Author Archive

Ever Ending Kicks – “Outside Again”

Ever Ending Kicks Weird Priorities

I don’t know where I think I’ve been
But it’s good to be outside again

Every work day I feel that verse to the bone. Trapped in a windowless wire-filled room from 8-5pm, it’s almost awe-inspiring to open the door and let the light pour in.

Ever Ending Kicks (formerly Motorbikes), the musical project of Paul Adam Benson, has just re-issued his other worldly pop cassette entitled Weird Priorities via Baltimore’s Holy Page. The opening track, “Outside Again,” gives a good keyhole look at the diverse spectrum of sounds following on the LP—honest lo-fi verses skimming the realms of beat tapes and synths.

Hugging – “How Many Marigolds?”

Hugging - Today

Sometimes Bandcamp is beautiful. Sure it’s vast and chaotic, but amidst the chaos often hides a bit of peace. Many times I’ll stroll through the “Baltimore” tag just to see what oddities are occurring in my hometown that avoid PR, labels, and email hype. What I happened upon this instance is the glorious found-sound samplings of Hugging.

Hugging is the side project of Jason the Swamp, a Baltimore artist whom I know nothing about. When Jason isn’t swamping, he’s skirting the art-rock experimental pop vibe. It’s pretty stunning in its own right (check his most recent EP, Remember, Resemble). What he’s doing with Hugging is somewhat different—creating exceptional melodic instrumentals with bits and pieces of samples from all over.

Today is his newest LP, filled with a wide array of moods and moments that tell a lonely story of hope and mystery. While most of the tracks build to a higher beat or energy, the song I was most captivated by was “How Many Marigolds?” This song is a peaceful summer dream x10. It’s hard to listen and not immediately imagine floating down an undiscovered waterway, birds darting through the distant clouds that thankfully cover the sun’s heated rays.

Raindeer – “Tattoo”

raindeer baltimore

I think I’m listening to something I can only describe as carousel-pop. As in, when I close my eyes while listening I imagine myself spinning ’round a carousel in a complete soft focus Hollywood manner. A blend of romance, nostalgia, vibrant colors, and weird carney mystique.

Baltimore’s electro psych-pop quartet Raindeer are working that carousel magic well. Tattoo was just released on cassette by the ever-stellar Friends Records and it continues the neon summer star-gazing vibe pushed out last year with their S/T release.

Frontman Charlie Hughes builds an intricate amalgam of sugary synthed-out psych that is much in line with the likes of Black Moth Super Rainbow, but also ties into some complex and rewarding pop-rock vibes. So for every ounce of Dan Deacon-like synthesizer overloads packed into a song, there’s an equal amount New Pornographers/Fleetwood Mac harmonious pop-rock vibes backing it up. The latter flows from the title track, “Tattoo.”

Pay what you want for Tattoo on Raindeer’s Bandcamp page or pick it up on cassette via Friends Records.

Weekends – “Bee Side”

Weekends new humans

What’s that saying? When it rains it pours?

As many can confirm, Monday’s usually seem like the optimum day for things to generally go to hell. This past manic Monday was hell-times-10 in terms of stress/things breaking/things going missing at my 9-5er. And surprisingly I think I’m happy that it went that way. For you see, towards the end of the workday, Adam Lempel of Baltimore’s Weekends sent me a much needed email featuring a brand new track from their upcoming LP, New Humans. Without the previous hours of mind-numbing-workplace-horror-show, I don’t think my mindset would have been ready for the absolute intense throbbing beauty and force of “Bee Side,” the closing song on the album. I put my headphones on, let my fingers rest off the keyboard for once, turned the volume waaaaay up, and imagined the entire office falling to pieces bit by bit until the final note faded. That was the true peace of mind I needed—the kind you can only get through the loud thundering guitars and drums of Weekends.

Speaking of rising from the ashes, Weekends and New Humans have done just that. A little while ago, Open Space, Weekends’ (and a host of other artists and kind souls) practice/living space caught fire, displacing a lot of people, and ruining a lot of beautiful things. One thing that did survive was 50 copies of this much-anticipated LP—which will be available in limited edition complete with the smokey aroma (an additional 250 copies will be available too) on August 30th.

Weekends will be posting one song at a time on their SoundCloud, in reverse order, until the final release date.

Video

Mickey Free - "The Unnies"

Mickey Free The Unnies Video

Last week I posted on Baltimore’s Height With Friends and their new throwback release. Continuing on that line of sound, Mickey Free (Mickey Freeland), who is part of the Height crew, just dropped a new video for “The Unnies.”

The track is quite a few years old, being part of the underrated Last of the Tight Wiggers album the was self-released in 2010. The video has been in the making over the last two years by Towson University film and animation professor Phil Davis but it was worth the wait. On full display is Freeland’s comedic personality; his rhymes have a genuine flair for the chuckle in certain spots, but it wasn’t until I spotted a YouTube clip of him doing standup that I realized the full spectrum of his talents. That being said, enjoy!

