3 Baltimore musicians to watch in 2015

Last year, it was all Future Islands. And while it’s unlikely another Baltimore band will match Future Islands’ meteoric rise to indie stardom, here are three artists who could break out in 2015.

Singer and songwriter Jana Hunter, of Lower Dens. [Frank Hamilton photo]

Singer and songwriter Jana Hunter, of Lower Dens. [Frank Hamilton photo]

Lower Dens

Why isn’t Lower Dens more popular? Critics love this indie rock quartet led by singer/songwriter Jana Hunter. Pitchfork gave their debut, “Twin-Hand Movement,” an 8.1, and their second album, “Nootropics,” scored an 8.2 — as well as 3.5 stars from Rolling Stone.

Lower Dens’ latest album, “Escape From Evil,” comes out March 31 and it’s the band’s best yet. Hunter was listening a lot to Madonna, she told Vogue, and it shows. The first single, “To Die In LA,” (which Pitchfork named Best New Track) has an undercurrent of dark nostalgia with a beat that dares you not to dance.

You could point to any number of things “Escape From Evil” sounds like, but above all, it sounds like Baltimore right now. If any year is going to be ‘the year’ for Lower Dens, this is it.


Flock of Dimes, the solo project of Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner.

Flock of Dimes, the solo project of Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner.

Flock of Dimes

When she’s not touring and recording as one half of Wye Oak, Jenn Wasner focuses on Flock of Dimes. It’s been her solo project since 2011, and over the years she has intermittently released singles on Merge and Baltimore’s Friends Records.

Right now, she’s taking a break from Wye Oak and preparing to release her first full-length album as Flock of Dimes, which could surface later this year.

Wasner is a skilled lyricist and songwriter with an ear for the experimental and a healthy love of dance pop.

In 2014, listeners followed Wye Oak as she steered the duo away from the squalls of guitar feedback, toward more bass- and keyboard-driven songs. Will she return to the guitar for Flock of Dimes, or double down on a more electronic sound?

Wasner has said in the past that she wants to ease back on touring and make a living writing songs for other musicians. It’s only a matter of time before other artists take her up on the offer. When it happens, we hope Wasner continues to release her own material, because she’s one of Baltimore’s most innovative musicians.


Pianos Become the Teeth [Photo by Micah E. Wood]

Pianos Become the Teeth [Photo by Micah E. Wood]

Pianos Become the Teeth

Late last year, this Baltimore screamo band released “Keep You,” a powerful yet hushed album which was a huge shift in dynamics from anything they’d done before. Their singer, Kyle Durfey, literally went from screaming to, at times, almost whispering.

“Keep You,” their first album for Epitaph Records, earned Pianos plenty of national buzz. And they’re setting out on their first big American tour to promote it in March. Sadly, Baltimore press has largely ignored them — despite the fact that they’ve sold out The Ottobar multiple times.

On the whole, people are reluctant to embrace change. This is especially true in the Internet age. “Keep You” may have upset some longtime Pianos fans, others saw it as a natural step in the band’s evolution. And it earned them a crop of new fans who had never before heard their music. It’s exciting to watch bands who take risks.

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