The best local indie music in January, from Dosser to Organic …
Baltimore’s independent rock scene boasts bands that have fans all over the world, including Future Islands and Horse Lords. And there’s always an array of exciting and esoteric new records coming out of the city that attest to the scene’s enduring diversity and originality.
To help you keep track and update your playlists, The Baltimore Banner presents a monthly roundup of the best and most noteworthy new indie rock, punk, folk, and experimental music from the area. Here are our picks for the first month of 2023, which range from neo-grunge to harsh synth noise.
Dosser, ‘Violent Picture/Violent Sound’
The members of the Baltimore quartet Dosser openly describe the sound they’re aiming for as “grunge revival.” And while some of the songs on the band’s debut full-length album “Violent Picture/Violent Sound” do take the familiar shape of the quiet verses, loud choruses and heavy yet tuneful riffs that typified the Seattle bands that ruled the rock landscape 30 years ago, Dosser might be selling themselves short by boiling their appeal down to ’90s nostalgia. That comes through especially clearly on the title track sung by guitarist Bret Lanahan, which is faster than your average grunge anthem and features some bright, trebly guitar textures that you probably wouldn’t find on a classic Sub Pop album.
End It, ‘Familia Finito’
The hardcore quintet End It had a breakout year in 2022, thanks to the release of last summer’s “Unpleasant Living” EP. And they hit the ground running in 2023, embarking on a brief East Coast tour with The Chisel and Buried Dreams in January and releasing a raucous new song. “Familia Finito” appears on the new Flatspot Records compilation, “The Extermination Vol. IV,” and like most other End It songs, it runs well under two minutes. But the song’s entertaining music video is packed full of humorous parodies of late night TV advertising, from informercials and psychic hotlines to phone sex and pharmaceuticals.
The Dirty Grass Players, ‘Shiny Side Up’
Progressive bluegrass combines the down-home simplicity of some of America’s oldest musical traditions with the extended improvisations and instrumental explorations of jazz and jam bands. And The Dirty Grass Players strike a beautiful balance between those two elements on the Baltimore quartet’s second album. “Shiny Side Up” was recorded in Nashville with a major name from the bluegrass world, Cody Kilby of The Travelin’ McCourys, producing the album. The epic opening title track reaches its peak around the eighth minute, when Alex Berman’s banjo and Ryan Rogers’s mandolin trade licks with slowly rising intensity.
Piecemeal Flytrap, ‘Wet Bible’
“Wet Bible” by Piecemeal Flytrap is the kind of record you hope to find when clicking around Bandcamp, a mysterious-sounding debut with so little information attached to it that you have to use your imagination when listening. It’s easy to picture singer-songwriter Jackson Sides recording his lo-fi country songs in the basement of the church on the cover of the album, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. But regardless of the album’s origins, songs like “Smoke Loan” are memorable slice-of-life stories, with narrators that say things like, “I spend my whole life workin’ just to feed my family/Yeah I’ve turned a couple wrenches and I fell a couple trees.”
Organic Organism, ‘Ravished and Scourged by the Holy War Machine’
Organic Organism’s “Ancient Siege Weapons For The Modern Man” is a two-hour behemoth of an album from an avant garde electronic project that describes itself as “experimental terror from the sewers of Baltimore.” The 18-minute “Ravished and Scourged by the Holy War Machine” isn’t even the album’s longest track. But it’s the one that travels the most interesting path, from grinding noise to a brief, beautiful reverie of synth chords, and then back into a glitchy industrial cacophony.
Al Shipley is a Maryland-based music and culture writer.
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