It’s January 5th and we here at the WRGW Music Department are just a little bit sick of the cyclical year-end lists penned by **in-touch** music writers and tastemakers who continually peddle the same albums over and over again, with more regard for controversy (Mark Kozelek shout out) than actual substance. Let’s face it – music journalism kinda sucks. The top blogs and sites are essentially celebrity gossip forums, with occasional big words and nice pictures thrown in. The promotions companies are no better, as the wealthier bands get press and talented, hardworking ones are left in the dust. Still, rant aside, 2014 was a damn fine year in music. The mega releases of 2013 slowed down enough to allow break out artists, like Ex Hex, Ty Segall, Angel Olsen (the list goes on) to break into new territory and release exceptional, career-defining albums. The future is ripe, and there has never been a better time to be a music fan with a pair of headphones and an internet connection.
Instead of laying out the “best” albums of last year, our three assistant music directors, our music promotions director and I share below the top three artists/bands that we’re genuinely excited about in 2015. This is by no means an objective or comprehensive list; those things do not exist in music journalism. Read, listen, and watch before they get drowned out by the next Kanye single, or another War on Drugs album. Regular blog content and programming will continue starting the week of January 19th – until then, indulge our egos and maybe find your next favorite band.
Death Grips have stepped out of the shadows again and brought with them their new release “niggas on the moon,” which is technically side A of a double album is titled The Powers That B. This release is the first half of a double album and contains only 8 tracks at the moment. At this point in Death Grips’ career you’re probably familiar with their shtick and know what to expect when it comes to their releases. The Sacramento-based experimental hip-hop creates music that mixes elements of hip hop and electronica in a way that results in violent and sometimes frightening music that pushes the limits of the genre. This time around Death Grips don’t disappoint, delivering their signature alternative hip-hop style. Death Grips have come back with a refreshing release that is a satisfying agglomeration of the past years of their work.
The Hold Steady have never been big on “happy” songs. But, somehow Craig Finn and his gang always found a way to see hope in the lost and downtrodden souls that find themselves a subject of the band’s songs. This hope however, is almost nonexistent in their new album Teeth Dreams.
House parties are as much a part of hip-hop as 808 drums and Gucci Mane’s ice cream tattoo. So, it goes without saying that any DC Hip-hop head would be CRAZY to miss out on Super Nike Nando and Dugee F. Buller’s Hip-Hop House Party this Saturday, February 22nd at the Fillmore Silver Spring.
Klauss sounds like a band you’ve heard a hundred times and never tired of. Their songs are light, with drums that manage to sound more melodic than percussive. Much of the band’s new release, Totems, lends itself to a vein of the indie-folk genre, but can at times also transcend the label, and delve into stronger-hitting, garage-rock waters.
Aspects of Totems sound like softened renditions of a T-Rex or Bowie tune, and come off just as successfully. This isn’t to say the music is unoriginal, but rather that Totems could almost be seen as an indie re-envisionment of the 1970s pop-rock scene. And it is this property of Klauss’ music that makes the band successful; they manage to function as an indie band without falling prey to the genre’s more uninspiring elements (bland, acoustic-heavy, pseudo pop).