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Livewire: Lake Trout @ the Ottobar (2010.01.16)

Lake Trout Live

Photo credit: David Carter

Lake Trout is a longtime Baltimore institution. They do not gig nearly often enough as of late, so I was most pleased to have a rare shot at recording one of their shows in mid-January. James has been in the UK working on an upcoming UNKLE release for many months but returned to Baltimore for this excellent set. There is a new Lake Trout release on the horizon as well, with recording sessions scheduled this month, and plans to work with producer Dave Fridmann this spring. This is a great ride, with some tracks familiar from past Lake Trout recordings and some that more recently evolved out of the Big In Japan side project. The sound quality was impeccable, thanks in no small part to the miking and mixing skills of local studio legend Steve Wright. Don’t skip the hard-charging set closer, “Lies.”

Lake Trout
January 16, 2010
Baltimore MD, USA

James Griffith – bass
Ed Harris – guitar
Mike Lowry – drums
Matt Pierce – keyboard, flute
Woody Ranere – guitar, vocal

Streaming player:

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MP3 links:

1. Untitled (5:27)
2. Riddle (4:36)
3. Say Something (6:52)
4. New Thing (5:32)
5. All Day Long (6:36)
6. Queens (4:36)
7. I Was Wrong (4:50)
8. Shiny Wrapper (6:31)
9. Mockingbird (5:13)
10. What You Need (6:42)
11. Stutter (5:40)
12. Pill (4:48)
13. Factory (6:19)
14. Banter/Yelling (4:31)
15. Lies (8:58)

Total time: 1:27:19

ZIP links:

Entire set in mp3 format


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

Recorded by:

David Carter(carteriffic@gmail.com)

Preview: Dark Party featuring Eliot Lipp, Mux Mool, Cex, Mickey Free @ Hexagon

dark party flyer

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01. MP3: Dark Party – Status from Light Years (2009)
02. MP3: Mux Mool – Nausican from Just Saying Is All (2008)

I’ll be up in Boston this weekend to catch Built to Spill’s run at the Middle East.

But I’m regretting it as there are some stellar shows happening.  Wye Oak is opening for Blitzen Trapper at a mammoth Saturday Ottobar event.  Following the show, everyone’s favorite DJ Jason Willett will be hosting the after-party at the Golden West.

Tonight though, all eyes should be on the Hexagon who hosts a phenomenal Moodgadget-anchored orgy of dance music, courtesy of local label Environmental Aesthetics.

Out of towners Dark Party and Mux Mool bring electronic dance bliss (lush with hip-hop beats and influence) to the Hexagon, while opener Cex blasts you with his particularly visceral brand of electronic and beats-master Mickey Free lays down some rhymes.   This is easily a can’t miss show.

Live Review / Photos: Half Japanese, Double Dagger @ the Ottobar (2009.07.24)

Bruce Willen of Double Dagger I was busy being behind the lens for this show, so I called in a favor from guest celeb-writer Benn Ray of Atomic Books and the Mobtown Shank to weigh in on this show.

All photos: Greg Szeto

Full live audio by the Baltimore Taper can be found at Bmore Musically Informed. Here are the best/choicest cuts:

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MP3: Half Japanese – You’re Gonna Miss Me (frikkin sweet 13th Floor Elevators cover!!!!!!!)

MP3: Double Dagger – The Lie / The Truth from More (2009)

Double Dagger’s set brought forth their army of teen fans – slam-dancing and moshing and enjoying the punk rock like anyone with youth on their side should. Confused aging hipsters who were obviously there to see Half Japanese curiously formed a perimeter. It was easy to see they were not familiar with Double Dagger and their fans, but these guys all had a glimmer in their eyes – they remembered punk shows of the ’80s and early ’90s.

You could see them slowly winding themselves up to jump into the fray…and eventually they did.

Read the rest…

Live Review: Animal Collective, Daniel Higgs @ the Ottobar (2009.05.09)


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MP3: Animal Collective – Who Could Win A Rabbit

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MP3: Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes

Animal Collective’s cult-like status was built on elements like their masked press photos and indecipherable lyrics, but the stuff of legend was found in their live performances. For all previous tours, the trio would use their live shows to preview tracks from upcoming releases…which is why anybody who saw them tour off of Strawberry Jam probably heard “My Girls” before it was remixed by a thousand DJs. Furthermore, interviews with the band revealed that not only had they lost or destroyed the samples of a lot of their older material…but that they’d actually forgotten the words to some of their fans’ favorite songs. So, if you really liked that one song off of Sung Tongs and couldn’t wait to see it live…you’d probably have to keep waiting.

