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A New Era Approaches…Aural States v3.0, Boston/Cambridge

Photo credit: Christopher Tidy

So I’ve been MIA for a while. What of it? I was forced into hibernation to concentrate on my career for a bit, and now I’ve emerged stronger than ever! I recently accepted an intellectually exhilarating postdoc position at MIT in Boston, so Aural States HQ and the bulk of my written content will be shifted to the scene up north when I move come January. However, I’m still planning on keeping some eyes and ears open and on the ground for Baltimore-DC area scene, the crucible of Aural States. But we’ll discuss the future of AS a little later when I’m settled in Cambridge, and not when I’m doing a million things trying to wrap up here in Baltimore.

To come be a part of history (however insignificant), come see me present my research work from the past 6 years (“The immunomodulatory and anti-HIV effects of minocycline in CD4+ T cells.”) and become a doctor this Friday Dec 3rd. The seminar will be held at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Ross Research Building G007 at 3:00PM (2:45PM for light and limited refreshments). All are welcome.

Momentum

People often ask me how I do so many things at once. There are two answers to that question: 1) very carefully, and 2) sometimes I don’t. Right now, answer number 2 is in effect.

When life offers you some momentum, you run with it as fast and as far as you can. And that’s what science has done recently, offered me a glimmer of light. And for the next few weeks, I want, and need, to focus on chasing that down as hard as I humanly can. To facilitate that, the posting frequency here at Aural States will be going WAY down during that time (you’ve probably already noticed the trend from this week). There will still be the occasional post here or there, particularly from our venturesome contributors like Dave Carter and his Livewire column, as well as some of the other contributors. But you likely won’t hear a substantial peep from me (aside from a few things going on at our label division) until a few weeks down the road.

For those of you so inclined, you can check out what I’m up to in my other life here, or for the more scientifically inclined, get all the gory details here.

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.

One Track Mind: The Presets – “If I Know You”

the-presets

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MP3: The Presets – If I Know You

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MP3: The Presets – If I Know You (Heartbreak Remix) (thanks Modular!)

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MP3: The Golden Filter – Solid Gold

I’ve already paid lip service to “If I Know You,” one of the Presets’ most triumphant, and definitely the most sublime, tracks off 2008′s Apocalypso.  Julian Hamilton’s lingering, sombre vocals gliding atop the distant, steadily pulsating backbeat and back-mixed synth chord progression gives the entire track a naked, vulnerable feel that stands hairs on end, like a brisk pre-dawn breeze drifting over your skin.  Subtle reverb lilts off the vocals, casting  a further haze over the track.  Three-fourths of the way through the track, the bottom drops out to give way to gorgeously appointed, understated vocal harmony that is crushing, reaching the apex of their weight and vulnerability.  The fact that they scored a tastefully edited, equally sublime music video showcasing a mixture of modern, ballet and various other forms of dance is just icing on the cake (video after the jump).  Not surprising, considering we found in our interview that Hamilton’s brother is involved in dance.

But even more great news just hit the wire: the Presets are releasing both a single for “If I Know You” (dropping early April and packed with remixes of the titular track, including a particularly fantastic instrumental by Tom Middleton) and a new collector’s edition of Apocalypso (dropping May 5th) that includes a second disc, also full of remixes.

The Presets are hitting the 9:30 Club in DC tomorrow, Wed Apr 1, with the Golden Filter.  The consensus from their tour opening for Oceania-mates Cut Copy seems to be that their live show regularly trumped the headliner’s, on all levels.  I can testify to it being a gloriously sordid and sweaty affair that really can’t be beat for good times and good tunes.

Vid, tracklist for collector’s edition and complete tour dates after the jump.

Read the rest…

City gov’t tries to get hip, encourage arts, manages to strangle DIY while trying.

middle-finger-of-the-apocalypse

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MP3: The Clash – I Fought the Law

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MP3: Operation Ivy – Here We Go Again

Baltimore City looks to be pursuing further action on the Live Entertainment License legislation.

The main perk is that officially recognized venues will no longer be required to stay in designated entertainment zones; on paper this should stimulate and encourage this sector.

