New collab Lower Dens preps debut
Geoff Graham has seen the end of the world.
Last October, the bassist for Baltimore’s Lower Dens worked for the United States Antarctic Program. His job was to provide logistical support for researchers on the continent while living in dormitories in McMurdo Station, population 1,100.
“Before they let you go down there, they make sure there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. If you get sick or even if you have a tooth that needs to get pulled, they don’t have a ton of medical facilities,” Graham says. He found beauty in harsh conditions. “It’s fascinating, because there’s not really any life there. It’s naked mountains, flat stretches of nothing but ice.”
But back home, Lower Dens traps heat. Jana Hunter, a trained orchestral violinist from Texas, leads the group. Known for her angular guitar compositions, Hunter released a batch of albums on San Francisco label Gnomonsong, most notably a split with psych-folk singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart. Graham joined Hunter in 2008 and toured with her for her last solo album, There’s No Home. Drummer Abe Sanders, part of a wave of North Carolina musicians who have relocated to Baltimore, and lead guitarist Will Adams, round out the lineup.
Fans of Hunter’s solo work will notice a greater use of electronic instruments and effects on Lower Dens’ debut, Twin Hand Movement, recorded over two weeks at Beat Babies Studio in Woodstock, Md., by Chris Freeland, the soundman at one of Charm City’s popular venues, The Talking Head.
“Her songs have a weird geometry to them, and that carries over,” Graham says. “It’s been encouraging to see her older fans be excited about the new material.”
Lower Dens’ spring trip began last Friday with four shows opening for Wye Oak, the Merge Records group comprised of members of Graham’s former band, Noble Lake, and Le Loup, who opened for Andrew Bird in 2007 at the Brown.
The St. Patrick’s Day show features Jonathan Glen Wood, whose five-song album, Things You Find Out About The People You Love, is available for free download at jonathanglenwood.bandcamp.com.
w/ Jonathan Glen Wood
Wednesday, March 17
921 Swan St.
$5; 8 p.m.
The 50th anniversary of the Monarchs takes place Saturday, March 13, at Vernon Club (1575 Story Ave., 584-8460, www.vernonclub.com). Last month, the band was recognized on the floor of the state Senate for its longevity and is the subject of a book written by Sports Illustrated writer and former LEO columnist Billy Reed. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the 21-and-over show is $10. More information is at www.themonarchs.com.