2016 is here! It took me a week, but I finally went to a show. And thank goodness I did; I was actually planning on staying home that day, and then decided to go out a few hours before. The bill was stacked (from both what I already knew, and what I had heard from the unknown groups’ Bandcamp pages). I hopped into my car and headed north.
I got to the Crown 15 minutes late, but that was no issue as the first artist was just getting ready to perform. First up was musician extraordinaire; Andrew Bernstein. I was already familiar with his work, he is in one of my favorite bands, Horse Lords. This was my first time to see him solo, and he did not disappoint. He wailed on his sax for around 20 minutes in an impressive display of skill. He was accompanied by a laptop, but the sound was so loud that I could really only hear the sax; which was fine, the sax playing was amazing. It was also an appropriate set to sit in a chair and zone out. Check out Andrew’s solo music at Bandcamp.
Next up was extremely new to me band, Beverly Tender. I guess they make indie rock. Whatever it is called, it was pleasant and fun and I really dug the vocalists style, both live and on record. I would definitely go see them again.
The third band of the night was Lunch Cult. This was the band’s sixth ever show. I could not tell that from their performance. Their playing was extremely tight. They also switch instruments, and singing duties throughout their set and they all seem to be capable song writers, lyricists, drummers, bassists, and guitar players (though one dude did not drum and one did not play the bass). All in all they had a fun energy and I grabbed a copy of their excellent tape.
The last of the night was Princess Reason. I was expecting maybe a solo acoustic set, but was instead treated to a full band experience. It was reminiscent of the loud soft dynamics of grunge, with chorus and verses and parts where the Big Muff was stomped. I am not sure if it is the permanent band, but the group featured members of Boy Spit and Romantic States.
All images by me and from my Instagram account
Baltimore again proved to be a treasure trove of amazing art. A few of the albums I loved. I also had more that were included on my other lists, like the amazing Noisem or Black Sheep DZ…
Romantic States – Romantic States
Sweepstakes – Tongues Out
Holy Ghost Party – Bayou Music
Blacksage – Basement Vows
Expert Alterations – You Can’t Always Be Liked
Natural Velvet – She Is Me
Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
Thrushes – Exposing Seas
War on Women – War On Women
Dope Body – Kunk
Romantic States – Broken Clothes
Sweepstakes – Hands In The Air
Holy Ghost Party – Squiq
Blacksage – Casualty
Expert Alterations – Well Good For You
Natural Velvet – Perfect Roleplay
Wildhoney – Sleep Through It
Thrushes – Joan Of Arc
War on Women – Meathead
Dope Body – Goon Line
photo of wildhoney by me
For the 45th edition of Dragged to Hell, I decided to share a mix of some of the various metal that I have been rocking out to 2015. Most tracks are new, but there are a few from the last couple years also sprinkled in. The tracks run the metal spectrum from death to grind to thrash to doom. One hour, 13 tracks. Enjoy.
Kylesa – Crusher
The Body and Thou – Manifest Alchemy
Cult Leader – A Good Life
Noisem – Trail Of Perturbation
Genocide Pact – Desecration
Ilsa – Pandolpho
Neurosis – We All Rage In Gold
Empty Vessels – Lamplighter
Killing Joke – Big Buzz
Locrian – An Index of Air
Unearthly Trance – Sleeping While They Feast
Exodus – Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage
Full of Hell & Merzbow – Burst Synapse
Photo of Noisem at CCAS 2015 by me
The second show of that night, was the already in progress show over at the Metro Gallery. I sped off with my GPS guiding me to the venue from an unfamiliar direction. I was cutting it close – Crimson Wave were to play at 9:30 PM and Metro Gallery is pretty good with set times. The machine told me 15 minutes, but with the walk to my car, I was cutting it close. I finally got to the area, parked blocks away, and ran to the venue. I made it just in time. Local favorites Crimson Wave had just started. And it was packed. I had to stand on the side of the stage to see this final outing of this bummer pop outfit. I have all of their releases, and saw them three or four times since the first time at Baltimore Popfest 2013. I will miss them and the set was bittersweet to experience.
