Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Thomas Dolby @ The Birchmere — 3/25/12 (or “Yes, He Blinded Me With Science”)

Photo courtesy of randomduck
Hands flying
courtesy of randomduck

Thomas Dolby’s fifth studio album, A Map of the Floating City, came out last year and it was somewhat appropriately named as you practically require a map to assess all of the influences that go into Mr. Dolby’s musical compositions these days — from blues to jazz to calypso to zydeco. He passed through the DC metro area Sunday night in support of the album in a tour that gives one an opportunity to reflect on his strengths and weaknesses over the years.

A Map of the Floating City is Dolby’s first album in 20 years, so some growth and divergence in his sound is expected. Not surprisingly, as an older artist, he is much more sedate in his composition and performance. With his first two magnificent albums — The Golden Age of Wireless and The Flat Earth — Dolby was associated with the subgenre of music then identified as New Pop. It was bombastic and heavy on synthesizers, having grown out of the pure synth arias of the New Romantics. Producer Trevor Horn championed New Pop and his label ZTT Records supported the likes of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Grace Jones.

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Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: The Kaiser Chiefs @ 9:30 Club — 3/9/12

Photo courtesy of sergione infuso
Kaiser Chiefs @ Magazzini Generali, Milano – 13 novembre 2011
courtesy of sergione infuso

Could it be? Could it be that you’re joking with me and you don’t really see you with me?

The Kaiser Chiefs weren’t joking at all as they pummeled the sold-out 9:30 Club Friday night with a one-two punch in a testosterone-fueled new wave rampage. The lads from Leeds (UK) never missed a beat as they rocked out through songs about hanging out with their fellows, scoffing at the lack of intelligence among the masses, and questioning the veracity of women, the best testosterone booster without a doubth.

I always absolutely loved the music of the Kaiser Chiefs after being introduced to the upbeat songs from their first album Employment, which skillfully married punk sensibilities to new wave dance tunes. The Kaiser Chiefs delivered great advice for men by men on that album: watch your back, love your friends, mind your diet, and keep a wary eye on women. Indeed, the band writes music primarily for men while many of their new wave contemporaries create music for girls.

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Entertainment, Music, We Love Music

We Love Music: Gary Numan @ Black Cat 10/20/10

Gary Numan @ Black Cat
all photos by Erin McCann.

New Wave icon and synthesizer guru Gary Numan performed at the Black Cat on Wednesday night to a packed house of devoted fans. It was a weird but enjoyable performance that felt like two very different concerts in one. For the first hour, a very ill Gary Numan lead his band through a performance of his 1979 classic album “The Pleasure Principle”. The performance was a strange one due to Numan’s illness; the band sounded fantastic however as Numan tried to make the best of not having a voice by asking the crowd to sing some of the songs for him. The situation lent some impromptu fun to the performance of Numan’s ice-cold classic. By the end of the album portion, I was beginning to visualize my forth-coming rave review. Then, as if magically revitalized, Numan and his band suddenly launched into a set of guitar-driven, psuedo-industrial tunes that saw Numan belting out vocals like a banshee.

The two hours of Wednesday night’s concert featured very different sounding music, had entirely different energy levels, and felt like they were performed by two completely different bands. I am a fan of the first band, not so much of the second.

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