Powerful, Pink & Pop

Nicki Minaj is now more closely associated with pink than Pink is. The rapper-singer has name-checked the color in two album titles and sports the color from her hair to her clothes. The Pink Friday tour is her first as a headliner, but Minaj is ready for the bright, rosy lights. Backstory: Born in Trinidad in […]

Garden Party

Opera just doesn’t cut it as gardening music. That’s why I switch off WETA 90.9-FM on Saturday afternoons and ride out the heat with Da Gator and the Zydeco Cowboy on WPFW 89.3-FM. With all due respect to the operatic fat ladies singing, a steady stream of authentic soul and blues tunes followed by Cajun […]

Hidden Gems

A meme making the rounds called “The True Size of Africa” shows a map of the continent with the U.S., China, India, Europe and more overlaid to show just how gigantic of a land mass the motherland is, with innumerable cultures. I look at the graphic and think, “There’s a lotta bands there waiting to […]

Turn the Tideland

What’s a band to do after it records an album but doesn’t have a label to release it? Head out and tour Japan. That’s what Sterling, Va.’s Tideland did in late May and early June, five months after it had finished its second album, “Lull.” The trio features members of the punk bands Pg. 99, […]

A Garden of Jazzy Delights

It might not be an acoustically perfect way to enjoy music, but it’s hard to top the aesthetics of “Jazz in the Garden.” Now in its 12th season, this Friday-evening series presents local acts playing just about everything — Dixieland, blues, Afro-Cuban and fusion — surrounded by the glorious works in the National Gallery of […]

Rise Above

My psychic center exists somewhere between Black Flag’s 1981 hardcore anthem “Rise Above” and the second movement of Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata No. 23” from 1807. This self-revelation came by chance. Whenever classical station WETA 90.9-FM plays its “Rise above it all” bumper, the reflexive part of me awaits a Black Flag song. It always felt […]

Nordic Noise

Summers in Nordic countries feature an explosion of music festivals. After winter’s darkness, the longer days mixed with an institutional devotion to supporting creativity - most events receive government help - mean many sonic throwdowns across Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland.

A Neil Diamond Is Forever

Who hasn’t cried, “I am!” when no one’s around? No, not while in the throes of an existential crisis, but during an epic bedroom karaoke rendition of the Neil Diamond jam “I Am … I Said.” That’s one of many timeless tunes from this legend of popular song, many of which he’s performing on a […]

District Diamond

As a member of hip-hop trio Diamond District, rapper-producer Oddisee shares the mic and the music. But as the man born Amir Mohammed el Khalifa shows on his latest solo release, “People Hear What They See,” this D.C. artist has the skills to be a major star all by himself. The free, pre-LP “Odd Renditions” […]

Forever Funk

Protect-U is a modern-day duo from D.C., though a blindfolded listening test might indicate otherwise: Mike Petillo and Aaron Leitko’s synthesized funk sounds like it’s from another place and time, conjured somewhere in Europe in the late ’70s or early ’80s. The band’s flowing jams feel like the extended portion of an ancient Human League […]