Brittney Allen’s (singer/songwriter) passenger seat of CDRs listened to on the drive to Ocean City this summer.
So much music, so little time…we asked some musicians or music affiliated in Harford County to list (with comments, if so inclined) what they’ve been listening to this summer, this year…so far. Here’s the results we received, stuff to check out…
Nate Allan (and the Pilots)
Top 10 Albums To Draw Inspiration From
10. Bob Dylan – New Morning
9. Apollo Sunshine – Katonah
8. The Band – The Band
7. Brighter Shades – You Shine So Bright
6. Spiritualized – Amazing Grace
5. Dawes – North Hills
4. Fun. – Aim & Ignite
3. Arden – The Big Picture
2. The Format – Dog Problems
1. Middle Brother – Middle Brother
Chris Allen (The Lonesome Depths)
here’s my half-way through the year Top 5 list of best albums of 2012(so far).
#5) “My Perception” by Black Box Revelation Say hello to the first of the wave of new bluesy-rock bands in the wake of The Black Keys getting tons of mainstream exposure. Luckily, these guys are not some watered down cover band version. These two dudes are the real deal, so get in on the secret now.
#4) “Go” by Motion City Soundtrack They’re one of my favorite bands, so of course they will find their way onto my list. Their lyrics continue to get more serious about complex life issues, as well as singer Justin Pierre’s OCD, among other things. They don’t sport as many full-on rocker tunes on this LP, which I’m a bit sad about since up-tempo synthy pop-punkish songs are what made me love them in the first place. But they certainly still know how to craft a quality piece of music, and fans shouldn’t overlook the album.
#3) “Not Your Kind Of People” by Garbage Everybody loves a good comeback story, and everyone also seems to love a good comeback album. Shirley Manson and the rest of her band don’t disappoint. Like a lost old band shirt you discover behind the dresser that still fits, they’ve only gotten better with age. Classic Garbage with a few new tricks and instruments that they haven’t used since their hiatus, and definitely an album for a kick-ass Saturday night.
#2) “Lex Hive” by The Hives God bless The Hives. Everything around them continues to change, and they stay blissfully the same, cranking out another batch of simple, catchy, balls to the wall rock n’ roll with a bombast that could only be made in Sweden. They use horns on a couple songs, for the first time ever, but they certainly don’t get in the way of the tried and true formula. Nothing game changing, except the fact that they don’t need to change to continue to be ahead of everyone else.
#1) “Blunderbuss” by Jack White We all loved him in his other bands, but who knew they were holding him back? This solo effort, and his current tour behind the album, showcase that while he might be a bit obsessive and eccentric with his recordings and musicians, it pays off. Loud rocking numbers that are among some of the heaviest he’s ever written, along with some different numbers that make it a unique listen unlike anything else that will be put out this year (unless he releases a live album). Get. This. Album.
Brandon David (Pipe Smoking Rabbits)
sh*t I’ve been listening to. Some new, some old.
1. Heavy Blanket – Heavy Blanket
2. Nirvana – Nevermind 20th Ann. Edition
3. Mean Jeans – On Mars
4. Pg. 99 – Document 8
5. Metallica – Ride The Lightning
6. Polvo – Todays Active Lifestyles
7. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain
8. Off! – Off!
9. Pig Destroyer – Prowler In The Yard
10. Ryan Adams – Ashes And Fire
Joe De La Paz (Colora)
Top Psychedelic Albums of 2012…so far
1. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Aufheben
2. The Sufis – The Sufis
3. Christian Bland & The Revelators – Pig Boat Blues
4. The Asteroid #4 – The Journey
5. Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim
6. Apache Dropout – Bubblegum Graveyard
7. Ty Segall/White Fence – Hair
Ian Gilley (Melon Farmers)
headband, grape ape…
Pat Grant (and the Blown Fuses)
so many albums, moments, emotions… ecstacy, despair… Nada Surf… Bruce The River… Lennon, Dylan, Syd Barrett, Blur, Pulp… Who, Stones… Replacements, Big Star… just happy to be alive
top 10 most important LP’s of my LIFE (in no particular order):
Blur – Parklife
The Who – Quadrophenia
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises
Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks
Rolling Stones – Exile On Main St.
