Thursday, March 31, 2011
Last weekend I had the pleasure of sitting next to WTR CLR's table during the Publication & Multiples Fair at Open Space, as if I hadn't already dug deep enough into their catalog.
With recent standout releases that include work from Ken Seeno, Holy Ghost Party, Gem Vision, and Dustin Wong, it's been tough to not spend a ton of time with each album WTR CLR has put out. A new one to my eyes and ears this past weekend was a split CDR from Eachothers and En Passant. Take a listen to Eachothers' "Brim" below.
I've only had a chance to spend some time with the Eachothers disc, as having experienced John Jones' live shows a few times prior, it was a welcome find. The sound is rich in layered guitar bliss, and Lately Now does more to build upon the brilliance of his earlier work. In many instances of looping guitar music there are often definitive start and ending points for each sound and layer. But with Eachothers, layers and loops don't ever really end or start as much as they intertwine and melt together.
The packaging of this double CDR is also worth noting, as it comes in a beautifully colored cardboard encasing thats about the same size as a DVD. The front is pictured above, but I'd recommend ordering your own copy from WTR CLR to get the full effect.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
First off, Weekends' debut 12" LP dubbed Strange Cultures is now in stores nationwide. It's been a long time coming, and I've had the pleasure of observing since it's inception.
Sitting in on the mixing of the record with Rob Girardi last year, I recall a feeling of uncharted experimentation felt collectively between the band, Friends Recs, and Rob. Specifically, I remember going over to Rob's studio for the first time and listening to "Roomate", salivating over the chance to share this joyous noise with the world.
Above is a brand new acoustic take on "Roomate", a preview of a short-run cassette due out soon that features a collection of stripped-down tunes by Weekends. This one highlights the slow building pop song underneath the drowning melodic fuzz of the original, but there's another new one that takes you straight to the campfire sing-a-long.
"Home Alone" features Amy Marco of Soft Cat on violin. The original electric version is the only "ballad" to be found on Strange Cultures. The acoustic take shines light on the quiet group-chant foot-stomper that rusts well with age yet features a heap of youthful exuberance. This gem will also be found on the forthcoming acoustic tape.
Look out for the acoustic release, and be sure to grip the 12" right here.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Asa Osborne is certainly more than just an iconic figure of Baltimore's scene, guitarist of Lungfish, and purveyor of Zomes. Osborne continues to instill output far beyond this universe, and it's the more intimate and deeply personal sounds of Zomes that allow you to see what this Baltimore mainstay really represents.
"Openings" is appropriately the first track of the forthcoming Zomes record, which will be his second full length under his solo moniker. The new album is called Earth Grid and comes via the good folks at Thrill Jockey. I've had a chance to spend a bit of time with the new LP, and am pleased to report that it's more of the same personal and reflective meditations achieved via fuzzy tones and hypnotizing melodies.
Zomes records synths and simple drum beats straight to tape, producing just the right amount of hiss and distortion to create textures that are totally unique to this project. While the melodies and beats might be simple and repetitive, the subtle variations and deep textures are what make these songs what they are -- total meditative bliss.
Look out for some more good news on Zomes from us in the very near future.
Monday, March 28, 2011
I don't typically mention shows this far in advance, but next month a show will mark an end of an era. This particular era has been extremely important to Baltimore's music scene. While a functioning entity that represents this time might be calling it quits, it's influence and legacy will remain here in Baltimore in new and similar shapes and forms.
Wildfire Wildfire is a record label from Baltimore headed by Devon Deimler and Matthew Papich, but consisted of many other amazing individuals that helped shape it's success. I sat down with Matthew this past weekend to discuss a few things, amongst which he told me about how Wildfire Wildfire would be coming to an end soon.
The label is throwing one last show, which will be held at Floristree on May 6. The lineup currently includes Jason Willett, Co La, Thank You, Dustin Wong. More TBA soon.
This might also be your last chance to grip some Wildfire Wildfire vinyl, as the label is getting rid of it's entire stock. Anything left over will be given to the artists, though. Stayed tuned for more details on this big big show, and more news involving some of the artists included on their roster. "Celebrate the end of an era. What, me worry?"
Friday, March 25, 2011
This weekend there's a few things worth noting, including Open Space's second annual Publication & Multiples Fair. The event takes places on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 PM, and features offerings from some of the best creative outlets in town.
Tonight, the Hexagon has you covered with a performance by Ed Schrader's Music Beat. Amongst other's joining that bill tonight, Creepoid will be gracing Baltimore with their presence. Spawned from Philly's The G, who I interviewed a few years ago, folks are fresh off the release of a rad new LP. Peep the first video below.
