There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Strings used to gaudily accessorize Aqua Net power ballads: They were the satin sheets that billowed out behind all those finger-tapped guitar solos. Not as offensive as Poison’s use of a gospel choir, the string section suggested the unbearable anguish of restraining orders, bar fights, and splitting up with supermodels (in real life, or tragically at the end of vids). By the late ’90s, rental orchestras had become the main source of filler albums. Tired of actually writing good songs? No worries: Hire an orchestra (Rolling Stones, Metallica, you know). Faster than you can say “home studio,” strings have somehow been saved: Now every indie or arty has fallen in love with the string section, in that fake, Pro Tools-enhanced kinda way. The Flaming Lips gave up feedback for pseudo swells on The Soft Bulletin. Pick any IDM agent—he’s got a jones for the simulated arrangement. Strings have become an economical way to make your music sound that much bigger—you can do it all from your laptop. Only this time around, the strings denote all the right moods—longing, romantic red lights, longing. Her Space Holiday (San Mateo, Calif.’s, Marc Bianchi) gets it more than most. On his latest album, Manic Expressive, Bianchi’s string sets can be about as serious as lip gloss—or denote the beginnings and endings of bittersweet films. Find out whether Bianchi can really bring the strings, with Pinback and Canyon, at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 667-7960. (Jason Cherkis)