Friday, January 9, 2009

Height With Friends: Baltimore Highlands CD Release Party and Review

Height with Friends photographed by Andy Cook
Baltimore Highlands, guest reviewed by Taylor Berman.
On his most recent album, Baltimore Highlands, Height’s flow is deliberate and slow but in no way lagging; in conjunction with the songs’ dirty, often dark production the lyrics and their delivery give the tracks a vibe not dissimilar to Grand Buffet if GB were more intent on occasional narrative instead of the absurd. For instance “The Woods,” with its repetitive string sample over beat boxing and mixed percussion, is at the same time ominous and goofy. The lyrics themselves (“we thought that we were lost/until we read a mark/and then we wandered off/ into the dead of dark”) are by no means frivolous or random, but the song’s video, directed by Showbeast (, embodies the strangeness and childish surrealism, in the most complimentary sense of the phrase, for which the current Baltimore music/art scene is best known.
And, importantly, the marriage of Height’s lyrics and its accompanying production with the general extended-Wham City aesthetic works, for whatever reason, seamlessly. The deliberateness and pace of Height’s delivery, with the aforementioned production, allows the songs and album as a whole to veer into a sort of dark psychedelic charge, one that feels appropriate after three percocets and a bottle of wine (guilty as charged) or (judging from the pictures online) in a beer-fueled house party in South Carolina or an outdoor festival (this past summer’s Whartscape). In other words, Baltimore Highlands is many things, and it does those many things mostly well, not least of which is capturing the energy and fun of a Height show, which was previously my only exposure to him, while at the same time focusing that energy into a 26 minute recording that rarely lags. All in all, a welcome addition to the B-more hip-hop, and music, scene.

Come check out Height with Friends @ the Zodiac!
Friday January 16th