Yet, based on their performance Sunday night, Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist appear to have thrown some of this dogma out of the window. Read the rest…

Live Review / Photos: Dinosaur Jr, Mike Watt & the Missingmen @ the Ottobar (2009.05.02)

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MP3: Dinosaur Jr. – I Want You To Know from Farm (2009)

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MP3: Dinosaur Jr – Freak Scene from Bug (1988)

Dinosaur Jr. are inarguably one of the central progenitors of the 90s rock archetype.  Few other groups have such a distinct sound that is so closely linked to a precise era in collective memory.  And like most pioneers of a sound, the legions of artists they inspired received all the attention (any number of Dinosaur Jr. influenced 90s alt-rock bands, eg- Nirvana).  After Merge’s re-release of their early material, they finally seem to be getting their slice of the popularity pie.

But they do little to dispel the notion that bands break-up for a reason, and rarely reform out of some intense desire to create music together again.  Look no farther than their most recent release Beyond, or their set list drenched in classics, for more hints on their intent in regrouping.  There’s nothing new here.  Further, any number of times I could almost feel Murph, Lou and J pulling apart, each taking their own parts into separate realms without considering the song as an entity, and seeming to forget to play as a band.  This persistent inability to lock-in a tempo at first try was distracting, at times frustrating.  The other distraction in their live set was the absolute ridiculous dominance of J Mascis’ uber-amped guitars.  Basically drowning out everything beneath a sea of big, distorted guitar melodies as he rained down riffs from his 3 massive Marshall stacks.  There is a better balance to be had while still achieving that guitar-rich sound, but they really didn’t bother to find it.

Despite these drawbacks, Dinosaur Jr. were good, and at times great.  J Mascis’ trademark guitar squalls were in full and massive effect, resonating melodies into your marrow.  Fantastically tight drumming from Murph and really vivacious bass lines courtesy of Lou Barlow. But ultimately, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed.  Fortunately, opener Mike Watt absolutely blew me away.

Watt, a career bassist who helped found Firehose and the Minutemen, was having the time of his life up there.  He absolutely mauls the bass, manhandling it to create all manner of tones and styles, from punk to free-jazz to funk.  Unlike the easily precision-dated sounds of Dinosaur Jr., Watt created ferocious punk-blends that still feel fresh and new and exciting today, at times his frenzied freakouts make me wonder if he shares some musical kinship with weirdo-psych, avant-garde legend Captain Beefheart. Watt was equally comfortable stepping aside and letting his Missingmen or guest-cameos from Dinosaur Jr. guys shine, always making sure the track took precedence over any individual insstrument.  His work is deserving of a long legend and legacy.

Dinosaur Jr.

_MG_3255 Read the rest…

Photos: Los Campesinos! @ the Ottobar (2008.01.15)

Los Campesinos! kicked off their tour in Baltimore this past Thursday at the Ottobar. This seven-piece band from Wales managed to pack the Ottobar with a crowd who was very excited to see this band play.  

Unfortunately, violinist Harriet Campesinos! was unable to travel due to illness; yet playing as a 6-piece, they still surprised the audience with a song sung from the floor, a climb up the side wall towards the balcony and an end to their set with some crowd surfing from stage.  

It was no surprise that the audience demanded an encore!  

Titus Andronicus from New Jersey is touring with Los Campesinos! and is certainly an opener worth catching.  They were every bit as energetic as the main act, so if you plan to catch this show along the tour, make sure you come early to catch this band as well!

Los Campesinos!

img_1276img_1671 Read the rest…

Live Audio / Photos: Avocado Happy Hour @ the Ottobar (2009.01.14)


All photos: Greg Szeto

Avocado Happy Hour provide another interpretation in what may be the boom-genre of 2009: precious instrumental music.  The word precious comes to mind immediately with the twinkling glockenspiel and warm melodies.  They showed they have some adventurous ideas and inspiration, distributing a crate of bells to the audience for their first song.  All of their songs seem to have a somnambullic quality to them, at times sounding like a infant’s music mobile that is stammering while running out of juice, yet still struggling to accomplish its task of transporting you into dreamland.  This is likely owed to the glockenspiel dropping notes in an irregular pitter-patter in patterns of early rain.  

Unfortunately, each song seems to take a bit too long growing and developing, not enough happening to sustain interest early-on as they build each layer.  But it is worth it to hang on, because the finished tapestry is remarkably good; look no farther than the latter halves of “Mushroom” and “Seamore.”  ”Positano Prelude” and “Grilled Cheese” don’t really ever find their footing in an engaging way for me; it seems they need to refine their alchemy of instrumental voices a bit further to figure out just how much is needed of each to produce more tracks like “Mushroom.”

