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Big Music Feature


An incomplete guide to Baltimore imprints

By Michael Byrne | Posted 7/14/2010


Born: 2003
MVPs: Integrity, Pulling Teeth, Seraphim, Slumlords
Sounds like: Metal, heavy hardcore, doom
Big moment: Releasing music from heavy music object-of-affection Integrity.

Aural Slate

Born: 2010
MVPs: Arbouretum, Caverns, Lo Moda
Sounds like: Indie-rock
Big moment: So far, releasing the excellent Arbouretum live set, Couldn't Hit It Sideways.

The Beechfields

Born: 2003
MVPs: Gary B and the Notions, Jason Dove, Small Sur, Private Eleanor, the Stalking Horses
Sounds like: The Baltimore indie-pop and pop-folk universe
Big moment: Holding to a sound and attitude that resists big moments.

Bmore Original

Born: 2004
MVPs: DJ Excel, Benny Stixx, DJ Booman
Sounds like: Club, hip-hop
Big moment: DJ Excel's Pastor Manning remix "That's What A Pimp Does." Still.


Born: 2004
MVPs: Leprechaun Catering, Needle Gun, Trockeneis, Snacks
Sounds like: Baltimore's crème de avant-garde
Big moment: A delicious and anarchic picture disc from Baltimore superduo Snacks.

Fan Death

Born: 2008
MVPs: Twin Stumps, Clockcleaner, Psychedelic Horseshit, Pfisters
Sounds like: Rock, punk, lo-fi
Big moment: Bringing the label's yearly festival DNA Test Fest to Baltimore.


Born: 2010
MVPs: Height With Friends, Weekends
Sounds like: Everything-and-the-sink mainline Baltimore indie/underground
Big moment: Debuting in a recession with an all-vinyl/cassette tape label.


Born: 2002
MVPs: Nautical Almanac, Twig Harper, Carly Ptak, Wolf Eyes
Sounds like: Even more of Baltimore's crème de avant-garde
Big moment: A Nautical Almanac box set, the infamous Memorial Day found-footage VHS.

High Rolla

Born: 2005
MVPs: Diamond K
Sounds like: Early-days, raw club
Big moment: 2007's Club Music Is the Future, likely the first Baltimore club documentary.


Born: 1990
MVPs: Jad Fair, Jason Willett, the Pleasant Livers, the Can Openers, the Dramatics
Sounds like: First generation Baltimore weirding out
Big moment: The MT6 release of The Sounds of Megaphone Unlimited, as close to a label overview as one could ever hope. And live ducks.


Born: 1993
MVPs: The Death Set, Rod Lee, Labtekwon, the Oranges Band, the Homosexuals
Sounds like: From Baltimore club to punk
Big moment: Putting Rod Lee onto the international stage with wide-scale distribution; signing the Death Set; too many more.

More or Less

Born: 2008
MVPs: Craig Sopo, Outputmessage, Graham Hatke
Sounds like: Detroit-loving techno and electronic
Big moment: Starting the only techno label in Baltimore.


Born: 1997 or 1998
MVPs: Newagehillbilly, Human Host, Bad Liquor Pond, the Agrarians
Sounds like: Weirdo, punk-rooted experimental
Big moment: The yearly MT6 Fest.

Public Guilt

Born: 2004
MVPs: Aluk Todolo, Darsombra, Zu
Sounds like: Rock/noise filtered through drizzle
Big moment: This year's anniversary blowout and compilation.


Born: 1989
MVPs: Pg. 99, Blank, the Dwarves, the Upper Crust
Sounds like: Punk, hardcore, metal, heavy
Big moment: Too many--10th anniversary show, SXSW showcase.

Under Sound

Born: 2004
MVPs: E Major, DJ Impulse
Sounds like: Underground meets mainstream hip-hop
Big moment: Debuting with the all-city hip-hop mixtape Breaking Ground Vol. 1.


Born: 1994
MVPs: Scottie B, K-Swift, DJ Class, Bossman
Sounds like: Baltimore club, hip-hop
Big moment: DJ Class' "I'm the Ish" launches Baltimore club to the mainstream.

Wham City

Born: 2008
MVPs: Height With Friends, Nuclear Power Pants, Ed Schrader
Sounds like: Wham City
Big moment: Somehow not being all that big.

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More from Michael Byrne

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Montreal's Arcade Fire shows its American roots on new album

The Short List (8/4/2010)

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