Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Compilation: Friends Records 2011

Friends Records has been collecting songs since the beginning of 2011, and the result is a 30 song compilation full of new and exclusive tracks from Baltimore, Maryland.

Friends Records 2011 is out tomorrow, a free digital and limited double-cassette release available Thanksgiving Day. Citypaper premiered the opening track, a new Celebration song called "Sure Shot" that was recorded in the band's own Night Worm Studios.

Mark at YVYNYL uncovered another preview last week, Weekends' "Basement Fuzz."

The compilation was mastered for cassette by Rob Giradi at Lord Baltimore, and the artwork for the double-tape packaging comes compliments of Will Pesta.

The track list of this annual affair boasts a hefty supply of Baltimore heroes, with an unreleased Future Islands song recorded for KEXP, a recently recorded Dan Deacon track, the debut of Jenn Wasner's (Wye Oak) Flock of Dimes, new explorations by Jason Urick, a stark reminder of the return of Oxes, a lost gem from Dustin Wong and Molly Siegel, a new-anything wonder from Matt Papich's Co La, and more.

It also sports an Arthur Russell cover by Soft Cat, fresh digs from Holy Ghost Party, a hearty dose of sugar by Will Pesta's Inflatable Mattress, a new live jam from Lands and Peoples, some exclusive hard-nosed tomfoolery from Witch Hat, another psychedelic gift from Secret Mountains, and a lot more. Check out the entire track list below.

Side A
Celebration - Sure Shot 4.37
Future Islands - Tomorrow (Live @ KEXP) 3:31
Weekends - Basement Fuzz 2:08
Microkingdom - God's Total Woman 5:28
Moss Of Aura - Post 4:22
Jason Urick - Woman (For Jah Shaka) 6:58

Side B
Oxes - Hiawatha (Live @ WNUR) 4:51
Witch Hat - Break Interstate Park 5:28
Violet Hour - Absence Of Limbs 5:47
Sri Aurobindo - No Coincidence 3:29
Lonnie Walker - Inside Factories 3:49
Height With Friends - Mustard Seed 2:08

Side C
Soft Cat - This Is How We Walk On The Moon 3:36
Lands and Peoples - Memo (Live) 3:35
Flock Of Dimes - Prison Bride 2:54
Beth Varden - I Can't Stand 5:59
Brian Adam Ant - Psychic Assassins 2:23
Secret Mountains - Weepy Little Fingers 6:18
Buhloones - Something Else Exchange 2:13
Holy Ghost Party - Breakfast 3:26
Beyond Say - Bowl Of Water Moccassins 3:37

Side D
Dan Deacon - The Token Circle High 1:23
Co La - Visions Of Excess (Wet Version) 6:26
Jake Lingan - Hair Trigger 3;42
Vlonde - Love Theme 4:55
Avocado Happy Hour - Tactic 4:19
Dustin Wong and Molly Siegel - Untitled 1:52
Chase O'Hara and Amy Reid - Love You In Summer 2:43
Inflatable Mattress - Fantasy Motorboat 2:22
Neal Reinalda - Sunset In Baltimore 5:10

Get the double-cassette or free digital download right here on Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Post: Katrina Ford Occupies Baltimore

"Great Pyramid" is the final statement on side A of Celebration's most recent LP, Hello Paradise. The band channels a card in the tarot that deals "the boss, the king, male influence and authority, planning, building, construction, seeking stability, ambition and confidence, tradition, order, and structure." The song begins with a simple question, “Hey Kingdom, where do your ambitions lie?”

It concludes with Katrina Ford demanding you to "stand up, to the top." Last weekend Ford's band, Celebration, were asked by Occupy Baltimore to play at McKeldin Square, the site of Occupy Baltimore's encampment. The Baltimore Police Department got wind of the performance, and shut it down before it could even take place, threatening to confiscate instruments and "remove" individuals that performed.

Now more than ever is a good time to "stand up, declare damn! God damn! I’m alive!” To be alive is to be free, and we can all at least agree on the right to freedom. Right?

The following is an open letter to the universe from Celebration's Katrina Ford.

OWS! Occupy! Occupy! The idea is grand and hopeful, it has crept in and gained momentum and support from across the globe. I feel my depression finally lifting. OWS to me, is a tribal community of care in a world I thought had forgotten how to dream big. The cat is out of the bag, on the street, and the world is watching!

I believe the more it is resisted and evicted the more it will grow, which is beautiful and scary to me. Beautiful because of the utopian ideals that it represents, to see people sharing and believing that we can make a better life for ALL,  not just the 1%. Scary because the resistance has shown it's true colors, and they are violently violating the law they represent, AND they have weapons.

As I watch video after video of these brutalities I ask,  Where's the humanity? Has basic human rights gone straight down the tube?!

A month ago, representatives from Occupy Baltimore contacted us and asked us to come down and play. We had been to Mckeldin Square a few times over the past few weeks and wanted to help. It's cold and sometimes boring standing around waiting for a wave. We hoped by bringing some dancing and music we'd give them some much needed entertainment and something to bounce around and warm up to. So we agreed on a date and started to plan our equipment to fit the space and energy limitations.

The Baltimore Sun announced our upcoming performance, which alerted the authorities. A week before the day, Occupy Baltimore was told by the city that no generators could be used for the performance and that they would require them to have security for the event. So at the news we scrambled to find a battery powered version of us.

On the day of the show, police showed up to the encampment and told Occupy that if we brought in any PA it would be confiscated. Furthermore, if anyone performed they would be "removed." So we left our bongos and pump organ at home and showed up empty handed. We had to at least explain to our friends why we couldn't play.

