We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
There’s nothing as extroverted as “Badlands,” the rollicking Bruce Springsteen anthem, on Badlands, the debut LP of Taiwan-via-Canada weirdo Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches. Even so, Hungtai shares a few affinities with The Boss: for the aesthetics and power of early rock ’n’ roll and doo-wop; and for Suicide, that earliest, most fucked up of art-punk bands. Badlands sounds like chill wave’s dark side, as though James Chance had been allowed to have his way with the microgenre. It’s as hazy as AM radio, but calling this music nostalgic also requires the leap that something so abused-sounding would even be allowed on AM radio in the first place. On most songs, Hungtai yelps violently over a chugging, mechanical low end, but he occasionally gets romantic. “True Blue,” a sort-of surf ballad, would work totally fine as a slow dance—if your prom were directed by David Lynch.
Dirty Beaches performs with Holy Mtn at 8:30 p.m. at the Black Cat Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $10.