It's a city with 1000 slogans, but no defining song. Baltimore's bred and acted as a magnet for untraditional instrument builders, Wham City's Fort-Thunder-inspired transplants, and the Baltimore Club stylings of DJ Technics, Rod Lee and many more, as heard on television's The Wire.
What follows is an audio sampling of some of the many Baltimore artists who will be making their music available for free non-commercial use on WFMU's Free Music Archive. Afternoon Penis, The Agrarians, Arc and Sender, Dan Deacon, Double Dagger, Food for Animals, Fuzz Unlimited, Human Host, Lexie Mountain Boys, LO MOdA / Low Moda, Nautical Almanac, Newagehillbilly, Ponytail, Sejayno, Teeth Mountain, Jason Willett, and WZT Hearts. There are many more who we're hoping to get in touch with, and we welcome your ideas by email or comment.
Nate Nelson is half of Mouthus, prolific murk-metal masters and operators of the Our Mouth label. He also drums in Religious Knives. Although both groups are based in Brooklyn, Nelson's recently relocated to Baltimore. He's released a handful of CDRs and a Heavy Tape under the name Afternoon Penis. This track will blow your mind.
Afternoon Penis - track1 (mp3) from High Noon (Our Mouth)
Matt Perzinski's now six albums deep into the creepy acoustic tape-hiss balladry and abstract folk. Here's a track from We Meet The Medicine, newly released on Baltimore's MT6 Records.
The Agrarians - Substitute for Monogamy (mp3)
Arc and Sender
An instrumental trio that's two parts Baltimore, one part Philadelphia. Philly's High Two label released their self-titled debut in 2005. Guitarist/baritone-guitarist Greg Pardew has recently been focusing on his quieter acoustic project Soon Clyde, with the help of his Arc and Sender bandmates and various other collaborators. Pardew says that "playing loud comes in cycles with us," and sent us an unreleased recording, indicating that Arc and Sender has a follow-up album on the way.
Arc and Sender - Hundred Year Flood (mp3) from Arc and Sender (High Two)
Arc and Sender - Squares and Circles (mp3) from Arc and Sender (High Two)
Arc and Sender - Map of the Stars Homes (mp3) - unreleased unmastered but still very loud demo
A few years ago, Wham City chief Dan Deacon and a group of creative post-college friends from Purchase New York relocated to a Baltimore warehouse in search of a more artist-friendly environment. Apparently it worked; now Deacon's playing the Whitney Museum, and Wham City's rainbow aesthetic has spread far beyond Baltimore. Deacon has advocated free music all along. He released a proper Creative Commons album in 2004 on Comfort Stand Recordings, an artist-run Net Label of (cc)-licensed music.
From Dan Deacon - Twacky Cats (Comfort Stand Recordings)*: Dan Deacon - Arms Saloon (mp3) Dan Deacon - Lion With a Shark's Head (demostration version) (mp3) Dan Deacon - Conor Kizer With Bead Jewelry (mp3) Dan Deacon - When I Was Taller (mp3) Dan Deacon - Ohio (demostration version) (mp3) Front Cover (jpg) Back Cover (jpg)
Deacon has performed on WFMU three times: 7/23/03, 2/21/04 and 5/27/06. Each appearance took place on Plug and Play, hosted by OCDJ, who has since relocated to Baltimore himself. Here are a few selections from his first visit:
Dan Deacon - This Crazy Mouse Won't Leave Me Alone (mp3)
Dan Deacon - The House I Was Isn't My Girlfriend's Porsche (mp3)
Dan Deacon - Song for Dina (mp3)
Dan Deacon - Piggled (mp3)
Dan Deacon - I'm Sorry Brian Wilson (mp3)
Dynamic punk from Baltimore that would probably be on Dischord if they were from DC.
From Ragged Rubble (Stationary Heart):
Double Dagger - Luxury Condos For the Poor (mp3)
Double Dagger - The Psychic (mp3)
From their 3/26/06 live session on Pat Duncan's show:
Double Dagger - I Was So Bored I Wanted to Hang Myself On the Dancefloor (mp3)
Double Dagger - Rearranging Digital Deck Chairs (mp3)
Food for Animals
Fans of Dalek-style noise-rap take note: here's another experimental rap group who has collaborated with Faust. Formed in Silver Spring but now based in Baltimore. Their debut full length is out on Hoss in the US and coming out on Cock Rock Disco in the EU this summer.
