The Year in Local Music
Fortunately for me, and for Mobtown, 2001 was one of those years when our musical cup runneth over with good brews. Charm City artists may not have charted nationally as they did last year, but Baltimore still boasts one of the most diverse scenes around. This year's local-music top 10 aims to recognize not just the quality of local music but its variety as well--and, hopefully, to turn savvy locals on to the stuff they might be missing right under their noses. (Bret McCabe)
Convocation Of . . ., Pyramid Technology (Tiger Style) The remarkable new album from the Convocation Of . . . displays each member's talents to the fullest. By almost refusing to blend their instruments together harmoniously, the band members have created a constantly shifting study in contrasts in which serpentine guitar riffs smack against throbbing bass lines as the varied and intense drumming of George France comes stampeding to the foreground. (Anna Ditkoff)
Reggie Reg, Feel Me (Unruly) When you absolutely, positively have to get that party started, Reggie Reg has the skills to pay the bills. Feel Me sports 28 cuts of throw-your-hands-in-the air jams sure to make even the most dance-floor-shy out there wanna get up in the club. (BM)
Labtekwon, Song of the Sovereign (Mush) Like more renowned intelligent-flow microphone rockers Mos Def, Q-Tip, and Common, Labtekwon mixes his political message and his lyrical panache into a silky-smooth delivery. Song of the Sovereign is only one of many releases Omar "Labtekwon" Akbar let loose this year, but its polished production makes it a low-end theory all his own. (BM)
The Thumbs, Last Match (Adeline Records) The Thumbs' first full-length on Adeline is alternately punishing and haunting. Sure, there's plenty of the band's signature hard, fast, riff-filled punk that somehow manages to avoid cliché, and plenty of impressively intricate wordplay too. But Last Match also displays a darker, more complex side to the band that will reverberate through your head for days. (AD)
Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Ease Down the Road (Palace) On his last BPB album, I See a Darkness, Will Oldham delivered Americana as dusty and durable as Denis Johnson's fiction and just as bleak. With Road his voice retains its timeless earthiness, but the outlook is downright upbeat. Arguably the most swinging Oldham outing since Viva Last Blues. (BM)
The Uniform, Black and Vain (Morphius) The Uniform made its name with a kinetic and artfully discordant live sound. For a taste of the band's smoother, more lush side, check out its latest effort, on which Paul Flum's echoing, distant vocals perfectly punctuate the band's enjoyably rough edges. (AD)
Sonna, We Sing Loud Sing Soft Tonight (Temporary Residence Ltd.) As with other wanderers who traverse the melancholic moods, you have to be in the right mind-set to deal with Sonna's fragile, glacially paced tapestries. But when fragile is exactly how you're feeling, Sing Soft makes one hell of a soundtrack for an evening spent staring at the backs of your eyelids. (BM)
Rumba Club, Radio Mundo (Palmetto) This nine-piece ensemble may not float jazz purists' boats, but it handles its spicy mix of meringue, mambo, salsa, and other Latin-tinged rhythm textures as slick as higher-profile Latin post-bop artists such as Danilo Perez or Bobby Sanabria. Rumba Club's fourth album on the New York-based Palmetto label is as highly polished as any Afro-Cuban release this year. (BM)
John Berndt, The Montreal Concert (StereoSupremo) Local experimental-scene mainstay John Berndt's five-part improvisation darts from the cascading soprano saxophone runs that recall Evan Parker to the ticking electronic textures of Canadian sound collage provocateur François Houle. Heady, demanding fare that rewards you for the effort you put into digesting it. (BM)
DJ Feelgood, djmixed.com (Moonshine) Techno-cum-house rave sets can be a stiff drink to swallow at times, the constant thump thump of the body-rocking beats pounding your brain into submission. DJ Feelgood seems to have a knack for knowing when a groove's gone from funky to clunky, and he keeps the mix forever moving forward without losing steam. (BM)
Ten more that occupied our changers (listed alphabetically): Dead Red Sea, Birds (Deep Elm); the Diana Froley Three, Lauraville (Serious); Layfayette Gilchrist featuring New Voices, Collagic Dreams (self released); Jah Works, Bassmentality (Random House Productions); Junestar, Telegraph (Safe House); the Liars Academy, No News Is Good News (Equal Vision); Love Life The Rose He Lied By (Troubleman); the Oranges Band, 900 Miles of Fucking Hell EP (Morphius); Sisqó, Return of Dragon (Def Soul) (we figured somebody oughta show his sophomore release some love); the Superchinchilla Rescue Mission EP (Attention Deficit Disorder).
And last but certainly not least, a shout-out to three albums put out this year by CP contributors--the self-titled Palace release by Ned Oldham's the Anomoanon and Rjyan Kidwell's two outings as Cex, Starship Galactica (555 Recordings) and Oops, I Did It Again (Tigerbeat 6).
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