New Music From Local Bands
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."
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.
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.
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.
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