Food for Animals - Planet Say (mp3) recorded with Hans Jochim Irmler from Faust last winter
Food for Animals - Elephants (mp3) from the 2006 Cock Rock Disco Free mp3 comp (download it here)
Food for Animals - Mutumbo (mp3) from Belly (Hoss)
Food for Animals - Shhhy (mp3) from Belly (Hoss)
Mike Bell has played with Billy Syndrome, Jennifer Blowdryer, and Ed Wilcox's Temple Bon Matin. These days, when he's not driving a truck somewhere along America's highway system, he's playing music on his own, with Mary Knot as The Dirt, or with his friends from the DC punk era in Fuzz Unlimited.
Sci-fi theatrical electro-punk, formed in Baltimore in 2002. Led by Mike Apichella, the group has been known to feature as many as six members, including Rick Weaver of the Ruined Frame and the Human Conduct label.
From their third album, 2006's Exploding Demon (MT6 Records):
Human Host - Tomb of Science (mp3)
Human Host - Six Realms (mp3)
Human Host - Escape From the Organ Chamber (mp3)
Lexie Mountain Boys
"Are they a cult? A hardcore band who forgot their instruments? A demented cheerleading squad? These six ladies from Baltimore specialize in schizophrenic ramblings, innocent playground chants, tourettian outbursts, down-home balladry, and bipolar moments of sincerity and frustration." Liz B wrote this spot-on description to preview the Lexie Mountain Boys' live performance on her show last June (archived here). They have also played WFMU's Record Fair and SXSW Showcase, and this isn't the first time we've posted their disected-speech-tunes on this blog. Clearly we like Lexie Mountain Boys a great deal.
Lexie Mountain - Dogs Hot (mp3) from Boys
Lexie Mountain Boys - Sweet Potato Sugar Tot (mp3) ** from their forthcoming Sacred Vacation (Carpark Records)
Lexie Mountain - track 2 (mp3) from Woodgrain Manicure (self-released edition of 50)
Lexie Mountain Boys - Venus Cleaners Sessions (mp3) self-released edition of 50
LO MOdA / Low Moda
An art-punk 6-piece steeped in the gospel of doom, Lo Moda grooves without any extraneous motions. They played a fantastic set on Liz's show in March, and left behind some cool stuff from vocalist Peter Quinn's Creative Capitalism "ARt + MuSic ACtion PRoduct". Creative Capitalism released the J Robbins-produced Gospel Store Front in 2006, with mp3's below. New material can be heard on the live session and here.
Lo Moda - Les Jardins (De L'bouli) (mp3)
Lo Moda - Electric World (mp3)
Originally formed in Ann Arbor, Nautical Almanac's core members Twig Harper and Carly Ptak moved to Baltimore from Chicago in 2001. In search of a place to live, record music, and have shows, they bought a building that became known as Tarantula Hill. They also started a label called Heresee, releasing material by everyone from Wolf Eyes to Little Howlin' Wolf. Other Nautical Almanac projects include modified electronics/custom-built instruments and pressing records out of various objects with their record-cutting machine.
Nautical Almanac - Kraftwork (mp3) from "Something" Euro Tour 2005
Nautical Almanac - Various Cut Lazerdiscs (mp3) from Handcut Record Transfers
Nautical Almanac - One-Off Overcut Metal Laquer (mp3) from Handcut Record Transfers
Nautical Almanac - Clump Clump (mp3) from Cover the Earth
Nautical Almanac - Rolling in the Green (mp3) from Cover the Earth
Nautical Almanac - track 2 (mp3) from Rejerks vol 4
Newagehillbilly is the experimental solo project of Alex Strama. He runs the most excellent label MT6 Records (and MT5 Tapes), releasing music by a ton of excellent bands, many of whom are featured in this post. Newagehillbilly is one of several MT6 artists who post free live audio to archive.org, and his live shows are known to feature boxers and machine gun fire.