Avocado Happy Hour
The Ottobar
Baltimore, MD
January 14, 2009

Amanda Schmidt-Rhodes piano, glockenspiel, and keyboards
Rod Hamilton-vibraphone, drums, and percussion

Source: Peluso CEMC6/ck4(cards)>PS-2>AD-20>NJB3
Transfer: NJB3>PC>SF-7>Wav>FLAC
Taper: Jeff Mewbourn (jm292@yahoo.com)


Avocado Happy Hour>The Love Language>The Rosebuds
Mics located 8ft below heat vent
Sound: Brian Daniloski              


Download the full set as a ZIP file formatted in: FLAC or MP3

Stream MP3s and photos from the show after the jump. Read the rest…

2008 Wrap-Up (Alex) – Live Performances

Luckily, my editor is on in-between semester break. Otherwise, I’m sure he would be in T.A. mode and grade my late post accordingly…

However, I dragged my feet somewhat deliberately. What’s the point of a 2008 summation if you don’t have at least a little critical distance between current time, and the past year? One doesn’t write a book report until the book is actually finished. A conclusion about a hypothesis can’t be reached until the experiment is actually completed. You don’t say, “Wow, baby…that was some good sex,” until the deal is sealed–unless you’re an ego-tripping moron with a teenager’s maturity level.

January 29, 2008 was my emergence from the world of sub-par print music journalism into the realm of much more serious online music writing. I don’t take credit for the upgrade; that goes solely to Greg Szeto, the music editor at my former publication, and the founder and managing editor of Aural States. I know good coat tails when I seem them, and I was really excited to jump into this venture with Greg. 

The results have been unthinkable, really. Much of the work I’ve felt the best about, and been the most proud of in the past several years has been for Aural States.
For me, 2008 has been a year of amazing music–recorded, live, and starting recently, making it again. To be accurate this journey’s proper beginnings are in the fall of 2007, but isn’t it weird how events usually arise from prior events in sequential order? Event chains, I think they are called.  I have been into music all my life, but 2008 is unique in the fact that I actually, in some small way, took a spot in a broader network of music, and culture-of-music people. I began blogging, and people were actually reading what I wrote.

This status of blogger doesn’t feel quite like it fits yet. Around Baltimore, indie/hipsters types (definitely loaded words, which are commonly mistaken for being synonymous with “music types”) don such close-fitting clothes. Perhaps, feeling as though this is a role I need to grow into is a healthier stance, than having skin-tight clothing restricting, and inhibiting movement (read: critical movement, and development).

Also, clothes being the signifiers that they are designate people into one group. I personally don’t fit into one single group musically, and probably not socially, either. From my understanding (and I think it’s an accurate understanding) the same goes for Aural States. To be clear, this does not mean AS has to be everything musically to fulfill our eclectic mission statement, but we simply need to be who we are, and only who we are.

And who are we? Music geeks: pure, unabashed, genuine music geeks.

My (Highly Subjective) Most Memorable Live Performances of 2008 (in no order, and it’s more than 10)
Read the rest…

Photos / Live Review: Imperial China, Pandas, Caverns @ the Ottobar (2008.12.22)


Photo credit: Greg Szeto

Two of DC’s premiere noise-makers trekked up to Baltimore for a decently populated, Monday-before-Christmas early show at the Ottobar.  I walked into a brightly lit Ottobar (the likes of which I have only seen at closing time and the occassional dance party) scarcely past 8:30, and Caverns were already mid-set.  Luckily, I walked in to the closing strains of “Dance you son of a bitch,” one of the best cuts from the forthcoming Kittens! EP.  Caverns sounded a bit off, slight tuning issues with the guitar and some rhythm irregularities.  But the last two songs of their set really locked in…particularly set closer “This Are Syntax.” Read the rest…

Live Audio: Imperial China @ the Ottobar (2008.12.22)

IMG_1078Imperial China
The Ottobar
Baltimore, MD
December 22, 2008

Source: Peluso CEMC6/ck4(card)>PS-2>AD-20>NJB3
Transfer: NJB3>PC>SF-7>Wav>FLAC
Taper: Jeff Mewbourn (jm292@yahoo.com)

Lineup:At Last Atlantis>Caverns>Pandas>Imperial China>Albatross
*last song is cut (power failure)
Sound: Rob Girardi

Download the full set as a ZIP file formatted in: FLAC or MP3

Streaming MP3s after the jump. Read the rest…

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