Tonight's show at the Hexagon starts at 10 PM and you can RSVP here.
Dog Leather is is the duo of Max Eisenberg aka DJ Dog Dick and Sewn Leather. I've had the pleasure of experiencing this unthinkable tandem live a few times, and recently posted the video for the first single called "Troll Spray". The debut LP is now available via Ehse Records, and I took advantage and downloaded it yesterday.
I had trouble choosing a track to share after my first few listens, as this beast beholds a multitude of righteous oddities that are worth a listen. I could have gone with "Gonky Monks", which would have been an abrasive introduction to a duo that deserves it. Or, I could have chose "Stikky Yurple Stomp", a peak into the more avant noise-hop explorations found on the record. Instead, I decided to go with "Do Gleat Her".
This is the only track of it's kind on the LP, a spring-time hazer that goes down smoother than the rest of the scuzzy wonderment found on the Dog Leather debut. It seems to be the record's love song, a softer moment found within a piece titled Greezy Man and Stinky Man Meets Smutty Ranks On Tarantula Hill. Maybe not a fair representation, but peep the video for "Bad Poets Society" for a better idea of the LP's full scope.
You can snag the new LP from Ehse Records via MP3, CD, or vinyl right here.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
A few weeks ago I gushed about Ken Seeno's release with NNA Tapes, and here I am again with a new release from the Ponytail guitarist. Sample "Spirit of '77" below.
"Spirit of 77" comes later on in Ken Seeno's new tape, likely at a time when you've stepped through the open window and are amongst the clouds. Not to say that the entire cassette doesn't make you feel as if you've been lifted into the stratosphere, because it really does. But, while other melodies feel more personal and enclosed, "Spirit of '77" delivers the feeling of endless possibilities and truly open skies.
This album was actually recorded before Invisible Surfer On An Invisible Wave, marking this as Ken's solo debut. The familiar signs of Seeno's rock band Ponytail are present here and there, but Open Window finds him exploring vastly different and more cavernous avenues. Ken Seeno fills these empty spaces with simple and and hypnotic beats, experimental melodies, and entrancing synths fit for the cosmos.
Buy the cassette from WTR CLR, or download the whole thing for free right here.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Photos of Celebration's recent album release show from our own Valerie Paulsgrove got lost in the SXSW shuffle last week, but today I've got those and more good stuff to share.
Celebration have just announced a string of new tour dates, as they'll be supporting their friends TV on The Radio in a few weeks. It's a weekend tour that hits Philadelphia, Charlottesville, and Baltimore. The Philly date is Friday, April 8 at the Electric Factory, the stop in Charlottesville is Saturday, April 9 at the Jefferson Theatre, and Sunday, April 10 Celebration play a hometown show at Rams Head with TV on The Radio.
I've got a pair of VIP passes to give away to someone for the Baltimore show. To enter, singer Katrina Ford has devised a contest. Email a photo you took of something you consider "MAGICAL" to firstname.lastname@example.org. It doesn't need to be fancy, a camera phone photo is preferred, and please keep the file sizes small.
A few weeks ago Friends Records hosted Celebration's release show at the 2640 Space with Future Islands and Arbouretum. The old church was transformed into our own Hello Paradise, and a cosmic evening of some of our favorite Baltimore bands ensued.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I went down to SXSW for the first time this year. I've heard just about every angle and opinion on the sprawling Austin, TX music festival from friends and musicians, but this year I went and saw for myself. I attended the event as a music fan, blogger, record label co-owner, promoter, and even had a band proclaim me as their tour manager. I've heard folks boast of endless free beer and shows, tacos, and great weather, while others have scorned me on taxing schedules, greedy industry heads, and total chaos.
I did my best to experience and learn about SXSW from as many views as possible, but mostly just attempted to pack as much live music into a one week span that fit.
Secret Mountains played a house show for their first set in Austin, an intimate affair that featured some of the most amazing living room sound I've ever experienced. This party showed off some of Austin's admirable hospitality, including a team of local beer enthusiasts that offered up free kegs of awesome home-brewed IPA and stout.
Lands and Peoples and Secret Mountains toured to Austin from Baltimore. I spent most of my time hanging out with both bands, attending gatherings of all varieties. Some were showcases for other bloggers that I've come to know and love, like the one both bands played on Friday. Put together by our friends at IGIF with help from Lefse and Big Ugly Yellow Couch, Lands and Peoples are pictured above playing their daytime set. Gobble Gobble performed that night, unleashing the only live antics all week that had me feeling like I was home in Baltimore. Dudes had the whole room dancing and getting in on it.