Nada Surf – The Weight Is A Gift
Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs
The Replacements – All Shook Down
Pete Rock & C L Smooth – Mecca And The Soul Brother
Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray
John Hafferman (We’re All Ghosts)
10. Mewithoutyou- Ten Stories
9. As Cities Burn- Come Now, Sleep
8. This Will Destroy You- Young Mountain.
7. Daughters- self titled
6 Manchester Orchaestra- Virgin
5 Bright Eyes- Wide Awake
4. O’Brother- Garden Window
3.Explosions in the Sky- Take Care
2. Native- Wrestling Moves
1.Mono- One More Step You Die
Nick Hammer (CODA Records)
01. Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse
02. Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair
03. Ancient Sky – T.R.I.P.S.
04. Heavy Blanket – Heavy Blanket
05. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
06. MV + EE – Space Homestead
07. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Jazz Mind
08. K-Holes – Dismania
09. Neneh Cherry – The Cherry Thing
10. Howlin’ Rain – The Russian Wilds
Scott Hammer (CODA Records/DaggerPress)
J Masics “Heavy Blanket”, a power trio guitar feast, Dinosaur melodies melting yer face in Hawkwind and Blue Cheer stomping instrumental bliss. A dream come true, a guitar hero letting loose and keeping you vegged happily for the whole ripping noodle. Eternal Tapestry “Dawn in Two Dimensions” is more dynamic pyramid psych, and some spare intricate weaves from Plankton Wat’s “Spirits”. Lee Ranaldo’s post Sonic career rocks, as does Steve Shelly’s appearence with Disappears. Mount Eerie’s “Black Wooden” from Microphone’s Phil Elverum is a stark, melodic treasure. Spirtualized “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” is dark light with Sweet Jane chain kicking things off, through Sunday morning choirs, a songwriting haven for more earthly effort. Ty Segall “Slaughterhouse” and lp w/ White Fence is pure surf garage avant delights from Pacific, and Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Aufheban” reminds us that Anton Newcombe, a functioning genius madman has been releasing consistently great psychedelia since there were dandy warhols. Recorded in Berlin, BJM’s psych meets krautrock. Loud punk gods Mission of Burma’s “Unsound” on 2nd wind roll and something second blasts from Off! . Nels Cline, William Parker (America’s greatest modern jazz composer and bassist), and Thollem McDonas (keyboard) improv in the moment to riveting results on the “Gowanus Session”. Forces conspire on Hand to the Man Bands’ Mike Watt, Tim Barnes, John Dieterich and Thollem’s avant Sun Ra excursions. Also been listening to last years vintage Watt punk trio’s “Hyphenated-Man.” Spectrum Road’s interpretive Lifetime is a monster. And for blissfull organic California wine is Zachary Wood’s acoustic debut “Time Takes Days.” Some local gems to check out -Feast of Epiphany’s electro folk fairport “Solitude” , Lower Den’s electro blues “Neutropolis”, electro kandy kolored soul from Sean Wilsons’ debut “Chalkboard Kids”, Friend Collector’s possibly lone thrashf**k statement, Roomrunner’s grungy, loud and fast breakthrough 12inch “Super Vague”, Pipe Smoking Rabbits punked out steppenwolf wilding EP, and 7″ debuts from the hardcore take down of Carrying the Fire, and garage-ed 2.0 from Special People.
Micheal Hooper (Black Cohosh, Of Rohan)
This is tricky containing all of 2012 (4 months left) into a list of ten albums. Really stoked on Six Organs Of Admittance’s “Ascent,” Josephine Foster’s “Blood Rushing,” as well as Antony & The Johnsons’ “Cut The World.” The Mars Volta ain’t what they were but they’re still f**king stellar. in no particular order.
1] Vetiver — “The Errant Charm”
2] Sigur Ros — “Valtari”
3] Ólafur Arnalds — “Living Room Songs”
4] Adam Gnade — “The Wild Homesick”
5] The Mars Volta — “Noctourniquet”
6] Zammuto — “Zammuto”
7] Ceremony — “Zoo”
8] Kishi Bashi — “151a”
9] Mariee Sioux — “Gift for the End”
10] Birdengine — “The Crooked Mile”
Aaron Hopkins (Colora)
Favorite albums of 2012 so far – a mid-year list
1. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Spiritualized continue to produce some of the most relevant and memorable psychedelic pop tunes out there today. The album’s lyrical content deals with heartache, regret, relationships, Jesus, and fast cars, all told by the ever-eloquent Jason Pierce. Sweet Heart, Sweet Light is my album of the year to this point.
2. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Aufheben
Psych veterans BJM are now twelve albums into their career, and are still finding ways to sound fresh and original. Aufheben is more electronic than anything these guys have attempted before. The final two tracks, “Waking Up to Hand Grenades” and the hilariously titled “Blue Order/New Monday,” are the album’s crowning achievements.
