This week features a pair of notable events at the Civilian Arts Projects, including a celebration of D.C. by Chicago-based culture magazine Stop Smiling. The Black Cat hosts a stacked lineup topped by ahead-of-the-curve DJ Diplo, and also featuring noisy punks No Age and Abe Vigoda. Plus, a CD release extravaganza for local funk merchants Fort Knox Five, a tough choice for beer lovers on Monday night and DJ Mark Zimim trades in records for a guitar.
Wednesday, Nov. 12
When Diplo (listen), Bonde do Role and Cansei de Ser Sexy stormed the Black Cat back in 2006, Fritz pronounced it his favorite show of the year, partially because he'd never seen a Black Cat crowd dance as hard as Diplo's mix of electrofunk, breakbeats, Baltimore Club and classic hip-hop got them to. Diplo's always been ahead of the curve, pushing Brazilian baile funk and a little-known singer named M.I.A. before anyone had heard of them. You might get an earful of the Next Big Thing tonight when Diplo hits the decks at the Black Cat, or you might hear it in one of the opening acts: No Age (listen), who make a beautiful wall of noise with one guitar and one drum kit; L.A. "tropical punk" band Abe Vigoda's (listen) melodic guitar sound; Telepathe's (listen) catchy combination of avant-garde noises and dance-floor-friendly hooks and beats; and Boy 8 Bit (listen), whose bleeps-and-blips style is as simple is it is devastating. If the Township Funk Remix on the London DJ's MySpace page doesn't get your head nodding, there's something seriously wrong.
It's always a nice little homecoming when (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope (listen) come back to town. Since the longtime local psych-rock stalwarts relocated to Philadelphia last year, visits to the District have become increasingly rare. One reason is that the band has been busy putting the final touches on the new album "All This Heaven," which will be available at tonight's show at the Velvet Lounge. It captures the band at its heaviest and headiest, and regulars at their shows over the past few years will recognize a majority of the songs. If the past is any indication, expect the band to have a whole new batch of songs ready to go. And for those songs to take a few years to end up on CD, of course. The Tennis System (listen) opens.
Thursday, Nov. 13
When you're a native, you really get tired of hearing that Washington is a lame, boring place that's all about politics and has a transient population. Let's focus on the positive, then, like the new issue of the Chicago-based culture magazine Stop Smiling, which is devoting its current issue to articles and essays about D.C.: Go-go legend-turned-"The Wire" actor Anwan Glover! Crime noir master George Pelecanos! Proto-emo punks Rites of Spring! The history of the Florida Avenue Grill! Photos by Dischord chronicler Pat Graham! The death of the Chesapeake Bay (as told by chef Barton Seaver)! And, er, Ana Marie Cox on why the city is like Nebraska! The release party for this issue at Civilian Art Projects seems like the hottest idea in town tonight, thanks to DJs Ian Svenonius, ageless scenester and former singer (ex-Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up and Weird War), and Kevin Coombe, the man behind the D.C. Soul Recordings Web site, who's going to be spinning homegrown funk and soul all night. Admission is a suggested donation of $5, which gets you a copy of the magazine, too.
Friday, Nov. 14
"Radio Free D.C." is the album we've been waiting for from locals Fort Knox Five (listen). It's stuffed full of deep '70s-style funk, go-go breaks, irresistible touches of Brazilian and Afrobeat grooves and hip-hop production techniques that should propel the foursome to dance floors across the globe. Yeah, that sounds like hyperbole, but Fort Knox Five has the pedigree to back it up. Featuring members of the globehopping DJ duo Thunderball, the group has collaborated with Afrika Bambaataa and remixed everyone from Ursula 1000 to Bob Marley. The album features cuts with a number of well-known local musicians -- Asheru of hip-hop heroes Unspoken Heard, Roots and Zei of the roots rockers See-I, soulful Thunderball vocalist Mustafa Akbar, the Make-Up's Ian Svenonius -- and we're hoping they'll be in attendance for the album release party tonight at the 9:30 club, which promises "live vocal performances." Former Eighteenth Street Lounge DJ Ursula 1000 (listen) -- no slouch himself when it comes to party-rocking -- opens, along with Bliss' Will Eastman.
Civilian Arts Projects continues to be the place to be tonight, as the gallery will host a pair of musical acts that have long followed their own muse. Headliner Quintron (listen) is a true original -- the New Orleans one-man-band often uses an instrument of his own creation during his performances. Even Kanye West gave a shout-out to the Drum Buddy on his blog. Quintron uses that in addition to some other custom-made organ/synthesizer creations, and the result is a swirling, cacophonous mess of noisy electro-rock that you can dance to. It almost makes us think back to electroclash. Quintron is often accompanied by his shrieking, puppeteering wife Miss Pussycat, but tonight's performance looks to be Quintron on his own, which lessens the sideshow factor. Also on the bill is Kid Congo Powers (listen), a regular at D.C.'s alternative venues. His resume from decades ago is nearly unparalleled (the Cramps, Gun Club, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds) and he continues to offer his own distinct take on Americana.
Saturday, Nov. 15
DJ Mark Zimin has been spinning Britpop classics in D.C. for what feels like a decade, and now he's stepping out from behind the CD players with a new band called The Finish (listen), a decidedly lo-fi group with roots in '60s garage rock. Give the band a chance tonight at DC9's monthly Feedback party, because you've got nothing to lose: The always-solid DJ Stereo Faith provides a mix of electro, Britpop, soul and hip-hop, and both admission and vodka drinks are free before 10.
