The Song Is Over

November is Gratitude Month, and this year I’m thankful for: Growing up in the Detroit area and having so many amazing radio stations form my ecumenical musical interests. The first record I ever bought: Kiss’ “Destroyer,” above. My first concert being the J. Geils Band and not my other great options, Van Halen and Queen […]

District of Metal

Though it’s the opposite of quiet time, heavy metal is like meditation in that it forces you to think about things you might otherwise ignore. Two new full-lengths from D.C.-area metal bands — Ilsa’s “Intoxications” (Relapse) and Pig Destroyer’s “Book Burner” (A389) — explore the dark side of humanity. Pig Destroyer plays a brutally fast […]

Spring’s Eternal

After poet T.S. Eliot saw Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” in 1921, he wrote a letter saying the avant-garde ballet took “the barbaric cries of modern life” and transformed “these despairing noises into music.” D.C. punk band Rites of Spring engaged in similar sonic alchemy during its brief run (1984-86), helping shift hard-core punk’s lyrical narrative from […]

B.Y.O. Soundtrack

You have to be a dedicated cinephile to watch silent movies and a hardcore movie nut to go to the theater to watch them. But you can’t touch the Alloy Orchestra’s celluloid commitment: Since 1991, this Massachusetts trio has composed original scores for 23 silent flicks and 20 shorts to perform as live accompaniment to […]

Primal Screams

Scientists think Neanderthals went extinct around 30,000 years ago. But cavemen DNA has survived in the humans making pummeling music for D.C.’s Windian Records. In the endless cycle of rebirth that is garage rock, Windian is right up there with Goner Records, HoZac, In the Red, Infinity Cat and other neo-paleo labels. Windian’s 2012 releases […]

No Clinging

When my uncle died nearly a decade ago, we tried to donate his music collection to a university or library. His was an enormous, well-organized assemblage of jazz items — LPs, CDs, mags, books, photos — that could’ve been used as an amazing educational resource. But nobody wanted it. Nobody. Barring something unfortunate, I have […]

Doom, But Not Gloom

When Robert Johnson decided to sing the blues, it’s said, he made a deal with the devil. When the American doom-metal titans of Saint Vitus decided to sing the blues, they must have signed a similar pact — then went all pro-wrestling on Satan and smashed him through a table. Saint Vitus brings its (Black) […]

Shadow Sounds

The Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery plunges three stories beneath the National Mall. But to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the museum looked to the sky for one of its centerpiece exhibitions: “Shadow Sites II,” an aerial landscape video by Iraqi artist Jananne Al-Ani. Al-Ani’s images of rural Jordan reveal the Earth’s mesmerizing textures as seen […]

Ill Communication

A virus ripped through our family late last week and caused “Exorcist”-like vomit followed by catatonic whimpering. After my visit with Mr. Creosote — the barf machine from “Monty Python” … anybody? — I was supine for most of the day, slipping in and out of various levels of consciousness. It was awesome. I could […]

‘Days’ of Our Lives

Scott Crawford created his first punk-rock fanzine when he was 12. The Silver Spring native is 40 now, and he’s still chronicling the sounds and vision of his youth. “Salad Days: The Birth of Punk Rock in the Nation’s Capital” is Crawford’s in-progress documentary covering an era in D.C. music that still resonates throughout the […]