3. Dustin Wong – Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads
Dreams Say is proof of Wong’s knack as a solo artist for coming up with intricate electronic jams and precise song dynamics. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Baltimore musical artists.
4. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
This album has been my biggest surprise of the year so far. The group’s influences range from classic rock, to folk rock, to punk, and everywhere in between. The songwriting is top shelf, and singer Brian Fallon’s vocal delivery is very reminiscent of Joe Strummer and/or Mick Jagger at times.
5. Dope Body – Natural History
Natural History has proven to be yet another strong release from Baltimore art punks Dope Body. The production is a bit cleaner when compared to their previous LP, Nupping, but this doesn’t detract from the band’s aggressive sound.
6. Beach House – Bloom
Beach House are one of the best dream pop acts out today, hands down. All of their releases to date have been spot on, and this one is no exception. Some of my favorite tracks from Bloom would include “Myth” and “Irene.”
7. Lower Dens – Nootropics
Nootropics is proggy, Krautrock-y, and completely different from everything else I’ve heard this year. It can make for some challenging listening at first, but should be a grower for fans of this type of music.
8. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
It’s not exactly anything too original, but it’s not intending to be. I’ve always been a sucker for a rock album with catchy hooks, literate lyrics, and just swinging-for-the-fences in an indie rock kind of way. Attack on Memory fits that description pretty well.
9. Xiu Xiu – Always
Experimental synth pop would probably be the only way I could think to describe the genre of this album. I’ve never heard anything else like it before, and I’m sure glad I found it. I really dig this album for its ethereal atmosphere and odd, off kilter rhythms.
10. The Walkmen – Heaven
The Walkmen are my favorite band from this past decade, and have released another album for 2012. It’s extremely diverse genre-wise, and the results are mixed. However, there are enough gems here, such as “The Witch,” “Nightingales,” and the title track, for Heaven to make my top ten.
Dustin Horsman (Of Rohan)
My top ten albums that have impacted my life and who I am today-
1- The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me- Brand New
2- Good News For People Who Love Bad News- Modest Mouse
3- …Burn, Piano Island, Burn- The Blood Brothers
4- Reinventing Axl Rose- Against Me!
5- The Lonesome Crowded West- Modest Mouse
6- Fevers and Mirrors- Bright Eyes
7- Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair- La Dispute
8- As the Roots Undo- Circle Takes The Square
9- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence- Glassjaw
10- Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?- Old Gray
Hundred Yard Smash
Here are the albums that we’ve each been listening to lately…
“Tripper” by Fruit Bats
“Nothing is Wrong” by Dawes
“Middle Brother” by Middle Brother
“Allen Stone” by Allen Stone
“Voodoo” by D’Angelo
“Born and Raised” by John Mayer
“Lasers” by Lupe Fiasco
“Aim and Ignite” by Fun.
“Showroom of Compassion” by Cake
“Wasting Light” by Foo Fighters
“Allen Stone” by Allen Stone
“Peace of Mind” by Rebelution
Jeff Koplovitz (Sea Patterns, Lean Horse Marathon)
here’s my mid way top 10 for 2012:
1. Swing Lo Magellan | Dirty Projectors
2. A Different Ship | Here We Go Magic
3. Spooky Action At A Distance | Lotus Plaza
4. The Money Store | Death Grips
5. Heaven | The Walkmen
6. Bloom | Beach House
7. Clear Moon | Mount Eerie
8. Nocturne | Wild Nothing
9. Interstellar | Frankie Rose
10. Attack on Memory | Cloud Nothings
Honorable Mentions: Confess | Twin Shadow
Natural History | Dope Body
Nootropics | Lower Dens
Kindred | Burial
Mature Themes | Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
this will definitely change by the end of the year.. a lot of releases I still haven’t got to.
Chris Livingston (Failure by Design)
For me personally this summer I’d have to say
1. Handwritten – The Gaslight Anthem
2. The Front Bottoms – Self Titled
3. Every Single Clash Album
4. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me – Brand New
5. Go – Motion City Soundtrack
6. Let It Sail – Lost In Society
7. Tim – The Replacements
8. Sleep Is For The Week – Frank Turner
9. On The Impossible Past – The Menzingers
10. Reinventing Axl Rose – Against Me!
Andrew Mayton (Pallid/Mountainfeet/Libyan Suite/Of Rohan)
top ten albums from 2012/albums i have been listening to in 2012
1. trioscapes – separate realities jazz/metal fusion including the bassist from between the buried and me. it’s mind-blowingly complex yet still retains musicality. all three musicians are some of the best i’ve ever heard at their respective instruments.
