Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dispatches from the District

This is the first post in what will hopefully be a regular feature here at the RS. In Dispatches from the District we'll provide an insider's perspective into the Washington DC music scene. Expected topics: concert recaps, reviews of albums by local artists, and pretty much anything else pertaining to music in DC. In the first installment we'll take a look at Benjy Ferree's Leaving the Nest.

While my fellow Rockists and I feel blessed by the plethora of shows that come through our nation's capital, we've noticed that the local music scene leaves much to be desired. Unable - or perhaps unwilling - to give up on a punk past, DC is still home to a number of Minor Threat wannabes and third-rate indie bands. There are some exceptions, to be sure, but it's generally been our experience that you're better off skipping the opening band on the bill and pounding an extra Pabst or two at home.

So imagine our surprise when we found local boy Benjy Ferree's EP* Leaving the Nest - a solid offering of folksy-Americana. Though it's a sound we've heard from M. Ward, Iron and Wine, Beachwood Sparks and even the White Stripes, Ferree has got the back porch honky tonk down pat. Album opener "In the Countryside" is the clear cut single and rightfully so. It starts off with a stabby electric guitar line that eventually gives way to a playful romp replete with bells, chimes, and a whistle interlude (seriously, what's the deal with whistling these days?).

All in all a very strong debut from a man that apparently never would have released an album were it not for his friends pressuring him to do so - Brendan Canty of Fugazi being one of them (go figure). Well, let me be the first to say thank you, Benjy. And DC thanks you as well.

*Leaving the Nest was originally released by Box Theory in August, but has since been picked up by Domino and re-released with a couple of additional tracks.

Various tracks (stream)

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