Tuesday, December 20, 2011
2011 has come and almost gone, and with it came another hearty selection of music releases from Baltimore. While we lost some historic bands this year (Double Dagger, Ponytail, Thank You), 2011 continued Baltimore's outpour of quality records.
Narrowing this down to a list was difficult - taking into account vinyl wear and tear, digital play counts, love, and the release's meaning to a continually thriving scene.
There is one release from a Swedish band. This gets a pass because the record features a lineup with lead vocals from Daniel Higgs. It also gets a pass because it's amazing. Also, there are a handful of records on here that I helped release via Friends Records.
Here are my top 25 music albums from Baltimore, Maryland in 2011.
25. Daytime - Daytime's Serendipity
24. Each Others - Lately Now
23. Roomrunner - Roomrunner
22. Holy Ghost Party - Holy Ghost Party
21. Vlonde - The Grief of O
20. Romantic States - Still Petals
19. Inflatable Mattress - Pumped Up
18. Arbouretum - The Gathering
17. Dog Leather - Greezy Man and Stinky Man Meets Smutty Ranks On Tarantula Hill
16. Ken Seeno - Invisible Surfer On An Invisible Wave
15. Witch Hat - Brown in a Dog
14. Adventure - Lesser Known
13. Skull Defekts - Peer Amid
12. Moss of Aura - Wading
11. Run DMT - Dreaming
10. Zomes - Earth Grid
9. Thank You - Golden Worry
8. White Life - White Life
7. Co La - Dial Tone Earth
6. Ponytail - Do Whatever You Want All The Time
5. Microkingdom - Three Compositions of No Jazz
4. Dope Body - Nupping
3. Wye Oak - Civilian
2. Future Islands - On The Water
1. Celebration - Electric Tarot: Hello Paradise
Monday, December 12, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Friends Records has been collecting songs since the beginning of 2011, and the result is a 30 song compilation full of new and exclusive tracks from Baltimore, Maryland.
Friends Records 2011 is out tomorrow, a free digital and limited double-cassette release available Thanksgiving Day. Citypaper premiered the opening track, a new Celebration song called "Sure Shot" that was recorded in the band's own Night Worm Studios.
Mark at YVYNYL uncovered another preview last week, Weekends' "Basement Fuzz."
The compilation was mastered for cassette by Rob Giradi at Lord Baltimore, and the artwork for the double-tape packaging comes compliments of Will Pesta.
The track list of this annual affair boasts a hefty supply of Baltimore heroes, with an unreleased Future Islands song recorded for KEXP, a recently recorded Dan Deacon track, the debut of Jenn Wasner's (Wye Oak) Flock of Dimes, new explorations by Jason Urick, a stark reminder of the return of Oxes, a lost gem from Dustin Wong and Molly Siegel, a new-anything wonder from Matt Papich's Co La, and more.
It also sports an Arthur Russell cover by Soft Cat, fresh digs from Holy Ghost Party, a hearty dose of sugar by Will Pesta's Inflatable Mattress, a new live jam from Lands and Peoples, some exclusive hard-nosed tomfoolery from Witch Hat, another psychedelic gift from Secret Mountains, and a lot more. Check out the entire track list below.
Celebration - Sure Shot 4.37
Future Islands - Tomorrow (Live @ KEXP) 3:31
Weekends - Basement Fuzz 2:08
Microkingdom - God's Total Woman 5:28
Moss Of Aura - Post 4:22
Jason Urick - Woman (For Jah Shaka) 6:58
Oxes - Hiawatha (Live @ WNUR) 4:51
Witch Hat - Break Interstate Park 5:28
Violet Hour - Absence Of Limbs 5:47
Sri Aurobindo - No Coincidence 3:29
Lonnie Walker - Inside Factories 3:49
Height With Friends - Mustard Seed 2:08
Soft Cat - This Is How We Walk On The Moon 3:36
Lands and Peoples - Memo (Live) 3:35
Flock Of Dimes - Prison Bride 2:54
Beth Varden - I Can't Stand 5:59
Brian Adam Ant - Psychic Assassins 2:23
Secret Mountains - Weepy Little Fingers 6:18
Buhloones - Something Else Exchange 2:13
Holy Ghost Party - Breakfast 3:26
Beyond Say - Bowl Of Water Moccassins 3:37
Dan Deacon - The Token Circle High 1:23
Co La - Visions Of Excess (Wet Version) 6:26
Jake Lingan - Hair Trigger 3;42
Vlonde - Love Theme 4:55
Avocado Happy Hour - Tactic 4:19
Dustin Wong and Molly Siegel - Untitled 1:52
Chase O'Hara and Amy Reid - Love You In Summer 2:43
Inflatable Mattress - Fantasy Motorboat 2:22
Neal Reinalda - Sunset In Baltimore 5:10
Get the double-cassette or free digital download right here on Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 18, 2011
"Great Pyramid" is the final statement on side A of Celebration's most recent LP, Hello Paradise. The band channels a card in the tarot that deals "the boss, the king, male influence and authority, planning, building, construction, seeking stability, ambition and confidence, tradition, order, and structure." The song begins with a simple question, “Hey Kingdom, where do your ambitions lie?”
