Part razor-sharp condemnation of our modern world, and part journey through Jana Hunter’s recent reidentification as “they/he,” Lower Dens’ The Competition utilizes the power of the dance floor to make a case for love and acceptance not just in dangerous times, but as the law of the land. It’s a powerful and ultimately uplifting statement from this revered Baltimore-based band and not just the best album of their careers, but one of the most essential listens of 2019.
On her new album Lake Accontink, Marian McLaughlin invites the listener along on her quest to try and make sense of the many ways in which we impact and are impacted by the environment, and what it all may mean in the long run. We’re sitting down with the Baltimore-based musician to talk about what inspired her self-described “music for the Anthropocene Epoch,” the perils of capitalism in the modern age, the joy of playing in a room with one-hundred other guitarists and much more!
Summer is nearly here, and if even the weather has been a little wishy-washy about it lately, it won’t be long until hot sunny days and warm nights lure everyone outdoors. One sure sign of the start of the season is the return of WTMD’s First Thursday concerts, held on (surprise!) the first Thursday of every month from May to September at Canton Waterfront Park in Baltimore. Bringing in a wide variety of artists from the internationally known to the new and local, and covering a wide range of genres, the free monthly events have something for everybody. This past week’s inaugural show for the 2018 season was no exception.
WTMD, the public radio station affiliated with Towson University, has been running their First Thursdays summer concert events in Baltimore for well over a decade now, bringing in a diverse range of artists from small local bands to legends. Their 2017 season has been no different, and has, in fact, seen the event grow from one stage to two in Canton Waterfront Park. A rainy day for their July event forced them to combine the event onto a single stage on the adjacent parking lot, but couldn’t put a damper on the spirits of the performers or the crowd who braved the forecast to see them.
The internet has given us a lot of things, but probably its most valuable contribution to society (besides cat videos) has been access to loads and loads of stats. A recent study by Value Penguin (internet stat provider!) went ahead and ranked the quality of music cities around America. Noble goal. Dubious results. Because internet.
On Lydia Loveless's fourth album, Real, the Ohio-based singer/songwriter is growing in all kinds of new directions. Kevin and Paul get real about the songs, the critical acclaim for Loveless's work after Indestructible Machine, and the (possible) wrongheadedness of their own expectations.
Baltimore is kinda killing it this year...again. And Wing Dam is gonna kick you around the sun straight back to the fuzzed out heyday of Smashing Pumpkins, and...well...Smashing Pumpkins. The Corgainasance is real folks. Really real.
Baltimore’s Arbouretum released their fifth album, Coming Out of the Fog, in early 2013, and after a year of touring in support of it, announced in 2014 that they were going on “indefinite hiatus” while members pursued other projects. For many bands, that’s a death knell, one from which they never return, but fans didn’t need to worry. Frontman Dave Heumann released his first solo album, Here in the Deep, last year, a record that was very obviously his work while still exploring new directions. Meanwhile, the band returned tentatively, playing a couple of local Baltimore festivals in 2015. This year, however, the band announced a full return, with a show at the Metro Gallery and a new album in the process of being recorded.
Baltimore native Guy Blakeslee moved to LA years ago, but he still returns regularly to perform in his home city, and on Tuesday last week he played a solo set at The Crown. Blakeslee began his solo career in the early 2000s performing under the name Entrance, changing it to The Entrance Band in 2009 when he was joined by Paz Lenchantin on bass and Derek James on drums. In 2014 he released his first solo album in a decade (and the first under his own name), Ophelia Slowly, and just this month he released an album of instrumental pieces titled The Middle Sister.
Although they only existed for six years and released three albums in their original run, The Chameleons were one of the most influential bands of the British post-punk movement in the 1980s. A brief reunion in 2000 resulted in one new album and a pair of acoustic releases re-recording the band’s classic tracks, but dissolved in acrimony and in-fighting after only a couple of years. More recently, singer and bassist Mark Burgess has been touring as Chameleons Vox, performing the band’s catalog with a rotating cast of musicians backing him. Last week, the band came to the Metro Gallery in Baltimore on their “Farewell Tour” as Burgess intends to cut back on the regular touring schedule.
On a hot late-summer afternoon on Saturday, a group of Baltimore bands of various genres, both veterans of the scene and relative newcomers, came together at Pier Six Pavilion. Organized to raise money for the Living Classroom Foundation’s Believe in Music program, which supports music education in Baltimore, the Windjammer Festival served as not only a celebration of the city but also as a chance for the musicians to give back to the community and to help enable the next generation to follow after them. The sold-to-capacity venue cheered as Dan Deacon spoke sincerely and eloquently in the middle of his set to the importance of being able to learn music as a means of self-expression, and it was clear throughout the day that the other performers on the bill shared his sentiments.