After an hour of standing around and asking ourselves questions like "if I clap my hands is that performing?" or "will they arrest me if I sing and stomp on the street?" We saw the humor in it and felt like the heroes of Footloose. Then I began to see the gravity. We dared not challenge it at the request of Occupy, they felt like their relations with the city had been good but strained and didn't want to push it.  We had all but given up, then at some point two of the officers walked over to bridge the gap, so we thought.

It ended up being a dodgy conversation on what kind of music will be played and what equipment they allowed. Basically it was micro diced until we were left with no real option. They didn't want us to make any noise, we had no permit to.

We feeling somewhat of a coitus interruptus, pulled together a renegade performance at Holy Frijoles later that night.  As for playing directly for Occupy we are still waiting word to see if we can perform SOMETHING for the big day this coming Saturday and I'm still determined to bring a little celebration to the movement.

I am part of the 99% and I am behind it 100%. ---K. Ford

Friday, November 11, 2011

Video: Weekends - "Roommate / Raingirls"

It was really hot outside. I arrived at the Copycat early one Saturday to help out with a music video. The Copycat Theatre troupe, responsible for Rooms Play and other wonderment, had written and choreographed a short for our friends Weekends.

Guy Werner and Kevin Blackistone descended upon the space with a truck full of lights (hot lights) and the rest of their video gear. What ensued was a video for two songs off of Weekends' Strange Cultures. Brendan Sullivan and Adam Lempel  are invaded during a sweaty rendition of "Roommate" in their old practice space, and taken to the Copycat Theater's fantasy world for "Raingirls." Claymation animates the second half, a psychedelic whirlwind of clay, umbrellas, dancing, and Sam Shea in a bear costume.

The first half of this was recorded that hot Saturday, the daylong shoot ended with Weekends rushing over to a gig at Floristree. Brendan rode with me over to the H&H, and there's still red body paint from the video's abduction on my passenger seat.

Weekends are working on their next LP now, the first taste of which will be here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Photos: Oxes, Thank You, Witch Hat, Sri Aurobindo

Last weekend Friends Records hosted an epic lineup that included Thank You's final U.S. appearance and a rare (and powerful) set from Oxes. This all-Baltimore lineup also included the likes of Witch Hat and Sri Aurobindo, and Valerie was there to capture all the action. Don't sleep on Oxes' forthcoming 12". Also - thank you, Thank You.




Thank You

Thank You

Thank You

Witch Hat

Witch Hat

Sri Aurobindo

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Show: Oxes, Thank You, Witch Hat, Sri Aurobindo

poster by Chris Day

There have already been a handful of "show of the year" candidates, but this Saturday's G Spot bill is a hefty contender. As pointed out in Tuesday's piece that included a chat with band founder Jeff McGrath, this will be Thank You's last show in the United States of America before heading over to Europe for their final tour that concludes at ATP.

In addition, this will be the world's first chance at scoring the first U.S. Oxes release since 2005 - a new 12" called Bile Stbudy that will be limited to 650 copies.

Joining these two heavyweights Saturday evening will be Witch Hat and Sri Aurobindo, both fresh off new vinyl releases. Don't sleep on Brown in a Dog or Eyes, and definitely don't wait too long to grab tickets for this monster of a show.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thank You Say You're Welcome

There have been a few major casualties this year within Baltimore’s music scene, starting with Ponytail and Double Dagger. A third perennial live force announces it’s departure today as Thank You will play it’s last U.S. show this weekend in Baltimore, and it’s final show this December on a European tour.

In conversation yesterday, band founder Jeff McGrath admitted that Thank You’s G Spot show with Oxes this Saturday and their forthcoming European tour will be their last of a six year run. The band is set to play their final show at ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas at the invitation of former tour mates, Battles.

Jeff explains, “It sort of just feels like we’re moving out of an apartment.” A few weeks ago William Cashion of Future Islands asked Thank You if they wanted to join them for a January tour. When the band got together to discuss William’s proposal, it became evident to everyone that not all of the members still enjoyed touring or had the will to continue to do so.

Each of Thank You’s LPs since their days with original drummer Elke Wardlaw have been hand-crafted with a strong ode to their live performance. First and foremost, Thank You is very much a live band. Without this component, all four current members couldn’t envision moving forward under the same moniker. Jeff was quick to point out that they’ll all remain best friends, they all plan to stay living in Baltimore, and that they all plan to continue making music - just with different friends and artists. This makes sense, especially when considering the musical cycle currently occurring in Baltimore.

Since Whartscape’s conclusion, a number of pivotal bands in Baltimore’s music scene have disbanded. Besides geography, a few other similarities link together these break-ups. They were executed positively, brought on by pure motives, and instilled the core values of friendship. None involved ill wills, hefty egos, or tugs at fame. They occurred because either the band wanted to go out on top, or because it’s members creativity would flourish more within separate entities.

To the casual bystander, Baltimore’s music scene may appear to have a few holes. However, a closer look reveals at least ten other willing and eager bands for every disbanded group of heroes. Though Whartscape and a handful of its pioneers may have retired their household names, there remains a thriving community that's arguably even stronger than ever.

Pivotol bands might break up, but their members tend to start or join new projects with other friends in town. Jeff McGrath put it rather simply yesterday, “The nature of this city is friendliness.” In a music scene that relies heavily upon a tight-knit community, it’s important to say thank you to friends that help continue its evolution.

Thank You has one final release in store; details are forthcoming.