’s a kick me sign on my back right now.

Opening with “Electric Band,” the girls burst on stage without any hesitation and more swagger than many bands I’ve seen live.

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TVD Live: The Joy Formidable with A
Place to Bury Strangers at the 9:30 Club, 3/26

A love letter to Oliver Ackermann.

Dear Oliver,

Remember when you played that amazing show to a packed 9:30 Club in DC last Monday? I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was actually the day before yesterday. Wouldn’t you agree that The Joy Formidable played an amazing set worthy of awe and admiration?  I have to say your band, A Place to Bury Strangers, easily could have headlined that show, but I might be a bit biased. I think you will agree with me that Brooklyn’s Exitmusic were the perfect opening act, with Aleksa Palladino’s bone-chilling vocals offering any music fanatic a soundtrack for the dreams they’d have that night.

I know we only met briefly after your set, but I feel like it was kismet, the way I interrupted the conversation you were having with your parents to tell you how much I loved your set. You looked awkwardly in my eyes for those eternal two seconds, and I blushed and looked away because it was the most intense experience of my life.

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TVD Recommends: Sugar and Spice at
Rock and Roll Hotel tonight, 3/28

It’s Women’s History Month, so what better way to end it than by listening to a bunch of ladies spinning a vinyl-heavy set of music by the ladies of rock ‘n’ roll?

Sugar and Spice is everything nice! Starting today, on the last Wednesday of the month at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington D.C, Andria Leo (Andi Supreme), Jenn Bress (DJ Jennder) and Sun Kim (Sally-go-round) will highligh music by women from all eras and genres, everything from the Shangri-las to the Runaways to the Dum Dum Girls.  Girl group, dance, pop, indie, rock, metal, if women are involved we’ll be sure to kick out their jams.

Frankly, we’re blushing at the really nice things Fritz Hahn said about the night in the  The Washington Post’s Going out Gurus:

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TVD Live: Miniature Tigers with Geographer and The Chain Gang of 1974 at DC9, 3/22

Although Geographer would attest that “Heaven Waits,” little did each of us know that heaven is a place on earth, and we found it at that sold-out DC9 show last Thursday, where not only did Geographer’s performance blow us all away, The Chain Gang of 1974 and Miniature Tigers helped keep us all on Cloud 9 for the entire evening.

As usually, I was rushing to get to the show in time to see the opening band Pretty Nice, the first of the four bands that evening, but unfortunately I didn’t make it for them. I thankfully and unexpectedly arrived for Chain Gang of 1974, who I was convinced would play later in the evening, but had just started their set when I arrived. Straight outta Los Angeles, Chain Gang also may have come straight outta the ’80s and will charm all devoted New Wave- and Paisley-era fans.

Polished, poised, and full of punk rock swagger, frontman Kamtin Mohager is The Chain Gang of 1974. He’s on the cover of  Chain Gang’s latest release, Wayward Fire, all the band’s t-shirts, and you really can’t take your eyes off of him when he’s on stage. He’s got the rock star power stance down, cocking his hips and bass into the air during the breakdown of “Hold On.”  Polished like The Killers but with the emotional integrity of The Stills, Chain Gang of 1974 released Wayward Fire last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear “Hold On” or “Heartbreakin’ Scream” on the radio one day.

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TVD Ticket Giveaway: The Joy Formidable at the 9:30 Club, 3/26

I have been looking forward to the  The Joy Formidable and A Place to Bury Strangers show at 9:30 Club next Monday for months.  

North Wales’ Joy Formidable are unbelievable live, and I have missed the last two times A Place to Bury Strangers have come through DC.   Why the show hasn’t sold out beats me—what a sensational line up! The “gloriously luscious” Exitmusic will open, and you will find me pushing to the front to catch all three acts.

The Joy Formidable’s self-produced album The Big Roar, released in 2011, has received much deserved critical acclaim, with the track “Austere” being remixed by The Naked and Famous (so good!).

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TVD Live: White Rabbits with Tennis at the Black Cat, 3/7

Some say things mature with age; you know, wisdom, sex, wine, your brain. In accordance with this rule, the bands White Rabbits and Tennis are no certainly no exception.  

Both bands, still in the teen stages of their careers (we have much to look forward to) are on tour to promote 2012 releases that define their sound and capitalize on the momentum inspired by air-tight breakthrough (and in White Rabbits’ case, also sophomore) albums. In order for something to mature with age in the first place, it usually starts off with a solid foundation. White Rabbits’ and Tennis’ performances were both anchored by hits off of airtight previous releases, showcasing more of their recent work during their set.

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TVD Live: Korallreven, Young Magic, and Stout Cortez at Black Cat, 3/5

I’m usually pretty skeptical about solo artists who perform on stage with just a laptop accompanied by only vocals. It’s a lot to demand from your audience, assuming that they will remain attentive and that the music will stand alone. I find it creates an awkward tension between audience and performer most of the time.

For me, it results in an exchange of awkward body language. Instead of focusing on the performer, I am overly aware of the constant shift of my arms from the crossed position, or their constant search for my cardigan pockets. I might spend an entire song hooking and then rehooking my thumbs in my jeans belt loops, shifting my weight from one foot to another.

The show started off with a bang with “not awkward” solo act Stout Cortez’s passionate opening performance, but headliner Korallreven really took the show to the next level.  I stupidly flaked on seeing Radio Dept. the last time they came through, so seeing Daniel Tjäder on stage was an extra treat. Like good elecro-pop should be, the Swedish duo Larsson and Tjäder make salient songs with instant likability. But unlike An Album by Korallreven, their live performance is anything but chill, causing bodies to sway and bob way more than I’ve ever seen on a Monday night at the Black Cat.

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TVD Recommends: Korallreven, Young Magic, and Stout Cortez at the Black Cat, tonight!

If Stout Cortez’s band name was indeed inspired by a line in a Keat’s poem, I’ll have an even more starry-eyed affinity for this solo artist, opening tonight for Korallreven and Young Magic at the Black Cat Backstage.  

A self-appointed “interstellar yoga spaceship jammer,” Stout Cortez’s breakthrough single “Berliner” is so good you’ll find yourself scouring the Internet for more of his tracks. The song launches with interlacing vocals over a star-scape of luscious synth.  Fans of CEO, OMD, etc., should venture to the Black Cat early tonight for Cortez’s unique take on electo pop.  Originally from Petworth, Stout is really excited to be playing back in his home town.  It will be a really good show with this excellent line-up.

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