It’s summertime, which means it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy some live music. Here are some recent discs released by acts coming through the DMV during the warm months.
“This Is the Year”
North Carolina has had a rough time in the news of late, but the new disc from Yarn reminds us that the Tarheel State has far, far, far more going on than controversy. “Carolina Heart” is a delightful paean to the band’s chosen home base (they recently relocated from Brooklyn) and the titular track serves as a reminder that every year, every day, is the right time to move ahead and take life by the horns. “Fallin’” is a self-reflexive look at love from all angles. “I’m the Man” walks a fine line between bragging and country humility. “Easy Ride” may not be the most exciting driving song ever written, but it will make you long for open vistas and prairies outside your ride. “Life Is Weird” is far from strange; rather, it makes the heart sing. “I Let You Down” closes out the record with a mix of hope and regret.
One of the most creative albums in some time.
Yarn will swing through the District to perform at Hill Country Live July 10 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 by going to Ticketfly.com.
“Better. Faster. Stronger.”
If there were a genre called “outlaw ska reggae,” then Bumpin Uglies would be its progenitors. On this disc for their own label, the boys from Annapolis get funky on the opening tune “White Boy Reggae” before “Addictive Personality” simultaneously hits party and regret notes for a rocking tune of good time ska. “Live Your Life” is a decidedly upbeat number about taking advantage of every day, and played solely with acoustic guitar underneath the vocals, with EP closer “Get Back” another toned-down acoustic ballad.
The locals boys will be performing at Union Jack’s in their Annapolis hometown June 24. Tickets are $12 by going to UnionJacksAnnapolis.com.
“Garden of Roses” is a lovely little toe-tapper that’s great for personal reflection. “1983” is a poppy, upbeat tone poem about the Tennessean’s young life, with “Strangeness of the Vine” appropriately offbeat but lovely all the same. “Racing to a Red Light” is about slowing down and enjoying the moment, while “My New Orleans” treats the road to the Big Easy as a dreamscape of introspection and examination. “Back When I Was Young” is simultaneously a look back with pining eyes for what was, but also with eyes wide open at mistakes made and choices undertaken. The disc is a winner front to back, with late-album entries “One Horse Town” and “American Highway” bringing it all back home.
While the overall timbre of the album can be a little monochromatic at times, Mr. Hultquist’s yearning, contemplative baritone lends his compositions depth of warmth and reservoirs of transcendence.
Mr. Hultquist will play at the District’s Hill Country BBQ June 24 at 9:30 p.m. There is no cover for the event.
“Primary Colours” (rel. July 1)
It’s good to have fun, as MAGIC! knows well with this upbeat record for RCA. “Lay You Down Easy” is a vibey track that gets the party rolling, with “Red Dress” a groovy song that will make you long for a mai tai on the beach. “No Regrets” is a sultry tune about making choices and also introspection, and “I Need You” is a plaintive burning for love. “The Way God Made Me” is a reggae-tastic funk tune in which the narrator refuses the world’s entreaties to change and is a powerful tone poem to self-esteem.
The band will perform at the District’s The Plaza at Tyson Center July 22.
• Eric Althoff can be reached at email@example.com.
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