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Photos: Aural States Fest II (2010.01.30)

Flickrshow will appear here.

Photos by Josh Sisk

Flickrshow will appear here.

Photos by Shantel Mitchell

I wanted to take this moment to just briefly thank all who came trudging through the snow for this night, particularly the audience and performers. Apologies for all the technical hiccups, but all things considered, I think the fest overall was fairly successful given extremely extenuating circumstances. Enjoy the photos from the talented and tenacious Shantel Mitchell and Josh Sisk.

Aural States Fest II: Spotlights – Sick Weapons, Ami Dang, Liveshitbingepurge

Photo credit: Frank Hamilton

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MP3: Sick Weapons – Orgy on the China Train, Live from Whartscape 2009

Over the past year, Sick Weapons have steadily been amping up their live show from heady racket to straight-on punk freight train. Opening for the Frodus reunion show at the Talking Head, they tore the roof off with raucous abandon.

Lead singer Ellie Beziat drops some knowledge on us regarding their in-the-works full-length:

The artwork is being designed by Nolen Strals of Double Dagger. Highly, highly conceptual and intellectual-as one would expect from our brain combos. Three of Baltimore’s best engineers have their fingers in the mix including Adam Cooke, J. Robbins, and Christopher Freeland. And it includes the hits like “Orgy on the China Train,” “If You Love Me, Take Me to the Hospital,” etc. as well as some new tunes, “I Got Mental Illness” and “Anthony Bourdain’s Earring”.



When I first saw Ami Dang, I was in awe. Her innovative blending of classical Indian influences and use of modern experimental electronics, her earth-shattering vocals…I firmly believe she is one of the most innovative musicians in our fair city, and I can’t wait to see her new vision merging her experimental side with her poppier side. In addition to doing some recent collaboration with local behemoths Celebration, she is also working on an album with Ehse Records which we can all only hope will be out in the very near future.


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MP3: Newagehillbilly – Improv, Live at the Hexagon (2008.12.05)

With a crew as motley and diverse as MT6 Records, it’s not surprising we found all different kinds of reactions to their output when we featured them in our Sign On! label spotlight column. Regardless, head honcho Alex Strama and his merry roster often create some of the most inspired experimental music around. Here’s your chance to check out a sort of MT6 all-stars group (Pawly Walnutz, Newagehillbilly, Decapitated Hed) doing what they do best: producing blistering electronic noise.

Aural States Fest II: Schedule

“Steady snow will diminish to a few snow flurries by 5pm. ” – Weather.com

The show is still going on, unless Sonar’s entrance becomes encased in a mountain of ice or snow.

Tonight is the big night.

I want to say a big thanks to our biggest sponsor, Atomic Books. In addition to running a treasure trove of a bookstore, dynamic duo proprietors Benn Ray (who also blogs at Mobtown Shank) & Rachel Whang are ardent supporters of everything local, and have been our most generous partner in stuffing the Aural States Fest giveaway bags with tons of goodies, two years running.

Remember, only the first 50 paid entrants get these gems, so come early. Offerings also include discounts at Daedalus Books & Music, CDs from Pontiak’s label Thrill Jockey, the Baltimore Jazz Alliance, and Dischord, as well as vinyl from local experimental hive Ehse Records.

New this year are deep discounts on Emily Mandri’s unique silkscreened and handpainted Natty Paint line of clothing. Dig through your bag for their coupon and stop by their table at the fest.

Now, for your planning purposes, here’s the schedule:

6:00PM == Doors

Talking Head Stage

6:45-7:05 == NARC
7:15-7:45 == Ami Dang
8:00-8:30 == True Womanhood
8:45-9:15 == Lands & Peoples
9:30-10:00 == Dustin Wong
10:15-10:45 == Benjy Ferree
11:00-11:30 == Noble Lake
11:40-12:05 == Jack Chick
12:15-12:35 == Death Domain
12:50-1:10 == Liveshitbingepurge
1:25-2:00 == Leprechaun Catering

