Songs From the Shoebox (Ideas for Housecrafts)
Fittingly, we’re a little slow to write about The Snails, but better late than never. This sporadic super-group is one we wish performed year-round. Donning Aaahh!!! Real Monsters-esque headdresses and featuring members of Future Islands, these eclectic critters are easy to instantly love. There's the guttural croon-growl of FI front man Samuel T. Herring (aka “Sammy Snail”—each bandmate gets their own mollusk moniker) and the wave-riding riffs of bassist William Cashion (“Snailliam”). And of course there’s the sprightly saxophone, rolling-thunder drums, and true-grit garage guitar. Dubbed “AM radio reggae-pop,” the music straddles the line between raw punk, funky ska, and SoCal surf, and after a 2013 debut, the core quintet’s funky, feel-good follow-up is the sunny sound you’ll want to hear at all your rooftop parties, backyard barbecues, and sunburnt trips to the beach. They even include a couple of killer instrumentals, but for the foreseeable future, we’re listening to “Shoebox” on repeat.
Brooks Long & the Mad Dog No Good
Mannish Boys (self-released)
Local soul musician Brooks Long has been bumping around Baltimore for a while now, performing his old-school sound everywhere from local venues like The 8x10 and Ottobar to large festivals like Artscape and Light City. We often find ourselves singing along to songs from his band’s first release, Let’s Make Out to Otis Redding, as if we’d known them forever. For that reason, it might come as a surprise that the young artist has just released his debut album, full of old standbys like “The Runaround” and “Heavy Petting,” as well as a swath of new favorites. The 15-track record is an upbeat feat, as Long flexes his musical muscles across full-on funk (“Playa Fantasy”), sweet soul (“Don’t Tell Nobody”), smoky blues (“Have You Been Getting Too High”), and boogie-woogie to boot (“Weapons on 65”). Best of all, he brings more friends along for the ride, including other beloved Baltimore talents like Bosley, J Pope, and Rufus Roundtree. As is true with all things Mad Dog No Good, you can’t give it a listen without wanting to learn the words and get up and dance.
Summer Fun (Ehse Records)
We dig Nudie Suits. Last fall, the local duo released its first EP, which seemed to capture the unspoken, ordinary, human corners of its title season—summer. It was all there: the sluggish humidity of a hot afternoon (“Gotta b”); the ethereal skies of a full-moon night (“Mom song”); the raw rebellion of a cigarette-fueled teenage joyride (“laura Flynn”); the fluttering, fleeting rush of a July romance (“House cat”). Actually, vocalist Allison Clendaniel and violinist Ruby Fulton were inspired by the cult classic Twin Peaks, as well as art rock, repetition, opera, and outer space. But whatever the influence, the experimental Peabody grads have produced dreamy loops that reach into the crevices of your lows and highs, ranging in rhythm and tempo through stirring synth, dramatic vocals, and captivating compositional beats. It was the perfect combination for Annex Theater, which enlisted an original Nudie Suits score for its production of Flatland earlier this year. Offbeat and beautiful, these five tracks will weave their way into your warm-weather soundtrack.