Another aurally stimulating affair played by both bands was the Head Underwater and Kassette Klub showcase. Amongst many others, it featured a stripped-down set from Tooth Ache. Hailing from Vermont, Tooth Ache's blend of warped synths and heavy beats paired cosmically with her chamber-esque vocals that had me totally entranced.
The rest of the week was chock full of amazing sounds, including catching once-Baltimore resident Cass McCombs at the Gorilla Vs. Bear / Mexican Summer showcase.
Our friends at Impose hosted a killer party every night. The show that we attended included back-to-back sets from Woodsman, Sun Araw, and Moon Duo who all killed it.
Another one of my favorite sets came from a solo project dubbed Porcelain Raft at the Forest Family / Transparent showcase, who reminded me a bit of a more jaded version of Winks. Later on that night we went back for a bar-exploding set from the garage royalty known as King Tuff, who blazed through gem after gem of their catalog.
The biggest spectacle of the week was Odd Future, seen above jumping from the speakers into the crowd. Their leader, Tyler the Creator, jumped from ones twice as high earlier in the set at this show. No one was injured (that I know of), unlike at the Thrasher party earlier that day where someone in the crowd got their nose broken.
IS SXSW WORTH IT???
SXSW was every bit as draining as one can imagine, where taking a break to catch your breath could mean missing a once-in-a-lifetime performance. But, is it worth all the effort, dedication, and money? From a music fan's perspective, it was worth it. With a non-stop slew of free concerts at your immediate disposal, no other festival compares.
From a musician's standpoint, the pay-off seems a bit more unclear. Artists can spend lots of money and/or time touring or traveling to the festival, then bolt around like workhorses from one showcase to the next only to display all their hard work while banner ads for soda and beer hang behind their instruments on stage. It is extremely rare that musicians get paid for any of their performances, all while millions of dollars in sponsorships and advertisements gets tossed around from one big wig to another. Even the smaller showcases put together by folks who actually care (including most of the ones mentioned above) are forced to put all of their budget towards PA's and space rental, as sound guys and rooms seemingly become a lot more pricier during SXSW.
Bands are willing to play SXSW for free because they are promised great exposure and a chance to play in front of music industry execs. However, when was the last time you heard about a band getting "discovered" or "breaking out" just from SXSW? Seems to me, the bands that get the most press from the festival are the ones that are already the blogger and media darlings of that current moment (e.g., Odd Future, James Blake, etc).
This is not meant to be an attack on SXSW, but in a time where the music industry is scrambling to figure out "what's next" or "what works", this massive fest appears to just reinforce the industry's old indulgent and greedy ways instead of trying to progress.
Monday, March 21, 2011
I'll be back in full force soon enough, but for now be sure and make plans to head to the Windup Space this Wednesday for Secret Mountains, Brendan Sullivan, and Outer Minds.
The show starts at 8 PM, costs six dollars, and you can RSVP here. I'll resume regular posting tomorrow, starting with a reflection on my week spent in Austin at SXSW...
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Two weeks ago Future Islands played the first of their first two Baltimore shows of 2011, with an acoustic and electric set at the Creative Alliance over on the east side of town.
The electric set featured some of the first offerings of new songs, as the band is currently amidst recording their next release. Even more were played the following week, last weekend at the 2640 Space for Celebration's release show. The new songs show off an even darker side of the band, but you wouldn't be able to tell based off the balloons, smiles, and roses seen in Valerie's photographs of the event at the Creative Alliance.
If you're not heading down to the Black Cat for their sold out affair with Wye Oak, Lower Dens, and Lands and Peoples tonight, then the Soft House has surely got you covered.
Tonight the space hosts Co La (Matthew Papich's awesome new project that I gushed about last week), Future Shuttle, Hubble, Bow Ribbons, and Nugg (Comeback Ranch).
The show tonight starts at 10 PM, probably accepts donations, and you can RSVP here.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Secret Mountains leave for tour tomorrow with their friends, Lands and Peoples. To SXSW and back, both bands have been hard at work on new music. Lands and Peoples have been busy working on their debut full length, while Secret Mountains just dropped Rejoice. Secret Mountains already have another new song, take a gander below.
"Weepy Little Fingers" is a live favorite, as the young six-piece generally blasts this one with pride. It is among the first batch of new songs recorded at Mobtown Studios. The song rings hard from the beginning, twisting and entrancing it's way to your heart via Kelly's mean vocals and the rest of the crew's knack for psych-coated folk pop. It was submitted for the forthcoming Friends Records compilation, more on which is TBA.
