Your Weekly Playlist From the Streets of Baltimore

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By Drew Waldo > Senior > English and Journalism > University of Maryland, Photo By Riley Blanks > Sophomore > Sociology and Studio Art (Photography) > University of Virginia  

Your student event planners may not agree, but spending some quality listening time with the local music scene is a must for the full-bodied college experience. The shows are cheaper, the bands could become your friends, and if nothing else local pride can only help in the street cred-gained with that $50 student union hoodie.

This weeks playlist focuses in on Baltimore, where decades of cheap rent has made the city a haven for artists hoping to spend most of their days making art rather than lattes. The music scene is essentially a primordial soup of different genres, a reliable standby for national publications like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork who often laud the region’s diversity and anything-goes mores about writing new music. 


If Weekends ever end up on the national stage, it will be at the dawn of the “bedroom rock” boom and two-man bands everywhere will be pogo-ing up and down to their own shredding. But for now they play tons of shows around Baltimore and D.C., in houses, cafes and even real clubs.\
Maybe it’s simply the reverb on this track that makes it seem so wonderfully dark and brooding. “Awake” is both familiar and subversive in that its a echo-filled ringer of a song that almost breaks down in low frequency sounds, but keeps moving until the end. 
“Pillow Talk” captures the bass-drums-vocal band’s dynamic perfectly (if on the lighter side of their discography): sometimes catchy, and most always abrasive. Earnestness runs through most of the band’s lyrics, this maybe being the funniest example.
Also residing in Baltimore: folk. Or, “indie-folk,” in this example, if we’re being sticklers. 
Frequent tour mates of Double Dagger, Future Islands play something entirely different, something much more epic. Lead singer Sam Herring’s dramatic stage moves at Future Island shows have added a little extra flair to the band’s many ballads.
This is from one of the goofier Dan Deacon records, when serious undertakings got introductions by loops of Woody Woodpecker’s laugh. Honestly, “Snake Mistakes” is 100% weird. But wonderfully weird! If given the chance it will get into your head and make you mutter “I hate dem bees” repeatedly in public.
Maybe this is a bit of a jump from “Snake Mistakes,” but it has to go somewhere, because everything this band is gorgeous. Another plus to seeing small bands…actually acoustic shows, are, you know, actually acoustic.
Ponytail no longer exists, per se, but Weekends are essentially their spiritual forebears. Indeed, Walt Whitman probably would write music like this if he knew how to play the electric guitar, so long as his resurrected self had some punk sensibilities about him. Hint: The title’s a Whitman reference.
Irony seems to be a point of obsession among Baltimore hip hop artists, at least the ones who play at things like Whartscape (R.I.P). And that means more so than with Dan Deacon or Weekends, certain hip-hop artists seem dead set on distancing themselves from rapping about anything specific. Still, for what its worth Rapdragons have good hooks, and its not everyday you here a rap song start off to a reference to Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
 Celebration would be great as the choir for a hippie church. “War” has the organs, heavy rhythms, and free-flowing sprawl of a song structure to follow the benediction.   


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