It concludes with Katrina Ford demanding you to "stand up, to the top." Last weekend Ford's band, Celebration, were asked by Occupy Baltimore to play at McKeldin Square, the site of Occupy Baltimore's encampment. The Baltimore Police Department got wind of the performance, and shut it down before it could even take place, threatening to confiscate instruments and "remove" individuals that performed.
Now more than ever is a good time to "stand up, declare damn! God damn! I’m alive!” To be alive is to be free, and we can all at least agree on the right to freedom. Right?
The following is an open letter to the universe from Celebration's Katrina Ford.
OWS! Occupy! Occupy! The idea is grand and hopeful, it has crept in and gained momentum and support from across the globe. I feel my depression finally lifting. OWS to me, is a tribal community of care in a world I thought had forgotten how to dream big. The cat is out of the bag, on the street, and the world is watching!
I believe the more it is resisted and evicted the more it will grow, which is beautiful and scary to me. Beautiful because of the utopian ideals that it represents, to see people sharing and believing that we can make a better life for ALL, not just the 1%. Scary because the resistance has shown it's true colors, and they are violently violating the law they represent, AND they have weapons.
As I watch video after video of these brutalities I ask, Where's the humanity? Has basic human rights gone straight down the tube?!
A month ago, representatives from Occupy Baltimore contacted us and asked us to come down and play. We had been to Mckeldin Square a few times over the past few weeks and wanted to help. It's cold and sometimes boring standing around waiting for a wave. We hoped by bringing some dancing and music we'd give them some much needed entertainment and something to bounce around and warm up to. So we agreed on a date and started to plan our equipment to fit the space and energy limitations.
The Baltimore Sun announced our upcoming performance, which alerted the authorities. A week before the day, Occupy Baltimore was told by the city that no generators could be used for the performance and that they would require them to have security for the event. So at the news we scrambled to find a battery powered version of us.
On the day of the show, police showed up to the encampment and told Occupy that if we brought in any PA it would be confiscated. Furthermore, if anyone performed they would be "removed." So we left our bongos and pump organ at home and showed up empty handed. We had to at least explain to our friends why we couldn't play.
After an hour of standing around and asking ourselves questions like "if I clap my hands is that performing?" or "will they arrest me if I sing and stomp on the street?" We saw the humor in it and felt like the heroes of Footloose. Then I began to see the gravity. We dared not challenge it at the request of Occupy, they felt like their relations with the city had been good but strained and didn't want to push it. We had all but given up, then at some point two of the officers walked over to bridge the gap, so we thought.
It ended up being a dodgy conversation on what kind of music will be played and what equipment they allowed. Basically it was micro diced until we were left with no real option. They didn't want us to make any noise, we had no permit to.
We feeling somewhat of a coitus interruptus, pulled together a renegade performance at Holy Frijoles later that night. As for playing directly for Occupy we are still waiting word to see if we can perform SOMETHING for the big day this coming Saturday and I'm still determined to bring a little celebration to the movement.
I am part of the 99% and I am behind it 100%. ---K. Ford
Friday, November 11, 2011
It was really hot outside. I arrived at the Copycat early one Saturday to help out with a music video. The Copycat Theatre troupe, responsible for Rooms Play and other wonderment, had written and choreographed a short for our friends Weekends.
Guy Werner and Kevin Blackistone descended upon the space with a truck full of lights (hot lights) and the rest of their video gear. What ensued was a video for two songs off of Weekends' Strange Cultures. Brendan Sullivan and Adam Lempel are invaded during a sweaty rendition of "Roommate" in their old practice space, and taken to the Copycat Theater's fantasy world for "Raingirls." Claymation animates the second half, a psychedelic whirlwind of clay, umbrellas, dancing, and Sam Shea in a bear costume.
The first half of this was recorded that hot Saturday, the daylong shoot ended with Weekends rushing over to a gig at Floristree. Brendan rode with me over to the H&H, and there's still red body paint from the video's abduction on my passenger seat.
