The Year in Local Music
This was hard. A shit-ton of Baltimore bands, singers, rappers, and bang-on-some-pots-and-pans'ers released albums this year. With the advent of CD-R labels, hip-hop mixtapes, and MP3 downloads, large quantities of music hitting our desks and ears in any one year isn't so surprising anymore. (Just ask our mail carrier, our credit card company, and our overloaded hard drive.) But something about 2006 felt different; maybe it's because so many of those local releases were so damn good. Whittling things down to a Top 10 was straight-up Sophie's choice: Something great was gonna have to get cut.
Forget the mentions in The New York Times or the MTV News spots: Local music in Charm City is still a cussedly idiosyncratic thing, not quite ready for prime time and sometimes all the better for it. If Daniel Higgs' gnarled psychedelic folk and Blaq Starr's incongruous mix of banging beats and creeped-out, minor-key melodies share anything other than geography, it's how little each sounds like anything else, in or out of city limits. This unshowy, natural diversity is the kind of thing that makes you proud to live somewhere, even if it doesn't make where you live an easy "sell" to folks hawking lifestyle magazines. Not that the outside world hasn't been riding B-more's jock--and hard--this year.
We're not saying that other cities don't have unique musical treasures, though ours are certainly cooler. But Baltimore is downright overrun with musicians making music because they've got that proverbial special noise in their heads that they've gotta squeeze out, whether it's a rapper on the grind or a rock band in the garage or someone soldering together his own circuit boards. And if you can find anything in New York or Los Angeles that sounds like club music or Leprechaun Catering, we'll be very surprised. But if you ever find any club music that sounds like Leprechaun Catering, holler at us. This year's City Paper Local Music Top 10 was compiled from suggestions from Jess Harvell, Bret McCabe, Jason Torres, and Al Shipley. No votes were cast and final dictatorial control was in the hands of the music editor, so complain to him if your favorite got left out. (Jess Harvell)
The Next 10 (in alphabetical order): Beach House Beach House (Carpark); Dirty Hartz It Is What It Is Mixtape Vol. 2 (Dirty Hartz Entertainment); Ecstatic Sunshine Freckle Wars (Carpark); Harrius Enter the Cotton Ring (Ehse); Karmella's Game The Art of Distraction (Speedbump Recordings); Labtekwon Hustlaz Guide to the Universe 2.0 (Ankh Ba); Misery Index Discordia (Relapse); Ponytail Kamehameha (Creative Capitalism); Supa DJ Big L The Reality Season 1 (Unruly Records); Various artists Architects Recording Studio Presents Street Radio 3 (Architects).
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