In ordinary circumstances, fall would bring a replenished show calendar, tours and new music from your favorite musicians. The novel coronavirus and the associated cancellation of indoor concerts...well, you know the deal.
The (hopefully) temporary end of concerts aside, several of Baltimore’s best local artists spent the spring and summer cooking up new projects for your listening pleasure. Here’s what six such artists have in store.
Singer and guitarist Randi Withani (pronounced “Randi with an I”) made herself a local name to watch with the ethereal, electronic soul of her July 2020 release, “portfolio (drafts).” Percussionist and composer David Jacober came through the next month with the marimba-heavy indie rock record “Light Years.” The pair team up with fellow local artist Infinity Knives, who worked on both records, as a separate group, LORIS. The project grew out of the previous collaboration, Infinity Knives + Randi.Withani said it’s quite unlike her solo material.
“My solo project is very chill, very calm vibes,” she said. “This band project, we are a rock band, so it’s definitely super opposite. It’s like punk alternative, we have some funk and jazz in there.”
Amongst his fans, Richard Croce, a.k.a. MC Bravado, has a reputation for witty raps and sophisticated production. “The Living Game,” which debuted in late August, might be the best realization of his vision yet. It features guest appearances from acclaimed musicians including Joell Ortiz and Eze Jackson (whose own “Goals” EP drops this fall), among others.
“I put my life into this record,” Bravado wrote via email. “I gave up a six-year relationship with the person I thought was the love of my life for this record. I walked away from a career as a tenured high school English teacher in Baltimore for this record. I was only able to make this record when I decided to make music my entire life, and I wholeheartedly believe that it’s one of the best hip hop records released in some time.”
:3ION, the artist name of Elon Battle (and thus pronounced “Elon”) has garnered critical acclaim for their genre-bending, electronic instrumentation-driven music ever since appearing on the Baltimore scene roughly four and a half years ago. The artist, who uses they/them pronouns, is preparing new songs and a still-untitled album to come out this fall. They said that the new music departs stylistically from previous releases, and is inspired by drum and bass as well as Afrofuturism concepts. They also will produce all of the tracks themselves, and are figuring out how a fall tour might look in the era of COVID-19.
Micah E. Wood
Musician and photographer Micah E. Wood wrote much of his coming EP, “Something More,” during self-imposed quarantine from the cornoavirus. He said he worked on it “almost pen-pal style,” by starting to write songs for others and trading instrumental tracks with collaborators. The EP revolves in part around the beginning of his current relationship, and he said that most of the lyrics are positive.
“There’s a song called ‘Too High,’ that’s all about being at our first concert we went to together, and that feeling of dancing next to someone and feeling this connection where you’re like, ‘Oh, I really like you!‘” he said. The EP will come out in early October or November.
One of the artists Micah E.Wood worked with is Outcalls, the pop duo made up of Peabody-trained vocalists Melissa Wimbish and Britt Olsen-Ecker. They said that in the absence of shared physical space for collaborations, they’ve spent the pandemic working remotely across Apple’s GarageBand platform. They’ve been working on couple of songs that they plan, potentially along with with an album, to release in the fall. One of them, “Love to Fight,” showcases their talent for winding harmonies over infectious electro-pop and UK garage-type beats.
“The song is essentially about living in a democracy and how it’s necessary to fight about things in order to build a better place to live,” Wimbish said.
DJ Mighty Mark
Few artists carry the torch for Baltimore club music as fervently as DJ Mighty Mark does. The DJ and producer has plans to release at least two projects this fall. The first is “Modern Dreams 2,” a follow-up to last year’s release “Modern Dreams” that mixed hip hop with the heavy-knocking club music native to Baltimore’s Black neighborhoods. That comes out in late October/early November and, like the first edition, features rapper Ernest Third. More immediately, on Sept. 4, he released several of his previously unreleased or rare tracks that he compiled into “Bmore Club Gems Vol. 3.”
“Both EPs are around six tracks,” he said.
He also has work with rapper TT the Artist and singer Joy Postell on the way, though he doesn’t know when that’ll drop.