Video: Aural States presents So Percussion @ the Metro Gallery (2009.10.28)

Ed. note: Here’s hoping you all have a great time ringing in the New Year. Thanks to Guy (Vimeo / YouTube) from the Metro Gallery, you can also reflect back on a great night of live music from 2009: our fall showcase headlined by So Percussion this fall. Unfortunately, Microkingdom’s set was lost due to technical malfunction.

So Percussion 10/28/09 from Guy Werner on Vimeo.

Check out Gestures and the True Vine Trio after the jump.

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Audio: Matt Papich & Dustin Wong – Xmas Song 1

Dustin Wong @ Open Space

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MP3: Matt Papich & Dustin Wong – Xmas Song 1

So I lied a tad. One last post before 2010, I just couldn’t resist (thank a newly unsecured WiFi connection here in Paris for this bit of joie).

Matt Papich & Dustin Wong (one past iteration of the constantly evolving Papich project Ecstatic Sunshine) dropped some gifts onto especially good little boys and girls today.

Here’s one of two Christmas tracks the duo recorded and emailed out. This will only be up for a few days, so catch it now before it’s gone. And don’t forget that Dustin (pictured right) will be playing a set of his solo work at Aural States Fest II on Jan 30 2010.

Until 2010…

Blossom Dearie

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MP3: Blossom Dearie – Tout Doucement from Blossom Dearie (1957)
MP3: Feist – Tout Doucement (Blossom Dearie cover) from Let It Die (2004)

In case you were wondering, we’re on hiatus until 2010. I’m in Paris for Christmas and a bit beyond.

Before I left last week, I picked up the wonderful self-titled album of American jazz singer Blossom Dearie (released in 1957, it was also her Verve Records debut). I’ve always enjoyed her voice, but lately have been utterly in love with it. Though with a bit of an accent, she sings many songs ever-so-enchantingly in French (after spending much of the 50s there). She had a bit of a second-wave of exposure in the mid-00s with her song “Tout Doucement” being covered by indie-star/NPR fetish Feist.

I think we all know which is superior, but enjoy the original and the cover. And stick with us for an exciting 2010.

Album Review: SeepeopleS – Apocalypse Cow Vol. II (Unsigned)


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MP3: Seepeoples – The Most Famous One

The fourth album from SeepeopleS, and the follow up to 2008’s Apocalypse Cow Vol. I, finds them returning to their roots and exploring that narrow chasm between rock and electronica.  It is a tricky area to navigate, and many a band before has wandered into this neither-region only to find themselves with an album of half-baked musical ideas that seem to fall flat, never quite taking hold.  SeepeopleS have emerged from their exploration of this potentially dangerous area with Apocalypse Cow Vol. II in tow, a lush soundtrack of dreamy sonic landscapes that perfectly straddle that narrow gap. It also finds the band getting back to what made their sophomore album (The Corn Syrup Conspiracy) such a glorious guilty pleasure of swirling power-pop.

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Live Review: Kenny Liner & Caleb Stine @ The 8×10 (2009.12.08)


It was a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of collaboration, a mid week set by two friends.  It was a collaboration of two of Baltimore’s most genuine songwriters, playing together without the safety of their bands.  A couple of stools, a mandolin, an acoustic guitar, two songwriters, and a list of songs were the only things needed this evening.

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Preview: Aural States Fest II @ Sonar Club Stage/the Talking Head (2010.01.30)

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  1. MP3: Pontiak – Suzerain from Sea Voids (2009)
  2. MP3: Vincent Black Shadow – Flash Roll from More Deeper (2008)
  3. MP3: Leprechaun Catering – Night In Amnesia from Kumquats, Lychees (2004)
  4. MP3: Caleb Stine – Two Mantras (Small Sur cover) from Baltimore Does Baltimore (2009)
  5. MP3: Benjy Ferree – Dog Killers! from Leaving the Nest (2006)
  6. MP3: Sick Sick Birds – Buildings from Heavy Manners (2009)
  7. MP3: Noble Lake – Ladies and Gentlemen from Heyday (2008)
  8. MP3: Height With Friends – Swiss Chard from Swiss Chard Vol. 1 (2009)
  9. MP3: Thrushes – Crystals from the forthcoming LP Night Falls (2010)
  10. MP3: True Womanhood – Magic Child from the Magic Child Single (2009)
  11. MP3: Lands & Peoples – Bad Habits

web Aural States Fest 2 new

Teaser image to the right, proper flyer art coming from Nolen Strals of Post Typography/Double Dagger fame.


