Soundtrack To A Shopping Mall (TBD)
We’d been waiting on the edge of our seats for this first full-length record from Emmanuel Williams, aka DDm. From one of the city’s most spirited performers, it promised to be swimming in swagger and subtle wit, and DDm’s solo talents—honed on the battle-rap circuit before forming his beloved duo, Bond St. District—are on full display. But this album is so much more than its fearless energy, irreverent humor, and abundant pop culture references. The creation of an ’80s child born and bred in Baltimore, it takes a thoughtful look at capitalism, celebrity, and excess in an age of ever-growing economic disparity in America. Across 14 tracks, it shines brightest in its buoyant, braggadocious moments, such as “Ready To Wear” and “Try Me On.” But its true strength lies in the final tracks, like “Forever 21” and “Closed,” in which he removes his armor of bravado to reveal a complex portrait of growing up as a young black boy in a generation of broken promises. With an uncanny awareness of city and self, DDm stares down those lost hopes and uses his own ambitious talent as living proof that you should never give up.
Charm City Junction
Over the years, Charm City Junction has become an integral part of the city’s swelling Americana music scene. Following their stellar 2015 debut, this new sophomore release showcases the quartet’s genuine chemistry and growth. Rooted in the acoustic traditions of their old-time genres, these 11 tunes are a tight display of passion and precision, using hearty melodies to flaunt their intuitive instrumentation, whether they’re harmonizing on vocals or strings—fiddle, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, and even one achy-breaky, breathy accordion. From Celtic jigs and coastal ballads to Appalachian stomps, each song unfurls with an organic momentum. Sometimes, they roll like a train, big and bold and building in tempo, while at other times, they’re more like a river, gentle and lush with a lilting rush of emotion. It’s the kind of music that can only be made by old friends—and old souls—and is best listened to outside in the open country air. Hold onto the season with personal favorites “Duckpin” and “Farewell Tennessee.”