Sonar Club Stage

7:15-7:45 == Thrushes
8:00-8:30 == Sick Sick Birds
8:45-9:15 == Height with Friends
9:30-10:15 == Caleb Stine
10:30-11:15 == Office of Future Plans
11:30-12:00 == Sick Weapons
12:15-12:45 == Vincent Black Shadow
1:00-2:00 == Pontiak

Aural States Fest II: Spotlights – Dustin Wong, Sick Sick Birds

Dustin Wong @ Open Space

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MP3: Dustin Wong – Matthew and Kenneth

I think we can all agree that Dustin Wong (likely you know him from Ponytail) knows his way around a guitar. Every effect-laden note found in his work, both solo and otherwise, is deeply imprinted with a profound familiarity for the instrument. Combined with his exceptional pneumatic awareness, Dustin Wong’s sound is surely nothing to take lightly. Recently the two of us sat down together, miles apart (or so I presume), and had ourselves an email chat about his solo work. Here lies the result.

AS: So, can you describe what exactly it is you’re trying to say with your compositions?

Dustin Wong: I definitely want the whole set to be an experience, kind of a loose narrative or a journey. Towards the sky with a sense of humor.

AS: How does that differ from your work with Ponytail?

DW: I use my pedals completely differently, although they are set up in the same way. Ponytail has a more horizontal build vs playing solo things build vertically, sounds stack up. Ponytail is my extrovert, and playing solo is my introvert.

AS: Your compositions are pretty bereft of structure–what is the writing process like? Do you look at your music linearly? Stream of consciousness?

DW: It’s definitely more of a stream of consciousness thing. I think my film background has an influence as well. I write music as if I’m editing video.

AS: What urged you to compose Seasons? Why the four seasons? What was the general conception like?

DW: I think it was realization and conception at the same time. There were a bunch of songs accumulating and I realized that they sounded like the season they were recorded in, so I just went for it.

AS: Greg sent me a copy of your “Matthew and Kenneth” demo, is that going to be featured on an upcoming release? Anything new in the works?

DW: I’ve been talking to Justin Kelly about releasing a cassette tape, and this was one of the tracks that I wanted to have on that release. Starting to think about it more concretely these days. Also in the process of recording my current set, hopefully I’ll get that done soon.

AS: Your set at the Hexagon last October was pretty fantastic, how do you usually go about your live performances?

DW: Thanks! I actually play a little better if I’m slightly nervous, maybe its because its heightening something. Also I love it if I feel like I’m inside the music rather than out.

AS: Looking forward to seeing anyone in particular at Aural States Fest II?

DW: Leprechaun Catering is going to be incredible. I’m looking forward to Sick Weapons and Lands &Peoples. Also, J. Robbins’ new band Office of Future Plans!


Sick Sick Birds @ the Metro Gallery

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MP3: Sick Sick Birds – Committees (Need A Champion) from Heavy Manners LP (2009)

Sick Sick Birds reconcile a sage and poetic approach with the sound of pop-punk, something normally associated with the trite and disposable. This, in and of itself, is reason to be impressed. Their dynamic live show carries all the energy of punk while channeling the bittersweet reflection of something more measured. Given that I practically wore out the grooves on their 2009 LP Heavy Manners, their inclusion in the fest is hardly surprising. Their live presence is still a relative rarity in these parts, so come out and bask in it. Here’s hoping they have an active 2010.

Aural States Fest II: Spotlights – Office of Future Plans, True Womanhood

Photo credit: Pete Duvall

Office of Future Plans are, in the loosely phrased wording of J. Robbins, just a bunch of old dudes who barely find time to practice. Anyone that has seen them perform (one of their only two shows), reports quite the contrary.

OOFP is J Robbins’ new full-time musical outlet when he steps outside the studio box. He is backed by a tight and talented cast: bassist Brooks Harlan (accomplished engineer in his own right at Lord Baltimore Recording, member of Avec), Jawbox-obsessed rock cellist Gordon Withers, and Darren Zentek (long-time Robbins collaborator and monster drummer).

