Arts & Culture
Music Reviews: February 2017
The latest from PLRLS and Symphony Number One.
Have You Seen My Fancy Pony (self-released)
They say punk is dead, but as far as we’re concerned, the genre is alive and well, folks. Baltimore band PLRLS (pronounced plurals) keeps the flame lit with its own brand of rabble-rousing rock. Adding a heavy dose of new wave, this local quintet has created a musical fusion that’s part Ramones, part B-52s—and oh-so Baltimore. Their catchy tunes careen between kitschy party music and mosh-pit-ready headbangers, using touches of surf guitar, girl-group harmonies, and vocal call-and-response to cement their rollicking retro sound. On each of these 10 tracks, you’ll be struck by the breakneck rhythms and upbeat tempos, backed by plugging bass and urgent drums. But you’ll become hooked on the group’s vast range of vocals, from song-speak verses to playful backup noises that spike each song. Their rambunctious merrymaking is the perfect thing for February’s winter blues. Dig into pure-punk rallying cries like “Right Rebel,” sparse sunny melodies like “Unhand Me,” and the all-out revelry of “Fancy Pony” (equipped with British accents and lines like, “I like to eat all of the hot dogs”).
Symphony Number One
Baltimore’s youngest chamber orchestra is sure growing up fast. Staying true to its goal of promoting up-and-coming musicians and composers, Symphony Number One returns with a third album of three symphonies from artists near and far. On its previous releases, the troupe combined new works with past classics, but on this new release, we’re graced with brand-new compositions, each brimming with emotion and carrying its own unique theme. On Timelapse Variations, local composer Natalie Draper creates a musical interpretation of time-lapsed film, starting slow with seemingly dissonant melodies that build into a unified spiral, like different story lines and characters coalescing in a scene. On Light Cathedral, San Francisco’s Jonathan Russell uses Europe’s great, gargantuan cathedrals as inspiration for a play on light—bells twinkling in like morning rays, strings sparkling like a spreading sunbeam, even low and dark notes that cast like shadows across the altar and pews. On The Promised Burning, Michigan-based Peabody grad Andrew Posner delivers a grief-filled musical homily on the man-made destruction of nature. Dramatic yet poignant, it climbs and crashes and hangs suspended in midair, standing as the perfect finale for what this growing group of young musicians can do.