We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Dupont Brass, Eclectic SoulSelf-released
Led by former Howard University music majors, this ensemble first attracted attention playing straight-up jazz and jazzy hip-hop covers outside—you guessed it—the Dupont Circle Metro station. But they’ve since graduated to club and university gigs, too. On their third album, the ensemble boosts the tempo but keeps the lushness of Miles Davis’ “So What” and Tadd Dameron’s “On a Misty Night.” Some cuts add vocals: Their jazz-hop take on Jay-Z’s “Girls Girls Girls,” starts with flugelhorn player Jared Bailey’s smooth, Common-esque flow. “We Major” includes both old-school vocal rhyming and even older-school scatting over the unit’s polished and tight brass arrangements.
RiYL: Rebirth Brass Band; Guru; Donald Byrd
Des Demonas, S/TIn The Red Records
From the get-go, this local combo of garage and punk regulars establishes their modus operandi: fast-tempoed drums, buzzing guitar, and bubbly farfisa organ riding underneath singer Jacky Cougar Abok’s roughly spoken and chanted vocals. So what makes their three-chord ramalama different from others? Kenyan-born Abok, who has drummed with fellow scuzz-rockers Foul Swoops, stretches out the intonation of his words like The Fall’s Mark E. Smith while venting in a catchy manner, especially on opener “The South Will Never Rise Again.” Although some cuts on this debut effort aren’t as tuneful, the powerful roar of the instrumentation, led by guitarist Mark Cisneros, keeps most of the album interesting.
RiYL: The Sonics, The Make-Up, The Fall
Dogo du Togo, “Soké Wo”Tetouda Records
Massama Dogo is known for singing in the local Afro-pop band Elikeh but he’s been releasing solo singles as Dogo du Togo since late 2016. His singles are largely aimed at folks back in his native homeland of Togo, and his latest, “Soké Wo,” is no exception. Recorded in Togo, the song adroitly layers a mournful call-and-response vocal duet between Dogo and the Association Mokpokpo chorus overtop a stripped-down groove based on a traditional rhythm of the Ewe people. This isn’t a boisterous party number; it’s a soulful lyrical plea for forgiveness.
RiYL: King Mensah; Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta compilation; Highlife music
Veronneau, Love and SurrenderSelf-released
Veronneau, a self-proclaimed “acoustic world-jazz,” band is back with their third album. French Canadian vocalist Lynn Véronneau sings in multiple languages as her group quietly accompanies her on delicate bossa nova, light French chanson, and swinging jazz ballads. On both covers of Serge Gainsbourg and original ballads, Veronneau’s instrumentation is largely led by guitarists Ken Avis and David Rosenblatt, and they’re supported by guest musicians on drums, violin, bass, and kora.
RiYL: Eva Cassidy; Astrud Gilberto; Django Reinhardt