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Posted at 6:43 PM ET, 05/ 9/2007

New Music From Local Bands

By David Malitz

A slew of local bands have CD release shows coming up, so let's take a quick look (and listen) to some of them. I'd like to make this an at least semi-regular feature, so if you are in a local band (or have friends in a local band) -- any age, any genre -- let me know what you are up to. Send an e-mail to david dot malitz at washingtonpost dot com and I'll tell you where to send CDs. In this edition, we'll take a look at new music from City-State, Lejeune, the Antiques and Garland of Hours, all of whom are performing in Washington over the next seven days.

City-State - "Monument"
Release Show: Thursday, May 10, Black Cat backstage
Maybe it's a reaction to the city's punk past, maybe it's just a shift in taste, but for whatever reason, D.C. is producing more than its fair share of bands that play a distinctly British style of soaring, atmospheric rock. Groups such as Telograph, Cedars and the Vita Ruins have already made their mark on the local scene, and there's no reason why City-State shouldn't join them with the release of "Monument." The songs are never too sleepy, but not exactly snappy, either. Most of the tracks are mid-tempo rockers based around chiming guitars and Jim Anderson's moaning vocals. The band doesn't always hit the heights it shoots for, but it comes pretty close on "Mary" and "The Dakota." The seemingly curious inclusion of two remixes of songs from the band's debut EP prove to be a winning way to close the album, and the Depeche Mode-flavored "You Wait/Wolves" (A Study In Her vs. the Mirror Orchid Remix) is one of the highlights of "Monument."

City-State on MySpace
Download These: "Mary," (30-second clip) "The Dakota" (30-second clip)

Lejeune - "For Club and Country"
Release Show: Saturday, May 12, Iota
The internet's an interactive place, so I'll just give props to commenter Piglet for his/her astute observation on Lejeune in the May Mixtape: "They've managed to synthesize everything that's non-cheesy about '80s music and make it their own." The local quintet has an '80s fetish that's apparent throughout "For Club and Country." From the exquisitely layered production to an overall sound that splits the difference between mid-period versions of Roxy Music and the Smiths (with a bit of Lloyd Cole thrown in), this is music that sounds like it came from an era before people knew what grunge was. Sam Bishop's croon may take a little getting used to, but ends up being a welcome constant as the band subtly shifts within its pop landscape.

Lejeune on MySpace
Download These: "Bizarre Histrionics," (full download) "Spanish" (full stream)

The Antiques - "Sewn With Stitches"
Release Show: Saturday, May 12, Iota

At 14 songs and clocking in at over an hour, the Antiques' "Sewn With Stiches" is a lot to digest -- probably a bit too much. But for fans of semi-obscure '80s British acts such as Comsat Angels and the Chameleons UK ... well, here is your new favorite band. The songs are dramatic without being overwrought, as the band doesn't get bogged down with unnecessary instrumentation. A thick organ sound envelops tracks such as "Painted Post Road" and "Don't Stand in My Room," which plod along gingerly while Greg Svitil gives a perfect deadpan delivery of lines like, "Don't light up my life / Yours is the light I don't need / When did you become such a creep? / When did you become so psychotic?" Things are more sprightly on "One Day You'll Be Sorry Too" and "Auburn Aumbry," recalling some different obscure '80s U.K. acts -- let's say Felt and Orange Juice this time. People who are serious about their 7" record collection will seriously love this album.

The Antiques on MySpace
Download These: "Don't Stand in My Room," (full download) "One Day You'll Be Sorry Too" (full download)

Garland of Hours - "The Soundest Serum"
Release Show: Tuesday, May 15, Black Cat backstage

Amy Domingues has played cello on albums by many of D.C.'s biggest names -- Fugazi, Ted Leo and Bob Mould, just to name a few. On "The Soundest Serum," she proves she's no mere sidewoman, though, as she leads her band through a strong set nine-song set. The tracks range from the torchy, spooky murder ballad "Dear Henry" -- highlighted by the cutting guitar work of frequent collaborator Mary Timony -- to the bouncy, piano-driven "Brick Eyes" to the solo-cello showcase of album closer "Difficult Run." There's certainly a medieval feel to the proceedings, but this isn't Renaissance Faire fare. It's hip, seductive chamber pop done right.

Garland of Hours on MySpace
Download These: "Dear Henry" (full stream)

By David Malitz  | May 9, 2007; 6:43 PM ET
Categories:  Music  
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As a local guitarist, its ashamed that local DC metro talent are not reconized Nation wide, and get the reconization other groups in other areas are exposed to. There is not enough done here in the Metropolitan area for local talent like the bands I've heard thus far, to get the exposure they should get. I would like to see local talent get more exposure.....


Posted by: David V Williams | May 10, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

All of the aforementioned bands are destined to remain local. Outside of the cellist most are average musicians who are basically white noise. These bands are a dime a dozen. Why aren't these bands recognized nationally? Well, because they are overwhelmingly average. 80's retro is over. DC hasn't had an original music scene since DC Space closed. Playing at Black Cat or Clarendon Grill doesn't count.

Posted by: Rob | May 11, 2007 6:05 AM | Report abuse

Lejeune is awesome! YAY!

Posted by: gavin d'order | May 11, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Rob makes a point, in a rather mean way. Many DC bands are still caught up in the retro 80s sound when that trend (and thankfully it was a trend) has gone the way of the dinosaur. There's a shocking lack of originality in DC bands at the moment, and until that changes, don't expect anyone to care about the DC scene.

Posted by: COMMENTATOR | May 11, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Did I mention SATURDAY SATURDAY SATURDAY at IOTA IOTA IOTA? Mighty excited! Woot woot!