In celebration of their joint tour to SXSW, Lands and Peoples and Secret Mountains have created an interactive ambient collage of members performing live. Videos of these performances are arranged in a grid, allowing the user to create their own experience.
Don't sleep on the exhibit page or the new song, and peep all the tour dates below.
3/11 Charlottesville, VA The Tea Bazaar - DOM, Andrew Cedarmark (just SM)
3/11 Washington, DC The Black Cat Wye Oak, Lower Dens (just L&P)
3/12 Savannah, GA Savannah Stopover Festival Murder By Death, Birds of Avalon
3/13 Tallahasse, Fl The Farside Holiday Shores, Levek + More
3/14 New Orleans, LA The Saint We Are Country Mice + More
3/15 Houston, TX Super Happy Fun Land We Are Country Mice + More
3/16 Austin, TX Animal Style (House Show) Lots of fun bands!
3/17 Austin, TX Hot Mama's Kassette Klub + Head Underwater Showcase
3/17 Austin, TX Thunderbird Coffee Giant Step Productions Showcase
3/18 Austin, TX Lipstick 24 I Guess I'm Floating Showcase
3/21 Oxford, MS Cats Purring Dude Ranch Gobble Gobble + More
3/23 Baltimore, MD The Windup Space Brendan Sullivan, Outer Minds
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tonight the Golden West has fun one with King Tuff coming to town. He'll be joined by Baltimore's always awesome Hollywood, along with Heavy Cream and The Bam Bams.
This show starts at 10 PM tonight, costs $7, and you can RSVP here.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Wye Oak's third record, Civilian, drops today on Merge. To celebrate, here is the last song played at a Paper Kingdom show in 2007. MP3 originally obtained via Butter Team.
This is back when Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner were known as Monarch, and this was a brand new song at the time. Andy and Jenn will be playing current brand new songs at Soundgarden later today, around 7:30. They will also be playing this Friday night in D.C. at the Black Cat with Lands & Peoples and Lower Dens, a pretty rad lineup of Baltimore bands in our neighboring capital. Their next big local show is April 16 at the 2640 Space.
Our friends and proprietors of my favorite record label in Baltimore, Chris and Sean of Fan Death Records, recently sent over the single to a forthcoming LP in the works.
The forthcoming release is by Puerto Rico Flowers, and it's called 7. Its due out on wax this summer, and follows up the EP titled 4 and the 7" called 2 that came out last year on Fan Death. I was sent the rough mixes of the new record yesterday, and have played nothing else since. It appears likely that this is going to be the biggest record that Fan Death has released, as John Sharkey III may be relinquishing his opus upon us.
"3 Sisters" is the first single to be heard from the new LP, and is a solid example of the massive nature of the forthcoming record. With his first two releases Sharkey displayed his ability to sound huge while keeping it incredibly simple, with sparse blends of synths, guitars, and drums that sounded much more prevalent when put together. This presence is what anchors "3 Sisters", easily Puerto Rico Flowers' heaviest pop song to date.
While the single hits harder than Gravedigger's descent onto junkyard cars, it's the more intimate moments on the record that will likely cement this as an instant classic. The last track is the best example of this, as "After The Weekend" recalls Neil Young's more personal moments, all while maintaining the grungy dark-wave vibe more commonly found. Fan Death told me it's his "See The Sky About To Rain" or "Philadelphia".
The new record finds Sharkey working with Philly's Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile,The War on Drugs, Clockcleaner, FNU Ronnies) on production. Kurt Vile guests on the record, appearing on the track "Keep Me Around". 7 is out via Fan Death Records in May/June.
Monday, March 7, 2011
"Easy Peasy" is the opening track of the forthcoming Ponytail LP, a record that will likely make a lot of noise in a bit of a quiet period for the local spazz-induced art rock force.
Ken Seeno, who has recently spawned a wealth of radical new solo sounds, kindly passed along the new Ponytail LP to me a few weeks ago. It hasn't stray far from my ears, as Do Whatever You Want All The Time appears to be a stellar follow-up to Ice Cream Spiritual.
While similar hyperactive passages and exploratory guitar noise are implemented, the new work seems to find the band honing in on a much more focused mission. Their goal again is to spread an incredibly positive feeling in the form of textured guitar wizardry, percussive vocals, and mind-numbing drum beats. However, this time that objective is complimented with a plethora of softer and more melodic moments.
