The 51 Best Songs to Come out of the 51st State in the Past 367 Days

"We are three of the great law minds of the current time and as a band have watched all of boston legal through TWICE." — Barking Carnies

I may have recently moved to Antananarivo, Madagascar, but a piece of my heart will always reside in the District of Columbia.

As always, praise be to Listen Local First, Hometown Sounds, DCDIY, DCist, 730DC, WAMU, Washington City Paper, a majority of the area’s venues, and the various D.C. music Facebook groups who let me leech off their good taste.

Now, in some particular order…

During the process of researching, composing and culling this list, I also ended up with a pocket-sized notebook full of jotted-down thoughts:

2019 was a year of startling, somewhat-concerning juxtaposition for the DMV music scene. House shows became one step closer to extinction and massive street-conquering protests were the only thing stopping gentrification from literally muting a signature part of this city’s sound. Meanwhile, a handful of artists and bands from the DMV attained unfathomable levels of fame. I don’t know what exactly that portends for the future of our fair city, but it definitely portends something.

On a related note, is SHAED still a D.C. band? I may have, not-so-humble brag, been the first person to ever interview them, but the minute the former-Walking Sticks became the lucky recipients of the “Apple Effect” they seemed all too ready to shed their District skin. As my wife put it, they don’t feel like a D.C. band anymore; they feel like an internet band.

On a related note, I admit I’m taking liberties when it comes to labeling some of these bands/artists a D.C. band/artist. Some of these list-makers may have since abandoned the area for greener pastures, some may live closer to Richmond than Alexandria, some may have only tangential ties to the DMV. Whatever. Enjoy the music.

Nah. is. great. In fact, the reason this list was posted two days later than one might expect is because I wanted to catch their January 2nd show at Comet Ping Pong so I could know for sure which song of theirs I wanted to include on the list. After seeing “Fractal” live, I couldn’t not choose it.

From Max Gowan’s Bandcamp page, this awesome promotion: “Cassettes are available in limited edition of 100 copies and will be shipped from Slovakia. Each purchase will include traditional Slovakian sweets.”

In 2015, IDK, going by Jay IDK at the time, proclaimed via the title of his second mixtape that he desired to create “trap music with substance.” He has since realized that aspiration with a debut album so sonically adventurous it will shake you out of the malaise most other D.C. trap induces.

Holy crap, Chris Richards is back in front of a mic! Would it be weird if he wrote about the big news for the Post

I’ll confess I had no idea who Manila Killa (née Chris Gavino) was before Hometown Sounds included him on their January episode but apparently he has multiple songs with millions of listens on Spotify. So that’s cool.

Not to disparage its final two minutes and thirteen seconds, but the first 2:10 of besteadwell’s 4:13-long “Black Girls Who Can’t Dance” is something truly special. 

Thank you to Lindsay Hogan for the header image.

I cannot find any biographical information on Landon-Philip, which is quite frustrating because the has-to-be-pretty-darn-young songwriter deserves all the hyping.

Barking Carnies aren’t on Spotify so I couldn’t include them on the playlist, but I would be doing them a serious disservice if I didn’t let you know that their album is called The Best Punk LP Since “All Killer No Filler” and their Facebook page includes this missive: “Our LP infringes on dozens of copyrights and the bottom line is we fucking dare even one lawyer out there to waste one fucking second thinking about suing us, we are three of the great law minds of the current time and as a band have watched all of boston legal through TWICE and we have dozens of accordion folders literally fucking BUSTING with densely argued briefs all in like size 8 font and each page has like 10-20 footnotes to absolutely irrefutable law sources.”

Speaking of, here are some other solid albums from bands who rejected what Justin McCarthy once dubbed the tyranny of Spotify: Waiting for the End of the World by Jack on Fire, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rock by The Whips, C.P.R. by Heavy Breathing. 

Questions, comments, and concerns should be directed to @brycetrudow, where they will be gratefully received or immediately ignored depending on what you write.