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Published Sept. 28, 2012 on The Vinyl District.

The pristine Music Center Strathmore took a break from its typically orchestral stylings with energetic synth-rock courtesy of Metric on September 21.

The night had a slow start, opening with low-tempo tracks from the Canadian group’s latest release Synthetica. But once “Help, I’m Alive” off 2009‘s Fantasies kicked in, the sold out crowd was on their feet.

The venue itself put Metric in an odd spot. The Strathmore was built for musical performances; the room’s acoustics were impeccable, not that seasoned performing pros Emily Haines & Co. needed the boost. Yet the clean, light-wooded, seated Music Center felt too mint and bright for the gritty, infectious electro-rock which all but requires mimicking Haines’ constant jumping and trashing.

Then again, Metric sold-out the almost 2,000 seat venue so the space’s size was necessary, especially considering the band’s history with D.C. and their affection for the 9:30 Club.

Haines didn’t seem to mind the less-than-cozy venue. “It was quite emotional,” Haines shared of first walking onto the Strathmore stage during soundcheck. “It’s exquisite in here.” Out-of-place or not, she was certainly right on that.

The extended encore was easily the best part of the evening, but the highlight of the regular set was the bass-driven banger “Dead Disco” which Metric drew-out with a toned down interlude that crashed back into the catchy-as-hell chorus.

The six-song encore opened with “Black Sheep” which showed the “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” version by Brie Larson that the original is always best. Opening band Half Moon Run joined the headliners onstage for a beautiful rendition of The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes.” “I really enjoyed that,” Haines smiled after the song’s end, to which the audience cheered in concurrence.

An acoustic “Gimme Sympathy” ended the encore, with the percussionists returning to stage and clapping in singing along. After a night of heavy electric guitars and bass, flashing neon lights and constant jumping, the stripped down closing songs were an unexpected and lovely way to cap the show.

“I feel like this is a really great way to spend the night,” Haines summed up. Indeed it was.

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Published July 17, 2012 on The Vinyl District.

Source: The Vinyl District

When we first met KITTEN in 2010, we were well, …smitten. So much so that frontwoman Chloe Chaidez took over TVD for a week as the band went from CMJ to the UK. KITTEN had just released their first EP “Sunday School,” and Chaidez was already coming into her own Karen-O-meets-Cat-Power-meets-Annie-Lennox-meets-something-completely-new at 15 years old.

Fast forward two years and KITTEN has kicked off a Summer tour with The Pomegranates and has a new EP “Cut It Out” hitting store shelves on August 28, and a full-length album due out early 2013. Just yesterday KITTEN released a banging new track off the August EP, “Japanese Eyes.”

Chaidez, now 17, has used the past two years to hone her mature vocals, badass vibe, and KITTEN as a band. Chloe confides she’s “really fortunate” to pursue her love of music having picked up her first instrument, a bass, at 10. When it comes to making music, “It’s not something I thought of. ‘Oh this is what I like, I want to do this,’” she said.

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Published on The Vinyl District July 10, 2012. 

Japandroids, Celebration Rock

Source: Handout, Polyvinyl Record Co.

Japandroids’ Celebration Rock is bookended with the banging sounds of fireworks, awfully appropriate for this 8-song, 35-minute explosion of rock ‘n’ roll.

Youthful in energy, but mature in execution. Brash, but polished. The Vancouver-based guitar and drum duo, Brian King and David Prowse released their sophomore album in early June and have critics and listeners falling in love. The garage rock band’s first effort, 2009’s Post-Nothing, also met critical acclaim and blog buzz, but prior to its release King and Prowse almost called it quits. Thank god they didn’t.

Critics across the board praise Japandroids’ infectious live performance; “energetic” is a gross understatement. Village Voiceblogger Nick Murray admits to getting sucked in at a gig: “You’ll have to excuse my paraphrase, because as the chords that begin ‘Younger Us’ rang out, I ditched the transcription, stuffed my notebook into my pants, and pushed my way to the front of the venue. Sorry.” Bad news: y’all just missed Japandroids’ sold-out show at The Rock & Roll Hotel on June 30.

The record’s single “The House That Heaven Built” has been declared the indie song of the summer by Stereogum voters, and with good reason. It’s hard to listen to the robust track, with lyrics like “And if they try to slow me down / I’ll tell ‘em all to go to hell / Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!” and not want to shout along out your open car window, cruising on a warm night.

It’s that kind of youthful, empowered attitude that pulses through the earnest Celebration Rock. For all its hard riffs, driving drums and shouted lyrics, this record is far from angry — more of a celebration, if you will, of the days of less responsibility.

To get your hands on an autographed copy of this summer’s most explosive record — musically and critically — comment with the album that reminds you of the summers of yesteryear.

I can’t think of my high school summer vacation days without hearing Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends. Growing up on Long Island, where the emo-pop-punk band is from, it might as well have been required listening.

Please remember, only those of you with mailing addresses in the continental US and Canada can enter! The winner will be chosen a week from today, 7/17.

A link to my posts over at The Vinyl District.

May 16 — TVD Ticket Giveaway: Soundbites, A Benefit for DC Central Kitchen at the 9:30 Club, 5/20

June 15 — Weekend Shots!

June 22 — Weekend Shots!

July 2 — TVD Vinyl Giveaway: George Harrison, Early Takes Volume 1

July 3 — TVD Vinyl Giveaway: The Beach Boys, That’s Why God Made the Radio

July 10 — TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Japandroids, Celebration Rock (signed!)

July 13 — Weekend Shots!

July 17 — TVD Recommends: KITTEN on tour