Astronaut Jones

May 17, 2016
Morgan as Astronaut Jones

D.C. has a rich musical history, but there's still a chapter being written: what's happening now. Indeed, there are tons of bands dominating the local music scene and DCist has only scratched the surface in our coverage. Welcome to Listen To This, a semi-regular feature wherein DCist's music staff shares new(ish) and/or noteworthy music from local artists that they've come across.

records.jpg Photo by LaTur

Shark Week, "Desire"

Shark Week has always had a penchant for the blues, and this first song from their upcoming LP Beach Fuzz puts that blues through Link Wray’s brash surf-rock filter. That tension of haunted guitar and steady pummeling beats builds up for almost a full minute before Ryan Hunter Mitchell’s vocals kick in, alternately snarling and squealing, channeling the punks of old as the pace picks up. Those wild vocals will either lose the listener or completely ensnare them. It’s an added dose of drama that places the listener inside a modern spaghetti western where the heroes and villains wear denim jackets and sunglasses in lieu of cowboy hats and spurs. As such, this is one to listen to in a car with the windows down. —Valerie Paschall

Astronaut Jones, "Game Theory"

Astronaut Jones launched their new project last year and just released their second single, "Game Theory" this week. The duo has been playing biweekly Thursdays at Cusbah on H Street NE, where their groovy downtempo sound works well with the bar’s South Asian lounge vibe. They create a rich and funky blend of classic analog sounds and live instrumentation with fresh electronic production.

"Game Theory" features a red-hot saxophone solo by Frank Mitchell, who also performs with Thievery Corporation and See-I. The single comes with a Latin percussion remix by D.C.'s own Empresarios and a deep dub remix by Omegaman from Sydney, Australia. Astronaut Jones brings a refreshing jazz funk sound reminiscent of the '90s acid jazz scene, yet with an updated and fresh approach. — Andy Cerutti

Long Walks On The Beach, "Knew It By Heart”

When most musicians have the chance to break into the music industry and start expanding their audience, they jump at the opportunity without hesitation. But sometimes an artist just wants to be left alone without the unnecessary pressure of turning out hit after hit. Such is the case with Long Walks On The Beach, a bedroom-pop project from reclusive D.C. musician Fritz Kramer. Though it may seem as if he’s purposefully straying from the local periphery, Long Walks On The Beach has always been a private vehicle for Kramer’s creative musings.

After a yearlong absence without new material, he’s returned to grace us with another gorgeous single, “Knew It By Heart”. The track is a lo-fi composition that pairs soaring glitchy riffs with Kramer’s haggard, stretched vocals…all while maintaining the usual intimacy of a bedroom production. While the wait between songs can often be excruciating, the wait is always worth it. Simply put, this is Long Walks On The Beach at its best—crafting energetic, dreamy pop songs that explore the various intricacies of love. — Dalton Vogler

More Humans, "Mt. Oblivion"

There’s a set of lost keys in the snows of Mt. Oblivion and it might not be worth remembering where we put them. As part of their first new musical offering since 2011, D.C. rock trio More Humans creates tension between sinister and sanguine with "Mt. Oblivion." The song rolls smoothly along like the river Lethe and, for a meditation on things left behind, strikes a surprisingly comfortable, almost amused tone. After all, losing keys is one of life’s tragically comical occurrences. Yet underneath the current of pleasing harmonies and melodic guitar runs a quiet desperation — “What a day at the cafeteria of your depraved soul” — chased with the bewilderment of old age: “What’s it for? / What’s that button do? / Who are these people? They’re so tall / How did I ever get so old?”.

But of course oblivion arrives in fits. Heavy reverb that seems to fight against our landing on the other shore of forgetfulness, disrupts the otherwise clean guitar and a metronomically inevitable tambourine. And despite these startling interruptions, the songs fades out to soft vocal harmonies and silence. It’s been a while since the trio, an “American band, " according to their Facebook page, released new music. We think it’s worth remembering.

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