Show: Wednesday, May 2, Red Palace
The fact that The Features are signed to a label started by noted indie-to-mainstream darlings Kings of Leon should be the first key to understanding what sets them on the pulse of rock’s hottest sounds. Latest album Wilderness is equally conversant in lo-fi indie styles as it is in muscled-up pop/rock for the current generation. Placement of lead single “From Now On” on the soundtrack of the latest film of the Twilight Saga only scratches the surface of their excellence. Lead singer Matt Pelham’s inspired wails rest on a warm bed of keyboards, energetic drum riffs, and hand claps that creates a populist yet wholly welcoming sound.
Red Palace: 1212 H St. NE, DC; 202-399-3201; www.redpalacedc.com
Luther Dickinson and The Wandering
Album: Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here
Show: Saturday, May 12, IOTA
The execution of an enterprising notion with top-tier excellence is the wont of North Mississippi All-Stars vocalist Luther Dickinson in this, his latest creative endeavor. On debut album Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here, The Wandering is comprised of a solid group of Southern female musicians (Shannon McNally, Amy LaVere, Valerie June, and Sharde Thomas) whose energies coalesce to propel forth a quality folk rock release. Compelled into this idea by the happenstance notion of viewing pictures of a myriad of top instrumentalists who happened to be friends, the laid-back yet communal feel of the ideal in theory absolutely exists in practice. Rich, unified, and sumptuous reincarnations of traditional Southern folk hits like Kris Kristofferson’s “Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again” make for an album that meets expectations and absolutely doesn’t disappoint.
IOTA Club and Café: 2832 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA; 703-522-8340; www.iotaclubandcafe.com
Album: Jazz Samba Project
Show: Sunday, May 20, All Souls Church
Jazz Samba Project is the latest release by DC-based, but Canadian-born jazz vocalist Lynn Veronneau and a talented team of top musicians. This strong bossa nova offering alludes to the fact that the sound’s enduring American popularity is steeped in DC roots. Typical fare like a cover of Jorge Ben’s “Mas Que Nada” gives a feel that the combination is competent within the style, while a cover of Bob Marley’s slow burning reggae classic “Waiting in Vain” is a clarion call to a wild new ideal for this most storied of genres. Lead vocalist Veronneau’s lustrous timbre recalls the style of legends like Joao Gilberto while strong musicianship led by Ken Avis’ lilting jazz guitar makes the listener comfortable in the idea that though Stan Getz and company may no longer be physically with us, the memory of their potent legacy remains intact.
All Souls Church: 1500 Harvard St. NW, DC; 202-332-5266; www.all-souls.org
Kurtis Parks and the Anthem
Album: Kurtis Parks and the Anthem
Show: Friday, May 25, Ebenezers Coffeehouse
With over 1,200 songs written and a slew of credibility-enhancing underground awards to his name, Kurtis Parks’ latest effort allows listeners to catch a rising star headed into the stratosphere. Actually, he may not be stopping there, as Parks is quickly becoming a dominant auteur in the genre of praise music, a.k.a non-denominational yet religious-themed sounds. Thunderous drums and maximalist power chords on songs like “City of Lights” give Kurtis Parks and the Anthem’s eponymous release an insurgent tenor that defies what many may expect to be a more pastoral sound.
Ebenezers: 201 F St. NE, DC; 202-558-6900; www.ebenezerscoffeehouse.com