Weekends are working on their next LP now, the first taste of which will be here.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Last weekend Friends Records hosted an epic lineup that included Thank You's final U.S. appearance and a rare (and powerful) set from Oxes. This all-Baltimore lineup also included the likes of Witch Hat and Sri Aurobindo, and Valerie was there to capture all the action. Don't sleep on Oxes' forthcoming 12". Also - thank you, Thank You.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
poster by Chris Day
There have already been a handful of "show of the year" candidates, but this Saturday's G Spot bill is a hefty contender. As pointed out in Tuesday's piece that included a chat with band founder Jeff McGrath, this will be Thank You's last show in the United States of America before heading over to Europe for their final tour that concludes at ATP.
In addition, this will be the world's first chance at scoring the first U.S. Oxes release since 2005 - a new 12" called Bile Stbudy that will be limited to 650 copies.
Joining these two heavyweights Saturday evening will be Witch Hat and Sri Aurobindo, both fresh off new vinyl releases. Don't sleep on Brown in a Dog or Eyes, and definitely don't wait too long to grab tickets for this monster of a show.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
There have been a few major casualties this year within Baltimore’s music scene, starting with Ponytail and Double Dagger. A third perennial live force announces it’s departure today as Thank You will play it’s last U.S. show this weekend in Baltimore, and it’s final show this December on a European tour.
In conversation yesterday, band founder Jeff McGrath admitted that Thank You’s G Spot show with Oxes this Saturday and their forthcoming European tour will be their last of a six year run. The band is set to play their final show at ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas at the invitation of former tour mates, Battles.
Jeff explains, “It sort of just feels like we’re moving out of an apartment.” A few weeks ago William Cashion of Future Islands asked Thank You if they wanted to join them for a January tour. When the band got together to discuss William’s proposal, it became evident to everyone that not all of the members still enjoyed touring or had the will to continue to do so.
Each of Thank You’s LPs since their days with original drummer Elke Wardlaw have been hand-crafted with a strong ode to their live performance. First and foremost, Thank You is very much a live band. Without this component, all four current members couldn’t envision moving forward under the same moniker. Jeff was quick to point out that they’ll all remain best friends, they all plan to stay living in Baltimore, and that they all plan to continue making music - just with different friends and artists. This makes sense, especially when considering the musical cycle currently occurring in Baltimore.
Since Whartscape’s conclusion, a number of pivotal bands in Baltimore’s music scene have disbanded. Besides geography, a few other similarities link together these break-ups. They were executed positively, brought on by pure motives, and instilled the core values of friendship. None involved ill wills, hefty egos, or tugs at fame. They occurred because either the band wanted to go out on top, or because it’s members creativity would flourish more within separate entities.
To the casual bystander, Baltimore’s music scene may appear to have a few holes. However, a closer look reveals at least ten other willing and eager bands for every disbanded group of heroes. Though Whartscape and a handful of its pioneers may have retired their household names, there remains a thriving community that's arguably even stronger than ever.
Pivotol bands might break up, but their members tend to start or join new projects with other friends in town. Jeff McGrath put it rather simply yesterday, “The nature of this city is friendliness.” In a music scene that relies heavily upon a tight-knit community, it’s important to say thank you to friends that help continue its evolution.
Thank You has one final release in store; details are forthcoming.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
It's been made pretty clear that these dudes have put out one of the finest albums of the year in On The Water, and today they hit the road with Ed Schrader's Music Beat.
Tonight Future Islands play Black Cat's main stage down in D.C. with Javelin on support for the first leg of their massive tour. William Cashion, Sam Herring, and Gerrit Welmers celebrated the release of their new record last week at the intimate confines of The Depot, and Valerie was there to capture all the action.
Tour dates are right here, and more photos after the jump.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
photo by Eye Bodega
The Dan Deacon Ensemble has fluctuated in size and dynamic since it's original Bromst components several years ago. On Friday, December 16 in Baltimore, a new ensemble will be unveiled. The new five piece will make its debut at the Ottobar on the just announced triple-threat bill that also includes Celebration and Matmos.
Dan writes that this ensemble will include Denny Bowen, Dave Jacober, Chester Gwazda, and Jordan Casey - to which he aptly described as "champions." A completely warranted statement with this new double-synth, double-percussion powerhouse that includes members of Double Dagger, Dope Body, and more. Deacon is currently engulfed in writing the next LP, and this show looks to be a good introduction to what's next.