I was able to get a good spot at the front of the stage for headlining band, Superheaven. I guess they had less of a crossover appeal. Superheaven‘s crowd was really young, and the Xs on hands outnumbered the 21 year old plus bracelets. Not a diss, just an observation, as I am pretty sure I would have also dug this band if I was a teenager. They are definitely a grunge throwback. They played a shorter set than I expected (30 minutes) and that is my only complaint. The songs off of Jar (and their new single) sounded good on the sound system and I left a it disappointed that I did not have any money on me to buy a t-shirt from them.
After the show I hung out with a myriad of folks from Baltimore bands, and had a good chill time hanging out (something I needed that day). It ended up being a longer night than I was expecting (I got home around 3:30 AM) but it was worth it.
photos by me from my Instagram
April 2 was a double header for me. The first show was over at the WTMD studio, in Towson. They were to broadcast Lower Dens playing for an hour, and I had to go since I had never seen them, loved their new album, and had recently had to skip them due to illness (at the new AMP venue in Maryland). The show started promptly at 8pm and I was instantly glad that I went. The crowd was respectful, and they ended up playing an hour long set that including most (all?) of their excellent new wave ish new release, Escape from Evil. They ended it all with a cover of Maneater by Hall and Oates and a final older track. Video of the performance can hopefully be found soon, as it was a treat that everyone needs to experience. I hope they are able to share their art with more people in the world. I feel like they definitely could be huge.
Image by me from my Instagram
Lord knows why it is so hard for me to blog in a timely manner. So here I am, WWE Raw on in the background, words spilling out of my laptop to play catch up on the last few show write ups. So here goes something.
The first band at this Ottobar show was Eula. I actually started the night thinking the band was Eola, and was quite surprised by the full-band rocking treat. They definitely had a cool thing going, and I plan on checking out more of them sometime in the future.
Next up were locals, Wume. They played a cool mix of synths/sequencing and live drumming.
Perfect Pussy were third. This was my third time seeing them. I was impressed with their stage presence as they ripped through their noisy set (I was told the band was all sick at the same time). My only complaint would have been that the vocals were low in the mix. The first time I saw them in Baltimore, at Metro Gallery, the distorted vocals were way more in your face.
Last up was Deerhoof. I had heard of this band, but had never heard them. Sometimes I would get them confused with other “deer” bands. They were really impressive. Their drummer was going off on his set, and was extremely intense (he also had a nice rambling speech in the middle of their set). Their frontperson, was a lot of fun to watch. She jumped around, shredded on her ax, and looked like she was having a lot of fun. As with Eula, I definitely need to check out their back catalog.
All in all, it was a great night of music. Several styles and locations were represented (Baltimore, NYC, San Fransisco) and the bands had a diversity of genders that was refreshing.
All photos by me (from my Instagram)
Today I am playing catch up on blog posts. After making a resolution to blog about every show that I attend in 2015, i immediately disregarded it and now I have three shows to write about at once. Oh well, I can do this. I promise to step it up and at least do my show write ups in a timely manner, and with the event fresher in my mind.
First off, it was a cold night. Snow was piled everywhere in Baltimore, and it took us a long time to find a parking spot. When we did park, it was a sprint down several snowy blocks of city and we arrived shivering at Metro Gallery with opening band Black Clouds already playing on the stage. I did not miss much of their set, and was really into their post-metal jams. I did not realize that this DC band was a three piece, as they have a sound that sounds like more than three people are creating it. They do this by having a guitarist who also handles synth duty. Their light/laser show was a lot of fun as well, and added an extra element to their set.
After they finished, it was the band that I was the most excited to see that night, Thrushes. This Baltimore shoegaze band has been one of my favorites for over five years, with their albums Sun Come Undone and Night Falls in heavy rotation at various points. They went away a couple years ago, and I was surprised to see that they were playing again. They played some new tunes (which they are recording with J Robbins) and plenty of old ones as well. I thought they sounded great, and even with a long break, did not sound rusty at all. I really look forward to seeing them again, and hearing the new record. With Thrushes, Wildhoney, and Dead Mellotron all currently active/semi-active, the Baltimore shoegaze scene is healthy and I look forward to many future shows.
After Thrushes came another Baltimore band, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. I do not think I had seen them since the last Whartscape in 2010. Too bad, as I was blown away by the tunes, the showmanship, and the stage banter of Ed Schrader and his bass playing cohort, Devlin. They played in darkness, with only a light under the floor tom Ed bangs on, for illumination. He was really funny and I do not understand why he is not a major star in the United States.