Height With Friends – “Pinecone Park ’79″

height with friends versus dynamic sounds

Baltimore’s Height With Friends has grown, expanded, simplified, and matured a great deal since I first heard the magnificent LP Baltimore Highlands back in 2009. That album, featuring Daniel Keech aka Height and his group of friends including Mickey Free, King Rhythm, Wye Oak, Emily Slaughter, PT Burnem and more, really showed me a different direction hip hop could head. The style of Height wasn’t about flash and beats and image—it was about the power and rhythm of his words. On the next album, Bed of Seeds, the sound became more polished, and the sense of a full band shined through in a beautiful way. Next came Rock and Roll—probably the cleanest and most refined thing they had produced. It was beautiful, well written, and deserving of all the praise it has received. But where do they go from there? Well, the answer appears to be backwards, waaaaaay back to when hip hop was a few emcees and a chopped up disco beat killing it in a local rec center. Versus Dynamic Sounds is Height With Friends’ newest adventure and it’s a throwback of throwbacks.

Here are a few words on the album from Height With Friends themselves:

Height With Friends Versus Dynamic Sounds is a period piece. The record aims to emulate the earliest sonic documents of hip-hop, when rap was a live art form not yet captured in a studio. The rhymes, the DJing and the recording quality all pay tribute to the early live tapes of The Cold Crush Brothers, The L Brothers and every group that was there from the jump.

We used many of the original sure shots, and we dug up an equal amount of unknown breaks. The new breaks allowed us to enter this world as unique contributors, and not as mimics trying to trigger a nostalgia trip.

The album’s pacing is meant to fit a time when rap had yet to conform to standard song structures. The first hip-hop was not about songs but about a stream of rhymes, shoutouts and routines over a morphing bed of b-beats. We wanted to capture the moment when hip-hop felt less like walking back and forth between your house and the store, and more like speeding through a city on a motorcycle.

This record was made with love and respect towards the pioneers. It’s meant not as a nod toward an antiquated style of music, but as an homage to what I consider to be the highest, most far-out form of rap that can ever exist.

I wrote all the words on the album, which were performed with help from Eze Jackson, Emily Slaughter, Lord Grunge, PT Burnem and more. Mickey Free mixed the record. Secret Weapon Dave and CX Kidtronik were on the wheels of steel.

“Pinecone Park ’79″ is the second jam on the LP and also the moment I began cranking it to the next level. It’s the moment my windows rolled down and my head went into full bop. It took me back to the days of working in a hot warehouse where my boss would play nothing but Cold Crush Brothers, Boogie Down Productions, and Ultramagnetic MCs cassettes. Those songs were such a chill joy that you forgot about the awful heat and humidity of Baltimore. That’s the effect of “Pinecone Park ’79.” So if your AC is on the fritz, crank this baby and chill.

Vacation – “Demain”

vacation Demain

Every time I fly via the sky I tend to close my eyes on takeoff. The magical pause in sound before the slow building rumble is a bit of a zen moment for me. Then when every tone and vibration reaches its peak, the plane becomes airborne. It becomes silent. That’s when I open my eyes.

New York’s Vacation are departing (mainly due to a naming conflict). “Demain” is a farewell to their exploratory folk/electronic wanderings. The gentle guitar and vocals of Rachel Asher paired with the subtle building synths and samples of Wayne Memmer compose a track that is simply peaceful. Wayne will continue on the vibe solo with his upcoming project No Valley.

Ke$ha – “Die Young” (Meth Dad Remix)

Meth Dad Kesha remix cover

Pop music is a funny thing, right? Powerful, sometimes beautiful, but most of the time, painful.

Take for instance Ke$ha. Don’t like her music. Nope. Not at all. But I’ve heard a lot of it. Probably too much, really. So when a reworked Ke$ha track by someone I love, Meth Dad, rolls onto my ears, there’s a sense of familiarity along with an overwhelming sense of adventure. Tyler of Meth Dad shreds every essence of “Die Young” and reapplies it in broad and appealing brush strokes. So I guess I am thankful for Ke$ha, as much as it pains me to write that. Without her absurd pop music there would be no masterful time-warping transfiguration created by Meth Dad.

Heavy Deeds – “Light Lunch”

Heavy Deeds Light Lunch LP

Music without a care in the world. Music looking to open the windows and let the light shine in a bit. Not afraid to kick off its shoes. Not afraid to sing along. Not afraid to have a chorus. Not afraid to let loose and gospel. Not afraid to let rock and roll set you free. Not afraid to be a family. Not afraid to feel good.

Heavy Deeds are a five member group from Minneapolis featuring members of Vampire Hands. They have just released the EP Light Lunch, an album soaked in nostalgic rock vibes. Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills and Nash, Buffalo Springfield, and Neil Young tones flutter on the same plane as Heavy Deeds—a powerful amalgam of rock and roll, country, rhythm and blues, gospel, and folk. Spiritual and uplifting, the title track is a dance-through-the-forest, jump-into-the-river, wash-your-worries-away kind of song. It’s perfect for sloughing away the dense work overload as you slip into summer vacation.