Toss in the city's finest psych-soul warriors Celebration, and local legends Matmos, and you've got yourself a big one. Tickets go on sale today over at the Ottobar.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Your new favorite cassette is over at Wigflip right now, fresh beats from the label founder himself. Will Pesta is Inflatable Mattress, who is also known to produce psycho-ambient swirls under the Happy Family moniker. I covered the first side of this tape, Pumped Up, back at the beginning of this year.
Side B sports Blue Mattress - a deeper cosmic adventure through beats. "Silent Heads" is an early groove on the side, a stand-out lifter that rolls like clouds over a skyscraper.
This is Wigflip's newest offering, available to order now on tape from their site or digitally over on Boomkat. Also, you definitely don't want to miss out on this wonked-out romper room short for the Jazzy J mix of "Funkhouser."
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The Ed Schrader Show was back in action a few weeks ago, and the glorious new episode just went live on the interwebs last night compliments of Guy Werner and probably a million other awesome people. This episode featured Ellie Beziat (Sick Weapons, RIP), director Matt Porterfield, and a performance by Future Islands.
Watch it below and after the jump, and steer clear of the cat with herpes in its eye.
Friday, October 7, 2011
On Saturday in Baltimore you can go see two bands that will likely be responsible for the best two records to come out of town this year - Celebration and Future Islands.
Next week marks the release of On The Water, the third long player from Future Islands. Words can only begin to describe the magnitude of this record, churning feelings and evoking a sense of consciousness that's found between the perfect balance of sheer joy and utter despair. Throw in a guest appearance by Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, Denny Bowen laying down live drums, and beyond-perfect production by Chester Endersby Gwazda, and dudes have created a masterpiece. Future Islands play their only in-store performance of their massive upcoming North American tour tomorrow at 5 PM at Sound Garden.
Celebration relinquished their first LP in a number of years earlier in 2011, a nine song affair titled Hello Paradise. Not only was each song perfect in just about every way, but the statement made in the story behind the record highlights just about everything wrong with today's music industry. Celebration are putting on an intimate performance at The Metro Gallery on Saturday night with Lands and Peoples before they head out on the road for a southern tour with Arbouretum later this month.
View tour dates for both Future Islands and Celebration after the jump.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Just about every band that I've ever covered from Baltimore probably owes a nod to the trio of Chris Freeland, Marc Miller, and Nat Fowler. Oxes haven't had a U.S. release since 2005, but have still managed to be there when Baltimore's needed them most.
Whartscape 2008 (below) and Whoxescape in 2010 (above) are a few of the rare appearances they've tossed our way since, but that changes this Fall.
They shall stand on boxes again, and this time with a couple new releases on the table. The first of which is called Bile Stbudy - a new 12" limited to five hundred copies on Friends Records. The wax will feature "Crunchy Zest", "Orange Jewelryist", and more.
"Crunchy Zest" has made a few stellar live appearances, including this one.
In addition to new releases, Oxes have shows in the works. The first of which Citypaper spilled the news on last week - November 5 at Baltimore's thought-to-be-dead G Spot with Thank You and special guests. RSVP to that here. They were also invited by Les Savy Fav to play ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas this December in England.
Pre-order Bile Stbudy here, and you'll want to stay tuned for the next Oxes release.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Fan Death Records spouted out a whole mess of spectacular noise this week, including a track from their forthcoming Roomrunner cassette called "Spinning".
We're pretty stoked to be able to follow up that post about Double Dagger calling it quits with a promising new single from drummer Denny Bowen's band Roomrunner. "Spinning" is aural proof that no one kid can ever grow up on too much Nirvana. A killer burst of noise-pop bliss that odes to the 90s without kissing too much ass.
Roomrunner is made up of Denny Bowen, Dan Frome, John Jones, and Bret Lanahan. The new songs were recorded by Dan Frome, who also plays guitar. The "Frome Dome" came in handy especially for the vocals, as Denny felt comfortable enough to record his voice there instead of renting a car and going out to a parking lot somewhere in the county as previously planned. Bowen has been writing the songs over the past two years.
The debut Roomrunner cassette is part of a new tape series from Fan Death Records, where each proprietor of the label chose a different band to make a tape of. This was Sean Gray's choice, and you can get all four titles for only seventeen bucks right here.
Monday, September 26, 2011
A few weeks ago Holy Ghost Party performed at the Metro Gallery as a duo, with their debut full length fresh off of a release on cassette (Friends) and vinyl (GenPop). Guy Werner taped the whole live set, a calculated raucous that occupied in the same realm as their Worlds in Collusion performance did earlier this year.
