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Indie Folk dream team headlining Union Stage this Friday

Get hyped.  Handsome Hound will be hosting Andrew Grossman of The North Country, Nefra Faltas of Humble Fire, Kelly Servick of Near Northeast, and Kate Taylor Mighty in an epic night of covers and originals at Union Stage this Friday.  Featuring some of the biggest names in DC folk backed by a horn section, this event is guaranteed to be lit, or rather, in the words of the organizers, a “full-blown hullabaloo.

Tickets available here.

-Mike Dranove



Epic hype tracks from Baltimore's Hunit Stackz

This album is some serious boxing entrance music. Synth brass, synth strings, and synth choir over 808s combined magnificently with copious Dragonball Z references set the stage for an epic confrontation between Hunit Stackz and his arch nemesis: mumblecore rappers. By about a minute through the album's opening track, you almost feel sorry for the rappers who Hunit Stackz is eviscerating. As Hunit Stackz told the Manhattan Digest, “mumble rap is garbage...Overall it's a disgrace to the greats. I decided to step up as the anti-mumble rap spokesman in hip-hop.” As for his own tracks, Hunit Stackz is not modest saying, “I feel I deserve unprecedented superstardom.” And after listening for a while, I think I'm ready to live in a Hunit Stackz dominated rap market.

-Mike Dranove


Song premiere and interview with Near Northeast

Near Northeast's latest single “Clusters” functions as a sort of response to the current craze for musical wallpaper. Demanding attention with a meditative and creeping intro, “Clusters” requires the listener to shut off distraction for its entirety. In return, the song conjures up the feelings one might get from a sudden realization about the meaning of life made on a quiet Saturday night spent at home. Decidedly proggy, the song avoids any sort of verse/chorus structure, keeping the music enticing and staying true to its theme of meditative contemplation throughout.

After listening I had some questions for the group, who were nice enough to answer.  Here's what they had to say. 

AM: Avy Mallik (guitarist)
AB: Austin Blanton (bassist)
KS: Kelly Servick (vocalist)
AS: Antonio Skarica (drummer)

If you imagine folk music to be a spectrum, with the Mountain Goats on one side and klezmer music on the other, where do you think you guys fit?

AB: If the term folk music originated to describe groups of people all sharing the same culture and making music, then we make folk music. We were all growing up and starting to make music around the time of Napster, Limewire, etc. I would download anything that caught my fancy, share burned CD-Rs with friends (you can fit a lot of mp3s in 700 megabytes), rip as many CDs from the library as I could get my hands on. We all grew up under different geographies and cultures, but we share a voracious appetite for all types of music and like to steal whatever speaks to us. Folk as a genre is an entry point for us - there's nothing like a simple acoustic guitar with vocal harmonies.

AM: We've always been inspired by different types of music, "folk" and otherwise, and we try not to put labels on our songs and our style. That said, the two songs coming out on the Etxe Compilation album do showcase very different sides of the band -- "Clusters" to me is an expansive song, with soundscapes reminiscent of Boards of Canada and some post-rock bands we love. The heart of our songs still have a folk music center, with Kelly's vocals and an acoustic guitar as the basis for the song -- but then we intentionally and mindfully mess it up. A whole lot.

Given that you frequently mention “meditation” in descriptions of your music, and that your music itself is—in a shallow sense of the word—less “stimulating” than a lot of other stuff being put out there, would you say that your group has a certain aversion to consumerism?

KS: It's true that in some of our recent music--including this new song, Clusters--we take our time to explore a tone and feeling, resting in sparse, repetitive moments. Hooks are powerful, and catchiness can be a virtue, but open space can enhance those rewards -- both for the performer and the listener. We hope people who consume our music are game to spend some time in these musical spaces with us. It's not a statement about consumerism; It's just what feels right to us right now.

AM: This question reminds me of a conversation we had last year. We were lucky enough to do a weeklong tour of Bosnia and Croatia in September 2017, and we got to meet musicians and visual artists and creative people from all over this very tragic region during our tour. One of our concert bookers, a funk musician based in Sarajevo who played in a very fun cover band, had the most apt compliment for us -- he said "I love your music, incredibly deep and innovative, zero commercial potential, but I do love it!" We wear that as a badge of honor.

As a band and as people, what are your hopes for the near-future?

AM: We've got a couple of fun things in the horizon -- the Etxe Compilation show is this Saturday, Jan 20 at Capital Fringe, a venue in Northeast DC that we love (show info here) -- besides performing our own music, we will be featuring our friend Isabelle on cello on our other new song "Feuilles", which has a more traditional folk song. We will also be performing with our label mates Teething Veils on their 20+ min epic 2014 piece Constellations, something they've never performed in their entirety before. Beyond this Etxe release, we are also working with a San Francisco-based visual artist and filmmaker on an instrumental soundtrack for a "found film" shot circa 1918 -- it is an anti-Western which was found in an abandoned underground cinema in the New Mexico desert that this artist is rearranging and getting scored in different ways. Beyond that, who knows -- perhaps another album or EP? A tour of a new part of the country or the world the we are curious about?

Catch Near Northeast on Saturday, January 20 at Capital Fringe at the release show for "Etxe at 10 Years: a Compilation" -- RSVP, and Thursday, January 25 at Gypsy Sally's, playing with Seattle-based Kuinka - RSVP

-Mike Dranove


"Cocaine Rockstar" from Pretty Blackkk

 “Please pray before watching” is the disclaimer at the beginning of the music video for “Cocaine Rockstar”, released by rapper Pretty Blackkk. Super-slick flow and some clever rhymes make this track stand out from the crowd. The video itself is quite entertaining, featuring Mr. Blackkk on some sort of drugged out trip through the wilderness with mystical women and some kind of sword. “All I ask is please pray for my kidneys”.

-Mike Dranove




June Parker hits some sweet spots on We're Exactly Where We Are

Although the album tends to get bogged down in a competent shoegaze drone, June Parker brings some charm to traditional shoegaze tropes. Tracks like “What has Happened/What Will Happen” and “Love Her” in particular stand out for their pretty aesthetics. Lyrically, this album is quite true to the shoegaze style; giving the listener a vague sense of what the song is about, making sure that the song's deeper meanings are hinted at but not necessarily explicitly laid out. There are enough nice moments on this release to make it well worth a listen.

-Mike Dranove





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