Though more international than many other bands (singer Sabina Sciubba is Italian, while keyboardist Didi Gutman is Argentinian), no one in Brazilian Girls is actually Brazilian, and only one of them is female. But regardless of any questions raised by their name, one thing is certain – they’re a band that knows how to have a good time. Last Saturday night, the New York-based quartet brought their world music-influenced electronic dance-punk to the Ottobar in Baltimore for a show that kept everyone in the venue moving for the entire show.
This week on the podcast, Louis Weeks returns to the basement with his friend/collaborator Noah Berman in tow to talk about their upcoming release, haha! Recorded with a live band and greatly expanded instrumentation, haha builds on the the fantastical foundation laid down by 2014’s Shift/Away, and launches Weeks’ musical horizons into the stratosphere.
Tune in to hear Louis and Noah tell all about how the album was made, what it’s like transitioning from being a largely solo musician to the leader of a seven piece band, bass drops, and get a taste of one of 2015's best albums. It's all happening on Episode 117 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
In our latest podcast, the TIDAL wave of fail continues for Jay Z’s newborn streaming service. CEO firings and cold calls from Jack White? We dish the latest news on TIDAL, then dive into the messy realities of “poptimism” and what it means for you. PLUS!! The gang takes an Ivy Tripp with singer/songwriter Katie Crutchfield aka Waxahatchee, and Escape From Evil with one of Baltimore’s best, Lower Dens. It’s a jam/schadenfreude packed hour of deep feelings, hard truths and a bit of outlaw country on Episode 113 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
In our latest podcast (and last regular podcast for 2014) we sit down with the wonderfully unique Marian McLaughlin. Her sublime work on her debut Dèrive , released early in 2014, has led Marian and her musical cohorts from the smallest of smallest of house shows to being featured on NPR’s acclaimed Tiny Desk Concert series and back again. Kevin sat down with Marian to discuss what the future holds for the talented musician including her artspace/home The Holy Underground in Baltimore, her plans - including her in progress Kickstarter - for her second album Spirit House, and much much more.
It’s the last regular podcast of the year and we’re going out on a high note on ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast Episode 94!
In our latest podcast, Kevin sits down with multi-instrumentalist/producer/songwriter Louis (pronounced 'Loo-E') Weeks to talk about his stellar debut album Shift/Away, what all this music stuff really means, the house show scene in DC and much, more. You thought we were music nerds before? You ain't heard nothin' yet. Tune in and get turned on to one of 2014's best new artists - DC or otherwise - on Episode 87 of ChunkyGlasses: The Podcast!
Photos by Richie Downs www.richiedowns.com
There are shows and then there are SHOWS. Future Islands tour closing set at the sold out 9:30 Club last Thursday was emphatically, and with all its heart, the latter.
Since 2006, the Baltimore mainstays have been hammering away at their weird brand of hyper-emotive synth-rock, and for whatever reason – be it a Letterman performance that went viral, or just the fact that in Singles the band has made their best release to date – it is safe to say that they have, at long last, finally arrived.
Sounds Like: Slowdive, Ride, Helium
Why You Should Care: Adding to the vibrant garage and psych scene of the
Bay Area, Cruel Summer aims to throw some much needed shoegaze to the mix.
SOUNDS LIKE: Jukebox the Ghost, Death Cab for Cutie
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:
altimore’s own Eureka Birds are set to release their sophomore album this month after a successful EP.
SOUNDS LIKE: Beach House, Chromatics, Wye Oak
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: A charity track coming from Charm City’s under appreciated indie band is always welcome.
Sounds like: A gritty folk band meets an even grittier post-punk group.
Why You Should Care: With the influx of softer, folk-influenced bands like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, its nice to see a folk-inspired band with some teeth.
As of right now, Baltimore is set on promoting the indie-rock scene of Beach House, Dan Deacon, and Wye Oak. One band breaking the shimmery indie mold is the Sterling Sisters with their track “Shallow Blood” off their new album HALE. The track begins with a single banjo and erupts into a full folk meltdown not even a minute in. Vocalists George Cessna and Scout Pare´-Phillips croon in harmony with Cessna tackling the narration of an encounter with an angel while Pare´-Phillips emits a ghostly wail in the background. The song burns out within three and a half minutes of bleak, angst-ridden gold.