Recommended If You Like
RIYL: Triple 6 Mafia, the wrestler New Jack
Start With: “Wigsplit” feat. Stoop Baby Mo
Listening to BOOT BOYS, local-hero-turned-everybody’s-favorite-nationwide JPEGMAFIA comes to mind and so does the short-lived Melanin Free. Armor King, BOOT BOYS’ 14-minute EP (with gnarled ’90s sci-fi production from Logicoma and Station North Sound) is a wild gesture towards the not-yet-pilfered intersection of New York hardcore and Memphis rap. BOOT BOYS can feel like a joke at times. Boof General’s bark-y raps recall DJ Paul and WWF legend Paul Orndorff and namecheck “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but I get the sense BOOT BOYS are laughing but very serious: A shirt design shows four klansmen hanging from a Timberland logo tree.
RIYL: Bad Brains, Acid King
Start With: “Doubt”
On Pearl’s Thread, everything’s just a little too fast in a way that feels like it all could topple over at any moment, as if each member of this band’s all in a race to finish these songs before one another. That is not the case. This heavy, speedy music is tricky and easily bored. Often the band will slow down suddenly and seamlessly (it’s trippy), letting in some of what Dan Charnas has called “Dilla time” to the sound of bouncy, fervid doom punk. On vocals, Sienna Cureton-Mahoney (from the absolutely great Wet Brain) brings a wizened rage to it all. On “Control,” Cureton-Mahoney exclaims “control” over and over again and threatens to “put you in a headlock.”
RIYL: Death (the band, not the act), Joe Biden (the band, not the president)
Start With: “Resurrection”
Truth Cult takes its name from a triumphant and lonely song by local legends Lungfish. And Lungfish, well, they were a Baltimore band on the super-famous D.C. label Dischord. So, really, Truth Cult’s name gestures to the band’s whole deal: A band of Baltimore and D.C. punks making scrappy, catchy, rhythmically ambitious music that offers a unique sense of impervious, tragic optimism. Searing, focused, and joyous, it makes a lot of sense Truth Cult were opening for Turnstile. Vocalist Paris Roberts used to be in Joe Biden, an excellent band who were on the cover of The Beat way back in 2018.
RIYL: Out Of The Blue (1980), Ms. 45 (1981)
Start With: “Wise Choice”
Before JIVEBOMB’s 2021 demo truly starts, it begins with a lengthy sample of The Jive Bombers’ 1957 song “Cherry,” a gesture to Baltimore’s tradition of provocative, singular art (“Cherry” is in John Waters’ Cry Baby). As for the rest of demo? Well, after that foggy ’50s sample, it simply does not relent: Six songs, none of them longer than a minute forty or so, all assured and vibrating, full of nervous and excited and angry energy. Vocalist Kat Madeira is getting something out here and having a lot of fun, and at live shows, stalks the stage more like DMX than, say, the dude from Terror.
RIYL: System Of a Down, Sonny & Linda Sharrock
Start With: “Big Girls”
There are many conflicts of interest involving Baltimore Beat and Mowder Oyal—a fierce, jazzy hardcore quartet butressed by James Young’s electric bassoon. I have made music videos for the band; the entire staff has worked at one point or another with vocalist Lor Ugly Yo; drummer Bashi Rose has worked with Lisa and I; Teri is on the board of Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts where guitarist Adam Holofcener works; Adam and I made a record together one time, and, of course, Adam’s family handed over their million bucks to the Beat. We’re not objective about Mowder Oyal (“motor oil” as written in Baltimore-ese) but to not acknowledge this band (which, fwiw, Baltimore Magazine recently named “Best Band To Watch”) when we’re highlighting bands doing the most to bend and sometimes break punk would be a disservice to you, reader.