One quick listen finds that Robbins hasn’t skipped a songwriting beat, lyricism and aggressive, angular riffs all intact and sharper than ever. Much to long-time fans’ delight, Robbins has recently decided to allow himself access to parts of the Jawbox catalog, making the appearance of a song like “Savory” in an OOFP set not that unusual. Whet your appetite with this video from the Buddyhead Halloween show at Rock and Roll Hotel in DC this past October, and prepare yourselves for a monstrous set and a sure-fire winner of a full-length later this year.


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MP3: True Womanhood – Shadow People from Basement Membranes EP (2010)

True Womanhood is quite the talented trio, garnering much praise from J. Robbins himself. Even from the frail and uneven sounds of their self-recorded demo, DC’s True Womanhood have always conveyed a certain amount of mystique and intrigue. It would appear they only needed some sage guides for their musical journey to funnel all that creative energy. Their freshly J. Robbins-mixed & David Levin-produced EP sees them cashing in big on their promise, finally enabled to develop that small peek of a vision into a wide gazing aural spectacle that could wow even the most jaded of ears.

One of the fastest maturing and evolving groups in the area, it was a no-brainer to have them play a set at this year’s festival. Lead-singer and guitarist Thomas Redmond took some time to rap about their EP Basement Membranes (digitally released today so buy it here), and other miscellany:

AS: I know you were running back and forth to record part of your EP at Death By Audio over the summer, and part at the Magpie Cage with J. Robbins. Can you break down your motivations for recording with each studio, and the contributions they had to this EP?

Thomas Redmond: Our producer for Basement Membranes was David Levin, live sound engineer for A Place to Bury Strangers, founders of Death By Audio. David’s knowledge and capabilities regarding sound recording are vast, so we were thrilled to have the chance to work with him. Beyond that, Death By Audio is the kind of place that gets it all right- a killer underground live venue, practice spaces for countless amazing bands, and an effects pedal factory that pushes the the boundaries of extreme noise. Once we had all our instrumental tracks recorded, we went into the studio with J Robbins in Baltimore to mix. J. is amazing and an absolute pleasure to work with. The songs really came together, and with J’s expert assistance, I was able to record some pretty sweet vocal tracks.

AS: When we talked last year, you mentioned that you were really trying to more effectively explore different moods. I think you definitely achieved success on this front, particularly with the tracks “Rubber Buoys” and “Shadow People.” Could you say a little about how each of those tracks developed, and what types of things you are doing musically?

TR: These are actually the first two songs that the band first started performing live way back when. As our oldest songs they were, by far, the most difficult to record. “Shadow People” is essentially just a drum loop and a metal guitar riff. It took us a long time to settle on a direction for the song to go but some tribal drumming and vocals sung into giant wooden pipes did the trick. The song has already been played on DC101– score!  ”Rubber Buoys” was also a tough song for us because its beat is built around the iron volcano, a big metal funnel, which proved very hard to record. Eventually we got it by running the iron volcano through a distorting vintage tape echo and adding some reverb. Another stand out section in that song is the bridge which features what sounds like a string quartet. It’s actually a sound I got by playing guitar through two consecutive reverse gated reverbs.

AS: You really managed to eke out a myriad of textures in your sound. Where do you find inspiration for your array of experimental sounds, things like the iron volcano funnel?

TR: During our various travels we are always seeking out big metal things that go boom, clank, and pow. The iron volcano is just a small part of our arsenal. As big fans of electronic music, our goal is to create “acoustic electronic” music by using found objects (as well as our own homemade samples of objects) and playing them in electronic styles, but live. The idea is to search out new, more organic textures for electronic rhythms and apply them to our songs. We are continuing to move even further in this direction and even adding some new tricks to the guitar and bass.

AS: How did you get involved with Baltimore-based Environmental Aesthetics for the release?

TR: A lovely afternoon lunch in the beautiful courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery in DC’s Chinatown. When John from Environmental Aesthetics first approached us, Basement Membranes was nowhere near completion. Over the course of finishing up the recording with J. in Baltimore, we became familiar with the Baltimore scene and a pattern started to emerge. We thought, what do all these young, hardworking bands have in common? The answer- Environmental Aesthetics!

