Many beloved bands have launched their careers out of Baltimore’s underground, from The Death Set to Pinkshift. And there’s always an array of exciting and esoteric new records coming out of the city that attest to the scene’s enduring diversity and originality. To help you keep track and update your playlists, The Baltimore Banner presents a monthly roundup of the best and most noteworthy new indie rock, punk, folk, and experimental music from the area. Here are our picks for December, including a couple of offbeat holiday selections to mark both Christmas and Hanukkah.
Megazillion, ‘Middle of May’
Over the course of 2022, Paul “Megazillion” Joyce has released a voluminous backlog of recordings dating all the way to the 1990s, leading up to the December release of the proper debut Megazillion album, “Triple Phoenix.” Recorded in Baltimore but mastered by veteran British engineer Alex Wharton at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios, the album spans a variety of styles, from shaggy post-punk to pulsing synth pop. But my early favorite from the album is the bombastic shoegaze epic “Middle of May.”
Darin Tambascio, bassist of the Baltimore noise rock band Mast Year, recently recorded an entire album in a single night for his electronic solo project XOM. The three ambient drone tracks on “Unconscious Reflections” were created with just a guitar, a pedal board and an iPad, and are often soothingly calm and beautiful. The second and shortest track, “1.2,” however, has an ominous undercurrent to it that feels like the score of a sci-fi movie, right at the moment when things start going awry on the spaceship.
Mowder Oyal, ‘Black Voodoo’
The Baltimore quartet Mowder Oyal played its first gig in March and closed out 2022 with its self-titled debut album, featuring members of Mind On Fire and Konjur Collective making “hardcore punk and free jazz at the same time.” The 26-minute blast of guitar sludge and bassoon honks includes “Big Girl,” a 7-minute vamp on Jimmy Jones’ Baltimore club classic “Watch Out For the Big Girl,” and “Black Voodoo,” which includes the memorable refrain “Free me by freakin’ me.”
NOT, ‘Grandma Got Crowdkilled by a Reindeer’
In November and December, a new Baltimore hardcore band known simply as NOT uploaded its first three releases to Bandcamp, including a holiday EP, “NOT VOL 3 (XMAS CUT).” The highlight of the brief three-song release is a moshpit-themed parody of the famed holiday novelty song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” first recorded by the country duo Elmo & Patsy in 1979.
Micah E. Wood featuring Eyas, ‘4th Night of Hanukkah’
Every December since 2019, Jewish indie pop singer/songwriter Micah E. Wood has released a Hanukkah-themed original song with his typically clever modern take on the holiday like “Electric Menorah” or “Hanukkah Disco.” This year, Wood packaged a new song featuring vocal harmonies from Eyas with the three previous tracks as “A Hanukkah EP, Pt. 1.” The piano-driven “4th Night of Hanukkah” ruminates on the underwhelming gifts that sometimes accompany the middle stretch of the Festival of Lights: “Will I get that Game Boy, or more socks and a baseball cap?”
Al Shipley is a Maryland-based music and culture writer.