2. young and in the way – i am not what i am blackened, f**king crusty hardcore from north carolina. a lot of bands have tried this style and have done it fairly well—see infernal stronghold, torch runner is okay—but i think they’re reached a certain pinnacle of balancing the aggression of hardcore and the melodicism of black metal.
3. john coltrane – a love supreme this one might be pretty old news, but i kind of just got more serious about jazz pretty recently. also, i was on acid the first time i listened to it and it almost made me bite my tongue off.
4. aethenor – en form for bla aethenor is a side project of stephen o’malley’s—of sunn O))), khanate, and burning witch fame—and i think it’s pretty easily his best one. it’s dark, eerie, improvised noise that swells, intensifies, quiets, calms…all at drops of hats. the featured musicians have this amazing sort of chemistry that ends up in perfectly textured, engaging, and congealed pieces.
5. maudlin of the well – part the second one of the most perfect albums ever recorded. technical, experimental, progressive music done right.
6. boy problems – tour demo one of those albums i can just always put on, but especially for sunny days. good old 90’s style screamo. it sounds like being in love.
7. panopticon – kentucky black metal? bluegrass? folky protest songs? this album is just too cool.
8. strangeloop – fields intricate electronic ambient music. it’s rhythmic without even having a drum machine.
9. hella – hold your horse is i should mention that i generally do not like noise rock. i like noise itself and i feel that it doesn’t need to be watered down with rock rhythms, guitars, etc. this band, though…it’s so mathy and technical that i can’t help but to love it.
10. thou – summit doom metal at its pinnacle—genius f**king riffs, really well thought-out song structures, and meaningful lyrics, despite some writing i find questionable. but i find most writing questionable, so there’s that.
Connor Neumann (Failure by Design)
1. The Front Bottoms – The Front Bottoms
2. Go – Motion City Soundtrack
3. Let It Sail – Lost In Society
4. Handwritten – Gaslight Anthem
5. Vulnerable – The Used
6. For Blood and Empire – Anti-Flag
7. Chamberlin Waits – The Menzingers
8. The Sufferer And The Witness – Rise Against
9. Hey Hey, Pioneers! – Farewell Continental
10. Neighborhoods – blink-182
Kevin Niemann (Libyan Suite)
Top 10 of 2012.5
1. chelsea light moving
5. ed schrader’s music beat
6. bruce springsteen
7. leonard cohen
8. sea patterns
9. dan deacon
10. dope body
Travis Nutting (Friday Morning Classics Host (Classical) WHFC 91.1)
1) Lee Ranaldo: Between the Times and Tides(2012)
2) Squarepusher: Ufabulum(2012)
3) Kuedo: Severent(2011)
4) Heavy Blanket: Self Titled(2012)
5) John Adams: Grand Pianola Music/Steve Reich: Eight Lines and Vermont Counterpoint=Ransom Wilson, Solisti New York Orchestra(2005)
6) Arvo Part: Piano Music(2011)
7) Autechre: Quaristice:Limtied Edition, Quaristice:Quadrange EP(2008)
8.) Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages(1991)
9) Friend Collector: American Demos(2012)
10) Johann Johannsson: Englaborn(2004)
11) Terry Riley: Intuitive Leaps: Zeitgeist Plays Terry Riley(1994)
12) Comets on Fire: Blue Cathedral
13) I Broke My Robot: Tomorrow Does Not Exist(2007)
14) Vijay Raghav Rao, Alla Rakha: Flute and Sitar Music of India(1994)
15) Can: The Lost Tapes Box Set(2012)
16) Bang on a Can All-Stars: Music for Airports by Brian Eno(1998)
17) Landed: How Little It Will Take(2008)
18.) Glenn Branca: The Ascension Sequel(2012)
19) Philip Glass: Glassworks(1982 )[Extra Tracks, Original Recording Remastered](2003)
20) Best of Popol Vuh: Werner Herzog(1993)
21) Incantation: Diabolical Conquest(1998)
22) Jim O’Rourke: Insignificance(2001)
23) Unwound: Leaves Turn Inside You(2001)
24) Skullflower: Obsidian Shaking Codex(1993)
25) Fushitsusha: Live II(1991)
Nick Podgurski (Feast of Epiphany/Extra Life/Yukon)
1. Esplendor Geometrico – Balearic Rhythms
2. Maurizio Bianchi – Colori
3. Socrates Drank the Conium – On the Wings
4. Orrery – Nine Odes to Oblivion
5. Bee Gees – Odessa
6. Thin Lizzy – Black Rose
7. Queensryche – Rage For Order
8. Dwarr – Starting Over
9. Cliff Martinez – Drive Soundtrack
10. Cairo Gallery Seattle Washington
Edward Reilly (Pallid)
Here are 10 albums I have enjoyed this summer (in no specific order). I highly encourage anyone reading not to take my word as the truth and to check these out for yourself.