The last band of the night was A Place to Bury Strangers. They were on tour to promote their new album, Transfixation. This was my second time seeing them (the first being at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC a couple years ago). They did not disappoint. They played loud. The drums crashed and thundered. The bass roared. The guitars screamed. Everything including vocals was covered in a haze of fuzz. As for the assault on my other senses, their light and laser show, and insane amounts of fog kept the visual stimuli interesting. The guys are really insane showmen. Guitars swing, guitars are thrown to the ceiling, pedals are stomped and heads in the crowd are banged.
My plan was to blog about every show that I go to in 2015. So far I am off to a bad start – last night was my third show and not a single blog post was written. Well, today I rectify that. I am going to write shorter catch-up posts and then will start doing them the next day after I go to a show.
My first show of the year did not happen until almost the end of January. I decided to kick off my show going year with a few solo artists over at the Crown in Baltimore. I had a friend in tow and we braved the cold to go see some music (both the cold outside and the frigid temperatures inside the Crown; we kept our hats and coats on all night) and eat some great food.
First up was local guitar player, Terrors. I do not know anything about him. All I know is he played a nice set of tunes on a guitar that looked better suited for heavy metal and not post-rock delay fests. He closed his set by rubbing a mandolin on top of his guitar for a little noise.
Next up was Nathan Bowles. I had already seen this banjo hero perform (several times) at Hopscotch in 2013. He played a nice set of virtuosic banjo plucking that I think my grandfather would have enjoyed. He finished off his set with Elisa joining him on her guitar for a tune.
The night was capped off with an excellent performance by Elisa Ambrogio, of Magic Markers fame, who was touring for her excellent record,The Immoralist. Nathan joined her on drums, and she played her guitar through her pedals and sang her songs. The set ended with her by herself. It was excellent, and my first time to see her solo. It was comparable to a Magic Markers set, slightly different vibe, but still similar. I also was able to hang with Elisa again, after meeting her and hanging with her and her band at Hopscotch 2013, and even picked up a copy of her album on vinyl, and got it signed. It was an excellent night and a great way to kick off 2015.
(all photos by me and from my instagram)
Friends Records is a label that features releases from Baltimore artists (plus one release from Meth Dad, a non-Baltimore musician). They just celebrated their fifth anniversary (which is where the picture of label head Jimmy was taken jamming to Microkingdom on night 1 of the festivities). Friends Records is just that, people who are friends (and also make great music). Over the last five years, they have put out rock and hip hop and jazz and anything you can think of.
I am not going to link to all of the artists pages, just to Friends Records Bandcamp, where you can find these and other tunes. I will talk about each of the songs/artists in the tracklist.
Edit: I am adding in label head Jimmy’s comments on each release.
Tracklist (quotes are Jimmy MacMillan):
- Chester Endersby Gwazda – Globes: I have seen Chester a few times, and he is always a blast. Shroud is a great album and I find my self revisiting it quite often.
Chester has been such a big part of the label as far as production goes. He recorded more than a handful of our releases and has always been an excellent friend, resource and all around man of inspiration. He has new material coming out with Outer Spaces in 2015!
- INEVERYROOM – EM E GEE: I am not sure what happened to them. I believe this is one of the oldest releases on this mix.
INEVERYROOM is Chase O’Hara and Amy Reid … became Chase N’ Amy for a minute and eventually they started Chiffon together. Our most limited release is a INEVERYROOM/Lands And Peoples split cassette which was our 2nd cassette release. We only ever made 23 copies for a tour that they did. I’ve completely worn out my only copy and it doesn’t exist digitally. FRCS002 RIP. Long live Chiffon!
- Celebration – I Will Not Fall: I love Celebration, and singer Katrina Ford. Their music is beautiful and is almost transcendent live.
