The DC Listener

Glenn Fink's Music Notes

Archive for the ‘pop’ Category

Tiffany Thompson plays Jammin Java this Sunday

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I spent most Wednesday nights in 2008 playing the open mike at the Iota Club in Arlington, and I got to listen to a lot of very talented singers and songwriters who today populate the DC original music scene (many of whom I plan to write about here in the future). Tiffany Thompson came along after I had moved deep enough into the western suburbs of NoVa that I could no longer regularly attend those nights. Clearly I’ve been missing out. And not just at Iota: Tiffany’s been playing all over the DC area since arriving nearly 3 years ago. Her four song EP showcases her songwriting and her lovely singing voice. Her lyrics are personal, yet ultimately positive, and do a good job of pulling the listener in. The disc’s ethereal pop/rock style is like something you might expect to hear from Natalie Merchant or latter day Emmylou Harris.

Tiffany’s playing at Jammin Java this Sunday, July 24, opening for Mindy Smith. I’m going to try to be there as I’m betting this will be an amazing show.

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Written by glennfink

July 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Looking for a DC-Local Fab Four (Five)?

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Public Service Announcement: Yes, D.C. has an extremely competent Beatles cover band whose set list runs the gamut of the british group’s full recording career. The Apple Core feature vocals that closely mirror the originals. And their rhythm section really has their act together. The drums and bass can swing, and the guitars have the twang and amp sound you’d expect. I’ve heard a lot of Beatles cover bands and this one ranks very high.

If you’ve got that Beatles jones and it’s bitten you hard, check in with TAC’s schedule, or consider hiring them and having a block party. Remember to invite me, please. Meanwhile, their next gig is on Saturday July 30th at the Paradiso in Alexandria, VA.

Written by glennfink

July 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Posted in music, pop, rock, Uncategorized

Meet The Stevos – Genuine 80’s fare from dudes who were there

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Looking for local, quirky 80’s sounding ORIGINAL pop that wears its nerdiness on its sleeve? Look no further than Meet The Stevos. Most of it was written during the 1980’s, and influenced by the likes of XTC and The B52’s. You can preview the album here in its entirety (look in the bottom right for the player).

The Stevos are the brainchild of DC native Steve Dockery. The band’s only CD features 14 songs written for a New Jersey band from the 80’s called Batteries Not Included (who only properly recorded two songs during its lifetime), plus one Beatles cover. BNI’s bassist Marc Roulier is there to help recreate the magic of the original band. The resulting disc is a successful throwback, with lots of angular riffs and hooks that work. My favorite track is “Headphones” but the whole project is filled with neo-psychedelic touches including the use of a backwards guitar solo, various 80s-appropriate synth sounds, and surf guitar. And it’s a digital-only release, which is good for the environment.

Steve has a page dedicated to Batteries Not Included on his web site, and it includes demos for some of the material that made Meet The Stevos.

While this particular album is one of a kind, Steve recently recorded a new collection of songs called Wire & Wood. Look for him playing solo around town, or with his group, The String Theorists.

Written by glennfink

July 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Posted in music, pop, songwriter, virginia

DC’s The Grey Area leaves no gray areas – well constructed pop

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The Grey Area

The Grey Area is an indy-rock band from DC with only two members. They use the same lineup The White Stripes used before them – guitar and drums – to make a very full and focused sound.

Jason (guitar) is a composer with music in his family blood (his dad composed children’s songs). TJ (drums) was raised in a gospel church setting. Both benefitted from being exposed to many different styles of music while growing up, and gaining appreciation for everything from Zeppelin to The Beatles to Gershwin.

Other indy bands trying to break through could learn from their approach. They have already recorded several songs, but plan to release them as singles so they can focus promotion on one at a time instead of trying to promote a full CD as most bands do. When you think about it, that’s not a bad idea; in this day and age where attention is short-lived, most listeners are already using Youtube and Facebook. They’ve released their first song, the upbeat power pop track “Ourselveswhose video shows off a sense of humor and a song with a great melodic hook and memorable lyrics. It was shot in New York City without the aid of any permits. It’s good enough that I’m going to check back regularly to see what else they release.

You can catch The Grey Area at Jammin Java on July 19, when they’ll be the headliners.

Written by glennfink

July 10, 2011 at 8:56 am

Posted in music, pop, rock, songwriter

Juliana Hatfield – songwriter from Boston’s south shore

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Juliana Hatfield - Beautiful Creatures (cover)

I’ve liked Juliana Hatfield’s music since I first stumbled on it in the early 90’s in the form of her most popular song, “My Sister” from the Become What You Are CD. I’ve tried to keep up with her releases over the years, and of them I think Beautiful Creatures is my favorite. She has the ability to rock flat out, but this set of very listenable songs has more of a pop sensibility. Mostly, anyway; at least one track owes a debt to the early 70’s edition of the Stones. The songs are well crafted, with memorable hooks and lyrics that keep you interested. One of my favorite tracks is “Until Tomorrow,” which was written after (and about) Jeff Buckley’s death. This CD didn’t get as much attention as perhaps it deserved when it came out in 2000; it was released at the same time as a more rock CD by a band she called Juliana’s Pony – Total System Failure. But BC is the better CD, by far.

Written by glennfink

June 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Posted in music, pop, rock, songwriter