stream rdgldgrn’s debut full length! come for the guest spots from dave grohl, pharrell williams & angel haze, stay for the dopeness. #soundcheck

September 4, 2013

A year after first hearing DC’s RDGLDGRN (pronounced Red Gold Green) and the opening track reminds me a little of that Simpsons line “We need a name that’s clever, but sounds less clever every time you hear it.” The first time I heard “I Love Lamp” I was hooked immediately. Naming the song after one of the best lines from one of my favorite movies? Yeah. I’m sold. The novelty of the joke song name is gone at this point. For a lot of bands once the cleverness wears off, there isn’t a whole lot left. But with “I Love Lamp?” Oh hell yes. That’s just a tight track. A banger by any other name would rock as hard. Or something.


And RDGLDGRN is a smart as fuck band. Go Go, punk, indie, hip-hop, neo-soul, DC post-punk, dub? In what universe do all those genres fit? (This one) A lesser band could be weighed down by the weight of their own cleverness. Those NES references that anchor “Power-Ups” could land them penned off in Nerdcore if there weren’t so much genuine soul behind them.

The band has gotten a lot of attention for their high profile collaborators. Getting the immortal Dave Grohl to play drums on your record? Name a band for whom that wouldn’t be a wet-dream come true. To say nothing of a collaboration with Pharell Williams on “Doing the Most,” and a guest spot from Angel Haze on “Lootin In London.” But those collaborators only add some sonic diversity to the band. The fact that a Pharrell Williams co-written song isn’t the best track says a lot about how good this record is.

DC looms large on the record. Beyond the presence of home-town hero Grohl. References to Bad Brains and Minor Threat are dropped casually on “Lootin In London.” “All I Got Is Now” makes good use of the vaunted “DC Sound” pioneered by Dischord bands like Fugazi, Lungfish, and Smart Went Crazy. The distinctive Go Go beat (to the uninitiated, Go Go is basically a DC-only offshoot of funk and disco) pops up throughout the record between Grohl’s muscular fills. And government isn’t so much criticized as eye-rolled. In a city framed by the marble architecture of the US government, politicians are a fact of life. There’s no “fuck the government” anthem, just an exhausted “ugh. Those guys…whatever.” Stand-out track (ok screw that, they’re all stand-out tracks…) “Stranger” gets in to the conflicts and conflicts of interest of living in one of the most corrupt 10 square miles on the planet. “show me anything as creative as this Go Go / that’s like trying to meet Obama on the Metro.”

The whole record is streaming on the band’s Purevolume page (I know, right? Purevolume still exists! Good for them.) and available for purchase wherever excellent music is sold.

– Words by Nathan Leigh