1) Something Wicked This Way Comes – 2002 (by The Herbaliser) This is my recent discovery and definitely one of the better finds in a while. It pulls off a uniquely smooth blend of funk, soul, and hip-hop. My favorite cuts off the album are Something Wicked, Verbal Anime, and Battle of Bongo Hill.
2) Atlantis – 1995 (by Wayne Shorter) This album shows how versatile of a composer Wayne Shorter really is. My favorite cuts are Endangered Species and The Three Maria’s.
3) Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous – 1995 (by Big L) Big L doesn’t get enough credit for his exceptional lyrical prowess. I would easily consider him one of the craftiest lyricists of all-time. My favorite cuts include 8 Iz Enuff, I Don’t Understand It, Let ‘Em Have It “L”, and Put It On.
4) The Anthology – 1991 (by A Tribe Called Quest) I consider ATCQ (as others have before me) the ‘Beatles’ of hip-hop. If you have even the remotest interest in hip-hop and you are not on the ATCQ train, stop reading, and listen to this album. I recommend Electric Relaxation, Scenario, Award Tour, and The Hop (not included for reasons I can’t comprehend).
5) Milestones – 1987 (by Miles Davis) This album is an instant jazz classic, including Miles himself, John Coltrane, and ‘Cannonball’ Adderly. It simply speaks for itself. My personal favorites include Dr. Jekyll, Two Bass Hit, and Miles.
6) Enta da Stage – 1993 (by Black Moon) If flow is what you like, Black Moon is simply what you need. Favorite cuts are Who Got Da Props, Shit Iz Real, and How Many MC’s…
7) 6 Feet Deep – 1997 (by Gravediggaz) This album is a bit trickier to describe. Wikipedia told me they’re considered a sub-genre of hip-hop called ‘horrorcore’. All I know is that the RZArector’s delivery is solid. This album is great if you’re looking for a change of pace. Favorite’s are Constant Elevation, Defective Trip, and Diary Of A Madman.
8.) Heavy Metal Be-Bop – 1978 (by The Brecker Brothers) This album includes a number of extremely good live performances of tunes on their other albums. Highlights include Some Skunk Funk, Sponge, and Squids.
9) Breaking Atoms – 1991 (by Main Source) Main Source keeps it real in every way. They do an exceptionally good job of delivering their message throughout the album. I think it’s rare to find a hip-hop group with so much awareness of the listener. My favorite tracks are Looking At The Front Door, Peace Is Not The Word To Play. Fakin’ The Funk is another great tune not on this album.
10) Greatest Hits – 1989 (by Vince Guaraldi) Mr. Guaraldi is best known for his work on the music for Charlie Brown. Many don’t know that he was an exceptional jazz pianist with a noteable passion for latin jazz. Some of my favorites are Samba De Orpheus, Cast Your Fate To The Wind, Mr. Lucky, and Days Of Wine And Roses.
– Thanks for reading!
Jon Rodman (Pallid/Binarii Weave)
Balam Acab – Wander/wonder (Tri Angle) (2011)
Holy Other – With U (Tri Angle) (2011)
Herbie Hancock – Crossings (Warner Bros.) (1972)
Shlohmo – Bad Vibes (Friends of Friends) (2011)
Andy Stott – Passed Me by (Modern Love) (2011)
Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino) (2010)
Teebs – Ardour (Brainfeeder) (2010)
Earth – Demons of Light, Angels of Darkness I (Southern Lord) (2011)
Strangeloop – Fields (Brainfeeder) (2011)
Wolves In The Throne Room – Celestial Lineage (Southern Lord) (2011)
Gianni Saja (Whiskey Supper/RuckUs)
It’s tough for me to make anything resembling a “definitive” top ten because I love so many songs/artists/bands. I don’t see it as a list carved in stone, but rather a series of waves that wash up, pull back, and then wash up again. For example, every five years or so I will submerge myself entirely in Stevie Wonder’s output from 1970-1976 for a few weeks and then not even think about it much for another five years until that particular tide comes in again. Most bands are like this with me. So any list I make hinges entirely on what waves are in at the time and which ones aren’t. In that case, I’ll just dip in a bucket at random and list the last ten songs (or albums, or sequence of albums) I’ve been unable to get through these past few weeks without hearing. In no particular order.
