Author Archive for Aaron Leitko

Dare to Dream Pop: Why Gems Ditched the Rock Rulebook and Pursued Internet Fame Instead

In early 2012, electronic-pop duo Gems took a handful of home-recorded songs and posted them to the online music repository Soundcloud. Months passed. Over time, Gems (stylized as GEMS) periodically posted a new single here, another there, accompanied by a new promo photo—often a shadowy image of singer Lindsay Pitts, pouting in black and white.
Last week, [...]

One Track Mind: Two Inch Astronaut, Bad Brother

Standout Track: No. 1, "Swol," a twisted-up, glam-tinged throwback to D.C.’s '90s post-hardcore heyday. Throughout its new LP, Bad Brother, the Silver Spring-based trio channels local greats like Shudder to Think and Dismemberment Plan, but the resemblance is especially strong on "Swol," which nails the stop-start dynamics, disjointed melodies, and seemingly random subject matter. “If [...]

One Track Mind: Marian McLaughlin, “Pluto”

Standout Track: “Pluto,” a piano-driven folk tune in which local cosmic folkie Marian McLaughlin (an occasional Washington City Paper contributor) ponders the plight of a cold and lonely planetoid drifting around the darkest reaches of the solar system. The song starts out distant and twinkly, but the arrangement quickly zooms into more expansive territory—booming drums, [...]

One Track Mind: Gems, “Pegasus”

Standout Track: “Pegasus,” an ethereal, reverb-drenched dream-pop single about the romance of misery and the misery of romance. There’s a hint of ’80s goth in the song’s shimmering guitar tones and brooding keyboards, but the vocal melodies owe more to Annie Lennox than Robert Smith. “Living in the shadow of love, I’ve given all that [...]

One Track Mind: Teen Liver, “Good For Your Health”

Standout Track: No. 4, “Good For Your Health,” a wobbly basement rocker with a hint of backwoods weirdo vigor. Guitarist and singer Perry Fustero punches out power chords while he rattles off things that do not do a body good, like being paranoid all the time. From there, it gets a little stranger. Brothers John and [...]

One Track Mind: Hand Grenade Job

Standout Track: No. 5, “Witchcraft,” a piece of self-affirmation via white magic that sprawls out over 10 minutes. While a strange brew of cymbals and field recordings rumble in the background, Erin McCarley and Beck Levy sing, “I turn to witchcraft when I struggle/When I am ill or ill at ease.” It’s as if The [...]

Memory Machine: Was Dismemberment Plan the Internet’s First Buzz Band?

Brian Schanck was 15 years old when a friend played him Emergency & I, the third album by The Dismemberment Plan. “The music was euphonious and the lyrics hit home,” he says, recalling the D.C. indie rock band’s oddball pairing of funk rhythms and emo narrative. He dug it.
When Schanck turned 18, he tattooed the [...]

SXSW Recap: Friday

Woods: Brooklyn slacker-psych band Woods' debut LP, Songs Of Shame, sounded like it was slapped together with matchsticks, glue, and a few scratchy Quicksilver Messenger Service LP. By that standard, it was hard to recognize the band during the second afternoon of Other Music's SXSW showcase. Benefiting from a tighter rhythm section Woods performed a [...]

SXSW Recap: Thursday

Another 5 miles on a bike, more tacos, no sleep, and a few more shows:
Deleted Scenes: Having rolled into town in the wee hours of the morning, Deleted Scenes was looking a little worse for the wear at yesterday's show. But however disheveled they were, the bar–a grimy sports dive about a mile out [...]

SXSW Recap: Wednesday

Endless soft tacos, a five mile bike ride, and a lot of standing in line. Somewhere in there I saw some concerts, too.
Tennis System: Apparently Tennis System had a rough trip down to Texas. According to guitarist/singer Matty Taylor the band's shows in Richmond and Lexington were shut down by the cops before it [...]