Aural States announces line-up, details for Aural States Fest II

December 11 2009 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore-based music website Aural States (auralstates.com) is proud to announce Aural States Fest II, our second anniversary blow-out at Sonar Club Stage & the Talking Head on Saturday January 30th in Baltimore, MD. This will likely be the final year for Aural States to be based in Baltimore, and hence, the final Aural States Fest.

The line-up for this year includes a wide variety of acts from Baltimore and DC, crossing generational and genre boundaries:

Pontiak (www.myspace.com/pontiak)

Leprechaun Catering (www.myspace.com/leprechauncatering)

Vincent Black Shadow (www.myspace.com/vbskicksoutthejams)

Sick Weapons (www.myspace.com/sickweapons)

Office of Future Plans (J Robbins of Jawbox | www.myspace.com/officeoffutureplans)

Caleb Stine (www.myspace.com/calebstine)

Benjy Ferree (www.myspace.com/benjyferree)

Sick Sick Birds (www.myspace.com/sicksickbirds)

Noble Lake (www.myspace.com/noblelake)

Dustin Wong (www.myspace.com/dustinclarence)

Height With Friends (www.myspace.com/height)

Thrushes (www.myspace.com/thrushes)

True Womanhood (www.myspace.com/truewomanhood)

Lands & Peoples (www.myspace.com/landsandpeoples)

Ami Dang (www.myspace.com/amritakd)

Liveshitbingepurge (Newagehillbilly, Decapitated Hed, and Pawly Walnutz | mt6records.com)

NARC (www.myspace.com/iamthenarc)

Stay tuned for additional line-up announcements in the coming weeks.

Like last year, early arrivals with ticket stubs will be rewarded with a limited-supply of generous grab-bags filled with CDs and merchandise from (mostly) local artists and businesses, including Atomic Books, Video Americain, Baltimore Jazz Alliance, Thrill Jockey, Natty Paint, and many more.

This year we are proud to team up with our younger regional cousin Bmore Musically Informed (bmoremusic.net) to present our festival as Night 2 of the “Blogtimore PWNS” weekend. Night 1 takes place Friday January 29th, when a combination of Aural States Fest alums (Arbouretum, Wye Oak, Sri Aurobindo) and fresh local talent (Weekends, the Violet Hour) will play the last show ever at the G-Spot.

Tickets for Night 1 are $10ADV/$12DOS and available through missiontix.com. Tickets for Night 2 are $15 and available through sonarbaltimore.com. A limited supply of 50 double-header tickets are available for a discounted rate of $20 through (sonarbaltimore.com and missiontix), and will guarantee access to both nights.

Livewire: The Baltimore Afrobeat Society @ the 5th Dimension (2009.12.12)

baltimore afrobeatEditor’s note: We are proud to welcome new contributor/taper David Carter to our ranks at Aural States, with his new column Livewire, featuring live recordings of shows around the area.

Photo: Frank Hamilton (2007 performance)

The Baltimore Afrobeat Society plays the music of the late Fela Kuti, a hugely influential Nigerian musician and pioneer of the afrobeat genre. I have loved Fela’s music for many years, and could go on about how his music makes me feel. But a more interesting introduction would probably be Bootsy Collins’ first-hand account of going to Africa as a teenager with James Brown, and meeting the man in person.

Fela had such a unique vision and approach, blending traditional African influences and passionate political invective with western instruments and sheer manpower. I find The Baltimore Afrobeat Society’s renditions of his songs amazing. Their carefully rendered, yet loose and free channeling of Fela’s spirit is energetic, vital, and just plain fun. This is a local treasure, and a testament to the magnitude of the Baltimore scene that feeds into this monster quasi-annual event.

Enough of that, however; let us chairdance. For THREE AND A HALF HOURS.

The Baltimore Afrobeat Society
H&H Building, 5th Floor
Baltimore, Maryland

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1. MOP (24:39)
2. Shakara Oloje (21:54)
3. Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (27:21)
4. Coffin For Head of State (30:41)
5. JJD (18:42)
6. Colonial Mentality (19:17)
7. Original Sufferhead (33:54)
8. Zombie (21:40)
9. Open & Close (12:03)


baltimore-afrobeat-society-12-12-2009.zip (400MB)


