Baltimore-based bands make for must-see live performances

Courtesy of NRK P3 via Flickr Victoria Legrand of the group Beach House has drawn crowds of MGMT and Youth Lagoon fans.

Courtesy of NRK P3 via Flickr
Victoria Legrand of the group Beach House has drawn crowds of MGMT and Youth Lagoon fans.

Baltimore is home to many musicians, from smaller, independent musical groups to bands currently touring worldwide. There are countless other Baltimore-based musicians worth listening to, and this list acts only as a beginner’s guide aimed to trigger the exploration of a far more extensive music scene.

Dan Deacon: Electronic musician Dan Deacon has worked on several multimedia projects ranging from an application aiming  to create a synchronized light show at concerts to composing classical music for an orchestra. Deacon has had his classical works performed by several orchestras. This past March, he performed at Carnegie Hall with bands So Percussion and Matmos. Deacon assembles an eclectic mix of sounds in his electronic music, which results in each song  promising a totally unique auditory experience. Listeners will want to dance, study or just hang out to his music. Fans of Animal Collective may particularly enjoy Dan Deacon’s music.

Wye Oak: Wye Oak, composed of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, was formed in 2006. The duo’s sound synthesizes soft pop and folk. Their most recent album, Shriek, has a more synthetic quality compared to their album Civillian, which relied more on the purity of Wasner’s vocals. Although Stack no longer lives in Baltimore, the band continues to work together long distance. Fans of Of Monsters and Men and The Lumineers will enjoy Wye Oak’s music.

Holy Ghost Party: Zach Utz and Dave Jacober of Holy Ghost Party released their album Weather Channel in 2013. Their sound is similar to that of Youth Lagoon with moody vocals that float just above the electronic instrumentals. The perfect accompaniment for a relaxed day spent outside, Holy Ghost Party’s album mixes relaxed songs like “Treasure Chest” with the more eccentric “Dad Vibes.”

Spank Rock: Rapper Naeem Juwan (whose stage name is Spank Rock) currently resides in Philadelphia, although he often visits his hometown Baltimore. Spank Rock’s first album Yoyoyoyoyo received good reviews, as did his second, Everything Is Boring and Everyone Is a F****** Liar, which was released in 2011. Since he dropped his last album he has released several singles, including “Car Song” featuring Santigold. Fans of Rye Rye (also from Baltimore!) or The Cool Kids will enjoy listening to Spank Rock.

Future Islands: Samuel T. Herring’s raspy yet spry vocals paired with mellow but striking instrumentals creates Future Island’s authentic and dynamic sound. The band has released four albums; their latest, Singles, was released this past March. Although the band tours worldwide, they are still based in and call Baltimore their home. Fans of The War on Drugs, Twin Shadow or Real Estate might enjoy listening to Future Islands.

Secret Mountains: Composed of Jeffrey Lewis Silverstein, Alex Jones, Christopher Muccioli and Cory Lawrence, Secret Mountains has a solid, earthy sound while maintaining an air of mystery and an emotional edge. The instrumentals and vocals are clearly defined in their song “High Horse” and are an ideal match for the soulful lyrics of the song. Fans of Portishead will appreciate Secret Mountain’s music.

Sun Club: Sun Club’s first full album, Dad Claps at the Mom Prom, mixes grunge rock with an upbeat, energetic sound. Their melodies are catchy and fun to dance to and remind the listener of high school parties spent in a garage jamming out to a neighborhood band. This is not to belittle Sun Club’s music; the group is in fact touring abroad this year. Fans of The Thermals, Crystal Antlers or Wavves will enjoy their music.

Us and Us Only: Us and Us Only has a smooth and slightly melancholic sound. Kinsey Matthews’s vocals are clear and deep, expressing the lyrics of the songs in a subtly evocative way. Check out “The Horse’s Mouth” for an ideal fall song. Listeners of The Decemberists, City and Color or Deer Tick may enjoy listening to this group. Us and Us Only will be playing at Holy Underground in Baltimore on Sept. 12 and at the Metro Gallery on Sept. 30 for those interested in seeing them live.

Zomes: Zomes’s instrumentals create an eery, moody sound. Each of their tracks is unique and communicates an atmosphere of its own. Their track “Sentient Beings” is reminiscent of grunge, while “Time Was” has a more melancholy tone. Fans of Burial might enjoy listening to Zomes.

Lower Dens: Lower Dens has currently released two albums. Their music has an ethereal quality with cooing vocals that accompany soft instrumentals, resulting in dreamy electronic pop. Songs like “Truss Me” and “Propagation” breathe tranquility while still capturing acute emotion. Listeners of Radiohead will appreciate Lower Dens’s music.

Beach House: Most music connoisseurs have heard of Beach House, but many don’t realize that the pop duo originated in Baltimore. Beach House’s music has an aerial quality, pairing reverberating vocals and eerie, lingering instrumentals.  Each of the band’s four albums offer an impressive assembly of songs, although it is interesting to note how the band has progressed musically between the release of each. Fans of MGMT, Youth Lagoon, or Washed Out will enjoy listening to Beach House.

Matmos: Matmos is an electronic duo composed of Drew Daniel and Martin C. Schmidt. Their music weaves together a great diversity of sounds and in their song “Spondee,” a speaker states words ranging from “oatmeal” to “bathtub” to a beat which incorporates the sounds associated with the particular word said. Each of the musical works Matmos has created is distinct, evoking different moods and thoughts. Matmos has collaborated with several renowned artists including Bjork.  Fans of Mouse on Mars or The Knife will enjoy their music.

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