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Earlier this year, Bluebrain member Hays Holladay decided to shut down Iguazu Sound, the Arlington recording studio he’d operated since 2010. Before he locked up for the last time, Holladay put out a call to local bands interested in recording a single song in three hours. “The goal is to come up with unexpected results utilizing all available options in the studio,” he wrote to Arts Desk at the time. “Think of this as a chance to be challenged to approach your song differently and step out of your musical comfort zone.”
Well, here are the results: The compilation Rainbow Arcade features 14 new tracks by D.C. acts, and you can hear them getting profitably uncomfortable. More Humans‘ “Magga” is pleading robot pop (kind of in the Bluebrain vein). Laughing Man‘s “Brilliant Colors” ditches the band’s jagged blues rock for driving art punk. The instrumental “John Starks” is recognizable as an Imperial China song, but its guitar pirouettes are grounded and ruminative, not hectic. Greenland should do more of what they’re doing in “Sphinges on the Lawn,” a trippy exercise in acid country. Both members of The Sweater Set try something new: Sara Curtin‘s “A Little Again” is a lushly orchestrated torch song, while Maureen Andary‘s “Fun and Games Are Done” is a mournful, vocals-first dream-pop ballad. Hays’ brother and Bluebrain partner Ryan Holladay delivers some pocket R&B with “Untitled.” Teen Liver, a side-project of Cigarette that usually plays garage rock, turns in some warped, echo-box rock & roll with “If My Baby.” And more, including a few bands that are new to me.
The bands featured on Rainbow Arcade may not sound like themselves here, but the compilation offers a pretty decent cross-section of where D.C. indie rock is at in 2012. You can pay what you want for Rainbow Arcade over at Bandcamp, or you can stream it below.