Dove Lady - Can't Be Sad

By Gerard Marcus

I’ve been a friend and fan of DC-based musicians Jermey Ray and Andrew Thawley for a while now, and one of my favorite things about their joint project Dove Lady is the way their music floats between absurdity and deep psychoanalytical critique. It’s music which shows that it’s sometimes easier to process the harsh truths of life when you turn them into a joke. Not by emotionally distancing yourself from reality enough to laugh away in a state in ignorant bliss, but rather by embracing the cosmic joke of existence until laughing is the only natural outlet for expressing your feelings. In their new video for “Can’t Be Sad,” Dove Lady teamed up with New York director (and ThrdCoaster) Bucky Illingworth to explore this state, painting an abstract tale of emotional and psychological fracture that warps reality and perception. The video is a rollercoaster of shifting energy and imagery, a controlled chaos which perfectly conveys the torn sense of self explored in the track. What is happiness? What is sadness? What is love? What is hate? Dove Lady’s answer lands in an ambiguous middle ground. You’re not really sure what’s up or down, but somehow that’s ok.

Dove Lady play this Friday (2/15) in Washington DC at Dangerous Pies DC with Bottled Up, Super Natural Psycho, and Clear Channel. Link to the event here.

REVIEW: june gloom - fake problems

Kelly Kirwan

Jesse Paller wades into shades of gray on his latest album, fake problems, with low-key melodies and lingering guitar notes living like surf rock in the shade. It’s a mellow moodiness that seeps between his nine tracks, an aura of Elliott Smith and the influence of his breathy, delicate vocals permeating throughout. Paller’s music is an intersection of reverb and introspection, a niche that is aptly conveyed by his solo moniker, june gloom. It’s a nod to a West Coast weather phenomenon (Paller is a California native, turned DC transplant, turned up-and-coming Brooklyn-dweller), in which cloudy skies set in just as the season changes to summer.

It was this polarity, of freedom and malaise, that perhaps came to mind as he neared the last two years of college on the East Coast, describing a sense of listlessness that came to be enveloping. fake problems became a conduit for healing, or at least a kind of exorcism, in which Paller could stitch together his feelings of disconnect and make sense of them with a chord progression. What’s even more interesting about his latest release, aside from its personal weight, is that in the past Paller has mainly spearheaded percussion. He’s handled the drums for bands like Tall Friend and Boon, but took this time to write, play, record, and mix each facet of fake problems himself—this was his ghost, and he set it free.

The opening track, "get free," begins with a conversation that’s hard to pick up—a quiet room and casual exchange, as if we’re meant to be flies on the wall, oscillating between listening and letting our minds wander aimlessly. It then goes into a simple, repetitive guitar riff, which stands alone, dredging up a sense of intimacy that seems to move in the same way as sadness. The lyrics are a single stanza, Paller’s voice barely a whisper in the beginning, “Gotta get free from the people around me / Then maybe I won’t be as lonely.” The second half of the song becomes more earnest, the vocals swelling to a height that has the desperation of a last-ditch effort. “I’ll miss you but not like you miss me,” he notes, and the irony that’s filled the nooks and crannies of this song reveals itself—that Paller seems to have figured out the alienation he feels towards others is tied to an alienation he feels towards himself.

Then there’s "swampmouth," which also relies on a twangy guitar strum, the riff marked by a nasally pitch at the end that almost sounds as if the note veered off-key. It fits with the track’s direct aesthetic, which follows a list of ailments and a dose of apathy: “I wake up / I hear bells / And the sunlight on my face / Burns like hell.” Paller’s voice is the personification of fatigue, the melody joined by a light drumming and soft pattering of cymbals. Towards the end, the song grows to feel inviting, a bed to rest our weary heads that isn’t as weighed down with melancholy as one might expect. It's fake problems in microcosm, accented with angst and a cathartic outlet—shades of gray we can get behind.


Laura Kerry

Jazz has high barriers to entry, it seems; it has a reputation for requiring a refined palate, a degree of knowledge, and an upturned nose. In school for jazz in Toronto, that reputation was confirmed for Matthew Tavares, Alexander Sowinski, and Chester Hansen, when their professors criticized the trio’s covers of Odd Future as musically worthless. Others haven’t been so quick to dismiss it, including Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, and Ghostface Killah. 

Since coming together in 2010 as BADBADNOTGOOD, the trio has released several albums—starting with covers that ranged from A Tribe Called Quest to Joy Division and James Blake, and moving to original tunes. Even when moving away from explicit pop music covers, BBNG has continued to explore the fruitful crossover between jazz and more contemporary musical modes, incorporating electronic samples, hip hop beats, and other elements that make a seemingly esoteric genre accessible. 

In IV, BBNG continues that exploration but with one major added feature: a fourth member, Leland Whitty, and his saxophone. Often following the structures of jazz instead of those of pop, the album builds on melodic themes instead of easier to grasp verse-chorus patterns. Amid the improvisatory, expressive meanderings, the sax lends focus, sometimes functioning as the main melody in place of human vocals. In the opener, “And This One, Too,” this comes in the form of a loud, euphoric solo midway through that cuts clearly through a mischievous change in the time signature before dissolving into a frenzy (BBNG are nothing if not expectation-defying). In “Chompy’s Paradise,” the sax is quiet and soulful in its straightforward melody, sounding a bit like the warm voice of Charlotte Day Wilson that arrives later in “In Your Eyes.” 

Oddly enough—or perhaps not—it’s the songs with Wilson and one other with a vocalist, Sam Herring on “Time Moves Slow,” that feel the most traditional. The traditional jazz instruments, a smattering of bass, keys, guitar, and gentle percussion, are softer on these, and the singers, both with robust, smooth voices with just a hint of grain, adhere to the bluesy origins of jazz singing. The third human voice on IV is less conventional (though more conventional for BBNG). On “Hyssop of Love,” Mick Jenkins raps melodiously, hovering over a woozy synth with fluid flow and satisfying the hints of hip hop—the deep, electronic bass in “Lavender,” the percussion in “Speaking Gently.”

In IV, BBNG has honed their unique voice into something sharp, rich, and colorful. On the cover of IV, the young quartet stands together wearing white towels around their waists. It’s goofy; they squint in the bright sunlight with their arms around each other, one smiling and the others acting unconvincingly stoic. Above all, though, it is confident. A long way from their panel of disparaging professors, they have proven that you don’t need to be too serious to be, well, seriously good.