There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Ohmigod: Tod A. made a goddamn pop record that rocks. Psychopharmacology isn’t exactly what anyone who got hooked by Firewater’s first two recordsGet Off the Cross, We Need the Wood for the Fire and The Ponzi Schememight expect; the scabrous rock, gypsy wailing, and cabaret drama of the earlier stuff have been sanded down, leaving this music much smoother. And the stain and varnish freshly added to the band’s sound contribute to its new sleekness. The slinky, loungey undercurrent that runs through the opening track, “Woke Up Down,” is a prime example, with its cheesy, oh-so-hip organ and faux breakbeats that weave in and out of the crunching guitars. (Did someone say radio?) Yet the well-crafted songwriting on Psychopharmacology doesn’t run merely a song or two deep. The menacing shuffle that kicks off “Get Out of My Head” blossoms into a manic pop thrill of epic proportions, and Tod A.’s breathy duet with Elysian Fielder Jennifer Charles on “Bad Bad World” slums elegantly, with little tweaks of piano lifted from the Stones’ “Monkey Man” providing the garnish. Best of all, after repeated listenings, the record slowly surrenders quirks and delights scattered in the wake of its straightforwardness. Let’s just call Psychopharmacology a pop-rock triumph of the first orderand see if Firewater can pull it off live. The band plays with Skeleton Key and [The Sounds of] Kaleidoscope at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 667-7960. (Richard Byrne)