“Loving Cup” (alternate take) – The Rolling Stones
Blue Oyster Cult— Greatest Hits
Joni Mitchell – For the Roses…Court and Spark…The Hissing of Summer Lawns
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black…Larks Tongues in Aspic
Neil Michael Hagerty and the Howling Hex –The Howling Hex
Carole King – Rhymes and Reasons
Al Stewart – Past, Present and Future
Brian Eno – Ambient Music (vol. 1 and 2)
“Trilogy” – Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Liz Phair — Exile in Guyville Al Stewart – Past, Present and Future
Alex Strama (MT6 Records/Special People)
1. Halo Benders – “Dont Tell Me Now”
2. Grimness/Sx+Vx=Fx Split Tape
3. David Bowie “Best of Bowie”
4. Curse “s/t” Tape
5. Various Artists “Indian Folk Music” LP
6. White Zombie 4 CD “Box Set”
7. Squarepusher “My Red Hot Car”
8. Muddy Waters “Electric Mudd”
9. Tortoise “Standards”
10. INXS “Kick”
Guy Wallis (One Watt Sun/Mount Weather)
How about top 10 Jeff Buckley albums?
Kevin Wenger (Sea Patterns)
Top Ten honorable mentions
1. SIX HOURS OF MUSIC (Future Islands, Dope Body, Doomsday Student, Chester Gwazda, Tinsel Teeth, Believers…)
I had to prepare myself both mentally and physically for the back to back shows at Current Space and Floristree this July. After overexerting myself and vomiting in the bathroom for Double Dagger’s last show, I was determined to not blow it for one of the biggest shows of the summer. The evening started at Current Space (which is the most ideal summer show venue) sipping boh and listening to the minimal eno jams of Believers and thinking about how rare it is that an ambient set will really hold my attention. Nothing against ambient music, I listen to a lot of it at home when I want to relax, but few performers have really “nailed it” when it comes to live performances. Grouper and Believers come to mind. Chester Enderzby Gwazda played some amazing pop songs. I spent a lot of his set thinking about how there is a special place in heaven for amazing pop musicians. Future Islands played a short set of new material. I didn’t dance much (was trying to save my energy) but it was still heart-warming to see the sweaty neck hugs and celebration that takes place when they perform.
After a quick fried chicken and water stop on Franklin St. I headed over to Floristree and missed the very end of Witch Hat’s set (total bummer bro!) but I had seen them a few times that summer already, and without the fried chicken I most likely would have been vomiting at some point. Up next was Tinsel Teeth. I knew nothing about them and boy did that make for the perfect virgin show experience. I could go into detail about the depravity and excess that took place, but maybe some things are best described in person and not in publicly available local newspapers. I’ll just shorten it to blood, sweat, skin, and shaving cream.
Doomsday Student played an amazing set of spiraling noise jams virtually indistinguishable from their earlier form as Arab on Radar. But nothing wrong with that. They still make some of the most complex and engaging heavy noise rock. Also great music to blast at a wawa while double parked next to some bros in honda civics blaring dubstep.
The night ended with Dope Body, and my limbs finally gave out about halfway through their set. But I still whipped my neck around and shouted in Andrew Laumann’s face during the chorus of Road Dog, and that is basically the most important part of any Dope Body set. Sitting by the window, trying to recover, it was nice to hear the night end with retooled versions of Youth Relic (from their Twenty Pound Brick debut) and Tomahawk (from their vinyl-only split with Orphan). At the end of it, my friend pointed out that we had watched music for over six hours, the length of a school day. Easily one of the top six hour shows featuring blood, sweat, nudity, fried chicken, and gatorade.
2. WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T HAVE FUN IN THE SUBURBS? (Roomrunner at Swamp House)
I really get tired of it when bros complain about how boring bel air is. I’m always like “Really? Bro, Roomrunner played a show in Harford County, Bro! Yeah, it was really cool. They played all of their heavy nu-grunge noise rock jams. No, bro, not like pearl jam and green apple quickstep; this was like Loose Nut era-Flag mixed with all of the minor 7ths and add9 chords of early 90s seattle rock gods. Yeah bro, and my band sea patterns played, and this other great band one watt sun played. And the party got busted bro, but it was all cool, it was all cool. We kept rocking out man.”