For me, there is no almost about it. In 2009 Celebration started releasing songs and videos for Hello Paradise – Electric Tarot in a digital format only. For the first year that the label existed, Brett Yale, the other half of Friends Records, had been emailing the band, offering up our services, on a regular basis. One night he got an email asking if we could all sit down. We went over together and before we went in we sat in the car and talked about how weird it was that we were meeting people that we didn’t know really and seeing if we could work together. Up until that point we had only ever worked with people that either one or the other of us had known already. So we went into Katrina and Sean’s house. We spent about 3 hours sitting around a kitchen table making 6 great new friends. 4 years later I still find myself sitting at that kitchen table listening to and telling stories and jokes and talking shop. You really couldn’t ask for a more complimentary band to associate ourselves with. They brought a lot of attention to a lot of other bands just by working with us and for that I am forever grateful. They ruled the second half of 2014 and I don’t see 2015 being any different.
- Blacksage – Sexsomnia: Pure sex in music form. One of the best things I have heard in a while. Electronic jams for days.
Josie and Drew don’t sound like Baltimore to me. They don’t sound like anywhere. Their music is all encompassing and blocks out any light from the outside world when you play it. I know that they already have some new Blacksage material in the works but Drew Scott just dropped The Drewcifer Tape last month and Josie is hard at work on both Softeyes and her solo work. They’re both fountains of awesome shit right now. Get a cup and try to catch some while its flowing!
- Moss of Aura – Slick: Future Islands synth man rides the solo jams.
Looking to reissue Wading in LP (it’s sold out currently) and we have been talking about a cassette boxset rather than individual reissues of his 6 (!) albums again. I don’t think there is any movement in the Moss Of Aura department at the moment but he is out setting the world on fire with his friends.
- Ke$ha – Die Young (Meth Dad Remix): Meth Dad dropped an awesome cassette of remixes for Friends Records and earned the distinction of being the first person not from Baltimore to be released by the label.
I’ve talked about Meth Dad aka Tyler Walker recently. Dude changed the way that I listen to pop music in a huge way. He just put out a remix of Taylor Swifts “shake it off” on his soundcloud. While I would never advocate for Swift, Meth Dads remix is outstanding and should be played in every coke commercial and New Year’s Eve party ever.
- Flock of Dimes – Prison Bride: Jenn From Wye Oak’s excellent side project. I hope for an album all the time.
You and me both. Jenn always surprises me: This year I saw her take part in the Gene Clark tribute at Floristree and 9:30 Club. They were 2 of the best live performances that I’ve ever seen. I don’t expect it to be topped ever for me. Then I drove up to Lancaster and watched her and Andy move a whole room of people as Wye Oak. I think that they’re on top of their game with their latest album and doing the most interesting music since the Monarch days. Then there was her Flock Of Dimes performances at Fields Fest and at the Horse Lords release show at the Crown. She had really secured her sound as Flock of Dimes and much like Microkingdom, every time I see her play its my new favorite time that she has played. Total pro with a heart of gold.
- Raindeer – Monster: Raindeer and the chill jam masters. Go see them.
Look for a new Raindeer release very very soon! The set that they played at the recent anniversary show floored me. They’ve come so far as a band since the lineup change.
- Vadya – Out to sea: I saw Vadya in a very intimate setting (at a Mobtown Microshow) recently, and was impressed with her song writing, and slow synth jams.
Brett always had a space reserved for Liz on our roster. It has been 3-4 years now of waiting for “take me out to see” but it was well worth it.
- Height with Friends – Mustard Seed: Height is pretty much king of hip hop.
This song is particular is my jam. Height is the most prolific artist that we work with. He has put out 5 full length albums since we started the label 5 years ago and he has another one in the chamber about to drop real soon. We have been trying our hardest to keep up with him. Look out for his tour later this month.
- Future Islands – The Ink Well: Future Islands just had one hell of a year. I got this vinyl at the release show for it.
This record was the reason that the label was started in the first place. In October 2009, Brett was interviewing Future Islands, drinking beers on a roof, when they started talking about how much they wanted to put out a split with their friends from college, Lonnie Walker. Brett said he would do it and the first light of the label went on. Over the next 2 months we ended up making plans and laying groundwork. In late December 2009 we had our 3rd of 3 Sunday brunches at Morning Edition on Patterson Park (RIP) and decided to go ahead with the idea. We had decided that if we were going to do it that it wouldn’t just be the one release but we would do 3 releases to start (weekends and Sri aurobindo and the f.i/lonnie walker split). Almost immediately the f.i. split got postponed and by early January we decided to release Height With Friends “Bed Of Seeds” in the meantime. We have gone on to work with them every chance that we get. The success that they’ve found came from the hardest hustling and grinding that I’ve ever seen in this business and it couldn’t have happened to a group of kinder and more deserving dudes. I love that they still rep and support us whenever they can and I love continuing to support them. I got to see them live in New York for the Letterman taping this year and you knew right away that they had just changed everything. I also got to see them turn The Avenue in Hampden into a sea of people this summer. Monday I fly out to Boston to follow them for a short run of dates with Wing Dam.