A more diverse pallet is certainly drawn from on this record, but "Easy Peasy" proves that the same sugar-coated and lovable sound is what still drives this Baltimore band. The new LP is out next month on We Are Free, and don't sleep on the teaser video.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Two rad shows tonight more than worth mentioning, as Lower Dens, Dope Body, and Ed Schrader's Music Beat all play shows this evening. Lower Dens headlines the Ottobar with Magik Markers, and Dope Body and Ed Schrader's Music Beat host some touring bands at the Bell Foundry. Ottobar is $8 and starts at nine, Bell Foundry is $5 and starts at ten.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Tickets are going quick, so we advise you to order them in advance right here.
Tomorrow night, Saturday, March 5th, join us at the 2640 Space to help commemorate Celebration's first proper LP in over three years. Opening will be some of Baltimore's finest in Arbouretum and Future Islands. All three acts have new music to be played.
Future Islands are amidst recording their next release, and will be playing a handful of freshly written new songs. Arbouretum have just relinquished The Gathering via Thrill Jockey, which very well might end up being the band's best LP. Celebration have been brewing Hello Paradise over the past three years, a record deeply rooted here in Baltimore. The results are now available to the world digitally and physically.
Hello Paradise consists of nine songs, all of which are a part of the first installment of the Electric Tarot. Each song will be given away for free online, and accompanied by a video. Below is each current song, its meaning in the tarot, and all available videos.
"What's This Magical" // The Shaman
Consciousness, ego, a sense of self, the animus, focused attention,magical powers harnessing the energy of nature, seeing beyond the physical, in communion with spirit, mage soothsayer seer and seeker. Learning to harness the power of manifestation.
"Junky" // The Hermit
Rest, retreat, meditation, withdraw, silence, solitude, vision quest, guru, guide, introspection, time management, journey within, leaving the physical behind, letting go.
"Honeysuckle Blue" // Alchemy
COMBINING RESOURCES IN NEW AND DIFFERENT WAYS, CONSOLIDATION, MIXING HARMONIOUSLY, BLENDING, BEING HEALED, FINDING THE CURE, MODERATION,CHANNELING OPPOSITE ENERGIES AND FINDING WHAT WORKS.
"I Will Not Fall" // The Fool
Beginning anew, Embarking on a journey, A leap of faith, Free spitirted, Acting on impulse, Trust in the universe, Vagabonding, Choises you make appear foolish, Being guided from above, Blind faith.
"Great Pyramid" // The Emperor
The boss, The king, Male influence and authority, Planning, Building, Construction, Seeking stability, Ambition and confidence, Practicality, Control and discipline, Leadership, Tradition, Order, Structure, Status quo.
"Open Your Heart" // Judgement
Judging or being judged, Accepting past mistakes, Guilt and forgiveness, Rebirth, Resurrection, New life, A second chance, Responsibility, Apology, Repentance, Hope, Reconciliation, Salvation, Sins forgiven, Release, On the road to healing.
"Shelter" // The Lovers
Recognition of duality, Thinking about your relationship, Love, Desire, Sexuality, Bonding , A choice, Romance, Hearts exchange, Wanting to merge with other, Divine union, Partnership.
"Battles" // Strength
TO BEGIN AGAIN, LUST FOR LIFE, AWARENESS OF PHYSICAL NEEDS, DATUN INNER WARRIOR, SAMURAI, JEDI, LOVE IS THE SOURCE, DAN TIEN, SEAT OF POWER, COMPASSION AND PATIENCE, DISCIPLINE, KINDNESS.
"Kilamanjaro" // The Moon
Self deception, Illusion,Waxing and waning of emotion, Dreams, Memories, Subconscious, Facing you fears, Nightmares, Different sides of you crying out, A karmic relationship, Loosing touch with reality.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Caleb Moore, also of Lands and Peoples, recently sent me over a new track from his ambient pop project Dead Drums. This quick new jaunt is called "Machu".
"Machu" finds Dead Drums exploring a more beat-based path, but not without the youthful exuberance and blissful sonics found in his more hazy soundscapes. Speaking of, Bathetic still has a limited number of Fashion Defense/Human Hair, get it here.
Caleb plays Saturday night at Windup Space, as part of the always amazing NOVO Instrumental Festival. Look for recordings of this show and more to surface here too.
The Snails crawl on to a Baltimore stage about once a year. "Baltimore's answer to the California Raisins" consists of members of Future Islands, Lower Dens, Small Sur, and Nuclear Power Pants. Last week saw their 2011 debut at the Copycat Theatre.
Valerie was there to capture all the action, some of the more colorful shots you'll likely see on here. Sam Herring and William Cashion of Future Islands make up a chunk of the Snails, and you can catch those dudes at one of their biggest local shows ever this Saturday at the 2640 Space for Celebration's LP release show with Arbouretum too.