Chris Pumphrey (leader & alto sax)
Rose Hammer (baritone sax)
John Berndt (alto sax)
John Dierker (tenor sax)
Calvin Tullos (tenor sax)
Tiffany DeFoe (tenor sax)
Ben Forstenser (tenor sax)
Mike Cerri (trumpet)
Chris Manthorne (trumpet)
Geof Manthorne (trumpet)
Tom Boram (vocals, piano)
Shawna Potter (vocals & dancer)
Katie Pumphrey (vocals & dancer)
Tara Cariaso (vocals & dancer)
Freda Mohr (vocals & dancer)
Dan Breen (bass)
Erich von Marko (guitar)
Matthew Dickinson (guitar)
Chris Donoghue (guitar)
Mike Wright (drums,percussion)
Zak Fusciello (drums,percussion)
Steve Windows (percussion)
Moziah (hand drums)


AKG 414 pair (mid/side) -> Zoom h4n 48kHz/24bit -> Nuendo (stereo encoding, EQ, limiting) -> MP3

Recorded by:

David Carter (carteriffic@gmail.com)

Top U.S. Orchestras 2009: Former Baton of L.A. Takes NY Philharmonic for a Spin (2009.12.08)


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MP3: Claude Debussy – La Mer 2. “Jeux des vagues” from Quadromania CD1 – The Complete Orchestral Works, performed by Radio Luxemburg Orchestra under the direction of Louis de Forment

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts with the ease of a man who has world and time enough to sculpt with sound. This is no small triumph for NYC’s Avery Fisher Hall, where much can get swallowed if a conductor is not careful. The acoustics are kind to the Steinway, and dampen the coughing, but diminish a great orchestra. The higher your pitch the better off you are when playing this venue. Still, the programming was fantastic: Bartók, Ravel, Debussy. And this orchestra is one of the oldest in the world, with the most performances under its belt at 14,916.

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Live Review / Photos: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ First Unitarian Church Basement (2009.12.02)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ First Unitarian Church

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MP3: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Even Heroes Have To Die from the upcoming album The Brutalist Bricks (2010)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have been a staple food in my musical diet for a long time.  His shows are always uplifting, riotously fun affairs jam-packed with killer guitar, resonant lyrics, and an air-tight band.  Whenever he comes into DC (his one-time residence, and essentially second home), he always packs the 9:30 Club or the Black Cat (as he did this past Thursday) to capacity.  I decided to change things up a bit for his recent string of East Coast dates, and made the drive to Philly to catch him last Wednesday at First Unitarian. I’ve been to shows at First Unitarian Church’s Sanctuary before, and was curious to see Ted in a different setting than a standard rock venue.

Odd fate struck when I walked down Chestnut, as I was diverted to the basement for the true DIY cred of a church basement show. Much like the VFW hall centered scenes that dot the suburbs of this country, church basements are a furnace of activity for the underaged showgoer that are blackballed by 18+ and 21+ traditional venues.

As it turns out, this choice of venue over the sanctuary was an inspired one. The crowded, modestly appointed interior perfectly channeled Ted Leo’s exacting DIY ethos and the energy of his effervescent pop punk. Instead of that blockbuster, celebrity rockstar vibe you can get when Ted plays one of the aforementioned venues, you get an altogether different experience, something truer to his spirit and roots.  What’s more, for those of us who still remember youthful adventures in such spaces, Leo’s more sage and introspective repertoire brought on a wave of acute nostalgia, and even that increasingly derided feeling: hope.

In this way, Ted Leo will always be an oasis in relatively bleak times. A unusually apolitical show (particularly after the official escalation of war in Afghanistan), Ted paused only once to acknowledge the state of current affairs as less than desirable. But he followed quickly with an affirmation of purpose: “But let’s not talk about that tonight. Instead, I’ll just continue writing, and singing, songs about it.” I can think of few other callings that could be more important, more rewarding, more necessary.

More photos after the jump.

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New site design

In case you didn’t notice, we’ve gotten a facelift recently.  I just wanted to say I’ve wanted to have a menu system since I started this thing, so thank god I finally carved out the time to code one.  And thanks for sticking around and suffering through without one.

Many more thanks to my right-hand (and now retired) web designer John Poirier, whose focus on keeping code efficient and clean puts my shoddy work to shame; he helped me work out a lot of kinks on the design.  I also think I’ve finally figured out how to use Photoshop, hence the images and new logo you see here.

Keep clicking on things for more improvement and functionality in the weeks ahead, and look out for a Mobile/Legacy site to be launched shortly (hopefully before 2010). Email us if you find anything broken, and we’ll try to fumble around a fix for it.  Feel free to let us know if you like it or hate it, but fair warning: I spent a bit of time on this, so it’ll stay up for at least a month.

Happy reads.

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