AS: What are your big plans for 2010?

TR: Festivals, tours, and a full album that’s already underway.

AS: Who are you excited to see at the fest?

TR: Everyone! We are especially excited to see J. Robbin’s new band, The Office of Future Plans, and we are excited for him to finally see us live as well! Some other bands we will not miss are Lands & Peoples, Benjy Feree, and Dustin Wong.

Aural States Fest II: Spotlights – Noble Lake, Vincent Black Shadow, Height With Friends

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MP3: Noble Lake – Morgantown from Heyday (2008)

As the saying says, when one door closes, another one opens. In 2009, Baltimore folk outfit Noble Lake saw the departure of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner, whose own band Wye Oak reached new levels of success that swallowed most of their free time. James Sarsgaard, the band’s leader and singer who lived in Brooklyn for a period, managed to keep writing and performing, sometimes soldiering on as a solo act. But he’s back in Baltimore now, with a new album in tow and a pretty solid cast of Baltimore musicians backing him when available. Where some of the city’s other folk acts tend to deliver fuller, more power-packed compositions, Noble Lake’s music treads in a more time-lost and timeless arena, feeling more delicate and sticking to some strict narrative forms.

We talked with Sarsgaard about the project’s transitional period and plans for the future:

AS: You’ve mentioned that 2009 was a bit of a chaotic year with regard to the ever-shifting lineup, and a new album. Is it a bit of a relief to just get up on stage and play?

James Sarsgaard: Yes. I wish we could play more often. I’m still working on getting a more permanent lineup in place, and just getting things rolling again has been a bit tough. I’m not very computer savvy and as a result I don’t go after shows and promotion and such quite as aggressively as I should.

AS: You’ve also remarked that you tried “to get a handle on this whole band thing once and for all.” Was there ever a point where you thought the band wouldn’t go on, or that you and Justin would have to soldier on as a duet?

JS: I don’t know. I mean, I’ll always be writing songs and playing them in some fashion. When I was living in Brooklyn last year, I was basically playing as a solo act. It’s been kind of tough, and a bit discouraging for me lately, the whole nuts and bolts of playing music. I’m 32, and I work full time as a carpenter which makes it hard to devote a lot of time to the band. But it’s an ebb and flow thing for me, and I have a feeling this year might find me back on the horse again, to use a silly metaphor, with Noble Lake.

AS: How did that situation change the writing for the new album?

JS: The new album was mostly written between ’07 an ’09, so it captured a lot of the transitions that were going on over that time for me and everyone involved. I certainly wrote most of the songs, at least the music, with a vision of them being played by Andy, Jenn and Justin, and we went into the studio with that in mind. The songs I’m writing for the next record are more adaptable to new ideas, and I think when I start recording it will be a much different process.

AS: Were Steve Strohmeir and Walker Teret part of the recording/writing, or did you and Justin write parts for them, and other possible fill-ins, to play?

JS: They weren’t involved at all in the recording or writing of the last one. They both are down to play with us when they can, and I hope to play more with them in the near future. They’re both great players with a lot to offer, I don’t feel the need to write anything for them!

AS: You also mentioned that the band was looking for a label to release said album. What’s the latest?

JS: Nothing yet. Seems like a tough time for that. We’re still looking though, and one way or another I hope to have something by spring or summer.

AS: Can we expect a tour to start 2010 right?

JS: I’m hoping to do a southeast tour this spring. Then maybe Europe solo in the summer

AS: Who are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

JS: I’m glad to be sharing the stage with Leprechaun Catering. They can play the shit out of a rubber band. Also totally psyched to see Pontiak, of course. There are alot of bands I don’t know of particulary so I hope to be pleasantly surprised. Of course, of course VBS, Caleb Stine, Height and all my Baltimore love children. Can’t Wait!


