I've never once in my entire life ever engaged in any sort of hyperbole, but this mixtape might just be the best one yet. I devoted a quarter of it to some of the best acts at the Rock the Bells Festival, featuring many of hip-hop's finest, but there's also a nice world music vibe thanks to visits from Seun Kuti, Nomo and Extra Golden. Throw in a little Half Japanese and Spiritualized and you've got a mixtape for the ages.
"Am I Wasting My Time?" - Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves (July 1, DC9)
This 24-year-old kid from Massachusetts looks like a young accountant, but he and his band play funky, throwback soul that'll have you thinking 1967 Stax.
"I Love the Unknown" - Eef Barzelay (July 3, Iota)
Former frontman for clever indie rockers Clem Snide repurposes one of his old band's best tunes for his second solo album. In 2000, this was the #2 song on my year-end countdown college radio show.
15 more after the jump...
"Gamblin' Man" (YouTube video) - David "Honeyboy" Edwards (July 9, Blues Alley)
Take the combined age of the members of some of these bands and it won't add up to the 93 years that blues legend Edwards has been around. The Delta blues master was recorded by Alan Lomax, he was there the night Robert Johnson died and he's still performing regularly. Amazing.
"Three Shades" - Nomo (July 15, Rock and Roll Hotel)
There are some world music heavyweights on this month's mixtape, but this Michigan collective can certainly hold its own with any of them. The group's slogan of "hot horns + heavy percussion" says it all.
"Quick Chek Girl" - Bouncing Souls (July 16, Merriweather Post Pavilion)
I feel confident calling these New Jersey punks "veterans" since they're still playing Warped Tour 11 years after I saw them play Warped Tour.
"Young Marks" - The Mae Shi (July 22, Velvet Lounge)
You didn't think I'd let you get through a mixtape without some spazzy, synthy experimental punk with some kind of annoying singing, did you?
"When I Be On Tha Mic" (YouTube video) - Rakim (July 27, Merriweather Post Pavilion)
Maybe this 1997 track doesn't match his best work with Eric B, but any showcase for the best MC in the game is worth listening to.
"Stakes Is High" - De La Soul (July 27, Merriweather Post Pavilion)
Everyone (rightfully) reveres De La's first couple albums, but 1996's "Stakes Is High" doesn't get quite as much love. Check out the title track and reconsider.
"Obama" - Extra Golden (July 28, Birchmere)
It's understandable if you're sick of bands and their political endorsements, but here's one group that's allowed. See, back when he was just a junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama helped make it possible for the Kenyan members of this curious Kenya/D.C. collaboration to come to the country to tour. No matter what your political affiliation is, you'll enjoy the easy, laidback grooves.
"Black Bag" - Kid Congo Powers (July 31, Fort Reno)
Maybe you didn't know we have a minor rock god living in D.C., but Powers used to play guitar with Nick Cave in the Bad Seeds,
the Germs the Cramps (edit: I'm an idiot who confuses one syllable bands from the late '70s) and the Gun Club. He's still churning out noirish garage-surf-country-punk.
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