Five is still shuttered, DC Sanctuary is long gone and Rebirth is on hiatus. Although The Loft brings in memorable nights and Sam "The Man" Burns still soldiers on every Sunday as the heartbeat of the deep house scene, D.C. could use more outlets for the type of experience created by our coterie of DJs, producers and musicians who can match up in talent, if not notoriety, with major scenes like NY/NJ and San Francisco. DJ Louis P. has been summoning the faithful to his Saturday Soul Sessions at Almaz, where the music is lovingly curated, drinks are reasonably-priced (with non-alcholic options) and dancers greet each other like family, as long you don't spill anything on the floor. Tonight he welcomes Baltimore heavyweight DJ Oji, accompanied by the flute and sax improvisations of reed man Kolai.
Sunday, Nov. 16
Rhome is among the fervent followers of Lady Alma (watch), someone who could probably be pursuaded to go door-to-door Jehovah's Witness style on her behalf, if she asked. From her star turn on Sylk 130's cover of "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life" 10 years ago to the flood of dancefloor anthems in the electronic, soul and hip-hop worlds that she's touched, Alma's voice and stage presence is our generation's thank-you to divas like Patti Labelle and Chaka Khan. For tonight's set at the Black Cat, she'll be backed not by her usual funk band but by keyboardist and producer Mark de Clive-Lowe (listen) in one-man band form. Known among followers of intelligent dance music for his jazz sensibilities and mastery of broken beats, "Mashi," as he's also known, crafts entire improvisational performances from a Rhodes electric piano, a bank of synthesizers and an Akai MPC drum machine. It's an exciting tight rope act that's sure to soar with Alma's ability to pull brand new songs out of thin air. As if those fireworks weren't enough, The Foreign Exchange (listen) will also be playing their first D.C. show since the release of their highly praised sophomore album, "Leave It All Behind". On this record, Little Brother's Phonte Coleman leaned more on his growing vocal chops as producer Nicolay stretched the musical possibilities that the duo established on their first outing, "Connected".
Ultra Naté (listen), Baltimore's chocolate bombshell of the club, has been bringing audiences to ecstacy for more than 20 years with deep house and dance-pop hits. Lately, she's turned her attention to the turntables. She now holds court at her Deep Sugar party at the legendary Paradox in Baltimore where she can host luminaries like Louie Vega. Sam Burns will be activating wonder twin powers tonight as he welcomes Ultra Naté to the Underground Soul Solution at Eighteenth Street Lounge.
Monday, Nov. 17
Beer lovers have a tough choice tonight: A four-course beer dinner at a local brewpub, or a five-course dinner with an out-of-town organic brewery at a local beer bar? Decisions, decisions, especially because both start at 7 p.m. Let's go with the hometown guys first. The Rock Bottom Brewpub in Arlington is showing off its fall lineup, including the newly-tapped Liquid Sun White Ale and a specially hopped version of the Radio Towers Red Ale, at the "German Fall Harvest Brewers Dinner." Each course is paired with the food -- that Liquid Sun comes, for example, with "heirloom tomato salad drizzled with a balsamic cabernet vinigerette," while the Red goes with "fresh herb-rubbed quail served with a pumpkin risotto and grilled seasonal vegetables." The dinner costs $45 per person ($80 per couple) with tax and gratuity included.
The Reef, meanwhile is showing off the beers of the Peak Organic Brewing Company of Portland, Maine, with commentary by brewmaster John Cadoux and local rep Tim Adams. Peak's been popping up on more taps around town, including the Reef's, and if you haven't given them a shot -- especially the pale ale -- this is the time to do it. Again, everything is paired with a food course. Seared duck breast with sautéed arugula, duck crackling and pomegranate molasses accompany Peak Organic Pomegranate Wheat Beer with Açaí, while that pale ale arrives with calamari and mahi-mahi ceviche. All-inclusive tickets are $65, available at the restaurant.
Neil Halstead (listen) is a good lesson in how to age gracefully in the music world. In his 20th year of making music, he's managed to keep the quality high and to switch things up with his sound enough to keep things interesting without alienating older fans. He started out in Slowdive, the shoegaze almost-legends of the early '90s, and then that band morphed into Mojave 3, which featured a folkier sound, with more attention to hooks than soundscapes. ("Return to Sender" from the band's 2000 album "Excuses for Travellers" remains one of David's favorite songs of the decade.) Now Halstead is on his own, and he's keeping things mellow, like he has for the past two decades. "Oh! Mighty Engine" is his second solo album and it fits nicely in the Nick Drake/Elliott Smith section of your record collection. Except without the eventual suicide, we hope. Halstead plays at Jammin' Java.
Tuesday, Nov. 18
Side project is such a loaded term. It almost always invalidates whatever project is being talked about, especially since it's inevitably something less popular than the "main" project. Still, to be a side project there does have to be that "main," and when talking about the Strokes, can we be sure that the former saviors of rock-and-roll are still committed to rocking together. Back in those halcyon days of 2001, it seemed like you never saw a Stroke on his own; they were a gang as much as a band. But it's been almost three years since we've heard from the Strokes on record, and that was the mostly dull "First Impressions on Earth." The band members don't even live in the same city; guitarist Nick Valensi and drummer Fab Moretti call L.A. home. Albert Hammond Jr. has released a pair of solo albums and frontman Julian Casablancas is a Converse pitchman. Is this it? Maybe, but probably not. In the meantime, Moretti has formed Little Joy (listen) with his girlfriend Binki Shapiro and Rodrigo Amarante of Brazilian rockers Los Hermanos. A Los Angeles-based band with Brazilian connections ... it's no wonder the music is so sunny, breezy and carefree. If you're looking for the hardened, urban angst of the Strokes, you'll have to look elsewhere. But Little Joy, playing tonight on the Black Cat's backstage, should do plenty to warm up your autumn evening.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
Posted by: DCee-lo | November 12, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse
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