Though five seasons of The Wire exposed the masses to many aspects of Baltimoriana, there are a few things the show failed to properly address—crab chips, Natty Boh, and Baltimore club music among them. Luckily, B-more club doesn’t need David Simon to speak to its ubiquity and versatility when it’s got Tittsworth. The D.C. native, who calls his style “Baltimore-club-inspired,” is best known for blazing DJ sets and remixes. But on his debut album, Twelve Steps, he turns to making original tracks, and the entire production is a dancefloor murderer, mixing hip-hop, R&B, electronic music, and a little bit of pretty much everything else. And Tittsworth does it in a way that erases the “international night” stigma that folks outside of B-more often attach to club music of any kind. “Drunk as F*ck,” featuring Bay Area rappers the Federation, is exactly the sort of ’hood-tested, hipster-approved track that distinguishes club music from white-boy electronica or drag-queen house: Its driving beat and raunchy lyrics make for a smutty good time, tailor-made for after-hours play on 92Q and capable of pulling even the most booze-blistered onto the floor. “Bumpin’” is hilariously built around the House Party (and house party) scenario of some guy knocking his drunk ass up against a DJ setup. But unlike Bad Breath Bilal, Tittsworth makes the most of the situation and works every DJ’s least favorite sound—an unintentional scratch—into the mix. There’s a charm to choppy, mad-scientist splicing, and instrumental tracks such as “4.21” and “Haiku” are dense productions designed to move bodies and induce deep nods of the non-heroin-induced variety. But there’s also a lot to be said for the seamless, collaborative blending of beats and vocal work, and Twelve Steps really soars whenever it pairs Tittsworth’s production with guest singers and rappers. None of the artists on the disc are sampled—they’ve all tailored their work to each track, which elevates the disc above typical DJ mash-ups and remixes. “Here He Comes” features identical-twin duo Nina Sky and Miami rapper Pitbull, who know their way around a dance track. Same goes for the sticky “Almond Joy,” featuring Michelle Bell and Roll Wit Us All-Stars and “WTF,” featuring Kid Sister and Pase Rock. The best guest by far, however, is Tittsworth’s fellow new-school Baltimore DJ-scene standard-bearer Dave Nada, who offers up a mix of the track “B-Rockin’.” It’s a 3-minute shout-out to some of the best dance DJs on the planet. You know, Scottie B, Diplo, Frank Ski—and, of course, Tittsworth. —-Sarah Godfrey
Tittsworth performs Friday, Aug. 29, at the 9:30 Club.
Over the last decade or so, My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields has needed merely to mention the idea of a new album in order to provoke a revived interest in shimmery, fuzzy, blaring early-’90s shoegaze. Now that Shields has made good on his threats of an MBV reunion, a lot of current bands could be considered a little redundant. It certainly puts Philadelphia-based experimentalists Relay in a tough spot. On one hand, a band could do worse than to be compared to My Bloody Valentine, as Relay often is; on the other, Relay is genuinely inventive, taking the Valentine formula and adding a few new tricks to it. The twinkles, twirls, and swells of electronic ambience that sometimes underpin Relay’s sonic atmospheres are delicate and unobtrusive, and the quartet’s yawning surges of sound and understated vocals distinguish it from the comparison du jour. RELAY PERFORMS WITH TIMBERWOLF DIVISION, GIRL LOVES DISTORTION, AND HIMALAYA AT 10 P.M. AT THE VELVET LOUNGE, 915 U ST. NW. $8. (202) 462-3213. —-Matthew A. Stern
If age seems to be one of Mose Allison’s lyrical preoccupations, it’s also one of his distinctions. The 80-year-old singer/pianist was born in Mississippi at a time when jazz and blues were more or less interchangeable—and in his music, they still are, along with R&B and even postwar pop crooning. Though Allison says his genre-blurring has made it difficult to maintain a steady audience, those who’ve remained loyal include Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Leon Russell, and the Who—all of whom have recorded some of Allison’s stellar compositions. But good as those covers are, Allison’s songwriting is best experienced through the filter of the maestro’s furiously rhythmic, greased-lightning piano technique and his wise but youthful voice. He makes the advancing years seem all but irrelevant, save for the years of study evidenced in the musical encyclopedia that Allison squeezes into every performance. THE MOSE ALLISON TRIO PERFORMS AT 8 AND 10 P.M. AT BLUES ALLEY, 1073 WISCONSIN AVE. NW. $25. (202) 337-4141. —-Michael J. West
Is there anybody in the District who’s aged better than Chuck Brown? He got his start 40-some years ago, at a time when the local music scene wasn’t the easiest place to break out of. There were plenty of clubs back then—just very few labels and a whole lot of schemers. But Brown kept at it, wringing blues from his guitar in backyards for beer and barbecue. Graduating from the barbecue circuit to soul covers to inventing that go-go beat should have been enough. Now add a few more decades of steady gigs, hard playing, some tragedy, and contending with being called a legend everywhere you go. But as he gears up for tonight’s 73rd-birthday tribute, Brown remains the coolest guy gigging on any area stage. And since making Fenty look soulful at his inaugural ball, Brown can add miracle worker to his list of honorifics. Wind us up, Chuck. BROWN PERFORMS WITH CHOPTEETH AT 8 P.M. AT THE 9:30 CLUB, 815 V ST. NW. $25. (202) 265-0930. —-Jason Cherkis