It's a very busy month so instead of a 20-song playlist, I've expanded this one to 25. Brace yourself. The summer concert season means plenty of big names are coming to town, but, as usual, the focus will be on stuff in the clubs, whether it's the lo-fi greatness of Times New Viking, throwback hip-hop of the Cool Kids, political alt-country of James McMurtry or Afro-Cuban fusion of Orchestra Baobab. Five here, 20 more after the jump.
"How the Fast Time" - Waco Brothers (June 5, Rock and Roll Hotel)
Jon Langford of Mekons (and plenty others) fame uses this group as his outlet for insurgent country tunes, but this song finds him at his straightforward pop best.
"Cheney's Toy" - James McMurtry (June 6, Birchmere)
Songs don't come much more political than this scathing attack on the current veep, from the Texas singer-songwriter who has made one of the year's best albums with "Just Us Kids."
"Drunkest Hour" -Mikal Evans (June 6, Black Cat)
The first female act on Gypsy Eyes Records doesn't have much of the twang largely associated with the label. Instead, her sound is reminiscent of the jagged guitar rock that Jenny Toomey made with Tsunami.
"No. 1 Song" - Julie Ocean (June 6, DC9)
A local indie-pop supergroup comprised of former members of Velocity Girl, Tree Fort Angst, Swiz and others have crafted an album full of instantly memorable garage-pop gems.
"Bad Reputation" - Joan Jett (June 7, Celebrate Fairfax)
You sure don't need me to tell you how great this song is. The fact that it was used in the opening credits for the greatest TV show of all time, "Freaks and Geeks," only makes it that much more awesome.
"Herc-Jolly-John" - The Wild Magnolias (June 8, Wolf Trap)
A funk band from New Orleans ... how can this not be party music? The nearly 40-year veterans headline of the year's most reliably fun concerts, Wolf Trap's Louisana Swamp Romp.
"Darling Nikki" (MySpace stream) - Love Is All (June 11, Black Cat)
This energetic Swedish indie-pop group takes a surprisingly successful stab at Prince's delightfully dirty track from "Purple Rain."
"Gardening at Night" - R.E.M. (June 11, Merriweather Post Pavilion)
Not that The Greatest American Rock Band hasn't had dozens of other perfect songs over its nearly 30 years together, but my favorite is this track from the debut, featuring Michael Stipe at his mumbly best.
"Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid To Know About" - Tullycraft (June 15, The Red & the Black)
The twee pop anthem that likely inspired more mixtapes and college radio show titles than any other song of the '90s.
"Negative Thinking" - The Death Set (June 18, Black Cat)
The Baltimore duo is always a blast in a live setting, and their sample-heavy brand of party punk translates well to record on this song, which at just over two minutes is epic in length by their standards.
"Right and Wrong" - The Muslims (June 18, DC9)
Did that third Strokes album not quite do it for you? Then get yourself acquainted with this San Diego group that plays the same sort of brash, instantly familiar garage rock. Highly recommended.
"My Head/R.I.P. Allegory" - Times New Viking (June 25, Rock and Roll Hotel)
Awesome lo-fi indie rock: equal emphasis on the lo-fi and rock, extra emphasis on awesome. One of the rare bands that sounds less muddled live than on record.
"That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate" - Mission of Burma (June 28, Black Cat)
I usually argue that indie rock started with Mission of Burma. (Those are some seriously pointless arguments, let me tell you.) The equally angular and anthemic '80s group is performing its classic album "Vs." in its entirety at this show, so here's that album's best song.
"Black Cat" - Ladytron (June 28, Merriweather Post Pavilion)
This band long outlived the forgettable electroclash trend it helped spearhead because it has always showcased memorable songs and not just stylish looks.
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