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MP3: Vincent Black Shadow – Sheer Heart Attack (Queen cover) from Nazi Gold b/w Sheer Heart Attack (2009)

Raucous rabble rousers Vincent Black Shadow make one hell of a racket. They deliver one of the most visceral and party-heavy sets around, and were one of the first must-have artists that sprang into my mind when I started coordinating the lineup. If you haven’t experienced them, you are in for a treat. Their latest release last year Nazi Gold b/w Sheer Heart Attack shows them doing what they do best: kicking out the jams (including an inspired Queen cover) with sweaty, shit-eating grins on their faces.

Guitarist Dan O sends along this dispatch so you know what to expect for 2010:

The Shadow boys have been taking a break from playing out (cept the occasional rager here and there like this festival) cause they’re writing a record. It’s called BALTAMONT. It’s the be-all end-all Baltimore fuck off scum rock record. Rob Girardi at Lord Baltimore Recording is going to capture the tracks, Forcefield Records out of Richmond is gonna put it on the street, and the boys are going to take it on the road this fall. After 2009 put the zap on our heads and our asses in the gutter (and friends and family in the god damn grave), you better believe we’ve got 2010 by the balls good and early.


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MP3: Height With Friends – Travel Rap (Nasty Millionaire Remix)

Height With Friends is one Dan Keech (Height), backed by an ever-evolving, always interesting collective of producers, beat-makers, rhyme-sayers, and verse-speakers. This project is arguably the frontline of a burgeoning group of young hip-hop acts in Baltimore, which is appropriate given how much their sound and style just feel spiritually aligned with the city.

A weighty, reflective, complex melange with no small amount of poetics. Height took some time to let us know about current affairs in the HWF world:

AS: You’ve got a new LP ready to drop later this year. Fill us in on what it is (Height solo, Height With Friends or something new).

Dan Keech: The new record is called Bed Of Seeds. Almost all of the songs were crafted by the five people that currently perform live as Height With Friends. (Mickey Free, Gavin Riley, Emily Slaughter, Travis Allen and myself).

AS: How does it differ from Highlands?

DK: It’s totally different. With a few notable exceptions, most of the music was composed by me, and brought to life by Mickey as a producer and Travis as a musician. I wrote the words, but Emily and Gavin put extreme work into making vocal arrangements that work well live and on record.

Unlike all our other releases, the songs have chord changes and bridges and other elements of traditional music. I was influenced by rappers who use non-rap song structures, (like Whodini), and non-rappers that kind of rap, (like Andre Williams).

AS: What do you have planned for your summer tour? What towns are you hitting up that you are looking forward to?

DK: We are touring the whole country in April and May. The album won’t be officially out by then, but the whole idea is to spread the word that it’s about to drop. We’ll be touring again soon after that. Charleston, South Carolina is my favorite tour stop. We’ve played there four or five times and its always seemed like a crazy uptopia where people like music and don’t act the fool.

AS: Who are you looking forward to at the fest?

DK: I can’t front. All parts of it are going to be fire, so I can’t really single one act out. I will say that Pontiak closing the night is a great look. I played at an Independence Day show that they put on in Virginia called Friendstival. They ended the night with a long, epic set. I was really into it.

Aural States Fest II: Spotlights – Thrushes, Death Domain

Today, Brandon takes a moment with Thrushes for a few questions and another track premiere off their new full-length Night Falls, while I preach the gospel of Death Domain.

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MP3: Thrushes – Skywave from the forthcoming LP Night Falls

The Baltimore music scene has gotten loads of press over the past couple of years, but there are still plenty of bands that we love dearly that never get the recognition they deserve. Thrushes, your friendly neighborhood shoegaze/noise pop outfit, has managed to avoid the limelight in spite of the beautifully fuzzy “Wall of Sound” they produce. Fortunately, they have a new album, Night Falls, coming out in March.

We chatted with guitarist Casey Harvey about the upcoming release, and lead singer/guitarist Anna Conner chimed in to inform us about the themes on the group’s sophomore effort.

AS: I read that Casey and Rachel recruited Anna during a pick-up baseball game in 2005. Does anybody still play? I’m glad to hear people still play. It’s usually hard to get the right amount of people together.

