The year 2017 has been full of contradictions. For many, myself included, it was a year filled with uncertainty and frustration, but to a certain degree it also woke people up. And the music that was created was some of the best in years.
Over the past year, Shamir Bailey, who records and performs under his first name, produced two entire albums. The first was a self released 12-track album entitled Hope earlier in the year. It’s filled with raw pop, punk, and even country gems that, according to the Soundcloud description, was written and recorded in a weekend. The second, Revelations, released on Father/Daughter Records, was delivered a mere seven months later in November. Both records are a significant change from the slick production of Ratchet but are more potent both lyrically and sonically than that LP.
It goes without saying that Beach Slang have been having a difficult year. There was the well-publicized changes in band members in 2016, immediately followed by the first of two thefts where all of their gear was stolen. The second coming this past month in Seattle where their tour van was stolen. But it’s a testament to the spirit of Beach Slang that they not merely continue on or go through the motions, but they consistently play some of the best heart-on-your-sleeve-seat-of-your-pants rock ‘n’ roll every night. And at Black Cat, James Alex and Company poured out those hearts on Tuesday.
Cherry Glazerr rocked like the band have been around for much longer than their years, as seen in an energetic show opening for Slowdive at Rams Head Live on Thursday.
In the early ’90s, shoegaze had an underground appeal that ended up becoming an influential blueprint for many bands being formed today. And for me, personally, songs by the Catherine Wheel, My Bloody Valentine, and Slowdive were the soundtrack to relationships, careers, and those ups and downs in life — peaks and valleys like the rhythmic washes of guitar or the lilt of those harmonies buried beneath.
And I still find myself going back to those same sounds, like an old book you’re drawn to again and again, as I did with Slovedive in a live performance at Rams Head Live on Thursday.
How can so much brilliant sound come from two people? If you’ve heard anything of the thunderous rock of Japandroids — the duo of Brian King (guitars/vocals) and David Prowse (drums/vocals) — you’d have some clue to the answer. One part Bruce Springsteen and two parts Replacements with more than a dash of punk rock thrown in for good measure, Japandroids brought spectacle and inspired energy to Rams Head Live in Baltimore Monday night!
Originally created as a home recording project, Cloud Nothings, the brainchild of Dylan Baldi (guitar/vocals), is definitely one of the most dynamic bands around. There’s a hard edge to many of their songs, especially after their first, self-titled LP, but they are layered with hooks that were impossible to avoid at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore on Monday.