From IV: White Walls, released in 2005 on MT6:
Newagehillbilly - Control Factor (mp3)
Newagehillbilly - Rock and Roller (mp3)
Newagehillbilly - Lights on Einstein (mp3)
Ponytail is a four-piece with two shredding guitarists (including Dustin Wong, formerly of Ecstatic Sunshine), a spastic drummer (see Jeremy Hyman in action here) and super-energetic vocalist Molly Siegel. Elements of atmospheric krautrock, noise-rock virtuoso mess, and Satomi Matsuzaki yelling indecipherable positivity. Their forthcoming album Ice Cream Social, produced by J Robbins, will be released by Baltimore's own We Are Free, check the video preview (.mov). In the meantime, enjoy these tracks from their Creative Capitalism debut Kamahameha:
Ponytail - Burning Saddles (mp3)
Ponytail - Start a Corporation (mp3)
An electro-acoustic experimental trio consisting of Peter Blasser, Carson Garhart, and Severiano Martinez. Blasser designs, builds and sells custom instruments (check out Daniel Higgs playing his Namasitar). These inventions fuel Sejayno's musical experimentations. Sejayno's website offers many mp3's and images, and describes the new Reverse Time Apex cassette as "a 90 minute quantum leap through a fabricated time loop, an funny odyssey through cavernous bath houses, ancient barns, bird ceremonies, guitar center, aristocratic feasts, dust tunnels, hawk fieldsâ¦ Through the first person perspective of numerous characters and animals, intricately woven together into a singular âeyeâ".
Sejayno - Orgium (mp3) from Laity (Megaphone Records)
Sejayno - Reverse Time Apex cassette side 1 (mp3)
Sejayno - Reverse Time Apex cassette side 2 (mp3)
Teeth Mountain sports a singing saw, a distorted cello, and a computer running Fruity Loops, along with four drummers playing floor toms and a communal cymbal. Group members put on shows and live in a place they call the Comfort Dome. Here are some samples from their forthcoming 3-way release: 50 cdrs on discos compulsivos/luv luv in Spain, 100 cds on Nail in the Coffin records, and 500 LPs on Shdwply.
Teeth Mountain - Keinsein (mp3)
Teeth Mountain - Ghost Science (mp3)
Teeth Mountain - 13 (mp3)
Teeth Mountain - Black Jerusalem (mp3)
Willet is an essential contributor to Baltimore's music community in a number of ways. He's played music as/with Can Openers, Jaunties, Pleasant Livers, X-Ray Eyes, Attitude Robots, Dramatics, and Leprechaun Catering, and collaborated with the likes of Jad Fair, Chris Cutler, Ruins and James Chance. He runs the label Megaphone Records, which has released material from Fred Frith, The Work and Tim Hodgkinson. Willett owns and operates the True Vine Record Shop, with Ian Nagoski and Stewart Mostofsky. His own music is all over the map, with a pots-and-pans approach to drumming, fuzzed out everything, and a sprinkle of bachelor pad abstraction. MT6 just put out an excellent compilation of previously unreleased tracks that didn't make it onto Willett's many Megaphone releases over the past 13 years. Here are some samples from The Sounds of Megaphone Limited:
Jason Willett - Beautiful Song w/ Kick Drum Solo (mp3)
Jason Willett - Song Recorded Immediately Upon Return from X-Ray Eyes tour '96 (mp3)
Jason Willett and Jad Fair - Or So I've Been Told (mp3)
The Attitude Robots - Instrumental with Funky Midsection (mp3)
The Jaunties - Chewing Gum (mp3)
Pronounced "wet", they're an ambient noise four-piece. Heat Chief came
out on Hit Dat and Hoss Records, and here's a track from last year's
Threads Rope Spell Making Your Bones, released by Carpark, the local
label that's been putting out a shit ton of great Baltimore music
WZT Hearts - Hearth Carver (mp3) **
more fun Baltimore links:
-The Ed Schrader Show (YouTube) featuring interviews with Jason WIllett, Human Host, and more. And for something completely different, try Ed's podcast
-Jimmy Joe Roche's Ultimate Reality Arnold Schwarzenneger True Lies/Conan mashup audio/video (YouTube)!
-Episode-by-episode guide to the real Baltimore club music heard in The Wire, put together by Baltimore's on-the-ball City Paper
-Wildfire Wildfire, a great label that's put OCDJ, Thank You, Video Hippos and Ecstatic Sunshine
All mp3's in this post are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 United States license except *Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 and **composition licensed cc-by-nc-sa with label permission to post the file.
Thanks to all of the artists and labels for letting us share their music -- please support them if you like what you hear!