- Wing Dam – Back Float: I probably go on too much about Wing Dam, but I cant help it; they rock. I think they are making the timeless jams.
Speak of the devils. One night ,3 or more years ago, Austin And Sara came into my store and wanted to put their cassettes up for consignment. Austin was Wing Dam and Sara was Which Magic. It was and still is so much fun to watch them grow as artists. They joined forces with eachother and then with former Lower Dens and sometime Snails drummer Abe Sanders. Abe is a hell of a dude. I first met him when he directed a Moss Of Aura video for us and then really got to know eachother a bit better on the Snails tour in early 2013. They’ve kept the candle lit in the Friends Records house a lot this past year, getting all kinds of attention, press and year end list mentions for their most excellent “Shifter Bliss” record.
- Weekends – Basement Fuzz: Too bad they are not a band anymore, but at least I saw them twice last year. I hope this two piece reforms, but geography is making that impossible at the moment.
Look out for Adam Lempel releases this year but no more Weekends for a while. Was glad to see them end it properly at the Ottobar a few weekends ago.
- Sri Aurobindo – Eyes: Old school psychedelic, fuzzed out madness. I am not sure what is going on with them, but I did enjoy their music and seeing them live a few times.
Sri Aurobindo RIP. The band called it quits this past year when one of the members moved away. Mike Romano who played bass/guitar in Sri as well as on the first Vincent Black Shadow record has a new band named Cryptid. They played their first show at the Anniversary shows. The band features Mike, Elijah Forrest, Aaron Estes and Spencer Adams. Expect to hear something sometime.
- the Snails – Coconut Boat: Side project. Members of Future Islands. Saxes. Snail suits.
This is the most fun thing that I’ve done ever. We put out their debut double 7″ and then proceeded to go on tour with them for 8 dates. Most fun. Ever.
- Secret Mountains – Dead Sea: This one saddens me. They release their excellent Rainer LP and then go away due to members moving. Oh well, I at least saw them once in DC. They could have been one of my all time favorites… So good.
- Jacober – New Soda: Dope Body drummer solo shenanigans. This album is fun from start to finish.
Dave Jacober for President! The dude can do no wrong. So chill and so right on with everything he does. He has 2 new solo albums prepped. Both radically different from eachother, both amazing. Keep an eye out for those.
- Microkingdom – God’s Total Woman: Are they jazz? I love them. So I guess I love jazz. They always put on a hell of a show.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a diehard Microkingdom fanatic. I know that I say that every time that I see them is my favorite time but their set on the first night of the anniversary shows was the best thing that I’ve ever seen them do. Look out for the new LP officially getting a release on Valentine’s Day 2015.
(photo by me at Friends Records Fifth Anniversary show Day 1)
Dragged to Hell Volume 21 is a special, dance party ready mix. I have selected tunes from the last few months (not all songs are that new, some are just that new to me) that fall in the hip hop, dance, electronic, industrial, and whatever I felt fit the mix.
Silk Rhodes – Barely New
Sage The Gemini – Gas Pedal (Meth Dad Remix)
Lttle Phnx – Koromiko
Chris Travis – Let Down
Death Grips – Black Quarterback
Mykki Blanco – Moshin In The Front feat. Cities Aviv
ABDU ALI & BLAQSTARR – I, EXIST (BLAQSTARR REMIX)
Yung Lean – Sandman
Matic808 – Bound 2 (Yeezus)
clipping – mouth (ft. black mushroom, chinaka hodge)
Frontline Assembly – Echogenetic (Youth Code)
YTCracker – Convalescence
☠JAYYEAH☠ – The Swing 1767
Dean Garcia– Fifteen
Nerftoss – Bottomless
How to Dress Well – A Power