But there are a number of corollaries to that main thrust which may actually threaten many of our beloved and established DIY spaces.  These stipulaions range from the douchebaggery of new annual fees, ambiguous investigations on the “moral character” of involved parties, and all sorts of logistical bureaucracy (plans for cleaning, parking, safety etc) to the bizarre, such as designations of non-participatory dancing.

This is all rather shocking and dumbfounding until you realize that the amount of communication between the legislators and the venue owners and operators who run affected businesses has been slim to none.

But it’s officially crunch time, and two organizational meetings for any community members interested in voicing their concerns on the bill have been scheduled in Station North this coming Monday, Mar 16.

Meeting #1 is at the Metro Gallery, 4PM.

Meeting #2 is at the Hexagon, 7PM.

Cursive fans, take note.

cursive-mama-im-swollen

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MP3: Cursive – From the Hips

Saddle Creek’s premier eclectic sons of rock, Cursive (Wiki), are taking a unique approach to pricing their new album.

For the next eight days, the new album (Mama, I’m Swollen) will be available as a digital download at a pro-rated price that will increase by $1 each day (i.e., the price is $2 today, $3 on March 3rd, $4 on March 4th, etc.). When the record hits stores on March 10th, the digital album will then remain at the regular price of $9.

So it would appear then, that this is your chance to snag this one on the cheap.  Have at it, and enjoy this new download from the album, comped.

The Decemberists open the faucet on new material…

So this fall, the Decemberists triumphantly return to the road for the Bridesmaid Revisited tour, dragging along 3 new, limited-edition, 12″ singles.  Each contains a new song that has been played live for a bit now.  The first of these vinyls drops in just over 2 weeks, Oct 14th.  The lead track is “Valerie Plame,” referencing the recent scandal, has just popped up on Youtube.  If you look hard enough, you can also find some other tracks like this live version of one of Meloy’s latest epics, loosely titled “Night/Rake.”  And don’t forget to catch Meloy et al when they drop into Rams Head on Nov 08.

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MP3: The Decemberists (Colin Meloy solo) – Night / Rake (Live)


“Valerie Plame”

Parenthetical Girls get Deerhoof cover, extended tour news

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MP3: Parenthethical Girls – Gut Symmetries (Deerhoof cover)

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MP3: Parenthetical Girls – A Song for Ellie Greenwich from Entangelments (2008)

Parenthetical Girls just dropped their album Entanglements yesterday, and already they are getting covered by Deerhoof.  Combine that with positive reviews of their album which is basically orchestral music slightly askew/gone awry and a tour extension and you have a recipe for exhaustion.  Hopefully they don’t get swamped and break up before we see what they can really do.  See the extended tour after the jump.

Read the rest…

Track leak off the upcoming High Places’ self-titled

So we love some High Places. They wowed us in an earlier performance this year with No Age @ Floristree, and here we are, their self-titled album release just around the corner. And the lovely folks at Thrill Jockey have provided an MP3 nugget of aural glory in the form of the album’s closing track!

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MP3: High Places – From Stardust to Sentience from upcoming self-titled LP (Sept 23)

Tracklist

  1. The Storm
  2. You in Forty Years
  3. The Tree with the Lights in It
  4. Vision’s the First…
  5. Gold Coin
  6. Papaya Year
  7. Namer
  8. Golden
  9. A Field Guide
  10. From Stardust to Sentience

See their tour dates after the jump…

Read the rest…

Ponytail, Compression @ Sonar

All photos: Robert Jacobs

Get Ponytail’s entire set at Beatbots A/V Club!

Compression have been around for a while (1993 to be exact). To quote front-man Greg Scelsi “probably before most of you could drive.” They started the night on a solid, forceful note. Being the first somewhat hardcore (with plenty of metal flavorings) band I’ve probably seen in about a year, I can say they have a fury about them. Their sound is a truly percussive, gale force wind that knocks you off your stride and takes your breath away…often by brute strength. Muscular riffs tear through each song like a prize-winning thoroughbred, awe-inspiringly powerful yet exceedingly graceful. Read the rest…

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