CH: Unfortunately, it looks like that group of pick-up baseballers drifted apart over the last couple of years. It was a sunday friendly game that was pretty active for a few years and a lot of fun.

AS: Yay or nay on Andy MacPhail?

CH: Nay

AS: You guys have got a new album coming out in March! What can we expect?

Casey Harvey: Night Falls ups the stakes in every department. Thrushes’ trademark wall of sound, widescreen guitars and technicolor noise-pop are brilliantly polished to sparkle. Opening single “Trees” finds Thrushes in full on “Dazzle” mode. Bells ring, drums thunder, guitars chime, hearts break. “Crystals” is a conscious nod to ‘60’s girl group’s cotton-candy coated odes to fallen love. Night Falls illuminates the dark edges of town on brooding tracks “As Much to Lose” and “Juggernaut.”

AS: “Crystals” sounds a little more poppier, a little more uptempo. Was there a conscious effort to speed things up a bit on this record?

CH: I don’t think there was neccesarily a conscious effort to up the tempo, these just happened to be the songs that came out during this time period.

AS: Have you had much of a chance to work the songs out for the live setting?

CH: Some of the material, such as “Trees” and “Night Falls” were written almost immediately after we finished Sun Come Undone. So we’ve had those for a while. “Used to You” was written about a week before we started recording this album so we’ve got a good mix of road tested and fresh new material.

AS: Back in your marathon interview with Greg in 2008, Anna mentioned that some of the newer songs were about “angry heartbreak.” Is this a theme you developed further on Night Falls? What other themes did you touch on?

Anna Conner: Some of the songs on Night Falls are about heartbreak. Songs like “Night Falls,” “Crystals,” and “Juggernaut.” They were written at a time when I was facing some personal demons, and they really were helpful in the healing process. I like playing those “angry heartbreak” songs because they show me what I was going through then, like re-reading an old journal entry.

But not all of the songs are about heartbreak. The songs written after that period are about what happens after you’ve been through the worst of it: learning more about yourself, about who your friends are, and eventually about finding love again and finding the people in your life you can rely on. Night Falls tracks a journey for me. As the band evolved musically, I was evolving emotionally.


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MP3: Death Domain – Programmed Cell Death from the Ethidium Bromide 7″

Death Domain is a project remarkably underground, especially for a place like Baltimore where it seems you can’t get the mail without seeing someone you know or recognize from a show or a night at the bar. A Huntley Stroupe’s one-man minimalist synth act is a great contrast to Thrushes. The music has a chilling aesthetic owed to Stroupe’s near-monotone vocals and patently artificial sounds, yet it still motivates those primal, beat sensitive regions of your brain with repetitive, uptempo and machine-like pulses. Though I tend to abhor genre portmanteaus, “coldwave” is really the perfect tag for this music. As much as Thrushes’ music really gets your emotions out, Death Domain’s sublimates those urges with jarring proficiency, making you question if they were even there in the first place.

Get into it with some of his latest releases including an 8-song tape on Jerkwave (limited to 100 on silver tape), a 3 song 7″ on Army of Bad Luck (limited to 300, silk screened glow in the dark cover), and a 2 song 7″ on Dark Entries (limited to 400, silk screened glow in the dark covers with 100 of each nucleic acid, A/100, C/100, T/100, G/100). Look for a reissued split tape with High Marks, limited to 150.

What others are saying: Still Single, Freak Scene (Fader)

Aural States Fest II: Spotlights – Lands & Peoples, Jack Chick

Ed. Note: We’ll be running spotlights on all the artists playing our second anniversary show, Aural States Fest II, over the coming weeks. First up, Brandon talks with Caleb from Lands & Peoples, and I drop some fresh, raw demos from the newest act to be playing the fest: Jack Chick.

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MP3: Lands & Peoples – Awake

There’s little sense in me trying to sum up the sound of Lands & Peoples, other than to say that whenever they try their hand at something, the results are pretty fantastic. They can veer from Grizzly Bear-esque chamber pop with “Ukulele” and then shift gears to pulsing electronics and lush harmonies on “Awake,” all the while managing to sound like no other band out there.