3. THIS PLACE IS SO CLEAN (Coward Shoe’s Inaugural show)
When I visit the copycat, I’ll occasionally think to myself, “I wonder what this place looked like when it was clean, like before all the rats and heroin moved in” and now I know the answer is The Coward Shoe. Who knows what it looks like now, I haven’t been since their inaugural show with Dope Body, Roomrunner, and Hume, but that had to be the cleanest venue I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t lick the floors, but I would probably pay someone five dollars to lick the floor and not feel too guilty about it. That was an amazing show. Again, the highlight being head-banging to Road Dog, and moshing to that Roomrunner song that starts with DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN… you know the one I’m talking about.
And now lets take it down a notch to some more serious music journalism…
4. Swans “We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun In Our Head”
It’s hard to continually create new and engaging music. For aging rock demi-gods, it might make sense to throw on the spandex and play through yr greatest hits album trying to mimic the tonal qualities of vocal cords covered in whiskey and post-nasal coke drip (e.g. Van Halen, Rolling Stones etc.) but for true rock gods, it makes sense to take a step forward. Michael Gira did that with the latest Swans live album/demo album We Rose From Your Bed… (I’m not gonna type the rest of that out). First up is the live portion of the album that features new and retooled old material. I’m watching a Van Halen reunion show video right now, just so I can get this comparison right. Van Halen plays their old material with such blandness that you might for a second think you were listening to a Van Halen record. Swans plays old material like an embittered ex-lover drunkenly denying that they ever loved you. Their redone version of Sex, God, Sex off of Children of God has a driving christmas bell beat that laughs in the face of the droning anti-tempo of the original. Then Michael Gira sings in a slightly higher droning register than the original, and the scream from either someone in the band or someone in the audience at the climax of the song really puts me over the top every time.
While just about every track on the album is worth your time, I will say that the demo for the upcoming “A Piece of the Sky” off of soon to be released album The Seer, is easily the best song Michael Gira has written. I tell people that Swans has really owned droning repetition. More than any doom-metal or post-rock band, Swans knows how to play a riff the same way over and over and hold your attention. The opening to A Piece of the Sky drones on for what Michael Gira might describe as just a little longer than you can tolerate and then busts into an absolutely beautiful guitar ballad. And these are perhaps the strongest lyrics from Gira too. Musing free associations of death and sex and war all heard but ignored by a god in a room lined with soft lead. Gira describes it as a prayer to our creator. I hope the album version will live up to the home demo, but I have hope Gira won’t let me down. Jarboe is listed as singing backup, and I’m curious to see how she meshes in the new Swans sound. She was a perfect fit on Blackmail off of Holy Money, and I’m hoping I get a similar feel. I preordered it. You should too. It’s gonna be over two hours of music, and I’m sure that will be pure bliss.
5. BEST FRIENDS (Hive Bent)
I missed Hive Bent when they played at CODA, but I am really glad Sea Patterns was able to play a show with them at Bohemian. I don’t know what to say other than I have a soft spot (maybe more of an erogenous zone) for mathy sludgy heavy stuff, and Hive Bent lives up to all of those qualifiers. We’re gonna play another show with them at Charm City Artspace soon, and they are supposed to have a tape coming out on Terra Firma. I know CODA will snatch that up and have it for sale, and I highly recommend getting it. If you are into Hella or Yukon or Shellac or anything that really chews and jerks, I would definitely walk right into CODA Records and say “Hammer, I want to buy that Hive Bent tape and maybe give me a copy of that new Sea Patterns EP too” Remember to say all of those words. It’s key.
6. PLAY THE HITS (Libyan Suite’s “Son of the Sun”)
I have friends that play in other bands. Every now and then one of my friends will write an absolutely amazing song. “Son of the Sun” by the Libyan Suite is one of those songs. Vince’s vocal delivery is one in a million. The song kind of rides on that alone. Though I should take this opportunity to very publicly suggest that they put a pickup on the banjo and electrify it, and oh my diabetes guys, I would lose it. They are supposed to have something coming out soon. I think bel air legend and jazz prodigy Sean Michael Wilson is going to record them and then Kevin asked if he could put the tape out on my vanity label Liquorburger Records. So look for that soon.