(And what's up with the lack of love for DC bands in the comment section? Did someone suck on a lemon too long this morning?)

Posted by: gavin d'order | May 11, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

To Rob and COMMENTATOR: What current bands (regardless of location) do you consider original?

Posted by: Michelle | May 11, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Rob is probably one of those kool-aid drinkers who thinks that every artist on Dischord lays precious eggs of solid gold.

Posted by: TB | May 11, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The only thing that matters concerning these bands is whether they're any good, whether their music somehow makes a unique imprint.

It's worth including a note about what I'll call "timism": there is no intrinsic relationship between eras and musics, which arise in their time as much by happenstance as by natural order. It is people (usually collectively) who lock styles and sounds into a certain time period by association. But if you also think that all possibilities for a certain "sound" were exhausted in any particular given era, making these styles completely unworthy of further exploration by intrepid musical travelers farther down the temporal line, then I suggest perhaps you're burdened with a frivolous mind devoid of imagination.

I don't know whether the bands in question are any good (I haven't yet listened to them), and I couldn't care less about the national stature of "the DC scene." What others outside the area think of the local musical landscape, what era the music sounds like it may have come from, etc., now there's some "white noise" for you. But who cares about that crap, or about whether a certain era's regeneration cycle has come and gone in pop culture's ADHD psyche? The only concern is whether the music is any good.

That's all that should matter with music.

Of course, who really NEEDS talent? Hacks like Michael Stipe and his shills REM are living proof that you don't need to have any talent whatsoever to acheieve global fame, immense fortune, and secure your place in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fameâ„¢, but I'm talking best of all possible worlds here...

Sounding like a particular era, in and of itself, is not a valid criticism. The reviewers at least seemed implicitly to understand that.

Posted by: Señor Melocoton | May 11, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I love it when people give their opinion and everyone else is supposed to embrace it as fact. I'm not going to put much stock in the opinion of someone who calls Michael Stipe a hack without talent. I don't agree. I think the man has obvious talent, and while REM aren't exactly my cup of tea, they've produced some good music and are a good band. It comes down to this: Either Senor M is right and millions are wrong, or vice versa. I'm always amazed at the arrogance of those that know so much better than the rest of us. There's a reason why there is more than one genre of music Senor; we don't all like what you do and you don't like what many others do. Your opinion is of no more value than anyone else's. I happen to disagree with you. If I'm listening to Derek Truck's latest CD and someone says, I think that's trash, I'm not suddenly going to see a lightbulb. I'll continue to believe it's great music. Get over yourself.

Posted by: Red | May 11, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Brief 80s revival? When and where? Nationally, we have been living in a swamp of a 70s revival in music and clothes for almost 17 years (sorry folks, but grunge was very 70s, I know I was there for both), if an 80s revival was begun here, its not over, its not yet taken off, I say bring it on. The 80s was very fertile period overall artistically that deserves its proper reverence -- and what a blast it was!!!!!!

Posted by: Myrgatroid | May 11, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

to michelle: try the aquarium (DC) or the archie bronson outfit (UK). both are good.

Posted by: scott | May 11, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow! What happened, did sniping at each other on the DC Craigslist get too boring? The thing that sticks out to me about the DC scene is how hyper-negative so many people are! Let's try something like: Awesome! I'm glad there are local bands that are putting out new and original music. I hope they do well and maybe get some good exposure. I wish them the best and maybe I'll check them out in the near future.
A "scene" is more than a style (original or derivative), it is the attitude of those involved in all aspects of the scene that make it unique and important. The DC music scene "was" more than just Dischord, it was the energy and involvement of the local people that made it so incredible and influential.

Posted by: Elizabeths | May 11, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with is about the local people sharing the excitement of what the DC area has to offer. However, as a musician, I do know that it is also up to the bands as well to make a point of promoting not only within the area, but also the likes of where the regional power lies: NYC. Unless you have some heavy connections, one is most likely not going to be discovered in DC only.

Also, do these musicians attend music conferences as a collective to present to record labels or even publications? How effective are their promotions? Late 90's, I knew of about five bands that were signed to the majors from the DC area. Three of those bands had the same local management company.

I guess this can be likened to "if a tree falls in the forest when no one 'important' is around, does it still make noise?"

Posted by: Trap | May 11, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

What interesting to me is that the only bands in DC that get consistent hype are rock bands from the suburbs. DC has VERY good funk soul R&B gogo bands that seldom get CLAIMED.


Posted by: Anonymous | May 11, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

If the DC music scene for you lacks originality and "love for DC music", it is time you got acquainted with the sound of "Lucid Pop by L'illon" and get ready to galvanize all that energy into a formidable event for her CD release later this year.

Posted by: TC | May 12, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

As "shrug" said, where's the love for DC R&B, rap and go-go?

If you ain't heard Lissen, After Hours or Storm The Unpredictable, you're out of the loop, fa' SHO...

Posted by: Ntlekt | May 13, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

the vita ruins are probably the best band in dc. they don't sound like a revival of anything besides rock because that's all it is...rock music. no roll. rock.

Posted by: susan | May 14, 2007 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The elephant in the room here is the pathetic state of rock radio in the District. It's the only piece of the puzzle missing from "national recognition." DC area bands get played on regular rotation on the radio in Minneapolis, Seattle, Austin, Murfreesboro, Chapel Hill, Boston, Los Angeles and all over the internet. They get a half-hour on Sunday nights in DC. And that's not done by merit, it's done by call-ins, or myspace hits, or by making nice with the show intern. This town needs a couple decent music directors, that's it, and this whole argument over the quality of the scene will be over.

Posted by: Gabriel Fry | May 25, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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