We talked with the trio’s frontman, Caleb Moore, a lapsed blogger for this very site, about their possible upcoming LP, their ever-changing sound, and the wonderful ligature that is the ampersand.

AS: I read on your Tumblr that you were in the studio back in December, and that the result was either going to be an EP or LP. What did you decide?

CM: We are shooting for a full length LP, which will (we hope) be released by an “actual label,” and eventually (sexual favors) make it to vinyl. Also want to mention that in addition to the full length– we’re doing a 7″ split w/ our friends THIN HYMNS. They make amazing, beautiful music and they’re from Chicago.

AS: What’s it going to be called?

CM: We have to have a band seance before any big decisions such as that are made. No freaking clue!

AS: I’ve found it’s really impossible to pin you guys down to any one genre or aesthetic. How do you keep evolving your sound?

CM: We just can’t fucking help it– it’s good and bad for us. On one hand, we all have an immense appreciation for music that stays pretty tight in one aesthetic. I think that’s one way to really make an album an album. Wavves, Beirut, Nite Jewel, Washed Out, Beach House– they’re all different from one another, but have a VERY consistent sound on each album.

But also, we think diversity within a record/live performance can be really important and have a palate-cleansing type effect. So, for now it’s happening because we can’t control it, but one day maybe we will have a very specific sound? Seems hard to imagine for me.

AS: Maybe I didn’t poke around the right corners of the internet, but I didn’t see too many interviews with you guys. What’s your backstory? What inspires you guys, musically or otherwise?

CM: That’s a big question. Back story is that i made the L&P myspace to post some weirdo audio experiments that I’d been making w/ my computer, loop pedals, and stuff. Then i started writing songs– Amanda and I played for the first time in my old apartment in Charles Village above Donna’s. She sang harmonies on “Isabella” with me at a tender lil house show that I curated w/ buds of mine.

Beau was there that day too, visiting from NYC and playing a couple of his songs. Amanda and I kept playing, and I finally convinced Beau to move down here from NYC. Mostly because NYC sucks hard– errrr it can be a challenging place to live for anyone that’s not rich as fuck .. err.. Baltimore is cheaper.. shit. I don’t know. Point is, it worked out very well for him. We’ve all 3 been playing together since he moved down about a year ago, and we’re now toying with adding a bass player!! Whooohoooo!

AS: Your first EP was called &, and you make a point of punctuating your band name with an ampersand. Do you have a particular fondness for the ampersand? Why?

CM: Yes, I have a ‘&’ tattoo on my chest, the only one so far. They are just oh-so-pretty to me. Such a satisfying line to follow, and to draw. I got it w/ my friend Kate in order to seal our bond as super-friends forever, under the eyes of God, and the hairy tattoo artist that applied da ink.

AS: Who are you looking forward to seeing?

CM: EVERYONE. But, specifically I’m super pumped to see Height w/ Friends for the first time, whom my friend Mickey raps with. Also, True Womanhood and Dustin Wong both put on really great, interesting shows, and are nice dudez. The other people I’m actually very inexperienced with– so that will be fun to see a bunch of new Bmore music for the 1st time.


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01. MP3: Jack Chick – Why Don’t You Do Right
02. MP3: Jack Chick – Untitled

Jack Chick are a project that has been simmering and gestating for some time now. And I would’ve been none the wiser if not for my conversations with Jack Moore, El Suprimo head honcho and member of Mopar Mountain Daredevils (whose release in 2009 I highly recommend). While Mopar Mountain are on hold, Moore (keys) is joined by fellow Daredevil Derrick Hans (drums), and boyfriend-girlfriend duo Chrissy Howland from the Degenerettes (vocals, bass, keys) and studio whiz Rob Girardi (guitar).

With such a strong pedigree, it’s no surprise that their darkly swirling, experimental vision of psych is gripping. Their ever-evolving sound is remarkably atmospheric for being so weighty (check out some of their raw practice demos above). I can’t wait to see what surprises they have in store for their debut live performance at the fest.

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.