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Sneaks, Highway HypnosisMerge Records
Eva Moolchan‘s first two albums as Sneaks established her as a bona fide artist in D.C. and beyond, but it’s tough to view them as anything more than warmups once Highway Hypnosis rumbles into focus. Like 2016’s Gymnastics and 2017’s It’s A Myth, the new LP is short (28 minutes), but it’s a bigger banger on multiple levels, as the vocalist/songwriter/producer not only embraces digital bass but also discovers myriad ways to position her voice for maximum impact. Post-punk minimalism is now just a thread instead of a foundation, and the result is a record that fully explores the porosity between the conscious and subconscious. Consider what happens during the catchiest song, “A Lil Close,” which features Moolchan’s familiar tactic of repeating a vocal phrase. “Can you get a little close?” she asks, keeping the melody firmly within the bounds of indie-pop while eventually managing to untether the question from the corporeal. Likewise, in the songs with blunt titles—”Suck It LIke A Whistle,” “Money Don’t Grow On Trees,” “Holy Cow Never Saw A Girl Like Her”—the lyrical content often seems like it’s supposed to be a gateway to something else. Maybe it’s a space in Moolchan’s head, maybe it’s a space inside yours, but if anything is certain, there’s an undeniable pulse in the mix. Sneaks plays a record release show on Sunday, Feb. 3 at Songbyrd. $13-$15. 7 p.m.
Doubler, Lines of ForceU-Udios
Another transportive set of rhythmic electronic tracks from the D.C. tape label run by Protect-U‘s Mike Petillo and Aaron Leitko. Doubler is Petillo’s side project with Jason Letkiewicz (aka Steve Summers), and here the synths and samplers offer gateways to an edgy realm of contemplation. (Full album drops Feb. 8.)
GoldLink, “Justine’s Interlude”Colors
In this two-minute freestyle for the “aesthetic music platform” Colors, the Grammy-nominated MC uses a peachy neo-soul groove to express a few gripes (“it’s funny how blogs talk”) and offer a backhanded shoutout to a love interest (“you one of my six women that’s in the east”). It’s all readily digestible—and it’s also a reminder that hip-hop crankiness (ahem, Wale) is a DMV staple at this point.