7. Dirty Projectors – “Swing Lo Magellan”
I could write a lot about this album but there are really a few key things I want to say. First of all, pretentiousness doesn’t really exist. So many people write this band off as pretentious hipsters without any real explanation of what that means. Allow me to explain to you what they are really about. They are really into thinking and talking about music. *gasp* I know, what a concept. Heaven forbid you discuss music theory in an interview, or talk about classical composers as an influence. If you do that, well… well… you’re a hipster! I for one am really glad that Dave Longstreth isn’t some goofy stoned-out slacker that claims to have “no influences” and just “makes music.” This album has so many great interesting things going on. From the 70s soul inflected title track to the driving motown piano ballad of Impregnable Question, this is definitely a band that knows how to digest and manipulate influences to create truly original music. I’ll step down from my high horse for now, but the next time one of you a**holes writes someone off as a hipster, you better get ready for an extended rant about xenophobia and anti-intellectualism.
8. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Jazz Mind
I said that Swans kind of owned the repetition thing earlier, but Ed Schrader does a good job of renting it. The album is primal. Screaming, thumping drums, bass thuds. It’s the kind of thing that really triggers an animal instinct in me. I still haven’t snagged it on vinyl yet, but I gotta do that. I got the pre-album 7″ which featured absolutely draw-dropping artwork by Chris Day, and that was one of the best purchases I made at the end of last summer. I suspect snatching the full length up will be as well.
9. JUST SOME GENERAL THINGS (If you aren’t listening to this, you’re doing something wrong)
Leather, a hardcore band out of philly, has four great 7″. One of them is out on Fan Death (Wretch) and is available at CODA. I would definitely recommend that. Amazing vocalist, and that is the kind of thing that hardcore needs to be relevant these days. Sterile is another great 7″ by them. Get all of it. Also, it goes without saying that you should own every Dope Body release, and even though their new album Natural History came out, I’d like to plug their debut cassette off of WTR CLR called Twenty Pound Brick. I’ve listened to that more and more as of late, not because I don’t like their new stuff, but because I need a break from high production value every now and then. It’s really really really low production value. I’m pretty sure it isn’t mastered, and then I have to turn it up loud to actually hear it, then I forget the volume is up and put on Merzbow afterwards and blood runs out of my ears. Anyways, it’s some really great groovy thrash. It has some of Andrew Laumann’s best vocal lines, most notable is his stuttered laugh on “Scumbag” and screechy accompaniment to the surf thrash “Mudslide.” I can’t recommend this album enough. If you suffered whiplash from listening to Nupping, do yourself a favor and get Twenty Pound Brick. I’m pretty sure they still have tons of copies cause like no one has bought it. WHY HASN’T ANYONE BOUGHT IT?
10. LOVE YOU CODA (Best local Record Store)
Sure, they have no competition, but CODA records is still the best Harford County record store. It’s the perfect little meet up place for me to go and talk about music. Who else is gonna lend me an ear on what Merzbow release I’m listening to, or how I really just can’t get into crossover thrash? Also who else is gonna stock my band’s debut EP? (Sea Patterns “Play Date” (I am shameless)) CODA has given this county something far more valuable than a Wegmans or a Sonic or Tax Breaks, they’ve created a home for music culture that previously didn’t have a home. There’s been bands in Harford county for a while, but they’ve never had a meeting place on par with CODA, at least in my lifetime. And I am just a youngin’ so who knows. I mean I remember Record and Tape, but that didn’t really compare. Or maybe I was just listening to too much Coldplay back then and couldn’t appreciate their carefully curated heavy music collection. Who knows. I do know that CODA rules.
Sean Michael Wilson (Sean Wilson)
What I have been listening to.
1. Television – Marquee Moon
2. Twin Shadow – Confess
3. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
4. Dan Deacon – America
5. Husker Du – New Day Rising
6. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
7. Frank Zappa – Live in New York City
8. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
9. Benji Hughes – A Love Extreme 10. Ween – The Mollusk
10. Ween – The Mollusk
Chirs Zickefoose (Cloud Quality)
Shlohmo – Bad Vibes
Jonwayne – Bowser
B.Lewis- Science Within Reason
Elliot Smith- Self- titled
Craft Spells – Idle Labor
The Drums- Portamento
Wild Nothing – Gemini
Washed Out- Within and Without
Earth- Bees made Honey in the Lions Skull
Matt Zorsi (Corpusle, Of Rohan)
Sounds of the Season: Summer 2012
1. Led Zeppelin // Song Remains The Same
2. Phish // Live Phish Vol.4: Fukuoka, Japan, 2000/06/14
3. Iron & Wine // Around The Well
4. Dan Deacon // America
5. Paul Baribeau // Grand Ledge
6. Grouper // A l A : Alien Observer
7. Dustin Wong // Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads
8. Jordan Miller // Zoetrope
9. Tim Hecker // Haunt Me
10. Toe // The Future is Now
Honorable Mention – Old Gray // Do I Dare Disturb The Universe?