Head over to Push Record Play for sets by Deradoorian and Co La from the same night.
Co La 09-10-11 @ Metro by Guy Werner
Friday, September 16, 2011
I began this week posting about a new beginning, but will end it with a farewell. After nine years together, Double Dagger have announced their final string of shows.
Perhaps Steve Buckhantz said it best. Dagger, indeed. Dudes are throwing in the towel at a high point, after two of their finest releases - More and Masks. From the band:
We've accomplished a lot in those nine years, playing some incredible shows with bands we love and in places we never thought we'd get to play. We've been fortunate enough to have several great labels support us along the way, starting with local friends Hit-Dat, and later Chicago-based labels Stationary (Heart) and Thrill Jockey, as well as hometown labels Toxic Pop and Terra Firma.
To answer the inevitable question about why we're breaking up: Like any relationship's end, it's complex, but for us it mostly comes down to time. As the band got older and grew and changed, the people in it did too, and our individual lives are pulling us towards other pursuits. With this in mind, we decided to focus on playing a few final shows in some of our favorite cities, and go out on a high note instead of slowing fading away. We still like the music, the shows, and each other, and we think it's best to bring things to a close while we can still devote our full energy to this music.
We've been taking time off from playing live to finish a few new songs, which will be released posthumously in some format (the details are still being figured out). We've also been planning a string of final shows in some of our favorite cities next month.
We could fill a book with the people we want to thank for everything they've done for us over the years. Those who helped us out in any way from putting out our records, helping us screenprint record covers and t-shirts, taking a chance on booking us in other cities we'd never played before (or booking us time and time again), roommates who sat through countless hours of practice (and sometimes recording), strangers who made us meals in their homes, let us sleep on their floors, drove us around, put up with our bad jokes, lent us equipment (though more often it happened that we were the lenders), absorbed the onstage insults, didn't sue us when getting hit in the head with drums, gave us good advice, bought the records and came to the shows and flipped out which gave us the energy to better do the same, and most importantly the girlfriends and wives who let us take the time to do this, all of you made everything we've put into this worth it.
We're all creative dudes so this isn't the last you'll hear from us, but it is (almost) the end of the line for hearing from us together as Double Dagger. The last of it will be that forthcoming collection of songs and the last few Double Dagger shows.
Double Dagger's final shows are listed after the jump.
Monday, September 12, 2011
It kind of feels like Christmas morning when a new label pops up in Baltimore, especially when it is one this good. Say hello to Culture Dealer, a new outlet by Mike Collins.
With a handful of analog offerings already underway, this new label looks to specialize in short-run oddities of the highest caliber of weird. The teaser for Culture Dealer's flagship VHS is above, a fifty minute production called Video Door. The label promises a "compilation of mental maps, warped perspectives, dream exploits, nose cameras, audio-visual experiments and much more." It will feature work by Baltimore's Run DMT, Justin Kelly, Alex Deranian, Chase O'Hara, Will Pesta and more along with folks from out of town as well. You can order it now on green VHS for $7 right here.
Another inaugural release from Culture Dealer is a new cassette from the label boss himself, Run DMT. The album is called DREAMS, and streaming above is a new track from it called "Romantic". Mike just sent me the full tape yesterday, and I look forward to sharing more about this amazing cassette over on Impose in the coming weeks.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
While the first night of IRL aims at your heart, the second night of the exhibit opening aims to please your feet. This Saturday 9/10 you'll find Co La, Deradoorian (Angel from Dirty Projectors), Holy Ghost Party, and Maxmillion Dunbar at the Metro Gallery.
This will be your first chance to grip Co La's Fugitive of Leisure cassette, a summer single series that concluded today with the full album up now over on Altered Zones. These new Co La bangers are further affirmation of Papich's "new anything" genre, a re-contorted and re-imagined sound defined by years of pop music.
Check out cuts from all four acts playing the second night of IRL below.
You can RSVP for night two of IRL at the Metro Gallery right here.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Bmore Musically Informed is super excited to announce its first gallery exhibition, a photo show called IRL that kicks off this Friday night at the Metro Gallery.
Featuring shots that have only existed in the internet world until now, the exhibit aims to portray shows that took place in real life in Baltimore. The show will feature work by Valerie Paulsgrove, Chrissy Abbott, and Adam Lempel. It will also include live audio contributions by David Carter and live video contributions by Guy Werner.
Opening weekend for the exhibit starts September 9 with the following heart-melters:
You can RSVP to see Secret Mountains, Soft Cat, and Arches right here.