The Tower (self-released)
The past and the present always intertwine, a concept evident in the cosmic rock of local septet Fractal Cat. Through sunny guitar strums, golden harmonies, and lyrical commentary, you hear the echoes of midcentury America, where artists of all genres used music to react to a tumultuous time in our nation’s history. The group’s third album tackles the tough issues of today, including political oppression, police-community relations, and religious tolerance. Their energetic and surreal sound offers urgent calls to trust your intuition, spread love, and give peace a chance. Showcasing the influence of artists who came before—The Beatles, Buddy Holly, Pink Floyd—these musicians might be old souls, but their music (and message) is for people of all ages.
Most of Us (DJ Boy Records)
We tell you about Baltimore bands a lot, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: Some of the region’s best music is coming out of Annapolis right now, thanks to the roots-rock trio Pressing Strings. If you listen to local radio, you might have heard their bright ballad, “What It Means,” off of the band’s soulful EP. The Naptown natives keep it real, combining robust rhythms and bluesy songwriting that’s folksy and heartfelt yet funky and feel-good. Toeing the line between hometown darlings and rising stars, these boys-next-door exude the laid-back authenticity you might expect to come out of Maryland. But after their first big tour last fall, we won’t be surprised if their catchy songs capture big-label interest soon enough.