Hey everyone, we’re Craig and Clif from The Dadada. We’re doing a feature called Station to Station, which will feature music artists from cities around the world. We’ll start in the U.S., and move to various international destinations as we go. Some of these places we’ve haunted recently, some a long time ago, and some are just dream destinations. If you live in a featured city or know the scene well, feel free to leave comments about your favorite acts and destinations.
postcard from I.M. Ottenheimer Company [via]
For a long time, the port city of Baltimore was known as a jazz city. Early in the 20th Century, the sound was dominated by ragtime, but modern jazz caught fire in Baltimore with the emergence of Chick Webb and Billie Holiday. From the 1930s through the 1950s, Pennsylvania Avenue played host to some of the best clubs on the east coast. By the 1960s the jazz scene had reached great heights, and this coincided with the emergence of the Left Bank Society, which attracted some of the biggest names in jazz. Sadly, the jazz scene is largely a memory.
Since that time, the city has seen several waves of music emerge and subside. Metal and hard rock bands dominated the city through the 1970s and 80s. The club Hammerjacks, was one of the top hair band locations on the east coast. The band Kix ruled that location in the mid-80s, though they only achieved minor acclaim outside the city. The punk and post-hard core scene has largely remained underground. Lungfish is one of the more prominent hardcore acts to emerge from Baltimore.
In the last decade, Maryland’s “Charm City” has contributed mightily to the indie and alternative scene. Some of our favorite acts include: Animal Collective, Beach House, Dan Deacon, Future Islands, Ponytail, Thank You, and Wye Oak.
Animal Collective – A Baltimore band that has since relocated to New York City, Animal Collective are the poster children for neo-psychedelic music. These Baltimore high school buddies have forged a unique and compelling vision of highly experimental music. Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) topped many critics list of best albums for 2009. Their latest project is a visual album, ODDSAC, with director Danny Perez.
Check out: Peacebone from Strawberry Jam
Beach House – Dream pop sensations who released one 2010’s best albums, Teen Dream. Victoria Legrand’s smoky, spacey vocals and subtle keyboard playing merged beautifully with the gentle yet adept guitar of Alex Scally to lift this band to new heights. Other albums include a self-titled release (2006) and Devotion (2008).
Check out: Zebra from Teen Dream
Dan Deacon – A classically trained musician (Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase) that specializes in electronic music, Dan Deacon displays a wide array of musical skills. His recent music is composed of electronic collages with various vocal manipulations, and his latest project is a movie score for Francis Ford Coppola’s new film Twixt Now and Sunrise.
Check out: Build Noise from Bromst
Future Islands –Originating in Greenville, NC, Future Islands (previously known as Art Lord & The Self Portraits during the art students’ formative years at East Carolina University) have been described as a red-neck DEVO fronted by Jack Black. Their post-new wave music is deeply rhythmic, propelled by the melodic bass guitar of William Cashion and peppered by the plinking electro-pop manipulations of Gerrit Welmers. The music provides an intriguing foundation for the emotive and revealing vocal stylings of Sam Herring, producing an original sound that Future Islands have claimed as their own.
Check out: Tin Man from In the Evening Air
Ponytail – They are scheduled to release a new album in April entitled: Do Whatever You Want All of the Time, which sums up the mentality of this band. Known for delivering high energy performances marked by Molly Siegel’s ecstatic yelping, cooing and sundry birdcalls, Ponytail makes music for long distance drives. Plug in or pop in a disc and go.
Check out: Celebrate the Body Electric (It Came From an Angel) from Ice Cream Spiritual
Thank You – This trio of multi-instrumentalists play aggressive, polyrhythmic rock that draws upon both noise and ambience. In city full of art rockers, Thank You is one of the few prominent acts that have embraced Baltimore’s underground punk and hardcore past. Their latest release, Golden Worry, is on Thrill Jockey. Thank You is touring this year to support it. Catch them, while you can!
Check out: 1-2-3 Bad from Golden Worry
Wye Oak – Their latest album, Civilian, is the best effort yet from singer-guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer-keyboardist Andy Stack. They’ve moved on from the slowcore sound featured on 2009’s The Knot to develop a deeper, fuller sound by going beyond the drone and including tracks that are more melodic and dreamier.
Check out: Civilian from Civilian
Some cool venues in Baltimore:
Floristree 6th floor at 405 W. Franklin St
The Metro Gallery – 1700 North Charles Street
Ottobar – 2549 N. Howard St.
Rams Head Live 20 Market Place
The Sidebar Tavern 218 East Lexington Street
Some cool Baltimore blogs that feature music and info on the scene there:
While we both have ties to Baltimore, neither one of us has been there for a few years. If you’re from the city, feel free to add to the conversation. We’d love to hear the latest and maybe you can turn us onto something new.
Until next time…