Ronin (Nina Pop)
We think we’ve found our favorite new artist of 2016. Pronounced like Elon, :3ION sounds like nothing we’ve heard from the Baltimore music scene thus far. In fact, we expect his futuristic R&B to hit the national platform before long. Pairing electronic dance beats with ethereal melodies and vocal swoons, the 24-year-old artist creates a dreamy sound that pulls at your heartstrings and presses your deepest desires. On his solo debut, he hooks you with sexy slow jams, like “Floatin,” and up-tempo tracks that blossom like a time-lapsed flower, as in “Many Moons.” In the coming year, expect to find his name on a bounty of genre-crossing bills.
Peel (Friends Records)
As you open the windows, shorten your shirtsleeves, and make plans for summer, this is the Baltimore band to dig on. The garage-pop five-piece just debuted its first full-length album, full of fuzzy beach guitar, driving percussion, and an overflowing, sun-drenched sound. It’s an accomplished feat for a 4-year-old band. Each song is a ball of energy, raw and rambunctious yet densely layered and vibrant, like the first single, “Leather,” or the rolling wheel of “Rubber Dad.” But there’s not one second-rate song. The band even brings it on the slow ones, like in the swelling clash of “Rubylith” or gentle jangle of “University.”